About:

Title: Buffy S7.E07 “Conversations with Dead People” + Buffy S7.E08 “Sleeper”
Released: 2002

Drinks Taken: 33
Vamps Dusted: 9

 

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Last week, Kandis reminded us of Anya’s thousand-year past in “Selfless” and we get some Season 1-level hijinks in “Him.” This week, we’re really upping the final season stakes, so let’s dive in!

But first – le drinks.

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Season Seven Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Someone uses a cell phone
The First gets up to its tricks
You love Andrew in spite of himself
Someone goes down to the creepy Sunnydale High basement
It’s obvious Spike has a soul again
Principal Wood seems shady

Drink twice every time:

There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a callback to previous season shenanigans
You really miss Giles
A new Slayer shows up in Sunnydale
A new romance emerges (Who dates during the Apocalypse?)
Willow performs magic responsibly

Take a shot every time:

Someone says, “From beneath you it devours.”

Dead Joyce on the couch with white demon-y eyes.

7.07 “Conversations With Dead People”

What an episode! The First is getting busy with many of our main characters, though it’s not immediately revealed that that’s what’s going on. Interestingly, there’s no Xander or Anya in this ep, but here’s what’s happening with the rest of the crew (notable: while the ep is credited to be written by Espenson and Goddard, each segment has a different writer, listed below):

Dawn’s segment:
Written by Jane Espenson

I’m going to get Dawn out of the way first, because I think she has the most truly horrifying segment and my heart really breaks for her here. She’s enjoying an evening at the house by herself, doing cute teenager stuff like getting pizza on her sister’s shirt (“eh, she’ll just think it’s blood”), microwaving marshmallows and playing with Buffy’s crossbow. But then some Poltergeisty-type business starts to happen – the lights flicker, the TV turns itself on, lots of bangs and booms and the like. Suddenly, it feels like there’s a storm within the house, and we see Joyce’s dead body on the couch, along with the words “Mother’s Milk is red today” in blood on the wall. It’s SO upsetting. Joyce’s body keeps trying to communicate to Dawn but no words come out, and a shadowy figure appears to be preventing her. Dawn AWESOMELY refuses to flee, and performs a g-d exorcism as furniture flies around her and blood pours down the walls and streams from her mouth. It’s INTENSE. She banishes the dark spirit, and is left with the golden, glowy visage of an angelic Joyce – but the trauma isn’t over, because this Joyce is obviously being puppeted by The First, and she tells Dawn, “When it’s bad, Buffy won’t choose you. She’ll be against you.” Dawn is devastated, and frankly, so am I. She gets it five to six times worse than anybody else in this episode.

The Trio’s segment:
Written by Drew Goddard

Jonathan and Andrew are heading back from their sprint to Mexico, with the supposed intent of uncovering an artifact from the creepy Sunnydale High basement (drink!) that is meant to be vaguely helpful to The Scoobs’ cause, in Jonathan’s nice lil naive mind. But he doesn’t realize that Andrew is currently communicating with the ghost of Warren (which is of course also The First), who reminds him that this artifact will make them both gods. Jonathan and Andrew dig up a huge seal with the face of a goat from the basement, and then Andrew KILLS Jonathan, and his blood fills the seal and appears to activate it in some way. Bye, sweet Jonathan. And just like that, The Trio that became The Duo is now The Mono.

Willow’s segment: 
Written by Marti Noxon

She’s studying in the university library when Cassie, whom you might remember died a couple of episodes ago, appears, and tells Willow she’s there to communicate for Tara. (Amber Benson has said she was supposed to participate but didn’t want to play Tara as evil, and honestly, I’m glad the last time we see Tara, she’s not – spoiler! – telling Willow to kill herself.) At first, it seems like Cassie is helping Willow process her grief about Tara – and let’s take a moment to give kudos to Alyson Hannigan, who is SMG-level powerful in this scene.

Willow tells possible ghost Tara she misses her
Willow: “Tara, I miss you. I miss you so much.”

But after some evidently lovely moments, Cassie’s advice starts to turn strange. She tells Willow she must abandon even her new, positive, Giles-sanctioned approach to magic or “you’re going to kill everybody.” And then she tells Willow to kill herself, so she can be with Tara and keep everyone else safe. Willow knows enough to know that Tara would NEVER want that, and she pushes back – so Cassie reveals herself to be The First, or more specifically, the “it” in the phrase “From beneath you, it devours.” (Shots!). It tells Willow that it intends to make her and her friends suffer worse than they ever have before, and then it gives a ghastly grin, TURNS CASSIE INSIDE OUT and vanishes. Whoa.

Buffy’s segment:
Written by Joss Whedon

Buffy’s patrolling when an old classmate, Holden Webster, climbs out from his grave all undead and toothy. They’re about to fight to the death when he recognizes her, and after several reminders she eventually remembers him, too. They reminisce sort of funnily, considering he’s a vampire and she’s the Slayer, and we get some fun callbacks like the fact that boring ol’ Scott told everyone Buffy was gay, but actually Scott’s gay. Turns out, Holden was a Psych 101 major, and he enjoys psychoanalyzing Buffy before they get their epic battle on, and it ends up being pretty okay therapy for Buff.

Holden tells Buffy he's in the graveyard to kill her not judge her.
Holden: “Buffy, I’m here to kill you, not to judge you.”

He accuses her of having a superiority complex when she tells him she’s definitely going to win their battle (I mean, she is), and in a roundabout way, she admits she does, but at the same time, she doesn’t feel worthy of love or friendship. She ends up confessing all of her dark Spike stuff to Holden, though without ever telling him the name of the vampire she slept with. 

Meanwhile, said vampire is drinking at The Bronze when a woman comes up and talks to him. All of Spike’s scenes are dialogue-free from our POV. We watch him and the woman leave The Bronze, chatting casually as they walk down the street.

After some VERY good free therapy from her next slay target, Buffy finally happens to mention Spike’s name, which makes Holden perk up. Big news: he informs Buffy that Spike is the one who very recently sired him. Buffy looks AGHAST, as Spike’s supposed to have a soul and all – and lest we think these are more lies from The First, we cut back to Spike’s silent scenes, where he bites the woman, drains her and leaves her body on the ground. Buffy gives a lackluster dusting to Holden, and we head into the credits.

How many times do I have to take a drink?

19

Vamps Dusted

1

Badass, Dawn!

Dawn faces the ghosts and yells for them to leave her house
Dawn: “That’s right! DIE, YOU BASTARD!”

Her stuff is a straight-up HORROR MOVIE.

Take A Shot… Sorta?

Andrew, kinda butchering the First's catch phrase
Andrew: “It eats you, starting with your bottom…”

LOL at Andrew’s solemn translation when Jonathan says “From beneath you, it devours” in Spanish.

Cameo

Holden looking like a schmuck

Holden is played by Joss standby Jonathan M. Woodward, who also shows up in AngelFirefly and more.

Headlining at The Bronze

Angie Hart co-wrote the opening and closing song “Blue” with Joss. I’m not sure why? It’s pretty and all but doesn’t add a lot to the plot.

Trivia

There’s a ton of interesting trivia for this episode! For instance, it’s the only ep to open with a timecard, establishing the events as happening on November 12, 2002 – which is also when the episode aired. Plus plans for Xander’s ol’ pal Jesse to return (no thanks!) and more – read it here!

Spike being driven crazy by the First who looks like him

7.08 “Sleeper”

Buffy’s still reeling from the idea that Spike might be siring/feeding again, and she goes to Xander’s to look for him, but Spike is mysteriously “out.” We cut to Spike in a basement, burying the woman he killed in the last episode, and it doesn’t appear to be the only fresh dirt mound in that basement. He’s humming blithely as he does it, hardly appearing to be tortured by the act. Buffy clues Xander into what’s happening, and he has to go to work so they get Anya to watch Spike when he comes home. Anya’s snooping around his room, looking for evidence that he’s a crazed serial killer, when Spike wakes up and she pretends she’s there to seduce him. Her seduction attempts are HILARIOUS, up to and including her avowal that she’s holding a stake because it’s “kinky.” Spike politely turns her down, and she pretends to be hurt.

Anya tries to distract Spike
Anya: “Let’s…let’s get it on, you big bad boy.”

Meanwhile, Willow’s gone home to look for Buffy, when she finds Dawn curled up, traumatized, in the midst of all of the chaos and destruction from The First’s recent visit. Dawn immediately opens up to Willow about what happened and what she saw – but she leaves out the part about Joyce warning her against Buffy. Still, Willow has had her own entanglement with The First recently, and she tells Dawn not to trust anything so-called Joyce said. Dawn doesn’t seem sure, but she definitely wants to believe it’s all First trickery. (Of course, no one knows it by the name First Evil yet, but we have to call it something here in these recaps!) Buffy comes home after Willow’s put Dawn to bed, and Willow tells her everything, leaving Buffy to surmise that Holden could have been fake, too. Anya calls Buffy to tell her Spike’s out on the prowl, and Buffy follows him through a crowd as he starts talking and walking with a young woman. We see him take her into an alley and drain her blood, while The First disguised as Buffy eggs him on, but Real Buffy shows up after the action’s over, and Spike doesn’t remember anything. He says he’s just talking to these women, because he’s lonely, and we get lots of stuff about how tortured he is with a soul now, and how all he wants is Buffy, and he’s just talking to these women to pass the time. It’s emotionally revealing but, as we’ve seen, incorrect, because really he’s killing them, he just doesn’t seem to know it yet.

Buffy gathers the Scoobs to do some research, and Willow discovers that about 10 different people have recently gone missing – many of them young women. Meanwhile, Spike’s at The Bronze trying to find the woman he talked to a couple of nights ago, hoping to prove she’s still alive and he didn’t kill her, when another woman starts hitting on him aggressively. She vamps out and tells him he sired her recently, and he’s horrified. She keeps kicking the crap out of him until he’s forced to stake her right in the middle of the concert, and he starts to have flashes of all of his other fresh murders. He’s so upset, and he calls Buffy to tell her he’s starting to remember, and asks her to meet him at an unknown address. The First shows up again, now disguised as Spike, and tells Spike that wasn’t the plan – “but we can make it work.”

Buffy warily (and while wielding a stake) enters into the house’s basement with Spike, as The First continues to manipulate him, unseen or heard by Buffy. Spike starts fighting Buffy, out of control, and then all of the bodies of his recent victims claw themselves out of the ground, newly vamped, and start fighting her, too. There are too many, and they get the better of her, as The First tries to convince Spike to kill her. Spike remembers more of his misdeeds and is devastated, and just runs away, while Buffy gets the upper hand again, staking all of the new vamps in tidy succession. She finds Spike in a corner, and he tearfully offers himself up to be staked – but she realizes that whatever’s been messing with everyone has been messing with him, too, and she takes him back to her house to figure it all out. The Scoobs are unsure of this plan, but she’s not just doing it to protect him – although she obviously feels very protective of newly besouled Spike – but to find out more about The First.

Also! At the beginning of the episode, in London, we see a man named Robson enter into a room, calling for Nora. He finds her dead on the ground, and a robed figure shows up and stabs him. At the end of the episode, Giles enters the same room and finds Robson dying on the ground. Robson tells him, “Gather them. It’s started,” and as Giles reassures him that he understands, the robed figure shows up again and starts to take a whack at Giles, as we head into credits. But first, I scream this at my monitor:

Ripley from ALIENS in her iconic scene with the Queen
Ripley: “Get away from her, you bitch!”

How many times do I have to take a drink?

14

Vamps Dusted

8

Most Meta Moment

Willow tells Dawn its the First messing with their heads
Willow: “It’s the Big Bad, Dawn. The one we knew was coming.”

I love when these characters use TV recap language to talk about what’s going on.

Cameo

Close up of Robson

Robson is played by Rob Nagle, who’s in a lot of things including Everwood and Dawson’s Creek.

Headlining at The Bronze

It’s Aimee Mann! That’s quite a coup for this little local watering hole. The vamp dust-up that interrupts her set doesn’t appear to faze Aimee, who is obviously very used to vampire shenanigans. 

Aimee Mann headlining at The Bronze

That’s it for this week! QUESTION – how do you guys feel about “Conversations With Dead People?” It’s a little bit of an outlier, but Joss has gone on record as saying it’s one of his favorite episodes, and I agree it’s great! It’s got a lot of mystery and style, emotional resonance and legitimate scares, but it’s not as artsy-fartsy as (I’m sorry) “Restless.” And honestly, I think “Sleeper” is very good, too. It’s scary and tense and everyone’s great in it.

Meet Stephanie here next Wednesday morning as she covers “Never Leave Me” and “Bring on the Night” – in other words, more Giles!!!!!

Meredith Borders is formerly the Texas-based editor of Fangoria and Birth.Movies.Death., now living and writing (and reading) in Germany. She’s been known to pop by Forever Young Adult since its inception, and she loves YA TV most ardently.