ConversationsWith Dead People- Buffy squares off, physically and mentally, against former classmate Holden Webster, who has just risen as a vampire. Back at the Summers house, Dawn is terrorized by an unseen force, while Willow is visited in the library by the ghost of Cassie Newton, who says she's been sent by Tara.
One thing I never understood about fans' attitude towards Season 7, is that it had no "special" episode(s) like the past 3 seasons. After asilentepisode, a dream episode, a music-less surrealistic episode and a musical episode, I guess "Conversations With Dead People" doesn't hold up and match theground-breakingachievements of the series that were "Hush", "Restless", "the Body" and "Once More With Feeling". Nevertheless, "Conversations With Dead People" is without a doubt, the series at it's finest! Mixed with horror, humor, gore and character drama as well as the show's signature witty dialogue and though-provoking subtext., this is anexhilarating hour. Like the other "special" episodes, the episode's structure is significantly different as the plot is split into 5 segments: Buffy in thecemeteryon a usual patrol, Dawn home alone, Willow studying in the library as UC Sunnydale, Spike at the Bronze drinking alone and Jonathan and Andrew return to Sunnydale in hopes of some sort of redemption. So I feel to give an effective review, is to review each segmentindividually. The episode starts with a beautiful music montage of each character with the date, time and year of the episode being shown as a band sets up and performs....
Segment#1-Buffy's segment is probably the most humorous segment of all 5. What starts off as a typical fight between her and a vampire turns into familiar face from her High School days, who she can barely remember. Holden Webster is a surprisingly charismatic vampire who beaten catching up with Buffy and trying to get into her psyche brutally attacks her. Only in the Buffyverse could a sequence like this work and work brilliantly. Both Sarah Michelle Gellar and Whedonverse actor Jonathan M. Woodward are great together. The dialogue is filled with neat one-liners and hilarious references like Scott Hope turning out to be gay and Holden telling Buffy "I'm here to kill you, not judge you." But the parts are definitely when Buffy opens up to Holden about her brutal relationship with Spike, the reasons she kept going back to him as well as her superiority/inferiority complex. It'salwaysgreat to get into Buffy's head and even after her depression in Season 6, it's nice to see the character continuing to grow and realizing her faults. The segment ends with the chilling discovery that Spike sired Buffy, which continues in the next episode....
Segment#2-Willow's segment is probably the most emotional of the segments. Falling asleep in the library, she wakes up to Cassie confronting her. Now originally, Amber Benson was to reprise her role as Tara for this scene, but considering how the scene ends, she didn't want the last image of Tara to be something evil or scary, so Azura Skye returns as Cassie here in her place. Regardless, this segment is remarkable with Azura showing just how impressive her acting chops are. Alyson is also stunning here and your heart just breaks when Cassie tells Willow she brought a message for Tara. Just seeing Willow crying trying to call out to Tara pulls at the heartstrings. This truly saddening piece than turns into something terrifying when Cassie wants will to stop using magic, telling her she'll kill everyone and when Willow refuses, she tells her to kill herself. From Cassie's facial expressions to Willow realizing what going on, it's all bone chilling! The First finally reveals itself and her threat to Willow was probably the finest moment from the First, especially this:
Willow; "From beneath you, it devours."
Cassie/The First: "Oh not it....me!"
The SFX shot of the Cassie's smile as she morphs into a skeleton and disappears just gives me goosebumps! One of the genuinely scariest moments from the series.
Segment#3-Dawn's segment is rather shocking and the most violent of them all. I have to say considering how much Dawn gets flake, I was really was impressed by the writers going there with her and Michelle Trachtenberg was more than up for the challenge! She was quite compelling here, showing the worst of Dawn at the beginning when some dark presence is in the house and is completely helpless yet showing the best of Dawn when Dawn realizes her mom is being tormented by this presence and fights to save her mom's soul with everything she has. From the bloody splattering to Dawn gettingrepeatedlycut to the disturbing images of Joyce's body appearing/disappearing, it was well done and horrifying. it's always great to see Kristine Sutherland back, even if Joyce is dead! Joyce looking beautiful after the hell of she'd been through and her vague message to Dawn about Buffy not chosing her are foreshadowing the final moments of the series, once again. Once again, Michelle must be commended for showing this side of Dawn, especially at such a young age. Definitely the segment that was the scariest story!
Segment#4-Spike's segment is complete dialogue-free. We just see him getting friendly with a beautiful girl. He ultimately takes her home. Suddenly, he bites her and kills her. While a short segment, it's a "Holy SH!T" moment that was worth the wait!
Segment#5-Jonathanand Andrew's segment is pretty funny as the duo return to Sunnydale to find some sort of resolution to their outlaw lives. We see that the First is manipulating Andrew as Warren and I love even as the First, Warren is still Warren and has his geek moments with Andrew. The saddest part of the segment is definitely Andrew killing Jonathan, especially Jonathan's last words before that. The fact that he missed his high school days from the bullies to the people who ignored him was a huge revelation after "Earshot". The boy who once was about to kill himself of the pains of his sad high school existence finally realized, it was all worth it and has grown from it. It's hard to watch Jonathan die and it's surprising to see Andrew of all people do it!
With stellar cliffhangers ending each segment filled with laughs, scares and character insight, "Conversations With Dead People" is a masterful hour (and the only Xander free episode, though it would have been cool to see the First as maybe Jessie, manipulating him!). Some of the best dialogue and moments from the series. Definitely in my top 10 of series and one episode that sent the main arc into overdrive.
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