Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 22

Restless

5
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 23, 2000 on The WB
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (37)

9.1
out of 10
Average
654 votes
  • Restless

    10
    This is a magnificent episode and is the most complex I've ever witnessed on television. The first time I saw it I had a mixture of confusion, awe, and intrigue. It wasn't until I rewatched "Restless" after I was finished with the series that I began to understand just how amazing this truly is. Since then, I've rewatched it countless times and each time I make a new connection or spot something I never noticed before. What's so special about this dream episode anyway? Some people think it's just an artistic gimmick. Others think it's great just because of the Cheese Man. Well, I see this as special because it's the nexus of the entire series. It is a character study of the core Scoobies (Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles), where their past, present, and future are seamlessly woven together to form textured perfection. We are reminded of where these character began, where they currently are, and where they are heading with truck loads of cryptic foreshadowing. That makes this an episode which caps everything that has come before it, and sets up everything that is to come after it.



    One of the biggest reasons I love this episode so much is that it reminds me of the first time I played my favorite game: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES). In that action-adventure game you go adventuring around a land with a story, dungeons, enemies, and so forth. One of the things that makes it unique is the amount of 'secrets' to uncover that can make your character more powerful and simply make the game more fun. This sense of wonder at looking all over the place for possible secrets always greatly appealed to me on a fundamental level that made all the early Zelda games so much fun. I get this same feeling when I watch I love jumping in and trying to figure out all the secrets hiding in cryptic dialogue and stuff you have to "read between the lines" to understand.
  • Before I discuss my closing thoughts about all the dreams, I want to take a moment to admire the closing conversation between the Scoobies.

    10
    I love how they all sat around the table and discussed what happened. Some quotes I found amusing are:



    GILES: Somehow our joining the essence of the, the Slayer's power was an affront to the source of that power.

    BUFFY: You know, you could have brought that up to us before we did it.

    GILES: I did. I said there could be dire consequences.

    BUFFY: Yes, but you say that about chewing too fast.



    WILLOW: The spirit of the first Slayer tried to kill us in our dreams.

    JOYCE: Oh, you want some hot chocolate?

    EVERYONE: Yeah!



    BUFFY: Ah, well, at least you all didn't dream about that guy with the cheese. I don't know where the hell that came from.



    I also love the very final scene, when Buffy looks into what will likely become Dawn's room. The repetition of Tara's line, "You think you to you are. You haven't even begun," gets us perfectly prepped for the wonderful season to come. Why do I think S5 is wonderful? Let me just say that is has nothing to do with my opinion of Glory.



    Alright, I'm going to now briefly summarize what was learned about our dear Scoobies. Willow's dream is extremely cryptic and confusing, but the points being made kept leading back to the idea of Willow still being the nerd inside and that she continues to ignore important evidence to stop using black magic. What I found particularly interesting is the revelation, "No. No. I need it," that some part of her knows exactly what's she's doing and she just chooses to repress that better judgement. I really feel through this dream we get a whole lot better handle on exactly the state Willow's in when S5 begins, and we know that unless she does something to change her ways, she'll end up in disaster. As we know, she chooses disaster.



    Now Xander's dream turns out to also be pretty focused. The major theme running through it is the concept of running away from the problem, his parents, but not permanently fixing the problem. As he runs, he keeps coming across all these confusing wishes and desires. We see him think about sex and girls, about wanting comfort and love, and also about analyzing his failures in life. He feels like everyone around him has moved on with their lives and that he's not moving anywhere. The central point being made is that Xander has to get the hell out of his parent's basement as soon as possible, and that he needs to learn to notice his positive traits.



    The conflicts inside Giles are very clear. This year has been one of confusion for him. He isn't sure if he wants to be a Watcher, a rock star, or a father. His dreams are simply meant to show him what his focus should be, and that is being a Watcher. Giles sees Buffy as not only his daughter, but also as a child. He appears to want a happy, traditional family of his own and we even see Buffy as his daughter and Olivia as his wife. This is foreshadowing of how utterly happy he is when Buffy asks him to be her Watcher again in "Buffy vs. Dracula".



    Buffy's dream is heavily focused on her nature as a Slayer. All the evidence around her is saying that she's a killer and shouldn't have any friends. However, she continually refuses this reasoning and stands firm in the position that her friends are her weapons, not the Slayer. What's also fascinating is how for a moment, when putting the mud on her face, Buffy does give into her Slayer nature and seems to be completely embracing it. This is the moment Riley calls her a killer and says that she's on her own. Buffy's Slayer nature is the focus of S5, which ends with her death in "The Gift".



    That's it! I hope you got as much enjoyment and information out of this review as I did! This episode is just marvelous. As can be seen by the many pieces of foreshadowing I uncovered, "Restless" proves to be absolutely vital to the fluency of the series. Nearly everything, character-wise, that is to come is foreshadowed by this episode. Just like "Hush", "Restless" is not simply an artistic gimmick. This is the seminal episode of the entire series for the four core characters. Simply stunning.
  • Shockingly brilliant

    10
    The Good;

    All of it, pretty damn wonderful. I especially like ASH's impersonation of a panicking theatre director, based on personal experience?



    The Bad;

    ?



    Best line;

    Cheeseman; "I wear the cheese, it does not wear me"



    Women good/men bad;

    Dark haired Buffy's rant against Cowboy guy Riley



    Jeez!;

    The First Slayer scalping Giles



    Kinky dinky;

    Willow and Tara hooker up! How gorgeous is Joyce in her nightie? What a MILF! I never appreciated it until just this moment. About the weirdest fanfic I ever read concerned Willow having S&M sex with the cheese guy, him melting cheese over her nude body. Joss says that when Buffy rubs the mud over her face the idea was that she was being overwhelmed by her primal Slayer instincts but actually looks like she was having a facial. I'd say it looks more like she's a stripper/porn star (which she plays in Southland Tales) doing her 'tigress in heat' leer? Harmony in her milkmaid outfit is also very cute. The sign at the funfair vamp actually says 'I crack for a buck' but that's not what I thought it said first time I saw it.



    Calling Captain Subtext;

    ALL OF IT! Especially Willow and Tara in the sexiest scene you never saw but fervently imagined. What's the poem in Greek letters Willow is writing on Tara's back? By Sappho perhaps? (very Xena). And how lovely is Amber, such an unothordox beauty. Xander refers to Willow and Tara 'doing spells'. Hmmmm? Tara also tells Willow she doesn't know everything about her, her supposed demon side.

    Check out dark-haired Buffy berating gun toting Riley over the death of Xander and the evil of men. Substitute Warren for Riley, DarkWillow for Buffy and Tara for Xander and you have the end of season 6. Riley has often been compared to Gary Cooper and here he's a cowboy. Of course the irony is that Gary Cooper despite his wholesome image was a notorious womaniser and Riley will go to his vampwhores in season 5. The scene with Adam and Riley and the gun between them also refers to Warren and Tara. Adam challenges Buffy that she has demon essence in her which we'll find in out in 'Get it done'. Riley leaves, Joss already thinking about him going.

    Spike's sideshow freak appearance is indicative of his role in later seasons, vampire in love with the Slayer and then vamp with soul, sacrificial lamb in the end. The scenes with Spike and Giles on the swings seem to suggest that Spike will fufill the role of Giles to Buffy once Giles leaves again for the UK, her 'daddy' figure. You wonder what might have happened if Giles had hung around in season 6? Guffy? Their conversation also portends to the Loan Shark from Tabula Rusa (and Angel Season 6) The clock reads 730 which is the same as in Graduation Day pt2, counting down to Dawn and Dawn is the kitten (as she was the cat in Faith and Buffy's dream in GDpt2).

    Buffy refers to Xander as big brother, wonderful and loving but not sexual. In fact Buffy is the one girl Xander never thinks about sexually in his dream. He says 'it get's better' and indeed it does for him, he's not left behind by his friends as he fears. Although Xuffers still hold out for something to happen in season 8 (and given Buffy's fantasy in issue 2 maybe they still have a point?). Anya talks about getting back into vengence which she will in seasons 6/7. Xander's dad is not the same actor we meet in season 6, he rather reminds me of an angry version of Willy the snitch.

    Buffy refers to being a fireman which portends to 'Once more with feeling'. We see Willow having a fit on a sofa and Buffy saying 'I can fight this thing' portending to Joyce dying on the couch and Buffy's inability to fight a disease despite all her Slayer powers. We later see Joyce entombed in the wall with Buffy leaving her behind to go on with her friends. And her little sis.

    Giles tells Buffy 'it's been like this between men and women since the beginning' but she rejects that, she won't play the Shadowmen's/Councils game as we see from her rejection of the First Slayer's values, that the First Slayer is not 'the source of me'. Note the vamp at the funfair is 'Drac'. In Spike's tomb Buffy is gone with Olivia weeping over an empty pram, portending Giles' leaving a Buffy who no longer needs his guidance.



    Guantanamo Bay;

    Riley and Adam plotting world domination because "We're the goverment baby, it's what we do".



    Apocalypses; 5,



    Scoobies in bondage: Xander tied in his confrontation with Snyder (amazingly unless someone can correct me his first time?).

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 1

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Xander; 1



    Scoobies knocked out:

    Buffy: 15

    Giles: 10

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 8

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 2

    Wes: 1



    Kills:

    Buffy: 79 vamps, 28 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 4 vamps

    Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human

    Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie

    Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans

    Xander: 5 vamps, 2 zombies, a demon, a demon

    Anya: a demon

    Riley; 12 vamps + 7 demons



    Scoobies go evil:

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 2



    Alternate scoobies:

    Buffy: 6

    Giles: 3

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 2

    Joyce: 2

    Xander: 3



    Recurring characters killed: 10, no but wonderful to see Snyder back again, Armin Shimmerman giving a terrific performance as a much thinner Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now

    Jesse, Flutie, Jenny, Kendra, Larry, Snyder, Professor Walsh, Forrest, McNamara



    Total number of scoobies: 7

    Giles, Xander, Willow, Buffy, Anya, Tara, Riley



    Xander demon magnet: 5

    Preying Mantis Lady, Inca Mummy Girl, Drusilla, VampWillow, Anya (arguably Buffy & Faith with their demon essences?)



    Scoobies shot:

    Giles: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 4



    Notches on Scooby bedpost:

    Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny

    Cordy: 1?

    Buffy: 3; Angel, Parker, Riley

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Joyce: 1;Giles, possibly Ted

    Oz: 3; Groupie, Willow & Verucca

    Faith:2 ;Xander, Riley

    Xander: 2; Faith, Anya

    Willow: 2;Oz and Tara



    Questions and observations;

    How lovely to see season 1 Willow again, she's just so cute. In case you didn't know the Bay of Pigs was the ill-fated CIA backed invasion of Castro's Cuba by anti-communist exiles. Will also refers to her experience of stagefright in 'Nightmares'. Once again great to see Oz back, the last appearance of him in the show and for Olivia too. Once again Buffy triumphs because she is the unconventional Slayer, she's more than just the Slayer, she lives in the world too. No matter how many times I watch this I can never tell, is it Tara or Anya in bed telling Buffy she has to wake up?

    Asian Joe sitting behind Oz in class, great to see him again. The clip they watch of Apocalypse Now isn't much like the film, sounds more like Hamburger Hill. After hearing Joss commentary I duly looked up Twin Peaks on IMDB and Wiki and it was a supernatural detective show Kyle Machaclan made before Desperate Housewives but I'm still none the wiser as to what the significance of the red curtains is?

    Marks out of 10; 10/10, no trouble.



    Rumours about season 5;



    I heard a load of rumours about plotlines in season 5, more than any other year of the show. In no particular order;

    1) Xander would turn out to be Glory or one of the other Hellgods from her dimension, Willow would turn evil and be the one to bleed Dawn

    2) Dawn would touch Joyce's corpse at the end of The Body and bring her back to life with her Key powers

    3) Faith would be released from jail and end up sacrificing herself to save Buffy in the final battle with Glory

    4) Drusilla/Dracula would seduce Buffy who'd then allow herself to be sired. VampBuffy would then be the big bad for the season with Faith leading the Scoobies against her and her undead anti-Scoobies. In the season finale VampBuffy would taste Dawn's blood and be restored to normal by The Key's power.

    5) Spike falling in love with Buffy and then siring her because he thinks that's the only way to make her love him. In the end he realises he doesn't love unsouled Buffy so uses magic to turn her back to normal.

    6) Buffy and Xander get zapped by some demon and he gets her powers. She has to adapt to being ordinary whilst he revels in being a superhero but starts to lose control which is why the Slayer is always a girl.

    7) Xander and Buffy would end up in Caritas singing karoke to get some guidance ('Wind beneath my wings'?)

    Angel Investigations would show up for the final battle with Glory in Sunnydale along with Riley and Oz.



    Now you can see how some of these ideas worked out. Ben rather than Xander is Glory whilst Willow will go evil and threaten Dawn in season 6. Rather than bring Joyce back to life Dawn gives Buffy the will to live in season 6. Faith will be released from jail to hunt Angelus on Angel season 4, Buffy will be the one who sacrifices herself. The Dru-sires-Buffy scenario sounds like a dark- slasher's fantasy but has elements of Buffy-vs-Dracula and Riley and his vampwhores. Dru actually sires Darla instead, Dawn's blood will play a major role in the season 5 finale and Buffy will turn temporarily against her friends in Normal Again. Faith will defeat Angelus by getting him to taste her blood in season 4 of Angel. Spike will fall in love with Buffy but get's his own soul back rather than take her's away. The Xander gets Buffy's powers idea becomes The Replacement, we find out in season 7 why the Slayer is female whilst Riley will return in season 6.

  • An outstanding episode; beautiful, deep and just fantastically written. A perfect ending to the season.

    10
    Restless is a fantastic episode; clever, original and brilliantly written. It really highlights what our characters have went through this season and is the perfect ending to the season.

    Restless is like a marmite episode- you will love it or hate it. If you don't connect with it, you will ultimately gain little from watching it. I admit it took me about 5 viewings to fully appreciate it and understand it's depth but with every viewing I like it more.

    I think this episode was really the perfect ending to S4- some might argue that Primeval would have fit better but I disagree. All the other season finales are epic battles and huge emotional moments and it's nice to have this quiet, relaxed episode as the ending. The Initiative arc simply wasn't good enough for a season finale and I think this complex insight into our characters fit far better than a big battle for this season as S4 was all about character development rather than arc based (the complete opposite to S3!).

    The Willow dream was really great- the sensual scene with Tara and the letter painting had a little hint as what was to come for them over the next season with the line "You don't know everything about me". It is minor but it's always nice to have foreshadowing. The play scenes gave us insight into what Willow perceives herself to be- a nerd trying to be cool. Apart from having great insight, the bit where Harmony is trying to bite Giles but can't as she isn't tall enough is hilarious. Also, so nice to see Oz again- his last appearance ever!

    The Xander dream ultimately did very little for me- I am not a Xander fan so I don't find him very interesting. It showed us his lack of confidence and skill and did have some great scenes. The scene at the park is one of all time favourites because of Giles and Spike playing on swings and foreshadowing "Tabula Rasa" was hilarious and also I loved the sandbox bit where Buffy calls him brother and the desert appears behind her. I love the desert bits a lot and the continued familial references were great as they hinted at the main theme of S5- family.

    The Giles dream is mainly about his feelings about Buffy and how his life has become a shadow of it's former self. I don't have a lot to say on it except a) Spike posing for black and white photographs was so awesome and b) Tony Head was singing! Yay! Anya rocked telling jokes. I love Anya.

    The Buffy dream was the real highlight for me though, I simply loved every minute. The references to what a Slayer really is, to Dawn, to the imminent death of Buffy, every second was a joy. It basically told us several of the main themes and ideas that S5 would bring and felt really mystical. I love the bit in The Initiative where she covers her face in dirt and looks at Riley with that really primal face- Sarah was brilliant (as always!). The desert scenes were so, so very good. The imagery alone was so beautiful and it made the episode feel extra special. The whole "What is a Slayer?" questioned posed was done wonderfully, and the fight scene was awesome.

    To sum up, Restless is an original, underrated, beautiful masterpiece of an episode. Definitely an episode to rewatch multiple times and one that will stick with you. A perfect episode.

    SEASON OVERVIEW

    Season 4. A season commonly blasted by fans, mostly due to it's terrible arc. But I loved the overwhelming majority of this season and found it to be every bit as amazing as the others. The arc may have been bad but the character development was brilliant and the whole theme of self identity was really what the show needed.

    The Initiative arc didn't do a lot for me- it had some cool fights but nothing more. It wasn't a great idea and just didn't click for me. The main villain was a bit lame and definitely could have been better.

    The characters grew so much this season and really evolved and changed into more mature and responsible people. Topped with the introduction of Dawn at the start of S5, this is where we leave the high school setting and really start the adult seasons. S4 is the transmission from the light hearted teen years to the dark and dramatic adult years. It was highly necessary and did everything the show needed.

    Three main relationships were established here- Buffy/Riley, Willow/Tara and Xander/Anya. I don't like Buffy/Riley- they were very bland and just didn't appeal to me. The other 2 are 2 of my favourites though! Willow and Tara are so perfect together and Xander and Anya are hilarious.

    The whole self identity theme really worked- each character became what they will eventually be- Buffy really grew up as did Xander, Giles became a bit directionless which sets up next season and Willow became a lesbian. Some didn't like that storyline but I think the majority of us did- Willow and Tara are generally the most popular Buffy couple (they're my second fave behind Buffy/Spike!).

    All in all, definitely an outstanding season of TV. It wasn't all good- Superstar and Goodbye Iowa were particularly lousy but the good far outweighs the bad in my opinion. My first place this season goes to the phenomenal masterpiece that is "Hush", with the exciting and emotional "Who Are You?" in second and the surreal "Restless" in third. Definitely a season not to be missed.
  • Be careful what you wear to bed at night, you never know who you'll meet in your dreams. - Anon.

    10
    In short, a gorgeous piece of television. In serves as not exactly filer, but more as a whole platter of foreshadowing and symbols.

    It begins with Willow, showing her safely with Tara, on the stage in a twisted version of a play featuring Riley and Harmony, and her insecurities concerning her witchcraft, lesbianism, and her former geekitude. She is accosted by a mysterious woman and her spirit sucked away.

    Next comes Xander, who is shown in the typical male fantasies at first, with Joyce and also a scene with Willow and Tara, and then in a good adaption of a scene from Apocalypse Now featuring the early eaten Principal Snyder. He then visits the park, his ice cream truck, and Sunnydale High. Interspersed with these scenes, he keeps ending back up his parent's basement. There's also a very cool scene in which he moves through the various sets seamlessly. In the end, his heart is ripped out by the warrior woman.

    Giles' dreams follow, showing a merge with the life he could have had with his former flame Olivia and his fatherly affection for Buffy. There's a brilliant scene with Spike acting as a sideshow attraction in black and white. He ends up in the Bronze and sings an expositional song before he is scalped.

    Buffy ends the four, confronting Riley and the actor who played Adam, visiting her mother trapped in the wall, and venturing to the desert to converse with via Tara the woman who has been following her friends. She is and was the first slayer. They fight and the dreams end.

    The whole episode is rife with subtlety but rewatching it with knowledge of the coming seasons makes it infinitely interesting. And of course, who can't forget the cheese man.
  • Restless

    10
    Restless was a perfect and classic episode which ends season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This episode was very interesting to watch, and gave viewers a glimpse into the pysches of the characters. I thought the subtle things were brilliant and this was a very artistic expression. There were clues in the episode alluding to the future for each of the characters and for the group as a whole. I really enjoyed watching this and learning more about each person and trying to figure out what things meant. This episode is very original and one of my favorites. I like the cheese man too!!!!!
  • Bittersweet Dreams

    10
    Restless-Unable to sleep after their victory, Buffy, Xander, Giles, and Willow decide to stay up late watching movies. And immediately fall asleep. One by one, their dreams take a dark and twisted turn as a sinister force stalks each of them through the dream world and their own psyches. Now while "Primeval" may conclude the overall arc of the the year, it's not the season finale. Joss Whedon wanted to try something different instead of the big season enders like the "Becoming" and "Graduation Day" episodes. "Restless" is a bizarre choice for a season finale yet it's one of the most rivating hours of television you'll ever see. Like the groundbrekaing "Hush" earlier this season, "Restless" sees Joss crafting a episode that broke barriers for tv featuring both breath-taking visuals and insightful dialogue that truly capture the essence of dreams. The series has always been amazing with depickting dreams in the past, but here, it's flawless!

    One of the reasons "Restless" works so well is that the dream sequences give us tremedous insight on the character's psychy. First we have Willow's dream, where see Willow stillself-confidence issues when her drama class suddenly opens production of "Death of a Salesman." It's hilarious watching Buffy, Riley and Harmony acting so over-the-top in their play roles which have nothing to do with "Death of a Salesman." Gotta love Riley being "Cowboy guy", lol. Yet at the same time, we learn that Willow is terrified with people seeing her as a nerd and I love how that's down with people asking her why she's "in costume". Next is Xander, who we despite learning is attracted to Buffy's mom and has sexual fantasies about hooking up with Willow and Tara, Xander is sees himself failure and seems to always end up back in his parents' basement. I love the "Apocalpyse, Now" version of his dream and having Principal Schnider return was great.

    Then there's Giles' dream, which shows that he sees himself as Buffy's father yet he is conflicted as to which life he should chose or means more to him. I love the hilarious scenes of Spike posing for pictures as an attraction at the cemetary carnival and Giles singing his expedition to Xander and Willow at the Bronze. Lastly, we have Buffy's dream where she searchs for friends, only to discover the essence of the slayer's power when she reveals that the primative creature trying to kill them all is the first slayer. The concept of the first slayer is ingenious and it's about time we learned bit more about slayer line. The idea of the first slayer would want to kill Buffy's friends because it's an insult to the power of the slayer makes sense and it a wonderful development that will be one of the main storylines of the 5th season.

    From beyond hilarious comedy (Anya's priceless gesturing) to disturbing horror (the first slayer ripping out Xander's heart) to complex metaphors (Joyce living in a wall) to though-provoking dialogue (the forshadowing of Dawn) to visually stunning (the wide landscapes) to utter randomness (the infamous Cheese Man in each dream), "Restless" is unlike any episode of television u'll ever see. Whether see it as intelligent philosophical affair or just bunch of brainy bull,you can't deny how unqiue it is. "Restless" is a psychological masterpiece that should be studied by writers, philosophers, etc. for being so imaginative and innovative.
  • Buffy does Twilight Zone in a fantastic surreal finale!!

    10
    season 4 in itself has been a unique rn of episodes and in many ways this makes it stand out above the others.
    its independant episodes seem to reign supremely above the main season arc.
    character development was a definate must.
    and the course of the season comes to an unbeatable end.
    many who have seen Rod Serling's Twilight Zone will understand what this episode is going to be like...it is a special finale that in itself is more special than any other.
    yes,Joss has written unbetab;e finales in the previous three seasons and will do so in the next three seasons but Restless is a pure a visually unique finale that sets the ground running for the fifth season.
    the introduction of the first slayer is dealt with beautifully and is actually quite reminiscent of A Nightmare Of Elm Street in many ways.
    all the nightmares interweive and tell a formidable tale of deeply disturbing and sheer beautiful style.
    this is a sheer arthouse of a finale...and a classic.
    bravo Joss for making the finale season 4 deserves!!
  • Smoke 'em if you got 'em. This one's a beautiful mind-bender.

    10
    This Season Finale is one of the many reasons I love Joss Whedon as an entertainer. In a very unconventional way, this Season of Buffy wrapped up it's often limp story-arc in the SECOND to last episode. With Adam vanquished and the Initiative disbanded, it's an opportune time for the Scoobies to have a movie night. So, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles all sack-out in front of the TV at Buffy's pad and pass out while the FBI logo is still running onscreen for their first viewing choice of the night. The whole episode is a twisted dream sequence that, while on the surface appears to be nonsense, is actually a very revealing episode told through cryptic dialogue on what's to come in the series. Something is hunting the gang in their dreams. The same creature ventures into all of the character's subconcious and tries to kill them. All of this while we get a hilarious and sometimes frightening peek at all of the gang's fears, passions, secrets and oddities. Oh yeah, and there's a guy with cheese-slices running around as well. Joss is incredibly talented here in the way he captures the utter randomness of dreams, and how small snippets of nonsense are actually very telling about a person in their subconcious. Watching it, I found myself relating to some of the wild scenarios put forth here. Stuff like: a movie you love watching when you're awake appears to be the worst movie ever in your sleep, surroundings changing as you walking through door or travel down hallways, thinking you have something useful like a weapon or tool and instead having it disappear on you. Weird stuff... I highly recommend checking it out. This is a classic episode in the Buffy universe.
  • Amazingly odd and funny

    10
    This episode perfectly describes all the loose ends of not only this season but pretty much all the seasons in the show, even the minor times. Also, it was a strange but funny episode that made sense in only that very odd way that this show seems to be nown for. Definatly a great installment in the season. And, incedently enough, the only finale that isn't an opocolypse. The slight stupidity is exactly like the charectors would act on a regular day, except magnified by their dreams. Even things that were not ment to explain up coming events tied into the story perfectly.
  • Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles decide to stay up late watching movies after their long battle against Adam. Once they start their movie marathon, they all suddenly fall asleep. Each of them have a dream about something mystical stalking them.

    10
    Restless is a bizarre episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and certainly worth watching. They have dreams about the reslut after summoning the first slayer and killing Adam. Willow's dream is really hilarious. I found it funny when Harmony was vampire and trying to bite Giles. It was even more hilarious when Riley came in and said "I got here early, so I got to be Cowboy Guy!". I also learned from Willow's dream taht she has stage fright. In Xander's dream I though it was funny when Spike said that Giels was going to teach him ot be a watcher, and then Giles said that Spikes like a son to him. I liked Giles dream when he's singing, and Xander and Willow are researching, and their waving lighters in the air. I like the foreshadowing of what will happen in season 5 in buffy's dream when Tara says "Be back before Dawn". The most hilarious part of the episode is when Buffy said, "Well, at least you all didn't dream about that guy with the cheese. Don't know where the hell that came from."
  • worth watching.

    10
    another one of the great episodes i've seen. this time it's about dreams. the result of the magic they've summoned from the first slayer when they fought adam. willow's dream is funny with the play and her dealing with stagefright. xander with his military and some fantasies he's been thinking most of the time i think. giles with him being a watcher and singing (once more... with feeling), and buffy meeting the first slayer, a foreshadowing of what will happen to her on the next season. and that man with cheese, so funny. this is a must-see episode. see for yourself.
  • Finally! A season that doesn't end with some big battle!

    10
    To be honest, I liked that this season didn't end with a big battle, an explosion, and whatever else! There was a relaxing sort of feel while watching this episode, even though the dreams couldn't get any weirder! They seemed like my dreams, strange and completely unexplainable. lol My favorite dream was, of course, Buffy's. Especially at the end of it when she and the First Slayer are fighting. And I heard that it was supposed to be David Boreanaz (Angel) that would be the voice of the First Slayer, not Amber Benson (Tara); and there would be a whole lot of other people from previous seasons that would appear in the dreams, but it didn't happen. *grunts and sighs* That's not cool. Maybe David (and Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) who was supposed to be in the classroom in Willow's dream) couldn't do it because they were too busy with the season finale of their own show, "Angel". Whatever. But, I just have to say that this is by far one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. Definitely on my Top 5!
  • I have a dream . . .

    10
    I actually give this episode a 20, not a 10, if not more. This is my favorite episode of Buffy -- I love a great many of them, but I could watch this episode ad nauseum, minus the nauseum. Every second of this episode is gold . . . I just noticed one of Joss' quotes that people didn't like the episode and that it was different, but not pointless. I don't really see what's not to get/like. There's foreshadowing here, but also summary and reflection. This reminds me of Grave because finally, at the end of the season, issues that people weren't talking about get covered -- the main one being Buffy and Joyce.

    I love the music during Willow's dream and I love Buffy's scene with Tara/The First Slayer. Buffy was always good to me, but sometimes, it was sublime. It was also neat to have a season end without the 2 part bonanza, which occurred the previous two eps.
  • One of my favorite Episodes.

    10
    After performing a powerful spell to defeat Adam, Buffy and the gang relax by having a quiet night in front of the television. Falling asleep Willow, Xander, Giles and Buffy each have strange dreams where they are stalked by a primitive force that may be related to the spell they performed.

    The dreams sequences are very well done and are packed with interesting details and plot foreshadowing. The episode captures perfectly a sense of surreal dream logic while still being coherent enough to be totally engrossing.

    The episode delves into the slayer mythology and includes plenty of references to past episodes.

    The cast are all excellent, the directing is perfect and special mention must be made of the wonderful musical score that is suitably mysterious.

    One of my favourite episodes, there are so many memorable moments I never get sick of rewatching Restless.
  • Very classy and meaningful...

    10
    This episode was fabulous. I could'n take my eyes off the TV. Willow's dream was very weird at first but then i got what everyone meant by telling her ''take off your costume''. She was still the same girl in high school she didn't want her friends to see the real Willow inside.
    Poor Xander... He was alone when he died in basement. He wasn't like the others, he was just a normal guy who loves girls, has concerns about his future. Giles' dream was the shortest but still showed me many things. He felt like he doesn't belong that place and he's not enough for Buffy anymore. Buffy proved me why she is the most powerful slayer in the world. She believes in her friends and needs them on her slaying job. She is a normal girl and not at the same time. I loved this episode so much. One of the greatests.
  • Breath-taking

    10
    Restless is a prime example of why Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the greatest television shows ever made.

    Before this episode, BtVS was known for it's brilliant dream sequences. Restless turns "brilliant" on it's head.

    This episode depicts dreaming with such accuracy, it's almost frightening. When I watch this episode I always think, "That is what dreaming is ACTUALLY like! The way the Scoobies move from one scene to another, is seemlessly beautiful. People in their dreams talk to them, first normally, then with voice-over. It makes you feel like you are hallucinating(in a good way).

    Not only does this episode so intelligently showcase the dreams of our four core characters but it also adds hundreds of little snippets into the show: from meanings, metaphors, future story lines, past story lines, never-to-be-explored story lines....it is a real gem for any hardcore Buffy fan. You can watch this episode over and over and you will be amazed at how many of it's words and actions convey endless speculation about the characters and the show itself.

    For example, the constant cryptic foreshadowing of Dawn in season five. In Willow's dream, Tara says, "I think it's strange. I mean, I think I should worry that we haven't found her name...You'd think she'd let us know her name by now". Willow assumes she is talking about the kitten, but it could also be Dawn. Also if we flash back to Graduation Day (2) there is a Cat on the bed in Buffy's dream (where the original Dawn foreshadowing of "Little Miss Muffet" takes place), and in season five Dawn is told by one of the crazy men that he is "like a cat, quiet". Then Willow says, "she will...she's not all grown yet". But Tara could also be talking about the first slayer by saying that she doesn't know her name. Is the kitten a representation of the first slayer too? Or of Buffy, and her connection with the first slayer? The beautiful slo-mo shot of it as it walks towards the camera shows that beneath the cuteness of it lies a hunter, a warrior ready to attack.


    Willow's dream also seems to foreshadown her own turn to the dark side, as Tara says "They will find out you know, about you" However this could also be revealing Willow's own inner scepticism about her sexuality. Here I have briefly touched on some of the endless metaphors and ideas that Restless creates. These are only a few of the ideas that I could think of by analysing only the first few minutes of Willow's dream, thereby supporting the fact that one could write a whole novel's worth when actually taking the whole episode into account. I almost want to now! This episode is mind-boggling, beautifully crafted and also very funny in places too.


    True story telling from a true storyteller. Awesome!
  • Giles' song is simply the best...

    10
    Buffy: At least we didn't all dream about the guy with the cheese. I dunno where the Hell that came from. One of the best, and weirdest episodes. Some moments are creepy, some are laugh out loud funny. It makes a change to have a quieter season finale as well, as the usual ultimate battle scenario sometimes gets a bit tiresome. Best moments: Giles and Spike on the swings, and Giles singing in his dream - absolutely hilarious, sing along now... "I've got to warn Buffy...!"
  • 'You think you know what's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun.'

    10
    ‘Restless’ is the end to a decent but not brilliant Buffy season, and boy what an ending it was. Possibly one (if not the) best episode of Buffy.

    The dreams were pure art, the directing and acting were all superb.

    The episode contains the four members sleeping over at Buffy’s, they claim not to be tired after the big fight and are going to watch movies all night, but before the first movie starts they immediately fall asleep.

    Each of them feature a dream, it all begins with Willow. She dreams being with Tara and writing something on her back while they talk about Miss Kitty Fantastico. There is also something out there waiting to attack Willow. At school she sees Xander and Oz, she has to go to drama class but they are having a production. Everything is very confusing until she goes behind some curtains and Tara tells her something is after Willow, she gets attacked by a knife but it soon ends when Buffy rescues her and takes her to class. They keep telling her she is in some costume and Buffy takes it off and she looks exactly like she did the first season. Then she gets attacked by something that was after her and it drains the life out of her. It was brilliantly done, Tara and Oz were flirting in class but the theatre show was the best with Buffy in a black wig, Riley as a cowboy and Harmony as a milk lady.

    Second of them is Xander, who believes to be awake but has to go to the bathroom, on his way Joyce tries to seduce him but then he goes to pee, the entire initiative is watching him which makes him uncomfortable and go outside in some playground, Buffy is in a sandbox while Spike and Giles are on the swings. Another Xander is watching it and he is in the ice-cream van with Anya, in the back are Willow and Tara smooching and he decides to go after them. He ends up in some green-coloured place and Giles and Anya talk to him in French. He ends up in the movie ‘Apocalypse now’ and is taken to Snyder, but then Xander turns out in his own room and his dad comes downstairs and changes into the monster that takes out his heart. Once again everything was well done especially the things that were supposed to look fake.

    Giles is the third to take the turn, he and Buffy are first discussing about men and women. Then they end in a park and Buffy is like his daughter, he is together with Olivia and then Giles goes to Spike crypt who is selling himself as an attraction. Giles then ends up at the bronze and sings a song, he follows the trails of something and he knows what’s after him, it’s the first slayer who then cuts up his head.

    As last is Buffy who wakes up in her dream. Tara features in it and shows that everything is happening because of the cards. Tara gives a hint about Dawn ‘Be back before dawn’. Buffy then finds Joyce in the wall which means she has a tumour and is a hint to season 5. When Buffy goes to the initiative she sees Riley and Adam, who is now in his human form. She puts some mask on that are her weapons and then goes into the desert where she finds The first slayer who borrows Tara to speak to Buffy, she says that Buffy is not supposed to have any friends. But Buffy doesn’t care about that and fights The first slayer and decides to wake up and when she does, so does everyone else.

    The episode was amazingly written and directed. The best thing about the episode was probably the cheese man who seemed to be important but infact didn’t serve no purpose. All four main characters were very well put in their own storylines and developed in them. This episode was pure art and one of tv’s best.
    ‘You think you know. What you are, what’s to come. But you haven’t even begun.’

  • In what can only be described as a perculiar finale we see strange dream sequences which makes me decide this is the best episode ever.

    10
    I just love the way that tension in Buffy can be broken instantly by a stupid remark but here we have something different. Here just as Buffy is about to fight the first slayer its really tense and suddenly we have the mysterious man with the cheese lean across and dangle pieces of cheese at you.
    The good thing about using character's dreams is that it can result in some pretty weird stuff (kind of like hallucigenic drugs) where basically anything can happen. The great thing is that you don't need a consistant plot and scenes in any sort of chronological order. And scenes that can lead from one place that you know shouldn't be there into yet another that should be miles away or deep underground but should not just interconnect.
    This is possibly one of the scariest episodes ever because everything is unexpected, you can have a man with cheese then swiftly cut to a bloodthirsty creature trying to murder Willow. I have no idea why this just certed 12 in the UK.
  • It makes you think.....

    10
    At first, I thought, huh? It really didnt make sense. But when the series is over, and you can look back at what happened, it really pays off. This has got to be the best episode in my opinion. It is full of emotions, puzzles, and foreshadowing of what's to come. Seeds are planted and they grow. That's what I love about Buffy. They do dream sequences beautifully. It's so thought-provoking! I could write a full college paper on Restless, even though I'm not in college! This is my baby, my heart, and I love this episode to death.
  • It grows on you.

    10
    When I first saw this episode back in 2000 on TV, I was very disappointed. The Scoobies had just defeated their most powerful evil being yet, and I\'m left wondering \"What are they going to do now!?\" And I have to say, when I first saw it, as a 15 year old, I was VERY disappointed. It wasn\'t until I got older, and watched the entire fourth season again on DVD that I really realized the genius of this episode. Watching this episode, as well as Joss Whedon\'s commentary, really helped me understand the episode, along with simply being older and being able to read more of the symbolic meaning behind the episode. This episode does such a great job of following the hopes, dreams, and fears of all the characters. Season Four itself seemed to be mostly about personal character growth as opposed to group solidarity, so this episode ties it up very well. If you are looking for a brain teasing smorgasbord of stimulation, this is the perfect episode for you to watch. This is also one of the episodes I will show to Buffy \"virgins\" to get them hooked on the show. It always works.
  • Overall, this episode is a rare gem, an example of storytelling that transcends its intended purpose and inherent flaws through sheer scope and originality.

    10
    By most measures, the fourth season was something of a failed experiment. Joss had his attention divided, thanks to an inconsistent first season of “Angel” in need of closer attention, and he had a good production staff already in place for “Buffy”. And so he did the most logical thing: he placed “Buffy” in the hands of his able staff and let them bring forth his vision. Unfortunately, the execution was hampered by issues with guest cast and a concept that couldn’t be addressed fully in one single season arc.

    Joss took the initiative (no pun intended) to underscore the season’s theme by wrapping up the Initiative arc one episode early and ending the fourth season in a more unconventional manner. While this would leave the fifth season with a somewhat questionable starting point, it did provide Joss with a chance to expand his writing techniques. The result is an episode that was hailed by some as pure genius and reviled by others as the death of the series.

    The premise is simple: the four primary characters deal with the consequences of their actions in “Primevil” within a shared dreamscape. As such, many of their personal issues of self-identity merge with the sense of being stalked by something incredibly old and primal. It serves to bring each character’s arc to something of a transition point: if the fourth season brought forward questions of self-doubt, then this episode clarifies those questions and points to where the characters might be heading.

    Each act becomes a mixture of wacky dream imagery, character analysis, and plot, told from the four primary perspectives. While focusing on the dream world of each character, it is quite an interesting and fun piece of fiction. Not everything comes together as it could, but the overall tone and consistency is quite impressive. It’s only at the end, when Joss needs to end the cycle and get things back to the “real world”, that the episode stumbles.

    As with most dream sequences, there are levels of interpretation and communication that differ with opinion. There’s what Joss intended, what he managed to convey, and how each member of the audience interprets that information. This analysis is an attempt to reconcile the entire series with the ideas and concepts that Joss had communicated before and after the episode was written and aired. It’s not meant to be the authoritative interpretation for all of fandom.

    Starting with Willow, the episode sets its dreamy tone with a great sequence involving Tara, a paintbrush, and a poem by Sappho. This initial shot is actually a means of introducing the idea of the primal hunter. Many shots of Ms. Kitty Fantastico are designed to show the hunter at the heart of the fuzzy little kitten, which is exactly what Joss is saying about Buffy: at the heart of the Slayer is a primal force, ancient and instinctual.

    In retrospect, Tara is the voice of the First Slayer, and so there are levels of subtext to the scene that might otherwise be overlooked. Tara hints at having secrets of her own; however, is this Tara speaking, or the First Slayer? The fact that she says that Willow already knows her real name, in light of the final season, is intriguing. This suggests the later revelation that Willow’s wellspring of magical power was essentially the same connective female source that originally gave power to the First Slayer, before the Watchers took dominion through forced mergence with a demonic power source. Thus the First Slayer, through the form of Tara, seems to be telling Willow that she knows the source of the Slayer’s origins, even if she doesn’t realize it.

    Shortly thereafter, Willow finds herself as she is at the end of the fourth season, but back in Sunnydale High. This is the first suggestion of a fear that her new lifestyle is far from genuine. In a sense, it also plays on the season’s theme of Self-identity in the Young Adult. Willow is left wondering if those things she discovered about herself at UC-Sunnydale are really parts of herself, or if she’s just trying to hide the same ol’ Willow.

    Willow’s anxiety over the swift nature of adult change is reflected in the immediate jump from signing up for Drama and starring in a production. It’s telling that Riley, for instance, shows up “on time” and gets to be “Cowboy Guy”. After all, he had a strong sense of direction before working with the Initiative, or he wouldn’t have been so valued by the military (at least, as it was suggested he was). Giles is, of course, the director, demonstrating the role that she still gives him in her life (denoting, over time, how she comes to reject the “limitations” of her parent figure). Willow also sees this performance as lying to the world and everyone she knows. All in all, it underscores all of her doubts and fears.

    Tara, the voice of the First Slayer, points out that Willow isn’t waiting for a play to begin, because life itself does not “stop” or “start”. It simply moves forward, and one must endure and find one’s own way. The First Slayer is striking Willow at the heart of her fear. Meanwhile, out on the “stage”, Buffy’s character gives a screed about men and their disgusting biological urges, all of which sound like what some in society would expect an emerging lesbian to spout. (And perhaps there is a bit of resentment towards Riley for stealing Buffy out of her life, hinting again at a latent attraction to the Slayer.)

    The dream imagery gets a little obvious as Willow finds herself exposed and betrayed by just about everyone she trusts, back in the persona that she had before the Slayer ever entered her life. It’s actually hard to believe how easily Allyson Hannigan slips back into that role, and the production crew should be commended for the costume and makeup. This act sets the stage for Willow’s growing sense of identity in the fifth season, most especially the connection between her self-image and strength in magic.

    The second act pertains to Xander, who is a character in serious need of development by the end of the fourth season. It begins with Xander in the real world, but there are indications of the deeper meaning. Willow is called a “big faker”, and Giles points out that the movie they are watching is “all about the journey”. Xander doesn’t get it, which is largely due to the fact that he doesn’t see himself as having made a journey. If Willow is terrified that her changes are cosmetic and false, Xander is terrified that he never will change.

    Xander is worried about measuring up in the world (hence, being observed by Initiative scientists as he urinates). He believes he should be striking out on his own, taking command of the world around him, but he’s mostly looking for a role to be comfortable in. As the only “normal” member of the gang, he has even more reason to question his ability and utility.

    Once on the playground, Xander comes face to face with what he thought he wanted. First, there’s Giles and the potential to become a Watcher. Like Willow, Xander has placed Giles in something of a parental role since the very beginning. Similarly, Buffy is placed in a sisterly role instead of a love interest role. (One could also consider that Buffy in this scene is also a presage of Dawn in the fifth season; Xander plays “big brother” for her on many occasions.)

    The scene in the ice cream truck has some obvious elements, especially in terms of Xander’s thoughts on Willow and Tara and what they are like behind closed doors, but there are also some obtuse moments with Anya. One could take their conversation as something of a hint towards the sixth season and Xander’s doubts about Anya’s demonic past.

    Xander pursues his fantasy versions of Willow and Tara only to find himself back in the basement. Upstairs, there’s something pounding and growling. Like with Willow, this is the source of his fear and weakness. Xander is terrified of becoming his father, and by extension, just another member of his less-than-illustrious family.

    The next several moments represent Xander’s fear that he can’t keep up with everyone else, who seems to understand what’s happening from moment to moment. He finds himself pushed into the role of the soldier in his mind’s version of “Apocalypse Now”, and soon he’s confronted with a version of Snyder, who questions Xander on his direction in life. He tells Xander exactly what Xander fears: that he was destined to be a nobody, another victim, not someone capable of fighting back and surviving.

    Xander seeks a safe haven (Giles’ apartment, Buffy’s dorm room) only to find himself back in the basement, having made no progress at all. The only way out of the basement is through his fear, but he can’t overcome that obstacle. And because he cannot overcome it, the First Slayer defeats him.

    The third act is focused on Giles, the eternal parental figure. This segment is intriguing because it introduces complication in terms of the role between Slayer and Watcher. The initial scene could be seen less as Giles’ attitude than the attitude ingrained in the Watcher mythos: men need to control the feminine, to harness and direct that primal power. This fits perfectly with the idea of the First Watchers, men who saw a need to defeat demons but needed to twist and pervert a woman with that ability to their own ends.

    As usual, Olivia (and the potential that she represents) is only present in a Joss Whedon episode (which is actually rather disappointing). In this context, she represents what Giles wishes he could have, but never will: a normal family and a child of his own. Faced with the first glimpse of the “enemy”, however, Giles recognizes (at least intellectually) some aspect what they must be facing.

    Giles is faced with the tatters of a family life, having chosen (through that recognition) the role of Watcher again. Yet he sees that Spike, clearly a demon and a fixture of unrelenting evil in the mind of any Watcher, has chosen a different way: sideshow attraction (in one of the more hilarious moments of the episode).

    Giles is more in control of his own dream-state than Willow or Xander, but he’s still caught up within the confines of his own fear: the loss of his own dreams and desires for a normal life. Giles, being older, is less driven by fear than by regret. This becomes a primary influence on his character arc throughout the rest of the series. Even as he tries to rally Willow and Xander to determine the nature of the threat and prepare a response, in his usual role, he slips into another expression of his desire to break free of obligation: his recent return to singing.

    Realization dawns too late to keep him from giving in to his fear, and his own Watcher tradition becomes the bait for the trap set by the First Slayer. But Giles’ defeat brings up an interesting continuity question. Why would Giles say that the First Slayer never had a Watcher? Of course she did; otherwise, the whole point of the initial scene for Giles’ dream would lose meaning. And Joss would have known what his intentions were for the origins of the Slayer traditions, if he brought them to question this early in the game.

    The answer may lie in the Watcher traditions themselves. If Giles is under the impression that the First Slayer was a wild power to be harnessed, within the traditions of the Watcher legacy, then he might believe that they dealing with the most untamed aspect of the First Slayer. Just how much does Giles know of the Slayer’s origins from the point of view of the Watcher legacy, anyway? For all he knows, the First Watchers took a power with little direction or purpose and gave it meaning.

    This calls into question many of the traditions of the Watchers. Many assumptions about vampires are Watcher lore, and seem designed to keep considerations of possible redemption out of the equation. Similarly, the Watchers have taken great pains to keep strict control over the thoughts and actions of the Slayers. The goal of the Watcher is not to teach or to direct, but to control; the Watchers Council becomes, from this point of view, a paternalistic attempt to save mankind through systematic (and ultimately, needless) sacrifice of, in essence, young women (symbolically virgins, especially when the Slayers in question are raised in the Watchers’ preferred environment).

    All of which brings to mind the Chosen legacy, which brings the episode to the final act and Buffy’s dream. Things get interesting once Buffy wakes up in the Summer residence and sees the bed that she and Faith made in “This Year’s Girl”. This suggests that there is a shared spiritual space for the Chosen, which does much to explain why those connected to the Slayer experience the sudden emergence of the First Slayer into Buffy’s dreams.

    The clock once again reads 7:30, or 730, but Tara notes that the time is wrong. Since Tara is the voice of the First Slayer, it makes sense that she would know what the time means. The earlier incidence of 730 in “Graduation: Part II” indicated that Buffy would die in two years. The First Slayer would know that Buffy was now closer to the time of her death. Since the First Slayer believes that the gift of the Slayer is her life, to die to save the world, awareness of that fits.

    At the same time, Tara says what is essentially the theme of the fifth season: “You think you know what’s to come, what you are…you haven’t even begun”. This is an indication that Buffy’s journey of self-discovery is about to reveal, for her, what part of her is the Chosen legacy. At the same time, in retrospect, it could point to Buffy’s inevitable role.

    One thing that is easy to forget is that Buffy is, at this point, outside of the normal Chosen line. Faith is technically the true Slayer. Therefore Buffy is something of an interloper; she shouldn’t exist and shouldn’t have the connection to the Chosen legacy that she has. Therefore her role could be seen as “pre-ordained”. She was meant to be, on a certain level, the Last Slayer. Even Faith is never technically the Chosen One; Buffy begins a process that will end by the series finale by making it possible for more than one woman to possess the power of the Slayer.

    So what is to come? In the short term, Buffy will sacrifice herself and once again return to life. The net effect is that Buffy has access to the Chosen legacy without being a part of it. Buffy therefore has the ability to change the system, which is what she accomplishes. Therefore Buffy is unique among Slayers, and once she fulfills the goal of transforming the Chosen legacy into a veritable army, she will truly come into her role as a seasoned leader. So it is quite true for the First Slayer to say that Buffy hasn’t even begun to understand her destiny.

    But why would the First Slayer fear that destiny? Why would she want to attack Buffy and force her into the box that the Watchers have created? This suggests that the First Slayer in this case is the post-First-Watcher version of the First Slayer, the one convinced that the Chosen must fight alone without support. This is in apparent contradict to the previous dreams. (The easy explanation is that the writers, including Joss, hadn’t foreseen the contradictions.)

    Tara also mentions that this needs to be finished “before dawn” is an obvious reference to the fifth season. This could be the key to why the First Slayer acts in contradiction to her apparent knowledge. Tara could, in fact, be more than just the voice for the First Slayer, as suggested by Willow’s dream. She could be the voice for the part of the First Slayer connected to the Goddess power suppressed by the First Watchers, whereas the First Slayer is acting without full understanding.

    The First Slayer tries to play on Buffy’s fears of isolation, first by isolating Buffy from her friends, and then reminding her that she’s personally placed everyone at arm’s length and behind metaphorical walls over the past year. There’s also a hint of Joyce’s fate within the metaphor; Joyce will soon be locked away from Buffy forever.

    The conversation between Buffy, Riley, and Adam reveals some of her thoughts on the military and their attempts with the Initiative, but it turns quickly towards a hint of her own fears about the Chosen legacy. Adam seems to suggest that there is a demonic element to the Slayer; this is later confirmed in the final season, though not in the way Buffy suspects.

    Buffy finds herself in the desert, a metaphor for the isolation of the Chosen. One is left to wonder what the “right questions” are, though those could be related to the nature of the Slayer’s origins. Buffy’s fear is, in fact, that she will be alone, and the First Slayer represents a way of being the Slayer that she cannot abide. How this is resolved is one of the weaknesses of the episode.

    One could interpret the ending as a subtle means of demonstrating how Buffy defeated the First Slayer. Buffy tries fighting the First Slayer when she attacks, but that doesn’t seem to get her anywhere. Buffy’s real victory comes when she decides that it needs to end. It could be interpreted that she decides not to fight, and thus achieves victory. However, this is far from clear, and it comes across as unconvincing writing, as though Joss couldn’t figure out how to end it and just had Buffy take control as a default.

    Despite that drawback, Joss turns an unconventional season finale, quite apart from the “Big Bad” plot arc that ended in “Primeval”. Instead, he focuses on the character arcs, all of which centered on questions of self-identity. Joss realized that the search for one’s place in the world is accompanied by uncertainly, and therefore, fear and regret. Each of the primary characters in the cast is faced with their weakness, and Buffy is the only one to come through to the other side.

    What does that suggest about the fifth season and beyond? In essence, it suggests that Willow will continue to struggle with the uncertainty that her abilities and choices are just an affectation. This is exactly where the fifth season was originally meant to go; Willow’s descent into dark magics was extended into the sixth season. Xander would continue to struggle with finding a direction and thus happiness; he would continue to create a false sense of security making choices he thinks he should be making.

    Giles would continue to take issue with his “father figure” role, especially as Dawn’s needs emerged and Joyce’s fate came to pass. He would also be forced to evaluate his own regrets and balance them with the obligations to Buffy’s unique situation. And of course, Buffy would take her own questions about herself and take it to the obvious next level, and explore what of herself is a product of the primal demands of the Chosen legacy.

    The net effect is that the fourth season finale avoids what the previous season finales accomplished with relative ease: resolution of a main theme. The theme would essentially blur and become less discrete over the rest of the series’ life. In short, the fourth season is the initial fear and uncertainty of adulthood, reflected in questions of self-identity; the fifth season is the doubt over how much of one’s life is the legacy of one’s origins, and the sixth season is about facing the inner demons that feed on those doubts. The seventh and final season was the logical culmination of that journey: self-realization.

    The nature of this episode is such that layers of meaning and potential context are easy to miss. Every scene, every line of dialogue, every lighting choice could be mined for pages and pages of analysis. In this case, Joss does his best to give a lackluster season a depth of meaning and an overall context within the scope of the series as a whole. It may not fully fulfill that purpose, but it does represent an important moment in the growth of a gifted storyteller.
  • After a battle with Adam the slayer and her friends go home to watch a movie. They fall asleep and have strange dreams

    10
    In my opinion this is the greatest episode of a tv show ever. To end a series with an episode when the big bad of the season has already been defeated was pretty risky but pays off in spades. This episode even has the guy with the cheese who I think could have had his own show.
    It even has spoilers for what is going to happen the next season, namely the introduction of little sister Dawn
    A monumental moment of tv which gets better with every viewing.
  • THIS IS MY FAVORITE EPISODE EVER!!!!

    10
    This is my favorite episode ever!! I don't know why but everything about this episode is exactly why I grew to love this series. The exciting twisting and turning of plot. The strange nothingness that surrounded the chese guy ( really Joss, what was that), and all the hidden meanings that ly within every word thats said and every movement made by the characters. WOW is all that i can say. This, and the Yoko Factor are the episodes that i look forward to seeing every time that i rewatch the series.Woo Hoo.
  • Fascinating dream sequence of all four main characters.

    10
    This episode is a prime example of the brilliance of Joss Whedon. It is creative and plays out just the way dreams do. If taken literally it makes no sense, yet is still entertaining to watch. For true Buffy fans it is fun to try to see the hidden meaning in it all. It's all around fabulous.
  • Great way to show how someone thinks, interesting point of view

    9.9
    You really have the dream-vibe when you watch this episode: everything is weird, you jump from one thing into the other, alsmost nothing make any sense and yet when you think about it, a lot of things are very obvious, like Willows fear that she still is the nerd, and other stuff seems completely useless lie the cheese guy even though he was funny in his silly appearances we never find out what he means, and if he means anything, I kinda think that's too bad.
  • "Gotta be with moving forward…like a shark with feet and less fins" - Xander

    9.8
    And so to the coda of Season 4, and Joss’s dreams obsession coming to a head (or lungs or heart or hands). This episode has been criticised, and I would agree that it’s a little self-indulgent, but, heck, Whedon had made 77 excellent episodes of BTVS and was confident that the series would be around for at least another 44. So, much of the content of this episode is hints and foreshadowing, or simply ideas that were paid off in the next two series. Less of a coda than a codex, perhaps.

    So, the gang are still wired from defeating Adam and they retire to Joyce’s house (where much of the action in the next season is set) to watch videos and to promptly fall asleep. We open with Willow’s dream and some beautiful shots of Miss Kitty Fantastico (RIP). Willow has come a long way since we first met her aged 15, but her dream shows her inner insecurities. We start with an intimate scene: Willow painting calligraphy onto Tara’s naked back. The text is, aptly, a poem by Sappho, but my reading is that Willow sees Tara as a blank canvas to project onto – with Tara she can carry out her incantations, she feels secure in her witch identity (her real self?) with her girlfriend. But there is a (false?) hint that Tara is not all she seems. “You don’t know everything about me,”, she tells Willow - intimating that the real Tara will appear in S5. The concept of the real self continues as Willow arrives in drama class - playing herself. It was interesting that in The Yoko Factor, Willow told Tara that she was thinking of taking a drama class next semester. We saw in The Puppet Show and Nightmares just how terrified Willow is of being on stage, of being seen, noticed. Her relationship with Tara makes her feel so safe and confident that she believes she has overcome her shyness enough to feel her fear and do it anyway. But her dream tells her that she is wrong – the bizarre version of Death of a Salesman (which appears like a particularly bad Pinter play rather than Arthur Miller, although the stream of consciousness style of the actual play is similar to this ep) is more like a school play (including Harmony in the cast) than a college drama class, with Giles as a luvvy director (like in The Puppet Show and also foreshadowing the musical episode: “Stay in character, remember your lines and energy energy energy – especially in the musical numbers!”) and she is soon returned to school in the dream. Willow not being able to find her character in the dream is akin to her being unable to find her real spirit, her real self in life - but conversely, she is scared of that real self being revealed.

    She walks through the soft, red, voluptuous curtains (less a homage to Twin Peaks and more to Sigmund Freud) to try to find the one who makes her feel secure, but ends up back in a high school English class making a child’s book report. Her primal fears are portrayed as Buffy and Xander ignore the First Slayer trying to choke her breath, her spirit, out of her; Anya hates her, and Oz and Tara flirting with each other and laughing at her. Buffy tells her: “Willow, everybody already knows. Take it off” as she rips Willow’s “costume” off of her, revealing her old “softer side of Sears look”. Anya states that: “It’s a Greek tragedy,” which may refer back to the stage-frightened performance in The Puppet Show, but also to Tara’s death (Sappho was, of course, Grecian).

    Even though she is terrified of being on stage, people keep hinting that they know she’s acting. Buffy says: “Your costume is perfect. Nobody's gonna know the truth. You know, about you”. Meanwhile, Tara tells her “Everybody’s starting to wonder about you - the real you. If they find out, they'll punish you”. This hints to three things - Willow’s possible insecurity about her lesbianism and her witchiness, her fear that her faults will be found out and people will know that she’s not a cool person at all, but still a boring unpopular geek, and thirdly the sinister self that will be revealed in S6. Willow states: “I’m very seldom naughty”, but when she is, when Tara dies and what she has is taken away from her, Willow’s darker self rises to the surface, the side she’s tried to conceal, and she is punished.

    Willow’s version of lesbianism is Pillow Book-esque, Xander’s is rather different. “Sometimes, I think about two women doing a spell, and then I do a spell by myself,” he says, parodying the witchcraft/lesbian metaphor that has been prevalent throughout S4. Xander was the heart of the combining spell, yet here he can’t find his heart’s desire. Anya is an unromantic friend in the dream, his former crush, Buffy, is a little sister, but Joyce (referencing Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered) and Willow/Tara dressed as lipstick lesbians are the ones who tempt him. Even in his dreams, Xander isn’t committed to Anya. Anya tells him she’s thinking of getting back into vengeance (which of course she does in S6) which shows Xander’s view of her – she could go ‘bad’ at anytime and so he doesn’t see her a long-term girlfriend, just as a stop-gap. Given Anya’s nonchalance, Xander tries to get to the seductresses, but ends up wandering through corridors, rooms and sets before constantly ending up back in his basement: possibly the most obvious symbol in the episode. “It’s about the journey,” says dream-Giles, watching Apocalypse Now, and Xander tries hard to progress, but he is thwarted. Anya asks him: “Do you know where you’re going?”, as they drive along in the ice-cream van with the fake backdrop, showing their stasis, and Kurtz/Brando/Snyder asks him: “Where you heading?” ‘No’ and ‘nowhere’ are the answers to those questions. Xander is more like an amoeba than a shark. Xander-as-Sheen approaching Kurtz is perhaps the zenith of his army obsession which has been with him since Hallowe’en – let’s hope it’s out of his system now.

    Giles/Diego and Anya speak French to him, representing his fear that he will not be able to understand and be with the gang as they become more educated than him – they’re moving away from him whilst he is stuck. Even in the idyllic scene with Buffy in a sandpit and Giles and Spike bonding on the swings (paid back in Tabula Rasa), he fears that Spike is taking his place in the gang – Giles has taken him under his wing and now even a chipped vampire can get a proper job (Watcher-in-training). Xander says that he used to feel like Giles’s son, which is not surprising as we see a potential father figure, Snyder, telling him that he’s a “whipping boy” and his actual father deriding and sneering at him.

    In the scene with Xander’s father, we see that the basement – representing the same to him as Willow’s geek-clothes in her dream – is a vicious circle. Staying with his belittling family quashes his self-confidence and makes him unable to leave the basement. He can’t move out without a good job, which takes self-esteem, but he can’t get self-esteem without moving out. It’s in their most fearful places: high school and the basement, that the First Slayer tries to take Willow and Xander’s lives as they themselves struggle to get their lives on track. “You can’t protect yourself from some stuff,” says Xander, meaning life – or death? (Joyce’s, Buffy’s).

    Whereas Xander saw Spike as an usurper, and Buffy and Willow don’t think of him at all, Giles views the vamp as more of a Sideshow Spike, a pointless entertainer. Anya’s bad joke-telling is seen in the same way, as silly showing-off, whereas Giles, who has the important thing to say – the exposition of the story through song (more foreshadowing of Once More with Feeling) - is the true artist and is appreciated by the audience. He walks through the coffee shop, scene of his first gig, to his rightful place in the Bronze (where he is effectively not allowed, as he has to be the sensible adult-figure that the others want him to be). He feels that he is denied both a second youth playing guitar and a “true” adulthood – marriage, fatherhood and family. Olivia’s empty pram represents the child he never had and Buffy as a pre-pubescent, his daughter-substitute, shows the reason why. Timepieces play an important part of Giles’s dream – does he feel time is running out for him? Or is it an oblique reference to Buffy’s death? “What am I to do with all this stuff,” he wonders - what is he to do with his life? Both Spike and Buffy warn him about missing out. Willow and Buffy have been studying Psychology all year and should be able to analyse their dreams, but they don’t, and even Giles’s enormous brain can’t work out what is going on, and the First Slayer tries to decapitate him (suggestions of The Puppet Show, once again). In this season of Science vs Magicks, Giles feels that he knows the true way, has the true knowledge and yet he isn’t valued, except in his dream. He tells the First Slayer that she never had a Watcher; he believes that this is what makes her out of control – Slayers need Watchers, even if Buffy has been proving otherwise. Meanwhile Buffy is back in the Slayer dream of making the bed. The time theme from Giles’s dream is also continued: Buffy’s alarm clock states 7.30, but it’s wrong; we’re now counting down from 365. Beds are referenced several times in Buffy's dream – a place of birth but also of death. The theme of family is continued as we see Joyce trapped in the wall (as in School Hard) and Buffy leaving her there. In the earlier, non-dream part of the episode, Joyce gently rebuked Buffy for not having introduced her to Riley until now. Joyce’s death is not foreshadowed in Buffy’s dream, but Buffy’s need to pay more attention to her mother and not, as in the dream, abandon her does happen in S5, as the Slayer moves home to look after her mother.

    Willow sees Riley as a big lummoxy cowboy but Buffy views him as something more dangerous as, in her dream, he teams up with Adam to plot world domination. Again we have Science vs Magicks: as Riley and Adam talk about technology, Buffy digs deep into her weapons bag of primeval mud and gets closer to the source of her power: the First Slayer. Giles also dreamed about Buffy muddying her face, and Xander of Buffy in a sandpit, and Buffy returns to the desert, to pre-history, to a pre-language Neanderthal time. “I live in the action of death. Destruction. Absolute. Alone,” says the First Slayer, (translated by Tara, who, just as she becomes more of a mother figure in S5 and 6, is here wise and supportive), something Buffy refutes as much as Adam’s assertion that “Aggression is a natural tendency, but you and me come by it in a different way”. “We’re not demons”, she says, but does Buffy secretly associate herself with Adam – half-demon and half-human? Riley greets her with: “Hey there, killer”, showing her fear that, like Faith, she considers herself not so much a Slayer as a murderer. He leaves her with: “Guess you’re on your own”, just as in S5, when he does desert her. Does Buffy, like Xander, believe her beau is just a stop-gap? Being alone is something Buffy fears above all else and in her dream, she is searching for her friends, the thing that makes her different from all the other Slayers. She believes that her power source comes from her love for them and not a primeval force. Ironically, the power that the gang drew from in order to fuse into one being belonged to the First Slayer and her affront at this (as she says: “No friends, just kill, we are alone”) causes her to attack the gang and try to take what they represented in the spell. TFS believes her power cannot be used as a unifier; she believes in isolation. Just as the idea of Buffy’s uniqueness as the Slayer was used as a metaphor for teen angst in Seasons 1-3, here we can read it as analogous to how we all live (and die) alone. Each of the Scoobs is alone in their dreams, with the others ganging up on them or ignoring them or absent.

    Even though Buffy accepted her role as the Slayer some time ago, she still doesn’t believe that she can’t have a normal life with college and friends and family and lovers, and neither does she acknowledge that her power may well come from a dark place. The pun of ‘primeval’ as ‘first evil’ hints that Slayer power and original sin come from the same point. Both she and TFS emerge from the same place in the curtains in Willow’s dream and Buffy is told: “You have no idea what you are”. But to prove her antipathy to TFS’s message, Buffy has to fight her. Once again, Buffy’s motivation is to save her friends and ironically, given that ancient magic has been proven better than advanced science, she needs to demonstrate that modernity beats the primitive. She succeeds, and is the only one of the gang whose power is not taken away from her, but we get the impression that Buffy is fooling herself. Tara’s words, as Buffy looks into the spare room that will become Dawn’s, come back to haunt her: “You think you know what’s to come, what you are. You haven’t even begun”. This is also a reference to Buffy’s new role as big sister, a new experience for her. More foreshadowing of Dawn is shown in Olivia’s pregnancy (Giles becoming a father figure to Dawn as well as to Buffy) and the theme of childhood and family throughout the dreams hints at Dawn’s arrival (presumably the monks were planning their spell at this very moment). Tara makes it explicit: “Be back before Dawn” she tells Buffy.

    The themes of birth (Dawn’s) and death (Buffy’s) are combined with both the S4 themes of Magicks vs Science and change. The dreams show us that the gang have moved on, but have not yet grown up: they still need to find purpose and to accept themselves. The theme of progressing forward relates not just to the characters but also to the story – Joss has moved them successfully from high school to college; now the story must move on from university to a mystical world of goddesses and spells, and then to the diametrically opposed dark place of S6 with its real life drudgery and real life villains. The woods may be lovely, dark and deep, but the Scoobs have promises to keep, and miles to go before they sleep. Oh, and the cheese man represents the subliminal desire to kill the parents, the providers of milk and life. Or something.
  • Not an episode to judge by, but oh so revealing.

    9.6
    This episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is definitely not the best, but it's the only season of the show that doesn't end with a huge battle or an explosion. At the end of the day though this episode isn't supposed to be about whose going to die, it's about finally understanding and viewing each characters mind in turn. This, however, is something that isn't usually appreciated enough by the shows viewers in order for the writers to deem it worth writing about.

    This episode definitely brings across it's point of carrying it's fans into the next season by making them confused at new revelations that are in store for our hero. Some fans say that the writing for this episode is sloppy and relaxed, but it's supposed to be that's the whole point of an episode that delves into the dream world, it's not going to be self-explanatory, it's not going to be straight-forward, because the dream world rarely is. This is definitely an episode to sink your teeth into.
  • An amazing episode that give us glimpses and clues as to future character development.

    9.5
    What a trippy episode this is! I love it! In the aftermath of the Uber-Buffy spell, the gang plan on staying up all night watching movies. Instead they all lapse into deep sleep where we (the audience) gets a glimpse into their psyches.

    Unfortunately for our gang, the spirit of the first Slayer is also taking a tour. Angry over the sharing of the Slayer's powers with others, she stalks the gang one by one in an effort to punish them for the transgression.

    Willow has her breath taken, Xander gets a hole in his chest, Giles gets the top of his head sliced through and Buffy gets beaten on. It falls to Buffy to convince the First Slayer that she's in control of the Slayer power now and to banish the invading spirit before her friends die.

    The episode is amusing and sad and creepy. The music is brilliant and fits the episode like a glove. And the hints to next season, in retrospect, are clever. This is a must see episode, but only after you know who the characters are and are familiar with their development to this point.
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