Guest Starring: 
 Kristine Sutherland: 
 (Joyce Summers) 
 Harris Yulin: 
 (Quentin Travers) 
 Jeff Kober: 
 Dominic Keating: 
 David Hayon Jones: 
  12. Helpless.  
  The watcher's council are in town, and it is their purpose to test Buffy on her 18th birthday.  
  Great quotes:  
  • Oz has another inspired literal interpretation: "Ice is cool. It's like water, but it's not."
  • Buffy worries about her loss of powers: "I'm off my game, my game's left the country!"
  • Buffy to Quentin Travers: "Bite me!"
  • Angel talks about wanting to take Buffy's heart and "...warm it with my own...", to which Buffy responds "That's beautiful, or taken literally incredibly gross."
  Fantastic moments:  
Buffy looking worse for wear.
  • Kralik is an excellent villain; he has something of 'Hannibal Lector' about him in his intelligent insanity. He goes on and on about "...having a problem with Mothers..." and seems to derive a masochistic pleasure in being burnt by a cross, a genuinely nasty bad guy.
  • The final 10 minutes are action-packed in a way unseen on BtVS, Buffy is chased around the abandoned house by a Kralik who appears to be playing a game. The way that Buffy ultimately deals with Kralik displays intelligence rather than simple strength and guile.
  • Xander and Oz briefly discuss Superman's relationship with Kryptonite in a wonderfully surreal moment. I'm led to believe that Oz is right by the way.
  Duff Bits:  
Willow's terrible hat.
  • The episode's premise is utter tosh. There is no sensible reason for the Watcher's council testing the Slayer (possibly to death). If she's rubbish then she'll be killed by a demon sooner or later.
  • Willow's choice of clothing is a horror show, her pink skirt, yellow tights and rainbow bobble hat combo is particularly disturbing.
  • Quentin Travers sounds more like an implausible Bond villain than an English gentleman.
  Dean's comments:  
Behold the Little Red Riding Hood metaphor!
Finally, here at the 46th episode in the series, BtVS lives the horror cliché; putting the pretty blonde in distress, dressing her up as Little Red Riding Hood and setting the wolf on her. It's another tale that revolves around Buffy having a really hard time on her birthday. The plot is quite promising, Buffy must fight evil without her super-powers, and it says good things about Buffy's intelligence and wisdom. The problem is that there is something missing in the execution, it takes too long to get to the final 10 minutes when we get to see Buffy perform without her superhero skills. The plot rather ambles to the finish rather than building the grand to a crescendo as usual. The Buffy / Giles relationship is put to the test in 'Helpless' (Travers mentions that Giles has a "...Father's love for a child..."), Anthony Head does an amazing job of putting strain and emotion into his voice as he reveals the council's deception to Buffy. Thankfully their relationship survives the test, Giles mops Buffy's cut forehead at the end of the episode in a touching way seemingly uninterested in the loss of his own job while Buffy is still suffering.
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