While I’m not entirely sure if this counts as a review, there is definitely spoilers going on down below. Be Advised.
As some of you may know, I’ve been spending most of this school year filling my free time by making my first foray into the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I believe I have firmly established on this blog that I am deeply indebted to Joss Whedon for shaping my taste in television and films in a way not too many other creators have been able to. Last week I finished the fourth season of Buffy and encountered what I believe to be my favourite episode of the show’s run up to that point (I’m sorry “Hush” lovers): “Restless.”
I am not entirely sure how to start this…what? Review? Revue? Rambling? It’s difficult for me to shape my thoughts into coherence, because this episode seems to pride itself on incoherence. In fact, I found it incredibly problematic. But that’s just part of the charm of this crazy episode. As I said to one of my friends as I was watching this episode, I had no idea what was happening, and I was loving every second of it.
Let’s get the first issue out of the way: for all intents and purposes, the season was over. Adam is dead, and the scooby gang got out of a jam with little or no damage done (until season 5 says otherwise, anyway). So it’s odd that they have this weird little coda of an episode to end of the season when the climactic moments literally all happened the week before. It set me off on a very uncomfortable, alienated footing. Which turned out to be exactly what I needed to enjoy “Restless” to its full potential.
It must be incredibly hard to do a good dream episode. And that’s not just because I’ve seen terrible ones either: there’s a delicate balance to it where you have to be weird enough (it is a dream after all, not reality) but not too weird (that would be a real alienator). If you think about dream episodes (“Who Shot JR?” comes to mind) a lot of times writers will veer too close to the “it’s reality” end of the spectrum before they rip the rug out from under you by revealing it was all a dream. In short, it feels like a cheat.
We definitely don’t have to worry about this here, though. Each core member of the Scooby Gang gets their own part of the episode. Each dream is unique while being instantly relatable, and the laughs are in abundance at every turn. I had just recently finished a production of “The Actor’s Nightmare” so Willow’s dream about being in a play where she didn’t know the lines hit close to home for me. I also liked the return of High School Willow, and the IT classroom from season 1.
Who doesn’t love Apocalypse Now? Seriously? I loved Xander’s dream because – hey look – Snyder is back! And he’s playing Kurtz! What could be better? Xander’s latent feelings of sexual inadequacy, as well as more Giles and Spike shenanigans, that’s what. Speaking of Giles, I thought his dream was a bit lacking, and it seemed like the writers might have been rushing through his dream a bit to get to Buffy’s dream, and from there, the resolution.
The resolution does eventually come, of course, but it doesn’t really matter to what this episode does. The character development, not to mention the humour and sheer surreality of the whole thing just makes it a solid 10 out of 10 for me.
Remember, you can go if you want, but be back before Dawn.