"Older and Far Away"
Written by Drew Z. Greenberg; directed by Michael E. Gershman

Buffy heads out for another fun-filled night of patrolling, apologizing to Dawn for not spending much time with her. In a cemetery, Buffy fights a demon and takes his sword after he runs off. At the Magic Shop, Xander, Willow, and Anya discuss Buffy’s upcoming birthday party. (Because apparently they have no learning curves and have no recollection of the events of past birthday happenings. See “Surprise,” “Helpless,” and “Blood Ties.”) Xander asks Willow if they can invite Tara and she seems happy about the possibility of Tara coming. Dawn arrives and asks if anyone wants to go to the mall with her to buy presents; they all decline. Dawn returns home later that evening, having shoplifted a number of things from the mall.

At school the next day, Dawn is called to the guidance counselor’s office. The counselor asks how she’s doing and Dawn lies that everything is fine. She mentions that people seem to keep leaving her and she wishes that they would just stop. At the party, Buffy tells Xander and Anya that she invited a friend named Sophie from work to the party. Anya and Xander say that they’ve invited someone for her - a guy, who they hope to try to fix up with her. Tara arrives for the party and asks Buffy if Spike is coming; Buffy says that he’s not. Willow prepares herself to see Tara again as Tara tells Buffy she’s nervous about seeing Willow. When the two encounter each other, they have an awkward conversation, then split up.

Spike arrives at the party with Clem (last seen in “Life Serial”); they are soon followed by Xander and Anya’s friend, Richard. Anya treats Dawn like a child, adding to Dawn’s growing list of grievances with the Scoobies. Spike tries to flirt with Buffy again and she accuses him of being jealous of Richard. Buffy opens presents, including a back massager (from Willow), a stolen jacket (from Dawn), and a handmade weapons chest (from Xander and Anya). Dawn grows frustrated when Buffy reacts more favorably to Xander and Anya’s gift than to hers. Sophie arrives and Buffy introduces her to the Scoobies; Anya tells Buffy that her and Xander’s friend is better. Out on the porch, Dawn’s guidance counselor appears and morphs into demon face - it’s Halfrek (last seen in “Doublemeat Palace”). “Wish granted,” she says.

Buffy and Richard chat a little while Spike looks on. After Richard leaves the room, Spike tries to get a little friendly with Buffy, but she’s afraid that someone will see them. Tara spots the goings on and teases Spike about it. The Scoobies decide to make a beer run but no one actually leaves. Buffy, Dawn, Anya, and Richard play Monopoly while Xander, Spike, Tara, and Clem play poker (though Clem thinks “it’s weird without the kittens”). Everyone winds up spending the night at the Summers’. In the morning, Richard tells Xander that they need to head to work; Spike takes the opportunity to try to kick Richard out of the house. He hints that he’d like to kill Richard and Buffy tells him to cut it out. Tara and Willow have another awkward conversation, agreeing that they have class but don’t want to leave.

Buffy tries to kick Spike out (despite the fact that it’s morning) but finds that she can’t move. She announces to everyone that something or someone is keeping them in the house. They try to leave as a group but have no success. Dawn grows angry, saying that everyone would rather be somewhere else than with her. Dawn heads upstairs and the Scoobies follow her. Buffy asks if she did something and Dawn feels like everyone’s ganging up on her. She says that she’s tired of being treated like a child (maybe she should stop acting like one, then, huh?) and does her ever popular “get out, GET OUT, GET OUT!” scream (see “Blood Ties”).

Downstairs, Tara realizes that the phones are out and Buffy decides that they may have to use magic to get out of their bind. Tara agrees to try a spell so that Willow won’t have to do anything; Willow admits that she kept a few supplies after Buffy cleared everything out (see “Gone”). Tara does a spell, releasing smoke that swirls around the sword Buffy grabbed earlier. Everyone remains trapped in the house, now with a demon, which the smoke brought out of the sword. The demon starts attacking and injures Richard, then melts into the floor. Later that night, Richard is being tended to upstairs while everyone else begins to panic about being trapped. They hear creaking and wonder if the demon is in the walls of the house.

Xander tries to comfort Anya, who is reacting badly to the situation. The demon comes out of the wall and grabs Xander. Spike and Buffy fight the demon off and Xander assures Anya that he’s all right. Dawn tells Buffy that she didn’t mean for this to happen and Buffy asks her what she did want. Dawn replies that Buffy never feels alone, the way she does. Tara offers to try another spell and Anya says that Willow is sitting on power that could help them. Xander tells Willow that, if she starts to go to the dark side, they can bring her back. Anya tells Willow that her addiction was her own fault and Tara tells her to back off. Anya announces that she will solve the problem herself.

In Buffy’s bedroom, Buffy says that she wishes Dawn had told her how she was feeling. Dawn mentions that she spoke with her guidance counselor and Buffy puts the pieces together, realizing that Dawn made a wish to a vengeance demon. They hear commotion from Dawn’s room and hurry over to see Anya tearing through Dawn’s things, looking for something that might have caused the entrapment. She finds all of the things that Dawn has stolen and asks how Dawn could steal from her after all Anya’s done for her. Buffy tells Anya about the wish and the counselor; Anya figures out that she talked to Halfrek. She says that only Halfrek can break the spell and yells for her to materialize. Halfrek does, and is subsequently stabbed by the demon.

The Scoobies fight the demon, and Buffy finally kills him by stabbing the wall after he disappears into it. Anya and Buffy rush to get Halfrek’s pendant (her power source) but she stops them. She announces that even a sword in the chest won’t stop her. Suddenly, she recognizes Spike, who also seems to recognize her. (Inside joke: Kali Rocha also played Cecily, Spike’s love interest in “Fool for Love.”) Halfrek blasts the Scoobies for ignoring Dawn (yes, just the lesson I wanted to learn from this) and starts to teleport herself out of the house. She can’t because of her own curse, which she finally lifts before leaving. Willow thanks Tara for defending her and gives her the supplies she kept. Tara compliments her for refusing to use magic even when people were desperate for her help. Xander and Anya head out to take Richard to the hospital and Anya warns Dawn that she will be responsible for paying for everything she stole. Everyone admires the stars, happy to be outside. Buffy starts to go out to the yard to join them, then goes back inside to stay with Dawn.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: If I wanted to watch a bunch of people sitting around doing nothing, I would sit around and do nothing with a bunch of people.

GRADE: C So...incredibly...boring.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Anya: “I don't know why people get so turned off by slug.”
Xander: “Honey, slugs get turned off by slug.”

Xander: “So, who's coming, you invite anyone else?”
Buffy: “Just you guys. Willow, Tara. The gang. Oh, and Sophie from work.” (Xander and Anya exchange a glance) “What? Like I'm one of those losers who can't make friends outside her tight little circle? No. I'm friendly. We bonded instantly. Peas in a pod. Bonded peas.”
Anya: “Really? Um, what's Sophie's last name?”
Buffy: “Okay, shut up.”

Spike: (upon meeting Richard) “Stupid git!”
Tara: “I don't know. He seemed...cute. W-was he cute? I mean, I'm not a very good judge, but…I think he seemed cute.”
Clem: “I think he seemed cute, yeah.”

Spike: “I had...a...muscle cramp. Buffy was, uh, helping.”
Tara: “A muscle cramp? In your...pants?”
Spike: “What? It's a thing.”

Dawn: “Oh! We should totally have a slumber party.”
Buffy: “Oh, I don't know…. I guess, as long as everyone's staying up anyway.”
Spike: “Must be some late-night activities to keep us busy till morning.”
Tara: “How's that cramp, Spike? Still bothering you?”
Spike: “What? Oh. Yeah.”
Tara: “Maybe you, uh, wanna put some ice on it.”

Richard: “I don't know why I'm not leaving.
Spike: “Me, either. Besides, Richie, you can't skip breakfast. Growing boy like you. Me, I used to love breakfast. In the old days, I probably would have eaten by now.”
Buffy: “Of course, with that new diet of yours, you wanna be careful what you try puttin' in your mouth now, Spikey.”
Spike: “Yeah? I don't know. Tummy's making all kinds of gurglies. Maybe I oughta just feed on whatever's around…even if it doesn't go down well. (to Richard) You, uh, work out?”
Buffy: “Okey-dokey.” (she pulls Spike aside) “Hey, Mister Passive-Aggressive Guy. Seriously, you wanna take it down a notch or two in there?”
Spike: “What, poor dainty Richard can't take a joke?”
Buffy: “We do not joke about eating people in this house!”

“I hope you die, you stupid jerkface!” - Anya to demon

Tara: “I thought vengeance demons only punished men who wronged women.”
Halfrek: “Oh, that was Anya's little raison d'être. Most of us try to be a little more well-rounded. And actually, we prefer 'justice demon.' Okay? FYI.”
Anya: “Well-rounded, huh? Is that how you explain your thing for bad parents?”
Halfrek: “Oh, it's not a thing. The children need me.”
Anya: “Hmm!” (cough) “Daddy issues.” (cough)

Richard: “You have some weird friends.”
Xander: “News from the file marked 'duh.’”

“And Dawnie, there are two words I want you to get used to: punitive damages.” - Anya

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