No Place Like Home • S05E05 • TPN’s Buffy Guide

No Place Like Home • S05E05 • TPN’s Buffy Guide

Episode 7’s are normally the igniting point
for the season’s arc but Season 5’ is a little bit different. As the pattern goes typically, the early episodes
are concerned with cleaning up odds and ends from the previous season and then rolling
out some of the themes through various character bits. But…perhaps since ‘Season 4’ was so
unusual, both in where the arc ended up and with the one-of-a-kind conclusion with ‘Restless,’
‘Season 5’ changes things up slightly. Yes, this season’s spectacular Episode 7,
‘Fool For Love,’ (one of my favorites in the entire series) provides a ton of important
nuance for Season 5’s themes but it is ‘No Place Like Home,’ which really propels the
season 5 arc into motion. Brutal, lovely, wonderful ‘Season 5’. And all its Glory. Summary
The episode opens with a flashback to two months earlier, with a trio of monks running
from a force unseen and speaking o each other in Czech about protecting a Key. In the present, Buffy stakes an e-normous
vampire – more evidence, as with the rest of this season so far, that she has this slaying
thing down to a science. A security guard stops and hands her a shiny
looking bauble that was on the ground. The next morning, Dawn and Buffy are still
squabbling a bit and we come to discover that Joyce’s symptoms have come back. Once again, I am astonished at how grounded
and realistic the Summers’ family chemistry feels. Dawn and Buffy seem like they’ve been squabbling
over their stuff for years, not four episodes. And Buffy is jealous over the connection Joyce
and Dawn have been developing since she’s gone off to college. 5:00 “You guys have a book club?” It’s opening day at The Magic Box and Buffy
never let’s Giles have any fun. (4×04) “Happy Halloween!” Willow, on the other hand. 7:30 “Giles! Where’s your hat and cloak?” Buffy shares the glowy babule with the group
and Giles offers his wizened insight. G: Appears to be paranormal in origin. W: How can you tell? G: Well, it’s so shiny. X: Can you believe the Watchers Council let
this guy go? Back at home…*sigh…Joyce…has…a…headache. And Buffy heads to the hospital pharmacy and
runs into Ben who is tending a disturbed man, strangely not unlike the guy that spoke to
Dawn in ’Real Me’. “Radioactive spider bite?” I always love a Spider-Man reference as Buffy
shares more in common with Peter Parker than any other superhero. It’s the security guard from the glowy bauble
factory that the Buffster ran into earlier. And,at said factory in question is one of
the monks. A giant metal door he’s standing by buckles
revealing the terrifying, beastial… “I have been looking all over for you.” …Glory. 1. Yes, no one says her name in this episode
but, unlike the Host, it was in the shooting script and there is nothing lost in the reveal,
so you know…for the sake of simplicity. GLORY interrogates the Monk while speaking
in riddle but, as with any Buffyverse…verse there is truth hidden inside. 15:30 “Like there’s something deep inside
and it’s swelling up and making me crazy.” After becoming a little…uh…unglued, she
fingers another security guard’s brainy bits and seems fine. Though HE isn’t. Buffy suspects someone has cast a spell on
Joyce and Anya explains that magic tends to leave a fingerprint which you can see with
the right kind of trance. Buffy gets all trancified and discovers that
the only traces of magic in the house are from… 25:00 “Who said you could come in my room?” “You’re not my sister.” What. a. cool. reveal this was the first time through. I always thought it was so neat just letting
Dawn hang as though she’d always been there for 3 episodes, leaving us all scratching
our heads. It felt like a really special piece of fantasy. We got to find out when Buffy did. In fact, when I watched the first time, Dawn
had been around long enough that I had just acclimated to her. “WHO IS..wha…I…okay fine…” Such that when trancetacular Buffy found no
magic fingerprint on Joyce but looked past her to see a flicker-pated Dawn in the picture,
I almost jumped out of my seat. “FINALLY.” Giles has a finger on what the glowy bauble
is for. 28:30 “The Dagon Sphere was created to repel
that which cannot be named.” *Voldemort cut
In the yard, a strangely docile Spike calls the Slayer something to her face he uses very
rarely. 30:42 “Hi Buffy.” Her name. There was that one time when he was engaged
to her thanks to Willow’s spell. “BUFFY!” And ‘Out of My Mind,’ when he was about
to have his super sexy dream about her. But here, she notices. “No one has time for this, William.” Buffy returns to the factory, gets her butt
handed to her by Glory, and saves the monk who reveals to her what Dawn is. 38:30 “We had to hide the Key, gave it form,
molded it flesh, made it human, and sent it to you.” “Dawn.” So the Monks were protecting an energetic
key that Glory wants and made it into Dawn so Buffy would protect it. 39:30 “She’s not my sister.” “She doesn’t know that.” Somehow, this guy’s little performance does
(for me) a wonderful job of fostering empathy and compassion for Dawn while also providing
a MAJOR piece of exposition. Buffy returns home in a more compassionate
mood. B: “I’m sorry, okay?”
D: “Broken record much?” B: “You can’t even take an apology. You ALWAYS do that. Ever since…” Also, SUCH a cool moment, that Sarah plays
beautifully. This is a magical piece of fantasy but Sarah
and Michelle’s performances make it feel SO grounded and human. “Buffy…what’s wrong with Mom?” UGH. Review
It has taken me a little to understand why, but I have found this early ‘Buffy’ season
a little challenging to review. As I mentioned in ‘Out of My Mind,’ the
show has become so successful at turning itself into an arc-series and, until we get to ‘Fool
for Love,’ this stretch of episodes almost feels to me more like one single cohesive
unit, with some occasional hijinx thrown in, rather than a set of five very distinct memorable
episodes. It all has a very gentle feel. Maybe even a little (and I DON’T mean this
word as a pejorative) soapy, at times. The familiar and easy breath of everyday life
in Sunnydale. Take, for example, ‘The Replacement’,
where the demon Toth appears unheralded, splits Xander in two, and disappears for most of
the episode until he can be easily dispatched close to the end. The rest of the episode is a character study. Love. Relationships. Entrenched fears and insecurities. I think it’s all been brilliant – I’ve
even found love for boy band Drac and the pink pants. And, I actually kind of love ‘Days of Our
Sunnydale Lives.’ Plus, this season has already given us a few
all time classic fan favorite lines: “Out. For. A. Walk. Bitch.” It’s all very…pleasant. I think it has just taken me a little bit
of time to accept that a change in the show’s style inevitably means some alteration to
my own during these kinds of stretches. All of that said, ‘No Place Like Home’
gives us some terrific moments in this season’s developing arc. We only get a tiny continuation from the previous
episode’s cliffhanger but Marsters makes every second of it count, as Spike is obviously
grappling with the implications of his dream about Buffy. 31:00 “Satisfied? You know, I really hope so because God knows
you need some satisfaction in your life besides shagging Captain Cardboard and…I never really
liked you anyway and…nd you have stupid hair.” When you consider Spike over the course of
the show, Marsters’ emotional range with the character has been terrific and will only
gotten better. Hangabout Riley’s continued pointlessness
gets called out in this one by Dawn. 8:05: “You can’t patrol. Buffy said.” Buffy attempts to compensate by bringing him
along for a spell in which he’s totally unnecessary. 21:25 “So you need me to light incense and
pour sand?” “Magic…incense…and SPOOKY sand.” Since I’ve harped mostly on Riley’s end
of things for the past couple episodes let’s shift focus for a minute. An INCREDIBLE number of changes occurred since
they started this relationship, a relationship that Buffy wasn’t really interested in because
she didn’t want another super-honey but a Joe Regular…and now that Riley actually
IS a Joe Regular, it has started to appear that she’s mostly interested in keeping
him at bay. They’re not really talking about anything. Since Riley quit his job…
*punch. …the extent of their intimacy appears to
be almost purely physical. Yes, Riley has no life and is probably currently
making Buffy the central focus of his, but, other than their conversation in the cave
when actual life and death was on the line, it almost seems like Buffy has been treating
their physical intimacy as the only maintenance necessary for their connection. She kept her restlessness to herself in ‘Buffy
vs. Dracula’. Later, after Riley appeared a little insecure
at Buffy’s star strucknessness she hinted at bedroom antics. ‘Buffy vs. Dracula’ 14:43 “Nothing you’re
about to say will lead to sleep.” She forgot about their plans in ‘Real Me’. In ‘The Replacement’ when Riley was feeling
antsy about Buffy confronting Toth, rather than addressing any concerns…
*smooch barf ‘Out of My Mind’ has their cave conversation,
yes. But, after Riley opens up about insecurity
over their physical power imbalance… “You’re getting more and more powerful
everyday…” Buffy recontextualized his confession to being
about the physical. “See? Still touchable.” And, in this episode, after Dawn openly emasculating
him in front of everyone using Buffy’s words (which made it VERY clear that the two of
them never talked about how things may be different after his power reduction surgery)
followed by Buffy trying to bring him in on a spell he couldn’t have been less necessary
for, rather than the two of them clearing the air Buffy once again seems to resort to
the physical to make sure the relationship is “all right.” “A girl needs a little more luck than that.” To be clear, and before anyone accuses me
of shaming, a healthy sex life is a tremendous thing and dear GOD has Buffy been due for
one. After the metaphor for ‘Season 2’, at
least on a surface level, got the show off in maybe a sex-negative light, ANY instances
of sex-positivity on the show are a welcome thing. Willow and Oz were probably our trailblazers…
(3×21) “What are you doing?” – “Panicking.” Tara and Willow…kind of? Holy hell, wouldn’t it have been great if
they could’ve just been banging without all of it need to be through subtext. “I believe the subtext is rapidly becoming
text?” Giles and Joyce seemed to have a nice happy
roll on the cop car… (3×18) “Twice!” Even if that was a bit of a drunken chocolate
affair. Giles and Olivia…
(4×01) “I’m not supposed to have a private life?” “No. Because you’re very very old, and it’s
gross.” And Xander and Anya seem on a healthy track,
now that they’ve settled into the relationship side of things…
(4×20) “He’s a viking in the sack.” Even Riley and Buffy late ‘Season 4’ hit
the list. My only point is that it’s interesting how
often Buffy seems to be resorting to the physical right now when there are things for them both
to talk about. The fact that neither of them are is certainly
their shared responsibility. Speaking of Xander and Anya, now comes the
time in the video when I point a finger at a few things and say, hmm…something to notice. Somewhat under the radar this season, Anya
has been developing a nice little arc. After our former demon of directness went
to the Prom with Xander at the end of ‘Season 3’, ‘Season 4’ was mostly about the
two of them grappling with whether they would or would not. “I’m over you.” – “Okay.” – “OkAY?!?” But now that she’s officially a staple of
the show (Emma Caufield actually became a part of the opening credits this season) the
writers have been using ‘Season 5’ to explore her character a bit outside of just
being Xander’s girlfriend. Hilariously, one of the seminal Anya moments
occurred during ‘The Game of Life’ in ‘Real Me’, where she may have internalized
some of the games win mechanics: “Can I trade in the children for more cash?” If Anya has three significant characteristics
that might be a brutally whip sharp memory… *The Prom boils conversation
Lack of tact and a complete inability to read social cues… “Please leave now…” As well as being prone to some obsessive fixations…lack
Xander and money. “Your cash register looks like squirrels
nest in it.” Within the lore of the show, it’s easy to
understand the shaping forces behind her personality. Anya is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1100
years old and only a microscopic amount of that time was spent as a human. It follows that she wouldn’t be as “up”
on general social prerequisites, due to general lack of demon-necessity. But I’ve also read a compelling reading
of her character as being an early representation of Asperger’s syndrome on television, as
many of her characteristics I’ve mentioned would align with the disorder. I’m not familiar enough with Asperger’s
to make a call, but it’s an interesting interpretation and I think, intended by the
writers or no, Anya being a representation isn’t mutually exclusive with her vengeance
demon backstory, since beings with somewhat alien attitudes interacting with humanity
are often handy for outsider allegories anyway. But as she branches out and interacts with
the rest of the Scoobies, it also begins a trend of Xander…uhhh…providing her feedback
on some of her more tactless impulses around other people. We’ve seen a lot of them alone where Xander
usually ignores or deflects with humor she probably doesn’t always get. But, other than a rare moment here and there
in ‘Season 4’: New Moon:
They probably haven’t had time to eviscerate him yet. “Anya, you can help by making this a quiet
moment.” This season is where we really start to see
Xander…uhm…offering advice. And in a way that’s very in-character for
him. “Anya,the Shop Keeper’s Union of America
called. hey wanted me to tell you that ‘please go’
just got replaced with ‘have a nice day’.” Now…first of all, Xander DOES speak this
way to EVERYONE, including Willow and Buffy. (4×09) “Will,not liking the drowning of
sorrows.” (Yoko) “Angel killed his girlfriend. Yeah Giles can be pretty petty about that.” Humor is his crutch for intimate communication. His only long-term romantic relationship previous
to this was founded on barbs and mutual revulsion. When things got personal he didn’t seem
to know what to do with himself. “I never knew I was locker door material.” And, as a new human with poor understanding
of cultural norms Anya could probably benefit from some guidance. “I have their money. Why do I care how the rest of their day is?” And…that’s all I’m going to say about
this right now. Anya and Xander’s dynamic is something worth
noticing. That’s all. Buffy’s continued frustration with being
on the outside of Joyce and Dawn that I highlighted in ‘Real Me,’ continues here. 9:10 – She’s so annoying. Especially now that Mom’s sick and I have
to be the grown up. And this particular episode gets a lot of
Dawn dislike. The character was originally envisioned as
a twelve year old but the creators, and specifically Sarah Michelle Gellar, who she had worked
with on ‘All My Children’, just liked Michelle Trachtenberg, who was fourteen at
the time these episodes were filmed. And that probably explains a few details here
and there where Dawn feels WAY younger than she actually is. The chocolate face didn’t even feel twelve,
really…more like seven? 4
As much as I personally think her episodes of acting out feel perfectly realistic along
with the wonderful chemistry in the Summers’ home, my friend Autumn made a wonderful observation
that put things like chocolate Dawn to rest for me. Simply put, Dawn is NOT a fifteen year old
girl. Dawn is what a bunch of likely celibate man
monks THINK a 15 year old girl is supposed to be. These guys. Right here. Do they look like they have a ton of experience
around your average California teenager? That particular head canon has worked wonders
for me with things like chocolate Dawn – thank you, Autumn. Last, but not least of course, is the splendiferous
introduction of Glory. The monks refer to her throughout as ‘The
Beast.’ Graduation Day (Part 1): “The Beast will
walk upon the Earth and darkness will follow.” Though…in fairness there seems to be a lot
of ‘The Beasts’ when it comes to demon prophecy so who knows. Glory is fabulous, uber-powerful, and connects
a few dots for us in her limited screen time here. She started acting a little unhinged until
finger tickling a man’s branium. He gets a little drooly and we can infer that
Glory is probably responsible for that guy from ‘Real Me’ as well. “I know you. Curds and whey.” Glory, “Sit down on her Tuffet…” So there is a sanity theme developing, which
started in ‘Out of My Mind,’ through both the title and with Riley and Spike both acting
a little crazy. “Buffy, Buffy, Buffy.” Thematically there are now lots of questions
to be answered. Who is Dawn in all this? Nor just the younger sister that Buffy is
jealous of but, as Willow says: “She’s the baby.” What is Glory’s relationship to Buffy, in
all her powerful feminine majesty? When Buffy happens upon Glory’s handiwork,
she is very deliberately framed as standing in the exact same spot Glory was. And the super-powerful blonde business is
also quite apparent. So yeah, this episode gives us a lot of great
stuff to dig into. Maybe the only bit of this one I don’t care
for is the red herring nibblet when Buffy is meeting the Monk for the first time. 33:00 “Want tea, Mom? I made it for you.” Having Dawn act all weird after she and Buffy
have their fight. Yes, BUFFY thinks that Dawn is the source
of evil in the house…but…she isn’t. And Buffy isn’t IN these scenes. So having Dawn act like a weird Manchurian
robo-Dawn, just to maintain tension that something MIGHT happen to Joyce is a trick being played
on ONLY us, the audience and no one else. Like the hypno-coin from ‘The Replacement,’
I HATE that kind of thing. It’s a tactic that shatters the organic
escapism of a story by reminding us of the fact that we are consuming one. Conclusion Still, this is a great episode and this run
of Season 5’ is lovely with a rather comforting, ‘day in the life,’ kind of feel to it. As I’ve said, my favorite types of shows
are ones where the characters have so much chemistry you wouldn’t mind watching an
episode of them sitting waiting for a bus together. And, to some degree, ‘No Place Like Home,’
has that feel to it. From the kitchen lives of the Summers to Giles’
excitement over his new business. 12:30 “Did you see that? They gave me money!…” As a metaphor for growing up and, by association,
life in general, the fact that the show contains these tranquil stretches strikes me as both
beautiful and necessary. Even when there may be worrying clouds on
the horizon, I’m not sure we can ever completely steel ourselves against the comforting effects
of the metronomic rise and fall of our daily tides. Work. Love. Relationships. Family. There is value in savoring moments where things
feel mostly in balance because, soon enough and somewhat inevitably, they won’t be.

3 thoughts on “No Place Like Home • S05E05 • TPN’s Buffy Guide

  1. As always I appreciate the quality you put into your videos, Ian. A show as iconic as Buffy truly deserves it. Thank you!!

  2. I have an instinctive revulsion against 'head-canon.' Can't writers make mistakes? Can't a show with dozens of writers over dozens of years be permitted resemble a quilt more than an oil-painting?

    That said: my reason for Dawn being young and bratty and annoying is that she's made out of Buffy. We saw how bratty Buffy was pre-slayer. Now imagine if she had a hyper-competent older sister.

  3. One of the best episodes! Beautiful review! And Glory punching though that concrete pillar and buffy dodging is EVERYTHING!

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