Season 2, Episode 10
Story by Woody, Kye and CN Winters
Written by Kye (with additional writing by CN Winters and Chris Cook)
Directed by CN Winters
Produced by CN Winters
Edited by DragonWriter17
Sound by CSR
Art Direction by Chris Cook
Artists – Chris Cook, Zahir al-Daoud, Humaira, Rob, Sarah and CN Winters
Guest Starring: Chazz Palminteri as Jimmy Volano, Becky Wahlstrom as Julia, Robert Picardo as Dr. Miller,
Jennifer Fisher as Angella and Avril Lavigne as Janet
NOTE: This episode will heavily involve Jimmy Volano, a gangster that the Council has had dealings with in the past. I'll point you to the episode, "New Again". There, the Council - led by Rowena - challenged a project to extend the shoreline out into Lake Erie in order to provide more building space. This upset some water spirits known as the Undine, which threatened the city with massive flooding if the "intruders" did not stop "stealing" their property. That storyline was a very minor part of the episode, however. As we saw at the end of last episode, The Presidium has made a deal with Volano to help them keep the Council off guard - presumably by targeting Rowena, who he has reason to want to hurt, anyway....
Scene 01: We open the teaser by spending a few moments with Becca and Giles as the couple's romantic evening are interrupted by Becca's morning sickness.
Scene 02: Elsewhere, Julia is speaking to the gangster Jimmy Volano. Julia was met last season in Gangland and Lessons Learned, where she clashed majorly with both Faith and Mia. Ultimately, she chose not to join the Council, but she carries a lot of resentment that some of her 'squad' was usurped by the organization.
Scene 03: Ro has just hung up the phone. She's received a surprise phone call from Julia who states she wants to discuss her possibly joining the Council.
Rowena decides to meet Julia alone, as requested. Willow is still carrying a lot of anger toward Ro since her suspension for destroying information needed to defeat a bad guy, which led to both Mia being seriously injured and the deaths of some civilians (in Hell Goddess).
Scene 04: From The Presidium, the Lover watches all. She contacts her servant on Earth. The servant is instructed to allow Volano to hurt Rowena as he chooses, as long as she survives.
Scene 05: Rowena earns a few brownie points by seeking Giles' consent to represent the Council with Julia. He allows this and also acknowledges that she could have gone without seeking his permission, if she had wanted.
Scene 06: At a diner, Julia thanks Ro for talking to her about a possible future role in the Council.
Scene 07: Outside of the diner, Ro has told Julia that there are no hard feelings and that she'd be welcomed into the Council. But, obviously this has been a setup, and Ro finds herself getting tazed by Volano's thugs. Julia winds up a fist and knocks Ro out cold.
Commentary: I've mixed feelings about this set up. Now, obviously Julia has been a hard nut to crack in the past so I sort of wonder why Ro would agree to meet her alone after the very bad blood between the Council and her. On the other hand, I think it is entirely in character for Ro to want to believe in extending a second chance to someone, and there isn't any real reason for her to suspect a problem, except in the fact she works for the Council and they get betrayed all of the time (see Faith's own father and sister).
So, on one level I entirely buy Julia being able to draw Ro into a trap this easily. On a meta-level, I have to wonder why Council members aren't a lot more suspicious whenever anyone wants anything in which the other party insists on either secrecy or meeting somewhere alone. Or, maybe after being attacked for the upteenth time, I'd just be a lot more paranoid than our heroes.
Scene 08: Rowena awakens in a dark room and tied to a chair. There are a series of flashes in her face. When the lights come on, she's been bound to a chair and Jimmy is taking polaroids of her. He claims that he's going to ransom her back to the Council in order to make back the money he lost when Rowena opposed his expansion plans for his lakeside properties.
As he leaves her, he's replaced by two of his goons - and Ro screams moments later.
Scene 09: Back at the Council, a packet has been left on the lobby floor and found. Within it are a polaroid of Ro, beaten (minor continuity issue there - Ro is clearly uninjured when Volano snapped her picture) and a ransom note. Accompanying the envelope was a box, explaining Ro's scream: her pinky is waiting for the Council's notice.
From The Presidium, The Lover focuses her attention on Willow, whom she obviously has a great deal of interest in.
Commentary: The Lover showed a focused attention on Willow all through last season. Then, it was because they planned to use her to hold open a gateway between dimensions in order to allow a large invasion force to take Earth. But, there has always been an undercurrent written into her focus that suggests she also finds Willow fascinating in a way other than purely as a tool to use.
Scene 10: We join our gang meeting in the conference room (which has another continuity issue - we're supposed to be meeting at night, but the photowork clearly indicates daylight. Now, I'm sure that we're supposed to see this as just streetlamps, but this doesn't work - there is just too large a difference in the qualities of ambient daylight and a streetlamp to accept the assumption. But to moderate that negative comment a bit, there was a great job done with keeping the background consistent from different 'camera perspectives' in here. What I mean is that we get three different sets of people from three 'camera angles' and the 'look of the room' remains consistent. We can see it is all the same room that everyone is sitting in....). The atmosphere is charged, as you'd expect.
Willow has attempted a locator spell with no success and is feeling down on herself. Since she had her magic stripped from her and then returned in Hell Goddess, two episodes ago, Willow's magical power has been diminished. Hopefully, we'll get an explanation for why Jeff wasn't the caster in this situation....
Dawn has researched the local mobsters in more detail and has discovered that this isn't the first time they've held someone for ransom. She shares that the victim has never been returned, even when the money has been paid. This upsets Willow who rushes from the room, with Dawn following her.
Xander suggests that these mobsters should be met with overwhelming force by the Slayers. Kennedy, usually sympathetic to the 'more force' options, is hesitant because their targets are human beings - but Xan interprets it as Kenn not worrying if Ro (someone she hasn't liked since she showed up last season) gets returned to the Council in parts.
Kennedy takes violent exception to this, but Giles is able to calm the situation in his Giles-way. He turns to Mia and the newly created Special Operations team to deal with this situation....
Commentary: There are several things that I like about this scene: First - I like that Willow's magic can't solve everything - even in events where there isn't a convenient demon-immune-to-magic reason why. The 'Persephone's Knot' ritual was a good thing to introduce as it forces Willow to be a small part of a team, rather than allowing her 'most powerful witch in the world' status to solve problems, or to have the plot have to work extra hard to make it credible that her magic can't be the answer. Two - I like that Xander is consistent with S6 of Buffy in that his views of violence against humans isn't as black and white as other members of the Council (such as Kennedy). He wasn't really adverse to Willow's slaying of Warren following Tara's murder and here he is strongly suggesting that the Slayers should act as the army they are and not worry about Volano and his men being human... killers are killers in his view, and should be met with the same force that vampires and demons are. Three - I like that Mia and the Black Ops team are going to take an active role in this story. They've been sort of hovering in the background and we haven't seen them doing anything any different than any other Slayer squad.
I do think Xander was a bit over the top in his argument with Kenn, but I can accept it because we've seen that before as well in BTVS S2 & S3. This scene does introduce a concept that I'm ambiguous about - Slayers & Guns. Clearly the Whedonverse takes a dim view of firearms, especially those that exist in the 'real world' (title shout out). Here, Mia pulls a pistol that she apparently walks around carrying (black ops SOP?) to show her readiness to launch a rescue mission for Ro as soon as they know where she's held. This both introduces a difference between the Slayers and the Black Ops group (a good), but it also introduces the uncomfortable concept of deadly force against humans (a bad - remember, the Slayers aren't a sanctioned police force). Now, think about this for a moment in relation to what we saw of the future in Restoration last season... you can understand where the discomfort is on my behalf with this Council policy.
Scene 11: Later in the meeting room, a call is transferred through giving Giles 24 hours for the Council to come up with the money. Afterward, Kennedy suggests the FBI should be informed, but Xan states they should handle this themselves. This causes another outburst from Kennedy about Xander's lack of concern for the Slayers humanity, trying to turn them into killers. He takes extreme exception to the notion that he doesn't care about the Slayer's mental and emotional health, but the argument between the two is again interrupted, this time by an angry Faith.
Mia interrupts the tension to tell them she recognizes Volano's voice....
Scene 12: The following morning, Volano visits Rowena, who has been tortured again (see last season's Broken Allies). She asks for some water and after taunting her a bit, he finally pours her a glass - only to throw it in her face.
Scene 13: Elsewhere, Julia gets a visit from Mia and Kennedy. While Kenn tries to bribe information out of Julia about where she took Ro after having met her in the diner, Mia has no such patience. With no compunction at all, Mia tells Julia to spill what she knows, or she'll crush her throat with her boot.
Kennedy tries to call Mia off, but the former street Slayer won't stop and Julia gives up what she knows - which isn't the exact location, but she can narrow down the search parameters. As Mia is interrogating Julia, though, Kennedy storms out on her. Clearly we're seeing a rift already forming between Mia and Kenn, which sadly is just going to add to the already rocky start they've gotten (see True Colors).
Once Mia leaves Julia, she tries to talk to Kenn, but Kennedy pressures her about whether Julia was in real danger of being hurt or killed and Mia won't answer her.
Commentary: The character dynamics here are really interesting when you read Kennedy's actions and dialog in the beginning of Season 1 and where she is now. If anything, despite the attitude she threw around in Sunnydale, Kenn is a lot like Buffy when it comes to her belief in a Slayer-crede. Mia, on the other hand, is much more of a 'we do what we need to' sort - similar, but not exactly like BTVS S3 Faith (before she went off the rails). A consistent quality in Kennedy's character in relation to her lovers will be the amount of conflict that she has with all of them. After her former problems (see S1's Another Year Older and Rash Decisions) Kenn takes holding the Slayers to a higher standard very seriously and this holds true for everyone she knows. It should be interesting to see whether she can cope when others don't live up to her expectations....
Scene 14: Back at the Council, there is even more reason for Kennedy to be upset as Mia's Black Ops team, under the direction of their military trainer suits up her team. The Slayers are heavily armed with guns and it is very clear that there will be human fatalities if they're not able to get in and get out undetected with Ro. While Kennedy objects that killing people isn't what the Slayers are about, Mia states that the mission objective is what matters, not the casualty count of the other side.
Commentary: This is one of the situations which exacerbates the ambivalence toward a Slayer Black Ops team: intellectually, I can understand everything that happens, their training and why it may be necessary. Emotionally, I'm more in agreement with Kennedy or Buffy than with Mia or, apparently, Giles. The thought of the Slayers being turned into Super-Soldiers who feel comfortable with carrying out deadly force against non-supernatural threats is disturbing - but on the other hand - some of those non-supernatural forces may only be stopped using lethal force and they can do just as much damage to the 'innocent' as any demon. We're really exploring an extension of the Xander/Buffy argument over Willow's seeking vengeance against Warren and where that could lead. It's a topic I'd like to see explored in depth in the series, but I won't comment here on just how much it is or what the ultimate answer is within the series....
Scene 15: Vi reports in that she's located the probable location of Ro's imprisonment. The Black Ops Squad is sent on their way. Kennedy goes with them as... well... I'm not sure, really. I believe the idea is that a non-Ops Slayer will ensure that the Black Ops team doesn't just go in with guns blazing. Faith offers to be the 'Safety Slayer', but Kenn is very obviously worried about how far Mia might go on this retrieval mission - just as she is deeply bothered by her behavior with Julia earlier.
Commentary: I really like the idea of a 'Safety Slayer' being included, not because I think it would make a lot of difference in how the mission plays out but because I think it reflects the discomfort that the Council has with the idea of the Black Ops team in general. It feels like the Council is struggling with how to approach having a more military unit of Slayers with the same sorts of fears that I as a reader have. And in a meta-way, I wonder if Kennedy is acting as a voice for the creative staff here - wondering themselves if introducing the Unit into the series was ultimately a good idea or if it is going to create complications they didn't forsee on future stories. I can't be sure of course, but I do wonder if the show runners themselves might not have been ambivalent about how to utilize a Black Ops Unit without going to places that they really don't want their heroes going.... I would love to have been a fly on the wall for the discussions regarding the Black Ops Unit during the production staff meetings.
Scene 16: At the nightclub where it is believed Ro is being held, the Ops team heads in stealth mode to infiltrate the building. Mia leads the team silently while a short distance away, Kennedy is keeping an eye on things. Willow offers a comforting hand, but Kenn is clearly disturbed by the heavily armored, gun toting Slayer team and doesn't like at all that Mia is toting those guns herself.
Scene 17: In an extended rescue scene, the tension between Kenn and Mia ease a bit and they're even able to share smiles with one another as the mission actually isn't much different than it would be if it were just the regular Slayer group going to the rescue. But things quickly take a turn after the girls are able to make it to Ro's location.
Although, they're able to get Ro unbound and begin to extract her from the building, some of Volano's guards come along. Mia quickly takes one of them out with a thrown knife to the chest. As Rowena and Willow are escorted toward an escape vehicle, the Slayers engage in a firefight with Volano's men.
Things get much worse from Kennedy's point of view though, when Julia makes her return. Just as Mia (at the rear of the escaping Slayers) leaves Volano's building, the Street Slayer Gang Leader comes out of the shadows to confront Mia about 'ruining my payday, bitch', and to reach for her own gun worn on her hip.
Before she gets close to drawing it, Mia shoots Julia once to the chest at point blank range, killing her instantly. Kennedy is frozen in shock at the scene.
Commentary: I'm going to have more to say about this whole scene when it's completed - but I can already see where it is going between Kenn and Mia, and I have a feeling I'm going to be siding with Mia, here....
Scene 18: As Rowena is continuing her way down the alley toward the escape van, she hesitates to check on the Slayer behind her. This proves to be an error. She takes a bullet to the chest and collapses....
Mia, seeing the gunman, immediately aims for his head and puts a bullet into it, dropping him.
After killing Volano's gunman, Mia is able to get Ro into the Council van, and they depart hurriedly. She calls in ahead to have medical standing by.
Scene 19: In the meantime, Ro is trying to hide her injury from Willow, but with her being hunched over and having difficulty breathing, it doesn't take long for Willow to see that she's been hit. Will turns on Mia for not telling her sooner that Ro was shot - but Mia tries to calmly tell her that the objective was to get out of there and they couldn't do that if Will was throwing a freak out in the alley (which I completely agree with - also, Ro is the Watcher and she instructed Mia not to tell Willow).
Scene 20: Arriving at the Council, Rowena is rushed into surgery by the Council's medical staff....
Scene 21: As Willow, Giles and Xander wait to hear if Ro will make it or not, Kennedy confronts Mia about what happened at Volano's. There are a lot of pent up feeling here which come out during this heated argument including: Kenn's objections to Slayer's carrying guns, Mia's killing of several people (including another Slayer), Kennedy's continued affection for Willow, and Mia's not telling Kenn about the details of her special ops training (including the use of deadly force with a gun).
What really bothers Kennedy is that Julia and Mia had been lovers before they're split and Mia seemed to have killed Julia without any thought. She actually asks Mia if that will be her one day - which is a really stupid thing to have said. In fact... let's go to commentary:
Commentary: Kennedy really pissed me off in this confrontation. First, her defense of Willow - who killed Warren long after she was in any sort of immediate danger from him, while Mia killed Julia because she was reaching for a gun to shoot her - angers me. Second, Kennedy's enforced naivete about what would happen when the Slayer Ops team went in carrying pistols and rifles pisses me off - she actually acts shocked that shooting might have been involved and that there might have been casualties associated with it. Now, she can argue with the Council all she wants that Slayers shouldn't be involved in this sort of business, but that isn't Mia's fault! Mia was trained to do a job and she did it with the backing of the Council. Third, the argument could have been made that Mia could have used non-lethal force to disable the guards - but that isn't what Kenn argues here (although to be fair, there are so many issues going on that I doubt she was in the frame of mind to consider logical arguments) but calling Mia a murderer was so over the line, if I was Mia, I would have decked her. Fourth, her argument that Mia just randomly killed people was also wrong - and Mia points this out. She killed very specifically because the mission was to get Rowena and get everyone out unharmed (she failed, but this wasn't because of anything she did or didn't do). Fifth - Kennedy argues that Mia has turned into a mindless killing machine for the Council, which again is not only wrong but shows a complete lack of any inkling that the Special Ops Unit is being highly trained as a psuedo-military force which means being trained to think like a soldier and not get emotional about doing unpleasant things to complete an objective. I find it very difficult to accept that Kenn didn't realize what the Black Ops procedures might entail, unless she just plain didn't want to know. But blaming Mia for doing what the Council expected her to is wrong - she really has a bone to pick with Giles, Rowena, Willow, Xander and Faith who act as the Department Heads of the organization and set up these things (I only include Xan because he's in charge of the weaponry and would be the one to requisition the guns and ammo given to the Slayers - that might be unfair to Xan, but on the other hand, Kenn surely never heard him putting up any objections to arming them in this way and in her current state of mind, I'd accept her pinning part of the blame on him, as well). Again, you can argue that the Slayer Black Ops is wrong-headed as a policy, but putting it all on her girlfriend's shoulders here is a shitty thing to do. I just want to be clear here as well, that I'm arguing against Kennedy, not the writers for having her react this way. There is nothing wrong with the scene, and since I have such a strong feeling about how this has shaken out, I'd say the writers did a very effective job.
Scene 22: Back with Volano, the mobster takes this set back rather well. He orders the scene to be cleaned up (nobody heard all that gunfire and sent for the cops??) and assures his henchmen that things are going to come out with them on top, eventually.
Scene 23: In the waiting room, Willow is all teary with the prospect of losing another person she loves to a bullet. Giles is supportive just before Dr. Miller comes out to confirm that Ro will pull through.
Commentary: I think I've just pinned down why I've never been very involved in the Willow/Rowena 'ship... the writers make Willow constantly teary and treacly in the lead up to them finally being a couple. It is seriously irritating at how often Willow turns... well, whiny... when Rowena is involved. Obviously it's appropriate considering Ro was shot and is in surgery, but coming on top of every time Will has been near tears, or crying or moping in regards to her on again/off again kinda romance, but not exactly, but maybe with Ms. Allister - I just had enough of it at this point. It also doesn't help that anytime Ro and Willow aren't crying over their rocky relationship with one another, they're making over the top declarations of love about each other (like Rowena's [paraphrasing] 'love isn't a strong enough word to describe what I feel for her' - ugh). It makes me miss the days when Willow was more circumspect about her lesbianism. It reads a lot better when they're officially, happily together but in these early days it's just too much melodrama, like a particularly florid soap opera.
Scene 24: In Ro's room, Willow tells Rowena that having come so close to losing her, she realizes that staying mad at her isn't serving any purpose. She just wants to move on with them together. She also asks after her finger, which has apparently been reattached....
Commentary: Yeah, I have to comment on that little detail. On the one hand, I understand that the creative staff had to give Rowena her finger back just because of the practicality. Having to alter every image of her from now on everytime her hand was in a picture would have been a pain in the arse - the same reason that they gave Xander his eye back. But on the other hand - I just think it was stretching it to think the finger would have been kept viable for that length of time for one, but also that Doctor Miller, in the midst of trying to save Ro's life from her gunshot, would have the presence of mind to be like, "Hey, as long as we have her here, do we still have that finger on ice anywhere? We might as well throw that baby back on." If they weren't willing to see through the consequences of Ro's finger being removed, then they should have stopped with the photos of a beaten Ro being delivered.
Scene 25: In the other dimension of Vor, The Lover watches over the scene, but we're given no hint as to what she is feeling. We only know that she can't seem to stop watching Willow....
Scene 26: In the gymnasium, Kennedy is engaged in a strenuous work out with a punching bag. Faith comes in and tries to get her to talk about whatever is bothering her (though she easily guesses it's about what went down at Volano's). Kenn admits that she doesn't think things can work out with Mia....
The Good: I like Julia making her return in this episode, and the blunt way she leaves the series.
I like the way Mia is handled, and despite my dislike of Kennedy's attitude, I like the way she's written and her dialog in their confrontation.
I loved the action sequences of Rowena's rescue.
I really like the undercurrent of *something* going on with The Lover, but that it remains very vague and unexplained.
I appreciate that the writers are trying to deal with some of the issues that occurred to me when the Black Ops group was set up - especially with how guns and conventional weaponry would be involved and how they'd deal with human threats to the Council. Nothing is settled of course, which is completely understandable, but I like that these issues are being confronted.
The Bad: Well, there are a few things that linger in my mind that weren't addressed in the episode, but seem like they should have been: 1) Why is it that because Willow couldn't perform her locator spell effectively, that no one in the coven even bothered to try? This is especially bothersome because Jeff isn't in the episode at all with no explanation and he just happens to be the powerful student of Will's that could have performed that spell. It feels like there is an explanation of his absence missing which, when added to no explanation as to why Will's spell failed in the first place, seems to be a 'we don't really have a good explanation here so let's just skip by it' vibe to it. I would have rather had a short scene with The Lover having her minion cast an Anti-Locator spell to hide Ro. It would have only involved two lines of dialog in one of the scenes with The Lover looking through her spy glass to have provided a good reason that Ro couldn't immediately be located. 2) I'm also wondering what happened to the other Slayer Street Gang members... Mia and Julia basically split the gang when she joined the Council, so what happened to Julia's loyalists? Do I just not remember something? A single sentence rant by Julia at either Mia or Ro to explain that she lost what she had built would have been sufficient.
I don't like Xander's confrontation with Kennedy - I think suggesting that because Kenn doesn't like Ro, that she wouldn't mind seeing the Watcher's bits scattered on the front lawn, was really over the top in a not-in-character way. I buy Xan not having changed his mind much (irregardless of Buffy's speeches about human justice) about Slayers vs. Human evil, but his dialog here is too nasty for the scene to me. In Kennedy's confrontation with Mia, I buy it - in Act Two with Xander vs. Kennedy, I just didn't. I also don't think I buy Faith telling Kenn to 'cool it', instead of her turning on Xander over suggesting that one of her Slayers would allow a Council member to be cut up just because they aren't pals... the whole latter part of that scene plays wrong in my opinion.
One last thing - there really needs to be a better watch on what time of day it is in text versus what time of day it is in the photowork. I know it's a small thing, but when the continuity is so obviously off, it is distracting. We've had this in the past as well in Modus Operandi, where the assault on the Ripper's homebase is in the middle of the night, but we see the gang standing out in daylight. I'd rather have no picture than to have one contradicting the scene descriptor.
Other Thoughts: Read my commentary on the finger cutting thing.
Also, the weak and teary Willow is getting really repetitive by this point in the series. I have no doubt that Aly could pull it off, because when she cries, we cry, but in these text based scenes, we don't have the strength of her acting to carry us through. On the Ro/Will relationship, it's really past time for them to put up or shut up - but writing wise, it isn't badly done so I wouldn't put it in 'The Bad' ... it's just an observation.
Lastly, there is an issue that comes and goes in my mind while I'm reading and it involves the Council's heirarchy. We know from the first episode that there are three branches to the new Watchers Council and that they basically have equal standing: Watchers, represented by Giles. Slayers, represented by Faith. Coven, represented by Willow. But often this heirarchy seems to be ignored and you have Kennedy or Xander or Dawn or Robin seemingly having an equal say in matters. I can see everyone with relevant information being in a meeting, but we very rarely see any sort of discussion occurring or voting by the three divisions. Instead it almost seems like everyone argues out their case and then Giles makes the final call - which isn't how we've been told the Council works. I don't exactly object, because for the most part it's members of 'the family' that are coming to a consensus, but there are times where the general free for all becomes a bit more obvious. I bring this up here, because of that meeting room scene where Kennedy and Xander are allowed to argue over their opinions and Mia is asked if the Black Ops group are ready for this sort of mission, but Faith isn't asked whether she agrees with sending them in at all. And Willow, who should be representing the Coven, is out of the room falling apart so that department isn't represented at all. Yes, it would be obvious that Willow wants to do whatever is necessary to get Ro back, but the general point stands that Giles shouldn't still be getting the final word, especially when it comes to big decisions like whether a special tactical team should be utilized over asking for law enforcement help or leaving a particular mission to the 'regular' Slayer teams. Instead, Giles is ready to send in the retrieval team, so it's a done deal. There seems to be a lot of this sort of thing, too, where there isn't an actual vote or when one of the department heads isn't actually given any say in a plan of action. Why I bring this up, is that it is never clear to me whether this general free-for-all sort of making decisions and leaving it to Giles to make a final call is coming from the characters (which is absolutely fine - I don't expect an iron hand from Giles, Willow and Faith or anything) or if it is just a matter of expedient writing (which is less fine - after everyone has their say - it should be clear that the triumverate is making the call and not Ro, Kennedy and Robin, for instance).
The Score: I think the plot of this one is strong, in that it forces the Council to deal with a (mostly) human-evil type problem and I'm interested in what I'm sensing in The Lover's interest in Willow (at least assuming that I'm not reading subtext where it doesn't exist). Am I completely buying The Lover involving Volano? Yes and no. I can sort of see where she wants to hide the Presidium's ongoing 'cold war' against the Council until they're ready to try again to invade, but at the same time, I would have appreciated it more if that was made explicit. I like the dialog between Mia and Kennedy and their conflicting views of the entire Black Ops question and Mia's involvement with them, as well as the (again assuming I'm not reading more into it than intended) Giles' ambivalence about them using more militant tactics in these sorts of situations, but it's marred a bit by the fact that they also had the Xander/Kennedy confrontation which was just too much on Xan's part. I overall like the way the plot played out and I like the conflict between Kenn and Mia over the Black Operations. There are just a few plot holes that needed to be filled in order to tighten up the narrative.
3.75 out of 5.