Forever (5x17)

Our "Previously On" segment lets us know that we can expect the aftermath of Joyce's death and a possible advancement in the Glory story line, which has been with us since the beginning of the season. The opening scene with Buffy looking at coffins is very dreamlike, almost as if she still doesn't believe what is going on. Dawn's concern about Joyce not liking the coffin is very believable, almost as if Marti Noxon has a bit of personal experience in this issue. Believability is a theme that presents it's self throughout the episode, in fact, and Noxon does a good job in that fashion. Buffy's comments to Dawn do seem uncaring, like she's holding in her true emotions. The only person she really let she herself in "The Body" was Giles, which is understandable because of his father-like position in her life.

Act One

The dinner scene is also believable. Giles and Xander's concern for Buffy and Dawn are nice to see, and again show Buffy's ties to the world, which was pointed to earlier in the season ("Fool for Love"). Buffy's father's absence is not unexpected, as we know what type of person he is. This further shows Joss Whedon's running theme throughout the show (and Angel) about bad fathers (other appearances, or lack of, from Buffy's father, the Angel episode "Guise Will Be Guise"). Dawn and Willow's relationship is cute. It shows that Dawn also simply wants somebody (much like Spike) to care for them, which Buffy apparently hasn't been doing. The Spike and Xander confrontation is very well written. It shows how Spike still wants someone, and how Joyce was as close to a friend as he'd had in a long time. This also shows just how disjointed Spike is from the world. He's a vampire trying to act human, but in doing so has alienated himself from both worlds. The funeral scene taking place in daylight is odd for the show, which has very few daylight scenes. Buffy staying behind also shows her failure of concern for Dawn. She is, in all honesty, more worried about herself. This might be the result of a subconscious felling. Buffy knows that Dawn isn't real, and might think that she shouldn't be having these feeling for someone who really wasn't her mother. I'm surprised this hasn't come up yet, and might be something we see before the season is over. Angel's appearance is nice, but again shows Buffy's concern for herself instead of Dawn. It also shows how Buffy, like Spike and Dawn, also simply wants somebody, but turns to alternative routes to find comfort. Dawn wanting to bring Joyce back is believable, and a normal person would do the same if they lived in the type of world these characters do. Tara's comments to her are sweet, as she is the only character who is speaking from personal experience.

Act Two

The Xander and Anya scene, while sweet, is very misplaced with the tone of the episode. Anya is very out of character. We saw the same thing in Marti Noxon other episode, "Into the Woods." We know that Anya loves Xander and might act a little different around him, but not to this degree, I feel. Tara's firmness with Dawn comes across as something she would do. As sky and vulnerable as Tara is, she is the type of person who would do anything to protect someone who is her friend. It also raises the question of whether or not Tara tried the same thing with her mother when she died (as mentioned in "The Body"). My favorite scene of the episode is probably the Buffy and Angel scene. Even though it makes you cry, you can't help but like it. Angel makes a point of telling Buffy that she has ties to the world, which is apparently foreshadowing what's to come in the season finale. Christopher Beck's theme is also well placed, and what makes the scene so fun to watch. The Ben and Jinx scene is a bit misplaced and out of tone with the rest of the show. While it's still well written, it would of fit in better with next week's "Intervention." Willow showing Dawn with witchcraft book is odd, but again believable. Her motivations are that she doesn't think that Dawn is powerful enough to do anything harmful. She knows Dawn is in pain, but wants to show her the repercussions of the road she is pursuing. Anya is also back in character, though around people other than Xander. I still think their earlier scene doesn't belong in this episode. Dawn's actions remain to be believable. Spike coming to help her is in character for him, again showing his want for a friend.

Act Three

The glimpse of Giles alone in his apartment is another misplaced bit. Perhaps it was just a time filler, but it has nothing to do with the main plot of the episode. It does feature some cool music, though. The psycho-concern coming from Glory is creepy, but in character for her. It's again nice to see this arc moving along again, albeit slowly. The character of Doc is also creepy, and he's clearly a demon from the get go; how else could Spike of come inside? Dawn clearly also wants someone, and even turns to Spike when Buffy isn't there. The Spike and demon fight scene is cool, and Dawn going back for another egg shows her determination. Dawn's actions are still believable.

Act Four

The Willow and Tara scene shows possible trouble coming in their relationship: Willow keeping secrets (involving Dawn) and her noticing other people (touched on briefly in "I Was Made to Love You"). I also find it odd that Tara didn't catch that Willow is an extremely bad liar. The Buffy and Dawn confrontation remains believable. It points out Buffy not noticing Dawn and Dawn's need for someone. Joyce coming to the door is obviously a homage to the classic "Monkey's Paw" tale, and done nicely in this fashion. Dawn ripping up Joyce's picture is believable after her confrontation with her sister, and the two crying at the end is well placed.

Predictions and Conclusions

All in all, the main plot of this episode is very enjoyable and believable. Marti Noxon loses points for the misplaced Xander/Anya scene featuring an out of character Anya, and the bit with Giles alone. I don't mind the Glory arc advancement as much. I see future shows featuring trouble within the Willow and Tara relationship and Glory coming after someone close to Buffy. I wouldn't be surprised if Glory went after Tara, as she's the newest person in her life and the one who is deep into magic. While I enjoy Marti Noxon's other episodes such as "Into the Woods" and "New Moon Rising" (I believe I'm the only person in the internet fandom who like "Into the Woods"), "Forever" has a lot of disjointed scenes that give it a rocky feel. I do trust Joss Whedon with the rest of the season, though.