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"Older and Far Away" is the fourteenth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 114th episode in the series. Written by Drew Z. Greenberg and directed by Michael Gershman, it was originally broadcast on February 12, 2002, on the UPN network.

Synopsis[]

Lonely Dawn feels like the odd-girl out when the Scooby Gang throws a party in honor of Buffy's birthday, leading to a fateful wish that leaves the Slayer and her friends in a fix.[1]

Summary[]

Buffy apologizes to Dawn for having to leave and hunt down a a dangerous demon, promising that some real quality time will happen soon. In the cemetery, Buffy fights the demon, who carries a sword and disappears at random. Buffy stabs the demon with its own sword and, unbeknownst to her, he's sucked into the blade before she heads back home, sword in hand.

At the Magic Box, the gang talk about Buffy's upcoming birthday party and Xander tells Willow that Buffy wants Tara at the party. A bit too eagerly, Willow agrees that her ex-girlfriend should be there. Dawn arrives and there's a brief talk about the Trio and the complete lack of success in tracking them down. Dawn asks for company to shop for Buffy's birthday gift at the mall, but no one is available and she goes alone. Later that night, Dawn returns home to an empty house and retreats to her bedroom, where she unveils a brand new leather jacket underneath her own coat, one she did not pay for.

The next day at school, Dawn's called away from class to the guidance counselor. Hallie questions about Dawn's life and tries to get her to reveal her problems. Dawn wishes that people would stop leaving her.

Anya prepares food for the birthday party as Buffy informs her friends that she invited a friend from work, Sophie. Xander and Anya share that they also invited a friend, a guy friend for Buffy, which doesn't please her. Buffy lets Tara in and when the two talk secretly; Buffy explains that Spike wasn't invited because he wouldn't behave around her friends.

Downstairs, Willow and Tara chat, both nervous and unsure about how to behave. The conversation dies off and Tara breaks away to the kitchen for a much-needed drink. Having head about the party from Willow, Spike shows up, surprising Buffy. With him, he brings beer and another demon, Clem from kitten poker. At that moment, Xander introduces his friend from work, Richard. Buffy goes to show Richard where he can park his car while Spike watches on with jealousy. Dawn is anxious for presents to be opened, but Xander and Anya are more concerned with Buffy's progress with Richard, and Anya treats Dawn like an uninformed child. Spike catches Buffy alone and tries to lure her away for some private celebrating, but Buffy say she's not interested and ignores Spike's jealous jabs at Richard.

Buffy opens her birthday presents and receives a portable back massager from Willow, who says it can be used while slaying for instant gratification. Spike likes the gift. Buffy also receives a brand new leather jacket from Dawn. The security tag still attached to the coat draws Buffy's attention, but the new custom weapon chest from Xander and Anya that is wheeled out into the room interests her more, leaving Dawn sitting alone on the couch with her gift.

Sophie, a girl Buffy knows from the Doublemeat Palace, arrives, and Buffy moves to introduce her new friend, leaving a disgruntled Dawn to shut the door. As the door closes, the guidance counselor steps out of the shadows and reveals her vengeance demon face, saying: "Wish granted." The party continues on with dancing and games. Buffy and Richard talk briefly; when she steps away, she finds herself alone with Spike in the dining room. He makes jokes about how "sweet" Richard is and tries to persuade Buffy into some physical activity, but Tara walks in and interrupts them.

Xander and Anya playfully discuss who will go get beer, and Willow stops them by offering to make the run herself. However, instead of getting up and leaving, Willow drops her head to the table. The party continues as the gang play Monopoly and poker in groups while Dawn watches on, happily.

The next morning, no one has left the house and they notice it's weird that, despite how much they all want to be where they have to be, they don't go anywhere. Spike comments about eating breakfast and hints at Richard being a meal. Buffy drags Spike off and the two exchange insults. They talk about leaving the house and getting away from each other, but they realize they are incapable of leaving — something is keeping everyone in the house.

The gang discuss the dilemma, most of them needing to get to work or school. Dawn snaps at them for wanting to leave her. Suspicious, the Scooby Gang talk to Dawn and question whether she did a spell or something to lock them all in the house. The accusation offends her, but they don't drop the subject when she denies it, which only upsets Dawn more. They suggest magic to fix the problem, but Tara, who doesn't have any supplies with her, is the only one who could do it. Willow reveals that she still has a few items she kept for "emergency only." Tara is disappointed but asks for the supplies anyway, making it clear that Willow is to keep her distance from the spell-casting.

Tara performs a spell to "release" them from the house, but, instead, it releases the demon from the sword Buffy brought home. The sword-wielding demon attacks the gang, and he cuts Richard on the chest before retreating into the walls. While Richard's wound is tended to, noises can be heard in the walls, and Anya begins to show signs of claustrophobia. Xander comforts her and, as he goes to get her some water, the demon attacks him. Buffy and Spike fight the demon back into hiding, but Xander shows more concern for Anya's desperate state than his own physical harm. Buffy and Dawn finally get to talking, and Dawn begins to open up.

Meanwhile, the rest of the gang try to figure out a plan, but the only untried solution lies in the magically trained hands of Willow. Anya pressures Willow to try using magic even though she doesn't want to, and Xander reluctantly admits that it may be their only way out. Tara firmly stands in the way of that idea, readily defending her ex-girlfriend. Willow explains that, if she starts using magic again, she fears she may not be able to stop. Upset that no one is willing to do anything productive, Anya goes upstairs to find her own solution. Dawn reveals to her sister that she recently talked to a guidance counselor and may have made a wish to the woman. In Dawn's room, Anya searches through Dawn's possessions, while Xander tries to stop her. Dawn enters the room with her sister and freaks out with the invasion of her privacy. Anya uncovers Dawn's secret stash of stolen objects from the Magic Box, which stuns everyone.

Dawn tries to get away downstairs, but Anya follows her and goes off on her for stealing. Buffy, realizing the jacket she was gifted was also stolen, has a hard time accepting her sister's behavior and blames the guidance counselor that Dawn talked to for the situation. Anya puts the pieces together and concludes that the one responsible for their mess is her friend Halfrek. Because she is the only one who can lift the spell, Anya summons her. When Halfrek appears, the demon stabs her, and she falls to the ground.

Spike, Anya, and Buffy fight with the demon and, yet again, he tries to escape into the wall. Buffy uses the sword to stab the demon through the wall, effectively trapping it within the sword, then breaks the metal over her knee. The demon gone, they decide on destroying Halfrek's pendant so they can be freed. Before Anya can get it from Halfrek, the vengeance demon rises, now barely harmed by the stabbing.

Halfrek seems to recognize Spike, calling him "William," and he finds her familiar too, but both deny knowing each other. Halfrek explains that, while Anya's specialty was against men, her purpose is to exact "justice" on bad parents. She informs the Scooby Gang that Dawn's pain and silent but desperate plea for attention was something she hadn't seen so severe in a long time. According to her, the whole gang deserve to be cursed and confined to the house together for all eternity. At the end of her speech, Halfrek tries to leave, but is herself now a victim of her own curse. In order to escape, she undoes the curse for them all and leaves.

As Tara clears up all remains of her spell-casting, she and Willow talk about the supplies. Tara understands why Willow kept them and is proud that she didn't fall for the temptation of using magic even in a desperate situation, but she makes it clear that Willow has to make it without the safety net from now on. Richard is escorted outside and to the hospital while most of the remaining gang depart for freedom from the house. Dawn stays behind and smiles as Buffy shuts the door and stays in the house with her.

Continuity[]

  • After "Surprise," "Helpless," "A New Man," and "Blood Ties," Spike comments that, because supernatural events have a history of occurring on Buffy's birthday, she should probably stop celebrating them. Indeed, this marks the last time her birthday is celebrated in the series.
  • Xander mentions that Anya is trying to unload slug candles, first mentioned in "Life Serial."
  • Hallie is in Sunnydale to attend Anya's upcoming wedding ("Hell's Bells"), having arrived in "Doublemeat Palace."
  • Dawn tells Hallie that "people have a tendency to go away"; in addition to Buffy and Willow's negligence in this episode, Hank is established as having bailed on his daughters in "Family," Joyce died in "The Body," Giles left town the same night Tara moved out in "Tabula Rasa," and Dawn complained in "As You Were" about Riley leaving without goodbye ("Into the Woods").
  • Spike still has the black eye Buffy gave him in "Dead Things."
  • Clem recognizes Buffy from when they met in "Life Serial."
  • Buffy hides Clem's demon status by describing his appearances as a "skin condition." In "Hell's Bells," Carol will describe Krelvin demon appearances as a "skin problem."
  • Tara helps Buffy in keeping Spike away after Buffy confided with her about their relationship in the previous episode, "Dead Things."
  • Halfrek looks at Spike and calls him "William." This reveals that Halfrek is Cecily Addams, the woman William was in love with when he was human ("Fool for Love").
  • Xander recalls the time he invoked "the power of a musical amulet" in "Once More, with Feeling."
  • When Dawn goes to her bedroom and everyone follows, she shouts "Get out. Get out! Get out! Get out!" She did the exact same thing a year before in "Blood Ties" to Joyce and Buffy, also during Buffy's birthday party.
  • The Scooby Gang discovers Dawn has been shoplifting, an habit first shown in the episode "Intervention." She and Buffy will attempt to return the stolen items in "Entropy."
  • Tara defends Willow by saying: "You're not gonna make her do something she doesn't want to. And if you try, you'll have to go through me first." In "Family," Buffy defended Tara by saying a similar line: "You want to take Tara out of here against her will, you gotta come through me."
  • It is revealed that a sword through the chest cannot kill a vengeance demon. This will be seen again in "Selfless" after Buffy stabs Anya.

Appearances[]

Individuals[]

Organizations and titles[]

Species[]

Events[]

Locations[]

Objects[]

Death count[]

  • Unidentified demon, destroyed by Buffy breaking his sword.

Behind the scenes[]

Production[]

  • The episode's title is taken from a memorable quotation at the end of J.G. Ballard's novel Empire of the Sun about the realization he's come to as to his current relationship with his family. The episode also feature Dawn's teacher discussing the book in class.
  • The character of Richard is a classic Star Trek reference: a fresh-faced, never-before-seen character who, upon encountering a form of otherworldly life, is immediately injured, almost fatally. Add to this the fact that he's dressed in a red shirt, he fits the example of an early Star Trek throwaway character.
  • The premise of this episode is similar to the 1962 film The Exterminating Angel, which also has a group of characters mysteriously trapped at a party who eventually discover how to escape.

Broadcast[]

  • "Older and Far Away" had an audience of 3.1 million households upon its original airing.[2]

Deleted scenes[]

  • Buffy's line was cut:[3]
    Buffy: "All the good ones got picked off by that lady with the wig. Lay off."
  • Willow and Anya's exchange was cut:[3]
    Willow: "I'll be fine."
    Anya: "This isn't some weird definition of 'fine' that means hiding in your room and crying?"
    Willow: "No."
    Anya: "Because we're tired of the crying."

Pop culture references[]

  • Dawn wears a shirt with the title of the 1974 film Foxy Brown.
  • Dawn's teacher talks about "things Jim lost during his years in Shanghai and things he gained," in reference to the novel Empire of the Sun, the source for this episode's title.
  • Xander makes a reference to the Stephen King short story "Children of the Corn" (1977). Nicholas Brendon played a role in the film Children of the Corn III (1995) prior to his role in Buffy.
  • Xander makes a reference to The Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life" (1961), where a child with god-like powers isolates his small town from the rest of the world on a whim, and any adult who defied or annoyed him was banished to "the cornfield."
  • Dawn, Xander, and Clem watch the cartoon Prest-O Change-O.
  • Buffy, Anya, Dawn, and Richard play the board game Monopoly.
  • Halfrek announces her arrival by saying: "You rang?", Lurch's catchphrase said whenever he's summoned in the 1964 TV series The Addams Family.

Goofs[]

  • At the start of the episode, Buffy assumes the demon ran away. The following day, when it appears in the house, she states that she has killed it two nights before. She actually "scared it away" the night before.
  • When Buffy drags Spike to the front door, his reflection can be seen in the mirror, even though vampires aren't supposed to have a reflection.
  • When Rilo Kiley's "Pictures of Success" is playing in the background, the line "and Mexico can fuckin' wait" can clearly be heard despite the censorship practices in the United States.

Music[]

International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Մեծացում" (Amplification)
  • Czech: "Starší a vzdálená" (Older and Far Away)
  • Finnish: "Suljetut ovet" (Closed Doors)
  • French: "Sans issue" (With No Way Out)
  • German: "Ein verfluchter Geburtstag" (A Cursed Birthday)
  • Hungarian: "Öregebb és távoli" (Older and Far Away)
  • Italian: "Il Compleanno di Buffy" (Buffy's Birthday)
  • Japanese: "遠くへ" (Far Away)
  • Polish: "Urodziny" (Birthday)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Feliz Aniversário, Buffy" (Happy Birthday, Buffy)
  • Romanian: "Mai vechi și departe" (Older and Far Away)
  • Russian: "Взросление" (Maturation)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Mayor y lejana" (Older and Far Away)
  • Spanish (Spain): (Older and Far Away)

Adaptations[]

Gallery[]

Behind the scenes[]

[]

Quotes[]

Dawn: "Does anybody wanna come to the mall with me for birthday presents?"
Willow: "Oh, I would, honey. But I've got my group. You know, the whole Spellcasters Anonymous thing... We're still looking for a better name."
Buffy: "We do not joke about eating people in this house."
Tara: "How's that cramp, Spike? Still bothering you?"
Spike: "What? Oh, yeah."
Tara: "Maybe you, uh, wanna put some ice on it."
Tara: "I thought vengance demons only punished men who wronged women."
Halfrek: "Oh, that was Anyanka's little raison d'etre. Most of us try to be a little more well-rounded. Oh and most of us prefer 'justice demons', okay? FYI."
Anya: "Well-rounded? That's how you describe your thing for bad parents?"
Halfrek: "Oh, it's not a thing. The children need me."
Anya: "Humph." (coughing) "Daddy issues."
Spike: "So you ever think about not celebrating your birthday? Just to try it, I mean?"

References[]

  1. "Buffy Season 6." Craig's BuffyVERSE 4ever. Retrieved on February 21, 2022.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Sixth Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Buffy - Older and Far Away." BuffyWorld. Archived from the original on July 29, 2019.
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