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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 6, Episode 14
TryingToLeave
Air date February 12, 2002
Written by Drew Z. Greenberg
Directed by Michael Gershman
Episode Guide
previous
"Dead Things"
next
"As You Were"
Cast
Starring
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Guest Starring
Kali Rocha Halfrek
Ryan Browning Richard
Amber Benson Tara
Co Starring
Laura Roth Sophie
James C. Leary Clem
Elizabeth Cazenave Teacher

"Older and Far Away" is the fourteenth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the one hundred fourteenth episode altogether. It was written by Drew Z. Greenberg and directed by Michael Gershman. It originally broadcast on February 12, 2002.

When Dawn feels that nobody wants to spend time with her, she makes a wish in front of a Vengeance demon (posing as a school counselor) that everyone would stay with her. During Buffy's birthday party, Dawn's penchant for shoplifting is discovered, while the gang tries to figure out why nobody is able to leave the house. Finally, Anya calls the vengeance demon and tricks her into undoing her curse.

Synopsis

614 OlderFarAway1

The demon in the sword.

Buffy apologizes to Dawn for having to leave and hunt down a dangerous demon, promising that some real quality time will happen soon. In the cemetery, Buffy fights with the demon, who carries a sword and disappears randomly. Buffy stabs the demon with its own sword and, unbeknownst to Buffy, it'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 clearly did not pay for.

The next day at school, Dawn's called away from class to the guidance counselor who prods into the young girl'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 Buffy. 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.

614 OlderFarAway2

Willow: I'm, I'm ... finey McFine. Fine.

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. After hearing about the party from Willow, Spike shows up, surprising Buffy. With him, he brings beer and another demon, Clem from kitten poker. Before Buffy has a chance to do anything about Spike's presence, Xander introduces his friend from work, Richard. Buffy goes to show Richard where he can park his car while Spike watches on, clearly jealous. Dawn is anxious for presents to be opened, but Xander and Anya are more concerned with Buffy's progress with Richard and Dawn is yet again treated like an uninformed child. Spike catches Buffy alone and tries to lure her away for some private celebrating, but Buffy'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 weapons cabinet from Xander and Anya that is wheeled out into the room interests her more. 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 turns into the Vengeance demon Halfrek before she says, "Wish granted." The party continues on at full force with dancing and games. Buffy and Richard talk briefly and then Buffy steps away and 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 catches them.

Xander and Anya playfully discuss who will go get beer and Willow ends the excessive cuteness by offering to make the run herself. Instead of getting up and leaving though, Willow simply drops her head to the table. The night of birthday fun 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 it suddenly seems 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 that subtly hints at Richard being a meal before Buffy drags him off and the two begin to yell at each other. They talk about leaving the house and getting away from each other, but soon it's realized that they can't leave—something is keeping everyone in the house.

The gang discuss the dilemma, most of them really needing to get to work or school. Dawn snaps at them all, hurt and angry that they all want to leave. Suspicious, the Scooby Gang talk to Dawn and question whether she did a spell or something to lock them all in the house.

614 OlderFarAway3

Dawn: I'm glad you're trapped. How else can I get anybody to spend any time with me?

The young teen is furious that they would accuse her of such a thing, but they don't drop the subject when she denies it and that only upsets Dawn more. Magic is suggested to fix the problem, but Tara, who doesn't have any supplies with her, is the only one who can do it. Willow reveals that she still has a few items she kept for "emergency only". Tara is anything but pleased, but asks for the supplies anyway and makes 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 Richard takes a cut to the chest, but is the only one seriously injured before the demon retreats 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, he's attacked by the demon. Buffy and Spike fight the demon back into hiding, but Xander is injured and still shows more concern for Anya's state of shock 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 to their problem. 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 frantically through Dawn's possessions, while Xander tries to stop her. Dawn enters the room with her sister and is freaked out by the invasion of her privacy. Anya uncovers Dawn's secret stash of stolen jewelry and objects from the Magic Box, which stuns everyone.

614 OlderFarAway4

Halfrek: This girl was in pain, and none of you could hear it. I could hear her crying out everywhere I went in this town. It was unbearable. And none of you knew.

Dawn tries to get away downstairs, but she's followed and Anya goes off on her for stealing. Buffy, realizing the jacket she was given for her birthday was also stolen, has a hard time accepting her sister's behavior and tries to blame the guidance counselor that Dawn talked to for the situation. Anya puts the pieces together, concludes that the one responsible for their mess is Halfrek (a fellow Vengeance demon and friend of Anya's) and summons her because she is the only one who can lift the spell. Halfrek appears in response to Anya's summons, but is stabbed by the demon and falls to the ground.

Spike, Anya, and Buffy fight with the demon and yet again, the demon tries to escape into the wall. Buffy uses the sword to stab the demon through the wall, effectively trapping it within the sword and then breaking the metal over her knee. The demon gone, the only problem left is destroying Halfrek's pendant so they can be freed. Before Anya can get Halfrek's pendant, the vengeance demon rises, 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 her purpose and its lack of restriction to revenge on men. (Anya's penchant was for revenge on men, as her dislike of men is her particular specialty; Halfrek's is "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. Halfrek tries to leave, but is herself now a victim of her own curse, and is forced to lift it in order to escape.

As Tara clears up all remains of her spell-casting, she and Willow talk about Willow's possession of 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 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, but is pleasantly surprised when, rather than leaving like the others, Buffy shuts the door and stays in the house.

Continuity

  • When Halfrek is called by Anya, she looks at Spike and calls him "William". Halfrek is actually Cecily, the lady William was in love with when he was human.
  • Dawn's kleptomania and abandonment issues are revealed to the Scooby Gang.
  • It remains unclear from an exchange between Xander and Dawn in this episode, whether Xander actually tried to cover for Dawn's mistake in ("Once More, With Feeling"), by taking the blame for invoking the amulet that called Sweet: "sometimes we do something that seems like a good idea at the time, like, say, invoke the power of a musical amulet? And it turns out, you know, not so much."
  • Tara continues to gain confidence in herself and helps her friends. She stood up to Spike when he was making inappropriate advances toward Buffy and defended Willow when Anya pressured her to perform magic.
  • This marks the last time that Buffy's birthday is celebrated in the series. Spike comments that, because supernatural events have a history of occurring on Buffy's birthday, she should probably stop celebrating them. Buffy traditionally celebrates her birthday around the 12th or 13th episode of each season; her birthday takes place in episode 13 of Season Two ("Surprise"), episode 12 of Season Three ("Helpless"), episode 12 of Season Four ("A New Man"), and episode 13 of Season Five ("Blood Ties").
  • Xander mentions that Anya is trying to unload slug candles, first mentioned in "Life Serial".
  • Tara has come to comfort Buffy where none of her other friends could at least twice; first when Joyce died, and secondly when Buffy confessed about her mutually abusive relationship with Spike. Aside from Willow, Buffy seems the closest to Tara in the group, with Xander saying that "it would mean a lot to Buffy" if she came to her birthday party.
  • Willow has not cast a spell for 32 days up to the start of this episode, meaning this episode takes place exactly those days after "Gone".

Body Count

  • Unidentified demon, destroyed by Buffy who broke his sword

Behind the Scenes

Deleted Scenes

  • Buffy's line was cut due to length:
Buffy: "All the good ones got picked off by that lady with the wig. Lay off."
  • Willow and Anya's exchange was cut due to length:
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

  • 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, and you have an example of an early Star Trek throwaway character.
  • Xander makes reference to The Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life", where a child with god-like powers isolates his small town from the rest of the world on a whim. Any adult who defied or annoyed him was banished to "the cornfield".
  • The episode's title is taken from a memorable quotation at the end of J. G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun about the realization he's come to as to his current relationship with his family. The Empire of the Sun connection is further stressed in the scene before Dawn meets the "guidance counselor" as the teacher's line about "things Jim lost during his years in Shanghai and things he gained" implies that Dawn's class is studying the book.
  • The premise of this episode is similar to the film "The Exterminating Angels" which also has a group of characters mysteriously trapped at a party who eventually discover how to escape.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • 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.
  • Spike still has a bruise on his face, but vampires are supposed to heal very quickly. BUT this may be because Buffy inflicted the wounds. When Glory beat Spike up and tortured him, he carried the bruises for days after. Buffy went at him at full Slayer strength.
  • At the start of the episode, Buffy assumed that the demon ran away. The following day, when it appears in the house, she states that she had killed it two nights ago. She actually "scared it away" the night before.
  • When Rilo Kiley's "Pictures of Success" is playing in the background, the line, "And Mexico can fuckin' wait," can very clearly be heard despite the stringent censorship practices in the United States.
  • Tara cleans Richard's cut without taking his shirt off, probably because to prevent the scene from looking sexual, but it makes little sense, as the fabric would have probably caused infection.

Music

International Titles

  • Portuguese: Feliz Aniversário, Buffy (Happy Birthday, Buffy)
  • German: Ein verfluchter Geburtstag (A cursed Birthday)

Other

Quotes

Buffy - "We do not joke about eating people in this house."
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 - "I had a... Muscle cramp. Buffy was, uh, helping."
Tara - "A muscle cramp? In your... Pants?"
Tara - "How's that cramp, Spike? Still bothering you?"
Spike - "What? Oh, yeah."
Tara - "Maybe you, uh, wanna put some ice on it."
Anya - "Do you think we should set up lots of candles for Buffy's party tomorrow?"
Xander - "Not if they're that horrible slug kind you keep trying to unload."
Anya - "I don't know why people get so turned off by slug."
Xander - "Honey, slugs get turned off by slug."
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."
Anya - "Her pendant! Get her pendant!"
Halfrek - (Suddenly awakens) "There will be no touching of the pendant!"
Spike - "So you ever think about not celebrating your birthday? Just to try it, I mean?"

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