Last night’s episode of Buffy featured the return of Marc Blucas as Agent Riley Finn – Buffy’s ex. When I learned this, I was excited. I imaged a showdown between him and Spike, perhaps a temporary and ill-fated re-kindling of the Buffy-Riley relationship, or something. Instead, Riley served as a way to show just how pathetic Buffy’s life has become. He swoops in all heroic-like with his perfect wife and his exciting life, a sharp contrast to Buffy’s incredibly mundane existance. Indeed, this season, almost all of Buffy’s problems have been connected to her personally – there aren’t any outside forces causing havoc for her: Willow, The nerds, friends of Anya, Riley, Spike – these are all ‘domestic’ problems for Buffy. Where’s the Big Bad riding in guns a-blazin’?

Earlier I’d mentioned how disturbing Buffy had become – in a sense, it’s become disturbingly mundane – Willow has been castrated without her magic and simply mopes around for Tara; Xander and Anya have become incredibly boring – this wedding planning schtick has gotten tired quick; Dawn, who looked to be a source of never-ending trouble at the beginning of the season simply mopes around the house; Buffy is simply learning how to live a mundane life and Spike, while interesting, is much less fun than previously – there’s no edge at all anymore. Even last night, when it turns out that he’s the ‘big bad’ of the episode, doesn’t really get come-uppance. Just dumped. Which was inevitable, as the show didn’t let the relationship develop in any interesting way. the ‘Dark Side’ of Buffy that this relationship was letter her explore was never very well developed and now looks to simply disapear. Willow, who I was hoping was going to become the ‘Big Bad’ of the season as she got addicted now barely registers at all. If the theme of this season is exploring one’s dark side, which many of the episodes are about (the entire Nerd-villans thing is really all about that), it’s just not working terribly well. It just feels….restrained, in a way that Buffy has never felt before.