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POTENTIAL (ep #7.12)

(a.k.a. Dawn the Vampire Slayer)

Written by: Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Directed by: James A. Contner
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Guest Starring: Tom Lenk as Andrew Wells
Iyari Limon as Kennedy
Clara Bryant as Molly
Indigo as Rona
Co-Starring: James C. Leary as Clem
Sarah Hagan as Amanda
Felicia Day as Vi
Derek Anthony as Imposing Demon

Plot Summary

It turns out that a potential slayer was already in Sunnydale.

Plot Details

Rona and Vi, armed with stakes, crept through a cemetery. To nobody's surprise, a vampire ambushed them. At least this vampire had a soul and a chip that should have gone off when said vampire shoved Rona to the ground and twisted Vi's arm. Instead, Spike looked like he was enjoying himself.

Buffy stepped in and used the opportunity to lecture on the need to follow one's instincts (i.e., run) and on how vampires do not care about fair fights. Later, in the basement, the potentials were discussing the advantages of various exercises when Buffy interrupted to deliver yet another speech, this time about death.

The next morning, Amanda from "Help" went to Buffy's cubicle at Sunnydale High to see if it is weird to think that someone picking on her is cute. Buffy seemed a little uncomfortable with the conversation, in part because it reminded her of some events from the sixth season involving a now ensouled vampire.

Buffy returned home and interrupted an argument involving Xander, Andrew, Rona, and Vi. Before she could find out what was going on, Willow interrupted with news: a potential slayer is living in Sunnydale. There was a brief debate over whether to cancel the planned outing for the potential slayers and whether Andrew would get to attend the outing. In the end, it was decided that Buffy would take the known potentials out, sans Andrew, while Willow tried to locate the potential slayer. Willow cast a locator spell in the same fireplace in which she cast the spell in "Tabula Rasa." At first, all it did was create a bright visual effect and a foul odor. Dawn went to air out the room only to have the special effect drive her to the door.

Xander, Willow, and Anya all concluded that this meant that Dawn was a potential slayer. Dawn, who had earlier been fairly envious of the attention that the potential slayers were receiving, suddenly felt ambivalent. In particular, she was concerned that the only way that she could be a slayer is if Buffy died.

Dawn eventually ran upstairs with nobody running after her. On one hand, this was fortunate as it meant that Dawn did not have the opportunity to say, "Get out, get out, Get Out, GET OUT!" On the other hand, it gave Dawn the opportunity to do her trademarked sneak away act.

Buffy and Spike took the potentials to a demon bar. The potentials were excited at first when they heard that they would not be carded. However, the drink choices quickly turned them off. Buffy lectured on how she would go there only to get information from someone because everyone in the bar would kill her if possible. Just as she was finishing, Clem appeared and demolished the last part of her argument.

Dawn was moping around the streets when she ran into Amanda. Neither seemed interested in explaining why they were walking around. Eventually, Dawn noticed a cut on Amanda's forehead. After some hesidation, Amanda finally admitted to locking a "thing" (i.e., vampire) in a room and that she was looking for Buffy. Dawn decided to help out.

They went to the room only to find that it was empty. Dawn concluded that the vampire escaped, but it was just lurking on the ceiling. Dawn and Amanda tried to flee the school only to find a door that was really locked. Dawn administered a couple of blows with a handy fire extinguisher and fled upstairs with Amanda.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Spike led the other potential slayers into a crypt where they found a vampire. Buffy fought it for a little bit while delivering another lecture. After finishing, she and Spike left the crypt, leaving the potentials to their fate.

Dawn and Amanda fled to a chemistry lab and pushed a cabinet to block the door. In terms of effectiveness, it was better than the pillows Willow and Xander used in "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" but less effective than the vending machine that Willow and Tara used in "Hush." Dawn realized that the cabinet would not hold the vampire and came up with a plan.

Eventually, Willow, Xander, and Anya went to check on Dawn. For some reason, they were surprised to find that Dawn had left. Willow decided to do a locator spell.

It appears that Dawn's plan was to keep the vampire occupied long enough for bringers to interrupt the fight. The bringers decided to do what they did to young women in the beginning of "Lessons" and "Beneath You." To Dawn's surprise, they decided to do this to Amanda rather than Dawn. A surprised Dawn ignited a gas valve, allowing her and Amanda to escape.

They were alone just long enough for Dawn to explain that Amanda was really the (potential) chosen one and that Amanda had to do the fighting. Amanda got a couple of blows in before Buffy and Spike came to the rescue. Buffy and Spike took out the bringers while Amanda staked the vampire.

Afterward, Amanda admitted to being at Buffy's door when the visual effect went through it, identifying her, not Dawn, as the potential slayer. The five potential slayers congregated and talked about their adventures. Molly, Rona, Vi, and Kennedy were happy about their success, but they were very impressed that Amanda took out a vampire alone.

Dawn slunk away to do research. Xander followed and delivered a speech about how hard it was for the two of them to operate without superpowers while everyone else grew more powerful. As a result, he appreciated what Dawn did by handing over the fight to Amanda along with everything else that Dawn has been doing.

The Good

It is good to see Clem again.

One potential, Chloe, seems to have disappeared.

Unlike Buffy's many speeches, Xander's speech at the end was actually good.

The Bad

Buffy is getting very preachy.

All the potential slayers survived this episode.

Overall Rank: 128

Action: 6

Spike attacked Rona and Vi during the teaser.

A vampire pursued Dawn and Amanda through Sunnydale High.

Buffy fought with a vampire for a little bit before turning it over to the potential slayers.

Amanda staked a vampire while Buffy and Spike took out three bringers.

Comedy: 4

Anya and Andrew had a few funny lines.

Buffy, Spike, and the potentials encountered Clem in a demon bar.

Drama: 6

Dawn was not sure about whether she wanted to be a potential slayer.

Romance: 1

Amanda might have a crush on the guy who was picking on her.

Character Development: 5

Spike appears to be able to inflict minor pain on humans without setting off his chip, at least when the victim is a slayer-in-training.

Dawn envies the attention that the potential slayers are receiving and may want to be one herself. However, she seems to accept her role in the group.

Xander does not appear to appreciate having an audience while in the shower. He relates to Dawn in the fact that they do not have superpowers, so he appreciates her contributions to the group.

Amanda thinks that she has a crush on someone who picks on her. She does not like the marching band. She is also a potential slayer.

Buffy is getting very preachy.

Molly likes crossbows.

Vi prefers maces, despite the fact that they are nearly useless against vampires.

Rona likes the feel of wood in her hands.

Kennedy does not.

Importance: 3

Another potential slayer has been identified and another is on the way.

Most Valuable Player: Amanda

This was a close battle and a case could be made for Dawn if she did not already win the Sherlock Holmes in convincing fashion. However, Amanda gets the MVP for using her instincts in her fight with the bringers and the vampire. Buffy and Spike also get a bit of credit for their backup.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Dawn

Willow probably thought that she had this award locked up when the spell went through Dawn, but Dawn won because she realized that Amanda was the actual potential slayer. Xander gets some consideration for his observations at the end of the episode.

Goat of the Week: School Vampire

This was not much of an episode for failures. However, the vampire in the school gets the Goat for failing to kill Amanda even though she had never been in a fight before and has no slayer powers.

Random Commentary

In my commentary for "Lessons," I mentioned speculation about a Dawn the Vampire Slayer spin-off. Fortunately, this episode ended any possibility of that. Michelle Trachtenberg is a good enough actress to carry a show, but I do not see Dawn being able to carry a show. Furthermore, I believe that any new spin-off needs to be fundamentally different from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This would not happen if one simply replaces one name in the title.

There has been a bit of speculation on the ages of the potential slayers, particularly Kennedy's age. Based on Rona's comment in the demon bar, we have to assume that she, Kennedy, Molly, and Vi are all 15 years old until we have an explicit statement otherwise. It is still possible that one or more of them may have a 16th birthday before the end of the show, and other potential slayers who were not at the bar, including Amanda, may be of a different age.


Off screen, all the writers were consistent in saying that only Faith's death would spawn a new slayer, not Buffy's. However, the characters in this episode all assumed that it would be Buffy's death that would spawn a new slayer. This is not necessarily an inconsistency. The characters could simply be mistaken about who would need to die to get a new slayer. However, it is not clear why they did not take into account the possibility that Faith's death could lead to a new slayer. Furthermore, if they believed that Buffy's death would spawn a new slayer, why have they not assumed that there is already a third slayer spawned after Buffy's death in "The Gift?"

Xander said that he has watched people grow more powerful over the previous "seven years," yet it has been less than six years since "Welcome to the Hellmouth." Was he watching Buffy at Hemery High like Angel did?

Why does Sarah Hagan get only a co-starring credit in this episode when she got a guest starring credit for a much smaller part in "Help?" I would speculate that she has Amber Benson's agent, but that would not explain how Hagan got a guest starring credit.

Memorable Dialogue

[On phone] "Xander, I know. I'm sorry. If you're gonna take a shower at my house, lock the door. Of course they're curious." Buffy

"Gotta go with the stake. It's classic. I like the feel of wood in my hand." Rona
"Lost me there." Kennedy

"It's like one second you were this klutzy teenager with fake memories and a history of kleptomania, then, suddenly, you're a hero, a hero with a much abbreviated life span." Anya

"A slayer, makes sense I guess. Remember that thing about they share the same blood or whatever?" Willow
"Yeah, I never got that." Anya
"She has to die. I mean, if I was ever the slayer, it would mean she died." Dawn
"Well, it's a lot like being the pope in that way, except you don't have to be some old Catholic." Anya

"We're a bunch of 15-year-olds in a demon bar. How much blending did you think we were going to do?" Rona

"You know something about my sister?" Dawn
"Well, I've heard people talking. A lot of them think she's some kind of high-functioning schizophrenic." Amanda

"I was thinking. We don't have to kill the vampire, do we?" Amanda
"What?" Dawn
"Just suppose he got out and was maybe, like, encouraged toward the gym where the marching band was playing because, they way they look down on the swing choir, it might be, you know, funny." Amanda

"I'm just thinking about the girls. It's a harsh gig being a potential, just being picked out of a crowd. Danger, destiny, plus, if you act now, death." Xander
"They can handle it." Dawn
"Yeah, they're special, no doubt, and the amazing thing is, not one of them will ever know, not even Buffy." Xander
"Know what?" Dawn
"How much harder it is for the rest of us." Xander
"No way, they've got the..." Dawn
"Seven years, Dawn, working with the slayer, seeing my friends get more and more powerful: a witch, a demon. Hell, I could fit Oz in my shaving kit, but, come a full moon, he had a wolfy mojo not to be messed with. Powerful, all of them, and I'm the guy who fixes the windows." Xander
"Well, you had that sexy army training for a while, and the windows really did need fixing." Dawn
"I saw what you did last night." Xander
"Yeah, I guess I kinda lost my head when I thought I was the slayer." Dawn
"You thought you were all special, Miss Sunnydale 2003, and the minute you found out you weren't, you handed the crown to Amanda without a moment's pause. You gave her your power." Xander
"The power wasn't mine." Dawn
"They'll never know how tough it is, Dawnie, to be the one who isn't chosen, to live so near the spotlight and never step in it, but I know. I see more than anybody else realizes because nobody's watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You're not special; you're extraordinary." Xander
"Maybe that's your power." Dawn
"What?" Xander
"Seeing, knowing." Dawn
"Maybe it is. Maybe I should get a cape." Xander
"Cape is good." Dawn

Characters in Peril


Departed Characters Remembered

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

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This page was last modified on January 11, 2013