The real problem affecting Forever is The Body. While The Body depicted death in its most detached, banal and painful form, Forever is a far more conventional episode dealing with a character's death. We have a funeral, characters articulating how sad they are and, being a supernatural series, one character attempting to resurrect the dead. It feels like such an obvious route to tumble down, and in that regard it's pretty disappointing. There are obviously some aspects to the episode which work really well, but I didn't totally enjoy it.
Dawn is a real issue for me. She's fine and even kind of sweet when written particularly well, but when she becomes whiny and petulant she's absolutely insufferable. This unfortunately seems to happen whenever Dawn is thrust center stage, and the same issues that bugged me so much in Blood Ties happen again here. I get that the writers are developing her as a stereotypical angry teenager, but she's crazily annoying here. Yes, I get that her mother has just passed and that everybody reacts to death differently, but her manic complaining and insistence that Buffy doesn't give a damn about Joyce's death are both just ugly to watch. And I can't stand whenever Michelle Trachtenberg puts on that guttural, overly-breathy 'mad' voice. Ugh.
Elsewhere, the episode does a good job of making the characters grow a little. Buffy is pushed head-first into adulthood, still turning to Giles for some kind of paternal support but overwhelmed by what is suddenly expected of her. It's a sad turn of events. Angel's return was neat, too. Just one small blip of intimacy and unconditional support, which is totally what Buffy needed.
Each supporting character got their own sweet scene of mourning, too. I loved Giles listening to the same track he listened to with Joyce when they were teenagers, I loved Anya's honest discussion about having children with Xander, and I adored Spike's visit with the flowers. He's really a noble guy. Willow's taking an interesting turn, as well. Pushing the resurrection book in Dawn's direction was clearly a bad decision, yet she did it without thinking first.
The A-plot didn't work for me at all, even if it was arguably necessary. What made the episode were the character bits away from Dawn's shenanigans, which were all pretty sweet. Except that 'little boobs' moment, which I was always weirdly squicked out by. C+
Guest stars David Boreanaz (Angel); Clare Kramer (Glory); Charlie Weber (Ben); Troy T. Blendell (Jinx); Amber Benson (Tara Maclay); Joel Grey (Doc)
Writer Marti Noxon Director Marti Noxon