Great podcast, you guys! Wonderful listen as always
A quick comment on the Tara/Willow discussion. I really like Tara and I love this relationship, from its sweet and innocent beginnings to the dark and logical place it ended up. However, I just wanna say that calling their relationship "less than perfect" is far too generous, imo. I think abusive is a perfect word for it by season 6 (and the abuse was set-up perfectly in the previous seasons). In my mind, Willow raped Tara by altering her mind and sleeping with her. When Tara finds out about this rape, she still gives Willow a second chance and when she messes with her mind again, she leaves and then eventually reunites with Willow before Willow has made any significant changes (she never even apologized for the horrendous thing she did). Willow takes advantage of Tara and Tara keeps coming back. To me, that makes their relationship abusive. Just my two cents!
EDIT: Just finished the podcast!
Actually, this isn't Olivia's first episode. That would be "The Freshman". This episode is her last real-life appearance, I believe, though (not including the "Restless" dreams).
I do really love this episode, not as much as others, but I love it! It is probably in my top 20 of the series and is probably the best standalone of the entire show. It works, in my opinion, because every line means something and everything is connected to the overall theme of communication, which the episode explores expertly. I love everything about communication, from the wicca group, to Riley's mindless blabber, to the power of just a look, etc. I think that all works very, very well. It also has one of my favorite endings ever. Not only does it work as an effective cliffhanger, but it is also the perfect way to end the episode thematically. I love that Riley and Buffy discover each others' identities and then just keep fighting, understood in just a look, and then when they have to actually TALK about what they have been hiding, they can't say a word. It works really well. It just isn't an all-time favorite because the character progression isn't great enough for me to consider it a top 10 or something. The only significant development, IMO, would be the Tara and Willow stuff. But still, a perfect standalone episode.
I also think the Gentlemen are the most terrifying creatures in Buffy, mostly because they seem to come straight from nightmares. They are so dreamlike, and the lack of dialogue makes it seem even more nightmarish. The score does such a fantastic job at making it like a Grimm fairy tale and that's why it's so scary for me.