BuffyWatch: Season 6, Episodes 4-6

Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes. Warning: May contain spoilers for later episodes.

Season 6, Episode 4 “Flooded”

If the early seasons used the supernatural as a metaphor for adolescence, those big teenage feelings that felt like the “end of the world,” Buffy’s resurrection is a metaphor for the rude awakening of adulthood. In this episode, Buffy tries to fix a pipe in her basement, only to flood the entire thing. Dawn squeals and runs away, but Buffy is still so numb and detached, she just watches the water flood in and says, “See? All better.” It turns out they need to replace all of the pipes, which leads to another nasty shock–Buffy’s broke. Her mother had life insurance, but it was almost entirely spent on hospital bills. That’s America for you. Buffy tries to reassure her friends that it’s just money, it’s “not like it’s the end of the world.” But money very much can be the end of the world, as she’s about to learn.

Buffy puts on her best adult costume–pencil skirt, pumps, tight bun–and goes to the bank to get a loan. But she has no income, her house isn’t paid off, and she can’t refinance because “for some reason property values in Sunnydale have never been competitive.” LOL. As the mean banker is turning her down, a demon charges in and tries to rob the place. Buffy tees up a quip about kicking him in the face, but then she can’t because of the pencil skirt. “Stupid skirt!” she says. I always remember this moment so clearly, because Buffy has definitely fought in equally impractical outfits before without any acknowledgment–it’s part of the show’s 90s girly feminism schtick. She acknowledges it here because she doesn’t feel comfortable in this outfit–she’s wearing it for the benefit of the mean bank man, playacting the “responsible adult” even though she’s still a teenager. 

She actually cuts through the skirt with scissors before defeating the demon and scaring him away. Earlier in the episode, she scoffed when Anya suggested that she starts “charging” for saving people’s lives, but now Buffy walks over to that mean bank man and says, “I’m not saying I’m charging you for saving your life or anything, but let’s talk rates.” But he still doesn’t give her the loan! The nerve. 

It turns out that this random demon was hired by a mysterious benefactor (or three). We’re finally introduced to the Big Bads of the season, who will henceforth be known as “the trio”–Warren, the creepy incel who built April and BuffyBot, Jonathan, whom we all know, and… Andrew. We don’t know Andrew, but apparently he’s the younger brother of Tucker, the kid who unleashed helldogs at prom. (I wonder if they wanted Tucker but just couldn’t get him.) The trio convinced the demon to rob the bank in exchange for “the head of the Slayer,” which like, okay. What self-respecting demon would believe that? 

They agree to kill Buffy, but Warren is the only one who actually wants to. “She’s saved my life a bunch of times,” says Jonathan. “Plus she’s super hot.” (Yeah! Remember the umbrella? How could you, Jonathan?!) We get to see their pathetic little origin story, when they were literally just three nerds in a basement and Warren said, “You guys wanna team up and take over Sunnydale?” We also get to see their sad whiteboard with a list of goals, including: “control the weather,” “miniaturize fort knox,” “girls,” “the gorilla thing,” and “conjure fake IDs.” (Wow, it’s so easy to forget these kids are only like, twenty.) 

They use the Star Trek hand signal–I don’t know the real name and I’m not looking it up–to vote against killing Buffy, but Warren sneakily gives the demon her address. When the other two ask how he got the demon to leave, he says he “used the Force.” The nerd references are almost too on-the-nose, but honestly, it’s why the Trio’s villainy has aged so well. In my day-to-day life, I’m not particularly afraid of a hellgod trying to kill my fake sister, but I’m definitely afraid of these kinds of “nice guys.” Even Jonathan and Andrew, who are ostensibly less evil, say they don’t want to kill Buffy because they’d rather “hypnotize her and make her our sex bunny,” aka rape her. In addition to depression and adult life in general, male entitlement is the villain this season. 

Back at the Magic Box, Buffy gets out her anger by pummeling a punching bag. Willow is openly relieved that Buffy is expressing some sort of emotion, even anger. “You haven’t exactly been big with the whole range of human emotions thing,” she says. I would be so annoyed if I were Buffy–I’d be like, “I know you feel guilty, but can you stop micromanaging my resurrection?” But then Giles comes back, and the way Buffy’s face lights up is actually very nice to see. They have a tearful reunion, and this time Buffy really is showing the full range of human emotion. 

Giles, wise and sensitive as ever, acts totally normal with Buffy–the only one other than Spike who manages that–with just a touch of fatherly concern. He gently asks Buffy how she’s doing, and she admits that she’s having trouble sleeping. “But that’s because of the waking up in a box thing, so maybe waking up is the problem,” she quips. Yikes. Giles reassures her, “Life can be pretty overwhelming, even for people who haven’t been through what you have,” he says, because this is a metaphor and all. But we see that he might be more worried than he’s letting on–at one point, he reaches out for her and she doesn’t want to be touched, so he makes a concerned face. 

Later, Giles asks Willow about the spell while they’re alone together in the kitchen. Willow recounts the story like, “Oh you should have seen it Giles, this pack of demons interrupted but I totally held it together.” I love this scene, because she’s so chipper and proud of herself, and wants his approval so badly that you sort of feel sorry for her, but also like, Willow, read the room. “You’re a very stupid girl,” Giles says quietly. She looks genuinely upset–her face falls. “You were the one I trusted most to respect the forces of nature,” he says. His disappointment actually makes me very sad–it reminds me of simpler times, when Willow was his eager protege in the high school library. “I did what no one else could do,” Willow says plaintively. “There are others who could do what you did,” Giles says, “You just don’t want to meet them.” Ouch. “They’re the bad guys,” Willow protests, “I’m not the bad guy!” (Foreshadowing!) Giles scolds her like she’s a child, reminding her that she could have killed everyone or unleashed hell on earth, and then he calls her a “rank, arrogant amateur.” Harsh, but honestly deserved! 

All of a sudden, Willow’s whole demeanor changes. She gives him a hard stare and says quietly, “You’re right. The magics I used are very powerful, I’m very powerful, and maybe it’s not such a good idea to piss me off.” Giles looks stricken, but then Willow turns back into her old teacher’s pet self. “I don’t want to fight,” she says. Giles reminds her that they have no idea what Buffy’s gone through, and says he’s “far from convinced she’s come out of all of this undamaged.” Ya think?

The trio’s demon breaks into the house and attacks Giles and Dawn, and there’s a funny scene where Buffy is fighting the demon but also super worried about all the stuff they’re breaking (now she knows how her mom must have felt!). She even tells Spike to fight him in the kitchen, so there’s fewer breakables, but then she ends up throwing the demon into the flooded basement, where everything gets destroyed anyway. She beats him to death with a broken pipe while yelling about the “full copper repipe.” Then after the fight is over, Spike says, “Hey, did you know this place was flooded?” and Buffy just closes her eyes.

Later, Buffy tells Giles, “I don’t think I can do this.” It’s sort of an extension of her amazing monologue in “Forever,” where she says that she might know how to stake vampires, but her mom always knew how to make everything better in real life. She doesn’t even know where the sheets are. It’s all very sad. The concept of “adulting” has become very overused, but it’s genuinely hard to adult when you’re traumatized, depressed, and saddled with raising a teenager at the age of twenty. Poor Buffy.

Janes

Notes from a New Fan:

  • Resurrected!Buffy finally makes a quip! “We meet at last, Mr. Drippy.”
  • I was shocked that the show would say Buffy was broke–of course Mrs. Buffy would have life insurance! She was so responsible! But unlike a certain other show we’ve recapped here, where “my parent died and left me broke” was a garbage storyline, Buffy at least tries to provide a reasonable explanation. Hospital bills! Hospital bills can bankrupt even a very successful single mom’s estate. Yay, America. 
  • The plumber tells Buffy she needs a “full copper repipe.” What? I’m guessing this isn’t a real thing, because the first Google autocomplete for it is full copper repipe buffy. It’s the new “obsessive reality disorder.” OK I promise that’s my last Dawson’s reference for today.
  • Anya of course has an idea for how Buffy could not be broke: monetize her superhero-ness! That’s even more America. What a patriot.
  • Xander still won’t tell people he’s engaged to Anya. He tells her it’s because he’s still getting used to his grown-up life, and like… that’s fair, but you didn’t HAVE to propose to your girlfriend when you were only twenty years old, did you? You could have just not done that and had all the time you wanted to get used to being a grown-up! Ughhhh. 
  • Wasn’t Buffy fifteen when the show started? And Dawn is fifteen and isn’t even allowed to read about demons… or have cappuccino. I’m almost sympathetic to her.
  • Giles came back in 3 episodes! My prediction of 3-5 episodes before his return was right!
  • His reunion with Buffy is so sweet. He says she’s a miracle, “But then, I’ve always thought so,” and touches her cheek. It’s really not creepy at all. Y’all know I love to pick on Giles, but I can only find sappy, sweet love in my heart for this scene.
  • When Giles shows up Buffy has this hope that he’ll fix everything, like a father. But he can’t, and by the time they’ve had their first catch-up conversation, she seems even lonelier than before.
  • Jonathan is back! Whaaaa?
  • And did we know Jonathan and Warren the Sexbot guy hung out?
  • This whole flashback with the three nerds is hilarious; I like that there were several seemingly separate villains who ran on this same theme of angry nerds, and now they’ve joined forces to become one pathetic yet threatening gaggle of incels. You know how the author always puts themself in the movie? Maybe this was how Joss, noted nerd and harasser of women, Mary Sue’d himself.
  • Spike shows up just as Buffy is feeling alone, and she can actually talk to him. They have a really sweet moment—and he’s obviously thrilled that she actually smiles when she says his name. Can’t blame the guy.
  • Buffy gets a call. Maybe it’s Riley! Ooh, or Faith. Ooh, or her dad. Ugh, hope not. 
  • Update: It’s Angel. Well, at least it’s not Riley. I feel dumb for not guessing Angel. I’d kind of forgotten about him.
  • I also judge Angel for demanding Buffy leave to see him right away. Dude, your girlfriend was just resurrected from the dead and dug herself out of a coffin! You make the trip! Jeez.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • There’s a lot of controversy nowadays about Buffy being broke, especially since Willow and Tara have been living in her house rent-free, but IMO that’s kind of ridiculous. They clearly explain that the hospital bills ate up the money–which is sadly all-too-common–but also, they were taking care of Dawn for free. Even if they did use some of Joyce’s money, that would make sense, since they were taking care of her child!
  • Everyone acts like Anya is crazy for suggesting Buffy charges for the service, and yes, it’s crazy to charge the victims themselves, but it also just reminds you how crazy it is that Giles gets paid and she doesn’t. The Council was mad that she went to school because it would be a “distraction”–how is she supposed to find the energy to save the world when she has to work a fast food job? I guess most Slayers don’t live to adulthood, but it’s an injustice.
  • Xander is once again the worst this episode. He tells Anya that she can’t wear her engagement ring, which is crazy and unfair! And then when she finally asks, “Don’t you want to get married?” he pauses! “This husband thing, it’s a big step, or a lot of little ones,” he says. WTF does that even mean? Engagement is the step! Engagement is the commitment! Poor Anya. 
  • “I think you’re very mature for your age,” Tara says to Dawn, literally the biggest lie ever told on this show.
  • But also like why can’t Dawn do research? That is pretty crazy–they were fifteen when they all started skipping school to fight vampires. This is just research!
  • “You’re just mad I wouldn’t build you Christina Ricci.” Andrew has good taste!
  • Anya when she sees Giles: “We missed you! You can’t have the store back!” Ha.
  • Giles says he was reconnecting with old friends in England and almost made a new one, which is “statistically impossible for someone my age.” Heh. True. It’s statistically impossible for someone my age. 
  • It’s a little weird that they made such a big deal of Giles leaving only to have him come back immediately, especially since he leaves for good in just a few episodes. Interesting they had him leave at all — maybe this could only have happened if he left, the authority figure gone.
  • Giles is immediately knocked unconscious, and right after he gets back too, it’s a tradition.

Season 6, Episode 5 “Life Serial”

Buffy returns from LA, where she met with Angel after he discovered she was alive. I thought there was probably a crossover episode and decided to skip it. I mean, who cares about another drippy Buffy/Angel conversation? Onward with the Spuffy train! Uh, no, but seriously, I’m an objective recapper and everything… I swear. So in the interest of mitigating my ignorance, I looked it up on the internet just now and apparently they never actually meet up on Angel either. We just hear about it second-hand from both. Odd choice. I wondered if David Boreanaz and SMG were in some kind of juicy Good Wife-style feud, but Janes says it’s just that the shows were on two separate networks. Boring! [Aw, no, they’re really good friends IRL! –Janes]

Anyway, Buffy doesn’t really have a life plan, so she decides to audit some university classes with Willow and Tara. Meanwhile, the three nerds (Warren, Jonathan, and the Third Nerd, whose name I can’t remember but according to the internet is Andrew) decide to test out various possible weapons to see what will work on Buffy. The first attempt is a pulse-based inhibitor that Warren plants on Buffy, which causes her to lose snatches of time, but she quickly finds and removes it, to the consternation of the nerds. They “self-destruct” it, and she theorizes that it might just have been an evil piece of lint. I mean, it’s Sunnydale. Evil lint isn’t that much of a stretch, the dryer traps are probably full of vampire dust.

Having apparently wimped out on auditing classes, Buffy takes a temp job at Xander’s construction site, where the men are about as welcoming as you’d expect to a tiny blonde girl working on their big manly site. That’s when the nerds make their next attempt. Andrew brings a load of green-headed demons down on the construction site. Unfortunately, after Buffy dispatches them, it turns out they were totally invisible and everyone else thinks she just went berserk. 

Buffy attempts to work at the Magic Box, only to become entrapped in a grotesque time loop where her only goal is to bring a rebellious mummy hand to a demanding female customer. Finally, defeated and believing she’s going to be persecuted forever, she goes off to get drunk with Spike. He brings her to a demon poker game where the stakes are innocent little kittens, in order to try to find out more information. This doesn’t work, nor is Buffy able to keep down the drinks she consumes, but she does figure out that a van is following her. She’s thrown off the track when the Trio send Jonathan disguised as a big red demon, so she never catches the Trio. And they’ve drawn confidence from their encounters with Buffy, though Buffy has also learned something: not to let the demon set the rules.

Finally, Giles solves one of Buffy’s biggest problems: he writes her a check, the way a parent would do. She tells him it makes her feel safe to know he’ll always be there for her. Uh-oh. I smell an upcoming disappointment in the Giles department. Nothing can ever make Buffy feel safe for long!

Nerdy Spice

Notes from a New Fan:

  • Does Tara always tell long, pointless stories about Willow or is this just for effect to show us how much time Buffy’s losing?
  • I love that Buffy wore a sleeveless corset to audit a class. But I mean, speaking as someone who has recently emerged from a pandemic, I do feel that I give basically no fucks about what’s an “appropriate” outfit these days, like if my midriff or bra strap are showing. If I had actually crawled out of my own grave? Multiply that effect by 100.
  • It makes so much sense for Buffy to work construction while she figures out her life! She’s so strong! For once Xander had a great idea.
  • So satisfying to watch Buffy lift that hundred-pound beam in front of four gobsmacked guys. And check out her outfit: pigtail buns, one decorated with a daisy. She really gives no fucks!
  • My notes on the construction site fight in real time: 
    • I just hope one of these monsters that Buffy is clearly hallucinating is actually Xander.
    • Oh wait maybe they’re real!
  • Xander is like, “Try sketching them. That always helps.”  I laughed! That never helps.
  • I appreciate that the Trio are willing to credit their inspirations, such as episodes of TNG or X-Files that involved the same time-loop trope.
  • I laughed at several moments of Buffy’s time loop, like when she attacks the lady herself. But I don’t get the point of the Trio making Buffy loop through time! How will that kill her?!
  • Why is Buffy just giving up on figuring out who’s torturing her? Some vestige of her apathy from being torn out of heaven, I guess?
  • I can’t believe we don’t get to see Buffy riding on Spike’s motorcycle to the bar!!
  • I love how Buffy keeps taking swigs and making that cute little baby bird noise.
  • Buffy complains that Spike isn’t fixing her life, so you know that something is seriously messed up in her mind. She’s always been a woman who fixed things herself. Even Spike isn’t flattered at that point because she’s obviously too far gone to be her real self.
  • Giles wants to be Buffy’s rakish uncle. Um… you definitely resemble Mrs. Buffy more than a rakish uncle. “Dashing, jaunty, and disreputable”? You wish, Giles.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • They made such a BFD of this Bangel meeting, and now they’re just not going to say ANYTHING about it? Lame! I know it was an issue between the WB and UPN, but at this point, like, just don’t have them meet up at all?
  • But really, I’m so curious about this meeting. I imagine that it was similar to their meeting in “Forever,” but so much more charged, especially since Angel went to Hell. (Do you think Buffy told him the truth about going to heaven? I think so!) Apparently Jane Espenson wrote a canonical comic about it, but it’s just all the Scoobies speculating about what happened, and we still don’t know! Gah!
  • I don’t understand–Buffy was just talking about how she’s broke, but her initial life plan is to just go back to college? With what money? How would she support Dawn?
  • As someone who has taught college courses, there has literally never been a class where this many students raised their hands and apparently did their homework. In a real college course, Buffy would fit right in!
  • What does this fast-forward scene look like from Tara’s perspective? Did she just leave Buffy standing in the hallway?
  • Of the three nuisances Buffy has to deal with this episode, the Groundhog’s Day mummy hand is definitely the best. Such a perfect metaphor for working retail.
  • Okay, I expect Anya to take the missed delivery charge out of Buffy’s pay, because she’s a ruthless capitalist, and we love that about her. But Giles agreed?? I’m positive that’s not legal. 
  • I love when characters on early 00s shows are excited about “free cable porn.” We had the internet by then!
  • I don’t understand why Giles gets all weird about Buffy leaning on him emotionally and being grateful that he’s taking care of her. She’s a traumatized 20-year-old, barely an adult, who has been suddenly tasked with raising a teen. Of course she needs help! This isn’t a character flaw. 
  • Drunk Buffy is adorable. And so are the poor kittens!

Season 6, Episode 6 “All the Way”

It’s Halloween, which means demons take the night off. Except, as Buffy points out, when their costumes are cursed or when “wee fear demons” take over a frat house. (So a pretty high percentage of Halloweens!) 

Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly as fun as either of the other Halloween episodes. First of all, it’s a Dawn-centered episode, which is never good. (I’m sorry, Michelle Trachtenberg is very pretty, but Dawn is so annoying.) She’s going through a rebellious phase, she’s stealing things, etc. She meets up with her friend Janice, whom we’ve heard about several times but never seen, and it’s a baby Amber Tamblyn! They’re supposed to be “bad girls” but let’s just say Faith isn’t quaking in her boots–they think they’re tough shit because they both lied to their parents about a sleepover, and instead they like, meet up with a couple boys, walk around the park, and try to smash an old man’s pumpkin. I mean, yes, the boys turn out to be vampires, but still, as teenage rebellion goes this is pretty lame. They’re not even drinking! Even Buffy went to a frat party once!

Anyway, the boys are talking about “going all the way” with the girls, and we’re supposed to think they’re talking about sex, but–twist–they’re talking about turning the girls into vampires. This might have actually been a fun premise, if the writers had any idea how teenagers spoke or behaved. The girls say things like “mominator” and “get the funk out of here,” and the boys, one of whom looks uncannily like Creepy Chris Pratt, engage them in scintillating dialogue like “I’ve seen you around,” “I’ve seen you too.” Okay, fine, that probably is how teenagers talk, but I prefer my teens unrealistically witty and eloquent, thank you.

Then Creepy Chris Pratt goes off with Amber Tamblyn and Dawn goes off with the boring-looking vampire, and things reach a whole new level of cringe. They make awkward conversation in his car, and then right before they make out, he actually says the line, “I just want to taste you.” Ew! Then after they kiss, Dawn says, “Shiver me timbers,” so I guess she can out-cringe him. He guesses that was her first kiss, so I can only imagine what a terrible kisser she was. After some more interminable kissing scenes, he mercifully turns into a vampire so we can get on with the plot. 

At some point, Buffy realizes that Dawn is missing, and everyone rushes off to find her. Willow and Tara are in the middle of a snit because Willow conjured decorations for Xander’s engagement party (yes, Xander finally told everyone that he and poor Anya are engaged), and their fight comes to a head when they search for Dawn at the Bronze. Willow suggests shifting everyone at the Bronze into another dimension–which is a much bigger deal than the decorations, imo–and Tara finally loses her temper. “Willow, you’re using too much magic!” she exclaims. It’s the beginning of the “magic as addiction” storyline, so there’s an intervention feel to the whole scene. “Do you just want me to sit back and keep my mouth shut?” Tara finally asks. “That’d be a good start,” Willow shoots back. Ouch.

After the boring vampire reveals himself, Dawn runs away from him. When he catches her, he tries the “not like other girls, you’re different, you’re special” line, and my notes literally read, “Dawn, if you fall for this, you really deserve to die.” And she does fall for it! She’s about to let him bite her! My partner asked if she’s in a trance, like a Dracula thrall, and I had to explain to him that she’s just an idiot. 

Buffy and Spike arrive just in time, and Buffy gets uncharacteristically judgy about Dawn parking with a boy that she just met. “Oh like you’ve never fallen for a vampire?” Dawn asks. Ha, true. She’ll always have that trump card. They keep arguing until the vampires are like, uh, can we fight now? The boring vampire says to Dawn, “Your sister’s the Slayer? I knew there was something about you,” and she knees him in the balls, even though she was fine with the “not like other girls” rhetoric a minute ago. I guess bringing up comparisons to the hot older sister is always a turnoff. Buffy easily dispatches the vamps, and Dawn stakes the boring vampire with a pencil as he bears down on her. I guess this is probably another metaphor for sex? Yawn.

In the end, Buffy talks to Giles about how Dawn is taking this really hard, and that someone needs to talk to her. Then she says that she’s glad he’s there to do it, and he looks all disturbed, but like, he lets it happen! Last season he had no trouble telling Buffy he couldn’t discipline Dawn for her, but now he just does it. I understand why Giles has to leave–it makes it easier for everything to go to shit–but the writing around his decision is not super convincing. 

Since this is season six, all of the relationships are fraying. Willow tries to make up with Tara, saying she doesn’t want to go to bed angry, but Tara doesn’t want to make up just yet. So Willow casts a spell to make Tara forget their fight, and they snuggle in bed together. That’s–dark.

Janes

Notes from a New Fan:

  • Buffy thinks Spike is proposing something other than patrolling when he suggests a “rough and tumble.” I mean, that phrasing really was ambiguous. But I love how Buffy is completely incapable of talking to him normally now that she obviously wants to bone him too.
  • Ha, Janes was right! Giles says that Halloween is usually quiet, even though every year something happens on Halloween. Of course, the self-aware Buffy points out its own trope—jeez, leave something for the recappers to do!
  • I used to get so mad that Nicholas Brendan would be in the credits before Alyson Hannigan. Now she gets a special “and” credit! Yay!
  • Ooh, Giles is only listed as a special guest star. I guess he really is gonna leave again! That blows! On Buffy’s behalf, mainly, I mean. Because I do see why the actor might have gotten bored—his character doesn’t really get to grow or be rounded. Pretty common with adult characters in teen shows, but the actor might conceivably have wanted a new challenge.
  • Dawn says that Anya is very lucky, finding a guy like Xander. It’s funny because she means it.
  • Wow, Amber Tamblyn (from Joan of Arcadia slash being the daughter of Russ from West Side Story) is playing Dawn’s friend. Her voice sounds so different when she’s this young! I recognized her face, but when I heard her voice I figured it had to be someone else until I looked it up.
  • I love how these girls are swooning over a couple guys who are just kicking mailboxes and throwing eggs at houses.
  • Xander seems to be freaking out about the permanence of marriage. Ugh!! Why propose and then freak out? What a jerk. (We have no patience for human complexity when it comes to Xander.)
  • Why would you ever go into the house of someone who says, “Daddy’s got a treat!” Bad call, Janice!
  • You know someone is old when they have a kitchen that closes with a door.
  • Oh I was not expecting that Justin is the vampire! Whoops, I fell for a fairly obvious bait-and-switch. You would think I had not already seen five seasons of this show.
  • And now Xander is acting like he’s being literally suffocated by a discussion of what to name his kids with Anya! “Air. Sweet mother oxygen.” Shut up, Xander. You proposed!
  • Anya says how rare it is to find the one person in all dimensions you’re supposed to be with, and Buffy looks sad. But the resonance–which is obviously about Angel–is lost because we skipped over the whole part where they actually see each other. Maybe they just couldn’t move on with Buffy’s arc without acknowledging Angel? Which is fair, but it’s weird, since they were both acting in the same universe. And since Buffy wasn’t even the one to reach out to Angel this time, it feels even more odd that he’s being given such prominence.
  • Why do TV characters always flirt by calling each other “Miss Summers” or whatever, the way Dawn is doing with her boy toy? Does anyone do that in real life? And it’s kinda lazy, repeating dialogue that’s been used in every other lazy TV flirtation scene.
  • Another double standard: I have every sympathy for Dawn when she freaks out about kissing Justin despite obviously wanting to kiss Justin, even though I just got mad at Xander for freaking out about marrying Anya. I make no apologies! Xander gets no forgiveness!
  • Ooh, Willow and Tara go to the Bronze! I feel like the Bronze has been underused the past season or so. I guess Buffy was like, too busy fighting the Beast to go dancing.
  • Wow, Janice lasted a lot longer than I thought she would. We’re 35 minutes in and she’s still alive!
  • I love how Giles is so confident after he stakes the first vampire and then he gets caught in a huge trap.
  • Giles says something has to be done about Dawn’s behavior so Buffy is like, “You’re right. Don’t be too hard on her,” and scampers off. Hee!! She’s learned the best parenting strategy of them all: punting.
  • Ooh, Willow casts a forgetting spell on Tara! Now that is evil.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • There’s this weird misdirect where the teaser features a creepy old man, and just in case you didn’t know that he was a creepy old man, he’s singing “Happy Halloween” to the tune of “pop goes the weasel” and brandishing a kitchen knife. We’re definitely supposed to think he’s a child murderer, but then he just turns out to be a regular guy who talks a lot about children’s toys. Then the vampires kill him. What a weird episode.
  • That little witch is SO cute.
  • OMG I had almost blocked out Dawn’s kleptomania. All of the other characters this season deal with trauma, addiction, depression, existential crises, and Dawn is… shoplifting. Seriously, who cares.
  • Spike suggests “a bit of a rough and tumble”, meaning a patrol, and there’s a second where Buffy clearly thinks he’s talking about sex, and her face is horrified, but like that kind of horrified that’s clearly a cousin of excitement. Oh, Buffy.
  • Xander gets all romantic and decides to finally announce his engagement when he sees Anya dancing with all the money she just made, which she calls the “dance of capitalist superiority.” Which, fair. It is adorable.
  • There’s also a whole joke where Xander says he’s “gonna marry that girl” and Buffy thinks he’s talking about Dawn, but for readers of the comics it’s, uh, not that funny!
  • I actually forgot how much this engagement was doomed from the start. Xander starts hyperventilating at the mere mention of moving in with Anya or buying a house together. Babies can wait, but they have to live somewhere!
  • It’s kind of karma that Buffy was tricked by the “round robin,” considering how often the kids pulled that on their parents in the early seasons.
  • I have to admit that I don’t really see the big deal about conjuring some party decorations? I know it’s foreshadowing and everything, but lighten up, Tara!
  • Aw, the Bronze! Why don’t they go to the Bronze anymore? 
  • People talk a lot about this spell Willow casts, and how it essentially boils down to rape, and the show doesn’t exactly acknowledge it as rape, but I do think we’re supposed to view it as a violation. Clearly, a line has been crossed. [I appreciated how the show used the word “rape” when it came to Warren kidnapping his ex, and I don’t think they shy away from it the same way that other shows do, but yeah I didn’t get the sense that that’s what this was. We’d probably think of it that way now, since presumably Tara would’ve stopped having sex with Willow if she’d known. But something doesn’t have to be rape to be a violation and in this case the real violation might be mental rather than physical, even if there’s a physical violation tied up in it. —Nerdy Spice]

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