Buffy is dead, and in her place, the Scoobies are attempting to slay vampires as a gang, including Spike, the newly restored Tara, and even BuffyBot. (Janes explained this to me: apparently no new Slayer was called during this death because each Slayer only spawns (so to speak) one new Slayer, and Buffy’s first death already led to Faith being called, so this slightly more real death doesn’t cause any new Slayers. I feel like this is not made clear enough in canon.)
“The Body” feels less like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more like a short film about grief. There are no gods in this one, no big battles, no Slayer quips, and aside from a quick, perfunctory vampire at the end, almost no supernatural elements at all. There’s just a body.
For once, a little good news. After anxiously waiting for Buffy’s mom to get out of surgery, the doctor-with-no-bedside manner tells them that the procedure was a “complete success.” They’ve removed the tumor, and Joyce should make a full recovery. Yay!
But of course, this is a Joss Whedon show, so good news must be counterbalanced with bad news. Now that the crisis is over, Buffy and Riley get time and energy to focus on their relationship, and it’s in trouble–in Riley’s mind, at least. They have a well-deserved romantic night together, complete with slow-dancing and sex–and for the record, Buffy seems super into it! She matches him gaze for gaze and tells him everything is “perfect.” But then he expresses admiration that she “never even cried” during the whole ordeal with her mother, and she admits that she “cried so hard she thought she’d never be able to stop.” So she’s opening up about her feelings, but he’s all upset because… she didn’t cry right in front of him, I guess? Those are super specific parameters for what it means to be emotionally available in a relationship!
Buffy is patrolling on a particularly vampire-heavy night, staking vamp after vamp, but just as she’s getting into a rhythm, Riley tackles the vampire she’s fighting. “What are you doing here?” he asks, stupidly. “My job??” she says, clearly annoyed. Another vamp shows up, and before Buffy can fight him, Spike jumps in! “Why do I even bother to show up?” Buffy mutters. Hee.
We pick up where we left off: Riley is on a suicide mission and facing Adam alone. Adam is pontificating about his destiny while Riley just sort of stares at him blankly. Which is honestly nothing new for Riley, but we’re supposed to think it’s super weird and a sign that he’s been brainwashed. Adam explains that Maggie (aka “Mother,” ew) put a chip in Riley’s central nervous system. “It’s chips all around then,” says Spike, who almost makes this whole plotline tolerable.