Drinks Taken: 40
Vamps Dusted: 0
Follow the whole rewatch here!
Last week, Kandis walked us through Willow’s magic recovery and Buffy’s unhappy introduction to the Doublemeat Palace. Buckle up, kiddos, because shit gets even more brutal this week before slightly lightening up again at the end.
But first, let’s drink to Tara, whose purity of spirit remains an extremely high point in both of these eps:
The Buffy Season Six Drinking Game Rules
Drink once every time:
A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Giles adjusts his glasses
Willow misuses magic
Tara gets upset at Willow misusing magic
Anya or Xander mention being engaged or their wedding
Spike and Buffy are the epitome of Bad Romance
Warren, specifically, is the worst
Drink twice every time:
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a callback to previous season shenanigans
Dawn steals something
Buffy emotes existential dread
The “Trio” makes a pop culture reference
You really miss Giles
Let’s get into it.
6.13 “Dead Things”
I’m gonna have a pretty hard time writing about this episode, and I want to offer a TW/CW right away for abuse and sexual assault. If you want/need to skip the recap, here’s the barest bones synopsis: The Trio does some truly hideous stuff resulting in the death of a girl that they trick Buffy into thinking she killed. She goes to her darkest place yet, nearly kills Spike in a devastating show of self-loathing, and almost turns herself into the police before realizing Warren’s responsible for the girl’s murder. She ends the episode confessing her Spike misdeeds to a deeply compassionate Tara.
Okay, onto the deeper recap:
We open on another robust sex session between Spike and Buffy. They actually have a real post-coital conversation (about interior design, of all things) and seem to be getting along nicely until Spike ruins it all: “The things you do. I’ve never been with such an animal,” he coos, and Buffy retreats back into herself: “I’m not an animal.” She leaves, as he keeps asking what their arrangement means to Buffy. Later, the Scooby Gang is partying at The Bronze, everyone having a nice time, and Buffy wanders away sadly and stares from the shadows. Here comes Spike to capitalize on her loneliness, and he starts groping her as she watches her friends, murmuring in her ear, “You belong in the shadows with me. Look at your friends and tell me you don’t love getting away with this right under their noses.” It’s gross.
Buffy asks Tara to meet her at the Doublemeat Palace so she can discuss the fact that Spike is able to hit her while his chip is still in supposedly working order. She tells Tara that she thinks she came back wrong, and Tara is so earnest in assuring Buffy that can’t be true, but Buffy asks her to look into the spell they used to bring her back anyway. She doesn’t want to ask Willow, who’s now 32 days in recovery from her magic addiction. Willow and Tara run into each other on the street and have a really bittersweet conversation. Tara’s proud of Willow for the good work she’s done, but they both seem so sad and still clearly love each other very much.
Meanwhile, The Trio’s working on something they call “the cerebral dampener,” which is actually just a high-tech Roofie. Their intention is to turn women into their sex slaves, and Jonathan and Andrew seem as excited about this prospect – of, let’s be clear, rape – as Warren, which makes me hate all of them with a fiery madness. Warren wants to use the cerebral dampener on Katrina, his ex-girlfriend who left him after she discovered his sex bot. She looks disgusted to see him (correct, Katrina), but Warren pushes the little button on his assault-gizmo and the next time we see Katrina, she’s wearing a French maid uniform and staring off blankly while Warren, Jonathan and Andrew all eagerly talk about the order in which they will be raping her. It’s deeply fucked up and upsetting. Season 6 is so goddamn hard to watch. Before Warren is able to fully proceed in what’s already a horrifying prospect, the cerebral dampener wears off and Katrina returns to herself. She fights The Trio mightily, making me like her so very much, but then Warren accidentally kills her (this FINALLY seems to affect Jonathan, but I give him no credit for it).
They’re freaking out, so they decide to trick Buffy into thinking she killed Katrina through a convoluted affair that somehow works. Buffy’s determined to turn herself in – she wakes up Dawn to tell her goodbye, and poor Dawn tearfully concludes that Buffy just wants to get away from her, since she’s never around anyway – but Spike keeps trying to convince Buffy otherwise. He doesn’t want to lose her, he loves her – and Buffy just beats him nearly to death because she’s so revolted at herself. After she’s completely TRASHED his face, she stops, aghast at what she’s done, and Spike says, “You always hurt the one you love, pet.”
At the police station, just before turning herself in, Buffy suddenly recalls that the dead girl is Katrina, Warren’s ex, and she puts together that The Trio must be behind all of this. She goes home and finds Tara, who’s there to tell her that her trip back from the dead altered her on a molecular level – thus, Spike is able to hit her – but that it’s superficial, and she’s still Good Ol’ Buffy. Buffy starts crying immediately, devastated that her decision to keep having sex with a soulless vampire isn’t a dreadful side effect of being ripped from heaven but instead just a series of poor decisions she’s been making during a very difficult time in her life. Sarah Michelle Gellar is, as always, incredible in this scene, but I really want to shout-out Amber Benson, too, who breaks my heart with her gentle, loving acceptance of Buffy exactly as she is:
Do you love him? It’s okay if you do. He’s done a lot of good, and he does love you. And, Buffy, it’s okay if you don’t. You’re going through a really hard time.
Buffy starts to sob harder, unable to believe that anyone could forgive her for what she views as an unforgivable offense. We go into the credits as Tara strokes Buffy’s head.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
A World Of No
Buffy and Spike, epitomizing Bad Romance since 2001.
6.14 “Older and Far Away”
It’s Buffy’s 21st birthday! She’s pretty low-key about it, which makes sense because girlfriend has never had a good birthday, but she’s allowing Willow and Anya to throw her a small party at the house. On the guest list: the Scoobs, of course, including Tara (with Willow’s permission, which she eagerly gives), Buffy’s allergy-riddled Doublemeat Palace coworker Sophie, one of Xander’s coworkers named Richard who is blandly cute and whom Anya and Xander are desperately hoping to matchmake with Buffy, and NOT Spike, who crashes the party anyway with Clem in tow. Hi Clem! (Buffy explains away Clem’s appearance to Richard with the age-old “skin condition” excuse, in case you were wondering.)
Dawn wants to work on party prep with Buffy, but Buffy gets called away to fight this heinously bewigged demon in the cemetery (she seems to kill him, but we see him get zapped into a sword that she then brings back with her. This will matter soon!). Dawn’s bummed, but heads to the Magic Shop to ask the rest of the Scoobs if they want to help her go shopping for Buffy’s birthday. Everyone’s too busy, so she very sadly heads to the mall herself to shoplift a sweet leather blazer for her big sis. The next day at school, Dawn’s called into the counselor’s office to talk about her grades. The counselor (spoiler alert: it’s just Anya’s ol’ vengeance buddy Halfrek once again) gets Dawn to open up about what’s really bothering her, and Dawn says she wishes everyone would stop leaving her.
Party time! I must say, Tara is SUCH a good friend here, letting Buffy bend her ear about Spike stuff and playing interference with any ensuing awkwardness (because of course Spike is super jealous of Richard and keeps trying to lure Buffy away from her friends for sex). Willow and Tara have a sweetly nervous conversation at the party, and everyone seems to be having a nice time. Buffy starts opening presents, and notices that the leather jacket Dawn gave her still has the security tag on it, but before she can a) adequately thank Dawn and/or b) put together that Dawn probably shoplifted it, she’s distracted by the bitchin’ weapons chest that Xander and Anya made for her. It’s pretty great, but Dawn is sinking more and more into despair.
Enter: Halfrek, who shows up on the porch and says “wish granted” with all of her usual melodrama. Suddenly, the party starts going loooong. Everyone makes vague mention to things they need to be doing or reasons they need to be going, but no one can seem to muster up the energy to leave. Dawn suggests a sleepover, and Buffy gamely agrees, but the next morning when no one can STILL find the wherewithal to leave, they figure out something’s wrong. Everyone starts grilling Dawn about how she must have created this mess, because duh, and she throws a straight-up TEMPER TANTRUM, screaming at everyone that OF COURSE they want to leave, no one ever wants to spend time with her, and then doing the teenage bedroom “get out, get OUT, GET OUT!!!!” shriek that we’ve all tried at some point. Buffy finally gets her to talk to her, and it seems like they’re making some emotional progress when supernatural events escalate.
While Buffy and Dawn are communicating, everyone agrees that Tara should try a spell to see if she can release them from the house. She says she doesn’t have her supplies, and Buffy’s house was supposed to have been rid of all magical supplies during Willow’s recovery, but Willow admits with great shame that she hung onto some stuff “just in case.” Tara looks super disappointed, but tries a release spell, which does not allow anyone to leave but DOES release the sword demon, who immediately injures poor hapless Richard! Anya starts freaking out and getting claustrophobic, and she tries to strong-arm Willow into doing a spell, instead, because she’s much more powerful than Tara. Willow’s pretty itchy and is trying to stand her ground, explaining that she doesn’t think she’d ever be able to stop if she tried magic again, and Anya is SUCH a horrible a-hole monster about it. Even worse, I’m disappointed to see that Xander sides with Anya here, but, guys, Tara is SO AWESOME IN THIS SCENE:
Tara: “Hey! You’re gonna back off.
GO TARA!!! (Anya, you can also GO – to hell.) Anya storms upstairs trying to find a solution, and she uncovers all of Dawn’s stolen Magic Box goods, which you can imagine does not go over well with the capitalism-obsessed store manager. Buffy’s really shocked and disappointed, and Dawn starts babbling about her guidance counselor, which fortunately sounds exactly like Halfrek to a VERY annoyed Anya. She summons her former vengeance colleague (Halfrek prefers the term “justice demon”) just in time for Halfrek to get stabbed by the sword demon. She’s fine, Buffy kills the sword demon, and Halfrek tells everyone how deep and devastating Dawn’s pain is – which FINALLY seems to wake them up to what bad guardians they’ve been in Giles’ absence. Halfrek wants to keep everyone trapped in the house, but then she herself couldn’t leave, so she lifts the curse and poofs her way out of there (after a weird moment where she and Spike clearly recognize each other, and she calls him “William”).
Wrap-up time! Anya tells Dawn to prepare herself for two words in light of all of her pilfered Magic Box booty: “Punitive damages.” Willow thanks Tara for sticking up for her, and Tara tells her she’s so proud of her for saying no under all of the pressure and temptation to do a spell, but makes sure Willow knows that she needs to get rid of the safety net supplies. Willow readily agrees. Everyone is happy to leave the house (with Anya and Xander taking poor dumb Richard to the hospital) – except Buffy, who stays behind with Dawn, and we go into the credits on Dawn’s smiling face.
FINALLY. I can’t take anymore of this damn teen angst!
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
Buffy, when did you inherit Willow’s high school bucket hat phase?
Also, I don’t know why I find it SO funny that Dawn’s wearing a shirt bedazzled with the logo of the 1974 blaxploitation film Foxy Brown.
The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week
After Dawn’s truly epic temper tantrum, Anya mutters, “I think she’s possessed,” and Xander replies serenely, “She’s a teenager.”
While Tara’s sort of rambling on about how cute Richard is in an effort to navigate some Spike weirdness, Clem affably chimes in:
Clem: “I think he seemed cute!”
Most Valuable Scooby
Honestly, Tara is so totally the new MVP with Giles out of commission. She’s so kind and compassionate and non-judgmental and courageous in these episodes. I could watch the scene where she tells off Anya over and over again on a loop:
Tara: “And if you try…you’re gonna have to go through me first. Understood?”
That’s it for this week! QUESTIONS: I’m always curious how fans took to these episodes while they were still airing. I feel like the darkness of Season 6 must have been losing some folks by this point? “Dead Things” is one of the bleakest episodes I can ever remember seeing on this show, and even though I know and love how the series ends, I was ready to throw in the towel while watching it. How were you feeling back in 2002?
Meet Stephanie here next Wednesday morning as she covers “As You Were” (the return of Riley! Sorry, Stephanie) and “Hell’s Bells” (an episode that usually makes me sad to even think about but after Anya’s behavior this week I’m kinda okay with it tbh).