Drinks Taken: 17
Vamps Dusted: 2
Follow the whole rewatch here!
After Buffy finally breaks things off with Spike, and Xander leaves Anya at the altar, you know the forecast for this week ain’t gonna be sunny skies. I have to say, though, I was relieved to land these two episodes, because compared to the remainder of this season, things aren’t… as bad as they will be?
The Buffy Season Six Drinking Game Rules
Drink once every time:
A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Giles removes 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There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference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
With that said, things aren’t great, so feel free to use that Giles rule liberally.
6.17 “Normal Again”
With Buffy hot on their trail, the Trio decides to summon a fresh hell of a demon to attack the Slayer, and in the midst of the fight, it stings her with a needle bone that shoots out of its hand (gross!). Suddenly, she’s in a mental hospital, but just as quickly, she’s back at the scene of the fight, the demon gone. She shakes it off, but later at the Doublemeat Palace, she zones out and finds herself back in the hospital room.
Xander, who’s been MIA since the wedding, finally shows up at the house, where he’s greeted with a big ole hug from Willow and Buffy (Scooby feels!). He still loves Anya, who appears to have left Sunnydale, and even though he’s the one who jilted her, I still feel bad for the dude–a feeling that lessens slightly later when he punches Spike (who, to be fair, was provoking him, because these two can never get along). Buffy, accidentially hit in the process, shifts to the mental institution, where apparently she’s been for the last six years. Her parents are there (Joyce!!!), and they’re rooting for her to recover from the schizophrenia that’s caused her to suffer delusions of being the Slayer.
Buffy realizes that this is clearly the Trio’s doing, so back in our reality, Willow identifies the demon–which happens to carry the antidote to its own poison. Confessing to Willow that she’s felt detached for a while now (no duh), Buffy discloses that her parents actually committed her to an institution after she first saw vampires and made the mistake of telling them about it. We’ve obviously never heard this before, and it’s heartbreaking, but it’s also wonderful to see Willow back in the Good Friend role as she listens and offers comfort. Unfortunately, Willow’s support isn’t enough to stop Buffy from wondering if she ever left that hospital.
After Spike and Xander find the demon, capture it, and take it to the basement, Willow breaks off its hand needle and brews up the antidote. Buffy, suffering from a fever, is not in a great brain space, which means of course Spike seizes the moment to give her an ultimatum: either she tells the Scoobs about their relationship, or he will. Cool, bro, really great timing on your part. Buffy pours out the antidote, as we knew she would (has no one in that house ever watched ANY movies involving patients pretending to take their meds?!), and transports back to the hospital. She tells her parents that she wants to be healthy again, and the doctor instructs her to rid her mind of anything that supports her hallucinations, i.e. her friends. It hurts my heart to see how desperately Buffy clings to the idea of being normal.
Back in our reality, Buffy knocks out Willow, Xander, and Dawn, and ties them up in the basement. She unleashes the demon and crouches under the stairs, horrified by what she’s done but determined to rid herself of these delusions. Thankfully, S6 MVP Tara shows up (TARA!) because she and Willow have recently begun talking (read: flirting) again, and it’s SO cute, but anyway, Tara heads down to the basement, and Buffy grabs her foot and trips her while continuing to flash back and forth between the house and the hospital. Joyce tells her daughter to be strong and believe in herself, to which Buffy, having made her decision to save her friends, resolutely responds, “You’re right. Thank you. Good-bye.” She comes back to herself in the basement, punches her hand through the demon (nasty!), and kills it.
The episode ends in the institution, with the doctor monitoring an unresponsive Buffy and informing her sobbing parents that they’ve lost her.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
The Demon Formerly Known As Gobbledygook
Normally, when there’s a demon of the week, I try to capture the name of it in the recap, but yeah, not this time! Xander knows what I’m talking about.
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
All of a sudden, Buffy is really into this beanie beret mash-up style of hat. I have no idea what kind of haberdashery this is, and I’m totally okay with that.
Finally, a vampire fight scene! The Trio, riding ATVS, is in hot pursuit of two vampires that have a disc (not the floopy kind, as I initially thought, because nerds) they need. Buffy shows up, not realizing her “archnemesis…es” are nearby, and stakes the first vampire (drink!) while Spike holds the other one so he can whine about why she hasn’t told her friends about their relationship. Buffy retorts that they forgave her for almost killing them (see: last week), so surely they won’t hate her for sleeping with him. “In that case, why won’t you sleep with me again?” he begs, and Buffy and the vamp do a “Really?!!” double take (as do we) before she stakes him (drink again! It’s been so long!). Warren ends up snagging the disc, and later, Jonathan performs some kind of chemistry magic to locate an unspecified (but clearly important) location on a map–which burns under the laser of the spell. D’oh!
Cut to Xander, who is real, real sad. Unbeknownst to him, Anya is watching, and when he arrives back at his apartment, she’s waiting for him. He apologizes and tries to convey how much he loves her, but Anya is, well, Anya. “It’s kind of an either/or deal. Do you want to get married?” she asks, and Xander insists that they aren’t ready. I agree! Anya’s face morphs into her Vengeance Demon Lewk, oh snap, and she wishes all kinds of badness upon him (beady eyes are mentioned) but none of them come true, because as Halfrek reminds her later, she can’t exact revenge on her own behalf.
So, of course, she tries to get the Scoobs to do it for her. “You’re lesbians, so the hating of men will come in handy,” she tells Tara and Willow, who are on a reconciliation coffee date, adorbs! They politely refuse, as do Dawn (after Anya tries to trick her into saying “wish”) and Buffy (even though Anya cutely phrases it as going “squish, squish, squish” to Xander’s brains and guts). Xander, witnessing the latter convo, loses his cool and kicks a lawn gnome in Buffy’s yard–only to discover a camera inside.
Assuming it’s the work of Spike, Buffy confronts him, but he insists, “I don’t hurt you,” and reiterates that his feelings are real. He’s in pain, clearly, and he heads to the Magic Box to find a spell to numb the heartache. Anya tells him she has something special, something that Giles left behind that “makes boring people seem more interesting,” and then pulls out a bottle of whiskey. The two proceed to get drunk while ranting about their exes and lamenting the things they did for love. “I’m off my guard. Happy!” Anya admits. “Singing in the shower. Doing my sexy dance!” Spike replies, “Exactly… I have no dance.” It’s a bittersweet scene, with Anya wondering, “What if he never wanted me, the way I wanted him?” and Spike understanding completely. Finding comfort in sharing their feelings, they progress to a different sort of solace by getting horizontal on the Magic Box table.
Meanwhile, Willow has been tracking down the gnome camera feed and discovers that the Trio has cameras in a dozen other places, including the Magic Box. Aaaaaand of course, right when she hacks into it, she spies Anya and Spike having sex–and Xander and Buffy see it too. Buffy, upset, finally spills the beans to Dawn about Spike, while Xander makes a beeline for the Magic Box, where Anya and Spike already look like they regret what happened. Buffy arrives just in time to stop Xander from staking Spike, and then Anya and Xander erupt into a screaming match. “You left me, Xander, at the altar,” Anya shouts. “I don’t owe you anything!” Xander retorts with, “I look at you, and I feel sick. Because you had sex with that.” He points to Spike, who reveals the truth–Buffy had sex with “that” too. Xander, horrified, leaves, as does Buffy, and when Spike begins to mutter a wish against Xander, Anya whispers, “Don’t.”
Thankfully, the episode doesn’t end on this heart-wrenching note. We still get sad girl guitar music, sure, but then Tara shows up unannounced in Willow’s bedroom and proceeds to tell her that they have so much to work through; they have to rebuild their trust, and it’s gonna be hard; and… can they just skip to the kissing part? Willow readily agrees, and they embrace passionately, and MAN next week is gonna be the worst, y’all.
Also! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Buffy has become “the embarrassing mom who tries too hard.” She takes Dawn shopping (which is tough, since she has stolen from most stores, although apparently she’s returned everything), makes her pancakes, and plans for all kinds of quality time short of taking her patrolling, much to Dawn’s disappointment.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Finally, Some Real Girl-On-Girl Action
It has taken FAR too long for us to see Tara and Willow legit K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
Andrew’s True (Rainbow) Colors
As the Trio watches the Anya and Spike action via the camera feed, Andrew comments on Spike: “He is so cool… I mean, and the girl’s hot too.” I think this is the first explicit statement that he’s gay? I mean, yeah, we all knew it, but still.
Stylish Yet Affordable Stolen Boots
Isn’t this the jacket Dawn shoplifted and gave Buffy for her birthday? Guess she didn’t have to return everything.
So, I can’t remember what I thought about “Normal Again” the first time, but upon rewatching, my response was, like, shrug? Did y’all feel like the show was trying too hard for a Twilight Zone vibe, or did you find it compelling?
And gotta say, I don’t fault Spike and Anya one bit for what happened, which is probably NOT what I thought the first time around (I was very judgy in my early 20s). The writers did such a delicate dance with the duo’s mutual pain and their hunger for anything to make it go away, and I found the scene between these two demons to be poignantly, staggeringly, deeply human.
Lemme know your thoughts in the comments, then send your thoughts and prayers to Kandis next week as she recaps “Seeing Red” and “Villains.” OUCH.