Buffy studies 101: Buffy Lives! (the Best & Worst of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6)

In continuing my homage to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I now go to BTVS Season 6 and discuss what makes this season interesting.

1. Buffy dies, Buffy lives – This is a very dark season and if you need further proof, look no further than the first episode of Season 6 of BTVS.  Buffy dies in the last season, having prevented the many realities and worlds from bleeding into each other and imploding by throwing herself into the mystical portal. Season 6 finds our Scooby gang (with the new and improved Buffy bot formerly owned by Spike) being given the unenviable task of continuing to patrol Sunnydale sans Buffy and her superpowers. Willow finds a loophole in Buffy’s death, and that is that since Buffy died from mystical forces, then she can be resurrected (very mythological, that. Ever heard of a hero that never came back from the dead? The ultimate biblical hero, in the New Testament, even He came back from the dead). She is resurrected and all hell breaks loose. Not just for this season but for the next season as well. Buffy lives and the pathos continues.

2. Buffy loves, Buffy hates – Buffy was torn away from heaven and thus is understandably detached from this world when she is brought from the dead. She thus develops a disturbing, violent, intensely sexual relationship with Spike. It’s disturbing and fascinating at the same time.

2. Good Willow, Dark Willow – Character development is in full swing in this season. None more so than in Willow, who goes from dork and geek, to Buffy groupie, to rockstar girlfriend, to simply rockin’ lesbian, to full-fledged witch, to magic junkie struggling to keep it all together.  Magic goes to her head, everybody knows she is way in over her head, but she doesn’t know it, until Tara leaves her, and until she almost kills Dawn and the rest of the gang when she makes a spell that is supposed to make Tara and Buffy forget about bad past experiences. Scary dark Willow though, the Willow that lost Tara and went all berserk and apocalyptic, is all scary and creepy. However, she still rocks the “lesbian witch” character.

3. Tabula Rasa – Must be my favorite episode from this Season. Willow screws up a spell that’s only supposed to make Buffy forget that she was in heaven, and make Tara forget that they have been having fights about Willow’s growing dependence and eventual addiction to magic. The spell goes bad and everybody forgets who they are. So Buffy becomes “Joan”, Dawn “Umad”, Giles thinks he is engaged to Anya (who pronounces her name “Enya” – ah, Anya, how I adore thee!), Spike thinks his name is Randy and that he is Giles’ son, Xander thinks he and Willow are going out, Willow thinks she might be gay and thinks Tara is her study buddy. I liked this episode because it has that “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” vibe about it. We can have our memories erased but our essence, destinies and proclivities cannot be erased and we will always gravitate towards those people, interests and things that we are interested in. Brilliant, that. Eventually each character figure out who they are, Buffy knows she is the leader, Buffy and Dawn figure out they may be related and Willow suspects she might be gay. The story ends badly though, since Tara leaves Willow, but this is still an awesome episode.

4. Tara and Willow: break up to make-up to break-up to make up to break up…permanently – It is hard to watch this season when you see the disintegration of the most normal relationship (which happens to be gay). Harder still to watch knowing that Tara will eventually die. As of this season, Tara and Willow (as played by Amber Benson and Alyson Hannigan) are the last couple standing. But Willow’s addicted forays into the dark side of magic effectively dooms their relationship. But some good news: Tara grows a spine and seems feistier in this season. You can see this in her physical and emotional transformation. Seems like the (lesbian) relationship has done both good.

5. They sing, they dance, they stake things (“Once more with feeling” the musical) – blink and you’ll miss the fact that future “Hairspray” director Adam Shankman choreographs this episode (like blink and you’ll miss pre-critically acclaimed, Oscar buzzed Amy Adams as Tara/Amber Benson’s cousin in season 5). I haven’t seen this in its entirety when it came out on TV, it was nice to watch it on DVD. It also gets better as you listen to the songs repeatedly. Spike rocks his songs. And so does Giles. Check out Tara’s heartbreakingly ironic love song for Willow “I’m Under Your Spell” (since Willow quite literally does have Tara under her spell). Check out Anya’s adorable Bunny song which raises the all important million-dollar question, “Why do bunnies eat so much carrots? Why do they need such good eyesight for?!?”, the Anya-Xander duet with Xander claiming Anya has hairy toes and Anya saying Xander has beady eyes. There is a funny bit song about a laundromat that got the mustard out, and another funny bit about a lady singing her way out of a parking ticket. The tight “Walk through the Fire” raises the musical and emotional tension to intense heights as well. Here’s a sample:

6. Anya the good, Anya the bad– Because thousand year old ex-demons with inexplicable fears of bunnies are awesome. Because she is funny whether loved or scorned. Because when Xander leaves her at the altar, Emma Caulfield plays the character sympathetically. And how cool is that that she becomes a demon again and proves instrumental in the season finale?

7. The Revenge of the Nerds – Andrew, Jonathan and Warren are equal parts annoying, excruciating to watch and just…well…annoying. Part of me loathes having to see them onscreen (and I skipped most of their scenes), but part of me appreciates the fact that these nerds/geeks seem like a nod to the nerds/geeks who are the loyal fan base of this show. The best parts of this trio are the scenes in which they just do normal geeky things like discuss which James Bond is better, reference Star Wars, Star Trek and other popular culture and profess unabashed allegiance to geekdom.

Anyway, I gots to go.

More later.

Next stop: Season 7 and Dollhouse.


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