“Bargaining, Part 1”
Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by David Grossman
A vampire is running through the cemetery. Spike is chasing him. So is Tara. And Giles. Willow is perched atop a mausoleum, communicating with them telepathically and directing their movements. A fist collides with the vampire’s face. Buffy’s fist! Wait, huh? Buffy’s dead. She’s still dead, right? We didn’t miss her getting brought back? Xander and Anya are also there. It’s the whole Scooby gang against two vampires. Spike gets one by casually burning him to death with his lighter. Buffy takes out the other one, but it sounds oddly metallic when she gets punched. Also her Slayer puns are extremely bizarre. Oh, okay. Buffybot. It seems the gang is trying to use the Buffybot to trick the demon community into thinking Buffy isn’t dead.
The next morning, we’re at the Summers house, which is now also the Rosenberg/Maclay house. Willow and Tara live in Joyce’s room. They seem to be taking care of Dawn (and the Buffybot). It’s breakfast time. Buffybot has made about a dozen sandwiches because nobody remembered to tell it to stop making them. Xander arrives. Then the phone rings, and they all hastily stop Buffybot from answering it. Hank is supposed to call later. Oh, so is he being marginally less of a deadbeat this season? It’s just Anya on the phone though. There’s going to be an important Scooby meeting that night, and Spike will be watching Dawn. Willow and Dawn explain to Buffybot that it needs to be careful not to blow “Buffy’s” cover, or else Dawn might get taken away. It gives Dawn a big awkward robot-approximation of a sisterly hug.
It’s parent teacher day, and Buffybot has to be convincing as a human. The Scoobies are more anxious about this than her fighting skills. And for good reason. Fortunately, the other parents and the teachers interpret her awkward interjections as comments on the inadequacies of the school lunch program.
Giles is being extremely particular about all the inventory and sales reports for the Magic Box, because he is apparently leaving soon. Anya’s annoyed by all the double-checking he’s making her do, and she doesn’t want him taking anything from the shop when he leaves—including things that are actually his possessions. They squabble over a wooden statue, which is hilarious, and then Xander breaks it up. Anya will be entirely in charge of the shop while Giles is in England. She’s happy about that, but antsy because Giles keeps not leaving. Also, for some reason that Anya and Xander can’t talk about, maybe Giles shouldn’t leave. She wants to be in charge of the store now, and she wants to announce their engagement now, but everything is “up in the air,” so she can’t. What’s going on?
At the Summers house, Dawn is recounting the events of the parent teacher meeting to Spike, who thinks the whole public education system is designed to churn out mindless sheep. Dawn doesn’t think she needs a supernatural babysitter anymore, because nobody can use her as the Key anymore, so she’s not in danger. (Wait, seriously? So after all of S5 was about Key Dawn, her Key-ness doesn’t even matter anymore? That’s boring.) Spike flatly refuses to leave her alone.
A vampire attacks a girl, and then Buffybot intervenes. She beats him up, but then he breaks a bottle against her head, exposing some circuitry. Then she glitches, bouncing off some barrels repeatedly. The vampire runs off. Uh oh. Secret’s out.
It’s Scooby meeting time at Xander’s apartment. Why isn’t it Scooby meeting time at the Magic Box? Giles isn’t there. It’s just Xander, Anya, Willow, and Tara. And this Urn of Osiris thing. Willow is very alarmed to hear that Anya went through Magic Box supplier channels to find it, because she doesn’t want Giles to know what they’re up to. That’s not good. Apparently this is the very last Urn of Osiris, and Anya bought it on Ebay. Bahaha. Now that they have this, it’s time...to bring Buffy back. They’re going to do it the next night.
Xander is hesitant, but Willow is very determined. Tara agrees with Xander that it’s wrong and against nature, but she is still on board. Willow will not brook any disagreement on the subject. Whoa, there, Willow. Anya wants to tell Giles now that they have all the ingredients, but Willow refuses to bring anyone else into it. Willow is convinced they can bring Buffy back for real because of the way she died. She’s also convinced that Buffy’s soul is trapped in a hell dimension. Wait, why the crap would she think that? When Angel went to hell, he went body and all. Buffy just died. That shouldn’t have interfered with her soul’s destination. There was no indication that she went anywhere bad. And if this is Willow’s theory, why hasn’t she substantiated it by attempting to find out for sure where Buffy is?
Willow arrives at the Summers house, where the Buffybot is still bouncing off walls. Spike is also still there. Buffybot starts admiring him, which he doesn’t appreciate. He doesn’t stick around to help Willow fix Buffybot.
Dawn’s lying awake in her bed. After a while, she gets up and goes into Buffy’s room and curls up with the Buffybot, which is recharging, eyes creepily open and blank.
Buffybot is training with Giles. He’s trying to get it to breathe as if it was human, but it doesn’t understand. Anya thinks he’s wasting his time, keen though Buffybot is to work with him. Giles thinks Buffy might’ve been better off without him. Buffy’s death has made Giles much more cynical and bitter than he used to be. Buffybot asks why he’s still in Sunnydale, then.
Cut to a demon bar, where the vampire that got away from Buffybot tells his story of the Slayer being a robot to some gross-looking biker demons. The demons take this to mean that Buffybot is the only Buffy in Sunnydale (which seems like a bit of a logical leap to me), so if Sunnydale is Slayerless, then they’re going to go have themselves a party there. They jump on their motorcycles and ride off.
Willow is doing some kind of ritual in a very pretty meadow, wearing a very pretty white dress. And, wait a second, did she say “Adonai” in that spell? That’s one of the Hebrew words for God. What kind of spell is this? A little fawn walks up to her. She strokes its back—or grabs it so that it can’t get away when she STABS IT TO DEATH. Wow, this is some shady crap, Willow.
Willow, now wearing a red shirt and black pants, comes to the Magic Box now that she’s gotten the final ingredient. She hasn’t told anyone that the spell called for the blood of a freshly killed fawn. It’s heavily implied that the other three, Tara in particular, would be very not okay with it if they knew what the spell entailed. Also, Giles has left a letter for them; he’s already at the airport.
The Scoobies catch up to him, having bought farewell presents at a gas station. He didn’t want to do a round of goodbyes because he thought he might get choked up. Tara does the “Grr, argh!” thing like the Mutant Enemy logo with one of those little finger monsters.
They have a cute moment and then there are lots of hugs. Xander and Giles finally hug! Yay! Last time, they awkwardly backed off and shook hands. This is so much better. He particularly wants Dawn to know that she can call him if she needs everything, but it seems that Willow is the one he’s most sorry to part with. She’s also the one most choked up that he’s going. And go he does.
The gang leaves the airport. Willow is convinced Giles will be bored and lonely in England. They head back to Sunnydale to prepare for the spell. Willow wants to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Yeah, that might be difficult. Here come the demon bikers.
Willow, Tara, Xander, and Anya are at Buffy’s grave. Anya struggles to light her candle, but eventually manages it. Willow starts the spell by pouring the fawn’s blood into the Urn of Osiris, then marking her face with it. She pours the rest on the grave. A force grabs her and slashes open her arms. Xander is horrified, but Tara says Willow knew this might happen. Then it gets worse. Weird lumps run up Willow’s skin. But it’s imperative that they not stop in the middle. They can hear motorcycles in the distance.
The bikers start smashing and looting shops while people flee in terror.
At Buffy’s grave, the weird lumps in Willow’s skin reach her throat, and then she vomits up a live rattlesnake. Tara keeps repeating that this is a test and they have to keep going, but she doesn’t seem convinced.
Buffybot faces off against the head biker, but he gives a shrieking cry and all his buddies form a ring around it. It tells them to leave town. They grab it and the leader uses metal claws to slash open its shoulder, exposing the circuits. This activates its programming—when injured, it has to find Willow. Crap. It punches and kicks its way through them, then runs off down the street. The entire gang pursues it on their bikes.
Scary red energy surrounds Willow now. Here come Buffybot and the biker demons. They drive their bikes around the grave, and one of them smashes the Urn. Willow screams and collapses. Xander gets her out of there, and they get separated from Tara and Anya. Tara uses a spell to stop one demon from grabbing Anya. Willow doesn’t seem to remember what just happened. She asks if it worked. Xander says he’s sorry. She collapses again.
Down in Buffy’s grave, that red energy coalesces around her, and she goes from being several months decayed to being very much alive. Also, very much terrified.
Well, it’s a new season and a new network, and Buffy is dead for all but the last two seconds of the episode. It’s difficult to analyze “Bargaining, Part 1” as a separate entity, because it and “Part 2” aired as a two-hour event when the series premiered on UPN. However, I don’t have time to review both halves in one day. Besides, they have different writers. So here goes. This episode has the right kind of feel to it for a season premiere following a finale in which the title character died. It’s sort of like that feeling when you jump and you reach the top of your arc. You’re not going up anymore, but you’re also not falling back down yet. There’s just that moment when you’re suspended in the air. For the characters who don’t know there’s a plan to bring Buffy back to life, they have to figure out how to keep living without her around. Dawn does the best she can, occasionally hugging the Buffybot for comfort. Giles doesn’t feel a strong enough connection to the Scoobies without Buffy there for him to stay, so he leaves. Spike sticks around because he has nowhere else to go. But the other four—they’ve put everything on hold because they know they’re planning to bring her back. And oh boy is that spell seriously creepy. On the whole, the show very much still feels like Buffy the Vampire Slayer so far, despite the network change. The rioting biker demons are the only element that I’m not sure we would’ve gotten on the WB.
Buffy...is only barely not dead anymore, so, no character analysis for her.
Xander and Giles finally hug, only for Giles to leave the country. It’s the first time either of them has acknowledged the fondness they have for each other despite how very different they are. It’s kind of a shame, but I doubt they would’ve ever hugged if something as dramatic as Giles leaving for England hadn’t prompted it.
Anya spent all of last season coming to terms with mortality and accepting her place in it, so it makes sense that she would feel frustrated when her life gets put on hold for several months. She doesn’t have forever anymore; she can’t just stand still and waste time! I like Anya.
Dawn appears to be doing an admirable job of taking Buffy’s parting words to heart. She’s being helpful and kind to the Scoobies, and she doesn't seem upset with their attempts to cover up Buffy’s death as far as the world, her teachers, and her dad are concerned. I suppose it really says something about Hank Summers that Dawn is 100% on board with tricking the world into thinking her big sister is still alive to be her legal guardian.
Spike is still sticking around, helping the Scoobies even though Buffy has been dead for months. Since the writers still haven’t given any explanation for how a soulless vampire could possibly be driven by selfless motives, I can continue in my assumption that everything he does has a selfish undercurrent. It’s not really a surprise that he’d work with the Scoobies now. He did before his obsession with Buffy started, so why shouldn’t he keep doing it now that she’s dead? He’s still on the outs with the demon community for all the times he’s helped the Scoobies work against them, so he can’t just go back. And working with the Scoobies is still the only way he gets to beat things up. Win-win. Also, based on his willingness to help Dawn resurrect Joyce, I also wouldn’t put it past him to not interfere if he, with his vampire superhearing, overheard the Scoobies talking about their plans to bring Buffy back from the dead.
It’s only the first episode of season six, and Willow is already incredibly scary. She clearly knows that there are so many things wrong with this spell, or she wouldn’t mind telling Giles about it—let alone filling in her co-conspirators on the dirty details. Even Tara had no idea how bad it would get. Secrets like this are no good, Willow! And I’m pretty sure she has herself convinced that it’s all necessary because Buffy might be suffering in some hell dimension, but her real motivation for doing it is that she doesn’t feel like she should have to put up with the loss of her best friend if she can find a way to undo it with magic.
Even though I think Giles should’ve been killed off in S5, I’m not just going to not do a character analysis section for him when he’s not in the intro credits anymore. If he’s in an episode, he’s in the analysis section. After all the extra training he and Buffy did in S5, and particularly with his nearly mortal wound, I think Giles might have started to believe that Buffy would outlive him and he would never have to know the grief past Watchers had known when their Slayers died. But so much for that. To make it worst, they didn’t end things on a very happy note. Their last conversation involved arguing over whether or not it was right to sacrifice Dawn to save the universe. Giles might even feel that his harshness in that argument was what drove Buffy to sacrificing herself instead. I don’t think he wishes it could have been Dawn who died, but I do think he probably has some guilty feelings mixed in with grief and bitterness. It’s interesting that he would head to England, though. I think the fact that he can leave for England when the Scoobies are still around sort of proves the point I was making about the difference between Angel Investigations and the Scoobies. The Scoobies are primarily connected to the fight against evil because of their individual connections with Buffy (or their connections to people connected with Buffy, like Willow, Xander, or Giles). If Buffy’s gone, they won’t necessarily stay in the fight. Sure enough, off Giles goes. Angel Investigations, on the other hand, doesn’t require Angel to be there for the rest of the team to keep fighting the good fight, which Wes, Gunn, and Cordy proved in S2. They all have a personal commitment to the good fight, which binds them together much more firmly than mere friendship with Angel.
“Oh, poor Watcher. Did your life pass before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.