“Bargaining, Part 2”
Written by David Fury
Directed by David Grossman
The demon bikers continue to circle around Buffybot. It very much wants to get out of this combat situation so that Willow can fix it. They get a chain around it and haul it off. Xander and Anya meet up with Willow and Tara (Willow is still out of it). Then they decide to split up again for some reason, and in the same pairs (Xander carrying Willow in one direction, Anya and Tara running in another). They plan to meet at the Magic Box once they’re sure the demon bikers aren’t following.
Meanwhile, Buffy is now alive in her grave. She is understandably extremely freaked out by this situation. She rips her way through the fabric on the lid of her coffin. It seems her vision is pretty blurry, but blurry is still much better than she should be able to see in the total darkness of a closed coffin under six feet of dirt.
Willow comes to after Xander gets her away from the demon bikers. Willow desperately wants to go back and try the ritual again, but Xander tells her about the Urn of Osiris getting smashed. She starts crying; without the Urn, any hope she had of getting Buffy back is dashed. She has to face the fact that Buffy’s dead, which apparently she hasn’t done before this point.
Buffy breaks through the lid of the coffin and dirt comes pouring in, but she’s headed out. I suppose Slayer strength will be very valuable at this juncture. Also, hopefully the Scoobies put her in a somewhat shallower grave than usual. She’s very lucky they didn’t actually have her buried in a cemetery, because then she not only would’ve had to try busting through her coffin and all that dirt, but she also would’ve had the burial vault to deal with. What’s that? Never heard of a burial vault?
Yeah, it turns out that since about the Civil War era, we haven’t just been sticking wooden boxes in the ground. We’ve been sticking wooden (or metal) boxes inside larger, concrete (or metal) boxes. This is done to keep the coffins intact, because they eventually collapse under the weight of the dirt unless they’re reinforced by an additional layer. What I’d really love is for an urban fantasy show to acknowledge burial vaults. Like, for whatever reason, the protagonists need to dig up a grave, right? Well, they get down there and the shovels strike something solid, but then they find out it’s the burial vault, because those are actually a thing, and then their job goes from being merely tedious to being almost impossible. It would be hilarious.
But moving on. The demon bikers are still looting and pillaging the town. Spike tells Dawn to stay put in the house while he goes to check it out. Some demons are still looking for the Scoobies, and they’re pretty close to finding Anya and Tara. Luckily, the demons aren’t interested in completing this assignment, so they leave. Anya’s worried about the Magic Box, since the demons left to go loot stores.
They are making short work of Sunnydale. Spike pulls Dawn away from the front window again. Spike knows what kind of demons these are; they’d only be in Sunnydale if they know it’s vulnerable, which means the secret’s out that Buffy’s dead. Dawn wants to go make sure the Scoobies are okay, but Spike doesn’t want her to be reckless.
Buffy emerges from her grave, and suddenly there is no dirt in her hair. Just a couple of leaves. Why the crap did the Scoobies dress her in such a depressing black dress for her burial? She sees her own tombstone and is rather horrified. Then she walks through town, which is trashed and partially on fire. Her vision is still blurry. A demon rides past, smashing more stuff.
Anya and Tara reach the Magic Box. Willow and Xander aren’t there yet. Also, it hasn’t been looted yet. Anya is very worried about Xander. Tara tries to keep her from going to pieces. She knows a spell that can locate Willow, so she gets to work on it.
Xander and Willow are still lost in the woods, because Xander has been following an airplane when he thought he was following the North Star. Willow is still super wiped from the spell. Xander would like to talk to her about that, but she does not want to talk about that. Xander doesn’t appreciate her avoiding the subject, but luckily, Willow gets to take a rain check on the conversation because a floaty light arrives to guide them to Tara.
Buffy leans against a car, triggering the car alarm. The owner of the car comes out with a shotgun. Holy crap. Buffy leaves, wincing at the light and noise.
Spike and Dawn are creeping through the streets, trying to stay under the demon bikers’ radar. Spike gazes wistfully at the havoc the demons are wreaking. He decides they need transportation if they’re going to get away from the demons, so he clotheslines a demon riding towards him and takes his bike. Dawn gets on the back and off they go.
Xander and Willow make it to the Magic Box, to the relief of Anya and Tara. Xander makes a joke that nobody gets because all his friends are girls. He wishes he had male friends. (Yes! Get some male friends!) Anya doesn’t know what they’re going to do now. The Buffybot is gone, Giles is gone, Buffy is dead, and they don’t even know where Spike and Dawn are. How are they supposed to fight off those demons? Willow decides they need to gear up and go find Spike and Dawn. Xander hopes the demons might just get bored and leave.
No such luck. They’re moving in! And they’re going to commemorate the occasion by drawing and quartering the Buffybot using chains and bikes. Buffy walks up in time to see it happen. Before it gets ripped apart, the Buffybot recognizes her. Buffy yells, drawing the demons’ attention onto her. The leader thinks she’s another robot, so he orders his guys to chase her down and rip her apart like the first one. Buffy runs.
The Scoobies are searching for Spike and Dawn. Tara thinks the demons showing up at just exactly the wrong moment was a sign that they shouldn’t be messing with the forces of nature by trying to bring Buffy back to life. Willow interprets that as “So you think it’s my fault, then?” which gets Tara to stop talking about it. Anya wants to announce her and Xander’s engagement. Xander doesn’t think it’s the right moment. Buffy drops down into the same alley they’re in. Xander thinks she’s the Buffybot, but Willow figures it out first. Buffy turns and runs away.
They chase her and find her cowering in the corner of an alley. She doesn’t respond to their attempts to talk to her. Anya thinks something might be wrong with her, an assumption Willow seems to take personally. Tara notices how torn up Buffy’s hands are and Xander realizes how idiotic they were for not digging her up before they brought her back to life. How the crap did that not occur to them before they started? Xander apologizes to Buffy, but she’s still barely responsive. Anya tries to cheer Buffy up with the engagement news. Xander comes closer to getting angry at Anya for her strange sense of tact than he ever has.
Some demons join them in the alley. They’re not too intimidated by Buffy. Xander does some impressive facing off against them, and Tara creates a burst of fire with magic. They’re hoping to bluff the demons into retreating. It doesn’t work. The leader smacks Willow across the alley, and then Xander too. He then announces that they won’t be fighting the Scoobies, they’ll just be raping them all to death. Okay, yeah, we definitely aren’t on the WB anymore. Yay?
Buffy walks to stand in front of the leader. He punches her. This finally gets her in fight mode. She kills him rather quickly. And she still hasn’t said a word. The other demons attack. Buffy fights them, and the Scoobies join in with their weapons. Buffy gets surrounded by four demons who tag-team her with baseball bats for a while. Eventually, she beats them back.
Spike and Dawn are riding through town, which looks very post-apocalyptic now. They find the pieces of the Buffybot. Dawn is sad to see that it’s been destroyed. She goes to close its eyes, but then it moves and starts talking to her. It remembers seeing the real Buffy. It wonders where she went, then completely shuts down mid-sentence. Dawn can barely believe it, and she runs off. Spike doesn’t notice because he’s too busy investigating the damage to Buffybot’s limbs.
The Scoobies (but mostly Buffy) win the fight against the demons. Buffy still isn’t talking. She wipes the blood off her lip, then bolts. Unfortunately, the leader demon is still alive. He gets up and goes for the Scoobies. At the other end of the alley, Buffy kills another demon, then sees the tower from “The Gift.” The Scoobies fight the leader demon.
Dawn sees the demon Buffy has most recently slain, then sees the tower and heads toward it. That’s where Buffy’s headed too.
The demon is about to finish Tara off when Willow does a spell that gets rid of the metal claw things strapped to his hand. He goes for her instead, but that’s when Tara buries an axe in his back. He’s dead. After collecting their breath, the Scoobies go after Buffy.
Buffy is at the top of the tower, remembering jumping off it into the portal. Possibly she feels that her sacrifice was for nothing if the world ended anyway (which is sure what it looks like just in Sunnydale). Or maybe she’s just still disoriented and prefers being dead. Dawn arrives before she can do anything about that. She’s so happy to see her, and she can barely believe it. The tower starts listing to the side. It’s going to collapse soon. Dawn tries to convince Buffy not to jump off the tower. Buffy thinks she’s in hell. Dawn is horrified, and she explains that no, it’s home! Dawn begs Buffy to stay with her, because carrying on without her is so hard. Eventually, the danger Dawn is in on that tower is what finally gives Buffy the motivation to move. She snaps out of her funk and gets them both to safety. The tower collapses. Dawn hugs Buffy tight, and Buffy just stares off into the distance like she’s still not very happy to be here.
So, “Bargaining, Part 2.” I think it’s an effective episode, but I wouldn’t say it’s an enjoyable one. I’ll probably be saying that a lot in season six. There might be a lot of well-crafted, insightful stuff in season six, but it’s also incredibly depressing and makes most of the characters less likable than they were, so the entertainment value is considerably lessened. I’m very glad the Buffybot was destroyed. The gross purposes for which Spike had it built kind of ruin the endearing, pet-like quality it gains in “Bargaining,” so I really just wanted it gone. However, it hurts to see Sunnydale completely trashed. Even if this town has a Hellmouth in it and has been the scene of some horrible demonic shenanigans, its’ kind of...home. And yet Buffy’s actual house and the Magic Box both manage to not get ransacked, which doesn’t seem very probable. The writers mostly did a good job of setting up the worst possible scenario for Buffy to come home to, but I’m having a hard time believing that the Scoobies would be stupid enough to leave Buffy in the ground while attempting to bring her back to life. How are they supposed to know if the spell even worked when her body isn’t visible? It also seems weird that Glory’s tower would still be there. It wasn’t exactly a commissioned and authorized structure, and it’s rather noticeable from a distance, so how did it not get torn down? And if it was so unstable that the weight of two petite young women could knock it over, then how did it not just collapse on its own? Bah. I’m being nit-picky.
Buffy is alive again, but she very much seems to wish she wasn’t. The only way that makes sense is if she hasn’t been in hell like Willow thought. Adjusting to being alive does not look like it’s going to be an easy or enjoyable process.
Xander seems to be the Scooby with the clearest head right now. He didn’t know the spell was going to be that scary, and he’s not okay with that. He’s the first one to realize that it’s their fault Buffy had to dig her way out of her grave, and he’s not okay with that. Xander has given Buffy a lot of crap in previous seasons, so it makes a refreshing change that he’s completely protective of her here. However, that comes slightly at Anya’s expense, which doesn’t bode well for their engagement.
Anya’s fear for Xander is very compelling, especially because it’s stronger than her fear for her property. I also like how she and Tara end up spending so much of this episode together. Tara hasn’t had much one-on-one interaction with many of the characters besides Willow. This makes her feel much more like part of the group. More scenes like that, please!
I think my favorite thing about Dawn in this episode is the way she reacts when she sees the skewered demon corpse. Instead of being traumatized by the sight, she takes it as further evidence that Buffy might really be back. Aww. And I’m much more sympathetic towards Dawn than I am towards the four Scoobies who participated in the spell. She didn’t know Buffy was coming back; she’s been trying her hardest to move on and be strong after losing her mother and her sister in the space of a couple of months. Now, it turns out her sister is back. Maybe she can actually do this.
Spike finally acts like the soulless demon he is. Ah, the good old days, when he could wreak havoc and inspire terror in defenseless humans. And sure, he’s also protective of Dawn, but if he lets anything happen to her, the Scoobies will stake him in a heartbeat.
Willow is so very shady right now. I do feel sad for her when she thinks their chances of bringing Buffy back are gone, but mostly I’m alarmed by her high-handedness regarding the seriously bad mojo she pulled. And she refuses to hear a word of criticism about the spell (her guilty conscience will interpret any criticism as being directed at her) or to entertain the idea that she might have screwed it up and, by so doing, screwed Buffy up. You need to deal with your ego, Willow!
Demon, sardonically: “Whoa, well, I better back off, or you might, what, pull a rabbit out of a hat?”
Anya, horrified: “Don’t—don’t do that! Why would she do that?!”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.