Written by Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by Michael Gershman
Willow’s floor is strewn with clothes and she and Tara are snuggling in bed. It occurs to them that they didn’t hear Buffy come home. Tara’s a little worried. Willow now has an inkling of Buffy/Spike, which Tara confirms. At first, Willow feels awful because she thinks this means Buffy didn’t want to tell her, specifically. Tara explains that that’s not the case; Buffy was just really ashamed and worried.
Willow goes to check Buffy’s room. Her bed hasn’t been slept in. Dawn comes out and sees Willow. She wonders if Buffy is beating Spike up or something, and Willow returns to feeling all bad and left out about Buffy not telling her about that. Dawn feels sorry for Buffy and Xander. Tara emerges in a bedsheet, and Dawn is ecstatic at this evidence they’re back together.
Buffy breaks into the Trio’s lair, but it is devoid of Trio. She finds some of their plans and notices some of their skimpy model figures with distaste. There’s a white board that says “Too late!” on it, and when Buffy angles it to see it better, a buzz saw cuts through it. More of them cut the whole room to pieces. Buffy uses her Slayer reflexes to escape with some of their papers, but her jacket has a huge rip in it now, and she’s even more annoyed.
Oh hey! Tara’s in the opening credits! Good, I’ll do a Tara section in the character analysis.
Willow and Tara come downstairs, still all cuddly and super affectionate. Buffy and Dawn are in the living room. Buffy wants to go through all the papers she saved from the lair. They debate whether or not to pull Xander in and decide against it. Buffy also stomps on the idea of getting Spike in on it, which makes Dawn a little bummed. What about Anya?
Anya is talking to her latest vengeance client, who is miserable after her boyfriend cheated on her with her fat, ugly sister. Anya is too preoccupied with her guilt over sleeping with Spike and how that made Xander feel and her continuing misery over Xander leaving her at the alter to be a very effective vengeance demon. She talks over the girl with rants about Xander whenever she tries to make a wish.
In a cave somewhere, Andrew is scooting away from a demon in terror when Warren zaps it with some kind of home-made super-taser. Andrew doesn’t appreciate being the bait. Now that the demon’s down, it’s Jonathan’s turn to do something that involves a knife, but we don’t see what yet.
Spike is having a lonely drink in his crypt when Dawn pops in. She’s on her way to another Janice sleepover, but she wanted to visit him. She’s kinda sad he won’t be around anymore, and she wants to know if he thinks it was worth it, sleeping with Anya. He’s really annoyed to hear the nerds put cameras all over the place. Dawn wants to know if Spike loves Buffy. If yes, how could he sleep with Anya like that? Spike seems to think he’s the one with the moral high ground. Dawn tells him he did manage to hurt Buffy, if that’s what he was going for, so congrats. She leaves, and he seems intrigued.
A demon like the one the nerds tased walks through a force field thing into a deeper chamber of the cave. The nerds pop out. Jonathan is now wearing the skin of the first demon, and hating every second of it. It seems that force field works like time travel in Terminator. Only things covered in the right flesh can go through it. They’re not 100% sure this will work, but Warren tosses Jonathan through the barrier anyway. This seems to unnerve Andrew, but maybe not. While Jonathan goes inside to get whatever they’re here for, Andrew and Warren discuss betraying and ditching Jonathan. They’re doing that tonight. Jonathan returns with a box. Warren uses a gadget to open it. Inside are two crystal orb things, which grant enormous strength to the person holding them. Who in this case is Warren. That’s fantastic.
They leave the cave, Warren tucking the orbs into a pouch on his belt. Andrew and Jonathan still aren’t convinced they’ll work as advertized, but another demon comes along, and Warren snaps it like kindling. Jonathan and Andrew want their turns, but Warren isn’t done with his turn yet.
Buffy visits Xander at his apartment. They’re both pretty miserable still after the Anya/Spike incident. They sit down together. Buffy gently defends Anya and says Spike isn’t her boyfriend. Xander can understand what Anya did, but he still has no idea why Buffy would sleep with Spike. She says it was her way of dealing with how hard it was being alive again after heaven, since none of the Scoobies wanted to hear about that. He’s still appalled by her choices. She asks how he justifies fighting side-by-side with Spike all summer and letting him watch Dawn. He claims he never forgot that Spike is evil. The chip isn’t a soul. Buffy says it doesn’t matter because she and Spike are over anyway. Xander stomps out.
Xander’s strolling moodily down Main Street. Anya is dusting things at the Magic Box in a morose sort of way. Xander peeks in the window, then leaves. She doesn’t see him.
Willow and Tara are in bed again, Willow working on the Trio’s data. Willow doesn’t want to do any kind of research that would require her to get out of bed. They resume non-research activities.
Xander has moved his moodiness to the Bronze. A pretty girl starts flirting with him, and he reacts with a rant that greatly resembles Anya’s rant to her vengeance client. Hahaha. The Trio arrive. Warren spots a pretty girl and wants to get started with the supervillainy.
Buffy is fighting a vampire in the cemetery, and he manages to kick her so hard that she breaks a tombstone in half while he’s in the process of turning to dust. She groans and heads home to nurse her wounded back.
At home, Buffy goes into the bathroom to have a bath. Spike appears. She doesn’t want him there. He closes the door. He wants to talk and he’s not leaving until she lets him do so. She still isn’t interested. He says he’s sorry and that he cares about her. She doesn’t particularly believe him. He says he didn’t mean to sleep with Anya; he went for her to get a spell. Buffy assumes he meant something like what he was after in “Lovers Walk,” and he’s extremely indignant. He wanted to stop feeling this way. He’s even tearing up a little with the sheer frustration. Buffy is kind of surprised. Spike thinks her jealousy and the way she stopped Xander from staking him mean she really does love him. She disagrees. They argue about love and trust and passion. Buffy just wants him to leave so she can rest her back. Spike grows increasingly determined to prove he’s right about her feelings for him, so he tries to get her to sleep with him. She may have lacked the emotional strength to stop him from coercing her into sex several times before, but not this time. She very clearly says “no” and “stop it,” and she’s struggling against him, screaming, and crying. He’s frantic to make her feel the way he does...by forcing her to have sex with him against her will. This is attempted rape. Luckily, Buffy eventually finds enough strength to kick him across the bathroom. Buffy was already saying she couldn’t trust Spike enough to ever love him, and this certainly proved her right. Spike seems to realize he just blew any chance he had with her.
At the Bronze, Jonathan is not having fun. He thinks Warren’s antics will get them all tossed in jail, and he’s particularly annoyed about that if all Warren’s doing is chatting up some girl. Who is not interested. Her boyfriend is a guy who used to pick on Warren. Warren is clearly still bitter about that, so he starts unleashing his strength on the guy and his friends. Xander comes out of the bathroom to see everyone staring at Warren like he’s a freak. He tries to get between Warren and three very frightened girls he’s making creeper eyes at. Warren makes a very inappropriate comment about Anya. Xander punches him, probably shattering all the bones in his hand. Xander has an excellent comeback about Warren’s dating skills. Warren punches Xander across the club. Jonathan wants to leave now. Warren doesn’t, but apparently he has plans that are time-sensitive. They leave.
Xander goes to Buffy’s house and sees Spike’s coat draped over the banister. He goes up to chew her out about how she’s so done with Spike, just barging right into the bathroom. Really? Am I the only one who considers it basic politeness not to open a bathroom door when you can see that a light’s on? What would’ve happened if he’d found her sitting on the toilet or actually taking that bath? Anyway, he finds Buffy sitting on the bathroom floor, face tear-streaked, a large bruise on her thigh, and he realizes he was a jerk for the assumption he just made. Buffy says enough for him to figure out what Spike tried to do, and he looks like he’s about to go make another pass at Spike with a stake, but Buffy, in a weary, bitter tone, tells him not to.
In comes Willow. Buffy hides her bruise and changes the subject to the Trio when Willow tries to ask what happened. Cut to a Scooby meeting in the dining room. It seems the Trio write some of their evil plans in Klingon. Wow. Willow has found blueprints and schematics to lots of banks and armored cars. They’re going to pull many heists. Willow knows which one they’ll hit first, so that’s where Buffy should go. Buffy’s looking forward to not having to hold back with Warren, if he’s powered up somehow.
Spike returns to his crypt, flashing back to the bathroom scene. He pours himself a drink, but shatters the glass with his grip. Clem drops by, hoping to join Spike for a Knight Rider marathon. Spike mutters to himself things like “what have I done?” and “why didn’t I do it?” You didn’t do it because she kicked you across the room and sort of broke your momentum, that’s why. Clem gathers Buffy and Spike had another falling out, and he advises Spike to not get too worked up about it. Spike rambles about the chip a bit and about how much better things were before it. The ramble turns into a full-on tantrum. He blames the chip for his inability to be a monster. He also can’t be a man. Clem tries to cheer him up. Things can change! That seems to give Spike an idea. A sinister one.
Somewhere called “Wild River Adventure,” an armored car is about to depart with its cargo. Warren tips it over with his bare hands. Before he can loot the stuff (which appears to just be cash, so that’s kind of disappointing) Buffy appears, standing on top of the tipped vehicle. Warren throws her a couple dozen feet. She’s feeling quippy and light, but he’s got a jubilant kind of anger about him because he thinks he’s unstoppable. They fight. She finds this fight a bit cathartic. His strength seems to be about the same as hers, maybe just a little more, but she has experience that makes up for it. She smacks him into the stone archway of this weird amusement park with the rear door of the armored car. The archway collapses on top of him.
Then she rounds on Jonathan and Andrew. But Warren isn’t down. He gets out of the pile of rubble without a scratch on him and comes in for round 2. He definitely has the upper hand this time. Or at least, Buffy’s having less fun than she was, even if she does land what appear to be more effective blows. Andrew cheers for Warren to kill her. Warren isn’t done taunting her first. He says he’ll win because he’s smarter than her. Jonathan tackles Buffy from behind out of nowhere, so that it won’t look suspicious when he tells Buffy Warren’s weakness. She just has to smash the orbs.
She tosses Jonathan off her. Warren hits her again, and he winds up for the final blow, revealing the pouch on his belt in the process. Buffy grabs it and smashes it against the ground. Warren’s power drains away. She kicks him a few yards. He is completely furious but knows he has to retreat. ...Using a jetpack. Buffy is just as exasperated with these comic book shenanigans as I am. Andrew has a jetpack too. Jonathan is indignant that he didn’t get one. But it’s sort of okay. Andrew blasts off underneath an awning, knocking himself out. Buffy has the two of them arrested. Andrew feels used and betrayed. Jonathan feels like they’re getting what they deserved.
Spike is on his way out of town on a motorcycle. (For a second, I couldn’t think where he got a motorcycle, but then I remembered. It’s the one he stole from one of those demon bikers in “Bargaining: Part 2”!) He plans to return. It’s all very ominous.
The next morning, Willow and Tara are finally dressed. I really like Tara’s outfit.
...Sorry. I know that was mean. They’re still being super affectionate. Tara sees Xander in the backyard, talking to Buffy. Buffy is poking around the landscaping, looking for more cameras. Buffy and Xander discuss Warren, but it’s also a code for their own friendship. Aww. They sit down. Xander feels hurt that Buffy didn’t tell him about Spike, but he acknowledges that he didn’t really give her a reason to trust him about that. How does he not have two black eyes right now? Whatever. They make up and hug and it’s really nice.
But it’s about to be less nice. Here comes Warren. He has a gun. He’s not going to let Buffy get away with beating him. He raises the gun. Buffy pushes Xander out of the way. Warren fires, then turns to flee while still firing. Up in Willow and Tara’s room, one of the bullets breaks the window. The next thing we see is Willow’s shirt getting spattered with blood. That bullet went through Tara. She confusedly says “Your shirt,” before collapsing. Down on the lawn, Xander realizes that Buffy went down. She got shot too, and she seems like she’s going into shock. Willow, tear-streaked, cradles Tara, who isn’t moving at all. Willow looks up, her eyes going red and black with magic.
So “Seeing Red” is easily the most infamous episode of the entire show. A fan-favorite character attempts to rape the protagonist, and another character gets killed off by a random bullet with an impossible trajectory, right in front of her love interest, right after they’ve gotten back together and everything is happy. Even as a very outspoken non-fan of Spike and non-shipper of Willow/Tara, I find this one pretty rough to rewatch. The attempted rape scene is brutal. Stark lighting, no background music, close-ups and longer range shots that make Buffy seem particularly vulnerable...it’s all put together very effectively for screaming THIS IS NOT OKAY at the viewers. They finally put Tara in the opening credits, only to kill her off, which is super mean but not really a surprise. That’s what Joss wanted to do with Jesse in S1. I will forever be suspicious of any late-season additions to an opening titles sequence. ...Assuming that any future shows of his even have opening titles sequences. Those kind of seem to be going away. *pout* The Trio gets up to even worse shenanigans than usual—or, at least, Warren does, with Andrew’s enthusiastic and Jonathan’s angry assistance. They’ve actually become much more interesting to watch ever since Katrina’s death fractured them. One thing I noticed this time was that when Buffy goes patrolling in the cemetery, resulting in the back injury, that whole scene is really out of nowhere. What, they couldn’t have Buffy and Willow exchange two lines of dialogue, like “Sorry, I still don’t have a location on the Trio for you”/“I’m sure you’ll be able to find them soon. I’m just gonna go patrol in the meantime. I need something to pummel.”? There. Done. Easy. So why did it need to be shoehorned in like that?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the way Buffy reacts to Spike trying to rape her. It’s very different from how she reacted to Hyena-Xander attempting sexual assault in “The Pack.” In that case, she was already wry and dismissive by the time she was dragging an unconscious Xander into the book cage no more than two minutes after the fact. Here, she’s completely horrified and distraught. I think the difference is that, because of her back injury, it was much harder for her to fight Spike off than Xander, she’s known Spike a lot longer than she knew Xander in “The Pack,” and maybe she didn’t think Spike would ever actually physically force her to have sex with him. The other times he raped her, she reluctantly gave in. This time, she was fighting, but he still wouldn’t stop. *shudder* Okay, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. How about the way she deals with Xander in this one? She’s gotten better at defending herself since the last time Xander chewed her out (when Riley was about to leave, I think), and she’s also more mature and respectful towards Xander’s own hurt feelings, whether or not he deserved it. But in all this, she seems to have forgotten about her friendship with Willow. They haven’t really talked since “Normal Again,” before she tried to get everyone killed by a waxy demon.
As much as I love the scene where they make up and hug, Xander is kind of a jerk to Buffy at first. How can he be level-headed enough about Anya to already not be mad at her for sleeping with Spike, while he’s still angry at and disgusted with Buffy, who has never been his girlfriend even a little bit? I can understand his feelings at the end, being hurt that his best friend wouldn’t confide in him but realizing that he didn’t give her very good reasons to. I’ve been the Xander in a situation like that. But seriously, what the heck did he think he was doing when he barged into the bathroom without knocking? If he thought Buffy and Spike were having sex in there and he wanted to interrupt them so that Buffy would be all ashamed for lying about ending things with him, he could’ve paused and listened at the door for sex noises. There was almost zero chance of going into the bathroom without warning not being extremely embarrassing. And how did he even know it wasn’t Dawn or Willow in there? Sheesh.
Anya is still attempting to be a vengeance demon, but she’s too wrapped up in her own issues to do it properly. She feels guilty for what she did and upset about what Xander did, and it’s distracting her from the important lessons she learned about vengeance. She clearly hasn’t fully realized that vengeance as a concept isn’t wonderful, even if she’s realized that for her own personal vengeance.
I’m not sure how Dawn could come out of her conversation with Buffy in “Entropy” and still want to spend time with Spike. Besides, they haven’t really spent any time together at all (at least one-on-one) since “Bargaining.” Does she just suddenly miss him now that there’s actual family emotional baggage that will prevent them hanging out, instead of just neither of them making an effort to? Weird.
I’m still really caught by Spike’s “Why didn’t I do it?” line. It completely supports the theory I’ve had about his character all along. He lives inside his own little skewed version of reality, fully convinced it’s the objective truth. This line is an excellent example of how skewed his perception is. He did not stop trying to force himself on Buffy, Buffy stopped him. But less than an hour later, he already has himself convinced that not going through with it was his idea. I’ve seen quite a few baffling discussion threads about Spike and how him trying to rape Buffy was incredibly out-of-character, but I think it makes perfect sense. First, he’s soulless. Like Xander said, the chip is just a leash the military shoved in his head. It doesn’t actually change his nature. Which is evil. Second, ever since Spike’s very first episode, sex and violence have been very closely intertwined in all of his behavior. The two most unsettling examples of that (prior to his being a huge stalker in S5) were the way he acted with Willow in “Lovers Walk” and “The Initiative.” Third, this is not the first time he’s attempted to force his love interest to reciprocate his feelings. He tried to use a love spell on Drusilla, and he chained Buffy up and threatened to kill her if she didn’t admit she had feelings for him. Actually forcing Buffy to have sex with him isn’t too far off. And it’s actually what he spent much of mid-S6 doing. I just haven’t seen many people call those incidents “rape,” probably because they didn’t include much physical force. So yeah. This was absolutely in-character attempted rape.
Willow, understandably, is genuinely happy about being non-witch hacker girl for the first time all season. Tara’s return definitely gave her a big boost of confidence, so the temptation to do magic has much less of a hold on her. But it’s not necessarily gone. She just doesn’t need to worry about it when she’s surrounded by love and support. There were, however, at least three points in the episode where Willow noticed the way she’s been out of Buffy’s loop lately. That didn’t get resolved in this episode, so it probably will be soon. I think Willow may have inadvertently trained Buffy not to go to her with her problems because of how Willow was constantly unloading on her about her own, and there just hasn’t been a chance for the two of them to talk about the way Buffy reacted to Anya/Spike yet.
Tara is the one character who managed to remain uncorrupted and likeable through all the misery of season six, and so she gets killed off. Lovely. She might actually have been what made some of the bleakest episodes still watchable. She’s so quiet that it could be easy to miss how remarkably strong she is. Her home life was miserable, and the only person who was actually good to her (her mother) died when she was a teenager, but she still managed to grow up into a wonderful person. She’s kind and incredibly selfless, which eventually became a problem for her by making it harder for her to criticize Willow’s actions as they got shadier and shadier. More recently, it was what helped Willow stay motivated to keep fighting her personal demons. With her gone, Willow no longer has a stabilizing influence. Bye, Tara. You and your positive influence will be sorely missed. On a related note, I firmly believe the bullet only managed to hit Tara from that angle because that baby deer wasn’t a big enough sacrifice for the resurrection spell to bring Buffy back. Tara’s life was the ultimate price for Willow’s arrogance. Which sucks, because Willow had mostly gotten past said arrogance by this point.
“Not bad. How hard’re you gonna hit when you’re blowing in the wind?” *Stakes vampire*
*Vampire, while turning to dust, kicks her through a tombstone*
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The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.