Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by David Solomon
We pick up at the same horrible place we left off, with Buffy and Tara shot, Tara already dead, and Willow about to go off like a magical nuke. An ambulance is on the way for Buffy. The camera stays with the ambulance and the paramedics the entire opening scene. Xander leads them to Buffy in the backyard, and hey! That means they finally were allowed back to Torrence to do exterior shots on Buffy’s house!
Willow is still sobbing and begging Tara to be okay. Then she starts up with the magic. She tries to command Osiris to bring Tara back.
The paramedics are working on Buffy. She’s very pale and there’s a lot of blood, but she does keep blinking, so, not dead. That’s something. Slayer healing and medical attention should team up to save the day, right?
Osiris manifests as a large smoky face, and he refuses to help Willow because Tara died a regular human death, not one caused by supernatural means. Distraught, Willow yells a denial that seems to actually wound Osiris.
The paramedics wheel Buffy to the ambulance. Willow walks out of the house in time to see, and Xander tells her it was Warren. She walks off, an expression of cold anger on her face. Xander goes with the ambulance.
Jonathan and Andrew are in jail, waiting to get charged with something. Jonathan is being a dork. Andrew believes Warren will bust them out. Then they go off on a nerdy tangent about Matthew Broderick. That doesn’t derail Jonathan’s cynicism for long, though. Andrew tries to deny that he and Warren were going to leave Jonathan to take the fall for them.
Warren is definitely not devising a plan to free Jonathan and/or Andrew. He’s at a demon bar, ordering a round of drinks for everyone to celebrate killing the Slayer. He tries to brag about it to a vampire. Nobody in the bar has heard of the Trio, which annoys Warren a little. But he’s after some better minions than Jonathan and Andrew. The demons want to know how Warren killed the Slayer. Magic? No! A gun! They laugh, but not in triumph. Because they happen to know from the news that Warren didn’t kill her. There was a report about a girl getting shot in her backyard and being still alive, in the hospital. They expect Buffy to be coming after Warren once she’s back on her feet.
Yeah, Buffy may not be the one whose vengeance they need to worry about. Willow walks into the Magic Box. Lights blow out as she passes them. Anya already knows something bad happened, and she doesn’t want to let Willow near the dark magic book. Willow keeps her back with scary purple lightning magic, levitates all the books down to the table, and literally sucks the magic out of them with her hands. The ink travels up her arms and turns her hair and eyes black. It looks really cool.
Dawn gets home from her sleepover. She goes upstairs in search of Buffy or anyone, and she finds Tara’s dead body.
Warren is at Rack’s magic drugs place. He’s offering a lot of money for protection from Buffy. Rack hasn’t heard of the Trio either. Warren’s getting seriously indignant about that. Rack thinks Buffy isn’t Warren’s problem; Willow is. Warren is very confused. Rack explains that even though Buffy survived, someone’s dead, and that death is why Willow wants blood. Warren wants enough firepower for both hide and fight options. Rack makes no guarantees that it’ll protect him from Willow, but he’ll give it to him.
Buffy is in surgery. She may have survived initially, but she’s in critical condition. All the equipment starts going haywire with the arrival of Willow. She orders all the doctors out of the room. They go. Buffy flatlines, or maybe that’s just Willow’s interference. She uses magic to remove the bullet and heal the wound. She takes the bullet and makes it vanish. The music is really creepy. Buffy wakes up, confused. Xander hugs her and insists that she stop dying on him. Then they look at Willow and want to know why her hair and outfit are black. Warren would rather start searching for Warren.
Warren’s at the bus stop. He boards a bus. Xander, Buffy, and Willow are in Xander’s car. Willow telekinetically floors it when Xander won’t drive fast enough. Buffy and Xander don’t like any of this. Why is Willow using magic? They still don’t know about Tara. Willow forces the car to turn, and they offroad it over to the road where Warren’s bus is approaching. Willow gets out and stands in its path, holding the other two back with the same purple lightning. She forces the bus to stop inches in front of her. Warren comes out. She grabs him by the throat, her eyes black. One of his eyes pops out and he sparks. Warren-bot! Willow’s confused, and not pleased that he managed to trick her.
Buffy and Xander try again to get Willow to stop. She can’t just go kill a human. Willow finally tells them about Tara. They’re shocked and appalled, but they still don’t want to let her go kill a human. They try to talk her down, saying she won’t be able to come back from this. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t want to come back. She walks away, then apparently teleports out.
By the time Buffy and Xander make it back to the Summers’ house, it’s nightfall. No sign of Willow. Buffy goes to Willow’s room and finds Tara. Dawn’s in there, curled up against the wall. She’s been there all day. She didn’t want to leave Tara alone. *wibble* Buffy hugs Dawn while she sobs.
The coroner takes Tara’s body away a bit later. Xander signs a paper for him, and he leaves. Police will come back the next day with some crime scene tape. Xander, Buffy, and Dawn discuss what happens next. Buffy and Xander want to find Willow before she can kill Warren. Dawn is furious. She’s on Willow’s side. She lost Tara and almost lost Buffy. Xander sort of agrees with her.
Buffy won’t budge. Warren should face human justice. She has a really profound thought. They can’t just arrange everything to their liking—if that was okay, then magic wouldn’t have such scary effects on Willow’s personality. Boundaries are important, whether Willow wants to admit that or not. This quiets Xander and Dawn’s objections. Buffy will make sure Warren faces justice, but she won’t let Willow destroy herself. Buffy won’t let Dawn come with her to defuse Willow. Dawn’s very unhappy about that, so she coldly says she wants to go to Spike’s. Xander strenuously objects, but Buffy cuts in. She doesn’t want Dawn to know about the attempted rape. Buffy reminds Xander that Spike physically can’t hurt Dawn, and they don’t have any options right now.
Willow is in Tara’s dorm room, holding the white shirt she was wearing that got Tara’s blood on it. She does a spell that uses Tara’s blood to give her a map to Warren. He’s in the woods outside the campus.
Buffy and Dawn arrive at Spike’s crypt, where Clem is watching Meet John Doe (a black-and-white movie from the ‘40s). He tells them Spike left town. Clem’s there to watch the crypt for when he gets back so no one else will steal it. He offers them snacks. Buffy declines but asks if he can look after Dawn. Dawn still would rather help Buffy help Willow, but Buffy still refuses. Buffy hugs Dawn, thanks Clem, and starts to head out, but she asks when Spike will be back. Not for a while.
That makes sense, because Spike’s in Africa, apparently. He blows past someone to a forbidden cave full of violent paintings. And also a big demon with glowy eyes. Spike’s here because he wants something. Something that will prove to the “bitch” that she’s not better than him. He wants to return to his former self. The demon thinks he’s pathetic. Spike is keen to prove otherwise.
The spell Willow put on Anya is wearing off now. Xander helps her sit down. He tells her about Tara, but she doesn’t need to be told. Also, she doesn’t need to do a tracking spell to find Willow. She can feel her because she’s drawn to people who want vengeance. It takes Xander a while to understand that Anya got re-hired as a vengeance demon. Buffy arrives. Xander updates her on the Anyanka status, and he casts some shade Anya’s way about that. But Anya is definitely not enjoying this Dark Willow situation. She decides she’ll tell them where Willow is, but she claims she’s on Willow’s side. She doesn’t sound like it, though.
Willow is walking through the woods, trees bending out of her way as she passes. She calls Warren out and receives an axe in the back. From which she gets right back up. She rips it out and tosses it aside. Warren runs and pulls the next item out of his gab of tricks. It looks like a square Snitch. It blows up when it gets close to Willow, but she freezes the explosion and turns it to ice, which shatters.
She catches up to Warren again. He backs away, with a feeble veneer of bravado. He tries to explain that Tara’s death was an accident. She’s not impressed. He was trying to kill Buffy, after all. It’s not exactly better that he failed but succeeded with Tara by mistake. She fires the purple lightning at him, which knocks him down. He throws some kind of gel thing at her, which completely encases her. She melts it with fire from her eyes. Then she commands vines from trees to restrain him.
Warren still has the nerve to mouth off. Willow’s “asking for it,” and soon she’ll be “begging to join her girlfriend.” Wow. Gross. Willow can tell that Tara isn’t the first girl he’s killed. She does a spell that has a phantom of Katrina appear to haunt Warren. He tries to ignore her, but when she won’t stop asking why he did that to her, he yells that she deserved it. Okay, he’s officially the worst. Willow is deeply disdainful of his attitude. Whiny little manchild who never managed to actually earn respect from a woman, tried to take it by force, and killed her when that failed.
Anya, Buffy, and Xander are getting close now. Anya can tell Warren is still alive.
Warren starts yelling for help. He’s too terrified now to keep up the gross entitled talk. Willow opens her hand, in which she holds the bullet he shot Buffy with. She telekinetically rips open his shirt. She slowly pushes the bullet into him while describing what it’ll do to him. he begs her to stop, but she makes his mouth sew shut so he can’t keep talking. She seems close to crying as she describes the way a bullet can destroy everything. How it killed Tara.
The others are almost to Willow. She unsews his mouth so he can tell her if he feels what he did now. He says he totally does! He needs jail! He deserves punishment! Yeah, he’s definitely just trying to tell her what she wants to hear to save his butt. He doesn’t think she’ll kill him because unlike him, she’s a good person. Here come Buffy, Xander, and Willow. They’ll see it if she kills him! She says “bored now” and makes his skin rip off. He’s dead. Buffy and Xander are stunned. Willow makes what’s left of Warren vanish in fire, and then she teleports out. “One down.”
“Villains” is one scary-intense episode. I love it. The entire Dark Willow arc (and “Life Serial” and “Once More With Feeling”) is the best thing about season six, even though it’s horrifying and gut-wrenching. Dark Willow more than makes up for spending the majority of the season with emotional problems and three immature dweebs as the antagonists. I think she might be my favorite Big Bad after Angelus, and her appeal is similar to his. She’s a character we love gone bad! That’s so emotionally compelling! Part of me likes to cackle evilly and just go with it. Probably the same part that enjoys watching Angel go dark in Angel S2, as well as any scene with Angelus in it. And Warren is such a hateful character that I at no point feel sorry for him. I only feel anxious about Willow. I also love Buffy a lot in this one, but I’ll get into that in the character analysis stuff.
Buffy rocks in this episode. She was probably Tara’s closest friend in the Scoobies after Dawn. Tara was her confidante, her first hand up out of her pit of depression. And not only that, but she almost shared Tara’s fate. She has extremely good cause to go on a warpath like Willow—she even spent most of “Seeing Red” already hunting Warren down and defeating him once. The show loves to make the no-killing-humans thing a hard-and-fast rule, but we already know from S5 that it isn’t one. Buffy definitely killed some of those Knights of Byzantium, and she didn’t lose any sleep over it. That’s because it was the heat of battle. She’d probably be just as fine if Warren had died when a couple tons of rock fell on him from that archway. But searching him out to kill him is wrong, because they don’t live in a Western. And I fully support her stance with Dawn, who should definitely not go anywhere near Dark Willow.
Xander seems to have a tendency to use really harsh, judgmental tones when talking to someone who’s done something he doesn’t approve of. Like his initial reaction to Buffy after finding out about her and Spike. And now the way he informs Buffy of Anya becoming a vengeance demon again. He seeks to wound and shame. He should be offering support while making it clear that these choices are not okay. And just like in “Seeing Red,” he acts completely differently with one character than another. Last time, he was understanding with Anya but judgmental with Buffy. This time, he’s judgmental with Anya but understanding with Willow. The lack of consistency is what makes it so aggravating. Can’t he tell Anya doesn’t feel good about what she’s doing? Couldn’t he tell Buffy didn’t feel good about what she was doing? It seems that he hasn’t learned the lesson Anya learned in “Entropy.” Chastisement and (extralegal) punishment aren’t necessary when the person is already remorseful. They just make you a jerk for making things even harder for them.
I don’t believe Anya when she says she’s on Willow’s side. She seems horrified and upset the entire time, as if she’s beginning to understand the cost of vengeance more, now that she’s had time for the consequences of her own actions to sink in. She can see what this will do to Willow, and she doesn’t like it. But she also doesn’t like that she doesn’t like it. This is a serious case of cognitive dissonance she’s going to have to wrestle with. And she stops keeping her renewed vengeance demon status a secret. She doesn’t seem proud, only bitter.
Poor Dawn. Spending most of the day alone with the dead body of someone she loved. That’s horrible. But why is she so keen to get in Willow’s path? Does she just not understand how dangerous Willow is because she hasn’t seen it for herself yet? Buffy and Xander are much closer friends to Willow than she is; nothing she can say will work if they can’t get through to her. And her passive-aggressiveness, when she pointedly asks to stay with someone Buffy won’t approve of, is really irritating. At least she’s nice to Clem.
Spike is off on his quest that will end in him getting his soul restored. I’ve been in several very length arguments with fans who believe Spike is very admirable to deliberately seek his soul while soulless, and they claim his quest is motivated by remorse and the determination to become a better man, someone more worthy of Buffy. I could not disagree more, and Spike’s behavior seems to support my side of the argument rather better. I do agree that he’s deliberately getting his soul (rather than that he’s just trying to get his chip out). But his motives are far from honorable. Buffy’s reaction to his “advances” in the bathroom have finally convinced him, when nothing else could, that she does not and will never love him. What Clem said gave him the idea that there is one way around that: if he had a soul, then he’d still have a chance with her. His quest to get a soul is nothing more than one last desperate attempt to force Buffy to love him. Which is despicable. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, because these are the motives of a soulless being. Post-soul, there’s a whole new set of rules. We can examine those in S7.
It’s devastating how Willow seems to be fully aware that she’s on a path to complete self-destruction. She just doesn’t care. All that matters is ending the person who took Tara from her. The icy coldness of Willow’s grief-driven fury actually gives me chills, as does her complete relentlessness. She’s a juggernaut of wrath. If we still needed proof that she’s going way too far, then quoting Vamp Willow was the perfect evil cherry on top.
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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.