Written by David Fury
Directed by James A. Contner
Buffy and Anya get up to see that Giles is there! Willow is scornful, but he knocks her back down when she tries to get up. She can tell he’s borrowing his power from someone. He wants to help her. She gets up again, waving off his attempt to hold her. She would like to address their previous argument, where he chewed her out for the resurrection spell.
Giles does a binding spell on her before she can go to town on him, and it makes her float up off the floor and fall unconscious. She’ll be in stasis for a while. Giles notices that Buffy cut her hair. Buffy goes all wibbly and hugs him. Anya points out that she dyed her hair blonde. Giles gets that she’s fishing for a hug, so he gives her one. Awww. I’m gonna cry. Okay, actually crying. That was freaking adorable. Giles walks up to Willow and offers his condolences about Tara.
Buffy and Giles are in the training room. He’s here because a powerful coven in Devon could sense what happened to Willow. They imbued Giles with their powers and sent him to deal with Willow. Buffy tells Giles all the crap that’s happened since he left. Including her sleeping with Spike. Giles just stares at her for a few seconds, and then he bursts out laughing. She’s indignant at first, but eventually joins in when he can’t stop.
Anya is picking up some of the mess in the shop when Willow starts talking inside her head. She wants Anya’s help. She can use mind control on her. She stops Anya from warning Gils and Buffy and tells her how to undo the binding spell.
Buffy and Giles are still doubled over laughing while she continues to explain S6 to him. He asks her forgiveness for leaving. She thinks he was right to go. (NO HE WAS NOT.) She does think it’s important for her to be an adult, but he points out that adults can ask for help too. Buffy says she’s just recently stopped feeling like she left part of her in her grave. Someone else could’ve taken over her calling if she’d stayed dead.
Okay, pause for a sec, because I think she’s wrong about that. I think Buffy hasn’t been the Slayer since “Prophecy Girl.” She passed the torch to Kendra, and by some fluke managed to still have her Slayer powers when Xander brought her back. Now Faith is the Slayer, but she’s in prison, so when Buffy died in “The Gift,” no new Slayer was called, but Faith still couldn’t perform the duties of a Slayer. Now, based on what happens in S7, I think that ever since getting brought back to life by Willow’s spell, Buffy has been the Slayer again, but that’s a huge cosmic no-no, since Faith is already the Slayer.
Now back to our show. The Devon coven is working on a way to get the power out of Willow without killing her, but he’s not confident that Willow will be the same way she was if she does go back to normal. Yeah, they might not get a chance to find out, because Willow has now succeeded in using Anya to free herself. She drops the unconscious Anya to the floor. Buffy runs to fight her, but she zaps her. Giles tries to do the binding spell again, but she waves it off. She floats a ton of weapons at him, which he blocks with a dummy. They have a magic fight.
Xander, Dawn, Jonathan, and Andrew are still on their way out. Xander continues to beat himself up for not being useful. Dawn loses patience with that. She thinks Spike could do a better job. Xander backhandedly reveals that Spike tried to rape Buffy, so Dawn can stop being his fangirl already. Dawn stops, horrified and disbelieving. Wait, does she seriously think Xander would lie about that? Why the crap does she think Spike is a good guy?
A demon’s head rolls along the ground. Oh, we’re back in Africa with Spike, who has beheaded at least two more of the glowy-eyed demon’s “tests.” He’s not leaving until he gets what he needs to “take care of the Slayer” and “give her what’s coming to her.” How gallant. The next test is a swarm of bugs like in The Mummy. Nope nope nope nope.
Back to the Magic Box, which is now on fire. A little. Giles and Willow’s fight has practically leveled the place. She waves away all the wounds he managed to give her. (Literally. They’re gone now.) He still believes he can hurt her. She disagrees. He thinks it’s interesting that she stops caring about everyone else in her life once she loses one person. What would Tara think? Willow tries to collapse the entire balcony on him, but Buffy shoves him out of the way. Willow picks up a ball of flames and sends it to kill Jonathan and Andrew for her, like a spiky blue turtle shell of death. It’ll also kill Dawn and Xander if they’re still with them. Buffy can’t believe Willow would do this, and she runs out to go stop it.
This leaves Willow and Giles alone. She pins him to the ceiling. She can’t believe she used to look up to him so much, and she thinks he was jealous of her power. He curses her, which makes her anti-gravity thing stop working. He thinks she’s going to be burning out again pretty soon. She needs to stop soon. Yeah, she’s not going to do that. She’s just going to rip all the magic out of Giles. It’s so much power that she gets blurry. She sits there and revels in it for a moment. She feels connected to everything, all the emotion and pain of the entire world. Giles tells her she can stop it. She takes it completely the wrong way. She’ll make it stop by destroying the world!
Xander is kicking the door of a crypt...why? Are they trying to get in there to hide? Dawn notices the incoming fireball while Xander argues with Jonathan and Andrew. Buffy comes charging up and knocks them out of the way just when it hits, but the ground collapses, and Dawn and Buffy both fall in the hole, followed by Jonathan and Andrew’s swords. Coffins are sticking out of the sides of the hole. Jonathan and Andrew notice that the one person not in the hole (Xander) is unconscious now, so they decide to make a break for Mexico. Wait, seriously? What happened to Jonathan wanting to be all noble and go to jail? Ugh.
Anya wakes up and finds Giles. He’s not dead...yet. He can see what Willow’s doing, and he knows she’s about to try destroying the world. He thought he had a chance of saving Willow, but he’s not so sure it worked.
The sun comes up. Seems like a nice day. Buffy tries to climb out of the hole using the roots sticking out of the walls. She falls back down. Next, she tries pulling coffins out of the walls so she can stack them to get out. Dawn wants to try finding a tunnel that might connect to Spike’s crypt. Buffy doesn’t like that plan. Dawn gets all in her face about how she tried to put Dawn in Spike’s protection after he tried to rape her. Buffy really doesn’t want to talk about this right now, while they’re stuck in a big hole. Dawn tells her she needs to stop trying to protect her from everything, because it’s not working. Xander is awake. He almost falls in. Buffy tells him to go get rope.
Anya teleports into the hole to tell Buffy everything that’s happened since she left the Magic Box. Willow will be able to end the world once she reaches the satanic temple on kingman’s bluff. She’ll have to unbury it first, but yeah. Also, she’s already done that part, at least with the top spire. Willow can use the power of a super strong she-demon to drain the life force of the planet and burn it all to the ground. Buffy, naturally, wants to try stopping her, but according to Giles, she won’t be able to. Nothing supernatural can do the trick. Anya wants to go back to be with Giles so he won’t die alone. Buffy and Dawn are stunned and grief-stricken. Buffy yells for Xander again, but he doesn’t reply. Did he leave?
Willow is working on her doomsday spell, but she can hear Buffy vowing to stop her. Buffy can hear her sinister voiceover. Giles can too. Willow knows Buffy won’t go down without a fight, so she gives her one. She makes dirt monsters sprout out of the hole Buffy and Dawn are in. Buffy grabs a sword and starts fighting them, but more keep coming out. She holds out the other sword to Dawn and invites her to help. Dawn looks happier and more validated than she has all season.
Willow keeps going with the spell. Green energy starts blasting from her to the demon effigy. Elsewhere, like at the Magic Box, the ground shakes. Anya tries to talk Giles out of dying. She’s glad he came her even if he gave Willow what she needed to end the world.
The ground is burning up around Willow, but Xander gets between her and the effigy, cutting off the spell. She orders him out of her way and blasts him with purple lightning, but it seems to shake her to hurt him. Giles wakes up. He suddenly has hope.
Buffy and Dawn fight the dirt monsters. Dawn tucks, rolls, and kills one on her own. Buffy is amazed and impressed. They continue fighting back to back.
Willow starts the spell again, but Xander blocks it again. He doesn’t think he can stop her, but if the world’s about to end, he wants to be beside his best friend. I’m crying again. He feels really sorry for her loss, and he’s not thrilled about what she’s trying to do now, but he still remembers kindergarten, when she cried because she broke the yellow crayon. No matter what she does to him, he’ll always love her. He keeps saying it. She lashes out with magic, but tears roll down her face. He won’t stop, slowly walking closer to her. Her power has less and less effect on him, and she starts beating his chest with her fists, before collapsing into sobs. He hugs her. Her hair turns red again and the veins disappear.
Down in the big hole, the dirt monsters crumble. Willow continues to sob into Xander’s arms. At the Magic Box, Giles sits up. Anya hugs him, but he’s still rather fragile. He knows the danger’s over, but Willow’s still alive! Turns out, his plan was to dose her with good magic that would force her to deal with her feelings. Anya is really impressed, and a bit swoony, that Xander was the one who saved the world.
In the hole, Buffy starts crying, and Dawn gets all annoyed, thinking she’s upset that the world didn’t end. Buffy’s happy-crying, though. She didn’t manage to save the world, but someone did! It’s okay! Wow, Dawn can be really dumb sometimes. Buffy hugs her. She’s really sorry for how bad things have sucked lately, but she wants to be there to see them all get through it. She wants to see who Dawn grows up to be. She’s done sheltering Dawn from the world. She wants to show it to her! Aww, how precious. They climb out of the hole together. It’s a really nice parallel to “Bargaining.” Buffy’s happy to get out this time, and she’s not alone.
End montage. Xander is still holding Willow. Anya helps Giles out of the Magic Box, which looks like it might actually collapse any second. Jonathan and Andrew are on their way to Mexico in a big rig with the shadiest-looking driver ever. Buffy and Dawn look out over the town from the cemetery. Back in Africa, Spike seems to be done with all those tests. The glowy-eyed demon gives him his soul back.
“Grave” is probably the least awesome episode of the Dark Willow arc, but it’s still a pretty good finale. It’s annoying how, for the second season in a row, the writers decided to tease Giles’s death but didn’t have the guts to actually kill him off. It’s annoying how Jonathan changed his mind about jail. (Why couldn’t Andrew have run away by himself? Jonathan could’ve gone to jail, and then Andrew could’ve busted him out in S7 when he came back. Or he could’ve just never come back. That would’ve been better.) Dark Willow isn’t as good at smack talk as she thinks she is. Spike’s storyline continues to be very disruptive to the narrative flow. Giles being back is fantastic, I really like Anya’s stuff, and Xander’s speech to Willow at the end is incredibly touching. On to the final season! Which, thankfully, is much less depressing.
Buffy is finally back to her old self. I think part of that came from the conviction she’s been showing through the Dark Willow arc, part of it came from Giles, and part of it came from fighting side-by-side with Dawn. But I still don't think it’s a good idea for Dawn to be directly in the fray. She should be fray-adjacent. Doing research, and practicing self-defense just in case she has to be in the fray.
Xander gets to be the one to save the world! With the power of friendship! Twilight Sparkle would be so proud of him. This feels like the first positive interaction he and Willow have had in a really long time, aside from when she was talking to him before the botched wedding. Their most memorable conversation in the whole season, besides this one, was when he accused her of being the one who turned Buffy invisible. He hasn’t been there for Willow through any of her magic addiction issues or her breakup with Tara. Was this actually supposed to be an arc? Willow freaked him out with the resurrection spell, so he’s avoided her a lot for most of the season, but now when she really does go off the rails, he remembers what he loved about her and goes to be by her side? If so, I think I kind of love that.
Anya’s affection for Giles is one of the most adorable things in all of season six. How is it that the oldest character on either show can seem so innocent and childlike? I also love how she reacts to Xander saving the day. Maybe she can forgive him after all.
Can Dawn be done being a brat now? It’s extremely grating. She’s just so bad at reading people! She thinks Xander would lie about Spike trying to rape Buffy? She thinks it’s impossible that Spike would do something like that? She thinks Buffy is sad the world didn’t end? Someone smack her upside the head, please.
Well, Spike has a soul now. Fun.
Willow’s attitude towards Giles pretty much confirms a lot of the stuff I’ve been saying about her all season. Only a narcissist would assume that someone who cares about her doesn’t want her using dark magic because he’s jealous of her power. I think maybe Willow’s complete indifference to Buffy’s life could’ve felt a little more in-character if they’d included one line about how she believes she inadvertently traded Tara’s life for Buffy’s, so now she’d rather Buffy go back to being dead. Also, the way she reacts to feeling the suffering of the world by deciding to put it out of its misery, as if it was a mercy-killing, seemed kind of weird. I thought she didn’t care about anyone else anymore, so where did the mercy-killing angle come from? It could’ve been more interesting if the power she’d stolen from Giles had made her believe the world is only comprised of people like Warren and people like Tara—people who cause suffering and people who suffer. So she needs to put a stop to it by ending the world.
Giles bursting out laughing is a welcome lighthearted moment in an extremely heavy season, and it’s nice of him to realize he was an idiot for leaving.
“Thanks for coming. It was good of you to teleport all this way. Though in retrospect, it probably would’ve been better if you hadn’t come and given Willow all that magic that made her like ten times more powerful.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.