You know, at the risk of irritating others, I really don’t think Season Six is as bad as everyone thinks it is. I mean, it’s not great, by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m not fully going back on my statement that the show should have ended with Season Five. But I no longer adhere to the idea that Buffy shouldn’t have gone darker than it normally did. Season Six is definitely a hard one to watch: Buffy’s abusive relationship with Spike is incredibly difficult to watch, especially considering my failed marriage, and nothing about Willow’s descent into “magick addiction” is pleasant. But is it realistic? As far as human emotions separate from the fantastical elements go, I do believe it is.
But amidst all that darkness, we got a beautiful respite in “Tabula Rasa,” my favorite episode from the sixth season. Right on the heels of the incredible “Once More with Feeling,” this episode gives me some of my absolute favorite quotes from the entire series:
Anya: What? I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking. Right, baby?
Xander: You are attractive and have many good qualities.
Spike: Oh, listen to Mary Poppins! Got his crust all stiff and upper with that nancy-boy accent. You Englishmen are always so … (hears himself) Bloody hell. (testing) Sodding blimy shagging knickers. Oh, no. I’m English.
Giles: Welcome to the nancy tribe.
Spike: (looking inside his jacket for identification) “Made with care for Randy.” (aghast) “Randy” Giles?! Why didn’t you just name me “Horny Giles” or “Desperate for a Shag Giles?” I knew there was a reason I hated you!
Giles: Randy’s a family name! Undoubtedly …
Tara: Slay her! That’s just what they said before! They’re going to use those spikes …
Buffy: To slay someone! A female someone! Who do those jerks think they are?
Anya: Bloodsuckers. That kill, by sucking blood. Take it easy, Joan.
Buffy: I kill your kind.
Spike: And I bite yours. So why don’t I want to bite you? And why am I fighting other vampires? I must be a noble vampire. A good guy, on a mission of redemption. I help the hopeless. I’m a vampire with a soul!
Buffy: Oh my god, “a vampire with a soul?” How lame is that?
Sadly, the funny only lasts a little while, ending with the spell cast by Willow dying out and leaving everyone as heartbroken as before. Buffy remembers she was taken from heaven after defeating Glory in the previous season, resulting in her throwing herself into a passionate yet destructive sexual relationship with Spike, and Tara is hit with the realization that Willow again used magic to solve her problems, refusing to take anyone else’s feelings into account. The groundwork for Xander leaving Anya at the altar is laid, as well, since neither seemed particularly into the other, while Willow and Tara were clearly attracted to each other. Dawn has now been abandoned by several parental figures following the death of her mother: Buffy is emotionally absent, Tara leaves Willow, Willow is dependent upon magic, and now Giles has left for England.
It was hard for me to continue to watch this season, as it gets so fucking dark, but it’s truly worth a rewatch, even if only for this episode. As long as you can disregard the heavy-handed shark-headed loan shark. Even that was a little too on-the-nose for me.