After Life

Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by David Solomon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously on Buffy: Buffy let Spike down hard, Buffy died, Buffy came back to life, wackiness ensued.

We pick up pretty much where we left off last week, with Slayerettes freaking out and trying to find the returned but lost Buffy. They've decided she must be at home, and are headed there, despite the last demon stragglers still on the streets. "I'll get us there fine," Xander declares. "My senses are primed for danger--" Senses Man breaks off with a girlie shriek as the demon bikers they just walked past race through them and on down the street. Anya comforts him that at least the bikers almost hit him on the way out of town. Willow is still caught back on fretting about Buffy, who was not, to put it mildly, herself. "I think we screwed it up," Anya contributes with her usual cheer and comfort. "She's broken." Willow objects: "She's not broken! She's just disoriented from being tormented in some hell dimension! We don't even know how much time has passed there for her! It's not something you just get over. Oh my god, what if she never gets over it?" Anya: "And you think of this now?"

Fortunately, Broken Buffy is in good hands; Dawn has managed to guide her still not-doing-the-talking-thing sister home. [roll credits in a truly weird scene break] The house is dark when they come in. "It's different," Buffy observes. Dawn hastily explains about the decorating changes the follow when two witches move in (seems a lot like my place, actually -- little tables, candles, and a latest-generation iBook that I have no idea how Willow could afford). Buffy is actually pretty disinterested in all this -- even as Dawn is talking, Buffy moves silently up the stairs. Dawn gets her to the bathroom, to change clothes and start the cleaning-up process, which Buffy acquiesces to docilely, despite Dawn's efforts to joke. As she starts to button Buffy's shirt, she sees the condition of Buffy's hands -- torn and bloody. Buffy refuses to let her treat them, wandering back out of the room and into Joyce's -- now Tara and Willow's. "But now that you're here, we'll have to figure out something to do," Dawn stutters. She's still trying to get Buffy to talk, but Buffy only asks, "What else is different?" Dawn sucks it up and tells her Giles left, but they'll call him and he'll come right back. "What?" Buffy asks, and has problems articulating the rest of the question: "What will you say to him?"

Warning: I might get a little sappy for this bit; all Spike/Buffy scenes in this ep just break my heart.

Before Dawn can answer, a noise downstairs startles both girls. It's Spike, bursting in the front door and yelling frantically for his runaway babysitee. "Thank god," he says as Dawn comes down the stairs. "You scared me half to death. Or, more to death." In the manner of big brothers and fathers everywhere, assured that Dawn is alive and well, Spike begins enumerating the various graphic ways he's going to kill her. Dawn just tells him, "Look." Spike looks, and takes the pale form moving towards him for the BuffyBot -- until he remembers the shape the Bot was left in an hour earlier. He stops dead, his expression torn between shock, disbelief and utter joy, as Buffy walks down the steps to her sister's side. Dawn tries to explain that Buffy's not in the best shape, but Spike's not actually registering much of anything past 'alive'. "What did you do?" he finally asks, quietly. Wonderingly. Dawn hastily denies any involvement. Buffy still hasn't said anything; she's managed to finish buttoning her shirt and is huddled in on herself, looking at Spike. He notices her hands, and, as she tries to hide them, puts the pieces together. "Clawed her way out of a coffin, isn't that right?" Buffy nods, without looking at him. "Yeah. That's what I had to do." He nods understandingly: "Done it myself." He finally seems to get a grip and motions Buffy down the steps, hovering near her but not actually touching her after one hastily-aborted attempt. Dawn heads off for medical supplies as Spike settles Buffy on the couch, sitting on the coffee table opposite her with her hand in his. Buffy lets him, as she refused to allow Dawn. "How long was I gone?" Buffy asks. "147 days yesterday," Spike replies instantly. "148 today. Except today doesn't count, does it?" His voice almost breaks, but he recovers fast. "How long was it for you where you were?" Buffy thinks a moment. "Longer."

Dawn reappears with the bandages, but before Spike can start work, the door bursts open under a flood of noisy, relieved, overwhelming Slayerettes. Spike stands and strides out the door behind them; no one notices in their absolute focus on Buffy. Dawn demands to know how they knew, and gets overrun with Slayerettes again. "Hey!" she finally raises her voice. "Back off! What did you do?" she asks, unconsciously echoing Spike. Willow tells them about the spell, and Buffy finally speaks up to assure them she's fine. But she can't tell them what it was like, and Xander assures her that she doesn't have to. An argument begins to ramp up on what Buffy wants and should have, until Dawn smacks them down again. "Right," Willow nods nervously. "We should just be quiet and let Buffy tell us what she needs." Buffy thinks about it again, like it takes effort. "Sleep. I need to sleep." Willow jumps all over that, "But, Buffy.. Be happy. We got you out. We really did it." Buffy just reiterates, "I'm tired," and moves quietly up the stairs to her room. "She's fine!" Willow asserts desperately. "She used to go to bed all the time!"

Xander and Anya leave together, and Anya isn't buying the whole 'she's fine' thing. Xander tries to reassure her, and himself, that it'll just take a little time. "Oh, yeah," Anya agrees. "Six or seven days, that's all you need to get over eternal hell experiences." But before they can get far from the house, they spot the dark figure leaning against the lurking tree, his back to them. Which gives Spike just enough time to swipe the tears off of his face before Xander comes striding over, being macho boy and telling Spike, "I hope you're not going to start your little obsession now that she's around again." Spike's response is eminently reasonable -- he grabs Xander by the collar and slams him up against the tree. "You didn't tell me! You brought her back and you didn't tell me!" he accuses, in what might have been a snarl if it wasn't for the way his throat is all choked up. "I worked beside you all summer!" Xander actually seems to feel a little guilty at the naked emotion in Spike's face and voice, and tries to stutter an explanation. Spike cuts him off before he gets very far. "Listen... I figured it out. Maybe you haven't, but I have. Willow figured there was a chance that she'd come back wrong! So wrong that you'd have... That she'd have to get rid of what came back, and I wouldn't let her. Any part of that was Buffy, I wouldn't let her. And that's why she shut me out." Xander shakes his head, genuinely not believing Spike. "Willow wouldn't do that. You're just covering. Don't tell me you're not happy." Spike can't deny that and doesn't try; he just walks off. "The thing about magic," he throws over his shoulder, as he gets on his stolen motorcycle, "there's always consequences. Always."

Buffy stands alone in the darkness of her room, as Willow returns from calling Giles (who is on his way back; his reaction consisted largely of repetitions of 'dear lord' and Willow thinks she actually heard him clean his glasses) and she and Tara get ready for bed. Willow is still being Happy, It's All Fine Girl, but Tara tells her she doesn't have to put up a front with her. Willow admits she's a little worried, especially after what Angel was like when he came back from Hell. The two snuggle into bed. "If things did go right, don't you think she'd be... happier?" Willow asks in a little-girl voice. "Sure, she is," Tara tells her. Then, "You thought she'd say 'Thanks'. Be more grateful." Willow: "Would I be a terrible person if I said yes?" Tara reassures her again, as Buffy gets up from where she's been sitting on her bed, still in darkness, and begins to wander her room. She finds photos of the Scoobies, and of her mom and sister, all over the room and surrounding her mirror. As she stares at them, and at herself, the faces change, become grinning skulls. She squeezes her eyes shut and when she opens them, the pictures are normal again. She stares silently at nothing.

The witches are sleeping peacefully when the glass in the picture above them suddenly explodes. They jolt upright and see Buffy standing at the foot of the bed, lost in shadows. "What did you do?" she demands coldly, as they stare in helpless, terrified silence. "Do you know what you did? You're like children. Your hands smell of death. Bitches. Filthy little bitches rattling the bones. Did you cut the throat? Did you pat its head?" She throws something else, beaks more glass. "The blood dried on your hands, didn't it? You were stained, you still are! I know what you did." Willow finally manages to lunge over and turn on the bedside lamp. She turns to confront Buffy -- and there's nothing there. Even the broken glass is gone. When they open Buffy's bedroom door, the room is dark, and Buffy is sound asleep. Thoroughly freaked, both girls have to agree they didn't dream it -- "Separate brains." Tara asks what the ghost-Buffy meant and Willow lies that she understood the words, but nothing else. Then they both gasp as something seems to race around inside the walls, rattling the pictures, a lump running up under the ceiling. "There's something in the house," Tara says in fear. Willow asks, "What is it after? Is it Buffy?" No answers being immediately preset, she heads for the phone to call Xander.

Who is asleep, but Anya isn't; in fact, she's trying to wake him up to keep her company in her insomnia, but it takes the phone to accomplish that. He reaches over her to answer it, and Anya gets up as a freaked Willow starts to explain what happened. Xander tries to follow her and tells her to get out of the house -- as Anya comes back in the room, her eyes white and a ghastly smile on her face. She laughs as she runs a knife down her cheeks cutting into the skin and leaving trails of blood behind. [Quick pause while I sit here and be totally creeped for a second. Okay.] Xander drops to phone to rush to her; as he snatches the knife away, she drops to the ground unconscious. Something moves away under the floor.

Everyone is outside and in the nice, bright sunlight the next morning (although Xander is significantly more freaked than Anya). Nothing about the visitations make sense -- it happened in different places, where there weren't dead people. "I bet it's a hitchhiker," Anya offers; it seems when people cross dimensional walls, other things can take the chance to grab on and go with. "I think we shouldn't have brought Buffy back," Anya concludes. "We just kill the beastie and all is good," Willow tries to cheer them up. Buffy appears at the magical words 'killing something.' Anya lets the whole 'you brought it back from hell thing slip,' but Buffy doesn't visibly react. Hesitantly, like it's very hard to put words and thoughts together, Buffy tells them what happened to the photographs the previous night. "I just thought it was me. Going crazy." "You're fine," Willow tries to assure her. Xander's right there. "Yeah, we'll fix this, this haunting thing, and we'll still have you back, which is... so important." Buffy looks less than convinced, but says, "Let's get to work."

Which is, of course, researching possible hitchhikers, of which the list is varied and disgusting, including invisibility and altering perceptions. Dawn hovers around the edges, not really helping, and Buffy seems to be mostly just sitting, until she says, out of the blue, "I miss Giles." Willow tells her that he's coming back. "I know I'm a poor substitute, but until then, we'll get it done." Everyone nods and, in the silence, Buffy gets up, saying she needs to patrol. The others offer to go, but she heads off alone. "I'll be safe here with the others," Dawn calls at Buffy's oblivious back. "Don't worry about me." The voice is Dawn's, but her eyes are white, and a very un-Dawn-like smile curves her lips.

Buffy's patrol of the cemetery looks more like a bout of sleepwalking; she'd be easy prey for anything that jumped her. Back at the Magic Box, Anya returns from a coffee run, since research parties require copious amounts of caffeine. "Coffee, coffee, coffee, hot chocolate for Dawn -- you're too young for coffee." Dawn swings her head around, eyes still white. "Idiot," she snarls. "You can have my coffee," Anya blinks as the others all turn to look at the girl. "All of you did it," she continues. "You stupid children. Did you think the blood wouldn't reach you? I smell the death on you. Look at what you've done!" Then she opens her mouth and spits fire at them, setting the books on table as she collapses to the floor. The thing races away under the floor as Xander puts out the fire and Tara cradles Dawn. "Did I look like that?" Anya asks, hovering. "I hope I didn't look like that." Willow: "No, I'm sure you looked really glamorous cutting up your face." Dawn regains consciousness, not really remembering what happened. The other reassure her, not aided by the fact that the thing is gone again. Anya points out, "Evil things have plans. They have things to do."

Of course, some have better plan than others. Spike's plans, for example, seem to involve endlessly pacing around his underground lair, slamming his fist into walls, and laughing semi-hysterically when it makes his hand look like Buffy's. But he reverts to Action Vamp when he hears the door above him open; he grabs a sword and heads up to see who his visitor is. It's Buffy, and his face reverts to Sympathetic and Concerned Spike. "You should be careful," he says conversationally. "You never know what kind of villain's got a knife at your back." He gestures with the knife, and Buffy observes, "Your hand's hurt." Spike shrugs: "Same as you." Cue awkward silence. Spike tries to crack a joke, gets only silence from Buffy, then gets her to sit down. He sits opposite her, a few feet away, and just starts talking, as much to himself as to her. "I do remember what I said. The promise. To protect her. If I'd have done that, even if I didn't make it, you wouldn't have had to jump. But I want you to know I did save you. Not when it counted, of course, but after that. Every night after that. I see it all again, I do something different... faster. More clever. Dozens of times, lots of different ways. Every night I save you." Buffy just listens, her face blank.

The gang is still haunting the magic shop as Dawn begins to break. Xander takes advantage of a moment alone with Tara to ask her about what Spike said earlier that night about spells and consequences. "I was just wondering... did you know that this might happen?" Tara denies it instantly, but Xander presses, "Do you think... Could someone have known?" Tara defends Willow, of course, and before Xander can go any further, Willow shouts in discovery. "This thing, it's not a demon that we let out. It's a demon that we made." She explains that the spell created a being, as side effect. "The world doesn't like you getting something for free, and we asked for this huge gift -- Buffy. And the world said fine, but if you get that, you have to get this, too -- the demon." [As every Wiccan in the room screams, "Duh!" Congratulations, Willow, you just discovered threefold law. < rolling eyes > Sorry, moving on....] Anya points out, "Technically, that's not a price. That's a gift with purchase." Willow says the demon is only halfway here -- its consciousness is here, but its body isn't, so it has to use the Slayerette's, like Anya and Dawn, or at least copy them, as it did with Buffy. Problem: it's linked to the spell; to send it away, they have to nullify the spell. Dawn instantly freaks out at the very concept of negating he spell and sending Buffy back. "If you think you can bring her back to me and then take her away again.. No. That's worse than if you never brought her back at all. You can't mess with people's lives this way!" Willow tells her they'll come up with another way, and finds one. "It's temporary. It's going to dissipate." The only way for it to survive on this plane, she says, is for it to kill the subject of the original spell; i.e., Buffy. Xander's eyes go white and his voice goes creepy. "Thanks for the tip," he tells them, then collapses as the familiar demonic lump glides away under the floor.

Buffy arrives at the dark house alone, but not for long. As she starts up the stairs, a white cloud materializes below her, smiling demonically as if follows. (Everyone remember the thing/spirit/whosiwhatsis that comes out of the Ark at the end of Raiders? The Angel just before it finishes turning into Death Incarnate? Yeah, it looks like that.)

Completely oblivious, Buffy heads into her bedroom, before she becomes aware of her visitor. She tries the kicky-fighty, with a singular lack of success; she can't hit the mist, but it can hit her, all the way across the room. "Did it tell you you belonged here?" it rasps evilly. "Did it say this was your home? Were you offered pretty lies, or did they even give you a choice?" The Slayerette cavalry is on it's way, urging Xander to drive faster, as Willow and Tara work on a spell back at the magic shop, trying to make the beastie solid. They hold hands and chant, "Child of words, hear thy makers. Child of words, we entreat. With our actions, did we make thee. To our voices, wilt thou bend." No effect yet; Buffy's still getting tossed around, but they keep going, as Buffy pulls an ax from under her bed. She swings helplessly at it as it continues to taunt, "You won't even disturb the air when you go." Dawn, Anya and Xander race into the room and Buffy yells at them to get out. Across town, Tara finds herself chanting alone; Willow's head is thrown back, and a golden light descends around her. Suddenly, her eyes fly open; they're dead black as she says one word: "Solid." So mote it be. The demon suddenly coalesces into reality; it and Buffy struggle over the ax before the demon knocks first the ax, then Buffy, away. But Buffy makes it back to her feet, ax in hand, and swings once. The demon's head rolls on the ground; end of threat. "That's probably the sort of thing I'm not supposed to see, right?" Dawn asks from the circle of Anya and Xander's arms.

Daylight at last, and Dawn heads off for school. Buffy chases after her, lunchbag in and, for a moment at least, everything is blessedly normal. Well, Buffy's trying real hard to be normal at least, if not entirely convincingly. Dawn hugs her and asks, "Are you doing okay?" Buffy grimaces. "I'm going to start charging money for everyone who asks me that." Dawn reminds her it's because everyone cares about her, and missed her. "But it's okay, now that they can see you being happy. That's all they want." She leaves, and Buffy stares thoughtfully after her. She appears at the magic shop a little while later, and walks purposefully over to her friends. "Look, you guys, I, um... There's this thing... so I'm just going to say it. You brought me back. I was in, uh... I was in Hell. I, um... I can't think to much about what it was like, but it felt like the world abandoned me there. And then suddenly, you guys did what you did. And the world came rushing back. Thank you. you guys gave me the world -- I can't tell you what it means to me. And I should have said it before." Willow hugs her first, then Xander gets in on it. Buffy stares out from between their embraces, and squeezes her eyes shut against tears.

She wanders out to the back alley a little later, looking depressed, to find Spike lurking there, hiding from the sun in the shadows. "Aren't you leaving a hole in the middle of some soppy group hug?" he cracks. She doesn't respond, just tells him, "I just wanted a little time alone." He can take a hint; he tries to leave, but is blocked in by the sun. "It's okay," she says. "I can be alone with you here." "Thanks ever so," he cracks, but looks back at her. "Buff... Slayer? Are you okay?" She shrugs. "I'm here. I'm good." He hesitates, then walks back over to sit beside her again, not buying it. "If you're in pain, or if you need anything, or if I can do anything for you..." Buffy: "You can't." Spike: "Well, I haven't been through a hell dimension as of late, but I do know a thing or two about torment--" She cuts him off quietly: "I was happy."

She doesn't look at him as she goes on. "Wherever I was, I was happy. At peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time... didn't mean anything. Nothing had form, but I was still me, you know? And I was warm, and I was loved, and I was finished. Complete. I don't understand theology or... dimensions -- any of it, really -- but I think I was in Heaven." Spike stares silently, completely lost for words, as she goes on, still almost emotionlessly, "And now I'm not. I was torn out of there, pulled out by my friends. Everything here is hard and bright and violent.... Everything I feel, everything I touch.... This is hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that, knowing what I've lost...."

She suddenly seems to become aware of who she's talking to, and stand abruptly, walking away from Spike towards the sunlight. Then she stops, saying without looking back, "They can never know. Never." She walks out into the sunlight, her shoulders straight and her face determined.

Buffy wasn't in Hell; she was in something she defines as Heaven, but only Spike knows that.

Nothing, really, unless you're a Spike/Buffy 'shipper. In that case, wow, you're going to town what with the quiet support and the dreams about saving her and all.

I almost feel sorry for the Slayerettes in a deluded kind of way. They spent all of this energy convincing themselves that they were bringing Buffy back for her sake, not for theirs. Willow, especially, risked her life to get her friend back, whatever her motives; and all she gets is a thank-you that is essentially meaningless. Buffy doesn't appreciate what they did for her -- and, mostly, for themselves -- and she might never appreciate it. There's something very sad in that, as well as their collective inability to deal with Buffy as she is. All of them are so busy projecting their joy and their relief at her, that it's making her mental state worse instead of better; we'll see if they catch a clue.

Spike, now, Spike has a clue. Whether by instinct, or experience with Dru when she's going nutball, or just lots more years to practice self-control (and usually ignore said self-control, but that's another story), he takes the right tack in dealing with Buffy. The Slayerettes are all over the place emotionally, practically screaming. Spike's, however, are under tight control, he makes a point of keeping his distance both physically and emotionally. No threat, no demands, just trying to be there. And then getting out of her sight and letting himself lose it -- he's caught between absolute joy to have Buffy back, and stark terror at what the consequences could be, plus a healthy dose of resentment for the Slayerettes shutting him out. I don't think his interpretation of why Willow shut him out is entirely true... but I also don't think he's entirely wrong. That's one of the things that's making me want to slap Willow and tell her to start think of someone other than herself for five seconds, any less. Seriously, Willow's willful refusal to see anything but what she wants to see is really starting to get to me. A few years ago, Buffy's little speech wouldn't have fooled her best friend; now, Willow buys every word. That's also... pretty sad. What's sadder is her refusal to take the consequences of her actions seriously. instead of admitting that she didn't take everything into account when she cast the spell, she blows them off. One demon dead, problem solved and the hell with anything that happened in-between. I'm not going to do another threefold rant because I did it in the synopsis, and it's not like that was the first time. Consider it said.

Xander, on the other hand, is starting to be uneasy about the whole magic thing where Willow is concerned, finally. And Tara also seems to have issues, although she's still backing Willow to the hilt. That could develop into a problem; willful blindness added to willful blindness almost never helps.

And Dawn in finding herself in an interesting position, forced to be the adult taking care of her sister. She's good at it; she's got the same instinctive touch Spike is displaying with less experience to account for it. But, like Spike, she's staying under control, and not projecting any kind of neediness onto Buffy. it's all about what Buffy needs -- which the rest of the Slayerettes would do well to emulate. She's so adult, in fact, that the transition back to terrified 15-year-old when Willow talks about nullifying the spell is shocking, and incredibly effective. Michelle T. continues to amaze me.

And Buffy. Well, it certainly explains the fugue state -- she's on input overload, going from total peace to total chaos... hell on Earth. It's no wonder she's more or less shut down; just tying to process the input must be taking every bit of strength she's got. She's incredibly impressive for mustering the energy to fake her gratitude to the gang; she puts what they needed ahead of what she was feeling (some of reason was surely to get them to stop projecting all of that worry at her, but it doesn't negate the value of the gesture). The most freaksome thing was how calmly she took the deathskulls in the photos -- "I thought it was just me. Going crazy," she shrugs calmly, since she feels like she's already there. Wow, her life sucks. It helps that she was able to tell the whole thing to someone, although god knows I wish it had been Giles, just because of the whole trust issue making it easier for him to help her. But at least someone knows.

Best Moments:
Dawn taking care of Buffy. The role reversal was poignant and gorgeous; Michelle T. rocks.

Spike seeing Buffy. < sigh > Fabulous performance from James Marsters throughout the episode, but he really shone here and in the following confrontation with Xander.

The transition of the photos from living the dead. Nice, low-key creepy, especially with Buffy's almost blank reaction to it.

The intensely cool shot of Buffy walking through the cemetery and passing in front of the angel, framed by the wings. Nice little touch.

The entire demon-Buffy scene -- it starts out with a jolt and remains totally creepsome throughout.

Ditto for the Anya-possessed sequence; very, very wigsome. Nice job from the makeup department and the actresses.

Buffy's out of the blue, "I miss Giles." A quick, heartbreaking little bit.

Anya's bit about the evolution of coffee shops was way too funny!

Spike hurting his hand, and his semi-hysterical laughter as he stares at it. Just a fantastic bit.

Buffy 'thanking' her friends. SMG's performance was dead-on -- she managed to make Buffy's delivery sincere enough that her friends believed her, while the audience is very clear that she was only telling them what they wanted to hear. Lovely job.

Buffy telling Spike where she really was. Quietly devastating, even if you saw the punchline coming a mile away, and another excellent performance from SMG.

Questions and Comments:
Wow, what a cheesy final fight scene. The FX weren't bad, but the choreography was awkward, to say the least, and the end was totally anti-climactic.

Aside from that, this was easily the creepiest episode since Hush. While nothing can top that, the 'hauntings' early on had me turning on lights and calling people for company. < shudder> Yeee.

My assumption, by the way, is that Spike had been hanging out at the Magic Shop for most of the morning, trying to keep an eye on things after Buffy left him; that would explain why he wasn't able to leave.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5. A pretty good follow-up to the opening, witht he first hint of the consquences and a few truly creepy moments, plus some stand-out performances. The characterizations save the light-weight plot, which was only intended to provide an excuse for said characterizations, anyway.


"So. I really really need to have James Marsters' kid, but that's not new. *Damn* did we get what we wanted last night, all the way down the line. I think I'm even getting used to the hair. I *need* to rewatch this tonight. " -- Chris

"Did anyone guess the 'yanked from heaven' twist before the ep? We should have; I'm thinking the only reason we may not have is because it's so sad to contemplate."
"Not before the ep, but within a few minutes of the start of it. Once it seemed clear that Buffy was mentally all there (which had been my first worry), and Willow so obviously was grabbing at the "we rescued her from hell" as a justification for her any-means- necessary approach to magic. I hadn't actually thought about "where" Buffy had been at all, but as soon as Willow raised the issue, my auto-Joss setting looked for the most painful and messy explanation... and found it. Ugh..."
"They were telegraphing it from the beginning. Willow and Xander kept going on and on about pulling Buffy from hell, Buffy was suffering in hell, Buffy hell this, Buffy hell that. Hell, after that set-up, I would've been very surprised if it hadn't turned out that Buffy had been either in heaven or some sort of oblivion. Or Australia." -- Chris, Dianne and Betsy

"They may not have said [Joyce's] name but Buffy's look when she looked at the picture of her mother spoke volumes for me. That's when I figured out Buffy hadn't been where they'd thought." -- Deb

"I'm glad I didn't see it coming! I was hoping before the season opener that we would be getting away from the angst-and-depression-Buffy this season, and now there's not much hope of that. How happy is Buffy likely to get after being dragged back to Sunnyhell from somewhere... wonderful. I mean, it really was heaven for her -- I can't forget her expression when she said "I was finished." A Slayer, better than anyone else, knows she's going to die, and almost certainly violently and painfully. To have finally gotten past that death, to know everyone was all right, and that she didn't have to be the Slayer anymore... and then have to come *back* and do it some more? I can't even imagine her despair. And she can't EVER tell the Scoobies, because why share that pain with them. Ouch. Ouch to the Nth degree." -- Maureen

"I'm hoping that eventually Buffy and Spike can be some sort of real friends, impossible though that may be to imagine. She was hanging with him because he was quiet and dead and not overwhelming her like the others; and he had no expectations. Dawn came in a close second in dealing with her, knowing when she couldn't deal with the overload, but still needing her back so badly." -- Chris

"Willow's powers continue to grow, since she did that last part of the spell on her own, no support from Tara. And my wig level goes up another point, thinking that the heights she's going to fall from keep getting higher...."
"Yeah, I wasn't sure whether that was because she'd directly 'caused the sitch, so it was naturally rebounding on her, or whether she was just jumping the gun and taking it an extra level because she could... and because she's been on a very dangerous roll lately..." -- Chris and Dianne

"When Willow's head went back, and she was shining in the light, was anyone else having flashbacks? To, say, a spell way back at the end of season two? We always wondered who -- or what! -- helped her with the spell that brought back Angel's soul, and this spell looked an _awful_ lot like that one. Or maybe I'm mis-remembering - I should get out that tape and re-watch that scene. 'Cause I'm still wondering if someone or something is helping her along, raising her up for that great fall where Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again. Or maybe it's just me. " -- Maureen

"I loved Xander asking Tara about the consequences of the spell, not accusing Willow, but at least thinking that Spike *could* be right about Willow's motivations and the outcome of the spell. And the scene between the two of them at the tree really needs to be re- watched--- Xander doesn't like the guy any more than he ever did, but he actually felt bad that they hadn't told him what was up with the spell." -- Chris

"Maybe it was just me, but I was getting flashbacks to "Restless" during parts of this ep, and I'm not even sure why. Maybe just that a lot of things that were foretold are coming true...."
"Maybe because the incorporeal demon looked a *lot* like the First Slayer?" -- Chris and Tina

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