Start of Season 6 (6.1 - 6.11)
6.1 Bargaining, part 1
The first half of the episode is just establishing that the team is working as a team (including Spike), led by Willow. Dawn is in school with Buffy-bot as her guardian, Giles is leaving for England sometime, and Willow is afraid Buffy's in a hell dimension like Angel was.
Spike and Giles are messed up about failing Buffy.
BUFFY-BOT: I like your teachings. Every Slayer needs her Watcher.
GILES: I'm not so sure about that.
BUFFYBOT: What do you mean?
GILES: Nothing. ...I just can't help but wonder if she would have been better off without me. Buffy.
BUFFY-BOT: I don't think that's true. You were very helpful to her.
GILES: Right. Yes, I was a perfect watcher. I did what any good watcher would do. Got my slayer killed in the line of duty.
BUFFY-BOT: Oh, that wasn't your fault.
GILES: Of course not. That's how all slayer/watcher relationships end, isn't it?
Giles tries to slip away and they catch him at Sunnydale Airport - Tara gives him a finger fright that goes "Grr! Arg!" It's an emotional scene - they give it the time it would deserve if Giles is leaving forever. Willow is "trying to be stiff-upper-lippy" - she still has her own unique way of talking.
After they leave there are some more establishing shots of the hills - almost mountains - around Sunnydale. I remember there were lots of outdoor shots early in the last season too, then fewer later.
While the scoobies do dark magic, a gang trashes Sunnydale - they continue in the next episode - with absolutely no sign of the Sunnydale police. In fact I'm not sure we've seen any sign of the police since The Dark Age in season 2.
6.2 Bargaining, part 2
TARA: Lost is good. Willow and I always know how to find each other!
ANYA: With yoga?
They stumble through a whole episode and the only good moment is Spike stealing a motorbike to get Dawn to safety. Nobody is enjoying themself, least of all Buffy.
BUFFY: It was so clear, on this spot. I remember how shiny and clear everything was. But now...
SPIKE: Her hands.
DAWN: Um, I was gonna fix 'em. I don't know how they got like that.
SPIKE: I do. Clawed her way out of a coffin, that's how.
A touching moment. Dawn is noticeably more of her own character now, and so is Tara - they're both present most of the time now instead of just being seen now and then.
TARA: How did he take it?
WILLOW: Um, I'm not sure. I mean, glad, but... kind of weirded out, which I get, you know? Lots of "dear lords". And I think I actually heard him cleaning his glasses.
It's clear that Spike is now completely transformed, by his chip and/or by love, and is quite definitely not evil.
SPIKE: I want you to know I did save you. Not when it counted, of course, but... after that. Every night after that. I'd see it all again... do something different. Faster or more clever, you know? Dozens of times, lots of different ways. Every night I save you.
And even though he failed to protect Dawn, Buffy's relationship with him has clearly changed too.
BUFFY: And I was warm, and I was loved, and I was finished. Complete.
A more literal title than usual. (Still no idea why the episode called Spiral was called that.)
DAWN: So, what do we do?
BUFFY: Easy. We burn the house to the ground and collect the insurance. Plus, fire? Pretty. ...You guys, I'm kidding. Okay, it's bills, it's money. It's pieces of paper sent by bureaucrats that we've never even met. It's not like it's the end of the world. ...Which is too bad, you know, because that, I'm really good at.
There's a lovely scene where Giles comes back.
BUFFY: And now you're back?
BUFFY: Wow, Giles, are you miserable about it, or just really British?
We meet the new guys ("like super villains") who have teamed up to take over Sunnydale - Jonathan, Warren and Andrew who is at pains to point out it was his brother, not him, who released the hellhounds on the Prom. Jonathan and Andrew overrule the clearly amoral Warren on killing Buffy. Warren talks the demon into doing it itself, Buffy disposes of the demon and the trio congratulate themselves.
GILES: The magicks you channelled are more ferocious and primal than anything you can hope to understand, and you are lucky to be alive, you rank, arrogant amateur!
WILLOW: You're right. The magicks I used are very powerful. I'm very powerful. And maybe it's not such a good idea for you to piss me off.
Just what an arrogant amateur would say.
This was the first episode this season that I enjoyed. The first three were somewhat harrowing. This one had decent jokes (the super villains are amusing, so far), and, of course, Giles.
6.5 Life Serial
Uh-oh, cheesy (chicken) breast jokes before the credits. On the other hand, the crime lords are pretty funny.
WARREN: Francis 7, this is Logan 5. I'm in position, do you copy?
Buffy doesn't give college much of a go before moving onto construction work.
BUFFY: You saved me from having to accept Giles' offer to work at the Magic Box. I mean, retail? Yeesh. I'd rather be dead. Again.
It's a fun episode, in fact. (Except for odd cheesy moments like the kittens.)
JONATHAN: I need you to hold hands.
ANDREW: With each other?!
WARREN: Well, you know what homophobia really means about you, don't you?
BUFFY: I don't... really know how to say this... but it's a little like having Mom back.
GILES: In this scenario, I am your mother?
BUFFY: Wanna be my shiftless absentee father?
GILES: Is there some sort of, um, rakish uncle?
6.6 All the Way
Nothing happens in the teaser, and after that nothing continues to happen since we already knew Xander and Anya were going to get married.
BUFFY: Is that why you're always cleaning your glasses? So you don't have to see what we're doing?
GILES: Tell no one.
The dialogue is trying hard to be cute - a little too hard, possibly?
XANDER: So, once more into the breach?
BUFFY: Oh, I think my breaches are wearing a little thin.
When a vampire has time to quip after being staked, then yes, trying too hard. Although if you still remember Welcome to the Hellmouth, this is funny:
GILES: We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the...
6.7 Once More, With Feeling
VAMPIRE: She ain't got that swing.
BUFFY: Thanks for noticing.
She can actually sing pretty well (so can Spike). After his duet with Anya turns "kind of mean", Xander begs Giles to figure out why it's happening.
XANDER: Giles, you've got to stop it.
It's still reasonably good fun. Sweet gets to do his own exposition:
SWEET: I come from the imagination, and I'm here strictly by your invocation...
But when it's time for Giles' song, things are getting serious. The duet between Giles and Tara, easily the two best singers, is as awesome as Giles' exposition song in Restless.
GILES: Wish I could say the right words to lead you through this land, wish I could play the father and take you by the hand
TARA: Wish I could trust that it was just this once, but I must do what I must, I can't adjust to this disgust, we're done and I just wish I could stay.
The closing number is pretty good too.
BUFFY: Life's a show and we all play our parts, and when the music starts, we open up our hearts.
And then there's one of my least favourite moments in 144 episodes - Xander confesses that he did the spell.
XANDER: Well, I didn't know what was gonna happen!
It's only his second spell - the first was in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered and that went very badly. So it's implausible that he'd try again. But the first time, he quickly went to Giles for help and confessed what he'd done - so how come this time, he begs Giles to work out what's happening when he knows perfectly well it was him? Doing magic and lying about it are so not like Xander that this twist just sucks.
6.8 Tabula Rasa
The memory-wiped scoobies have to try and reconstruct identities - "with hilarious consequences", as the Radio Times used to describe all comedies when I was young.
SPIKE: Oh, listen to Mary Poppins. He's got his crust all stiff and upper with that nancy-boy accent. You Englishmen are always so... bloody hell! Sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks - oh God! I'm English!
GILES: Welcome to the nancy tribe.
Anya makes bunnies. Buffy and Spike fight the vampires but it's a bit lacklustre - there's lots of them but they're rubbish and only trying to rough Spike up over some kittens anyway.
SPIKE: 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!
Then Giles and Tara leave and Buffy snogs Spike again for no obvious reason, especially after bringing Angel to our minds.
More amusement with the trio stealing a diamond and Willow having to bring a non-rat Amy up to speed.
WILLOW: Uh, Amy... three things we have to talk about. One, Larry's gay. Two, Larry's dead. And three, high school's kinda... over.
And so does Buffy.
AMY: Snyder got eaten by a snake... high school got destroyed...
BUFFY: Oh, Gatorade has a new flavor. Blue.
The Sunnydale Museum is a different one to the Historical Museum in Doomed.
Amy manipulates Willow with alarming ease.
AMY: Something fun. Anything not involving a big wheel. Or maybe you'd rather sit home all night, alone, like in high school.
Spike makes a call from a pay phone. So the series is a little bit dated. At this point the episode turns less fun.
There's a lack of mention of how Amy was only 17 when she turned herself into a rat, and so is effectively 17 now. And something of a heavy-handed psychedelic trip metaphor going on when Willow discovers bad magic then has to go cry in the shower. But in case we missed it, she goes for another fix and acts spaced out with Dawn.
DAWN: Well, what about the movie? It starts at nine.
WILLOW: We'll make it. I'll just be a minute. And it doesn't matter if we miss the trailers.
DAWN: I like the trailers.
There's really no fun at all in this episode, unless you count a scene with Spike naked. Willow steals a car and drives it like Anya in Restless.
At the end there's a delicately acted, and written, scene which is explicitly about Willow's self-disgust and implicitly about Buffy's.
WILLOW: 'Cause it's over.
BUFFY: Exactly. It's over.
Willow is detoxing and it's an episode with "the trio" so it looks like the fun is back.
XANDER: Willow, we need to talk.
WILLOW: We are talking. Well, I'm talking and you're looking at me funny.
I think there's a not-at-all-subtle message about not assuming ex-junkies will relapse, but really this episode is mostly about how invisibility can be cool.
ANDREW: But, wouldn't that kill her?
WARREN: Well, lemme think. Yeah!
JONATHAN: Wait a minute! We're not killing anybody. Especially not Buffy!
WARREN: You guys are so immature! We're villains - when are you gonna get that through your thick skulls?
JONATHAN: We're not killers, we're crime lords!
Was the Espresso Pump always an internet cafe?
WARREN: We may not have your powers, Slayer, but you'll find that we are not so easy to - ow!