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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S6E1 "Bargaining, Part 1"

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Xander: This is deep stuff, Willow. We're talking about raising the dead.
Willow: It's time we stop talking. Tomorrow night, we're bringing Buffy back.
"Come forward, blessed one. Know your calling."

Directed by David Grossman

Written by Marti Noxon, Rebecca Kirshner, & Steven S De Knight

The Scoobies patrol in the absence of the Slayer, who has been dead for five months. Willow and her growing powers lead the efforts and the gang with telepathy and other magic from a perch on top of a crypt. The gang are helped by the Buffybot, who helps the group slay several vampires — and helps keep Buffy's death a secret from both the regular and the supernatural world. Willow has tried to make the robot behave more normally, but her tuning never really goes quite as planned. Although the Buffybot is doing its job fine, it also serves as a painful reminder of the friend they've lost.

The next morning, Willow and Tara (who have moved into Buffy's house and are secretly acting as Dawn's guardians) prepare for the day, getting Dawn ready for school as Dawn prepares to take a phonecall from her father who they are also trying to keep Buffy's death a secret from. At one point the Buffybot, acting on its programming, hugs Dawn creating an awkward and uncomfortable moment, knowing that the robot is a pale imitation of the real Buffy. The Buffybot is sent to attend Parent's Day at Dawn's school. She behaves oddly, but the other parents hear her comments in Ms. Lefcourt's class as expressing concerns similar to their own and the Buffybot doesn't draw any suspicion. At the Magic Box, Giles and Anya are going over paperwork however Anya is angry at Giles, since he has announced his intention to return to England and leave her in charge of the store, but has yet to go through with it leading to an argument. Xander arrives, and diffuses the situation before taking Anya aside, as she admits that she wants to announce their engagement to the gang, but Xander doesn't want to go through with it while everything is still 'up in the air' in regards to the issue that they're discussing with Willow and Tara that evening.

That night, Spike stays with Dawn while the rest of the gang have a meeting. Dawn suggests that Spike can leave, but he steadfastly refuses, still feeling guilt that his failure to protect Dawn lead to Buffy's death. The two then start a card game. The Buffybot hunts a vampire, but gets hit with a bottle and her motion skills are impaired. The vampire realizes the Slayer is a robot and quickly leaves.

Anya has found — on eBay of all places — the last Urn of Osiris. Willow's pleased and announces their plans to bring back Buffy the next night. Xander, Anya and Tara are all feeling unsure that bringing Buffy back to life is the right thing to do, as something could go wrong. Willow insists however, and stresses that Giles, Spike, and Dawn cannot know, and that because Buffy was killed by mystical energy, they have a chance of bringing her back. She then tells the others of her worry that Buffy is suffering eternal torment in a hell dimension like Angel did and refuses to leave her there, and this makes them promise their support.

Willow returns home to find Spike keeping a wounded Buffybot out of trouble, the Buffybot having been programmed to return to Willow if damaged. Spike angrily leaves when the Buffybot innocently compliments him on his physique – a programming remnant from her sexbot days – and Buffybot confides in Willow about Spike's constant shame in her presence. Without her real sister, Dawn tries to find comfort from the Buffybot, but doesn't get much. The next day, Giles engages the Buffybot in training to make sure she's ok after being damaged. He also attempts to get her to practice her breathing and to release her 'chi', but Anya points out that teaching this to a robot is pointless. Giles realizes he's trying to teach the Buffybot as if she were human, and the Buffybot responds that 'every Slayer needs her Watcher'. Giles notes that, like any good Watcher, he got his slayer killed in the line of duty and that all slayer-watcher relationships end the same way, and now his job is done. The Buffybot innocently asks why Giles is still there, and Giles finds himself unable to come up with a reason.

At a demon biker bar, the vampire that hit the Buffybot with a bottle brags about it to several "Hellions" — a gang of biker demons. Although the Hellions are uninterested at first as the vampire embellishes the story, he gets them interested when he mentions that the slayer is a robot. The leader of the Hellions, Razor, decides that the gang is going to head to and trash Sunnydale. The vampire suggests that he be allowed to join as a thanks for passing on the information, only for Razor to behead him with his bare hands before the gang departs.

In a forest glade, Willow invokes Adonai during a summoning spell and a baby deer approaches her. She suddenly stabs it in the throat, collecting its blood for the resurrecting spell. She returns to the Magic Box, claiming she got the "vino de madre" from the black market.

The gang finds a note from Giles, stating that he's already left and isn't one for goodbyes. Not about to accept a silent escape, the Scooby Gang tracks him down at the airport and he gets a proper farewell with presents, signs, balloons, and tears. After Giles departs, Willow, Xander, Anya and Tara return home for final preparations and then head to the cemetery. They prepare the ritual, sitting around Buffy's grave and Willow begins the spell. While performing the spell, Willow's skin is cut by invisible blades, large insects appear to crawl underneath her skin, and a large snake is produced from her mouth, but Tara insists that they can't stop.

Meanwhile, Spike is watching Dawn when the demon bikers arrive ready to tear Sunnydale apart. Buffybot tries to stop them, but the leader, Razor, wounds her and she runs away to find Willow. The bikers following her reach the cemetery and interrupt Willow's spell by breaking the Urn of Osiris and scattering the gang's circle. One of the bikers tries to take Anya away, but Tara uses magic to get her back. Xander tells Willow that the spell didn't work, and the two continue to run. However, below the ground and inside the coffin, mystical energy surrounds Buffy's decomposing body before she is restored to life and awakens, very confused and frightened.


  • Accidentally Broke the MacGuffin: Demons interrupt the spell, and the last-of-its-kind urn gets dropped and broken, but it turns out the resurrection was completed moments before that.
  • Actually a Doombot: Buffybot stands in for Buffy; a vamp catches wind of it
  • And Starring: For most of the show's run, Anthony Stewart Head was last in the titles, with an " Giles", because he was by far the most accomplished and famous actor in the series at that point. When he dropped from regular cast member to recurring guest star, the "and" went to Alyson Hannigan, whose career had recently taken off thanks to the American Pie movies.
  • The Artifact: Dawn points out that her status as "The Key" doesn't really amount to much anymore, as the portal she was meant to open has been closed and Glory is dead, meaning there's no one left to target her specifically. None of this makes Spike any less steadfast in protecting her.
  • Attack Hello: Our introduction to the Buffybot.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: The Buffybot to Giles. "Then why are you still here?"
  • Bait-and-Switch: The Buffybot is introduced in the middle of the teaser fight, as if the real Buffy is somehow alive.
  • Bambification: Willow pets a fawn in a green garden... before slitting its throat to use its blood as a spell ingredient in order to resurrect Buffy. One of the first clues to the wrongness of said resurrection and the dark path Willow's on. It's specifically noted to be "blood of the innocent" or some such.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: Spike's description of Giles' life: "Cup of tea, cup of tea, almost got shagged, cup of tea."
  • Bilingual Bonus: The incantation Willow uses to call forth the fawn is in Hebraic. It is stated in canon that she is Jewish. The two first words are "adonai elohe", translated as "the lord God". Thus, Willow cannot be directly blamed for using Black Magic, as she summones the biblical creator god himself. (As a matter of Fridge Logic: usually, the power of demons and ancient gods are summoned when casting spells — but this incantation summons the attention of GOD! It should be pointed out that this would not sit well in a Jewish, let alone a Christian, community.)
  • Black Magic: Willow even uses innocent blood, the blood of a fawn, in her resurrection spell for Buffy. Kinda of a trade-off, one must die for another to live.
  • Blood Magic: Willow uses deer blood in her magic to resurrect Buffy. Specifically, she sits by a creek until a baby deer comes along, before she draws a knife and kills it for its blood.
  • Bond One-Liner: The Buffybot never quite gets it right.
    Buffybot: That'll put marzipan on your pie plate, bingo!
    Willow: I was trying to program in some new puns and I kind of ended up with word salad.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Dawn is no longer the Key, so she only has to worry about being eaten by some random Monster of the Week.
  • Buffy Speak:
    Xander: It's time? Like, "time" time? With the... timeliness?
  • Buried Alive: Joss Whedon has Sarah Michelle Gellar go through her greatest fear. Again.
  • Call-Back:
    • When persuading the Scoobies, Willow assures them that it's not like Dawn trying to raise Joyce from the dead in "Forever" and plays on their fear that Buffy might be trapped in a hell dimension like Angel was at the beginning of Season 3.
    • Also evokes Buffy being buried alive in "Nightmares".
    • The Between My Legs Bait-and-Switch was used previously in "Anne", Season 3's opening episode.
  • Character Development: Spike, in regard to his feelings for Buffy. In addition, to keep helping the Scooby Gang, he, who originally had the Buffybot made to be a version of Buffy who would be in love with him to satisfy his lust and/or admittedly misguided fantasies, now refuses to take compliments from it, or even look at it.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Anya does lots in this episode.
    "I tried being patient, but it took too long."
  • The Confidant: Giles ends up discussing his feelings of guilt with the Buffybot.
    Giles: I just can't help but wonder if... she would have been better off without me. Buffy.
    Buffybot: 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.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Justified: the Scoobies have to buy Giles' goodbye gifts at a gas station while they're racing to intercept him at the airport.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment
    Anya: "You know, I used to punish people like this when I was a demon. I made them double-check spreadsheets for all eternity."
  • Creator In-Joke: Marti Noxon said that the marzipan comment by the Buffybot was a Shout-Out to Jane Espenson, who always thought the word marzipan was funny.
  • Credits Gag: Homaged with Tara's finger monster. Grrr. Arrgh.
  • Darker and Edgier: Sets the template for the whole season.
  • Death Is Cheap: Willow can resurrect Buffy after she's been dead for months because she died a supernatural death. Downplayed and/or Justified due to the resurrection being significantly un-cheap
  • Defcon 5: Averted.
    [Taking refuge at The Magic Box]
    Xander: This place is NORAD when we're at Defcon 1.
    [Tara, Willow and Anya stare back at him blankly]
    Xander: Okay, I so need some male friends.
  • Declaration of Protection: Spike is living up to his promise to Buffy to protect her little sister.
  • Description Cut / Tempting Fate:
    • "Nothing can go wrong tonight." Cut to the Hellions roaring past a Welcome to Sunnydale sign.
    • "You don't think they'll cause a lot of damage, do you?" Cut to the Hellions chucking Molotov cocktails about with abandon.
  • Didn't Think This Through: It apparently never occurs to any of the Scoobies to dig up and open Buffy's coffin 'before' performing the resurrection spell. As a result, Buffy is restored only to find herself buried alive and having to dig her way out of her own grave.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Spike appears to be unconcerned that Giles is being choked by a huge vampire.
    Willow: What are you doing? Help him!
    Spike: [calmly lighting a cigarette] I just did.
    [The back of the vamp's shirt goes up in flame, followed by the rest of him]
  • Don't Split Us Up: Even though Buffy's father could take in Dawn and either move back to the States or take her to Spain, Dawn would rather stay with the Scoobies. She agrees to the Buffybot ruse so as to stay in Sunnydale.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: The reaction of the Scoobies when the Buffybot hugs her "sister".
  • Everything Is Online: Including the Urn of Osiris — Anya bought it on eBay.
  • Family of Choice: The Buffybot charade is being kept up not only to fool demons, but also so Dawn won't be put into foster care; it’s implied that Willow and Tara have taken on parental roles for her.
  • Fantastic Racism: Arguably justified: vampires aren’t allowed in the Hellions because of their vulnerability to sunlight.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Bargaining is the third stage of grief.
  • Foreshadowing
    • Xander has been putting off announcing his engagement to Anya all summer, implying that he has second thoughts.
    • The distortions moving over Willow's body when she's being 'tested' are the same as the malevolent spirit in "After Life".
    • Willow killing a fawn shows this season is going to be Darker and Edgier, not to mention foreshadowing for Dark!Willow.
  • Geographic Flexibility: Sunnydale has a regional airport with flights to Los Angeles. And apparently big enough to have airplanes large enough to fly to England, after refueling in L.A.note  (Giles' flight has continuing service to Heathrow.)
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera doesn't show Willow actually killing the fawn. Hannigan, a vegan, insisted.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: A vampire damages the Buffybot when he hits it in the head with a bottle.
  • Half-Truth: "Wine of the mother" (the fawn's blood)
  • Heroic BSoD: Anya goes into a minor one when she realizes, just after getting the Magic Shop, the Hellions are damaging stores in Sunnydale.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Averted — Joss Whedon celebrates the new freedom of UPN by having Willow and Tara kiss casually and on the lips.
  • Idiot Ball: While planning the resurrection spell, the Scoobies leave the Buffybot unsupervised, not even telling Spike and Dawn to keep an eye on it in order to distract them. It gets attacked and damaged, thus setting up an attack by the gang that disrupts the spell.
  • "Knock Knock" Joke: The Buffybot makes one at the end of the Cold Open, serving as both a Quip to Black and a reminder of her true nature.
    Willow: I got her head back on, didn't I? And I got her off those knock-knock jokes.
    Buffybot: Ooh, who's there?
    Xander: You know, if we want her to be exactly—
    Spike: She'll never be exactly.
    Xander: I know.
    Tara: The only really real Buffy is really Buffy.
    Giles: And she's gone.
    Buffybot: If we want her to be exactly she'll never be exactly I know the only really real Buffy is really Buffy and she's gone who?
  • Literal-Minded: The Buffybot making sandwiches ad infinitium.
    Tara: Oops, um ... she wanted to help, and I got her started, but then I forgot to un-start.
  • Malaproper: The Urn of Cirrhosis...Osiris.
  • Man Hug: Between Xander and Giles.
  • Mood Whiplash: Dawn is trying to talk Spike out of babysitting her when he suddenly slams a pack of cards down on the table.
    Spike: No. I'm not leaving you... to get hurt. [softly] Not again.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: Spike protects Dawn because it's what Buffy would have wanted.
  • Multi-Part Episode: Type A.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Spike after Giles nearly gets throttled by a vampire.
    "Oh, poor Watcher, did your life flash before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?"
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Hellions knock the Buffybot to the ground and proceed to kick and stomp the shit out of it.
  • Not so Dire: "Buffybot is about to face her most dangerous challenge ever." Cut to a banner proclaiming "Welcome to Parent Teacher Day."
  • Only a Model: Buffybot admires a model "City of the Future" at a science fair, but notes that she's never seen people that small.
  • Orifice Evacuation: Willow's resurrection of Buffy is accompanied by her choking out a large snake, apparently as a trial by Osiris.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: When Xander worries that they might be raising a brain-eating Buffy, Anya reassures him that it's a myth — zombies only eat brains if they're instructed to by the person who raised them.
  • Out of Character: Willow has to collect the last item, blood from an innocent fawn. Pretty dark stuff for her, until later.
  • Out of Focus: Buffy is almost completely absent from this episode, for obvious reasons. Sarah Michelle Gellar spends the episode playing the Buffybot, who doesn't get much screen time neither.
  • Previously on…: An extended version summarizing all previous seasons for the benefit of UPN viewers who had never seen the show before.
  • Promoted to Parent: Willow and Tara now sleep in Joyce's room and act as Dawn's parents.
  • Pun: A sticker in the Magic Shop says "Life's a witch and then you fly." After the Buffybot malfunctions and keeps running into the furniture, Spike decides not to let it out as there's already enough Things That Go "Bump" in the Night.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Dawn curls up in bed next to the recharging Buffybot. Giles finds himself teaching the bot Eastern martial arts philosophy until Anya calls him on it. Averted with Spike who refuses even to look at it.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Willow vomits up a live snake during the ceremony, shocking the Scoobies who are unaware just how dark the magic she's using is.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    Xander: [to Willow] Excuse me? Who made you the boss of the group?
    Anya: You did.
    Tara: You said Willow should be boss.
    Anya: And then you said "let's vote," and it was unanimous...
    Tara: ...and then you made her this little plaque, that said "Boss of Us," you put little sparkles on it...
    Xander: Valid points all.
  • Robotic Reveal:
    Vampire: You're... You're a machine!
    • Inverted in the next episode when Buffy shows up just when the Hellions tear the Buffybot apart.
    Razor: Another one!
  • Seemingly Profound Fool:
    Buffybot: "School is where you learn." Preach it, sister.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Justified; the main characters are actively hiding Dawn's lack of a guardian from them in order to ensure that Dawn doesn't have to go live with her long-neglectful father.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Buffybot is programmed to return to Willow if damaged. As a result it leads the Hellions directly to the Scoobies in the midst of their raising ceremony.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: It's mentioned that if Buffy and Dawn's father knows that his second "daughter" has no guardian, he'd return to take her into his custody, and Dawn is no longer in danger anyway since no one can use her to open portals. The Scoobies, Dawn included, veto that; her father abandoned her and didn't even return to the States when Joyce died so there's no guarantee he'd be a good parent. Dawn would rather stay in Sunnydale with the demons, unstable living situation, robot replica sister, and people who actually care about her than risk abandonment again.
  • Stiff Upper Lippy: The Scoobies try to avoid tears while saying farewell to Giles.
    Xander: My face was getting sore from all that faux smiling.
  • Stand-In Parents: The Buffybot for the real Buffy, so Dawn still appears to have a guardian at home.
  • Talk About That Thing: The Scoobies discussing their plan around Giles, Spike or Dawn.
    Willow: Oh. I, uh, had to get that thing.
    Xander: Giles isn't around, you can dump the cryptic.
  • Telepathy: Willow uses this to direct the Scoobies in the teaser where they run down a vampire.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    Xander: House o' chicks, relax. I'm a man and I have a tool! [sees Dawn] Tools. Lots of plural tools. In my toolbox.
  • Tragic Bromance: Willow has always been eager to test her abilities earlier than Giles or Tara would like, but with Buffy's death all bets are off. Her "success" will further convince her that magic really can solve all her problems, until she learns otherwise the hard way.
  • Verbal Backspace: Spike trying to be a father figure to Dawn.
    Spike: That’s all schools are, you know. Just factories, spewing out mindless little automatons. ... Who go on to be very... valuable and... productive members of society, and you should go. Because Buffy would want you to.
  • Visible Boom Mic: During Giles' training session with the Buffybot, after Anya enters the room, a microphone pole is briefly visible in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • Weirdness Censor: The Buffybot is regarded as an example for all parents.
    Tara: She did great; she impressed all the teachers.
    Xander: And they still thought it was Buffy?
  • White Shirt of Death: When Willow gets her 'blood of the innocent', which also counts as foreshadowing for "Seeing Red".
  • Wimp Fight: Giles and Anya get into a slapfight.
    Xander: Okay — when I'm marveling at the immaturity... be scared.