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Recap / Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 6 E 3 After Life

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"Everything here is hard, and bright, and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch ... this is Hell."
Buffy Summers

Directed by David Solomon

Written by Jane Espenson, Rebecca Kirshner, & Steven S De Knight

The Scoobies rush to find Buffy and figure she must be back at her house. The bikers are on the run now that their leader, Razor has been killed. At the house, Buffy is confused and is acting odd. Dawn tells her that Giles has left Sunnydale. When Dawn and Buffy walk downstairs, Spike speaks to Dawn, thinking Buffy is the newly repaired Buffybot. When Spike gets a clear look at Buffy, he realises immediately that she's back. He softens and helps clean up her wounded hands. They talk about how long she's been gone; 147 days. Spike counted every one of them. When the Scoobies arrive and focus on the Slayer, Spike slips away.

Unable to stand all the concerned attention, Buffy goes upstairs whilst Anya and Xander leave for food. Outside, they find Spike who's mad at them for not telling him about their plans to resurrect Buffy despite him helping them all summer. He realises that his love for Buffy would have been an obstacle if she had returned as something they'd have to destroy. He warns Xander of the consequences of their actions as magic always has them.


After telling Giles of Buffy's return, Willow and Tara go to bed and talk about the spell and the changes in Buffy.In her room, Buffy looks at photographs surrounding her and sees the faces briefly turn into skulls.During the night, Willow and Tara are visited by Buffy who hints at Willow killing the deer for the resurrection spell. When the girls get up to investigate further, they find Buffy asleep in her room and neither know the source of the incident. A moving lump appears in the ceiling, motivating Willow to call Xander. In the background while Xander talks, Anya enters the room with a knife and white eyes. She starts laughing maniacally and slitting her cheeks with the blade before collapsing. The lump then travels across the floor.

The gang get together the next day to brainstorm but none of them know what the thing could be and Buffy is still very closed off from them. At the Magic Box, Buffy still feels out of place and goes out to patrol alone. With Buffy gone, the demon possesses Dawn who shouts at them and breathes fire before passing out. Buffy finds Spike at his crypt where the two talk awkwardly at first. Spike opens up about his guilt over not being able to save her or Dawn. He explains that every night, he had thought of a better way to save her and wished he could have done it for real.


Led on by Spike's hint that Willow's spell was more dangerous than she let on, Xander questions whether the witches knew of such dangers but is quickly quietened. Willow reveals that the creature was made by the spell that brought Buffy back. The demon currently doesn't have a body so it has been possessing members of the Scoobies. A reversal of the spell will kill the demon but would reverse Buffy's resurrection spell too.After Dawn freaks out at the concept of losing Buffy again, Willow discovers that the demon can only survive if Buffy is killed. The demon, which had hold of Xander's body when Willow revealed this information, thanks Willow and leaves to find the Slayer.

Buffy is attacked by the formless demon which she can't hurt but it can hurt her. Willow and Tara cast a spell to make the demon solid and Buffy kills it with an axe.

Normality is somewhat resumed as Dawn heads off to school and Buffy waves. Buffy visits her friends at the Magic Box and tells them she was in Hell and appreciates them bringing her back.

Buffy goes outside into the alley behind the shop, where she finds Spike in a patch of shade. He tries to talk to her and offer her help. She admits to him that she wasn't initially sure but she knows she wasn't in Hell. Buffy had gone to Heaven and her friends had pulled her out. She tells Spike that this reality is Hell but stresses that her friends must never know. The credits roll as she walks away, leaving a horror-stricken Spike alone in the alley.


  • After Action Patch Up: Dawn and Spike on Buffy.
  • An Axe to Grind / Off with His Head!: Willow and Tara cast a spell to make the demon corporeal so Buffy can lop its head off.
    Dawn: (wincing) That's probably the sort of thing I'm not supposed to see, right?
  • Blank White Eyes / Demonic Possession
  • Blatant Lies: Willow claims she doesn't understand what the Buffy hallucination was ranting about, when it's clearly referring to Willow killing the fawn for its Blood Magic.
    "Filthy little bitches, rattling the bones. Did you cut the throat? Did you pat its head? The blood dried on your hands, didn't it?"
  • Breath Weapon: Possessed Dawn, who breathes fire.
    Anya: I bet you'll experience some dry-mouth.
  • Call-Back
    • Spike sees Buffy for the first time at the top of the stairs in her house, mirroring the position they were in for his "You treat me like a man" speech in "The Gift".
    • Willow complains that she never got any thanks from Buffy for bringing her back to life. In the Season 2 premiere "When She Was Bad" Buffy taunts Xander over how she never thanked him for resuscitating her in "Prophecy Girl". Both occasions indicate that Buffy feels resentment towards her friends, not gratitude.
    • Buffy tells Spike that, since she was torn from Heaven, she is in Hell. This echoes the Angel episode when Angel took the elevator ride down to Hell and landed on the same level, Earth.
  • Came Back Wrong: Averted as it turns out the demon was created by the resurrection spell — not some demon hitch-hiking on Buffy as she crossed over. Subverted with Buffy who will spend the entire season trying to drag herself out of depression over having been wrenched back to the real world.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: When Buffy confides in Spike, he's standing next to a discarded door with a BEWARE OF DOG sign — a Running Gag with Spike, but this time hinting at the Destructive Romance to follow.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: Buffy's black blouse.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Unable to cope with her friends, Buffy retreats to her bedroom. Somewhat thrown by this, Willow says, "She's normal. She used to go to bed all the time!"
    • Dawn is glancing through the demon books.
    Dawn: Skaggmore demons, Trellbane demons, Skitterers, Large and Small Bone-Eaters... If we get to pick, I say we go with the Small Bone-Eaters.
    Anya: Well, that just means they prefer to eat things with small bones, like you.
  • The Confidant: Spike for Buffy.
  • Continuity Nod: Spike assuming Dawn was behind Buffy's resurrection is a reference to "Forever", when Spike helped Dawn get a spell to raise her mother from the dead.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Spike shouting at Dawn for running off.
    "You scared me half to death ... or more to death. You...I could kill you! I mean it! I could rip your head off one-handed and drink from your brain stem!"
  • Damaged Soul: Buffy, after her resurrection.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Spike is angry in pointing out that the Scoobies refused to clue him in on Buffy's resurrection despite the fact that he fought alongside them all summer, implying a slight sense of betrayal.
  • Economy Cast: The main Scooby Gang, Fake Guest Star Tara, and the Demon Of The Week are the only characters seen in the episode.
  • Environmental Symbolism:
  • Equivalent Exchange
    Willow: Thaumogenesis is when doing a spell actually creates a being. In this case it was like, a, a side-effect, I guess. Like a price. Think of it like, the world doesn't like you getting something for free, and we asked for this huge gift. Buffy. A-and so the world said, 'fine, but if you have that, you have to take this too.' And it made the demon.
    Anya: Well, technically, that's not a price. That's a gift with purchase.
  • Evil Plan: Lampshaded by Anya.
    "Evil things have plans. They have things to do."
  • False Reassurance: Buffy to the Scoobies
    You guys gave me the world. I can't tell you what it means to me.
  • Fight Off the Kryptonite: Spike grabs and manhandles Xander in a rage that they kept him Locked Out of the Loop about their plan to resurrect Buffy, despite the Initiative's chip. On close examination, Spike can be seen to wince in pain from the chip, but he's so pissed that he doesn't care.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Willow breaks away from Tara to finish her spell. Spike is the only one Buffy confides in. As the season progresses Buffy will be drawn towards Spike while Willow and Tara will break up over Willow's abuse of magic.
    • Buffy tells Spike "It's okay. I can be alone with you here." before confiding in him about being pulled out of heaven. She will go on to continually refuse to regard him as a person but still rely on the catharsis he provides for most of the rest of the season, as her side of their Destructive Romance.
    • All the talk of Equivalent Exchange: Willow gets Buffy back from the dead but her girlfriend Tara will be dead by the end of the season.
  • Friendship Moment: Subverted due to Buffy's Blatant Lies and Revealing Hug.
  • Glasses Pull: Willow thinks she actually heard Giles cleaning his glasses over the phone.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!
    Tara: Okay, what in the frilly heck is going on?
  • Group Hug: Willow and Xander both hug Buffy. Lampshaded when Spike runs into Buffy afterwards and asks if she's not leaving a hole in the middle of some soggy group hug.
  • Held Gaze: Buffy keeps avoiding the gaze of her friends and sister. When she sees Spike however, the two stare at each other until the Scoobies barge in and start yakking.
  • Holding Hands: Used for foreshadowing. Willow and Tara hold hands to cast a spell, but Willow breaks free to finish the spell because she's much more powerful than Tara now. Spike holds Buffy's hands while waiting for Dawn to fetch antiseptic to patch them up. As the season continues, Willow and Tara will break up over Willow's abuse of magic, while Spike and Buffy start a Secret Relationship.
  • I Miss Dad: The Scoobies are pouring through books trying to find out about the Monster of the Week when Buffy says out of the blue, "I miss Giles". The Scoobies naturally assume their research skills aren't up to scratch.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: In the Previously On… we see Dawn in "Bargaining" saying to Buffy, "You're home". Cut to Willow at the start of the teaser saying, "[Buffy]'s at home. She has to be."
  • Ironic Hell: After being dragged out of heaven, just surviving from one minute to the next, knowing what she lost, is hell to Buffy.
  • I Should Have Been Better: Spike pours out his guilt to a silent (but entirely non-judgmental) Buffy.
    Spike: I do remember what I said. The promise. To protect [Dawn]. If I had 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'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.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Buffy tells the Scoobies what they want to hear, that she's grateful for being saved from a hell dimension.
  • Laughing Mad / Self-Harm:
    • Possessed Anya laughs manically as she cuts open her face with a kitchen knife. Fortunately, it's another hallucination.
    • The night after Buffy's return, Spike is shown pacing around the basement of his crypt angrily. He throws a punch at the nearest wall, and then laugh-cries unstably at the sight of his bloody knuckles.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Dawn, Spike, and Giles only find out now that Willow and the others were responsible for Buffy coming back to life, and while they're all grateful to have her back, none of them are pleased with the secrecy or methods.
    • Dawn expresses wariness of any potential side effects from the spell, becoming protective of Buffy's well-being (to the point that she tells the gang to back off after feeling that they're pestering Buffy on her first night back). When it's discovered that the spell led to the creation of a demon, and that one of the ways to defeat it would be to reverse the spell (thereby negating Buffy's resurrection), Dawn freaks out, saying that this is exactly the kind of thing she had worried about, and that losing Buffy now would be worse than never bringing her to life at all.
    • Spike lets Xander and Anya have it for not informing him of the plan despite all they went through that summer, fighting demons alongside each other in the wake of Buffy's death. He comes to the realization that Willow didn't want to take the chance of him stopping them from performing a Mercy Kill if Buffy Came Back Wrong, and storms off remarking that magic always has consequences.
    • Giles' reaction is only given through Willow's description, saying that she felt like she could actually hear him clean his glasses over the phone and that several "Dear Lords" were uttered. His thoughts on what happened will be further elaborated upon in the following episode.
  • Manipulative Bitch: It's clear Willow wasn't telling the full truth about the dangers of resurrecting Buffy, and what dark magic was involved.
  • Manly Tears: Spike is shown leaning against a tree and weeping after Buffy's return.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Xander is on the phone to Willow and Tara after the Buffy impostor attacks them. Just out of focus, we see Anya walking back into the room, possessed.
  • Moment Killer: The Scoobies barging into Buffy's home, all talking at once and bombarding Buffy with questions. Spike gives them a disgusted look and departs, while Dawn shouts at them to back off.
  • Mood Whiplash: Willow and Tara are woken by Buffy hurling a crystal ball against their headboard and shrieking insults. When they switch on the lights everything is normal, the crystal ball is unbroken, and they find Buffy sleeping in her bed.
  • My Greatest Failure: Spike's confession to Buffy elaborates on how ashamed he is for not being able to protect Dawn from Doc in "The Gift". He talks about how he relives the moment every night, thinking of things he could have done differently to keep Buffy from having to sacrifice herself.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • "I think I was in heaven. And now I'm not. I was torn out of there. Pulled my friends."
    • Willow says the demon will eventually dissipate unless it kills Buffy. Xander suddenly gets Blank White Eyes and says, "Thanks for the tip."
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Buffy walks about in a detached state and can't seem to engage with the Scoobies.
  • Off with His Head!: Buffy beheads the Child of Words with an axe.
  • Out of Time, Out of Mind: Spike informs the newly-resurrected Buffy that she was dead for "147 days." He asks her, "How long was it for you...where you were?" To which Buffy responds vaguely: "A lot longer." It screwed up her life for some time afterwards, and she never quite got back to her old self. She was in a Heaven dimension, and rather unceremoniously ripped out of it to end up in a coffin where she had to dig her way out and then find herself in a Sunnydale temporarily overrun by demons.
  • Pig Latin: The demon tends to appear and take form by listening in on their conversations. Anya suggests they start speaking in code, Xander immediately thinks pig Latin is the obvious choice. (Though he doesn't speak it particularly well.) "Ood-gay idea-yay, An-yay."
  • Power at a Price
    Spike: The thing about magic? There's always consequences. Always!
  • Punch a Wall: Spike in his crypt.
  • Rule of Symbolism: There's an allusion to Buffy being in heaven when she's walking in the graveyard and sort of pauses in front of a statue of an angel. It makes it look as though she has wings.
  • Sarcasm Mode
    Xander: Well, she just got back. Give it time. I bet in a week she'll be our little Bufferin again.
    Anya: Oh yes, cause six or seven days, that's all you really need to get over eternal hell experiences.
    • Then Anya gets on the receiving end after seeing Possessed!Dawn.
    Anya: Did I look like that? I hope I didn't look like that.
    Willow: No, I'm sure you looked really glamorous cutting up your face.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Anya: Jet-lag from Hell; it's got to be, you know, jet-lag from hell.
  • A Shared Suffering: Spike knows what it's like to have to claw your way out of your own coffin. He also says that, while he hasn't been to a hell dimension, he does know a thing or two about torment. But that's a subversion, because immediately after Buffy drops the bombshell that she wasn't in a hell dimension.
  • Ship Tease: On seeing Spike, Buffy does up her blouse even though she'd been indifferent earlier. Spike recites the exact number of days Buffy has been dead without pausing for thought. Buffy goes "patrolling" but instead seeks out Spike and listens to his own confession, and later tells Spike what she doesn't dare confide to the others.
  • Shout-Out: Anya cutting up her face and cackling while possessed is an obvious reference to what Linda does in The Evil Dead (1981).
  • Spooky Photographs: Buffy sees the faces of the Scoobies as skulls in a photo montage on her bedroom wall.
  • Tempting Fate: Xander says his sensors are primed for danger and nothing's gonna— three demon bikers suddenly roar up behind him. Fortunately they just want to get out of town after Razor's death.
  • Unwanted Revival: Buffy confesses to Spike that she was in Heaven, not Hell, and is not happy to be alive again.
    Buffy: 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...
  • Wham Line: "I think I was in Heaven"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Spike to the rest of the gang.
    Spike: You didn't tell me? You brought her back and you didn't tell me?
    Xander: Well, now you know.
    Spike: I worked beside you all summer!
    Xander: We didn't tell you. It was just ... we didn't, okay?
    Spike: Listen. I've figured it out. Maybe you haven't, but I have. Willow knew there was a chance that she'd come back wrong. So wrong that you'd have ... that she would have to get rid of what came back. And I wouldn't let her. If any part of that was Buffy, I wouldn't let her. And that's why she shut me out.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Buffy escapes out the back of the Magic Shop for some alone time, only to find Spike there. Buffy tells him not to worry. "I can be alone with you here." Spike replies sarcastically, "Thanks ever so."
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Spike lists the days Buffy has been 'gone' and asks how long it was for Buffy where she was.
    Buffy: Longer.


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