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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Bargaining, Part 1

Anya: "I was being patient, but it took too long."

This was a wonderful opener slash resurrection episode with a snappy, witty script.

Willow and Tara are now living in Buffy's house, and keeping Buffy's death a secret. Life really has stopped, and everyone has been in limbo. Giles has been saying he's leaving, and not going. Anya is still waiting for Xander to commit and announce their engagement. And they're all living with Buffy's shadow, the Buffybot, which must subconsciously encourage them to keep pretending Buffy isn't dead. The way Giles and Dawn treated the BuffyBot made me think about ghosts.

I had a feeling before I saw this episode that Spike wouldn't be able to bear looking at the BuffyBot with Buffy gone, and I was right. And Spike as a babysitter is impressive, and not in the babysitting sense. He's being himself, and that self is clearly not evil. Why would he continue all summer with the Scooby gang, killing vamps and protecting Dawn, if he was still evil? The way he slammed the cards on the table and said he wasn't leaving Dawn alone to be hurt again said it all for me.

I hated seeing Giles go, and that airport scene was a two-hankie event. I understand why Anthony Stewart Head wants to go and I think the new series in England is a cool idea, but I hate the idea of this series without Giles. I hope The Buffy Powers That Be bring him back regularly, like they promised.

Willow has jumped right past Giles and is now in charge, giving telepathic orders, which is new and frightening. She has talked herself into believing that Buffy's soul is trapped in a hell dimension, but we don't know that, do we? And sacrificing a fawn? How could Willow do that? She has moved light years away from first year fluffy, nerdy Willow, and she's heading into disturbing territory. I'm not sure how I feel about it. What price is Willow going to pay for raising Buffy?

Bits and pieces:

— The series has jumped networks and now airs on UPN. The "previously on" was two minutes long and covered the entire five year length of the series. Parts one and two of "Bargaining" were originally aired on the same night.

— Anthony Stewart Head was not in the cast for the first time; he was listed as a guest star. "Alyson Hannigan as Willow" has taken his place in the credits.

— Xander was the voice of reason here, which was very interesting. He didn't want to raise the dead, and he was worried about the consequences. Xander has grown up.

— In the airport scene, Tara did an imitation of Joss Whedon doing "grr argh." The Mutant Enemy logo with the real "grr argh" has been moved to right after the Whedon Noxon credit; it used to be at the end of the credits.

— I declare Spike the winner of the season premiere hair review; his hair was mussed like it was at the end of season five, and looked great. Xander's was way too short. And for some reason, every female in the now predominantly female cast had the same hairstyle. What's with that?

— And what's with the numerology? Willow was wearing the number 11 in a circle, Xander was wearing the number 13, and Dawn was 07.

— Nicholas Brendon was noticeably heavier, and looked his age. This made the references to the Scoobies not being able to buy alcohol seem odd.

Note from later: As is probably obvious, the Buffy rewatch stopped at the end of season five, and I just couldn't get it going for season six. Rewatch or no, comments are always welcome.


Xander: "I know, I know, I don't have to talk when I answer you. But I saw The Fury, and that way lies spooky carnival death."

BuffyBot: "That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo."

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?"

Xander: "House of chicks, relax. I am a man, and I have a tool."

Anya: "You know, I used to punish people like this when I was a demon. I made them double-check spreadsheets for all eternity."

Tara: "You found the last known urn of Osiris on eBay?"
Anya: "Yeah, from this desert gnome in Cairo. He drove a really hard bargain, but I finally got him to throw in a limited edition Backstreet Boys lunchbox for a friend."

Xander: "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..."

Giles: "I'm testing her responses after her injury. I see no harm in imparting a little Eastern philosophy."
Anya: "Well, I just think that, the concept of chi might be a little, you know, hard for her to grasp. You know, she's not the descendant of a long line of mystical warriors. She's the descendant of a toaster oven."

Three out of four stakes. More in part two,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. While we were watching this the other night, my husband and I both had the same question: if the Scoobies were planning on raising Buffy from the dead, why didn't they at least dig up her grave to make it easier for her to return? I also asked this when Dawn was trying to resurrect Joyce last season.

    (...of course, I got my answer in the next episode, but still!)

  2. The opening scene of this season is my favorite opening ever. The gang running, fighting (badly with much falling down), the great zingers by Spike, Willow being in charge and then Boffybot! So funny, yet sad at the same time. I remember thinking the first time this episode aired that this was going to be a great season, and it was mostly. Don't like Anya's blonde hair, she is more striking as a brunette. Still having trouble seeing Dawn as a person and not as a plot device. I liked her as the key. That was cool. SMG was great as Buffybot.

  3. I’m on rewatch duty again, now because my boyfriend is watching the series for the first time. He doesn’t love it as much as we do around here, but he certainly likes it... and we are finally at season six.

    So, this episode. Like an episode that is yet to come, it has significant differences from the first broadcasted version, probably because it was too long for syndication. Now, if I remember correctly, Netflix used to have the original edit, so I blame whoever did the HD version of BtVS for not using the original edit. The differences are:

    - Gone is the long previously section that recapped the entire series. They cut the first minute and a half of it.

    - The first few seconds of the vampire running away were cut too. They still show the vampire running, but it’s shorter.

    - Also gone is the scene of the Buffybot and Dawn at school, when they see a science project of a city of the future and the Buffybot doesn’t know what humans would live in such a small place. To be honest, cutting that scene was an improvement. I always thought it was a dumb, pointless scene, and its absence also improved the pace of the episode.

    - While Xander is reading Giles’ goodbye note, there is a cut to Giles in the airport and a Giles voiceover carries over the reading of the note. The original scene has Xander reading the entire note, and then the cut to the airport. I thought that was a neat change because listening to Anthony Stewart Head’s voice is always a good thing.

    As much as I don’t adore the HD version of the series, I have to admit that, except for the cut of the previously section, I liked the modifications here. However, knowing that Joss Whedon is a purist, the people responsible for making the HD version should’ve been more careful.

    HD problems apart, this is the best season opener of the series. The more I watch this episode, the more I question Willow’s reasoning to bring Buffy back, but this is a discussion for later in the season. My boyfriend thought that it was incredibly morbid to have the Buffybot around and of poor taste to show Buffy’s decomposed corpse.

  4. "-- Note from later: As is probably obvious the Buffy rewatch stopped at the end of season five, and I just couldn't get it going for season six."
    Can't believe I got 3 episodes into the concurrently airing Angel season before I realized why I started watching Angel belatedly in the first place, lol >.> My complete Buffyverse rewatch is predicated on ironing out my opinion on one specific season from either show - Buffy's polarizing sixth season and Angel's fourth. I need to know where I stand on them now that I'm not watching either while in a state of emotional unrest/turmoil.

    So far, an excellent start, I think it might actually be my favourite Buffy season premiere. Even though I'm a huge Buffy-the-character fan unlike the other fans of the show I know I thought it was really cool to see them operating without her. Willow thought-speaking was really neat (Willow ASMR). And Tara being there with Spike and Giles, I love it when Slayerette-additions who are a love interest for one of the core have scenes without the partner there. And now finally it doesn't feel like a novelty but the new setting. It worked for me. This period should've lasted longer, dammit!! This show blazes past all the coolest developments :(

    To the previous commenter I'm completely OK with those two scenes your boyfriend made a little fuss about being included, even if he's not wrong. I like what Buffybot's inappropriate presence adds to the sad ambience, and buy why they'd need to keep her around because Buffy's death wouldn't pave the way to a new Slayer (and Faith is in jail). It felt human to me that they wouldn't be able to do the proper thing and just keep her out of sight when they're not using her to maintain night surveillance presence. Spike's the only one who had the mature response to her.

    Boyfriend is right and it was inappropriate to show Buffy's decomposing corpse too, but you know what fuck it that's why I watch this show. I want inappropriate insight, and it was genuinely kind of spooky to see her get reanimated face-up. I loved it, it still never truly registered for me she was dead until I recognized that corpse as our girl.

  5. Kinda sad there is no season 6 rewatch to read. Seasons 6 & 7 are my two favorite broadcast seasons. I loved how the season opened with the whole gang patrolling. They were doing pretty well, at slaying as well as complaining. Spike complained the scoobies slowed him down, Xander & Anya complained about Willow’s mental intrusion, Giles about Spike’s lack of communication. Funny how Giles cried “Spi-ike,” while he was being choked and funny how Spike stared at Giles when Giles threw that ax. They dusted all the baddies with the help of Buffybot.

    Buffybot did well at slaying and parent day, but you definitely get the feeling, like Willow, that there’s impending doom waiting to fall. Everyone is hanging on by a thread. So sad how Spike couldn’t be around the Buffybot, and how far Willow strayed. It sounds like Spike is blaming himself for letting Dawn get hurt. (And Buffy dying.) Hard to see how he could have avoided getting thrown off that 30 ft tower.

    Doom arrived, via one lucky vampire’s crack over Buffybot’s head with a bottle. The evil world found out about the lack of a slayer and the core scoobies decide to go ahead with Buffy’s resurrection. Giles leaves in the nick of time. I can see why he would leave the others, but not not how he could leave Dawn. :(

    I’m also wondering about the numbered t- shirts. 7, 11, 13. Who would wear 9? Buffy?

    That was an awful spell. Willow was determined to do it, at all costs. It worked, though no one knows yet, and I think if they’d told Giles, Spike & Dawn it never would have happened.

  6. Thanks, Buffybot. Still funny these 20 + years later. I was just continuing my Dresden Files marathon, listening to James Marsters read book 16, when I spluttered into real laughter. Harry Dresden finished placing a payment of one dollar in an envelope, addressed it and tucked it in his pocket, saying, “That’ll put marzipan in your pie plate, Bingo.” Lol.

    I enjoy seeing (or hearing) random references to BtVS every single time.


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