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VILLAINS (ep #6.20)

(a.k.a. Skinless)

Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: David Solomon
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Guest Starring: Dannuy Strong as Jonathan Levinson
Adam Busch as Warren Meers
Tom Lenk as Andrew Wells
Jeff Kober as Rack
Amelinda Embry as Katrina Silber
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Co-Starring: James C. Leary as Clem
Steven W. Bailey as Cave Demon
Tim Hodgin as Coroner
Michael Matthys as Paramedic
Julie Hermelin as Clerk
Alan Henry Brown as Demon Bartender
Mueen J. Ahmad as Doctor
Jane Cho as Nurse #1
Meredith Cross as Nurse #2
David Adefeso as Paramedic #2
Jeffrey Nicholas Brown as Vampire
Nelson Frederick as Villager

Plot Summary

Willow was determined to take revenge on Warren for killing Tara

Plot Details

The episode opened with an ambulance pulling up to Buffy's home. An anxious Xander led the paramedics to the back yard to treat Buffy, who was quite weak but still alive. Meanwhile, Willow sobbed over Tara's body. When that did not work, the ceiling grew dark and cloudy as Willow called upon Osiris to bring Tara back.

Eventually something—probably a minion but maybe Osiris himself—appeared in the dark clouds. It lectured Willow on the futility of trying to resurrect someone who died from non-supernatural causes. Willow did not want to hear this and shot a wavy visual effect from her mouth. This was not pleasant for the lecturer.

Willow wandered outside just as Buffy was being wheeled into the ambulance. She asked Xander what happened and got what she wanted to know, namely, who was responsible. She wandered off. Xander was going to go after her, but the ambulance was about to leave.

In jail, Jonathan was worried about becoming a "butt monkey." Andrew, however, held onto the hope that Warren had a scheme to get them out of jail. Jonathan realized that they were abandoned.

Warren, meanwhile, went to a demon bar to celebrate what he believed was his heroic elimination of a common enemy. The bar patrons, however, knew a few things that he did not. First, Buffy survived. Second, Buffy will heal quickly. Third, when she does heal, she will be very mad. In fact, rather than kill Warren themselves, they decided to let Buffy do it.

Willow burst into the Magic Box, causing many of the lights to go out. She demanded the black arts books. Anya tried to stop her, but Willow froze her in her tracks. Willow magically pulled the books from the shelves and piled them onto a table. She then shoved her hands into one of the books, causing various words to crawl up her skin. Her eyes and hair turned black.

Dawn came home and found the door open. She called to Buffy and went upstairs into Tara's room. Dawn was shocked by what she saw.

Meanwhile, Rack went into his waiting room and found a very insistent Warren. Warren wanted help fighting the slayer, but Rack knew something that even the demons in the bar did not know, namely that Willow was the person that he really needed to worry about.

At the hospital, Xander watched as the doctors tried to save Buffy. The room shook, the lights dimmed, and the monitor flatlined as Willow strode into the room. She told the doctors to leave and magically pulled the bullet out of Buffy, healing her at the same time. Willow then declared that they had to get Warren.

A very desperate person purchased at bus ticket to the border even though he matched the description of someone who should be wanted for robbery and attempted murder. Somehow, he did not raise suspicion and managed to get onto the bus.

Xander drove Willow and Buffy into the desert in pursuit of the bus. When he was not driving fast enough, Willow magically drove the car, with better results than in "Wreaked." She eventually stopped the car and strode out in front of the bus. When it stopped, she called for Warren to get out. However, once Willow squeezed its neck, it turned out to be a Warrenbot instead.

Buffy tried to stop Willow afterward, thinking that Willow was upset over Buffy being wounded. Willow finally told her and Xander that Tara was dead. Buffy looked upset for a moment, but she quickly got over it. Willow did not care about what Buffy and Xander had to say and shot a blue visual effect at them as she strode away.

Buffy and Xander returned to her house that evening. Buffy was momentarily upset when she saw Tara's body, but she was soon distracted by a stunned Dawn trying to keep the body company. After Tara's body was carted away, Buffy, Xander, and Dawn discussed what to do. Dawn was perfectly happy with letting Willow kill Warren—and Xander sort of agreed—but Buffy wanted to stop Willow before she destroyed herself.

Buffy decided to go to the Magic Box to get a locator spell. Dawn wanted to go along, but Buffy wanted her somewhere safe. Dawn reluctantly suggested Spike's crypt. Xander was about to protest, but Buffy did not want to hear what he had to say.

Buffy went into Spike's crypt and startled Clem. Clem filled them in on Spike leaving town, leaving him to cryptsit. In fact, Spike was in Africa, striding into a cave despite a tribesman's warning. He glanced at cave paintings of a skinless man and a face with the mouth sewn shut before going further. The demon knew that he was there to be returned to his former self because of Buffy.

At the Magic Box, Xander helped Anya recover from what Willow did to her. Anya told him that she could track Willow without a locator spell. After a couple of hints, Xander realized that Anya was back to being a vengeance demon. Fortunately, Willow wanted to do the vengeance herself, so Anya was free to help them find Willow.

Willow had cast a spell to find Warren using the Tara blood on her shirt. She found that he was in the woods and went looking for him. Warren tried to plant an ax in her back, but there was no way that an ax was going to stop Willow. He tried to send a flying box bomb at her, but it was even less effective than the ax. Warren had a bit better luck with a visual effect that he tossed at her, which immobilized her for a few seconds.

Willow eventually broke free and captured Warren by magically causing vines to grab his arms and legs. A very nervous Warren pretended to be confident and suggested that Willow should beg for mercy. Instead, Willow conjured an image of Katrina to haunt him. This upset him.

Willow then took the bullet that she pulled from Buffy and magically sent it into his very furry chest. She lectured him while he cried in pain. Eventually she got tired of hearing what he had to say and magically sewed his mouth shut while she continued the lecture.

Meanwhile, Anya led Xander and Buffy to Willow and Warren. Warren was begging for mercy, until Willow's friends approached. He then threatened her by suggesting what they will do to her when they she was she is doing. She got bored and magically relieved him of his shirt, fur, and skin. She then caused his body to burn up and hinted that she had two more targets.

The Good

The final confrontation between Willow and Warren was very powerful. Having Willow use a gruesome method to kill Warren is a good method of establishing that Willow has gone over the edge when many viewers probably agreed with Dawn and believed that Willow would be right to kill him.

The Bad

I understand that the characters are very distracted, but it would be nice if there was more than token evidence that they were upset about Tara's death rather than merely worried about Willow.

Overall Rank: 34

Action: 3

Willow had a brief fight with the Warrenbot.

Willow and Warren had a fairly one-sided fight in the woods.

Comedy: 2

It was mildly amusing to see Warren slowly realize how much trouble he was in.

Clem provided a bit of humor.

Drama: 6

Characters dealt with the aftermath of the final scene of "Seeing Red."

Buffy, Xander, and Anya were worried about Willow going back to abusing magic.

Romance: 0

Character Development: 5

Willow is experiencing what Saddam Hussein would call the "mother of all relapses." She is using magic for evil and selfish purposes and has already committed premeditated murder.

Anya is willing to work with Xander, but only to help Willow.

Dawn appears to be the only person other than Willow who was more than momentarily upset at Tara's death.

Importance: 7

Willow is back to using magic and is worse than ever before.

Xander and Buffy know that Anya is a vengeance demon.

Warren is dead.

Willow appears to have more targets in mind.

Most Valuable Player: Willow

Willow may have failed to bring Tara back, but that was not going to happen anyway. Willow did save Buffy's life and got her revenge on Warren. She is a clear MVP.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Rack

Rack gets this award for realizing that Willow was the new power in Sunnydale and the real threat to Warren. Anya gets strong consideration for knowing how to find Willow.

Goat of the Week: Warren

As the demon bartender pointed out, one has to be a good shot when using a gun. Warren had failed to kill Buffy. Furthermore, he killed someone else and made an enemy he could not afford to have. Given all this, he needed to leave town right away. Instead he hung around, purchased magic that did him little good, and lost his skin for his troubles. He is the clear Goat.


Many fans have discussed the improbable path of the bullet that killed Tara. According to the most accepted theory, it shot up at a very steep angle into the second story window. From there, it changed direction to a flat angle from the window to Tara's back. After leaving through her front, it veered off at a sharp enough angle in order to miss Willow. However, there is evidence to challenge this theory. If anything, the bullet took an even more improbable path.

In the beginning of this episode, Willow held Tara's body with Tara's back toward her. Willow even shook the body a few times. However, no blood was seen on Willow's jeans. I understand that entry wounds are smaller than exit wounds. However, if the bullet entered Tara's back, it still would have been large enough to spill some blood onto Willow. The only blood on Willow came from the initial spray. This suggests that there was no wound in Tara's back. In fact, the wound we saw was the entry wound, not the exit wound. There are two possible explanations.

First, the bullet could have gone through the window at a sharp angle. It then ricocheted off something on the ceiling. After another ricochet or two, it went into Tara. Traditionally, bullet ricochets are portrayed using sparks to show where the bullet hit. Furthermore, we hear distinct pings at each ricochet. None of this occurred in the scene. However, reality does not match the common portrayal. There are no sparks and bullet goes too fast for humans to hear distinct pings. Therefore, director David Solomon might have portrayed a bullet ricocheting more realistically than is usual in television and movies. However, it was unclear what the bullet could have bounced off of. Most likely, it would have embedded itself in the ceiling.

There is a second theory that should come to the mind of any conspiracy theorist: a second shooter. The fact that we did not see one is immaterial. After all, we saw an invisibility ray gun in "Gone." It is possible that someone who knew about its whereabouts or who stumbled across it is Tara's real killer. One zap on a gun and one zap on the shooter, and we would never see the person. Once Warren started shooting, the real killer could have slipped in an extra shot and killed Tara. In fact, Marcy Ross should have graduated from her FBI training by now. I do not know why the FBI would want Tara dead, but they might be involved.

On a lighter note, I found Andrew's comment about Matthew Broderick amusing. Matthew Broderick first made a name for himself playing various Neil Simon alter-ego characters on Broadway. When was he not "Broadway Matthew?"


Warren, like the villains in "I, Robot — You, Jane," was a nerd villain. This is not necessarily popular with the fans. Many of them see themselves as nerds and do not like being portrayed as socially-inept losers. However, take away the robotic engineering ability and, perhaps, the misogyny, he was heavily based on the writing staff. Allegedly, most of the arguments that the nerds had were copies of arguments among members of the writing staff. Warren leaves the show with one MVP, no Sherlock Holmes, and two Goats.

Memorable Dialogue

"I miss Ferris Matthew. Broadway Matthew, I find him cold." Andrew

"I've explored all the dark arts: witchcraft, demonology. You name it, I tried it against the slayer. You know what I found really works? Gun." Warren

"Don't underestimate science, my friends. Good old-fashioned metal meets propulsion." Warren

"'Metal meets propulsion,' yeah, but you still better be a good shot!" Demon bartender

"Gotta stop doing this. This dying thing's funny once, maybe twice." Xander

"Wanna know what a bullet feels like, Warren, a real one? It's not like in the comics." Willow

"It's not gonna make a neat little hole. First, it'll obliterate your internal organs. Your lung will collapse. It feels like drowning." Willow
"Please, no." Warren
"When it finally hits your spine, it'll blow your central nervous system." Willow
"Oh, please stop, God, please!" Warren
"I'm talking. The pain will be unbearable, but you won't be able to move. Bullet usually travels faster than this, of course, but the dying, it'll seem like it takes forever. Something, isn't it? One tiny piece of metal destroys everything. It ripped her insides out, took her light away, from me, from the world. Now the one person who should be here is gone, and a waste like you gets to live." Willow

"Bored now." Willow

"One down." Willow

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

Police and Guns

Buffy and the Law

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on January 3, 2013