Tara left Willow and Giles left town, leaving the less mature characters to make a mess of things.
The season opened with none of the characters able to move on after Buffy's death except for maybe Anya. The Buffybot was reactivated, but it was a poor substitute. It could fool Dawn's teachers into thinking that Buffy was still alive, but it could not fool even the wimpiest of vampires, who was able to escape and alert demon bikers of Sunnydale's vulnerability.
Giles felt that he was no longer needed in Sunnydale so he decided to leave. Coincidentally, he left only a few hours before Willow—along with Xander, Tara, and Anya—planned to resurrect Buffy. Willow went through the preparations for the ritual—including murdering a fawn—and started to endure the tests required—including vomiting a snake. Unfortunately, the demon bikers arrived and destroyed the Urn of Osiris, which was necessary for the ceremony.
Unbeknownst to the quartet, the ritual worked, and Buffy came to life. Not even a coffin and six feet of earth could stop her. She eventually found the other characters just as some demon bikers were menacing them. If she were in full control of her faculties, she probably could have stopped them single-handedly. Instead, she provided some assistance before Tara planted an ax in the leader's back, scaring the rest out of town.
Buffy had difficulty adjusting to being alive again. Everyone assumed that she had been rescued from Hell, but she was really torn out of heaven. Furthermore, she found out that she had no money. Finally, she had three nerds—Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew—dedicated to making her life miserable. Fortunately, Giles returned to town to help.
Unfortunately, Giles felt that Buffy was depending too much on him. This feeling was heightened when Buffy gave him the duty of discipling Dawn after Dawn lied about her plans to go gallivanting on Halloween. He, along with Tara, also worried that Willow was abusing magic.
Xander summoned a demon that caused everyone to sing. Giles sang about how his willingness to help Buffy with her problems was getting in the way of her growing up as a person. Tara sang about how she was under Willow's spell, figuratively and literally when she found out that Willow had cast a spell to make Tara forget about their fights over Willow's magic use. Finally, Buffy sang about how she was pulled out of heaven rather than rescued from hell.
Giles decided that he needed to go back to England while Tara decided that she probably needed to break up with Willow. She gave Willow one last chance to go a week without magic. Unfortunately, Willow decided to use magic so Tara would forget that Willow had cast spells on her and so Buffy would forget that she was in heaven. Instead, it made all the characters forget who they were. They recovered their memories in time for Giles to catch his flight to England and for Tara to leave Willow.
Willow responded by abusing magic even more. It helped that she managed to de-rat Amy, who was a willing enabler. Amy introduced Willow to Rack, a magic pusher, who helped drag Willow in even deeper. This continued until Willow accidentally summoned a demon at Rack's lair. The demon chased both Willow and Dawn, with Dawn becoming injured as they fled. Willow realized that she had gone to far and had to stop.
Buffy meanwhile, had gone to Spike for comfort. At first, they shared a couple of kisses. However, after Giles left Sunnydale, she ended up sleeping with Spike. The relationship continued until Riley came to town and found that Spike was keeping very dangerous demon eggs in the basement of his crypt. She decided that she was just using Spike and ended the relationship.
Xander had decided to keep his engagement with Anya a secret far too long. He eventually relented and announced their engagement on Halloween. As is typical with engaged couples, their next few months were taken over with wedding planning. However, Xander's feet were growing colder by the week. By the time of the wedding itself, he ended up leaving her at the altar.
The nerds were still active. At first, they just got nerdier. They created a freeze ray that helped them obtain a diamond that they used to create an invisibility ray. However, they also got darker. Warren used a mind control orb to lure his ex-girlfriend, Katrina, back to the nerd lair. When it wore off, she threatened to go to the police until he hit her over the head with a bottle, killing her. The nerds tried to pin the killing on Buffy, but she figured it out in the end. However, they did get away with murder, which pleased Warren and Andrew.
Buffy made steps toward becoming an adult. She eventually lowered herself to working at a local fast-food outlet. She also realized that she needed to be a better parent to Dawn after Dawn made a wish that inadvertently caused most of the characters to be trapped in Buffy's house.
After being magic-free for a few months, Willow decided to try to win Tara back. She did get a coffee date with Tara that went well, even though Anya—who was back to being a vengeance demon—tried to get them to wish bad things on Xander. Willow won Tara back and spent a lot of naked time in bed in between helping Buffy discover what the nerds were up to. Willow and Tara helped Buffy discover that the nerds planned to rob an armored car, and Buffy was able to stop it, leading to Jonathan and Andrew being arrested.
Meanwhile, Spike was getting frustrated at not being with Buffy. He eventually burst into her house and tried to rape her. He was so horrified at what he did that he left town for Africa, where he endured tests in order to win back his soul.
Warren was not happy at Buffy foiling his plans. He returned with a gun and shot both Buffy and Tara. Buffy was seriously wounded and probably would have died had she not been a slayer. Unfortunately, Tara was not a slayer and died.
Needless to say, Willow did not take this very well. Her desire for vengeance allowed dark magic to take her over. She started by pursuing Warren and skinned him alive when she caught up with him. She then turned her sights on Jonathan and Andrew. Buffy, Xander, and even Anya tried to stop her. They succeeded in keeping Willow from killing Jonathan and Andrew mostly through Anya's heroism. However, nobody was a match for Willow until Giles teleported back to town with magic borrowed from an English coven.
Giles and Willow fought for a while. Eventually, Willow sucked Giles's power out of him. This caused her to be in touch with other people, mostly with other people's pain. She decided that she had to end the world in order to end everyone's pain. She set out to do so when Xander interrupted and told her that he loved her. At first, she resisted, but she eventually managed to go back to normal.
The formula for this season seemed to be "take a group of very likeable characters and put them through all sorts of pain." At times, this was difficult to watch, but it led to good drama. The show had a strong writing staff and a strong cast, especially when Anthony Stewart Head and Amber Benson were around.
A typical season of Buffy would start with stand-alone episodes with an early episode introducing a villain. Around mid-season, the characters become aware of the villain. They they would then spend a few episodes wondering what it is up to and how to deal with it. Things would then look grim until about halfway through the final episode, when they would come up with a plan to defeat the villain.
There have always been slight variations. Sometimes, the characters become aware of the new villain early in the season, like in the fifth season. Sometimes, the villain seen early is not the main villain at the end of the season, such as in the second season. However, there was a clear formula.
I appreciate the fact that this season attempted something different. On the surface, it looked like other seasons. It introduced Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew as villains early in the season, and Buffy became aware of them in the middle of the season. However, it was clear that they would not be the big villain of the season. This simply parodied the formula rather than repeating it.
Instead, the season focused on the main characters and their interactions with each other. It is true that we saw less of Buffy than in previous seasons, but we saw more of Willow, Spike, Anya, Dawn, and Tara than in any other season of the show and more of Xander than we have seen since the second season. This led to a season that was more balanced among the characters than any we have seen previously. Admittedly, we saw less of Giles than we have seen before, but this was just an unfortunate side effect of Anthony Stewart Head's understandable desire to spend more time in England with his family.
The absence of Tara and Giles over the middle of the season really hurt the show. It is probably no coincidence that they were absent in three of the weakest episodes of the season—"Gone," "Doublemeat Palace," and "As You Were." Giles is back in Sunnydale, but is it not clear for how long. Unfortunately, it looks like we have seen the last of Tara.
The Dark Willow story line at the end of the season was a bit over the top. It felt like the writers decided that it would be neat to have Willow be the villain without thinking about whether it made sense for her to do so.
Action highlights include:
As the characters went through all sorts of pain, there were times when it seemed that the nerds supplied all the humor during the sixth season. This was not true. Clem supplied some humor as well. Comedic highlights that (mostly) did not involve Clem or nerds include:
The sixth season was a season of pain, so it makes sense that there would be many dramatic highlights. These include:
The sixth season ended with no character in a romantic relationship. This was the first time this happened since Buffy and Angel first got together in the middle of the first season. Still, there were a few romantic highlights.
Buffy was resurrected at the beginning of the sixth season. Most people would think that she would be happy about that, but she was not. She was much happier in heaven and was depressed about being back on earth. With Giles out of town and most of her other friends responsible for her state, she ended up confiding in Spike. This eventually led to kissing and a torrid affair. However, when Riley came back to town with a perfect life, she started to make changes, including breaking up with Spike. Her mood did not improve until the end of the season when another apocalypse was averted.
Willow spent much of the sixth season dealing with her magical power. In the beginning, she was able to use it to raise Buffy from the dead. However, in doing so, she embraced the dark side. She started using magic for selfish reasons, which upset both Giles and Tara. In particular, she used magic to wipe Tara's memory of any unpleasantness. This upset Tara and led to the end of their relationship.
Willow responded by returning Amy to human form and going on a magic bender. However, when this led to Dawn becoming injured, Willow realized that she went too far and quit using magic. After going magic-free for a while, she tried to win Tara back. She was successful and spent much of the last 36 hours of Tara's life in bed with her. After Tara's death, Willow completely lost control, killed two people, and tried to kill two more before deciding to try to destroy the world instead. In the end, however, Xander talked her out of it.
Xander had reservations about his decision to propose to Anya at the end of the fifth season. At first, he put off announcing the engagement until several months afterward. Then he worried about whether he would be a good husband to Anya. Seeing how his parents and other relatives behaved at his wedding convinced him that he would not. Afterward, he felt guilty about hurting Anya and over other bad things that happened afterward. Still, by the end of the season, he managed to save the world by remembering what Willow did to a yellow crayon when they were in kindergarten.
Spike is probably the only character who could look back and say that he had a good year. In the beginning of the season, he found Buffy confiding in him. Later, they kissed at the end of "Once More with Feeling" and "Tabula Rasa" and had sex at the end of "Smashed." They continued this relationship for a few more episodes. After she broke up with him, he tried to rape her. However, he appeared to have developed a primitive conscience. This motivated him to earn himself a soul so he could be the person that Buffy deserves.
Anya was the only character who was ready to go on with her life after Buffy's death. Still, she helped Willow resurrect Buffy and even managed to find the Urn of Osiris on eBay. Afterward, she wanted to announce her engagement to Xander, but he resisted for a few episodes. Despite some reservations, she was looking forward to her wedding and was devastated when Xander called it off at the last minute. She accepted D'Hoffryn's offer to become a vengeance demon again but worked to stop Willow from trying to kill Jonathan and Andrew.
Dawn went from being the center of a god's attention to feeling forgotten. Furthermore, her feeling of abandonment, which started when Riley left town and her mother died, continued as Giles left town, Tara left Willow, and Buffy became distracted with Spike. Fortunately, Buffy slowly realized that she had been neglecting Dawn. Dawn even got to fight side-by-side with Buffy as the world almost ended.
Tara went along with Willow's plan to resurrect Buffy. However, this led to Willow becoming more dependent on magic, which caused tension in their relationship. When Tara found out that Willow had used magic to cover up the tension, Tara decided that she had to leave. Tara maintained a little contact with the other characters and served as a confidant to Buffy, a mother figure to Dawn, and a maid of honor to Anya. Eventually, Tara went back to Willow and helped her with research in between acts that could not be shown on any network that had censors. Unfortunately, she found herself in the path of a bullet and died.
Giles had felt that he was not needed in Sunnydale with Buffy gone, although this was probably cover for him finding Sunnydale to be too painful. When he returned, he did try to help her out only to find that she was simply dumping her problems on him rather than learning to solve them herself. As a result, he left town again, not to return until Willow went out of control.
Warren was the only one of the nerds who could be described as evil. It was his idea to form a group to take over Sunnydale, and he was the one who pushed the group to dark places despite Jonathan and Andrew's concerns. He had no problem killing, especially if the victim had ovaries. Eventually, he killed the wrong person and lost his skin and his life.
Jonathan still thinks that he can solve his problems with one grand gesture. This time, he thought he could do so as a supervillain aligned with Warren and Andrew. He seemed to favor being evil as long as nobody actually suffered due to his villainy. He opposed killing Buffy in "Flooded" and "Gone" and was very distressed by Katrina's death in "Dead Things." This started an estrangement with the other two, culminating in mutual betrayals in "Seeing Red." Toward the end of the season, he believed that he deserved to go to jail, but he let Andrew talk him into going to Mexico instead.
Andrew joined with Warren and Jonathan to take over Sunnydale. At first, he sided with Jonathan and opposed killing Buffy. His opposition was motivated in part by morality, but it was mostly a fear of getting caught. Once he saw Warren get away with murder in "Dead Things," he started to side with Warren more often and even collaborated with Warren to cut Jonathan out of the Trio. Unfortunately, he found out the hard way that it is not a good idea to use a jetpack while under an overhang and ended up in jail. After he escaped, he tried to convince Jonathan to turn on his rescuers, but he failed and instead submitted to Jonathan. He did convince Jonathan to flee to Mexico.
The following characters earned MVP awards in the sixth season:
The following characters received consideration for MVP awards:
She might not think so, but Willow had a great year during the sixth season. Other than Buffy, only Xander in the second season and Faith in the third season earned as many MVPs in a single season. Tara also had a good year, if one ignores the end of "Seeing Red." She and Willow join Xander as the only characters ever to earn more MVPs than Buffy in a single season.
All this happened because Buffy had a very bad season. She spent the first half of the season recovering from being ripped out of heaven and much of the end of the season responding to Willow. She earned fewer MVPs than she did in the first season when there were only 12 episodes and when Xander was allowed to be heroic more than once or twice a year.
Still, Buffy maintained her lead in earning the most MVPs across all seasons with 31 awards. Xander is still second with 14. Willow jumped into third place with 11, one more than Spike has.
The following characters figured out something during the season:
The following characters also received credit for this award:
Willow had a great year with this award as well. She doubled her total from the previous five seasons combined. Giles also did reasonably well and earned more in the sixth season than he did in the fifth season despite appearing in fewer episodes. Buffy maintained her lead across all seasons with 28, but Giles is close behind with 25. Willow jumped into third place with 14 awards, one more than Xander's 13.
The following characters messed up the most during the sixth season:
The follow characters also received consideration for the Goat:
Buffy's woes during the sixth season continued with this award as well. Buffy tied her season high. Xander did not do so well either. The sixth season followed the trend of the other two post-high school seasons in that only four Goats died in the episode in which they earned the Goat, unless one wants to point out that Nobody died in "Smashed."
Across all six seasons, Nobody is still in the lead with 13 Goats. Buffy has jumped into second with nine. Willow is in third with eight Goats, and Spike is in fourth place with six.
"Oh, poor watcher, did your life pass before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?" Spike ("Bargaining Part 1")
"Buffy, please, listen to me. You told me I have to be strong, and I've tried, but it's been so hard without you. I'm sorry. I promise I'll do better. I will if you're with me. Stay with me, please. I need you to live." Dawn ("Bargaining Part 2")
"I do remember what I said, the promise to protect her. If I'd have 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. I do something different, faster, more clever, you know, dozens of times, lots of different ways. Every night, I save you." Spike ("After Life")
"I was happy. Wherever I was, I was happy, at peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time didn't mean anything. Nothing had form, but I was still me, you know, and I was warm, and I was loved, and I was finished, complete. I don't understand theology or dimensions, any of it, really, but I think I was in heaven, and now I'm not. 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. They can never know, never." Buffy ("After Life")
"[Holds a gun] These things, never helpful." Buffy ("Flooded" and "As You Were")
"That's a weird place for a horn. That's not a horn." Dawn ("Flooded")
"The magics you channeled are more ferocious and primal than anything you can hope to understand, and you are lucky to be alive you rank arrogant amateur!" Giles
"You're right. The magics I used are very powerful. I'm very powerful, and maybe it's not such a good idea for you to piss me off." Willow ("Flooded")
"Stop touching my magic bone!" Jonathan ("Life Serial")
"Mist, cemetery, Halloween. Should end well." Giles ("All the Way")
"Hey, I'm not wearing underwear." Parking Ticket Woman ("Once More with Feeling")
"If my heart could beat, it would break my chest." Spike ("Once More with Feeling")
"I hope she fries.
I'm free if that bitch dies.
I'd better help her out." Spike ("Once More with Feeling")
"So one by one, they come to me,
The distant redness as their guide.
That single flame ain't what they had in mind.
It's what they have inside." Sweet ("Once More with Feeling")
"I just feel weird feeling bad that my friend's not dead. It's too mind-boggling, so I decided to simplify the whole thing. 'Me like Buffy. Buffy's alive, so me glad.'" Xander ("Tabula Rasa")
"I must be a noble vampire, a good guy on a mission of redemption. I help the helpless. I'm a vampire with a soul." Spike
"A vampire with a soul? Oh, my God, how lame is that?" Buffy ("Tabula Rasa")
"How have you been?" Buffy
"Rat, you?" Amy
"Oh." Amy ("Smashed")
"[Buffy]'s not around much these days. We kinda miss her." Willow
"I'm sure she feels the same way." Tara ("Dead Things")
"Do you love him? It's OK if you do. He's done a lot of good, and he does love you. And, Buffy, it's OK if you don't. You're going through a really hard time, and you're..." Tara
"What? Using him? What's OK about that?" Buffy
"It's not that simple." Tara
"It is. It's wrong. I'm wrong. Tell me that I'm wrong, please. Please don't forgive me, please. God, please don't. Please don't forgive me. Please don't." Buffy ("Dead Things")
"Hey, you're gonna back off. She said 'no,' and that's it. You're not gonna make her do something that she doesn't want to, and if you try, you're gonna have to go through me first. Understood?" Tara ("Older and Faraway")
"Buffy, none of that means anything. It doesn't touch you. You're still the first woman I ever loved and the strongest woman I've ever known. Now, I'm not advertising this to the missus, but you're still quite the hottie." Riley ("As You Were")
"The wheel never stops turning, Buffy. You're up; you're down. It doesn't change what you are, and you are a hell of a woman." Riley ("As You Were")
"I'm using you. I can't love you. I'm just being weak and selfish..." Buffy
"Really not complaining here." Spike
"... and it's killing me. I have to be strong about this. I'm sorry, William." Buffy ("As You Were")
"I, Anya, promise to love you, to cherish you, to honor you, but not to obey you, of course, because that's anachronistic and misogynistic, and who do you think you are, like a sea captain or something? However, I do entrust you... What, is something funny?" Anya
"[Trying hard to stifle giggling] No, nothing, sweetie, just keep still." Tara
"OK, blah, blah, blah, misogynistic, blah, blah. I do, however, entrust you with my heart. Take care of my heart, won't you please? Take care of it because it's all that I have and, if you let me, I'll take care of yours too. I'll protect it and tend to it like a little stray. Wait, no, like a little mangy stray that needs a home." Anya ("Hell's Bells")
"It's a good thing I realized I was gay, otherwise, hey, you, me, and formal wear." Willow ("Hell's Bells")
"I, Anya, want to marry you, Xander, because I love you, and I'll always love you, and, before I knew you, I was like a completely different person—not even a person, really—and I'd seen what love could do to people, and it was hurt and sadness. Alone was better. And then, suddenly, there was you, and you knew me. You saw me, and it was this thing. You make me feel safe and warm, so I get it now. I finally get love, Xander. I really do." Anya ("Hell's Bells")
"Hi, Tara, how are you? I was wondering, maybe, you wanna go out sometime, for coffee, food, kisses, and gay love? Hi, Tara, guess what? Magic free now for insert number days now." Willow ("Normal Again")
"[Buffy]'s also created an intricate latticework to support her primary delusion. In her mind, she's the central figure in a fantastic world beyond imagination. She's surrounded herself with friends, most with their own superpowers, who are as real to her as you or me—more so, unfortunately. Together, they face grand, overblown conflicts against an assortment of monsters, both imaginary and rooted in actual myth. Every time we think we're getting through to her, more fanciful enemies magically appear." Doctor ("Normal Again")
"Buffy inserted Dawn into her delusion, actually rewriting the entire history of it to accommodate a need for a familial bond. Buffy, but that created inconsistencies, didn't it? Your sister, your friends, all of those people you created in Sunnydale, they aren't as comforting as they once were, are they? They're coming apart?" Doctor
"Buffy, listen to what the doctor is saying. It's important." Joyce
"Buffy, you used to create these grand villains to battle against, and now, what is it? Just ordinary students you went to high school with. No gods or monsters, just three pathetic little men who like playing with toys." Doctor ("Normal Again")
"You're too good to give in. You can beat this thing. Be strong, baby, OK? I know you're afraid. I know the world feels like a hard place sometimes, but you've got people who love you. Your dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you. We'll always be with you. You've got a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself." Joyce
"You're right. Thank you. Goodbye." Buffy ("Normal Again")
"Dawn, I work very hard to keep you away from that stuff. I don't want you around dangerous things that can kill you." Buffy
"Which would be a perfectly reasonable argument if my sister was chosen to protect the world from tax audits, but, see, my sister is you, and dangerous things that want to kill me seem to find me." Dawn ("Entropy")
"There's just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again on both sides. You have to learn if we're even the same people we were, if you can fit in each other's lives. It's a long, important process, and can we just skip it? Can you just be kissing me now?" Tara ("Entropy")
"I'm totally not here! You guys do whatever you want. I'll go watch TV, downstairs, really loud, in the basement, where I can't hear anything! Oh, my God! I love you guys!" Dawn ("Seeing Red")
"I don't know what I'd do without you and Will." Xander
"Let's not find out." Buffy ("Seeing Red")
"Your shirt..." Tara ("Seeing Red")
"[A bullet]'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 ("Villains")
"Let me tell you something about Willow. She's a loser, and she always has been. People picked on Willow in junior high school, high school, up until college, with her stupid, mousy ways, and now, Willow's a junkie." Willow
"I can help." Buffy
"The only thing Willow was ever good for, the only think I had going for me, were the moments, just moments, when Tara would look at me, and I was wonderful. And that will never happen again." Willow ("Two to Go")
"You're trying to sell me on the world, the one where you lie to your friends when you're not trying to kill them, and you screw a vampire just to feel, and insane asylums are the comfy alternative? This world? Buffy, it's me. I know you were happier when you were in the ground. The only time you were ever at peace in your whole life was when you were dead, until Willow brought you back, you know, with magic." Willow ("Two to Go")
"I get it now. The slayer thing really isn't about the violence. It's about the power, and there's no one in the world who was the power to stop me now." Willow
"I'd like to test that theory." Giles ("Two to Go")
"Giles, don't die, not yet. There are things I want to tell you. Thanks a lot for coming. It was good of you to teleport all this way. In retrospect, it probably would have been better if you hadn't come and given Willow all that magic that made her like ten times more powerful. That would have been a plus." Anya ("Grave")
"The first day of kindergarten, you cried because you broke the yellow crayon, and you were too afraid to tell anyone. You come pretty far. Ending the world, not a terrific notion, but the thing is, yeah, I love you. I love crayon-breaky Willow and I love scary-veiny Willow. So, if I'm going out, it's here. If you want to kill the world, then start with me. I've earned that." Xander ("Grave")
"Things have really sucked lately. That's all gonna change, and I wanna be there when it does. I want to see my friends happy again. I want to see you grow up, the woman you're gonna become, because she's gonna be beautiful. She's gonna be powerful. I got it so wrong. I don't want to protect you from the world; I want to show it to you. There's so much that I want to show you." Buffy ("Grave")
"Make me what I was, so Buffy can get what she deserves." Spike
"Very well, we will return your soul!" Cave Demon ("Grave")