Trigger warning for rape and drug addiction. Just in case.
Season 6 of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ is dark as shit. It begins with the fact that Buffy has died and the Scoobies are trying to resurrect her using bad magic. Willow’s a bit out of control and her addiction to magic eventually sends Tara running for the hills. Xander continues to be indecisive about wanting to marry Anya. Buffy eventually makes her triumphant return only be totally effed in the head — not as everyone thinks because she was in hell — but because she was torn out of the warmth and peace of heaven. Only Spike understands that being brought back from the dead was not what Buffy wanted. Everything takes a really deep and sad turn this season, like a cloud has descended over Sunnydale. And in the end, it’s not magic that takes down one of the gang’s most beloved members — it’s a regular old gun. (How appropriate.)
During this season, Joss Whedon handed the reigns to Marti Noxon, a move fans hated. I don’t mind Noxon at all, though I would be curious to see this season redone by Whedon. I wonder if he wouldn’t have changed a few major things.
Buffy and Spike and Attempted Rape
The big through-line of Season 6 is Buffy’s relationship with Spike. Buffy hates herself and only feels okay when she’s boning the bad boy vamp — because he can hurt her and because he’s just as messed up as she is. I remember watching this the first time around with many people romanticizing and squeeing over the Buffy and Spike relationship. I can relate to how Buffy is feeling. I’ve been known to use sex as a mood regulator or distraction, in my day. And Buffy needs a hell of a distraction. She needs someone she can abuse — use to get all her bad feelings out. She needs a place she feels loved and wanted, but as Spike says, she “thrives on the misery.” She wants the chaos more than she actually wants to be at peace. It’s extremely sad. This is especially apparent in “Normal Again,” a really disturbing episode where you’re left wondering if Buffy isn’t in a mental institution in LA. Shivers.
Speaking of disturbing, I almost always try to forget this happens but now I realize how important it is to remember: During this season, Spike attempts to rape Buffy in her bathroom. Just let that sink in. The scene is so harrowing, so well-done and complex. I don’t remember how I felt about Spike after that, but plenty of fans continued to side with and love the character. I used to like Spike and now, I just have a weird sick feeling. I think the way the whole thing was handled was very realistic but in the way the whole season has been — utterly bleak and depressing. It really showed how little Buffy valued herself. She fought back but she refused to raise the alarm about Spike — even Xander is aghast that she still trusts him with Dawn. It mirrors how quickly the audience was willing to forgive and sympathize with him even though Buffy is supposed to be our strong heroine.
Fangirls, ya’ll are messed up. Fo real.
There’s actually a lot of weird sexual assault-y weirdness in this season of ‘Buffy.’ The magic spell Warren uses to turn his ex Katrina into a BJ slave — and then when she threatens to report them for rape, Warren kills her. The constant jokes between Andrew and Jonathan about searching anal cavities and about becoming “butt monkeys” in jail. Even Xander’s quip about the demon that poked Buffy, when he asks where it poked her. It’s super strange — and maybe it was foreshadowing to Spike’s attempt, but it just sort of sticks out to me about this bleak-ass season of ‘Buffy.’ It’s like “The Season of Trigger Warnings.”
Magic = drugs
Feels a bit hokey and like some kind of sneaky anti-crack PSA. But this move was very necessary for Willow’s story arch. There’s consequences to everything you do and getting off magic was very necessary for Willow, a character who has always craved power. Willow’s biggest fear is going back to being that picked-on nerd in high school.
Then, taking Tara away without magical circumstances showed Willow once and for all that just because she’s a witch doesn’t mean she can finally control everything. Poor, poor Willow. I also don’t want to live in a world without Tara. :(
That said, it was a nice twist to have one of the Scoobies become the “Big Bad.” Scary Willow is scary.
Anya and Xander Break Up
I felt it was a bit of a plot device to break them up even though they’d been alluding to Xander’s trepidation about getting married all season long. I just never thought they wouldn’t go through with the wedding. It seemed like Season 6 was determined to be as depressing as possible. I also didn’t like Anya sleeping with Spike, but I guess it made sense in the context of the season. Still, knowing it was coming made me cringe.
Xander has transitioned from “nice guy” I root for, to “nice guy” who is annoyingly right most of the time but is definitely super judgmental and shitty about women. Why does Xander get to decide who sleeps with who or what women are doing with their bodies? He spends this whole season completely overwhelmed and frightened by women, just like he was in high school. Anya is right — he’s still a little boy. Where I once was totally on board with Xander, I’m starting to really resent his holier-than-thou, condescending tone toward the women he surrounds himself with.
Man. This is a great season, but I don’t…enjoy it, you know? Ugh. Everything is terrible.