Bargaining – Part 1
Season 6, Episode 1
Original airing: 10/2/2001
My Rating: 87
The Good: This episode was overwhelming with its character moments and depth of story. I absolutely loved it. Every person got to stand forward and shine just a little bit.
Willow has really stepped into the role of leader with Buffy’s death and the departure of Giles. She makes the decisions and bonds the team together, but it’s interesting to see how different her style is from Buffy’s. She keeps a lot of things close to the vest and goes it alone when she can, particularly involving the fawn. Deep down, I think she questions her position and choices, but she’s so desperate to bring Buffy back, she can ignore it all or justify it.
I was incredibly sad to see Giles leaving. The show handled this with immeasurable grace. I loved him trying to sneak off and everyone catching him at the airport for big hugs and reassurances. It’s weird to think of the show without him, but the set up was strong for the kids to take over watching the Hellmouth alone. Plus, they have Spike.
Spike’s scenes were very well done. His balance of character comes to a strong head point here with his innate violence and anger simmering during his scene with Dawn and with Buffy-bot. But, no matter what, we see he plans to keep his last promise to Buffy. It’s the streak of loyalty in him that endears him, even at his worst.
Xander and Anya both had nice moments as well, with Anya impatient to take several big steps forward in her life, and Xander trying to help her manage that in the uncomfortable situation their all stuck in. I like the hints that there’s going to be a deeper Anya/Xander story this season.
Finally, I was absolutely thrilled with Buffy-bot. I think Sarah Michelle Gellar really showcases her ability, yet again. Not once did I suspect this was actually Buffy, and yet, you can see the connections and how her personality is derived from its source. Her programming quirks lead to some wonderful situations that really allow the core characters to demonstrate without words how Buffy’s absence is affecting them. And, it makes a lot of sense in the story.
The decision to use Buffy-bot to keep Dawn with them, to fool the teachers and Dawn’s father, and to keep up appearances around the Hellmouth is completely rational. And it’s shown that it was a good idea by the appearance of the biker demons as soon as it’s known that Buffy is dead. I suspect there are several groups of demons hanging out in the surrounding area who’d love a snatch at the Hellmouth without a Slayer in the way. I really liked how this flowed to the interruption of the resurrection spell and the separation of the characters. This is a part one, so having everyone scattered at the end is a typical story trope to make part two start of on an exciting foot.
The Bad: I don’t really have anything to complain about in this episode. The only thing I disliked was the presentation of the weasely vampire that learns Buffy-bot is a robot. But, he is supposed to be disliked, so perhaps this was actually done really well?
Favorite Moment: I was drawn to a lot of moments in this episode, but my absolute favorite was when Dawn lay down next to Buffy-bot for comfort. It’s heart-wrenching to see everyone in this episode struggling to get over Buffy’s death when Buffy-bot is walking around. For just a moment, Dawn chooses to forget Buffy is dead.
The Bottom Line: This was an incredibly strong episode, and not just as a season opener. The time the story took to really delve into the characters’ situations and emotions was highly appreciated and enjoyed.