Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | April 1, 2013

Robin’s Review: S6, E02 – Bargaining (2)

Synopsis: The Hellions capture BuffyBot as the Scoobies scatter and make their way to the Magic Box. Buffy digs herself out of her grave. Spike steals one of their bikes and takes Dawn to safety. Buffy comes across the Hellions tearing BuffyBot apart and begins fighting them. She escapes and runs into the Scoobies. She can’t seem to talk but recovers well enough to destroy most of the demon gang. She then flees to Glory’s tower where Dawn finds her.

The Good: To see Buffy wake up in her own coffin in distress was certainly creepy. And her emergence from the ground, just like so many of her vampire victims, was quite the moment. Her confusion and fear were well portrayed and her question about whether she was in hell was a fascinating response to the surreality of Sunnydale. The town was a disaster zone but it seemed like a query which fit her state of mind as she was drawn moth-like to the last moments of her life.

It was sad to see the BuffyBot being brutalised. She has been a far more valuable part of the show than she might have been. Spike reminded us of his dark side by acknowledging that the anarchy “looks like fun.” I couldn’t help but smile at Xander’s claim that he was a Man-witch.

The Bad: This suffered a lot by being broken across two weeks which I acknowledge is not how most people will see it (including me the first time). However there would have inevitably been some come down as there was a lot of weaker material in the second half. For a start there was repetitive dialogue between the Scoobies as they trekked through the woods. The dire situation they were in killed most attempts at comedy with Anya (trying to bring up the engagement) and Xander (complaining about a lack of male friends) both falling flat.

The action sequences didn’t add much to proceedings either. The Hellions quickly became as useless as generic vampires despite occasionally wielding baseball bats (which should be vicious, even on Buffy). Their leader talked too much, allowing Buffy time to recover and then gave us a desperately unneeded comment about how his men would rape the Scoobies. The move to UPN may have allowed us the amazing shot of the torso of BuffyBot talking to Dawn but that line was totally unnecessary and gross.

Speaking of Dawn, I find it so hard to like her when she runs away from Spike in the middle of a town riot. I understand her desperation to get Buffy back but it’s not like Spike would have refused to take her to the tower. Once there the tower rocked around as if California was experiencing an earthquake and it didn’t seem very plausible that Buffy and Dawn would survive tumbling off it.                                                                                                                

The Unknown: It’s not clear what Buffy remembers or how her discombobulation will affect her going forward. I assume Giles will be on a plane soon right?

Best Moment: The moment which captured the same depth of characterisation as part one was when Willow realised that the Urn of Osiris was broken. She was very distressed by this and said that “Buffy is gone.” It was only then that I realised that Willow hadn’t grieved for Buffy. Her determination to bring her back was in part a coping mechanism for the loss of her friend and suddenly it hit her that she was really dead. A touching if ironic realisation.

The Bottom Line: A terrific part one followed by a stumbling part two would still be an accurate description whether you review Bargaining together or separately. But the faults in this episode don’t seem consequential to me. We have a fresh dynamic amongst the Scoobies and I’m looking forward to more of that.

54/100

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