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Impressive stuff that takes the series in a new direction
on 16 December 2002
Following on from a cataclysmic finale to Season 5, Season Six of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" takes the series into a new direction altogether. This season is less preoccupied with large-scale demonic villainy, but relies more on the relationships between the characters as the source of much of the action and drama.
After Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) died at the end of last season saving the world, the rest of the gang are finding it hard to survive in Sunnydale without her. But Willow (Alysson Hannigan), who is becoming an increasingly powerful witch, has a plan to bring the Slayer back from the dead.....
When Buffy crawls out of her own grave, she finds re-adjusting to the land of the living much more difficult than she could have anticipated. Her hardest challenge, and the recurring theme of this season, is simply being an adult. Lost, she turns to neutered but still evil vampire Spike (James Marsters) for comfort. It doesn't help that her friends are preoccupied with their own difficulties.
Her mentor Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) returns to England, feeling Buffy will never become a responsible grown-up so long as he's around. Her sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) flounders and turns to thieving to try and get some attention. Willow's Wiccan lover Tara (Amber Benson) worries about her girlfriend's overuse of magic and is forced to leave her. Meanwhile Xander (Nicholas Brendon) is reluctant to announce his impending marriage to the feisty Anya (Emma Caufield), as he inwardly questions whether he really made the right choice proposing to her...
Conflicted and vulnerable, the gang fall prey to the whims of a trio of slackers (Adam Busch, Danny Strong and Tom Lenk). Bored with playing Dungeons and Dragons and lacking any real incentive in life, the three of them decide to bedevil the Slayer and set themselves up as the new Big Bad in Sunnydale. This being a fantasy show, the geeks are armed with magic and improbably high-tech weaponry like freeze guns and invisibility rays.
The first part of the season isn't actually too bad. There are some slightly weaker episodes, such as "All the Way" or "Life Serial", which seem to exist merely as filler episodes that don't bring the story on in any significant way.
The opener is a great start to the season, which a potentially disturbing sequence where Buffy digs herself out of her own grave. "Flooded" features a rivetting confrontation between Willow and Giles. Giles damns Willow for resurrecting Buffy, calling her "a rank, arrogant amateur". Willow's coolly threatening response hints at her development later in the season.
"Flooded" also introduces the villainous Trio, two of whom we've met before. Although they will turn much more serious later on, here they're played as amusing comedy relief, and this works very well. Their antics in "Flooded" and "Gone" are especially amusing.
But little doubt the highlight of the season is the much-touted musical episode. Show creator Joss Whedon, who directed the episode as well as writing the music and script, has truly outdone himself here in a fantastic show which brings out the best from his regular cast. Their vocals might not be entirely note-perfect, but the songs are performed with gusto and verve.
Not quite on par with the best of "Buffy" but still an entertaining show, these episodes pave the way for some very interesting developments later in the season.