After Life (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"After Life"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 3
Directed by David Solomon
Written by Jane Espenson
Production code 6ABB03
Original air date October 9, 2001
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"Bargaining"
Next →
"Flooded"
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"After Life" is the third episode of season 6 of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The Scooby Gang rushes to find Buffy and figures she is at her house. The bikers are on the run now that Razor has been destroyed. At the house, Buffy is confused and acting strangely as she surveys the changed scenery of her house and is told by Dawn that Giles has left. Spike arrives, angry and looking for Dawn, though when he realizes the real Buffy is back he softens and helps to clean up her wounded hands. They talk about how long she's been gone; Spike has counted the days, all 147 of them. When the Scooby Gang arrives and focuses on the Slayer, Spike slips out.

Unable to stand all the concern, Buffy goes upstairs while Xander and Anya leave for food. Outside, the two find a hurt Spike who's furious that he wasn't told about the plan to resurrect Buffy, despite having helped the gang all summer. He realises that his love of Buffy would have made him an obstacle if Buffy returned as something that would have had to have been destroyed. He warns Xander of the consequences they'll have to face, because they always exist with magic.

After notifying Giles of Buffy's return, Willow and Tara go to bed and talk about the spell and changes in Buffy. In her room, Buffy looks at the pictures surrounding her and they briefly turn to pictures of skulls. During the night, Willow and Tara are visited in their room by a Buffy who yells at them and hints at Willow killing the deer in "Bargaining, Part One". When the girls get up to investigate, Buffy's asleep in her room and neither knows the source of the incident. A moving lump appears in the ceiling, motivating Willow to call Xander. In the background while Xander talks, Anya enters the room with a knife and smokey eyes, slitting her cheek before collapsing as the lump travels across the floor.

The gang gather the next day for brainstorming, but no one is sure what this thing is and Buffy is still very closed off. At the Magic Box, Buffy still seems out of place and leaves to patrol alone. With Buffy gone, the demon has taken over Dawn who shouts at her friends and breathes fire before collapsing. Buffy finds Spike at his crypt and the two talk, rather awkwardly at first. Spike opens up to her, expressing his guilt for not saving her or Dawn. He explains that every night afterwards, he thought up better ways to rescue her and he wishes so much to have been able to do it for real.

Led on by Spike's hinting that Willow knew her spell might do something bad, Xander questions whether either of the witches knew the dangers but is quickly quieted. Willow reveals that this creature was created by the spell that brought Buffy back. The demon currently does not possess a body, which is why it has been possessing members of the gang. A reversal of the spell will cancel out the creation of the demon, but it can't be done without also reversing Buffy's resurrection. After Dawn panics about the idea of losing Buffy again, Willow discovers that the demon can only survive if Buffy is killed. The demon, which had been housed in Xander's body while Willow shared this information, thanks Willow for the tip and heads for the Slayer.

Buffy is attacked by the formless demon which she can't hurt, but which she can be hurt by. Willow and Tara cast a spell to make the demon solid. Buffy kills the demon with an axe. Normality is somewhat resumed as Dawn heads to school the next day and Buffy sees her off. Buffy visits her friends at the shop and tells them that she was in Hell and she appreciates that they brought her back.

Buffy goes outside behind the shop to be alone, where she finds Spike hiding in a patch of shade. He tries to talk to her and offers to help her in any way he can. She admits to him that although she wasn't initially sure where she was, she knows that she wasn't in Hell. She was in Heaven and was happy, and her friends pulled her out. Spike is shocked as she tells him that this reality is her Hell as she wanted to go back to heaven, and she stresses that her friends can never know the truth.

Production details[edit]

  • The scene in which Anya is possessed by the demon ghost and slashes her face several times while laughing maniacally was trimmed by SkyOne for the UK broadcast to show her laughing and then collapsing, editing out the face-slashing.[1]

Continuity[edit]

Arc significance[edit]

  • This is not the only unseen force to "hitch a ride" with Buffy. In season 7 it is revealed that the resurrection spell is the key to the First Evil being able to attempt an apocalypse, which will put the entire world in danger and become Buffy's ultimate foe in season 7.
  • When Buffy is out patrolling she passes by an angel statue which the camera focuses on further shadowing her status as being in heaven.
  • In this episode, Buffy reveals that her friends' decision to perform the resurrection spell has resulted in her being torn out of heaven. This makes the Slayer feel isolated, alone and depressed throughout most of Season 6.
  • Willow calls Giles to tell him that Buffy is alive, which results in his return to Sunnydale in the next episode.
  • Spike is shown to be the second person to be worried about Willow's magic strengthening (the first was Tara, in season 5, and again seen worried during the resurrection), foreshadowing Willow's magic addiction throughout the season. Spike's parting words are "The thing about magic - there's always consequences - always!", which is the theme for many episodes of the show, as early on as "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" in season 2.
  • Spike shows great concern for Buffy. He identifies that her injured hands come from climbing out of a coffin, an experience he has also had to deal with. This is the first example in Season 6 of Spike being able to relate to Buffy more closely than her human friends, which eventually leads to their physical relationship.

References[edit]

External links[edit]