Villains (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
Willow absorbs the dark magics from the books, consuming her in darkness
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||David Solomon|
|Written by||Marti Noxon|
|Original air date||May 14, 2002|
"Villains" is the 20th episode of season 6 of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
An ambulance arrives at the Summers' house to treat the wounded Buffy. Upstairs, the distraught Willow calls upon Osiris to bring the murdered Tara back to life, but the god cannot, because the death did not involve magic. She leaves, learning from Xander that Warren Mears had shot Buffy, but does not tell him that Warren had also killed Tara.
Warren celebrates at Willie's bar, bragging about killing the Slayer. The demon bartender tells him that TV news reports Buffy is still alive. Warren visits black magician Rack, seeking protection from Buffy, but Rack tells him Willow is who he should be worried about; terrified, Warren pays for Rack's help, but Rack warns him that the enraged Willow will likely overwhelm his defenses.
Willow goes to the magic shop. Despite Anya's attempt to stop her, she absorbs great power and transforms herself into a dark magician. She appears at the hospital, magically healing Buffy to help her capture Warren. Dawn returns home and finds Tara's body.
Xander and Buffy accompany Willow in her pursuit; Buffy tries to dissuade Willow from using magic, but Willow argues that Buffy's life was preserved only through her sorcery. They catch up to a bus on which Warren is apparently fleeing; Willow attempts to kill him, but finds "he" is only a robotic duplicate. She finally reveals Tara's death to Buffy and Xander. When they refuse to cooperate in Warren's execution, warning that the magic might corrupt her beyond redemption, she lashes out at them and vanishes.
Buffy and Xander return to the house, finding Dawn with Tara's body. After the body is removed, they debate Warren's fate, with only Buffy unconvinced that he should be killed; but all agree Willow's intended vengeance will end up destroying her as well. Buffy seeks Spike's aid, but learns he has left Sunnydale without explanation.
In Africa, Spike approaches a cave-living demon, seeking to undergo an ordeal to win his greatest desire: to be restored to what he once was. He feels that things have not been right since he had his chip inserted. The demon agrees, although he considers it pathetic that feelings concerning the Slayer have led Spike to this.
Buffy and Xander ask Anya for help, and learn she has once again become a vengeance demon and is able to sense Willow's thirst for vengeance. Willow uses magic to locate Warren. She pursues him through a forest; he ambushes her and plunges an axe through her back. She recovers immediately, negates his magical defenses, and immobilizes him. As he taunts her, she realizes Warren has killed a woman before, and becomes more determined to execute him. She magically inflicts the pain of Tara's death on him by forcing a bullet through his chest. While Buffy and her companions approach, Warren begs for mercy. Willow silences him, then, as Buffy arrives, she kills Warren by flaying and incinerating him. She disappears, proclaiming her intent to kill Warren's jailed partners.
- When Willow magically seizes control of Xander's car, he sarcastically refers to her as "Puppet Master."
- The destination of the bus in which Willow finds the robot-Warren is "Further," a reference to the colorful bus of 1960s icon Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters.
- This episode is Tara's last appearance on the TV show (she later appears in the Buffy comic Goddesses and Monsters).
In Televised Morality, Gregory Stevenson uses this episode to support his claim that Buffy surrenders to authority, provided it does not conflict with her moral responsibility as the Slayer. Warren is human, and killed Tara with a human weapon; therefore from Buffy's perspective he should be punished by the human legal system. When Xander argues that they cannot rely on the legal system because it is inefficient and flawed, Buffy says "We can't control the universe." Despite Buffy's morality speech, Xander, Dawn, and Anya continue to maintain that Warren should be killed for his crimes, and they later quietly support Willow for her choice to kill Warren.
- As Buffy recovers, Xander jokes that "the dying thing is funny once, maybe twice." Buffy previously died in Season One's finale Prophecy Girl, and Xander resuscitated her in the same episode. She died a second time in Season Five's finale, The Gift, and was resurrected by the Scoobies (including Xander) at the beginning of Season Six. Later, in Season Seven's penultimate episode End of Days, Xander jokes to Buffy, "If you die, I'll just bring you back to life. That's what I do."
- Just before she flays Warren, Dark Willow says "bored now", an oft-repeated complaint of Vampire Willow in season 3 episodes "The Wish" and "Doppelgangland".
- After flaying Warren, Dark Willow says "One down", leading to the title of the next episode "Two to Go"
- This begins the arc of Anya's loyalty after Buffy and Xander find out she's a vengeance demon. This arc continues until the Season Seven episode "Selfless".
- This marks Willow's turn to evil, revealing her as the true Big Bad of the season, which will last until the end of the season.
- This marks the last appearance of Tara.
- While everyone believes that Warren is dead, events of the Season Eight comic book arc "The Long Way Home" will show that he was quickly resurrected, and kept alive, by Amy Madison. It is also reveals that he and Amy had been concocted plans against Buffy and Willow since. Warren would later die again in the eighth arc "Last Gleaming."
- Stevenson, Gregory (2003), Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oxford: University Press of America, pp. 136–137, ISBN 0-7618-2833-8
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