After Life-An unseen force is taking over the Scoobies one at a time. Could this possessing spirit be somehow connected to Buffy's return from beyond?
Awww, it's feels good to be back writing Buffy reviews again! I've been meaning to finish my last reviews of Season 6 and 7, but never got the chance to and haven't written a review for Buffy since '08. Well, now being on Season 6 of by Buffy re-watch, I finally get a chance to and "After Life" seems like the perfect start. Just re-watching it, it's probably one of darkest (if not the darkest ever) episode of Buffy (and coming from Season 6, that makes it quit the standout!) What I love about it is that continues to unravel the consequences of Buffy's resurrection by showing just how disconnected she seems from the world, not just from her friends and Dawn. The scene where Dawn re-introduces Buffy back home is indication of not only how Buffy has changed but how much the world she once knew isn' t thesameanymore. The way she walks around the house and barely recognizes her own house is really sad. I have to say, Sarah Michelle Gellar reallyexcels during these first few episodes, showing Buffy's monotone and discomfort, even fear after she comes back. It's truly surreal and tragic. Another standout performance is James Masters. The moment Spike realizes that he's looking at Buffy and not the Buffybot is truly riveting stuff as well as Spike's sadness and anger when Xander confronts him after he sees her. Sure Spike is happy that Buffy's back, but he's not stupid and knows that bringing back Buffy was an awful thing to do to her, not to mention has dire consequences.
The demon plot is actually pretty brilliant not only proving Spike right but by being the first consequence of Buffy's revival having on the Scooby Gang. By bringing back Buffy, they've created some sort ofincorporeal demon that terrorizes them, leading to some of the most disturbing and terrifying scenes of the series. The first being Buffy attacking Willow and Tara, pretty muchangry over what they had to do to resurrect Buffy (or more so what Willow had to do), then there's Anya gigging as she's cutting up her face and Dawn breathing fire at the Magic Box. Also, not really a moment involving the demon but the moment where Buffy sees all her old pictures turn to skeletons still gives me chills! While "Bargaining" introduced to a darker world without Buffy, "After Life" is really the episode thatsolidifiesjust howdark this season is and how far the writers are willing to go to show how dark the characters are becoming, especially Willow. The scene between her and Tare before they go to sleep is serious indication of how selfish Willow is becoming. She's kinda mad, even pissed off that Buffy hasn't thanked her for bringing her back, which is a pivotal moment for Willow. She's beginning to realize just how powerful she is and wants Buffy to be grateful for saving her when Buffy has saved Willow countless times in the past and never asked for a "thanks" in return. One of the most fascinating arcs of Season 6 isdefinitelyWillow's descent into darkness through her growing addiction of magic aka a metaphor for drug addiction. At this stage, everyone is pretty much in denial about it, especially Tara. When Xander confronts her about Willow not being to honest with them about the spell and the possiblerepercussions, Tara defends Willow without even thinking about it. But in the back of her mind, Tara has always known Willow's growing power was dangerous, like in "Tough Love" when they had their first fight yet Tara continues to deny the truth because she loves Willow and doesn't want to lose her. Luckily, Tara gets a true wake up call during the scene when they are doing the spell to make the demoncorporeal. It's another chilling moment as Tara sees just how powerful and horrifying Willow is becoming bycompletingthe spell on her own with ease. Black eyes and all!
It's also intriguing seeing Buffy going to Spike for some sort of comfort, not once but twice. Spuffy is one of the developments this season that gets the most flake from fans, but after re-viewing this episode, I can see why. There are a lot of comparisons drawn between Spike and Buffy this episode, from them both crawling out of their own coffins to their bruised, bloody knuckles and lastly, their isolation from the rest of the world. Spike doesn't really right with demons or humans, he's simply just living his undead life a day at a time, which is kinda where Buffy is now at this point in her life. It makes sense that she would feel more open talking to Spike than her own friends. Spike opening up to Buffy about dreaming of saving her every night was touching. Buffy soon returns that openness with one of the mostdevastatingscenes from the series. After Buffy basically lies to her friends about being in a hell dimension to make them feel better (not to mention Willow), she soon after delivers the mostpainfulconfession of her life: " I was in heaven". It's a truly heart-wrenching development, beautifully acted by Sarah and I love how Spike is at a lost for words, who wouldn't be? Because honestly, she was betrayed by her friends in the worst possible way and nothing will ever make it right! "After Life" is a superbly dark,boldlymorbid hour that sets into motion the tragic character deconstruction that is Season 6 and shows that Buffy (both the character and the series) will never been the same...ever.