Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S06E08 – Tabula Rasa

In the eighth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Scoobies are still horrified about learning where Buffy was when she was dead. To cope, Willow makes the worst decision ever decided. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

Why “Tabula Rasa” is one of the funniest episodes of Buffy

  • You know, in theory, I think the concept of “Tabula Rasa” isn’t funny at all. The writers could have taken this in a direction similar to “Hush,” exploring how memory relates to identity and scaring the daylights out of us. And I totally think that would have worked! But I was so impressed with the fact that the show could pull off a largely funny episode amidst PURE CHAOS AND SADNESS. (Which I’ll get to in a bit.)
  • Teeth is a loan shark. DO YOU GET IT? Oh my god, bless this show.
  • THE KITTEN GAMBLING IS BACK. YES. Spike has a KITTEN DEBT. This is beautiful beyond words.
  • SPIKE’S DISGUISE. Oh my god, it’s his suit from “Restless.” Wait, does that mean that dream sequence was foreshadowing? Oh FUCK. But anyway, look at his adorable suit! And the bow tie! It looks even better on him when he’s Randy because he’s so dapper and noble as that character.
  • Oh my god, making Anya and Giles believe they’re husband and wife is so goddamn brilliant because it highlights their absurd relationship as shop owners and friends.
  • Actually, the entire scene where all of them try to figure out who they are by using their IDs is perfection.
  • Buffy as a show has always been obsessed with language. It’s why “Hush” could even happen in the first place. So I think there’s no better joke in the episode than Spike’s discovery of his British accent and the rage at his name being Randy.
  • Okay, perhaps Anya’s bunny phobia was funnier. Oh my god, where did they get so many bunnies?
  • Again, Sarah Michelle Gellar is one of the best face actors ever. Look at the joy she conveys with just a single facial expression once “Joan” discovers she is a superhero. That moment is wonderful.
  • I will continue laughing at every scene where the Scoobies all scream and run away from any villains, and there is no way you can stop me.

Why “Tabula Rasa” is one of the most depressing episodes of Buffy.

  • This episode is bookended in a very specific way, and it’s done to ground us. The writers refuse to let us forget what happened in “Once More, with Feeling,” and after a hilarious journey, that dread, terror, and sadness is brought right back to the fore. It’s a sobering, gut-wrenching experience, to be honest. In a way, it’s like the show is reminding us that no good can come from this. These are real people who are hurting one another, and a blank slate isn’t going to solve that. Even worse, it’s saying that this episode really was just one giant distraction. And now it’s time to face the reality of what these people have done to one another.
  • While the character pairings and interactions were certainly quite humorous and were largely played that way, it’s impossible to ignore how each of them also exacerbate the current tensions in the group. We watch Giles and Spike toy with how they view one another. The father/son relationship is exaggerated when they’ve lost their memory, but Giles’s hatred of Spike is based on disappointment. And I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that Spike seeks validation. Xander sexualizes Willow in the first moments of the memory wipe, and it’s reminiscent of how often he used to do that to all of the women around him. And of course, there’s Willow’s and Tara’s growing attraction to one another. It’s impossible to ignore the recent history of these two, so while it’s cute to see them treat each other nicely, you know it can’t last.
  • I’m glad that this episode finally has a scene where the Scoobies just talk about what they’ve done by bringing Buffy back from the dead. I was so satisfied to see Willow admit that this was her fault and that she was selfish. That’s precisely why I was so mad that she thought she could solve this problem with magic. WHAT THE FUCK, THAT’S THE ENTIRE POINT. Magic keeps getting you in trouble because you use it for selfish reasons.
  • I just hate that Tara broke up with Willow, and I hate it entirely out of selfish reasons. Well, and I don’t want to see Tara unhappy. She made the best decision for herself here, and I still hate it because I am so tired of being upset.
  • And really, that’s a big deal. Season six is, so far, one of the most emotionally frustration things I’ve ever watched. We’re eight episodes in, and nothing is getting better.
  • Ugh, Giles’s entire conversation with Buffy pre-memory wipe is heart wrenching. I know the timing is terrible, but what else can the man do? He needs his own life as well.
  • Well, I certainly wanted to bury my head in the sand as soon as Dawn, Xander, and Tara realized why their memories disappeared. That realization scene is so horrible to watch, especially because you can see how disappointed Xander and Dawn are. I expected Tara to be devastated, but somehow, the reaction of those two hit me even harder.
  • That’s what is ultimately so distressing about “Tabula Rasa,” though. That moment in the sewer hurts to watch because those three characters must accept that there is no turning back. The entire end sequence, set to Michelle Branch singing, is gut-wrenching. These people cannot ignore what has happened, and they’re all a wreck because of it. When I was watching it, it reminded me of the end of “Lovers Walk.” It’s almost like a companion episode in a way. Ugh, TOO MANY BAD FEELINGS IN ONE STORY.

Oh, that’s right. Buffy and Spike made out. Well, shit, it’s finally happening, isn’t it? I’m interested. I think I’m totally fine saying that. I think I’m ready to see the show explore this relationship, despite how strange it is. I mean, they really do have a bizarre dynamic to their friendship, but that’s what makes them so interesting.

Color me intrigued.

And now, you may enjoyed my unspoiled reactions to “Tabula Rasa.” This video was purchased by yummycat! 

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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3 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S06E08 – Tabula Rasa

  1. DLXian says:

    This season is such a downer, because Whedon heard critics say he couldn’t do a proper drama. So season 6 is his response. Much like his critics saying his show wouldn’t be as good without his dialogue… which lead to the creation of ‘Hush’.

  2. Linnea says:

    I just realllllyyy wanted to say that i superduperverymuch like these two episodes ( once more and tabula rasa) because they are just brilliant 😉 even though it hurts! And the loan shark is so awwwsooomm, I just say there like ” its the best thing ever in the history of television ” ! And randy hahajahahahahahhahahahha…..i really hate that outfit so much, especially the hat, its so unflattering! The funny thing is that this reminds me of giles’ early years, he was the king of tweed!!!!

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