Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 6, Episode 17

Normal Again (12 Mar. 2002)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Drama | Fantasy
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 1,044 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 1 critic

After Buffy is stung by a demon, she begins to have vivid day-dreams about a mental asylum. She gradually begins to believe that she is a crazy girl back in L.A and that Sunnydale and all her friends are just a figment of her imagination.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Anya (credit only)
Lorraine Ross
Sarah Scivier ...


After being poisoned by a demon, Buffy comes to believe that she is confined to a mental hospital, her mother is alive, her parents are still together, and that her life as a Slayer has all been an hallucination for the past six years. Deciding that she prefers this "normal" life with her parents, Buffy attempts to destroy the things that tether her to the "fantasy" life of the Slayer: her friends. Written by Alex

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Action | Drama | Fantasy


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 March 2002 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Buffy's pre-Sunnydale experience in an asylum was later told in the comic book "Slayer, Interrupted", a title reference to Girl, Interrupted (1999) which co-starred Clea DuVall who appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Out of Mind, Out of Sight (1997). See more »


When Buffy punches the demon, her fist is clean when she pulls it back, but when next we see her a couple of seconds later, her hand is dripping goo. See more »


Joyce Summers: I know you're afraid. I know the world feels like a hard place, sometimes. But you've got people who love you. Your dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you. We'll always be with you. You have got a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself.
See more »


References Ocean's Eleven (2001) See more »


Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme
Written by Nerf Herder
Performed by Brandon K. Verrett
See more »

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User Reviews

"Let yourself live, already. Stop with the bloody hero trip for a second. We'd all be the better for it."
25 May 2012 | by See all my reviews

In the past few episodes, my hatred for dawn has been developing nicely. Up until the middle of Season 6 I have a surprisingly high tolerance for her, but as soon as Buffy takes up that dead-end job and all her little sis can do is bitch and moan about how she's never there for her, I lost all patience for the little brat. And now in this episode poor Buffy is losing her mind, but dawn decides to make everything about her, AGAIN, by storming off when she realises she doesn't exist in Buffy's 'ideal' reality. Err, excuse me but how is institutionalisation Buffy's preferred reality? Yes, there is an amount of escapism in it because in that reality she'd have her parents to take care of her, dawn wouldn't exist and neither would the vampires, therefore all her responsibilities would be lifted. However she would also be a crazy person! The fact is that this isn't about dawn, but of course the little princess tries to make it seem that way. I swear, if she storms out of a room one more time I might lose it. She's fifteen years old! Buffy was fighting her first vampires at that age, but dawn can't even cope with getting herself to school on time! Then she decides she's going to run off to her friend's house because Buffy 'doesn't want her around anyway.' It's not like she's been really seriously ill or anything and could use your support right now, dawn. No, just be your usual selfish self, no big deal.

Phew, I feel a bit better now. As you can see, the less dawn in an episode, the better I feel these days.

As for the actual plot of the episode, it's an interesting, if albeit flawed one. I like being able to question a character's perception of their reality, but the holes in this story are just too much to ignore. For one thing, the premise that she has already been in an institution is far too contrived. How are we supposed to buy that when it hasn't been mentioned, by ANYONE, in six years? I know you could argue that the Trio, who are behind the attack in the Sunnydale reality, were created by Buffy to blame for her moments of lucidity in the asylum reality, but I'm just not buying it. The episode tries hard and is certainly unnerving: i.e Spike telling Buffy to stop with the 'bloody hero trip' can certainly be interpreted as her brain telling her to stop with the Slayer fantasy and return to the 'real' world, if Spike really is just a figment of her own mind. SMG's acting is also pretty good here. Convinced that she has to kill her friends to escape her fantasy, Buffy ties them up in the basement and leaves them to face the demon that attacked her and caused her hallucinations. Luckily Tara comes to the rescue and Buffy chooses Sunnydale over the institution.

I really can't decide where I stand on which reality is real, but then maybe that's the point - maybe it doesn't matter. Both are real for Buffy when she's in them, but the fact that she chooses her life in Sunnydale makes me think that she is ultimately choosing her Slayer lifestyle, despite its many draw-backs. However the last scene really sticks with you - Buffy's parents being told that she has returned to her catatonic state, and that they'd lost her again. I know it's thrown in there to keep us questioning, but that's exactly what it did to me. I'm not saying it all checks out, continuity wise, but the episode alone does a good job of making us question what is real and unreal, and how much it even matters.

Other stuff going on in the episode: Spike issues Buffy an ultimatum - either she tells her friends about them, or he will. Spike is also giving Xander a hard time for leaving Anya at the altar, and I'm completely in agreement! Xander's been such a coward lately, I'm having trouble sympathising with him at all. He hasn't even seen Anya yet since the day and already he's being defensive, refusing to own up to what he's done. Plus he's back to being vile to Spike for no reason at all, and that really grates on me. Spike might not be perfect, but he doesn't deserve the treatment he gets. Oh, and Willow sees Tara with another girl and fears she is moving on.

My favourite part of the episode? Probably Buffy hitting Xander in the face with a frying pan. I can't stand that guy at the moment! A close second would of course be Buffy putting tape over dawn's mouth. Thank the lord, sweet silence from her screechy little voice.

I'm sorry, this was more angry than I intended...but at least I feel better!

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