Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 6, Episode 8

Tabula Rasa (13 Nov. 2001)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Drama | Fantasy
9.0
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Reviews: 4 user | 2 critic

Willow tries to solve too many problems with magic, accidentally making herself and the others forget who they are just as a demon loan shark and his boys come looking to collect a debt from Spike.

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Title: Tabula Rasa (13 Nov 2001)

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Rupert Giles (as Anthony Stewart Head)
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Teeth
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Geordie White ...
Vamp #1
Stephen Triplett ...
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David Franco ...
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Willow tries to solve too many problems with magic, accidentally making herself and the others forget who they are just as a demon loan shark and his boys come looking to collect a debt from Spike.

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Action | Drama | Fantasy

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TV-PG | See all certifications »
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13 November 2001 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The neighborhood Buffy and Spike fight in is the Desperate Housewives (2004) neighborhood set (also used in the film The 'Burbs (1989)). See more »

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When the gang is in the Magic Box and they pass out, we see Buffy fall on the floor at the top of the stairs, but in the next shot she has moved and is now lying on the steps. See more »

Quotes

Anya: What? I-I'm, just saying what everyone's thinking. Right, baby?
Xander Harris: You are attractive, and have many good qualities.
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References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme
Written by Nerf Herder
Performed by Brandon K. Verrett
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User Reviews

 
One of the show's best episodes
5 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In a lot of ways, I think that "Tabula Rasa" is the last "neo-classic" BTVS episode. The "classic" era of the show ended and was rebuilt in season four, after losing Cordy, Oz and Angel. At which point, the "neo-classic" era began. Spike, Tara and Anya (and eventually Dawn) were added and BTVS become more "adult" themed. After "Tabula Rasa" BTVS starts changing, again. Only this time not as successfully. After this, BTVS becomes a much darker show. (I'll call the future episodes BTVS's "Baroque" era. Not as artistically perfect and more dependent on creating drama than the earlier periods.) "Tabula Rasa" is the last time the whole "Second Scoobie" gang --Buffy, Giles, Dawn, Spike, Anya, Xander, Willow and Tara-- will be together on screen. It's one of the few remaining episodes that will so successfully mix humor, heartache, character development, action, and story. It isn't as depressing as the rest of season six, or structured as oddly as season seven. "Tabula Rasa" basically just feels "right." It's BTVS's as its best and you flat out can't skip it.

The episode revolves around Willow's newest spell going wrong. After the events of "Once More With Feeling," Buffy is furious that Giles plans to go back to England. And Tara threatens to leave Willow unless she gives up the magic. Willow agrees, but she can't help herself. In an effort to make Buffy forget about the pain of her resurrection, Willow tries using a magic crystal to erase Buffy's memory of her "death." Unfortunately, as the Scoobies meet at the Magic Box, she accidentally erases everyone's memories. The Scoobies have no idea who they are and they try to figure out what's going on. Anya and Giles decide that they must be engaged. Spike think he's Giles' son. Xander and Willow think that they're dating. And, when vampires attack, Buffy realizes that she's "like a super hero or something."

It seems that a loan shark is after Spike. (Spike owes him some kittens.) Spike is hiding at the Magic Box, seeking sanctuary and the loan shark is coming after him. (On a side note, it's cool how much of this episode references back to season four's "Reastless.") The Scoobies are shocked that vampires are real. They try to come up with a plan to deal with the attack. Spike and Buffy try to fight the vampires. Anya and Giles work to use magic on them. Willow, Tara, Xander and Dawn go through the sewers to get help. (Where Willow decides that she might be "kinna gay," a cool reference to season three's "Dooplegangland.") Willow's spell is finally broken when Xander steps on the crystal and everyone's memories come rushing back. Most of the Scoobies wish that they hadn't, though. Tara leaves Willow, this final spell proving to her that Willow won't stop using magic. Giles leaves town, thinking that Buffy will never stand on her own with him there. Buffy becomes even more depressed and finds comfort by kissing Spike.

There's a lot to like about this episode. From the Scoobies discussing a video club to cheer Buffy up, to their confusion about their names. Anya can't pronounce her name right. Buffy decides to call herself "Joan" because she doesn't have any ID. Willow doesn't like her name. Xander is suddenly "Alex." And Spike thinks that his name is "Randy." It's really interesting. Also, I love Giles and Anya thinking that they're engaged. They're so funny together, bickering about "magic tricks" and breaking up, only to reunite with a passionate kiss. ("Oh Rupie!" "On ANN-ya.") I also like the Scoobies reactions when they see the vampires. Screaming, praying, and fainting. And the disbelief on Spike's face when the vampires demand kittens is just hilarious. Now he knows how Buffy feels when she has to hear about their demon "currancy." Finally, the montage of scenes with the at the end, as the characters react to their experiences and the Michelle Branch song "Goodbye to You" plays, is one of the strongest episode finales ever.

What I think is especially interesting about this episode is Spike's reaction. He doesn't have a soul, or any memory of his chip, or of his slow journey toward redemption. He should be evil again, like any "normal" demon. Yet, he really feels that he's "good." Even after Spike learns that he's a vampire, he refuses to accept that he's evil. He's confused, but he finally tells Buffy that he must be a "nobel vampire." A vampire with a soul on a quest for redemption. "I help the helpless." (Buffy is utterly contemptuous of that idea. "A vampire with a soul? My God, how lame is that?" Which is pretty funny, since "helping the helpless" is poor Angel's mission statement over on "Angel.") But the point is, Spike shouldn't WANT to be heroic. He shouldn't be able to feel anything or to try to do good. He should be a soulless killer. But, instead Spike automatically sides with the white hats. I think that it says a lot about the humanity that still lurks inside of Spike. He is different that other vampires. Better. As if a part of William has always survived.

On the down side, it would have been cool if Spike and Giles accents and personalities revert to what they were before. Giles could have been Ripper again and Spike could have been William. It would have been fun.

My favorite part of the episode: Giles and Spike assuming that they're father and son. From bickering about Anya ("Oh great, a tarty step-mum who's half old Dad's age."), to the Giles searching his feeling about Spike trying to spark a memory (The emotions he comes up with are "familiarity and disappointment."), to their awkward farewell hug, it's all just great. And Spike's right. Giles' does have a red, shiny "midlife crisis" car. I just wish we could have seen them coming face-to-face after they regained their memories.


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