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18 June 2014
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Episode Guide
Bargaining Part 1


Buffy's back, and this time she's perkier and sexier - and made out of metal and plastic. It's actually nice to see Sarah Michelle Gellar given a chance to smile for once. She had precious little opportunity during season five, so playing the Buffybot seems to be something of a treat for her.

If you consider Willow's solution to Buffy's death a bit of a cop-out, think again. Little on this show happens without major consequences for those involved, and raising the Slayer certainly has repercussions that will play out during the remainder of season six. Joss and Marti didn't build up to an epic cliff-hanger last season, only to brush it under the carpet straight away.

Everyone's looking particularly gorgeous this week - even though they all seem to be sponsored by World of Leather at times.

Sad to see Giles heading back to Blighty, but rest assured he won't be gone for too long.

Buffy's dead, but Scooby gang is forging gamely on, ditching demons. Amongst the action and their efforts to bring her back, there are moments of great emotion and tenderness, helped by the fact that the characters have all grown up and the actors' performances have matured.

I even felt something for the brattish Dawn as she clung to the Buffybot for comfort. And if all that emotion wasn't enough, we had the departure of Giles to cope with.

Such an episode could have been depressing, but luckily there's lots to laugh at amongst all the soul-searching and sadness. The Shrek-like deer scene (ewww!), Anya's insensitivity, the Buffybot's puns and Spike's adventures in babysitting - all help sweeten the pill.

Originally shown in one part, the enforced cliffhanger also works rather well. She's back, but this time she's muddy.

This is a nice meaty slab of Buffy, which should be solid enough for even the most Slayer-starved of fans. Dense plotting, great character dynamics and one hell of a cliffhanger all make Bargaining part one an edge-of-the seat experience. It's even more surprising how well this episode stands up on its own when you consider the fact that it was originally made shown as the first half of a feature-length premiere.

Subverting the traditional Buffy season premiere tradition of showing the Scoobies' rescued during their incompetent slaying by the Buffster, Bargaining instead shows them as a lean, mean staking machine. Well, almost. They're adults now, in control of their own lives, but they don't really want to be - a theme that season six will be returning to many times in the coming weeks.

Character comedy has always been the centre of Buffy, and in the topsy-turvy world after her death there's some great fun to be had from seeing the characters in strange new roles. Spike as a babysitter, for instance. The trademark quick-fire wit is there too, with Spike especially getting some great lines.

And, showing it's grown up as much as its characters, there's some very scary stuff. Try not to have any nightmares!

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