Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tabula Rasa   Rewatch 
January 20, 2016 9:44 PM - Season 6, Episode 8 - Subscribe

The gang gets a brief reprieve from their recently complicated situations when a duplicitous Willow casts another forgetting spell that goes a little too well.
posted by yellowbinder (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is a fun episode, to be sure, although I actually think "Spin the Bottle" from Angel, which rips the concept off, does it better. One niggle with this episode that never really gets resolved in its running time is quite how the memory spell has worked. In Spin the Bottle all the characters are essentially reverted to teenage versions of themselves. That gives a clear indication to what the characters like.

But in Tabula Rasa, who are these people? They don't remember who they are, just basic muscle memory. Does memoryless Xander have any connection to memory Xander? Do their basic personalities inform who they are. There's some indication that they do: Buffy and Dawn act sisterly, and Tara and Willow are still attracted to each other. But Spike isn't vampiric. He's apparently just an annoyed english guy. He doesn't desire to suck blood at all.

So what we end up is a an admittedly amusing episode that really has no reflection on the characters. There are some sad ironies: characters who are coming together with no memory are torn apart when they're restored. But ultimately this an episode that is incapable of doing anything other than being funny. Luckily, it is very funny!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:26 AM on January 21, 2016

I love this episode. I disagree about it not revealing much about the characters. I take it as showing us how the gang would be if they weren't weighed down with experience and inertia.

Joan is immediately maternal toward Umad, then heroic, attempting to rescue Randy.

Randy isn't heroic, but wants to be. He's naturally bitter and self-pitying ("You never show me affection like that . . . I'd wager"), but not naturally evil, though he seems to really enjoy combat.

Xander's reaction the saddest. Willow sees that her jacket is labeled Harris and Zander assumes that she must go out with a brother of his.

There's zero connection between Anya and Zander all episode. Anya notes that Giles and Spike have a rugged handsomeness, but she doesn't even look Xander's way. Meanwhile, Spike and Buffy get along pretty welll, even when they realize they are "natural" enemies.
posted by skewed at 7:52 PM on January 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

Quite the contrast with Tara and Giles' respective departures.

Tara leaving is one of the bravest things anyone does on the show. She's disowned her biological family, and she has to fear losing her chosen Scooby Gang family in the breakup with Willow. (And to a certain extent she does. Dawn's the only one who makes a conscious effort to reach out to Tara on her own volition. Buffy only reaches out to Tara in Dead Things because she needs some magic help and Willow's off the magic.)

(Last Giles rant for a while). I guess the thing that sticks in my craw the most is this:

Season 5: Buffy doesn't want to kill Dawn. Giles tells her to suck it up because the world needs saving.

Season 7: Willow expresses completely reasonable fears about leaving the coven before her training's completed, only a few months after torture, murder, and attempted genocide of the planet. Giles tells her the real issue is her fear of her friends hating her, and that she should just suck it up and go, because while she may not be wanted, she'll be needed.

Season 6: Giles claims that he hates seeing Buffy suffer, and is worried he'll intervene too much and hold her back. So the solution is not even to bother trying sticking around and doing something more helpful, it's just to leave so he doesn't have to try.

Did the writers even understand how appallingly hypocritical this makes Giles look? That he requires superhuman efforts from traumatized young women with the weight of the world on their shoulders, but can't be bothered to do nearly as much himself?
posted by creepygirl at 8:08 PM on January 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

I love this ep and I think gives a huge amount of insight into the characters. As much as Buffy bewails her fate, we see here that she is given to being hero in a more joyful way then when she was Anne. That Anya thinks she is supposed to be marrying Giles indicates the troubles that lie ahead with Xander. My only complaint is the lone shark demon is too on the nose.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:52 PM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Aww man I love the loan shark!

I guess I am in the minority here, but for the most part I don't see how illuminating this episode is on the character dynamics. I don't think memoryless Xander is really like normal Xander, he comes across as just some guy. Similarly Spike is just a sarcastic dude, which admittedly is a part of who the character is, but definitely not all of it. Don't get me wrong, I have fun with the episode, but I think it's a trifle.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:22 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

The loan shark was incredibly, mind-bendingly stupid, and I loved it for precisely that reason.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:03 AM on January 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

This isn't really related, but a video of Buffy running jokes
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:04 AM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

At the time I was vehemently anti-loan-shark, but with the benefit of hindsight I have decided that the loan shark completely obliterates the fine line between clever and stupid and becomes hilarious.

Also with the benefit of hindsight, I've decided that while Tara in this episode is wonderful, what hurts the most is seeing Buffy have so much damn fun at this particular point in the show's run.
posted by Stacey at 8:18 AM on January 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

The loan shark being characterized as Jewish ("Chutzpah must be your
middle name!") is a pretty weird and distasteful choice.
posted by ITheCosmos at 9:01 AM on June 25, 2016

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