Episode 6.17: Normal Again. Original Airdate 3.12.02
"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."
- One of the reasons for my hate of this episode is No Anya.
- But that's only one reason.
- Ugh, the trio. Hey remember when they killed that girl? The show remembers.
- Hey! A digeridoo.
- Scary lookin demon. Good make-up.
- And scary mental hospital!
- Aww, Willow's kinda cute with the nervousness.
- Xander doesn't deserve those hugs.
- "She was kinda broken." - FEEL GUILTY, XANDER.
- Xander: I screwed up real bad. Buffy: We all screw up. Me: YES BUT YOU SCREWED UP MORE.
- YES. GO SPIKE. I AM TEAM SPIKE AT THIS ONE VERY SMALL MOMENT OF HIM VERBAL-PUMMELING XANDER.
- Hey it's Joyce! Oh and Hank.
- Xander, stop being so glib. You have lost that right.
- It's day. So it's the next day? Did they wait all night to talk about this?
- Did she get that cute haircut in the mental institution, too? I kinda would have liked if SMG was wearing a wig or something in the mental institution scenes.
- I love all the explanations especially regarding Dawn.
- And I love the commentary on the show - how she's used to (in her mind, but also the show) fighting all these Gods and Demons and now she just has three random nerds.
- New knowledge of Buffy: Back before the series started, Buffy spent some time in an institution; well a clinic.
- Oh Dawn. Way to make this about you. First of all, how did you not realize before now that you weren't in the other reality? Nothing mystical is real there. Secondly, how can you call it her ideal alternate reality when she's been in a mental institution for six years?
- Ok ok, they showed Spike flinching at the sunlight. That's something, at least.
- Oh it's so sad that Buffy is accepting this alt. reality like it's the only reality.
- "Last summer's momentary awakening." I'm assuming is when she died. But the fact that she has no memory of that should be a clue.
- When Buffy releases the demon, why doesn't it come after her?
- All right! Tara to the rescue!
- I love the "You're right. Thank you. Goodbye." - when Buffy finally realizes her real reality.
- See, the reason I always disliked this episode was because of the ending - where it seems like the show is saying that the real reality is the mental institution one. At least that's the way I took it for years. Instead, I choose to believe that the demon that "poked" Buffy didn't actually cause her to have hallucinations but rather created an alternate dimension/reality, kind of like Anya(nka) did in The Wish. So the Buffy in the mental institution was real; it just wasn't our Buffy's reality because the only really real Buffy is really Buffy. And that makes me like this episode more than I used to.
- I know this one's controversial, but I remember really loving this episode when it aired. Let's see if that's still true. Also, I have a good reason, though I have to give credit to my sister for explaining what makes the ending amazing.
- Oh good, Buffy's looking for the nerds again.
- So I would like to know the exact nature of the demon's power. I'm gonna say the venom doesn't come fully loaded with the constructed "alternate universe," but that it's some kind of powerful hallucinogenic that relies on the victim's brain to create the nightmare. Because all the stuff that happens in the asylum is, I'm sure, stuff that's been knocking around Buffy's subconscious for a while now.
- Man, poor Buffy though. What a horrific thing to be hallucinating, that everyone you thought you knew and loved is a fiction, that you can't trust your own senses.
- Parking lot! Do a shot!
- Oh god, when the camera reveals Joyce, everything in me breaks.
- How small Buffy's voice is when she says "Mom?"
- What makes it hurt so much, I think, is how plausible it suddenly seems - that it was all imagined. But I disagree with Daniel (and others) think the episode actually considers this a viable alternate reality, or possibly the true reality. The framework of the show makes it clear it's a hallucination, no matter how complex and comprehensive the delusion is.
- "Just three pathetic little men who like playing with toys." I think the other reason people don't like this episode is, if they were already dissatisfied with the season as it was going (especially because at this point we thought the Trio was the big bad, and didn't realize Willow was being set up for us), and they thought the doctor's explanations of Buffy's "delusions" was too much of a nod/hat tip to the complaints levied against the season so far, and they didn't think self-awareness of the perceived flaw was enough to make up for it. Sorry if this is kind of a mess, I'm trying to logic this out while I watch Buffy break my heart.
- "I still say we're gonna need eight other guys to pull this off." // "I never should have let you see that movie." BUT OCEAN'S ELEVEN IS AN INSTANT CLASSIC, YOU HOMICIDAL JERK.
- Aw Jonathan realizes Warren and Andrew are plotting against him. Get out now, Jonathan! And go to prison where you belong!
- God this just breaks my heart. Buffy did tell Joyce when she first became the Slayer, and she was institutionalized for it. It adds a whole new heartbreaking layer to how and why she doesn't tell her mom in the narrative of the show, until she has no choice. And then Joyce rejected her again. *hugs Buffy forever*
- "What if I'm still there? What if I never left that clinic?" SMG is acting the hell out of this episode, you guys.
- Man, Spike was way more mature last episode about the breakup. He's being a bit of a shit right now.
- "Oh balls, you didn't say he was a Glaghk Guhl Kashma'nik." // "Cause i can't say glar - " *gets punched*
- "We have to deal with these things, Dawn -" // "You don't have a sister, Buffy." STOP HURTING ME.
- The way Buffy's savoring each time Joyce strokes her. IT HURTS.
- We know I have issues with Dawn, but man it's gotta hurt. "I'm not even there, am I?" But then she has the dumbassery to call it Buffy's ideal reality? Ah yes, everyone longs to be schizophrenic and institutionalized. That sounds awesomesauce.
- Oh look, Spike's also being a shit about Buffy being ill. Stop being a shit. Stop. Go away.
- And then - when threatened with the already unpleasant reality she's living getting even more unpleasant - Buffy pours out the antidote. Chooses the new reality.
|Nice going, Spike.|
- This should be the moment it's clear to everyone - Buffy and the audience - that this is a hallucination and not an alternate reality or the possible "real" reality. When the doctor refers to Buffy's stint in heaven as a few months of clarity. No way would Buffy describe time in an institution, even if she's "clear," as heaven. No way no how. While it's an interesting nod/acknowledgement, it's a clue this isn't real.
- I'm sorry, I can't help laughing when Buffy wallops Xander in the face with a frying pan. I get that it's horrific, but also it's really funny. There is tragically no gif I can find of this moment.
- Hey Dawn, stop making Buffy's illness about you.
- Like seriously, both Dawn and Spike, STOP TAKING SOMEONE ELSE'S HALLUCINATIONS PERSONALLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.
- "What's more real, a sick girl in an institution, or some kind of supergirl chosen to fight demons and save the world. That's ridiculous. A girl who sleeps with a vampire she hates? Yeah, that makes sense." Seriously, SMG deserves awards for this episode. She's knocking it out of the park.
- And then the eeriness, when she's attacking Dawn, reminiscent of her fugue dream in The Weight of the World.
- Tara to the rescue! Maybe? I forget what happens here. I think Buffy trips her on the stairs?
- Because actually wait I do remember it'll be Buffy to the rescue. Okay let's keep going. We're getting so close to my favorite part.
- When Joyce, comforting Buffy, says "You're too good to give in, you can beat this thing. Be strong, baby, okay? I know you're afraid. I know the world feels like a hard place sometimes, but you've got people who love you ... You've got a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself." and you think that means Buffy's going to stay in her delusion. But then she says "You're right. Thank you. Goodbye." And everything hurts because she's saying goodbye to the possibility of keeping Joyce. Because - this is from my sister's explanation - here's what's happening. This is a delusion, right? This is Buffy's brain. And Buffy's brain reminds her, even when she feels the most broken, that she is strong and good and alive. Buffy's brain talks her back into embracing reality, herself, and life. This is so fucking huge. And you can see it in Buffy's face. This scene absolutely kills me, and it's why I love this episode.
- And Buffy returns to Sunnydale and saves her friends.
- And this is the part that pisses everyone off, because the episode flashes back at the end to Buffy, catatonic in the institution. And people hate that because they say the episode is still trying to present this as a possible reality. I disagree. Buffy hasn't taken the antidote yet, she's still flashing between reality and hallucination. She's just choosing to not engage in the hallucination anymore - hence, catatonia.
- THIS EPISODE KILLS ME SO MUCH.
- Though Daniel is right, too much Xander, not enough Anya.
You want more crossfire? Did you not read any of this post?
Daniel & Zelda: "You're right. Thank you. Goodbye." - Buffy
- Recurring: The Trio, Tara, Sunnydale U, Doublemeat Palace, Joyce and Hank
- Andrew's using his demon summoning skills again
Anya's Hair - invisible
Dead Humans - 0
Dead Undeads - 1
Dead Flashbacks - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 0
Apocalypse Called - 0