Episode Title: Tabula Rasa
Original Air Date: November 13th 2001
“Time is what turns kittens into cats” – Teeth
Coming down from last weeks singing and dancing extravaganza, this episode sees the group dealing with the fallout which makes sense seeing how you can’t binge on sugar without a crash. Still with the Scoobies dealing with the fact they may have pulled Buffy out of heaven, Giles planning his return to England and Spike and Buffy dealing with conflicting emotions. Still Willow believing she can solve all her problems with magic decides to cast a memory loss spell over Tara and Buffy only to instead gives the whole group magically induced amnesia just in time for the demon loan shark “Teeth” to arrive in Sunnydale to collect on Spike’s gambling debts.
With “The Trio” still out of the picture for the moment the focus is instead switched back to Willow for this episode, who still drunk on her success at resurrecting Buffy continues to abuse her magic, despite warnings from Tara who is understandably none to pleased with having discovered that her girlfriend has been wiping the memories of their fights. I guess this is especially understandable seeing how not too long ago she had her brain drained by Glory, so to have someone else tinkering around in her head probably isn’t appreciated.
Determined to keep Tara Willow promises to live a month without magic and of course like any kind of addict manages to soon slip back into old habits only this time wiping the whole groups memories when her spell goes astray. Now normally amnesia episodes can be something of a drag as characters fumble about getting flashes of their memories but here with the whole group stuck down with amnesia it actually makes for a suprisingly fun episode. More so with the group often misreading the world around them and leading to fun mistakes being made such as Giles and Spike believing that they related because they are both British, while Anya thinks she is married to Giles because they jointly own the Magic Box.
This amnesia also brings back a lot of old memories for some of the group as Willow and Xander noticeably have feelings for each other again, with Willow and Tara not showing any signs of attraction until the end. Giles meanwhile still retains all his skills and abilities rather than reverting back to his ripper side which is what I always assume that he’s hiding. I also really love Buffy’s suprise at discovering her slayer abilities mistaking them for Superpowers much like Spike whose forgotten he’s a vampire. Anya meanwhile shows some spell casting ability, though its seemingly only the ability to summon rabbits which off course send her into a blind panic seeing how they are the scariest thing in the world
Sadly all memory loss can’t stop Giles from leaving which he does at the end of the episode, which while he’s a character I hate to loose, it makes sense for Buffy’s character as he believes she will never be able to survive without him if he doesn’t leave now, forcing her to embrace her own independence. True its a loss for the show but ultimately one which is needed for characters to grow beyond being eternal students which at times it often felt like when Giles was present to play the father figure to them all.
The relationship aspect to the episode is kind of a mixed bag with the break up of Willow and Tara feeling like it has been a long time coming especially now re watching the series with a more critical eye than before. Its a refreshing change for Tara to not see her being treated like a doormat and actually standing up for herself, though its confusing why Dawn chooses to give her the cold shoulder when Willow is the one clearly in the wrong. On the other side of things Buffy and Spike still makes none the more sense even now outside of the writers trying to appeal to that portion of the fanbase who wanted it to happen, so for them they get to enjoy the pair making out at the Bronze were this week I was kinda pleased to recognise the singer as being Michelle Branch rather than some forgotten 90’s band for whom the show was the career high water mark.
While the episode itself is great and has an equally great monster of the week in Teeth the Shark headed loan shark, the downside is in the practical make up effects for this character which essentially looks like they had a fantastic concept and zero time to pull it off and as such the character looks alittle static and too mask like, especially compared to some of the incredible creations we have seen on the show over the years and its a credit to Raymond O’ Connor that he’s able to bring this character to life the way he does. The nod back to the previous episode’s gambling for kittens once more comes into play here as Spike owes Teeth a kitten debt though why kittens are currency still is frustratingly not revealed. Sadly nothing can save Tara’s hair which is one of those 90’s casulties which somehow stumbled into 2001.
An episode which despite the fun tone sees the season taking some massive strides in terms of plotting and even though the plot has some holes it is certainly another under the radar favourite for sure.
Next Episode: Smashed