By Samantha Highfill
September 02, 2020 at 02:49 PM EDT
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Starting season 6, I knew it was a divisive year for Buffy, but I truly had no idea what I was getting into.

The season was a rollercoaster from the beginning. Things started off fine. I liked the reveal that Buffy was sad not because she was scarred from hell but because she'd been ripped away from heaven. That felt unexpected and interesting. Then Buffy goes to reunite with Angel off-screen and all we got was her saying "it was intense," which was infuriating! If you can't show them together for scheduling reasons or whatever, fine. But at least have Buffy tell Willow all about it or give us something!

The rollercoaster continues with a very boring Halloween episode and then the musical. The rumors are true — the musical is great! From the moment the demons started dancing behind Buffy in that opening number, I was hooked. And I enjoyed every moment of it, including the Spike-Buffy kiss at the end. Although that's probably where my Spike-Buffy enjoyment ended, but I'll get to that in a moment.

The episode after the musical where everyone loses their memories and Spike thinks he's Giles' son? Genius! Other good things: "Normal Again," where Buffy thinks she's been in a mental hospital this whole time. I'm not going to lie, that would've made for one heck of a series finale. And I loved the final episodes, a.k.a. the Dark Willow arc. Remember last season when I wanted Willow to be the key so we cared more? This had that effect! Not to mention that Tara getting shot the way she did — with us seeing her blood splatter on Willow — was the very definition of a shocking moment. There's such power in the fact that, after everything they've survived, a gun, something so real, is what took Tara out. That fits into the same scenario I talked about with Buffy's mom dying of something so human. When you fit those moments into such a fantastical show, they're always impactful.

But that's where my list of good things ends. So let's get into this season's problems. For starters, I was bummed to see a return to the villain problem I've talked about so much. Until Dark Willow appears at the end, the season's villain is ... The Trio? That's fun for an episode or two, but they simply don't carry the weight of a real big bad.

Then we get to the Spike-Buffy of it all. Let me start by saying I really liked the way the story was going! Spike's love for Buffy felt genuine and I'm mad that the writers dragged it through the mud this season. I didn't dislike everything with them, but I was never super on-board, mostly because their dynamic shifted in a way that made me uncomfortable. As they explored how Buffy "came back different," Spike and Buffy's relationship became this strange power play with a weird undertone of violence. Watching Buffy hate herself every time she slept with him was not enjoyable and is not what I want out of a romance.

Then you get to the invisible episode and I was OUT. I know this show is into creepy sex stuff, but watching Spike have sex with an invisible Buffy was them jumping the sex shark, as far as I'm concerned. (I'm making it a thing.) I was done in that moment. But little did I know, that was not the worst thing that would happen between the two of them.

Backing up for a second, I came into this show knowing very little about the actual plot. I knew a couple of the major deaths, because how could I not be spoiled over the years, but the biggest thing I knew was that a lot of viewers were either Team Angel or Team Spike, and that, to this day, they still debate it. I cannot explain how shocked I was to discover that one of the best-known ships in television history features an attempted rape and furthermore, that it's not something that's talked about, at least not enough for me to know it was coming. As much as it felt out of line with Spike's love for her, and therefore I'm angry at the writers, GUYS ... that ship sank the moment he didn't take no for an answer.

In the past, like with Joyce or Tara's death, I talked about the show's great use of reality. But this scene was a bit too real. He's a vampire, and she's the slayer, and yet the way they filmed it, with her unable to fight him off for most of it, felt incredibly raw and out of place with the show in a number of ways. Also, Spike saying "I know you felt it when I was inside you." GROSS! How did I not know this about such a famous ship?!

I already have problems with the average "she can fix the bad boy" love story, but this is no longer even a standard "bad boy" situation. We have to start drawing lines with what we'll accept in romances — and particularly what we'll root for — and I know this happened a long time ago, but it was never okay. Honestly, my shock is 20 percent that it happened and 80 percent that this seems to be a thing shippers just ignore? For years I've heard people talk about Spuffy, and I was so excited to watch it unfold, but never in a million years did I expect THIS.

My final note, unrelated to Spuffy, is this: I've decided that season 6 is what happens when you let Giles leave. (Also, give Giles powers again. Something about that just felt right.)

Finally, some superlatives:

Most relatable Anya quote: "I was being patient but it took too long."

Most relatable Buffy moment: When she tried to kick while wearing a pencil skirt.

Episode I'd least like to live inside: You'd think it'd be the one with the creepy alien spider babies, but it's probably the one where Buffy gets her fast food job? It would bore me to death.

Favorite Episode: "Once More With Feeling," duh.

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