A blank tablet. An empty space, waiting for creativity to bring life to it.

3. A bloody fantastic album by Einstürzende Neubauten. Blixa Bargeld says (and this time we believe him) that he has hidden 12 riddles in the songs. Personally, I haven't gone anywhere near trying to figure them out; they're hidden in a rather Nick Bantock sort of way, where part of the "fun" is figuring out what the question is, never mind finding the answers. One of them, apparently, involves semtex. And you thought modern music's IQ had gone down the toilet! Think again!

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Contains Season 6 spoilers. Don't read if you don't want to know.

Tabula Rasa: Amnesia isn't just for soap operas anymore, as one of Willow's spells leads the Scoobies to forget who they are.
Season 6, Episode 8
First US Airdate: November 13, 2001
Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner, Directed by David Grossman

Guest Stars:
Anthony Stewart Head... Giles
Amber Benson... Tara
Raymond O'Connor... Teeth, the Loan Shark
Michelle Branch... Herself

Episode synopsis
Previously: Xander and Anya announced their engagement / Spike cheated at kitten poker / Buffy's becoming too dependent on Giles / Willow cast a forgetting spell on Tara / Buffy told everyone (through song) that she was in heaven / Buffy and Spike kissed

We open on a scene familiar to any Buffy fan: Buffy in the cemetery, stake in hand. She's joined by Spike, who wants to talk about their kiss. Buffy wants to do anything BUT talk about it, and the conversation is soon interrupted by Teeth (a loan shark in both the occupational and physical sense) and his vampire goons. Teeth has come to collect a debt from "Mr. Spike" – 40 Siamese kittens. Teeth's goons try some of the violence that the debt collection industry is so infamous for, but they don't stand a chance against the Slayer. During the fight, Spike takes off, leaving Buffy to wonder how much easier her life would be if she'd just stop saving Spike's life. Roll credits.

While Buffy's patrolling, Xander, Anya, Willow, and Tara are at Xander's apartment talking about Buffy's experience in heaven. Willow suggests a spell to make Buffy forget she was in heaven, but Tara reacts badly to this suggestion. Tara tells Willow that she knows Willow cast a forgetting spell on her. Willow, upset because Tara's upset, says that she doesn't need magic and agrees to go a week without doing any spells. The scene then cuts to Buffy's training room at the Magic Box, where Giles has just told Buffy that he has to leave. Buffy feels like he's trying to abandon her just when she needs him most. Giles explains that she needs to trust herself and stand alone, and that she won't do that as long as he's there for her to fall back on.

The next day, Tara and Dawn head off to the Magic Box for a Scooby meeting. Willow stays behind; she's wrapped up in towels, so Tara and Dawn assume that she just got out of the shower and isn't ready to leave yet. As soon as they're out the door, Willow heads back upstairs, magics herself into something more presentable, and goes over to the fireplace. She casts a memory spell on both Buffy and Tara this time, using a small piece of Lethe's Bramble and a crystal that will tell her when the spell is cast.

Cut to the Magic Box. Willow and Xander arrive, with Willow wearing Xander's jacket (apparently, her conjured clothing wasn't made for warmth). Before Giles can tell them what's going on, Spike runs in wearing a very uncharacteristic brown suit and hat with earflaps. As he explains, it's a disguise to help him hide from Teeth. Back at Buffy's house, a spark from the fireplace ignites Willow's entire bag of Lethe's Bramble. Giles finally tells everyone that he's moving back to England. Buffy's to upset to stay, but Willow stops her before she leaves and apologizes for how bad things have been for her. Suddenly, everyone in the room passes out. Willow's entire bag of Lethe's Bramble has been reduced to ash, and her spell has gone very wrong.

Later that night, everyone wakes up with a case of amnesia, and they try to figure out who they are. Giles and Spike, both British, must be father and son. Anya sees her engagement ring and figures that she's engaged to Giles. Willow then realizes that they might have ID cards, and she, Xander, Tara, and Giles find out their names. Dawn is wearing a necklace with her name on it, so she knows that her name is Dawn. Spike's disguise jacket has a label that says "Made with care for Randy", so he figures that his name is Randy Giles. Willow woke up wearing Xander's jacket, so they must be a couple. Anya then finds her cash register key, and she finds some papers that say that Anya and Rupert own the magic shop together, so she now knows her name (although she pronounces it wrong). The only one still unnamed is Buffy, who names herself Joan. Dawn thinks it's lame, as names go, and she and Buffy start bickering. After seeing their behavior towards each other, they figure out that they're sisters.

Now that they (sort of) know who they are, the Scoobies decide to head to the hospital, but find two of Teeth's vamp goons at the front door looking for Spike. Willow and Xander find a trapdoor that leads to the sewers, but the vamps burst in before they can get to it. A brawl ensues, during which Buffy stakes one of the vamps. The Scoobies are awestruck at this, and Buffy hatches a plan; she and Spike will take care of the vamps outside, and everyone else will head to the hospital. Anya wants to stay and "protect the cash register," so she and Giles stay behind to do some spells.

Buffy and Spike head out the front door and start fighting with the vamps outside. During the fight, Spike's vamp face comes out, and Buffy runs off after she sees that trusted ally Randy is a vampire. Meanwhile, Willow, Xander, Tara, and Dawn reach the sewers, but are ambushed by a vampire. In the Magic Box, Anya and Giles search for a spell that will help with the amnesia. Anya grabs a random book and reads a spell from it that causes a rabbit to appear. Outside, Spike has caught up with Buffy. She tells him that he's a vampire, and he believes that he must be a noble vampire because he has no desire to bite her. Back at the Magic Box, the bunnies are multiplying prodigiously as Anya continues trying random spells from the book she's chosen. In the sewers beneath them, Xander, Tara, Willow, and Dawn try to hide from the vampire that is chasing them.

The action picks up in all three places, as Buffy and Spike fight the vampires outside, Giles sword fights a skeleton that Anya has conjured, and Xander takes on the vamp in the sewer. In a moment of frustration, Giles pulls out his one way ticket to London and tells Anya that it's no wonder that he's leaving her. He finally finds a spell to counteract everything that Anya has conjured, and Anya apologizes, begging Giles not to leave her. All is apparently forgiven as they kiss. Down in the sewer, everyone is still trying to keep away from the vampire. In the midst of everything, Willow's memory charm crystal falls out of the pouch she was keeping it in, and after dusting the vamp, Xander steps on it and breaks it. Everyone's memories return, and Tara, Xander, and Dawn figure out quickly what has happened.

The end of the episode is a musical montage set to Michelle Branch's "Goodbye To You", during which Tara packs her things and moves out, Giles is on the plane to London, and Buffy and Spike kiss at the Bronze.

Things to note

  • This is one of the season 6 "wackiness ensues" episodes, as I like to categorize them. I have a feeling that the writers knew full well that most of the rest of the season was going to be depressing and kind of disturbing, so they added episodes like this one, "Gone", and possibly "Doublemeat Palace" to lighten things up a bit. Amnesia-as-plot is a favorite amongst sci-fi/fantasy shows – see TNG episode "Conundrum," entire "John Doe" series.
  • The title, "Tabula Rasa", is spoken during Willow's spell. According to Webby over at the entry for Tabula, Tabula rasa is "a smoothed tablet; hence, figuratively, the mind in its earliest state, before receiving impressions from without; -- a term used by Hobbes, Locke, and others, in maintaining a theory opposed to the doctrine of innate ideas." Even though their minds are figurative blank slates, some of the Scoobies hold on to parts of their personalities: Buffy and Dawn know early on that they're sisters just from their behavior towards each other, Buffy figures out that she's the leader, and Willow retains her "kinda gay"-ness.
  • Willow's behavior can't possibly be leading to anything good. Apparently, the "no magic for a week" bargain only applies when Tara's in the room, as Willow is pretty quick to use magic once Tara leaves. Spinning out of control? I should say so. At this point, it's pretty obvious that Willow's going to hit bottom at some point, it's just a matter of when.
  • Quotes

    Anya: Do you think she walked around on clouds wearing, like, Birkenstocks and played a harp? 'Cause those are just not flattering... you know, the clunky sandals, not a harp. I mean, who doesn't look good with a harp?

    Buffy: Any suggestions on how we're gonna get there?
    Spike: Dad can drive. He's bound to have some classic midlife crisis transport. Something red, shiny, shaped like a penis.

    Spike: I must be a noble vampire... A good guy... On a mission of redemption. I help the hopeless. I'm a vampire with a soul.
    Buffy: A vampire with a soul? Oh my God, how lame is that?

    Willow: How you doin', Dawn?
    Dawn: Uh, I'm okay. It's scary, but weirdly, kind of familiar.
    Willow: I know what you mean.
    Dawn: How are you?
    Willow: A little confused. I mean, I'm all sweaty and trapped, no memory, hiding in a pipe from a vampire... and I think I'm kinda gay.

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