Tabula Rasa (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"Tabula Rasa"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 8
Directed by David Grossman
Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Featured music "Goodbye to You" by Michelle Branch
Production code 6ABB08
Original air date November 13, 2001
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Once More, with Feeling"
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6)
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Tabula Rasa" is the eighth episode of season 6 of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It explores the characters not as they are, but as they could be, after they lose their memory to a spell gone awry.


Spike confronts Buffy about their kiss at the end of the previous episode and she tells him it will never happen again, then defends him from an attack by a demon loan shark. Willow, Xander, Anya and Tara talk about their discovery that they called Buffy back from Heaven, not Hell. Willow suggests fixing the mess with a spell and Tara confronts her about her excessive use of magic.[1] At the threat of losing Tara, a desperate Willow pledges to go a week without magic.[2]

At the Magic Box, Giles tells Buffy he is leaving for England so she can learn to stand on her own and Buffy takes the news very badly. With the gang on the way to the Magic Box for a meeting with Giles, Willow hangs back and begins another spell in the fireplace using a crystal and some Lethe's Bramble (the forgetting herb) that will make Tara and Buffy forget their troubles. Pocketing the crystal, in her rush, she accidentally leaves a full bag of the herb on the hearth.

At the shop, Giles informs the Scoobies, including a disguised Spike on the run from the loan shark, that he is leaving, and Buffy tearfully reveals that she feels deserted by everyone. Back at the Summers' house, a spark from the fireplace sets the entire bag of Lethe's Bramble on fire, causing the whole gang to fall unconscious. They wake up that evening with no knowledge of who they are. Spike suspects Giles is his father (because they're both British and Giles feels a gut-wrenching disappointment towards him), Anya assumes she is marrying Giles (because she is wearing an engagement ring and they jointly own the magic shop) and Willow and Xander think they are a couple (because they woke up next to each other and Willow is wearing his jacket). Giles, Anya, Xander, Willow and Tara figure out their names from their IDs and Dawn's from her necklace. Spike assumes his name is "Randy" because of the label inside his coat, and Buffy, with no evidence to her identity, names herself "Joan".

A pair of the loan shark's vampires attack the shop, looking for Spike, and frighten the gang. Buffy discovers she has super strength when she stakes one of the vampires and saves Spike. Anya and Giles remain at the magic shop to work on spells, while Buffy and Spike head outside to fight more vampires and the rest of the Scoobies retreat to the sewers in an attempt to get to a hospital. Unfortunately, they are menaced by a vampire, too.

When attacked, Spike unknowingly assumes his vampire visage, which sends Buffy running away in fear. When he catches up with her, Buffy attacks him and informs him that he is a vampire. He is confused, but assumes he is a good vampire because he doesn't want to bite her. The loan shark and his minions attack the two and a fight ensues.

Back in the shop, Anya tries spells from a book and conjures numerous bunnies, frightening her and exasperating Giles. Giles and Anya fight while hiding behind the counter and Giles reveals that he found a one-way plane ticket in his pocket for London, assuming he must be abandoning Anya. Anya begs him not to leave her and they kiss passionately. In the sewer, Xander fights with the vampire chasing them and finally stakes it, but then accidentally steps on Willow's crystal, which fell from her pocket during the commotion. The crystal shatters and the spell is broken, finding Giles and Anya kissing, Willow atop Tara after a fall, and Spike and Buffy deep in mid-action conversation. Tara and the others in the sewer realize that Willow used magic despite her promise.

With the spell broken and her memories rushing back, Buffy is momentarily too stunned to duck a few painful hits. Spike finishes off the rest of the vampires and promises to make up his debt to the intimidated loan shark.

Back at the house, Tara packs her belongings and leaves as Willow cries in another room. Giles takes his plane back to England. Spike finds Buffy at The Bronze, but she turns her face away and he stalks off. Later, however, they are shown kissing passionately beneath the stairs.


While the Scoobies generally have no memory upon waking up, they do retain certain aspects of their personalities.

  • Buffy, who does not find any identification card and so calls herself Joan, retains her semi-maternal protectiveness towards Dawn, who finds out her name by looking at her "Dawn"-necklace, even before guessing they might be related. Buffy also finds her niche as a Slayer when she stakes the intruding vampire.
  • Xander is immediately the first to panic and is blatantly attracted to Willow (which she partially rebuffs), and he later guesses that because her jacket has his last name on it, they're in a relationship. The other two romantic couples (Buffy and Spike, Willow and Tara) are drawn to each other despite their memory loss. After Xander's initial panic, Anya also appears to check him out.
  • Willow and Tara gradually realize their attraction to each other.
  • Spike doesn't realize he's a vampire immediately, and when he does he rationalizes that he must be a vampire with a soul; whether this is a hint at his eventual destiny or an ironic spin on his disgust at Angel is unclear. He does, however, maintain an unconditional relationship with Giles (based on the assumption they are father and son), and much of his colorful vocabulary. He also, not knowing the tweed suit he's wearing isn't his own, assumes his name is Randy Giles, which he balks at ("randy" being British slang for someone who is sexually aroused).
  • Anya maintains her phobia of bunnies and love of money, but presumes her engagement ring was given to her by Giles (with whom she co-owns the Magic Box), who in turn later assumes that his one-way plane ticket to England was to get away from her. Also worthy of note is that after she finds this out, she feels "compelled to take some vengeance" which alludes to her days as a vengeance demon and foreshadowing her return later in the season.

Production details


  • Michelle Branch - "Goodbye to You" - The dialogue-less scene at the end is accompanied by a performance in The Bronze by well known singer Branch, one of the most famous musical guests on the series, singing her song "Goodbye to You". The version used on the show was slightly different from the radio version.


  • Spike's entire rationalization speech for why he's a vampire helping the good guys is an almost direct description of Angel's life and motives.
  • In 2007's Angel: After the Fall #3, Brian Lynch reintroduces Loan Shark as the "Lord of Santa Monica."[3] Lynch also jokingly comments that should Joss have major plans for him in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, then you are to imagine it is his brother.
  • Spike's clothing and relationship to Giles in this episode were first hinted at in the season four finale, "Restless".

Arc significance

  • Even with their memories gone, certain things crop up;
    • Buffy, even before she realizes she's Dawn's sister, has the instinct to protect her.
    • As in "Doppelgangland", Willow suspects that she's gay, even using the same line, "... and I think I'm kinda gay."[4]
    • Tara and Willow are attracted to each other.
    • Xander is immediately attracted to Willow.
    • Xander and Anya fail to sense any mutual connection, foreshadowing their doomed engagement.
    • Spike and Buffy have an attraction between them.
    • Anya is still afraid of bunnies.
    • Anya alludes to being a vengeance demon when she says she should enact vengeance on Giles for leaving her, foreshadowing her return to being a vengeance demon later in the series.
    • Although Buffy retains many of her Slayer instincts, she and Spike feel no instinctive animosity towards each other, foreshadowing the significant change in direction of the relationship between the two in that season.
    • Anya is still motivated to protect the cash register and shop.
    • Upon realizing that he is a vampire and not, like Buffy, a "superhero", Spike remarks that he must be "a good guy, on a mission of redemption.... A vampire with a soul"...."to help the helpless". This is a reference to Angel, of which "helping the helpless" is a catchphrase.[5] Whether or not he ever seeks redemption is handled in the fifth season of Angel, but Spike does in fact regain his soul at the end of this season of Buffy.
  • Spike (as Randy) suggests that Giles must own some midlife crisis form of transportation, a 'shiny red' vehicle shaped like a part of male anatomy, referring to the red BMW convertible Giles drove in season 5.
  • Giles leaves Sunnydale until the final showdown with Willow at the end of the season.
  • Tara finally leaves Willow, who continues her downward spiral into magic addiction.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Marinaro, Mikelangelo (July 2, 2007). "6x08: Tabula Rasa". Critically Touched Reviews. Archived from the original on October 30, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  2. ^ Murray, Noel (December 10, 2010). ""Tabula Rasa"/"Quickening"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  3. ^ Brian Lynch (2008-01-24). "Your Qs Totally A'd, part one!". (Podcast). Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  4. ^ Kirshner, Rebecca Rand (November 13, 2001). "Buffy Episode #108: "Tabula Rasa" Transcript". BuffyWorld. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  5. ^ South, James B. (2003). Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Open Court Publishing Company. p. 242. ISBN 0-8126-9531-3.

External links

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