Villains (Buffy episode)

Infobox Television episode

Series=Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Airdate=May 14 2002
Writer=Marti Noxon
Director=David Solomon
Guests=Danny Strong
Adam Busch
Tom Lenk
Jeff Kober
Amelinda Embry
Amber Benson
Episode list=List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes
Prev=Seeing Red
Next=Two to Go

"Villains" is the 20th episode of season 6 of the television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

Plot synopsis


In the aftermath of the vengeful Warren's assassination attempt, Buffy tries to recover from a severe gunshot wound, while Tara is also hit and dies. Willow, consumed by wrath and rage over Tara's murder, saturates herself with deadly black magic from the Magic Shop, which physically transforms her into a dark being. Dark Willow magically heals Buffy, and then goes out seeking to kill the murderous Warren.

Meanwhile, the arrested Jonathan and Andrew share a jail cell while they debate their next move.

Warren, aware that Willow is after him, seeks allies at a demon bar and approaches junkie warlock, Rack, for help, while Buffy, Xander, and Dawn grieve after they learn of Tara's death as well as finding out that Anya has returned to being a vengeance demon.

Also, Spike travels to a remote African village where he asks a mysterious cave dwelling demon to return him to his former self.

Expanded overview

An ambulance arrives at the Summers' house and Xander leads them to Buffy's still body. Meanwhile, upstairs, a tearful Willow begs for Tara to return to her and calls upon Osiris to bring Tara back to life. The god denies Willow's request, explaining that the death was natural and human and cannot be undone. The resurrection of Buffy was allowed because her death was the result of magical forces, but Tara's was the result of a mortal killing a mortal. Devastated and angry, Willow banishes the god with a violent, powerful scream. Xander accompanies the paramedics to their truck out front as a determined Willow exits the house. He tells her Warren Mears shot Buffy and she leaves on a mission while Xander joins Buffy in the ambulance.

At the police station, Andrew Wells and Jonathan Levinson talk about the fact that they're in jail and debate about whether Warren will be rescuing them. Elsewhere, Warren buys a round of drinks at Willie's bar. He brags to a vampire about how he killed the Slayer. The vampire and demon bartender inform Warren that Buffy's still alive, as the news just reported the story. Willow barges into the magic shop and heads directly for the black arts books. Anya tries to stop her, but Willow literally stops her from moving. Willow pulls the books off the shelves, sticks her hands into the pages and sucks the words into her body. Her eyes and hair turn black as she completely consumes the darkness. Dawn returns home from school to an empty house and walks into Willow's bedroom, finding Tara's dead body lying on the floor.

Warren visits Rack's place (shown the way by one of Rack's 'regulars' for $20), demanding protection from the Slayer. Rack warns him that his biggest concern lies with Willow, who really wants him dead and she's got the power to do it. In exchange for a lot of money, Rack agrees to give Warren some powers to help him combat Willow. But Rack tells Warren that there's no guarantee any of it will work, for a scorned witch's powers are greater than anything in the world. At a hospital, doctors and nurses struggle to keep Buffy alive but soon their job is taken over as Willow, now wearing dark clothing, enters the room and orders everyone else out. Xander watches as Willow approaches Buffy's body and raises the bullet from Buffy's chest and heals the wound. Buffy wakes up, restored, and asks what happened. Willow welcomes Buffy back and tells them that they must hurry to get to Warren.

Xander follows Willow's directions as he drives down a deserted desert road and Buffy tries to reason with Willow about her choice to go after Warren, and that Willow's using magic again. Willow snaps at Buffy by informing her that if she didn't use magic back at the hospital to heal her, Buffy would be dead right now. To both Xander and Willow's chagrin, Buffy responds with indifference and tries changing the subject about their pursuit of Warren. Xander then intervenes on both first telling Buffy to give Willow a break considering that she saved her life, and then to Willow about breaking her promise not to use magic. Rushed, Willow takes control of the car and leads it to another road where a city bus is approaching. She uses magic to take control of the bus and once it is stopped, she orders Warren off the bus. He barely manages to beg for forgiveness before she wraps her hand around his throat and starts to strangle him. Willow is only angered more when she finds that she was tricked and it was actually a Warren robot. Willow finally tells Buffy and Xander about Tara's death, that Warren accidentally shot her when he was shooting at Buffy. Buffy pleads with her not to kill Warren, because it's wrong and it will take her to a dark place from which she might never return. But Willow doesn't want to listen and shoves them away as she teleports.

Buffy and Xander return to the house that evening and find Dawn crying and huddled in the corner of Willow's bedroom, staring at Tara's dead body. Buffy tries to comfort her sister, neither of them really able to grasp the situation.

The coroner takes Tara's dead body away and Xander sees them out. When Xander and Buffy begin to talk about Willow, an angry Dawn jumps in with her view that Warren should be killed. Even Xander agrees that they must find and kill Warren for what he's done. Buffy is clearly disturbed by this and doesn't think it's acceptable for Warren to be killed just because he killed Tara. The way Buffy sees it: Warren is just a normal human and that it's wrong for a Slayer or anyone to kill a human regardless of the bad deeds he's done, even though she knows that the justice system does not always work. Concerned for her friend, Buffy wants this crisis to end without Willow destroying herself. Xander and Dawn agree with Buffy that they must find Willow and bring her home. But both Xander and Dawn still stick to their views that Warren should die for his crimes. Buffy refuses to allow Dawn to tag along, and Dawn asks to stay with Spike. Xander immediately gets upset by Buffy's willingness to let that happen and reminds her of Spike's actions the night before, but she's confident Spike can't hurt Dawn and he is their only option. In Tara's dorm room, Willow uses her shirt, splattered with Tara's blood, and magic to create a map to guide the way to Warren.

Buffy and Dawn show up at Spike's crypt, but find Clem staying there instead who tells them that Spike left town late last night. Neither Buffy or Dawn know how to react to this news. Since Spike is gone, Buffy asks Clem if Dawn can stay with him for a while and he's more than happy to have the company. As she leaves, Buffy asks about Spike and his whereabouts and if he will be returning, but Clem has few answers. Across the world, in a remote part of Africa, Spike enters a cave, despite warnings from one of the tribesmen. Inside the cave, Spike greets a demon in the shadows, wanting a change. The demon assumes that Spike wants to return to his former self, and he doesn't think Spike has what it takes to earn that. Spike is confident that he will earn it, and he demands what he came for if he succeeds.

Back in Sunnydale, Xander talks to Anya as she recovers from Willow's magic. She feels Willow's cry for vengeance and Xander discovers that she's returned to being a vengeance demon. Buffy soon arrives, and she and Xander question Anya about where her loyalties are. Anya tells them that she's willing to help them find Willow, but only for Willow's sake, thus clearly revealing that Anya too believes Warren should die for Tara's murder.

Trees part as Willow walks through the woods, hot on Warren's trail. As she reaches a small clearing, Warren sneaks up on her and plunges an axe deep into her back. She revives almost immediately, her powers much too strong to be hampered by an axe. He runs off again and tries to stop her by sending a flying box at her that explodes. But Willow freezes the explosion into a glass orb which shatters. Next, Warren throws a magical orb at Willow which envelopes her in a ball of goo. But Willow, using magical flames from her eyes, melts the goo off her body. She then uses magic to tie Warren spread-eagle between two trees. As the now-captive Warren rambles and threatens to kill her and getting away with through legal representation, Willow realizes from his posture and tone of voice that Tara wasn't Warren's first kill and brings forth the spectre of Warren's dead, ex-girlfriend, Katrina. Katrina's ghost taunts him with comments about how she should have killed him a long time ago. When Warren gets angry, Willow makes Katrina vanish, thus confirming to her that Warren is a true misogynist and clearly showing his emotions for wanting to kill Buffy. All the while, Anya leads the way for Buffy and Xander to reach Willow.

Willow decides Warren needs to feel what Tara felt when he shot her. She produces the bullet that she extracted from Buffy at the hospital and magically penetrates it into Warren's chest in slow-motion. He begs for mercy as she describes the damage of the bullet and what it did to Tara, and when he continues to interrupt her, Willow magically sews his lips shut so she can continue. She questions why someone like him gets to live when someone wonderful like Tara has to die. When he's free to speak again, Warren apologizes profusely and tries to convince Willow that she's better than this. As Buffy, Anya and Xander arrive at the clearing, an alarmed and unimpressed Willow says "Bored now," conjuring a spell which flays Warren's skin from his body from the waist up. She then magically engulfs his dead body in flames and it disintegrates. Buffy, Xander and even Anya look on in horrified shock at this summary execution as a satisfied Willow proclaims, "One down," before disappearing into thin air.



* Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
* Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
* Emma Caulfield as Anya Jenkins
* Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
* James Marsters as Spike
* Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg

Guest starring

*Danny Strong as Jonathan Levinson
*Adam Busch as Warren Mears
*Tom Lenk as Andrew Wells
*Jeff Kober as Rack
*Amelinda Smith as Katrina Silber (as Amelinda Embry)
*Amber Benson as Tara Maclay


*James Charles Leary as Clem (as James C. Leary)
*Steven W. Bailey as Cave Demon
*Tim Hodgin as Coroner
*Michael Matthys as Paramedic
*Julie Hermelin as Clerk
*Alan Henry Brown as Demon Bartender
*Mueen J. Ahmad as Doctor
*Jane Cho as Nurse #1
*Meredith Cross as Nurse #2
*David Adefeso as Paramedic #2
*Jeffrey Nicholas Brown as Vampire
*Nelson Frederick as Villager

Production details


* The Misfits - "Die Die My Darling"


* Italian title: "Perversi" ("Wicked Ones")
* German title: "Wut" ("Rage")
* French title: "Les foudres de la vengeance" ("The Lightnings of Revenge")

Quotes and trivia

* Just before she flays Warren, Dark Willow says "bored now", an oft-repeated complaint of Vampire Willow in season 3 episodes "The Wish" and "Doppelgangland".

* This episode is the last in which we see Tara.

* The skinning of Warren by Willow, very visual, is often censored in TV airings worldwide.

* When Rack tells Warren that Buffy is the least of his problems, he sarcastically responds "You're right. I'm sorry. Let's talk about my skin troubles", foreshadowing his death.


In "", Gregory Stevenson uses this episode to support his claim that Buffy surrenders to authority, provided it does not conflict with her moral responsibility as the Slayer. Warren is human, and killed Tara with a human weapon; therefore from Buffy's perspective he should be punished by the human legal system. When Xander argues that the legal system is inefficient and flawed, Buffy says, "We can't control the universe." [ Citation
last =Stevenson
first =Gregory
title =Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
publisher =University Press of America
year =2003
pages =136-137
location =Oxford
url =,M1
isbn = 0-7618-2833-8
] Despite Buffy's morality speech, Xander, Dawn, and Anya never change their belief that Warren should be killed for his crimes, and they later quietly support Willow for her choice to kill Warren.


Arc significance

* This begins the arc of Anya's loyalty after Buffy and Xander find out she's a vengeance demon. This arc continues until the Season Seven episode " Selfless".

*This marks Willow's turn to evil, which will last until the end of the season.

* While everyone believes that Warren is dead, events of the "Season Eight" comic book arc "The Long Way Home" will show that he was quickly revived, and kept alive, by Amy Madison.

* Although it is not revealed until the last moment of the season, Spike is leaving to get his soul back.

External links



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