-- Quotes --
Written by Zinna
This week's episode picks up right where last week's episode left off. In an alley, Willow and the gang wonder where Buffy has gone and decide to check the Summers' home, assuming Buffy would go there. On their way, they tangle with some Hellions in hurry to get out of Sunnydale.
Dawn takes Buffy home after their tumultuous reunion atop a tower. They arrive before the others. Buffy is a little disheartened by all the changes she notices to the house - furniture is moved, Buffy mother's room is now Willow and Tara's room, the dining room table is acting as Willow's computer desk, etc. Dawn distracts her by getting her change into clean clothes. Dawn is helping Buffy get cleaned-up when Spike returns in search of Dawn.
Spike is speechless at the sight of Buffy. His first words refer to her scraped hands, which he recognizes as grave-digging wounds. Spike had similar wounds when he returned to the world as vampire. He sits her down to tend to her injuries. Buffy asks him how long she's been gone and he replies, "147 days yesterday." Suddenly, the rest of gang bursts into the house, instantly spewing out questions at Buffy. Spike disappears out the front door. Buffy isn't up for answering questions about her death or anything following. She reassures them that she is fine but in need of sleep.
After Buffy retires to her bed, Xander and Anya leave, and Willow and Tara retire to their chambers. Outside of the house, Anya tells Xander that Buffy does not seem normal and that hell may have changed her. Xander is about to reply when their exchange is interrupted by the sight of Spike standing by the tree in the front yard. Xander goes to warn Spike about renewing his old obsession for Buffy when Spike violently slams Xander against the tree. Spike has been crying, he demands through his teeth that Xander tell him why the Scoobies hid their plans to raise Buffy, from him. Xander doesn't have an adequate response. Spike asserts that Willow must have known the level of chance involved with a spell of that caliber. Buffy could have come back as something else - something evil and Willow would have been forced to get rid of her, except she knew that Spike wouldn't let her. Xander claims this assertion is untrue and Spike retorts that with magic, "there's always consequences."
As Willow and Tara get ready for bed, Willow tells Tara about Giles' response to the news of Buffy's return. Willow describes his reaction as happy yet freaked. Tara notices a level of concern in Willow's voice and convinces Willow to confide in her. Willow is a bit perturbed by Buffy's apparent melancholy. She assumed Buffy would be more grateful to be back. Tara soothes Willow with cuddling and promises that Buffy will one day be able to express her gratitude.
Later, as the couple sleeps, a demon wearing Buffy's face awakes them by throwing glass ornaments at wall above their heads. The demon calls them filthy bitches and taunts them in accusatory tone, shouting things like, "I know what you did! I can smell the blood on you!" The demon seems to be referring to the ritual and Willow's willing slaughter of the innocent fawn (though Tara does not know this). A moment later, the demon is gone and all signs of the attack have disappeared. Quickly, they check to see if it was really Buffy that attacked them, but they find Buffy fast asleep, tucked away in her bed.
Willow telephones Xander, who's asleep lying next to Anya, who's suffering from insomnia. Anya leaves the bed as Xander talks to Willow. Just as Willow is explaining their encounter with evil Buffy, Anya enters the room giggling devilishly and slicing long cuts into her face with a kitchen knife. Xander takes the knife from her and Anya falls limp to floor. There are no lacerations on her face.
The next morning, Buffy walks in on the gang discussing the previous night's events. They figure the demon came from hell through the same portal as Buffy and are discussing ways to kill it. Buffy tells them that she too had a strange incident the previous night. Before she went to sleep, she sat looking at pictures of her friends. When she got up to take a closer look at the pictures on her wall, she saw all her friends as decayed corpses. Then she blinked and the pictures were normal again. Realizing the weight of the events, Buffy says they should do some research.
Hours later at the Magic Box, Buffy and the gang look through books for possible demons that may have come from hell with Buffy. Willow is reading a list of potentials to Dawn when Buffy says that she misses Giles. Willow apologizes for being a poor substitute and explains that Giles will come back as soon as he can. Buffy is then prompted to leave the table, claiming that she is going to patrol.
Once Buffy is gone, Dawn is possessed with the demon. Through Dawn, the demon calls the gang children and yells at them for what they have done. Then Dawn breathes fire at them. A moment later, Dawn falls to floor, but the table remains on fire. Everyone works to put it out.
Buffy ends up at Spike's lair. Thinking she is a prowler, Spike appears behind her with a large blade. Buffy turns, and notices his hand is bleeding. Before Buffy arrived, Spike was punching walls to relieve what appeared to anguish about Buffy's return. Spike offers the slayer a seat. He expresses his shame for having failed to save Dawn from the man who cut her (The Gift). He was willing to give his life if it meant saving Buffy. He tells her that every night since that one he has saved Buffy in his dreams.
Back at research central, Willow announces that their demon is Tomogenisus - a demon created as a consequence, or price for raising someone from the dead. Since the demon's body is caught between dimensions, it borrows those of the gang. Further investigation reveals that the only to send the demon away would require reversing the spell as if it never happened, meaning Buffy never came back. Dawn vehemently declares that they cannot send Buffy back. That would be worse than if they had never brought Buffy back in the first place. Willow allays Dawn's fear, explaining that the demon will soon dissipate because it cannot live unless it kills the subject of the original spell, i.e. Buffy. The demon, who is inside Xander, overhears this and thanks them for the tip, and leaves Xander's body to find Buffy.
Buffy returns home exhausted. In her room she begins to get ready for bed, but she is attacked by the demon's energy. She is unable to fight back because the evil has no form. Luckily, Tara and Willow have anticipated this and perform a spell to solidify the demon into a shape that Buffy can kill. Once the demon has shape, Buffy is able to behead it just in time for Dawn, Xander, and Anya to see.
The next morning, Buffy follows Dawn out of the house to give her a lunch. Dawn is grateful. Before she leaves she ask Buffy if she's okay. Buffy replies with sarcasm, expressing annoyance with how times she's been asked that as of late. Dawn just reiterates that everyone is concerned about her. All they want is to see Buffy happy.
Buffy goes the Magic Box and finds the rest of the gang. She tells them that she was in a hell, where the world had abandoned her, and graciously thanks them for bringing her back to the world. Group hugs ensue.
A little while later, Buffy seeks refuge from this love fest in the alley behind the store. She is greeted by Spike. Spike decided to wait out back until the emotion died down. He asks Buffy why she is not reveling in happiness with the rest of them. Buffy sullenly replies that she needed a break. Spike responds offering promises to do anything she may wants. All she requires is a devoted ear, as she truthfully describes what it was like to be dead. In death, Buffy was happy: peaceful, warm, loved, complete, and most importantly, finished. She describes her return as being violently ripped from peace, possibly heaven, to a newfound hell on earth. Here everything is hard and she struggles to get through the next moment. As she leaves the alley, Buffy tells a shocked Spike that the others must never know the truth.