At the Summers's home, Dawn kneels on the floor in front of a cloth. Six candles burn as she spreads something on the cloth and says the chant Doc gave her. She smears what looks like blood around a bowl, against which is propped a picture of Joyce. Sniff; I miss Joyce. But I'd never, ever raise her from the dead. I've read way too many EC comics to think resurrection is ever a good idea. We see a crane shot of Joyce's grave; a strong wind begins to blow leaves across it. Dawn continues her chant.
Tara and Willow are in Willow's dorm room, and Willow really, really needs to wash her hair. I can't believe I'm starting to long for the days of her spiky shag, but even that strangeness was better than the limp, flat do she's sporting now. Willow is writing in a journal and queries Tara about what she (Willow) had for breakfast that morning. Willow says she can remember that Tara had two eggs sunny-side up, because "they were wiggling at [her] like little boobs." Snerf. That sounds like something I would say. But you guys didn't really want to know that, did you? Moving on. Willow explains that thinking about the fast pace of life has led her to want to keep a journal to remember things she does. They intertwine fingers, but then Tara notices that History of Witchcraft, the book Willow pointed out to Dawn, is missing. Willow babbles guiltily about how the book could answer Dawn's questions and her having it won't lead to any harm, but Tara replies that the book refers to "specific resurrection spells and potions." At this point, smoke is practically coming up off of Willow's ass as she covers up for her mistake. Hey, join me in a chorus of that old MBTV favorite, "Remember When Willow Wasn't A Mendacious Twit." They decide to call Buffy, but Willow won't be jumping over any telephone wires.
Buffy enters her house and rushes to answer the phone. We cut upstairs to where Dawn is still repeating the incantation. Buffy runs into the room and demands, "What have you done?" Thunder crashes outside in classic horror-movie fashion as Dawn explains that Joyce is "coming home." She runs downstairs; Buffy grabs the photo of Joyce and follows. In the front hall, Buffy expresses her alarm to Dawn and says Tara told her that "these spells go bad all the time. People come back wrong." Oh. I so don't want to see Joyce come back wrong. This episode has really got me on the edge of my seat. Buffy tells her to reverse the spell, but Dawn insists she needs their mother. We see a shot of Joyce's legs and feet walking across grass. Her feet stumble a little. Dawn tells Buffy she doesn't have anyone, and that "it's obvious" Buffy doesn't want her around. She continues that Buffy doesn't seem to care about Joyce's death, because she hasn't cried and has just been going about the arrangements like chores. At this, Buffy slaps Dawn, but instantly looks surprised and regretful. She claps a hand over her mouth and then tries to explain, "I've been busy because I have to. I have to do these things 'cause when I stop, then she's really gone." Aw, Sarah Michelle is the best little weeper in Hollywood. She manages to be moving, realistically crumply and yet still pretty. Hats off to her. I sniffled through this scene the first time around. As she resists bursting into sobs, Buffy spits out that she has to take care of them, she has to make things better. She says she didn't want to push Dawn away, but she didn't want Dawn to see her falling apart. During this speech, Dawn looks less angry with Buffy and appears to understand. As Buffy sniffles, "I don't know what we're going to do," we see the silhouette of Joyce cross past the front window. As Buffy admits she's scared, there's a knock at the door. Buffy spins and breathes, "Mommy!" She races to open the front door. Dawn scoops up the picture of Joyce and tears it in half just in time so that as Buffy opens the door, we see that no one is there. Buffy scans up and down the street. Dawn crumples the halves of the photo. Buffy finally breaks down into sobs; Dawn rushes to her, and the girls fall into each other's arms, crying.