Before we get started, I want to give a big shout-out to godam for posting the lyrics on her site and saving me a huge headache. I kept trying to connect to Psyche's transcript site but kept getting redirected to Psych! The website of broken dreams.
Also, I should warn everyone that I loathe musicals. I really, really hate them. To me they've always seemed like plays with deep emotional problems. When I turned eighteen, I made a list of things that I would no longer have to do now that I was officially an adult. The first item was, "Listen to Mom's tape of Beer Garden Favorites." The second was, "Suffer through another musical." Therefore, I hope that it doesn't hurt my indie credibility too much when I admit that I actually really enjoyed this one. Shhhh!
Previously on Buffy, a lot of stuff happened that UPN wouldn't possibly be trying to summarize for the new viewers they hope are tuning in for sweeps. Oops, try they did. In letterbox format: Spike loves Buffy; she's grossed out. Willow, Tara, Anya, and Xander raise Buffy from the dead. Buffy admits to Spike that, while dead, she was in heaven. Dawn is a bad egg, but not the kind that controls you through neural clamping. Anya and Xander bored us all to tears with their flabby love story. Tara had concerns that Willow uses too much magic, and got her brain wiped for her troubles. Oh hey, that wasn't so long.
Different credits. Superimposed over a full moon is the title, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," in an unimpressive sans serif font. Sparkly overture music plays as we see the casts' faces appear on the moon with their names to the right. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendan, Emma Caulfield, Michelle Trachtenberg, James Marsters, "and Alyson Hannigan as Willow." Created by Joss Whedon, but no picture of Joss.
Then we go straight to a commercial break, and I'm seriously stunned. No teaser! Waaah! I long for the solace of the familiar. How can I adjust? Apparently by spending the commercial break sulking and muttering under my breath. Scared the cat. It's just strange to fast-forward four minutes without having recapped anything new.
The title "Once More With Feeling" appears on the screen as we get more swelling overture. I really don't know much about musicals, so bear with me if I misidentify any of these instrumental pieces. Buffy's red wind-up alarm clock goes off, but Buffy appears to be already awake, just lying in bed. She glares at the clock and picks it up. More instrumental renditions of the songs we hear later as Willow dashes about getting ready and Tara shifts some of the approximately eight million throw pillows on the bed. Under the last pillow, she finds the sprig of vegetation that Willow used to make her forget their argument at the end of the last episode. She smiles, thinking her lover has left her a sweet memento. ("Memento" -- geddit?) As Tara sniffs the flower, Dawn rushes to the bathroom door and frantically knocks. Willow zips out, brushing her hair; still Buffy lies in bed.
Der Zauber Kasten. Close up on an issue of Tomorrow's Bride magazine. Oh, the much anticipated Xander/Anya wedding planning humor. I'm really happy that Joss and Mutant Enemy paid attention to the fan groundswell on that one. We all love pre-wedding hijinks, don't we guys? Guys? Where are you going? Aw, shoot. Xander points something out in the magazine, but Anya rolls her eyes and moves off to help a customer. Giles snatches a book (presumably about magic) away from Dawn, who flounces across the room. At the round table, Tara and Willow study texts as Buffy sketches. It looks like she's filled the entire page with pencil shading but left a blank white square in the center -- like she was influenced by Rothko, but was out of class being dead during the lecture where they talked about his use of color. Giles gestures to her, and they head into the training room.