There's an interesting story in here somewhere, and you can understand why the writers would want to explore what in general is a cool idea, but Normal Again struggles to be coherent as an episode. The pacing is horrible, certain elements of the story fail to resonate, and there's a gradual sense of redundancy to the whole thing. It's the first and only episode credited to Diego Guttierez, and it's unfortunate that the script stumbles from one strange subplot to another, failing to produce a ton of internal logic as the whole thing spins into weird, unexplainable directions.
The wonderful Sarah Michelle Gellar runs into the episode with total conviction, and she perfectly conveys that sense of her world rapidly crumbling to pieces around her, as well as her gradual coming-around to the possibility that there's an actual explanation for why so much of her life has been miserable lately. That is actually the strongest element of the story, Guttierez referencing the recent woes of Buffy and her friends, as well as Buffy's own death and the weakness of the Evil Trio as antagonists. It's that final acknowledgment that season six has been a little choppy, things happening for no discernible reason a lot of the time.
However, everything kind of runs away from the episode soon after. There's that ridiculous moment where Buffy confesses that she once spent time in an institution after telling her parents about vampires (continuity be damned...), as well as a series of painfully repetitive scenes in which Buffy rounds on every single damn one of her friends and knocks them unconscious. It almost becomes a running joke after a while -- yep, Willow's down. Then Xander. Then Dawn. And hey, there's Tara inexplicably showing up!
Throw in some more fugly Dawn whining and a weirdly inconsequential Evil Trio appearance, and Normal Again slowly grinds into nothingness. Sarah gives it her all, but she's let down by an annoying script that never seems to justify the episode's central premise. D+
Guest stars Danny Strong (Jonathan Levinson); Adam Busch (Warren Meers); Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells); Dean Butler (Hank Summers); Michael Warren (Doctor); Kirsten Nelson (Lorraine Ross); Amber Benson (Tara Maclay); Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers)
Writer Diego Guttierez Director Rick Rosenthal