Previously: We met Tara’s family (including cousin Amy Adams) and they majorly sucked. Fortunately, the Scoobies are her family now.
Fool For Love
Sweeney: Today’s episode is called Fool For Love. You may have heard of it. I think it’s been mentioned a few times in the comments? Just a few. I want everyone to know that I really was just plopped into this spot in the rotation, because that’s what made sense. I didn’t choose my numbers, THEY CHOSE ME. Or, like, Lor chose them for me. I’M SORRY THE BUFFYVERSE RANDOM NUMBER GODS LOVE ME BEST. But not really.
Lor: I think the Number Gods mostly ignore me. I always get filler episodes.
K: I looked at who gets what in season 6 last week. The Buffyverse Random Number Gods really DO love you best. No fair. But mostly FOOL FOR LOVE OMFG AKWJFLAJAFKAJDFKAJDFDAFJALDHFKJSDHFKJSFH!!!!!!! Having ranked my favourite episodes while watching this, I can tell you that this ranks 4th out of Buffy’s 144 episodes for me. Episode 18 of season 4, on the other hand, ranks 144th…
Sweeney: The episode’s previously is a short summary of what we know about Spike, with a bit at the end reminding us that Buffy wanted to spend S5 learning more about the Slayer mythology. We begin in the cemetery with Buffy fighting a vampire that looks like an extra in the Thriller music video. She puns as they fight. Thriller gets the upper hand, though, and manages to jam her own stake into her stomach. Roll credits.
Lor: I’m gonna go ahead and note that Thriller gets the upper hand because Buffy does a super unnecessary somersault flip over a grave stone.
Sweeney: An excellent observation. Get it together, B.
After the credits, she punches Thriller, removes the stake and tries to hobble off. Thriller stops her and she’s wounded and surprised. Just as Thriller goes in for the kill, Riley appears and tackles him. They fight and Riley goes for the taser, but fails. Thriller gets away as Riley goes to help Buffy.
K: As much as I love Buffy, I kind of love it when she’s not at full Slayer power. Like on her 18th birthday in Helpless, or when she’s got the flu in season 2, or IN THINGS STILL TO COME THAT MUST NOT BE DISCUSSED BECAUSE OF SPOILERS.
Sweeney: Cut to Riley patching Buffy up in her room, as they have the go-to-the-doctor chat in reverse, though Buffy’s resistance makes actual sense. She then explains that it was just the one non-extra-special vampire and she has no idea how it beat her when she’s in the best physical shape of her slayer-powered life.
Dawn bursts in to warn them that Joyce is coming and Riley starts to discretely put away the various bandages and disinfectant. I’m actually impressed by how cool he played that. I’d have been all, “SHIT, SHOVE IT IN THE BAG HASTILY!” and been annoyingly obvious and faily. Just one of many reasons I’d have died a long time ago in the Buffyverse.
K: I’d have died a long time ago because I’m not so good with the running. I had to run for the train today, and it took me half of the 20 minute train trip to get my breath back.
Sweeney: Joyce does spot the disinfectant and Dawn’s all, “Oh! Mine! Nail polish!” which a very tired Joyce accepts and leaves. Dawn’s proud of herself for covering something up, though she has no idea what. They have a cute sister moment and Buffy gives her tells her that she is “the man” — “a very short, annoying man.” Poor Dawn. Dawn and Riley agree to pick up the slack for Buffy while the super Slayer healing does its thing.
That night, Riley is patrolling with the rest of the gang, per Buffy’s insistence (because duh, Riley, your drug-powered super strength is gone now) and this scene has some fun Scooby dialogue that I can’t properly appreciate because I’m so annoyed. Riley’s doing all the actual hunting while Willow, Xander, and Anya loudly eat potato chips and stand around uselessly. Willow and Xander spent an entire summer filling in for Buffy when she went MIA, and we’ve seen them serve as effective contributors to the patrolling dozens of other times, so this is just stupid.
Lor: I’m somewhere between you two in that this ventured from amusing to groan-worthy. It was a little ham-fisted considering their exposure to demons, the Initiative, and in Xander’s case, the military.
Sweeney: Magic Box. Buffy and Giles are going through accounts of previous slayers, looking for details of their deaths, so that Buffy could understand what made those various final battles special. Buffy doesn’t get why the accounts all seem to end with a detail free “and then she died.” (K: SHE SAID THE THING!) She assumes that the Watchers all found it unseemly – “too painful,” Giles corrects, and they have a heartbreaking little moment of silence about the high stakes and harsh reality of their relationship. You can all join us on the couch of feels now; I’ll make room.
K: For the purposes of this episode, the Team Heartless Cow ottoman has been dragged over to the Couch of Feels due to the need for additional space.
Sweeney: I’ll allow this. Just know that you’ll be returning to your Asshole Corner adjacent territory when this is all over.
Giles says something about how the final battles would be really helpful, but there’s nobody around to tell the tales. At that, Buffy gets IDEA face and we jump to her slamming Spike into a wall. She’s there to find out how he killed two slayers.
After a Not Commercial Break, they are at The Bronze and Buffy is reminding Spike of his two Slayer victims — China, during the Boxer Rebellion, and New York — holding up the money tree cash he’ll get in exchange for his information. They banter a bit and Spike insists that those deaths weren’t about the specific moves they made. He demands she order him a plate of spicy buffalo wings if she wants him to talk. Ew. Not ew to buffalo wings, which are tasty-bad-for-you-goodness, but ew to having to listen to someone tell you an involved story while eating buffalo wings.
K: Also, we’re right back to that whole “vampires eating stuff that’s not blood” debacle. DAMMIT, WHEDON.
Lor: You are just baiting our readers to tell us more about how Angel doesn’t eat on account of being full on brood.
Sweeney: B asks if he’s always been this big a pain in the ass. “What can I say? I’ve always been bad.”
With that, we segue magic to a pre-vamp Spike writing poetry that is only bad in the sense of being actually bad, rather than properly evil. (Though Ezrafitz poetry might be bad enough to be deemed evil.) (L: And it smells bad.) He’s awkwardly doing this writing at a party and gets his inspiration when a woman he identifies as Cecily comes down the stairs. This actress plays someone we meet later in the Buffyverse and looking her up to confirm this led me to a Buffy wiki that now has me more stupid confused than I was before, because I don’t remember learning that these two are the same person. Psychic failure. I also know nothing, it seems.
K: Meanwhile, I’m cackling to myself about the future. Because I can.
Lor: I’m only now properly cackling about Spike’s bad wig in this Bad Wig Flashback. S’good.
Sweeney: Anyway, while I was having this psychic failure meltdown, poor pre-vamp William is having his bad poem publicly mocked. We learn that he actually earned the nickname “William the Bloody” for how shitty his poetry is. Cecily leaves and he follows her and she is trying to subtly convey her lack of interest, and poor William is not getting it and assuring her that he’s a good man. Unfortunately, Cecily’s modest, “Please, no!” quickly switches to pure bitch mode when she says, “Oh, but I do see you. That’s the problem. You’re nothing to me, William. You’re beneath me.” Poor William.
Sweeney: He runs off, having been thoroughly shamed and heartstomped. He’s interrupted by Drusilla (!!!) telling him that he just has all this vision that none of the people around him properly appreciate. William makes a very brief show of telling her to stay back, and mentioning that his mother will be expecting him, but quickly accepts the pretty girl coming on to him and Drusilla gets her bite on.
K: I love that where most vamp victims either scream or pass out, his reaction is “Ow. Ow. OW.” (L: +1)
Sweeney: In the cemetery, Riley is still leading and the other Scoobies have become slightly more competent. Riley finds a vampire party, of sorts, and decides that they’re better off returning in the morning when the vampires are asleep and they’re better armed.
Back at The Bronze, Spike is playing pool while Buffy is urging him to speed the story up a bit because she’s big on the “HOW’D YOU KILL THE SLAYERS?” and the audience is all, “STFU BUFFY, BACK STORY IS FUN!” And also: “WE SAW MORE FAMILIAR NAMES IN THE CREDITS.”
Speaking of, Spike said he had to get himself a gang so we resume the flashback: Angelus, sporting an atrocious wig of epic proportions (K: Truth), and the corresponding crap accent they thankfully didn’t make him do quite so strongly the last time he flashbacked on Angel; Darla, who seems to be loved best by the flashback wig team, as I think it’s how they show us that she was HBIC (and she gets a snazzy hat this time around); and Drusilla, whose just crazy-eyeing and eating up the tension as Angel and Darla discuss killing William, who demands to be called Spike now.
K: Speaking of, he’s sporting something that can only be termed “90s Leonardo di Caprio hair.”
Sweeney: Flashback hair is fun for all! Angelus and Spike start to bicker about the need to be less conspicuous and Darla giddies to Dru that their boys are about to fight. I nearly spit out my water laughing because Dru responds with her expected crazy and Darla’s, “WHO IS THIS BITCH?” face is the greatest thing ever.
Lor: AGREED. My Darla appreciation has certainly grown over on Angel, but this is just A+ in and of itself.
Sweeney: I had written a longer rambling bit about how watching Buffy gave me zero opinions/feelings on Darla, but in 6 episodes, I’ve already come to be a big fan on Angel. Scrapped to make room for Kirsti’s flail, but there’s the condensed version. Anyway, Spike and Angelus continue their bickering about the respective merits of mayhem vs. slow, calculated torture — you know typical vampire party banter — when Angelus says something about how an angry mob might teach Spike a lesson one day. “That, or a slayer,” he adds. Spike asks what that is, as we jump back to The Bronze where he tells Buffy that he became obsessed with them after that point.
Buffy again urges Spike to get to the play-by-play portion of the story. Spike quickly grabs hold of her, catching her off guard. He says her first lesson is to always reach for her weapon, because he already has his, and he vamps out.
Lor: Vampires can vamp out on command and vamping out makes them stronger (we learned on Angel). AND YET. Make-up and effects budget deem that they spend SO MUCH TIME fighting without their vampgrills. Ugh.
Sweeney: As much time as we spend harping on other things, strength/super-powered-ness is probably the greatest inconsistency in the Buffyverse. This is probably why we don’t talk about it as much: we would be discussing it every. single. post. and I just don’t care enough.
Spike adds that the only thing vampires have to fear is one girl, which is Buffy. “Back then, it was her.” This takes us back to China in 1900. Mayhem in the streets, because, you know, Boxer Rebellion, Spike and this slayer are fighting in what appears to be a temple. They fight and, as we already knew, Spike wins.
K: Okay, so I know I’m interjecting a LOT here today, but FOURTH FAVOURITE EPISODE, YO. So my favourite thing about this fight? That they basically provided backstory on how Spike got the scar through his eyebrow. First of all, I love that they played up James Marsters’ actual scar for the sake of the role, but providing backstory on it? GENIUS.
Lor: I did a happy squee when we saw the cut through his eyebrow, and then I started to think about vampire scarring logistics. That just don’t seem right. SHUTTING UP NOW AND ENJOYING NOW EVEN WHEN SENSE DOESN’T MAKE ANY.
Sweeney: After a Not Commercial Break, Drusilla enters to congratulate him on his accomplishment, suck slayer blood off his finger (K: Slayer blood – it’s finger lickin’ good), and then basically fuck over her dead body. (L: ‘Member when Darla and Angel made-out all over her?) (S: Vamps are fans of this sex-on-or-adjacent-to-the-victims business.) Out in the streets, they come across Angelus and Darla, though the dead slayer news mostly just has Angelus kind of broody. Then we get a dramatic shot of the gang walking through the streets, which is supposed to be all, “EPIC VILLAIN MOMENT!” but mostly just looks hilarious to me.
K: This episode makes me irrationally fan-girly, so I’m gonna go with DON’T YOU DARE, SWEENEY. BARREL JUMPING SPIKE IS RISING ABOVE THE REST OF THE GANG AND IT IS SYMBOLIC AND okay maybe a little bit silly but IT’S FABULOUS AND I LOVE IT.
Sweeney: A+ Lor. (And nope, not even a little sorry. IT WAS FUNNY AND I LAUGHED.)
At The Bronze, Buffy is all gaggy about the idea of Spike getting off on the killing. Spike’s all, “VAMPIRE, YO!” I was about to say something about giving that a general +1 to that statement, but I think it speaks to the weird place Spike now has in the group. Point is, the idea of someone getting off on murder is gross, and Buffy banter doesn’t usually get deep enough for her to have had to think about this. Spike says that Buffy has started to think of herself as immortal and when she denies it, he pokes at her wound (giving himself a headache). Now that they’ve made a bit of a scene with their respective OMG PAIN reactions, they’re taking the lesson outside.
Meanwhile, Riley is returning to the crypt alone like a fucking idiot. He finds Thriller, who is bragging about Buffy’s stake. Riley quickly stakes Thriller and then drops a grenade before running off. Dude, that was someone’s excessively large family crypt! Rude.
Outside The Bronze, Spike still has the pool cue and he’s telling Buffy that she’s asking the wrong questions: “The question isn’t ‘How’d I win?’ The question is ‘Why’d they lose?’” They banter and fight — the fighting explained by the fact that Spike knows he won’t hit/hurt which keeps the chip from activating. This bit is just here because the pointless fighting is fun to watch.
Eventually, he takes us back to New York City in 1977. We round out today’s lesson in “slayers have been multiracial, but apparently Americans are EXTRA chosen” as a very Billy Idol Spike fights a girl with an afro and a sweet black leather jacket on a subway train. The Buffy/Spike fighting gets more of a purpose because this bit of storytelling involves a lot of jumping back and forth between the two fight scenes and it’s just really cool to watch. Subway Spike breaks off a poll and twirls it around and we jump to present!Spike twirling the pool cue.
K: Okay, this scene is pure perfection for so many reasons. 1. NIKKI!!; 2. THE COAT; 3. Billy Idol!Spike; 4. Bicep appreciation; 5. He tells Buffy that “Death is your art.” It’s such a brilliant counterpoint to something that comes up later this season. In short: YES, GOOD, WANT.
Lor: But truly, those are some fantastic arms.
Sweeney: Indeed. The lip bit gifs seem to illicit the most Traumateer gifstaring, but this might be my favorite yet. Spike says he could have “danced” with that one all night, adding that dancing is all he and Buffy have ever done. (L: YEP. Hence all the times we’ve exclaimed, “WHY DIDN’T SHE KILL HIM?”) He tells Buffy that slayers are a bit in love with death and Buffy punches him back to the New York scene. I appreciate punching as a transition. subway!Spike gets the upper hand and kills the New York slayer. Slayers, he says, deal in death every day. It’s less about the punch she didn’t throw than the death wish that all slayers have. Buffy has lasted such a long time because she has things that tie her to the world — her mother, sister, and the Scoobies — but it’s only enough to delay the inevitable. Subway!Spike steals her leather jacket and gets up to tell Buffy that he’ll be waiting for her when that day comes.
More banter and Spike urges Buffy to just take a swing. She doesn’t, so he leans in for a kiss that he doesn’t get. Buffy’s all, “UH. NO.” She pushes him down and says that even if she did want to dance, it wouldn’t be with him because he’s beneath her. Burn. She throws the money at him and walks off, leaving him to scramble for it, teary-eyed.
K: Again, a brilliant scene. No matter how far Spike may have come in the world, he’s still the same guy he was when he was human – brought to tears by a woman he loves who thinks he’s beneath her.
Sweeney: Back at his TARDIS Crypt, he rummages through his chest for a gun. Harmony tries to talk him out of it, reminding him of the chip and his pre-chip failed attempts, but he’s not having it. After he storms out we cut to him fighting with Drusilla about Buffy in South America in 1998. Drusilla’s still pretty pissed about the events of the S2 finale, and adds that Spike is all covered with the slayer. This scene has the amusing backdrop of an awkward demon with slime-covered reindeer antlers who was Dru’s side piece.
K: It’s also a nice reminder that while Dru is 90% buckets of crazy, she’s also 10% accurate predictions of the future. She knew way back in 1998 that Spike was going to fall for Buffy, no matter what.
Lor: I loved the Chaos Demon because it’s a call back to Lover’s Walk, which was an awesome episode that I got to cover. Thanks Number Gods for Willow/Spike, tongue porn, Pez dispensers and the birth of 1430.
Sweeney: We jump back to the Summers home, where Buffy is talking to Joyce in her room. Joyce is packing and has waited until this moment to tell Buffy that she’ll be staying at the hospital overnight for observation. Not that this would ever be easy news to hear, but recent events obviously add to that struggle. Buffy sits on her back porch and cries.
We see Spike walk through the shadows with his gun. He’s got murder face on until Buffy looks up at him, tears on her face, and asks what he wants now. Spike asks if there’s anything he can do and then sits down next to her and pats her shoulder. Buffy is making, “WUT IS HAPPENING?” eyes. Spike mostly just sits there and watches her for a bit, until they both silently stare off into the bushes around the Summers home. Roll credits.
K: This final scene, for me (the epic FFL fangirl), is so telling of Spike’s role into the future – into BUFFY’S future. When she’s unable to talk to her friends, when it’s too hard for her to put into words the things that are happening in her life, Spike’s there. She doesn’t need to say anything if she doesn’t want to. His presence is enough to show her that she’s not alone. That someone cares, no matter what anyone else thinks, and no matter what SHE thinks. Reading too much into things? Probably. Do I care? NOT EVEN.
Lor: I’d probably get yelled at if I didn’t spell out that YES. I DID ENJOY THIS EPISODE. However, this is probably more appreciated once you know the future. Even without that, I enjoyed it for back story, CROSS OVER MAGIC! and lots of visual and fight things that were fun to watch. I loved all the callbacks and I loved the progressions of things.
Sweeney: I’m not really with Kirsti on the Spuffy fangirl train (because of reasons that we haven’t gotten to yet) but I love this episode for all of the reasons Lor just said – crossover magic and back stories are both easy ways to win my heart. The whole thing was just well constructed and while picking apart continuity failures is a big part of our shtick, I appreciated all the overarching continuity that did happen here. Good stuff all around.
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Shit gets serious when Joyce goes to the hospital, Riley becomes even less of a priority for Buffy, and Glory continues to prove that she’s Voldemort reborn. Find out all the details in S05 E08 – Shadows.