snark squad | where nostalgia comes to die

Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06 E09 – Grunt work.

, and on September 30, 2013 · 179 comments in Buffy the Vampire Slayer,Season 6,TV

Previously: Willow promised to go a week without magic but lasted less than twelve hours before doing a spell that backfired and wiped everyone’s memories. As a result, Tara broke up with her. Also, Giles left town.

Smashed

Kirsti: After a whopping one minute and twenty three seconds of previouslies (seriously?!), a middle aged couple are being cornered by some guys in an alley. Buffy puns her way into the picture and goes in for the fight, only to discover that the guys doing the cornering are human and she’s just interrupted a run of the mill mugging. She hands the lady back her handbag and ushers the couple away. The muggers, meanwhile, are complete idiots and decide to attack Buffy. She pins one and is heading for the other when a shape jumps out of the darkness and hits the second mugger. Buffy yells “NO!” but it’s too late – Spike grabs his head in pain and the muggers get away. She asks Spike what the hell he was doing, and when he says that he thought they were demons, she calls him Jessica Fletcher.

He complains about his headache, but Buffy has no fucks to give. Spike argues that the government should have included a clause in his chip that lets him eat criminals, and Buffy replies that he’s just have to get his rocks off fighting demons. He looks at her for a second before saying “There are other ways...” She has a moment of “Welp, I walked right into that one” before turning to go.

He calls her back and wants to know when they’ll get to the kissing. Buffy’s response instantly reminded me of the time that Lor, Sweeney and I were together in Chicago, along with Lor’s best friend and a homeless man asked us “What time do the panties come off?” Penny’s response of, “how about NEVER O’CLOCK?” is pretty much how Buffy reacts.

Lorraine: STILL THE BEST. Of course, when we told the homeless man NEVER O’CLOCK we meant NEVER O’CLOCK. Buffy means, “42 minutes with no commercial breaks.

K: Accurate. Spike calls her a tease, and I want to punch him in the junk for it. She walks away as he calls after her that sooner or later she’ll realise that he’s the only one there for her.

Lor: EW. It’s a passing line but if Spike were really there for her, he wouldn’t be trying to convince her that she’s alone in the world. It reeks of abusive.

Sweeney: Agreed.

K: Cut to Chez Summers, where Willow’s sad panda-ing around her room. She pulls Rat!Amy out of her cage and talks to her for a minute, before saying “I swear, if I could work out how to turn you back…” She trails off mid-sentence, then utters a spell which causes a piece of parchment to appear. She picks it up and reads the words on it, which cause red lightning to flash around Rat!Amy and some shoddy special effects to happen, which morph Rat!Amy back into Human!Amy. Willow grins with glee as Amy looks rattily around her and then screams. Cue wolf howl.

Sweeney: Before she goes off and ruins it, let’s take a hot second to flail about the return of Human!Amy, because RANDOM CONTINUITY AWESOMENESS.

K: Indeed. After the credits, we’re at the Sunnydale Museum, where Andrew (remember the trio of stupid?) is recreating Mission: Impossible by dropping in from the ceiling. He stops in front of a showcase with a big diamond in it, and sticks some kind of suction cup thing to the front of the case. Just then, Warren and Jonathan walk up, and are all “Dude, WTF are you doing?” Sunnydale Museum’s security system, it seems, is a dude named Rusty, and Andrew’s dramatic entrance is completely unnecessary. Warren pushes Andrew out of the way and breaks out a blowtorch. He uses it to burn through what is clearly a plastic showcase, and grabs the diamond, and Museum Curator Kirsti is Hulk Smashing all over the place right now.

Lor: I don’t have an Inner Museum Curator, but yeah. That was dumb.

K: ANYWAY. They turn to go, and Rusty the security guard is there. Warren tries to cover by saying they were with the Get The Freeze Ray tour group, and the other two fail to pick up on his hints until he turns to glare at them. Jonathan grabs the freeze ray from his bag and pulls the trigger. Rusty is suddenly an icy pole.

Oh. Sorry. Wrong Whedon thing.

It also freezes Jonathan’s arm. Warren sees no problems in this, because it’s just a prototype. The trio head back to their lair with the diamond.

Lor: Never to be seen or heard from again. Oh, sorry, was I just wishful thinking out loud? Whoops.

Sweeney: I second adopting your headcanon and add a motion to disregard events which contradict it.

K: Motion carried. Back at Chez Summers, Willow’s bringing Amy hot chocolate, but Amy doesn’t want any. She’s still pretty twitchy and when a police siren sounds, she magics the window and the curtains closed. Amy says that she felt like she was in the cage for weeks, and Willow gets awkward face. The situation doesn’t improve when Amy continues:

Amy: But it can still be okay…right? I-I can still get into the swing of things, like…prom’s coming up. I-I’m so hoping Larry would ask me. We would make such a splash at- Oh. Oh god. He hasn’t asked someone else, has he?
Willow: Uh, Amy…three things we have to talk about. One, Larry’s gay. Two, Larry’s dead. And three, high school’s…kinda over.

Amy looks at her in disbelief, and demands to know how long it’s been.

Cut to Buffy walking in the front door. She quietly calls Willow’s name, then heads upstairs. Willow’s sitting on the bed. Buffy sits down next to her, and starts to talk about how sometimes people make bad choices, and she’s about to spill on the kissing Spike thing when Amy walks out of the bathroom. Buffy’s taken aback, but she and Amy quickly catch up.

Sweeney: I’m surprised Lor didn’t flag this one as a Brought To You By Tumblr, because this one pops up in my dash pretty regularly, and it’s always delightful. This is Amy’s post-rat highlight…

K: Pretty much. Amy asks if they have any cookies and heads downstairs to find them. Buffy’s still shocked, but Willow says it’s nice having a magically inclined friend around. Buffy looks pensive, then heads downstairs. Amy’s sitting on the sofa eating cookies and watching TV. She shuts off the TV and talks about how everything’s different, what with Willow being gay and the school getting blown up and people getting frozen. Buffy’s all “Wait, what??” over the last one, and Amy turns the TV back on to a contrivance-ly continuing news report about Rusty.

Sweeney: I love when the news conveniently talks about things immediately relevant to my life, because contrivance brings people together. (LOL, kidding, having had the news actually report on things very relevant to my life, it was not fun.)

K: Cut to the front of the museum, where a crowd has gathered. Buffy arrives and forces her way through the crowd just in time to see Sunnydale’s completely inept emergency services personnel wheeling Frozen!Randy out the front door on a triple wheel trolley. She looks thoughtful, then heads around the side of the museum to look for a way in. She bumps into Spike. She’s none too pleased, but he points out that she may as well tag along with him because they always worked well as a team. Plus, the kissing thing. She tells him to forget the kisses and that the second one didn’t count anyway on account of she was depressed over Giles leaving. Spike’s all “Yeah, there’s fanfic about that I always wondered about you two,” and Buffy’s grossed out.

She tells him to let it go, and he smirks and wants to know if she’s convinced herself yet. He says that a man can change, and she calls him a thing before turning to leave. He grabs her shoulder, and she spins around to punch him in the face. He punches her right back and she falls to the ground. He looks startled because he doesn’t get an insta-headache, then fakes one as Buffy stands up. She punches him again, and calls him an evil disgusting thing. She walks away, and the zoomy cameraman zooms in on Spike’s amazing cheekbones face as he grins. Fade to black.

Lor: Those cheekbones cannot distract me! He’s thinking evil things.

K: You only know that because the zoomy cameraman told you so.

After the Not Commercial Break, Spike’s wandering down the main street of Sunnydale. The background music lets us know that there’s villainy afoot as he spots a woman on her own, checking her watch. She walks away and down an alley, because apparently she’s really stupid. Spike’s waiting in the alleyway. The woman begs for her life as Spike monologues that some people think he’s housebroken but he’s still a killer on the inside. He vamps out, and the woman screams. He goes to bite her, and screams in pain. The woman runs away, and Spike sits on the ground, panting and demanding to know what’s going on.

Cut to the following day. Dawn’s drinking a milkshake as big as she is, and Tara’s being an adorable concerned pseudo-parent, taking the child of pseudo-divorce out for a movie/bonding session. She makes Dawn promise to eat something “leafy green, not gummi green” that night, and then says that she’ll always be there for Dawn, no matter what, and that her break up with Willow has nothing to do with Dawn. Dawn asks if they’ll get back together, and Tara says that even though she loves Willow, sometimes it’s not enough because other things get in the way. Dawn says that Willow’s been doing better recently, and Tara replies that she’s glad though her face seems to indicate otherwise.

Lor: Last episode, I said Dawn was being a brat with her reaction over Tara leaving. I was admittedly looking at it with my Tara glasses. I was upset that leaving was made even harder for Tara when Willow was cheating on her (with magic.) I didn’t even stop to think about how much Tara was there for Dawn while Buffy was dead. I loved this scene for considering that relationship, and for showing us how much Tara isn’t just Willow’s (ex) girlfriend. It’s such a nice moment.

Sweeney: Agreed! I’m so glad the show acknowledged the Tara/Dawn relationship. In addition to my hearty agreement with all the things you said, I’d add that I love the many different kinds of meaningful relationships we get on this show. Tara/Dawn are a great example of the broader Whedonverse theme of creating our own families.

K: Agreed. Over at the Magic Box, the severely reduced in number Scoobies are reading up on Rusty – he’s going to be fine, apparently, as the hospital have thawed him out with hair dryers. Remind me to NEVER go to Sunnydale. Anya mopes a little, because she wants a particular text but it’s one that Giles took with him when he left. Buffy wonders if they should call Giles, and Willow says it’s fine because there’s another way. The gang exchange concerned looks, but she pulls out her laptop. Buffy and Xander cheer squad a little over Willow’s return to basics, but NOPE. She uses magic as some kind of mystical Google that hacks into the police records and takes her right to the report.

Sweeney: This is an amazing and also dangerous power. I want to say “CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT WE’D DO WITH THIS?” but actually, my first thought was, “I bet this would make it way easier for us to find episode gifs.” I’m pretty sure this means I fail at interneting.

K: Not even. Finding gifs easily would be awesome.

Buffy and Xander share a concerned look. Willow fills them in on the diamond being stolen, and apparently it’s on loan from the British Museum and I laugh hysterically because I’ve dealt with things on loan from the BM and there is no way in hell ANYTHING would be in a non-alarmed plastic showcase, let alone a MASSIVE DIAMOND.

Buffy asks if there’s anything mystical about the diamond, and Willow goes back to mystical Googling. Xander comments awkwardly on how tiring mystical Googling must be, and Willow insists that she’s fine. Anya does her usual tactless routine, saying they’re all worried and that Tara left because of magic and now everyone’s scared to say anything. Everyone except her.

Lor: I actually appreciated Anya here. I’m selective with her word vomit, apparently.

Sweeney: I think most people selectively appreciate it. Agreed, though. It’s a lot like Cordelia in her Sunnydale days, with her “Tact is just not saying true things.” We cheer when her bluntness is used to say the thing that really does need to be said, but then there is the much larger part of the time when she’s saying selfish nonsense.

K: Willow says that it’s nothing, and that stuff got blown out of proportion, and by the way could we change the subject because Amy’s alone in the house. Xander asks how Amy is, and Willow says that she keeps expecting Amy to do ratty things, like poop in the corner. Buffy’s suddenly on board with the not leaving her alone in the house plan.

Cut to the trio’s lair. They ogle the diamond a little before Warren makes a dick joke at Jonathan’s expense and says that it’s time for phase two of their plan.

They head towards the door just as Spike busts in. Which he can do, apparently, because of that one time Warren’s mum let him in and he asked Warren to build the Buffybot. Anyway, he demands that Warren look at his chip, but Warren’s all “BUSY. AND NOPE.” So Spike looks around, grabs a Boba Fett action figure, and threatens to snap its head off if Warren won’t cooperate. Jonathan and Andrew panic, and Spike fakes pulling off Boba Fett’s head, leading Warren to yell in alarm. He asks for a second, and pulls the other two aside. He says that they can use Spike to get information of Buffy, and that they should form an alliance. The other two are unsure, but agree when they see Spike throwing Boba Fett into the air.

Chez Summers. Amy’s thrilled to see that Willow’s back, and says that they should go somewhere. Willow asks if Amy wants to go see her father, but NOPE. Too many questions. Amy wants to do something fun, that doesn’t involve a big wheel. When Willow’s reluctant, Amy’s all “Maybe you’d rather recreate your high school days in which you had no life,” and STFU AMY. Anyway, it’s enough that Willow agrees that she’s done with the moping and it’s time to get her party on.

Back at the trio’s lair, Warren is scanning Spike’s head with something. There’s a weird cut to sometime later, and Spike sitting next to Jonathan and Andrew. Then this happens, and I giggle forever:

Sweeney: I still hate the trio, but yeah, this is amazing and I love it forever. Not that we didn’t all notice, but it’s worth pointing out that this rare redeeming moment was Warren-free.

K: I like them so much more without Doucheface Warren. Also, it’s a much more impressive feat when you realise that this was 2002, and therefore prior to the reboot, so Andrew’s talking about Classic Who. Still, Spike’s face is priceless. (L: One we can reuse all over Traumaland!) (S: YES.) When Andrew goes on to say that he hasn’t seen all of Red Dwarf yet, Spike yells out for Warren. Warren comes in with a bunch of papers, and informs Spike that his chip is still working perfectly. Spike thinks for a second, then smiles. He heads for the door, and says that the rules have changed. Because there’s nothing wrong with him, it’s something that’s wrong with HER. Fade to black.

After the Not Commercial Break, Dawn walks in the front door of Chez Summers to find the house empty. She drags Tara in behind her, and guilt trips her into staying until someone gets home. Tara reluctantly agrees, and says that she’s only staying to make sure that Dawn isn’t left alone. Dawn smirks a little and lays her head on Tara’s shoulder. Cut to the Bronze. Willow and Amy are using magic to play pool and discussing the fact that Xander’s engaged. A couple of guys approach and start talking to them. Willow’s not interested, but Amy wants to dance. She says she’ll find something a little more Willow’s style, and snaps her fingers. A random hot girl at the bar turns to stare at Willow, then starts to walk over. Willow shakes her head at Amy just before the girl introduces herself. Willow turns to Amy pleadingly, and Amy snaps her fingers again. The girl looks confused and heads back to her friend. Amy heads out onto the dance floor with the two guys and Willow smiles sadly to herself.

Sometime later, Willow is at the bar nursing a martini. Amy comes up and apologises for getting caught up, then downs Willow’s drink. The two guys come up and Amy says she’s going to sit out the next dance. They tell her that she’s not allowed to get them all worked up and… Willow interrupts to say that Amy said no. One of the guys calls her Ellen, and my GOD the men of Sunnydale are just asking to be punched in the junk today. Anyway, the guys say that they want to dance. Willow and Amy share a look, then wave their hands, and the guys are suddenly in cages above the dance floor wearing nothing but loincloths. Willow and Amy share a “HAHA, SERVES THEM RIGHT” smile.

Lor: I think I liked Amy better as a rat.

K: So did we all. Over at the Magic Box, Buffy, Xander and Anya are in research mode. Xander thinks he’s found the culprit, but Anya points out that he’s reading a Dungeons & Dragons manual. They give up on research to discuss Willow instead. Buffy thinks that having Amy around is good because it means Willow’s not crying and moping around the house any more. The other two are less sure, having overheard the whole “You’re using too much magic” fight. Buffy points out that Willow’s level headed and will therefore be fine, but Anya replies that those are the ones you need to watch, because when they get a taste of what they’ve been missing out on, things go kablooey. Xander says that giving into it has to be seductive, and Buffy gets “OH SHIT THEY KNOW” face. Xander continues, saying that they need to keep an eye on Willow.

Just then, the phone rings. Buffy answers it, and it’s Spike, but he’s disguising his voice. He calls her “Slayer” and demands that she meet him in the cemetery in 20 minutes. She’s all “Spike?” and wants to know why he’s calling her on the phone. Valid point, Buff, because we long ago established that no one EVER uses the phone in Sunnydale. He asks if she’s up for some grunt work, then grins when she makes a grossed out sound because he was talking shop, but the other kind of grunting could definitely be arranged. She hangs up the phone in disgust and Spike and his cheekbones look very pleased with themselves.

Buffy makes a half arsed excuse to the others about why Spike phoned. The gang lock up the Magic Box and head out. They discuss recent events – Rusty getting frozen, the bank robbery, the exploding lint – and decide that they’re kind of off, on account of they’re all really lame. With a side of weird. She says that she’ll do a quick patrol but that finding out what’s behind the lame is Future Buffy’s problem. They part ways and she heads down an alley only to be confronted by Spike, who’s now wearing a purple shirt over his black t-shirt. I’m going to take a leaf out of the Sherlock fandom’s book and call it the Purple Shirt of Sex. Because of reasons.

He’s pissed because she didn’t turn up at the cemetery. She tries to push past him, but he gets all up in her face. She demands that he move, and he asks what she’ll do if he doesn’t. She punches him in the face, and after a second, he hits her right back. “Oh, the pain, the pain!” he says in a mocking tone. She asks tearfully how it’s possible, and he tells her with a grin that she came back wrong. Fade to black.

After the Not Commercial Break, Buffy punches Spike repeatedly, driving him down the alley as he laughs. She thinks it’s a trick, that he’s done something to the chip, but he punches her back as he informs her that he hasn’t and that she came back less human. She says that he’s wrong and hits him several times, throwing him backwards into the doorway of a building. She follows him and they crash through the door. Over at the Bronze, the douchey guys are still dancing in their cages, with horrified expressions on their faces. Willow and Amy stand on the balcony, casting spells all over the place and grinning with joy. Soon, there’s magic pinging all over the place.

Sweeney: I just have so many sad feels watching Willow. Also, I know Willow’s current state isn’t all Amy’s fault, but I don’t care — GO BACK TO YOUR CAGE, AMY. (But my 15 year old self still totally appreciated that they magicked The Halo Friendlies into The Bronze.)

K: Back inside the abandoned house, Buffy and Spike’s fight continues. He calls her a lost little girl who doesn’t fit in anywhere as he swings towards her on a chandelier and kicks her in the chest. She throws him into the stairs, and says that he’s just as bad because he’s a vampire and is meant to kill the Slayer, but instead just follows her around making puppy dog eyes. He says that he’s in love with her, and she replies that he’s in love with pain. He throws her across the room, then straddles her and grabs the front of her jacket. She pushes his face, sending him flying across the room and taking a chunk out of a pillar on his way. She leaps after him.

The Bronze. Willow’s mopey because they’ve had about all the fun they can have at the Bronze, and casts a spell to undo all their magic. Everything returns to normal. She wants to know if there’s anywhere bigger to go, and Amy says that it’s too early to go home yet. Willow smiles. Back at the abandoned house, Spike pins Buffy against the stairs. She punches him, and he says that he wasn’t planning on hurting her. Much. She “bitch, please”s him, and he says that she’s afraid to give him the chance. She throws him across the room into a wall, which cracks, and kisses him. She smashes her hand through the wall to get her arm around his neck. He lifts her off the ground and slams her into another section of wall as they continue to kiss. The cracks in the walls get bigger, moving up towards the ceiling. Buffy pushes Spike away, then follows him just as a section of ceiling falls right where they were standing.

She slams him up against another wall, and kisses him again. He lifts her up, and she puts her legs around his waist. She lowers her hand between their bodies and we hear a zipper being undone. She lifts herself up a little, then drops down, and Spike stares at her in shock. She stares back at him for a moment before she starts to move. He kisses her again, then spins around so that she’s against the wall. She reaches up and grabs hold of the wall to brace herself, and the house starts to fall apart around them. She leans back against the wall, and he rests his head on her chest. She leans forward to wrap her arms around him, and he staggers backwards. The floor collapses, and they fall through to the basement, landing with Buffy still on top of him. They stare at each other, then start to move again as we fade to black.

Well. That was quite the ending. (The transcript I was using said “If you don’t know what’s happening here, you’re too young to be reading this.”) I loved Surrogate Mother Tara, and I sort of love the visual “They’re breaking down the walls Buffy’s built around herself” metaphor of the house falling down around them. But the trio and Amy can go suck a dick because they’re the actual worst.

Lor: Huh, breaking down walls metaphor, you say? I didn’t even THINK of that, which just goes to show how many different ways there are to interpret things. I finished this episode and promptly told Twitter that it was a big fat NOPE for me. I mean, the episode itself was a bit middle of the road, mostly weighed down by the Trio bits. Even though I don’t like Amy, or rather, what she’s doing, there were a few comedic bits that came thanks to her. Plus, I liked the parallel that was being drawn between Buffy and Willow. They are both being seduced, and we see them taking part in harmful activities: Buffy fighting with Spike and Willow recklessly using magic. Buffy at least knows that what she’s doing can’t be filed away in “great life choices,” while Willow will not own up to her magic abuse or her part in the end of her relationship with Tara.

It seems like every episode this season is just going to confirm that I had the complete wrong idea about Buffy and Spike. I will make this distinction here: it is a good story, and I like both these characters, but this is not a good relationship. As I said, interpret as you may, but for me, this exchange was difficult to watch and I can’t help but see two deeply damaged people, selfishly taking their fill of something they think they want, regardless of the consequences. Kirsti saw walls coming down– I saw a crash. It was an already empty and abandoned house, and sure, they didn’t do that to each other. There were other circumstances that left them in that state, but being together results in a crash. (S: +1 on this metaphor reading.)

The fighting was strange for me. I really don’t know what else to say about it other than that, as I’m sure many a things can be said about foreplay and liking it rough. That was just not what I saw, and that’s all I can say about that.

Spike is not a man and he is not changed. There is evil still a brewing there.

What a train wreck these two are.

K: So basically, Lor, what you’re saying is this, right?

 

Next time: The aftermath of All The Things and Willow takes another step towards the dark side. Find out all the details in Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06 E10 – Wrecked.

Kirsti (all posts)

I'm a grad student who's staring down the barrel of 30 and I still live with my parents because I'm super broke. My degree is in information management, which is a fancy way of saying librarianship, which is a fancy way of saying "I get to read young adult books and have it count as studying". I have an inexplicable love for 90s television, eat too much chocolate, and tweet about the random crap that happens to me on public transport more than I should.





Lorraine (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.





Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle. I like language; semicolons bring fantastic things to the party, like letting it last longer.





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  • Jessica

    It’s funny to me that the Spike “I’m the only one who is there for you” line is interpreted so differently by y’all. I simply see it as foreshadowing to episode next-to-last.
    I see everyone else “using” Buffy as much as he does. Willows magical self involvement drives me nuts because while I know she is not less important than Bufy it does seem like she frequently makes things a hell of a lot harder for her. (Tabula Rasa comes to mind.)
    Xander just mopes about being the useless one instead of getting off his ass to do better. Learn something. Practice fighting. Memorize the path of the sewers. Something.
    Spike tries. He frequently fails. But he’s trying to do something.
    I guess I’m just a sucker for that. I can’t stand people who look around and whine about what a mess their life is when they won’t do anything about it (willow wants to cry about Tara but doesn’t care enough to actually get her act together and stop abusing magic.)
    I think that’s why I give Spike a pass on so much. He may not always get it right, but at least he tries. And gets back up and tries again.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      I like Spike, to be fair and I think we have been shown moments where he was truly there for Buffy when she needed him, probably through his stubborn insistence. For instance, Buffy almost opens up to Willow in this episode. Willow, for her part, listens and offers her attention, but they are interrupted and then Buffy uses this as an excuse to slip away. Willow lets her go. On the other hand, Buffy refuses to talk to Spike and he refuses to let her walk away. He pushes her way into her life, and perhaps she needs that insistence at this moment.

      I also can’t just simply see “he’s trying even if he fails!” It’s a good point, and I see that logic, but when the first thing he does is go try to bite someone when he thinks he can, I can’t simply brush it away with a, “at least he tries.”

      I think the Scoobies try on some level too, but it’s different. Spike can relate for sure in a way the Scoobies can never hope to. Their tries are super misguided (movie night!) and at the same time, they all have other things going on– Willow’s magic addiction, Tara and the break-up, Xander and Anya, the magic box, school, work, etc. What else does Spike have to do but follow Buffy around and tell her she has no one else in the world when she’s most likely to believe that?

      I waffle on him and his intentions. Sometimes it all seems so genuine and heartfelt and other times so misguided and selfishly rooted. That’s what makes him SUCH a good character. I love to watch Spike, even when I don’t like what he’s doing. His entire arc (so far) of what it means to be human, to be a man, is interesting and here we get another piece of it. Last episode I was surprised by how when his memories were wiped, Spike felt noble (thanks to the forgotten chip). Here? He immediately resorts to violence. This (not a) man is a complicated mess. He’s good TV.

      :)

      • Heather Bungard-Janney

        Consider that he’s considered himself crippled – he is, literally, a caged predator at the moment – and that he believes himself to finally have been freed. Did you notice how he had to work his way up to attacking the woman? He’s trying with his monologue to convince himself as much as intimidate her – and no, I’m not justifying the attack on the woman, but the show usually uses violence as a… not a metaphor necessarily… a vehicle? A way to demonstrate emotional states. Here we learn that the predator might not be caged anymore, and he’s free to attack… and he has to convince himself to try it.

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          And he does. He stands there and talks himself into drinking from this woman. I’m sorry it was a hard choice for him to make, but that doesn’t really make me feel better about the fact that he made it. “/

          • Heather Bungard-Janney

            I need to thank you for keepin’ it real on the violence-against-women train, because it is easy to forget. I think my point is that in this show the violence is especially easy to forget because they tend to use it less as violence in itself and more as a framework for the emotions around it.

            One image that immediately springs to mind is when… Season 4, I think? – Buffy and Willow are walking along and she’s talking about how she thinks maybe relationships have to have a little angst in them, or something like that. A vampire jumps out of the bushes and she kills it, then continues her conversation with “I wonder where I get that”, like nothing just happened. That scene wasn’t about a fight with a vampire or even really Buffy as the Slayer; but it used a life-or-death battle to illustrate a point in a conversation about Buffy’s emotional needs.

            In this case the same thing was set up – Spike believed he had the opportunity to do evil and believed that was still all he was capable of, but had to talk himself into it. In his world he’s talking himself into acting according to his nature. In our world he’s convincing himself it’s okay to murder someone. But the show tends to look at these scenes much more from Spike’s world than from ours.

            Whether or not that is okay and what it says about ou culture is a whole other discussion.

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            You are definitely right about how violence is used on this show, and it murkies the waters for sure, which is why it’s so open to interpretation and filters. This point immediately reminded me of the episode where an abusive boyfriend was taking some sort of ‘roid concoction and was beating up on his girlfriend? Violence with a supernatural kick that opened up a larger discussion.

            And to be clear, I’m not JUST against violence against women, but it does seem to be that media gives us many more opportunities to step up on that soapbox than anything else. But, yes, I won’t be one to easily forget it in favor of the surrounding emotions or the larger story at hand. It’ll be the elephant in the room for me every time. That’s just me.

            That’s an excellent scene to recall in this context and another reason why I ship Buffy alone more than any other ship ATM. I think being the slayer, and the amount of violence in her life has certainly skewed her own perception and her emotional needs. I also don’t think that’s going to change my mind, and make me sit here and root for her in an emotionally (if mutually) abusive relationship. I also resent anything that portrays a woman’s no meaning anything other than a big resounding NO. People change their minds, and that’s fine, but if “my mind is saying no but my body is saying yes?” Fuck that noise. I cannot seperate that from a big, larger issue I have with rape culture and media. I know that’s a lot of serious stuff to infuse into one little bit of a fictional story of a TV show that stopped airing years ago, but alas. It is a sensitive issue with me. :)

            I will continue to watch and interpret with my own cultural lens because that is the only way I feel comfortable watching. It would be the same with incest issues or pedophilia or any number of things. Murder is bad, and it may not be so in Spike’s world, but it is so in MY world and ultimately in Buffy’s world. I mean, she’s a Slayer. She goes around stopping this stuff, and it is her big calling in life!

            I get what you are saying about Spike though, and it’s cool that he’s such a great character that he invites that sort of sympathy. He invites people to see it from his point of view and to award points for progress. Some people will see that he’s changed some, and some that he hasn’t changed enough! Both are right! :)

          • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

            YES YES YES. Buffy alone > Buffy ships.

            I can’t get behind the notion that what Buffy “needs” right now is a man. (Which, again, is why I like that cutting analogy so much, but I haven’t found that comment again, so whatever.)

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            I love everything you are doing in comments right now, FYI.

          • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

            Wandering around aimlessly and incoherently responding to things like a crazy homeless person? Poking the commenters and saying, “What are words even? I don’t know, but I like your words!”

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            Leaving little presents nestled away for me to discover? Spreading SPARKLES all over the place?

            Yeah. Yeah.

          • Alex

            “I also resent anything that portrays a woman’s no meaning anything other than a big resounding NO. People change their minds, and that’s fine, but “my mind is saying no but my body is saying yes?” Fuck that noise.”

            This, this, one thousand times this!

            I think that’s exactly my problem with the final scene here. Physical attraction or not, she is quite clearly trying to get away from him, and he is quite clearly stopping her from doing so. Whether or not she eventually ‘gives in’ to some kind of carnal desire is irrelevant, in my eyes, and those kind of arguments just tread a little too close to ‘you know she wanted it really’ for my liking.

            I can’t say that I find Buffy 100% blameless in the situation, but whenever I try to construct any kind of defence of Spike I’m never able to word anything that I really feel comfortable with.

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            You know, a lot of comments have pointed out some things I didn’t notice first time around. After first watch, however, the lasting impression I had was of some many times Buffy stomped away, and how many times Spike was there, again, in the shadows, not respecting her no. Then of course you can argue that she ~really did~ want it, because she initiated the kiss and the sex so see! Her no really meant yes!

            And ew. 1,000 ews. Nothing else has weakened Buffy like that weakens Buffy.

            I’m with you on the general discomfort.

          • Alex

            To use a very hasty and possibly very badly-thought-out analogy, to me it feels a bit like someone who’s trying not to drink, for whatever reason… let’s say they’re the designated driver that night. Even though in many ways they would really quite like a drink, they’re determined not to have one. And then someone else comes along and holds a bottle in front of them and says ‘go on go on go on go on go on go on’ until they eventually give in and take a swig.

            OK, I told you it was a crappy analogy, but my point is that it’s perfectly possible for someone to want something on one level and very much NOT want it on another. And just because you know that there’s a part of them that wants to do what you’re trying to make them do – whether it’s Buffy having naughty thoughts about Spike or the driver who’s gagging for a drink – doesn’t make it any more OK for you to pressurise them into doing it. I think that’s why I find it difficult to excuse Spike’s behaviour by saying ‘well, Buffy did the unzipping…’ because I just have this lasting image in my mind of her appearing very distressed before that, and being desperate to get away, and not being allowed to do that.

            It’s only been a couple of weeks since I last saw this episode, but I’m definitely rewatching it tonight now that these comments have given me so much to think about.

          • Alicia

            I like your point about the conflict between really wanting something and really not wanting something at the same time. And the analogy makes sense to me! Spike is wrong to pressure her about continuing their physical relationship. He should have left her alone after their first scene in the episode.
            I need to watch the episode again too because I don’t remember the desperate to get away part. I do remember her being really thrown by the ‘came back wrong’ stuff and the revelation about Spike’s chip. But then she punches him a lot and throws him into the abandoned building. And she taunts and throws him around a lot once inside, as he does her. But yes Buffy doing the unzipping has no bearing on anyone’s behaviour but her own.
            I always saw her as being in control of the situation from the moment she kissed him to the end. That she was making a definite decision to take what she wanted from Spike, consequences be damned. Kind of like Faith’s want, take, have philosophy. As opposed to it just being that she’s worn down by him and giving in. Part of that is the stunned look on Spike’s face and how aggressive she is about it. Is it possible for it to be both at the same time? But I appreciate that this view doesn’t work for you and I don’t want to take away from you, or anyone else’s, discomfort in watching this scene.

          • Alex

            No, you’re right. I think it CAN be both. It’s a complicated scene with so many highly-charged emotions behind it, and that’s what makes it such great TV.

            I don’t think Spike’s trying to push her into sex or even remotely expecting it to happen at this point, and the look on his face says it all, really. But right before that he’s been goading her, antagonising her and generally going out of his way to make her feel like crap. The thought that Buffy ‘came back wrong’ actually makes him happy, and he just can’t wait to taunt her with it as some kind of twisted way of bringing her closer to him. That’s what I find hard to take. To me, he pushes Buffy so far that she finally snaps… but you’re right, she does then become very aggressive, and that seems to derail Spike’s own aggression, and the whole thing is basically a huge mess. All I can really say with any certainty is that it’s incredibly complicated.

            I do feel that I need to clarify, though, that while I ‘blame’ Spike more in this particular episode/scene, there’s plenty of other stuff that I pin on Buffy, too. The bit that always sticks in my mind is the end of OMWF, where Spike says she should go back to her friends and Buffy replies ‘I don’t want to’. I always felt like that really summed up her attitude to Spike – it’s always been about what SHE wants. His whole song was about how much her presence torments him, and how she needs to stop playing with him, but she still decides to confuse him even further by kissing him because, well, that’s what she felt like doing at that particular moment.

            So. Yeah. ‘It’s complicated’ is pretty much it.

          • Alicia

            Yeah, the ‘came back wrong’ stuff is the worst part I think. He’s getting way too much pleasure from taunting her about it. He thinks she can’t act like she’s better than him anymore and is really rubbing it in.
            I’d say overall I definitely ‘blame’ Spike more in this episode! He’s the one who keeps pushing throughout when he should back off and give her space.
            Good point about the end of OMWF and their interaction being about what she wants. I feel like when Buffy was spending time with him earlier this season it was pretty much just about having somewhere to unload her problems rather than the beginning of an actual friendship. She doesn’t really take him seriously as a person which is why she can tell him anything. And unfortunately I don’t think she really took on board what he was singing at all.

          • Alex

            Not only does she roll her eyes during the song, but she later mocks him by saying something like ‘I thought you wanted me to stay away… isn’t that what your song said?’ Given that the song is Spike unwillingly expressing his innermost feelings, it’s extremely shitty of Buffy to throw it back in his face like that.

          • Alicia

            Yeah it’s that dismissive attitude that gets me. Especially since he has been nothing but supportive up until he is forced to sing about what he is feeling. And in that moment he’s offering to have her back as well, so yes shitty.

            I do think Buffy is actually hurt by his song and is lashing out though. She probably feels rejected by him, because she definitely took on board the ‘leave me alone’ parts of it. And if he’s telling her to go away, she’s losing the only person she can really talk to.

          • Clément Polge

            To put it in Spke’s word: “what do you think Cesar said ? ‘I came, I conquered, I felt real bad about it’ ?”

            I’m with Lorraine on this, his struggle to act are interesting from a character standpoint, but if someone just decide to random kill me, I probably won’t care too much if it was hard for him or not. And not just because I’ll be dead.

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            “And not just because I’ll be dead.”

            LOL. I’m almost sorry I called you a troll like 10 minutes ago. I mean, I did call you a troll, but I had to talk myself into it.

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      For me, the problem with that line is all in the way it’s delivered. On paper, it looks like he’s the one who’s there when the Scoobies aren’t, the one she can turn to. But the way he delivers it? It’s less that and more gloating that she has nowhere else to go.

  • Wilhelmina Upton

    Join the dark side, we have cookies :) Not but seriously, having Rat!Amy back is all kinds of bad for Willow right now. (I totally forgot it takes them this long to bring Amy back and I’m as #meh about her as I was before her becoming a rat. She should have basically stayed a rat.

    The Trio is so much more acceptable when it’s just The Duo without bitchface Warren and them stealing that gigantic diamond is just all kinds of wrong, also, why would anyone lend sth to Sunnydale Museum as valuable as that diamond?

    As for Spike and Buffy, I don’t see it as a crash, it’s a necessary continuation of their story, it’s not pretty, it’s dark and twisted, selfish and done out of hate and lust instead of romance and feelings. But in a way I believe Buffy’s character needs this right now, this wrongness to find out who she is after coming back from the dead, which was all wrong in itself.

    • Jojo

      Yeah — not sure about the hate but definitely plenty of lust. and many way bad decisions – way, way, way bad. I agree Buffy needs this to redefine herself, but I think Spike also redefines himself in some major ways. And later canon does add information as to the slayer mythos that may be applicable.

      • Wilhelmina Upton

        The hate not so much of each other but of themselves, they wish they were different/not there as far as I believe. And yes, they both needs this to redefine themselves, to recalibrate in a way. Not sure what you’re saying about the slayer mythos thing…

        • Jojo

          Gur fynlref rkvfg orpnhfr gurl jrer vzohrq jvgu qrzbavp cbjre – fb nyy fynlref npghnyyl ner cneg qrzba.

          “Vampire here – I’m supposed to be treading the dark side. What’s your excuse!”

          Yeah – that hate – I so agree.

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            Ah yes, I understand.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      Definitely the best thing about Rat Amy is the continuity. And the actress gives some great, wide-eyed looks.

      I think it makes sense as a part of their continuing story line as well. I’ll have to wait and see how it continues in the future, though, and how their lives proceed from here before I’m sure about the “crash,” but that’s just how I saw it. Even though it makes sense that this was the next step, it wasn’t inevitable. It was a decision made, and one that lead to a very literal breakdown. We’ll see if it leads to further breakage in more episodes, yeah?

      I think Buffy’s trying to capitalize on the feelings she actually has since falling into her depression trap: lust, maybe hate, at least surface disgust or residual hate she hasn’t re-appropriated. In that sense, it can be compared to a number of things (harmful things) people do to FEEL something. It may lead them to some understanding, but IDK if I’d go as far as saying that said harmful thing was “needed.”

      • Jojo

        Rat Amy is a contrived contrivance. Rats have a lifespan of about 3 years so unmagicked Rat Amy should be about 100 years old.

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          Aw man. You logic’d my continuity. D:

          • Jojo

            It would have been a funny scene, too! XD

        • Melbourne on my Mind

          DAMMIT. I missed a prime opportunity to make a joke about her being an Animagus and the Buffyverse’s Peter Pettigrew. Womp womp.

      • Jojo

        Oh, yeah Lor – perfect~ “This isn’t real, but I just want to feel.” Buffy said it from the start. And yes – demons and vampires, even chipped, lack…well…humanity. Buffy has been through a year or so of hell, and now Giles is gone. She has huge FEELS – and she needs a release, a way to feel, something to have feelings about. She is a mess.

        As for Spike – more in the selfish, will grab what I can, demons don’t say please and make pretty speeches. But he also is all she has – if not, who else does she have? He has listened to her, and until OMWF he has even kept sex and all that out of it. But they sang, they kissed, kablooey!

      • Wilhelmina Upton

        I do think that it is needed, in a way this is like hitting rock bottom and sometimes that’s what you need to completely fall apart in order to rebuild yourself again. Maybe this doesn’t make a lot of sense but it does in my head.

  • Jojo

    I tend to see it in the ‘tearing down house – disaster metaphor’. There are a few things I do think need to be brought into the mix.
    1) Spike is a chipped demon
    2) Buffy was dead and buried near a hellmouth
    3) Spell to raise Buffy was disrupted
    4) Buffy has been coming to Spike in ways she never has – able to communicate with him and wanting to talk to him rather than anyone else
    5) Spike’s chip still works on humans but not on Buffy.
    Is it really surprising that Spike believes Buffy came back different – demonic – because there are always-consequences? Were that so – wouldn’t you expect her to be in denial? I am only saying that I really believe Spike thinks there are valid reasons for him to bring Buffy to the dark – selfish, but logical according to the rules of the Buffyverse.

    We also know – from more than one episode – that both Spike and Buffy get turned on by fighting. And that you have to drop the male strong/ female weak trope because Buffy is both stronger and faster than Spike. These two are both fully adult participants – in a pretty disastrous choice, yes – but don’t cast Buffy as a victim because that negates everything she stands for.

    If you are looking for pretty, romantic, uncomplicated true love – rewatch Buffy and Angel in season one. There are still debates as to true love but I don’t think anyone would call this a healthy relationship. The hard part is to not get caught up in blaming because you lose half the story that way.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Not a healthy relationship in any sense but it’s been a long while coming and it’s finally here. Buffy is not the same and she is also not some honeybunny who can’t look out for herself.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      I think there have been lots and lots of hints that Buffy came back wrong. Being a Snow, I still don’t know to what extent, in a hellmouth-y, demon-y, less of a human sort of way, but we’ve at least seen how much this has affected her emotionally. I think Spike always has reasons and ones that seem plenty good to him– I just don’t always agree with them is all.

      I hold no sort of misconception about Buffy’s strength here. She threw the first punch, even if the first time it was a reaction to Spike grabbing on to her and not letting go. She’s absolutely able to defend herself and her BAMF status is what I love about this character. In general, however, everyone would do well to remember that being able to defend yourself does not render the other person’s behavior less violent. Buffy can never be seen as a helpless damsel.

      I think Buffy and Spike have an interesting and compelling story, but I’m just not ready to call it love of any sort. I think we’re agreeing about it being an unhealthy relationship, though it being my first watch and all, I’m having a harder time just sort of nodding my head and accepting it. I feel like I just watched a crash and I’m going, “GUYS. GUYS. DID YOU SEE THAT? ANYONE?” And everyone else is kind of standing by, eating cookies and stuff because they know what happens next and who walks away from the crash.

      “BUT IT WAS A VIOLENT CRASH, Y’ALL.” I Snow.

      “Buffy’s strong,” y’all answer.

      Sigh.

      • Jojo

        Technically (sorry – it’s a thing) Buffy threw the first punch when Spike wouldn’t get out of her way. As for everything else – I agree. But “love” – in demon terms love includes tying up Dru and torturing her. Buffy knows who he is – he said that right in front of her and more. She gets involved with both eyes open because she needs what he gives her. Spike would – well, if any part of what they raised was Buffy he wouldn’t allow them to destroy it. Spike will take what he can and keep pushing for more.

        This is the starting point of something between two equal and consenting adults – but I really cannot see it as in anyway health even if it is fulfilling some needs. I think the best metaphor is that Spike is the razor that Buffy is cutting herself on. Car accident – only if it’s a major pile up with fires and people roasting marshmallows.

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          Ah, yes. You’re right about the in her way thing.

          In that respect, of him being a demon and his personal interpretation of “love,” it’s interesting that he keeps trying to convince her that he’s a ~man~ and people can ~change.~ He isn’t solely playing the TAKE MY DEMON LOVE OR LEAVE IT card. We’ve seen everything come from him, from I’m the only one you’ve got to you’re just like me to I’ve changed. He’s trying everything.

          Is it still ultimately Buffy’s choice? Yes. And she initiated the sex. I’m going around leaving comments about Spike’s role and you want to make me acknowledge Buffy’s part in it all. She’s a consenting adult after all. People can still be manipulated, though, and I see a lot of that in Spike’s actions. Buffy says, “LEAVE ME ALONE,” and he shows up at the bar where she’s drinking. He’s always there, pushing, talking, convincing, etc. He’s shown to us as an antagonist.

          I almost made the cutting comment to @wilhelminaupton:disqus earlier but I wasn’t sure if that was quite right! It’s the impression I got however. To her I was going to say that it’s like cutting to FEEL something. Sure, it might give you those results, but I would never say to someone cutting, you NEEDED cutting to get you somewhere. People can make the best of sucky situations, or reestablish their lives after harmful choices, but I can’t say anyone NEEDS self harm.

          Mmmm. Marshmallows.

          • Jojo

            Well, he has changed but you’re right – he will use anything he can including the “I have changed” card. No, he isn’t human but then I don’t think he even knows what human is anymore. Frankly, if you look at his track record with women as a human, I don’t think he ever did know how to deal with that part of life. He is willing to be whatever Buffy needs but he is tragically incapable of either filling those needs or figuring them out – and he is selfish enough to want everything and be willing to do whatever he can to get it. Still, oddly enough there is some tenderness and some caring between them. It’s just been covered with gasoline and a match has been thrown on top of it.

            Apply the same logic to the 2nd paragraph that you used in the first. She is the one who kissed him when he told her to go back to the singing. She is the one who ended up making out with him when she had just turned him down and he left her alone. Her message to him is also confused and manipulative – be there when I want you and then disappear completely when I am done with you. I don’t bring her up to counter what you say about Spike. Just to point out the push me – pull you nature of their relationship. The disaster is, if anything, larger than the sum of its parts.

            And that last paragraph is exactly right – cutting is one of the worst coping mechanisms possible. That’s why I used it. She wants to feel. But she is also playing a pretty destructive game in other ways.

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            Cutting is not a good way of coping in any book yet a lot of people do it and can’t quit it. I’d say Buffy can’t walk away from her life right now (she never could but being resurrected and pulled out of heaven catapulted this into a MUCH higher level) so she is burning down the house or crashing it). She can’t take it out on Dawn or even the rest of the Scoobies so she does something stupid and destructive.

            I’m not entirely on board with the way Spike reacts and always makes suggestions towards Buffy but it’s still her who made the first step to take it any further.

  • Jessica

    I’m not 100% on the Buffy+Spike=truluv4eva but I think it appeals to me because it is pretty honest. It may not be all romance and flowers but at least it is real. I do think they care about each other. I think they both know they are using each other to fulfill some part of them that is messed up.
    And maybe it’s my own filter that sees that as being more genuine than big puffy pink hearts with Angel. He always seemed so patronizing to her.. Little Buffy can’t understand what it’s like because I’m so old and I have this soul and I have to be self sacrificing even when she isn’t. Blah blah blah.
    It guess it says something about me that if rather have real and jacked up than perfect.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      I get it! Thankfully in real life there are more options than, “jacked up,” and “perfect.” As far as the story goes, personal filters go a long way. I for one never saw Angel as the fluffy hearts guy, though the levels of Buffy’s problems seem to have graduated from a simple, “you are a vampire, I am a slayer,” to “you are a vampire who wants to kill me or at least punch me repeatedly, I am a slayer.” Jacked up for sure.

      • Jojo

        Don’t forget – I am a slayer who wants to use you as a dildo/blow up doll.

  • Jojo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy8Xx7Wka6U
    This is the original Smashed ending – in other words, this is what they cut out as too graphic, or rather what Whedon was willing to lose to keep the sound of the zipper heard round the world.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      Um. Wow.

      • Jojo

        Cold compress? Or just go for the shower?

        • Regina

          Oh sweet Lord…

          • Jojo

            I don’t think he has much to do with it!

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            Depends who you ask!

          • Jojo

            Or what your religion is….I vote pagan or wiccan!

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      That’s interesting, because it very much shows Buffy in control of the situation. She pauses for a second when they fall, then makes the same decision all over again.

  • http://stephaniec.tumblr.com/ stephynee

    I’m genuinely confused about how Buffy and Spike have sex while she’s wearing that long, stiff leather skirt. That just seems uncomfortable. Aside from that, I love the music that plays in this scene. Soundtrack geekiness.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      THE SKIRT. I THOUGHT THE SAME THING. Even with the loud zipper I had a moment of, “waaaait. Is this happening.” The writhing was a dead giveaway though. I like that the sound gave way to the soundtrack at that point. Shared geekiness. :)

      • Jojo

        Really, I am not stalking you! But – yeah, the music….as the house crashes around them. That is one of the most poignant and saddest scenes in the entire show for me. So many FEELS – even more feels about my feels…..going to my safe place now.

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          Their facial expressions too. His was, “WTF?” and hers was a bit, “I’m so sad.”

          And then they just keep going at it. They fall through the MF floor and it’s all, “we might as well keep on…”

          Sads.

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      All I can think of now is the episode of Friends where Ross gets leather pants………

  • SuzyLee

    I find the Buffy/Spike sex scene at the end desperately sad, it just breaks my heart every time and Spike’s use of “you came back wrong” to try and break Buffy down, the way he finds a vulnerability and digs uses it that way make me feel physically sick. Their relationship this season is NOT healthy for either of them and it is mutually abusive. I say all this as a Spuffy shipper. I ship Spuffy only from Season 7 onwards (because of spoilery reasons); I will get all sentimental and feelsy about scenes from pre Season 7 that show their relationship at its best or are just so damn hearbreakingly beautiful (“every night I save you” I’m looking at you) but I don’t actively ship them in this season. There is a certain portion of the Spuffy fandom that tries to sugar coat what goes on in Season 6, or to ignore it or worst of all to try and put all the blame onto Buffy (which makes me want to hulk smash!!). It is an important part of their relationship and it shouldn’t ever be ignored but it most certainly should not be made out to be something that it decidedly is not.

    • Jojo

      I don’t put all the blame on Buffy – but I also don’t put all the blame on Spike. I’d say they both are equally responsible and do equal amounts of damage. I don’t ship Spike and Buffy, but I can’t see Buffy as Spike’s victim. I think anything more will be spoilers.

      • SuzyLee

        Oh no I wouldn’t ever claim that the “blame” (which I don’t think is the right word anyway) can be put on either of them, its definitely a mutual thing, Buffy is most certainly not a victim here and neither is Spike. I was only commenting specifically on the Buffy blaming because that is what I most commonly see rearing its ugly head in certain parts of the Spuffy fandom.

        • Jojo

          Honestly there are so many factions in fandom I’d say most drive me loony tunes. Most of the really extreme fans hide in their special space with others who agree and I ignore them.

          Because I see both Buffy and Spike as equally at fault, I tend to see them as both manipulating each other. I think I feel in some ways the same way you do as far as Buffy is concerned. An awful lot of fans also blame Spike – and say he is victimizing Buffy. IMO Buffy is a big girl now – and clearly ready to make some serious mistakes for her own personal reasons. She did throw the first punch and later on she also was the one who got him out and mounted him. This is one of the strengths of Buffy – we can all come from such different interpretations.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      I love, love, love this comment @SuzyLee1:disqus. I have a feeling all said and done my line of thinking will be close to this. It is sad and it’s dark and I can’t rationalize any of that, but I can accept that in the future, things might change.

      • Melodie Hatley

        It’s this too: Who HASN’T made that bad decision in their life? Whether it’s keeping a friend, family member, or significant other in their life when they are bad for you, and you KNOW it’s bad. Like, for Poopy-Head Parker, it was a bad decision for Buffy *in retrospect*. She had every reason to believe PHP was on the level til he wasn’t. In this case, she’s consciously making the decision that’s bad for her in the long run in favor of satisfying an urge in the short run. … and we’ve all done that, or known someone who has done that. If I had some form of currency every time I’ve said, “WHY are THEY with THIS OTHER PERSON?!” I would be more wealthy than I am right now. :P

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      I ship the idea of them more than the execution. It’s not their physical relationship that gets me, it’s all the stuff around it – him promising to protect Dawn no matter what, Buffy telling the Scoobies that she needs him in a fight, the “one hundred and forty seven days” line, pretending to be in a band together in season 2, etc etc. That’s the stuff that makes me ship them.

      • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

        I get what you are saying but I just can’t make that distinction. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent almost two years calling an abusive relationship an abusive relationship over on Fifty Shades but… that’s scarily close to the rationalization of abuse victims

        But s/he loves me.

        But when it’s good, it’s good.
        But s/he can be romantic.

        But it started off so well, and it can get back there again.

        But s/he cares about me.

        But it’s for my own good.

        Does any of that negate the very bad stuff? Not to me. Not in real life and not in fiction.

        • Melbourne on my Mind

          I think I didn’t explain my point particularly well. Which is that I can’t stand the way they executed the Buffy/Spike physical relationship. Even the stuff AROUND the physical from OMWF onwards is awful. It’s definitely a destructive relationship between two very damaged people that can very much be called abusive. I’m not saying that it’s not.

          What I was trying (and failing) to say is that I was Team Spuffy back in the day because of all the tiny moments between them over the course of the series up until OMWF. As I said back during Bargaining, it was Spike’s “one hundred and forty seven days” that sold me on them when I first saw the episodes. That doesn’t mean I like where the writers took their relationship. Because I really really don’t. I just see all the little moments as the potential for what could have been if their situations hadn’t been what they are.

          TL;DR version? It’s complicated.

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            Basically as our g-chat said, you end up wishing they were better for each other. ;)

        • Jojo

          But people can change – if they aren’t Grey. :P

          In all these examples the power dynamic is unequal. We are culturally programmed to see any male/female dynamic as having more power on the male side. This is what you are really objecting to. Notice that all of your problems deal with women in abusive relationships. We give lip service to equality as we do this, but the basic assumption is that Spike is an abuser and Buffy needs rescue. There is so much infuriating sexism in that idea – women are natural victims.

          That is why the B-verse is special. Realistically – Buffy has a support system, frayed as it is. Buffy has shelter, food and no immediate predators. Buffy is stronger than Spike (troll hammer) and faster, and damn well smarter and more able to plan. Spike is less powerful in every single aspect – does the fact he has a penis trump all of this?

          It is cultural programming that names her as a victim and accuses her of rationalizing anything. And if that is the paradigm you use, why not just read Shades of Grey? Because you are robbing Buffy of her power and turning her into something she has never been and will never be. What is going on is fugly but it is mutual. And, yes – they really do change and not in any traditional romantic way.

          • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

            I have a bit of a problem with the way you are using the word “victim.” Lor’s point was about whether or not Spike was behaving as an “abuser.” The power dynamics of whether or not someone is made frail/weak by their interactions with an abuser are complicated. I’d only say to all of this that Buffy’s strength highlights the fact that even strong people can be subjected to abuse. All of what you say of Buffy’s strength is true, and it has the air of assuming that because she’s powerful, she can’t be abused and that’s just not true.

          • Jojo

            Wait – Lor wrote a string of rationalizations that are commonly used for staying in an abusive relationship, and she related them to the Spike and Buffy interactions. She cast Buffy in the role of the abuse victim here. That was my understanding, at least.

            As for being a victim, trust me – I really do know plenty about that, from childhood on. That is part of why it bothers me to see Buffy’s interactions measured against old and sexist ideas instead of seen as they are – complex and ugly.

            I am talking about Buffy – not all women or all people. Yes, powerful people can be abused. But I don’t see Buffy as a hapless victim. I see her as a willing participant in a massive f*ck-up. To start with she neither loves Spike – nor is she dependent on his approval. In fact, that would be Spike’s role here.

            Once again – Buffy gave as good as she got in the verbal fight and in the physical fight. There was plenty of wood around there, had she wanted to stake Spike but instead she pulls him out of danger. She initiates the sex. So explain to me how she is powerless, because I just don’t get it. I see this whole interaction as one more trope blown to hell.

          • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

            Oh! You are correct. You mentioned this victim point elsewhere and I got confused. But yes, she did. I’m sorry — my bad!

            Re-visiting Lor’s list is a lot more complicated than this one Spuffy sex scene. THAT is about the larger question of why calling out things that are culturally problematic is so important to us.

            But setting Lor’s comment aside, the rest of my last comment stands, re: your most recent last paragraph. (LOL, if that makes any sense.) The fact that he was being abusive doesn’t make her powerless. Her strength/behavior doesn’t negate his behavior. If Spike was abusive, then I suppose that technically makes her the victim of abuse. This doesn’t mean that she’s powerless or that it is in ANY way a thing that should or ever COULD define her. We probably won’t ever get eye to eye on this, partially because I’m not sure we’re even talking about quite the same thing, and that’s fine. It happens, and I’m not trying to accuse you of anything. I just want to make it perfectly clear that declaring the behaviors of one individual abusive =/= calling another individual powerless.

            (He spent the bulk of the episode emotionally manipulating her and THAT, far more the physical violence of the sex scene, is what bothers me, personally.)

            I agree with your point elsewhere about this being most directly analogous to cutting with respect to Buffy’s depression. For some reason I typed this sentence first because I think I was going somewhere with that, but I lost my train of thought. So. Uh. Cool.

          • Jojo

            I think we do agree in large part. My contention is that Spike is abusive AND Buffy is abusive. Not sure if I could designate a victim – I see them as willing participants. The power balance shifts back and forth – and BOTH end up changed and/or damaged. Simplifying that dynamic takes so much away from watching it play out.

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            I just want to clarify my original response to Kirsti. I wrote that list of common excuses abuse victims make for their abusers, just to parallel Kirsti’s “I like the stuff around the Spuffy relationship,” line. I was in no way saying that any of those things apply to Spuffy. I don’t know if they do. I’ve only just seen a house crash down.

            Again, outside of this Spuffy thing, it’s worth while to clarify a few things: (1) – On a personal note, no to all assumptions that I have any views that weaken women or that feed into the cultural assumption that men hold the power, or to any assumption that I don’t know that men are the victims of violence, abuse, rape, etc.

            (2) – It is not STRONG of ANYONE to stay in an emotionally or physically abusive situation and being a victim of emotional or physical abuse does not make you weak. This is a dangerous shift, putting focus on the victim and taking it away from the attacker.

          • Jojo

            Agreed – hence the mutual part of the disaster. It not only isn’t strong, it is not really sane or healthy.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      I appreciate the dynamic of their relationship in S5, too. In general I agree with this comment. Their relationship in S6 generally makes me wildly uncomfortable in a not good way.

    • lev36

      Right with you there, SuzyLee. Though I’m a Spiffy shipper, I can’t say their relationship in season 6 is anything but deeply problematic. But it lays the groundwork for something very different next season.

  • Angi Black

    Four things which may or may not be related.

    1. I think Buffy and Spike are hot as hell. Yes, damaged. But as opposed to abusing each other, they’re abusing themselves. Which is weird, but it works. Post Heaven!Buffy and Sunnydale are just dark, dark, dark. So buckle up. But my god, JM and SMG have such chemistry, who even cares.
    2. One of the douchebags put in the cage to dance was on the TV show Moonlight as the district attorney. i suspect that since he was from Sunnydale, that’s why he bought everything about Mick the vampire.
    3. I was watching 3rd Rock from the Sun (what? don’t judge me) and Jonathan was on an episode and in that episode they mention Tabula Rasa. That all means nothing, just a thing that happened.

    4. And I’ve forgotten number four. So I’ll just say, cheers ladies.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      My gosh do they have chemistry. It makes all of the terrible for each other stuff all the more disturbing to watch, for me. If only they were better for each other.

      MOONLIGHT. NO ONE EVER MENTIONS THAT SHOW AND I LOVED IT. So, of course it got cancelled because I loved it.

      Cheers, love. :)

      • Angi Black

        I love that show, too! It just hit TV a year too early. At least they wrapped it up with a neat little bow.

        And it definitely makes their mutual destruction harder to watch because you can’t NOT watch. And the thing, it’s not just Spike. Buffy treats him like shit, too. But still, cheekbones. *sigh*

      • Melodie Hatley

        Every show on FOX that I’ve ever loved got cancelled, so now I try not to watch FOX shows cause I don’t want to curse the shows I might like.

  • darkalter2000

    I think Spike /identifies/ as being evil but has been moving past it for a long time. I think if he had managed to kill the woman in the alley it would have fucked him up. He would have realised that he was acting on an old reflex that wasn’t HIM anymore. As evidence I bring up his brief reunion with Drusilla where he doesn’t really seem to be able to get into his old persona as easily as he thinks he should.

    Anya was totally making fun of the title game! First she says, “It’s like all, kablooey.” then she says “Ok, not kablooey. More like bam!” she knows! She knows.

    • Alicia

      Yeah, good points. If he had really been the same Spike that we met in season two, he would not have had to ramble on for so long before committing to biting that girl. He even had to give himself an ‘I’m evil’ pep talk before going for it, with all those little uncertain (to my mind) pauses in his speech. Plus, that line about Buffy being confused where she fits in but him not being confused reads as denial to me, cause I definitely think he’s pretty confused! I think some of it was a reaction to Buffy’s ‘evil disgusting thing’ comment. If that is all he is to her, then that’s all he’ll be. He’s living down to her expectations, unfortunately:(
      Hee! that Anya, teasing us like that:)

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      An excellent point that he is changing, but in both instances his insticts were to (1) kidnap Buffy and (2) test out a nibble on a woman. I mean, I appreciate that he felt bad (or would’ve felt bad) afterwards, but at that point, fuck your feelings. Actions speak louder, etc.

      • Jojo

        Kidnap Buffy?

        • Alicia

          In Crush.

          • Jojo

            Sorry – thought you meant this episode.

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          Ah, man you are gonna tell me it wasn’t ~technically~ kidnapping… He like, chained her up while she was knocked out. FIXED IT. ;)

          • Jojo

            Definite kidnapping – rampant huge stupidity and rather ineffectual evil. But give him some credit – Angel staked Darla and made Buffy love him….yeah, even more stupidity.

  • Raluca

    Can I just take a moment to say how hot Spike is?! :D But more on that in later episodes… :P
    As someone who’s been in dysfunctional relationships all I can say is… it feels damn near impossible to stay away from the man/woman you desperately want, even if you know how totally wrong it is to be with them – and when you are attracted to somebody so strongly, you just lose yourself in the… you know… act :).
    I am sure this relationship is destructive and all sorts of wrong, but I also can totally ship it. And I would do Spike anytime, anyplace, anyhow :)

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      I would probably not do Spike in a collapsing building. Dust allergy.

      • Jojo

        Or at any given cathedral during high mass because crosses, holy water, riots – kinda distracting even if it’s Spike.

      • Raluca

        LOL no allergies here, so bring it on!
        Seriously now, destructive as it may be, the relationship they share is also strong. And, given how they have supported each other is the past, it is not all bad, is it now?!

  • Clément Polge

    So… Yeah. This episode clearly show what’s wrong with Spike, he might have been good if nothing ever happened between him and Buffy, but now that they kissed, he’s harassing her, and since he thinks she’s too good for him, he’s only trying to bring her down rather than get himself up. It’s abusive in every sense of the word and painful to watch, but it does make perfect sense.

    And Amy is a stupid bitch indeed.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      “he’s only trying to bring her down rather than get himself up.” WELL SAID. WELL SAID.

      • Jojo

        Welcome to the dark side – are you surprised we lied about the cookies?

        I hate to sound like a broken record but again – but neither one is exactly trying to elevate the other. My first response on seeing this scene was to damn near refuse to watch the entire scene. But I think it needs to be understood that depression is anger turned inward. Buffy hates herself and she is using Spike as a vehicle to take that hate out. I’ve read too many reviews that say Buffy is just the poor innocent victim whom Spike takes advantage of. Spike does take advantage, but Buffy does as well. It’s an important point in this entire universe. When you reduce Buffy to the typical female victim and elevate Spike into the horrible abusive boyfriend you are undermining everything the universe stands for.

        Spike is not a shrink, he is not a saint, he is a demon. Why would anyone expect him to stop being a demon – Buffy most of all? She has been as hot for him as he has been for her – she is also not a saint. She is a slayer, and very well acquainted with demons, this one in particular.

        • Clément Polge

          I think people are mostly talking about Spike, because his behaviour is the one with the major change. We get Buffy, we’ve seen her struggle and try to feel something, and it’s pretty easy to understand why she’s doing what she’s doing. Also, in case we don’t understand, it’s pretty much explained at some point if i remember correctly.

          Also, Buffy is the proxy for the audience, so we tend to let her get away with stuff we shouldn’t. See Breaking Bad (no spoiler) for an exemple of this phenomenom: one man decides to become a drug kingpin and his wife keeps arguing with him because she disagree ? People think the wife should just STFU and call her names while wanting for Walt to suceed in everything he does.

          And I actually enjoy those kind of show where you step back and realise “wait, what/who am I defending here ?”. When it’s done right, at least. And I think they did it right in this case.

  • Alicia

    This site has become one of my absolute favourites in the past few weeks. You ladies are Snark Goddesses and are always so entertaining (especially your fifty shades reviews which make me laugh/cry/rage on a regular basis).

    I’m so excited to have FINALLY caught up with all your Buffy reviews. Of course just in time for the extremely controversial taking-it-to-the-next-level part of the Spike/Buffy relationship. The whole thing from season 2 on happens to be probably my most loved storyline/arc on the entire show. I find it extremely compelling, and Sarah and James always bring it. A part of me HATES how they are hurting each other here because they are my precious babies, but I must admit a lot of me marvels at the extreme hotness of them, (that last scene guh) and I eat up all the angst it brings. Not sure what that says about me except that maybe I’m a masochist?

    I always thought it was interesting how Buffy doesn’t sleep with Spike until he can hurt her physically. I think his chip not working on her sort of put them on a level playing field at least in one sense. Buffy has been able to hit him whenever she wanted and I think that he might have quite a bit of unrealised resentment built up there,(even though he has also enjoyed it in the past). I think he is absolutely loving being able to fight her again, and is really feeling that he has got some power back in the relationship. Buffy thinking she came back wrong is also a factor I think. If she came back wrong, then what does it matter that she gives in to her attraction to him? She’s not really herself, right? Pre-death Buffy wouldn’t have so much desire for a soulless vampire, but if she’s all wrong it frees her to act on her Spike-related feelings. And he has been very supportive and gentle in the earlier episodes this season. Using the fact that he has been there for her as a weapon though, is very low behaviour from Spike.

    And he is starting to get selfish about wanting more from her. After getting that taste in OMWF of what he has wanted for so long he is desperate for things between them to continue and stops really thinking about her well-being. All he sees is that she wants him and doesn’t really understand why she is conflicted about being with him. I think he is starting to overlook her verbal protests and denial and is going by her actions (going after him for make-out sessions twice as he is leaving) instead. He should have backed off in this episode especially, though I do have sympathy for his frustration. This is a huge deal to him. All I can really say is boundary issues.
    I’m so sorry for this crazy long post! I just have a LOT of feelings on this storyline.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      Thank you so much! It warms my heart to hear such nice things about SS. :)

      Also, this comment is incredibly well articulated. You brought up lots of great points that we’ve touched on just a little bit, for instance, about them being on equal footing. Of course, anywhere else, “equal footing,” would be loving each other, respecting each other, making decisions together, even participating in each other’s kinks with open communication and understanding. Here, it leads to immediately beating each other into sex. This season.

      That part about Buffy finally acting when his chip didn’t work calls back Riley and how she started to pull away when he was a regular Joe and not super!Riley. The idea that Buffy couldn’t be attracted to someone who wasn’t supernaturally able was first brought up there, and this entire thing seems to add another layer to that.

      Again, we see some of Buffy’s thinking paralleled in Willow’s actions. Willow loses her filter when Tara leaves and finds a nudge into something darker in Amy. Buffy loses her filter with the idea that she’s already wrong, that she cannot resent Spike for being a “thing,” because she’s a thing as well, and she gets her nudge (ahemahem) from Spike. Disturbing, to say the least, and I say that as someone who was also in an incredibly manipulative relationship, one that I kept turning back to for quite a long time even though it was a “bad decision.” That makes it even harder to watch and “ship” this. We all have our different experience, though. :)

      Because he goes back and forth so much on being genuinely there for her, to being selfishly after her, it’s hard to get a good read on why he does what he does.

      It definitely is a story that causes a big reaction. So good on the them.

      • Alicia

        Yeah this type of equal footing is screwed up to say the least! Buffy is really in no state to love anyone, poor thing, let alone someone like Spike, no matter that they have had moments of real connection in the past. And Spike, well, I do believe he loves her but he often fails at expressing his love in a healthy way. He does go back and forth so much. It’s his whole internal conflict as a character in play, and so fascinating! Also frustrating to figure out.

        Good point about Riley. I tend to forget about him a bit. And about Willow. I was going to mention her, but I thought I’d rambled on enough. (Thanks for calling it well articulated) I do think the writers are paralleling the two this season. I spend way too much time thinking about this stuff.

        I’m sorry you had to go through a relationship like that *internet hugs*. I haven’t, and so I think it’s less painful for me to watch no matter how much I love the characters. And different perspectives are why it’s fun to discuss!

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          This show has definitely explored whether love is possible without a soul. It made me think of what we’re getting in parallel over on Angel. They would have us believe that, no, love isn’t even possible without a soul. Darla and Angel spent so many years together, but both realized that what they were doing was not love. Darla discovered she’d never loved in 400 years until she was exposed to a soul. And even then, she felt the burden of not being able to express that in any sort of “proper” way.

          It’s another thing the fandom will surely take differing views on, but at this point, can Spike actually love Buffy? Chipped he may be, but souled he is not.

          • Alicia

            Good point about Darla. Ats tends to leak out of my brain really quickly and I’ve only watched it once but I do kind of remember the whole storyline about Darla being affected by her baby’s soul.
            I’m going by how I interpret Spike alone rather than a more general view of soulless beings and their ability to feel love. Part of the problem is what do we call Spike’s feelings for Buffy if not love? To me it’s been shown to be more than just lust and obsession, but as this episode demonstrates, there’s a lot of selfishness involved as well. I’m not set in stone with how I feel about it to be honest. I just describe it as love cause it’s the only word I can think of to do so. And where do we draw the line on what is really love? So many interesting questions!

    • Melodie Hatley

      Snark Squad is the best site ever. TRUFAX

  • Petra47

    Here’s where I get up on my soapbox and decry this blatant character assassination of Spike. The writers really pulled the rug out from under Spike’s fans here by making his first impulse when he finds out he is capable of hurting Buffy be to kill/maim her. Everything we’ve seen from Spike since about “Fool For Love” points to an actual redemption, and to make him act THIS out of character (granted not out of character for Season 1-4 Spike) is a cop-out to get to the abandoned house money shot. It’s utter bullshit is what I’m saying and I will never forgive Drew Z. Greenberg for allowing this tripe to be the big pay-off for Spuffy fans. I never expected Spuffy to be the vanilla, saccharine sweet of Bangel, but this is abuse plain and simple. He taunts her about “coming back wrong” when he knows FULL WELL that that’s her greatest fear. I have no problem with rough sex, I don’t even have a problem with the “just using Spike” angle on Buffy, but they handled this SUPER poorly. We watch Tara walk away from domestic abuse and then watch Buffy walk right into it. As a fan of Spike, it makes me ill.

    Don’t get me wrong. When this episode aired my senior year of high school, I thought it was hot as hell, but even that is problematic in my mind now. They’ve built this passion between Spike and Buffy to this massive head (pardon the phrasing) and then this is pay-off? Ew. No. Speaking of “passion” we even saw this in “Passion” during Season 2. Love and hate can get all mixed up, but we were never told to think that Angel’s terrorizing of Buffy was “hot.”

    I’m sorry. I’m just very passionate about this and I can’t talk about the long-term ramifications due to Lor’s Snow status, but DAMN! it makes me angry.

    It was sloppy writing to get Spuffy together, and I really believe that Spuffy fans deserved better! If you want to see that proper way to get the “bad boy” (who is LEGITIMATELY morally ambiguous a lot of the times) and the heroine together, I suggest watching The Vampire Diaries.

    /end rant

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      INTERESTING

    • Jojo

      kill/maim?

      • Petra47

        Kill the blonde chippy…. maim Buffy… that his first impulse when he finds out the chip doesn’t work… Which makes no sense especially in relationship to the last episode, when his first impulse when discovering he was a vampire was that he was a “noble vampire.” Especially if we going along with the thought that with their memories wiped the characters still fell into their most basic impulses.

        • Jojo

          Sorry – still didn’t follow you around that bend – maim Buffy?

          • Petra47

            His first impulse when he finds out he can now hurt Buffy is to beat the hell out of her. How is that in character? And how is that hot?

          • http://www.saraswearsalot.blogspot.com/ Sara

            I love Spike as a character most of the time, but YES TO THIS, THANK YOU. It is 100% not sexy that his first impulse was to smack her around. I know we’re talking about a supernatural show, but this whole scene rubbed me the wrong way and made me feel very uncomfortable. People get in ugly relationships IRL, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay or good for them in any way.

          • Jojo

            “I beat him up regularly – that’s like 3rd base for Spike” And his first impulse is to entice her into slugging him. He knows Buffy can take him – or at least give him a dam good fight. It’s part of the way they function.

          • Jojo

            I think we saw a different show because it looked to me like they were fighting each other – not that Spike was beating the hell out of Buffy.

          • Regina

            Also to me it looked like foreplay :) Given that one’s a vampire and one’s a slayer the interplay of sex and violence in their relationship is not surprising.

          • Jojo

            I never realized how much dialogue they clipped from this scene in Fool For Love. This is long but it is so relevant – both the death wish, as well as the sex and violence:

            SPIKE
            She was cunning, resourceful, and oh, did I mention? Hot. I could have danced all night with that one.

            BUFFY
            You think we’re dancing?

            SPIKE
            It’s all we’ve ever done.

            INT. SUBWAY CAR – NIGHT

            Now Nikki grabs hold of one of the floor-to-ceiling metal support poles. Spins around it 360 degrees, kicking Spike in the head. Spike staggers back, into the next support pole, and RIPS it out of its moorings. Nice. A weapon. Spike gives it a spin as he advances…

            EXT. ALLEY – NIGHT

            Spike’s still advancing, holding the pool cue in the exact same way he held the subway pole..

            SPIKE
            Every day you wake up it’s the same bloody question what haunts you: Is today the day I die? It’s a warrior’s pain, a warrior’s question and you ask
            it…

            Buffy’s pissed. She throws a punch.

            INT. SUBWAY CAR – NIGHT

            That Nikki lands, right in Spike’s face. It doesn’t take the grin off his face. Unexpectedly – he looks up, talking to Buffy, continuing his lesson while in the flashback. He and Nikki continue to fight as he speaks, but it’s clear that Nikki isn’t hearing his lesson. It’s for Buffy’s ears only.

            SPIKE
            …every time the sun rises. And every day you manage to survive, you’re only partly relieved because you know – it’s just a matter of time.

            SPIKE
            Death is on your heels baby – and,sooner or later, it’s going to catch you…
            And some part of you wants it. Not only to stop the fear and the uncertainty – but because you’re just a little bit in love with it.

            ***

            SPIKE
            Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day. That final gasp, that look of peace…Part of you is desperate to know…What’s it like? Where does it lead you? That’s also a warrior’s question. A warrior’s curiosity.

            INT. SUBWAY CAR – NIGHT
            Spike speaks directly to us:

            SPIKE
            So you see, that’s the secret. Not the punch she didn’t throw or the kick she didn’t land. She simply wanted it. Every Slayer has a death wish.

            ***

            SPIKE
            Even you.

            SPIKE
            The only reason you’ve lasted as long as you have is, you’ve got ties to the world. Your Mum. Brat kid sister. Scoobies. They tie you here but you’re just
            putting off the inevitable. Sooner or later, you’re gonna want it and the second, the second…..that happens, I pray to God I’m there. I’ll slip in – have myself a real good day.

            A beat as Spike lets this sink in. Then he
            starts to button up his leather coat. The one that used to belong to
            Nikki…

            SPIKE
            Here endeth the lesson. I just wonder if you’ll like it as much as she did-

            BUFFY (cutting him off)
            No. This is all- You’re wrong.

            He grins, pumped up from his lesson.

            SPIKE
            Hey. You asked. Sorry if the answer isn’t cuddly enough for you-

            That’s it. Buffy’s had it with him. She’s done.

            BUFFY(deadly)
            Get out of my sight, Spike. Now.

            SPIKE
            Ooooh, did I scare you? You’re the Slayer. Do something about it. Hit me.

            Buffy doesn’t move, but Spike reads her murderous look. It’s turning him on. He wants another go round – bad.

            SPIKE
            Come on. One good swing.You know you want to.

            BUFFY
            I mean it-

            SPIKE
            So do I. Give it to me good, Buffy. Do it.

            BUFFY
            Spike-

            Spike loses himself. Grabs Buffy – and moves in to kiss her. He almost does, but Buffy jerks her head away – stunned.

            BUFFY
            Spike…

            He holds his breath. Hope. She continues.

            BUFFY
            What the hell are you doing?!

            SPIKE
            (still holding her)
            Come on. I can feel it, Slayer. You know you want to dance.

            Buffy locks eyes with him. Feels his intensity, his desire. A beat.

            BUFFY
            Say it’s true. Say I do want to…

            She shoves him brutally backward, breaking the embrace. He falls hard to the ground.

            BUFFY
            It wouldn’t be you, Spike. It would never be you. You’re beneath me.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      INTERESTING. Gah, I love comments that make me think. I didn’t really consider things Spike did out of character– I just felt a little fooled about how much he’d changed and weather or not we were to believe his motivations. It felt like a continuation to me, but granted, one that is a few steps back from where I originally held Spike. So, if that wasn’t the writer’s intention, whoops.

      I trying to always keep an open mind, because there are generally a handful of comments that help me see things in a different way, but I’m with you on the abuse vibe I got from the scene. Readers have made some good points, especially about what role Buffy played in it all, but me, watching, just alone? I got the abuse vibe for sure.

      It should get interesting from here, yeah? :)

      • Petra47

        It does get interesting, but… well, I can’t really say more. I just feel cheated. It’s like the writers said, “Huh! Fangirls want a Spuffy moment… lets just give them this! They’ll think it’s hot!!” Yes, their relationship is lust (Spike — for the most part) and using (Buffy – totally), but it doesn’t have to be abusive. I feel like they’ve negated the Spike that collapsed with grief when Buffy died in The Gift, and the Spike that “saved” her every night of her being dead, and the Spike that counted the days that she was gone. The killed him. It makes me so mad. As you can see…

        • Clément Polge

          First time I saw this scene, I really couldn’t find this hot… My boner chances were approximately 0 from the time Spike said to Buffy “you came back wrong !”, because that just screamed abuse to me, as in “trying to destroy someone to rebuild them how you want them to be”. So the sex scene… Not hot. Sort of like rape, but where both are raping each other. I’m not making a lot of sense here, but that was how I felt.

          Even the way it’s shot screams PASSION, with walls being destroyed, but it never feels intimate, or sweet, or endowed of any feels at all. They’re really just banging.

          I can see how this could look appealing to a teenager, but at the risk of sounding a bit harsh I’ll say it’s because teenagers often confuse love with passion. The next few episodes do clear things up a bit though, if i recall correctly.

    • http://stephaniec.tumblr.com/ stephynee

      I never saw Spike’s behavior as out of character because we’ve seen how he acts out when he doesn’t get what he wants from Buffy (knocking her out and chaining her up in crush, getting out the rifle after she rejects him in Fool for Love). It’s definitely a huge step back in his development though, but important for how he begins to develop from this point onward.

    • Clément Polge

      Actually, I sort of disagree with you. Spike evolved, sure, but he’s still a soulless vampire, and souls are supposed to be a Big Fucking Deal in the buffyverse. So we, the audience, needed to be reminded of his true nature, because although he has an inner conflict, he’s still and emotionless creature with almost no capacity for empathy at heart.

      So as long as Buffy was making things clear, he was able to make his peace. She was above him, and he respected her, hence his taking care of Dawn and everything.

      Once Buffy came back, she started using him. And then kissing him, ditching him, she stopped being that perfect girl she was in Spike’s mind, and seeing how he can’t improve himself, his only hope is to drag her further down.

      You could also argue that Spike’s discovering a new feeling: frustration. It’s one thing to not have a toy, it’s another thing entirely to have it and then having it taken away. He’s getting angry at this fact, he can’t completely comprehend WTF is going on either, so he’s reverting back to his former persona.

      To me, this actually really feels very logical, and it makes sense that this relationship wouldn’t be healthy, because it would really undermine the whole soul concept.

      • http://stephaniec.tumblr.com/ stephynee

        You took every thing I wanted to say and said it so much better.

        • Clément Polge

          Oh, stop you!

          (but you can keep going if you want)

          • Alicia

            It is a great post:) The only things I would quibble with would be that Spike is an emotionless creature because I think he feels things very intensely. And I think he has shown a fair bit more than almost no capacity for empathy. Not really in this episode though!

          • Clément Polge

            Actually, I would be ready to argue that point ! Fair warning though, I’ll dive into semantics, and will definitely be splitting hairs.

            I tend to see emotions as strong *lasting* feelings. Spike does have feelings, but as for all vampires, they tend to be fleeting, ephemeral things (which does NOT stops them from arising again at a later point, but loving only at times isn’t really loving). I’ll agree that when Spike does feel something, he acknowledges way more than the average vampire who only want to be dark and cool.

            As for empathy, I think it’s more about understanding. I.e., it’s about mind VS heart. I don’t think Spike really has any empathy, because he’s way too selective (he’s protecting some people, but was getting ready to murder someone), instead he has an understanding of the way people feels, and try to act accordingly, following his understanding of the moral code of the people. That same code we’ve seen him stumble around in the early days, he’s assimilated it, and tries to integrate using his knowledge of social relations.

            Buffy was really the sort of exception to this, but I’m of the mind that he does not *love* her. He idolizes her, he occasionally lust for her, but none of that is love. And once Spike’s idol fall, his whole system collapses around it, and he start to lose his ability to distinguish right from wrong.

            It still doesn’t make Spike anything short of formidable though, not just as a vampire who actually acknoledges his feels, but mostly because he’s actually TRYING to better himself. He’s struggling, because he miss that spark that would allow him to understand why people work the way they do, but that’s still amazing.

            And really, if you had a grasshopper and a snake, who would you be more impressed to see jump ?

          • Alicia

            Okay give me a sec to try and reply. So many points!

          • Alicia

            hmm I’m not sure about the fleeting thing but I don’t know how to explain why. I never really thought about it that way at all I guess. I always thought Spike felt the same way on a gut level all the way through but his reactions changed depending on the situation. Or that his love was real but the way he was able to express it was often twisted by his nature and previous romantic experience. I do base some of my belief that it was real on James Marsters’ performance though, he’s too good at emoting! But I know that’s subjective. And some of it is just the way I respond to Spike emotionally as a viewer. Also spoilers. But I can see what you mean, I think.

            As to empathy, I actually mostly agree. He can understand a moral code on an intellectual level but he can never truly understand because he isn’t able to truly feel the differences between right and wrong. Like he’ll never be able to feel truly sorry for his past victims in his current state, he just isn’t capable of it. But he can look to Buffy as his moral compass and try to ‘be good’. I was more meaning those moments with Summers’ women where I do think he displayed empathy. E.g. reaching out to stroke Dawn’s hair in ‘Tough Love”. But they are really the only ones. And I agree that his morality is tied up with Buffy. Right now, Buffy is a mess, so is Spike, and they’re both pulling the other down with them. Everything is definitely collapsing.

            And yeah Spike is definitely trying which does make him amazing. It’s an impossible battle.

          • Clément Polge

            That’s totally fair, the opinion I was expressing clearly has its fair share of headcanon, though I think it works. It’s obviously *not* the only opinion that works with what we know of Spike though. And I actually like yours as well !

          • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

            Oh, wait, I was blending two comments in my reply. This is what I meant, re: your larger interpretation of Spike.

            I need to stop reading the whole thread on my phone and then attempting to make sense out of it here.

          • Clément Polge

            I actually forbid myself from reading the Snark Squad comment on my phone, because then I want to reply to ALL OF THE COMMENTS, and once I’m on my computer I can’t find them again.

      • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

        I’ve been scrolling through the comments specifically looking for this one to say YES. THIS.

        I understand why the OP could get a character assassination feel out of it, because the writers could have, theoretically, taken it another direction, but they didn’t. They took it this way and that, for me, reinforces why I’d back your interpretation of his actions even long before this.

      • Heather Bungard-Janney

        I gotta respectfully disagree, with SOME of what you say.

        Yes, souls are supposed to be a BFD in this universe. No argument. And Joss definitely didn’t like that Spike was so popular and I think may have been working to show us an unsympathetic side to him, by bringing up his soulless nature here.

        But I can’t, vehemently can’t, say he’s emotionless. Likewise I can’t say he’s unfamiliar with frustration: he’d spent over a hundred years as a successful predator before being, in essence, muzzled and released back into the wild while still unable to attack, feed, or defend himself. He gets frustration.

        Also if it helps, James Marsters has said in interviews that he decided at the very beginning to play Spike as having a soul. Like, very beginning – got hired, got informed, okay, these vampires are creatures that have no souls, nodded his head and threw that out the window. Where and if and how you want to insert that into Buffyverse is up to you. :)

        I think, if I had to try and guess at the writers’ motivations, I’d say they wanted to portray Spike’s emotional state as very black and white. Which is odd because Buffy has often looked at her world and wished it didn’t have shades of (sorry) – didn’t have nuances and subtleties that were hard to navigate. She didn’t know how to react to Spike when he went outside her expectations last season. Now, this season, he is acting very all-or-nothing (AFTER they kiss), and she is… I don’t even know what she’s doing.

    • Alicia

      I definitely understand where you’re coming from. It was hard as a Spike fan to see him slip like this but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for him. I also don’t think it was inevitable that things would go this way. The whole situation with Buffy is difficult from the start and it’s definitely a test of character. I’ve personally pretty much made my peace with it but it is a big change from the caring and sweetness we saw him show earlier in the season
      It’s hard to talk about it without spoilers but I think this direction the writers took with Spike (and Buffy’s) characterisation is tied up in what they were doing as a whole this season. And I feel like the whole Spuffy relationship revolves around Buffy’s struggles and that Spike’s role is primarily to serve Buffy’s story (with exceptions) so we don’t see his side presented as sympathetically as say season 5. But it’s also a very mutual relationship and the whole thing isn’t black & white and is hard to sum up. I don’t have quite as harsh a view on the fighting. I don’t think he was really trying to hurt her physically, nowhere near the level of maiming or killing her

  • http://natashanleigh.com/ Natasha Leigh

    I have to admit that when this first aired on TV, I totally didn’t get what was going on other than Spuffy making out. My TV was turned down so I didn’t hear the zip until later.

    Now, after quite some time later, my emotions towards this relationship has gone from “wow, they’re really doing it” to “eh” to *smh*. Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters bring the heat to Buffy and Spike, but I’m not feeling the relationship because Spike had been so sweet and heartbreaking at the beginning of the season and his behavior since Buffy kissed him has pushed him way backward. Never mind that they’re beating up on each other and the fact that Buffy has said that she was using him to feel.

    Willow is someone I can’t even discuss without feeling disdain. She has not once really felt remorse or apologized to Buffy for bringing her out of Heaven, and now she’s playing the victim because Tara’s left her. *eyeroll* Amy may be quite sketchy, but she was a rat. Willow made her human for her own gain.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      I’m pretty sure high school me would’ve been all about this hook up. :)

      SMG and JM are a big part of why this invites so many different interpretations. You want to root for them and their characters, even if that means rooting for them, together, in a destructive situation.

      Willow really is working the nerves, and I hate that because I love early seasons Willow. But I cannot forgive her now actions because of what she’s done in the past (and I apply the same rule for Spuffy at the moment.) She’s so lost in her love of power. COME BACK WILLOW.

      • http://natashanleigh.com/ Natasha Leigh

        This. So much of this. I was 16 at the time of this hook-up when it first happened, and I actually wondered how I was allowed to watch that scene after the first time.

        I miss early seasons Willow so much. I still can’t believe that her judgment is so clouded and that she’s so self-centered although she’s really hurting people. :/

  • darkalter2000

    Holy crap. You have to read this quote.

    “However, it’s at this point that Amy walks in. This fizzles out the conversation. Because Amy and Buffy? Have one big thing in common: Willow brought them back. Amy was a rat. She was brought back by Willow, years after she’d ratted herself. She’s now disoriented and having to adjust, much like Buffy was when she first came back from the dead. In fact, the parallel is made explicit in the following conversation.

    Buffy: Hi. How’ve you been?

    Amy: Rat. You?

    Buffy: Dead.

    Amy: Oh.

    Amy exits, taking Buffy’s offer of staying for the night. And Buffy’s first concern is on Amy, of course.

    Buffy: Is…she gonna be okay?

    However, Willow’s response hits home in a bad way.

    Willow: I, I just realized I could. Thought of the right thing, and … it’s nice, having another magically-inclined friend around.

    While Buffy is concerned about Amy’s well-being, Willow’s primary concern is…well…she’s not concerned. She’s happy that she has a magically-inclined friend. Much like Willow resurrecting Buffy, Willow’s main concern isn’t for Amy, herself, but for what Amy means to her. This resonates with Buffy and reminds her of why she hasn’t been able to talk to Willow. Willow doesn’t care..”

    I got this quote from My Buffyholism is Showing and the site has a ton of spoilers but I started reading it after someone else linked a page in the journal about The Trio as Buffy’s depression. Compelling stuff.

    I totally missed the echoes of Buffy’s resurrection in Amy’s de-ratting. But there they are.

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      That quote is kind of fabulous, and also incredibly right. Willow’s “I just realised I could” is pretty much how she was about resurrecting Buffy. It was less about Buffy and more about her.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      Love this and I didn’t even connect their two fates at Willow’s hand, nor her reaction to it.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Alex

      Such a great point that I hadn’t considered before! I guess the Willow/Amy storyline in this episode tends to get a bit lost with all the noise around Buffy and Spike. But this is so true. Buffy’s immediate instincts upon seeing Amy are to check that she’s OK, make sure she’s got somewhere to stay and offer her food. While it’s possible that Willow does all that off-screen, we never see it; all we see is Willow being very pleased with herself and with her new friend. And it makes perfect sense that Buffy would see this and decide that Willow actually isn’t the person she wants to confide in about Spike.

      • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

        YES! She’s just focused on how pleased with herself she is. Even Amy’s status as a magical person who will be fun for her to have around is secondary to the primary concern, which is that de-ratting Amy was about how powerful and great Willow is.

        Willlow’s self-absorption this season is equal parts wonderfully written and painful to watch. Even as I hate Willow, I love the writers and Alyson Hannigan for it. (So far, at least.)

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      That’s such an incredible point about Amy, Buffy, and Willow. I have nothing to add, really, but this kind of stuff is what I love about watching a show this way. So many awesome little things that I wouldn’t have caught on my own!

      1430 for both you and that person!

  • SnazzyO

    To quote Bartok: “This can only end in tears.”

    I’m with Lorraine on the Spuffy relationship at this juncture.

  • Heather Bungard-Janney

    This is the episode that’s gonna light up your comment boards. Well, that will kick it off anyway, for the rest of the season.

    I interpreted the house thing a little more literally – they “brought the house down” – but it’s been pointed out to me that Buffy feels empty inside and hates that the only person she can relate to is Spike. She is shitty and abusive to him whether he has done anything to deserve it or not, because she hates herself for feeling like he’s right, like he IS the only person she can talk to about anything.

    (Also, by the way, the kissing? If your volume is turned up high enough you can hear Buffy unzipping things right before Spike gets his look of TOTAL shock on his face and they start the moving and falling through floors bit.)

    I admit I’m a Spike-lover and I know that people have interpreted his treatment of her as abusive. I know people get angry over what they see as apologist arguments excusing what he does. Having said that…

    I see a character being well-portrayed as a demon attempting to be a man. This is the “selfish, incapable of real love” creature who withstood torture for her and stuck around after she died because he’d promised her he would protect Dawn. He does love her but he gets it wrong so often – which is a heck of a symbolic representation of the way that people get relationships wrong every day, and misunderstand what love really means. Spike was doing fine right up until he got that kiss, and then his demonic nature – his appetites, in essence – took over. Now instead of what she needs, he is all about getting what he wants, even though he thinks that is what she needs as well.

    And in a way, sh does. Spike is also pissed that Buffy flat-out refuses to face a damn thing emotionally: she won’t tell her friends about being in Heaven, she won’t deal or do anything except pretend she’s fine, she copes by alternately drawing Spike in and then pushing him away, and when he calls her on this stuff she goes ballistic. And abusive. She accuses him of all the things she feels about herself: in love with pain, being a thing and not a real person, and so on. She only starts a sexual relationship with him after they learn that he can hurt her.

    She still wants to die. And hates herself for wanting it. And hates everyone around her for making her not want it.

    So yes, this relationship is destructive, but it tells only half the story if you forget that it’s just as bad for Spike as it is for Buffy, and that she is deliberately cruel to him no matter what approach he tries to take.

    • Jojo

      +1 – and thank you! I was starting to feel pretty lonely.

      • Raluca

        Well, you are not alone, Jojo. I think the same.
        I am not making excuses for Spike, but whatever he does now or in the future, remember guys, it takes two to tango.
        And one other thing, though I am pretty sure I won’t have many supporters on this.
        I think love is not romantic and shiny and made of love songs and pretty flowers. I think love is closer to Shakespeare’s definition of it, closed to how Othello and Hamlet and even Romeo show it. Strong love is accompanied by hate and jealousy for me. It burns and consumes… until there is nothing left. And I like that this is what Buffy and Spike have. Such love is not meant for old married couples, I know. But, even if destructive and painful, this is the kind of love I miss and look for. The all-powerful feeling you have for someone, the yearning to see them all the time and be with them and become part of them.

        And now… I am waiting for the criticisms :D

        • Regina

          Agreed. I read somewhere that as Buffy’s previous romances with Angel and Riley had been very idealised notions of romance the writers went with something much more raw and based on lust with Spike (boy, did they ever!). I see it as a mutually destructive relationship, a masochism tango, if you will :)

          • Raluca

            There is one other thing I could say, but cannot develop on it as it leads to major spoilers.

            All those who watch the series should remember how this first sexual encounter started and how it enfolded. Buffy gets physically violent and attacks Spike, after one of his “witticisms”, and this violence and banter leads to sex (lots of it) which she starts and seems to enjoy, since she keeps at it for some time. Remember that before watching any further :D

    • Alicia

      I’ve commented too much already, but usually I never ever do. My lurking skillz rival Angel’s:D:D. Anyway, I agree with a lot of what you’re saying here. I’m a big Spike-lover too and my impulse when watching the show has always been to sympathise with him. I sympathise with Buffy too of course! When Buffy cries I cry. But I definitely have a substantial bias towards him in my emotional reactions to the show. So when I think about the Spuffy storyline this season I try to see it from every angle possible and end up agreeing with everyone all at the same time! Which does tend to hurt my brain.
      So yeah excellent points there. I honestly think it’s impossible to sum up the whole situation as one thing or another, which is why it’s hard to comment on. But it’s way more interesting than something straightforward with absolutely no ambiguity. And of course this is only the beginning.

      • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

        COMMENT MOAR. COMMENT MOAR. ;)

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      Very well put. I appreciate this, and I think you touch on things that I’ve mentioned/thought, and yet it still lands you in a slightly different camp, which is kind of amazing.

      I see Spike’s arc as so much of a demon trying to be a man, of what it takes to be human. Is it a soul? Is it love? Is simple modification of behavior enough? Etc, etc. Clearly everyone will have their own answer outside of the material, and their own interpretation of the material. Spike has done good things, and we are left to infer his motivations, and whether motivations count, or just the actions. I agree that people get it wrong often, but this level of wrong (apart from whose “fault” it is) is something beyond what I (personally) can support or root for. I mean, he basically crucified Riley because of his misogynistic comments, and here on the other end, we’re okay with Spike hitting Buffy because she hits back and she’s ~strong.~ Eh. Not so much for me. Also, Spike has had stand out moments, but I couldn’t call what he was doing ever “doing fine.” From the moment he creepily watched her from the shadows (again, something we railed on Angel for doing) I was denouncing his methods, no matter his intentions.

      “Now instead of what she needs, he is all about getting what he wants, even though he thinks that is what she needs as well.” — Agreed, in fact. I just take issue with this.

      I’m still not seeing “just as bad for Spike,” but like I said, a lot of great points you spell out here.

      • Heather Bungard-Janney

        For me the “just as bad for Spike” is a matter of demolishing his redemption arc. Spike fell in love with Buffy, and yes, went about it the wrong way at first (demon, appetites, it was all about want and obsession). The thing where he reveals to her that Riley is seeing hookers behind her back is a terrific example to me of “demonic” love – he shows her thinking, genuinely believing, that she will be angry at Riley rather than hurt, and grateful to Spike and willing to give him a chance.

        That love developed, though, and (in my opinion) Spike dragged his humanity out of the cellar and started using it. Selfless acts, enduring pain for her sake, protecting people she cared about regardless of how he felt about it. Sticking around after she died. Being there for her after she came back, without placing expectations on her the way everyone else did. It was hard for him, and we found that out in the “Sing All Your Secret Emotions” episode – but that’s sort of the point. He kept those feelings secret from Buffy. He didn’t try to make her love him.

        Annnd then he got a taste. Buffy kissed him. And partly because demons are about appetites – and partly because he’s supposed to not really grasp emotional complexities especially where “human love or demon love” is concerned – he thought that was it. He thought that being let in barely was the same as being let in completely. He did not and does not grasp this whole yes/no, I want you/I hate you/I hate me thing that Buffy has going on and his reactions are to get angry and demand she be… consistent? Maybe is the word I’m looking for?

        Yes, women have the right to change their minds. Yes, Buffy is all manner of messed up right now. But women including Buffy don’t have the right to yank a guy’s chain constantly and expect him to not get pissed off about it. Angry, confused Spike is not reacting well, but I can absolutely see where he’s coming from – which is what makes him a sympathetic character AND what makes this such a compelling, complex, complicated scene.

        Spike is also a very responsive, reactive creature/character. When Buffy shows him respect, he responds by rising to it and acting as human as we’ve ever seen anyone else behave. When Buffy shows him contempt, he responds by behaving, well, contemptibly. (No, she’s not responsible for his behavior. Yes, these are his choices. No, they are not good choices. But I think they are consistent with both who AND what Spike is, as a not-quite-human creature struggling to live in a human world.)

        They had college courses that were all about analyzing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, btw.

        • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

          “But women including Buffy don’t have the right to yank a guy’s chain constantly and expect him to not get pissed off about it. ”

          This is…uh…a “tread lightly” comment. Not disagreeing with your statement at all, just advising caution. You are 100% right — nobody ever has the right to tell others how to feel about anything that they say/do. (I was raised on that with a special ferocity. I was going to tell a sidebar story, but it ended up being like three paragraphs long and nobody cares about my 20 year old family dramz.)

          Anyway: he can absolutely feel however he’s going to feel about it. Certainly frustration would be an expected emotion. That said, he is entirely responsible for what he does with that frustration/anger.

          (Again, I’m not arguing against your statement or saying you said he wouldn’t be responsible or anything of that sort.)

          • Heather Bungard-Janney

            No offense taken. I can see how my statement might have come out as sounding like it was okay for Spike to react the way he does, or that Buffy was somehow “asking for it”. I just want to be clear that, no – Spike reacts badly. But Buffy has this self-righteous belief that since he’s “only” a vampire she can treat him like this with no repercussion and she’s shocked – shocked, I tell you! – when he turns around and hits back (literally as well as metaphorically). I’m NOT saying he should have done what he did. I AM saying Buffy didn’t have the right to provoke him without expecting any sort of consequence.

            There is some speculation about why she only reacts to Spike once they are on equal footing again, when he can’t be her punching bag any longer. I have seen discussion elsewhere about whether she has a sense of relief that she can let go with him in this way as well as the healthier things she’s been doing up to this point. I’ve also seen discussion that implies that she still wants very badly to be dead, and is leaping on Spike as her means not just of self-harm, as I’ve seen posted here, but of suicide. Then of course there’s the possibility that she’s throwing herself at him in despair because she does believe she has no one left and is somehow corrupted by the way she came back from the dead.

            Only one of those is even close to healthy and unfortunately it’s not the one I see portrayed on the show.

          • Alex

            “He can absolutely feel however he’s going to feel about it. Certainly frustration would be an expected emotion. That said, he is entirely responsible for what he does with that frustration/anger.”

            I know you posted this a week ago but I just saw it, and had to comment because this is perfect. It sums up what I think is at the heart of pretty much ALL the internet flamewars I’ve seen on this subject. It’s perfectly possible to find fault with Buffy and the way she treats Spike WITHOUT saying that Spike’s behaviour is therefore justified. They can both be at fault without one somehow excusing the other. So many people (though not people on this comment board, thankfully) really don’t seem to get this.

        • Alicia

          I think you just described why I have sympathy for Spike through all this. It’s because I can see where he is coming from like you said. By the time we get to that last sequence he’s extremely pissed about Buffy’s attitude towards him. Like the “busy actually doing stuff” comment she makes when he asks why she didn’t show. She’s basically been like that since they kissed in the musical, very dismissive of Spike as an individual with feelings, defensive, and unwilling to communicate about what has been happening between them. Sometimes even downright nasty. I think he’s so vindictive and spiteful here because he’s had enough. And it’s horrible to watch them tear each other down:(

          And also like you said, he doesn’t understand why she’s acting this way, the whole I’m going to kiss you/I’m never touching you again back-and-forth. She’s so conflicted and confused about her attraction to a soulless vampire and what that means for her as a slayer and a person that she goes into avoidance mode when he brings it up and tries to put him in a ‘evil thing’ box. And in return Spike becomes frustrated and gets pushy about it. By the time he provokes her into hitting him I think he’s trying to get her attention, bring her down a few notches and get a rise out of her all at the same time.

          Also good points about the kiss being a turning point and Spike’s reactive nature in regard to Buffy, and well everything really.

  • Heather Bungard-Janney

    This is just such a phenomenal comment thread, I adore you all. I admit I was worried about the reviews for this episode because I have seen it argued that in the sex scene, Spike is raping Buffy. Never mind who started it and who’s on top… This is SUCH a controversial moment and there is so much to say about it, that I was worried where the discussion was gonna go.

    A lot of commentary has gotten very long and great points have been repeated in many places. In an attempt to be brief, I wanted to see if anyone else has brought up that, while it’s wrong that Spike’s first impulse when the chip fails is to hit her… are we missing/is it relevant that he’s responding to Buffy’s constant putdowns and calling him a “thing”?

    Others have commented that the writers assassinated Spike’s development up to this point – I’m not so sure of that, tbh, but I can say that *Buffy* has worked hard to utterly negate everything Spike has done for her up to now. She can’t let herself feel for him (the reasons there would make this post overlong and I’m trying to avoid that), so she deliberately denies that he’s done anything, that he’s even capable of feeling for her. She reiterates to him again and again that he’s an evil monster and that is all he will ever be – so first chance he gets, he responds in kind.

    • Raluca

      Exactly. She has turned to him time and again for help, she acknowledged his valor in Intervention, she asked him to protect Dawn and fight Glory for her, and yet she treats him like dirt the moment she realizes she has the hots for him. I am not trying to say he is not manipulating her, ’cause he is. But she doesn’t want to accept the attraction, so she treats him so badly it is hard for me to watch. And he is to blame, because he is soulless? Wow! Willow has a soul, and look what she is doing. And she is not the only one. Ethan Rayne has a soul, and did it stop him?! And these are just 2 examples – I can go on, if need be. Like, all the Wolfram and Hart lawyers are humans with souls, aren’t they?!

    • Alicia

      Did you ever go to a site called Mark Watches? The comment thread for his Smashed review was a clusterf*ck of epic proportions. So awful that I stopped going there out of disgust (until I couldn’t resist reading the rest of the reviews of course). So I’m also happy to see everyone being civil and having great discussions here. I had a feeling it would be fine, but this storyline seems to bring out passionate response to an almost irrational level and the worst in people (just like Buffy and Spike I guess).
      I think I mentioned something about Spike living down to Buffy’s expectations somewhere. And someone else brought up a similar point I think. But yes I think it’s relevant. I wasn’t happy with Buffy’s ‘thing’ comment as much as the ‘came back wrong’ stuff from Spike.

      • Raluca

        Well, we should all be civilized, I say :). We all have our opinions and it’s nice to discuss, without name calling and such.
        Buffy’s “evil, disgusting thing” is as bad as Spike’s “you came back wrong”, of course. They are now insulting each other as much as they can, and, given their long relationship, I am sure they can say hurtful things to each other pretty easily.

        Also, I know that Joss didn’t intend to make Spike so likeable, and tried to emphasize how evil he is throughout the series. And I know that a lot of Spike’s charm is due to James Marsters’ interpretation and how soulful he actually makes soulless Spike appear. And I still cannot help but like Spike, as probably JM intended all along :D

        • Alicia

          Yeah the writers and James did too good a job at making Spike sympathetic and showing us those glimpses of goodness and real potential in him. He’s a compelling character, and people are inclined to defend him fiercely. There’s a really interesting article about James’ input into the character on Slayage (spoilers through season 7) that talks about this

          http://slayageonline.com/essays/slayage16/Symonds.htm

          • Raluca

            It is a very good article, thank you!

            And I am ok with spoilers, as I’ve seen all seasons of both Buffy and Angel several times already!

      • Alex

        Ha, that comment thread is exactly what I was referring to when I mentioned ‘the biggest Buffyverse flame war I’ve ever seen’ in my post above.

        • Alicia

          Yeah that thread was horrifying. Apparently flame wars over Spike/Spuffy like that used to happen all the time back in the day, but I only watched the show last year so I missed it all.

          • Alex

            I mean… really? I love Buffy and could talk about it all day, but it IS still just a TV show, when all’s said and done. I’m told that the Mark Watches thing went as far as stalking and death threats and COME ON, people! Sometimes you just need to realise that it’s time to step away from the computer…

          • Alicia

            I know, it’s scary. It was my first experience with anything that crazy online. It made me feel physically ill. If I’m remembering right people sent threats to Spuffy fans on Tumblr and Mark was threatened too. I don’t understand what possesses people to do stuff like that.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      We have anxiety some times about where the comments will go, not because we fear opposing views per se, but because we want to keep the comments a happy and fun place, despite the fact that one more of us have very definitive views and opinions on the whatever subject matter on hand.

      We don’t want to alienate anyone with what we say, but we also have to be honest about our own feels and opinions. It’s a tough line to toe, and I hope we’ve been doing it okay and I’m glad everyone can still enjoy the comments!

      • Regina

        This is the only site where I love the comments and commentators, as well as the main content :) I always enjoy reading them after your fantastic reviews and learning something new here too :)

  • Alex

    I’m not sure I can add anything to this discussion that hasn’t already been said, and this episode makes me nervous because the biggest Buffverse flame war I’ve ever seen on the internet was concerning this last scene, but…

    For me, this gets more difficult to watch every time. I think when I first saw it I was too wrapped up in the chemistry between Buffy and Spike and the hotness of them, and my reaction didn’t extend much beyond ‘are they going to… oh my god, they are!’ But on repeated watches it makes me more and more uncomfortable. What really gets to me is the gleeful look on his face as he realises ‘there’s something wrong with her’, and the predatory way that he confronts and then mocks her with ‘oh, the pain, the pain!’

    Before reading your recap, I also hadn’t considered how manipulative Spike is being when he repeatedly insists that Buffy’s all alone and that she’s all he’s got. That’s such a good point. Even if it’s true that he’s the only one she can talk to, that’s not something he should be rubbing in her face. When you know you’re the only person a friend can really confide in, you don’t gloat about that fact, and especially not to the friend concerned.

    I feel that we’re supposed to pin much of Spike’s behaviour on his lack of a soul, but that’s been portrayed as almost irrelevant for a long time now and I so find it hard to accept that reasoning. All this feels so far removed from the Spike who tended to Buffy’s wounds and told her ‘every night, I save you’, and I really can’t decide what to make of it. I can totally understand how people see the scene in different ways, but for me it plays very much as Spike wearing down Buffy’s resistance and taking advantage of her confusion until she finally gives in, and I find that very difficult to stomach.

    I do think it says a lot about the brilliance of the writing, acting and direction, though, that we’re all able to bring such different interpretations to it. And it says a lot about the awesomeness of this site that we’re able to have a calm, rational discussion about a potentially thorny subject, without descending into hysterics when we don’t agree!

    • Raluca

      I can totally relate to how difficult it gets to watch the same scenes the 2nd, 3rd a.s.o. times compared to the first time.
      Initially, this scene we’re discussing, when Buffy and Spike have sex in the collapsing house, was very hot and exciting for me. However, further viewings made it harder and harder to watch, as I could see the layers that I hadn’t consciously noticed the first time. I could see the abuse on both parts, and actually relate to it, I have to admit :)
      Abuse is no stranger to me, as most of my relationships have been of this sort. Luckily for me, now I am more aware of what abuse really is and how to handle it.
      This doesn’t mean the scene is not hot anymore, because it is (which is also all sorts of disturbing). I just mean I understand the situation better :)

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      A big +1 to your comment. We’re on the same page, and again, thank you to you all for keeping it classy.

      Everyone has been great! TRAUMATEERS ARE THE BEST FOREVER.

  • Democracy Diva

    This episode contains the most shocking revelation in Buffy history: THERE IS NORMAL, NONSUPERNATURAL CRIME IN SUNNYDALE. And the least shocking revelation: Sunnydale Police can’t even handle THOSE crimes.

    Also, I’ve heard some weird street harassment in my day, but “What time do the panties come off?” might be the weirdest. (My favorite random thing yelled at me by a homeless person: when my brunette self, my auburn-haired mom, and my blonde sister were walking through NYC and a man shouted, “Hey, it’s Charlie’s Angels!”)

    Recapping FSoG has put you guys on super-alert of abusive things. You’re not overreacting to Spike’s “you’re alone in the world” line; I just didn’t read it as a warning sign of abuse at the time, but now I definitely agree.

    “One, Larry’s gay. Two, Larry’s dead.” I LAUGHED FOREVER. RIP Larry. I miss you every day.

    The way Tara cares for Dawn gives me so many feels. I always think about how Tara lost her mom, and how awful the rest of her family is, and how terribly fucking lonely she must have been with no one who understood her or how to take care of her – if they even wanted to take care of her. After Dawn loses Joyce and then Buffy, Tara takes it upon herself to be a true friend/substitute parent figure. Not because Tara loves Willow and the Scoobies are Willow’s family, but because they’re TARA’s family. (Oops, wrote all that before I saw you guys said something similar. OH WELL NOT DELETING IT SRY.)

    I’m imagining the Sunnydale doctors screaming, “Ready . . . CLEAR!” as they all turn on hair dryers simultaneously to melt Rusty. It’s a pretty hilarious image.

    I would be totally down for the Trio if it weren’t for Warren. I’ve always been a fan of Jonathan (it’s a short people thing, and a love of Danny Strong in general), and Andrew gets a plethora of amazing nerdy one-liners like that Doctor Who reference, and we actually see his character develop along the way. Warren always sucked and always will.

    It bothers me that it took Spike so long to conclude that his chip didn’t work on Buffy because of her. They’ve bonded over digging out their own graves and the like; I find it supremely contrivancey that it wouldn’t occur to him that the issue is her, not him. On the first watch, I immediately assumed that the lack of pain was because reincarnated Buffy isn’t exactly human.

    “He says that he’s in love with her, and she replies that he’s in love with pain.” One sentence that explains the entire Buffy/Spike relationship, as far as I am concerned. As a vampire, blood and pain and sex and maybe even love are all intermingled for Spike in a way that’s different from humans. (I hope.) Doesn’t mean Buffy isn’t sometimes in love with pain too, but it means Spike is wired to work that way, to link sex/love and violence/pain, chip or no chip. Faith taught us many valuable lessons, one of which is that slaying makes you horny. So maybe the fighting and the sex are more intermingled for Buffy than she’s ever really been willing to admit – and even more so now that she’s back from the grave. I also don’t think this means their relationship is healthy, but I think it means we can’t quite compare them to a human couple, not without acknowledging some important differences.

    Loved reading your differing interpretations of what the walls falling down represented. I didn’t even think about symbolism – I just thought it was completely reasonable that Buffy and Spike having sex with each other would be powerful enough to bring a building crumbling to the ground. Damaging or no, JESUS CHRIST WAS THAT A HOT SEX SCENE. #sorrynotsorry

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      When we were in Morocco we were always referred to as The Spice Girls. At first we had a lot of fun trying to decide who would be who. (I hate that game.) Then we realized that nobody calling us that was really differentiating. They basically just meant, “Big group of foreign girls!” It was a bit of a letdown.

      Anyway, YES YES YES to the Tara’s family thing. My heart breaks so much for her, because this falling out with Willow has removed her from her family, in a sense, because everyone’s first allegiance was to Willow. That’s not to say that they all chose sides against her, but it’s automatically going to create a strain when she was brought into that family by the person who has hurt her so badly.

      I absolutely do agree with your basic point about Buffy/Spike being fundamentally different from a human couple. (And the pain thing is a big part of that.) I think we get extra twitchy because, as you pointed out, we read Fifty Shades and we spend so much time talking about how important it is to acknowledge that abuse is abuse when you see it. It means something culturally and it’s not enough for us to just be able to say it when reading a book we all hate. There’s a whole cultural imperative to defend beloved dudes from accusations of wrongdoing; it’s harder to acknowledge bad behavior when you like the person doing it. All of that is my long-winded way of saying that none of our ranting on this subject is meant to liken fans of Spuffy to fans of Ana/Grey or anything of that sort. Nor is it meant to be an attack on Spuffy fans in literally any way. It’s just pointing out a problematic thing when we see it, because that’s what we do.

      (Even if I sometimes feel like a caricature of a person, shouting “PROBLEMATIC!” at 75% of all the things.)

      SMG and JM have amazing chemistry. (Mostly, JM has amazing chemistry with everyone.) The whole thing was more troubling than anything else, for me, but I totes see how most people seemed to watch that scene and focus on HOT SEX SCENE.

      • Clément Polge

        Plus there’s a huge difference in that 50 shades show abuse as being super cute and lovey and stuff, whereas Buffy play it straight, and you’re not really supposed to go all “BUFFY+SPIKE 4EVA” watching this. You may be fooled by the sex scene, but without getting all spoiler-y, I remember the show doing a good job of showing that no, this is not healthy. Funnily enough, I read that several scenes are blamed on the writer of the episode they appear in, but that most of them were actually written by Whedon himself and just happen to be inserted in their episode. Poor writers.

        Anyway, my point is that it’s really fair to call what we’re seeing abuse, and to acknowledge it, since that’s kind of the point the show is trying to make as I understand it.

        • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

          YES, AGREED. The fundamental difference in the degree of rage is how honest the material is about what’s happening. Fifty Shades tries to pretend it’s beautiful, where as BtVS acknowledges that it’s messy and ugly and deeply, deeply fucked up. Even with all these different interpretations, everyone seems to be on the same page about that.

          Good writing v. bad writing is an important point of difference here.

      • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

        THIS ENTIRE COMMENT. ALL OF IT.

        “(Even if I sometimes feel like a caricature of a person, shouting “PROBLEMATIC!” at 75% of all the things.)”

        YEP.

    • lev36

      Um, yeah. As disturbing as their current dynamic is, I can’t deny that I’ve watched that scene many times, and would have worn out the tape if we were still using VHS.

    • Regina

      + 1 to all of that. You read my mind :)

  • Alex

    Yeesht. Have you guys seen the original shooting script for this episode? You can see it at http://www.buffyworld.com/buffy/scripts/109_scri.html.

    Read the bit right before Spike calls Buffy from the payphone – it’s a scene which was cut. And thank goodness it was, or we would be having a VERY different conversation here.

    • Alicia

      Yeah I have seen that, and I’m also really glad it was cut. I kinda wish I hadn’t read it actually. One item in particular that is mentioned in that scene has very disturbing implications. The whole thing has really. Need brain bleach now.

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