Previously: Sunnydale may or may not have been a figment of Buffy’s imagination. Either way, it caused a lot of feels.
Kirsti: After the previouslies, we’re in one of Sunnydale’s many cemeteries. A couple of vampires are running for their lives, but not from Buffy. No, they’re running from the Trio, who are all riding quad bikes with stakes on the front of them and who are after the metal disc one of the vamps is holding. Because OBVIOUSLY to everything in that sentence.
One of the vamps stops and breaks a branch off a nearby tree, and uses it to knock Andrew off his quad bike. Warren and Jonathan swerve to avoid him and collide. The vamps run for it but only get as far as the gate before they’re attacked by Buffy. Clearly not having a good night.
Buffy knocks one vamp out, and starts pummelling the other. While doing so, the knocked out vamp comes to and starts creeping up behind her. Spike’s hand descends from the top of the cemetery gate and holds the vamp up in midair. Warren grabs the disc while everyone’s distracted and the Trio scarper.
Sweeney: Did it seem a little contrived to anyone else that the vampire didn’t sense the three humans right under his nose?
Lorraine: Yes. And also that neither of them saw the Trio or heard the quads or noticed that the vampires were running away from something. But okay, teaser. Okay.
K: Seriously. Vampires have super hearing and Buffy can target stuff without looking, but neither of them hear QUAD BIKES?!
Spike, meanwhile, says that he could take care of the vamp he’s holding for Buffy in exchange for her telling her friends about them. She tells him to go ahead and do it because her friends don’t hate her at all for trying to feed them to a Candle Demon in the previous episode, so clearly they’ll be fine with this news too. She stakes one of the vamps as she says this, and turns to go. Spike releases the second vamp and asks why she won’t sleep with him again. Buffy and the vamp turn to stare at him with “WTF??” expressions. She stakes the vamp and says “Because I don’t love you,” as she walks away.
Lor: Right that the vampire turned around all, “say wuh? You guys are sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g?” Because everyone cares about Spuffy sex, apparently.
K: I interpreted it as “Dude, WTF? I’ve never seen you before in my life,” but your version works too. Cut to Xander’s Gift Apartment. He’s sitting on the floor in the dark, drinking beer and listening to mope-tastic music. He turns the music off, sits in the silence for a second, then gets up and grabs his jacket. He heads outside and walks down towards the street. From behind a hedge, Anya watches him with a sad expression. Wolf Howl time.
Sweeney: Her hair! It’s not crimpy which is like ultimate proof of badness, but it’s in some super tight curls. Suspicious curls.
K: SO SUSPICIOUS.
After the credits, we’re at Contrivance U. Willow dashes up to Tara as she comes out of class, trying and failing to act nonchalant. Tara asks how everyone is after the Nearly Fed To A Candle Demon incident, and Willow laughs awkwardly before saying that everything’s fine. Tara mentions having seen Willow after class before, and casually drops into conversation that the girl who kissed her cheek is just a friend. Willow grins with relief before claiming to have no idea what Tara’s talking about. She goes on to ask Tara out for coffee, and they’re adorable for a minute while trying to clarify that neither is seeing anyone else. There’s giggling and they resolve to meet for coffee the following day.
Lor: Giggling. This can’t mean anything good. HOLD ME. I’M SCARED.
K: You’ve finally learnt the signs of impending doom in the Whedonverse! I’m so proud. Elsewhere in Sunnydale, Buffy and Dawn are attempting to go on a sisterly bonding shopping trip. Said trip is hampered by Dawn’s kleptomania because it means they pretty much can’t go into any of the shops. Dawn lists what she stole from various shops, which includes a toothbrush. Buffy mocks her, and Dawn says that it was a fancy toothbrush and that dental hygiene is important. Bless.
Buffy points out the pet store and suggests that they go look at the puppies seeing as it’s unlikely Dawn stole anything from there. The idea makes Dawn a little sad, because puppies in cages, but she agrees because it’s the only store where she can still show her face. There’s some other sisterly bonding stuff, but mostly I’m distracted by the fact that Buffy’s hair is looking fabulous again. Welcome back, friend!
Lor: Michelle Trachtenberg is also beautiful and just really growing up right before our very eyes.
K: Cut to the Trio’s Basement. Jonathan’s working with a big chemistry set, whipping up something to make the metal disc do whatever the fuck it’s meant to do. Warren gets all up in his space because it’s taking too long, and Jonathan tells him to back off because if they rush things, it’ll surge and they’ll be “deader than an ex-girlfriend.” Warren gets pissy, Jonathan bitches about being done with the Trio, blah blah blah, Jonathan reluctantly agrees to get shit done.
Warren heads off to one side for a whispery conversation with Andrew. Andrew says that he thinks Jonathan’s going to tattle on them and that they can’t trust him. Warren says that they don’t have to trust him for much longer and that “it” is going to happen soon. Andrew gets all swoony because Warren’s such a fucking dreamboat genius. Ugh.
Xander’s Gift Apartment. He walks in to find Anya waiting for him. He rushes over to her, and she backs away, twisting her hands nervously. He tells her that he wants to make up for leaving her at the altar, that he loves her, that he should have said something earlier. Anya asks forcefully if he still wants to get married, and he hesitates long enough that she looks hurt. Some day, he says, yes. But not now. He says it’s a good thing and that he’s just trying to be honest. Anya looks like she’s about to cut a bitch, which, FAIR and ME TOO. She yells that she wants to know what his honesty medal will say. She spins and goes over to stare out the window. Behind her, he says that he wishes they could just go back to the way things were. She – unseen by Xander – vengeance demons out and says “And I wish you were never born!” Fade to black.
Lor: NOOOOOOO. I mean, I saw it coming but, ugh.
K: After the Not Commercial Break, Xander says that he knows everything is coming out wrong. Anya de-demon faces in surprise, and turns, wishing many other horrible things on him. Nothing happens though. She gets pissed off, and storms out. Cut to a cafe, where Anya’s sitting with Halfrek. Halfrek is talking about a guy she punished for not paying a millionty years of child support and how now he gets paper cuts whenever he touches a piece of paper that isn’t a child support cheque. Anya’s not listening. She asks Halfrek why her wishes didn’t work, and Hally’s all “DUH, you can’t make wishes on your own behalf.” She suggests getting someone else to make the wish for her.
Chez Summers. Dawn walks into the kitchen to find Buffy making pancakes. She wants to know if they’re now an International House of Something, but is shortly thereafter surprised to learn that there are different sorts of syrup, which implies that she’s never been to IHOP. I guess someone doesn’t want to marry a misogynistic billionaire! (L: I knew I liked you, Dawn!) Buffy babbles about them doing something that night, and that weekend, all while making toast and cereal. Dawn sees through things and says, “I’m gonna be okay with the basement thing. Really. You weren’t you.” Buffy worries that she’s being the embarrassing mother who cramps her teenager’s style, and all I can think of is this:
K: She even has the hair down! Anyway, Dawn says that she wants them to do things together, but that maybe she could hang out with Buffy rather than the other way around. And that maybe this could happen in the form of patrolling. Buffy “LOL NOPE”s, and Dawn uses the age-old “You did it when you were my age!” argument.
Sweeney: I loved Dawn an extra lot in this scene – she was so great about comforting Buffy and assuring her that she wasn’t holding the basement thing against her. She missed an important point in her argument, though, that if all the evil things are finding her, then she should be getting a little more in the way of preparation. Those epic screams can only do so much.
Lor: Also, the one and a half joke was great. SHE IS. SHE’S A BABY.
K: YES. To all the things. Cut to Willow and Tara’s coffee date at the Espresso Pump. Willow’s telling Tara about all the
episodes monsters she missed, including Invisible Buffy and The Penis Monster. Willow even makes a joke about how much it looked like a penis, thereby justifying the nickname I gave it. THE NICKNAME IS CANON TRALALALALALALA.
Anyway, they’re adorable some more but get interrupted by Anya. They’re surprised but glad to see her. Willow wants to know if there’s anything they can do, and Anya says that the man-hating lesbian thing is going to come in handy and can they please talk about Xander? Cut to the Magic Box and Dawn saying that Xander feels terrible. Anya has no fucks to give (fair). We cut back and forth between the Espresso Pump (Willow and Tara), the Magic Box (Dawn), and Chez Summers (Buffy) with Anya trying to get each of them to make a “I wish Xander was in screaming agony until forever” statement. None of them oblige.
Sweeney: While obsession and stalking have been Spike’s MO for much of the season, it’s insane to me that both of them would assume that this technological attack, of sorts, was initiated by him. I call contrived bullshit on this.
Lor: ESPECIALLY WITH THE TRIO STILL OUT THERE. Sloppy.
K: Exactly. Cut to the TARDIS Crypt. Spike is all “So the Big Bad is a trio of nerdboys and you think *I* was responsible for this?” Well, not really. He doesn’t mention the Trio at all, but I was too distracted by his hideous shirt to pay attention to the actual words. He gets pissy when Buffy tells him Xander thinks the camera’s his, and says that he would never hurt Buffy and that the way he feels about her is real. “I think it is. For you,” she replies. He looks hurt. She heads to the door, and apologises, then tells him that he needs to move on. He tells her to get out. She does.
Lor: I love that he was offended by the spying thing considering all the creepy-lurking-shadow-hiding stuff we’ve seen him do. And the whole, “I wouldn’t hurt you,” thing I’m sure he thinks is true, but also only kind of. I mean, off the top of my head, the first thing I think of is the date he brought to Xander’s wedding while asking, “am I hurting you yet?” Spike, let’s be self-aware, yeah?
K: I guess there’s lurking-shadow-hiding creepy and then there’s watching-via-hidden-camera creepy. Creeps have standards too, Lor!
Magic Box. Anya is bitching to Halfrek about the Scoobies’ inability to wish horrible things on Xander. Halfrek says that clearly she’s talking to the wrong people, and Anya’s all “Oh, please. Like I’m just going to stumble across a Xander-hater.” Obviously, the door opens and Spike walks in. Anya’s face lights up as we fade to black.
After the Not Commercial Break, Spike tells Anya that he needs a numbing spell. She gleefully pulls Halfrek to one side, and starts rabbiting on about how she’ll get someone to wish that Spike was a woman, and then Spikette can wish evil upon Xander. Halfrek rolls her eyes and tells Anya that sometimes men need vengeance too, and maybe it’s time to give up the Woman Power thing. She finger-waves at Spike as she heads out the door.
After she goes, Spike repeats that he wants something to dull the pain. Anya tells him that Giles left something behind that will be perfect. She heads behind the counter and pulls out a bottle of Jack Daniels. OH PLEASE. GILES WOULD *NEVER.* Giles would totally be a 12 year old single malt Speyside whisky (read: scotch if you’re American) kind of a guy. Not a 5 minute old cheap shitty American whiskey drinker. Anyway, Anya plonks it on the counter, and Spike grins.
Chez Summers. Willow’s working some old school hacker magic to trace the camera feed back to the source and find out who’s spying on Buffy. Xander says that if it’s not Spike, it must be the Trio. Willow and Buffy agree. Cut to the Trio’s Basement. Jonathan lights a candle and holds the disc up in front of it. He sprinkles some magic pixie dust on it, and says “Uncover.” A beam of light streams through it, Raiders of the Lost Ark style, and hits a spot on a map of Sunnydale that’s sitting on the floor. The Trio are excited, but just then, the map bursts into flames. Jonathan screams and runs away.
Sweeney: A fair reaction.
K: I thought so. Magic Box. Spike and Anya are doing shots. Spike bitches about the “real for you” thing without mentioning Buffy by name. Anya’s all “Right, so about cursing Xander”, and Spike says that he’d do the job for her if it weren’t for the chip in his head. Spike moves from the counter to the table, and pours another round of shots. She asks what he’d wish on Xander, and he tells her to name it because she’s the wronged party. Anya fake-smiles because things aren’t quite going to plan.
There’s a stupidly quick shot of the Trio stomping out the fire, then another of Willow saying that she thinks she’s got something, then it’s back to the Magic Box. There are more shots as Anya and Spike agree that they wanted a use ’em and lose ’em situation, just to know what they were missing out on, and instead they ended up in love. They both look wistful. She complains about changing to please Xander, and how being off her guard led to singing in the shower doing her sexy dance. Spike’s all “ME TOO!” then stops and thinks and says that he has no sexy dance.
Lor: NO ONE BELIEVES YOU, SPIKE.
K: Chez Summers. Willow informs the others that the network is pretty fancy pants and includes lots of firewalls and booby traps. Buffy asks if she can get through it, and Willow’s mock-offended. Then she realises that there are other cameras on the network. Magic Box. The shots continue to the point where there’s slurring and giggling. Spike tells Anya that he hates the Scoobies, and that she’s the only one he wouldn’t bite if he were chip free. He pines a little for Dru and her straightforward brand of crazy, and tells Anya that she – like Dru – is forthright and he likes that. She says that Xander thought she was rude, and Spike replies that it’s because he’s uptight. He goes on: “It’s no wonder they couldn’t deal with the likes of you and me, love. We should have been dead hundreds of years ago…and we’re the only ones who are really alive.” They smile at each other.
Chez Summers. Images from the other cameras start to pop up on Willow’s screen. They cover all the regular Scoobie haunts – the Bronze, the Doublemeat Palace, Xander’s worksite and Contrivance U. Buffy WTFs in confusion, and Willow says that there are more feeds but she can’t quite pinpoint them. She tries a different tactic as we head back to the Magic Box. Spike pours Anya the last of the bottle. She takes his hand and thanks him, because it’s the first time since the wedding that she’s been around someone who understands. She tears up, wondering out loud if it was her fault, what if Xander never wanted her the way she wanted him. Spike brushes her hair off her face and cups her face in his hand. “He would have to be more than just the git he is, Anya. He’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to want a woman like you,” he tells her. She presses her face into his hand, and he strokes her face. He leans in towards her, and she asks if she can see his sexy dance. He grins and goes to kiss her. She pulls back a little, asking what they’re doing. “Moving on,” he replies, and they kiss, with grabby hands.
Lor: I don’t even know what is happening right now. Does not compute.
K: Welcome to my reaction the first time I saw this episode. Chez Summers. Willow says that she’s nearly found another feed. Magic Box. Anya tells Spike that she’s only doing this because she’s drunk and lonely and he smells good before resuming the kissing. Trio Basement. An alarm sounds, and they realise that someone’s trying to hack their feed. They rush towards the computers. Magic Box. Spike pulls off Anya’s shirt, knocks the books and shot glasses off the table, and lays her down on it. She wraps her legs around him as they resume kissing.
Chez Summers. Willow tells Buffy and Xander that she thinks the camera is at the Magic Box, then stands in horror as the picture comes up. Trio Basement. They furiously tap at keyboards as Warren yells off screen to shut everything down. They freeze, mid-typing, as they see the feed from the Magic Box.
Sweeney: Andrew’s reaction was delightful. He fanboys that Spike is ~*so cool*~ and then awkwardly tries to cover it up with, “The girl is hot too,” but the actual reason it was delightful enough for me to bring it up was the little eyeroll he does after he says it. Still totes over The Trio, but LOL.
K: Andrew is a fanboy, and it’s kind of fabulous. Magic Box. The camera pans past the sexy times-ing Anya and Spike to a skull on the shelf next to the table. In one of its eye holes is a camera. Chez Summers. Xander rushes around the table as Willow begs him to stop. Buffy follows. They both stare at the screen in horror. Dawn walks in the front door, and is all “What are you all looking at?” She only gets a glimpse of the screen before Willow covers her eyes.
Xander shakes his head in confusion, but Willow only has eyes for Buffy, who’s looking teary and hurt. Dawn notices too. Buffy storms out, and Xander wanders off, dazed. Willow snaps out of it and rushes to shut down the feed. Dawn follows Buffy, and once Willow shuts down the feed, she heads after Xander. But it’s too late. He’s gone, and has raided Buffy’s weapons chest on the way.
After the Not Commercial Break, Dawn and Buffy are in the back garden as Chez Summers. Dawn wants to know if this – Spike – is the stuff that Buffy’s been protecting her from. Buffy tells her that it’s over, and Dawn says she wishes Buffy had told her rather than bottling it up. Buffy replies that she didn’t really want to admit it to herself. Just as they’re doing the sisterly bonding thing, Willow appears to say that Xander’s taken Buffy’s axe and disappeared.
Sweeney: BOO. Way to interrupt some A+ sister bonding / Dawnie earning that 1430.
Lor: Agreed. I’m actually pretty darn happy Buffy was able to both admit it to herself and another person.
K: Truth. With that, we cut to the Magic Box. There’s stuff everywhere. Spike and Anya are getting dressed, both looking a little ashamed. Spike heads to the door without a word. At the door, he stops and turns. Anya gives a little nod, and a moment later, he nods back before opening the door.
Outside, he has to quickly dodge the axe that’s coming at his head. Xander struggles to pull the axe out of the door frame, then gives up and throws Spike into the street. There’s a shot of Buffy sprinting towards them, then Xander picks Spike up and throws him into a pillar before punching him in the gut. Xander yells at him to fight back, but Spike says there’s no point on account of chip. Xander knees him in the stomach, then pulls out a stake.
Anya rushes out of the Magic Box and yells at Xander to stop just as Buffy runs up and pulls him away from Spike. Xander tells Anya that he saw everything, and she looks horrified as he glares at her angrily. Look, I get that he’s pissed. But DUDE. YOU LEFT HER AT THE FUCKING ALTAR. LITERALLY. And then told her that you don’t want to get married, but you still want to be together. Homegirl’s entitled to pretty much anything at this point. Anya says pretty much just that. Xander tells her that when he looks at her, he feels sick because she had sex with Spike, an evil, soulless thing. Both Anya and Buffy look at the ground.
Sweeney: RAGE. Xander, you left her at the altar. You don’t get to judge her for this. As Kirsti just said, Anya’s entitled to just about anything at this point (demonic murder/torture not withstanding) so fuck this slut shaming bullshit.
Lor: Additionally, way to hold yourself way above the “evil soulless thing,” WHEN YOU LEFT HER AT THE ALTAR.
K: EXACTLY. “It’s good enough for Buffy…” says Spike. Xander yells at him to shut up, then stares at Buffy as he processes what Spike said. Anya stares too. Buffy looks hurt and teary. Xander, disgusted, drops his stake and walks away. Buffy glares at Spike, who has no fucks to give, then follows Xander. Spike and Anya watch her go. “I wish -,” he starts, but Anya cuts him off with a “Don’t.” She turns and walks into the Magic Box and starts to tearily clean up.
Sweeney: While Anya brought me back to the feels, on first watch (before I acquired all the rage) the big reveal + Xander running away just made me giggle because it was all SO soap opera.
Lor: That last look Buffy gives Spike is pretty intense too. Like, “what was that about not hurting me, bitch?” Something like that.
K: “Things fall apart. They fall apart so hard,” Tara says in a voiceover. We cut to Willow’s room at Chez Summers. She’s sitting on the bed, and turns to stare with surprise at Tara, who’s standing in the doorway. Tara tells Willow that it’s a long process, they can’t just have coffee and then expect… “I know,” Willow interrupts. Tara stands on the opposite side of the room, then continues:
“There’s just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again, on both sides… You have to learn if…if we’re even the same people we were, if you can fit in each other’s lives. It’s a long…important process, and… Can we just skip it? Can-can you just be kissing me now?”
There’s a pause as Willow processes this, then she grins and crosses the room in a second. Tara meets her half way, and they kiss passionately as we fade to black.
Sweeney: I’m not sure I agree with that full list — specifically Willow and Tara. I think their regret is more for all the things that led to that point rather than the breakup itself. I agree with your basic point though. It’s an only OK episode, that is fitting at this point in a season that has involved a lot of avoidance. Everyone is now at varying stages of acceptance and moving on. The episode suffered a lot from the various moving plot parts. From Xander kicking over the gnome camera to the dramatic reveal of secrets, it was all very, “Well, it’s episode 18 and it’s time to start wrapping a few things up!“
Lor: Agreed. It really feels like we’ve dragging some of these story lines forever, to the point where The Great Contrivance Spirit just had to step in and get a few things in motion. The episode suffered because of few of those moments, as Sweeney pointed out. That aside, I can be happy with the forward motion. The scenes between Anya and Spike were especially well acted, but with those two it’s no surprise. Spike was incredibly nice to Anya, which is either part of his complexity or inconsistency, depending on which view of things you take.
The end with Tara and Willow puts me on my guard because nothing happy will happen this season. I’m convinced. Tara doesn’t earn a title star, but she does tell us that things fall apart. Entropy is an interesting name for this episode which seems to deal mostly with things that have already fallen apart. The point is that things cannot go back to the way they were.
K: No matter how much Xander wants them to…
Next time: The shit hits the fan, big time. Find out if we can come up with words that aren’t “NOPE” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06 E19 – Seeing Red.