Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06 E19 – NOPE.

Previously: Buffy’s secret is out, Anya (who is a vengeance demon again) slept with Spike, and Tara and Willow got back together.

Seeing Red

Sweeney: I grew anxious about recapping this episode months ago. I hadn’t even anticipated how much drama would ensue in Traumaland before we reached this point. I was a little blindsided by that, to be honest. The bright side is that it actually makes this recap a little less scary for me. The stage has been well set, and many an argument has already been had much earlier than I expected. This, of course, isn’t going to make this episode any more enjoyable to watch. But that’s what we’re going to do, so let’s get to it.

Kirsti: I’m pretty sure that back in January when Sweeney and I hung out in LA for like four hours, one of the first things I said (besides “OMG, In n Out needs to come to Australia because this shake is magical”) was “I’m scared of Seeing Red.” So yeah. The dread was strong with this one.

Lorraine: Dude, I’m the Snow and I knew I should dread Seeing Red. But enough of that. Episode:

Sweeney: Oh! Wait, before we start:


We begin on a this-can’t-end-well happy note. Tara and Willow are in bed, the room a mess of torn-off clothing. Willow wonders when morning happened, and adds that she forgot how could she could feel without magic, though Tara assures her that there was plenty of magic. Willow confides that she’s worried about Buffy, and that she thinks something is going on between her and Spike based on B’s reaction to the Magic Shop livestream sex. Tara  confesses that yes, they have been sleeping together and she knows because Buffy reluctantly told her and begged her to keep it a secret. Tara says that Buffy kept it because she was afraid of seeing the look Willow is currently getting. Tara’s the best.

K: SO MUCH OMG. She really was the perfect person for Buffy to confide in.

Sweeney: Willow gets up to check on Buffy, though her room is empty. Dawn pops out of her room to ask if she’s back yet (adding that she put two and two together on the Spuffy situation) and then wonderfully sums up the assorted feels in play for the different relationship dynamics. I love mature, intuitive Dawn. Moments like this one – and the scene with Buffy in the last episode – are a big part of Dawn’s (somewhat limited) growth over the series. She doesn’t get much in the way of an arc, but I think the writers finally realized that as a feelsy character, she can be put to better use by making her more observant.

But then! It gets even better when Tara appears and Dawn realizes that she spent the night and then goes into total fangirl mode, because feelsy Dawn is also a perfect character to voice audience feelings. She promises to go hide in the basement where she can’t hear, popping her head back around the corner to squeal, “I love you guys!” like the perfect fangirl she is.

K: Squealy fangirl Dawn is one of my favourite Dawns.

Sweeney: Our missing slayer is busting open the Trio’s new lair, demanding that they have a chat. She pokes through their stuff (K: I call bullshit, because they would NEVER leave their action figures behind) and grabs a bunch of papers she finds lying around. At the back of the room she tilts down a whiteboard that says, “TOO LATE!” Just as she says that can’t be good, a giant circular buzz saw activates and slices through the board, towards Buffy. They start appearing all over the heavily booby-trapped room and she gets to use her innate slayer skillz to super jump her way out of this. Outside, she notices that they successfully sliced her (not as cute as she thinks it is) red jacket, and says that’s going to cost them. Wolf howl, now featuring Amber Benson. (L: Joss Whedon is the trolliest troll who ever trolled in the whole history of trolldom.) (S: YUP.)

Chez Summers. Tara and Willow come downstairs, and are super touchy, but promise they’re ready to take a break from sexytimes action for some bad-guy-hunting action. Buffy updates them on the abandoned lair, noting that while they had time to booby-trap it, she thinks they left in a hurry. The papers left lying around should probably not be trusted, but if it turns out that they are legit, I call bullshit on them having the time to set up that elaborate system of saws but not remember to grab stuff sitting out in very obvious places.

K: See, I was working on the assumption that the system of saws had been set up ages ago, and they just needed to flip the switch to make it operational…

Sweeney: The others all awkwardly try to suggest calling in the missing Scoobies and Buffy one-by-one explains why they aren’t an option. Xander’s not in the Scooby-space, Spike’s not part of the team right now, and Anya’s also probably not in a major researchy mode. Major duh to all of that information, but I’ll give the girls a pass because they had to ask this shit for the audience’s benefit.

The mention of Anya segue magics us to Anya sitting in a bar with a blonde who is sobbing about her boyfriend cheating on her with her fat sister. Anya then goes on a long rambly rant about her relationship with Xander. Sobbing Blonde tries to interrupt a few times with wishes about her boyfriend, but Anya dosn’t hear because she’s too busy raging.

As she gets to Xander’s apologies we magic over to Andrew cowering on the ground of a cave, apologizing to a giant demon. He’s promptly taken down by a giant taser-prod Warren has. Andrew takes it and gets in a few more for good measure, but Warren says they need him fresh. The next step of their diabolical plan falls to Jonathan, who looks anxious when Warren tosses him a switchblade that looks like a smaller version of Faith’s famous murder knife. (L: It’s a weird day when you feel nostalgic for a murder knife.) (S: BUT I DO.)

TARDIS Crypt. Spike is mixing booze into his blood and Dawn arrives to ask if that helps. She’s going to sleep over with her BFF Janice, but stopped by to see him though she seems a little unsure of why. She says everyone is pretty mad at him and she’s sick of everyone telling her it’s complicated. Her presence helpfully clues Spike in on the camera thing so he now knows what happened. Dawn asks how he could do that if he really loved her, because if he wanted to hurt Buffy then he succeeded. With that, she leaves.

Underground, we see another demon like the one The Trio captured go through a squiggly force field thing. Once he goes, The Trio emerges from around a corner. Warren informs the others/us than only special demons can go through it. Jonathan walks up, wearing the skin of the demon they just captured. Ew, ew, ew. Once they push him through, Andrew asks Warren if he thinks Jonathan knows, but Warren says he wouldn’t still be there if he didn’t. Plus, they still need Jonathan for stuff like acting as the guinea-pig for the dead demon suit. They wind down their conversation about getting rid of Jonathan just in time for him to return with the magical box they sent him in their for. Warren lasers it open. Inside are two little red balls which he conveniently monologues are meant to provide strength and invincibility. Just as Jonathan asks if they still work, a magical blue glowy thing happens to Warren.

K: I stop to have a “JFC, Jonathan and Andrew are morons” moment, because they’re both risking their lives for the sake of this venture – Andrew as the bait and Jonathan as the excuse-me-while-I-throw-up demon skin wearing guinea pig – but Warren’s the one who sits back, does nothing, and still gets all the power. And continuing with the Warren-is-king-of-the-misogynists theme, his power comes from a pair of balls.

Sweeney: Agreed. Andrew is extra stupid. Jonathan seems to know enough to be concerned, but he’s afraid of Warren. I do wish he’d had the smarts to arrange a way to open the damn box himself when he was still on the other side, though.

After a Not Break, a demon appears and Warren tests the Magic Red Balls by fighting it. He makes quick work of the demon. Andrew fanboys about how hot that was and Jonathan says he wants to try but is swatted away by Warren. Warren, in the squickiest voice he can muster, promises to let them each have a whirl once he’s done playing with it. Pretty much the same line he used when describing his ex-girlfriend turned rape toy. (You know, just in case you needed to be reassured that he’s the most universally loathed character in the Buffyverse with good reason.)

Xander’s Gift Apartment. Buffy arrives and the place is decked out in full bachelor fashion. Buffy is there to assure him that Anya loves him and just did a stupid thing because she was hurting. Xander says he gets that, but doesn’t understand why Buffy slept with Spike, partially because he feels stupid for all the times he told Spike he didn’t have a chance. Buffy somewhat angrily admits that he has no idea how hard it has been for her to be alive again, and adds that she couldn’t go to him because he didn’t want to hear it. Fair and true. Buffy goes on to say that what she does with her personal life is none of his business, to which he notes that it used to be. The conversation quickly gets super hostile, with Buffy calling bullshit on his right to judge anyone’s questionable decision making.

K: A+ and 1430 to you, Buff. Also, I’m pretty sure that Xander lost his right to butt into her personal life when he kinda-sorta forgot to mention the whole “Hey, we can re-ensoul Angel” plan way back at the end of season 2. 

Sweeney: UGH. Yes. I’d almost forgotten about that. “Hey, just to make sure you’re totally fucking blindsided if/when, let’s just keep this detail to myself.”

Xander storms out of his own apartment and we get a moody montage of him and Anya going about their respective lives. He walks the streets of Sunnydale and winds up outside the Magic Box where she’s cleaning up.

It’s all a mess,” Willow laments to Tara, back in Tara’s dorm room. They continue to be adorable and naked because they’re having ALL THE MAKEUP SEX. Willow thinks she’s finally got something but it’ll require more work and she’d rather get back to the sex. Understandable.

Xander is drinking his sorrows away at The Bronze. A pretty brunette talks to him and he makes a weird fish analogy. (Xander + fish = references the show should avoid.) It’s a call back to Anya’s bar scene because he gets carried away talking about his love life struggles a makes Pretty Brunette super uncomfortable. The Trio arrives because Warren wants to play with his new toy.

Buffy is getting her vampire fighting and slaying and punning on. She makes the kill but gets wounded in action. We cut to her in a bathrobe, limping about as she starts a bath and forget everything I said in the beginning about being totes ready for this because it’s like my months of anxiety just flared back up all at once. I’m astonished that I didn’t just give myself a heart attack.

Anyway, we hear Spike’s voice, noting that she appears injured. He comes into the bathroom and closes the door. His all black ensemble looks particularly strange in this very light, airy bathroom. He continues his creepy barging in on her bath to demand that she talk to him because he feels like it. (FUCKING WEIRD. You don’t enter the home and bathroom of someone who has just dumped you to force them to talk to you.)

K: SERIOUSLY. I can maybe understand walking in the front door and standing in the foyer. MAYBE. But going upstairs and into the bathroom while she’s preparing to take a bath? NO. NOT EVEN REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE. GTFO.

Sweeney: He insists that he cares about her and only went to The Magic Box to get a spell to make the feelings stop. He smarmily insists that she loves him, and she’s all, “Fuck, I can’t keep saying this.” She periodically holds her back throughout the scene, to remind us all of her recent injury – of which Spike was definitely aware. He then decides that she’s going to make her feel “it” again, because she felt it when he was inside her. He forces himself on her, even as she says, “No,” and “Please stop,” more times than I care to count. She slips on the shower curtain at some point, further injuring her. I forgot how long this scene is, but Buffy continues to plead with him to stop, nearly on the verge of tears. She finally manages to get enough leverage to shove him off her and into a wall. He gets up and realizes what just happened. Buffy stands up, crying, and says, “Ask me again why I could never love you.” Spike starts to say something and she shouts, “Because I stopped you – something I should have done a long time ago.

So let’s chat, friends and people-who-secretly-hate-me: back when I first became anxious about this scene I trolled the depths of the Buffy fandom and pretty quickly discovered the underbelly I’d like to unsee, especially because the good thing we had going here kept me blissfully unaware. This is my way of saying that the following rant is not necessarily directed at anyone in our comments section (or, where it is, it’s tying back to these other points to say, “This is why I said – and stand by – certain things.”)

(1) People like to talk about the various scenes in which Buffy says, “No,” and then relents (see: every episode I covered that featured Spuffy sexytimes) as some sort of justification. So yeah, I stand by calling bullshit on Spike each and every one of those times and my concurrent rage with the countless people telling me that it wasn’t fair for me to call that non-consent because she relented. If one person says stop and the other continues, consent was violated. The fact that she ultimately gave in doesn’t change that, and it’s become clear to me that this scene was necessary to drive the point home.

(2) People seem to love to talk about Spikeywikey’s poor hurt face after he realizes that he almost raped her. FUCK THAT SHIT FOREVER. Rape is a unique bit of violence in that it’s one of the few crimes with vast cultural systems propping it up, undermining victims, and protecting perpetrators. It’s the rare crime in which coverage near-universally laments the tragic lost future of convicts. Rapists already get an unwarranted share of public sympathy for all the ways we encourage them to believe that it’s not rape. I might be willing to talk about the fallout of an accidental homicide in a different way because we don’t have a vast cultural system telling murderers that they aren’t murderers. Anyone who wants to fixate on how sad the rapist was when he realized he was a rapist is participating in that system.

(3) Arguments that focus on Buffy’s strength are also significant contributors to rape culture. While I understand their reasons, it’s a tad frustrating that Buffy had to be injured here because it plays to notions that victims are inherently weak. The accepted portrayal of rape – the way that we can all say, “Oh yes, that’s definitely rape!” (“LEGITIMATE RAPE“) focuses on violence. It’s absurd (and yet so common!) to suggest that a victim who doesn’t go down kicking and screaming has been any less rapedForcing your body into someone else’s unwilling body is an act of violence. You have every right to feel however you feel about this scene. You can’t control feelings, I suppose. Still, pushing certain interpretations of this scene is dangerous. The show doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The larger cultural context from which we approach and discuss it is still there and I’m not going to apologize for pointing that out.

So that’s that.

K: A+ to all of that, Sweeney. To further what you said in (1), this is a completely different “no” to all the previous Spuffy “no”s. Then, her lack of consent was swept past/under the carpet because she relented almost immediately. Here? She’s in tears, she’s screaming in pain, she’s yelling “no” at the top of her lungs repeatedly. There is LITERALLY no way that he didn’t know what he was doing. 

Sweeney: To be clear, you’re saying that anyone who uses the, “WELL LOOK AT ALL THE FUZZY CONSENT?” argument to defend the attempted rape is ridiculous because this couldn’t have been any less fuzzy, correct? I get you on that, because I fucking hate that argument, though I’m not really sure how productive it is to sit here and dissect someone else’s “No”s.

Lor: Of course, I agree with all of Sweeney’s points and I just want to emphasize something: we are watching this attempted rape with the “privilege” of seasons worth of narration. We know of their mutually abusive relationship and shady past dealings with consent. We know how Spike reacts (once Buffy stops him) and you all know where his arc leads him next. It’s easy to bury the attempted rape in all of this context, but just to emphasize what Sweeney pointed out, this is dangerous. Adding context to rape is the very essence of rape culture: It was a mistake. He was a good boy. She would never. She was asking for it. He was drunk. She was drunk She was a slut.

Every rape has it’s before and after pieces of the story, but when we privilege the aggressor and (in this case) his story over the victim and the action… well, this was never going to end well for me.

Sweeney: Agreed times infinity.

If you’re still with us, let’s move on: Jonathan and Andrew are chatting at The Bronze and Jonathan starts to suggest to Andrew that they split off or get some Warren-insurance, but Andrew cuts him off, insisting that Warren is the boss. Elsewhere, Warren is being a giant skeezebucket, hitting on some girl. The girl’s maybe-boyfriend struts up and he’s kind of a possessive smarmadouche himself. We quickly learn that he was a former tormentor of Warren’s back in elementary school. So Smarmadouche contributed to the making of this sick little fuck? Thanks, bro. Smarmadouche tries to fight Warren, but he’s got MAGIC BALLS now, a glorious contribution to the dick-measuring contest that essentially defines his whole power hungry psychosis. A bar fight quickly ensues and ends, with Warren telling the girls at the bar that the tab is on “Daddy.” (K: *vomits repeatedly*)

Xander appears and quips that the daddy thing is undermining his game because incest is not that attractive. (I’m still annoyed with you, Xander, but THANK YOU for this. Not that we don’t have plenty of alarming examples to the contrary, but thanks all the same.) Warren quickly moves on to asking about getting with Anya, since she’s now sleeping with vampires anyway. Xander punches and is facepunched across the room. I hate that Warren was the one to do it, but I can’t say that wasn’t a tiny bit gratifying. Particularly since that’s where it stops – Jonathan comes to tell Warren it’s time to go. He quickly gets very deferential – it’s all your call – but says they’re going to miss their big date with doom if they don’t leave ASAP. Warren concedes, telling Andrew that it’s NBD if he sics the slayer on them.

Chez Summers. Xander enternounces that his face found Warren. He stops short when he sees Spike’s black leather jacket sitting on the banister. He rages up the stairs and asks Buffy if this is what she calls not seeing Spike. He stops when he sees that she’s been crying and has a bruise on her leg. He asks if Spike hurt her and then gears up to go off looking for a fight, but Buffy tells him not to. Deeply as I hate Xander’s unjustified judgey feelings about Buffy’s love life the rest of always, I can’t fault him for wanting blood right now. Willow appears because she’s got info. She asks what’s wrong, but Buffy says it’s nothing and changes the subject back to Willow’s discovery.

K: This bugs me, because it seems out of character for Willow to be all “Oh, cool. We’ll just sweep past the fact that you’re crying on the bathroom floor.” If I found my best friend in that situation, I sure as hell wouldn’t buy it being nothing and move on with the conversation.

Sweeney: I hadn’t thought about it because I was pretty much in GET THIS SHIT DONE mode by this point, but I totally agree with your point here. I suppose Willow could be waiting for a later time to sit her down and talk about it, just the two of them. Still, it seems way weird. Still, I’d find Willow’s reaction less annoying if they had just added additional, “Buffy, please, what’s going on?” / “SERIOUSLY NOTHING DROP IT.” Exchange, you know? Something to indicate that Willow recognizes that her best friend is not OK.

At the table, Willow and Tara explain that they’ve deciphered everything but one set of papers which are in a language they can’t identify. Xander, holding an ice pack to his face, says that this it’s written in Klingon and they’re love poems though it has nothing to do with their insidious scheme. Said scheme includes plans for a lot of banks and other places where they can do some serious robbery. They’re pretty sure they know where The Trio is headed tonight. Xander warns that Warren has “gone all Mighty Mouse,” but Buffy isn’t concerned.

TARDIS Crypt. Spike is having rape flashbacks while he pours himself a drink and he shatters the glass with his hands. The adorable Clem arrives with hot wings, not realizing that it’s a bad time. Spike is asking what he’s done and what she’s done to him. Clem quickly realizes that he’s talking about Buffy and offers his bro support:

Clem starts to talk about how being resurrected can make people go wonky. Spike then starts to wax poetic about the chip making him feel shitty and how simple things were before the chip and Buffy. He can’t be a monster or a man so he’s nothing. Clem says that things change, and Spike ominously adds, “If you make them.

Speaking of change, the latest and greatest in inexplicable growth in supposedly tiny, who-would-want-to-live-on-a-hellmouth Sunnydale: they have an amusement park! (K: To go with their zoo, international airport, university, and shipping port. And a population of 38,500. LOL, OKAY SHOW. WHATEVER.) A truck is there to take away the cash for the night. As soon as they start to drive off, Warren uses the power of his MAGIC BALLS to overturn it. Andrew’s excited to get to use them but Jonathan’s pretty sure that’s never going to happen. Buffy jumps on top on the truck, punning. (K: I stop to note that the armoured truck company is named SHIELD. Avengers shots? Also to note that she’s wearing the Acorn Hat again!!) They fight and it’s an awkward, super obviously choreographed fight with lots of pauses for jumps and spins and the like. A few comments about what a misogynist dick Warren is are thrown in there. The fight appears to be over when a bunch of rocks crush Warren, but just as Buffy turns to address Jonathan and Andrew, Warren emerges from the rubble.

Lor: Look, I know Warren’s got Magic Balls now, but I cal bullshit on his being able to keep up with Buffy in a fight, just because of sheer strength. This guy has never thrown a punch before, and we learned today that B can avoid a swarm of saws. Maybe I just resent Warren even landing a punch. I hate him.

Sweeney: After a Not Commercial Break I pause the episode and laugh and laugh because I now realize exactly what part of Six Flags Magic Mountain this scene is being shot in! Fun. The fight continues, with Warren clearly winning. Just as he’s gloating about his brilliance (with Andrew shouting, “Kill her!”) Jonathan jumps on Buffy’s back, appearing to attack her but whispering that she needs to destroy THE MAGIC BALLS.

K: I found this kind of interesting, because it’s Jonathan more than the others who knows what the Slayer is. Jonathan, who presented her with the Class Protector award at the prom. Jonathan, who Buffy stopped from committing suicide. Jonathan, who wanted to be liked so much that he magicked himself into the Scoobies’ lives. He knows who Buffy is, and how important she is to Sunnydale’s continued survival. He’s made a ton of shitty decisions this season, and I’m not defending those, because there’s no possible way to defend them. I just think it’s interesting that they had Jonathan tell her how to stop Warren.

Sweeney: It goes a long way to redeeming Jonathan. I hate The Trio for lots of reasons that I have mentioned elsewhere, but Jonathan definitely gets an interesting little arc.

Warren finally has Buffy down and takes a beat to tell her to say, “Goodnight bitch,” which gives her enough time to seize/destroy said magic balls before saying the thing and kicking him.

Lor: And we all cheer as Buffy emasculates Warren, making his worse nightmare come true.

Sweeney: Just as Buffy’s about to finish him off, he busts out a jetpack and flies off, promising to get her later. Andrew has one too, but Jonathan doesn’t. Unfortunately for him, Andrew’s a moron and launches his while standing under a wooden awning. He hits his head and knocks himself out.

Jonathan and Andrew are being taken in by Sunnydale PD (LOL) and while Jonathan is furious that he was left out of the escape plan and their imprisonment, Andrew is distressed that Warren just left him there. “He never really loved…hanging out with us.

On the edge of town, Spike is riding off into the night (SMOKING!) ominously telling Buffy-who-can’t-hear-him that she should get nice and comfy because he’ll be back for her.

K: Ugh.

Lor: This entire parting scene just solidified why I cannot stand Spike. It’s not only his actions, but his character. He’s so overwrought sometimes.

Sweeney: The next day it’s bright and sunny at Chez Summers and Willow and Tara are happily getting dressed in Willow’s room. Tara sees that Buffy’s in the back yard and Xander has arrived, hopefully to make up, which she says is the best part.

Buffy’s checking for additional cameras, since Warren’s still out there. Xander assures her that she’ll find him, since he won’t be much good without his friends. They sit down to chat and Xander concedes that while it hurt that Buffy didn’t tell him, he gave her plenty of reason to expect him to be an ass about it. They both admit to having made a lot of awful decisions lately. Xander says he doesn’t know what he’d do without Buffy and Willow and they have a makeup hug.

That hug is interrupted by the arrival of Warren, angrily shouting  about how he’s not going to let her get away with that before pulling out a gun and firing shots towards Buffy and Xander. He runs off, still firing. Up in Willow’s bedroom, we see her nice white shirt suddenly splattered with blood. We cut back and forth between Xander jumping up to see that Buffy has been shot in the chest and Willow grabbing Tara as she collapses after also taking a shot to the heart. Xander tries to hold a hand over Buffy’s wound. Willow grabs Tara and sobs. The final shot is Willow looking toward the ceiling, with full on Dark Magic Eyes.

TARA. I can’t even with how awful it is to lose Tara. In this season of tragedy it stands to reason that we’d lose the most grounded, understanding, empathetic member of the team. This one cuts deep. That gifset is horrifyingly painful to watch.

K: I mean, we should have known it wasn’t going to end well when a) Willow and Tara were all happy at the start of the episode, and b) Amber Benson was added to the credits for the first time ever. But OH GOD, ALL THE TARA FEELS. I just can’t with this episode. It’s indescribably painful to watch for so many reasons. So in summary? NOPE TIMES INFINITY.

Lor: I expected the attempted rape but I did not see Tara’s death coming. I yelled at Twitter for a long time after this ending scene. My heart was crushed.

Sweeney: Indeed. We should have, because TROLL, but still. This was a rough and painful episode and it has left me with so many feelings that I’m now trying to dissect, but I’m not sure what there is to say here. Even at the show’s feelsiest moments in episodes past, we still used this end-of-episode space to process, at length. This was a little more draining and there’s not much left to say.

 Next time: Grief and trauma abound and Willow goes back to magic in a bad way on Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06 E20 – Villains.

Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. I spend too much time on YouTube. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle.

Marines (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.

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  • All the cries over Tara. ALL THE CRIES FOREVER.

    As to the other very sensitive issue in this episode: hate. Hate so much. But also hate the comparisons that are made based off of this episode to Angel, who had a soul, instead of to Angelus, who did not. And that is all I will say about it.

    • I find any/all such comparisons annoying because you’re always dealing with a host of unlike things and people seem to use those things in ways that privilege silly shipper wars over actual conversations about what is happening. So in general, I just don’t engage when the actions of one is used as a benchmark for another.


      • I think that’s a good call. I will say (here I am, breaking my own rule) that I understand why the writers went there with this episode. I may not like it, but I understand it. And the execution of some later things may be a little clunky, but I love what we get in season seven that stems from this episode. The whole ending of “Beneath You” is something I’ve been looking forward to you guys reviewing for a long time.

        • Clément Polge

          That scene you’re mentioning is probably my favourite scene from the whole show.

          • Honestly it’s mine, too. James Marsters and SMG knock it out of the park. Especially JM. I get chills every time I watch it.

          • SuzyLee

            Yes! The end of Beneath You is stunning, in writing, acting and shooting, just amazing. Its also one of a couple of long Buffy/Spike speeches in Season 7 that were actually totally re-written,most definitely for the better, the version in the shooting script just pales in comparison

          • Oo, I didn’t know that about them being rewritten. They ended up perfect though. I absolutely love the development Buffy and Spike get in season 7.

          • Jojo

            I never read that script and you are soooo right.

        • Ashley Menvielle

          I’m also looking forward to that wonderful scene at the end of BY being recapped :).

          • I appreciate having something to look forward to! 🙂

  • Angi Black

    This is my one episode that never gets a rewatch. I can’t take it. On all levels.

  • SnazzyO

    Isn’t it amazing how an episode of TV from over 10 years ago can still elicit so many FEELS, RAGES, and DEEP THOUGHT.

    I liked two things about this episode:
    – Dawn fangirling Tara/Willow is BEST
    – Final rapprochement b/w Buffy and Xander. It felt genuine and like salve on an open wound.

    I hate just about everything else with this episode. I understand it’s role in the overall arc of the season but still think there are about 1000 different ways to have accomplished it. So… I’m living in nope-ville today. These actions happened and I disapprove of the writing choices and the character choices.

    And Tara is the WORST WHEDON DEATH EVER IMO. And he’s got some really shitty ones.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      +1 on your last comment. Also, Dawn fangirling is the cutest, she is absolutely adorable in this scene and it also speaks volumes as to how much Tara was missed from her point of view. Despite Willow, Dawn was the one most affected by the break up.

    • Anagnorisis

      I’m sorry, but for me the Worst Whedon Death Ever has to be gung fpvragvfg gung jnf vasrpgrq jvgu qrzba syh naq ghearq vagb fbzrguvat oyhr, V’yy arire erpbire sebz ure ynfg yvarf: jul pna’g V fgnl?.
      At least Tara didn’t realize she was dying and her last moments were full of happiness and love.
      And yeah, Dawn moment was the best, I forgot to say something about that.

      • Clément Polge

        Oh my god, why would you even MENTION that ? You heartless you.

        BRB, have to go curl up in a corner.

        • Anagnorisis

          I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to!
          Let’s see if this helps you: Frys-rfgrrz vf sbe rirelobql, Frys-rfgrrz vf sbe rirelbar, Lbh pna qernz naq or nalobql, Ohg frys-rfgrrz vf ubj lbh trg vg qbar.


          • Clément Polge

            Yeah I feel a little better already. Thanks !

          • Alex

            I totally knew what that was without even having to rot13 it 😀

      • Idriss Boukhanef

        Jryy, V guvax gur jbefg Jurqba qrngu vf Naln’f, naq V’z cebonoyl tbvat gb znxr n ybat enag nobhg vg jura Pubfra trgf erpnccrq (nybat jvgu ybat enagf nobhg bgure guvatf gbb). :<

        • rot13!

          • Idriss Boukhanef

            Yep, yep, sorry ! I actually wrote this thing, copied / pasted this on the rot13 thingie and re-pasted in on Disqus, except I failed horribly and put not-encrypted version. Got hyper panicky when I realised my mistake 2 seconds later but I hope I fixed that soon enough, hoping no one had noticed ! Sorry again, sometimes my brain does stupid things >.<

          • Jojo

            I can’t tell you how often I have done that! {{hugs}}

          • Idriss Boukhanef

            Yaaay, hug ! Thanks for making me less alone !

          • LOL! I just realized that I never closed my screen (I just let the blue alerts come up to tell me there are new comments), so you probably switched it before I panicked and rot13’d you…. sorry about that!

            And I also forgot to say YES YES YES. THAT IS THE WORST DEATH IN BUFFY FOR ME, TOO.

      • Ryan


      • Jojo

        +1 and OMG and gonna go from curled up to fetal position and serious thumb sucking.

        • Anagnorisis

          I’m sorry! It wasn’t my intention 🙁
          It’s too early to start drinking?

      • Alex

        Agree 100% with your rot13’ed paragraph.

      • Petra47

        I think the worst Whedon death is Jnfu va Freravgl. V’yy arire trg bire gung bar.

    • Jojo

      +1 It’s a hard episode to watch let alone rewatch and rewatch to review. You guy did a great job.

  • Clément Polge

    Ok, sooo a lot of stuff going on in this episode:

    First, Warren, I think it’s interesting to notice that Warren basically have NO REASON to go after Buffy, other that she’s a woman in a position of power. Also interesting that once all of his plans and schemes all fall apart, and he’s lost all of his power, he gets a gun and goes for a shoot-and-run, as a final desperate attempt to regain power over Buffy. So, fuck you Warren.

    Now the touchy part: the rape scene. I have to say that this is one of Buffy’s strongest moments for me, because while I was feeling so awful for Buffy, I was also feeling sorry for Spike… And feeling bad for feeling sorry for him. But before starting to hit me, please let me explain !

    I love Spike, as a character, he’s definitely one of my favourites, but I absolutely loathed his behaviour this season, although I find it suits his character perfectly: he’s incapable of empathy and has no moral compass whatsoever. But I wanted to still be able to like him, I wanted him to get better, because I understand his psychology (again: not as a person, but as a soulless character with no capacity to understand morality), he wants someone that doesn’t want him, and he doesn’t understand why, especially since she gave in already, he’s frustrated, lost, confused, and he acts out in the worst possible way. And I get that he doesn’t realise what he’s doing, and that he’s really completely fucked in the head at the moment, but that doesn’t make what he did any less terrible.

    I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m excusing his actions in any way, I really just mean that I thought the show did an amazing job showing us Spike’s soullessness and helplessness at understanding human behaviour, and that this just feels like the last step in that logic.

    I also want to point out that while I’m barely mentioning Buffy in my comment, I’m not loosing sight that this thing happened to her primarly, and that she’s the victim here. Again, I’m not trying to excuse Spike’s action in any way, just saying that I get why his character (soulless with no morality or empathy) went there.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Thank you for explaining my opinion on the Spike/Buffy rape scene because I agree with everything you said. What I’d like to mention though is that I like how Buffy is finally able to say no and mean it. Like it was pointed out in the recap, she has said no many times but let it happen anyway. Not this time, girlfriend stayed her ground even though she was hurt and wounded already. It’s a sign that Buffy is definitely past her lowest point in regards to the post resurrection depression. Of course she should never even have been in this rape situation but I’m glad she finally found the strength in herself to stand up for herself again.

    • Jojo

      I think it actually makes what he did more horrible. It shows that his default setting is pure demon. No matter how much he told Buffy he loved her, and how much he said he wouldn’t hurt her, once he panicked he went right to trying to force her to be what he wanted – trying to rape her into being what he wanted. The fact that he was screwed up in the head is the problem and not the excuse.

      • Ashley Menvielle


    • Raluca

      I do not think that, Clement. I said above: let’s not excuse him because he is a monster. Spike knows what he did when he feels remorse, later on. And he is not in vamp face. The man tried to rape her, not the monster.

      • Jojo

        I can see where Angelus could be split into the man or the monster. The soul add a whole level to his being. But Spike does not have anywhere enough humanity to split. At best I could say the man/demon used the demons tools (dominance, violence, force) to try to enforce a demon’s passion (obsession, possession, selfish).

    • SonicRulez

      Forgive me seriously replying to a 4 year old comment, but I zeroed in on Spike being incapable of feeling empathy. That doesn’t really line up with Spike’s characterization like….ever. Spike is one of the most empathetic characters in the series. It’s how he picked up on all of the Bangel stuff in Lovers Walk. It’s how he bonded with Dawn in Season 5. It’s how he was able to get in Riley’s head. It’s how he was able to get into Buffy’s head. It’s how he gets through to Angel in Season 5 of THAT show. Spike is incredibly perceptive, soul or not. Heck, that’s what makes him a poet and a romantic. Spike gets feelings.

  • Democracy Diva

    I’ve got the fancy tissues with the lotion and aloe over here. Who wants one?

    Thank you for the lighthearted moments like the Dawn fangirl gifset (amazing, if heartbreaking in retrospect) and the nostalgia for Faith’s awesome murder knife of awesomeness.

    I’m getting nervous sweats just reading that Buffy’s starting the bath. Spike going in there to talk to her was some Christian Grey level shit to begin with, and obviously things got infinitely more horrific from there. I don’t disagree with anything you said about that scene. It’s attempted rape and it’s horrible and everything about it is awful and heartbreaking. That’s all I can say.

    Somehow, I regained the ability to laugh again for a moment when Andrew launched into the awning and knocked himself out. Thanks, Whedon, for proof that life can be good again even when you FUCKING DESTROY US. OH WAIT, NEVER MIND, BECAUSE THE END OF THIS EPISODE KILLED ME EVEN MORE.

    I apologize for the abuse of capslock. But seeing that blood splatter on Willow’s white sweater – oh my God. It’s horrible, but that’s one of the most iconic images in the Buffyverse in my mind. I just couldn’t stop seeing it in my head after watching this episode. That visual shot haunts me.

    • Ashley Menvielle

      A note on that horrible but so visually visceral and memorable scene where Tara’s blood splatters on Willow’s white shirt: when filming the scene they couldn’t get the blood to splatter quite right, so AH and AB had to film this scene over, and over again. Needless to say it was major trauma for AH and AB that day.

      • Alex

        I remember reading that too! To make it even worse, they only had two shirts for Alyson, so they had to keep washing and re-washing them every time they wanted to re-do the blood splatters, and they didn’t even have time to dry them so she had to keep putting on damp shirts. So it sounds like it was pretty awful to film, on so many levels!

    • Jojo

      Capslock is made for horrific things like the red blossoms on a blue sweater and the red splatter on a white shirt, and I am actually all puddled up and trying not to cry. Tara was everything that was good and wise and strong.

  • Wilhelmina Upton

    I don’t even remember my first time watching this episode but Tara’s death still crushes me. Losing her character is the worst.
    It’s interesting though how Whedon does this so similarly to killing off Joyce. First we get the characters and those most associated with the situation all pampered up. Willow and Tara are finally back together and ALL THE GLORIOUS MAKE UP SEX before her death appears completely out f left field. With Joyce it was similar. After her horrible diagnosis she finally leaves the hospital again only to be killed at the end of the episode. FUCKING PARALLELS!

    Another thing I never realised before was Andrews more than friendly feelings towards Warren. It’s typical for me to have missed this but okay.

    Warren, I fucking hate Warren times infinity!!

  • darkalter2000

    I just want to say now. Willow’s reaction? Completely proportional and reasoned in my opinion.

    • Jojo

      Sorry not sorry but no. Yes, I feel that way so much but still no.

      • darkalter2000

        I know it headwise. Heartwise I feels. I feels so hard. 🙁

        • Jojo

          I so agree! So very very much agree!

  • SuzyLee

    I hate, hate what the writers did here, just hate it. Rape should not be a plot devise and that’s how it was used, as a means of getting a character somewhere; that to me is so very wrong and dangerous, particularly given where they take it afterward. In universe the aftermath does have its own internal logic and acceptability but taken out of that and in real life the message it puts across is just so very wrong. I honestly don’t think they really thought about what they were doing, they should have found pretty much any other way possible to move Spike’s character forward rather than that. In terms of fan reaction, the ones that make me most sick a (relatively) small but quite vocal proportion of people who I have genuinely heard claim that what Spike did wasn’t really rape, he didn’t set out to do, he didn’t intend it and therefore it doesn’t count. Fuck that. Fuck that forever! And of course those who actually blame Buffy for ‘setting a precedent’ of no means yes, the first time I heard someone express that sentiment I just wanted to Hulk Smash their faces! The bathroom scene just makes me feel violently sick (so I guess they got something right there – it should do) and I honestly have to look away anytime its included in the previouslys.

    Tara’s death is still the saddest moment of anything, ever to me. I remember seeing it for the first time and just, sitting there is stunned, unbelieving silence, tears pouring down my face.

    • Ashley Menvielle

      Hugs! I agree with you that the writers should have thought more about the cultural and social implications of using an attempted rape to progress a characters journey and found another way, because even though the world of Buffy is hyperviolent and supernaturally based it is not watched in a vacuum as Sweeney so eloquently stated above, it has a real life effect on viewers and our culture. The myriad reactions of fandom reflect that we do not watch t.v. in a vacuum. Those fans who excuse Spike and/or blame Buffy sicken me and make me so sad that anyone could watch that scene and try to justify what happened. I’m glad that this site and a couple others exist where actual discussions can be had on this subject and various other issues because in most others places on the inter webs that just does not happen, which is also tragic, and shows how deeply ingrained people are in rape culture. At least through calm discussion of issues like this we can try to work through some of our society’s darker and more taboo issues.

      • Jojo

        You know, I think the argument gets way out of control on both sides. I disagree with those who make excuses, obviously. But I also disagree with those who claim what Spike did was worse than Warren killing Tara or Angelus killing Jenny. He took care of Dawn because he wanted to get into dead Buffy’s pants and he is the most evil thing ever in the universe and he can never redeem himself in any way. I like this place because it seems to be the one place where we can actually have some perspective. Reacting like that actually minimizes the horror of what he did because if he has always just been evil then there’s nothing much more than an attempted physical rape – rather than an attempt to destroy any part of Buffy that doesn’t love him.

        • Ashley Menvielle

          Yes! Great point! Minimizes the horror of what he did because he’s an evil, soulless fiend so therefore it was fore gone conclusion that he’d do something like this to Buffy; yeah, I very much agree with you on this point because it’s much, much more complicated than that and I believe gets brought up because of icky shipper wars and UGH, can’t stand those arguments. I’ve never heard anyone bring up that point before but I think it’s very true and relevant!

        • Clément Polge

          Well, first, comparing pain is always dumb… Spike raping Buffy is neither worse or less bad than Angelus killing Jenny, it’s just different.

          As for your second point, I’ve mentioned a lot of times that I always hate people seeing the past through what they know of the future… Spike was sort-of-a-good-guy at the beginning of the season, and pretty clearly spiraled down throughout the whole season…

          • Jojo

            Not sure what you mean there. Spike said “I will make you love me” while he was attempting to rape Buffy. He was trying to make her feel what he wanted her to feel.

          • Clément Polge

            I’m… huh… Not sure how that relates to anything I said ? Not trying to be rude here, I genuinely don’t understand what you’re saying.

          • Jojo

            I think I took your second paragraph wrong….thought you meant it was just evil guy doing evil instead of demon trying to be a man and then tearing apart the one person he swore to love and protect because she doesn’t feel what he wants her to feel.

          • Raluca

            Yes, Jojo, I said something along these lines above, in a comment to Clement. The summarized version is that it is the man inside Spike who attempts the rape, not the monster. He wants her to love the man and it is the man who uses power (read:rape, since this is what it is all about) to get to her mind and soul.

          • Jojo

            I disagree. Angelus could be split into man or monster because he has the soul and that gives separation in his case. Hence the Angel(us) duality. Also – Angelus was still Angelus regardless which face he used. And, interestingly it was Angel who said that the man inside him needed killing more than the demon

            Spike does not have anywhere enough humanity to split that way – at most there is a trace of William, a pale shadow of a weak Victorian poet.. At best I could say the man/demon used the demons tools (dominance, violence, force) to try to enforce a demon’s passion (obsession, possession, selfish).

          • Raluca

            That is the point, Clement. Spike never once goes in vamp face while attempting rape, whereas Angelus was in vamp face when he killed Jenny.
            I think Joss insisted on that – Spike had to be in human form during the scene, to show it was not the monster who was abusing Buffy, but the man. And I think he was right.
            Making Spike the monster attack Buffy is not as powerful as making Spike/William do it – monsters have no empathy and no soul and, while Spike is a monster, I do not think the monster tried to rape her, but the man. He didn’t want her to love the monster, he wanted her to love the man. As Jojo says below, he wanted to force her to love him and it resulted in the attack. Let’s not use the “he doesn’t have a soul” excuse for Spike – he knows what he did and feels bad about it later, when he remembers. It is inexcusable and wrong and the worst part is that it is the human who did it.
            I love Spike and understand him. I get where the rape came from.

            Rape is about power, not about sex. Rape is not violent, most of the time. In this case, they made it violent to make is TV-worthy or something. I hate that they did it and I hate that Buffy was hurt, because they focused on the outer violence instead of on the real rape – that of mind and heart. Spike is someone she came close to love but couldn’t, so the attempt is worse.

          • Jojo

            People have said this but I’m a little puzzled – I can’t picture William trying to rape anyone. We have to go with the specific man he was, and I don’t see William really holding back the demon all that well.

            Yes – Joss did want Angelus in game face through the entire hunting and killing of Jenny Calendar. He kept the light dim and did a great job of showing how evil Angelus was by the ‘gift’ of roses and the corpse on Giles bed.

            As far as the AR is concerned the light was bright white, floors, wall, virtually everything is white. It’s very disturbingly real.

            However I completely disagree that game face means the demon is in charge and human face means the human is in charge. Like I said before a case could be made for Angel and Angelus being separate. Not for Spike, and we saw a full season of Spike being pretty demonic without going into gang face.

          • Raluca

            I don’t know how to explain what I meant.
            Angelus is Angel, if you ask me. Not different personalities – just the same “jerk” with or without the soul. They played it as if there were two people sharing the same body, but I do not see it that way.
            Yes, Spike isn’t that divided, but any man or woman, William included, has a breaking point and thus can turn into a rapist/abuser. Spike just had his 😀

          • Alex

            Totally agree with your last point. I can’t understand the ‘game face’ argument at all, where people assume that human face = man and vamp face = monster. Vampires have never been presented with that kind of dichotomy before – they’ve always been shown to be just as evil in ‘human face’ as they are in ‘vamp face’. To me, vamping out is just like a cat extending its claws, or something – it’s a weapon, a means with which to kill and feed, nothing more.

            However, I can definitely see that there is a real thematic significance to Joss’s decision to have Spike stay in human-face for this whole scene. It keeps it on a very human level – plus, on a more practical note, it would be much harder for us to see the emotion on his face if he were vamped-out. But that’s all I take from it.

            I don’t agree that Spike’s human side just = William, though, or at least not simply the William that we’ve seen in the flashbacks. Everything that he’s been through for the past hundred-and-whatever years will have changed that side of him in a big way, so I think that ‘we have to go with the specific man he was’ is a vast oversimplification.

          • Raluca

            I think my comment was just over-simplified. I do not think Spike is to be split in “monster” and “William” necessarily. I think the vamp face was meant to make vampires ugly and not pleasant. The fact that they chose to keep Spike’s human form during the rape somehow makes it worse, because you see a nice, handsome human face distorted with insanity and greedy need.

          • Alex

            Ah, yes – I totally agree with that. As a directorial choice it makes total sense, I just don’t think it is any kind of reflection of Spike’s actual motivation (and I realise now that that’s not what you were saying, sorry – but I have seen that argument made elsewhere).

          • Raluca

            Well, I need to phrase my comments more carefully in the future. I don’t manage to convey what I really think sometimes. 🙂

          • Jojo

            Welcome to the human race – we all do that at least a few times a day.

          • Jojo

            Agreed on the first two paragraphs – Joss definitely did it for effect and it worked.

            But my understanding from what has been said by pretty much everyone in the ‘verse is that the man leaves and the demon takes over – although the person you were informs who you become. So I don’t know that there s a William complete enough to take action. Now when Angel got souled, I think that is really when he got Liam back. I believe, in essence, the soul is a basic part of the person, the part that leaves when the demon takes over. So Angel has two legitimatize parts – soul (Liam) and demon. But Spike has a demon who has been shackled for 2 years. He may think that makes him able to be a human but it doesn’t. At least that’s my read. YMMV

          • Disa

            “…like a cat extending its claws.” Great image. Thank you for that.

    • I’m not sure that I’d say that there any subjects that are off-limits as plot devices necessarily, but I agree with your point, if not the semantics of it. The issue that I have with this plot device can be exemplified throughout the comments section.

      As usual, all anyone really wants to talk about is what this means for Spike. Because really, this was done not just by the character but also by the writers with very little regard for what it means for the victim. They made Spike a potential rapist for the sake of HIS arc and didn’t give many fucks about what it meant for hers and that’s frustrating and annoying and definitely a thing that I have a problem with. I don’t think that an AR would have been an inherently bad decision, but I have a problem with it being written exclusively for the sake of the aggressor.

      • Danna

        Generally in real life, a rape is all about the rapist’s arc. There is very little thought given to what it means for the victim. So in that sense, I think the writing was realistic.

        I also don’t think anyone in the comments section should be put down or made to feel unevolved for continuing to think of Spike as a complicated, and compelling character who is worthy of something more than total disgust and hatred.

        A lot of people really like Spike’s character. For a lot of reasons. That doesn’t make us silly ninnies, unenlightened, or non-feminists. And in my experience in the fandom, which has been many years, I have not seen anyone deny that an attempted rape happened or try to excuse it because Spike had a sad face.

        • This is a sticky situation, to me, because it goes a bit beyond art imitating life into a place where art can perpetrate ideas we certainly do not need in life. Most people don’t care what happens to rape victims so lets include that in our story? I get that, but it makes me feel all the more ruffled by the writing. And I also know that this can be said of a lot of things in media, but it just so happens that we are discussing this one thing, and this one episode.

          I don’t believe anyone is being put down, but please, let us know if that’s what’s coming across as that is the last thing we intend. Everyone is just discussing ideas here.

          A very few people dislike Spike’s character, for just as many reasons. That doesn’t make us unintelligent, ultra feminists or incapable of “understanding” the arc. I was on a site today that denied that this was an attempted rape. I won’t share it because I will not promote the underbelly, but I saw it, even with my limited involvement with the fandom. You can find pretty much anything on the internet.

          • Clément Polge

            I kinda feel the need to point out that this wasn’t rape – it was a rape attempt. And while the distinction doesn’t mean anything to Spike’s character (as Buffy says, nothing happened because SHE stopped HIM, his intent WAS rape), it does seem to me that there’s a world of difference for Buffy.

            It’s also something that came from someone she never truly trusted, or was really close to, so there was no “betrayal” trauma on top of that.

            So in my modest opinion, I think I get why the show didn’t show much more of “Buffy as a victim”, once she recovers from the initial trauma of the attack, it seems to me she would be able to process this on her own… And do her usual thing of turning trauma into rage to fight.

            And I actually find… Huh… Acceptable, let’s say, the consequences on Buffy’s side.

          • Jojo

            I think there is betrayal trauma and I think that is the worst part of it. At first it was hate sex or anger sex for Buffy – she had so many feelings to purge. But I think she let Spike in, and began to trust him. No one could have gotten that lose to making Buffy a victim if she didn’t trust them. She let him in – and he attacked her.

          • Ashley Menvielle

            I totally agree, Jojo.

          • Danna

            It is what is coming across to me. Hopefully no one has implied that you are unintelligent or ultra feminist or any of the rest, I know I certainly haven’t. You don’t like Spike? That’s your prerogative. And, yeah, I know there are websites where all sorts of crazy things are said. I guess I’m referring to my corner of the world in fandom-land.

          • Alex

            I’m surprised and saddened to hear that you feel that way, and sorry too. The thing I’ve loved most about these discussions is that I really felt that everyone was being very respectful of everyone else’s opinion and taking care not to make anyone else feel that their opinion was wrong, or not allowed. And that’s obviously not the case, because you’ve wound up feeling like people are being put down, and that sucks.

            I don’t mean to speak for the Snark Ladies, but from what I’ve seen, I think what’s irked Lor and Sweeney the most is the sort of pre-emptive defence of Spike that’s been coming from his biggest fans. I feel like the attempted rape has been getting obliquely referenced for months now, by people who know that it’s coming and are desperate not to have Spike get too much hate for it.

            The problem is that you need to let people have their own reactions to what they’re seeing, when they’re seeing it, and come to their own conclusions. Someone who hates Spike at one point in time may or may not grow to like him in future, but you can’t force that to happen, and it doesn’t make their current hatred any less valid. I feel like the more people push and say ‘but I love him, you’ll see why, just keep watching!’ or words to that effect, the more it must make first-time viewers like Lor want to push back because they ARE feeling what they are feeling, right now, and they should be free to feel whatever they want.

            I don’t know if I explained that very well but I know that for me, even as a sixth-time viewer (or thereabouts) I find myself liking Spike less and less the more that people try to defend or explain away his actions. But I certainly don’t feel that anyone who likes him is an unenlightened ninny and, for my part, I’m sorry that you’ve been made to feel that way. I just think that he’s a character who elicits very strong feelings on all possible sides, and that makes me grateful for his inclusion on the show!

          • Alicia

            I hope I haven’t been doing anything like that, as a big Spike fan:( Now I’m paranoid!

            Apart from just enjoying his scenes for the most part, I mostly have an interest in trying to unravel his motivations as a character, though I suppose there is a side of ‘this is why I don”t hate him’ to it. Sometimes there’s a fine line between ‘defending’ and ‘getting inside his head’, so to speak, that can be difficult to articulate at times. You can sympathise with him while also acknowledging the bad, but you have to be careful with how to explain your points.

            It’s funny how people trying to explain their point of view often makes you MORE entrenched in your own views instead of seeing another side. I know that the more Spike hate I see online, the more I love him as a character! The same things happens with Spike sympathy I guess. People are stubborn.

          • ANOTHER 1430! You’re totes gonna get into Traumaland University if you keep testing so well!

            Seriously though, yes, this. Lorraine said something to similar effect below. It’s a hard balance for us, because we want everyone to express their opinions honestly, just as we will express ours. Sometimes it’s just really hard to make sure that everyone’s doing that in an accepting way, because internet/tone issues. <3

          • Alex

            I was just about to respond to the first one saying ‘OMG my first 1430!’ and then I got another one! This is the best day of my life!

            (I only finally found out what ‘1430’ meant about two weeks ago, by the way, after much unsuccessful googling to try to figure it out!)

          • LOL. Yeeaaah, it’s not a real thing anywhere but here. I think we originally had a tag for it, but started using it so often that it didn’t make sense.

            Forever ago we started to create a Snark Squad Lexicon for stuff like that. We abandoned the project because we started bulking up the tag pages (adding fun explanations of the tags) and linking those in-post, but there are still a few things — like 1430 — that get thrown around so often and so casually that the tag system isn’t really sufficient. We might have to revisit that idea… still link to their tags, but a page with a few of the most commonly confusing Traumaland Vocab Words.

            It’s just tricky, though, because we know what all the things mean and they make perfect contextual sense to us, so we’re not actually the best people to compile that list.

          • lev36

            Snark-o-pedia! Great idea.

          • Melbourne on my Mind

            Perhaps a FB/Twitter campaign of “What stuff do we say that you guys sometimes find confusing?” would be useful…

          • Ana KH

            Yes to all of this, especially the way people trying to defend his actions can end up pushing people farther away from the character.

            To all the people saying that no one ever denies that Spike was trying to rape Buffy, I’m so sorry this is the case, but you’re wrong. I was online when the show was on the air and after this episode aired a LOT of Spike fans made a very vocal defense of his character that included an epic shitstorm of victim blaming and gross justifications of rape culture.

            It ended up tainting his character arc for a lot of people, because the last thing anyone wanted to do was be associated with that mindset.

            Anyway, I just wanted to explain why some of us may still be on guard whenever someone is defensive of Spike, even though this is a moderated and thoughtful space to talk about the show. There’s just a lot of baggage from outside the show following this particular episode.

          • Jojo

            I think it’s that baggage which makes this difficult. There are an awful lot of people commenting on fans who just defend Spike – but there hasn’t been a single fan here who did that. Because, while I am against rape (experience here – one of my children), this is also a fictional universe. I do kind of feel only one opinion is consider correct and this is seen as a very black and white situation, and bringing up grey makes a comment suspect. Maybe if both sides could drop the baggage this would be more comfortable.

          • Danna

            And that’s one thing that really bugs me. You can find anything on the internet. Just because there are people out there who deny the AR or think Spike should be excused, that doesn’t apply to the majority of fans who like Spike and I don’t think it should be brought up here as part of the discussion. It doesn’t apply here. We are logical, thoughtful people who understand what he has done. (and still like him).

          • Clément Polge

            Why shouldn’t it be brought here ? We’re trying to understand how someone could try to rape someone else, but we shouldn’t try to understand why some people are not calling a rape a rape, or even acknowledge that such people exist ?

          • Danna

            If that’s a discussion you feel is important, fine. I’m just saying it shouldn’t be used as a counterpoint to the “pro-Spike” fans on this blog because to my knowledge, no one is saying that here.

          • Clément Polge

            I’m not saying it’s a discussion that I feel is important, but clearly some people did, because someone brought it up, and someone else commented on it.

            And I don’t think anyone used it as a counterpoint to anyone here, so all’s good.

          • Jojo

            No – all is not good or there would be no objections.

          • We never accused anyone here of having those opinions. We laid out some problems and explicitly stated that nobody here was being targeted by our comments.

            Since we usually stand back from comments after a certain point, the pro-Spike threads end up being far and away the longest threads here and we don’t tell anyone to stop, tell people they can’t say those things, or call anyone names.

            We express opinions on our blog because it’s a blog. I do happen to think that the broader cultural implications of what is happening here – and how people talk about it – are important. That’s why I talked about it. If you don’t, then that’s fine. Ignore it and discuss the stuff that you do think is important.

            It seems like you feel we ought to apologize for something, but I’m not really clear on what that is.

          • Danna

            No, I do not think you should apologize for anything. And I’m sorry this discussion went on and on. I don’t want to turn your blog into a place where differing opinions get out of control. Thank you for creating an environment where I could express my viewpoint in safety. I certainly don’t agree with many of the things that are said in the reviews or comments these days, but I respect what you’re doing and the tone you are trying to set here.

          • Jojo

            Because it is baggage from flame wars which do not belong here. You know, I was at one place where people who said anything to defend Spike had rape threats tweeted at them – telling them since they thought rape was no big deal then they deserved to be raped. Photos of one girl’s front porch were sent to her. I could easily use that to imply that the people here who complain about a subset of Spike fans are likely to threaten those who disagree.

            It is just not needed.

          • Clément Polge

            Yeah I got the “drop the baggage” slogan, but we’re not associating those people with anyone here, and we’re not implying anything over those who are defending Spike in other discussions on those comments and the people mentioned in this discussion, and it’s actually insulting to say that we would.

            You may think a discussion is irrelevant or not needed, I know I’ve seen a few of which I thought so, but that’s neither your place nor mine to censor those.

          • Jojo

            Ironic, but I have to ask. Then why are you censoring me?

          • Clément Polge

            How am I doing that ?

          • Jojo

            By saying it’s not my place to censor those who want to bring up old baggage. In other words, by telling me what I should not be saying.

          • Clément Polge

            Because it’s a fact, it’s not your place, because it’s not your blog, and it’s not up to you to decide what does or doesn’t belong in the comment section.

          • Jojo

            Is it yours?

            I’m sorry – I find this amusingly ironic. It’s not a fact, it’s your opinion. It’s also a board made for expressing opinions – including mine which is that bringing in old baggage is damaging.

          • This is silly. Your argument is akin to people who say, “YEAH, WELL, YOU’RE BEING INTOLERANT OF MY INTOLERANCE!” He was saying that your request to censor our conversations was out of line and that’s no more “censorship” than me saying that I won’t stand for homophobia or racism is “intolerance.”

          • Jojo

            Why are you angry with me? There were two of us involved – I told him I found the irony amusing. Your comparison of saying not allowing homophobia or racism is intolerance is not one I am really comfortable with.

            Fjrrarl – jbhyq lbh cersre vs V yrnir? V’z fbeel, lbh naq V frrz gb ohgg urnqf n snve nzbhag. Naq zrffntrf yvxr guvf znxr zr srry yvxr guvatf ner trggvat jbefr engure guna orggre. V xabj jr pna’g ernyyl gnyx nobhg guvf va gur guernq – naq rira ebg13 vf abg terng ohg V srry yvxr jr arrq gb pyrne gur nve, be yvxr V fubhyq fgbc pbzzragvat

          • I’m not angry; I’m responding directly to people who expressed issues with our tone being attacking. Non-responses on our part aren’t meant as any sort commentary. We’re often trying to contribute to the comments section on one post while simultaneously writing the posts for the next day, and also sometimes actually doing our jobs and other good stuff like that. Lots of things inevitably slip through the cracks or don’t get replies.

            Although, in general, I’d rather say nothing down here than make people feel cornered, attacked, or unwelcomed. This apparently hasn’t been a successful endeavor.

            I don’t know what to say because we are being accused of attacking people by having opinions. I’m certainly not ever going to ask anyone to go away for having differing views! I also can’t ignore when someone claims foul play in our handling of things. If someone has an issue with me, personally, and the way we run this blog, I’m somewhat obligated to respond. Here, though, you seem to want us to stop having certain kinds of conversations and that’s not a concession I am willing to make.

            If there is ever a personal issue that you would like to work out with any of us, all of our email addresses are on every post. We also have a joint email account:

            (spelled out to keep the spambots at bay.)

            There’s also Facebook messaging the page. (The joint account and FB are only seen by myself and Lorraine, but we can easily forward anything on to Kirsti as needed.)

          • Melbourne on my Mind

            LOL. As if we could force people to leave our pretty damned public blog anyway… 😉

          • Raluca

            Sure you could, actually. You could make them feel unwelcome. But you don’t, so it’s fine!

          • Jojo

            Sweeney – I never said I wanted you guys to censor. In fact, I wasn’t talking to you guys at all. I was taking part in a conversation about all the Buffy flame war baggage – one that I didn’t start, and expressing the opinion that bringing up particulars from the flame war (ie – they actually said yaddah yaddah yaddah) wasn’t good for the discussion here. It’s the past. It left a lot of hard feelings. And it does make some people reluctant to attempt to explore the complexities without feeling they may be termed rape sympathizers. That was my entire message.

            Believe me – if I felt that you guys needed to censor something I would talk specifically to you. Frankly, as a writer I am really against censorship so that not likely to ever happen. I didn’t want any of you three to take any action. I would have been upset to find anything I said lead toward censorship.

            Here’s what I said to Lor about attacks a few hours ago – ) You will never please everyone no matter what you try. I admire the courage and the humor in your reviews even if I don’t agree with all your perceptions. I admire even more that you have created a safe place to discuss something that can still cause flame wars. But don’t feel you have to silence yourself. It’s your playground, too. People may leave, people may bitch, people may sulk but that’s always just gonna happen. I enjoy your comments even when I get pissy occasionally – and that’s more about what’s going on in my life at times, anyway. I know you guys have got to do what you need to for the site – but I miss having you play with us. I promise to let you play with the big truck and I won’t pour sand on anyone’s head. (But I got dibs on the yellow bucket)..

            Buffy fans are passionate – as you might have noticed. Don’t twist yourself into pretzels trying to please all of us. I guarantee there is no right way, and it will drive you insane. This is supposed to be fun for you guys most of all. I really want you to do whatever it is that you need to do to take care of yourselves. This is a huge gift you give to us – so take care of yourselves!

          • Raluca

            Uff, guys, let’s be friends again! 🙂

          • Melodie Hatley


            That’s all. Well, other than you guys actually make me check my twitter account for tweets now, when I totally ignored it before.

            EDIT: LAG ON COMPUTER SUCKS. I wanted to add that I think almost everyone here has been really respectful of people’s opinions in the comments. I don’t read every single comment ever, but sometimes people do get a bit defensive which turns to offensive when defending their stance. Not often though, or at least not enough that I’ve noticed?

          • Clément Polge

            Haha that is so true for me too, I used to only use twitter to follow artists whose work I enjoy, and at some point I followed around a hundred people but as soon as I forgot to check my feed for a day (which happened super often), I had a millionty tweets to read and was super annoyed.

            Now I’ve cut down a bit but check way more often, and I’ve even stopped being a twitter lurker. Which I never thought would happen in a million years.

          • Melodie Hatley

            INORIGHT? I’ve actually tweeted knowing the Snark Ladies would see it. :O Srsly. That’s the only reason.

          • Danna

            Yes, he certainly does elicit strong feelings. And thank you for your comment. The thing is, I AM letting everyone have their own opinions. I don’t like some of the opinions expressed, but I haven’t said one word against anyone’s opinion about Spike. I’ve been saddened by what’s been said in the reviews for all of season six, but I haven’t argued with anyone or tried to convince them that they should like Spike. But there’s this subtle narrative going on that anyone who doesn’t completely hate Spike after all he’s done is somehow morally inferior or wrong in some other way. That’s what my comment was about.

            I DO try to explain his actions. It’s not so black-and-white to me. But I have space in my world for anyone who sees things in a different light. I just don’t want to be labeled as “defective” for my viewpoint.

            Maybe there shouldn’t have been so much squee about him early on, because it set up expectations. But I don’t care about that. Everyone should feel whatever they feel without needing to judge others. I’m sure this wasn’t intentional by the Snark ladies, but that is how it has come off, and I daresay there is a little truth to it.

          • Jojo

            As someone who has been bringing up Spike a lot – I have tried very hard to make the Snark ladies understand that I am trying to give context, and it was just for that scene. I feel it’s important to realize this isn’t an equivalant of Warren attacking Buffy which is what I see in just calling all the Buffy and Spike interactions rapey. I think there is more going on – but that was never to defend Spike. It was to show how much worse Spike’s betrayal is. As far as liking Spike now, my comment was that I didn’t think he was meant to be likable. I love him but I know his entire arc. I know this comment is not just about me, but I know I am guilty of bringing this up a lot.

          • Jojo

            Well, I do feel awkward. Last week there were no responses from you guys to any of the comments. This week the discussion is minimal and pretty guarded. I really don’t expect a flame war to erupt, I don’t think anyone here feels or thinks Spike was in any way less than horrific. But I also feel a big blanket of subtext that I really can’t understand. It’s kinda like being in the classroom and seeing a group of the other popular kids planning something and knowing you really shouldn’t ask. I kinda see this place as about you and not about us – so to have that feedback go away is odd. Sorry – it’s awkward and okay if you want to ignore it.

            As for not liking Spike – 95% of the people I know can’t stand to even try Buffy.

          • Ashley Menvielle

            Really?? 95%? That’s just tragic! I know “it’s just a show” but I can’t imagine my life without having watched Buffy, it has def affected me in big ways. To hear of people who just refuse to try watching it period makes me sad. I mean to each his or her own but, come on, it’s Buffy! I just got my bestie to agree to start watching it with me. She refused to watch it when it originally aired when were in highschool because she thought it looked “weird”. I’m so excited to start watching it with her! Snows are fun :).

          • Jojo

            Bestie Buffy Marathon – the best bestie experience.

          • Raluca

            I am actually amused that previous episodes caused such an uproar of rage and heated discussions and this one is actually so tame.

            I’ll just say what I rot13-ed before in one comment.

            I like Spike. I get why he tried to rape Buffy. There is no excuse for what he did, but it is an obvious follow-up on their relationship and twisted consent issues. I do not blame Buffy in any way, no matter how she abused him or how many times she said No and gave in. Rape is inexcusable.
            That being said, I do feel it was quite badly handled. They showed us a man trying to rape a woman – by any cultural standards of our society, women are weaker than men; Buffy is not, but they made her hurt and weak this time, to impress the viewers. And what should have been a different scene turned out as full-on rape, thus enforcing the general idea that rape means violence. From experience, I can say that it doesn’t – at least the violence is not so bad and not necessarily physical.

            What should have been conveyed was that Spike abused Buffy’s little trust and the feelings she obviously had for him by trying to force her into loving him. This is the rape, not the physical struggle, but Spike’s need to be loved and his wrong way of enforcing that.
            I am not sure I made any sense…

          • Two things:

            1 – As you all can tell by having skipped 2 of our regularly scheduled recaps in the last week, our Real Life schedules are crazy at the moment, which accounts for some of the silence. It sucks, but it happens, and we want everyone to know that we’d rather be responding to comments. 🙂

            2 – The discussion is guarded and on purpose. To be completely frank, we’ve been told by commenters several times that they’ve felt personally attacked or insulted by our opinions and that is so much against what we want for our site that we’ve been more careful about what we say, especially here in comments. The recap is our time to say all the things, but we want the comments to be free stomping ground for you all. It seems the more we engaged down here, the more people felt attacked or singled out. I think a few people even said they would stop commenting, lurk only or leave the site all together. What’s the point if that’s what our response will lead to?

            We have complete faith that nothing close to a flame war will erupt here, and we aren’t insinuating or accusing anyone of such a thing. I’m also not blaming anyone for how they feel about what we’ve said in the past! It’s so hard via Internet to get the tone or intent of what’s being communicated. I know I’ve read a few comments that made me feel like I was being looked down on for my opinions. I have to remind myself that that is probably not what the poster intended. It happens. The only way we can control it happening it, though, to make sure that this is always a happy and healthy place, is to be careful with what we say.

            It’s hard to find a balance, apparently! We don’t want anyone to feel ignored but we also don’t want anyone to feel attacked.

            It’s worth repeating a few things:

            Yes, we have very strong opinions coupled with a penchant for employing hyperbole for the sake of humor and snark.

            We dislike ideas, writing, characters, plot lines, etc, but never people or their opinions. We love you guys. You guys are smart and awesome and have well thought out opinions, even if we don’t always agree with them. We don’t mean to put people down for thinking certain things and it doesn’t feel like we are when we’re writing, but interpretation is everything.

            Bear with us as we navigate the place between having ALL THE FEELINGS and all the respect for everyone who takes time to comment on these posts.

          • Jojo

            1) I’m lucky if I can remember anything so I didn’t realize you had missed reviews – or did I? Anyway – I know RL can be a bitch, so I understand that.

            2) You will never please everyone no matter what you try. I admire the courage and the humor in your reviews even if I don’t agree with all your perceptions. I admire even more that you have created a safe place to discuss something that can still cause flame wars. But don’t feel you have to silence yourself. It’s your playground, too. People may leave, people may bitch, people may sulk but that’s always just gonna happen. I enjoy your comments even when I get pissy – and that’s more about what’s going on in my life at times, anyway. I know you guys have got to do what you need to for the site – but I miss having you play with us. I promise to let you play with the big truck and I won’t pour sand on anyone’s head. (But I got dibs on the yellow bucket).

          • Raluca

            LOL As I am one of those who probably made you feel the above, I have to say it was not what I wanted. As I’ve said 100+ times already, I am not a native speaker, no matter how well my English appears to be. Real meaning is sometimes lost in translation 🙂 And, since it’s the Internet, real feelings and intents might come off wrong. It’s more interesting when you are “bitchier” (if you feel like it) because it’s closer to the real feeling the scene/character/episode gives you.
            Please feel as free to be snarky as you felt at the beginning of the recaps.

          • Alex

            I think I probably read the same thing, i.e. someone saying ‘I don’t think people should call it rape because…’. If not, then it was someone expressing very similar sentiments to whatever you read. I was stunned – I thought people would at least be able to universally agree on that one point!

          • Jojo

            Can we just drop this? I’m sure I can find equally prejudiced comments on both sides – in fact I have. But no one here is making those comments. And I know it makes me feel that there is only one answer and there are no complexities worthy of discussion. I really would prefer if the topic wasn’t the horrific actions and opinions of unnamed Spike fans.

          • Alex

            OK, that’s a fair comment. Lor was specifically responding to Danna saying ‘I have not seen anyone deny…’ and the ‘it wasn’t rape’ discussion I referenced wasn’t even particularly a Spike-friendly one, but you are absolutely right in saying that a) it’s possible to find anyone saying anything on the internet and b) nobody is actually saying that here, so let’s keep it relevant. I apologise for sticking my oar in.

            But before dropping it entirely, I do feel that I need to clarify where I am coming from, because I am a Spike fan! I don’t want you (or anyone else) to feel like when I (personally) disagree with you, it’s some kind of Spike love vs. Spike hate thing. However, I’m one of those fans who is unhappy with the way the writers took him in S6; someone a few weeks ago referred to it as ‘character assassination’ and that’s pretty much exactly the way I feel about it. I feel like his character gets pulled in all directions by some indecisive writers, and I’m not convinced that the consequences were ever properly thought through.

            I have never hated Spike, though. He’s an amazing character, and I think that’s evidenced by how much discussion there is about him all over the internet. Yesterday I found an entire website dedicated to rebuffing all the criticism that people have ever slung at Spike over the years, for example. I can’t think of a single other fictional character who inspires that level of devotion in people! If nothing else, he makes for fascinating TV!

          • Clément Polge

            Well, it’s my turn to get rambly then, because I strongly, strongly disagree with that. On so many levels.

            The fact that it’s possible to find anything on the internet does not mean that we shouldn’t talk about what exists, especially when it’s as big as what’s been said, or as important, or as relevant to our social culture in any way.

            Even then, it is assuming that people are throwing argument from trenches as if some WW1 re-enactement and we’re discussing the usage of a weapon. As far as I know, this is not the case. We are not fighting each other, we are discussing a character, and we’re not looking to KO the other participant.

            Even then, there are no pro-Spike vs anti-Spike, because we are individuals and we do not share a hive brain, just because some people on one side of an issue might be dumbasses doesn’t mean that side is wrong. So we should be able to talk about those wrong arguments, if only to point out how wrong they are.

            Even then, as individuals, it makes NO SENSE whatsoever, there are no “pro-Spike” and “anti-Spike”, there may be varying degrees of liking the character for various reasons, or analysing his psychology, but he’s still objectively an abuser for a good part of the season (yes, Buffy did use him too, doesn’t make it right) and a rapist in this episode. Not sure how there could BE a pro-Spike side.

            Even then, insinuating that we can’t talk of something that touches us in any way (which I guess is the case since, again, someone felt the genuine need to bring it up) just because it *might* look bad for someone because they don’t want to be associated with that, I kinda have to ask: why do you think you WOULD be associated with that ? Either you’re taking us for grade-A morons who can’t tell two people apart, or you’re yourself feeling associated in some way. In any case, not really my problem.

            In the end, this IS censorship. The worst kind. The self-imposed one. The one where there’s no big authority ordering you to stop, but where someone arbitrarly decides that his/her feelings are being hurt and that it means that fuck your freedom of speech, and you shall not talk about this.

          • Raluca

            Actually, it’s part of being a mature human being to abstain from talking about certain things in certain situations – not sure how this can be seen as bad. It is a way to self-censor if you know what you wish to say might affect others; it is a choice to self-censor, of course. I cannot say everything that passes through my head and then expect the others to deal with it. I have to pay attention to their feelings too. I think it was a French philosopher who said something about the fact that my freedom to move my hand stops when your freedom to not get punched in the face starts. I am sure self-censorship is sometimes used exactly so as not to unnecessarily hurt others.

          • Alex

            Woah. Woah woah woah. Clement, I feel like you are putting a LOT of words into my mouth here.

            I was responding specifically to Jojo’s reply to me. I hadn’t actually read the massive censorship debate which has sprung up since that reply before this. In NO way was I suggested that anything should be censored, but Jojo was saying that she feels like she is being asked to defend a viewpoint that hasn’t even been expressed here, and all I did was agree that yes, my post was slightly off-topic and I’d be better to stick to discussing what was actually being discussed. That is all.

            As for ‘why do you think you WOULD be associated with that’, I can’t even work out what you’re asking me there. If you’re asking me why I felt the need to clarify that I consider myself a Spike fan, then that is solely because Jojo referred to ‘Spike fans’ in her post and I wanted to frame my comments and show where I’m coming from. Lor referred to herself and others who dislike Spike, and I was merely clarifying that I myself do not actually dislike Spike. As you said, people are coming to the discussion from a million different viewpoints and I was merely stating what mine is! What did I do wrong?!

            Of course I don’t think anyone is a moron and I’m actually very upset that you’ve taken that away from my post because I really, really can’t see where you are getting that from, or the part where I apparently say ‘fuck your freedom of speech’. If you can point to specific things in my post where you think I’ve suggested that then please, do so, and I will edit accordingly because that is the LAST thing I am trying to say.

          • Clément Polge

            Woops yeah sorry, I actually meant that as a general purpose “you” (as in “anyone”) rather than the definite pronoun, I wasn’t aiming at anyone in particular, poor choice of word on my part !

            My comment was mostly aimed at the fact that you apparently felt you had to somehow justify yourself for speaking your mind about something, when really, that’s the point of this section as far as I understand it 😉

            Anyway, my sincerest apologies for any offence, that was definitely not my intent !

          • Alex

            Apology accepted, and thank you 🙂 I definitely panicked thinking that all of that was directed at me, so I’m relieved to hear that it wasn’t! Sometimes it’s so easy to say something that you really didn’t actually mean to say, so I was reading and re-reading my post thinking that I’d unintentionally said something awful. Phew!

            We’re good here, people!

          • Jojo

            I have to agree with you there – all of it! Most particularly that they kinda jerked Spike’s character all over the place. I am a Spike fan, thought I tend to ship him with Angel (with a large side order of Ripper and/or Wesley). But the combination of Marsters acting and the character arc of Spike are just amazingly compelling. Whatever was thrown at him, he made it work.

        • Woah!
          (1) I know rape victims and have spent loads of time talking to them about what their experience means in the context of their lives so I’m not even sure what that first statement means.
          (2) I never called anyone a silly ninny, unenlightened, or non-feminist. I was making a statement about the way the show was written and that I have a problem with it. I’m sorry that wasn’t more clear.

      • aqua_13

        First, Sweeney, I finally 100% understand and can agree with your argument. Most times I see it and can agree with it anywhere between a 50 – 98% range). Your argument brings me to this question: Why haven’t we focused on what this means to Buffy? The only thing I can think of (and not that it’s right) is that we focus on people who obviously need help and let the “strong” ones fend for themselves. We all have friends with varying degrees of emotional strength so imagine a horrible life event (loss of a job or death of a parent) and think how it would affect your less
        emotionally-stable friend and your strongest friend. The degree with which you
        support either one will most likely vary. I think people focus on Spike because
        he is weak. Being that Buffy is the heroine there’s not much thought to her
        because she’s the strong one… of course she’ll be ok. Is there danger to that
        thinking? Absolutely! Just because you know someone is the “strong one” doesn’t
        mean you don’t question them when they may be acting a little off-kilter.

        Second, I don’t know if they did this on purpose or not but I didn’t realize that Tara’s death and the AR was the same episode. I definitely didn’t see it when it first aired and when I was done with the episode, about a year back, what stood out more was Tara’s death and how it will affect Willow.

        Third, (stay with me, Sweeney), when these shows first aired, I remember loving
        Spike. Re-watching them back-to-back, I still love Spike. I loved him because I
        love evil characters and I like when people aren’t afraid to show true evil
        (maybe even more in this otherwise campy show). When the shows originally aired
        and we would see the re-caps I didn’t know whether Spike raped her or just attempted to (no one I knew was watching the show at the time and searching for info on the internet wasn’t as simple). However, I’d come to the conclusion that it
        didn’t matter. There is no difference in attempting to rape someone and raping
        someone. He went to one of his darkest, grossest places and there isn’t any
        redemption that can make it forgettable.

      • Jojo

        The review also had far more about Spike than about Buffy. I think that the person who takes action is the person who is written about, in general. When Warren tried to turn Katrina into their sex slave we all ended up talking more about Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew. The person who takes action – regardless if the action is good or bad – is the one commented on. Even your own comment here is about Spike and not really about Buffy.

        • Clément Polge

          Which, huh, makes sense, because the victim is, well, the victim, and I think we all acknowledge the horror of what’s happening to him/her (whatever the criminal act), and there’s no “motivation” behind being a victim – it’s stuff being done TO you.

          Whereas the perpetrator is the one acting, so he’s the one we want to understand why he did that, what drove him to assaulting someone without care for their personal well-being. What were their motivations. And we’re not asking that to try and make excuses, we’re asking that to try and make sense of what should be impossible.

        • My comment is actually about the way the show was written.

          • Jojo

            Sorry – I was replying to what you said about it being exemplified by the comment section.

      • Ashley Menvielle

        “As usual,all anyone really wants to talk about is what this means for Spike.” This is a good reminder for me that it is still Buffy’s story being told. The AR does get a ton of focus in a Spikecentric way for various reasons, feels one’s and story and character logic ones, and I understand why that happens, I did it myself. It’s a complicated issue because although Spike is a supporting character with his own arc developing in an explosive way in this episode alone, Buffy is the main character but in this instance her story and arc becomes subservient to Spike’s character and development. The writers had to make Buffy a victim to do so and it’s awful to witness. Then the story has to be moved along and unfortunately we see very little of Buffy’s side of processing what just happened to her. Perhaps a scene with Willow and her talking would have somewhat alleviated this but we didn’t ultimately get that scene. I can’t speak for Sweeney but I took the “as usual” as a reminder that in real life and in the show, the victims feels and perspective on what was done to them is eclipsed by the feelings and perspective of the perpetrator and not a straight criticism of any of the commenters opinions. And that ultimately, the victim should get their equal attention in any violence or wrong done to them but rape is very different in that this often doesn’t happen in those cases and in this fictional case. I hope I’m making sense because it’s a very big, important topic to tackle but I think it must be tackled and talked about to then be changed in real life.

    • Strawberry_Pocky_Moose

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with rape as a plot device as long as it is handled in a mature, responsible and appropriate way. I don’t want to live in a world of censorship where certain topics are ‘not allowed’ to be written about for fear of offending or upsetting people; where would it end? If we never discuss these kind of dark topics, how can we as a race learn to understand them?

      • SuzyLee

        Yeah I think I phase this wrong, I guess I meant more where it is used, as it is here, not as a way of exploring or discussing the topic at hand, but purely as a vehicle for getting a character from a – b; that I don’t agree with, especially when as Sweeeny said, it privileges the aggressor’s arc over the victim’s.

        • Raluca

          You like where they take Spike’s story? I don’t. Pussy-whipped is what he becomes.

    • Petra47

      James Marsters has gone on record saying he will never do such a scene again. It traumatized him and he didn’t think it added to the story in any way. The writer who came up with the scene apparently went through a bad break-up and attempted something similar with her ex-boyfriend and wanted to include the scene in the episode. She didn’t realize how different it would read apparently. I hate the scene so much, and it’s simply the capper in Spike’s character assassination that makes me so mad. Nothing that happens from here on out matters IMO. Spike is dead.

      • Disa

        That would be the big problem with Marti Noxon, who was the executive producer and showrunner for season six. There were many things like that, where she didn’t realize how something would look to the audience.

        She didn’t realize how having Spike attempt to rape Buffy to “make” her love him would play. No matter how enlightened we like to think we are, gender still matters. Noxon played Spike as the seductress all season–the bad girl a good guy can use with impunity. She kept him powerless socially (no standing with the Scoobies or other demons), left him powerless physically (he can’t hurt humans and Buffy is stronger than he is), kept him naked (so many scenes where Marsters is the only one without clothes on), made him the forbidden object of desire—always, always an object, for Buffy to do what she wanted with, whether that meant fighting for her, accepting her physical abuse, or being her sex toy. He was an evil, soulless thing coded feminine.

        So it was natural for her to use her own bad college experience, where she tried to force herself on (that should read “rape” but words are gendered) her ex-boyfriend to “make” him love her, as a plot device. If Spike had been female and Buffy male, the scene would have played without much comment—it might even have had a wacky score playing in the background while the attacker slammed the victim into a wall and ripped his clothes from his body.

        But because Spike is male and Buffy female, we got a major fan divide, as well as a firestorm of criticism which completely blindsided Noxon.

        The divide is between the folks who are looking at the real-world images they are seeing on the screen (larger, stronger man attacks smaller, weaker woman) and the folks who are looking at the scene in the context that Noxon set up all season (weaker, less powerful vampire attacks stronger, more powerful slayer). See, rape is always awful, an attack and a betrayal, but it’s the power imbalance that makes it truly horrific. Often, it’s the power imbalance that makes it possible.

        This scene failed because of those contradictory power imbalances. Noxon (and many other reasonable people) saw it as something awful but forgivable, an emotionally broken acting-out by someone powerless (hence the empathy-inducing perspective switching), while the other camp (also reasonable people) saw it with real-world, gender-shaded eyes as a perpetuation of rape culture (and they were horrified by the perspective switching).

        And then Marsters went through therapy.

        • Raluca

          Disa, I love you! You expressed exactly what I wanted to in relation to the rape, but failed. A world of yes!
          And this is exactly why I had a huge problem with the sex scene between Angel and Darla in AtS. I went on and on about how rape-y it felt. I actually was more disturbed by that scene than by the actual attempted rape of Spike.
          Now I think this is because:
          1. the Spike scene creates empathy by using different POVs during the shooting. The beating Angel gave Darla before the sex is seen from the POV of a third party.

          2. I strongly identify with Spike and thus find it easier to sympathize with him
          3. Angel looks much more “manly” than Spike, in a way – he is taller, dark-haired, more muscular, bulkier, whereas Spike is blond, shorter and slimmer. But Darla and Buffy are quite similar: both blonde, pretty, shorter than the males and more fragile-looking overall. I know Darla was not helpless in the scene where she took his beating, but it sure looked that way, because of deeply ingrained imagery, I think – fragile, short, skinny woman getting beaten to a pulp by strong, well-built, violent man.

          4. Rape is horrible. But it is most of the times much less violent than portrayed on TV, which makes it even more horrible. To be beaten down and then forced to have sex is bad enough, but you kinda know there was nothing you could do – he was stronger, bigger, more violent, so you had no chance to defend yourself. But when this is not the case… is that rape? I say it is – and I am thinking more about young children forced into submission by monsters, young children who most likely don’t fight back too much, or young girls who give in to a bit of rough handling, even if they don’t really want to, because he’s the boyfriend and he knows better. And I still cannot break from the gender bias when I say this – I still think in terms of male and female, unfortunately. 🙁
          To come back to the two scenes – the Spike AR and Angel and Darla sex, I did indeed see Spike’s horrible action more like someone hurt who cannot bear it any longer and lashes out, someone not so powerful, castrated in a way, someone bitter and needy. But when I look at Angel and Darla I see violence, unleashed on a woman who just sits there, reaction-less (as I am sure violence renders women in general), to be first beaten and then thrown into bed by a man. Hmmm…
          So, thanks for making me understand my reactions better.

        • Alicia

          This post is awesome! You lay out the perspective of a lot of fans beautifully. I love your points about Spike being the seductress and coded feminine this season (obviously not everyone agrees with this reading). The whole decision to have Buffy injured to make her weaker but then miraculously show no sign of it in the fight with Warren a short time later just added to the contrivance and confusion. And of course a lot more people would have been horrified at the ‘Gone’ scene if the genders were reversed.

          A lot of it does seem to all depend on how one views the show in relation to real life.

        • Raluca

          I was under the impression I replied to this, Disa.

          Love your post. It is very enlightening for me, for my reasons why I identify with Spike.

          Also, the AR by Spike didn’t horrify me as much as Angel’s beating of Darla just before they had sex. I remember I reacted so badly to that scene but was not sure why. I now think it is because of gender prejudices and cultural imagery that is ingrained in my brain. David Boreanaz is tall, muscular, dark haired, manly – and he beats the shit out of a blonde, little and fragile-looking female. I know Darla is not helpless or fragile, but this is the way the actress looks. Also, the violence of Angel is seen from an outside perspective. With Spike, I see someone lashing out in pain and frustration and hurting someone else – it also helps that the actors’ physical built is not so different (JM is not much taller or broader built than SMG, at least this season). Also, we get the POV of those directly involved because of the way the scene is shot. I should hate Spike if I saw that scene under normal circumstances. I do not, as I identify with him. And also, something that happens in the next episode also shows me Buffy doesn’t either.

        • Ashley Menvielle


      • Alicia

        I’m so sorry that you feel Spike’s character is assassinated and that he’s dead to you:( I know that quite a few people felt that way after this season. I disagree personally but I feel where you’re coming from.

        • Petra47

          It’s not that he’s “dead to me” more that the writers killed everything I loved about the character by needlessly sacrificing him for plot contrivance. I actually think that his arc in Season 7 is GREAT…. BUT! The abusive Buffy relationship/attempted rape DIDN’T NEED TO HAPPEN to get him to the point where he’s set up for that arc. That’s what I hate. Not Spike. I <3 Spike 5EVA… Mostly because he's such a great foil for Angel… and because he's interesting.

  • Ashlea Kobukowski

    This episode. I can’t even…. I’m a proud member of Team Heartless Cow but if this doesn’t kick you right in the feels, you could be a robot.
    Not gonna say a lot about it cause this is the worst episode for me, but OMG TARA! 🙁 When I watched this, I remember crying for days and I still cry on every rewatch. Although this ep gets skipped a lot on rotation. The other scene I won’t talk about. Got some personal things, so NOPE.
    Also, CLEM!! Thank heaven for you, you wrinkly, floppy-eared angel. That was the one time I smiled the whole episode.
    I hate why it happened but scary, veiny Willow is an interesting arc for me.
    HUGS to all 🙂

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Hey fellow Clem fangirl, hey!

      • Ashlea Kobukowski

        Team Clem! 🙂 Joss should have made a spin-off starring him-would totally watch that!

        • Wilhelmina Upton

          You betcha!! That show would be awesome!

    • Clem is so precious. Be my friend, Clem.

      • Jojo

        Clem is the very best part of this episode – and I want to curl up next to him and eat cheetos and hot wings.

    • Christine Tran

      Can we also talk about how Clem already knew Spike and Buffy were involved and had broken up? Ergo, Spike talked to Clem about his relationship problems over hot-wings and TV like bffs do?

      When Clem goes “hey, ‘issues'” about Buffy and Spike smirks I really want to give Spike a super-V8 bonk of the skull and tell Clem to run away bc Spike doesn’t deserve your comfort today. Clem doesn’t know what trasnpired but dammit Spike you do and don’t have any right to laugh about girl ‘issues’ right now, bastard.

      Also, I do love that Warren chose like THE WORST POSSIBLE NIGHT to use misogynistic towards Buffy. So satisfying.

      • Ashlea Kobukowski

        Clem should have pelted Spike with the hot wings! You don’t get adorable Clem comfort, Spike!

        • Jojo

          Nah – friends are friends. As the show goes on we do see scoobies do some pretty unforgivable things (in the next few episodes) but they still stay friends.

      • Raluca

        Clem is his only demon friend. And even Spike deserves a shoulder to lean on, despite the attempted rape.

  • Anagnorisis

    On a less controversial note (lol) this is why I like the Trio as villains, because I’m evil. No, but really, all the other villains were threatening, ancient vampires, demons, even a god but they never managed to do so much damage as three stupid nerds did. We were making fun of them, the show was making fun of them too (like in Normal Again), but Warren is the only villain that effectively and definitely kills a major character (while seriously injuring the main character).
    But yeah, I think this makes people hate them more, and it’s not that I like them as characters, but I do find them interesting and I have to give to this show this.
    About Andrew, while I agree that he is not the brightest, his feelings for Warren are probably affecting his judgment, which is why he doesn’t care or realize that he and Jonathan are doing all the job. I’m not sure about what Jonathan issue is, I’ll think about it. I find Jonathan fascinating though.
    Also, Tara’s death is usually controversial because of all the Bury Your Gays trope. But I disagree (which doesn’t mean I’m right, it’s just my opinion). I think this was before BYG was a thing, there weren’t many queer characters on television and her death is justified (as horrible as it is) to advance the plot and characters. They didn’t kill her to avoid having queer representation because she is not the only queer character in the show.
    But today, sadly is too common, a sexually active queer person is marked for dead.
    At least we grew up with Joss Whedon, so we are used to suffering.

    • Jojo

      Actually it was as big an issue as the attempted rape. There was a board – I believe it was the Kitten board – dedicated to Tara and Willow, and there relationship. The Spike and Buffy fans only had to deal with the attempted rape (as horrible as that is) but the Kitten fans suddenly had one half of their pairing killed in a senseless murder. And yes – BYG existed. There was also an outcry about another trope of sex is bad – gay character have sex and one is killed. Now it is a tragedy, back then it was both tragic and very controversial.

      • Anagnorisis

        Oh, interesting. I didn’t know it was already an issue back then, but I see it.
        I was the other day wondering about BYG, (while watching Torchwood, go figure) and thinking about when it’s ok to kill a LGBT* character and when it’s not. But I’m still not sure.

        • Jojo

          From what I gathered the issue becomes even more fraught when the killing takes place after a night of comfortable and loving sex. It is perceived as a punishment for being lesbian – though I have to say that Joss is an equal opportunity killer of those who have sex.

    • I didn’t want to open this can of worms, but the sex-then-death is also a contributor to a larger Buffyverse narrative of women, specifically, experiencing epic suffering in the wake of sexytimes. I started to write about it, but it was just too complicated and my feelings are too conflicted so I just left it alone. Surprised it hasn’t been taken up down here yet, to be honest.

      • Ashley Menvielle

        Thank you Sweeney! The sex-then-death, as in suffering as a result of or right after having sex thing is very much a thing and is very problematic, especially on a show trying to be feminist or rather that has a feminist mission statement like this show does. It happens not every time a character has sex but enough for it to be a pattern and therein lies the problem. I know in trying to write a weekly drama that the suffering of characters is often more compelling then showing their happiness, and that this is probably primarily what the writers had in mind but again, if you are actually writing the show you control what happens and should take the time to think through the implications of what is going to be written and ultimately be shown to viewers on screen. As you said the show is not seen in a vacuum, nor is it written in a vacuum either.

        • Jojo

          Just an FYI – Whedon offered Amber a chance to come back to the show but as something evil and she refused. She said she had gotten so many letters from lesbian kids who were finally able to feel proud and happy that she didn’t want to smash their new found comfort. He even told her he would find a way to turn her good but she still refused. And YAY for Amber Benson who in real life is an amazing person just as Tara was on the show.

          • Ashley Menvielle

            Oh, yes, I heard about this! Thanks for the reminder. I sat in on a talk at San Diego Comic Con in 2011 that she was a part of and is a lovely person in real life too as you said! I love Joss and the worlds he created but I think he is so focused on creating heightened feels and drama that he sometimes loses sight of problematic aspects of the writing and developments on his shows and that does lessen if not completely undermine all the great things he does in shows like Buffy, for me at least.

          • Alex

            I couldn’t agree more. I’ve heard that the writers actually did come to acknowledge that this was a serious oversight on their part, though I don’t have any sources to hand. I don’t believe they were deliberately following any tropes or trying to make any kind of point about Willow and Tara’s relationship – I honestly think this was just where they needed the story to go – but it was still incredibly blinkered of them.

            The problem is that if you look at any single instance of a particular trope, you can easily explain it away as ‘oh that’s just the story, there’s no malice there’ but as you said above, these things don’t exist in a vacuum. When you have this same thing playing out time and time again, you can’t just dismiss each individual case as a coincidence. I want to go on but I don’t think I can fully discuss this until a couple more episodes have passed, so let’s revisit it later.

            That said, I do think that some people simply reduce Tara to ‘just another dead lesbian’, and that feels so wrong to me. Her relationship with Willow was, for the most part, wonderfully portrayed and SO important at the time, and Tara’s character was developed beautifully over these past two seasons. On balance, I think her presence on the show was overwhelmingly positive, both for the story and for the message it sent about LGBT relationships, and there’s no way that her death can undo all that. People shouldn’t lose site of that.

          • 1430 for all of this.

          • Ashley Menvielle

            Yep, totally agree on all points! Yes! People tend to break down instances or use the argument, well this one time sex was had and it was fine and had no consequences, to the exclusion of the pattern. I get that people love this show and characters in it but nothing is perfect and mistakes and missteps were definitely made in the creation process. And now we get to discuss them in regards to in show impact and in the wider culture contexts, and I’m so ready to discuss and share ideas with all you wonderful ppeople here on Snark Squad :).

          • Clément Polge

            Yeah I read that too, and I think it’s a weird way to look at things…

            Gur Svefg jnf fhccbfrq gb or noyr gb gnxr gur sbez bs nal qrnq crefba gb gel naq fjrrg gnyx crbcyr vagb qbvat jung gur Svefg jnagf gurz gb… Fb vg ybtvpnyyl nccrnef gb crbcyr nf gur bar gurl gehfg gur zbfg. Fb vg znxrf gbgny frafr sbe Gnen gb or gur sbez gur Svefg gnxrf gb gnyx gb Jvyybj.

            Va gur raq V guvax vg jnf fgvyy cerggl avpryl qbar, ohg vg qbrf perngr n fbeg bs qbhoyr fgnaqneq – vs Jvyybj jnf fgenvtug, jr jbhyqa’g or bssraqrq ng gur vqrn bs Obl!Gnen orvat gurer…

            Fb V trg jul Nzore Orafba jbhyq qb gung, V whfg svaq vg n ovg fnq gb fnpevsvpr gur fgbel gb nibvq shryvat qhzonff ungre…

          • Jojo

            I agree with what you are saying – but I’m glad she didn’t because I don’t know if I could have taken it.

          • Clément Polge

            Yeah that would probably have been more powerful with her and I’m not sure my feels could have taken that hit either. So it’s a good thing I guess ?

          • Petra47

            Yrg’f whfg cergraq gung Gnen jnf fhpu n jbaqreshy, cher fbhy gung Gur Svefg (orvat cher rivy) pbhyqa’g nccrne nf ure. Lrnu… V’yy tb jvgu gung. V’q ubarfgyl arire gubhtug nobhg ubj Gur Svefg arire nccrnerq nf Gnen. Qvqa’g rira pebff zl zvaq… uzzzz…

          • wlreed

            I like this head canon. Accepted

          • Jojo

            That is the purest and most wonderful head canon!

      • Raluca

        I wanted to go there.
        I hate it! Buffy gets punished for having sex all the time. Now Tara dies and Willow is left to suffer. Anya is being chastised for sexytimes with Spike. Should I go on?

  • behind blueiz

    I agree 1000% with you ladies. I’ve read numerous interviews regarding this particular scene and one really stuck with me:

    “In the DVD commentary, James Marsters said that filming the scene in which Spike attempts to rape Buffy was one of the hardest he ever had to do. He has since said that he will never do such a scene again. That scene has also generated controversy between fans and the writers,[2] but writer Jane Espenson says that moment was necessary to set up a powerful motivation for Spike’s {edit for spoiler}.[3] As James Marsters points out, “How do you motivate him [to] make a mistake that’s so heart-rending that he’d be willing to do that?”[4] Marsters would later say in 2012 that he understood the idea to have come from “a female writer, [who] had a situation in her life where she was and her boyfriend were breaking up and she decided if she just made love to him one more time, that they wouldn’t break up. She ended up trying to force herself on him and decided to write about that. The thing is, if you flip it and make it a man forcing himself on a woman, I believe it becomes a whole different thing… I’m not really sure it expressed what the author was intending and on that score it was not successful.”


    To this day it still blows my mind that the writer of this episode was a woman. Not only for the content but also taking the viewers to such a dark place and thinking this is where she had to take the character in order for him to change. True, the whole season is really dark–depression, addiction etc, but they were connected with mystical reasons (being pulled from heaven and magic). This scene, there was no mystical reason or cause. It was so raw and in your face.

    All that being said…FOREVER TARA FEELS </3

    • Clément Polge

      Some parts of that interview might deserve some rot13 though…

      • behind blueiz

        I pulled out the spoiler part

      • Agreed, for the sake of new watchers who read our comments section (we have one right now in the early seasons, actually! It’s exciting!) but for the sake of our resident Snow recapper… we’re ahead of schedule, so she knows <3

    • Alicia

      I really really feel sorry for the actors that they had to do that scene. I don’t know how SMG felt about it but I’m sure it was really horrible for her too.

      James has also said that he was feeling suicidal that day because of it and that he wished he could just bash his head into the concrete and fly away. He went home in tears apparently and had to keep telling himself “I am not a rapist”. They didn’t get any warning about what was coming up, just got the script and then three days later BAM. I think the fact that he had been using the Method to play Spike probably made it harder because he had internalised the character so much.

      • Jojo

        I understand he went into counseling, and he has a coda on all contracts since then that he will not do any kind of sexual assault.

  • Jojo

    Can I just point out one thing about the rape? Yeah – of course I can. I will take and agree with any bit of rationalization – and it just makes what Spike did worse. If it were rapey guy finally tries harder it would be bad enough. But Spike really does believe he loves her, really does believe that if Buffy is hurt by the Magic Box sexcapades she must love him, really does believe he can trust himself not to hurt her…..and then Spike not only attempts to rape her – he attempts to OBLITERATE her. This attempted rape isn’t just physical – he is trying to rape her heart, her trust, her brain – in essence he wants this rape to destroy the Buffy that exists and create his fantasy Buffy who loves him. That is the purest expression of selfish, possessive, obsession – the idea that he is right, this is how she must feel, he is somehow owed this.

    It’s also what Spike needs to realize how very much he has deluded himself, and how little he can trust himself.. I like the lines – what have I done? Why didn’t I do it? because they express exactly what he is caught between. He can’t be a demon and just love killing and rape and torture like he once did. But he sure as hell can’t trust himself as a man not to almost destroy the one person he has sworn never to hurt because he has just attempted to do just that and had to be physically stopped. He has proved that Buffy was right to refuse to trust him and to say she can’t love him. Whatever emotions he may feel, love is action and choices and his are the opposite of love.

    Then Tara dies and my entire world crashes down and all I want to do is curl up and cry. Because Tara is….there aren’t even words to describe how wonderful Tara is and how much it genuinely hurts to lose her. Whedon does a great job of making her death a complete shock – just a random bullet because the Big Bad this season is reality as much as anything else.

    • Love that you mention the what have I done/why didn’t I do it lines. Because he is supposed to be evil, and the chip kind of blurs that, but it’s a valid question for him to ask.

    • Ashley Menvielle

      “Love is action and choices and his are the opposite of love”. Yes, you articulated this point so concisely and eloquently that I have always tried to express but never so neatly as you did here. There is no excusing what he did to Buffy here because of this point you made and he just now himself has realized how wrong and twisted his love is and he, himself, is not excusing the act but concedes to the reality of what he just did,”what have I done”, and for the first time ever is questioning how he got to this point and why he feels the way he does, “why didn’t I do it”. It’s about time that he started looking inward and its horrible that it took almost raping Buffy for him to finally do so. Great points.

  • Alex

    Sweeney said something in the comments on one of the episodes a few weeks back (might have been Smashed?) which I think perfectly sums up my feelings on this entire Buffy/Spike thing. Sweeney, apologies for probably misquoting you here, but there have been a LOT of comments recently and I’m not sure I could find it again in a hurry. It was something like ‘Spike’s feelings are understandable and Buffy bears some responsibility for those, but how Spike chooses to act on those feelings is 100% on him’. And I couldn’t agree more.

    I definitely feel like Buffy used and abused Spike at times in this season but that doesn’t alter my feelings about his actions here one tiny bit. When people talk about how Spike is hurt and confused, or how remorseful he looks immediate after the act, my response is just ‘so what?’ I mean, I read plenty of stories in the news about men assaulting women, and I can well believe some of those men had hurt/confused feelings going on and even felt remorse afterwards, but that doesn’t change anything in my eyes or make me feel like they deserve any kind of free pass. So why are so many people so keen to make excuses for Spike and sweep this under the carpet? No, I don’t hate Spike or find him irredeemable, but I do feel like some people love him so much that they just want to breeze past this as quickly as possible (though like Sweeney, I must clarify that I’m not really referring to anyone here, this is something that’s far more prevalent on other sites I’ve visited).

    Kirsti, you also made an excellent point about the whole ‘fuzzy consent’ issue. I totally agree that EVEN IF you’re going to make that argument regarding previous scenes (which would still be debatable, I think) it’s completely irrelevant here because there is absolutely no way that Spike could possibly think that this was the same kind of situation. I’d also add that the circumstances are very different here to their previous encounters; all of those ‘stop’ – ‘make me’ scenes happened while Buffy and Spike’s sexual relationship was still ongoing, whereas here it’s been very definitely over for a few episodes now – and Spike was just having sex with Anya an episode ago! Again, I don’t mean to sound like I’m saying it was therefore OK all those other times, I just mean that if you want to have the ‘fuzzy consent’ argument at all, you absolutely CANNOT have it about this scene, in my opinion.

    Having said all that, I was actually more worried about what you guys (mainly Lor-Snow) would make of Tara than of ‘the scene’, because I figured that we’d had quite a lot of the relevant Spuffy debate already, whereas Tara was going to be a complete shock. In a way I’m glad that you stayed completely unspoiled on that, Lor, but I feel so bad for you watching that with absolutely no idea that it was coming 🙁

    • Ashley Menvielle


    • It was pretty horrifying. NGL, i had figured that the BIG BAD MOMENT we were coming up to was an attempted rape. Everyone is so fantastic about avoiding spoilers, but sometimes it’s just nearly impossible not to pick up on things, especially when you are as good at TV as I am. 😉

      So, yes, I was expecting the Spike thing but I was NOT expecting Tara. And her last words about Willow’s shirt getting dirty? Her last moment was spent worrying and thinking about Willow and OMG THE FEELS. IT WAS TERRIBLE. The feels were terrible, I actually think that scene was quality.

  • Strawberry_Pocky_Moose

    As weird as it sounds to say I appreciate the attempted rape scene, in the context that Whedon put it in I really do. It was necessary. It irritated me how much fandom there was over Spuffy that conveniently forgot that the dude did not have a fucking SOUL. Un-ensouled vamps seem to be capable of affection and are definitely capable of all-consuming lust, sure, but definitely not love in its purest, most unselfish form. Now I’m a Spuffy fangirl, but I knew that they were never going to be in anything resembling a true romance so long as he remained the way he was, especially given how mutually abusetastic their relationship was. Shit was going to get ugly at some point. The attempted rape scene showed the monster Spike really was underneath all the hurt feelings and puppy dog looks, and what he could’ve been inclined to do all along – except he didn’t need to until now, because Buffy was allowing him to sleep with her. It doesn’t suddenly make me hate him – I knew he was evil, and did evil things. The attempted rape scene was awful, but not unsurprising. What he does next however does make me admire him, and continue to do so for the rest of the show. It doesn’t redeem him, but it does show the moral fibre many of us fangirls hoped he had all along.

    It’s damned hard to watch, though 🙁 And re: Amber Benson in the opening credits – Whedon, you are the trolliest troll who ever trolled. But you are amazing.

    • Clément Polge

      Agreed on all count. His journey from now on is what makes Spike a really unique character in any sense of the term.

  • Policy of Madness

    I actually felt that the near-rape was a necessary thing in order to make all of those earlier questionable-consent moments acceptable as storytelling (not as events, not as things you want someone to do IRL, but as storytelling). Previously we saw Spike pressuring Buffy until Buffy eventually gave in even when she didn’t really want to – serious red flags.

    Now we are shown what those red flags were flagging. Without this scene, the prior pressuring scenes send a message: that it’s okay to push for sex because your partner actually really wants it and just has to be shown/doesn’t mind too much. With this scene, the message changes: people who pressure you into sex and don’t respect your no are not good people, they’re just rapists waiting to happen. The message changes from a really unacceptable one to an acceptable one. I would have been much, much more uncomfortable with this season had this scene not existed.

    • Agreed. I was trying to get at this at one point in the post, but you did so much more clearly and than I did.

    • Jojo

      Agreed – without their entire arc as a couple(?) the writers might just as well made Warren (rapey guy) attempt to rape Buffy. It would have been incidental to the flow rather than a pivotal story point.

    • Alex

      I’d never thought of it that way, but it makes so much sense. Thank you!

      • Ashley Menvielle

        Me neither! But I can see how that makes sense now too. Gotta love New ideas and different takes on things even years later :).

  • Petra47

    Also, just want to mention that killing off a opening-credits character the first time they appear in the credits was a life-long goal of Whedon. He had wanted to do it with Jesse (remember him?!) in Welcome to the Hellmouth, but didn’t have the budget. So, yes, he is the trolliest troll to ever troll in trolldom.

    • Alex

      That actually angers me so much. I hate that Tara’s death was the subject of such ridiculous jokey trolling by Whedon. She deserved far better than that! I could see an argument that she deserved to appear in the credits at least once, and that this was kind of a fitting way to say goodbye to her, but from everything I’ve read that wasn’t the main motivation for including her there.

      It mostly bugs me that she wasn’t in the credits much, much sooner though. Riley got there pretty much straight away, and it didn’t take Anya long either. Tara is at least as big a character as either of those, and it’s ridiculous that Amber wasn’t allowed in the credits before that (and that she therefore presumably didn’t get the payrise that comes with being a series regular either).

      • Alicia

        The trolling definitely leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Joss Whedon can often have a pretty irksome attitude to some things. Though I’ve heard that Amber herself preferred to stay a recurring character to have more flexibility or something? Or maybe they didn’t have the money to pay for another regular actor?

    • lev36

      Yeah, it was a cute idea if he had actually gotten to do it with Jesse in the pilot, because no watchers could really be invested in him yet, so it would have been an interesting twist to kill off an opening-credits character in the first episode.

      But with Tara, finally putting Amber in the credits for this episode was just cruel.

  • wlreed

    I don’t often leave long comments because by the time I get home where I can leave something other than a quick response there are many comments made in intelligent, thoughtful ways that give me stuff to think about. And this isn’t a comment about the episode, exactly, as to the snark ladies reactions, which I have loved reading ever since I stumbled upon this site (thank you TPTB).

    First, I love Spike. My love is conflicted, but he’s one of my favorite characters and I think James Marsters’ portrayal of him is amazing. That being said, for me the most rewarding part of reading these recaps has been Lor’s honest first time reactions because I have never read recaps of someone who was watching the show for the first time. And right now she hates Spike, and she is right to. There has been vague talk of season seven and while I look forward to seeing her reactions to it, I am aware she might still hate Spike. And I’m OK with that. I want her to like him, because I do, but that’s selfish on my part. I value her opinions and insights because she has a different viewpoint than me. I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago with my son, his uncle, and a couple of friends. While we were driving one of the friends said they didn’t like a particular band that I like. She immediately went into defensive mode and said I still want to hang out with y’all. The other friend told her (kiddingly) No, you can’t hang out with us if you don’t like the same sounds as us. And that’s sort of what this is like to me. I will still like reading these recaps if they have different opinions about fictional characters as me. I enjoy the discussion here because I usually come away with new insights and it’s civil. And it’s definitely made me think about things I have not thought of before, which is always good. I just wanted to put it out there as someone who loves Spike and his arc, if the ladies of Snark hate him, I’m all right with that because that is their honest opinion and I would hate to have fandom ruined for them because I have different feelings. /End to rambly thoughts

    I have watched this episode twice, once when it aired and once in rerun by accident. I didn’t realize the AR and Tara happened in the same episode because I blocked it out. I had a discussion a while back in Dallas with Lor, Sweeney, and Sara about a scene I physically can’t watch again. I can’t watch Tara dying. Even though I’ve only watched it the two times, when I think of her last words (your shirt, to Willow) I break. I end up in a ball crying so hard it hurts. I just can’t. There are other deaths in different Whedon shows, but this will forever be the worst for me. I love Buffy, and she’s my hero, but I don’t often relate to her directly. I relate to Tara. And damnit, I’m almost crying again just thinking about it. So, yeah. I’m glad this one is over. (Sorry for the long ass, sort of incoherent comment. I have lots of thoughts lately)

    • I love you and I can’t wait to meet up with you for more drinks for Dallas Part 2. <3
      (Weird thought: we'll be done with Buffy by then. WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD.)

      Yes to everything you said about Tara's death. I spent so much time steeling myself up for the rape scene that I was pretty ready for that. I honestly didn't know what to say about Tara's death. It just hurts and makes me cry ugly cries.

      • wlreed

        Dallas Part 2, yes, please. And Scarborough Faire. This would be an epic Snark Ladies outing and I really want you to come.

        It’s nice to be loved. I’m forever grateful I found this site because I feel like I found my tribe

        • Ashlea Kobukowski

          Me too! I love this site and the people I’ve met here. Simply amazing group of sarcastic, intelligent snarkers who discuss pop culture and hard issues. I’m so glad I found it 🙂

    • Ashley Menvielle

      I’m so sorry about the effect Tara’s death scene has on you, it’s truly awful and is shocking and painful to watch for me even years later. I love Tara but don’t really ‘relate to her, so I can only imagine how much more difficult that makes her death scene for you :(. This is such a PAINFUL episode of television to watch, it has no equal in the awful hurt feels department for me, and I was nervous to read the recap and subsequent comments but I feel that my fears were mostly unfounded because both the recap and comments have been insightful and calm. This is why I love this site; the snark of course, but the calm discussions and insights are priceless to me. I, like you, love Spike but I totally understand how he could be disliked and even hated. Would I also like for Lor to end up liking him by the end of the show? Yes, but as you say I’m fine with her disliking or hating him because expressing differing opinions is perfectly fine and welcome. I would never want a Buffy fan to be turned off by the fandom itself either :).

      <3 for your comment.

      • wlreed

        Thanks for the kind words. I’ve been anxious about this episode forever, I think most of us have. I can’t imagine having to watch and dissect it scene by scene. I have seen (as most others who have been Buffy fans for a long time) the fandom get really ugly in places and I know it has completely turned people off. I would hate for that to happen to someone on their first watch because this show has been so important to me. And I want everyone to love it as much as I do.

      • I’m doing my best not to close my mind to liking Spike completely, but IDK. At this point I don’t like him because of some of what he’s doing, some of how he’s written and some of because I’ve been spending so much time explaining why I didn’t like him a little that it grew to not liking him a lot!


        Still love me.

        • Ashley Menvielle

          Totally understandable! I think it’s really big of you that you are trying to keep an open mind in the face of such relentless feels!

          How could I ever NOT love you?? 🙂

    • Raluca

      I love Spike too and cannot hate him no matter what he does. It’s because I identify with him on so many levels, I guess. I am sure Lor or other people might continue to hate Spike and have no problem with it. I can understand people reacting to this episode and to certain character arcs strongly, but I don’t think discussions should get ugly. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and feelings is my position 🙂
      It is an episode that I sometimes chose to re-watch, because it is powerful and interesting. I am not very bothered by Tara’s death, as she was never a favourite of mine. I liked her a lot, but I tend to like other characters much more (Spike, Wesley, Faith are good examples). So her death scene has not such a devastating impact on me. I feel sorry for her and for Willow, but I have no problem watching that scene.

      I have to confess that I loathe Warren and think the is the most powerful villain on Buffy, in a way. First, because he is a human with a soul and second because he is the creepiest of the creepy characters.

      • Melodie Hatley

        The Mayor was a human with a soul too. People forget that. He turned into a giant snake monster, but he started out human, with a wife and everything. I don’t recall, but I think his longevity was given to him via a spell or something. *pushes nerd glasses up*

        Warren’s one of the … most symbolic villains, and… parts of that arc (like Tara’s death, for example) probably have had the most profound impact on the Scoobies, more so than just about any other villain.

        • Raluca

          I guess I never really was into the whole S1-S3 part of Buffy. From S3 I mostly think of Faith, not the Mayor. Warren is more real to me, because his arc involves less magic, in the sense that he is a worse real psychopath. The Mayor had spooky moments, but he goes nowhere near Warren’s actions, to me.

          • Melodie Hatley

            Exactly, I agree with you. I just wrote this really long comment which people are going to be like ‘wtf were you smoking’ (to which I answer cigarettes?) about symbols and how far is too far for art and whatnot. Warren’s a great villain not just cause you hate him, but because he represents more than what’s shown on the screen.

          • Raluca

            I read your message and was about to comment now

          • Melodie Hatley

            I wish i could answer something else other than ‘cigarettes’ when you ask me what I was smoking after reading that EPIC ESSAY. 😛 🙂

  • Alicia

    I’m really late commenting so I don’t know if it’s really worth it and I’m sorry if any of this is repetitive. I’ve only skimmed the comment section. I wasn’t going to comment on this episode because I’m sick and today and a lazy lazy person at the moment so couldn’t be bothered dealing with this episode/recap related nausea as well as real-life nausea. But I can’t sleep and hate to skip an episode now I’ve started commenting!

    The only things I really have to say are about the attempted rape scene. Tara is a lovely girl, and I have a lot of affection for her, but I was never truly invested in her as a character so her death, while obviously really sad and horrific, doesn’t really make me feel anything. Maybe it never really hit me cause it was so sudden? I like it when she’s there but don’t miss her when she’s gone basically. Though all the people devastated by her death have all my sympathy and internet hugs! I pretty much hate Xander in his first conversation with Buffy. I just can’t with his slut-shaming attitude towards Buffy. It just makes me ragey. But I feel better when he admits that he understands why Buffy didn’t confide in him, cause yeah, he’s always been a giant judgemental ass about her love life. Thank you Xander.

    There seemed to be a lot of interesting (and pretty disturbing) behind-the-scenes stuff going on with the AR. Apparently, it was NOT a part of the original script at all and was a last minute decision pitched by the show-runner, Marti Noxon based on a personal experience with her as the perpetrator. Someone mentioned this down below I think. A couple of writers tried to argue against it but Joss okayed it and here we are. I don’t think they really thought it through properly at all and they seemed unprepared to deal with the implications of the scene and consequences of having a fan-favourite character like Spike assault the heroine.

    It seems that there had been a bit of conflict over Spike’s character this season between the writers themselves, and fans. For a lot of viewers, there was a disparity between how the writers THOUGHT they were portraying him and what actually came across onscreen, especially when so many women who had been in abusive relationships really identified with him in the Buffy/Spike relationship, and in general. It seems that the writers weren’t happy with the way viewers weren’t seeing him the way they wanted them to as the ‘bad boyfriend’ while Buffy’s bad behaviour and agency seemed to be inconsequential. Marti apparently seemed surprised in an interview that anyone could have a problem with Buffy’s actions in the alley beating scene. So the AR seems to have an element of audience manipulation and lecturing people on how to respond to the character, punishing them for viewing the material ‘wrong’. Marti Noxon actually gave an interview after ‘Seeing Red’ aired stating “we made our point” in regards to the AR, which is pretty disturbing.

    Part of this seems to be related to the fact that a lot of viewers really lost sympathy with Buffy this season. Some began to really dislike her because of her horrible treatment of Spike, among other unsympathetic behaviour. It is a lot harder to sympathise with such a closed off character who neglects her sister and seems to make progress one episode then backslide the next. Season six was a huge slog for a lot of people. It was a brave choice to explore Buffy’s depression, but a very tedious and frustrating one for a lot of viewers to have their protagonist and the hero be that way. I found out recently that there is apparently a very prominent soap-opera trope where a disliked female character is raped/assaulted if they want to gain sympathy for her. Cause how could you not feel for someone who has been through something that horrific? And how can you really criticise whatever unpleasant behaviour she has engaged in when she’s just been so badly violated? So the AR scene here comes off as an attempt to gain back audience sympathy for Buffy and retroactively justify her part in the train wreck of Spike/Buffy. Joss and Marti have mentioned feeling that the ‘lost the hero’ in season six and dragged out her depression too long.

    Not to mention the way the scene was set up, with Buffy gaining a convenient back injury in a very contrived scene. And the fact that they actually put a commercial break right in the MIDDLE of the AR, which a lot of people found obscene. Plus making their hero into a victim in a way she has never ever been before using rape as a plot device.

    Note: We can’t really know exactly what happened in the writers’ room. But these quotes and impressions are ones I’ve borrowed from a lot of people heavily involved in fandom at the time who saw all these writer interviews as season six progressed.

    • Raluca

      Yes, Alicia, a world of yes! This is exactly my problem with the attempted rape. Rape is horrifying and using it to enforce the “Spike is bad” idea just rubs me the wrong way.
      Women in abusive relationship have identified with Spike??? I didn’t know that, but I sure have identified with him all the time! And I didn’t like Buffy too much when she was abusing him and I tended to side with him. And after the rape I can still see his pain more clearly than hers. I know I shouldn’t be feeling this, but I feel sorry for him more than I do for her. Especially because I did something similar – not rape, but abuse, something which killed a relationship with a man I was in love with. Basically, I tried to force him to love me (not in a physical rape-y way) and he couldn’t, so it got really ugly.

      • Alicia

        Yeah I have read comments from people who were in bad relationships that identify with Spike here. And I definitely feel sorry that he is screwing up so badly.

        • Jojo

          There was one person commenting here about having had someone use them for sex and then go off on them and refuse to let anyone know. I have read comments from other people – on LJ etc – that they identified with Spike – refused to call it quits even with the abuse because they believed they would be loved eventually.

          • Raluca

            Well, I’m happy I’m not the only one to identify Spike, and sad for those others who do, because it is so painful and screwed up!

    • Alex

      Firstly: get well soon!

      Secondly, I don’t think that anyone’s discussed this below in the same level of detail as you’ve gone into here, so this is definitely a worthwhile contribution! We’ve touched on the behind-the-scenes stuff a little, but not quite to this extent.

      In summary, I completely agree with you about the mixed messages and conflict surrounding Spike’s character throughout this season. The more I watch, the more clear it is to me that the writers couldn’t decide which direction they were trying to take with Spike, and that’s hugely problematic because there were BIG themes riding on his character all season. This isn’t a trivial inconsistency like not being able to make up their minds whether his favourite colour is blue or yellow (stupid example but you get my point I hope), this is them being able to decide whether he’s a sweet lovesick puppy or a violent, abusive asshole. The scene I hate most in this entire season is that ‘Goldilocks’ one from the beginning of ‘Gone’, because Spike is being SO creepy there and he doesn’t even really feel like Spike to me. I almost can’t bear to watch it. Yuck.

      So, yes, the fact that they couldn’t get their acts together and think things through properly and THEN after all that decided to go down the rape route… yeah, that’s very difficult to swallow. I agree with the comment below from ‘Policy of Madness’ about how this scene was probably necessary to bring all of the ‘fuzzy consent’ crap to a head, but overrall I very much wish that it hadn’t happened. And it ruins a lot of my enjoyment of S7, to be honest.

      • Alicia

        Yeah from basically ‘Smashed’ on Spike was taken in a very different direction to where he had seemed to be going in the first part of the season. I do think everything is in the spectrum of behaviour he is capable of so I can reconcile it. When I first watched the series I was pretty fine with it. I didn’t lose sympathy for Spike because I could see he was trying and I viewed the Spike/ Buffy relationship basically as two really damaged people drowning, clinging to each other and pushing each other under in the process. They both have SO many issues it’s unbelievable. Now I realise that a lot of it is due to inconsistent writing and differing views on Spike by different writers.

        A lot of the problem is that they built Spike up SO much during the end of season five/early season six that it wasn’t surprising that a lot of people saw him on something of a redemptive journey and slowly but surely becoming someone worthy of love and trust. But they obviously had a very specific agenda that Buffy getting involved with him would always have been a BAD THING no matter what progress he made or what his characterisation up to that point really seemed to be. They made Buffy have a very strong negative reaction to the sexual contact between them, despite the fact she had been confiding in Spike since she was resurrected and he really hadn’t done anything worthy of her “evil, disgusting thing” comment in ‘Smashed’, since say, the Buffybot in season five. I know she had a lot of reasons for that, but it was jarring for the viewer when they switched from the apparent set up of an actual romance to this is BAD because of what Spike is, not who he is. We’ll never know, but I really don’t think that it was inevitable that it went so wrong judging by Spike and Buffy’s early season interactions. It’s like, what happened?

        They used Spike to fulfill a certain role that they needed his character for, like representing the guy you get into a bad relationship with in your early twenties. He is basically used as a plot device in whichever way they need him to service Buffy’s story, it’s her show after all. But they had to sacrifice character development that had been so compellingly portrayed to do it. They wrote him deliberately to be VERY sympathetic from sometime in season five up to when he and Buffy get involved, invited the viewer to identify with him like the other human characters, and wrote scenes to illustrate his perspective. It’s their fault (and James’ wonderful acting) that viewers fell in love with the character! So when they tried (and failed for some of the audience) to pigeon-hole him instead of developing him more naturally, no wonder it created backlash.

        Or you could see it as part of nearly all the characters this season displaying some of their worst traits and hitting rock bottom. He fits into the general trajectory of characters really screwing up this season well.

        And then there’s the whole no-soul issue. They seemed to be afraid to really challenge the rules of their own constructed world. If Spike could choose to be good, then the whole Angel/Angelus storyline could be seen to fall down. The only reason Buffy could remain romantically involved with Angel in season three was because of the soul plot device divorcing him from his actions in the viewers’ minds. I’m pretty sure one of the writers, David Fury, said that Spike would have undermined Angel’s ‘specialness’ if they took the route of continuing to develop him in a more positive direction as an unsouled being.

        • Ashley Menvielle

          Just wanted to put in my A+ to all the great discussion going on between you and Alex. You both have great thinky thoughts that inspire my thinky thoughts :). I think it’s good that you went into so much detail on the behind-the-scenes stuff; I’ve heard much of that before on writer’s interview and have seen actual quotes but I’ve never seen it all taken together and discussed like you did, so thank you for that, it was pretty eye opening. I hadn’t heard that the rape scene was introduced later, after the episode has been written. I’ll have to process that piece of information but my initial thoughts are pretty much the same as yours that the implications of that should have been better thought out, but I also see where it fits into this season where everything is falling apart. It’s really discouraging to think there was so much confusion in the writer’s room about some of this stuff and frankly I think it’s naive and disrespectful to think that one scene could get the audience back on track with the original authorial intent. Whose authorial intent? It’s Joss and a team of writers, not one single person so to say that a point was made, well I think they tried to force a point and that the success of forcing that point on the audience is extremely varied and subjective. I mean we are discussing the problems and consequences of those decisions 10 years after the show has been off the air, so that says something about how not cut and dry everything was this season.

          Anyway, thanks for all the thinky thoughts! You and Alex always have great thoughts and insights, I love it :).

          • Alicia

            Thank you so much!:) I’ve enjoyed discussing things with you during these recaps.

            I agree with your points about authorial intent. It’s a shame that there seemed to be a vibe of “We have to tell the stupid Spike fans they’re wrong for sympathising with him”. Forcing things on people can be very dodgy I agree. It doesn’t help that Spike seems to inspire very passionate feelings from people whether love or hate. He apparently started to become controversial in Season five. There was this whole incident where one of the writers was telling Spike fans to ‘go back to writing to serial killers in prison’. I think maybe there was too much contact between viewers and the people creating the show. It would have been interesting (and scary) to be involved in fandom back then!

          • Ashley Menvielle

            Totally agree about it being scary to be involved in fandom at that time! I’m so glad I wasn’t because I was so young, 16 while watching S6, and I’m thinking all the fan fighting and writer input would have just further traumatized me!

        • Heather Bungard-Janney

          ” I’m pretty sure one of the writers, David Fury, said that Spike would have undermined Angel’s ‘specialness’ if they took the route of continuing to develop him in a more positive direction as an unsouled being.”

          And to this I have to say, “SO WHAT?” Because Angel was Buffy’s first love and of course she would see him as special and view him through a very idealized lens. How awesome would it have been for them to use Spike and his ability to be good without a soul, as a way to explore Buffy’s emotional immaturity – caused by Angel and her fixation on him because of the way he damaged her?

          Romeo and Juliet were not a healthy couple. Angel wasn’t that good for Buffy and as we’ve seen in his own series, not exactly a shining example of purity and righteousness. Having them explore that with Spike would have been AMAZING and complex, and worthy of this show.

          Instead they took the budding friendship between Buffy and the only person who didn’t pressure her after she came back from the dead, the only one who really seemed willing to just let her be rather than demand that she be All Better Now so the Scoobies wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions, and did a 180 on both his characterization and their arc and made it something sick and wrong on all levels.

    • Alicia

      I also just wanted to comment quickly on my view of Spike’s state in this episode.

      I think he went to Buffy’s house with the intention of apologising about sleeping with Anya. I don’t really think he did anything particularly wrong, but he obviously feels the need to apologise. In his scene with Dawn he looks absolutely miserable over it, especially when she tells him how hurt Buffy is. Everyone seems to be piling on with the guilt-tripping about it. Buffy last episode, both sisters this episode. It’s pretty irritating from Buffy. She has this weird attitude that she can tell him to move on one minute, but expect him to still be all about her the next. Dawn is more understandable, she’s just concerned about her sister.

      Actually, he seems pretty damn miserable and defeated in general. It follows on well from his demeanour in ‘Entropy’, when he is looking for a ‘numbing spell’ and hardly seems to care that Xander is trying to kill him. He does seem almost glad to hear the Willow and Tara are back on again though. I liked seeing he and Dawn interact again, she always brings out a nice side to him. I just wish it wasn’t on such a sad subject.

      I always think that he seems so painfully raw and strangely vulnerable in the bathroom before the assault happens. He’s pretty much an open wound at this point. His comment about trust and that “Great love is wild and passionate and dangerous. It burns and consumes” is really illuminating in regards to his views on love, and what is wrong with them. They are similar to what they seem to be in ‘Lovers Walk’, when he talks about love being blood “screaming inside you to work its will”. Also, did Spike ever trust Drusilla?
      Buffy’s reply is fascinating too. She says that “Love like that doesn’t last”. It reminds me of when she says to Angel in season 2, “I love you. I don’t know if I trust you”. It seems she’s learnt from experience. That trust is essential to mature love.

      And then the assault. So painful and awful to watch. In Spike-brain I think he is adding up a few things and coming to a somewhat deluded conclusion. Buffy admitting to having feelings for him+ wanting him + her anger and hurt over Anya + being jealous of his wedding date + lots of passionate sex + her not wanting him dead, somehow = Buffy loves him and is just in denial about it. Everyone now knows about them, therefore she doesn’t “have to hide” any more and should let herself love him. I can see how SPIKE comes to that conclusion in his mind.

      The reason he uses sex to try and connect with Buffy again is because he thinks that’s the only way he has been able to get through to her in their relationship. Talking to her pretty much never led anywhere good once they started sleeping together. She wasn’t interested in that. However when they slept together, he thought that she really felt something, a true connection. He seems to be confusing sex with love when it comes to Buffy. I think he believes that she wouldn’t sleep with him unless she had real feelings for him. From the beginning he seemed to think that if he just hung in there, she would fall in love with him. Like that exchange from ‘Dead Things’ when he asserts Buffy felt something when they were together. She says “Not love” and he replies “Not yet”. So Spike takes the opportunity to ‘prove’ that she does really love him because he ‘knows’ she felt it when he was inside her. And it all escalates from there into something truly ugly and violent and completely desperate.

      I actually think Spike’s having an emotional breakdown here. He looks scarily unhinged. It reminds me of the alley beating where Buffy was the one having a breakdown. He’s been on a downward spiral ever since he and Buffy broke up. No, actually since they got together really. Buffy was able to break away and do something to help herself but Spike still spiralled. This is really rock bottom for him, hence the culmination of the identity crisis, in his crypt, which he’s been having for awhile now. I’m glad Clem is there to be a friend and temper him a bit. We’ll see what stupid (or not) thing he does next.

      • Jojo

        +1 Really excellent!

  • lev36

    You know, I thought I’d have a lot to say about this episode, but I really don’t. No defense of Spike’s actions here. It is interesting, though, how he both realized how very wrong it was, and also that it was strange for him as a soulless vampire to be concerned about that.

    Dawn’s total fan-girl Tillow shipping was an utter delight, and it’s good to see more of Clem. But Tara’s senseless death is only harder on re-watch.

    Interesting that Amber Benson later shows up as a vampire on Supernatural. Too bad vamp Willow wasn’t there with her!

    • Alicia

      Yeah I love that dichotomy between “What have I done?” and “Why didn’t I do it?”. That, along with “The chip won’t let me be a monster, and I can’t be a man. I’m nothing.” are really key to his mindset here. He has done something he was sure he would never do, really hurt someone he loves. But at the same time, he’s a vampire, why didn’t he just try again, why does he care that it was wrong? He’s come up against a brick wall and is realising that he can’t go on the way he is any more. There’s a choice to be made. This conflict is really well done. It remains to see where he’s going and what he’s up to now. I also think that when he’s talking about feeling the chip ‘squirming’ in his head, “gnawing bits and chunks” it’s not the chip he’s feeling but something else entirely.

      I love that so many Buffy actors have turned up on Supernatural!

    • Jojo

      Amber shows up as a vampire – and later on James Marsters shows up as a witch XD

  • This episode destroyed me, especially because of the scenes mentioned above. Spike trying to rape Buffy was just so sad. It showed that although Buffy is stronger than mostly anything in the world and capable of so much, she is still a woman trying to defend herself against a predator, a rapist. In that moment, she wasn’t Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was Buffy, a 21 year old young woman. I hated that scene so much and that Spike once again made it about him is insane. I loved that Xander was willing to kick Spike’s ass, though. Between this moment and the moment where they hugged, you can see how much closer they have become and will become.

    I’d also like to point out how sad it was that Tara was the one murdered. When I first saw the episode, it was such a surprise, especially as Tara notices her own blood on Willow’s shirt before she collapses. Joss Whedon is terrible for taking her out of the loop only to bring her back and then have her killed. Also, it hurts that both Buffy and Tara were shot in the same area.

    I had a bit of a problem of Tara telling Willow about Spike and Buffy sleeping together, though. I felt like Willow should’ve asked Buffy herself because Tara was given that knowledge in confidence. I do love that they did have some happiness together before Tara died because we won’t really have time to mourn her.

    Fun fact: Amber Benson dated (dates?) the guy who played Warren.

    • Clément Polge

      That’s how I roll too: kill ’em and then date ’em.

    • Alex

      She sure did! They were together for ages but I believe they’ve split up now. Very weird to think of them as a couple, huh?

      Another fun fact is that despite meeting on this show, they only actually did ONE scene together… and it’s the scene in ‘Life Serial’ when Warren bumps into Buffy in the corridor and puts the ‘evil lint’ on her jacket. That’s the only time they were ever on screen together and it’s only for a few seconds.

  • Melodie Hatley

    This is going to be a HUUUUUUUGE comment, but I wanted to touch on two things that were mentioned in passing but not discussed thoroughly, which I feel they deserve to be.

    Point the First: The effect of the attempted rape on Buffy/Buffy’s arc. As someone who has lived through an experience similar to Buffy’s, it spoke a lot to me. Women are the vast majority of victims of domestic abuse and relationship violence, and being as this is a show which centers around a female character, it was bound to happen sooner or later. The point that the attempt was a “grey” rape attempt or “date” rape attempt, which is actually more correct to say acquaintance rape attempt (because god damn, do I hate the terms grey and date rape. It’s not grey, and it’s not because they were dating. Rape is rape, but I digress), means a lot because stranger violence is actually pretty rare. It’s almost always a person the victim knows and trusts. I think there was trust on Buffy’s part. If there wasn’t, she could have had Tara reverse the invitation at any time, and she didn’t. That he might assault her, even though she knew he was physically able to, never crossed her mind. At this point, it’s almost symbolic of Buffy’s depression trying to drag her back down into the muck since she’s done such a good job recovering at this point. Yeah, some days are harder than others, but she’s well on the road to recovery here, and then the rape attempt. On a more visceral level, of course they had to have Buffy hurt, because she would have beat Spike like… a weeble wobble had she been at 100%! I think that was just a nod towards practicality, in the form of the Great Contrivance Spirit.

    After this, she hides it from Willow, but she couldn’t from Xander (since he was right there almost on the scene). I think that she would have hidden it from Xander too because what do you say to that? Right after something like that happens, people are often shell shocked, not understanding what just happened, especially by someone they trusted. Victims often wait to report the crime contrary to what people think they should have done because they were shell shocked, couldn’t believe it just happened to them, and because of the victim blaming that is so prevalent in our culture. Happily, that’s changing, but so very, very slowly. Believe it or not, shows like this are why it’s changing, bring discussion out of the dark and into the light and calling a spade a spade, a crime a crime. So, I’m really glad it’s part of the arc because look at all the discussion! Look at all the opportunities to share experiences and stories! That will bring me into my second point in a bit.

    Returning to Buffy, at this point, she’s down, but not out. She resisted and openly rejected the tool that she was using to “feel” things: Spike. Some people have said that Spike in this arc represents death and thus Heaven that she was ripped away from, others have said some form of self-harm like cutting or drugs. Either way, for the purposes of Buffy’s arc, he’s a symbol of her depression that she’s actively rejecting, choosing to go through her day to day even though it’s hard, and to move forward instead of dwelling on what she has lost. Bravo for her! In a lot of ways, Buffy’s season six arc is reclaiming her power and reaffirming that yes, she belongs here. Yes, she’s the Slayer. Yes, she kicks major ass.

    Point the Second: Using serious issues or gross shit as plot devices. It has been made mention in the comments that using rape as a plot device is cliched (which it is) and shouldn’t be used except sparingly. If you read fanfiction, people often use it as a quick way to characterize that a person is wounded and thus a victim or innocent or helpless or what-have-you, which is really an incorrect way to use it, IMO, because it cheapens what is a terrible and devastating act. The attempt here is used properly: it brought to boil all the issues which had been circling Buffy & Spike, and is used here as I mentioned above as a symbol, a step in Buffy’s arc. Could it have been something else, some other act, though? Would it have had the same impact?

    Part of it, I think, was the shock value. Part of it, as was written above, was a female writer writing about her own experience. Part of it was portraying intimate violence. Part of it was a symbol. It’s really hard to answer “How far can ‘art’ go and still remain art?” It’s questioned all the time when using nudity in an art piece, whether a painting or a movie. Where’s the line between art and pornography? (this is goin to be REALLY rambly, and I apologize for that) How far CAN a show go and still remain art? And can something that’s shocking and terrible and gross be art?

    To answer that, I am going to have to rot13 part of my answer. This is NOT rot13’d for spoilers, but rather to avoid people reading REALLY gross things without wanting to. Trust me. It’s gross. TRUST ME.

    Modern day movies (especially horror) often try to instill some sort of shock value to grab the audience’s attention. Many of us are desensitized to violence because of overexposure. Many of us are jaded and cynical. Back in the day, the attempt was REALLY shocking. It grabbed your attention. Tara’s death did as well, because man, she just got in the credits! People were damn offended at the portrayal of Spike, at the portrayal of Tara’s death. People were up in arms. Message boards back in the day were exploding. Was it just titilation value or was it worthwhile art? Where do we draw the line?

    There are two movies, horror movies natcherly since that’s what I watch heh, which really push boundaries, one of the right reasons, and one for the wrong reasons. The one for the wrong reasons is Human Centipede 2. The first one, for all it’s infamy, was just gross and amazingly blood free. The idea lodged in your head and was disgusting, but it wasn’t offensive. The second one was just straight up offensive for the sake of being offensive. It served no higher purpose than the director, who stated this straight out, trying to gross people out. Vg fubjrq n arjobea onol orvat pehfurq ol n pne be gehpx gver, whfg sbe gur fnxr bs tebffvat crbcyr bhg. No higher purpose. No symbology. No reason to it. Not even for entertainment value, because what sickos are entertained by that? (And yes, I watch horror, but I don’t enjoy “torture porn”, because there’s no story, there’s no mystery, there’s no… magic, for lack of a better word, for me. I do enjoy good special effects and make up though, but that’s mostly on a ‘how did they do that?’ technical level. Again, I digress)

    The second movie was one I couldn’t sit through. I couldn’t. COULD. NOT. And I LOVE horror, which the best part about it for me is gore. (Blood, guts, gore, we want more! … and the story, but I explained above. I did say I was going to be rambly, right?) It’s called “A Serbian Film”, which is amazingly a Serbian film. The director, actor, everything from Serbia. Gur cneg V pbhyqa’g fvg guebhtu (naq guhf unq gb ernq nobhg gur erfg bs gur zbivr vafgrnq bs jngpuvat vg orpnhfr V whfg pbhyqa’g tb nal shegure) jnf jura guvf byq cbea fgne jnf uverq gb znxr n cbea zbivr. Vg fgnegrq bhg cerggl onfvp, ohg gura gurl qehttrq uvz hc, naq ng bar cbvag n jbzna unq n onol, naq gurl unq guvf thl encr gur puvyq. Shpx. Vg jnf gbhtu rira whfg jevgvat gung. Guvf qvfgheorq zr ba fb znal yriryf, V pna’g rira fnl. Horrifying as that was (and the rest of the movie, I GUESS. I couldn’t watch anymore) the director vehemently defended his movie saying that THAT was what it was like to be Serbian, and that’s how the population felt, how things fell apart, and were crazy, and couldn’t go back to “normal”, because there was no “normal” for them.

    My reaction was much stronger to the second film than the first. I don’t know why, but I do like to think that it was because there was meaning to the second film. Maybe on some level I understood it, understood what the director was telling me through these really horrific symbols. Both were disgusting, but the second film I would identify as art, because it means something more than what it was showing.

    That’s my feeling on the attempted rape. In real life terms, rape is horrible and no one should ever have to live through it. In this context, the attempt means so many things, there’s layers there which so many people are taking different things away from it. That’s amazing.

    I ramble a lot.

    • Clément Polge

      First of all, I love you for your first point, I’ve had this trotting around in my head ever since the recap was posted but never managed to put this idea into words. So thank you !

      On your second point though, I’m not overly fond of the “art should have meaning” theory, especially when it comes to storytelling. As far as I’m concerned, I expect only one thing from a story: that it is compelling. Which in turn requires different stuff depending on the story (I probably won’t expect as much character development in an action movie for instance, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have expectations for the story), but I will agree that people only doing stuff for shock value are really terrible. It’s forcing stuff in that doesn’t have a place, and it DOES hurt the story.

      In this case, I feel like the story was respected: nobody acted out of character, nothing just came out of the blue just for the sake of a twist, there was no bigger policital agenda, it was a story that has the potential to resonate into our real world, and that, to me, is the beautiful part.

      Please, ramble on.

      • Melodie Hatley

        Exactly on the shock value! You concisely summarized my words, which I used a lot of to say what you said in one sentence. Which I just used a lot of to say “Yup”.

        And yeah, those shows/stories that use stuff like that for the sake of the ZOMG TWIST is sort of what I was railing about.

    • Raluca

      I understand the part about horror movies and exposure to violence. I like a particular type of horror, which doesn’t rely heavily on blood or intestines. Those movies are gross and I wouldn’t watch them. I wouldn’t watch snuff either. I don’t know why you did. I couldn’t even watch much tamer movies, such as Rome, the series by HBO, because it had too much sex and blood, unnecessarily brought to the screen. What I am currently watching is almost violence-free. I no longer want to be exposed to unnecessary sex and violence.

      That being said, rape is horrible. I’ve been raped and it was not violent, it was more like a date rape of some sort. I didn’t even know I was raped until a few years back. I thought what he did was ok. 🙂 Which is good, because it didn’t make me afraid of sex or disgusted by it.

      Spike did try to rape Buffy. He didn’t come to see her to do that, he came to apologize and try to win her back. But he ended up trying to rape her anyway. What I hate about the scene is the unnecessary “Buffy is hurt” – Spike, IMO, is raping her mind and soul more than her body. Physical violence was unnecessary. I understand why they used it, but I do not like it (even though the scene is superbly acted). They made it all about the violence again, and this is hardly the case in real life. The real rape is about power and exerting that power over someone else, entrapping them just like a spider in a web of shame and low self esteem and incrimination.

      • Melodie Hatley

        I originally started watching horror to conquer my fear of it, believe it or not. I do draw some lines though because it’s the fear I love, not grossness. Bleeeeech. Although, from a technical standpoint, I do appreciate the art that goes INTO the grossness, if that makes sense?

        It can be. But I think the story in this form had to have Buffy hurt because otherwise she would have used Spike as a punching bag, as she had so many times before.

        • Raluca

          Well, I can’t watch stuff that grosses me out. I am a fan of Stephen King, whom I read incessantly (I think there are some books of his I must have read 1000 times already) but I do not want to watch those movies you mentioned. Also, I understand about art and grossness, but why would I like it? I do not like all “normal” art either, nor do I understand it all. Why make myself sick just for art’s sake? I am drawing the line there 😛
          I think it would have been better as a scene if done as someone else mentioned on another blog – have the attempted rape after B’s conversation with Xander, so that she feels emotionally drained. I am sure anyone could agree that even the fiercest warrior can have bad days. Besides, full-on attacks can be scary even for trained fighters. They made her a FEMALE VICTIM and I hate it, they made the rape about physical violence and I hate it even more!

          • Melodie Hatley

            To each their own! It really can be quite interesting the different genres of horror. I have lists to recommend people who like blood, who don’t, who like ghost stories, who like vampire stories, etc etc etc. There’s a billionity sub-genres in every major genre, I think, so there’s always something for anyone. Yay for stories! (in general) I read a lot of King too, because he’s got a handle on stuff that freaks me out. 1408 is the only book or story I’ve had nightmares about, ever. Why, I don’t know. Just… just… it got to me.

            Hm. That’s interesting and I hadn’t considered that point of view. When watching television/movies or reading a book, I’m often deconstructing the story on technical points in my head as I’m watching/reading, so sometimes I really miss the emotional response to scenes or characters, sometimes even the whole darn thing! (I’m terrible to go to the movies with. I’m always pointing out inconsistencies in the story and gaffs in the film.) It’s also been so long since I originally watched it (during the original air date) that it’s hard for me to remember what I felt when watching it originally. How many more times can I get originally into a sentence? :O

          • Raluca

            I reacted to Pet Sematary pretty badly, I had to sleep with the lights on for at least a week. That Wendigo thingie was bad enough, without the whole resurrection plot.

    • We briefly touched on what Buffy’s injury meant for the larger narrative, but it’s been at the back of my mind for a while and I haven’t been able to fully explain why it rubbed me the wrong way. Since you brought it up here, I’m gonna ramble about it. 🙂

      First, sometimes people in the comments try to edge us closer to a place where we view the story solely as the story– this is a fictional rape by a fictional character who will apparently fictionally redeem himself and had some neat, understandable fictional reasons for attempting to rape a fictional woman, etc. This site started with such a completely different purpose. The entire point was to look at material through the lens of modern pop culture, society, adulthood, etc. We love standing back and taking a look into the story. We are most definitely standing on the outside.

      This doesn’t mean that we never try to understand character motivation, or connect story lines, or even try our hand at fan wanking. It happens. It does mean that we will not be the people who stop seeing things with a societal lens. This came up when we were covering Game of Thrones, and people were all, “but incest isn’t gross in this universe!” and we were all, “BUT IT IS IN OURS EW.”

      This large ramble isn’t directed at you, by the by, but is just an attempt to further clarify why I see this episode in a larger, grand scheme of things, and not simply as an entry into a sloppily written story and character arc. (Of course, YMMV.)

      So. Buffy injured. I *get* why they went that path but it makes me itchy about what it means. Strong women can’t be attacked? If Buffy had the physical capability to defend herself against someone, she would be less raped? The emotional trauma of being attacked by someone she at least trusted to some degree wasn’t enough to keep her off her game? While Buffy is rarely without her physical strength, she has been thrown off her game by emotional trauma a few times. It also colors the other instances when Buffy’s consent was violated, because she was “strong enough” to stop it, and she didn’t it. And that’s some BS to me.

      What Buffy is capable of, physically, is irrelevant. No means no means no means no. And, yes, I’m aware of what we’ve seen in the past with these two, which just leads me back around full circle to, “hate. Hate this so much.”

      • Melodie Hatley

        Yay rambling!

        I agree with just about everything you say, and even if I didn’t, another perspective adds to what I get out of it.

      • Raluca

        Lor, you bring up good points. Disa has a comment here somewhere which I agree with 100% and am going to even quote part of it for you, in case you don’t feel like looking for it:
        “The divide is between the folks who are looking at the real-world images
        they are seeing on the screen (larger, stronger man attacks smaller,
        weaker woman) and the folks who are looking at the scene in the context
        that Noxon set up all season (weaker, less powerful vampire attacks
        stronger, more powerful slayer).”

        The comment is longer and it makes perfect sense, to me at least. The idea that I wanted to convey here is why people are divided on the subject of Spike’s AR. Personally, I abhor rape and wish slow, painful deaths on those how attempt it (I know, I am a bad person). But what I see there is also someone hurt, lashing out, in pain and frustration, someone less powerful attacking someone powerful (whom the writers had to hurt to make her appear less powerful and thus justify the scene). I am sure you see a strong male attacking a weak female. 🙂 Both sides are valid, both opinions have supporters and both matter.

        • I see the divide, but I can’t have spent pretty much the entire season talking about Buffy’s depression, her clear weakness in this season, how she isn’t herself, how she was pulled out of heaven, the betrayal of her friends, and the loss of emotional and financial stability, only to reach this episode and say, “but Buffy is strong and Spike is weak!”

          To consider Spike as less powerful is certainly one view of things but I cannot agree with it. Why does he get to wear that title that ultimately creates a cushion for his actions? Because he’s alone? Any more alone than Buffy has felt all season?

          I certainly won’t give him my sympathy because he can’t murder people any more. He is still strong, a warrior he calls himself next episode, and he can certainly hold his own against Buffy. Is it the identity crisis? Any more severe than the one Buffy is going through as she reintegrates herself into mortal life?

          Is he weaker because he’s in emotional pain? More emotional pain than Buffy who finds herself inserted back into life and unable to deal with it in the way she wants to?

          Has he been weaker in the relationship, which some were pretty insistent on calling, “mutually abusive,” though it would appear now, the edge is give to Spike for being the weaker, less powerful vampire being preyed upon by the strong, powerful Slayer?

          All this just to more clearly paint where I am coming from: I do see the other side, and I appreciate that it is something people can relate to. That’s always nice to have in material. I’m just ruffled by the idea that this all is between a weak vampire and a strong slayer. Apart from all the ways I’ve highlighted that Buffy has been equally distraught throughout the season, as soon as the ATTEMPTED RAPE started, the power dynamics, whatever they were before, are irrelevant to me.

          Even in her weakest moments, I will never be able to see Buffy as a weak person. Who can? I didn’t look at that scene and see a strong man attacking a weak woman or a strong woman being attacked by a weak man.

          I saw an attempted rape.

          • Raluca

            LOL I am not sure how anyone can see anything else but attempted rape. And I also understand what you are saying and I think you are at least partially right. But I also think you are talking more about man and woman as they are culturally defined by gender and I was referring to principles of Yin and Yang. Buffy is clearly more Yang than Yin, whereas Spike is more Yin (at lease when he is chipped).

            Traditional gender roles are not applicable here, as neither Buffy nor Spike are in any way traditionally described.
            And again I am not excusing Spike or Buffy. I just relate to him more, as a Yin principle. I can see “his story” more than hers, as I have a long history of abuse down the line which is similar (in some ways) to his story of being abused (and abusing).

            You don’t need to give him sympathy for anything. I was just saying what I think, not what you should think 🙂

          • Alicia

            Just as you don’t view Spike as being weaker this season, I don’t view Buffy as being weaker either. They kind of take turns.

            A lot of people (in a lot of different places of discussion) do the very thing you’re questioning Spike’s ‘right’ to and label Buffy as being unequivocally less powerful and create that cushion you are talking about for her actions. A lot do the same for Spike too.

            I don’t think there SHOULD be a competition on who’s in more emotional pain or who’s more alone or who’s having the biggest identity crisis this season. They both go through their fair share and not necessarily at the same time. Easier said than done though, because it sometimes becomes one. The fact that highly emotional reactions come into viewing and discussing the show make it interesting and people defensive at times. It’s hard to stop that from happening. We’re all only human after all. I admit that the mostly negative responses to Spike in the recaps have really motivated me to post my thoughts, not only to present a different perspective, but as a way to understand my own reactions

            Like you say, how do you even measure power/weakness? Do you go by emotional power? physical power? mental power? sexual power? I think that Buffy and Spike’s whole relationship is a power struggle pretty much, and that struggle changes from episode to episode and scene to scene throughout. That’s why I disagree and think that power dynamics are very important during the whole bathroom scene. For me, the attempted rape is all about power.

          • Ashley Menvielle

            I love your thoughts here and I agree with pretty much everything you said. I can also see where Raluca and Lor are coming from and think that all those points are playing into the Buffy/Spike dynamic this season and in the AR, specifically. It’s a complicated relationship and season. Lots to discuss and think about!

  • Christine Tran

    I think now is an un-spoilery time to refer back to the shooting script for Smashed that was cut out (the
    part right before Spike calls the Magic Box):http://www.buffyworld.com/buffy/scripts/109_scri.html

    I was VERY young when Btvs was airing so I watched it sparingly, mostly about plot second hand from fans I knew. I remember being icked out but 100% unsurprised. I came across this later and in retrospect with this, see why it was cut out, i dunno, for gross shock value for what they knew was coming later in the season?

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  • Heather Bungard-Janney

    I am just going to hug the SnarkLadies now.

    I adore Spike, but I freely admit I see him through the lovely lovely Fanfic Goggles wherein a lot of this stuff Didn’t Happen Like They Told Us.

    Rape is inexcusable. It’s difficult because I, at least, see him as a sympathetic character and do try to understand his motivations – but understanding where he is emotionally is NOT the same as condoning what he tried to do. The hard part is that we tend to phrase this as “yes, it was bad BUT” and there is no “but” to that statement.

    So anyway. Hugs to you for going through this episode even knowing what was coming (and even not knowing) and for continuing the crusade. I’m not sure if it’s awesome or sad that I’ve learned more about rape culture from a show/book/movie REVIEW site than I have just about anywhere else. Wht that says about me and how hard I’ve looked for this information before is… not so cool.

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  • Meagan Malachite

    I was waiting for Jonathan to do something like that for ages. I was really disappointed with him in the first place for going against Buffy, who had helped him so many times, but I saw the redemptive-helping-her-act and thought it would be more focused on, actually.

    Lor’s comments on rape and context were definitely food for thought for me. I couldn’t agree more with most of what’s said here (on the whole blog) about consent and rape culture. I’ve had my share of violations by men and I am angry with how it’s excused so much.

    At the same time, I have a great interest in restorative justice, which I think does include looking at the context of a situation. The removal of crimes from context leads to more injustice/perpetuates systems of injustice. For example if someone steals, I would like to see the background acknowledged. Was it food and they were hungry? Was it like Dawn’s situation, where it was coming from emotional issues? Even murder has a context that we do sometimes look at: self-defense is seen as an acceptable excuse for murder, or even killing someone for vengeance (unlike many people, I don’t hold it against Angel at all that he let Darla and Dru feed on the lawyers). Another context: Angel freeing Billy to save Cordelia

    All of which is NOT to say that rape is excusable. I’m more looking at my own philosophy on how I’d like to see “crime” dealt with, and since rape is a (horrendous) crime, how to be consistent with that’s

    • Meagan Malachite

      Comments messed up. Thought continued:

      Consistency re: context and crime. My tentative conclusion for now is that most crimes deserve more of a look at context, and rape deserves less emphasis, specifically because of the current level of considerations our culture gives to these things. I hada recent experience of feeling extremely uncomfortable with a mans behavior towards me, and the group I was involved with that he was joining gave what I think is an undue amount of context consideration to him, but I wouldn’t like them to have ignored context completely.

  • SonicRulez

    This is it. This is the reason the show was just too ambitious for its own good. You cannot have one character attempt to rape your main character as part of their character arc in this way. It just blows away so much of Spike’s character to me. It makes it difficult to move on from. You guys are all talking to me post, so we can talk a little spoiler-y (though I’ll save some for Grave). You can’t go on to make Buffy’s attempted rapist one of her lovers. The cultural ramifications of that are off the fucking charts. I love Buffy. I love the fans. I just cannot swallow how many people walk away from Seeing Red with Spike feels. No, damn it! ENOUGH with Spike doing horrible things and then having them excused because he makes sad faces. It’s disgusting. There’s just this awful dissonance where the show is explaining how horrible he is and it feels like a lot of fans are either outright ignoring it or overwriting it with headcanon. Both make me uncomfortable.

    The misdirection makes it even more icky. All the talk of “giving that bitch what she deserves” and other things Spike says. That’s NOT how a man in love talks about getting a soul to prove himself capable of love in return. That’s how an abuser blames his victim. Worse, I think, is that it romanticizes Spike for the audience. It’s like….they wanted to do puppy Spike from Beneath You, but also YOU BELONG IN THE DARK at the same time and you cannot. At least, this writing team could not. For me, all of the former moments get tossed in the trash x10000 for all of the latter moments. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Predator Spike is all I see in every moment where he’s understanding to Buffy’s trauma or comforting to Dawn or relating to Joyce. It’s all one long ass con to get in Buffy’s pants. Do you know how mad I get when I see Becoming and I remember loving the Joyce/Spike scene, but then also remember Drusilla saying she knew Spike was pining after Buffy from around that time?! Very!

    I don’t think the writing team was ready to tackle this issue. There are so many problems here. You ladies did a brilliant job illuminating that. Bless this blog.

    Oh, and double WHY points because the awful rape always makes me forget that Tara also dies in this episode. Too much.

    • SonicRulez

      Oh yeah, and since I’m being a baby, I hate Tara’s line “That’s the best part” when Xander and Buffy appear to be making up. That’s a weird comment. Does she think Xander and Buffy are going to have sex? Is that like….a come on to Willow?

    • P R E A C H

      I was gonna start quoting specific parts of what you said, but actually ALL OF IT.

      With some time and distance, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this show was happening in a very different cultural moment and people who first came to it in that time just have their residual feelings and I guess that’s… what it is. I didn’t have that experience so I guess I can never know what that was for people. But I certainly can’t sit here in 20-fucking-17 and pretend it is anything but disgusting.