Previously: The Big Bad shows up and tricks Dawn and Willow into conversations. Buffy has a heart to heart with a new vampire she eventually slays.
Lorraine: We took a break. It was nice. It’s over now.
Buffy visits Xander at 4:30 in the morning, looking for Spike, who isn’t there. Xander asks if Spike’s in trouble, and Buffy says she hopes not.
Cut to In Trouble Alley where Spike for reasons I’m sure will be explained later, proving that Spike is a good boy (I swear I haven’t watched ahead) is burying a dead woman’s body while humming.
Kirsti: The use of humming in place of music dramatically ups the creep factor for me. That and the fact that what he’s humming is a song that my brother’s choir used to sing…
Lor: Wolf Howl.
After the credits, we get an establishing shot of London, England. A London man gets home and notices a knocked over vase. He calls out to a woman, only to find her dead, on the floor, knife wound to her back. London Man is attacked from behind by a ninja. London Man fends him off okay, but the ninja cheats and uses super ninja speed to sneak up behind London Man and stab him anyway.
Sweeney: While rounding up things for the Traumaland Awards, we discovered our penchant for wasting clever nicknames on characters who die very quickly. It’s a sign of how good we’ve gotten at TV that we can now recognize who is worth an elaborate nickname.
Lor: Sunnydale, CA. Willow runs into Chez Summers, calling for Buffy. Dawn is sitting in the living room amongst the wreckage of Conversations With Dead People. Dawn tells Willow that she spoke to Joyce. Willow shares that she saw something too that looked like someone that it wasn’t. It was the Big Bad, the one they knew was coming. Well, that was exactly what not!Joyce said too. Dawn thinks, or really wants to believe, that there is a possibility it was really Joyce.
K: I still have debates with myself about whether or not it was Joyce. Because why would the Big Bad go to so much trouble with Dawn after literally just walking into the library and being all “HEY, WILLOW. KILL YOURSELF.”? You know?? But then on the other hand, why would Joyce be all “Buffy won’t choose you”?? Gah.
Sweeney: It’s definitely ambiguous. That said, it was about getting under their skin to weaken them. In both cases, it preyed on deeply held fears and combined that with words from their greatest loss. Willow was told that she’d destroy the world for real and that Tara believed it to be so (and, more to the point, didn’t believe in her). Dawn was shown big supernatural terror, meant to make her feel helpless — she stepped up like a badass, but it would have been a silly tactic with Willow, given her magical gifts — and then given the final punch of confirming a deeply held fear: that Buffy, the one she loves/needs most would let her down.
I’m not saying there’s a right answer and I second your internal debate, but I also see why it would make sense to go to such destructive trouble with Dawn and not with Willow. The trauma was very specific.
Lor: I’ve been operating under the assumption that it was a fake Joyce. I see the ambiguity as well, though.
Xander’s Gift Apartment. Xander, under the guise of being totally objective on the subject of Spike as a murdery murderer, plays bad cop to Buffy’s doubtful cop. B doesn’t want to believe that Spike is out siring people, and says he still has the pain chip she saw working recently. Xander brings up the fact that he hurt Buffy perfectly fine (an argument that wouldn’t work if Buffy just said, “I don’t count because I’m undead.”) (S: But using your words is so hard! And how would there be PLOT and CONFLICT if people did that?) and also says that Spike could be faking it. Xander’s point is that they just don’t know either way. Buffy says Spike is different now. She feels it.
Speak of the bleached devil, he arrives and asks if there’s any trouble, on account of it being an early hour. Buffy stammers over an explanation, and Spike thinks this is his hint to butt out. He heads for his Cupboard Under the Stairs, but Buffy stops him and asks how his night was. He returns the question and she fishes by telling him that she had to kill a vampire she kind of knew, Holden Webster. Spike’s all, “ROUGH. Okay, goodnight.” and leaves.
K: The whole conversation between them was really intense and the knowledge that Xander’s just sitting there watching them have this hella intense conversation and not saying anything is weird.
Lor: Xander thinks Spike’s cool reaction to Holden was suspicious. Buffy has to get home to check on Dawn, but they need to keep an eye on Spike. Buffy says, “we” but she means “Xander.” He can’t, though, because he has a big client meeting. Xander consistently going to work is a favorite thing of mine. It’s the opposite of the Pretty Little Liars being out of school at all hours of the day. Or else, being in school but never being in or around a classroom. (S: +1! Yay for characters having real jobs and stuff!) Anyway, Buffy says babysitting Spike is serious and they have to get someone to do it.
Cut to Anya that morning saying she won’t do it. Xander opens the blinds as he points out that she already agreed to do it. That was before he told her Spike was killing again. If you are setting up a babysitting job, “your charge might be killing people” is super important information to hand out beforehand. (K: Truth. And applies similarly to horror movies involving demonic children.)
Xander, now sounding more like Buffy, says they don’t actually know that Spike’s killed anyone lately. Anya asks if he’s searched the Cupboard for clues like scalps or necklaces of human teeth. On that note, Xander tries to head out, saying Anya will be safe since there is plenty of sunlight. Considering Spike combats the sun with blankets and hats: LOL. Anya wants a weapon, but if Xander says if Spike tries to leave, she should just let him go and call Buffy. Xander assures her she’ll be fine, and she yells that she’d better be because if she gets sired, she’s going to bite his ass. Xander: It wouldn’t be the first time.
Chez Summers. Buffy runs up the stairs, yelling for Dawn. Willow is just leaving Dawn’s room, and explains that Dawn’s fine and has just finally fallen asleep. Buffy asks what the hell happened downstairs and Willow offers that “hell happened.” The Big Bad who has been promising to devour started chomping, and it started with Dawn and Willow. She explains what they saw and the very convincing lies it told. Buffy tells Will about Holden claiming Spike sired him. Willow thinks maybe Holden was a fake out, but he “dusted real enough.” Buffy doesn’t want to believe that Spike is killing again, but if he is, she wants to see it for herself and be there to stop him.
With hugs. She didn’t say that.
Gift Apartment. Anya is on the couch, the sun’s gone down a bit, and she’s looking at Spike’s door. Get some magazines, girl. She decides to go poke around Spike’s Cupboard Under the Stairs instead, armed with a stake. I guess Xander has a few spares hanging around. Or maybe she used her down time to fashion one. YEAH. Spike is sleeping naked, covered only by a well positioned sheet. His room is a lot larger than whatever refashioned closet they led us to believe it would be. Harry Potter is somewhere thinking, “bitch, please.”
Anya looks through Spike’s clothes, and she doesn’t notice when he wakes up. He grabs her hand suddenly, and asks her to explain just what she’s doing. She hesitates for a second before claiming she came for sex.
K: I hate everything about this scene. EVERYTHING.
Lor: We cut to Anya sitting in the living room with those magazines I recommended for her! Spike exits his room fully clothed. Anya is facing the camera, her back to Spike as he says he didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. Without facing him she says she’s fine. He leaves. Anya waits a beat and picks up the phone to call Buffy and let her know Spike is on the move.
Sunnydale… promenade? There’s a lot of people milling about. A street musician is playing a harmonica. As Spike passes him, he changes the song to Early One Morning. Spike hums along. Buffy is a few paces behind him, but she has to hustle to keep sight of him in the crowd. Spike approaches a young woman in a belly shirt and we see them whisper to each other flirtatiously before he leads her away.
K: Two things here: 1. This is the busiest that Sunnydale has ever been. EVER. In the entire seven seasons of the show. And 2. I call bullshit on anyone meeting and charming a girl into leaving with them in under ten seconds.
Lor: I’m sure there are a few Spike fangirls who would disagree with #2.
In an alley, Spike and Belly Shirt flirt and kiss. Buffy walks into the alley and Spike looks at her as she says, “You know you want it. You know I want you to.” Spike sinks his teeth into Belly Shirt and drinks only a sip because he’s wasteful. WASTEFUL I SAY. He de-vamps and runs out of the alley. Not!Buffy morphs into not!Spike and quotes Early One Morning: How could you use a poor maiden so?
Cupboard Under the Stairs. Spike is sleeping again. Buffy flips him off his bed. Probably a terrible way to wake up. Buffy asks if Spike killed the girl. He’s confused. Buffy saw him walk off with a girl, but didn’t see anything else. Spike claims they only talked to each other is all, and he couldn’t even kill her anyways. Buffy acknowledges the chip and Spike gets upset.
“No, not the chip! Not the chip, dammit. You honestly think I’d go to the end of the underworld and back to get my soul and then— Buffy, I can barely live with what I did. It haunts me. All of it. If you think that I would add to the body count now, you are crazy.”
If I cared about Spike, that would be a good little speech.
Buffy huffs about Spike picking up drunk co-eds because he’s “hungry for conversation,” and he figures this is jealousy talking. Buffy denies it but he insists. She tries to bring up Holden, but Spike cuts her off, saying that sure, he talks to other women, but only because he can’t talk to her.
As daft a notion as “Soulful Spike the Killer” is, it is nothing compared to the idea that another girl could mean anything to me. This chip—they did to me. I couldn’t help it. But the soul, I got on my own—for you.
Guys, if you are ever going to go to a Fear Factor cave to get you a soul, let it be for yourself and for no one else. Official #SnarkLadyadvice (S: Saving lives and soulless existences alike!)
K: Meanwhile, I’m busy hating the “you’re jealous” thing and all the guilt trips that he dumps into the conversation and pretty much everything ever. Remember when we covered School Hard and I fangirl flailed over Spike’s arrival? How times change…
Lor: I feel like I should apologize. Sorry.
Spike passes time with other woman, but for him, it’s still all about Buffy. She changes the subject back to Holden and his claim that Spike sired him. Plus, Buffy was following him and he looked a tad too much like he was on the prowl. Spike doesn’t remember exactly what happen because his boring chats with Buffy-stand-ins all bleed together. Buffy thinks maybe he’s also forgetting a bunch of murders. Spike finally says she doesn’t have any proof, and she replies that she’ll get some.
Chez Summers. The Scooby Gang (minus Xander) are gathered and Buffy tasks them with helping her find evidence. Dawn very strategically asks about the vampire who told her about Spike, saying that they were all lied to that night. Willow says maybe not. Even though the Big Bad is evil, it doesn’t follow that it was also lying. Anya: I used to tell the truth all the time when I was evil.
Anya suggest looking for an uptick in dead people with neck injuries, but there are none. There are, however, 10ish new missing person reports. Dawn hopefully asks if this means Holden was telling the truth. Buffy again says maybe.
Sweeney: Dawn fishing for someone to subtly confirm/deny what maybe!Joyce said makes my heart hurt. I’ve got Dawn Feels for days, as everyone knows, and I get where she’s coming from. That said, my Buffy empathy trumps all others and it sucks that she’s not even getting the opportunity to defend herself against this accusation by way of a sisterly chat. It makes sense, given how shitty they are at having open, honest sisterly chats, but it hurts my feels all around.
Lor: Spike is getting dressed to go out for the night. In his jacket pocket, he finds a pack of cigarettes which causes him to flash back to the girl who gave them to him, who he then killed. He’s shocked.
K: Damn those cigarette flashbacks. As if cigarettes weren’t bad enough for you already, now they make you have murder flashbacks too…
Lor: This is either a anti-smoking or anti-murder PSA. Maybe both.
Xander is in the living room watching TV. Spike comes out of his room and Xander jumps right up to stop him from leaving the apartment, as those were Buffy’s instructions. Xander stands between Spike and the door, and starts to list all the reasons Spike can’t leave. Spike punches him in the face and knocks him out cold. He grabs his head in pain, but then shakes it off and walks out. The chip is kind of stupid.
Sweeney: Season 7’s rehashing everything from the show’s history, including stupidly bending all of its established rules for the sake of convenience. It is its own kind of consistency, if nothing else.
Lor: Aimee Mann is onstage at the Bronze. I don’t know her, but the Internet is helpful. She sings relevant lyrics as Spike asks the bartender and a waitress if they know anything about the blonde lady he remembered from his murder flashback.
Xander phones Buffy to let her know Spike is gone.
Spike is now on that upstairs portion of the Bronze. He’s watching the crowd and drinking from a flask. He’s approached by a young woman who comments on how intensely Spike is scanning the crowd. He shortly explains that he’s looking for someone. This doesn’t stop the girl from sitting down and flirting. Spike tries to get her to leave, but instead she vamps out and asks if he wants to take everyone out, one by one. Spike tells her to get away, but the vamp girl reveals that she knows Spike from before this moment: You didn’t seem so shy when you were biting me. I’m not asking if you wanna be soul mates, just figured you’d wanna have some fun.
Upset by this revelation, he starts to fight the vamp girl, and eventually dusts her as she falls over the railing. Her dust falls down by the dance floor. The music stops and everyone is stunned for a few seconds. Aimee Mann starts singing again.
A Sunnydale night club. (K: THERE’S MORE THAN JUST THE BRONZE?!?!?!?!?!?) (S: WEIRD.) There is a long line outside. Buffy walks up to the bouncer, who tells her she can walk right inside if she wants. Must be that sexy turtleneck. Buffy isn’t here to boogie, though. She wants to know if the bouncer has seen Spike.
Bouncer says that Spike’s been there often, and always leaves with a pretty girl.
Back at the Bronze, Spike finds a payphone. The band is getting off stage as Aimee Mann says, “Man, I hate playing vampire towns.” Spike calls Buffy and tells her that he’s remembering things. He gives her an address and tells her to meet him there. He hangs up and turns around to find not!Spike standing there. Not!Spike says it isn’t time yet, and that Spike is going against the plan.
We cut to said house, where Spike is leading Buffy into the basement. Not!Spike is blocking Spike’s way, saying more stuff about these events being out of order. Spike firmly tells not!Spike that he isn’t there. Buffy finally comes down the stairs and tells Spike to get to showing what he needs to show. He admits that he’s remembered killing some folk, and he think he’s buried the bodies in this basement. This basement has a dirt floor. Huh.
Sweeney: There’s a lot to be said for the careless treatment of unnamed characters on this show. However, the owners of this house were probably some Dexter-style victims in that their dirt floor basement screams #CREEPYASSHIT.
Lor: If you have a dirt floor basement, you are asking for bad things in your life.
Buffy asks why he did this and Spike begins to say that he doesn’t know, when not!Spike starts singing Early One Morning. Spike is mesmerized by the song, which now we understand is a sort of trigger for sleeper vamp Spike. He vamps out and attacks Buffy, even using some broken glass to cut her arm. Buffy tries to shake him out of it between punches, but things get even more complicated when the fresh vampires start breaking out of their graves. Buffy knocks Spike away and starts to fight all the vampires.
K: Okay, so. While it’s all very dramatic, this whole “People sired across like a month [or at least several weeks] rising simultaneously” thing is bullshit. Because usually, it’s a “day after death” or “day after burial” deal, right? Stop fucking about with your canon, Whedon!! #confusion
Sweeney: There’s been a higher-than-normal volume of that crap this episode.
Lor: Not!Spike and Spike are chatting during this. Well, not chatting. Not!Spike is telling Spike to drink from Buffy. A couple of vampires have bested her, and are holding her by the arms now, allowing Spike to approach her and lick the wound on her shoulder. But alas! The blood causes all the murder memories to come flashing back to him because of reasons. He’s completely shocked and horrified. He stumbles away from Buffy, into a back corner of the basement. Buffy breaks free from the vampires and uses the handle of a shovel to stake all the remaining vampires quickly and easily.
K: It’s pretty epic. I approve.
Lor: In his Shame Corner, Spike holds his head in misery. Not!Spike tells him that Buffy is going to kill him.
There is a straggler vampire now trying to break out of her grave. It’s an older woman. Buffy helps her out and then dusts her: Sorry, ma’am, but it’s my job.
Buffy walks over to Spike and he opens up his jacket, exposing his heart to her, and asking her to do it quickly, because “he” said she would. Buffy asks who “he” is and Spike’s claim that it was him, “I was here the whole time, talking and singing,” doesn’t exactly explain things, but thankfully, Buffy understands that something was down in the basement with them. Buffy tosses her weapon and Spike cries that he needed that. He can’t cry the soul out of himself and he’s feeling all the deaths. Buffy explains that something is playing with them all. Spike asks for B’s help and she grants it to him. Not!Spike is sitting near them, sneering.
Chez Summers. Spike is sitting apart from the group, wrapped in a blanket. Anya asks if Buffy believes Spike’s story. She does. She saw how out of control he was in the basement. Xander: Oh, an out of control serial killer. You’re right, that is a great houseguest. Dawn is all, “SKKKRT. Is he staying here?” but Buffy doesn’t know yet. She just doesn’t want to let Spike out of her sight. Willow is also unconvinced but Buffy isn’t keeping Spike around just to help him. She wants to use him to get information about the Big Bad, seeing as how Spike’s spent the most time with it. Then we get this bit of heavy-handed, spoon fed dialogue:
Buffy: Look, there’s something evil working us, and if we are ever gonna have a chance to fight it, we need to learn everything we can about it. This thing has been closer to Spike than any of us.
Willow: And if you want to understand it….
Buffy: I’m gonna have to get close to Spike.
Ah, yes, I see now. Please, definitely fill these next few episodes with Spike. I understand completely.
K: STABBY STABBY STABBY HULK SMASH. There, that’s the next few episodes recapped!
Sweeney: We will be recapping the remaining episodes via Twitter. 140 characters or less!
Lor: We head back to London, where we started the episode. Giles walks into London Man’s house and sees the dead woman on the floor. He calls out for London Man and soon hears his sputtering breath. Giles cries over the London Man’s body, but his eyes flutter up and he delivers this last message to Giles: Gather them. It’s started. He doesn’t, however, warn Giles that the ninja is right behind him with an axe.
LEAVE GILES ALONE.
Next time: Xander and Anya interrogate Andrew and Buffy takes Spike prisoner in S07 E09 – Never Leave Me.