Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Fool for Love

Buffy: "Were you born this big a pain in the ass?"
Spike: "What can I tell you, baby? I've always been bad."

I've always been a Buffy/Angel fan – part of me is convinced that someday Buffy will survive her expiration date and hand over her responsibilities to the next Slayer, Angel will become human as his reward for years of fighting evil, and the two of them will retire to Malibu together – but I am also extremely impressed with (and even turned on by) the dramatic and romantic tension that is building between Buffy and Spike. Buffy/Spike shippers must be having a field day.

This is the Spike back story I've been waiting for, and it was even better than I'd hoped. We now know that Spike's vamp personality is a reflection or derivation of his human personality: observant, sensitive, a fool for love, a passionate poet; deep down, Spike is still the same hurt, romantic soul that he was as a human. And it works.

The flashbacks were outstanding:

-- 1880 London: We get our first glimpse of Spike as human William the bloody awful poet fixated on Cecily, and we feel for him when she tells him that he is beneath her. Dru must have read William's mind and found the sensitive, dashing, gallant and imaginative lover she wanted in there.

-- 1880 Yorkshire: Spike gets the group in trouble because he loves attention; he's a lot happier as a vamp than as a human, isn't he? So Angel and Spike never did get along; they're just too different. They do seem to end up with the same women, though. Interesting.

-- 1900 China, the Boxer Rebellion: I had thought we had a continuity boo-boo here since Angel was cursed in 1898, but no – and how about that? Interesting too that like Angel in "Graduation Day," Spike has drunk Slayer blood and found it to be an aphrodisiac. (Angel may not have said so out loud, but couldn't you tell?)

-- 1977 New York City: This was definitely the most powerful of the flashbacks; it was incredible, watching Spike fighting the seventies Slayer while simultaneously fighting Buffy in front of the Bronze. Spike: "Cunning resourceful, oh did I mention, hot? I could have danced all night with that one." Buffy: "You think we're dancing?" Spike: "That's all we've ever done." Wow.

-- 1998 South America. So Dru knew how Spike was starting to feel about Buffy? Spike had said in "Lovers Walk" that it was that alliance with Buffy that broke him up with Dru, but he hadn't given it the more romantic connotation that Dru did.

Seeing Buffy investigating the deaths of other slayers was touching, and it made the death/sex/eroticism/Anne Rice kind of theme more dramatic. Does Buffy really have a death wish, or is she just drawn to darkness? Are her ties to the world all that are keeping her alive, as Spike said?

That scene at the end had me tingling; Spike was touching Buffy, and she was letting him. Their relationship has changed, big time. Gold acting stars to James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Gellar for some outstanding work. Wow.


Moving along to our B plot, I enjoyed Riley's attempt to do some serious patrolling and to get the vamp that stabbed Buffy. Liked the hand signals, liked the Slayerettes schmoozing and eating chips, loved the grenade. In fact, I really liked Riley in this episode a lot more than I usually do.

Bits and pieces:

-- Joyce is seriously ill, isn't she? Is Buffy losing her mom?

-- Buffy/Giles interaction already seems to be back where it was in year three. This is a good thing. If Buffy is indeed losing Joyce, she will need Giles even more than ever.

-- The first Slayer Spike killed was the one to give him his scar.

-- I liked Dawn covering for Buffy. It reminded me of me covering for my older sister.

-- I loved finally seeing the infamous chaos demon with the slime and antlers.

Quotes:

Buffy: "I can't believe I passed out. Do you think I'm a total wuss now?"
Riley: "Oh, yeah. I like a girl who can play a few hard sets of tennis with a major stab wound."

Dawn: "Did I just pull a Slayer-related Mom cover-up thing? Come on, who's the man?"
Buffy: "You are. A very short, annoying man."

Giles: "Well, it says this Slayer forged her own weapons."
Buffy: "Gotta love a gal with an anvil."

Buffy: "Look, I realize that every Slayer comes with an expiration mark on the package. But I want mine to be a long time from now. Like a Cheeto."

Spike: "You know, there quite a few American beers that are highly underrated. This, unfortunately, is not one of them."

Drusilla: "I smell fear. It's intoxicating."

Spike: "She was cunning, resourceful... oh, did I mention hot? I could have danced all night with that one."
Buffy: "You think we're dancing?"
Spike: "That's all we've ever done."

Spike: "Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day; that final gasp, that look of peace. And part of you is desperate to know, what's it like? Where does it lead you? Now you see, that's the secret; not the punch you didn't throw or the kicks you didn't land. Every slayer has a death wish. Even you."

This one gets four out of four stakes, of course; in fact, I'd even give it five out of four. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is one of the best Buffy episodes ever. With the Angel episode "Darla" right after it, it is right up there with "Surprise" and "Innocence," "Becoming," and "Graduation Day." Are two-parters just better because there's more time to develop a good story?

Billie, a very happy Buffy fan this week
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

16 comments:

Gus Brunetti said...

What a powerful episode! The editing was a big part of what made it so powerful, so credit where credit is due: congratulations on an excellent job, Regis Kimble!

And if you weren't captivated by Spike as more than a villain before, you have been by the end of this epidose.

Bravo!

Sooze said...

I have been waiting and waiting to see how the Spike/Buffy relationship developed...I knew it was coming but had no idea how they would make it work. Having Spike's back story sold the whole thing...and James Marsters was incredible.

Anonymous said...

I just love how you were slowly converted into a Spuffy shipper while you were watching this show :D

Billie Doux said...

Anonymous wrote: "I just love how you were slowly converted into a Spuffy shipper while you were watching this show :D"

I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one. :)

Miguel said...

Not much to say about this episode that you haven't already said. It's incredibly powerful though. It's definitely worth watching "Darla" right afterwards to see the flashbacks from a different perspective.

Wonderful acting from both Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marster in this episode, and the writing and directing were top notch as well. I love the shot of Spike on top of the 70s slayer looking up and speaking to Buffy in the present day at the same time. The scene at the end is wonderful as well. Buffy's fear and sadness of her Mom getting increasingly more sick always gets to me. It's done so realistically.

And of course, it was wonderful to have nutty Drusilla back! She'll always be one of my favorites.

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Season five spoilers are posted here.

BTW, this is officially my favorite Buffy episode. ("OMwF" is a close second.) If you're not doing the Angel rewatch at the same time, you might want to watch "Darla" -- it's a crossover two-parter.

lisa menaster said...

I don't understand how someone can convert from being a Bangel shipper to a Spuffy shipper.

Juliette said...

I love this episode so much - I totally agree, it's one of the all-time best episodes of the show (my list, fyi, would include Becoming Part 2, Hush, Restless and a later episode, but this may actually be at the top, I love it that much). Marsters and Geller have fantastic chemistry - so glad the show didn't waste it!

Josie Kafka said...

This is an excellent episode. I think my favorite part is the screenshot you have as the top picture, Billie: Spike, the shotgun, and comfort.

I loved finally seeing the infamous chaos demon with the slime and antlers. And I love the way that the chaos demon apologizes for causing trouble. Apparently chaos demons don't really live up to their names.

Annie said...

I love this episode, its probably my favorite episode of Buffy too... I can't think of one that I like more anyway.

One thing that always gets me though is I am confused as to how much of what we see is being told to Buffy.

After saying 'I've always been bad' did he then tell about his human self who was clearly about as 'bad' as a bunny rabbit? or did he gloss over it? Did Buffy say 'your beneath me' to purposefully hurt him, or was that coincidence?

Spike does usually tell it how it is so I've always been inclined to think that he actually told all but there is that doubt that niggles at me whenever I watch this episode.

ChrisB said...

This is also one of my favorite episodes and, as usual, it's all because of Spike. His backstory fills in so many blanks and explains so much about him. As you say, Billie, he is still fundamentally the same person he's always been.

But, it's the scene at the end that gets me every time. All kudos to James Marsters who transforms from badass to friend, with stops along the way to confusion and concern, all in front of our eyes.

I am one of those people who shipped Spike and Buffy from the second he appeared on our screen. He's always been a much better partner for her than Angel -- at least in my opinion.

What makes the ending even more powerful for me is that, right before it, Buffy has been a complete bitch. She says the one thing to Spike that she knows is going to hurt and says it with attitude. It is understandable that Spike is murderous. Yet, the soulful poet in love with the girl just can't help but comfort her.

Love my Spike.

drnanamom said...

I love this episode as well and adore Spike but every once in a while I think to myself - this was the beginning for me of glossing over the whole mass murder thing to connect with a character. It only bothers me for a while but sometimes I think it should bother me just a bit longer...

Jane said...

Oops - lost my comment. I love Spike and Angel both - don't ask me to choose! I'm sure you are right drnanamom, but I have found Spike fascinating from his first appearance and I give myself a pass on enjoying morally questionable characters in fiction. The bigger crime for me is being uninteresting and I find Riley guilty of that.

Annie's question is a good one. I watched the episode figuring that what we saw of the flashbacks was a more honest telling than what Buffy was hearing. Spike seems like the kind of person to cover his vulnerabilities with swagger to me.

M said...

My favorite episode for all the reasons everyone else has mentioned! The subway scene is particularly excellent.

Anyone else think Spike was offering to turn Buffy's mom in that last scene when he asks her if there is anything he can do?

TJ said...

This episode is so powerful. Spike's backstory is wonderful, and it was about time we got to know a little bit more about him.

The end scene with Spike conforting Buffy always gets me choked up.

sunbunny said...

I always forget how amazing this episode is until I watch it again. The end scene never fails to make me a lil misty. He goes there so intent on killing her and ends up comforting her instead. Awww.