Buffy the Vampire Slayer: As You Were

Buffy: "Were you always this tall?"

This episode was funny, intriguing, and well written, and it really pissed me the hell off. Maybe I should take my critique in that order, and praise before I tirade.

What did I like? I thought it was touching to put Buffy in that situation; she was dealing with a horrible job, too much housework, a difficult teenager, and a troublesome sexual relationship. In walks Riley Finn, all tall and body-armored and scarred and mysterious, with a glamorous job (that has dental) and the absolutely perfect marriage, making Buffy's entire life look like crap in comparison.

Xander and Anya's pre-wedding jitters were a hoot. I especially liked them on the way to the airport on a freeway that looked suspiciously like the 405; that whole conversation was fun, especially the part about sleeping on sofas and the circle of life. I also adored Willow's attempts to dislike Sam for Buffy's sake. Sam really was terrific, absolutely perfect for Riley and saying exactly the right thing to absolutely everyone; it would have been nauseating if she hadn't been so likeable. (I especially liked Sam comparing Buffy to Santa Claus and Buddha.)

Now for the tirade. Riley was correct that Spike most certainly was once "deadly, amoral, and opportunistic," but is he still? Was he indeed keeping the demon eggs for someone else? And if he wasn't, how could the writers tromp all over their previous character development by having Spike do something so avaricious and harmful? Spike didn't have a chance in a side-to-side comparison with Riley because the writers stacked the deck in Riley's favor. Spike didn't even get to enjoy flaunting his relationship with Buffy, because Riley didn't react at all. (Although how about Spike unconcernedly naked in front of Riley? That took nerve.) Of course, Riley probably wasn't all that unaffected; he did offer to kill Spike for Buffy, didn't he? Were we just a bit jealous after all, Mr. Finn?

It was good for Buffy to face the fact that her relationship with Spike was unhealthy and to acknowledge it out loud to someone (arghh, Riley), but it's too bad that Buffy finally started treating Spike like a person right before she broke up with him. She blew up his crypt and broke his heart at the same time (some-hit-you-over-the-head symbolism there). All through this episode, Spike looked more human and vulnerable than he ever has, especially in that last scene when, certainly not coincidentally, she called him "William."

Is it over? I don't think so. They're both in the cast, there's too much between them, and does anyone honestly think that Spike is going to just let Buffy go without a fight?

Despite my displeasure with what The Buffy Powers That Be just did to Spike, this was a very quotable episode with lots of fun bits:

-- Liked Buffy's annoying cliche-spouting political science co-worker with the five-year pin.

-- The superbreeding Suvolte demons looked like stuntmen in costumes with visible zippers. The only thing I liked about them was Buffy's description: "So they're like really mean tribbles?"

-- I noticed that the vampire in the first segment and Riley both made nasty comments about Buffy smelling like burgers ("You know, it goes away after many bathings"), but Spike, who got a lot closer to her for a lot longer, didn't. About time she quit that job, anyway.

Quotes:

Todd: "I mean, it's not like we work at Burger World, or the Happy Bun, where the power structure is simple. No, here at the Palace, you gotta keep your friends close, but your enemies? Closer. It's like Machiavelli says. You know Machiavelli, right?"
Buffy: "Tall guy, bleached mullet, works day shifts?"

Xander: "Wedding, one week! We have friends, family, demons flying in, a to-do list getting no shorter, and do NOT take my chips."

Riley: "I want to explain, I just don't have time. I've been up for 48 hours straight tracking something bad, and now it's come to Sunnydale."
Buffy: "My hat has a cow."

Riley: "Got some big stories to tell you. If we ever get half a second."
Buffy: "Did you die?"
Riley: "No."
Buffy: "I'm gonna win."

Riley: (to Buffy in her DMP uniform) "No offense, but this is black ops, and you look like a pylon."

Xander: "I hate my uncle. I hate my whole family. That's why I'm marrying you, to start a new family. Have children, make them hate us, then one day they'll get married, we'll sleep on their couch. It's the circle of life."

Spike: "I've memorized this tune, love. Think I have the sheet music."

I'm once again flailing around for a rating,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

6 comments:

QRS said...

Do the eggs have anything to do with Buffy telling Spike she needed money in DMP, and Spike saying that he could get money?

Anonymous said...

While I was quite disappointed that Spike had the eggs this episode, I don't think I found it as out of character as you. Riley has a point--Spike is amoral. His only morality is what works for him and the (very limited) list of people he cares about. If he believed that Buffy wouldn't find out (and the chip was gone) then he would still be eating people. He's trying to be moral-ish, but only for Buffy's sake. Part of the reason he and Dru worked so well is that they were both evil, so Spike could give full vent to his evil impulses and it impressed Dru. The way I see it, Spike truly does love Buffy, but at his core he's still a demon so he keeps defaulting to evil and sabotaging himself.

Spoiler ahead:
This is why I don't think Spike could completely love Buffy until a certain event at the end of the season. In season 7, Buffy says something about how Spike faced the evil inside him and fought back. Until then, Spike's love always had a selfishness attached to it, but afterwards he is able to act in her best interest. Spike's love for Buffy motivated him to change his very nature so that he could be the kind of person who could love her properly. The kind of person who would not default to evil whenever someone wasn't looking.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and these reviews are great. I just finished going through Buffy and Angel for the first time and I loved them both. Reading your reviews just made it more fun :)

Mandy

(I also wrote the previous anon comment but forgot to sign it)

Billie Doux said...

Thanks, Mandy. I'm enjoying your comments.

magritte said...

Personally, I'm glad to see the end of the Buffy/Spike affair. What bothered me that was not that she was using him sexually, but that she was using him as an emotional and physical punching bag. Treating him like a thing, not a person, was a fundamental aspect of the relationship. If she thought of him as a person, she couldn't do that to him.

As to Spike having the eggs, I agree with Mandy that it was not out of character. I don't see Spike having a generalized love of humanity that would prevent him from making a buck because some unknown people, probably far away, might get hurt. Besides, the way Riley said "some governments would love to get their own" made me suspect the U.S. government already has some eggs in the freezer. After all, Riley knew how they needed to kept.

Lamounier said...

Aside from the silly demon who looked like he had crossed over from Power Rangers (seriously, why did the writers come up with such lame demons of the week for season six?) and the bit about the magicians consumed by magic (my least favorite part of the magic/drugs metaphor), I like this one. A lot, actually. Well, what I like a lot is Buffy's character development.

I wasn't crazy about Buffy's pedestal of purity getting all activated on Riley's presence, but I loved that she regained some sense of worth and was able to break up with Spike. She did it in a lovely way, calling him "William" and all. I also appreciated how Riley spoke to her and lifted her up. I love that shot of Buffy standing alone outside the Magic Box after Riley and Sam leave. You just know that our little Buffy is making amends with herself at that moment.

This episode follows the trend of bringing back an ex-boyfriend and closing some wounds. It happened with Angel (on "The Yoko Factor") and Oz (on "New Moon Rising"), I like that they gave Riley the same treatment. He leaves this episode on a more positive note than when he left before.

Boyfriend Report

He hated this one and not for the reasons people usually do. He actually loves Riley and ships Buffy and Riley. I know, you didn't think Buffy and Riley shippers existed, right? Neither did I. He quit watching BtVS for weeks after "Into the Woods", I'm not kidding.

He loved that Riley showed up, but hated that he was married. At least he got over it quickly this time.