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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Beneath You

Buffy: "Spike, have you completely lost your mind?"
Spike: "Well, yes. Where have you been all night?"

I guess having Spike come back wildly happy and sweeping Buffy off her feet was too much to hope for, huh?

This episode was a James Marsters tour-de-force, and it was wonderful. He really got to demonstrate some serious acting range, didn't he? Poor "flat-out, bug-shagging crazy" Spike, screaming in the basement; Scooby Spike with the body-hugging blue shirt (yum), quieter look, and gentle, non-smirking manner; the fake-out Big Bad Spike in the Bronze scene, punching out Anya (that took me aback) to keep her from saying out loud what had happened to him, trying to piss Buffy off by saying, "Up for another round on the balcony, then?" and finally — back to what is obviously the real Spike right now.

The Real Spike is a vampire with a soul and a chip... and he's nearly insane. He's being driven mad by his past and by the decision he made, and he's also clearly in touch with what's going on with the Hellmouth, which can't be good for the sanity. That last bit makes him once again a valuable ally for the Scoobies, though, doesn't it?

That scene at the end was soooo intense. I wrote down some of Spike's monologue. "Am I flesh to you?... get it hard, service the girl... right. Girl doesn't want to be serviced, because there's no spark." The reference he made to Angel infers that Spike really does understand Angel now, but it seems to me that Spike as a human was a lot more sensitive than Angel ever was, so Spike might be finding this soul thing even more difficult to live with than Angel did. "Spilling useless buckets of salt over your... ending" ... huh? The way he cried when Buffy died? "They put the spark in me and now all it does is burn...." That scene at the end where he's embracing that cross and talking about needing to be loved reminded me of when Buffy was kissing Angel in season one and the cross she was wearing burned into his chest, but more so. Much bigger cross, too.

Maybe there's hope for Buffy and Spike. Buffy figured it out pretty quickly; you could see the realization in her eyes when Spike mentioned Angel. And she was definitely feeling pretty bad about it, and maybe guilty, too. I think we got past the rape thing, anyway; he is so obviously not the same guy.

Okay, moving on to the rest of the plot: lots of relationship-y stuff. We get Nancy with Ronnie the Worm-guy psycho ex-boyfriend. I wasn't wild about Nancy possibly dating Xander, but her confusion about Buffy/Xander, Buffy/Spike, Spike/Anya, and Anya/Xander was so cute.

Things don't look good for the other demon in the cast. Anya isn't meeting her demon quota, and things with D'Hoffryn and Cecily/Halfrek aren't going well. And she's Doing Bad Things.

There was another high school scene with cutie-pie Principal Wood. Are he and Buffy flirting with each other? I think they are. There was a fun reference to season one (Wood: "You're not here to be their friend. Trust me. You open that door and these students will eat you alive." Buffy: "You heard about Principal Flutie, right?"). And Wood is a vegetarian, huh? My friend Vikki was theorizing that Principal Wood might be a good guy, perhaps a pagan-earth-type there to help fight the evil emerging from the Hellmouth. I'm all for that.

This week's Alias-like opener, complete with the throbbing rock beat and a Sydney-like magenta-haired heroine, was in Frankfurt. Are these women that are being stabbed by the robe-y guys good, or evil? Are we going to get a new globe-hopping death every week? We're now deeply into the early-in-the-season clue-giving. We're getting hints, but we still don't know what the Buffy Powers That Be have in store for us.

Bits and pieces:

-- Close captioning is my friend. In that first basement scene, when Spike was screaming, he yelled, "Stop, please, Mum!" Now what's that about? Last week it was the chalkboard and the caning. I sense William didn't have a happy childhood. I also sense that we're going to hear more about it. (Yes!)

-- Willow is on her way home. She doesn't sound like she's feeling much better. "I don't want to go back home just so I can screw up again." Will Buffy and Xander be unreservedly happy to see her? I don't think so.

-- When Anya saw Xander, she said, "Oh, penis." Was this like "oh, rats," or "oh, nuts"?

-- Nancy: "Is there anyone here who hasn't slept together?" Spike and Xander glance at each other. The slashbunnies go wild.

-- The episode title has two meanings, of course. The "Fool for Love" Cecily/Buffy reference, and whatever is in the Hellmouth.

Quotes:

Dawn: "You guys really need to ease up on the whole dating demons thing."
Buffy: "Hello, I'm sorry, wasn't that you having the smoochathon with teen vampire last Halloween?"

Wood: "Relax. There's only three things these kids understand: the boot, the bat and the bastinada. It's... it's a bad joke. It's the bastinada. No one ever knows what that thing is."
Buffy: "A wooden rod used to slap the soles of the feet in Turkish prisons but if made with the correct wood, makes an awesome billy club."

Buffy: "From beneath you it devours."
Nancy: "What?"
Buffy: "Nothing."
Dawn: "Nothing good."

Nancy: "I still can't believe all this is happening. I mean, even with this town's reputation for, you know, unexplained weirdness."
Xander: "Right. Sunnydale: come for the food, stay for the dismemberment."
Nancy: "There's good food?"

Spike: "Hey, is that it? A little touchy-feely and you're off to the bat poles?"

Buffy: "Why? Why would you do that?"
Spike: "Buffy, shame on you. Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her. To be hers."

Next week, we get more yucky skin stuff. Did someone complain to Joss Whedon about the Warren thing last season? Is that why we're getting more skin? (That's what I hear happened when he heard complaints about the sex — we got that "Where the wild things are" episode where Buffy and Riley spent the entire episode in bed.)

Gotta give it at least a three, and possibly four out of four stakes, just for James Marsters' performance. He was phenomenal.

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

11 comments:

  1. The end scene with Spike falling on the cross is quite possibly my favorite in the entire series, and i'm not a huge Spike fan. James Marsters was indeed amazing.

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  2. I just want to point out that the beginning scene with the red haired girl being chased in Germany was probably a take on "Run Lola Run" - a German film where a red haired girl runs through the city (to that music too!).
    Goodish episode but I have no idea what is going on anymore!

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  3. Oh and also - there was something about Giles in this episode that made me go "phwoar!"
    Never thought that before.

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  4. I really liked seeing Buffy desperately struggling not to tell Wood that DoubleMeat uses veggie burgers :)

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  5. Can I say that I actually started to kind of like Dawn this season? I mean, she won't make it onto my favorite list, but she started having some cool moments. I loved her threatening Spike in this episode. It was nice to see her protective of Buffy instead of whining.

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  6. I think the "useless buckets of salt" are a different sort of salty liquid... surprised they managed to fly that under the radar!

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    Replies
    1. He's talking about crying his eyes out. It's the only salty liquid we produce. Really.

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  7. The correct word is Bastinado. Wood mispronounced the word, so everyone in the Buffyverse has a tendency to mispell it. It took me a couple of attempts in trying to research the phrase to realize why i could never find it.

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  8. I'm not sure if this has been pointed out, hope I'm not repeating, but I just realized it during this episode, not my first time through for sure. Spike and Angel are opposites in so many subtle ways like their names, 'Angel' a force of good, and 'Spike' a tool for pain. Then visually, of course Angel is tall and dark, and Spike is fairer and..how did they say it earlier..muscularly compact? I can't quite remember the line. Then the most important difference to me - Angel's soul was CURSED on to him, as a punishment. The fact that he had a soul was a good thing for Buffy and the team because it made him an ally but it was something painful and it seems like the only reason to restore his soul is because Angelus is just literally too evil to handle as we've witnessed. But Spike's soul was RESTORED, almost gifted, after the trials were completed there were no strings attached. He got his soul back because he deserved it, and theres no looming concern of it going away or determining his actions.

    Not quite sure what any of it means necessarily, and obviously I don't want to spoil anything so I can't talk about their future actions but this episode is where it really clicked for me how perfectly opposite they were.

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  9. Wow everyone more or less commented on what I wanted to. Dawn was based, Giles looked edible, an evident Angel-Spike parallel growing, loving the final image there (bigger cross with no girl at the other end of it, poor Spike).

    I'll just throw additional praise on the Anya-Spike-Buffy-Xander scene. Anya's suddenly severe "Bite me, Harris!" which Xander reacted appropriately nervous to. It was really really good, and I was captivated by Anya's captivation with what she could suddenly see in Spike. Couldn't understand why Spike wanted to hide it though.

    I like this post-wedding Anya way more than I ever did when she was comic relief. Don't like Spike's Dru-babbling quite as much, but it was comforting to see him officially re-apply for a position with the Slayerettes

    @NOG: "This may be 11 years later but I totally agree."
    With huwhat?

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