Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dead Things

Spike: "You always hurt the one you love, pet."

The Nerds of Doom have taken a complete turn to the dark side. This isn't sneaking into a bikini wax shop while invisible, or creating a sexbot. This is a progression from grand theft, to attempted rape, to murder.

While I've always disliked Warren, and I don't care much about Andrew, who seemed to be getting off on the whole getting-away-with-murder thing, I've always liked Jonathan and I was disappointed in the way he went along with the cover up. It's probable, though, that Jonathan is going to be the one to stop them. I thought there was something going on inside of him, especially when he said, "But the night is young; gotta be some more girls we can kill."

Anyway, forget the Nerds. I have a lot to say about Buffy and Spike. Like that's a surprise.

We finally got a look at what's really going on beneath the surface of the Buffy/Spike relationship, and wow. This was the strongest Buffy/Spike episode yet, because this time we got past the sex-capades and into the raw emotion that is motivating their affair.

The initial post-sex scene in his crypt when they were talking about decorating was adorable, but it was more than that; this was the first time Buffy would even discuss their relationship with him, and I noticed that he immediately asked her things like, "Do you even like me?" and "What is it to you, this thing we have?" The Bronze sex scene could have been just titillating, but the sex was more implied than explicit; the focus was on their faces, on what they were feeling. Spike was trying his damnedest to get her to accept him as more than a sexual convenience, to see him as her lover, as the man she was choosing to be with. ("You see, you try to be with them, but you always end up in the dark... with me.") And the scene at the crypt door with them on opposite sides was beautiful. In a way, it was the most romantic Buffy/Spike moment I've seen yet.

I was fascinated by Buffy's intense hallucinogenic dream. The second time I watched it, I realized what was really going on. (Sometimes it takes me awhile.) Buffy dreamed about having sex with Spike and killing Katrina — and then she was on top of Katrina and staking Spike. Spike was handcuffed, and Katrina was handcuffed, and Buffy said to both of them, "Do you trust me?" which was what Spike said to her earlier in the post-sex decorator scene. Okay, beat me over the head with it: Buffy was equating killing Katrina with the way she is victimizing Spike. Or at least her subconscious was, and now the conscious Buffy knows it, too.

Spike actually prevented her from turning herself in, at least long enough to make a difference — by getting in Buffy's way and letting her pound on him. Watching that scene literally made me cringe. Spike said in their post-sex decorator conversation that he likes the way she hurts him, but I'm fairly certain that Spike didn't mean it that way. Or did he? One could argue that Buffy hurting Spike has been a big part of their relationship all along, but is it masochism? Or is it just him accepting what she does to him because he loves her so much and wants anything from her?

Buffy had convinced herself that her behavior with Spike stemmed from her coming back "wrong" — but she was wrong, she's not wrong. (You know what I mean.) Buffy acknowledged to Tara in that marvelous scene at the end that she shouldn't be using Spike the way she does. I was so pleased when Tara asked Buffy outright if she loved Spike and acknowledged that Spike has done a lot of good. About time someone said it. I'm starting to wonder if maybe Buffy does loves Spike.

On the other developing storyline fronts, status is quo-ing, wedding preparations continue, Dawn's rejection of Buffy continues, and Willow is managing to stay strong. If Willow can hold on to her "sobriety," she and Tara really should get back together. They are obviously still in love, if you go by that scene in front of the Magic Box.

Bits and pieces:

-- Buffy bites Spike, but Spike doesn't bite Buffy? This is pretty weird slayer/vampire territory.

-- Was it retro night at the Bronze?

-- Katrina looked a bit like Amy, so much so that I got confused watching the preview last week. No Amy in this episode, but I'm betting she'll be back soon.

-- I noticed that Spike got another new shirt. When he was actually wearing a shirt.


Buffy: "You know, this place is okay for a hole in the ground. You fixed it up."
Spike: "Well, I ate a decorator once. Maybe something stuck."

Tara: "I have this sudden urge to dedicate my productive cooperation."
Buffy: "Well, if you close your eyes and repeatedly smash yourself in the head with frozen meat, it'll go away."

Dawn: "I'm sleeping over at Janice's."
Buffy: "And I'm falling for that again because of the surprise lobotomy?"

Tara: "There's a monkey problem?"
Willow: "Only if you don't stretch first."

Anya: "The Rwasundi. Very rare. Um, its presence in our dimension causes a sort of localized temporal disturbance."
Buffy: "So that's why time went all David Lynch?"

Buffy: "I didn't come back wrong?"
Tara: "No, you're the same Buffy. With a deep tropical cellular tan."

Four out of four stakes. Loved it.

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


Anonymous said...

Great review, Billie, just wanted to add something.
When Buffy beat up Spike in front of the police station I am fairly sure she meant herself most of the time, not Spike, especially the "you are dead inside" part.

QRS said...

Like when Sarah-playing-Faith was beating up Eliza-playing-Buffy?

Docnaz said...

I was deeply disturbed about the violence towards Spike perpetrated by Buffy. Think if it was Buffy or another female who had been on the receiving end of this violent rage by any male character who they were in a relationship with, As a female physician who treat victims of domestic abuse I was shocked this was treated so lightly.

Lamounier said...

Billie, I love this episode too. It's a great exploration of the complex relationship Buffy and Spike have.

The balcony scene is always discomforting to watch. The way Spike demands that Buffy keeps looking at her friends while they have sex, ugh, that's psychological abuse at its worst.

Docnaz, I hear you. Buffy beats the hell out of Spike and we are still meant to sympathize with her. The show asks us to have empathy for the strongest one (Buffy) when they harm the weakest one (Spike). It's a gender role reversal, and maybe because it's a girl (a hero) beating a boy (a killer) we don't perceive how wrong the situation is and how wrong it is that the show still wants us to feel for Buffy. When I write it down like that, I know I shouldn't feel for Buffy, but I do. Because for me it works. In a mind-boggling way, in a thought provocative way, it works. Buffy is lost and I want her to find herself, so I feel for her. Whedon, Noxon and DeKnight are talented evil bastards.

This episode also does a great job of transitioning the Trio from comedic villains to actual villains. The damage they do is real.

Back in season two, when the show worked a lot on metaphor mode, there was "Reptile Boy", an episode about rape. It would've been a much better episode if it didn't feature any demon, if it was just plain and simple a story about guys trying to rape girls and Buffy beating them, no metaphor in the way. Which is why what "Dead Things" offers is so poignant. There is no metaphor here, Warren violates Katrina and when she regains control of her mind, she spells it out for everyone. It's rape. Jonathan and Andrew might be idiotic, silly boys who don't realize the full implications of what they are doing (not that that's an excuse), but Warren is a complete jerk all the way. I'm not crazy about the Trio as a group, but I think Warren is a terrific evil character because he is too damn real. That's great writing right there.

Tara is just lovely here. When Buffy comes out to her, she asks just the right questions and shows so much support. No judging, all love. Awn.