Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spiral

Anya: "Run away? Finally, a sensible plan."

How did I not like this episode? Let me count the ways.

1. Come on. Eight people — why not two cars? Can you say faster than horses? Harder to overturn? Not to mention more economical gas mileage, no small thing in California right now. They could have rigged up something to protect Spike from sunlight, couldn't they? Heck, they could have just taken the Spike-mobile and Giles' new red plaything.

2. Only Spike can help against Glory? Hey, I'm all for Buffy appreciating Spike, but isn't Willow holding up a huge part of the Slayer defense right now?

3. It seemed wildly out of character for Buffy to run. Plus, I could see her going catatonic if Dawn were dead, but not while Dawn was still alive and rescue-able.

4. If those knights were so determined to kill the beast, why weren't they helping Buffy? It doesn't make sense.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is, when you come right down to it, a horror comedy with soap opera heartbreak trimmings. That's how it works the best, and this episode just doesn't fit the criteria. There's been a lot I've loved this season; what I've enjoyed most has been the development of Spike's romantic obsession with Buffy, Buffy's exploration of her dark side, Willow's growth as a witch and her relationship with Tara, Xander's maturity, and Giles' new career as a shop owner. I dunno — am I just not liking the Glory/Ben/Key plot all that much? I'm missing Spike and Dru from season two, and the Mayor and Faith from three.

Bits and pieces:

-- Buffy is finally depending on Spike, and Xander is even bonding with him. I like it. Although part of me just can't see Spike as Buffy-whipped, and I don't want to see the show go in that direction.

-- In the interest of equal opportunity, we now have a female leprous hobbit minion.

-- Poor Ben. We finally found out what he was: a human prison for Glory, an innocent victim. I can't see him killing Dawn. It's out of character, even if it's the only way he could be free. I don't see a happy ending for Ben coming down the pike.

-- It looks like the brainsuck victims are all linked together somehow. This makes me a little more hopeful that Tara will recover.

Quotes:

Giles: "There must be something in the Book of Tarnis that we've missed, something we can use against Glory."
Anya: "Piano!"
Xander: "Because that's what we used to kill that big demon that one time. No, wait, that was a rocket launcher. Ahn, what are you talking about?"
Anya: "We should drop a piano on her. Well, it always works for that creepy cartoon rabbit when he's running from that nice man with the speech impediment."
Giles: "Yes, or perhaps we could paint a convincing tunnel on the side of a mountain."

Ben: "You know why I wanted to be a doctor?"
Gronx: "Flattering drawstring pants?"
I don't know why, this one always makes me laugh out loud.

Xander: "Is anybody else queasy?"
Anya: "He doesn't travel well. He's like fine shrimp."

Anya: "Ooh! Snacks! The secret to any successful migration. Who's up for some tasty fried meat products?"

Xander: "We got company. And they brought a crusade."

Dawn: "Destroyer of the universe. I guess cutting school doesn't seem so bad now, huh?"

One out of four stakes,

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

10 comments:

Gus Brunetti said...

This was actually the first BtVS episode I've ever seen. I was at a friend's house and she had to tell me so much backstory I couldn't quite keep up. Ididn't give me a good impression of the show.

As for your fourth point up there, they don't believe the beast can be contained, so they have to kill the key.

And I can see Buffy running away. She'd never done it before because she'd never faced someone so powerful.

Anonymous said...

#1 - buffy feels the need to protect everyone. she doesn't want to lose anyone, but more than that she wants to personally ensure she doesn't lose anyone. the mobile home is a terrible idea but i don't think it is out of character. her need to keep everyone in her sight drives this decision. it's unfortunate that none of the gang voices a dissenting opinion.

#2 - willow is certainly becoming dramatically more useful as time goes on. has buffy not mentally caught up to the fact that willow is increasingly protecting buffy instead of the other way around, or is this simply an acknowledgement that tara may come before dawn in willow's priorities right now?

#3 - buffy's expressed despair at her helplessness against glory multiple times now. she's already conceded that she can't beat her, thus the running away. so with dawn's capture she very much appears to be lost.

#4 - gus covered this.

Remco said...

This episode could have done with less driving, less siege and and a more natural discovery of Glory's story than the infodump we got from the captured knight. As it stands, it was a boring transitional episode.

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.

Josie Kafka said...

I share your dislike for this episode, B. It's just uncomfortable and hopeless, like much of Season Five. It's sad to rewatch.

Juliette said...

I've always really liked this episode for some reason, though I can never quite put my finger on why. I suppose I like that they consider running away, like a sane person (and I guess the winnebago is useful because they can all sleep there too? So if minions turn up while they're asleep, someone just jumps in the driver's seat and off they go - 8 people couldn't sleep in 2 cars).

Maybe I just like seeing everyone working together, including Spike. And it's a nice change of pace.

Gavrielle said...

Can't say I enjoyed any of the Glory plot much in this season, but I did quite like the running away. For a start, it made Buffy not on top of the situation and out of ideas, which is genuinely scary and shocking. Also, I'd often wondered previously why they didn't just run away from various unsolvable-looking perils, like a sane person as Josie says (OK, I know why really, but still) and here I get to see it actually happen.

Annie said...

This episode is okay, but it is also pretty stupid and frustrating as pointed out in Billie's review. I do think that running away was the smart thing to do, and the winnebago is not a problem in itself, until we realise it can't outrun a horse, which is just stupid. I guess I don't have much of a problem with the crusader guys not being reasonable, zealots rarely are, but I just don't buy that Buffy would have let herself go at that point.

hmmm, I'm going to be away for the last two episodes of the season 5 re-watch, look forward to reading all about it when I return.

ChrisB said...

Not a fan of this one, either. I think what the writers were going for is what Giles expresses to Xander. Between trying to look after Dawn, losing her mother, and realizing that she is up against a god, Buffy hasn't had a banner year. I understand the impulse to just run and hide.

It's the way the gang run and hide that annoys me. I would have preferred Spike's crypt or something a little less ridiculous than a camper van that can't outrun a horse. Plus, as Remco says, the information dump is just boring.

Lamounier said...

I like this one. I joked once with a friend that if you don’t use your neurons of plot logic while watching it, “Spiral” is a terrific episode. But really, it is. It’s a terrific episode combined with a very dumb one.

It’s dumb because of the Knights. Are we supposed to believe guys on the 21th century would walk and fight as role-playing rejects, as Spike said it? Yes, the Scoobies use medieval weapons to fight their foes, but the Knights of Byzantium are just too much. Wouldn’t it be more logical if they actually came from the past? It’s not just their concept that’s flawed, their actions on this episode are all over the place. How did they find the Winnebago? Why did the general break into the gas station and the others not follow him? Why didn’t they use Ben as leverage? It’s like the episode had a lot to do (the Knights find the Scoobies, Buffy captures the general, Ben arrives to help so Glory can take over and kidnap Dawn), but Steven S. DeKnight (now that’s a cool coincidence) just didn’t plot it right.

There’s a lot to like, though. I LOVE Glory’s master plan. I never understood Angel’s reasons for wanting to send the earth to hell, or why the Mayor wanted to become a big snake. Both stories were great because of their masterful execution. In any case, Glory’s motive is totally believable and a great break from “I’m evil doing because I’m evil”. She could care less with what happens to Earth. In fact, her backstory is very interesting and if she weren’t the villain I’d be rooting for her to succeed. That entire scene in which the general explains to Buffy and Dawn “The Mythology of Season Five” is very good.

Willow rocking on all fronts of magic is another win. The fight on top of the Winnebago is awesome too, of course, and there’s a lot of tension on the second half of the episode. Like Juliette, I enjoy the change of pace. The writers threw the Scooby Gang together and there are a lot of different interactions (Xander and Spike getting along, for instance). Also, running away was the best Buffy could do, and I’m surprised the possibility wasn’t discussed before.

I could’ve lived without Anya’s piano suggestion, though.