Buffy 3×08: Lover’s Walk

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Dan Vebber | Director: David Semel | Aired: 11/24/1998]

If I have one complaint about S3, it’s the lack of Spike. So when you mix S3’s awesome consistency and great character development with Spike, you’ve got one hell of an episode. There is just so much fun to be had here that if there wasn’t so much attention paid to the horrible Willow and Xander ‘thing,’ it would have gotten a perfect score. Thank the powers that this episode marks the end of that nonsense. Nonetheless, unlike some people I know, I don’t let something minor ruin my appreciation for the rest of the episode.

The episode begins with the group getting their SAT scores back. Buffy gets a high score which shocks her into actually consider that she may have a life outside of slaying still, and the “college talk” begins. I like Joyce’s discussion about it with Buffy at the house and how Buffy shoots down her mention of wanting keg parties and frat boys. Go Buffy! I think it’s great that Giles actually encourages her to go to college and uses Faith as a possible way out. Angel even tells her, as a ‘friend,’ that she should leave Sunnydale and go to a good college. All of this just goes to show how much the people around Buffy genuinely care about her well-being and future.

For the rest of the episode, though, Spike steals the show. He rides into town again in the exact same way as in “School Hard” [2×03] . He drives over the “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign again and will be the cause of it falling over one more time in the series finale, “Chosen” [7×22] . He then visits Joyce just to chat with her about his breakup with Drusilla. His comment, “you got any of those little marshmallows?” gets me laughing every time.

All the great moments (many of which are captured in the quote section below) are attributed to Spike and his realizations. He admits he’s “love’s bitch” and explains to Buffy and Angel that they’ll never be ‘friends.’ He says, “You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be in love till it kills you both. You’ll fight, and you’ll shag, and you’ll hate each other till it makes you quiver, but you’ll never be friends.” Spike is incredibly unhappy coming into this episode. He drinks a ton, which is always a sign of that (we saw him drinking a bunch while stuck in his wheelchair in “Surprise” [2×13] ). All this sorrow stems from his love breaking up with him. Love is everything to Spike. Right now it’s more a perverted love, but over the final three seasons of this series he begins to slowly change that perversion to purity and even ends up sacrificing his life (“Chosen” [7×22] ) for love and redemption.

What’s the one thing that brings Spike out of his sorrow? Violence. The moment he gets in a good brawl he feels himself again and leaves town in an attempt to get Dru back. Spike’s powerful words obviously didn’t go unnoticed to Buffy because she, soon afterwards, breaks it off with Angel realizing that they are not indeed ‘friends’ and that Angel can’t give her the relationship she wants. If the Buffy and Angel relationship wasn’t meant to end in “Faith, Hope, and Trick” [3×03] like I wanted, then this is the perfect cut-off point which is why I can’t understand why they get all snuggly again later in the season, but that’s another story.

The end of the episode shows everyone alone and unhappy, except for Spike who is back in form and singing while on the highway down south. This is a BtVS classic: it’s got loads of humor, drama, messages, and action all in one tightly wrapped package. It’s just a shame that I have to wait until S4 to get more Spike!


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Spike’s hand catching on fire when he wakes up in the morning and having a really hard time getting into his car. Hilarious.
+ The Mayor is so weird and creepy. He is offering babies as sacrifice to a demon in “Band Candy” [3×06] while here he’s playing mini golf in his office.
+ Xander’s reference to Amy’s backfired spell in “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” [2×16] .
+ Spike mentions to Willow that Drusilla was making out with a Chaos Demon. We get to actually see this during a flashback in “Fool for Love” [5×07] .
+ The funny faces Spike makes behind Joyce when Angel’s stuck behind the vampire forcefield.
+ Joyce’s confusion about what’s going on after Buffy gets back. “Xander’s a witch?”
+ Great fight sequence in the magic shop.
+ Cordelia death fake-out.


* Spike tells Willow that it was his alliance with Buffy in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] that caused his break-up with Drusilla. We find out in flashback during “Fool for Love” [5×07] that Drusilla knows that, currently subconciously, Spike is completely in love with Buffy.
* It turns out Spike really does mean genuine affection when he ties his women up and tortures them. Spike says this will make Drusilla like him again. In “Crush” [5×14] he ties both Drusilla and Buffy up and offers to kill Drusilla as a token of his love for Buffy.




53 thoughts on “Buffy 3×08: Lover’s Walk”

  1. [Note: Clem’s Kitten Basket posted this comment on December 31, 2006.]

    This is my favourite episode of the series and I would give it a perfect score. I only have one tiny problem with it and that is the line(s) about baby food/supper during the fight in The Magic Box. Apart from that, nothing is wrong with this episode. Every character has wonderful lines, and there’s not a scene that feels superfluous or wrong. Spike carries this episode, of course, but it’s just perfect as a whole and it plays a significant part in every character’s arc. The “thing” between Willow and Xander is very important and has to be played out.


  2. [Note: Angelus posted this comment on January 23, 2007.]

    I would have rated this perfect as well. This is one of the few episodes I will watch if I need a quick Buffy fix.


  3. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on February 15, 2007.]

    Love this episode!
    I think its the only time we ever see the Big 3 (Buffy, Spike and Angel) in action together. Something that with perhaps only ever happen now in comic book form [Bring on the comic books!!!!]
    The chemistry (acting and chemistry) between Buffy and Spike is palpable. The writers must have thought ‘we’ve got to get those kids togethe!’


  4. [Note: jun posted this comment on March 24, 2007.]

    More foreshadowing: Willow is all set to take the easy, dark arts way out of the problem of her and Xander’s feelings for each other. This pattern continues through the forthcoming seasons. I hadn’t realized before that her tendency to do this had begun quite so early.


  5. [Note: robgnow posted this comment on April 14, 2007.]

    I love James’ line delivery when Spike is taunting Angel and throws out, “Your a very bad man.”

    Just the way he says it while poor Joyce is utterly clueless is hilarious.


  6. [Note: Austin posted this comment on September 26, 2007.]

    I Love his pretending to bite her it’s so great! He can never seem to get a good threat off, its great! He’s always getting tasered, falling into graves, here he says you and what army and then Buffy is right there, throwing him down on the counter.


  7. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 23, 2007.]

    Spike totally rules this episode, since the first scene to the last, he entertains and has a lot of great moments. I just love the tension between Buffy, Angel and him. And I also loved the scene with Willow, great tension. Another one of my favourite moments is Cordelia´s fake death and this is the first moment we really feel for her.


  8. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 8, 2007.]

    I adore this episode. Course, then we do have to wait till next season for more Spike. Oh well.

    Like somebody else pointed out, this is the first time we see Willow turn to magic to try to fix something instead of facing it herself. This, of course, continues and ends up sending her off the deep end in S6. It also shows how eerily Spike can see right through Buffy, which he also continues to do once he becomes a regular.

    Fav scene, hands down: When Spike is making faces at Angel behind Joyce’s back. I nearly die laughing each time.


  9. [Note: buffyfan14 posted this comment on April 21, 2008.]

    i agree adore this episode and love seeing buffy, spike, and angel all together, but like others i dont like the language of babyfood that spike uses at the magic shop it makes the whole scene look stupid. Apart from that i think this is one of the best episodes and is definately in my top 10.


  10. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on July 18, 2008.]

    I agree completely on the review. This is a GREAT episode that seamlessly mixes heartbreaking drama and hilarious comedy, something the show is well-known for. Charisma Carpenter’s scene in the hospital is so brilliantly acted and worth a mention I think. It’s a very small line but she delivers it with a lot of power – “Xander?..Stay away from me.”


  11. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 25, 2008.]

    I’d rate this as a Perfect. I think it was the first great episode since Becoming Pt 2. It also has one of the few lines that makes me laugh every single time I watch it, which is when Buffy says, “I guess you had to be there”. Amazing episode, and it sets up new character arcs for the rest of the season [and beyond] very nicely.


  12. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on June 4, 2009.]

    It’s interesting. This is the one episode that features Buffy, Spike and Angel as a fighting team . . . and they work well together. All three of them.


  13. [Note: Christian posted this comment on June 9, 2009.]

    When I first saw this ep I thought Cordy was dead!! I rrally loved Buffy and Angel’s conversation at the end. “What I want from you I can never have”… “Tell me you don’t love me” It just shows how much frustration they both feel knowing they can’t be together.. love it.


  14. [Note: Kate posted this comment on July 31, 2009.]

    Honest, this is defnitely one of my favourites- but no suprise there, Spike is my favourite characters. His character arc is ultimately better than Buffy’s and this is the first transition that starts to make him someone new.


  15. [Note: Merry posted this comment on June 13, 2010.]

    I don’t think the Willow/Xander ‘thing’ should take points off this episode. One of the reasons this episode gets a P in my book is the fact that this is the episode where that silly ‘thing’ ends!


  16. [Note: Lizzie posted this comment on June 30, 2010.]

    The scene where Spike tells Willow that they are gonna be best friends is sort of a fore-shadowing thing, cause they all kinda end up as, well, not friends, but, still…


  17. [Note: jenska posted this comment on July 29, 2010.]

    Willow trying to hide the spell / spellbook from Xander?

    WIllow: “No no its chemistry!”

    bad girl. already knows magic is wrong when you do it against someones will, but she keeps on doing it all the way to Tabula Rasa where it rally bites her in the ass!


  18. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 19, 2010.]

    The Good:

    Spike returns and runs down the sign again, only this time drunk.

    The way Willow says the word “occasion”.

    Spikes hand on fire in the sunlight. Take that sparklers.

    The green top Buffy wears to visit Angel. Of course it’s not the top itself.

    The wondeful Spike and Willow scene.

    Buffy skipping in the library. Again it’s the top.

    Spike and Joyce having a chat.

    Angel trying to enter the Summers’ home. “You’re a very bad man”.

    Cordelia death fake-out with the turning of the head, funeral scene and music. Great!

    Spikes speech.

    Ending with ‘Lonliness of Six’ instrumental with everyone hurting.

    The Bad:

    Angel not hearing Spike when he raises his voice.

    Oz and Cordelia walking in at the right ‘Hollywood’ time, not 5 minutes later.

    No Drusilla. Spike really needs her and the plot could have been different.

    Spike’s speech. Buffy and Angel never shag again. (Okay, ‘I Will Remember You’)but for real.


  19. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 20, 2010.]

    Foreshadowing: Spike tells Willow that “Dru thought I’d gone soft”. In season four, ‘The Initiative’ going soft is the not so subtle joke between them.


  20. [Note: mouthell posted this comment on December 9, 2010.]

    I like this episode, although I would have loved to see Buffy and the gang in the hospital visiting Cordelia. She’s annoying, yes, but she’s also been a solid member of the team.


  21. [Note: amanama posted this comment on March 6, 2011.]

    There is one scene in which Angel is seen reading Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre, the book that inspired J Whedon to write Objects in Space.


  22. [Note: Dimitri posted this comment on March 29, 2011.]

    Oh! more foreshadowing!


    Cordelia says “with those test scores you can go away and never come back! I mean.. to Sunnydale. Which is a good thing. Who whould like to come back here?”

    She leaves for LA at the end of this season and never returns!


  23. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on October 17, 2011.]

    On another re-re-re-watch I realised Oz comes off really heavy-handed when he gives Willow the Pez dispenser. When Willow says that she has nothing to give him he responds, “oh, you do”, and then smirks and walks away.

    So he gives her the Pez dispenser to try and speed up her decision to sleep with him. Then strangely, when she wants to in ‘Amends’, he doesn’t feel like it. This is out of character for Oz. Oz is subtle. At least they didn’t get him to say “I gave you a gift so get in the closet and give me mine.”

    Cordelia’s fake-out death is still one of the top ‘fooled you’ moments in television. Great.


  24. [Note: Alex posted this comment on October 17, 2011.]

    Totally agree, nathan (about Cordelia’s ‘death’ anyway, not completely sure about Oz). I still remember watching it for the first time when it was broadcast on the BBC. I was watching it with my mum, and when Cordy was lying there she was going ‘don’t worry, she’ll be OK, they won’t kill off Cordelia’. Then it cut to the shot of the funeral and she pretty much screamed at the TV, going ‘oh my god, I can’t believe it, she’s really dead!’ I still hear her voice in my head every time I watch the end of this episode. Teehee.


  25. [Note: Odon posted this comment on February 13, 2012.]

    I hardly think Oz was implying that Willow should sleep with him; he clearly meant it in a romantic sense, as in Willow herself is enough of a gift. That’s why Willow looked so guilty.


  26. [Note: Alexei posted this comment on March 18, 2012.]

    Why would they just call Faith instead of trying to reach Giles? He may be a watcher, but its not like he would play a major role in fighting Spike… But Buffy was never about plots. I’m just a perfectionist. Great episode anyway, agree with Mike, just a little shy of P grade.


  27. [Note: Dave posted this comment on May 24, 2012.]

    Spike steals the show yet again. I often felt he was just too good for this show, even if this show is the best.


  28. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 21, 2012.]

    This episode is definitely in my top 10. It’s so.. everything. I love how Spike calls Buffy and Angel out. He’s hilarious. It’s the end of the Willow/Xander thing. This episode I didn’t find them that annoying actually. It was weird kinda seeing Willow being all horny around Xander. I really like their kiss after Xander is hurt. That’s the only time I really like it. And yeah, major foreshadowing with Willow and her secret spell and how Xander freaks out on her about how dangerous it is. I think you should touch on their things a little more in the rewrite, maybe. But we all have our favorites and focus. That’s another reason why I like this episode so much. There’s fun for everyone!Seeing Cordelia fall through the stairs gets me every time. That fake-out, once you get over the initial shock, adds to the humor. But Cordelia in the hospital bed is heartbreaking because I think she really did love Xander before he caused her to be impaled. She’d had just about enough. Can’t blame her.


  29. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on February 23, 2013.]

    I completely agree with MikeJer (and not another reviewer :p).
    A fantastic episode indeed, with a lot of foreshadowing, the end for some relations and a new start for “life”.

    J. Marsters gives life to his (undead) character. In season 2, the problem was that D. Boreanaz was so bad an actor in comparison to Marsters that there was some great imbalance. I’m glad Boreanaz improved, though he never rose to Marsters’ standard. I believe that’s why many didn’t care too much about Angel/Buffy relationship. But when you get two good actors (Gellar/Marsters) together (or Gellar/Head but in another way), you get sparkles and that’s why it worked, not to mention the chemistry between those two.

    Once thing I couldn’t believe (but it’s a nitpick) was Angel reading Sartre ! What I mean is that Angel has never been depicted as cultivated or willing to get into heavy reading. But then I read one of the comments mentioning it to be a reference to J. Whedon. Still… Angel and Sartre, it made me laugh. On the other hand, we have Spike, who doesn’t care about culture but here, we continue to see that he’s a good observer of human nature. Contrary to Angelus, being a vampire doesn’t impede him to love, even if it’s in a twisted obsessive way, that’s one of the first marks differentiating the two characters. (spoiler->) The first gets his soul through a curse and broods for 100 years, the other gets his soul willingly, gets mentally imbalanced but grows in understanding rapidly. Maybe this why one is trying to seek redemption by trying too much in a desperate sort of way and the other can find it. Through love and self-sacrifice.

    Someone mentioned the Pez gift to be an attention to get sex. Well, I certainly didn’t interpret it that way. I thought it was just a little attention, a reminder that Willow meant a lot to him: a way for the writers to make Willow feel bad and understand Oz’s feelings of betrayal and loss in the incoming episodes.

    The last scene with Cordelia was heartbreaking. It just showed that there is more to her than she’s willing to show. The pictures in her locker defined her feelings like the Pez gift.


  30. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on March 14, 2013.]

    This episode is still one of my favorites. Spike doesn’t get material this good again until No Place Like Home. Hooray for Season 3 writing quality!!

    Anyway, there are two more quotes I just remembered that get me every time.

    GILES: Here. I suspect your mother will want to, uh, put it on the refrigerator.
    BUFFY: Yeah. She saw these scores, and her head spun around and exploded.
    GILES: I-I’ve been on the Hellmouth too long. That was metaphorical, yes?
    BUFFY: Yes. She was happy.

    Finally, the entire Spike-Joyce scene is wonderful beyond words, but when he taunts Angel behind her back by saying. “You’re. A. Very bad man.” is hilarious.

    Mike, your new S1 reviews are so detailed, I can’t wait for the rest. I know you’ve got a lot going on, but I’m very much looking forward to your review polishes for the entire series.


  31. [Note: Monica posted this comment on July 13, 2013.]

    I love this episode, but I think the fact it’s the only Spike episode of the season makes it better. He sufficiently ruined the later seasons, and got worse and worse throughout the series…so I think the third season was better off without him.


  32. [Note: Monica posted this comment on August 12, 2013.]

    I absolutely apologize for how abrasive and headstrong I appeared in my previous comment.

    All I meant was that I think Spike being in only this episode of the third season contributed to the novelty of his character at the time and, in my opinion, made the third season stronger. Although I clearly do have strong feelings about Spike’s increasing presence in the following seasons (mainly only the seventh season), I think he fit in much better there than he would have in this season


  33. [Note: Rena Nikki posted this comment on April 10, 2014.]

    There’s just one thing that I never see anyone notice or mention about this episode, no matter how detailed their review about it is. Maybe it’s just me though. About Oz and Willow – after that whole cute PEZ witch convo, Willow says – “I don’t have anything to give you” – to which Oz smiles, pats her shoulder and replies (knowingly and kind of offhandedly, in my opinion) – “Yea, you do.”
    I just think this is such an awkward way for Willow and Oz’s relationship to develop… Nowhere else is Oz even slightly pressuring Willow to sleep with him, but here… I don’t know how exactly to describe it, but, though Oz tries to come off as “not pushy” delivering this line, I react so sensitively to it anyways – EVERY SINGLE TIME I watch the episode (and it’s a favourite, so that happens relatively often). In any case, the ending part of that scene just sticks out like a sore thumb against the rest of their relationship to me because I feel like there’s a special emphasis the rest of the time on how Oz and Willow are equals in their relationship and that Oz doesn’t have power over her just because he’s older. (Just remembered Willow reflecting on that idiom – “Sore thumbs. Do they stick out? I mean, have you ever seen a thumb and gone ‘wow, that baby is sore’?” 😛 Fun stuff. And no, Xander, she doesn’t have too many thoughts – it’s a great way to show an offhand situation in life. And this isn’t the only time this type of thing comes up on Buffy – I vaguely remember Buffy herself trying to determine the origin of another idiom in S1…) Anyways, I think it’s the smile before the reply that does it. Anyways, have you guys ever noticed that conversation or is it just me being over-hyper?


  34. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on May 2, 2014.]

    As a couple other people have already commented, I definitely don’t interpret that Pez scene as having anything to do with Oz wanting to get into Willow’s pants! All he meant (in my opinion) was that she “gives” him plenty just by being who she is and being in a relationship with him; that she has plenty to offer, as a person. He was saying that she doesn’t need to have a material gift to give him in order to be worthy of receiving one from him; that gifts specifically aren’t about “tit for tat,” but rather about expressing affection and appreciation for the other person!


  35. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    This episode was phenomenal. On my first round of the show, when I hadn’t seen the later episodes, this was the second best episode for me (The first being Becoming Part 2). The reasons are obvious, and nothing unlike the things already covered in the review and the comments. Spike is just one of the best characters to ever grace television in my opinion. J. Masters was born for this role!
    He portrays Spike so well, I wonder sometimes…What if he’d been played by a different actor? Would we have liked him as much?
    In the scene after the credits when he starts to laugh and then slowly he starts to cry after which he bursts into an angry fit. Acted so well!

    I think that this is the only episode with Spike in it in Season 3, so that makes it that much more awesome. But what really does it for me here is the trio fighting together. Never again do we get to see Buffy, Angel and Spike randomly fighting off demons and working together. They have brilliant chemistry. And it makes for good tension. Very well done!

    I felt so terrible for Cordy here, her reaction to everything was just so real and heartfelt. These aren’t terms I’d use often when it came to the BTVS Cordelia Chase. But really…See your boyfriend cheating on you and then literally get impaled. Whedon sure knows how to torment both us and his characters. And the first time I saw the funeral ruse I was about to lose my shit until I realized it was a fake out. Hahah. Such a troll moment!

    The balance between comedy and emotional stuff is just splendid on this show.
    I find myself bursting into laughter when I see how there’s a sad song playing, and all the six characters are moping, sad or heartbroken. And then pan into Spike. Singing loudly alongside blasting rock music and driving down the highway. Great juxtaposition.

    This episode is a P in my book.
    The next episode is awesome, too. Anya!! 😀


  36. [Note: George posted this comment on October 12, 2014.]

    So.. I’ve been rewatching Buffy ever since it aired. 10+ years I guess. And have been looking at this really neat review site.

    This episode’s final scene with Buffy & Angel is arguably one of the strongest for the series, and also in terms of Buffy’s character arc. It is absolute gold. For me, Buffy’s relationships with Spike & Angel, despite their incredible passion, have always somewhat ranked as tied second to Riley & Buffy. This is because the two vamps bring out incredible traits in her, but as a relationship, they are shaky.

    Riley (it’s been said many times) is the closest she’s come to an actual relationship.


  37. [Note: wade1055 posted this comment on May 4, 2015.]

    I have been watching Buffy now and the one thing I notice is how Spike, popular as he is, co-oped the show. Which then left the other characters with less developement. Similar to Happy Days, Fonzie was to be a minor character but as his popularity grew the other charaters did not develope well because Fonzie took all the time. Eventually that was the down fall of the show, in my opinion. I think the same happened here. Giles, Willow, Xander, and the rest received much slower developement then they would have received if Spike remained a minor character or even killed in the first few episodes he was in. I also agree with George, Riley, even though not the most liked character, was the closest thing Buffy had to an actual relationship with someone her age.


  38. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 28, 2015.]

    Just thought that there’s a bit of a parallel going on with both Cordy and Anya being both scorned by Xander and then reverting to behaviour they went with before they got with him and then realizing it’s not gonna work out.

    Plus as others have pointed out they were both end up converting to demonism afterwards too. Xander sure knows how to pick ’em. I wonder if he ever thought about this in retrospect.


  39. [Note: SL posted this comment on February 24, 2016.]

    What I love about this episode was Buffy hitting Spike hiding Willow and Xander at the factory, and Spike’s funny response to that. But later when Spike told them where Willow and Xander are, Buffy’s facial reaction was priceless.


  40. [Note: 13 DAS 13 posted this comment on June 27, 2016.]

    One of the best Buffy episodes of the entire series and definitely the best episode of season 3.

    The relationship between spike and Buffy starts to begins in this episode, they have a strong connection. Spike knows how Buffys feelings ”I can fool Giles, and I can fool my friends, but I can’t fool myself. Or Spike, for some reason”


    1. Thanks!

      The quotes section wasn’t transferred over. This was done intentionally. It requires a lot of time/effort to put them together and I felt it just wasn’t worth it.


  41. I felt like this episode was some sort of foreshadowing for willows dark path into magic, she makes a decision on behalf of her and xander without informing him, she was about to preform a spell on him without any thought on whether he wants this to happen to him. Reminds me of the forget spell she performed on Tara in ‘All the way’ and then again in ‘tabula rasa’ Definetly got that vibe off of this episode anyway!


    1. Hi jessgagaloo,
      I agree with you. Willow began using magic out of a desire to be useful to the core group. However, as the seasons progress Willow’s motivations become more and more self-gratifying. Willow’s decision to perform a spell is indicative of her growing attitude in general with regards to unpleasant issues/circumstances. Willow does not want to deal with her problems in a normal and productive fashion.


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