Buffy 5×07: Fool for Love

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Douglas Petrie | Director: Nick Marck | Aired: 11/14/2000]

I think it’s safe to say that my love of this episode will not come as a surprise to anyone. This is easily one of the best episodes in the series. The main plot of the season isn’t even touched on, but the emotional and character themes of the season are right at the front. The revelations made about Buffy and Spike affect my entire outlook on the series in regard to these two characters. This episode is masterful in its direction, music, and acting. Several times I even find myself in complete awe over hearing some of the sharpest dialogue the show ever put out, which is saying something huge.

Doug Petrie really outdoes himself here and deserves all the credit he gets for this. The two major things we see during this journey is Spike’s origin story: how he became a vampire and got his name, his scar, his hair, and his coat. While this material gives Spike a huge new layer of depth, his insights gained over time are imparted on Buffy who, like myself, stand there shocked. There just isn’t any word positive enough to describe my elation over this episode, so instead I’ll just get right into the review.

I’m going to begin by talking about Riley, because he’s pretty much the only thread that is separate from the intricately entwined Buffy/Spike interaction. The important thing to take notice is that he runs off and kills that vampire nest by himself as a means to not only prove to himself that he can handle patrolling alone, but also to taste more of Buffy’s world, to attempt to feel the kind of excitement she appears to occasionally get out of the danger. This darker streak in Riley will continue to grow in the next few episodes.

Anyway, the rest of the episode is focused very much on Buffy and Spike. It all begins with a pretty jarring introduction. Buffy’s making her usual jokes while handedly pummeling a regular vampire when he, really abruptly, turns it around and stabs her. The only time she came close to losing a standard vamp fight was when she was being poisoned in “Helpless” [3×12] . Buffy, herself, is confused about how this even happened and tells Riley she’s in the best shape of her life. You’d think Buffy would be happy Riley was out patrolling with her this time! Yet he still gets no appreciation and respect from Buffy for actually being very useful in the field. In fact, she even tells Riley he needs to bring the Scoobies with him to patrol; as if he can’t handle himself out there alone every now and then. At least she thanked him for helping her wrap up the wound.

It makes a lot of sense that this wound would be a catalyst for Buffy to begin looking up the details on previous slayers. This also fits with the continuing theme of the season for her: finding out about her slayer heritage and learning to use and understand it. She says she doesn’t want to die so young and doesn’t understand why the other slayers did. What did they do wrong? Spike potently explains later. This scene is also a bit more chilling knowing that the season ends with Buffy’s death. Giles tells her that the likely reason most of the previous Watchers didn’t keep better journals about their Slayers’ final battles is because it was simply too painful for them. The expression on both of their faces here is one of subdued mutual concern and love for one another, and is wonderful to see. Knowing what’s to come makes this moment really special, in a somber way.

As a result of Buffy’s ‘slayer search’ she realises she’s got a contact who is an expert in slayers right in town: Spike. I think she’s incredibly smart to use him to show her how he killed the two slayers in times past. It doesn’t matter that she hates him and that he’s a really bad guy. Buffy will use whatever’s available to her in this fight, even Spike, which is a continued development in Buffy and for me an early glimpse of her behavior in S7. This, of course, leads right into the scenes at the Bronze, which are pitch-perfect; magnificent even. The heat and tension between Buffy and Spike is undeniably strong through the rest of the episode. This meeting is the best thing Spike could have hoped for as it’s essentially a date in his eyes, although Buffy’s obviously there for a completely different reason.

Very quickly we see Spike deciding he’s really going to be honest with Buffy and tell it like it is, from his own experiences. When she asks him how he killed the two slayers, he at first amusingly responds, “We fought. I won. Pay up.” He then goes on to say, “did you want a blow-by-blow description? It’s not about the moves, love.” Like usual, Spike is also incredibly observant. When Buffy throws him against the wall earlier, he notices it doesn’t hurt like usual. Then he sees her wince in pain as she turns in the Bronze and states it’s like he thought, “something got a taste of you.” It’s about at this point when the stunning flashback sequences begin, and instead of just getting huge character insight and development for Buffy, we surprisingly get just as much from Spike!

It goes without saying that the 1880 London flashback sequence is awesome. We get Cecily’s “you’re beneath me,” how he got his nickname (“they call him William the Bloody because he’s a bloody awful poet”), and how he gets his vampire name, the first layer of Spike’s complex persona (“I’d rather have a railroad spike through my head than listen to that awful poetry”). Also, he has a softer British accent here. William says, “I know I’m not a good poet. But I’m a good man.” This is a fascinating correlation to what he says in “The Gift” [5×22] : “I know I’m a monster. But you treat me like a man.” Essentially, what is said in “The Gift” [5×22] is the reverse of what he tells Cecily in 1880. Here he says he’s not a good man, but Buffy treats him like one and he appreciates it tremendously. All of this works together to seriously begin to change Spike.

We can see in this flashback that William is a very sensitive, kind, and respectful man. He loves his mother dearly and writes bad poetry to express his love of Cecily. Her complete rejection of him hurts him deep and is ultimately what leads to him becoming a vampire. It seems that most vampires retain much of their pre-vamp personality but little of their heart, which I see as different from their soul. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call Spike an anomaly in the vampire world, I do feel he’s very unique. Just like humans vary drastically in size, personality, and heart, I imagine vampires work in much the same way, although their nature makes them inclined to throw away most of the heart they had pre-vamped.

Spike has not only retained much of his pre-vamp heart, but he’s embraced it and let it flourish in, at first, his relationship with Drusilla. His growing love of Buffy is bringing this aspect of him out more strongly than ever before — so much so that it often surprises him (see “Crush” [5×14] ). This is also likely one of the reasons why Spike becomes so fond of Joyce, who is of course Buffy’s mom.

With his heart broken, Drusilla comes to William’s aid in his saddest of days. Immediately she can read his mind, in the way Drusilla does, and knows that somewhere in him is the capacity to be the kind of lover she wants. Although, with how insane Drusilla is, it’s hard to tell what that want actually is. Is it his soft heart? He ends up always being soft and kind to Drusilla. She says, “Oh, I see you. A man surrounded by fools who cannot see his strength, his vision, his glory … Your wealth lies here… and here. In the spirit and… imagination. You walk in worlds the others can’t begin to imagine.” The reason he gives into her is because she will allow him to actually live his vision in reality. We also know, from “Becoming Pt. 1” [2×21] , that she has some hypnotic-like abilities. All of this plays together here to help facilitate William’s transformation into Spike.

Back to the present for a moment, Spike explains to Buffy that becoming a vampire is a “not something you’d flip past on the Discovery Channel.” That it’s a “profound and powerful experience.” He says, “getting killed made me feel alive for the very first time.” With the life and unfullfilled potential William had, it makes a lot of sense that vampirism would be liberating for him (the loss of his soul kinda helps with that too). He then says he needed a gang to spread his wings.

Enter Angelus, Dru, and Darla. He and Angelus, though, really don’t seem to be getting along very well at first. Angelus, true to character, likes to do things in finesse, for the art of the kill (just remember “Passion” [2×17] ). Spike, on the other hand, enjoys getting into the thick of things, “fist and fang.” That he’d prefer a brawl any day to Angelus’ philosophy of only going after prey he knows he can kill. Spike says, “you know what I prefer to being hunted? Getting caught.” This is also why he’s not terribly afraid of Buffy finding out he’s in love with her, and how he’ll go for a grand gesture once she does to prove it (see “Crush” [5×14] ). Keep in mind that at this point I feel Buffy’s still more of a sexual obsession of his rather than a love interest. This, of course, slowly changes throughout the season.

Spike tells Buffy that when he found out what a Slayer was, he got “obsessed.” He says, “to most vampires, the Slayer was the subject of cold sweat and frightened whispers. But I never hid. Hell, I sought her out. I mean, if you’re looking for fun, there’s death, there’s glory and sod all else, right? (shrugs) I was young.” This helps explain Spike’s current ‘obsession’ with Buffy even more. He goes on to say that, “a Slayer must always reach for her weapon. I’ve already got mine [vamp face].” We see immediately after this how ‘reaching for her weapon’ got the Chinese Slayer killed.

This scene, by the way, is beautifully choreographed and shot, and is just overall excellent stuff. It’s also where Spike gets the second layer of his current persona: the scar. He nearly gets killed by this Slayer, but a lucky explosion turned the tide. We then see him and Drusilla romanticizing over the dead Slayer’s body using her blood as sexual enticement. The dead Slayer unwillingly is part of this romance between Spike and Drusilla. This reinforces the idea that slayers, death, vampirism, and sex are all very much mingled together in Spike’s mind, only in his youth the death and vampirism of the act were of more importance to him while now it’s becoming more skewed the other way.

Before continuing I must point out that the shot with all four vamps walking slow-mo with Spike now being shown as the dominant male in the group is utterly stunning. I needed to point this out within the review itself just because of how cinematic the direction is here, something that is really unusual to see on a television show. As we switch back to the Bronze we see that Buffy sounds sickened with Spike’s story of telling her he got off on killing that Slayer. He responds with his usual intuitiveness, “what, you telling me you don’t?” We’ve seen several times now, and it was originally brought up by Faith, that all this fighting often gets slayers “hungry and horny.” Spike knows this and Buffy can’t and doesn’t refute it. She’s just annoyed that it’s true and doesn’t want to admit it to him.

After all this mesmorizing dialogue, we get loads more. Spike explains that all it takes is one lucky demon to kill her, to have a “real nice day.” Part of him wants this to happen, for him to be that one lucky demon. But now part of him also wants her to live, to be with him. As Buffy and Spike move outside the Bronze, the dialogue to Spike gets even more sexualized, even telling him “give it to me.” He then says that the question to how he killed the other slayers isn’t “why’d I win. It’s why they lose.” Spike says Buffy’s “not ready to know” about the second Slayer. This is because of the death wish he’s discovered about slayers, the thing he thinks the New York Slayer (Nikki) had and is his very unique view on the Slayer.

Buffy persists, and he tells. The weaving going on here, with both Spike fighting Buffy and Spike fighting Nikki, between the past and present is so well done. He says Nikki “had a little bit of your style” and even calls her hot, which is exactly what he thinks of Buffy. Thus, a very personal connection is made to Buffy as well. He says, “I could have danced all night with that one.” Buffy, quickly catching on, replies “you think we’re dancing?” Spike says, “that’s all we’ve ever done.” This exchange is absolutely potent: powerful, tension-filled dialogue that is delivered perfectly by the truly exceptional James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Gellar. I can literally feel the heat coming off the two of them. Talk about chemistry!

All of this very insightful and ponderous dialogue then is thrown at Buffy and the viewer like a lightning bolt to the gut. The entire speech about death from Spike is haunting, bone-chilling, and simply mind boggling to think about in retrospect. It’s so important to the season and to knowing more about Buffy’s Slayer heritage, once again a big theme of the season, that I can’t resist quoting it here: “And the thing about the dance is, you never get to stop. Every day you wake up, it’s the same bloody question that haunts you: is today the day I die? Death is on your heels, baby, and sooner or later it’s gonna catch you. And part of you wants it… not only to stop the fear and uncertainty, but because you’re just a little bit in love with it. Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day. That final gasp. That look of peace. Part of you is desperate to know: What’s it like? Where does it lead you? And now you see, that’s the secret. Not the punch you didn’t throw or the kicks you didn’t land. Every Slayer… has a death wish. Even you.” Can I just say shudder?

Continuing the speech, Spike also points out that “the only reason you’ve lasted as long as you have is you’ve got ties to the world… your mum, your brat kid sister, the Scoobies. They all tie you here but you’re just putting off the inevitable. Sooner or later, you’re gonna want it. And the second – the second – that happens… You know I’ll be there. I’ll slip in… have myself a real good day.” After hearing this Buffy is, like me, shocked and speechless. Spike sees this immediately says, “Oh… did I scare ya? You’re the Slayer. Do something about it. Hit me. Come on. One good swing. You know you want to … Give it me good, Buffy. Do it!”

All of this was chilling the first time I heard it because it made a lot of sense when pondering the nature of a slayer’s life. In retrospect, knowing what I know is to come–Riley’s departure, the death of Buffy’s “mum,” and her “brat kid sister” forced to die–Buffy’s in that place Spike warned about, although not even remotely in the way Spike envisions it here. There’s no way she can have anything more “stripped away” (see “The Gift” [5×22] ), so she lovingly takes Dawn’s place and dies instead, finally at peace. The thematic link between “Fool for Love” and “The Gift” [5×22] is incredibly strong and is as powerfully realised as anything I’ve ever seen on film before. This is the reason I broke down on my second viewing of “The Gift” [5×22] and not the first: I became fully aware of this connection and it broke my heart.

During this entire subway sequence we also see Spike now has the dyed hair, the third piece to his current persona. Killing Nikki then gets him his infamous leather coat, the last piece of the complete Spike package which makes him the vampire we see talking to Buffy in the present. I’m astonished that Douglas Petrie was able to seamlessly cram this much complexity, history, and intelligence in the span of only one episode. This shows what the medium of television is capable of when there’s truly intelligent and inspired people at the helm.

The sexual tension between Buffy and Spike is just bursting at the seams when he finally tries to kiss her. Her response? “What the hell are you doing!?” Then she goes on to tell him that maybe she does want all that darkness and sexuality he spoke of, but not with him. How stunningly ironic is that (S6)? We then get the thematic “you’re beneath me” connection to Cecily. This breaks Spike up and angers him beyond belief, exactly like it did before. Harmony actually has it right when she says, “you’re so sensitive!” William, and by extension Spike (when you get past the exterior tough-guy) is a very sensitive individual. How the women he loves affect him absolutely proves it. We saw first signs of this back in “Lover’s Walk” [3×08] when he’s moping about his break-up with Drusilla.

The writing continues to blow me away when just as the thoughts of that break-up come to mind based on Harmony’s comments, we get a flashback to right after the events of “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] and before “Lover’s Walk” [3×08] . First of all I’m so happy we get to see the chaos demon Spike was speaking of in “Lover’s Walk” [3×08] . This scene is not only hilarious, but very meaningful in that we can see that Drusilla broke up with Spike in part because of his newly developed feelings for Buffy, which was obviously in a very subconscious stage for Spike in this scene as he’s got no clue what she’s talking about. Fans of only the early seasons often see this addition as out of character for Spike. I personally think it fits his character perfectly. In “Lover’s Walk” [3×08] we don’t see him lusting after Buffy even in slight hints because he’s still mooning over Drusilla. Also, everyone knows Drusilla is insane. Spike likely thought as much when she was telling him about being “covered” in the Slayer in South America.

So while Spike, in full anger-mode over Buffy’s rejection of his feelings for her, grabs a shotgun to blow a hole into her, we find out that Buffy’s mom is going in for a cat scan. This is the point where Buffy just can’t hold in how absolutely scared she is that her mom might die. As great as the acting from both JM and SMG has been all episode long, the scene at the end on the porch tops it all. Heart-breaking for Buffy and touching for Spike as he slowly puts his shotgun to the side. Check out those multi-dimensional facial expressions from Spike! Wow! No words are needed from Buffy to show just how sad she is right now. The fact she lets Spike softly pat her on the back is evidence enough. The episode ends as they just sit quietly together on the back porch and even slowly breathe out at the same time. Just, wow.

There’s really nothing more to say to conclude this review except that this is, flat out, one of the most phenonemal episodes of television I’ve ever seen, with its only competition being other Buffy episodes.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Dawn covers for Buffy’s wound. Good for her. I suppose the bonding in “No Place Like Home” [5×05] went both ways.
+ While it seems odd that the Willow, Xander, and Anya would be making so much noise while patrolling with Riley, it does fit. They have often had conversations and such while patrolling in the past.
+ Spike bumps into Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla after being rejected by Cecily. It’s amusing how we see the other side of this scene in “Darla” (AtS 2×07).


Foreshadowing

* The many thematic links and hints of where Buffy’s headed to, which comes to fruition in “The Gift” [5×22].
* Drusilla says to Spike, “you taste like ashes.” “Chosen” [7×22] anyone?


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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97 thoughts on “Buffy 5×07: Fool for Love”

  1. [Note: Jerry posted this comment on August 23, 2006.]

    You know its interesting, I dont think the thematic link you talk about between Fool For Love and The Gift works the way you envision. Buffy’s deathwish becomes a reality in Spiral, when Dawn is taken, and in Weight of the World when Buffy goes catatonic. In that sense, when Glory takes Dawn in Spiral she “slipped in and had a good day”. Thats why Buffy feels guilt and goes catatonic in Weight of the World. When we get to The Gift, you are correct Buffy cant stand to lose that final piece of herself, but when it comes to the sacrifice at the end, she isnt at peace. She has overcome what Spike told her in FFL (and notice that its not mentioned again), but at this point the only way to close the portal is for Dawn to die. And though Buffy seriously considers letting her go, she realizes she can go herself. In that sense, she isnt in that place Spike warns about because she is past that, she isnt a killer, and thus, she is giving up her life so that others can live theirs. So whats the connection between FFL and The Gift? The Gift is Buffy’s ultimate defeat of the themes of FFL, and thats an important distinction to make. Good review Mike, I like this episode too.

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  2. [Note: Mez posted this comment on August 23, 2006.]

    Just one note:
    Spike’s original accent isn’t exactly softer – it’s a more upper class english accent, whereas his eventual accent is more cockney.
    Interestingly enough, when Spike loses his memory in Tabula Rasa, he reverts to the original upper class version.

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  3. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 23, 2006.]

    To Jerry: I agree that Buffy does not have the “death wish” in the way Spike envisions it here in FFL. I still think she has it in “The Gift,” but that it’s mutated into something more loving and positive. Also, the look on her face right before she jumps isn’t one of pain or loss, it’s one of love and being at peace with what she has to do. She doesn’t even cry when telling Dawn her final words: “Tell Giles I figured it out. And… I’m okay.” Buffy is at her last string coming into this episode and as Spike says in FFL, her “ties to the world” have been plucked away one by one and it’s crippling her. She even tells Giles earlier on in the “The Gift” that “I don’t know how to live in this world, if these are the choices, if everything just gets stripped away.” That’s as clear a connection to FFL as any in my eyes. The catatonic state she was in during “Weight of the World” is the final precursor to her feelings and opinions in “The Gift.” Also, I don’t think Buffy ever “seriously considers letting Dawn go.” She makes it clear to especially Giles that if he tries to kill Dawn, even to save the world, Buffy will stop him. She’s not going to lose anyone else, at any cost, even the world’s. I’ll make more of a case when I actually get to “The Gift” though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    To Mez: thanks for the clarification. I’m afraid describing types of English accents for me boils down to “softer” and “rougher” sounding. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. [Note: dingdong posted this comment on August 23, 2006.]

    By the way, Mikejer, I know it wasn’t intentional at the time, but you didn’t mention the fact that cecily, according to the writers, is the same as Halfrek.

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  5. [Note: Rick posted this comment on August 23, 2006.]

    Mikejer, I must agree with Jerry and argue that Buffy does not submit to the death wish mentioned by Spike; rather, she overcomes it. Your lauding, then, of the profundity of the link between “Fool for Love” and “the Gift” is inaccurate (although a link definitely does exist, which I shall discuss later).
    Buffy’s decision to sacrifice her own life is not the despairing resignation of which Spike speaks in Fool for Love or which is expressed by Buffy herself to Giles early in “the Gift.” That is, she does not die because she lost the will to wake up each morning and fight the good fight in spite of knowing that, in the long run, as Spike wisely asserts, “it doesn’t matter how many of us you kill.” When Buffy looks into the sunrise beyond the platform, she realizes the peace and necessity of her death. If she had refused to sacrifice her own life, Dawn would have died, thus completing the stripping of her connections to the world. There would be no will to go on and the desire to take that last bow would be insurmountable. Thus, Buffy’s death in “The Gift” is not the conclusion to the nihilistic death drive that Spike insists she harbors, but rather its selfless and beautiful antithesis. To elaborate, she does not choose to die because death will end the exhausting and futile battles of everyday slaying, but because it will accomplish everything those battles couldn’t. Because it will mean something. In saving Dawn, Buffy proves that she really did love life. She loved her sister and her friends and her watcher. Her sacrifice did not end a meaningless existence. It rescued all these wonderful things she lived for. In this sense, she escapes, as Jerry mentions, the claws of the death wish. This does not, however, sever the connection or continuity of the season or between “Fool for Love” and the Gift,” but rather renders it all the more profound.

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  6. [Note: Rick posted this comment on August 23, 2006.]

    In all that rambling above, Mike, I forgot to mention how much I love your reviews and how insightful I find them to be. I look forward to future exchanges between us.

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  7. [Note: Jerry posted this comment on August 23, 2006.]

    Yeah Rick pretty much did a fantastic job with that one. You know that that speech about choices is one of my all time favorite moments of Buffy, but as Rick alluded too, she knows how to live in this world on that tower. She knows now that it isnt about the meaningless existence of a killer, what she fights for is worthy of her sacrifice. It means something, even when things have been stripped away. Well said Rick, well said.

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  8. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 23, 2006.]

    Very well put Rick. I think I more completely understand what Jerry was getting at now as well. It seems I very much agree with everything you’ve said here, and either thought a little too much about this connection or perhaps just barely too little. Not sure which one. Regardless, I greatly appreciate the clear explanation and I think I’m on board with it, although I still think my interpretation is a valid possibility.

    To both Rick and Jerry: thanks for the comments. I also recommend joining the forums, as the comment system isn’t usually considered the best place for ‘extended’ discussion (although I don’t particularly mind either way). Anyway, thanks again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on August 26, 2006.]

    is cecily halfrek? does cecily become halfrek? or are just the actors the same. and especially if you think of s.6 “older and far away”, when halfrek asks soike: “don’t I know you?” any opinions please?

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  10. [Note: AthenaMuze posted this comment on August 26, 2006.]

    I’m pretty sure they are one and the same, and meant to be so. I would have liked to hear a little more back story there or at least a little more drama for Spike when he recognizes her, but if you look at his reaction when she shows in “Older and Far Away”, you can see a little of William coming out.

    Small bit of non-Buffy trivia: The actress who plays Halfreck/Cecily plays small roles in a lot of shows (Grey’s Anatomy for one) and she was a major role (the principal) in the short lived series “Teachers.”

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  11. [Note: Dingdong posted this comment on August 26, 2006.]

    It was a coincidence at the time that the same actress was cast as Halfrek that had played Cecily, however the writers decided to indicate that Halfrek was Cecily when they realised this. Hence the exchange in OaFA.

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  12. [Note: Carey posted this comment on September 2, 2006.]

    I love your review of this episode, although I do agree with the death wish thing, but I think we’ve clarified that…

    After reading this review, I simply cannot wait until you post your review for The Gift! I think its just so heartbreaking when Spike realizes Buffy’s dead and he just completely breaks down. And I’m sure all of us are waiting patiently (or somewhat patiently) for the rest of your S5 reviews!

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  13. [Note: Chebonne posted this comment on December 2, 2006.]

    But the question is though, was she Cecily before she became Halfrek? Or was Cecily just Halfrek playing a role and that was part of her telling William he was beneath her?

    I know, the casting was a fluke. But it’s interesting to think about, isn’t it? And if she was Cecily before and was wronged and all that… why the name Halfrek? I mean, Anyanka was Aud before… but there’s really no connection between Cecily and Hallie.

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  14. [Note: AthenaMuze posted this comment on December 2, 2006.]

    My feeling was that Cecily turned into Hallie (daddy issues). Total imagination on my part, but I like it that way.

    It’s funny you brought this up again though because I just watched OaFA yesterday and thought what a shame it was that the writers didn’t go into that situation a little ore. Also, in Entropy they act as if they don’t know one another at all, and I wished they had done more with that too. I’m sure someone has done fanfic to round out that story somewhere though.

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  15. [Note: Chebonne posted this comment on December 2, 2006.]

    I’ve been thinking about that, but to me that doesn’t correlate with her friendship with Anya. I mean if Hallie was Cecily first, then she’s like a tenth of Anya’s age. When did they get to know each other? I know this is a minor point to get hung up on but… it kinda bugs me.

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  16. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on December 10, 2006.]

    That is, to the best of my knowledge, entirely down to one’s own personal opinion. I do myself think that Cecily was Halfrek, mainly because of the way she said that William was “beneath her”, but you could easily argue the other way, as she didn’t try to get him to make a wish about anyone he disliked.

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  17. [Note: Tallie posted this comment on January 3, 2007.]

    This was a perfect episode My favorite line was when Buffy said”I’m Beneth you” And Spike starts to cry. That was sad. Also I like the part where spike touches buffy and just sits there with her and comforts her without having to say anything. Its really sweet. AHHHHH

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

    Yeah..great epi.

    I love the shot when Spike strikes his match off the pool table (all cool like) and Buffy gives him this look. Im not sure if she is thinking ‘oh god he’s so friggen hot and I hate it’ or just ‘oh god I hate him’. Either way..she cant seem to take her eyes off him.

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  19. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on February 11, 2007.]

    This is probably my equal favourite episode (with Once More With Feeling). It’s clever, well written, beautifully acted and just a great peice of storytelling. It don’t get any better!
    “Talk about chemistry!” couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the Buffy/Spike dynamic. No wonder they had to get these kids together with on-screen magic like that!
    Cheers

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  20. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on February 18, 2007.]

    The idea of Cecily/ Halfrek is explored in the Spike comic “Old Times”, not cannon i know but still interesting. It implies that Halfrek was in London in 1880 on a vengence job.

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  21. [Note: Ali posted this comment on April 27, 2007.]

    I think that i get mike’s point about ” Buffy’s in that place Spike warned about” after all she’s been through after all the losses she’s been suffeing i believe that the thought of loosing dawn made her want to die and be done with the good fight, if dawn would have died like mike said her ties to the world would have been weaken as well as her will to keep on living, that knowledge combine with her love to dawn and the parental instict to protect her made her jump and die.She didn’t die beacause she had a death wish she died to avoid it.

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  22. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 14, 2007.]

    I think all the different “death wish” interpretations are right. It’s not a simple matter of either-or. Regarding Buffy’s expression and general demeanor just before her leap in “The Gift,” remember what Spike says about “that look of peace” in Fool For Love. I think she jumps because it allows her to save Dawn (an option she wasn’t given in Becoming Part II) and also because she’s psychically packed and ready to go.

    By “The Gift,” Buffy has lost much (but not all) of the things Spike enumerated (including Riley, who Spike jealously left off the list). She mentions in “Intervention” the hardness and brutality that we’ve seen creeping into her character ever since “Buffy vs. Dracula” and actually much earlier. The first five seasons of the series were largely about Buffy’s struggle to be a person and not just The Slayer. Her sacrifice in TG saved her from becoming the bleak automaton we meet in “The Wish.”

    But it’s still a death wish of a kind. Spike sees and describes the dark side of it because that’s his perspective. Everything he says is true and is part of her decision in “The Gift,” there’s just more to it. After all, she had just said to Giles, “Win or lose, if Dawn dies, I’m done. I can’t do this any more.”

    By the way, did anybody else notice that in the final Buffy/Spike scene, they’re wearing male and female versions of exactly the same outfit? Plus they strike identical attitudes for the final shot. Check it out.

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  23. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on November 10, 2007.]

    Yes, it is a very interesting episode. I love how Cecily eventually becomes Halfrek, the vengeance demon, in “Older and Far Away”. She recognizes Spike as William, but he does not recognize her. It really shows how things have been switched around. I also like how Drusilla calls the boys the “Kings of the Cup” because later on, in the Angel Episode “Destiny”, Angel and Spike fight to drink from the “Cup of Torment” to see who will fulfill the Shanshu Prophecy, and receive redemption.

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  24. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 11, 2007.]

    Absolutely my favorite episode. I’ve watched this one so many times. Each time, I’m still amazed by it.

    I love Spike having been a sensitive wanna-be poet when he was a human. It’s something I was, most definitely, not expecting when first watching the series. In retrospect, though, it makes a lot of sense to see where he came from. I think this is the episode where I started loving Spike. I liked him before. But this one made me a fangirl.

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  25. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 22, 2007.]

    First of all, I love this episode so much that I don´t have enough words to praise it. So amazingly perfect: the acting, the directing, everything. The last scene is awesome, their facial expressions are wonderful. Love it!
    Second of all, I have to say how much I love all your reviews, mike. Very insightful but we can see you have a lot of love for the series. And although I love all of your reviews, I have to say your S5 reviews, especially this one are some of your best reviews yet. Amazing analysis and love for these reviews.

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  26. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on February 21, 2008.]

    You said in your review that the only time Buffy comes close to losing a standard vamp fight is in “Helpless”, but how about the fight in “The Freshman”?

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  27. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 21, 2008.]

    Plain Simple: Good point! I likely forgot about that instance just because it felt a bit out-of-character to me, but you’re definately right.

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  28. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on February 22, 2008.]

    Btw, how can we tell the last flashback with Drusilla and the demon is before Lover’s Walk? It could be after and the demon could be the fungus demon, couldn’t he? After all, there’s all that goo dripping of him, which might be some kind of fungus? Or did I miss a hint somewhere to place the episode before Lover’s Walk.

    Before does seem a bit more likely though, judging from the way the characters act. It looks like a first break up, not a second one.

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  29. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 22, 2008.]

    We can tell the flashback is before “Lover’s Walk” because of what Spike weeps to Willow in that episode. Here’s the quote:

    It was that truce with Buffy that did it. Dru said I’d gone soft. Wasn’t demon enough for the likes of her. And I told her it didn’t mean anything, I was thinking of her the whole time, but she didn’t care. So, we got to Brazil, and she was… she was just different. I gave her everything: beautiful jewels, beautiful dresses with beautiful girls in them, but nothing made her happy. And she would fliiirt! I caught her on a park bench, making out with a *chaos* demon! Have you ever seen a chaos demon? They’re all slime and antlers. They’re disgusting.

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  30. [Note: UnionStayshyn posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    Good call on this episode. Definitely one of the most significant of the entire series – if not THE most significant. I would even go so far as to suggest that Joss had Petrie write it because he knew he couldn’t give these powerful themes the language and script that they needed to be conveyed as powerfully as possible (you’ll note that – successful in the delivery or not – he wrote some pretty important character based episodes). Seemed that Joss really went to him when he needed some really heavy lifting.

    And while I need to review The Gift – I heartily agree with Jerry’s comments (though I still need to know how she goes from The Gift to working in a burger joint). Anyway great site!

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  31. [Note: Andrea posted this comment on July 28, 2008.]

    This is my favourite Buffy episode. (Ahhh it’s so hard to say that about any single episode – it’s always ‘oh but what about Once More with Feeling, Becoming, what about this and that one’, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it.) I’m a huge Spike fan, so obviously I find this ep. the very essence of Delightful, haha!

    This episode is literally perfection, some of the best writing I’ve seen ever, anywhere… you’re so right about the chills-factor during Spike’s speech about death. Amazing. Literal goosebumps. ‘”You think we’re dancing?” “That’s all we’ve ever done.”‘ Incredible. There’s not enough adjectives.

    The sequence of scenes in the Bronze and the alley is genius – the way they sync up Spike’s fights with Nikki and Buffy, and then finally when they have the Flashback Spike actually just talking to Buffy while holding Nikki squirming underneath him is amazing. And ooooh (lol), when he pulls the coat (so coldly) off Nikki’s dead body… chills, in a majorly-creeped-out-lightbulb-moment-about-just-how-bad-Spike-was way. I think the “dance” in the alley is one of my favourite Buffy *moments* as well, up there with ‘”Take all that away, and what’s left?” “…Me.”‘

    And to make a general note of awe and appreciation, it’s amazing how these backstories all intertwine in different episodes/seasons/shows in the Buffyverse, and almost nothing ever contradicts itself, it just gives a sense of real… truth or reality to the whole thing, kind of. Like the writers don’t just throw things out there haphazardly and then forget about them. (You can see that in series like Friends, for example, when Rachel Green is given like 5 different birthdays, or another *good* example – a masterful one, in fact – is the Harry Potter series).

    Par example, I only just watched the Angel series (finally gave in – disappointed with it) and got to see the William-gets-sired scene from the other side – incredible the way it meshes with the scene in Buffy, but if you didn’t watch both series you’d never know about the other side (And PS, who knew Angel was off saving missionaries while Spike was killing the slayer? The ponce…), and “Sorry love, I don’t speak Chinese” shows up unexpectedly in a moment in another Angel episode that had me squealing with joy… The poem about Cecily’s “beauty…effulgent” turns up in a hhhhilarious scene in the Angel series finale, then we have (of course) the consequences of killing Nikki show up in S7 in a larger way…

    I love the way this show/its writers make everything have meaning. Doug Petrie must have gone a long way in weaving this “Spike mythology/history thing”… Like, Spike’s coat must have just been a coat at first, a decision by the costume department, and then Petrie comes in with this episode and makes it this amazing Enigma for the whole rest of the series that has you thinking about what it symbolizes every time you see it…. Or the callback to the Chaos Demon (“All slime and antlers!”) that was maybe a throwaway line from S3 at the time…

    I’m going to stop now. I love it.

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  32. [Note: Andrea posted this comment on July 28, 2008.]

    Ooops, one more random note – I freaking LOVE the patrolling scene with Riley, Xander, Anya, and Willow in the graveyard. Laugh out loud funny. Up there with my (hundreds of) top funny moments in the series. The whole thing with his uber-stealthy soldier hand signals that they don’t get, and then you see them lumbering along crunching chips, Willow wearing a very bright pinky-striped sweater and bucket hat (lol), then Xander going, “HEY RILEY? WHAT’S WITH THE *hilarious emulation of hand signal*”… It’s such an essentially Scoobies moment that they don’t take patrolling all that seriously because the vamps are going to come out to get them anyway, etc… love that theme throughout the series.

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  33. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 22, 2008.]

    Man, I love this site, and I love your reviews, Mike. This was an incredible episode, and really warranted such an in-depth analysis. I love that we finally got some background detailed background info on Spike, and anything that brings Angel and Drusilla back to the show is in itself cause for celebration. I especially loved how the slayer that Spike kills in the subway car turns out to be Principal Wood’s mom. Awesome, awesome twist, and it’s great to see Spike finally rock the Billy Idol look!

    My only quibble is that Buffy got staked. The last time she got that soundly whipped was in “The Freshman”, but there were plausible reasons for that: Buffy felt out of place beginning college, and Sunday was an experienced vampire who had been robbing and killing freshmen for almost twenty years. She knew how to catch her victims off guard. In this episode, there’s really no excuse. Buffy is happy and confident, believes she’s in the best shape of her life [although SMG’s figure, which became emaciated starting in the middle of Season 4, would suggest otherwise] and is completely prepared for a fight against a vampire who probably just came out of the ground. I didn’t buy him turning the tables on her, but I loved everything else about this episode. Fantastic review!

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  34. [Note: sarah posted this comment on December 20, 2008.]

    Just found this site and I’m enjoying reading everyone’s reactions to the show.

    There’s a line from Dru in this episode that from the first time I heard it I always found immensely forboding, “you taste like ashes” Not only did she know that Spike loved the Slayer before he did, she also knew the path back to the Slayer, that obsession would end with his death. But it’s the word “ashes” that most interesting. Knowing now how Spike meets his end (on Buffy anyways), not a mere “dusting” but burning up, turned to ash, Dru’s warning carries more weight.

    Whether it be coincidence or intentional, it’s a nice bit of continuity. That’s one of the fun things about this show is how well they, for the most part, work within the history they created. It’s not written, filmed then forgotten.

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  35. [Note: Emmie posted this comment on January 24, 2009.]

    “While it seems odd that the Willow, Xander, and Anya would be making so much noise while patrolling with Riley, it does fit. They have often had conversations and such while patrolling in the past.”

    Talking on patrol was also something Riley criticized Buffy for during The I In Team.

    Riley: (stops) Buffy. Can we talk about this later? There’s a
    dangerous hostile out here and . . . since I don’t have your reflexes,
    I kinda need to focus.

    So it makes sense that the Scoobies aren’t worried about being stealthy. Buffy doesn’t worry as much about being stealthy – she has her stellar reflexes. The Scoobies being loud and chatty could even be seen as bait to draw vampires and demons out. The way a small blonde girl is underestimated as the Slayer. How many times have vamps gone to attack Buffy thinknig she was just tasty morsel?

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  36. [Note: Paula posted this comment on January 28, 2009.]

    This is one of those outstanding episodes which I have re-watched several times, but last night I saw it the second time in its original context. It’s just about The Definitive Bad Spike Episode. Darn, he’s so cool, sexy and creepy here. And you gotta love the Spike/Buffy interaction. It’s clear that Buffy doesn’t really wish to be anywhere near Spike at this point and that she finds him mostly just plain repulsive, but she’s determined to get as close to him as necessary to get out of him what she wants to know. Spike embraces the sort of darkness which Buffy strictly rejects, and it’s going to take him a long time to understand that dragging her into it (which he does in S6) won’t do her any favors at all.

    And that last scene, oh boy what a moment. When I first saw this I expected Riley to turn up any moment, which he never did. Marsters does a wonderful job with Spike’s face, and we get from Spike the determined killer to Spike the tender and concerned lover in a few unforgettable seconds. This is where we first really see what love – even completely unrequited love – is capable of doing to him.

    My only complaint here is that after that last exchange in the dark alley, Buffy really should not have been so surprised to learn in “Crush” that Spike is in love with her. That’s a bit of an inconsistency.

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  37. [Note: Jess posted this comment on February 16, 2009.]

    Great review and equally marvellous episode! I just watched it for the first time and its great to reflect on it with your review. I’m especially glad you gave a shout out to the slow-mo scene. In anything else it would have probably been corny, but it was chilling and powerful in Buffy. Makes me wonder what those four got up to!

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  38. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 24, 2009.]

    Wow! Amazing episode, and amazing review, Mike. It’s pretty much all been said by everyone else, but I just had to say how much I loooove this episode. JM and SMG do such an unbelievably incredible job here!! I’ve never actually seen anyone able to change expressions like JM does at the end of the episode when he looks down at Buffy sitting on the porch. Freakin’ unbelievable!!
    I admit that I’m a Bangel girl (if you see my previous comments and posts in the forum under the name BuffAngel17224, you’d understand lol), but I still do love Buffy and Spike’s relationship. I love Spike! He’s an incredibly complex character, and I love what Petrie did for him in this episode.

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  39. [Note: Jenyon posted this comment on June 3, 2009.]

    I too love your reviews and insight – wonderful writing.
    I had one more quote I would add as just lovely and touching from this episode (even though it isn’t a Spike/Buffy exchange).

    Giles: The problem is that after a final battle, that, uh, it’s difficult to get any, uh… well, the Slayer’s not… she’s rather, um…
    Buffy: It’s okay to use the “D” word, Giles.
    Giles: Dead. And… hence not very forthcoming.
    Buffy: Why didn’t the Watcher’s keep fuller accounts of it? The journals just… stop.
    Giles: Well, I suppose if they’re anything like me, they just found the whole subject too…
    Buffy: Unseemly? Damn. Love ya, but you Watchers are such prigs sometimes.
    Giles: Painful, I was going to say.

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  40. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 11, 2009.]

    I’ll agree this is a damn good episode, but it ain’t perfect. Not with the incredible insult to Willow and Xander right in the middle of it. They’re munching chips and talking loudly on patrol???!!! PUH-LEEZE! They were patrolling long before Riley ever did and they obviously know better than to do something so boneheaded. How the writers could just dismiss 4-1/2 years of continuity like that I’ll never know. So maybe the Spike/Buffy scenes get the 100, but the rest of the episode gets a great big F.

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  41. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on July 11, 2009.]

    @Selene: I don’t think it’s completely out of character for them. Perhaps a bit on the boneheaded side, yes, but they’ve never been exactly stealthy in their patrolling. I think examples of their patrolling from previous seasons actually lend a bit of credence to the scene, personally. But yes, I do agree they should have learned by now to not have been quite THAT bad.

    Also, I’m sure they felt relatively safe around Riley in that situation. They’ve never seemed to really doubt his monster-hunting/fighting abilities on the show, that I ever noticed, anyway.

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  42. [Note: Jon posted this comment on November 1, 2009.]

    Just like to point out that the fight on the New York subway train between Spike and the slayer is surely a reference to the ‘punk vs. disco’ cultural war of the late seventies. Both Spike and the slayer look the part and there’s even a bit of funk in the background music to give the hint. And Spike refers to it as ‘dancing’!

    First comment but have been reading for some time. Great site!

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  43. [Note: Rodion posted this comment on April 15, 2010.]

    Ummm..great episode but your review was more of a word for word retelling of the episode….i just watched it, i know what it was about. Your ‘review’ could have fit in three lines. Also…how about not spoiling future plot points in an episode review.

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  44. [Note: Guido posted this comment on April 15, 2010.]

    @Rodion, the series has been off the air for 7 years, so I think we’re beyond the need to warn about spoilers. Also, the review is peppered with running commentary, which is a very common and effective review style. Your flippant comment suggests you either didn’t read it, didn’t comprehend it, or you want the world to work in only a certain way.

    Oh, could you please provide a link to your website so we can read your reviews?

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  45. [Note: rodion posted this comment on April 15, 2010.]

    @Guido, I’m sorry, i wasn’t aware i had to write reviews to know what a good one reads like. *Sigh* i guess i’ve never been right about what movies are good because i’ve never made one. Oh well.

    I guess your right about the spoilers though, this is the sort of site that is for fans who have watched the series a few times. I’m just coming to the series now and i just didn’t want to spoiled!

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  46. [Note: Guido posted this comment on April 16, 2010.]

    @Rodion, maybe I shouldn’t have hammered that hard. It’s just that I’ve come to appreciate how much work has gone into these reviews, and your comment seemed to just crap on that without regard for the man’s efforts, hence the flippant. Sometimes the civil and polite thing to do when you don’t like someone’s style is to stay mum about it.

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  47. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 25, 2010.]

    Superb episode, although I doubt it will wind up in my top ten once I’m done with the entire series. It’s currently at #9, and I’ve still got “The Body”, “Once More, with Feeling”, and “The Gift” to watch.

    They’ve really done a great job developing some of the other characters in the last few episodes: first Tara in “Family”, and now Spike. Great stuff.

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  48. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on July 13, 2010.]

    Coming back to the death-wish thing: I think Buffy’s catatonia after Dawn was taken is more relevant. I think this scene from “Weight of the World” sums it up quite well:

    Buffy: (in her catatonic head) This was when I quit, Will.

    Willow: You did?

    Buffy: Just for a second.

    Buffy: I remember. I was in the magic shop. I put a book back for Giles. Nothing special about it. And then it hit me.

    Willow: What hit you?

    Buffy: I can’t beat Glory. Glory’s going to win.

    Willow: You can’t know that.

    Buffy: I didn’t just know it. I felt it. Glory will beat me. And in that second of knowing it, Will… I wanted it to happen.

    Willow: Why?

    Buffy: I wanted it over. This is… all of this… it’s too much for me. I just wanted it over. If Glory wins… then Dawn dies. And I would grieve. People would feel sorry for me. But it would be over. And I imagined what a relief it would be. I killed Dawn.

    Willow: Is that what you think?

    Buffy: My thinking it made it happen. Some part of me wanted it. And in the moment Glory took Dawn… I know I could have done something better. But I didn’t. I was off by some fraction of a second. And this is why… I killed my sister.

    Buffy’s death wish wasn’t for herself, it was for Dawn. This, and also a line from an earlier episode where Buffy says, “I do [have a life]. I have Dawn’s life”. These quotes show how Buffy’s life and Dawn’s life are (sort of) one and the same. Which is why Buffy’s sacrifice in place of Dawn’s (sort of) makes sense.

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  49. [Note: yippers6 posted this comment on August 4, 2010.]

    DARLA: I think our boys are going to fight.

    DRUSILLA: The King of Cups expects a picnic! But this is not his birthday.

    DARLA: Good point…

    a really funny comment

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  50. [Note: Maddog posted this comment on January 23, 2011.]

    Of all the great moments in this episode, the one that stays with me is the very last one, when Spike attempts to comfort Buffy on the porch steps. This is a question only SMG can answer, but is she playing “That makes me feel better,” or “This is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened to me.” Any ideas?

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  51. [Note: Wveth posted this comment on March 15, 2011.]

    Great review, just pointing out a typo: in the 17th paragraph, you misspell “mesmerizing” in the first sentence. Just wanted to let you know.

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  52. [Note: Wveth posted this comment on March 15, 2011.]

    Sorry about this, but a few more little corrections!

    In the 8th paragraph, you misquote the episode minorly, twice.

    The proper quotes are thus:

    “They call him William the Bloody because of his bloody awful poetry.” and “I’d rather have a railroad spike through my head than listen to that awful stuff.”

    Again, once more in the 17th paragraph, you say, “it isn’t ‘why’d I win. It’s why they lose.'” This should be “it isn’t ‘why’d I win; it’s why’d they lose?'” with the single quotation marks replaced with real ones, of course.

    Again, minor minor stuff, but it’s what I do. It’s a very nice review for a very nice episode ๐Ÿ™‚

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  53. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 15, 2011.]

    Thanks for the comment, Wveth! In the future, though, please send me typo corrections via e-mail (mikejer[at]criticallytouched[dot]com) or PM (on the forums). With that said, you should note that I am in the process of going through all my reviews one last time and polishing them up with updated thoughts, scores, and spelling, so I probably won’t act on anything you send me until I get to the episode in order. I’m aware that there are quite a few mostly minor typos throughout my reviews, but I will definitely be addressing them in due time. I’ll be starting with Season 2 soon.

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  54. [Note: SpikeFan posted this comment on April 28, 2011.]

    Well, everyone else has basically said it… I LOVE THIS EPISODE. The epitome of perfection. I actually cried at the end, that is definitely saying something. The subway scene is probably one of the best fight sequences ever delivered on film. Echoing Inception’s anti-gravity duel.

    The character development added so much profound depth to Spike’s character. Before, he seemed to have become just a comically observant side character, but no, Spike stepped out in a huge way for this episode.

    The sexual chemistry was enchanting, leaving me with goosebumps. I take off my metaphorical hat to the writers, they created such wonderful works of art, that are unrivaled and just lovely!!

    Of course the line “you think we’re dancing?” Spike says, “that’s all we’ve ever done.” is enough to make me die right here, right now. Sooo good!!!

    There are those out there that believe Spike and Buffy are no match for Buffy and Angel… but I think the back story here gives so much validity to the destiny between Buffy and Spike. He has the fated task and lust to bring down Slayers, a thirst for their blood, and Buffy is of course that Slayer, but different because his lust for blood… is turning into a urning for her love. Fate’s strong connection in this wonderful series is obvious in this episode as the Dance of Death leads two “souls” together whether they know consciously (Drusilla of course does) or not.

    The end scene echoes the actors’ ability to act out a scene without the utterance of any audible vernacular (as scene in Hush – another fabulous episode).

    And of course the chaos demon part made me literally laugh out loud. ๐Ÿ˜€ haha glad to see everyone still loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer as much as I do!!!

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  55. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on May 5, 2011.]

    I think it is totally in character for the scoobies to be loud and eating crisps (translation:chips for you strange Americans with your bastardisation of the ENGLISH language *said while embarassingly aware of her own bad spelling*. Chips are what you have with your steak or fish etc. crisps are the cruchy round flat potatoes that come in bags!) whilst patrolling. Think back to Buffy Vs Dracula; carefree chatting and slurping double-mint mochas. The thing is they are used to patrolling with buffy in which case they are pretty much safe as she can protect them. And even when it’s just them think back to ‘Anne’ where Xander and Cordelia have a big fight in the cemetary nearly getting willow killed. Also patrol for them, when buffy is going to be back out there the following night probably, is more about checking nothing too sinister is going down and that nobody is getting bitten than hunting down vampires. It’s only because riley selfishly wants to prove himself a ‘real man’ and avenge buffy’s staking. Be back to you with my full take on the episode after this brief interval in which I will watch it again………

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  56. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on May 6, 2011.]

    @mike: I’ve always loved this episode but it used to be just slighly missing some of the elements that make a ‘P’ episode for me. However having just read your review and rick’s great comments also, I now too have the love for it which hikes it up to a ‘P’ grade. I’ve never really appreciated before just how terrifying it must be for buffy to hear the raw descriptions of the murders of slayers before her. I loved the long term pay-off of the chaos demon scene! My only two niggles are Drucilla’s terrible ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula hair’ and Angel’s terrible Irish accent.

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  57. [Note: chomu posted this comment on May 24, 2011.]

    I have always wondered about the obsession that Spike had with Buffy. It seems quite obvious here that he obsessed with her slayerness, but not herself as a person.

    No wonder in Season 7 episode Dirty Girls when Faith the Vampire Slayer entered the basement that Spike lived, they had such a juicy conversation, and apparently it made Buffy uneasy.

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  58. [Note: Dave posted this comment on August 2, 2011.]

    @chomu: I believe that was due to them having compatible personalities, both being laid back and saying what they think. Not to mention Spike’s hilarious reaction when he realized Faith was in Buffy’s body. I, at least, don’t consider Spike to be attracted to “the Slayer” at that point in the series. As of “Fool for Love”, it’s most likely a mix of Buffy and her being the Slayer.

    These two are a tricky business to explain, ’tis why I enjoy watching them so very much!

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  59. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on November 17, 2011.]

    I just realised on another viewing that the snobbish woman at the party in 1880 says William the Bloody is Williams nickname, as unwanted as it would be to William. She claims it is because of his “bloody awful poetry” but it doesn’t really make sense calling him that because of poems. Being a ruthless vampire would be a better reason to call him William the Bloody.

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  60. [Note: nitramneek posted this comment on December 23, 2011.]

    Among the many things to admire about BtVS, another facet to the gem that is BtVS would be their “highlander” quality flashbacks. Well deserved attention has been paid to the writing and acting that I don’t think enough has been paid to their set design and art departments. Producing a weekly television series with really tight shooting schedules and managing to git it historically accurate, right down to the finest detail is simply astonishing!

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  61. [Note: amberpoochie posted this comment on January 7, 2012.]

    Great review!! Not sure itโ€™s a P, but very emotional, especially love the ending.

    There is an inconstancy that bugs me and ultimately spoils my enjoyment of the episode. Please correct me if I am wrong but in โ€˜School Hardโ€™ 2×03 it is review that Angel sired Spike. Itโ€™s not hinted at, or suggested, it is in fact declared by Spike! โ€˜You were my sire man!โ€™.

    Why oh why do we have Drusilla siring Spike in the episode?

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  62. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on January 7, 2012.]

    @amberpoochie Regarding Angel being Spike’s sire. Joss explained it at some point. I can’t find the exact quote, but here’s what I found on Buffy wikia:

    “In “School Hard,” Spike refers to Angel as his sire. While Spike was sired by Drusilla, Joss Whedon has commented that the term “sire” can refer to any vampire in a lineage: thus, since Angel sired Drusilla, he can also be considered Spike’s sire.”

    I hope that cleared things up for you ๐Ÿ™‚

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  63. [Note: Rob posted this comment on January 18, 2012.]

    Interesting distinction you make between heart and soul. There’s definitely something extraordinary about Spike the vampire. Watching the end of this episode, it’s hard to believe that Spike doesn’t really have a soul already. He lacks a conscience about his past behavior, and he’s manipulative and shallow, but I’ve met humans that weren’t much better. Or take early Cordelia, for example.

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  64. [Note: ivebeenbitten posted this comment on March 3, 2012.]

    Cecily/ Halfrek question. In Older and Far Away Anya identifies Halfrek by the pendent that she wears – a dark blue stone with red flecks. In FFL Cecily is wearing a necklace but not the pendant as mentioned above. What this could mean is that Cecily is not Halfrek in 1880’s.

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  65. [Note: Jack posted this comment on July 17, 2012.]

    Good review, but I feel the overlong and unnecessary quotes are well, unnecessary and don’t add much. Can’t add much that hasn’t already been mentioned in the comments, but this is definitely in my top 5 favourite episodes.

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  66. [Note: Great Whazoo posted this comment on October 24, 2012.]

    Be happy Americans only confuse “crisps” & “chips”. Being a Canadian that attended an American high school in Texas & Nairobi (where I knew quite a few Brits ), I had to learn 3 English dialects (as well as Australian, New Zealand and various dialects from the Foggy Isles!). Cecily would have been a vengeance demon that looks for neglected children to enact her powers and the party William and her were attending may have been a perfect place to hunt out her next assignment…. judging by the way children were exploited back then. I also believe that Spike sharing the Chinese slayers blood with Drusilla may have contributed to his obsession with her. Also, his intense lust for the absolute challenge of defeating a slayer is what drew him to Buffy, whom he started achieving a level of respect for after after getting his butt kicked ( and her letting him exist with the “chip”). My favourite episodes (yes, there’s a “u” in “favourite)usually involve Spike & Buffy, whether battling or canoodling.

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  67. [Note: JEL posted this comment on December 14, 2012.]

    A couple of interesting parallels:Here Spike tells Buffy “Death is your art” and then in “Intervention” the First Slayer tells Buffy “Death is your gift”. Here Spike calls the killing of the Slayer in China “That was the best night of my life” and in “End of Days” Spike says of the platonic night with Buffy “It was the best night of my life.” Obvious ones I know, but decided to mention them anyway. (Just went back to “End of Days” and Lyv already made that second point there. Oh well, left it in here anyway.) (I also thought Xander & company’s terrible patrolling seemed a bit inconsistent with their past experiences but that is a pretty minor flaw.)

    Like

  68. [Note: sarah posted this comment on January 2, 2013.]

    It’s also good to note that Angel had his soul in the ending segment of the flash back, very interesting to see this on buffy and angel

    Like

  69. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 3, 2013.]

    I agree with MikeJer about the strong connection between this and The Gift: Buffy lives with her death wish, but in “The Gift”, her death is more powerful because she realizes the worth of her life (what she’s fought for) and of her death (saving those she loves and for whom she lived for).

    Everything about the brilliance of this episode has been discussed, so I’ll just comment about the patrolling:
    First of all, I don’t find it ridiculous that a vampire can hurt Buffy. As opposed to “The Freshman”, here she’s winning but it takes just one second of inattention to be beaten. Maybe it’s overconfidence because she’s never been in such a good shape(she’s teasing him during the fight, as she often does), maybe it’s just bad luck. What I mean is, it’s a miracle (or a TV show :P) that she hasn’t been hurt more than that during these years.

    Now about the gang, the scenes are not just about fun and, as said previously, the scoobies often go on mission, but not on patrol. When they do, it’s usually to chat with Buffy and they’re never been stealthy, at all ! But here, it’s emphasized to show the difference between them and Riley. At this point, Riley isn’t playing the “lone hero” to impress Buffy, it’s a defense mechanism to mend his ego. Don’t forget that his world has fallen apart (military career, receiving orders/guidance, being the protective male, being betrayed by which he believed in, being in love with someone who cares but hasn’t the same feelings towards him)and the only thing that keeps him sane is Buffy. And she’s slipping away.

    Riley needs a purpose and he has none, patrolling is something he knows how to do. Yet Buffy doesn’t trust him even if it’s something he’s good at. We watch him in these scenes being all business vs the Scoobies being there just to be sure that there’s nothing huge brewing. The roles are reversed: Riley had a fulfilling life, now he’s got almost nothing. The gang now have good lives, have lived with scary vampires for 5 years and have become casual about them. Plus, they trust Riley’s abilities.

    So I believe that Riley’s path to auto-destruction is a really good parallel to the story of the death wish.

    Last comment about “You’re beneath me”. Both are said in the same tone, but their intent is very different. Though the result for Spike is the same: rage, sadness, despair. In the first instance, it’s because William is a good man but he’s being laughed at by the snobbish society. In the second, it’s because he’s a bad “man” who isn’t worth all the goodness that is Buffy.

    Well, one of my top 5 BtVS !

    Like

  70. [Note: WCRobinson posted this comment on July 29, 2013.]

    Watching the series a second time, Fool for Love stands out as the best episode to me.

    The insight into Spike’s character and history gives him more depth than ever before, and the themes of the slayer – and Buffy as a person – are explored in depth. These themes are evident throughout the series, obviously most prominently in “The Gift”.

    Also, the action sequences are just so well done… the cinematography and composition of both of the Spike vs Slayer fights are just amazing… (plus THAT shot of the Angel, Spike, Darla, Dru gang). The train sequence, mixed with the real-time fight just transfixes me every time.

    Also, the connection between the two “beneath me”s of the two woman he loved yet put him down is clear. He doesn’t like to be rejected, does Spike… either he goes and becomes a vampire, or he tries to shoot you with a shotgun! ;D In all seriousness, the final scene with Buffy and Spike seems like one of the first times they ever share a loving moment.

    The combination of the great Douglas Petrie – one of my preferred Buffy writers – and this review certainly helps he enjoyment and understanding of the episode, so thank you Mike. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  71. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on July 11, 2014.]

    What a powerful episode! I love Spike, it does so much to elevate his character in a viewer’s eyes. Admittedly, I fell in love with the guy from his very first appearance, but for people who aren’t obsessed fangirls… I’m pretty sure I was trying to make a point somewhere …

    Anyway, I love this episode. One of my favourites if not thee favourite. Totally in my top 10, even if that list is currently very…confusing. So, so many good episodes. Spike’s backstory fills in so many blanks and it’s done majestically. I loved all the flashbacks. The Boxer Rebellion one was my favourite, though. The shot of Angelus, Spike, Darla and Dru power-walking, while the ruined city crumbles to ashes behind them is just done so magnificently. It’s poignant and beautiful and chilling. Kudos to the director for the brilliant cinematography. Spike is so hot when he’s badass, he’s a complete monster when he’s fighting the Chinese Slayer but its just so sexy at the same time. When he and Dru make-out and stuff while the entire set behind them bursts into flames makes it even more epic and gives it a larger than life feel. I can’t help but be fascinated by these four vampires, their group is called the Whirlwinds? I believe. Now these are rich characters! They have shining personalities, trademarks and backstories that make them what they are and it’s simply wonderful to watch! Seeing the flashbacks from a different perspective in “Darla” aids it in making it all seem so real yet surreal at the same time.

    But, it’s the scene at the end that gets me every time. All kudos to James Marsters who transforms from badass to friend, with stops along the way to confusion and concern, all in front of our eyes.

    Spike has always been a fascinating character to me and I’ve done tons of character studies on him and similar characters. I think I have a thing for morally questionable characters in fiction. I am one of those people who shipped Spike and Buffy from the second he appeared on our screen. He’s always been a much better partner for her than Angel — at least in my opinion. I could write dissertations on why I think so, but let’s not get into that right now.

    What makes the ending even more powerful for me is that, right before it, Buffy has been a complete bitch. She says the one thing to Spike that she knows is going to hurt and says it with attitude. It is understandable that Spike is murderous. Yet, the soulful poet in love with the girl just can’t help but comfort her. Also, I love that you noticed how the two of them even breathe out at the same time at the end of the episode! I’d like to believe this is the writers proving to us that they are counterparts.

    Finally, Riley. I get where he was coming from, but I still think it was a bit risky for him to do what he did. The grenade was fun though, and I love how that scene cut into the scene with Buffy looking all cocky and yelling at Spike, “Give it to me.” The Scoobies were a hoot. I love Anya and Willow in this one, they looked adorable. I think the gang has faith in Riley’s abilities, more so than Riley himself does, actually, which is why they were so carefree. The Slime demon with the antlers just made my night, I had almost forgotten about that last one.

    Anyway, again, I’ve rambled on too long and I can’t add much more to whatever has already been said because honestly, I cannot express in words how much I adore this episode but I think MikeJr has done it for me, pretty well, too. This is rich characterizations, acting, directing and writing all coming together in one tremendous episode that is a hell of a ride and a must-watch for any Buffy fan! The beauty and complexity of this episode manages to stun me with every viewing. Also, great performances by SMG and JM. No wonder they just HAD to experiment with the Spuffy relationship, the sexual tension is raw, enticing and very, very eminent. Truly television at its very best.

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  72. [Note: Monica posted this comment on July 11, 2014.]

    One thing I disagree on, I don’t think the B-plot fits Willow, Xander, and Anya’s characterizations whatsoever. Sure, the Scoobies were always lax whenever they were on patrol, but it’s exaggerated to make them look like bumbling rookies. I feel like it really weighs down an otherwise great episode.

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  73. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on July 12, 2014.]

    Why would they try to be stealthy, though? Isn’t part of the point of patrolling that the vampires come to them?

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  74. [Note: Monica posted this comment on July 12, 2014.]

    That’s not the point I’m trying to make, though. The scenes don’t portray Riley being overboard-commander guy while the Scoobies are using their own laid-back patrolling tactics. Instead, they portray Riley as being skilled and experienced while the Scoobies just slow him down.

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  75. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on July 12, 2014.]

    I’m not so sure that’s what the writers were intending. The scene mocks Riley’s fist-pumping motion, and I think we’re meant to see his actions as ridiculously over-the-top.

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  76. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on October 17, 2014.]

    One problem that has started to nag at me about this episode for quite some time is that why would Spike tell Buffy about his experiences leading up to becoming a vampire? It doesnโ€™t seem to have much relevance to what Buffy is there for. Why didnโ€™t Spike just start talking about the first slayer he killed rather than start telling Buffy about his experience with Cecile? If someone could clarify this for me, I would feel a lot better about this episode.

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  77. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    I think it helps give clarity to what he says about the psychology of vamprires vs the psychology of Slayers.

    Like

  78. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    That makes sense… But what significance does making a distinction between the psychology of the slayer and the psychology of the vampire serve? I’m sure the answer is quite obvious, but I just don’t know it.

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  79. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    The thing is, I don’t think Spike -does- tell Buffy about that stuff. He’s remembering them for himself.

    What he tells Buffy is this:

    BUFFY: Were you born this big a pain in the ass?
    SPIKE: What can I tell you, baby? I’ve always been bad.

    What he instead remembers… cut to poetry night in the 1800s.

    Spike is in love with Buffy in his weird obsessive way, and trying to impress her with tales of how awesome he is. We don’t know what exactly he tells her, but at best it was a very edited version of the truth. Where he “got himself a gang” instead of “was barely tolerated by Angel and Darla,” where he “always was bad” instead of “was a bloody awful poet.”

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  80. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    I can except that… Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚ It was just a little nagging thing. Nothing that would detract from the brilliance of this episode. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  81. [Note: Random posted this comment on March 17, 2015.]

    “While it seems odd that the Willow, Xander, and Anya would be making so much noise while patrolling with Riley, it does fit. They have often had conversations and such while patrolling in the past.”

    A point that lots of reviewers don’t seem to pick up on is the parallel to Buffy at the start of the episode. Regardless of how much or how little credence you give to Spike’s analysis, one thing is fairly clear — Buffy and the Scoobies have grown jaded, if not outright cocky, over the course of the previous four years. Faith’s words to Joyce back in S3 were practically prophetic…Buffy had reached the point where, at least against the run-of-the-mill threats, she “knew” she was going to win and they were going to lose, and it was a good feeling. You could clearly see it in her interaction with the vampire that stabbed her, and thus the reversal had an even more profound effect on her psyche than it might otherwise have had.

    And the Scoobies give every indication of having grown blase as well. The ritual of patrolling and killing have become routine to them. It’s just something they do now, like homework or going to the Bronze. Riley, on the other hand, still understands exactly how dangerous what they’re doing is. In a sense, Riley’s personal issues this season actually had a laudable result. His hyperawareness of the disparity between his abilities and Buffy’s has left him quite aware of how vulnerable he is, how he could be killed in an instant if he slips up. The other Scoobies (at least Xander and Willow, because I have no idea how Anya went from feeling her own mortality in The Replacement to behaving like she’s on a casual stroll here) have grown acclimated, which is not a healthy thing to happen on the Hellmouth. One gets the feeling that they’re so used to things “turning out okay” with Buffy around that they’ve all but forgotten the incredibly harsh lessons of Season 2.

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  82. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 3, 2015.]

    Overall having this back story was probably necessary at this time since after getting the chip in his brain I was starting to doubt whether he had actually killed those Slayers.

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  83. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 4, 2015.]

    Even as recently as a few episodes ago, Spike tried to bite and kill her in the belief he no longer had the chip. Plus, even in the same rough chronological time as he starts to ‘help’ the scoobies (season 4, and Angel season 1), he’s still actively trying to kill them. He’s portrayed as particularly vicious in the Angel episode ‘In the Dark’, one of my favourite episodes. But then the writers always kept Spike ambiguous up until S7. He’s always been on his own side, even back when he was a carefree vampire with Dru and came to Sunnydale.

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  84. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 4, 2015.]

    Well said. I think the episode was lampshading the Scoobies overly blase attitude to the supernatural. It’s all the same theme: Buffy is overconfident and almost dies, the Scoobies are overconfident much to Riley’s disbelief and Spike is overconfident that Buffy feels the vampire-Slayer ‘connection’ that he does. Spike acknowledges that the vampire-Slayer ‘dance’ is very sexual and fits with the ‘sex and death’ image of vampirism in popular culture that BtVS has always tapped into.

    Riley is taking things seriously because he knows he should and can’t believe the others aren’t. Their overconfidence is based on a dangerous assumption that things always turn out well in the end. Buffy being always there has fostered that illusion. Riley knows that if he makes the same mistakes Buffy did, he will actually die instead of coming really close. I thought it was clever (but a little reckless) that he didn’t tell them he was going back to destroy the vampire nest. He’s confident in his own abilities (despite Buffy not sharing that belief) and decides the scoobies are just baggage in this case.

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  85. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 4, 2015.]

    Two things I think need put to bed raised in these comments.

    Halfrek is Cecily, guaranteed. Not only was it confirmed by the writer(s), but there is an episode (I believe its OaFA) where Halfrek sees Spike and says ‘William?!’ Can’t get more confirmed than that really. IMO Spike didn’t want to admit the connection, perhaps out of embarrassment. As to how she knows Anya(nka): they’re both Vengeance Demons. Since they’re portrayed as the equivalent of white-collar office workers, it’s obvious Anya and Halfrek were just friends working together.

    The idea that Buffy nearly dying here is somehow a unique event unmatched in Buffy history is way off the mark. There are many cases where the fight against a particular vampire has been difficult. In ‘Phases’ Theresa almost gets the better of Buffy, but she’s lucky and survives because Xander is there to stake her (even worse, Theresa was a fledgling and had only just woken up). In ‘The Freshman’ Buffy makes a not-too dissimilar mistake to what she does here and nearly pays for it, though in that episode the vampires make the mistake of not following and finishing her off when they could.

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  86. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 15, 2016.]

    I know you’re big into Buffy episodes (duh) but I’d be remiss if no other television episodes from other shows were able to compete with this one. I’d at least hope that in the years since you’ve come across some that are up in the top tier.

    Like

  87. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 25, 2016.]

    Did they ever explain why Spike didn’t go after or failed to kill any Slayers between Boxer Rebellion and Nikki Wood. I mean we know he got into some Nazi trouble for a bit but there was still a 70 year gap between those kills. Were the others just really incompetent?

    That line about the Slayer’s blood being a powerful aphrodisiac kinda gives new meaning to the whole Summers blood thing this season. The portal was opened due to the universe getting really aroused I guess.

    If there’s one thing you got to give this episode it does manage to juggle a lot of characters and things pretty well despite this mostly being Spike’s origin story. We got Dawn and Joyce, Riley and the Scooby Gang, Giles, everyone in the flashbacks and Harmony. Perhaps all these elements didn’t help we grow attached to the episode personally but it’s still impressive that the episode never feels bogged down.

    Like

  88. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 30, 2016.]

    So Spike in Doomed says he’d reckon that Buffy would be better off without Willow and Xander which seems to contradict the message he delivers here. Did he learn said lesson between episodes or was he just messing with their heads.

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  89. [Note: Samm posted this comment on January 30, 2016.]

    Definitely a bit of both, but primarily to mess with their heads. But i’d say, at least Willow that she grew in power by this stage and could handle herself more than in the past.

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