Buffy 6×09: Smashed

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg | Director: Turi Meyer | Aired: 11/20/2001]

I’m sitting here wondering, once again, just why so many of these S6 episodes are considered so poor. I’m very confused and simply don’t understand. “Smashed” is an episode, considered by most as mediocre at best, that engages me on all levels. Does it have a couple annoying flaws? Sure. But it’s also loaded with sharp humor, deeply involving character development, extremely murky themes, and just overall gutsy and daring writing. Here we see Buffy continue to descend into the waters of dispair, but take the time to explore what that means while it’s there. “Smashed” is a very good episode, one which would have easily scored an A had some flaws been cut and the edges tightened up a bit. But those faults really shouldn’t rob the episode of the fact that it’s got an amazingly juicy center. Ready for a bite?

The main focus of “Smashed” seems to be showing some very interesting parallels between Buffy and Willow while highlighting the exact reasons behind each of their individual struggles. Throughout the episode we see how each of them are falling and failing to see what’s happening to themselves, or each other. We can tell exactly what Buffy’s thinking and feeling through her facial expressions and dialogue while with Willow it’s through her actions and magic. At several points we see the two of these set of problems interact with each other (the de-ratting of Amy) or parallel each other (Willow giving into her magical desires while Buffy gives into her sexual desires — both regardless of the consequences to themselves and the people they love).

It turns out that Willow’s in a lot more serious trouble than Buffy is, especially at the beginning of this episode when she tells the Amy rat that Tara left her “for no good reason.” It doesn’t sound as if she said it like she truly believes it though. Willow’s just trying to justify her use of magic and take the blame off of herself. This comes up again when the gang’s doing research at the Magic Box.

Both Buffy and Xander express concern over Willow running to magic every time she wants something done (magically connecting to her laptop in this instance). When Willow calls them on it and says she’s fine, both of them don’t push harder. But Anya sure does! Everyone knows Willow isn’t fine, but Anya’s the only one who will just come out with it: “Oh, for crying out loud. This is bizarre. You’re all, ‘la la la!’ with, with the magic, and the not talking, like everything’s normal, when we all know that Tara up and left you and now everyone’s scared to say anything to you. Except me.” Although Anya nailed the problem, no one does anything about it which is why things continue to spiral out of control.

Buffy, especially, continues to make excuses for Willow just because she’s also been making some questionable decisions lately (“We can’t assume that everyone is getting seduced”). This blinds Buffy to the fact that’s she’s letting her friend slip away. Even in our darkest times it’s important to help our friends when they’re in need. Buffy and Willow don’t realize this until things have gotten so far out of control there’s no avoiding it anymore. Obviously this is not the best way to handle situations like these and is something both Buffy and Willow are learning the hard way.

This is where Anya’s speech about “responsible types” comes into play. Anya’s correct here: it’s important to not be entirely up-tight and utterly responsible all the time. However, this line of reasoning can also lead to making excuses for going overboard in being unresponsible. There are certain lines one should never cross. Learning from others’ mistakes is an invaluable way to shed yourself from unneeded pain and consequences. There are some things that you simply don’t need to try/do, because the consequences are readily evident and really just aren’t worth it. Buffy‘s a series that never glamorizes the consequences of poor decisions, which is why I’m shocked every time I see/read/hear someone claim it’s an immoral show. In reality, it’s completely the opposite: this is the most moral show I’ve ever seen on television, and it portrays this morality in a starklingly realistic way.

All of this ‘talk’ about Willow is good and all, but what she ‘does’ continues to reveal more depth. Amy uses Willow’s nerd roots to convince her to go out and be reckless (“Or… maybe… you’d rather sit at home, all night, alone, like in high school”). This scene is interestingly connected with the scene where Willow stares down a pimento and chomps on it. The pimento scene itself is strikingly reminiscent (and likely intentially so) of the first time Buffy and Willow socially interacted together (“Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1×01] ) at the Bronze. Buffy was slurping on a drink of some kind with a pimento (or possibly a cherry) on a stick when telling Willow her theory of “seize the moment.” We all remember how that turned out. Is Whedon warning us about the dangers of eating pimentos?

More realistically, though, both of these scenes (along with Amy pushing Willow’s nerd button) are connected. As we’ll discover in “Wrecked” [6×10] and was front and focus in “Restless” [4×22] , this is all about Willow wanting to become “super Willow” in an attempt to wash away her fears that she is just the insecure nerd she thought she was in high school — “Let me tell you something about Willow. She’s a loser. And she always has been. People picked on Willow in junior high school, high school, up until college… with her stupid mousy ways” (6×21 “Two to Go” [6×21]) — and will never be anything more.

So, as you can see, there’s some wonderfully subtle connections being made about Willow here. It’s just a shame Willow and Amy’s magic-fest at the Bronze quickly stops being funny and devolves into being over-the-top silly. While there’s clearly a parallel going on here between Willow and Buffy, this scene and Buffy and Spike’s violent sexual fight are so jarringly different in tone that, blended together, it simply doesn’t work. The Buffy/Spike fight is intense and relevant while the Willow/Amy magic-fest is just silly and doesn’t really show us anything we don’t already know. It’s a real shame this duality is so poorly executed on the Willow front, because if done right it really would have allowed this episode an easy A. What we have, though, ends up just holding it back from the A-range, which is honestly a shame because there’s just so much great material packed in this episode.

Speaking of great material, lets move onto Buffy. Wow is there a lot of shocking, complicated, and murky stuff at work here. Early on Spike tells Buffy that he’s the only one there for her. This is something he’ll repeatedly try to get her to believe until he realizes otherwise in “Normal Again” [6×17] . For now, though, he only does her harm by fueling her depression even further as he continuously tries to pull her away from her friends so she’ll keep coming back to him. The fact he’s doing this even though he knows that Buffy’s strength lies in her family and friends (“Fool for Love” [5×07] ) shows that he’s still got plenty of evil coated around his recent good deeds. I’ll dig into this more in a bit.

Early in the episode Buffy attempts, once again, to her emotions loose with her friends, in this case Willow. Buffy tries to admit to her that she kissed Spike. Again though, like in “Tabula Rasa” [6×08] , she gets interrupted from this vital, yet painful, healing process which undoubtedly would have helped her from sliding further into this ‘relationship’ with Spike. It’s no one’s fault but her own, though, that Buffy’s unfortunately using these interruptions as an excuse for not telling all to the people she loves. I understand her resistance in telling, but it’s important to note that this is a reason why she falls so hard at the end of the episode. It’s also interesting to take notice of the fact that Willow knew Buffy had something important to say, but she let her walk away without trying to dig it out of her.

In line with the Amy excuse for keeping her emotions bottled up, Buffy tries to convince Spike (and herself) that the only reason she kissed him again was because she was depressed about Giles leaving town. Rather than admit her sexual feelings for Spike, she gives him some venom about how he’s just an “evil dusgusting thing.” This venom doesn’t go without consequence though, as right after being insulted by Buffy Spike finds out he can hurt her without the chip firing. Check out the big smile on Spike’s face now that he knows he doesn’t have to be completely subserviant to Buffy anymore. This is an incredibly daring and gutsy move by the writers. A Spike in love with Buffy but who has the ability to kill her is a whole lot scarier/murkier than one that can’t.

When Spike thinks his chip isn’t working at all anymore, the first thing he does is try to kill a girl. If that’s not a hint that Spike’s still evil I don’t know what is. Even after all he’s been through, he’ll still kill someone outside of Buffy’s circle if given the chance, and that’s after he told Buffy “a man can change” not even minutes before. Buffy responded to that comment by saying, “you’re not a man,” and she’s right.

Even though Spike has to convince himself to try to bite the girl (which, by the way, interestingly resembles Buffy on a basic physical level), it goes to show that he’s only been conditioned to do otherwise, not that he really doesn’t want to anymore or understands that it’s wrong. This, right here, is why Spike attempts to rape Buffy in “Seeing Red” [6×19] and why he needs to get a soul if he ever hopes to fully understand the Buffy half of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This whole subject is extremely fascinating though, because Spike has done a lot of good out of his love for Buffy. But just how much does that really mean? He has been trying to change, but with that chip in his head we never really know if he has. Our answer is provided in clear darkness right here.

In addition to catching a glimpse of Spike’s current nature, we also find out that he can’t hurt anyone but Buffy, which leads him to think — and tell Buffy — that she came back wrong. This news both scares and encourages Buffy to partake in activities she would have never allowed herself to do before. Before finding out Spike could hit her, she treated him like a convenient joke, made evident by her humored reaction to the idea that Spike can do much of anything to her. But now, everything is different. The fact Spike can now kill her actually fuels her desire to become more sexual with him. Although Buffy keeps saying “you’re wrong” about coming back “not-so-human,” she actually completely believes it. This is why she unloads everything she’s currently got bottled up onto Spike: depression, anger, pain, fear, disgust, and then, finally, lust, most of which are extremely potent emotions (depression being the exception, which is what she immediately felt following her resurrection) — ones that make her feel the most she has since crawling out of her own grave.

The fight in the house is fittingly physical and brutal as the two of them exchange some mutually truthful and angry jabs at each other. It turns out in retrospect that all of this is just foreplay for the two of them. This fight gets them both worked up without either of them knowing it. Spike has absolutely no clue if Buffy’s going to beat the shit out of him or start kissing him. Eventually the fighting switches to violent kissing followed by Buffy jumping Spike. Check out the look of utter shock on Spike’s face — he did not see this coming. Buffy was, without doubt, the sexual agressor here and the fact she does this only now that she knows Spike is dangerous to her is fascinating, shocking, and frankly pretty hot.

What makes this sex scene work so perfectly is the focus on the characters’ faces. The looks we see from the two of them — utter shock from Spike and pure sadness/desperation from Buffy, both of which mutate into sexual pleasure — says far more to me than simple flesh ever could. It’s no surprise that the sound disappears, sad/haunting music starts, and the building comes crashing down around the two of them — clearly a metaphor for Buffy’s life crashing down around her. Buffy said she wanted to feel again and she got her wish… it just comes with the cost of one of the worst decisions she’s made in her life… and boy will she suffer for it. This scene is soaked in mournful darkness, is spectacularly acted, and is superbly put together. I find myself emotionally stimlulated, physically stimulated, and intellectually stimulated. I think it easily warrants a big ‘wow.’

There’s a couple odds and ends involing Warren and Tara that I’d like to mention before wrapping this one up. The Trio stealing the diamond isn’t anything too interesting in of itself, but I particularly enjoyed Warren’s “get the freeze ray” lines. It’s also telling how ‘in control’ of the situation Warren is because it begins to show us that he’s the only real villain of the group. The Trio may start off the season as a bit annoying and extremely pathetic, but that’s what makes what happens later so powerful.

I really loved the Tara/Dawn bonding scene. I’m really happy that they’re still hanging out together as it’s both sweet and sensible, although it’s heart-breaking to see Dawn misleading Tara about Willow’s recent magic use just because she wants Tara to move back in so badly. Poor Dawn. Everyone but Tara ignores her and just about everyone but me in the fandom hates her. I, personally, thought Dawn convincing Tara to hang out with her while waiting for Buffy and/or Willow to return to the house was adorable.

I’m not sure why so many people consider this to be one of the season’s weaker episodes, because as I hope I’ve made a case for here, it’s pretty much the opposite. “Smashed” is loaded with relevant and powerful character development that inspires thought and all different kinds of twisted emotions over who to root for, who to feel sorry for, and who, if anyone, to be enticed by. Plus, it’s chock full of sharp, witty dialogue. All the characters are motivated out of the building blocks of previous seasons, and now things are finally playing themselves, darkly, out. This is a daring episode that pays off dividends and, despite its realistically small but nagging flaws, should be recognized as such.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Spike being persistent as ever in trying to get more kissage out of Buffy. He calls her a “tease.”
+ Willow de-rats Amy! I love Amy’s scream. There’s been so much going on since Buffy’s resurrection that I don’t think it even occurred to Willow that she could turn Amy back until now.
+ Amy thinking she was only in the cage for a few weeks. Fun dialogue here, although it’s interesting how angry Amy is when she finds out that she was a rat for much, much longer.
+ Buffy jumping up and down so she can see over a crowd of people at the crime scene of the frozen man.
+ Warren saying “it turns out, size is everything” and then apologizing to Jonathan.
+ Spike’s utter joy and the Trio’s utter fright at Spike threatening to pop Boba Fett’s head off.
+ Spike getting pissed off when Andrew and Jonathan go off about Dr. Who DVDs.
+ Willow and Amy making the guys that were coming onto them too hard dance near-nude inside cages. The utterly scared and confused looks on their faces are what make this amusing.
+ Spike’s dark and mysterious phone call that ends with Buffy breaking up the intrigue and getting Spike to just say “Bloody hell. Yes, it’s me.”
+ The frozen man being pulled out on a cart with the James Bond music cue is a little over the top for my tastes.


* When Buffy walks downstairs to chat with a newly de-ratted Amy, there’s a commericial in the background for the Doublemeat Palace, which obviously hints at where Buffy will be working soon.




72 thoughts on “Buffy 6×09: Smashed”

  1. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 12, 2007.]

    Great review, Mikejer. You nailed all the points perfectly. I too, don`t understand why this episode is so hated. I had a blast watching this. Even though the Willow/Amy thing was kind of silly, I couldn`t stop laughing.


  2. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on July 12, 2007.]

    Willow/ Amy was a little bit too stupid to really be unsettling (but it’s unsettling in Wrecked, so…)
    My problem with this story is, how persistent Spike is. It’s like a personality switch with Riley: oh, you don’t love me enough. Come on…

    That’s a weak Spike, always fishing for kibbles ‘n’ bits. I don’t like him…
    But it still makes for good scenes…


  3. [Note: Kim posted this comment on July 12, 2007.]

    You know I’m gonna disagree with you on some of these points, but I still enjoyed the review. I honestly think Spike was working hard to talk himself INTO biting the girl, not the other way around. If you listen to the commentary, the writer offers that as an explination as well. And as I have mentioned earlier, I think Buffy’s dispair about Spike is more that she can’t face her feelings for him, not that she shouldn’t be feeling them. She can’t bring herself to believe that he has and can change (nither can he really, which is why he tries to bite the girl), because that would, on some level, make her a killer.


  4. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 12, 2007.]

    Those are completely plausible options when it comes to Spike, Kim. The thing about “Smashed” and S6 in general: there’s a lot of valid yet different interpretations of the events while still being very clear about certain base motivations. This inspires a lot of fun debate that can lead to some interesting revelations about the characters and ourselves. So, I don’t necessarily think you’re wrong, but I believe things to be a bit different than you do. I also tend to give Spike a little less benefit of the doubt than a lot of people. Either way, it’s great stuff. 🙂


  5. [Note: chris posted this comment on July 12, 2007.]

    Great review, I’m glad I’m not the only one who actually enjoyed this episode (most of the time at least).

    I agree with your review completely except for the part with Spike, where I rather agree with Kim. I don’t think he actually *wants* to kill that woman at that moment – I rather presume that he thinks he is *expected* to do that (because that’s what vampires do) and therefore he has to talk himself into it for quite a while. Compare it with “Tabula Rasa” – he asks “Joan” that if he’s a vampire why doesn’t he want to kill her? (And he obviously doesn’t want to kill anybody else in Tabula Rasa – at *any* time – even though he’s completely lacking soul *and* memory at that time) I don’t think you can explain that solely with conditioning. In my eyes, this must go far deeper into his personality at that point.

    Of course, Spike is still evil, he doesn’t have a soul and while I do think he genuinely doesn’t want to hurt anybody in the Scoobie Gang anymore at that point, his lack of conscience doesn’t allow him to comprehend which actions are actually hurtful and which aren’t. And which actions are morally wrong and which aren’t. He doesn’t have an idea what morale *really* is, he doesn’t understand it, he only acts because he learned in which way the Scoobies had responded to his actions and thus he behaves accordingly (look for examples of Spike being evil in S6 and you see what I mean).


  6. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 12, 2007.]

    All good points chris. I think I agree with you that it does go beyond just conditioning — although I still feel that’s a large part of what’s going on. Your “Tabula Rasa” example provides some real evidence to support this.

    Also, just to be clear, I did say that “Spike has to convince himself to try to bite the girl.” So I actually agree with Kim on that point.


  7. [Note: Sunny posted this comment on July 12, 2007.]

    It is so unfortunate that so many s6 episodes are underrated, as you said, because s6 is one of my top favorite seasons. (season 2, being first, and s3 and s6 fall into second and third, order depending on my mood ;D)

    Though I hate Amy, I absolutely love how they brought her back … I was waiting for it, ever since the witch trial episode (not sure of the title off the top of my head). And furthermore, I love how she was in, what, the 3rd episode of the 1st season and here she is, in season 6 again … it’s just great XD


  8. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on July 14, 2007.]

    I too love this episode (where are all the legions of usually vocal detractors?) It’s interesting that you noted that the girl Spike targets to bite resembles Buffy – i have always interpreted her as a Dawn-a-like, that is he deliberatly chooses a girl who resembles the one person in the world he would never hurt, that he has a history of protecting so really sets himself up for failure.


  9. [Note: MrB posted this comment on July 15, 2007.]

    S6 has a structural “problem” for many people that they just were not able to get over. Previously on BtVS, people got over being dead or killing people pretty quickly. This is exemplified in S3 where Buffy came back to Sunnydale after one episode and cleared up her running away in just one more episode. Angel was back within maybe 6 episodes.

    Following this pattern, Buffy should have been all better by this point in S6, ready to face the big bad, and keeping the world safe for democracy.

    That’s not what happened. We were taken to the woodshed by Joss for an entire season. Some fans were not willing to be slapped around for that length of time. They did not understand how this related to the Hero’s Journey.

    S6 was very tough to watch when it was being broadcast the first time. There was no sense of flow and there was no real hope, starting with this episode. S6 also had the unfortunate problem of following 9-11. Americans were looking around for hope and solvable problems, and we didn’t get them here. We normally did in the past.

    This is truly a season that needed to age like wine. It needed perspective. On DVD, watching them in sequence, these episodes are much better than first viewing.


  10. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 16, 2007.]

    MrB, you are right. People keep focusing on the bad that thay don`t see or don`t want to see the good or even excellent episodes. But I agree, when watching on tv it`very slow to keep the season rolling. You have to wait another week just to see what happens. That`s why when I rewatched season 4, I liked so much more than when I see on tv.
    On a side note, I am really impressed with myself. With some of the bad reviews of this season, I was afraid of it. It turns out that it is really the opposite, I really like this season. It`s so different, so fresh.


  11. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on July 16, 2007.]

    Being new to the Buffy fandom, I watched this episode on DVD without knowing that most people dislike it, and I found it to be quite good. Not among the best of the season (I’d reserve that for “Once More, With Feeling”, “Dead Things”, and “Normal Again”), but certainly above average.

    I do see how this season would be better on DVD than on TV. I think that roughly from “Gone”-“As You Were” would be pretty boring to watch over an extended period of time, with the obvious exception of “Dead Things”. But I watched them during a couple of days on DVD, and the mediocrity of that part of the season didn’t affect my opinion of the season as a whole all that much.

    So, on the whole, I’d say I agree with your review, Mikejer, though I did interpret Spike’s behavior a tad differently than you (though not by much). I think your closing line

    “This is a daring episode that pays off dividends and, despite its realistically small but nagging flaws, should be recognized as such.”

    pretty much sums the episode up.


  12. [Note: Anne posted this comment on July 17, 2007.]

    Okay, the main thing I disagreed on was Dawn. I didn’t find it adorable that Dawn was trying to get someone she loves back together with someone who had abused her. Willow had heniously violated Tara, even AFTER Tara made her realize how what she did hurt her so much. Tara wasn’t safe around Willow. And Dawn chooses to ignore Tara’s wellbeing because she wants them together. It was wrong.


  13. [Note: Anne posted this comment on July 17, 2007.]

    Willow and Amy’s complete disregard for their fellow humans and for the laws of nature was appalling. I found it very hard to watch them manipulate the people in the Bronze like that. They were changing people’ bodies without their consent. And they had fun doing it.


  14. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 17, 2007.]

    You’re absolutely right, Anne, that Willow and Amy were continuing to go overboard with the magic. My only complaint with the episode is that it portays their abuse of these people in a cheesy/goofy light, which is the wrong tone for what’s happening, especially when contrasted with the Buffy/Spike fight.

    As for Dawn, I think you might be failing to look at things from her perspective. Yes, it wouldn’t have been good for Willow and Tara to get back together at that time. However, Dawn did not know Willow violated Tara’s mind like that (events of “Tabula Rasa” aside). Dawn just wants her friends to be happy again — work things out. I honestly can’t blame a 15-16 year old girl for wanting that. It’s obvious Dawn has no ill-intentions in her desire to see Willow and Tara together again. That’s what makes it kind of sweet. The situation’s certainly not, but Dawn’s desire to see people together and happy again is, imho. 🙂


  15. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 17, 2007.]

    I agree. Dawn doesn`t know the terms of their breakup but she just wants them together, like a family. In a sense, Dawn is like Tara in the beginning:not really an active Scooby. She understands Dawn. That`s why she gets so happy when they finally get together and why she has such an honest opinion on killing Warren.


  16. [Note: Anne posted this comment on July 17, 2007.]

    I think that by 15/16 she was old enough to get past the “I want them together” feelings and actually look at what was happening. At the reason they broke up.

    Maybe I hold her to the same standards as Buffy, which isn’t right. It was proven that Dawn was babied by their mother when Buffy wasn’t. Dawn wasn’t as emotionally mature. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It was just how it was. It is proven by episodes like ATW when she is sneaking out of the house to be smashing eggs against houses, stealing, destroying people’s pumpkins, etc. At that age Buffy was sneaking out of the house to patrol in cemetaries and sewers.


  17. [Note: Kim posted this comment on July 17, 2007.]

    Admitedly, it’s been over 15 years since I _was_ 15, but I recall having a very romanticized view of things at the time.

    I think it entirely makes sense for Dawn to want Tara and Willow together. In general they had a beautiful relationship and Dawn wanted to see it again. She likely felt that Tara was an aid for Willow and didn’t even make the abuse connection, and truthfully, Willow was abusing more than just Tara. It’s not like Willow’s situation and behaviour only manefested against Tara. I don’t know that Dawn would see the abuse really.


  18. [Note: Kim posted this comment on July 17, 2007.]

    Mike, I also wanted to point out something I noticed today that backs up the idea that Spike is working to be “bad.” In Crush, he has a similar difficulty digging into the girl Dru kills for him. It takes him a while to vamp and bite her and it seems like he’s trying to work himself into it. Looking at Dru reveling in her own feast is how he gets into it, and I suspect there he’s remembering his life with her to get there.


  19. [Note: Anne posted this comment on July 18, 2007.]

    I think the fact that I was 14/15 that season I felt it hard to think of her actions as just a kid thing.

    While Willow had done a lot of wrong things to a lot of people (everyone in the Bronze for instance, and obviously to Buffy) I think that hurting Tara is one of the worse since Tara was her lover/girlfriend. To be violated like that by the person you love and are making love to every night is just despicable.

    I was one of those fans that didn’t think that Tara should get back together with Willow. I mean, she ERASED her memory. TWICE. And this was after what Glory did to Tara’s mind.

    Tara: God, how can this be? Playing with my memory.

    Tara: I can’t adjust to this disgust. We’re done.


  20. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 18, 2007.]

    Anne, you say exactly what I think about Dawn. I mean, sometimes I get so annoyed when they try to shield Dawn from certain things. At her age, sure Buffy was the slayer but she always had to make the tough decisions, always had to be the grown-up. But with Dawn, they`re constantly treating her like a kid, protect from certain things. What I mean is that they don`t expect maturity from Dawn. Buffy at 16 was a lot mature than Dawn. That`s why I think Dawn is very spoiled, very self-centered.


  21. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on July 18, 2007.]

    I think Joyce babied Buffy too – at least a little bit; what forced her to grow up so fast, was her slayer status, not her loving and protecting family surrounding (which she obviously had, except for a rough divorce and a neglecting father). Joyce was a clueless but caring mom, as many moms are.
    Dawn had the privilege of not being burdened with having to sneak out of the house every night to slay vampires and kill her boyfriend to save the world (and dieing at sixteen).

    Besides, all the Scoobies retained pretty romantic ideals without any adult understanding of relationships and love until the end of season six, so it’s clear where they’re coming from…

    and Dawn wanting her surrogate mom, who has an experience at nursing a younger sibling while everything falls apart, close is nothing but understandable…

    but what I really love is the fact, that Mike posted my old long-time signature in the “quotes” section; that’s cool!


  22. [Note: Anne posted this comment on July 18, 2007.]

    Joyce was more than clueless when it came to Buffy. She was in complete denial. Even after she saw Buffy stake a vampire she found it hard to believe what was happening.

    Buffy: Mom, wake up. What do you think has been going on for the past two years? The fights, the weird occurances. How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing and you still haven’t figured it out?

    Mrs. Summers seemed more motherly to Dawn than she did to Buffy. I don’t know if that was the Monk’s doing in trying to protect the key as much as possible. We know that by 16 Joyce knew very little about Buffy’s life, like when she didn’t know what Buffy had tried out for in Witch. That flashback in Becoming #1 (when Buffy had just turned 15)proved that they were having problems even back then. The early seasons almost made it seem like Buffy & Joyce had the kind of relationship that Buffy & Willow had S4 where they were living together but rarely saw each other. Work & Slaying & School.

    With Dawn though, Joyce was there a lot more. They were the “giggle twins”. You got to see her making her meals, correcting her homework, etc.


  23. [Note: Anne posted this comment on July 18, 2007.]

    I just wanted to add that I love your reviews. I’ve been trying to get some of my online Btvs friends to read them.


  24. [Note: He eye tie dye posted this comment on July 24, 2007.]

    I also enjoy this episode, mostly, but find that most people don’t. I also did not watch the series on TV, but all together on DVD. I could see how season 6 could get you down when you were watching it over months, compared to how I watched it, within a week.

    I love the part with Spike and Boba Fett. The humor is great. I also enjoy the debate of whether Spike has really changed or is still being forced in to it. He is still a monster, but now, to me it seems, he must make a conscious decision to do this.

    What is really fascinating to me, though, is that Buffy wouldn’t get in a “relationship” with Spike until she knew he could hurt her. I think it has more to do with that that believing she came back wrong, although that does play a part.

    Anyway, I love your reviews.


  25. [Note: Kyarorin posted this comment on August 31, 2007.]

    Great review. I only really had one problem (not with the review, with plots), and that’s not necessarily related to this specific episode, but it does apply. Why didn’t Willow ever go to Giles for help de-ratting Amy? They knew that Buffy got de-ratted by him hours after she’d been turned into a rat, yet they didn’t think to go to him when Willow couldn’t achieve the same thing on her own. Eh, it’s a minor complaint really, but it’s one of those things that violates the common sense code for me.

    I agree with Anne on the whole Willow/Amy magick fest. I found the fact that it was shown lightly to be the most disturbing thing about it. It shows that Willow clearly has no regard for anyone’s safety and will willingly manipulate their bodies and actions for her own pleasure, and she takes it like it’s just plain, silly fun. I mean, she turned a guy into a floating strawberry hybrid for crying out loud. That’s some serious crimes against magick and clearly nature, which Willow obviously doesn’t care about. I agree, however, with your comment that it didn’t mesh well with the Buffy/Spike scene. Two totally different things going on on the surface, even if they did have core similarities.

    My take on Buffy’s willingness to get together with Spike only after she realized he could hurt her to be an act of masochism. Spike was on the right track in Never Leave Me when he said that she likes men who hurt her. Buffy felt wrong, partly because she felt that she came back wrong but I’m guessing also because she feels bad for the way she feels. She wanted a form of punishment, and she chose Spike. If this was her intention (again, I’m not sure, this is my take only), she made a clever choice. Not only could Spike physically injure her, but if anyone else ever did find out they would equally punish her.

    And I’m sorry for commenting on this episode so late after it’s publication; I didn’t even realize it was up. Great review, once again.


  26. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 14, 2007.]

    I think that this episode gets overshadowed by the disappointing follow-up “Wrecked”, which was not-as-good.

    Just to throw in my 2 cents on the Spike issue. I think it’s telling that Spike tries to go back to his old ways after being told by Buffy (woman that he loves) that he’s a thing. Spike’s been trying to do the supportive-guy thing, and now Buffy’s throwing it back in his face in the cruelest way possible. Of course Spike’s gonna try to live up to her comments and become the Big Bad again. He just doesn’t do it very well, because I don’t think his heart’s in it.

    When he realizes that he’s actually on equal footing with Buffy again, he doesn’t try to kill her. He just wants to fight with her like he hasn’t been able to before. In my mind, it’s Spike’s payback for all the nose-punches and insults that she’s directed towards him in his neutered state. Then Buffy has to go and do the worst thing possible by jumping his bones during his violent outburst. This leaves Spike with the distinct impression that violent behavior with Buffy will lead to sex (hey, no soul. he’s trying to figure out the morals thing like a kid would). It’s no wonder their “relationship” throughout the season is so destructive from that point on.

    I have a feeling that if Buffy had slept with Spike way back at the beginning of the season when they still had that warm connection, a nicer relationship would have been started because Spike would see that being nice and supportive = BuffySex. Instead, he learns that destructive fights and insults = CrazyViolentBuffySex.

    For Buffy’s part, I think she recognizes that she can use Spike’s feelings for her to try to make herself feel something. We see in As You Were that it’s not just the sex that she wants. She also wants him to love her. A part of her realizes that her treatment of him will eventually drive him away, but she sleeps with him to get him to stay with her so she can have that unwavering devotion that he so freely gives.

    And past all the analytical stuff, I must say purely on a shallow fangirl basis…that last scene….hot…Yeah, destructive, bad, whatever. But, still damn hot.


  27. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on May 7, 2008.]

    great review! one thing that really annoyed me about the season though was dawns arc. shes constantly complaining that shes “alone” and that noone understood her which i dont understand becuase noone seems to be treating her any worse than she was before! i know that shes been through alot of pain but BUFFY CAME BACK! for gods sake her dead sister shes been mourning for 3 months is back and pretty much the way shes always been. this just proves that we appreciate lost things alot more when they’re gone than when we’ve got them back!


  28. [Note: Codiak723 posted this comment on May 14, 2008.]

    The thing people are constantly forgetting or overlooking about Dawn in S6 are her massive abandonment issues. For people complaining about her, they have to look at her life.

    Dawn had to have been 8 or 9 when Hank left Joyce. Divorce can be rough on a kid that age. Then Hank slips slowly out of her and Buffy’s lives.

    At the end of S2, Buffy disappears for 3 months after a heated argument with Joyce. Dawn would have been what, 11? Joyce was beside herself with worry. What do you think Dawn felt?

    Buffy comes back and everything turns relatively normal (except for now Joyce knows about Buffy being the Slayer) for a couple of years. There’s the whole thing with Faith, Buffy goes off to college, then we come to S5.

    Dawn finds out how she was really born, which turns her world upside down. Joyce dies, which shatters her world. On top of this, there’s this crazy order of knights and an immensely powerful and insane goddess looking for her. Then Buffy sacrifices her life to save her and the world, pretty much in that order.

    The three people she loves most in the world, her mom, her dad and her sister: all gone. And she’s only 14. Do you think that MIGHT do a bit of emotional damage? Look at the scene in Bargaining, Pt. 1 where she curls up with the Buffybot.

    Buffy comes back from the dead, but with a major case of PTS. Despite Jaden’s claim, she wasn’t the same as she’d always been. She was only there physically. Willow and Giles could see it, and Dawn’s no dummy. She would even scream at Buffy later in Dead Things, “You’re not really here anyway!”

    Her surrogate father figure goes back to England. Her surrogate mother figure (let’s face it, Tara moved into that role as much as Buffy) breaks up with her girlfriend and moves out.

    So it’s no surprise the 15 year old kid with pre-existing divorce and abandonment issues would try to reunite the only family she has now. And it should prove no shock to anyone that Dawn feels that everyone is leaving her.


  29. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on August 31, 2008.]

    I agree that people are very harsh with Dawn. I won’t deny that she annoys me, but she really has to deal with a lot. And maybe she wouldn’t feel so spoiled if the others included her a bit more: obviously when you’re on your own most of the time, you’re bound to be selfish. And I reckon Dawn’s reunion with her beloved sister really didn’t live up to her expectations, so it’s no wonder she is angry and tries to hold on to the only mature, stable person around: Tara.
    On the other hand, while I really like the Trio (and at this stage they’re still likeable) I deeply dislike Amy. And I am glad to know that I’m not the only one who skips Willow and Amy’s scenes at the Bronze. Really over the top and absurd, and Willow changes way too fast. I’d much rather be focusing on the absolutely riveting Spuffy confrontation, which is one of the most arousing scenes I’ve ever seen -even though there actually isn’t much to [i]see[/i]. (Btw, I have been unable to get the great music that accompanies the final scene, does anyone have it?)


  30. [Note: Paula posted this comment on April 22, 2009.]

    Gotta agree out loud with a lot of other commentors… That last scene is all kinds of bad for the both people involved but still, hot damn.


  31. [Note: Paula posted this comment on April 22, 2009.]

    This may be a bit too self-evident to point out, but check out the music playing at the Bronze during Willow’s and Amy’s night there (alternating, of course, with the Buffy/Spike fight):

    The boy band sings…

    What is wrong here?
    What is wrong here?
    What is wrong with you?
    What is wrong here?
    What is wrong here?
    Where is your head?

    But Willow prefers a girl band playing…

    I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be alone
    I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go it alone
    Every time I see you I can’t find the words to say
    I just wanna turn and run away

    Yeah, that night of overindulgence in magic is silly, but this bit I think was pretty neatly thought out.

    (I’d rather like to know where Willow and Amy went after this and what they did, though. They didn’t show up at home until morning, after all, and were talking here of “something bigger”.)


  32. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on December 6, 2009.]

    The opening scene with Buffy and the muggers was good, especially Buffy’s “C’mon rush me, it’ll be funny”, with her face squinted. Also Spike’s line mentioned above.

    Warren’s line that the security is “A guy named Rusty” I also liked. Not sure why the museum would have really no security if the diamond was on loan. Surely they would have updated measures for someone elses things.

    Amy being turned human I liked, but I really couldn’t stand most of The Bronze scenes with her and Willow; especially when they interrupt the Buffy/Spike scene which was the highlight of the episode. I loved Buffy’s little smile when she tells Spike to “get out of my way”.

    The instrumental music playing as they have of the sex just added to the ending. I would rate this episode 82, just because the Spike/Buffy scenes save what little respect or sense The Bronze magic scenes take.


  33. [Note: Randy posted this comment on December 30, 2009.]

    I just tuned in a few months ago, so I didn’t realize this episode/season was widely criticized — I found it to be really fascinating, and as a whole, I really loved how real season 6 was. I liked that the show took such an unabashed look at Buffy’s depression, and made it scarier than any demon/villain. Because of this, I can even forgive the ridiculous Junkie Willow storyline.

    Mike, I think your review really nailed it. I also found the Amy/Willow Bronze scene to be distractingly bad. It really ruined the flow of what could have been a really great parallel between Willow and Buffy. Aside from this, this episode had the right blend of darkness, humor and character development which could have scored it a 90-95 in my book.


  34. [Note: DFAS Giles posted this comment on January 29, 2010.]

    I can’t believe how vicious the fight is at the end of this episode. Personal and poisonous and violent. Check out the facial expressions, especially on Spike when he explodes with “hello, vampire…what’s your excuse (etc).”

    When Spike propositions Buffy outside the crime scene, and Buffy explains her “bad kissing decisions” as the result of being sad over Giles’ departure, you can see her looking around and almost trying to spot an excuse she can fix on. She has to blame her behaviour on something other than herself. Then she hits Spike.

    It reminds me of the fight between Buffy-in-Faith’s-body and Faith-in-Buffy’s-body, when Faith-in-Buffy’s body is pummeling Buffy-in-Faith’s body from above and calling her dirty and horrible, they very things she believes herself to be but is trying to attribute to someone else. In the early exchange in Smashed, Buffy calls Spike an “evil, disgusting thing.” I think she is predominantly speaking about herself, but throwing it on Spike. This outsourcing of disgust really comes to a head later on in Dead Things, in a scene that again brings up memories of the Buffy and Faith switched-bodies fight.

    It seems Buffy and Faith are both great at physical confrontation, but really lousy at confronting themselves emotionally, and acknowledging feelings, motivations and actions that are solely theirs. In the face of uncomfortable realisations they get spooked, blame others and lash out.

    On another note, did anyone catch the name of the news station when the anchor was signing off from the freeze ray story? “K-O-U-S.” Maybe I’m stretching it, but chaos, anyone?


  35. [Note: Alan posted this comment on April 16, 2010.]

    A couple of niggles on the logic front:

    Spike’s chip is, I assume, meant to be technology, not magic. It stops him harming humans. But the chip itself does not decide if someone is “human”, it’s wired into his brain, it must trigger on what Spike thinks. So if Spike THINKS someone is human, it will stop him, and vice versa. So this episode, when he attacked the muggers, thinking they were demons, he should have been fine, unless he noticed they were actually human later. And of course he doesn’t know that Buffy isn’t human, by whatever definition, until he finds the chip does not stop him. It should have been the other way round.

    Similarly a few episodes previous, he hits someone (Tara? I think) to prove that she is human. It only proves that he THINKS they are.

    One might fanwank that his subconscious is more observant and the chip is using clues his conscious mind ignores, but even if that were so, it’s not the infallible “human/not-human” detector that it’s being used as here.

    As for Willow’s magic show in the Bronze, transforming one person into another, as she does several times, is pretty damn powerful magic. And how come no one is at all fazed by this? I suppose she just made them all accept and then forget it.


  36. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on April 16, 2010.]


    The fact that Spike’s chip can ‘sense’ whether someone is human or not is first introduced in ‘Family’ where Spike proves that Tara is human. It doesn’t make any sense – Joss was just lazy and needed an easy way to prove Tara was human. But after that it has been canon ever since. But yeah it doesn’t make any sense: Prof. Walsh was an expert at psychology and not on sensor technology. The chip identifies whether Spike is _intending_ to hurt someone.That’s pure psychology. But then somehow it has a sensor to detect humans? Just think what kind of sensor it must be so that it can detect whether someone is human down to the ‘molecular level’ as Tara said in ‘Dead Things’. That must be some huge-ass sensor! How the hell would Spike have any room left in his head for his brains? Hmmm…Now that I think about it, that sensor thing does make sense after all! 😀


  37. [Note: baunger1 posted this comment on May 23, 2010.]

    First of all, I love this episode and season 6 in general. Although difficult to watch, it addresses the most complex and difficult issues of any other season.

    There is necessarily a great deal of ambiguity in Spike’s and Buffy’s relationship. It’s neither all good nor all bad, and their attraction to eachother and behavior towards eachother is neither all good nor all bad. But ultimately, they will save eachother through this relationship — emotionally, psychologically, morally, physically.

    The metaphor of the house crashing down does not simply represent he destructiveness of this relationship choice. It also suggests a need to tear down walls (such as the walls Buffy has constructed around herself and her heart, even before her death, and the walls Spike must surmount to establish an internal morality) and subsequently rebuild. Spike and Buffy each will do this tearing down and building up, and ultimately will do it together.

    This scene is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen on television.

    I agree the scene at the Bronze is executed poorly. Although it is thematically necessary to show just how far Willow is deteriorating, it just isn’t done that well. It’s more effective and scary when Willow describes Tara’s leaving as being about “little things” that “aren’t important.” Yikes.


  38. [Note: Andrea posted this comment on July 20, 2010.]

    I love this episode. Everything else has already been said, but can we add this as a “minus?”: Willow’s incredibly stupid-sounding Italian incantation? HOW did that actually get repeated so many times in table reads and takes and no one either noticed or took the effort to change what was so obviously a ridiculous-sounding incantation? The dramatic sound effects make it even funnier. I cannot take that scene seriously now.

    Chokey-foo-nonnay-poo-chokey-foo-fado… Oh man. Greenburg even winces bigtime in his commentary, lol!


  39. [Note: DeadLego posted this comment on August 5, 2010.]

    i think this episode gives a really good example of how BtVS does really well at visually demonstrating how physically strong and powerful some of the characters are. A lot of fantasy and sci fi tv shows and movies show that certain people are much stronger than normal in fights by them being able to overpower others easily and the like, whereas BtVS adds to the realism massively by expressing this with props and scenery too. A fine example of this is buffy and faith’s fight scene in buffy’s house in ‘this year’s girl’, the way they destroy the furniture and house around them really shows how powerful these girls really are. The sex scene between buffy and spike in ‘smashed’ is beautifully done in my opinion. It is very sexy violent and powerful while screaming despair rather than passion. The sheer physical power of these two is very evident in this scene, and i love how the idea of two people knocking a building down in the throws of passion sounds ridiculous, but is perfectly plausible in the context of the show. Both buffy and spike, to different extents, want to destroy the other though mixed emotions of want and hate, and at the same time are destroying themselves both having an extent of self loathing for what they are or believe themselves to be. With all this darkness going on this still manages to be by far the hottest sex scene in the entire series, where if done badly it might just shock and disturb or only serve as titilation, the complexity of this amazing show and characters enables it to be both jarringley violent and shocking to me but at the same time i find it very sexy and a turn on too-maybe i’m just disturbed myself!?


  40. [Note: DeadLego posted this comment on August 5, 2010.]

    for some reason my comment above has been posted many times even though i only put it there once. Sorry i’m not sure how that happened and would appreciate if it could be sorted out and this one then removed also as it makes me look either very stupid or very over enthusiastic! When i only clicked once!


  41. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 5, 2010.]

    Hmm, and the comment system has been doing so well lately. Maybe some of the code I pushed out last night had an unintended effect. I’ll look into the problem tonight. I’m going to remove the duplicates right now though. Thanks for the heads up!


  42. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 5, 2010.]

    Well, I can give my own 2 cents on why this episode doesn’t work for a lot of folks, because it didn’t work for me.

    I like many of the character developments here. But I just don’t like the execution. It seems over-the-top, over-dramatized. There’s a certain *charm* that I’m looking for, and not finding so far this season in general. It’s not just that this season is “darker”; darker is fine– the second half of S5 is desperately dark. But somehow, an episode like this, with its use of music, its cutting between Buffy/Spike and Willow/Amy, the overall *timing* of everything, begins to feel more and more like many other shows I’ve seen before. Something essential seems missing, at least for this viewer. As if all the creative energies behind Buffy now have to pass through the filter of a new network….

    And (as long as I’m complaining), I’m beginning to feel that… the writers of this show are way not geeks. None of the nerd humor from the Trio feels right to me; it’s all cheap shots, and it feels the way someone from the “outside” would write it. The deal was unfortunately sealed with the 1979 Boba Fett doll– Boba Fett is from The Empire Strikes Back, 1980.

    (Maybe I’m just burned out, and need a Buffy break. I watched S4 and S5 in 1.5 weeks, and just loved them to death. Yes, a break sounds like the right idea.)


  43. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on May 9, 2011.]

    Indeed, that Amy is pissed-off at being a rat for so long, sets up her dark path.

    See S7-The Killer in Me and S8.


  44. [Note: Gon posted this comment on October 31, 2011.]

    Although I like S6 very much, I can understand those who don’t. Most of Buffy plots during seasons 1 to 4 used to serve to reflect about individual growth. Since the second half of season 5, I think passional interaction between characters got a lot of space and somehow the show adopted a bit of a soap aesthetic. I felt that very much in the end of “Tabula Rasa” (Willow crying in the bathroom… what a cliché!) and during all this episode.


  45. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 18, 2012.]

    Yippers: It’s not that Buffy is trying to appease him so he won’t hurt her, it’s that she’s convinced that if he can hurt her, then she’s not completely human and doesn’t deserve to be with someone better than him.


  46. [Note: Rob W. posted this comment on July 21, 2012.]

    “What is wrong here…”

    Without a doubt my least favorite song of the series. I hear it in my head for weeks after I watch this episode.


  47. [Note: Deb posted this comment on December 13, 2012.]

    The writers maintain their geek cred with the 1979 Boba Fett action figure Boba Fett was introduced in the November 1978 Star Wars TV holiday special. His first figure was sold as a mail-in offer that ran through May 1979. He was shipped in a plastic packet, which explains why the Trio displays him off-card.


  48. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 7, 2013.]

    This is the continuity of my tiring metaphor about addiction :P.

    The difference in tone is well set for two differents afflictions:
    – Willow is in the stage of “I’m in love with the product” of addiction. While using it (magic), the world becomes beautiful, the warped reality feels good. Everything else can be forgotten. So the scenes have to be light, giddy and to hell with the consequences.
    – Buffy is depressed, thus everything is darker. The tone must be heavy, the walls have to crumble for her to start the healing part.

    I appreciate the writers reminding us that Spike is still soulless, still a demon and still evil. He has to do a little convincing, but his primal nature is not to be good.

    Codiak, thank you very much for your comment, I agree with you all the way. That’s why I complain about the “sneaking out the house” and stealing stuff: it’s too common and normal and it’s not deep stuff.

    To conclude, I just wanted to strongly disagree with the comments about masochism !!! Masochism is basically a sane person who finds pleasure in pain: the goal is pleasure.
    What we have here is the opposite of masochism: Buffy is suffering from depression. She needs to feel. One of the path chosen to feel can lead to self-destruction or more accurately, auto-mutilation. What Buffy wants is to re-ignite her spark, she wants to feel alive. Her choice to do that is to seek danger, pain and numb sex. In the end, she has no pleasure, just disgust and now, she has found a tangible reason to feel ashamed, she can put words on her disgust of herself. That’s where depression can lead, it’s not pretty, it’s tragic and it’s real.

    Season 6 is flawed but it’s powerful in what it says.


  49. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on September 5, 2013.]

    I have to agree with Arachnea about Willow’s scenes in the Bronze. I didn’t feel like the show was playing them for laughs. I felt like it was showing just how bad Willow was getting: she was playing with these people like pawns for her own amusement. The fact that it was a good time to her, and that it was portrayed like a good time to us, is far more disturbing than if there had been dark lighting and ominous background music. And as for the contrast between Willow and Buffy, Buffy’s going to a dark place, a low, and Willow’s going and getting high, basically. I thought the contrast of their problems was excellently done. Instead of these two points being weaknesses, I would say that they’re strengths.


  50. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on October 30, 2013.]

    Everyone mocks Xander for consulting a D&D manual with respect to the frost demon. It turns out he was on the right track, for the freeze ray was created by the Trio, who were surely into D&D.


  51. [Note: EdwardH posted this comment on January 20, 2014.]

    I also think part of Buffy’s reaction to Spike’s being able to hurt her is that she’s still suicidal, as she mention’s in Gone, and one way to make a vampire lose control is violent sex, which would obviously massively increase blood flow and no doubt the smell of blood.


  52. [Note: DRMProd posted this comment on April 8, 2014.]

    If spike was really evil at this point I think he could at least ask Warren to deactivate the chip. The fact that he does not for me is more telling than the fact that he wanted to bite a girl. Just imagine Angelus with a chip, I think he would kill himself before helping the Slayer. But maybe it’s just that I give Spike more benefit of the doubt.


  53. [Note: Latecomer posted this comment on October 11, 2014.]

    I can see why people think Season 6 is unsatisfying: the Scoobies have no real demon to fight, no one to consolidate themselves around. Warren and his boys are, as one character suggests, pretty lame, and human. The demons in this season come from the inside. They’re within the Scoobies themselves. Willow becomes addicted to black magic and power. Buffy becomes addicted to Spike, a soulless vampire, barely kept in check. And Anya and Xander’s relationship implodes sadly. You can see why they had to get rid of Giles for a while. It was either get him out of there, or give him a demon to wrestle with, too. I actually love the introverted nature of the shows in this season, although it’s can be messy and disappointing to see our ‘heroes’ break down and fight with the darker sides of their own nature. But one of the best parts of the season is to see Spike wrestling with his own demon. However, his demon, ironically, is sort of an angel. Through his love and passion for Buffy, he’s beginning to grope for the soul that he’s lost. The narrative arc that forms around Spike’s rehabilitation as an ensouled being begins in Season 5 and is one of the most satisfying themes for me in the later seasons.


  54. [Note: Larecomer posted this comment on October 11, 2014.]

    I know this thread is about “Smashed,” in Season 6, but just let me add more to what I was saying above about Spike’s rehabilitation in Season 5–the ‘Gloria’ season.

    In Season 5, Spike discovers that he doesn’t want to kill the slayer; he wants to make love to her. He is in love with her. At first, this is presented as a kind of joke or perversion. Spike steals her clothes and pictures; he develops a fetish for all things Buffy. He gets himself a female mannikin with a blond wig and treats it as if it were Buffy. Then he finally has Warren build him a robot Buffy programmed to make love to him and find him irresistible. Again, all of this is treated as a kind of pathetic humorous perversion–an abnormality. And it is: a vampire shouldn’t have such a feelings, certainly not for a slayer. Spike, we think, must be suffering from some psychological sickness. Then comes the “Intervention” episode where Spike shows that he’s willing to sacrifice his life to protect Buffy’s sister, Dawn. His protectiveness stems from a real sense of compassion for Buffy’s feelings. Compassion and self-sacrifice are not feelings vampires typically have. Buffy sees this, too, and kisses Spike briefly for the first time. She also begins to trust him with Dawn’s life, which accounts for Spike’s involvement in the final episodes of the season.


  55. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    I think that the crux of my problem with the handling of Willow this season can be identified by looking at Anya’s remarks in this episode about “responsible types.” There are, to be sure, different types of “responsible types,” and doubtless there are some to whom what Anya says really is applicable. But I wildly disagree with it as an analysis of the sort of “responsible type” that I see Willow as being.

    Willow, in the earlier seasons, was not merely a “good little girl” because she lacked the courage to be anything else. Willow was who she was because she was a nerdy, intellectual type who had internalized and genuinely believed in the value of many of the expectations that (reasonable) adults have for teenagers (study hard, be responsible, learn what school has to teach you, etc.). Now, being this sort of person as a teenager is not generally regarded as “cool,” and so Willow was never popular. She was picked on. This made her insecure. Additionally, anyone who does what’s expected of her/him most of the time is naturally going to be at least a little jealous of the fact that other people often blow off their responsibilities and get away with it. So, I buy that Willow will have had at least some feelings of longing to, at some point, “cut loose” a bit. But I do not buy that she was the sort of person who “when they finally get a taste of being bad . . . can’t get enough.” Nor do I buy that she at all sees herself the way she describes herself later this season (quoted by Mike in his review above), as a “loser.” Because, again–Willow was the way she was because of values that she genuinely held, not just because she was insecure. She was insecure, but that was a result of how others treated her for being who she fundamentally was–it wasn’t, itself, the root cause of her being the way she was. Thus, getting “a taste of power” should not radically change her; she should still have the same underlying values.

    At least, that’s how I see it. I’ve said before that it’s possible that I just can’t appreciate what was done with Willow this season because I’m too stuck seeing her as being like myself. I identify so strongly with her in the early seasons, and then she just takes this turn that I can’t relate to at all. In this episode, when she starts smirkily toying with people in the Bronze, she’s just not the character I enjoyed anymore. Mike is right that there’s a lot to like in this episode, but–I admit it–I’ve historically had a hard time seeing past what it does to Willow enough to really appreciate the rest of the episode much. I’m doing a little better with that in my current re-watch–but I still hate what they did with Willow here.


  56. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    I might add that I really don’t like the portrayal of Amy in this episode, either. She and Willow had always seemed to have a good relationship in the handful of episodes that she appeared in pre-rat. She had her issues, to be sure, but here she suddenly seems like a totally despicable person. And yes, spending a few years as a rat will no doubt change a person–but this abruptly? With this little processing of the whole experience and how she feels about it and where to go from here? Granted she’s a minor character, but still! The way she deliberately pushes Willow’s insecurity buttons in this episode to manipulate her seemed out of character to me–to say nothing of the scene at the Bronze.

    Also (and I think someone else may have raised this point, but…)–when exactly did she become so powerful? Despite what she says, she seems pretty on par with Willow here. Yet back in season 3, she seemed only somewhat more advanced in magic than Willow was at the time. And she definitely did not strike me as someone who would be familiar with–or of interest to–the likes of Rack. Did she sneak out of her cage to study Willow’s magical texts while she was a rat, or what? (Not that this would explain knowing Rack, but…)


  57. [Note: sigmuphi posted this comment on March 30, 2015.]

    The center of gravity of the episode is clearly the implosion of Buffy and Spike being driven together — the rest feels like fluff / distraction.

    Nonetheless, I think Willow and Amy scene at the Bronze does have at least a bit of underpinning. DFAS Giles’ comment (from 5 years ago!) points out the parallels in Buffy’s relationships to Faith and now Spike. I’m also reminded of Buffy’s night on the town with Faith back in Bad Girls.

    In the same way as Buffy then, Willow is feeling unmoored. She thought she’d done something wonderful by bringing Buffy back from hell — OMWF stripped that away from her. She had an intense and foundational relationship with partner — Tabula Rasa tore down that foundation. I think the scene with the laptop at the Magic Box is key. Her “nerd” identity, from the very beginning of the series, was central to her self-image. As Xander points out, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen her with a laptop. And now she can’t use it without magic (I wish we could have seen her version of a Minority Report interface, seemed pretty effective).

    Amy is just the final stake in the coffin of all her old identities, including Amy’s explicitly manipulative references to who Willow had been in high school. Nothing is left except the magic — and that nothing apparently doesn’t include much sense of morality. Or rather, the only morality is vengeance, which we’ll see more of as S6 progresses. Those neanderthal boys only get what they deserve, in Willow’s eyes, and she is the final arbiter. Amy may be the instrument that presents Willow with specific ways of acting-out, but Willow is the one to gladly gloms onto them. And unlike Buffy’s flirtation with Faith’s immorality, it’s a long time before she finally recovers her sense of self, and her moral code.


  58. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 2, 2015.]

    I brought this up in the Seeing Red Attempted Rape topic but how come if Spike is able to the Trio pretty easily he never mentions that they may be responsible for some of the shenanigans going on or offers to maybe help find them at whatever point, even if they did move their base at whatever point. The closest explanation is he wanted to not distract Buffy from the sexcapades but you think stopping these assholes would ensure less interruptions. Yah this episode doesn’t really hold up as well as Mike or I thought. That Buffy/Spike sex scene must make one willing to forgive a good many things.


  59. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on September 2, 2015.]

    Ok, but he intimidates them by holding a Boba Fett doll hostage. Would Spike have any reason to believe that the Trio was doing anything more sinister than scalping Sunnydale Comic-Con tickets?


  60. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 2, 2015.]

    Yah but he could have maybe mentioned that those guys had grouped up. Plus after Gone he could have maybe mentioned he knew where they were at.


  61. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 2, 2015.]

    Just watched the scene where Spike thinks the chip isn’t working and I’m wondering if his actions were partially motivated by Buffy trash talking him “an evil disgusting thing”. Buffy should have been glad that she was the exception and perhaps that Spike didn’t necessarily want to go full bad cause there would have a reckoning.

    For whatever reason I keep comparing this to the Veronica relationship in V Mars Season 3 since a lady keeps trash talking a guy pretty unfairly (though they aren’t actually in a relationship at this point so I guess it’s a little less annoying). Spike really knew how to pick ’em.


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

    Warren also talks to Spike about breaking Fett by saying “you can’t do that and walk away”. Interestingly can describe some of the actions occurring in the final quartet of episodes this season.


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

    Andrew couldn’t watch all the Doctor Who episodes since some are missing from the archives. Still neat that it got a mention before the revival in 2005.


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

    Interesting that Buffy claims that Spike is only interested in her cause he enjoys getting beat down and Spike more or less says the same thing to her in Never Leave Me. The sad thing is is that Spike probably had more evidence of his claim being true.


  65. [Note: Doyden posted this comment on June 5, 2016.]

    Glad I wasn,t the only one to notice that , I don,t recall it ever having been discussed .
    Also because of the chip we can never know if he would have followed through


  66. [Note: Doyden posted this comment on June 13, 2016.]

    I think your completely right about spikes motivation for 3 years Buffy has physically and verbally abused spike knowing he can,t fight back . After all he has tried to do she calls him an evil disgusting thing , a phrase that he never forgets , bringing it up again inentropy I believe . He goes out and tries to bite that girl directly as a result of that comment ,not because his first thought is to go back to his old ways ,it’s an immature response but I have always felt spike was at times childlike , needing affirmation vulnerable .When he had the Buffybot made there was never any indication that he wanted anything but a loving sexual relationship ,the violence was all instigated by Buffy and he happily went along with what she wanted ,but in the process causing major damage to him ,as he didn’t,t really understand her motivation


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