Buffy 6×15: As You Were

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Douglas Petrie | Director: Douglas Petrie | Aired: 02/26/2002]

“As You Were” has problems, but it really doesn’t deserve the poor reputation it has. Its goal is to be a key stepping stone on Buffy’s road to recovery and, for the most part, it succeeds at this goal. Sure, I would have liked a more cohesive package for such an important milestone, but I’m not going to let that bit of disappointment taint my entire view of the episode. Riley shows up and is able to provide Buffy the shock she needs to get herself back on track again. While this is happening, we get some nice moments between Xander and Anya in which they both express extreme nervousness at the impending wedding.

There’s two areas where the episode struggles: its plot, and Riley’s wife Sam. I’ll begin with the former. Like “Older and Far Away” [6×14] , the moment the plot kicks into gear, I immediately start to feel the cheese take over. The basic idea is that Riley’s in Sunnydale tracking a demon he hopes will lead him to a man who plans to sell the demon’s eggs to the highest bidder. Three things go wrong here: the demon is extremely poorly realized, the music is over-the-top, and Riley’s mission is overdramatically played. Frankly, I just don’t buy the stakes of what he’s up to. He can’t just drop in and expect us to care about him or his mission. It’s only when Riley’s actually, ya know, interacting with everyone in a non-plot way that he becomes interesting again.

Fortunately, after that early wave of cheesiness, the episode finally finds its grove and starts delving into some extremely probing material. The plot, though, unfortunately does slip up one last time, and that’s towards the very end of the episode when Riley and Sam are being pulled up into the helicopter. Let’s see here, we’ve got the cheesy music playing, we’ve got Willow with a big unrealistically happy grin, Xander way over-enthusiastically yelling “Bye Riley!! Bye Sam!!,” and we’ve got the camera shot of looking up at Riley and Sam together on a rope being pulled off into apparent marriage/military bliss. All of this is so unbelievably hokey and silly, I can’t even describe it. Well, maybe I can… Ow, pain! Bad, bad, bad! OW!

The other aspect of the episode that really didn’t work for me is the introduction of Sam, Riley’s wife. The only reason she seems to be here is so that we all clearly get the idea that Buffy and Riley aren’t getting back together, but I feel this would have still worked had we never seen Sam. Riley being married doesn’t particularly bother me in of itself. Sam, herself, though, is another story entirely.

The way the episode initially plays it, we should all be shocked and impressed over Riley’s brand spankin’ new wife. I guess I should feel good about the fact that Buffy clearly had a positive impact on Riley. While Sam may be strong and capable, I just wish she wasn’t made out of thicker cardboard than Riley is. Do they seem like a good match? I suppose so, but that doesn’t mean I have to like her. I’m going to take Willow’s job of hating her, even though I won’t change my mind because of one cheesy pep-talk that happens to compliment me.

There’s something about Sam’s voice and mannerisms that irk me — she just sounds totally fake to me. I can’t pinpoint whether’s it’s bad writing or just plain awful acting — maybe both. Regardless, Sam feels like a one-dimensional plot device rather than a real person, let alone the person who ended up marrying Riley. Apparently we’re also supposed to believe her story of going from a member of the Peace Corps to a covert special ops agent in the span of mere months. I’m afraid I don’t find her story particularly credible, which is a flaw that falls on Doug Petrie’s script. I also have a problem with Petrie’s timeline on how Riley got over Buffy. Sam says, “Took him a year to get over you.” Really? That would mean that Riley wasn’t over Buffy part of the time they’ve been married. None of this seems like it lines up at all.

Anyway, enough with the complaints. Those are the episode’s major problems, so now let’s get into the many things it actually did right. For that, it’s time to delve back into Buffy’s mind. The intro sets up the what’s to come nicely. The depressing routine has really set in and Buffy still can’t break out of it. The post-credits scene is particularly important because it presents her with two options: giving into Spike and continuing her routine of late, or going inside and spending time with Dawn. Buffy says, “I’m not letting her down by letting you in.” Even after the events of last episode, she can’t bring herself to just go inside. I think Buffy’s actually scared of what she’ll feel if she doesn’t continue being with Spike. Unfortunately her her, getting it on with Spike these days doesn’t look like it’s giving her the thrill it used to — the sex is becoming boring to her.

I enjoyed the scene in the house after Buffy gets in from her secret Spike encounter. Dawn seems a bit more understanding of Buffy this episode — she was very polite about telling Buffy she can’t have anymore Doublemeat dinners. I think Dawn gets off a bit easy for her recent theft because everyone is very understanding of why Dawn was acting out, and are giving her a second chance. This point, to me, became pretty clear with that smile between Dawn and Buffy in the final moment of “Older and Far Away” [6×14] . I do appreciate how hard both Willow and Dawn are trying to get Buffy to go out with them for a little bit of fun in this scene. Buffy’s not lying when she claims she’s seen more than enough action for one night and says, “You guys have some fun… (to herself) someone should.”

The next morning, Buffy misses the garbage truck with an amusing follow up line: “Don’t you want your garbage?” Sorry Buffy, you’re stuck with your own garbage. No one will take it out but you! This obviously reflects her state of mind right now. Depressing things keep piling onto Buffy when she gets a rejection letter from the university in the mail. Everything’s going wrong for Buffy today. All of these things serve as an excellent backdrop and foundation for where the episode leads us.

In the moments before Riley shows up, we see a Buffy who has sadly turned into the very thing she found so strange about the Doublemeat Palace at first: the near-emotionless worker who stares blankly around and does her job on autopilot. What does Riley provide? He provides a sense of urgent necessity and a reason to jump into action. When Buffy spends a moment to consider whether to help Riley or not, I think it causes some immediate self-reflection. Buffy’s been called into action again and it allows her, for the first time since her resurrection, to feel like herself again — like she has a purpose; like the person she used to be. This is what the title of episode is in reference to. Riley tells her, “I need the best. I need you, Buffy. Can you help me?”

They played up the unexpectedness of Riley showing up perfectly. Buffy gets reminded of her failure to be reaccepted at the university by her coworker right before bumping into Riley. This is not only a literal shock for her (“huh?”), it turns out to be the thing needed to shock her into recognizing the reality of her situation with Spike. This, by the episode’s end, prompts her to finally take action and give herself the foundation she needs to truly pull herself out of this unhealthy relationship. It definitely helps that, even though Riley can see Buffy’s stuck working fast food, he’s not here to rub anything in her face. He’s very complimentary of her the entire time. Buffy’s actually flirting with him a little, which is nice to see for a change.

Later on in the episode, when Buffy’s talking with Sam in a graveyard, we get the only time I actually enjoyed Sam — this is the only time she sounds genuine to me. I feel like she’s really trying to help Buffy out, even though she accidentally sets off some nerves when she says, “Better no guy than the wrong guy, that’s for sure.” How could Buffy not take that to heart considering her relationship with Spike? Sam’s not wrong here, though, and I can’t help but feel this conversation may have played a small part in Buffy’s decision to break it off with Spike at the end of the episode.

Before Buffy genuinely thinks about what Sam says, she instead acts on reaction and emotion. Right after Buffy and Sam part ways, she flees to Spike. It’s almost as if Buffy’s getting a twisted satisfation out of her own pain here. Even though she knows she’s doing wrong, she still thinks she wants more. Buffy and Spike’s exchange here is vital, as it really outright shows Buffy’s burgeoning desparation. Buffy says, “Tell me you love me … Tell me you want me … Shut up,” then the sex ensues. Oh, how much I love this ever growing and complex relationship. Buffy’s hanging onto her last thread here — you can feel the desparation in her. It’s almost as if she knows it’s all about to be exposed…

…and exposed is what happens. Riley bursts into Spike’s crypt, seeing Buffy and Spike in “bed” together. This can’t be a pleasant sight for him, as he knew Spike had a thing for her and was almost competing for her affection back in early S5. Spike even goes as far as basically repeating what he told Riley in “Into the Woods” [5×10] : “What can I say? Girl just needs a little monster in her man.” I really don’t believe this is true, although it certainly must seem like it from Riley’s perspective. Throughout the series Buffy has proven that, while often attracted to the danger of the monster, she doesn’t need it to be there. I think this entire relationship with Spike gets it out of her system for good — or at least I’d like to think so.

I really like how Riley behaves in this scene: in an extremely mature fashion. He reminds Buffy that Spike is “deadly, immoral, opportunistic. Or have you forgotten?” Although Riley’s correct about Spike, he is unaware of Spike’s genuine love for Buffy. This is the very dichotomy that makes Spike such an intriguing character. On one hand, Spike is completely devoted to Buffy — he loves her, wants her, and likes her. On the other hand, he’s selling demon eggs for cash.

Does it seem out of character for Spike to be this “Doctor?” No, not really, for two reasons. First of all, selling these eggs doesn’t directly hurt Buffy or any of her friends, which has always been the limit of his apparent “selflessness.” Secondly, Buffy expressed a need for money as the reason she started working at the DMP (see “Doublemeat Palace” [6×12] ). Spike claimed then, “I can get money.” I think this entire scheme is the realization of that comment. I, personally, think this is entirely within character for Spike to do.

That’s why Spike exasperately and rightfully claims to Buffy in his defense, “Well, that’s bloody funny coming from you! No more games? That’s all you’ve ever done is play me. You keep playing with rules you make up as you like. You know what I am. You’ve always known. You come to me all the same.” Spike has a point here! Buffy has played mind games with him over what she really feels and why she’s really with him. Buffy’s treated him poorly and deserves plenty of blame for her actions to him, and to herself. But, the blame goes both ways. After Buffy actually has a chance to think all this over by the end, she admits “That’s just you. I should have remembered.”

I greatly sympathize with Buffy for kind of forgetting Spike’s nature. He’s been seemingly decent for a while now, and it’s easy for her (and us) to miss that it’s just because of his love of her — not because of anything truly selfless — that he’s ended up doing some good deeds. Buffy claims, “I’m not saying Spike is good, but he’s not capab…” and gets cut off right when she has proof that he is capable, and is also responsible. Buffy’s been blinded to Spike’s nature because of his actions around her. I think this is an incredibly brave point the writers are making about Spike, even after so many fans had come to really like him and root for him becoming a better guy — myself included. There’s no doubt that Spike’s love of Buffy has vastly changed him, but he’s still nowhere near being a selfless individual. I’ve always maintained that Spike’s actions, good or ill, were always motivated out of selfish reasons when you really got down to it. Here’s an episode dedicated to proving it, and I very much respect it for that. What happens in “Seeing Red” [6×19] is somewhat led up to by what Spike does here.

As the episode wraps up, I think Buffy actually verbalizing out loud to Riley, “I’m sleeping with Spike,” despite Riley already knowing this, is a cathartic moment for her. Between that and actually taking Riley’s words — both when he finds her with Spike and before he leaves again — to heart, she comes to the vital realization that she must break it off with Spike. This relationship is slowly killing her, and she needs to stop, right now. Although many aspects of the plot of this episode come across as corny, the impact on the characters being described here is what transcends this above its otherwise questionable quality.

Riley’s final speech to Buffy is wonderful, and makes me still really appreciate him. He says, “None of that stuff touches you … Wheel never stops turning Buffy. You’re up, you’re down. Doesn’t change what you are. And you are a hell of a woman.” This compliment will ironically be repeated, almost verbatim, by Spike himself in “Touched” [7×20] , which really shows just how vastly different a Spike with a soul is compared to a Spike without a soul. I’d like to take this moment to also wish Riley a happy final farewell. I don’t care what anyone says, I like the guy.

The final scene of the episode is simply spectacular. Buffy finally breaks it off with Spike, and walks off to face that light which she claimed was blinding back in “After Life” [6×03] . After retreating from the light, she’s now passed through shadow and darkness to come out on the other side. It’s as blinding as it was in the beginning of the season, but she’s now much more aware of how to face it — and face it head on she will in “Normal Again” [6×17] . Buffy explains to Spike, “I do want you. Being with you… makes things, simpler. For a little while. I’m using you. I can’t love you. I’m just being weak and selfish … And it’s killing me. I have to be strong about this. I’m sorry, William.” Buffy treats Spike with enough respect here — by treating him like a man, not a monster — that, although he’s not happy about it, he’s accepting of it. This is a beautiful end to this part of their tumultuous relationship.

Before I wrap this one up, I’d like to take a moment to talk about Xander and Anya. Although they’re not the focus of the episode, their time together here turns out to have a lot of meaning. We see them totally consumed by wedding arrangements, and they’re both excessively nervous about it — Xander moreso, which is obviously a bit of foreshadowing of the next episode. Throughout the episode, compulsive consumption of potato chips amusingly take the manifestation of this nervousness.

The most interesting scene, though, is the one in the bathroom. Xander and Anya are hiding out from their relatives there, which really hints at Xander’s motivations in “Hell’s Bells” [6×16] , and is a sign that a rosy future is not likely to happen. Xander tries to make a point here that their wedding is not their marriage, that the former feels him with dread, but the latter doesn’t. Although it’s a truthful statement, it’s one Xander unfortunately won’t be able to see through.

So, in the end, this is an episode that has a few irritating missteps, but, despite itself, manages to pull itself into a really worthwhile episode containing some fabulous, character-altering moments. This entire season has struggled with its plots, but the character material still shines through brightly. The only thing that truly saddens me is how I so desparately want to give this episode a higher score, but simply can’t — this simply isn’t a tight episode. Fortunately, the season only picks up steam from this point on.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Buffy’s DMP coworker’s college talk. It’s good to hear that Buffy’s been thinking about going back to college.
+ Buffy singing the DMP jingle. This shocks her more than any vampire possibly could at this point.
+ The vampire Buffy sees in the graveyard is actually repulsed by her because she smells like fast food.
+ Willow’s joke about how she used to feel about Xander. I also love how radiant she is here simply because Tara is on talking terms with her again.
+ Buffy, alone, trying to wash out a grass stain (due to Spike sex) while listening to, wait for it, country music! Ah, more lovely continuity.
+ “National Forestry Service. We have a wild bear!” That is so not a wild bear. lol.
+ Anya equating traffic to being stuck in hell. Not too far off.

–Β Riley says, “love the hair,” yet he hasn’t seen her hair down yet. I guess you can tell it’s been cut, but still. :/
–Β Buffy’s comment about guns being never useful. Again, it bothers me a lot, just as it did in “Flooded” [6×04] . This is just bad continuity existing only to make a political point.


[Score]

73/100

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96 thoughts on “Buffy 6×15: As You Were”

  1. [Note: MrB posted this comment on June 1, 2008.]

    Agree with your points about Riley here. It shows that he was always this good, decent, guy who knew more about Buffy’s morality than anyone else.

    Maybe that doesn’t work in an intimate relationship all the time, but it forms an unbreakable bond. It’s what allows him to act the way he does in the scene with Buffy and Spike, and then tell Buffy about the wheel being up and down. Classic Riley.

    Sam – bad acting. The lines were fine. It really got in the way, because Sam had two or three things she needed to get across, and only the one you mentioned about “the wrong guy” worked. The really big miss was with Willow where Sam was talking about “losing” the shamans to the magics. Yes, we all hate the analogy, but she plain old didn’t deliver the goods on some fairly easy and decent dialog. The other miss related to Dawn and how she seemed old enough.

    In both of those cases, Sam’s performance left the other actors hanging, because they were acting like this big thing happened, but it wasn’t really delivered to them. The levels just didn’t match. Given what we know about the quality of the acting on BtVS, that’s really never been seen before to this extent.

    Tom

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  2. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 1, 2008.]

    Meh. You make a good case for this episode. But I still don’t like it.

    On Spike and the demon eggs, how did Buffy overlook these eggs till then? Why would Spike choose the name “Doctor” which is frighteningly close to “Doc” who represents his failure in S5? If Spike were doing it just to get money for Buffy (The only plausible reason I can see for it), why not let the audience know? It always feels like a plot to cast Spike in the light of the evil demon.

    Before you say “But he IS an evil demon!”, yes, I know. But he’d been made into such a punching bag during the season and had gotten pretty much no recognition for the good he HAS done(What? He can’t even see Dawn anymore? Weren’t they all buddy-buddy over the summer?). I guess I just would like to see the guy get a bit of a break and NOT be cast as the evil demon for once. Instead, he continues to get demonized for the bad things he does (While the good things get ignored) until the events of Seeing Red where he has to crawl across shards of glass and fire and brimstone to atone for everything.

    That’s probably my fangirlish Spike-sympathy kicking in but it frustrates me to see the guy trying so very hard to be good and getting no recognition for it. Yet when he slips up and pulls an evil, then he becomes the center of attention.

    Add onto this the fact that I don’t really think Buffy was fully aware of how awful her treatment of him was, and I so desperately wanted Buffy to start seeing that at this point (For personal reasons, mainly. I’ve done horrible things to friends and loved ones while depressed, but I always manage to apologize and make amends to them afterward. I wanted to see that from Buffy, too).

    So I still have issues with this episode, though I realize those issues are subjective and are mainly borne from my own personal viewpoint of the series. So kudos for the objective view you’ve given.

    Sam still sucks, though. Glad we agree on that.

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  3. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    My problem with Spike being the Doctor, next to the very good points gabrielleabelle makes, is that how was Spike, able to make contact with governments hostile to the U.S.A. one.
    He never made business with anyone for years now, Spike the international weapon’s dealer living in a crypt without phone just seems too far fetched, because nothing fits: from the scheming to the necessary contacts to the name.

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  4. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    Great review, mike. I agree with all of your points about Riley. In fact, that´s what I like most about the episode: Riley is the one who makes Buffy realise what she´s doing and not only that, makes her jump into action. Also agree about Sam.
    Keep up the good work!

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  5. [Note: Tom posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    I hate the scene where Buffy is not able to use the gun. It reminds me of Cordelia on that season 3 episode and makes Buffy look pretty stupid. Never useful? What about Innocence and Graduation Day 2? Really bad continuity.

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  6. [Note: jun posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    Ooh, I like this bit.

    Buffy’s been called into action again and it allows her, for the first time since her resurrection, to feel like herself again — like she has a purpose; like the person she used to be. This is what the title of episode is in reference to.

    I hadn’t really thought of it that way before.

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  7. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    I very much agree with the grading of this episode, and I, too, enjoy the smaller aspects about this episode – just not the overall plot or Riley’s wife. I think Riley really redeems himself for his stupidity the year before. His old-fashioned view that women should lean on men’s shoulders in times of crisis is uprooted and replaced by the admirable view that she is a strong woman who is capable of anything. Lovely development for him there, and I think his new marriage explains that development somewhat.

    It’s confusing that, while Xander’s monsterous parents are throwing things around in his apartment, Riley and Sam are very, very obviously in marital bliss. It’s such a shame that Xander didn’t reject his family ties in the next episode, and instead try to be a loving husband like Riley. But I guess in the long run, it was good he and Anya broke up. No wait, it wasn’t! No, it was! Damn!

    @jun: I also didn’t look at Riley’s mission as giving Buffy a purpose again. That was an interesting catch, Mike. Good review on the whole.

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  8. [Note: AnonDK posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    The only thing I don’t like about Spike being the Doctor is, well, the name :/ Not very in character to choose a name that associates with the events of ‘The Gift’.

    Man, I’m commenting on these reviews a lot more then I thought I would-guess I’ll start a new trend for myself πŸ˜€

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  9. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    jun, that’s because we’re all a bunch of Mikejer-fangirls/boys who comment in an attempt to gain his favor.

    On a serious note, the review (and a certain discussion on the forum) has made me appreciate this episode a bit more, even though I stubbornly and subjectively still dislike it. I see more merit in it than I used to.

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  10. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    Yeah, the plot’s kind of dire and inept in this one, but I like all the character moments in between. It had great development for Buffy and Riley, and Willow seemed to be a bit more self-accepting after Sam’s pep talk. (That was extremely heavy handed, but bully for trying.)

    I tend to find that with a lot of BTVS episodes. The plots aren’t always tight, and with the supernatural element, can come off hokey. But there’s usually always something to cherish. And I think there are many ‘somethings’ in ‘As You Were’. (Great title, btw.)

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  11. [Note: Section_Mantis posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    Hey there,

    Mikejer, I`m kind of disappointed, that you forgot to mention a very striking reference between this and another episode. Disappointed, because you usually find meaning in thousands of details, that I often don`t even notice.

    “Tell me you love me … Tell me you want me … Shut up,”
    Remember Warren, anyone? Turning Katrina into a soulless sexslave? What were his words again?
    I watched the whole series in the winterholidays. And although I don`t really get every aspect of the Buffy-Spike-relationship in season 6, this almost total quotation of Warren especially in this scene gives a broad hint at the abusive part of what they have.

    But I don`t want to miss the opportunity to tell you that I love reading your reviews and it is a really great thing your doing here. I always find some new aspects about certain character-development and stuff in your articles and it is just fun to read them. Thank you for all the work.

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  12. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    Section_Mantis: First off, thanks for the comment!

    Secondly, you’re absolutely right. I really did miss the connection there. Nice catch! I completely agree with you as well. I suppose the major difference in that parallel is that Spike is actually enjoying being used most of the time. But that still doesn’t make it right, which is what Buffy admits at the end of the episode.

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  13. [Note: Paula posted this comment on June 4, 2008.]

    First things first: I dropped by and was absolutely delighted to find you’re reviewing again. Way to go!!

    I first watched the series on DVD just recently and somehow managed not to be spoiled about anything ahead (that is, until I lost it toward the end of S6 and read up on the rest of the series in order to free some brain capacity for getting some actual work done). By Lover’s Walk I had become a Spike fangirl, it didn’t take much of S5 to make me a Spuffy shipper, and it’s been fun to find out afterwards that I’m definitely not the only one these things happened to.

    I find pretty much all of the episodes covering the Spuffy affair (S6-style) pretty messy on the whole (although I agree on Dead Things being rather cool). However, I did and do applaud the writers having the guts to take the dark and rough route they did with the relationship. At the beginning of S6, I fully realized that I sooooooo wanted those two to get together and make things right for each other, but also that I had a definite uneasiness about the whole thing, what with Spike having no soul and all. This was all addressed and IMO addressed well on the whole.

    I also liked the way the series got me to both to be uneasy about Spike and really feel for him for trying so hard and getting next to no credit at all for it from anyone. (Xander in particular so seems to enjoy having Spike as a mental punching bag, and never seems to stop to wonder whether he shouldn’t be using him as one.) And it is a very interesting point that Buffy, of all people, only and finally seems to be able to treat Spike with some due respect when she breaks up with him. I don’t feel he appreciates it much, though.

    Oh dear, there’s so much I could write on the subject… Better stop now.

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  14. [Note: Llinnae posted this comment on June 4, 2008.]

    Great review once again, Mike! I did, however disagree with your comment: “Throughout the series Buffy has proven that, while often attracted to the danger of the monster, she doesn’t need it to be there”. On the contrary I would say that her natural inclination towards darkness is a defining characteristic for her which dates back to the very first season when she’s attracted to Angel, the mysterious dark figure, as opposed to Xander. I believe in each romantic case in her life, she is drawn to “the monster” if not literally than metaphorically (would she have yearned for a relationship with Parker so much if he had been attainable, if he had not shown her his “monster side”?). The only excepetion is Riley who was, in my view at the beggining anyway, a sort of rebound guy who became much more to her. Even then she couldnt make it work with him as he lacks said darkness. I think that Buffy needs a strong, powerful mate to match her own strength and as discovered in “Buffy vs Dracula”, power is rooted in darkness. The fact that she can’t find balance with Riley (as shown in “into the woods”) demonstrates that she does in fact need “some monster in her man”.

    Just my take on it anyways, thanks again for review!

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  15. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 4, 2008.]

    Thanks for the comment Llinnae. One thing I’d like to point out is that all her relationships didn’t work out, not just Riley, so I don’t think you can make a case based on that point.

    I do agree that she is naturally drawn and attracted to “the monster,” but my point was that she doesn’t need it to have a successful relationship. In fact, I think she’d probably be better off without it in the long run (as most of us would be). I feel Riley was a great guy for her and if they could have worked out their issues, it could have become something powerful on its own. Riley may not have been superpowered, but he wasn’t exactly helpless either, as he proved several times (even likely saving Buffy’s life in “Fool for Love”).

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  16. [Note: Andrew Kern posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    “I just wish [Sam] wasn’t made out of thicker cardboard than Riley is.” Ha! I vote for more humor in reviews.

    However, I’m not persuaded that this is anything other than a really crappy episode. It strikes me as little more than a bunch of poorly constructed plot contrivances strung together with some awkward speeches and set pieces. IOW, a lot like a typical TV show rather that a BtVS episode. Some of the contrivances – the Spike/Doctor thing (the problem isn’t that it’s out of character, it’s that it makes no sense), Riley not telling Buffy about being married or to not kill the demon, that the demon somehow made it’s way all the way up to Sunnydale and that it’s almost extinct but just one can lead to a vast explosion which would doom humanity, Riley has overcome all his issues and is now Captain Perfect Guy, Sam going from Peace Corps to Special Ops in a few months, etc. I’m usually very relaxed when it comes to plot holes in BtVS, because the acting, characters and everything else make up for it. But there’s just not enough to make up for all the problems (and I agree about Sam’s acting – watching Willow’s reaction shot to her shaman thing I was wondering if AH wasn’t thinking “okay, how the fuck am I supposed to respond to that crap?” I agree that the final scene is spectacular, but it’s like putting a monument on top of an unnecessary pile of garbage. Given how important this episode is to the overall season arc, I still think it’s pretty disastrous.

    Also, this episode pisses me off because the cemetery scene has so far been impossible to locate and photograph. I think Sam intentionally picked a path which avoided significant landmarks.

    Mike said: “I’ve always maintained that Spike’s actions, good or ill, were always motivated out of selfish reasons when you really got down to it.” I think you’re putting things too black and white here. I agree that Spike’s relationship with Buffy has its origins in a very selfish, obsessive love, and that he doesn’t fully break with that until Season 7. But that’s not the same thing as saying that he’s always motivated by selfish concerns. I think Intervention, The Gift and others all demonstrate that there is more than that going on, that there is an element of genuine concern for Buffy (and Dawn), and a loyalty which goes well beyond selfishness. Certainly, there’s only so far he could go with that without a soul and getting his back marked a fundamental change, but I think there is enough pre-soul development and change to require a more nuanced take on Spike.

    With regards to Buffy needing a little monster in her man, for most of the series you can say this is true. But Buffy develops as the series goes on and she works her way through this. By season 7, it’s very much the man in Spike to which she’s attracted. And by the end, it’s Spike’s compassion, unselfish support and otherwise very un-monsterish behavior which allows her to open up and to tell a non-“Family” member “I love you” for the first time in many years.

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  17. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    Andrew, I definately don’t feel this is a crappy episode. I see it as more of a decent episode with a couple crappy elements. But I just don’t think it’s crappy as a whole.

    I’m not sure why there’s such a problem with Spike being the one selling the eggs. We only ever see Spike these days when he’s with Buffy, so who knows what he’s doing with his time when she’s not around. That he’d be looking for opportunities on the side to make some cash is of no contrivance or shock to me. Could it have been portayed a little better? Sure, but I hardly think it’s this huge problem. Though I’ll concede that the name “Doctor” (which, by Spike’s reactions, he wasn’t even referring to himself as that — Riley got that name from his contacts after all) is a little confusing, as there was a “Doc” last season. But beyond that, I don’t really have a problem with it.

    You’re completely right about the demon/plot and Sam, but I don’t agree that those two poor elements result in a lost cause of an episode.

    Your last point about Buffy’s attractions, though, I definitely agree with.

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  18. [Note: Arana posted this comment on June 24, 2008.]

    Great review, as always.

    I don’t really agree with Riley being a great guy here, though. To me he feels almost secretly hostile towards Buffy for the most of the episode. The way he’s gazing at Buffy, making her all tense so the audience can totally see the hope rising on her face just before Sam arrives with her icky “What exactly are you doing with my husband?” line just feels like a set-up on Riley’s part. And even though I have tried very hard, I can’t not read his attitude throughout the episode being full of disguised contempt towards Buffy. So the pep talk to Buffy later in the ep just doesn’t make him seem like Such A Nice Guy anymore. All it makes me think is that he’s a disgusting hypocrite.

    Sam I don’t like, mainly for the reasons stated here. I think it was just a bad worse worst idea to give Riley an absolutely super perfect sensitive action wife without the slightest hint of actual person inside. It makes the episode suffer so much because normally this series doesn’t use that one-dimensional contrivance characters. Also, what’s with Sam sucking up to Willow in such a patronizing way about her mighty strength against magic addiction, and Willow not being offended but quite the contrary, finding her a nice person? If someone came to talk to me like that I’d construct a woodoo doll representing them and thrust pins through its eyes and brain.

    The last scene and some minor stuff that’s going on save the ep from being completely cringeworthy. I especially love Buffy’s bearing; it’s one of the few times in the series when costume design really matters. Her frail looking light lavender shirt and light blue jeans stand out after the heavy pitch black she’s worn through most of the ep. The clothes and her make-up and that numb yet stern face she’s making really make her the ice queen here; she’s totally untouchable, and I doubt Spike could’ve approached her had it crossed his mind. I think it’s absolutely ingenious to detach herself from his darkness emotionally by wearing clothes like this. Sorta summery, but in Spike’s crypt she just looks cold and averting like she’s supposed to.

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  19. [Note: MrKittyFantastico posted this comment on December 18, 2008.]

    I have to say that your review misses the third major defect of the episode, THE DIALOGUE. Dear God, it sounded like a parody of James Bond meets Star Trek. It needed to either acknowledge this awful cheesiness and be an over-the-top obvious parody, or it needed to get serious and eliminate some of the ridiculous dialogue. The entire conversation between Riley and Buffy before they rappel down the dam (really?) was gag-inducing, along with, as you noted, every line of Sam’s. This episode did have important plot moments, and some nice moments with Willow and with Xander and Anya, but that only makes it more upsetting that it was so poorly done. Definitely not a B- episode.

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  20. [Note: Sanjuro posted this comment on January 20, 2009.]

    I HATE this episode. First of all, Riley coming back puts me at severe odds with it. It would be like Obama giving a press conference two months from now only to reveal he’s actually Dick Ceheny back in the White House. But that’s a personal bias, so we’ll leave it aside for now. What kills it is the nonstop barrage of atrocious dialogue. That whole “What exactly are you doing with my husband” and the even worse

    “Sam, Buffy.”
    “Pleasure.”
    “Demon.”
    “Mine”

    What the shit is that? And the gun comment. And the terrible ending. The only thing worthwhile in the episode is the exchange between Anya and Xander about how they’re stressing over their marriage because they’re stressing over their wedding. It’s a bit of genuine sweetness (and all the more poignant given the events of the next episode). Everything else is just awful.

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  21. [Note: Adam posted this comment on January 24, 2009.]

    I have just finished watching this episode, and it is the first time I have seen it in maybe a year or so. I have always been somewhat of a fan of the Buffy/Riley relationship being that it is so hated by a lot of people. The episode was suprisingly awful. I did not like it at all. Everytime I have ever seen this episode I am always exicted Riley is back but it turns out to be a dissapointment because of Buffy being so depressed. Actually, I honestly don’t mind Buffy being depressed but with that and the bad writing (and even some bad acting) it just brings the episode down from the great potential it had. It just seemed very easy for the writers to make Riley married therefore Buffy and him could not have the slightest chance of getting back together. The plot was kind of corny and they could have overall made a more emotional impact especially since the last time Buffy and Riley were together in an episode Buffy was chasing after him before he left in his helicopter. There appeared to be very casual dialogue for what could have been made into a memorable episode.

    The ending I did not like, and I didn’t mind Sam’s acting (however, I did not like the character itself). Overall, I would have scored the episode a little higher only because some not very good episodes were scored higher than this, for example: The Witch (75). However, I don’t think this was near the same quality as Homecoming which somehow got a 75 also when the episode was way better than this one.

    Sorry to be nitpicking but I am a huge Buffy fan. And not to mention, I still love your reviews.

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  22. [Note: Zillex posted this comment on February 28, 2009.]

    I thought this was a decent episode, minus the whole ‘egg’ scheme. Is it just me, or does anything with ‘eggs’ in the Buffyverse is bad. Lets see, we’ve got “Bad Eggs”, universally considered one of the worst episodes. In “Forever” Dawn had to steal the egg from the demon, and that whole scene was very cheesy. To a lesser extent, in “Listening to Fear” the demon comes from an egg/comet from outerspace.

    Seems like eggs are generally bad news.

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  23. [Note: Paula posted this comment on May 6, 2009.]

    This is easily among the hardest Buffy episodes for me to make myself rewatch, but it turned out last night that I liked most of it well enough. Unlike most fans (it seems), I don’t really have trouble with either Riley or Sam in this episode – sure, Sam doesn’t have an awful lot of dimensions and she’s a bit of a Mary Sue, but she’s a one-episode character and anyway I find she suits Riley rather well. I found some bits badly thought out and written – notably, the whole initial Riley/Buffy demon chase ending with the admittedly dramatic but all kinds of stupid “What exactly are you doing with my husband?” – and I can’t really watch the Spike/Buffy/Riley scene in the crypt out of sheer sympathy for Buffy, but other than that, fine.

    A point perhaps worth considering is that Spike was probably damn lucky to get caught this way. Had Riley found him in the crypt alone with the eggs down there, I don’t think he’d have much hesitated to take him out right away. But since there was obviously, er, something between him and Buffy, she got to decide.

    (Also I’m not at all sure Spike’s highly questionable money-making ventures started with the egg scheme. Could be he pretty much just cheated at cards before, but unless he just straight out stole all that furniture in his crypt, he’d have needed money for that stuff too. Not to mention all the blood, drinks and cigarettes – somehow I doubt he’s been resorting to scaring people for money à la “Where The Wild Things Are” just lately.)

    Um, and yeah, the name “Doctor” doesn’t really work out for me either. It just doesn’t sound right.

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  24. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on May 21, 2009.]

    Probably one of the few episodes I have very little interest in re-watching. I wouldn’t necessarily say I HATE it, but it is pretty close. All the reasons have been pointed out already.

    I wanted to chime in on the bizarre use of the name Doctor. When Riley shows up to bust Spike towards the end of the episode they have this exchange:

    RILEY: Where are they … Doctor?

    SPIKE: Where are what, and why do you keep calling me that?

    While it could be argued that Spike was just trying to deny any knowledge of the eggs, he actually looks really annoyed when he asks why Riley keeps calling him that, in a way that suggests it wasn’t something he chose or knows about. Since the episode is basically a Spike character assassination, maybe the writers were trying to rub it in that he has failed here by having people call him the Doctor, the agent of his failure last season.

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  25. [Note: Sam posted this comment on June 20, 2009.]

    @Shannon, who said that “The episode is basically a Spike character assassination”.

    At this point in the series, Spike had not yet gotten his soul back, which means that he is still the same evil monster who had slaughtered tens of thousands men, women, and babies with Drusilla over the past century or so. After he’s done that, is it really that credibility-stretching to imagine that he’d be selling some demon eggs on the DL to make some extra cash, even if it was to help Buffy? I doubt he had any moral struggles over it–after all, he did more or less “slaughter half of Europe”, as Xander put it. The only regulars on the series who had committed similar atrocities were Angelus and Anya, but you no one is defending the crimes they committed when they were evil.

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  26. [Note: Sam posted this comment on June 20, 2009.]

    My point, basically, is that how do you assassinate a character who’s a violent, misogynistic, serial killer?

    Please note: I am not talking about S7 Spike, who is neither William, the simpering moron he was as a human nor the monster he was from S2 to S6, but another being entirely and one deserving of our sympathy and respect Much the same way that Angel was neither Liam the bar-brawling drunk nor Angelus the savage serial killer he was as a vampire.

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  27. [Note: Mia posted this comment on June 21, 2009.]

    I like to think that Buffy’s gun comments throughout the season were intended to be ironic than political, seeing as how a gun is what kills Tara at the end and serves as the catalyst for Warren’s own death.

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  28. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on June 22, 2009.]

    @Sam, I said that, because in some ways it is, although my description of what I think the writers are doing is a bit of hyperbole. You’re right, Spike is still soulless at this point, but I would argue that he is not the same evil monster that ravaged Europe(by the way, I’d say “tens of thousands” is your own little bit of hyperbole there). Can you honestly tell me Spike hasn’t changed? I feel like I’ve spent way too much time explaining it on this website, but Spike was well on his way to redemption at this point, a redemption that some people think could even have been achieved without a soul (I’m not one of those folks though). Whether or not you agree with them, the writers decided that Spike needed to have a soul to achieve redemption, so they devoted some time here and in the next couple episodes to reminding us all how evil Spike still is so that they could then send him off to Africa to get his soul. The writers spent the previous 1.5 seasons setting Spike off on this great journey of redemption, and turning him into a likable, sympathetic character, only to flip it around and make him seem unredeemably evil without a soul. So yes, I’d classify that as kind of a character assassination. However, despite the way I described it, I don’t really have a problem with the direction they took for Spike, but I do think the writers could have at least come up with something plausible. Selling demon eggs to foreign governments? Please, that’s absurd.

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  29. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on June 22, 2009.]

    Also Sam, Spike is certainly a violent killer, but he’s not misogynistic, and I think there’s a lot of evidence in the show that bears this out.

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  30. [Note: Sam posted this comment on June 24, 2009.]

    Dear Shannon,
    I agree with you that Spike is not necessarily the same person he was when he ravaged Europe (and considering that he was there for over 100 years, “tens of thousands” is probably accurate), and that he has been zigzagging towards the light. However, despite the bizarre concept of him selling demon eggs for cash, it’s not OOC that he would actually [b]do[/b] something like that. He may not have the stomach for murder any more, but doing some illegal dealing is hardly on the same level and I doubt that he’d have any qualms about it.

    As for whether or not he’s misogynistic, there’s plenty of evidence throughout the show that he is (prior to S7, anyway). However, I see that someone started a thread about Spike on the boards, so I’m going to post the evidence there instead. I appreciate your insight and I look forward to continuing this discussion there (as soon as my Internet access goes back to normal). πŸ™‚

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  31. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on June 24, 2009.]

    Sam, I suppose I don’t feel so much that it’s out of character, as I dislike the plot element and find it silly and implausible, which then makes me dislike the idea as a whole. Sure I could buy him do something evil (that doesn’t harm Buffy or her friends) if that’s where the writers want to go with the story, but it’s the idea of Spike involved in a black market trade with hostile foreign governments that bothers me. Do you see where that just sounds ridiculous? I think they could have come up with something “evil” that was better suited to Spike’s character and situation, and that actually made sense.

    And I’m still going to quibble with you about tens of thousands – if he killed 100 people per year for 100 years that’s still only 10,000 bodies, and I think even that level of carnage would have gained him a bit more notoriety than he seemed to have in the show. Buffy had never even heard of him when he first showed up in Sunnydale.

    And yes, more forum discussion is good!

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  32. [Note: Sam posted this comment on June 24, 2009.]

    Shannon said, “And I’m still going to quibble with you about tens of thousands – if he killed 100 people per year for 100 years that’s still only 10,000 bodies, and I think even that level of carnage would have gained him a bit more notoriety than he seemed to have in the show. Buffy had never even heard of him when he first showed up in Sunnydale.”

    Well yeah, Buffy hadn’t heard of him. She hadn’t heard of the Master, either. Or Angel(us). Or Darla. She hadn’t heard of any of those supposedly legendary vampires yet because the show was still in its infancy stage and had not yet established the mythology where creatures who hadn’t shown up yet were heard of. The First was the big bad of S7, yet even Giles hadn’t heard of it back when it first reared its ugly head in “Amends”, and you’d think Giles would have known. As far as the amount of people Spike killed goes, I’m not going to get into that because it has no bearing on his character for the rest of the series, but I will join you over in the forums shortly.

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  33. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on June 25, 2009.]

    You’re right, but I think if any vampire out there in the Buffyverse had killed tens of thousands of people in the last hundred years it would have attracted more notice. It’s not as if there were a Black Plague to cover up a few thousand extra dead bodies during this time, as there could have been during the Master’s lifetime. And no, it doesn’t matter for Spike’s development, but if you’re going to be throwing numbers out there, I feel compelled to argue with them =).

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  34. [Note: Sam posted this comment on June 26, 2009.]

    Oy, Shannon, I wanted to stop but I have to make one more point. Yes, you’d think that a vampire with that amount of notoriety would have attracted more notice, but none of them did that early in the show because a) Buffy was a unique Slayer in that she didn’t do research as part of preparation; and b) they needed to have Giles look up these vampires in his diaries to create a greater sense of foreboding. If he had known who they were off the top of his head, he’d have literally come off as “a textbook with arms”. I mean, come on! Spike killed 2 Slayers; any vampire who did that should have been on the tip of any self-respecting Watcher’s tongue, but he still had to do research on him in “School Hard”. It makes sense that Giles might not have heard of Angel when he popped up on the scene because he’d been ensouled and living in anonymity for decades. Spike & Drusilla, on the other hand, had just barely escaped from an angry lynch mob in Prague. Something like that should have gotten around the Watcher’s Council, but it didn’t, because the writers hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. Post-“Innocence”, it surely would have. As far as the number of people he’s killed, well, vampires need to eat every so often in order to survive and Spike was far less modest than Angelus in that regard so yeah, I don’t think that number is too far off. Okay, I’m done now. πŸ˜€

    You’re a lot of fun to debate with. My next stop is the “Spike” thread. I can’t wait for that one. πŸ™‚

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  35. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on June 26, 2009.]

    Actually I like your points – Giles at least should have heard of all of those baddies. Good point too that later on the writers do correct this, and Watcher Lydia (Checkpoint, I believe) had even written her thesis on Spike. Makes you wonder what the heck Giles was doing during his Watcher training though. Obviously not research for his Watcher thesis.

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  36. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 16, 2009.]

    First off, if Sam was any more smarmy, it would have made my skin crawl. She out-Mary Sue’s the worst Mary Sue I’ve ever come across in fanfic. The saying just the right thing to everyone was quite possibly the worst writing I’ve ever had the displeasure to deal with during all 7 seasons. And that includes the grunts and 2 word sentences of Beer Bad.

    Spike selling the eggs doesn’t surprise me, as, bottom line, he is still a demon. However, being in contact with foreign governments, terrorists, etc….? That’s more than a stretch; that’s damn near altering reality.

    Loved Willow offering to carry the hate for Buffy, though.

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  37. [Note: CW posted this comment on September 8, 2009.]

    Can’t say I agree with your review. For me, “As You Were” constitutes the only truly bad episode of Season Six. Riley seems duller than ever here and totally out of place in the context of this grim season. He belongs in the sunnier fourth season. This is not his place. Hated Sam too. And the plot was pretty…ugh (though I did like the demon get-up). The scenes featuring Spike interacting with Riley held some appeal, but the only worthwhile component of the entire episode was the final scene, which is quite well done and rather touching.

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  38. [Note: Susan posted this comment on September 28, 2009.]

    Since I am presently revisiting all of season 6 in order I forced myself to watch this episode last night even though I’ve always disliked it. My take on it this time is that it was far worse than I remembered, and I would easily rank this episode as 144 on the list of Buffy episodes. I would tend to agree completely with Andrew Kern’s (and others’) earlier assessment of the storyline regarding the eggs, the Spike/Doctor thing, the character of Sam, the helicopter scene, and add my own assessment of the pouty, whiny, near-sobbing response Spike makes when responding to Buffy’s comments. Totally unbelievabl, at least in my humble opinion.I feel as if the story that the writers were trying to tell here would have benefited well by being extended into at least a two-parter.

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  39. [Note: Kathy posted this comment on October 30, 2009.]

    I find it interesting that when Riley breaks into the crypt and finds Spike and Buffy together that they are NOT cuddling at all, but rather have several inches between them. This is a kind of foreshadowing for the end of season seven when they do finally cuddle.

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  40. [Note: LesKat posted this comment on January 18, 2010.]

    I didn’t do this in my first post on the last ep and i meant to. But I do love your reviews. I have recently embraced my nerd self fully and do things like read reviews for shows like buffy and battlestar galactica. Both shows that have so much more meaning than may be shown on the surface. I enjoy the insight you bring to that!

    Onto my episode comment…

    “The final scene of the episode is simply spectacular. Buffy finally breaks it off with Spike, and walks off to face that light which she claimed was blinding back in “After Life” (6×03)”

    Right after this when she “walks into the light” I noticed a definite change in her appearance. I feel like the only time this season since her re-birth that she has not been in dark clothes with dark eyeliner has been in her terrible orange uniform. But here when she is walking out of the crypt she is in a beautiful purple shirt with a little less dark make up on. I wouldn’t have noticed this had you not pointed out her attire in an earlier review, but now i can definitely notice the contrast! She looks much brighter like she is shedding some of the darkness and depression.

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  41. [Note: Mr. Valentine posted this comment on February 5, 2010.]

    Your review amused me πŸ™‚

    I never really liked this episode, and I’ll join you on the Sam hating!

    I think they should’ve left Sam out, and also do something with Buffy telling Riley she was too late in ”Into the woods”. It seemed like it wouldn’t have mattered with the way Riley responded to her telling him.

    Aah! Marc’s SOOO HOT! =D

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  42. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 9, 2010.]

    Like Shannon, I didn’t believe that Spike was The Doctor either. The episode never really explains it to my satisfaction, so I’ve developed a personal theory.

    I think Doc didn’t die at the end of “The Gift” and was the international contact. When he received the unrefrigerated eggs, he realized they were unsuitable merchandise. He left them in Spike’s crypt, perhaps partly to punish Spike and to begin a Sunnydale colony of wild bears.

    But I can accept it if Spike was actually the perpetrator. I like how it makes me see a few more character similarities between reforming Spike and Firefly’s Mal.

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  43. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on June 19, 2010.]

    I think the gun comments are definitely foreshadowing the fact that she and Tara get shot at the end of the season. I also love how when she’s firing the gun she accidentally shoots all of Spike’s “human” things like his bed and lamp. Symbolizing her destruction of Spike’s decency and humanity and turning him back into a monster.

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  44. [Note: Alan posted this comment on July 21, 2010.]

    The relationships: Buffy is coming out of her “I’m dead, so it doesn’t matter who or what I f***” fugue and is looking for actual relationships instead of cheap thrills. Too bad though she doesn’t tell Spike this and give him a chance to try, she never let him be more than a sex buddy; aside from being a mass murderer (actually, Buffy is too, demons and vampires are sentient beings after all), he does have many qualities that she could relate to.

    Plotwise:

    What the hell was the demon doing halfway down the dam wall? Seemed just an excuse to do a cheap version of the “Goldeneye” opener.

    The whole “anti-demon black ops” thing that Riley and Sam is part of makes little sense. According to this villages in South America and Nepal (at least) are being ravaged by swarms of murderous demons … okay … how can that be kept secret? And the lone demon — is at once “almost extinct” and is also a “breeder” that can lay dozens of eggs that can mature in no time. If this existed, the whole damn world would be fighting hordes of them non-stop. And why the hell doesn’t Riley offer some cash to Buffy? Obviously they have cash to burn and paying Buffy for her time is entirely justifiable if he needed to fill out a requisition. But instead he gets her to take time off from her minimum-wage job to risk her life without recompense — while he “has a good dental plan”. The whole “Buffy is poor and none of her very-well-off friends or acquaintances, the Watchers, the government — that SHE SAVES FROM DEATH FREQUENTLY and risks her life for — ever help her out is really, really stupid; and made worse as her poverty is motivating many stories this season.

    Sam was in the Peace Corps, then after surviving a demon attack she just went to Black Ops school and graduated in no time at all? Well, we had “Alias” and “Nikita” doing the same kind of fantasies I suppose.

    Why were Buffy and Sam “patrolling” in the graveyard at all — in fact, why do all the demons and vampires wander about the graveyard waiting for Buffy to come along and kill them in almost every episode? It’s not like there are any other people there for them to feed on (unless you’re a ghoul).

    Why would the demon give its eggs to Spike? — how would they have made a connection so quickly? Riley’s been tracking it from South America, it seems to have just arrived. On the other hand, Spike spent a lot of time in China, Europe, New York, wherever; he probably could reach out to some old buddies who’d want demon eggs. But he wouldn’t be so dumb as to just leave them in his cellar to hatch.

    “Guns never useful” Bad, yes, but “not useful”? It’s just that, like all those old Hong Kong kung fu movies, somehow everyone loses their gun immediately and has to resort to balletic hand to hand fighting. Also, how is Buffy such a lousy shot? She’s expert with a bow, throwing a stake or a knife. Aiming a gun is trivial compared to those. And how about the RPG she uses against the Judge in “Innocence”?

    typos: desparation -> desperation

    exasperately -> exasperatedly

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  45. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 7, 2010.]

    I’ll disagree with a lot of you folks. I really liked this episode. A lot. I generally hate Riley, but this was my favorite episode of his, by far. And I liked Sam. I liked that she turned out to be cool; that was unexpected.

    I remember, back in S4 and S5, by the time the season started going, I’d get tears in my eyes towards the end of the episodes. S6 took a little longer for me– it only started to come together in “Dead Things”, but now that it has, I have that same feeling again. Feels good that I don’t have to have this season. Go Buffy!

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  46. [Note: projectrunaway posted this comment on October 21, 2010.]

    Mike, Although I agree with some of what you said, I can’t believe you gave this episode a C+! The James Bond-y elements were intentional. The plot was over the top, but still cohesive. I loved the arc of this specific episode; and it fits in nicely with the larger arcs of both season 6 and the entire series. Plus, hey, written by Doug Petire, who can do no wrong after “Fool For Love!” I’m being a bit facetious, but I stand my my opinion. This episode is a compelling, moving way to end the sexual relationship with Spike and to move Buffy out of the cript and “into the light.”

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  47. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on December 18, 2010.]

    Loved the beginning when the vampire won’t bite Buffy because of the smell — hilarious! Also loved the exchange with Riley where Buffy says “Did you die?” “I’m going to win”.

    The thing I like about this episode is that you can actually FEEL the embarrassment when Buffy sees Riley for the first time at Doublemeat Palace and then the shame when Riley catches her with Spike. Watching her flirt and get all flustered with Riley before she meets his wife actually makes me cringe every time I see this episode because I know what is coming. I never feel so bad for Buffy as I do in this episode. Riley telling her that she is a hell of a woman at the end always makes me teary.

    I also like the harsh reminders the show provides that Spike is soulless and evil. It is easy to forget at times but the show does a good job of bringing us back to that. I love when Spike tells Buffy “You know what I am”.

    Of course, as has been said, the main issue that I have with this episode is that Sam is my least favorite character throughout the entire length of the show. I don’t even like her one little bit. And I can’t stand that all the Scoobies seem to like her so much in the few hours that they knew her. I couldn’t stand her. It annoys me that Riley loves her. It’s just…ugh!

    The scene with Anya and Xander in the bathroom is also hard to watch knowing what happens the next episode. I wish they could have kept those two together throughout the series. One relationship that worked would have been nice to see.

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  48. [Note: Jonny posted this comment on December 20, 2010.]

    Love the Anya/Xander interactions – those crisps, the traffic jam comments, all good stuff.

    Have to agree with other comments that the Spike/demon/Riley black ops thing was just ridiculous. It’s not even very likely that the govt would put a husband and wife on the same team, is it? So many inconsistencies, the demon that is almost extinct and also a breeder, apparently halfway down a dam wall because that would be such a great place to raise demon young.

    However Mike’s review did make me realise there is a bit more going on here that I overlooked when I watched the episode, in particular how important it is for Buffy moving on.

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  49. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on March 21, 2011.]

    BUFFY: Tell me that you love me.

    SPIKE: I love you. You know I do.

    BUFFY: Tell me that you want me.

    SPIKE: I always want you. As a matter of fact …

    BUFFY: Shut up.

    Reminds me a bit of this scene:

    BUFFYBOT: Spike, I can’t help myself. I love you.

    SPIKE: You’re mine, Buffy.

    BUFFYBOT: Should I start this program over?

    SPIKE: Shh! No programs. Don’t use that word

    Like

  50. [Note: Sasha posted this comment on May 20, 2011.]

    Season six is one of my favorites, mostly because I am a huge Spike fan. That being said, the whole episode makes me cringe and feel so embarrassed for Buffy that it’s literally painful to watch. Having Riley come back and see her in that neon orange uniform and then catching her in Spike’s crypt…yikes. I understand why the writer’s went in this direction because it sort of gives Buffy a reality check. I agree that the whole James Bond theme was a little over the top. I also don’t believe that Riley would have not only moved on so quickly, but gotten married? It all feels a bit contrived. I think the point could have been made just as well if he had a girlfriend, not a wife.

    As for Buffy breaking it off with Spike, part of me was sad about it, even though I know it needed to happen. Buffy treated Spike horribly in almost every way and I think people fail to truly recognize this because it is a woman doing it to a man. If it was the other way around it would be easier to vilify. At least she was honest with him when she broke it off, admitting that at this time she can’t love him, which is definitely true.

    Overall this episode wasn’t bad, it just isn’t great either.

    Like

  51. [Note: Mash posted this comment on May 31, 2011.]

    More complaining about Dawn:

    Can I just say that it bothered me so, so much that Dawn didnt have enough sense to take the trash out herself? She is 15, almost 16, so by this point she should be able to do normal household things herself, out of common sense. If she wasnt so self-centered she would be able to clearly see, “Oh Buffy is over sleeping because she is too tired from a crap job she took only to support me? I should take the trash out before the truck leaves.” As well as, “Buffy comes home late so often both from work and slaying, I should be able to cook simple dinners so as not to eat DMP burgers every night and show more appreciation.”

    BUT NO, TOO SELF INVOLVED.

    Like

  52. [Note: Gon posted this comment on November 9, 2011.]

    This is just a detail, but am I the only one who really think someone should pay more attention to the kind of food they present on the show? Take Dawn: she allways gets pancakes for breakfast, Tara invited her a huge milkshake, Willow invited her for a burger, Buffy offered her fried chicken when came back from seeing Andel, she brings her burgers every night and thinks of nuggets for a change… And we also get to see Anya and Xander eating chips. Does anybody even eat anything but junk food? [sorry, not an english-speaker]

    Like

  53. [Note: Alex posted this comment on November 9, 2011.]

    Haha, no you’re not the only one! It’s not just on Buffy though, it’s the case on pretty much every US show I watch. Everyone seems to eat take-out and junk food all the time! I’m going to the US for 6 months next year and from watching these shows I am expecting to get very fat.

    Like

  54. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 25, 2011.]

    This is probably one of my least favoured Buffy episodes, for that reason it is the one i spend the most time avoiding! I thought, having read your review Mike that i would look at it again with fresh eyes and an open mind. My inaugural thoughts weren’t subverted completely but i have found a new appreciation for it.

    I liked that Riley turned up in this episode it was conducive to Buffy and the scoobies too. Riley’s impromptu visit allowed Buffy to a 360 on her feelings, she realised that although her life is more than occasionally cloaked in darkness she, her soul, doesn’t belong there. Buffy is a force for good and this episode gives Buffy the strength in to the light. I like the interaction between Buffy and Riley, good to see the slayer flirting again! All in all i would agree with your review Mike, especially this being an integral episode of the season for our Buffy.

    What i want to add though, and i’m not sure if you have mentioned this in another review Mike but in the first few seasons of BtVS Buffy considered her slaying as a job, something she had to do (against her wishes). In season 6, i think Buffy sees it as a relief? Something which is quintessential to Faith’s character. I’m coming to this conclusion because you mentioned above the fear Buffy has over experiencing feelings for Dawn, if she were to go in doors instead of step into the shadows with Spike. Also as you have stated and what this season is palpably about is that Buffy needs to find a job, in the ”real’ world. The difference in her attitude towards this job principle is nice to see.

    One last thing is that i admire Buffy when she talks to Spike, she is addressing William. The man he was.

    Like

  55. [Note: Alonzo posted this comment on April 17, 2012.]

    Well, I love this review! It expresses my feelings so clearly. I really love how they brought Riley to remember Buffy what she is, what is behind all the darkness she has covered herself in. I personally think that Riley coming back so put together is to tell us that you can get out that dark place (the last time we saw hi, he was very similar situation to what Buffy is now), I really like that promise that things get better.

    Reality check and all, it gives Buffy the boost to leave that dark place she crawled in and try to fix herself. I really love how this starts the denouement between Spike and Buffy. I always saw they relationship as toxic to each other, tough Spike trying to please Buffy did lead him to acts of good (that0s the only good thing I can say about them) I put more fault in Buffy, because even if Spike was a monster, he loved her, and she knew it and she played with that, and beyond what Spike might deserve or not, I think its about how low Buffy has fallen, how she justified her actions telling herself that Spike is just a vampire, like she isn’t hurting a real person. That’s what I love about their break up scene; she owns up to that mistake, and finally sees Spike as a man by calling him William.

    I really love that aspect of the episode, how Buffy reflects on her own actions and what she let herself do to feel, this starts the way of recovery for her.

    That sad, your reviews are really awesome! they make me revisit my own opinions of the episodes and enjoy them in new ways.

    Like

  56. [Note: Shask. posted this comment on October 11, 2012.]

    It kinda worked for me, all the “this is perfect” part. I had a rough time in life and I know people that just found their way and seem to be rubbing their greatness in your face. It’s unfair to them and completly irrational, of course, but it doesnt make that feeling go away. I think that’s what Buffy feels now and what the episode, I think, was all about.

    Like

  57. [Note: JEL posted this comment on February 9, 2013.]

    Silly to be responding so long after the fact, but doing so anyway: Obliviousness to the most obvious household chore is a character trait of most teenagers I’ve known. Certainly it was true of my kids at that age. Teenagers do tend to be self involved. It just seems realistic to me, not a reason to hate the character.

    Like

  58. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 12, 2013.]

    Once again, thank you so much Mike for recognizing good – or not so bad episodes – even those loathed by the fanbase. It’s amazing how much good material is going through this silly silly silly plot, but I can excuse some of the holes because the writers went into a parody of James Bond – thus unrealistic – plot.

    Riley, because he was and still is a good guy, is the perfect trigger for Buffy, both painful and comforting. She feels needed, there’s urgency, she witnesses a working couple (what she could have had) and that punches a hole in her walls: life is not always hell, it can be worth it.

    The egg plot was idiot (James Bond-y idiot !), but it made many points: Spike is still soulless, he can’t visualise why making money out of demon eggs is bad especially because he does it for Buffy’s sake (the money). But here lies the subtelty: Spike pre-Buffy-love would never have thought of making money as a dealer, because it takes work. This, in soulless head of Spike is less evil than what he would have done pre-Buffy-loyalty: e.g. directly kill, or hire a demon to kill a rich guy. The difference is that yes, these eggs aren’t going to turn into harmless chickens, but hey, he’s just the seller and it won’t harm Buffy: killing humans in Buffy’s book = bad; selling = acceptable (me, twistingly thinking Spike-like :P). That makes him a really pathetic vampire, not good enough (for humans) not evil enough (for demons) whose sole purpose in unlife is to be with Buffy, being the slave of her whims.

    Their breakup is powerful and I admire Buffy for her superb speech. And I admire JM for his portraying of all the emotions he lets transpire during and after the speech. Plus the play with the lights, it was a perfect and necessary scene.

    Like

  59. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 10, 2013.]

    I seem to be in the minority in not being bothered by Sam. It makes sense to me that Riley has moved on. Sam is a nice lady, on the surface, just like Riley is a nice guy, on the surface.

    Perhaps Spike went through the Doc’s things after his death and took what might prove useful? That would be like him. Then, when Buffy needs money, he chooses the name the Doctor because of, and not in spite of, the Doc in the prior season. It might help Spike gain credibility with the market.

    Like

  60. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on December 9, 2013.]

    I blame the fact on sam’s fakeness on the actor, she wasn’t very intresting to begin with, but every word that comes out of her mouth sounds forced, as for the corny demon, I’ve learned to ignore them on buffy,

    Like

  61. [Note: the_long_way_round25 posted this comment on May 16, 2014.]

    The ‘no guns’-debate is resufacing every other time, and I think itΒ΄s way overrated. It’s those things that people just are for or against, and you can’t fault Whedon or anyone else on the show for supporting one side. It’s not like BtVS is forcing you to be for or against guns. Just an opinion, let it go πŸ™‚

    Like

  62. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 16, 2014.]

    The reason people hate the guns comments in this episode and “Flooded” is that they directly contradict evidence from this show and also Angel just to make a political statement or to make the shooting in “Seeing Red” even more shocking and painful.

    On Angel, Wes uses guns as early as “Expecting”. His dual pistols and shotgun appear to do quite a bit of damage against the Beast, and he kills both Skip and his robotic father in “Lineage” with them. Gunn is also seen threatening Angelus with a flamethrower at one point, and Angel kills soldier Hauser with his own firearm in “Conviction”.

    It’s true that Buffy’s not used guns all that often on the show, but when she has they’ve been useful – tranquilizers are seen frequently, she used a rocket launcher to destroy the Judge and a variety of modern weaponry
    to defeat Glory in “The Gift”. In fact, it seems very contrary to the message of the show to have a modern, forward thinking hero who suddenly refuses to use modern weapons. To have her be incapable of using them is even more of an offence.

    It’s not an enormous deal, but in the context of this episode it is an annoying flaw not to be glossed over.

    Like

  63. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on May 23, 2014.]

    It must have given Riley some satisfaction, after what Spike did to destroy his relationship with Buffy, to be central to causing Buffy to break up with Spike.

    Like

  64. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on May 23, 2014.]

    I would add, that Buffy’s fumbling with the gun is a direct contradiction to previous episodes in the show where she managed firearms with easy confidence. Never mind the rocket launchers, tranquillisers, crossbows, and other such things that she’s used in the past – we’ve also seen her handle a hunting rifle like she’d been around them her whole life (twice – in “Homecoming” and “Earshot” – even though she didn’t get to fire off a round either time), and in “Who Are You?” she grabbed a pistol and pulled off a series of shots with it that would have impressed a trained marksman.

    Just one more in the veritable cascade of writing fails that mar this catastrophe of an episode.

    The scene at the very end is good taken in isolation, but in context of the episode is another bungle. It’s supposed to be a triumphant moment, as Buffy finally musters herself to break off an unhealthy relationship that was holding her back from reconnecting with her life. But because Spike spends much of his time in this episode seeming really quite sweet and loving (especially in comparison to Riley, who comes off as a condescending jerk), the effect is ruined.

    Like

  65. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on March 8, 2015.]

    I thought the title was supposed to refer to that old phrase military officers use to let a solider go back to doing what he/she was doing before the superior showed up. It can probably refer to the other thing too but it’s clear that this was where sit originally came from. Kinda like how Selfless is originally referring to being noble but in the episode can refer to a lack of self.

    Like

  66. [Note: Courtney posted this comment on May 10, 2015.]

    As much as I wasn’t a fan of them at the end of their relationship, I actually liked Riley. I just wanted her to tell him that she showed…. even if they weren’t getting back together, I just felt it was a loose end that never got tied up. Just for closure you know?

    Like

  67. [Note: JenA posted this comment on September 20, 2015.]

    I don’t get why people(including Buffy herself)are so sure that Spike couldn’t be The Doctor. If you look way back to season 2, he procured all of those pieces of The Judge for Dru, ran his own gang well enough before Angelus butted in, and found the Gem of Amara that noone else could ever find. Spike’s very capable of doing some hardcore stuff. It’s just that lately he’s been chaneling all his cleverness into pleasing Buffy. And I agree that’s his motivation here too. He’s running this scheme for money to help her out.

    Like

  68. [Note: JenA posted this comment on September 20, 2015.]

    I liked Riley too. I thought it was a nice touch to have him be the one to snap her out of her self destruction just by being the nice, normal guy. Even though he never got her Slayerness, he respected Buffy herself. He doesn’t judge her for being with the wrong guy and he doesn’t rise to Spike’s goading. (I do think he rubs his wife in Buffy’s face though.)

    Like

  69. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    I wonder if anyone writing this knew that The Doctor was also the name of another British long-lived character in another cult show. At the very least they should have known it was the name of a certain medical hologram.

    Like

  70. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    Speaking of sci-fi is it me or do those eggs kind of resemble the Xenomorph ones a bit with the flaps and all.

    Like

  71. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    Andrew references Doctor Who in “Smashed” I think. It’s his only point of reference to our neighbors across the pond.

    Also, the eggs look like Xenomorph eggs because everything looks like Xenomorph eggs.

    Like

  72. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    That I knew about (made a comment) but I’m just wondering if they put two and two together while writing this.

    Plus I’m pretty sure that not all eggs are like Xenomorph eggs since that thing in Bad Eggs had white eggs like a chicken. The contrivance of that and the massive coincidence it entails is just one of the reasons that episode sucks balls.

    Like

  73. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    Honestly at this point I think I could just do a commentary or topic just going into detail on why the episode (Bad Eggs) sucks. I might have to view the episode a few more times and make some notes but it might be worth it.

    Like

  74. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    See, it would have been funnier if you said that the episode “sucks eggs”. You would still be wrong, but it would be funnier.

    Like

  75. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    The desire to record that commentary is rising all the time. I have Audacity now I just need to make sure I can record one without the show’s audio blocking the whole thing.

    Like

  76. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    It really bothers me that the Internet’s takeaway from Mystery Science Theater was “talking over bad movies is funny” and not “it’s just a show, I really should relax.”

    Like

  77. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on December 30, 2015.]

    I’ve never thought that Mystery Science Theater was very funny, myself. It always seems like a series of obvious one-liners while an entire boring movie plays. Just not my thing, I guess.

    Like

  78. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 31, 2015.]

    I’ve recorded a commentary but I can’t seem to find a means of uploading it on the forum that’s compatible.

    Like

  79. [Note: Nathan posted this comment on January 1, 2016.]

    Riley: She killed it.
    Samantha: Oh, honey… that’s okay.

    This exchange comes off a little darker than intended. It would have been different for Riley and Sam to be continuing the Initiative’s work by using the demons. Riley could be bad now or just like with his previous employer, he thinks he is doing good when in fact he is helping the bad guys.

    It may have saved the episode because Buffy would have had to fight Riley or fight for Riley. it could have been a two-parter.

    And the gun thing is pretty true mostly… Buffy just says it because as we see she cannot aim at all.

    Like

  80. [Note: meep posted this comment on November 13, 2016.]

    Sadly the show is often so metaphor heavy that unfortunate character implications arise from it. Like with this season being about Buffy becoming an adult they had to set the stakes high and as a result none of the other Scoobies living in her house contribute to the bills. It would’ve worked better had Dawn been younger, since they basically make her another responsibility for Buffy to handle instead of a fully fleshed person who actually wants to help out when everyone around her is so obviously struggling.

    Like

  81. [Note: Sebastian Howard posted this comment on February 25, 2017.]

    “I think this entire relationship with Spike gets it out of her system for good — or at least I’d like to think so.”

    This is actually wrong if you read the comics. I was reading, I think season 9 of the comics and one of the first things in there is going through Buffy’s mind and fantasies and one of her main fantasies is being double teamed by Angel and Spike.

    You know all this talk about how Spike is wrong for Buffy, she’s too pure for him, whatever…. I mean Spike to me really isn’t that awful of a guy. He’s evil, sure, but what has he really done that’s SO bad since he got with Buffy or even right before? Spike has helped out Buffy in missions, spent time with Dawn and is so into Buffy that he’s willing to put his life on the line for her. I think these reviews are very biased from a Buffy pov, talking about how Buffy is lowering herself for being with Spike. But she really isn’t, Spike is a lot better than Angelus considering they both don’t have souls. I just don’t get all the hate directed toward Spike here, yeah he’s a bit neurotic and obsessive about Buffy but all of Buffy’s bf’s have been that to an extent and she was the same way with Angel. Its not like Spike is getting her to kill people or getting her hooked on smack or anything. For all this talk about how Spike is making Buffy’s life worse I just don’t see it.

    Like

  82. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on February 25, 2017.]

    The Critically Touched guys don’t really like to think of the comics when concerning the show. Partly cause of the quality and partly because they like to view the show as it’s own complete entity.

    Also I’m pretty sure that Spike/Angel fantasy was in Season 8 (note I only read the first two arcs of that).

    A lot of the controversy surrounding the good/evil levels of Spike is I think where some of the debates of Season 6 come from. Overall this season seems to indicate that Spike has to have a soul in order to complete his journey as a good person and depending on whether you like this reading or not you can either see his portrayal in this season as a logical step or somewhat of a betrayal of what they were doing in Season 5.

    I had this issue when watching this episode the first time (and I think it still rings true to an extent) but having Spike be the Doctor here was a pretty contrived way to get Buffy motivated to break up with him. First of all it’s a turn that kind of comes out of nowhere with most of what we’ve seen of Spike in this season (outside the Smashed alley bit but that’s a whole other thing) and doesn’t feel justified enough in story for Spike to do something like this, even if it was to get Buffy some cash. Though probably the bigger issue looking back is that it’s just such as random thing to initiate the closure of the sexcapades.. Thinking about it if they wanted Riely’s presence to be the motivating factor to get Buffy out of her funk they should have just had his prescence alone be the thing that put the idea in her head, realizing she was better than be a person who uses someone. Instead this whole Doctor thing just paints Spike as more of a bad dude in this situation then it really needs to and makes things a bit more black/white than necessary. This is kind of a problem with the Seeing Red scene too as it takes a more complex relationship and makes it more about how Spike has to deal with his problems.

    Like

  83. [Note: Random posted this comment on February 26, 2017.]

    The Critically Touched guys don’t really like to think of the comics when concerning the show. Partly cause of the quality and partly because they like to view the show as it’s own complete entity.

    While I’m not sure exactly how to interpret the reasons you state, I think it’s wise to keep them separate primarily because the comics medium tends to inherently alter storytelling because of the freedom it provides in terms of effects and range, i.e. comics tend to have much wilder and more improbable storylines, I think, which is one reason I had trouble making the jump from the show to the comics, and ultimately gave up after a brief trial run. The writers tended to create plots that struck me as entirely too fantastical and surreal compared to the relatively grounded plots of the show. (I’d argue they were even trending that way by S7…the need to top the previous seasons/movies/stories with ever-escalating situations and drama is a well-established Hollywood tradition, after all.

    (I take great care, though, to describe it as just a matter of taste rather than quality — I have no opinion on how inherently good the comics are because I can’t honestly say that I could look at them with unbiased eyes. They don’t seem good to me, but I’m willing to accept on principle that another, equally-intelligent fan could make a legitimate argument for their quality. De gustibus, right?)

    Also, panel transitions are significantly different from the flow of a video.

    Like

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