Buffy 6×18: Entropy

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 04/30/2002]

“Entropy” represents the core of what is at just about every episode of Buffy: character work. This episode has much in the way of nothing for a plot, and instead opts for cleaning up some loose character threads before heading into the four-part season finale. I must say that it does an admirable job at this even if it ends up being slightly unspecial in the process. What we get, though, is the very definition of solid methodical character development. I can’t help but be reminded of “Choices” [3×19] , which is also an episode that isn’t particularly mind blowing, but is solid, useful, and entertaining nonetheless.

Over the last several seasons, the Scoobies have slowly drifted apart and have lost that tight integration they once had. The title here, entropy, represents this “inevitable and steady deterioration” of the Scooby’s internal little society, which happens to most high school groups and friends as time and external responsibilites grow. This episode has the characters identifying and addressing many of the current issues between them. This is most strongly represented by the superb scene outside the Magic Box at the end of the episode.

“Entropy” opens with Buffy doing some patrolling while Spike hilariously holds back a vamp to ‘theaten’ her into telling her friends about them. Spike knows the vamp poses no real threat to Buffy, which is what makes this ultimatum so funny. I love how even though Buffy won’t tell her friends about their relationship, she’s clearly alright about it if he does. Buffy trusts that her friends will react with overall support: “I tried to kill my friends, my sister, last week. Guess how much they care? Zero.” I can understand Buffy not preferring to have her friends find out about her involvement with Spike, but still being able to deal with it if they do. Even though she accepts her actions, she still prefers not to spread it around to everyone she knows.

Spike asks Buffy why she won’t sleep with him anymore. Her response, “because I don’t love you,” says a couple things. First is that Buffy really doesn’t love Spike right now, which I believe is true. Second is that she really isn’t in a despression anymore, which was the main motivation to sleep with Spike in the first place… to feel something. As I’ve thought before, I really don’t think Buffy can love Spike without a soul. Frankly, I couldn’t love someone without a soul either — just knowing that their capacity to love is limited and that they feel no remorse or regret for evil actions, even though those actions don’t happen to hurt me, is a barrier I couldn’t get by. I don’t feel this is immaturity on Buffy’s part, but actually her being very mature. Sometimes it takes time to learn that having that kind of wildcard for evil in your life doesn’t exactly make the best long-term relationship, which is what Buffy truly wants with her lovers — the hope for a partner that will be with her forever.

The moment Spike gets a soul, though, everything changes. It’s at this point that Spike has the potential to genuinely be what Buffy needs and wants. The whole theme of the “potentials” in S7 really applies to Spike as well — his potential to be a man worthy of true commitment, love, and selflessness. All of this outlines Spike’s need for a soul if his relationship with Buffy is to continue. What’s the only thing that will drive Spike to get a soul? Doing something horrendous to Buffy might just do the trick (I’m saying this from a writer’s perspective here), hence “Seeing Red” [6×19] .

Buffy brings the Trio’s spy cam to Spike, half-way accusing him of spying on her — something she should know better than to do. Buffy’s right about him being willing to hurt others and “lie and cheat and manipulate.” But Spike’s absolutely right too: “I don’t hurt you.” That’s Spike for ya, at least until he reaches a breaking point in “Seeing Red” [6×19] and we see something new. Although Buffy says “I know,” Spike’s not so convinced (and he shouldn’t be). He says, “No you don’t. I’ve tried to make it clear to you but you won’t see it. Something happened to me. The way I feel, about you. It’s different. And no matter how hard you try to convince yourself differently, it’s real.” Buffy responds with, “I think it is. For you.” Spike looks massively hurt by this. Buffy then essentially tells him to move on, which is pretty harsh considering what they did together. Buffy’s trying to treat him like she did towards the end of S5, but with a complete disregard for what’s happened in between. She should treat his feelings with more respect. In the end I don’t think she’s wrong for not having a real relationship with him, but the manner in which she casts him off here is kind of unfair.

Later on, when the gang catches Spike and Anya going at it on camera, each person’s reaction proves to be fairly interesting. Willow’s shocked which just shows how oblivious to everyone else’s problems she’s been, as she’s had her own issues to deal with. Willow is oblivious here in the same way that Buffy was oblivious to Willow’s growing problem earlier in the season. Xander, on the other hand, is purely furious and ends up grabbing an axe to kill Spike with. Dawn just goes “oh!,” a good reaction for a girl who probably hasn’t seen a lot of (if any) sexcapades first hand before.

Buffy’s reaction, the most important here, is also the most interesting. I see in her a mixture of sadness with a look of grand disappointment. I can’t help but feel that Buffy doesn’t really have a right to feel disappointed in him, not after she just hours before told him to “move on.” Well, Buffy, you got your wish — doesn’t feel so great, does it? This all plays into when Spike reveals to Xander and Anya his relationship with her. Buffy’s clearly not thrilled with Xander and Anya finding out like this, but she still seems very accepting of it, and doesn’t say a word to defend herself or to put Spike down. Spike even gives her a little nod like “I’m sorry, but this really needed to come out now, and you gave me the go-ahead.” I really like the way this scene at the end played out — everyone’s emotions just exploding out into the open.

I really enjoyed, in general, Buffy and Dawn’s interaction throughout the episode. Early in the episode we see them having a very happy, quippy, and normal conversation. You can tell they’re on much better terms now. Dawn stole a bunch of stuff and caused them all to get trapped in “Older and Far Away” [6×14] , and Buffy tried to kill Dawn and all her friends in “Normal Again” [6×17] . Mistakes were made (ok… big mistakes), but now they’re past it. Lovely to see, and some great follow-up from what has come before, especially “Normal Again” [6×17] .

Buffy spends a lot of time in this episode making a genuine attempt to reconnect with Dawn, so much so that she scares herself into thinking she’s the “embarassing mom who tries too hard,” but I totally applaud her for the effort. I’m so happy they’re directly discussing what Buffy did in “Normal Again” [6×17] . Dawn says, “I don’t blame you. It wasn’t you.” Buffy response, “That’s not it. I just want to spend time.” Also, a big happy squeal from me (hey, I can squeal! It’s not without… manliness… err…) that Buffy’s quipping again! And in a mad rush! Sweet, she’s really back!

All this newly found attention from Buffy inspires a little open insight from Dawn. Turns out Dawn doesn’t want to just hang out with Buffy, she wants to actively help Buffy and help with her struggle as the Slayer in any way she can. This turns out to be the main theme of Dawn’s S7 story. I like this growing interest from Dawn, which is something that finally gets recognized by Buffy in “Grave” [6×22] and then capitalized on in “Lessons” [7×01] . From this point on, I think Dawn continues to once again be a very interesting character on her own rather than being defined by the events around her, like she was for most of S6.

Despite there being a lot of solid material for Buffy and Dawn in this episode, Anya got quite a bit of attention as well. Anya appears at Xander’s place (yay for teleportation or unlocked doors) where her and Xander have a very well written conversation. At first Anya’s under the false impression that Xander’s apologizing for not getting married, but that’s not the case at all. Xander’s apologizing for his timing. I’m happy he’s not chickening out and is telling her the truth here. Xander made the right decision not to get married yet, but his one biggest fault is his timing, which was utterly awful and ended up being unintentionally cruel to Anya. This is what Xander’s genuinely sorry for and is explaining to Anya here. This is still a bit of a shock to her, though, who doesn’t seem to fully understand Xander’s behavior. So, she tries to unleash some anger/vengeance on him instead… only she can’t do it herself.

This leads to the truly entertaining sequence where she tries to get someone else to make a wish for Xander to be hurt. Anya says to Willow and Tara, “you’re lesbians, so the hating of men well come in handy. So let’s talk about Xander … Men like to watch [girls] … men like Xander … [Don’t you] wish his penis would explode? … So, tell me more about wishing Xander’s brains and guts would be caplooey.” At one point Anya tries to play on Buffy’s bad luck with men, to which Buffy entertainingly responds: “Guys!? There’s only been 4… 3! Only 3! That’s barely even plural.”

Anya is bewildered by everyone sticking up for Xander in the midst of her pain. Both her and Spike are linked in their lack of ability to understand why the Scoobies stick out for each other through thick and thin. This is why Spike entering the door right when Anya needs to find someone who hates Xander is so much more than just a convenient way for Anya to curse Xander — they have much more than that in common with each other. The thing I love about this pairing here is how much they’ve been able to relate all the way back to S4 (and is the only large redeeming value in “Where the Wild Things Are” [4×18] )! They’re own personal growth and redemptive arcs coincide for this one episode, and it makes complete and awesome sense to me.

Anya pulls out the liquor to help cure Spike’s pain over his situation with Buffy. Although at first Anya is trying to get him drunk enough to make a wish for her against Xander, it ends up leading to something else: a sharing of pain. Although I don’t think it was particularly good of the two of them to do what they did, considering the tenuous situations they’re in with other people, I can certainly understand it. Also, as I think I’ve made a case for, I feel this is completely in character for the both of them. I like both Anya and Spike’s worried reactions after the deed is done, and then their mutual recognition of the comfort they gave each other.

The effect Anya and Spike’s pairing has on Xander, though, cannot be overlooked. Poor Xander is so lost in this episode. Although when we first see Anya we think she’s there to talk to Xander about mending their wounds, it turns out she just wants to reap vengeance on him. Actually, though, that’s just a red herring for her pain — she’s in so much pain that she feels the need to lash out at Xander in any way possible. I sympathize with her and find that she’s not completely unjust in her attempt to get back at Xander. Unfortunately, that’s not going to help either of them.

After Xander almost kills Spike over his sexcapades with Anya, Anya’s reasoning to him for it was “I was sad… and he was just… there.” Wow, parallel Buffy much? Buffy can certainly sympathize a bit with Anya’s actions here. Anya rails Xander when she says, “No, the mature solution is for you to spend your whole life telling stupid, pointless jokes so that no one will notice that you are just a scared, insecure little boy!” Although I really do feel sorry for Xander having his world crumble down around him, Anya does have a valid point, which makes this a huge moment for him. It allows him to accept the situation he’s in maturely along with being forced to take Buffy off the massive pedastal he has her on and recnogize her as a flawed human being. Although rough for him now, it will end up bringing him even closer to her later. It’s interesting that Anya doesn’t even want Spike to wish harm on Xander any more after this. This entire scene is just phenomenal.

The last point I want to touch on is that of Willow and Tara reconnecting. It’s so nice to see in a season of so much pain. Enjoy it while it lasts though, ’cause the season finale is quickly approaching and things get sad pretty quickly thanks to “Seeing Red” [6×19] . Willow and Tara’s coffee date is hilarious. Willow says, “Well, let’s put it this way, if I wasn’t gay before…” Tara’s speech to Willow at the end is also really beautiful, and I have to say, in this season, I’m really happy she decided to just skip past all the “reintegration” baggage.

“Entropy” is a very solid episode with no real flaws other than its own relative uneventfulness (besides that one big scene). Yet, just about everything we get here is valuable character work that propels things forward. If it had packed more of a punch, I’d be giving this an A, but as it stands, it misses the full marks. Despite that, though, this is really good, solid television that very much embodies the aspects of TV I enjoy the most.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ The episode spending just a little bit of time setting up the plot for the next episode. Little things like this add up and go a long way in creating a believable whole.
+ The Trio chasing vamps down with staked vehicles.
+ The random vampire’s puzzled reaction when he hears the Slayer was sleeping with Spike.
+ Anya says, “I wish there were tentacles where your beady eyes should be.” I love the little reference to Xander’s beady eyes, which she sang about in “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] .
+ Jonathan’s concern and anger continuing to grow.
+ Anya starting to hang out with Hallie a ton now.
+ Spike and Anya both admitting to each other that they have a “sexy dance.” Haha.
+ Spike says to Anya, “they’ll miss the water now that the well’s gone dry.” Maybe, but that’s really skimming over the greater issues here. Then again, they’re both drunk and about to console each other.
+ The Trio being so shocked about catching Anya and Spike on camera that they don’t even shut down the tap on their system.
+ Now that Buffy’s out of her funk, she can actually focus all her attention on the Trio: “I want to find these guys.”
+ Buffy and Dawn’s chat outside is really nice. Buffy openly admits what she did and says “I kind of didn’t want to admit it to myself.”

– What in the world is Willow looking at on her laptop!? She says, “lots of advance stuff,” yet all I see her doing is typing with absolutely no corresponding response on the screen. Instead we just see a weird target on a black screen with a moving line. I don’t know how Willow ever does anything with the “software” she’s running on that thing.


[Score]

90/100

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80 thoughts on “Buffy 6×18: Entropy”

  1. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on July 23, 2008.]

    Great review, Mike. I agree with your rating. I also wish it had packed more of a punch, but what we got was still pretty darn great. I feel for everyone in the final showdown, especially the women.

    Btw, props to Emma Caulfield. I think this was her best episode for acting next to ‘Selfless’. Has anyone seen the dailies on YouTube of that scene in the Magic Box just before she and Spike have sex? She’s amazing!

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  2. [Note: Steph posted this comment on July 23, 2008.]

    Whooo! I’ve been looking forward to your “Entropy” review. I agree with, Wilpy, great job, Mike. 🙂

    I was happy to see Tara “skipping” it too. It says a lot about how much her character has evolved. In “New Moon Rising”, you see her sitting in her dark room by herself waiting to hear from Willow. However, here, Tara just kind meanders into the house, heads up the stairs, and gets ready to make a big heart-felt make-up speech out of no where.

    I guess it’s kind of foreshadowing of what’s to come, even though Willow and Tara have this greatly happy moment, because EVERYONE else is so miserable.

    Also, your comments about Willow’s computer, really amuse me, Mike, lol. I remember thinking similar things about that too, especially in that review where you were talking about Willow trying to “decrypt” those encrypted files that were flying around across her screen.

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  3. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on July 24, 2008.]

    Great review, as usual. It’s really nice that you found time to write new ones again!

    Episodes like these are a perfect example of why this show worked despite of the cheesy sounding premise: these characters are always a joy to watch when they’re well written. The lack of plot is almost not felt here. And it is really nice to have at least one happy Willow/Tara moment before all goes to hell.

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  4. [Note: Paula posted this comment on July 24, 2008.]

    “Guys!? There’s only been 4… 3! Only 3! That’s barely even plural.”

    Aahh!! I’d totally forgotten about that bit. Thanks, Mike. XD

    I continue to disagree about the maturity level of Buffy’s dealing with the whole situation, but I figure I’m probably harsher with her simply because I’m female myself. Also, I think that everything that happened at the Magic Shop kind of got out of everyone’s control (well, not so much of Buffy’s, actually). The things that were done and said were largely heavily regretted afterwards.

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  5. [Note: Jay posted this comment on July 24, 2008.]

    Hey Mike, as usual another fantastic review. I found this site a week or so ago and have read nearly all your reviews, really gives insight and meanings that I never thought about before, in particular your review of restless was really well written. Anyway keep up the great work, can’t wait to read your reviews on the rest of season 6 =D

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  6. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on July 24, 2008.]

    “Also, your comments about Willow’s computer, really amuse me, Mike, lol.”

    Have you noticed he always picks apart how computers are shown in the show? 😉 Methinks his job might be the causal effect. There’s a reason why he hates ‘I Robot You Jane’ so much. 😛

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  7. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 24, 2008.]

    Great review, Mike. While I was reading it, I felt like I was watching it again and remembering why I like it so much. Like you, I´m also happy to see Buffy get back in shape.

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  8. [Note: Paula posted this comment on July 24, 2008.]

    Addition re: your analysis of the nature of the Buffy/Spike relationship… No, she doesn’t love him, not at this point, and I agree on that being able to love a soulless vampire is just plain not in Buffy’s nature. However, her feelings for him are both real and quite complicated, as her reaction to the whole Magic Shop mess IMO clearly demonstrates: Spike’s actions hurt and disappoint her, deeply and personally. It’s easy to misinterpret her though, and this of course is exactly what Spike will do in Seeing Red.

    Did I mention that I can’t wait for your reviews of the next four episodes? 🙂

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  9. [Note: Paula posted this comment on July 25, 2008.]

    And some more commentary yet, re: Buffy’s talk with Spike about the camera that was hidden in her garden. It’s easy to think of this suspicion as unfair to Spike, but to me it seems entirely consistent. No, Buffy doesn’t automatically come to suspect him herself, but when Xander suggests this as a possibility, she can’t brush it aside either. The point (and one of the major problems with Buffy’s relationship with soulless Spike) is that she can’t really trust him not to do things like this. It’s all very nice of Spike to say “I don’t hurt you”, but in fact he’s been hurting her a lot all along – both mentally and physically – and look what happens in Seeing Red.

    (I wonder at what point the writers decided to send Spike hunting for a soul. I know I started to wonder about the possibility of him getting one quite early on, by the beginning of S6 at the latest. Can’t recall now when they started mentioning Spike’s soullessness on a regular basis, but that certainly helped to introduce the idea in the audience’s heads.)

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  10. [Note: Paula posted this comment on July 25, 2008.]

    Re: my recent comments, when I start to get the Magic Box’s name wrong like that, maybe it’s time for another round of the whole Buffy saga. 😉

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  11. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on July 25, 2008.]

    Lovely review. I do agree with Paula, though, in that Buffy’s actions show something of a lack of maturity. Especially, as you pointed out, her wonderfully mixed messages to Spike (“Move on……but don’t cause then I’ll get all mopey”). Though I agree that her decision to not resume her relationship with Spike is of the good, I associate it more to Buffy needing time to work herself out after her depression. She’s not in the right “place” for a relationship of any kind, regardless of soul/soulless vampire issues (She’s kinda like cookie dough, you see).

    Eh, don’t have much more to say. I don’t watch this episode or the next one very often as they tend to upset me (This one upsets my inner-shipper. The next one upsets my inner-feminist). Fair score, though.

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  12. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 25, 2008.]

    I actually agree we Paula as well. I do think Buffy’s showing maturity by not continuing her relationship with Spike, but I never meant to discount the feelings she most definitely has in regard to him. It may not be love at this point, but there’s definitely something there. Otherwise, seeing Spike with Anya would have resulted in little more than a shrug from her, which was obviously not the case.

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  13. [Note: Paula posted this comment on July 25, 2008.]

    I don’t watch this episode or the next one very often as they tend to upset me (This one upsets my inner-shipper. The next one upsets my inner-feminist).

    Re: the next episode, no kidding. I understand the whys and how comes of The Scene, and I’m sure it’s not badly done either, but I couldn’t really watch it even the first time and I’m planning never to even try to watch it again. It’s scary, ugly and just all manner of upsetting.

    Oops, getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. Again. 🙂

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  14. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on July 31, 2008.]

    Something I thought was quite funny the last time I watched this episode: as Buffy and Dawn walk down the promenade, there’s a couple behind them who are so obviously trying to stay at the same snail-slow pace. They really highlight just how slow B + D are walking, and it looks very fake and ‘TV’. It’s distractingly funny when you’re aware of it.

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  15. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 19, 2008.]

    I’ve hit a busy spell at work. However, I’ve got a large chunk of time off coming towards the end of September. *Hint**Hint*

    I do hope to have some reviews done before then though. 🙂

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  16. [Note: Paula posted this comment on September 30, 2008.]

    Mike, I hope you realize you’re driving us review buffs* bananas out here. 🙂

    *Pun not intended… wait a minute, do I really expect anyone to believe that? 🙂

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  17. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 30, 2008.]

    I would have never thought I’d have the power to drive bananas in the power of my fingertips.

    Speaking of fingers, keep ’em crossed for more reviews soon. I know mine are. 🙂

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  18. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on December 21, 2008.]

    First is that Buffy really doesn’t love Spike right now, which I believe is true.

    I believe that she loved Spike, even as far back as this episode. Hence, her reaction to seeing him having sex with Anya. She won’t admit it because she thinks it’s morally wrong to have feelings for a “soulless” vampire.

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  19. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 21, 2008.]

    I agree she has feelings for Spike, but I don’t believe she loves him at this point. But this is just my opinion, and is obviously open to to debate. 🙂

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  20. [Note: Exit8buffy posted this comment on January 19, 2009.]

    This episode is good but if Tara had never gone back on that day then she would still be safe at the dorm room.

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  21. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on February 8, 2009.]

    “Spike asks Buffy why she won’t sleep with him anymore. Her response, “because I don’t love you,” says a couple things. First is that Buffy really doesn’t love Spike right now, which I believe is true.”

    I don’t. I suspect that Buffy has harbored feelings for Spike for a very long time. Longer than she has ever been willing to admit. But because of her unwillingness to embrace adulthood, Buffy has deliberately blinded herself regarding her feelings for Spike.

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

    Wouldn’t it have been hilarious…if Xander was listening to country music (the music of pain) at the beginning, when hes drinking his beer? I guess that was supposed to be an emotional scene…but still!

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  23. [Note: Susan posted this comment on September 18, 2009.]

    I just watched this episode for the second time. When I saw it first a few weeks ago it didn’t disturb me nearly as much as it did tonight. Now that I’ve been living in the Buffy saga pretty much every day since early April and have had the opportunity to revisit several of the episodes I am seeing a lot of things that I didn’t see the first go-round. (I watched the first time through Netflix but I have my own copies now.) What struck me tonight with such force was how much I have grown to dislike Xander. After finishing this episode I hurried to check the Buffy reviews and comments online to see what you all had to say about it and was really surprised that no one else mentioned how revolting his reaction to Anya and Spike was. After leaving her at the altar and humiliating her in front of everyone she knew he feels really bad and wants nothibg but to get back together with her the way things were before their non-wedding. And he has the nerve to be all self- righteous and furious and disguste4d with both Anya and Spike. I believe that his performance outside the Magic Box was nothing short of disgusting. And as I look back at other scenes both in this episode and in others he seems so totally oblivious to every slight opportunity that he has to observe what’s going on between them. Earlier in this episode Buffy is sitting on a tombstone with Spike having a quiet conversation and he doesn’t notice. In the episode “Gone” he walks into the kitchen where Buffy and Spike are standing by the sink looking at each other and he makes a comment about how anyone would have to be a total loser to have anything to do with Spike. Those kinds of things happen over and over throughout many episodes, but we’re supposed to believe that Xander’s great gift is his ability to see what’s going on around him. When Spike is involved he doesn’t see anything. Sorry about the length of this. My rant! I don’t mean to offend all the Xander fans and I do have to admit to being a big Spike fan. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

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  24. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on September 19, 2009.]

    Susan: I often, often think that about Xander. I can’t think of any specific episodes now (of course…) but there were moments in every single season, usually when Buffy had done something he didn’t like, that his incredible self-righteousness and assumption that it was his place to tell her off in the most hurtful and angry way possible made me want to kick his teeth in.

    I do like Xander, but he can be *such* a tosser. As a feminist myself, the casually privileged way he takes it upon himself to judge and condemn Buffy and others, and his utter lack of self-awareness at those moments, really gets my goat.

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  25. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on October 15, 2009.]

    Susan and Sunburn

    I totally agree. Xander is so annoying after season 3! He’s not the one who can SEE everything-I always thought that was more of Spike’s role Examples: He noticed Willow and Tara before anyone else, he noticed Riley was struggling with his relationship with Buffy WITHOUT Riley having to actually say it straight out to him; he noticed Willow was still in considerable pain in ‘something blue’ETC ETC.

    I’m no spuffy shipper or anything like that, but I always thought Spike was better at seeing what was going on than Xander. I really didn’t like Xander at all after season 3 (and a few occasions before that) He’s so judgemental-and he never made jokes anymore!

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  26. [Note: Chris posted this comment on November 6, 2009.]

    Just rewatched this episode. Its one ofm favourites, i’d say it might even be perfect.

    Every single character gets relevent in-character development, especially anya who is fantastic in this episode.

    The complains of the last few posters about xander. He is a flawed character, he’s not suposed to be perfect, he does put buffy on a pedastool and shows irrational hatred of some of her love interests. However I think that he generally is a good guy and his hearts in the right place despite often saying or doing the wrong thing. But I would argue that instead of being a reason to hate him, it is what makes the growth he achieves more interesting. This episode especially is a turning point for him as his world breaks down around him. It leads to his realisations about himself and a change for the better, the aforementioned flaws are far less present in season 7. The only time i can recall him being a jerk is the “point slightly to my left” and slight distrust of spike. Given his pain at the time and the first using spike to kill people I’d say even these were justified.

    Back to the episode.

    I’d just like to say that Tara’s speach is amazing and one of my favourite moments in the buffyverse.

    and you missed out one of the best quotes ever.

    “technicly your one and a half”

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  27. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on November 17, 2009.]

    Further to my previous comment, Xander had always been described as the heart of the group. He was the heart for the spell in primeval, Andrew described him as the heart, and I think there are a few more examples. But from season 7, they suddenly start calling him the eyes of the group instead. That’s why it bugs me, because the writers seem to want him losing his eye to be that touch more tragic. I suppose they couldn’t really rip his heart out, though.

    I didn’t mention it before, but I do love this episode. I’ve just been looking at my comments through all of these reviews (to see if anyone responded to me-yes, I have no life!) and all my comments seem really negative. I guess I don’t bother to comment when I’ve got nothing to complain about! But I do love Buffy!

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  28. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on December 12, 2009.]

    I think we saw Anya’s real character in this episode. As seen in ‘Selfless’, she was cheated on as a human so hated men from then on and became a vengeance demon, to which she cursed men for a thousand years, including that man in the 1920’s who in return came back and ruined her wedding in ‘Hell’s Bells’. Since she is hurt by a man again she becomes a vengeance demon once more, but, that man is Xander.

    She wants Xander to die a horrible death for his actions, which, I think is a bit over the top. This shows that she could never be truly human as she was an evil demon for too long and reverted back the first chance she had. If she loved Xander enough and had learnt to be human she would of taken time to work out what happened.

    So after all the years of happiness with him she wants him dead over one terrible action? After taking possibly two weeks away from Sunnydale.

    Anyway, the last scene was brilliant. I love Spikes reaction as he ducks the axe then stares in shock at Xander, who looks back at him with pure hatred.

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  29. [Note: Amelia posted this comment on December 16, 2009.]

    This episode has one of my favourite endings in the Buffyverse.

    Tara: Can we just skip it? Can’t you just be kissing me now?

    I love Willow and Tara in this episode and is the only happy thing we see during this depressing time.

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

    Nice input from all of you. I want to highlight something I always have had a problem with regarding killing spike. Yes, he is a vampire and doesn’t yet have a soul, but does that not make him a person in the eyes of the Scoobies? Xander’s first reaction is to kill him when he sees Spike sleeping with Anya. Not beat him up, but KILL HIM DEAD. How is this okay in the eyes of anyone else in the show? He has shown time and time again that he would never hurt the Scoobies, yet it is okay for Xander to kill him? This is when I would sit Xander down and say….”If this were any other guy that Anya had slept with, would it be okay to kill him?” The answer is absolutely not.

    The question of “what makes someone a person?” is one i like to ponder a lot when watching this show (and BSG as I put in a prior episode). Spike isn’t just some vampire off the streets. He has been in their lives daily, helped them on many occasions (mainly for selfish reasons), but one would think he would have at least gained the title of personhood by now, right? I would hope Xander would feel remorse after killing him.

    As some posters above have said and I agree that Xander can be an immature self involved twit sometimes. Maybe thats why he and Dawn always got along so well? Just jokes!

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  31. [Note: DFAS Giles posted this comment on February 7, 2010.]

    When Tara and Willow reconcile at the end, is that Willow’s dress from OMWF hanging from the door in the background? Does this imply that Willow and Tara have put the cause of the split (Willow’s abuse of magick) behind them, or that the issue is still hanging over them like an anvil (or, you know, like a dress, which is easier to hang than an anvil).

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  32. [Note: DFAS Giles posted this comment on February 7, 2010.]

    To add to the Xander discussion above:

    The heart, the eyes… Whatever he is supposed to be, I don’t get Xander. I don’t particularly like him. At the risk of incurring much wrath, I actually prefer Dawn to Xander.

    Why are Xander’s failings any more excusable than any other charater’s? Because he doesn’t have superpowers? Well, boohoo. I don’t see how being the everyman gives you more get out of jail free cards than being a fallible witch, a fallible werewolf, a fallible ball of energy, or a fallible anyone else.

    We jump all over Spike because his every good act is ostensibly to get in Buffy’s pants. This may be so, but is Xander so very different? How many times has Xander been motivated by similarly selfish designs? Telling Buffy to “kick (Angel’s) ass” in Becoming II comes to mind. Constantly mouthing off to and about Spike, more so than any other Scooby, in particular when he finds out about Spike’s feelings for Buffy. C’mon, folks, help me out with some more here.

    It’s my take that Xander’s behaviour is just as affected by Buffy as Spike’s is. Xander will lie to hurry Buffy into killing Angel, and slander Spike to colour Buffy’s opinions and plant little seeds of doubt. He storms off when he finds out Buffy has been sleeping with Spike. He seems to have little Buffy antennae that twitch madly whenever Buffy says, does or contemplates anything.

    I can’t help but be immensely grateful to the writers for never putting these two together.

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  33. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on February 7, 2010.]

    Number of people Xander has murdered in cold blood (and enjoyed it): Zero

    Number of people Spike has murdered in cold blood (and enjoyed it): Thousands

    Xander wins

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  34. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 8, 2010.]

    SamL, your little statistic has no relevance to the point DFAS Giles (what the heck does that name mean?) was trying to make, which is that Xander is just as obsessed with Buffy as Spike is, and even more obnoxious for it than Spike can be. DFASG isn’t trying to say that Xander is as much of a cold-blooded murderer as Spike is, simply that Xander allows himself to be influenced by everything Buffy thinks/does/wants, and (s)he is right.

    Number of demons infecting Spike: 1

    Number of demons infecting Xander: None, and he’s still a pain in the ass.

    DFASG, I actually agree with you – I don’t particularly like Xander, I probably prefer Dawn to him as well, and I thank our lucky stars that he and Buffy never hooked up. That would have been a big fat BLECH.

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  35. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on February 8, 2010.]

    A little correction to your post Shannon: Spike is not infected by a demon – he IS the demon.

    Also Xander isn’t as nearly obsessed with Buffy as Xander is. You never see Xander stalking Buffy outside her house or walking in on her room while she is sleeping (and completely naked). Also I’m pretty sure Xander has never stolen Buffy’s underwear. Xander expressed a jealousy towards Buffy’s boyfriend in the first 3 season sure. But starting from season 4 he saw Buffy as someone he looks up to (The Freshman) and didn’t have a problem with her new boyfriend Riley.

    Oh and why is Xander pain in the ass? Because he doesn’t like Spike? You can’t hardly can’t blame him for not liking a soulless serial killer.

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  36. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 8, 2010.]

    Actually I don’t think it’s totally clear from the show exactly what the relationship between the demon and the human is with respect to vampires, but I believe the most likely explanation is one we’ve discussed over in the forums – that the vampire is a hybrid of the human they were, and the demon that infected that human. So I think it’s incorrect to say that a vampire is a demon and leave it at that. Would you say Angel is a demon, or is it more correct to say he’s a hybrid/half-demon, or something along those lines? The demon doesn’t entirely replace the human, and thus their state is more akin to an infection.

    I would argue that Xander is easily as obsessed with Buffy as Spike is, but his human inhibitions prevent him from doing the naughty things Spike does. Take a look at the Vampire Xander in the episode the Wish and tell me he wouldn’t be doing much worse than what Spike does to Buffy. Stealing underwear? Creepy, but ultimately harmless. And there are certainly little clues in the later seasons that Xander still harbors feelings for Buffy on some level – if you don’t think his reluctance to marry Anya was in any way related to Buffy, well…

    I’ve always thought Xander was a pain, especially in the earlier seasons, and that has nothing to do with him disliking Spike. He’s petty and whiny, and he’s one of those guys who would do anything to be “cool”. He actually gets slightly more like-able in the later seasons, but he’s still my least favorite character.

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  37. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on February 8, 2010.]

    If vampires being demonic is something of a question mark then that would pretty much make Buffy a serial killer herself. I mean she kills vampires just on the basis that they are vampires. She doesn’t give them a chance prove that they can or can’t act good. She sometimes even stakes them only seconds after they have risen. You are trying to twist the series into being something very gruesome just to prop up your favourite character.

    As for Xander not marrying Anya – it was clearly stated that he didn’t do it because his parents had such an ugly marriage themselves. Buffy was never mentioned or even suggested being a reason for it. Again you can imagine whatever life for these characters you want outside of what show is saying. But thats only in your head.

    As for Spike stealing underwear being harmless? COOL! Can I come to your place and steal some your underwear? Spike had no permission to take her underwear. Nor did he have any permission to try to rape her. When he doesn’t get what he wants, he takes it anyway whether or not he has the permission. But I guess you would argue now that we should give a give Spike some slack over trying to rape Buffy. After all he didn’t have soul. And at least he apologized for it later. Not having a soul doesn’t excuse Spike for doing what he does.

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  38. [Note: Sam Lat posted this comment on February 8, 2010.]

    Shannon, you made some excellent points in the Spike thread, and both you and Iguana convinced me that Spike is too complex to be reduced to mere misogyny. So I commend you both for that, and for keeping your cool, especially since in my emotional state I lobbed a few inflammatory remarks.

    But you made some goofs here. Did you really just say that Spike stealing Buffy’s underwear was “creepy but harmless”? No one who has ever discovered that someone stole their underwear would describe that as being harmless. Undergarments are one of–if not the–most intimate possessions people have, things we insist on having total control of who will have access to it. So nobody would ever rationalize that as being “harmless”… unless they thought their stalker was kinda hot, in which case the concept of them stealing the underwear would not be so repulsive (meaning they could visualize a possible sexual relationship).

    Furthermore, Jarppu is also right about you twisting the series to prop up Spike. I agree with you that vampires are demon/human hybrids, but the demons are in control, and always will be. If you believe that Buffy could be construed as a murderer is based on soulless Spike’s decision to get a soul for her (which you believe makes him an anomaly among vampires), please allow me to remind you that it took him approximately 120 years to reach that point, during which he murdered thousands of people. As Jarppu points out, Buffy can’t afford to let vampires live on the basis that they MIGHT turn good a century or so down the road; she has to think of the threat they pose to the population.

    I mention this because you said that my “little statistic” about Spike’s body count is irrelevant, and yet you bring up Vampire Xander. If Xander had been a vampire for the duration of the show, as Spike was, you would have a good point–Spike is a far less frightening and sadistic character than Vampire Xander; but Xander is only a vampire for one episode. So essentially you, and quite a few others, are arguing that Spike (the soulless serial killer, no less, and not the reformed Spike in S7) is somehow a more noble, less annoying character than regular human Xander? That’s pretty funny, especially since your comment about Xander being “petty and whiny, and he’s one of those guys who would do anything to be “cool”, is more or less the same reasoning you used to defend Spike–that Spike is the outsider, the one trying to fit in, trying to be seen as “cool” by the Scooby clique. Perhaps if Spike hadn’t spent Season 2, Lovers Walk, Season 4 and the first few episodes of Season 5 trying to kill them all and telling them how much he hated them and hoped they died horrible deaths, maybe they would be more inclined to be nicer to him.

    Xander is by no means perfect. He is a flawed human being, sometimes hypocritical, and occasionally infuriating (his behavior in Becoming Parts I & II, Revelations, Hell’s Bells, and this episode never fail to aggravate me), but he is also kind-hearted, observant, and has shown remarkable courage in the face of overwhelming odds, has had his arm broken and his eye gouged out. Yeah, he puts Buffy on a pedestal, but so does everyone else (except for Angel, Anya & Tara). Spike, in particular, has a habit of putting women on pedestals and tearing them down.

    So again, despite personal taste for people’s personalities, always a factor, I continue to be stunned by some fans’ insistence that Spike is a more honorable character than Xander.

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  39. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on February 9, 2010.]

    Jarppu — Bringing up the attempted rape in the manner in which you did was harsh; it’s something I think you need to show a little more sensitivity about.

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  40. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 9, 2010.]

    I know we try to keep things civil here, but jarppu, I have to say that you are one of the most unpleasant individuals to converse with (if you can really even call it that) on this site. Actually, I do find textual evidence that perhaps Buffy plays some part (however small) in Xander’s reluctance to marry Anya, but I have no interest in further discussion with you.

    SamL, I know we disagree on the topic of Spike often, but I think that once again you’re misunderstanding my point. First of all, my intent is not and never has been to twist the series to prop up Spike (honestly, not even my favorite character, just likely the one I find the most interesting), but you and jarppu erroneously insist on making that your argument every time the character comes up. As for the underwear stealing? Yes, I do believe that throwaway scene was essentially harmless – that scene is played for laughs, and I think you’re taking it way too seriously. As I’ve pointed out numerous times now – Spike in Season 5 = creepy stalker, we’ve already established that. Buffy would be totally grossed out by him stealing her underwear, but do you think that ultimately she would care all that much? Not as much as you seem to want her to, maybe because she does think Spike is hot? 😉

    The argument that DFAS Giles was making is that Xander is just as obsessed with Buffy as Spike is, a statement with which I happen to agree. But for you to then come along and say that Xander “wins” because he hasn’t killed a lot of people is a ridiculous counter-argument to DFAS Giles. I was not (and I don’t think DFASG was either) in any way trying to say that Spike is more moral than Xander, just that they are equally obsessed with Buffy. So let me repeat: XANDER AND SPIKE ARE EQUALLY INTO BUFFY. The only reason Xander doesn’t act like Spike is because he’s guided by his human morality – I think we can agree on that. I brought up Vampire Xander because comparing the murder record of a 20 year old (good, if flawed) human to a 120 year old vampire is disingenuous, but comparing the behavior of two vampires shows how relatively less evil Spike is when compared to another vampire (not good mind you, just less evil). So, just thought I’d throw a little perspective in there – think about what Vampire Xander (and Angel!) would do to Buffy, and Spike’s stalker behavior looks like child’s play. Spike is more evil and more creepy than human Xander ever could be, although it’s true that Spike does annoy me far less than Xander – hypocrisy happens to be one of the things I find most obnoxious in other people.

    Sorry, those thoughts may wander a little, but honestly, kinda sick of you and jarrpu trying to turn everything I say about Spike into me being a rabid fangirl. I’m not, let’s move on.

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  41. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on February 9, 2010.]

    “I have to say that you are one of the most unpleasant individuals to converse with”

    The feeling is mutual.

    “Actually, I do find textual evidence that perhaps Buffy plays some part (however small) in Xander’s reluctance to marry Anya, but I have no interest in further discussion with you.”

    Oh yes, that’ll make you win an argument. Refusing to show any evidence to back up your claims by hinting I’m not someone worthy of discussing about it. Bravo! You are a walking internet cliche.

    Spike is more obsessed with Buffy than Xander. Period. Xander never imagines Buffy while he’s having sex with someone else. Xander never dresses up a doll to her likeness and then proceed to smash it. Xander never stalked her. Xander never chains up Buffy to get Buffy to admit that she has feelings for her. Xander never forms a creepy altar for Buffy. Just because Xander has a soul, that wouldn’t stop him from doing most of those stuff.

    And why is Xander a hypocrite? Again you show no proof. The concept of hypocrisy is that one has done something equally bad(or even more so) as the the person he is passing judgement on. Xander hasn’t done nearly anything nearly as bad for example Spike. He passes judgement for sure. But he isn’t a hypocrite because he himself hasn’t done something as bad.

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  42. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 10, 2010.]

    “walking internet cliche”, I like that! I think this may be the first time you’ve actually responded to anything I’ve said jarrpu!

    But seriously, I think this episode alone is evidence that Xander’s feelings for Buffy haven’t completely dissipated by this point in the show. His response to finding out she was sleeping with Spike is far more intense than I think you would find in a merely concerned or disappointed friend. It may actually be pretty similar to Willow’s response to finding out Xander was dating Cordelia, or that he’d had sex with Faith. For further evidence, see the vision given to Xander in Hell’s Bells – in one of the scenes from that vision Anya angrily tells Xander that he wouldn’t touch her after Buffy died. You could argue that the whole vision was the product of the vengeful demon(?) and therefore everything in it is false, but I think that scene is a clue from the writers that Xander has at least some feeling still for Buffy that extends beyond friendship.

    “Just because Xander has a soul, that wouldn’t stop him from doing most of those stuff.”

    Uh, I think that’s actually exactly what the soul does – it seems to me that one of the whole concepts of the soul in the Buffyverse is morality and conscience, which means it prevents Xander from doing the things that Spike does, like stealing underwear or making stalker shrines. Think about William (Spike’s pre-vamp human self) and try to tell me he would do the same things to Buffy that Spike does. He wouldn’t, because he was a nice guy and had a soul. As a vampire without a soul, I’m pretty sure Xander would be behaving exactly like Spike. The very first thing Xander ever says to Buffy is “Can I have you?” If that’s not kind of creepy and weird in it’s own right, I must be missing something.

    The two most obvious examples of Xander’s hypocrisy (off the top of my head):

    1) Selfless – Xander tries to stop Buffy from going after Anya when Anya has just massacred an entire houseful of college students. It was only a couple years in the past that Xander was advocating for Angel’s death because he had killed some folks, and displayed zero sympathy for Buffy’s attachment to Angel.

    2) The Pack – Xander is possessed by a hyena spirit and tries to rape Buffy (which he remembers in full detail), but never shows any understanding or empathy towards either Angel or Spike. He KNOWS what it feels like to be at the mercy of a spirit/demon you can’t control, but this seems to have no effect on his behavior.

    Other reasons I dislike Xander:

    1) Cheats on his girlfriend

    2) Leaves his fiance at the alter

    3) Tells Buffy “kick his ass” in Becoming despite Willow’s express instructions that he tell Buffy to stall Angel, then rips Buffy a new one when she leaves town for a couple months to deal with the tragedy of killing her true love.

    4) Thinks that because Faith used him for sex, he can “connect” with her and condescendingly tries to tell her they can help her, even after Buffy warns him off. Lame.

    5) Is repeatedly obnoxious and condescending towards Buffy, especially in the first couple seasons.

    6) Telling Dawn about the attempted rape in the most insensitive possible manner due to his own beef with Spike.

    Among others, those are some of the reasons I find Xander to be one of my least favorite characters.

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  43. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 10, 2010.]

    Just wanted to add that another obvious hypocrisy on Xander’s part is a corollary of my first example – that it’s perfectly ok for Xander to attach himself to Anya, a demon who has been killing and maiming people for A THOUSAND YEARS, but it’s not ok for Buffy to be involved with vampires. Do what I say, not what I do.

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  44. [Note: Randy posted this comment on February 10, 2010.]

    Shannon — I think your last few comments perfectly summarize why I have such a problem with Xander’s character (until season 7). His blatant double standard for Spike (vs Anya) has always been my biggest source of irritation. I don’t think the show ever addressed this, but I wonder if non-demon Anya has a soul. If so, did she ever stop to think about all the damage she did in that thousand years? The fact that she hooked up with Spike once seems to be way more offensive to Xander than her 1000 years of murderous vengeance. hypocrite.

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  45. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 11, 2010.]

    Exactly Randy – is there any point in the later seasons where Anya’s history becomes an issue (aside from Selfless, which focuses on her present murders, not all the deeds of her past)? I couldn’t think of one, and I can’t recall any time where she expresses any kind of remorse (or any emotion really) for all the evil she did as a vengeance demon. Nobody else ever brings that up either. Did I miss that somewhere?

    I do agree with you that Xander gets a lot more tolerable, even likeable, in Season 7.

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

    Anya’s gesture of self sacrifice in Selfless is it, as far as I know. It’s too little, too late, but at least it’s something. Plus her speech about humans in the hospital seemed to hint at a deeper understanding for her, but the writers missed their chance to take her down a path of remorse leading to full redemption. Maybe it would just be too preachy. Sometimes, demons are demons to the end. This one at least tried to understand. Anya was an underwritten character in many ways.

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  47. [Note: Susan posted this comment on February 16, 2010.]

    Shannon, great job! I’m just catching up on all the February discussion and find it fascinating. Your analysis is spot on.

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  48. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on February 18, 2010.]

    “I think this may be the first time you’ve actually responded to anything I’ve said jarrpu! ”

    Then you are either blind or dyslexic. And this is twice now that you misspelled my screenname. So I’m going with dyslexic.

    This argument veered off course with your post Shannon. We were supposed to argue about Xander versus Spike: who was more obsessed about Buffy? It’s everyone’s own personal opinion which character they like the most. All characters on Buffy are flawed and so you can pick them apart to a thousand little pieces if you wish. Which character you choose to pick apart is down to your own preference.

    But back to on topic: obsession.(Heh, two people arguing obsessively years later about who was more obsessive character on a tv show.) I figured you might bring up Xander’s fake flashword to the future as an argument about Xander not marrying Anya. (And come on – it’s a Whedon show! No one’s gonna get happily married on his show.) But that episode also featured Willow saying she just might kiss him again if it weren’t the fact she is gay now. So perhaps Xander didn’t marry Anya because of Willow’s comment? This argument has about as much merit as your Buffy argument. But again I’m going with what the show is saying.

    As for Xander being so upset about finding out about Buffy and Spike this episode? He was massively upset finding about Spike and Anya. That’s what he was upset about. Not about Buffy and Spike. He just said “I don’t wanna know any of this” and left when Spike revealed it. And yes, SPIKE revealed it to Xander and Anya as an intent to hurt Buffy, demean her and alienate her from her friends. What an a-hole. See? It’s very easy to pick apart any character on this show. It’s interesting that you only focused on Xander’s part in this revelation and not Spike’s part. Tunnel vision much?

    And later in Seeing Red Xander says he doesn’t like Buffy being with Spike because he doesn’t have a soul, he’s evil etc.. Those are all valid concerns which have nothing to do with Xander being still into Buffy. Xander never had any problems with Riley or with Riley hanging out with Dawn. But he did have a problem with Spike hanging out with Dawn. And Xander having a problem with Buffy and Spike has merits since even Buffy herself admits it was an unhealthy relationship. Which is why she broke up with him.

    And not having a soul doesn’t prevent people from doing bad or questionable things. Not even in the Buffyverse. Or why then Willow tried to destroy the world? Or why Faith killed people? Or why Ethan was constantly reaking havoc? Having a soul DOES NOT mean you wont do bad stuff like the stuff Spike did. Including a thing I left out: Spike having his girlfriend dress up like Buffy so he could have violant sex with her. Xander never did that either.

    Also I forgot to mention that Spike’s obsession didn’t start in season 5. It started in School Hard. He was immediately obsessed Buffy. It’s just that he was obsessed with killing her at first. Only later he became obsessed with her in an other way.

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  49. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on February 18, 2010.]

    *Whoops, I meant to say “And having a soul doesn’t prevent people from doing bad or questionable things.”

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  50. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 19, 2010.]

    Hey, personal insults are totally unnecessary – not cool. (And if we’re talking about spelling, you might want to pay closer attention to yours, as well as your grammar- just a friendly suggestion.) And yes, this is in fact the first time you’ve actually tried to debate or discuss this show in any way other than leaving pointless inane comments about how the writers ruined the show by giving Spike a greater role or how we’re all biased towards Spike here and twist the show accordingly.

    I don’t see where the argument veered off course – you asked me to justify my dislike of Xander and my statement that he was a hypocrite, so I did.

    No, having a soul doesn’t prevent bad people from doing bad things, but it does prevent good people from doing bad things, which was my point about Xander – the soul provides moral guidance and a conscience, although as you note it’s possible to ignore such guidance if you’re Faith/Warren/Ethan Rayne/Dark Willow. Although he makes mistakes, Xander is essentially a good person, just as William was a good person. Take away the soul though, and what you get is Spike. My point was that it’s not reasonable to compare human Xander’s behavior towards Buffy with Spike’s for this very reason – Xander has a soul to guide his behavior while Spike does not. Take away Xander’s human moral inhibitions, and I have no doubt he would be behaving in a very similar manner to Spike – stalker shrines, role-playing, stealing underwear, etc.

    I was focusing on Xander’s side of the revelation because we were discussing Xander and his reaction to it, not Spike or his motivation for revealing it, but apparently even when we’re not actually talking about Spike I’m biased.

    I really don’t understand how you can even attempt to say that Xander wasn’t upset about Buffy/Spike – I thought it was completely obvious from his behavior here, and later during their conversation at the beginning of Seeing Red, that their liaison seriously wounded him in a lot of ways, one of which I interpret as his still having some romantic interest in Buffy, however latent. His behavior cannot be explained by simply attributing it to his being upset that Spike is a soulless vampire – Buffy is completely right when she points out that he’d been working with Spike since she died and it’s only now that he finds out Buffy was sleeping with him that he’s making a huge deal out of it. The Buffy/Spike relationship was extremely unhealthy in S6, but Xander doesn’t know that, and therefore that can’t be part of his objection to it. You can say his disgust/anger has merit because of that fact, but that’s your outsider perspective, not what’s actually going on in Xander’s head.

    And Willow’s comment about kissing Xander? C’mon, not even close to the same thing as Anya telling Xander he wouldn’t have sex with her anymore after Buffy died. Willow’s comment is a cute nod to their shared history, and the fact that she’s now into women, while Anya’s comment is a pretty serious and intimate accusation. They are completely different things, and you can pretend otherwise, but I think the vision is a definite clue that Xander still has and may always have feelings for Buffy.

    Perhaps Xander never had a problem with Riley because it was easy to tell that Buffy was never as attached to Riley as she was to Angel or Spike?

    Alright, this conversation is becoming pointless – does it really matter who is more obsessed with Buffy- Xander or Spike? Not particularly, and I doubt either of us will convince the other of anything at this point.

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  51. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on February 23, 2010.]

    Shannon wrote, “but honestly, kinda sick of you and jarrpu trying to turn everything I say about Spike into me being a rabid fangirl. I’m not, let’s move on.”

    Dear Shannon,

    You make some excellent points here, as usual. While I am rather fond of Xander and often relate to him, he can be infuriating, and some of your examples in Post #46 are proof. You’re right that Spike stealing Buffy’s underwear isn’t traumatic, and it is played for a good laugh. If Spike’s antics stayed on that level, I’d find him more sympathetic before the soul (but that’s obviously impossible). However, I must Spike’s treatment of Harmony is also played for laughs, because Harmony is meant as comic relief. I felt the writers advanced the idea that since Harm is airheaded/doesn’t believe in modern feminist values, then she probably deserves to be treated this way, and that does not sit well with me.

    Since you’ve mentioned Anya a lot recently, I’ll say this: I thought the writers should have worked harder at integrating her into the group instead of just having the Scoobies grudgingly accept her into the fold. Although at first the Scoobies don’t know about the 1000 years of carnage she caused, I agree with you that once they became aware of it they should have been appalled, and not just grudgingly accept her as Xander’s new girlfriend. I think Anya is usually very funny, but it bothers me that she never feels bad about all the people she murdered, or that when she refers to one of her wishes, she is met with responses of embarassment or mild disgust rather than shock, which should be the case. To Anya’s credit, though, she immediately stops trying to be evil once she realizes she won’t retrieve the necklace she lost in “The Wish”, and soon after she becomes pro-active in helping the Scoobies (primarily out of concern for Xander’s safety, but it’s better than nothing). Joyce’s death had a major impact on Anya, where she learns what it means to lose (and create) life, and “Selfless” is a huge stepping stone where she finally realizes how terrible her actions are, and ultimately accepts the fact that she deserves to die for all that she’s done.

    Shannon, let’s call a truce. I really like you and I don’t want you to resent me. I always enjoy our conversations because you clearly possess a lot of insight into the Buffyverse, and I am very impressed with your knowledge of the diverse styles of feminism. However, I wish you wouldn’t lump me in with Jarppu, and not just because I’ve never called you names. I don’t think I’ve ever unfairly accused you of being a Spike fangirl, because unless I’m mistaken you already admitted to being one (you also go by Smoores, right?) in the “How I Got Into Buffy” thread in the boards:

    “I guess I’d call myself a Spuffy fan (although you’re not going to find me using random out-of-context quotes from the actors to back up my shippiness), as well as a rabid Spike fangirl.”

    For the record, I was a Willow fanboy from S2 through S5, ignoring the signs that she was becoming unstable until S6 turned into such a monster that it was impossible not to notice. So if you are a Spike fan, that’s totally cool and your prerogative. I just didn’t realize that it would bother you if I repeatedly pointed out that it could be influencing how you interpret some of the show’s events that involve him.

    So, Shannon, to conclude another epic post, I hope you can forgive me getting so touchy in the comments for “Touched”. I became heated for reasons which were not about you, and I must learn to splash cool water on my face before launching into another rant. 🙂

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  52. [Note: Buff Daddy posted this comment on February 23, 2010.]

    Folks, please take it to the forum. Your discussion is interesting but you’re no longer commenting on Mike’s review. I come here to read his reviews, and what people have to say about the episode or the review. and I read the forum discussions for, well, discussions.

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  53. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 24, 2010.]

    Sam – truce, agreed! I enjoy discussing with you as well, and my deepest apologies for the lumping =)

    Funny, and thanks for calling me out! I’d forgotten about that (smoores is me)- when I wrote that I’d just finished Season 7 for the first time and was pretty psyched on Spike’s character arc and the way he went out in Chosen. Since then my enthusiasm has waned quite a bit, especially after rewatching the first couple seasons, and also in part from hearing the opinions of people like yourself. I do think Spike is a great presence on the show and find the complexities of his character fascinating, but I think “fangirl” is definitely overstating the case at this point (as is the Spuffy comment – not really biased towards any one of Buffy’s relationships anymore). I’ll go edit that post now if you don’t mind…

    Sorry about hijacking the comments Buff Daddy, although I would argue that this one was in some ways tangentially related to Entropy.

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  54. [Note: DFAS Giles posted this comment on March 1, 2010.]

    Wow… a lot happens in a month.

    I just wanted to show some appreciation for the recent postings, especially Shannon’s (and Sam’s, and their happy reconciling).

    I both really enjoyed the thread and also felt somewhat guilty for posting and running, and letting everyone else carry on with the heated debate. Especially since halfway into Season 7 I am finally finding Xander a lot nicer.

    So thanks, everyone… as Sam suggested, back to Entropy!

    (By the way, DFAS Giles is from one of my favourite Tabula Rasa quotations: “Why didn’t you just call me Horny Giles, or Desperate for a Shag Giles?”

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  55. [Note: baunger1 posted this comment on June 2, 2010.]

    Xander’s behavior in this episode is horrible, and he is often annoying, condescending, and self-righteous. However, while he’s never been my favorite character, I think he, like all the characters, are meant to have flaws, to act badly, and, hopefully, to grow. That having been said, I agree that the last thing one could say about Xander is that he’s the one “who sees.” He feels (heart), but as for seeing, he is usually oblivious, and the seeing thing felt like a hurried insert to presage his having his eye poked out.

    I think there’s a terrible double standard re: Anya and Spike. Yes, Anya fails to demonstrate remorse for the ills she has visited on humanity for a thousand years, but it’s worse than that. Anya cursed her husband as a souled human, and, as a souled human, chose to become a vengeance demon. Further, the only curb on her behavior once she reverts to being human is her desire to please Xander. It’s not internally motivated. Spike, on the other hand, didn’t do evil when he was human, didn’t choose to become a vampire, and gets dumped on constantly because even though he’s doing an enormous amount of good “it’s only because he loves Buffy.”

    As to the fact that if a vampire is a human/demon hybrid, that makes Buffy a serial killer: isn’t this an issue Buffy has been struggling with throughout the series? Whether she is nothing but a killer? And isn’t this troubling question at the root of her complex feelings towards Spike, i.e., if a soulless vampire is capable of doing good and changing, what does that mean in terms of the morality of her mission?

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  56. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 10, 2010.]

    The scenes where Anya tries to get people to wish bad things about Xander has that same faux-cutesy music (with the the clarinet and the raised 4ths) used when invisible Buffy visited the social worker…. That lazy music is my very least favorite thing about this whole season. Blech.

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

    I’ve always thought the show was about how hard it is to be human. Being human means living according to a set of values even though a lot of the time we make excuses for not doing the right thing. I love Jonathan’s story because he is obviously a good person but he keeps making the wrong choices. When the conflict between his values and his choices becomes too great he starts to waver in the path he has chosen.

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  58. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on December 29, 2010.]

    I love Xander. Yes, he is flawed but I still love him, in part BECAUSE he is flawed. However, he does infuriate me in this episode. I was so mad at him starting in Hells Bells and it lasts until Grave. I love his talk with Willow at the end of Grave. That is what brings me back to loving Xander again.

    What I found interesting about this episode is the totally human mistake that Anya and Spike make. While Anya does spend most of the episode trying to wish (or get someone to wish) an unhuman curse upon Xander, in the end the comfort they both get is a human one. Pretend for a second that neither is a demon, their drunken comfort sex is exactly what I would expect to happen if two young scorned people seeking solace bumped into each other.

    I do like Buffy’s reaction. She is clearly hurt but, even though she gets in a snark or two outside of the Magic Box, she realizes that she doesn’t have a moral ground to stand on.

    I love this episode and the all of the episodes for the rest of the season. I can’t wait to read the review on those and comment!

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  59. [Note: joaquin posted this comment on August 6, 2011.]

    i have to say that if you don’t have a soul

    the action of love has an other value

    in my opinion beter

    beacuse you realize how can you be a higher person or thing

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  60. [Note: Zoe posted this comment on May 4, 2012.]

    For the record, I love Xander, flawed though he is. Every single character makes mistakes, especially in season 6 (which I have dubbed The Season of Good People Doing Bad Things). Xander changes, though, and like MikeJer said, his realization in this episode that Buffy is flawed is part of what precipitates this change, leading to season 7 (The Season of Redemption).

    As for Xander being “the one who sees,” I always interpreted that as being a different kind of seeing than Spike’s. Spike sees all the Scoobies/notices their faults/reads them perfectly because he is detached from them; he’s emotionally uninvested in them and thus can look at them from an outsider’s perspective. (I think this is part of why when he starts falling for Buffy he gets confused about the kind of person she is – he’s too close to her.) Xander, however, is the one who sees – with his heart. He recognizes the inherent worth of everyone he loves. He’s emotional – this makes him flawed, but it also makes him a great human being. His view of Buffy as a flawless person stems from this ability of his to see everyone’s worth, sometimes ignoring their faults. I think Xander does have residual feelings for Buffy still, but mostly his disgust with her here is due to her being his hero. He’s always placed her on a pedestal, and sort of used her as a way to feel better about everything (think back to “The Freshman” and his “What Would Buffy Do” speech).

    This is why Xander hated the fact that Buffy was with Angel and Spike, but didn’t mind her relationship with Riley. Riley was human, and he was a good guy (although also definitely flawed). The Buffy/Riley relationship didn’t threaten the image of Buffy that Xander had in his head.

    But this episode is when he starts to realize that he’s putting Buffy on a pedestal, and what this means. It’s when he starts to see her even more clearly, and eventually loves her all the more for it.

    Also, does anyone else think that Xander has repressed feelings for Spike? Seriously, on my rewatch of the series I’ve been noticing a lot of dropped hints; also, it would explain a lot of Xander’s behavior towards Spike and how he’s especially caustic towards him.

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  61. [Note: Lilly posted this comment on May 8, 2012.]

    I think the reason I dislike Xander is that he’s always obliviously hurting everyone around him but is never blamed. It’s why I find it satisfying when he gets knocked around during fights.

    Xander’s relationship with Anya was especially painful to watch. I think his reaction to seeing Anya and Spike, in this ep., shows that he does love Anya but I’ve always felt that he never had much respect for her (at leat, not the same level of respect he had for Buffy and Willow) or appreciated how much she had changed for him.

    He did redeem himself, a little, in S4 and S7 but only because he wasn’t as much of a **** as he was in the other seasons.

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  62. [Note: Helen posted this comment on May 21, 2012.]

    Has anyone else noticed that Spike and Buffy both have very similar romantic histories? Both have had the one true love (Dru and Angel respectively), the one night stands (Anya, Parker), the long term relationships that never really would have worked out (Harmony, Riley) and each other. I’m sure Spike has a longer list, but in the time frame of he series, this is it. Spike serves as a reflection of Buffy, so this fits perfectly whether it’s intentional or not.

    Also, Spike knows the details of Buffy’s romantic history completely which gives credence to his speech in Touched. He was there for the aftermath of the Angel debacle, as well as with Parker, and witnessed the whole of the Buffy/Riley relationship. Spike is not disillusioned when it comes to her- he knows her history with men, and understands that she has not always been the victim.

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  63. [Note: Candice posted this comment on July 3, 2012.]

    All this conversation about Spike is pretty interesting. Spike is one of my favorite characters in the series in part because he is so emotionally complex (I have to say at the risk of getting shredded, I find Angel pretty boring by comparison). But MikeJer, your insistence about Spike being motivated by purely selfish desires out of his love for Buffy, I have to say I don’t think that’s all together true. There’s been numerous occasions where Spike shows himself capable of selfless love, for one where he was willing to be tortured and killed by Glory to save Dawn, as well as him willing to sacrifice himself at the end of Season 5 to again save Dawn (yes he was doing it because losing Dawn would hurt Buffy, but if he died in the fight to save Dawn, he wouldn’t exactly be around to benefit at all from his kind act). I don’t think there’s any greater demonstration of pure selfless love than to sacrifice or be willing to sacrifice yourself to save someone you love (isn’t that exactly what Buffy demonstrated with her death to save her sister in The Gift)? So I don’t know why Spike’s selfless acts get downplayed so much.

    Furthermore, to think that Spike is motivated by selfishness completely ignores his behavior after Buffy’s death. During that 5 months when Buffy is dead, if Spike was truly selfish and only cared about getting Buffy to love him, he would have left, gone away, and had nothing to do with any of the Scoobies, but he does the exact opposite. He works right alongside them all summer slaying vampires and pretty much becomes an unofficial Scooby member (incidentally he also grows a little friendlier with Buffy’s friends, another reason why I think Xander’s treatment of Spike is way out of line-Spike even conveys his hurt to Xander in Afterlife that no one ever told him they were planning on bringing Buffy back, where he cries “I worked beside you all summer and you never told me!”) This shows that Spike thought of himself as more of an ally if not friend to the Scoobies, and he is truly hurt that he is being excluded. Besides working together with Buffy’s friends, he also continues to take care of Buffy’s sister after Buffy’s death. He is shown babysitting Dawn in the beginning of Season 6, and this is shown to be a regular thing, that Spike forms a very close relationships with her. That’s why it always bothered me that Xander hates Spike so much and the others are so distrustful of him, yet they seem to have no issues with trusting him to taking care of Dawn-they feel she’s completely safe with him. All of this Spike does, continuing to work with the Scoobies and taking care of Buffy’s sister, even though Buffy is dead and as far as Spike knew she was gone forever, she was never going to come back. So how could he be motivated purely by selfish desires if he continued to do what Buffy would have wanted because he loves her so much when he never thought it was possible for Buffy to ever come back and reward him for being so kind to her friends and family by being with him or winning her love over? I think this demonstrates more than anything that he can be very selfless.

    And speaking of Dawn, what about Spike’s obvious affection for her? It’s clear that Spike actually does care about Dawn, and not just because he knows Buffy loves Dawn, but because he genuinely likes Dawn and cares for her. In fact, he treats her as if she was his own little sister and even in some ways her father. Think about Spike’s quote in Afterlife when he comes home to find Dawn after she ran off on him to find Buffy, his angry and relieved reaction when he sees her sounds very familiar and could have come out of the mouth of any worried parent: “Thank God! You scared me half to death…or more to death. You-I could kill you!”) Then there’s that time he helped Dawn with her plan to bring her mother back to life. Dawn at first thought he was motivated by pure selfishness too, thinking what’s in this for him (“I know you’re only doing this to get in good with Buffy”) but Spike makes it very clear that Buffy can never know about this because he knows she wouldn’t approve and threatens Dawn not to ever tell her. When Dawn is surprised that he’s not doing this for Buffy and asks why he’s doing it then, he responds “I just don’t like to see Summers women take it so hard on the chin.” This again shows how much he cares about Dawn and doesn’t like to see her hurting so much, and is willing to put himself in danger and possibly risk angering Buffy if she finds out, in order to help ease Dawn’s pain.

    Hasn’t he demonstrated time and time again that he is not driven by pure selfish motives? This is why it always upsets me to see the unkind and often cruel way everybody else treats Spike. I think this is the reason he gets to upset and angry when Buffy says things like, “You don’t have a soul, you’re an evil, soulless, thing” (which incidentally he mocks Buffy saying this about him with Anya in Entropy-he says just that, “I’m just an evil, soulless thing”). I think this hurts him more than anything because deep down he knows that’s not true and he is really hurt that Buffy doesn’t see that as well (he’s probably thinking what more do I need to do to prove to you that I’m just as capable of genuine selfless love as anyone else?). It’s always after she says things like that that he gets angry and ends up doing something evil or hurtful, almost as if he’s reacting out of hurt and anger to what she said, like you want me to be evil and soulless? Well then fine, if you won’t even give me a chance, that’s just what I’ll be then. It’s right after she called him a soulless thing in fact that he deliberately went out, vamped, and found a girl (who looked a lot like Buffy, taking his pain out on her) to bite and kill. It’s like he’s thinking I’m never going to beat this reputation of being evil and soulless, so if that’s what everybody thinks about me, I mind as well be it.

    Also I just thought of something else-at the end of Entropy, when Xander is fighting Spike and tries to kill him, I think it’s significant that Spike does not even try to fight back. In fact Xander even says stand up and fight, and Spike says, “I’m not going to fight you-chip”, but given that Spike has gone and hurt others (like that girl he bit) with the chip in before and also that it was pretty obvious that Xander intended to kill him so it was either fight him and deal with the pain of the headache or be killed, it seemed Spike would rather have been killed than to fight with Xander. It seems the chip is just an excuse in fact not to fight, in fact he says “chip” almost as an afterthought, rather than the real reason he doesn’t want to fight Xander. What do you think that reason is? Is he so upset and hurt over Buffy that he doesn’t even care anymore to fight (remember the reason he went into The Magic Box in the first place was for a numbing spell, something to take the ache off because he’s so hurt by what Buffy said to him)-he lost the will to keep going? Or is it that even though he doesn’t like Xander (and I completely understand why given the terrible way Xander treats him) he understands his anger and hurt and how he feels right at that moment so he doesn’t fight him? I’m really curious as to why he didn’t fight him. Also it shows at that moment Spike is more capable of civilized behavior than Xander is, even though he’s the “soulless vampire”.

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  64. [Note: George posted this comment on August 1, 2012.]

    An episode doesn’t have to have a big finale, or a lot of action to be considered eventful. I thought this was one of the most eventful episodes of the season (thus far at least), due to the main focus being on the characters.

    Candice, above, makes some very good points about Spike that I was going to mention (although far, far more briefly). I also find it annoying how badly Xander treats him – prior to him sleeping with Anya too. Despite sticking around in the summer Buffy was gone, and protecting Dawn etc. he’s still considered just a ‘thing’, when souless or not, he’s done a lot of good.

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

    I’d just like to point out an interesting view of Dawn:
    The problem is that everyone in the group has given her too much leeway out of guilt, their own guilt (which they should have). But you can still be severe when you should (stealing) and show her love, affection and care. Now Buffy is starting to do this and do you see what difference it makes ? Dawn’s reaction was self-absorbed in “Normal Again”: she (righfully) felt abandoned and she just witnesses that she doesn’t exist in the ideal reality of her sister. It was just the last straw to make her break. In Entropy, she gets normal attention, she feels Buffy’s love and concern. From now on, she can finally let her own walls fall down, open her eyes and give back insight and love instead of constant self-absorption.

    What Anya wishes during her discussion with Xander is frightful, because to her, these are not just casual wishes for the sake of an argument. Luckily for her (and Xander), they don’t work. It’s also interesting to parallel his reaction here with Buffy’s reaction in Selfless.

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  66. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 11, 2013.]

    I think that Spike reveals his sexual relationship with Buffy for many reasons, but mostly because he is tired of the constant put-downs. He has fought at the side of the Scoobies for a long time, and has saved their lives many times, and still they treat him like dirt. Buffy gave him permission earlier in the episode (Spike would not have told without it).

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  67. [Note: felucca posted this comment on January 31, 2014.]

    Am I the only one amused by Andrew’s reaction to Spike and Anya having sex?

    Warren: “Is that…”
    Jonathan: “Spike.”
    Andrew: “He’s so cool…
    (fascinated smile, paus, worried glance at the others)
    “I… I mean, the girl’s hot too.”

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  68. [Note: the buffster posted this comment on February 26, 2014.]

    I just wanted to point something out…Buffy’s hair. All throughout the season her hair has been getting lighter and light and I think that’s partly symbolizing her moving out of her depression. Her hair is the lightest it’s been in a while in this episode so I think the argument about her depression being over is get a valid one and I think her hair sometimes has deeper meaning. Anyways love the reviews mike!

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  69. [Note: Joy posted this comment on February 26, 2014.]

    Buffy changes her hairstyle and color a lot. Anya does it even more. I think it’s symbolic of both of them trying to find an identity that “fits.”

    IMO, the artificiality of Buffy’s bleached hair and dark lipstick in seasons 6-7 look as if she’s wearing a mask of an older, more jaded woman. Personally I don’t like the look, but perhaps it was deliberate as a symbol of the pressure she felt to assume adult responsibilities too soon. Watching the last two seasons, it’s hard for me to remember that Buffy was only 20-22 years old.

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  70. Candice, you could also mention how much Spike liked and helped Joyce. Like Spike said, he really likes the Summers women, indeed proving that he can be selfless. In my head canon I’m considering the possibility that a vampire might DEVELOP a soul under the right conditions, and that Spike was even before getting ensouled.

    I love Anya and Spike’s conversation and don’t mind a bit that they comforted each other with sex after. Good for them.

    I also kind of roll my eyes at the things Willow is able to do on the computer. This is another in a long line of movies and tv shows where if you have a computer, you can do anything, hack into any site no matter how well guarded, no matter you’re only using a laptop, no matter your level of actual expertise. This for me goes back to Weird Science in which we learn that if you have a computer, you can create the perfect woman!

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