Buffy 7×09: Never Leave Me

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Drew Goddard | Director: David Solomon | Aired: 11/26/2002]

“Never Leave Me,” and to a slightly lesser extent, “Sleeper” [7×08], do what I feel is an excellent job of blending plot, character development, drama, and comedy. “Never Leave Me,” in particular, also has many of the same qualities I applauded “No Place Like Home” [5×05] for, although it’s not quite as polished and tight. Drew Goddard is quickly emerging as a top-tier Buffy writer. He has an incredibly adept understanding of the show’s genre-blending nature and is insanely well-read on the characters. This is an episode that is buoyed on a coupled brilliant conversations between Buffy and Spike, but is assisted by a ton of awesome little things that spread the love around to all the characters and really add up to quite a fun episode.

As I just mentioned, this episode is really centered around two particularly probing Buffy and Spike conversations. Knowing this, I appreciated getting an idea of what the other characters felt about Soulful Spike the Killer. Dawn and Anya are voicing concern; Dawn being concerned about what Spike might be capable of, Anya just being practical. Xander stays out of it completely, which is interesting. Instead of getting all worked up over Spike, Xander seems to have some perspective now and clearly trusts Buffy to handle the situation herself — he’s lost that jealously and feeling that Buffy’s better than Spike. I see this as a reflection of Xander’s growth from last season. Buffy’s not on his pedastal anymore, and is instead treating her more like a trusted friend rather than a desired girlfriend (although I still believe he’ll likely always desire her on some level).

I really like Spike’s soft but blunt outing of his thoughts on everything that’s happened. Of particular interest is when he tells Buffy that his pain and suffering is all relative. He had to redefine what those words meant after falling in love with Buffy. Now, I can see why Buffy might take offense to that comment, but I think I understand what Spike means by it. I really don’t think Spike is entirely trying to put blame on Buffy by saying this, but rather just that loving her has led him on a journey that redefines what pain and suffering means. With that said, he clearly has some blame for Buffy as well, as he just now fully realizes what it means that she used him last season. He says, “I’m feeling honest with myself. You used me. I never understood it though. Not until now. You hated yourself, and you took it out on me.” This certainly doesn’t excuse Spike’s awful behavior at points of last season, but both characters did bad things to each other which fueled a growing flame.

Spike goes on to talk about now understanding “the violence inside.” What he’s talking about here is that internal struggle inside all of us — to be good people, to strive to be better, and the guilt most of us feel when we do wrong. Spike articulates what it means to have a soul and guilt — or self loathing — is definitely a part of that. This entire segment beautifully summarizes what it truly means for Spike to have a soul. We can not only see and feel the difference, Spike is now also articulating the difference. Once again, the writers have done a phenomenal job synching us up with the characters’ psychological state, which is then used as a spring board for new developments that are actually believeable.

Later in Buffy’s basement, once Buffy explains to Spike that he’s being triggered, he pleads with her to kill him. This leads him to a speech about what he’s truly capable of, telling her “you got off easy too.” Buffy, still acting very mature and intelligent about this, reminds Spike that he’s not responsible for these recent triggered-induced actions. Soulful Spike is not the same person as Soulless Spike. Buffy knows this from experience dealing with Angel. This is why she’s so quick to want to help him. Spike, on the other hand, is really letting that whole self-loathing thing overwhelm him. Being soulless for so long, it’s probably easy to forget how to constructively channel that guilt. It’s only human to struggle with it though.

Spike tries to make a case for how bad he is with creepy murderous knowledge he has. What’s more interesting is when Spike asks one of the biggest questions of the series: “Have you ever really asked yourself why you can’t do it? Off me? After everything I’ve done to you, to people around you. It’s not love. We both know that.” Spike goes on, “Don’t do that. Don’t rationalize this into some noble act. We both know the truth of it. You like men who hurt you.” Buffy refuses to completely believe this. Though her response does insinuate that there is some truth to it before, which is true to what was going on in Season 6.

In particular, I think most of their dialogue here is referencing Season 6. Buffy hits it home with her rebuttle, “No. I don’t hate like that. Not you, or myself. Not anymore. You think you have insight now because your soul’s drenched in blood? You don’t know me. You don’t even know you. Was that you who killed those people in the cellar? Was that you who waited for those girls? … Listen to me. You’re not alive because of hate or pain. You’re alive because I saw you change. Because I saw your penance.” Spike’s understandably in the trap of, well, self loathing and isn’t really in the mood to give himself any credit whatsoever.

Buffy goes on to say, “Be easier, wouldn’t it, it if were an act. But it’s not. You faced the monster inside of you and you fought back. You risked everything to be a better man. And you can be. You are. You may not see it, but I do. I do. I believe in you, Spike.” This is really moving and powerful stuff! The dialogue between the two of them in “Never Leave Me” not only sets up Spike’s final journey, but also extremely clearly shows us why Buffy has faith in Spike, and why Spike feels the way he does. I want to stress that it’s clear to me that Spike’s motivation to go get his soul goes well beyond just sex. I think Buffy has it completely right. Spike did risk everything to be a better man — a better man for Buffy. As Spike said in “Beneath You” [7×02], “What must a man do what he mustn’t for her, to be hers. To be the kind of man, who would never… to be a kind of man.” Spike’s behavior paints a pretty consistent picture to me, and it’s all built on top of what came before while simultaneously laying new foundation for the the rest of the series. This is fantastic television at work.

It’s extremely beautiful that the last thing Buffy tells Spike before the Bringers flood into the house and capture Spike is “I believe in you.” At that moment, Spike fully gets it, and has a newfound belief in himself. I also think Buffy communicating this belief to Spike is a direct threat to the First, which is why it mobilized the Bringers on a raid to immediately get Spike out of there. The last thing the First needs is a Spike that believes in himself and is fighting strongly on Buffy’s side. This sets up the First’s approach to bringing him down a notch over the next couple episodes.

The Watcher’s Council headquarters (I think — what’s with the building shots being different?) being blown up is certainly quite a huge shock, especially after Quentin’s “rousing speech” and a promise of another Council visit to Sunnydale and Buffy. You just don’t expect something like that to happen, but then again, that’s always been a staple of this series — to do the unexpected. I really love the ambitious scope of the First’s attack and how “huge” this whole thing feels. The only big problem is that the season sadly isn’t able to maintain this pace for very much longer.

“Never Leave Me” is a very well-rounded episode that moves the overall story along while also giving us some key character insight and development. There’s a lot of fun around the edges as well, from Willow bumping into Andrew at a butcher’s shop to Anya and Xander working together to “break” a hilarious Andrew. On the more serious side, some big events happened such as the Watcher’s Council being blow’d up good, the First capturing Spike, the First raising the real Ubervamp, and us being left to question whether Giles is still alive. The only thing this episode is missing is a little more character depth of the non Buffy and Spike variety. With Spike being out of focus until later in the season and the Potentials beginning to arrive in the next episode, this deficiency sadly isn’t handled better until later in the season. Despite that one flaw, though, I feel this is an excellent episode.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Spike telling Buffy to tighten his restraints even tighter.
+ Principal Wood’s tough love on some misbehaving students.
+ Buffy trying to get a hold of Giles after crazy recent events. It’s cool to see Quentin and the Watcher’s Council back.
+ Xander apparently giving Willow lectures on construction.
+ The First working over Andrew is still very convincing. I can totally buy how Andrew’s allowing himself to believe that Warren and now Jonathan are actually talking to him, telling him everything is just dandy.
+ Andrew failing miserably at killing a pig.
+ Andrew’s butcher shop order.
+ Andrew running into Willow! Their entire encounter is just pure awesome.
+ Xander and Anya’s hilarious interrogation of Andrew.
+ Anya accidentally slapping Xander and silently wording “I’m sorry!”
+ Spike talking about how he thought his craziness was because of his soul. Makes sense to me.
+ Spike being triggered on Andrew. Damn, that’s quite the ferocious attack.
+ Dawn still refers to Andrew as “What’s His Name!” Awesome!
+ Willow’s reference to Xander’s brief stint “in the military” (“Halloween” [2×06] ). Xander thankfully doesn’t remember any of that (which has been the case since about S4), and claims the knowledge is from army movies. It’s funny how another show would have so easily messed that bit of continuity up.
+ Buffy going into command mode, getting the gang working on the case. Talk about a difference from the earlier seasons! It’s lovely to see Buffy’s development manifest itself like this.
+ Principal Wood’s mysterious grave digging. I really like that they played up the ambiguity on him.
+ During the fight, Dawn uses a sweet move that goes back to something she learned in “Lessons” [7×01] — love the visual reference.
+ Buffy, ever the resourceful one, uses Andrew’s body as a weapon. Good use!
+ Buffy putting all the pieces together and realizing it’s the First Evil from S3 (“Amends” [3×10] ). It makes sense that the distinctive Bringers would be the ones to make everything come together in her mind.
+ The Ubervamp has some really convincing make-up. It looks pretty darn menacing in my book, although I could have done without the growl that all monsters seem to have to make these days (although this is not as bad as most).

–ย I like Spike not knowing who Andrew is, but I don’t see how Buffy saying he’s “Tucker’s brother” makes it any clearer to Spike. I find it highly unlikely he is aware of the events of “The Prom” [3×20]. Buffy should have just said that he was working with Jonathan and Warren last year.


[Score]

91/100

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60 thoughts on “Buffy 7×09: Never Leave Me”

  1. [Note: Sam posted this comment on April 12, 2009.]

    Mike,
    Please allow me to be the first one to say that this is yet another detailed and thoroughly exciting review. I loved the Willow-Andrew encounter, as well as Anya going all bad cop on Andrew (and her comment about “shouldn’t we stab him through the chest? Isn’t that what we do…?”; poor Anya). I love your breakdown of the Buffy-Spike basement scene, as it really is spot on here; admittedly, since I haven’t made it all the way through to the end of the season yet (I stopped at “Get It Done”), there still could be room for Spike’s redemption.

    I agree that “Sleeper” and “Never Leave Me” are underrated. If you rate them slightly higher than I do, I think it’s because despite their excitement, they are tantalizing us a little too much. We know that Spike isn’t going to turn evil, so it’s a red herring at this point, and that they are putting off the First’s actual plan, which is revealed in the spectacular “Bring on the Night”. I can’t wait to read your take on that.

    P.S. Happy Easter. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. [Note: Paula posted this comment on April 12, 2009.]

    Yayness, the reviews keep coming! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Pretty much vigorously nodding in agreement. I want to add though how much I like Willow’s inquiry in the hallway as to whether Buffy’s feeling okay – it’s nicely acknowledged here that it’s not at all easy for Buffy to spend time in Spike’s company after everything that’s happened between them, soul or no soul. Yet the current situation finally forces her and Spike to have the sort of serious talk both of them have been needing but rather understandably (particularly when it comes to Buffy) avoiding.

    Also yay for Buffy for that simple reply to Spike’s “You used me”: “Yes.” And for soulful Spike for stepping out of his up to now rather gloomy and resigned niceness and politeness, and starting to voice what he actually thinks and feels. What the First Evil has had him do lately is horrible, but it has actually served both to sort of liberate him mentally and to jolt him out of the cheerless state of inactivity he’s sunk into. Granted, he’s still mostly wallowing in how evil he was/is, and the course of action that first occurs to him is getting Buffy to kill him before he does more evil, but at least he’s not just listlessly killing time any more.

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  3. [Note: Darth Bunny posted this comment on April 12, 2009.]

    Great review, although I would have put Wood’s mysterious placement burying of Johnathan as a minus simply because there’s no explanation of why Wood did this (no, being a good man isn’t good enough ๐Ÿ˜‰ nor how Wood knew that Johnathan was in there. It’s not like Wood knew Johnathan and went looking for him. Or maybe he was checking on the seal? If that was the case though, I have to wonder why the First doesn’t put any guards around the thing. It is the where the First plans to create it’s army, that’s got to make it somewhat important.

    Also, just out of fun, it would have been better to SHOW Caleb’s attack on the council rather than simply explain it later on. A knock on the door, than Caleb walks in holding a bomb with ten seconds left on the clock. Would have made a great introduction to an underused and short lived villain imho.

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  4. [Note: Adam posted this comment on April 12, 2009.]

    I do like this episode. The only fault I find is it’s kind of boring. I know, I know Buffy is never boring, but, I’m sorry, this episode is bland. It does have some good moments but misses some of the spark the series used to have. Not bad at all, but not anything that makes this episode (or the next episodes) memorable to the series. I’d give it a B-.

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  5. [Note: Adam posted this comment on April 12, 2009.]

    Also, I need to my comment above that this episode is brought down some because the episodes to follow don’t match what this episode (or any episode so far) has brought. I hope that makes sense.

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  6. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on April 13, 2009.]

    Again, great review. You really analysed the episode perfectly and I gotta tell you that I wouldn´t be able to do this kind of reviews. I mean, I can be objective even with a show like BTVS that I love but I wouldn´t be able to make a thorough analysis like you do. So for that, I applaud you.
    But it´s great to see you give the much-needed love S7 deserves.
    Keep the good work!

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  7. [Note: Tara and Willow posted this comment on April 13, 2009.]

    Good to see another review! I liked your review a lot and I am (still) waiting for new to come. Keep up the good work!

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  8. [Note: Sosa Lola posted this comment on April 13, 2009.]

    Xander really changed in this season, and it started after all the events of S6. He grew to be more calm, think before talking, notice how he stopped jumping into the “blame Spike” train like Willow, and figured out that Spike was triggered. A S6 Xander wouldn’t have been this rational. That’s a huge development for Xander that many fans choose to overlook sadly. Perhaps if Xander was given more focus, fans wouldn’t have missed his character development.

    I disagree with you that Xander’s reasons for resenting Spike had anything to do with jealousy and desiring Buffy. Why didn’t we see Xander’s jealousy with Scott Hope, Riley, Ben, and the guy Xander was setting Buffy with in S6? I think Xander was over having Buffy as a girlfriend after S2. He seemed more interested in other women after that season.

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  9. [Note: wilp posted this comment on April 13, 2009.]

    Combined with Sleeper, I feel the events of this episode could’ve been condensed into one episode. Both episodes feel like they’re biding time, and it’s unfortunately where the season’s momentum starts to drag. (Although it’s nothing compared to the middle of the season.) NLM doesn’t seem to have much of an identity as most of it occurs in the Summers’ house and involves two characters being held hostage, neither of whom is very threatening. Goddard’s excellent dialogue and fun moments saves this from being a very dull episode, which it was in danger of becoming.

    With that said, Spike and Buffy’s discussions are pretty powerful character work. One very important line which I’m glad you pointed out was: “You used me. I never understood it though. Not until now. You hated yourself, and you took it out on me.”

    Throughout season 6, I’d come to think that Buffy hated herself *because* she was sleeping with Spike, because she thought she was a demon, and subsequently because she realised she wasn’t actually a demon and was completely responsible for her actions. But this line from Spike suggests that she hated herself long before she starting using him – her self-hatred was the reason she started using him. This really interests me, because we were led to believe that she was just stone cold after coming back from the dead, and was dead inside. The fact that she hated herself (which she herself admits in this conversation) at this time adds layers to her. Why do you think she did? I suspect, on top of her superiority/inferiority complexes illustrated in CWDP, it’s because, throughout season 5 especially, she failed to live up to her superhero status in many respects. For instance: her job as a slayer and duty as a daughter meant her romantic relationship with Riley failed; she blamed herself for not getting home in time to save her mother from dying; she blamed herself for ‘letting Dawn die’… no wonder she hated herself. She must have had this constant feeling of not being ‘enough’ of a friend, a slayer, a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, and so she took it out on Spike, who at the time was the only thing she had a lower opinion of. Wow.

    Regarding Buffy’s reason for letting Spike live in the first place, I’m not sure I buy it completely, but at least they addressed it as it was a huge gap in logic that really hurt the show.

    A couple of things:
    “He’s primed. I’ll be pumping him in no time…. He’ll give us information soon.” Excellent!
    Buffy walking in on Anya about to wallop Andrew and Xander sitting in the corner with an icepack. One of the funniest images of the series.
    Buffy taking out two bringers with their own knives.
    Willow’s face when she says “[I’m] a very powerful she-witch… or witch, as is more accurate.”

    – The whole Spike tearing down the wall thing didn’t work for me. Especially the build up.
    – SMG, god bless her, can’t act evil, but I blame the writing on that one.

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  10. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on April 13, 2009.]

    Also, I know this has been pointed out on this site already, but the significance of a few of the lyrics in the lullaby, Early One Morning, is amazing:

    “Early one morning,
    Just as the sun was rising,
    I heard a maid sing,
    In the valley below.

    CHORUS:
    Oh, don’t deceive me,
    Oh, never leave me,
    How could you use
    A poor maiden so?”

    In ways, both Buffy and Spike deceived each other in season 6, and both used each other, although I think it reflects more how Spike treated Buffy, specifically his obsession and attempted rape. In another way, the lyrics “don’t deceive me, never leave me” are also very fitting for the First to sing to Spike, making Spike’s rejection of the song in LMPTM all the more powerful.

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  11. [Note: Sam posted this comment on April 13, 2009.]

    Two things:

    1. Mike, I neglected to mention how insightful I found the link you described between Spike’s newly acquired soul and his sense of self-loathing. Even though it makes perfect sense within the show’s context, the way you laid it out was especially accessible. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Wilpy just illustrated why I think these two episodes’ titles should be switched. In “Sleeper”, Spike sings Early One Morning, which contains the line “never leave me” in it; and in “Never Leave Me”, Xander uses his military knowledge to refer to Spike as a sleeper agent.

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  12. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on April 13, 2009.]

    I’m glad you put Anya slapping Xander in the plus column, but though she was funny with the mouthing “I’m Sorry” it was the look on Xander’s face that makes that moment priceless. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

    Nice review. Thank you.

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  13. [Note: Paula posted this comment on April 16, 2009.]

    One thing I personally always wonder about is how Buffy initially ties Spike to a chair in order to restrain him. A chair?! I appreciate that writing-wise, they needed him to be able to break free quickly later in order to attack Andrew, but I still can’t help wondering how Buffy could have thought that a chair – even if it’s a sturdy one – would be enough when we’re talking about someone with Spike’s physical strength.

    Getting chained to a wall in the basement really makes much more sense.

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  14. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on April 22, 2009.]

    I always found how Spike bounced back from gaining his soul interesting. In comparison to Angel, I mean. Angel moped and whined for, like, 90 years before he got his act together. And he still feels horrible about all the things he did when he was soulless.

    Spike moped for a bit, but soon realized “Hey, I was soulless and evil when I did those things.” The things he did were terrible, but what’s done is done. Nothing was going to change that, so why dwell on it? He was no longer that person, anyway.

    I wonder if their different approaches to handling the return of their souls is purely based on their differences in character/personality, or perhaps whether having Buffy and some semblance of friends surrounding him enabled Spike to come to terms much faster than Angel, who had no one.

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  15. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on April 22, 2009.]

    Oh, and I didn’t mean to imply that Angel shouldn’t feel horrible for the things he had done as Angelus, or that Spike doesn’t feel bad for things he’d done.

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  16. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on April 22, 2009.]

    I think it’s a bit of both. Having people around had to do him good, but mostly I think it’s personality. At the end of Damages, Angel visits Spike in the hospital and they have a bonding moment discussing what kind of monsters they were.

    Spike: I never did think that much about the nature of evil. No. Just threw myself in. Thought it was a party. I liked the rush. I liked the crunch. Never did look back at the victims.

    vs

    Angel: I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I was only in it for the evil. It was everything to me. It was art. The destruction of a human being.

    I think those two different perspectives, attitudes could also be attributed to how they reacted to their souls. Not that Spike doesn’t feel bad about what he’s done, knows he was vicious and vile, he owns up to it every time it comes up, but he is in the moment kind of guy, he files what’s done away, stores it, doesn’t forget it, and moves on.

    Whereas, Angel, as Angelus, was about pyschological torment as well as the brutality. He lingered in the moment, relished it and now with a soul he lingers in the moment and suffers.

    I don’t think their different reactions indicates one is more “soulful” than the other, just demonstrates their differences, differences that compliment each other, I might add.

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  17. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on April 22, 2009.]

    Oh, I don’t think either one is more “soulful” than the other, either. haha I’ve just always been interested in how differently they handled their situations. 8)

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  18. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on June 18, 2009.]

    The conversation between Buffy and Spike is fascinating,especially the one in the basement where Spike tells Buffy that she has to kill him. I parallel this talk with the one in “Dead Things”. In here, Spike wants it all to end and Buffy tells him that he has done noble things, has saved people but Spike tells her not to rationalise what happened into something noble. Back in “Dead Things” it was Spike who was telling Buffy not to throw her life away, that she saved lives, that the balance was in her favor and Buffy wanted it all to end. Of course, Spike didn´t have an understanding back then, but still I always connect this episode to “Dead Things”.

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  19. [Note: llinnae posted this comment on June 18, 2009.]

    Oh yeah I never looked at it that way but thats a good point, Buffyholic. For me, its conversations like this one and the one in Dead Things that make Buffy and Spike’s relationship so much more complex and the two of them so much closer than Buffy and Angel ever were. Sure, part of that is due to the fact that Buffy is older with Spike but still, i feelm that their relationship was so much more ‘real’ (if I can use that term in relation to a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer lol).

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  20. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on September 3, 2009.]

    I like Spike not knowing who Andrew is, but I don’t see how Buffy saying he’s “Tucker’s brother” makes it any clearer to Spike. I find it highly unlikely he is aware of the events of “The Prom” (3×20). Buffy should have just said that he was working with Jonathan and Warren last year.

    I don’t mind this line; at worst it’s just a throw-away joke (which I quite enjoy) but at its best, it implies that Buffy and Spike have had conversations, that she’s told him about the prom and the devil dogs and that crazy Tucker who master-minded the whole plot. it gives depth to their relationship.

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  21. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on November 29, 2009.]

    Leelu said:

    “I wonder if their different approaches to handling the return of their souls is purely based on their differences in character/personality, or perhaps whether having Buffy and some semblance of friends surrounding him enabled Spike to come to terms much faster than Angel, who had no one.”

    Like Sarah, I don’t think this is an either/or, I think both are true and yet again, bears out what Mike says about the strength of this show being in the character work. Angel and Spike are such beautifully drawn and detailed characters that the depiction of one as brooding, with a tendency to dwell, and the other as volatile, not given to deep thoughts but occasionally gifted with astute insight, seems absolutely realistic to me.

    And llinae – I agree absolutely.

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  22. [Note: Randy posted this comment on January 4, 2010.]

    Mike, I really love this episode, and you did a great job with the review, as usual.

    But I can’t believe no one mentioned Andrew’s “That’ll Do, Pig!!!!” — This line absolutely had me rolling. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  23. [Note: KatieJ posted this comment on April 18, 2010.]

    I agree that the pace was slow, and this was emphasized by the quick Bringer attack and claustrophobic fight scene, tagged on at the end. I must give an amen to wiip, however; that move where Buffy grabs the two curvy knives from the Bringer she’s fighting….awesome.

    I haven’t read the Spike comic books, and I was very disturbed by his description of how he tortured girls. Very evocative…and super creepy. Did the Spike graphic novel series explain?

    Love all of season 7. Even though it dragged at times, there were so many character and philosophical ends that were fully covered, I can hardly believe they did it. Wish Oz had showed up, though.

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  24. [Note: baunger1 posted this comment on June 12, 2010.]

    Really love he observation above about Buffy’s statement to Spike about the good he’s done echoing Spike’s statement to her in Dead Things. In Dead Things, both Spike and Buffy see and understand only one side of this argument. Previously, Spike truly didn’t understand why being responsible for a single death should matter to Buffy, even though he was right in that turning herself in to the police was not the answer (Giles had the same approach when Faith killed a human). Previously, Buffy failed to understand that morality, and people, are not rigidly black and white, good and bad, that there is ambiguity in everything. But by the time this conversation takes place, Spike feels the weight of every death he’s responsible for, and Buffy has come to understand that morality is not absolute.

    Both conversations between Buffy and Spike are wonderful. Soulful Spike can, for the first time, understand, not just feel, his emotions, and Buffy’s as well. I do kind of wish, though, that during the bedroom talk there was more of an acknowledgement on Buffy’s part of what she did to Spike — not just used him, but abused and damaged him. Buffy never acknowledges this fully to anyone but Holden Webster, and then only because the secret will die with him momentarily.

    James Marsters is brilliant in the moment Spike tells Buffy “You like men who hurt you.” Pained that he had been the one to fulfill that role. You can really see it in how he holds himself and in his voice. Buffy tacitly acknowledges that she did feel that way in Season 6. However, I think the reasons she was with Spike before are far more complicated than that.

    Best of all is Buffy’s reason for keeping Spike alive. Not simply that he has a soul, but because he fought to get it. She finally acknowledges Spike’s extraordinary pre-soul effort to change. She sees him–and the desire to be seen for who he really is has been his desire forever.

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  25. [Note: DeadLego posted this comment on August 8, 2010.]

    i think it’s brilliant spike not knowing who andrew is until buffy says he’s tucker’s brother. It’s showing how much of a nobody andrew ‘seems’ to everyone that they don’t even remember his name, to the extend that spike knows who tucker is (someone who he most likely never met, and who’s name was probably just mentioned to him once-the scoobies talking about old times or something) better than who andrew is-someone who was involved in really messing up buffy and friends lives whilst he was seeing her.

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  26. [Note: John posted this comment on January 10, 2011.]

    Something that always bothered me about this episode; in S5 Buffy gets Giles reinstated with full pay, right? So why do they call him a lapsed employee?

    Willow and Andrew was great; always good to see the trademark Buffy humor.

    I also really love Warren every time he appears as the First; he’s simply hilarious. One of the funniest villains since the Mayor; I’m referring to Warren specifically and not the First as a whole, of course.

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  27. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on January 14, 2011.]

    Again, this episode is not among my favorites but it was pretty good but it had some great comedic moments.

    Andrew stomping around in the leather coat has me rolling. And then the pig scene — holy cow I almost peed my pants. And then the butcher scene. Buffy using him as a weapon! Andrew through the whole episode was just awesome. Oh how I love him so. I love how even The First calls Andrew “what’s his name” at first. LOL

    And one of my other favorites — Anya as “bad cop” is hilarious!

    There are many things that I didn’t like about this season, but one of the things that I did like was the is he/isn’t he evil thing going on with Principal Wood. I really couldn’t tell the first time I watched it. Even knowing his story in subsequent viewings, I still get a twinge of “maybe he IS evil” (lol). I mean, what kind of principal buries a body that he found in the basement of his school? It was well done.

    Like

  28. [Note: JustSomeGuy posted this comment on November 18, 2011.]

    Hey all! Long-time reader, first-time poster. Mikejer, AWESOME site!

    Here’s an interesting bit I notice watching this episode today:

    Xander:

    “Well, there was this one guyโ€”there was this one guy, he, uh, he hurt her real bad, so she paid him back. She killed him, but she did it real slow. See first she stopped his heart, then she replaced it with darkness, then she made him live his life like that. But he still had to go do his job and see his friends and wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, but he had to do it all empty. Without anything to look forward to. Ever.”

    Is Xander talking about himself here perhaps?

    Let’s see:

    1.) He hurt Anya real bad.

    2.) “Heart replaced with darkness” reminds of “Heart of darkness”, AKA “Apocalypse Now”, the base for part of Xander’s dream in Restless.

    3.) Xander still had to go to work and see his friends after leaving Anya.

    4.) “Had to do it all empty/nothing to look forward to” – in Empty Places, Xander loses his eye.

    Now, does any of this mean anything? I doubt it. Still, it struck me as odd to have his statement so chock full of self-reference ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  29. [Note: JustSomeGuy posted this comment on November 18, 2011.]

    Actually…oops, let me correct myself above; Xander’s eye is technically lost at the end of “Dirty Girls” and dealt with in “Empty Places”. My above rant still stands I think!

    Like

  30. [Note: Alex posted this comment on November 21, 2011.]

    I had always assumed that Xander was most definitely talking about himself (well right up to the part about ripping out his intestines and taking pictures of it, or whatever he says). I hadn’t even given it a second thought.

    Like

  31. [Note: Ozzy posted this comment on February 20, 2012.]

    Just thought I’d paste this interesting snippet from the Buffy wiki on this episode:

    “In classic Whedonesque irony, The Watchers Council is wiped out right as they come to the conclusion of their series-long arc. Just as they realize out is their duty to provide the Slayer with support, rather than tell her what to do from afar with no regard for her personal safety, and are about to travel to Sunnydale to finally assume their intended role, they are destroyed.”

    Like

  32. [Note: Odon posted this comment on May 29, 2012.]

    John said: Something that always bothered me about this episode; in S5 Buffy gets Giles reinstated with full pay, right? So why do they call him a lapsed employee?

    Giles was reinstated as Buffy’s Watcher, a role that he gave up at the end of “Tabula Rasa”.

    Like

  33. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 29, 2012.]

    Odon, I was always under the impression that his duties as Watcher officially ended when Buffy died in “The Gift.” I don’t think it’s ever mentioned that he was reinstated again in the few episodes he returned when she was alive again.

    Like

  34. [Note: Will posted this comment on August 6, 2012.]

    For a show that is often rooted in comedy, listing Buffy’s mention of Andrew as ‘Tucker’s brother’ as a con is silly, especially as it is obviously there as a running gag, and not meant to be scrutinised

    Like

  35. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 6, 2012.]

    Will, the section is called Minor Pros/Cons. These are only minimally important thoughts that weren’t important enough to be mentioned in the review itself. In this case, Buffy’s comment didn’t make any sense to me, hence why it’s where it is. Nothing silly about it. :p

    Like

  36. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on August 7, 2012.]

    I also figured that Lapsed employee referred to the fact that Giles never contacted the council upon Buffy”s death, normally a watcher would go back to England and await another assignment on something but Giles remained in Sunnydale and then although he went home he never checked in as it were especially after Buffy’s resurrection.

    I think more importantly did Buffy re-join the council in season 5? and again after her death? She never got a new watcher in S6 after Giles left…and the whole lapsed employee thing….

    Like

  37. [Note: Emily posted this comment on September 23, 2012.]

    I always thought that referring to Andrew as Tucker’s brother to Spike made sense. I assumed since they were sleeping together during season 6 that they discussed the Trio. Spike knew about Warren and Jonathan and Andrew, knew they were messing with Buffy, etc. Maybe when he and Buffy talked about it, she referred to him as Tucker’s brother. So it wasn’t an issue imo.

    Like

  38. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on November 9, 2012.]

    I found this episode to be pretty mediocre. Sure, it had its moments but it really wasn’t anything special. Something that consistently annoyed me throughout was how, when Anya started killing people in ‘Selfless’, Buffy jumped straight to the killing without a moments thought. However, with Spike, she doesn’t seem to consider just killing him much at all. I don’t think this is very fair to Xander, especially when we consider her whole speech to him in ‘Selfless’. No wonder Anya points out that Buffy should stab him in the chest – it’s what happened to her!

    Like

  39. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on December 25, 2012.]

    Whenever I get around to this one I have to watch the Willow-Andrew encounter several times, especially Willow’s face when she first sees him. As has been said elsewhere, we get so little opportunity to savor Willow’s hyperpuissance after S6. Chew slowly.Unfortunately this episode seems like the edge of a plateau from which S7 descends irretrievably in the following weeks. I’m working my way through both BtVS and AtVS this time, and I’m finding that each show gives me a little break from what troubles me about the other.

    Like

  40. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on December 25, 2012.]

    I wonder if the Ubervamp fed on any of the Bringers after he arose from the seal. Because, why not really?

    Like

  41. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on December 26, 2012.]

    That would explain why it was so much stronger than all of the hundreds of Ubervamps (starving to death) in the Hellmouth combined from the finale ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  42. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 24, 2013.]

    I very much like this explanation Ryan. It would make sense, the first รœbervamp was fed at least by the blood of Jonathan and then Spike. The army, not being fed, was much weaker.

    These two episodes are very important and interesting for giving a sense of closure to season 6 B/S destructive relation and to start a new and constructive one.

    In the first half of this season, I like the way all scoobies have matured. Buffy is more loving and has found a healthy balance (human/slayer). Xander has learned to trust and is less impulsive in what he says. Anya is learning what it truly means to be human and I find myself enjoying her comical side much more. Dawn is now a very mature teen and she can kick ass ! For Willow, it’s different because she must reconstruct herself, but her struggle with magic and her care for Buffy is well done.

    Something I’ll never understand is how some fans hate Spike because of his past, but love Anya unconditionally despite her past (ร  la Xander). I enjoy both characters for what they are and I could understand the dislike for both, but not one over the other.

    About the soul discussion, obviously Angel and Spike have different personalities. Angel was alone, Spike had help. Also, Spike could have a future with few restraints. Angel can’t: he didn’t earn his soul, he was cursed and can’t take risks to be perfectly happy. Even though he could reach some satisfying happiness (like Wes said, perfect happiness is rare).

    Like

  43. [Note: JEL posted this comment on March 30, 2013.]

    I had always assumed that the gang hid Buffy’s death from the council along with everyone else. So I agree with Odon that it is more likely he became a lapsed employee after Tabula Rasa.

    Like

  44. [Note: JEL posted this comment on March 31, 2013.]

    Oh and Travers says that they stopped tracking Giles after he pulled up stakes from Sunnydale which somewhat fits with it being after Tabula Rasa as well.

    On a different subject, I find it telling that at this point Buffy starts referring to Spike as a “man”. In season 6 Buffy said to Spike that “you are not a man, you are a monster”. Now, here and in other places in the upcoming episodes she speaks of him as a man.

    Like

  45. [Note: Monica posted this comment on August 26, 2013.]

    What really bothers me the most about Spike’s S7 arc that’s very evident here was the ridiculous, unwarranted sympathy we were practically forced to feel for him. Buffy’s use of him to just feel was certainly wrong, but I don’t think we should have to sympathize with Spike because of it. Just cringe-worthy

    Like

  46. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 26, 2013.]

    This isn’t about feeling sympathy for Spike, it’s about Spike finally understanding the depth of what had happened in Season 6. With a soul he understands more of why Buffy did what she did, and there is plenty of blame to go around for how they both acted.

    I don’t see any sympathy for Spike being forced on the viewers in Season 7 at all. I think Spike in Season 7 now has a soul and is capable of understanding things in a way he previously couldn’t. I’m not that sympathetic for Spike, but I am cheering for him to become something greater than he had ever been before. It’s an impressive and well-written arc.

    While you certainly have the right to find all of this “cringe-worthy,” I obviously don’t agree with you. I think the situation is far more complex than you give it credit for.

    Like

  47. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on June 5, 2014.]

    I think in this episode, and in Sleeper, we can finally see some of what it means for Spike to have a soul. In Sleeper he denies adding to the body count, because the guilt over the body count is what is burning him. That is why the second major conversation between Buffy and Spike is so important – he is confessing his worst crimes, which to him are so great that he pleads to be killed.

    The interesting thing is he does not seem to think of killing himself, unlike the way he did when he was stuck wearing a Hawaiian shirt in Xander’s basement. However, suicide has traditionally been considered a sin, so perhaps he does not want to do it.

    Like

  48. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on August 28, 2014.]

    I think Will is right about the Tucker’s brother comment, seems like a running joke among the writers more than anything. Sure, Spike says “oh”, but it’s not very convincing. I doubt he has any idea who Tucker is.

    My guess is that whoever came up with the idea for Andrew’s character pitched the idea to the writing staff and/or the cast, with the idea that his monster-summoning skills were due to the fact that he was Tucker’s brother. I imagine the staff/cast saying “Tucker who?” and then the joke was born.

    Right? Because clearly everyone knows Jonathan, and Warren is reasonably memorable from two fairly recent episodes of late S5, but would anyone really remember the name of the devil dogs guy? I pretty much forgot about him by the end of the Prom itself.

    Like

  49. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on August 28, 2014.]

    One other thing, it could be that all the craziness of the past year has muddled Spike’s brain too much, but I would think he would remember Andrew, at least the sight of his face. Remember the scene where Andrew’s talking about Doctor Who and Red Dwarf? He’s so appalled by Andrew’s utter nerdiness that he has to shout for Warren to rescue him.

    Certainly Spike would remember Andrew more than he would Tucker, even if Buffy had mentioned Tucker’s name at some point. All part of the joke.

    Like

  50. [Note: Vincent posted this comment on April 23, 2015.]

    Most of it was bad bad bad… bad. Bad. BAD.
    I liked the Buffy/Spike talk about why she didn’t kill him. All the rest was terribly bad.
    1) The final fight is totally messy
    2) The scene with Anya and Xander trying to make Andrew talk seems really forced.
    3) As interesting as the idea of the First being Buffy’s last ennemy could be, I still find it really, really confusing.
    4) The Willow and Andrew talk around the butcher’s shop is totally ridiculous.
    “I am Willow. I am death”. Seriously ? What the f*** ?
    5) They brought back the Council to kill them off. Knowing that we hadn’t really heard about the Council for ages. Again : what the f*** ?
    6) Spike has been controlled by the chip since season 4. Suddenly, we don’t even know if it still works, how he managed to sire those women… it’s totally confusing and confused.
    7) I still don’t understand why they brought Andrew back… why he talks to Warren… why he killed Jonathan. Hey ! I’ve got an idea ! They could have brought Gloria back, and she would have tried to kill Drusilla with a broomstick made out of Adam’s skin ! Seriously…

    This season looks like a mess to me. One or two ideas are really not sufficient. The whole package is really, really weak.

    Like

  51. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on April 23, 2015.]

    Surprisingly Andrew is actually one of the more enjoyable aspects of the season, though his humour can be up to personal preference. Also the Warren he was talking to was the First getting him to do stuff

    Like

  52. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 23, 2015.]

    I agree this episode is fairly poor and I don’t agree with Mike here. It’s paced very slow and Andrew’s reintroduction feels forced (even though he is ultimately welcome for his humor later). Spike’s awkward situation is great from a character stand point, but even though some light is shed later as to how and why, it’s quite ridiculous and hard to swallow.

    But the biggest issue is it’s mostly an exposition and setup bomb. This becomes an issue from here till the end for the most part. There’s a lot of plot service, and that’s just not BtVS’s strength. If the plots were interesting, it’d be fine. But they’ve never been. It’s always the characters and the themes that have been the most interesting, relevant, and gratifying. That’s where the season went horribly astray.

    Like

  53. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on April 23, 2015.]

    I’ll always argue that the characters and themes are Season 7’s strong points, but each to their own on that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Like

  54. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 24, 2015.]

    Indeed they are, when they’re emphasized. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Like I’ve said, there’s some really good content in this season. It’s just the focus seems torn between plot and characterization. This is unusual for BtVS, where plot always took a backseat. But I still enjoy it and I still believe it was a necessary addition.

    Like

  55. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on May 14, 2015.]

    I have some doubts on Buffy’s stance on not killing Spike. Admittedly she saw some good in him in Intervention and the beginning of Season 6 but one there was at least a whole year prior to the latter before she saw that good and you’d think the whole attempted rape in Season 6 clouded her view a bit. He then got his soul but at that point he was pretty different and killing him would have been less practical. The whole “men who hurt you” bit might possibly have a bit more merit or at the very least is more interesting. I think the avoidance of the Winchesters not killing Crowley in Supernatural actually makes a bit more sense compared to this since he’s definitely more powerful than the average demon and he was their ally a couple of times (which Spike was too but you questioned it more because he was there a lot more). And this was all before he and the Winchesters’ relationship got more complex but that’s a whole other thing.

    Like

  56. [Note: Revenge Demon posted this comment on September 16, 2016.]

    This episode would have been a great follow up of CWDP… sleeper ruins the continuity… its one of the bad effects crazy spike has on S7… Its already a crowded season and the big focus on spike only makes things worse…

    Like

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