Buffy 7×14: First Date

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson | Director: David Grossman | Aired: 02/11/2003]

I’ve always somewhat enjoyed “First Date,” but it wasn’t until I took a closer look at it that I fully realized why. It’s an episode that gets one thing wrong (i.e. Xander’s date) and almost everything else right. “First Date” also serves up some solid setup for the next three episodes and has some ancillary material that is largely interesting to watch. On top of all that, there’s quite a lot of solid humor along with the always awesome quirky Buffy on display. So without further ado, let’s jump into specifics!

The most pronounced and important piece of setup in “First Date” revolves around the obvious difference of opinion between Buffy and Giles over Buffy’s decision to remove Spike’s chip. The conversation between them is absolutely crucial and very much informs the huge situation that pops up in “Lies My Parents Told Me” [7×17]. This is some excellent dialog representing two different points of view. I can completely buy Giles’ argument too — a new chip might, indeed, prevent the First from manipulating him further if the previous one was malfunctioning when it did it before. Giles has an excellent point. Buffy’s rebuttle is true, but not exactly comforting. She tells Giles, “He can be a good man, Giles. I feel it. But he’s never gonna get there if we don’t give him the chance.”

Another important angle of this conversation is Giles’ concern for Buffy over her feelings for Spike. He believes those feelings are clouding her judgement, and that continuing relations with Spike will only lead her to more pain. He says, “Buffy, I want more for you. Your feelings for him are coloring your judgement. I can hear it in your voice. And that way lies a future filled with pain. I don’t want that for you. … It doesn’t matter if you’re not physical with each other anymore. There’s a connection. You rely on him, he relies on you. That’s what’s affecting your judgment.” I greatly sympathize with Giles’ point and genuinely think his concern is valid. I think Buffy’s response is equally valid though. She tells him that “You think I’m losing sight of the big picture, but I’m not. When Spike had that chip, it was like having him in a muzzle. It was wrong. You can’t beat evil by doing evil.” I think this scene is spot-on.

Another aspect of “First Date” I really appreciate is Buffy’s date with Principal Wood. First of all, there’s the absolutely wonderful Buffyesque self-referential conversation between Buffy, Willow, and Xander about their dates. Then there’s Buffy’s growing excitement over the possibility of having a shot with a “normal” guy. Then there’s the pre-date fight, and it all gets wrapped up with an absolutely lovely dinner sequence between Buffy and Wood. I was absolutely thrilled to see Buffy all dressed up and out in the town for a pleasant evening for a change! Good for her! In a nutshell, I really loved this aspect of the episode. My only sadness is that nothing happened between them after the reality of the situation was revealed.

As for the date itself I, like Buffy, find Wood’s backstory incredibly fascinating. He got that position and got Buffy in her position for very strategic reasons. Speaking of which, I felt Buffy’s bit of pain when she realized she didn’t get hired for her counseling skills, as it does take away a little of bit of authenticity of both her job as counselor and Wood’s interest in her. I really like how Buffy’s eyes lit up when she heard that Wood’s mother was a slayer. It’s almost as if that opens up a possibility for her to be able to do the same someday — something that she never thought could happen before. With that said, the fact Wood’s mom got killed when he was four doesn’t bode too well for the idea. Then again, Buffy seems to find ways to continue to stay alive, so anything’s possible and I’m glad the idea for it was thrown out there. Personally, if written well, I’d love to see Buffy as a mother and a slayer 5-10 years down the road.

Spike’s calm acceptance of Buffy going on a date is worth thinking about. He clearly still loves her, but his “eyes are clear” and wants Buffy to be happy over anything else. When Buffy suggested that Spike also try to go on a date of his own, I can’t help but feel that the comment was a little short-sided. I mean, really, who’s Spike, of all people, going to go on a date with, with his situation, backstory, and, oh yeah, vampirism? I feel a little sorry for Spike, I think largely because he’s in a very hopeless situation romantically at the moment — it’s either Buffy or no one at this place and time. The situation is played for some of its inherent awkwardness when Buffy, Spike, and Wood are all in the car together going to save Xander. I just love how uncomfortable everyone is.

At the end of the episode, though, Spike offers to leave town for everyone’s safety and that he’s not that useful to her. Buffy says she doesn’t need Spike here just for his fighting abilities. I think this is the moment Spike realizes that Buffy’s relying on his growing confidence in himself as much as he is her. Spike does some light probing to suss out what the entire situation is, and Buffy’s response is pretty much “I don’t know.” It is clear, however, that she still feels close and very connected to him. If they ever get physical again, it will definitely take some time. But there’s no denying they’ve still got a strong emotional connection.

The one major aspect of “First Date” that really didn’t work for me was Xander’s date. Although some amusement was definitely gained from Xander going on yet another demon date, which is somewhat fitting to revisit in S7, it doesn’t change the fact that it was executed very poorly. The ‘actress’ playing the demon can’t act worth a grain of salt and sticks out like a throbbing thumb. It makes me a little sad that Xander’s even wasting his time on such an obviously not-for-him type of girl/demon anyway. So, I appreciate the comedy here, but this aspect of “First Date” ultimately doesn’t work all that well for me.

The end of the episode has several important moments. One is Giles’ outburst over the sillyness he sees around him. Everyone’s joking around about their crappy dates while they’re facing a known dangerous threat that’s gathering its forces. This is very much in line with Giles’ personality, and I think his comments have a real effect on Buffy judging by what happens in “Get it Done” [7×15]. Second is the entire end scene with the First coming to Wood as his dead mother. This is very effective, as the First gives Wood the one thing he wants more than anything else, and he bites. Now we’ve got the added tension of Wood wanting to kill Spike at any given moment moving forward.

“First Date” is certainly flawed and it struggles in places with becoming a little too inconsequential. Yet it’s also funny, interesting, and sports some pretty neat setup. After watching it I generally have a smile on my face with the fun dread and excitement in the back of my mind that things are about to happen. The season begins to pick up some steam again from this point on. So… Onward! To the end!

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Buffy’s response to Giles’ outrage at her decision to remove Spike’s chip: chipper and confident.
+ Buffy’s concerned yet perky attitude towards Principal Wood’s recent shifty behavior.
+ Buffy snooping around Wood’s office for evil things.
+ Andrew reading an instruction manual for using a microwave; the First mocking him for it.
+ Andrew making the point that a lot of Buffy’s inner circle are murderers. True, although cicumstances like, ya know, a lack of a soul aren’t really taken into consideration by him.
+ The reference to Dawn spilling pizza sauce on Buffy’s shirt (see “Conversations with Dead People” [7×07] )!
+ Buffy looking — admittedly overly thin — absolutely stunning still.
+ Anya being openly jealous of Xander’s date.
+ Giles’ flash cards!
+ Bad-### Principal Wood taking out a couple vamps!
+ Andrew allowing himself to be wired while talking to the First.
+ The First appearing as Jonathan and creeping everyone out.
+ The cut on Amanda’s head being remembered.

– Although I liked Giles’ little intro chat about watchfullness, it still doesn’t change the fact that the writers played games with us in making us think he was the First. Writers: it didn’t work, move on.
– How did Xander get off a message to Willow while being tied to an ancient device and having his blood pouring out? I guess he could have had it set to send at a certain time automatically in case this happened, but I somehow doubt it.
– The whole Seal of Danzalthar really needs to be explained better. Are there Ubervamps lined up to get out of the seal the moment it ever opens? If so, why didn’t more than one come out in “Never Leave Me” [7×09]? This is just a bit sloppy.


Foreshadowing

* Spike getting beat up badly by a random demon. This hints at the frustration Buffy will express in “Get it Done” [7×15] over his lack of intensity in a fight.
* Andrew stepping up and taking the concept of redemption more seriously. This hints at a big upcoming moment for him, which happens in “Storyteller” [7×16].
* Giles’ persistent disdain over a chipless Spike becomes a big issue in “Lies My Parents Told Me” [7×17].


[Score]

78/100

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77 thoughts on “Buffy 7×14: First Date”

  1. [Note: Darth Bunny posted this comment on April 26, 2009.]

    Reading over the quotes, it seems this is probably the most fun the core scoobies have had together since probably season 3. To see them joking together over dating prospects is something absent from seasons 4-6, what with the distancing of each other in 4, Riley leaving and Joyce’s death in 5, and Buffy’s depression in 6. Those few moments with Willow, Buffy and Xander discussing dates truly felt like the high school years again! 🙂

    However, I did find it odd Giles would be freaked out over their behavior. It might be “in line with Gile’s personality” in say…season 1. However, after 7 years together, I just can’t see Giles getting worked up over this. I mean, during Grave he joked with Buffy over how pathetic her life without him was, even though Willow was in serious pain and still a serious threat. I can’t see Giles viewing the First as a bigger danger than a crazed, anger and grief stricken Willow.

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  2. [Note: Adam posted this comment on April 26, 2009.]

    Great review as always! I think this episode (along with a lot of other episodes from season 7 as I’ve pointed out before) are sloppy. While this may be a “fun” episode like the earlier seasons, it is not nearly as well-written as those were. I felt it kind of boring (especially when you already know what’s going to happen next). There’s nothing that interesting that would make me want to rewatch it. I would’ve gave it a 70-75. Overall, I don’t hate it but it suffers a lot of the same problems other season 7 episodes do.

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  3. [Note: cupprz posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    It amuses me that the prudish networks let them get away with Giles calling Spike a “Burke”. I agree that the writing got increasing sloppy in many episodes of season seven but there was enough to enjoy in each episode to make the series worth watching.

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  4. [Note: Paula posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    oneI like this episode very much – particularly the numerous excellent conversations. It’s true that it builds up nice chemistry between Wood and Buffy which then never goes anywhere, but I think that’s quite plausibly handled: Wood discovers here already that Buffy is very friendly with a vampire (and a little later also learns who exactly this vampire is), which immediately lowers his opinion of Buffy notably, and a few episodes ahead he gets caught by Buffy trying to kill Spike behind her back for personal vengeance reasons, which does nothing to endear him to Buffy to say the least.

    The things that really don’t work for me in this episode are both Wood and Willow pretty much laughing off the idea that Buffy might be doing a good job at counseling (while she tends to be pretty busy and preoccupied with other things, nothing we’ve seen suggests she’s bad at it), and the Chinese Potential’s lines. The latter are just stupid and unrealistic rather than funny – no one talks like that, particularly when it’s clear that nobody understands a word you say. Communication problems with a foreign-speaking Potential could have been handled much better.

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  5. [Note: Tara and Willow posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    Wow another great review! I see your point but i don’ t really like this episode mostly because Xander’s date and some sloppy writting. Though, it’s an average and enjoyable episode!

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  6. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    Mike, you totally rock! I mean, on one review I think you´re being a little harsh, but then on another (this one) you totally surprise me. I guess that´s the wacky thing about reviews, like you say!
    Returning to the episode, I feel your review is amazing and expresses my love for this episode. The Xander part is the one part that doesn´t click in this great episode. And I have to say I don´t get why people are so harsh with this episode.
    Great review, very good score and I´m glad no one beat me to death with a shovel (with words of course) over “The Killer in Me”.

    I am happy!

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  7. [Note: Sam posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    Yay, another review! I’m pretty much in agreement here. The whole “demons are attracted to Xander” thing was lame from the get-go, and I’m glad they abandoned it for most of the series. No need to rehash it now as the show is winding down. Otherwise, this one’s a treat. Jane Espenson has always been the best of the “funny Buffy” writers (see The Replacement; Intervention; Same Time, Same Place).

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  8. [Note: Beppe posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    81 for First Date? I must say that your willingness to treat season 7 as a normal season of Buffy takes you to places I can’t follow… anyway, a great read as usual, keep up the good work!

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  9. [Note: Paula posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    Spike’s calm acceptance of Buffy going on a date is worth thinking about. He clearly still loves her, but his “eyes are clear” and wants Buffy to be happy over anything else. … At the end of the episode, though, Spike offers to leave town for everyone’s safety and that he’s not that useful to her.

    While Spike’s line about his eyes being clear is mostly made in fun, at this point he really is being rather more clear-sighted and objective than might have been thought possible for him ever to be. It’s obvious he’s as much in love with Buffy as ever, but while he’s grateful for having been forgiven to such a degree and for her support and friendship and belief in him, I think he’s here firstly, not at all sure that he’s safe and in full control of himself, secondly, doubtful that he’s of any real use, and thirdly, pretty sure that he’s exactly the wrong sort of guy for Buffy and that she couldn’t nor shouldn’t ever love him back. Both his acceptance of Buffy’s date and the later offer to leave town reflect such thoughts, I think – it doesn’t come easy to him at all, but he’s really, really trying to do what he considers to be the right thing.

    Of course, it will yet turn out that he’s selling himself short on all accounts.

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  10. [Note: darthmarion posted this comment on April 28, 2009.]

    Great review! thanks!

    Darth Bunny pointed out exactly why i like this episode and i think this review has a good insight of the lacks and the goods things! Well done!

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  11. [Note: Christian posted this comment on April 28, 2009.]

    The only things I really enjoy about this episode are the quotes. The conversations that are held are pretty funny and appropriate. I didn’t appreciate the Xander story too much… Ashanti just didn’t quite fit in the Buffyverse and the huge text message ordeal really killed it for me.

    One of the things I liked the most was the creepy conversation between Wood and the first (at the end). I don’t really like Wood, but I think this is my favorite moment from him… especially the “Thank you� the episode closes with.

    Anya funny as usual, Buffy looked particularly beautiful in this episode, Dawn was pretty unnoticed, Willow always so adorable, Xander fat and I loved Gile’s drawings. He’s gotten a lot of beef for his artistry and it’s always so funny, remember S4’s Hush?

    All in all a funny episode, but it felt a lot like a filler during a time when there shouldn’t be any…

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  12. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on April 28, 2009.]

    Christian, I have to disagree with you. “First Date” did had some filler in it (i.e. Xander’s date), but most of everything else was very relevant. There were some excellent character scenes along with some fantastic setup, all of which is pointed out in my review.

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  13. [Note: Christian posted this comment on April 28, 2009.]

    Well yeah, you’re right… the wood story line took a huge step and so did Giles’s. We can understand where he’s coming from for his decisions on “Lies…â€�. But I stand behind my idea of the Xander storyline not being really necessary or even funny…

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  14. [Note: Nix posted this comment on April 29, 2009.]

    cupprz, ‘berk’ is really *really* not strong language to the south-east English. In fact it’s so bleached that I’d think several times before using it lest I be thought an upper-class toff, and its certainly not an epithet I’d come out with automatically. My grandpa might have found it strong.

    (It’s rhyming slang for something definitely still considered strong language, though.)

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  15. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on April 30, 2009.]

    I’m thinking darthmarion means the titles he has for his news posts, when he announces that he’s got a new review?

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  16. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on May 27, 2009.]

    The emotions James Marsters manages to convey through subtle shifts in facial expressions never cease to amaze me. At the end of the episode, when Buffy tells Spike she’s not ready for him not to be there, his face becomes very attentive and blank, except for a single quick flare of his nostrils (that sounds kinda weird in writing)- without saying a word, he makes it clear just how much that statement means to him. I almost missed it, but it’s those little things that make Spike such a wonderful character and show just how much JM brings to the role.

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  17. [Note: Blank posted this comment on June 27, 2009.]

    There’s just one thing I don’t get.
    When Buffy goes all ‘I’m not still in love with Spike, why doesn’t anyone see that?’ it’s kinda weird considering it was heavily implied in Season 6 that she had feelings for Spike, but she didn’t love him.

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  18. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on July 7, 2009.]

    @Blank, There’s considerable debate about that line- apparently the script for the episode omits the word “still”, but it somehow slipped into the dialogue.

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  19. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on October 29, 2009.]

    “Let’s gay” is possibly my favourite line of the whole season! I know it’s really juvenile of me, but it makes me crack up every time!

    Like

  20. [Note: Zaphe posted this comment on January 3, 2010.]

    I would like to mentioned how much I like the scene in the basement after the monster was killed and Buffy went to check on Spike.

    First, Spike looked at Buffy with an expression that seeking and then acknowledging her concern for him. Then Buffy looked at him with a concerned look that showed she’s worried both whether he was hurt badly and why he got knocked down so easily. After Spike patted and assured Buffy he’s fine, he then gave Principal Wood this look when Buffy moved away as if to say – see she worries about me.

    All the above conveyed to audience without a single word uttered. Another great example of JM and SMG’s acting talent.

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  21. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on January 4, 2010.]

    Good episode without Xander’s date.

    This episode had the nice dinner scene with Buffy and Wood, with Buffy saying that some of the meal was probably the best thing she ever had in her mouth…similar to Dawn’s Season 6 comment but with a bit more maturity. I was waiting for the constant phrase from “The Office”.

    Jonathan back again and mocking Andrew for something that should be intuitive.

    Xander asking Willow to “gay” him up was funny with more reference to the sexuality of Andrew.

    Agree with the question about the text message.

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

    Wood checks his review mirror with Spike sitting in the back… and only realises he’s a vampire in the basement?

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  23. [Note: ShellRoth posted this comment on July 23, 2010.]

    I really enjoy most of this episode and agree with your review but there’s one thing that really bugs me. Forgive me if this has been mentioned before, but when Robin reveals to Buffy that his mother was a slayer and that she was killed by a vampire wouldn’t she immediately suspect Spike? FFL is one of my favorite episodes. How could she just conveniently forget that? Hate to be nitpicky but…

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  24. [Note: vanvan posted this comment on December 1, 2010.]

    they should have found a girl who actually can speak Cantonese. It was hilarious for me to listen to her speak Cantonese in a huge mandarin accent.

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  25. [Note: Andreas posted this comment on December 1, 2010.]

    Shellroth, that was my first thought as well. Wood’s mom is probably the one Spike killed in the subway in Fool for Love.

    vanvan, I thought the Canto sounded fishy. I only have a very rudimentary knowledge of the language but living in HK I could tell that her accent was definitely off. How hard is it to find an actress who speaks Canto properly? A rather large proportion of Chinese emigrants are originally from the Pearl River Delta. Funny overall as a throwaway gag though.

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  26. [Note: Paula posted this comment on December 2, 2010.]

    when Robin reveals to Buffy that his mother was a slayer and that she was killed by a vampire wouldn’t she immediately suspect Spike?

    Um, why exactly would she have done so? I’ll bet that vampire slayers (and there have been quite a number of them even within the last forty years, what with most Slayers lasting a couple of years at best at the job, I gather) are eventually almost exclusively killed by demons, mostly vampires, which Buffy knows all too well. While we saw in Fool for Love that the second Slayer killed by Spike was black, Buffy didn’t watch Spike’s mental video, and the color of that particular Slayer’s skin never came up. Neither was New York mentioned in First Date (or before, in connection with Robin, I think). So no particular reason for Buffy to come to think of a connection. Giles didn’t, either, until a name he recognized came up.

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  27. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on January 19, 2011.]

    The best parts about this episode are the comedic bits. Anya and Andrew are both awesomely funny, as usual, and the miscommunication with the new potential is amusing but Giles’ drawings and everyone’s reactions to them take the cake in this episode. Fantastically hysterical.

    I do like the set up of Wood’s role in the final episodes. That his mother was the Slayer and turns out to be one of the Slayers that Spike talks about killing in Fool For Love was great. I enjoyed this story line. I just wish that they didn’t just stop the relationship between Buffy and Wood so abruptly. It’s almost like the date didn’t happen for the rest of the season. I suppose it is because Buffy took Giles’ warning seriously about not getting distracted and by the time everything was over, the attraction wsa gone.

    Ashanti is the worst actress I have ever seen. Terrible. And Xander dating a demon YET AGAIN was old and boring. And how Xander was about to text Willow is a horrific plot hole. But the most egregious thing about this story is just what you said, MikeJer…the whole concept that each time blook is poured onto the seal ONE ferocious vampire is released into the world is cockamamie ridiculousness. I don’t even have words to say how stupid I think this is. It bothered me upon the first viewing and now it just pisses me off.

    @DFAS Giles – Wow…you are so right. I can’t believe I never picked up on that. Robin clearly looks in the rearview mirror at Spike. He shouldn’t have seen him!

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  28. [Note: Rahel posted this comment on February 6, 2011.]

    fun episode and great review!

    As for the text message, I always figured Xander texted the signal for “I got lucky, don’t call me for a while” as they were leaving the coffee shop. Willow doesn’t remember the signals, so she luckily assumes the more likely scenario.

    I was also bothered by that glance in the rearview mirror. They had it set up so well, and then ignored it completely! Ugh. Also, how the seal works makes no sense. But we knew that already.

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  29. [Note: SpikeFan posted this comment on April 30, 2011.]

    Maybe I didn’t see you write it in your review… but did anyone catch Buffy’s convo with Willow. She said “Why does everyone think I’m still in love with Spike?!” Well that is a major discrepancy due to that fact that Buffy never loved Spike!! She couldn’t trust him, last season she merely “liked” him and “needed” him to use.

    That is a major hole right there, how could the writers let that slip??

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  30. [Note: SpikeFan posted this comment on May 4, 2011.]

    She never loved Spike until the end of course, but she slips up here and insinuates that she already had.

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  31. [Note: Joe posted this comment on May 4, 2011.]

    OR, instead of a plot hole, it could be an unconscious admission on Buffy’s part that some portion of her DID (and to an extent still does) love him.

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  32. [Note: RunawayMarbles posted this comment on June 29, 2011.]

    I thought someone said earlier that the “still” was a slip-up and not in the script? Apparenlty the line originally was “Why does everyone think I’m in love with Spike?”

    Can’t confirm this, though.

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  33. [Note: keekey posted this comment on November 28, 2011.]

    Meh, I had very mixed feelings on this episode. It had some great bits (the Buffy/Giles convo about Spike’s chip, Giles’ flashcards, and Wood’s scene with the First Evil immediately jump to mind) but overall I agree with those who wrote that it had sloppy, disjointed feel. From the very first scene, Spike tackling Giles was dopey. Why wouldn’t Spike have heard the Scoobies already confirmed Giles wasn’t the First Evil (in the last episode)? He’s living with them all now! He’s not totally out of the loop. And somehow he didn’t think of the fact that he couldn’t tackle the First Evil? That seems a bit unlikely given all the time he recently spent with the First Evil.

    Also, I understand the writers’ desire to inject some lightness at this point in the season and, sure, that life goes on even with an impending apocalypse is very Buffy, but having both Xander and Wood suddenly show an interest in dating at this juncture still seemed very random and not really in character for either of them. Wood is a great and he & Buffy have some fun chemistry but, given that their date leads nowhere, it ended up having an annoyingly contrived “let’s introduce a romantic complication” feel to it. Spike and Wood obviously are going to have a very serious basis for conflict going forward (Spike having killed Wood’s mother) so it seemed silly to introduce a romantic rivalry angle, as well. (Although Spike does make a big effort to be okay with Buffy’s date, he volunteers to go interrupt it about seven times).

    Overall, I’d probably give this episode a C+. Some really good scenes but also quite a bit that I wish had been done differently.

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  34. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on January 5, 2012.]

    I read online that there is a gravestone saying “Snyder” in this episode. I haven’t spotted it yet, but if it’s true then it’s unbelievably cool!

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  35. [Note: Helen posted this comment on May 11, 2012.]

    In response to the question of how Xander got that message to Willow, I think he sent it with the “Don’t disturb me, I got lucky” intent originally, which makes it even funnier.

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  36. [Note: Odon posted this comment on June 2, 2012.]

    Or Xander simply sent it before he got tied to a big wheel, like when his date started hauling him down to the basement of Sunnydale High, that would be a clue that things weren’t quite right.

    As for Wood looking in the rearview mirror, I assumed he didn’t see anyone there, but he’s puzzled because Spike is obviously friends with the Vampire Slayer. When Spike vamps out it confirms his suspicions.

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  37. [Note: Erin posted this comment on December 12, 2012.]

    Yes, I did notice the gravestone saying ‘SNYDER’ during my viewing of the episode. Hilarious and definitely there.

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  38. [Note: Great Whazoo posted this comment on January 19, 2013.]

    Didn’t Buffy ask Angel how he shaved without a reflection in a mirror? Then how did Spike’s reflection appear in the car’s rear view mirror? ( I hope I’m not confusing this question with another “Vampire” show )

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  39. [Note: Alex posted this comment on January 21, 2013.]

    I think that was the point DFAS Giles was making: Wood should have realised Spike was a vampire as soon as he checked his rear-view mirror, because Spike presumably wouldn’t have shown up in it.Vampires aren’t supposed to have reflections in the Buffyverse, but of course it’s impossible to omit the actors’ reflections 100% of the time. Nothing beats the opening credits of Angel though, where Angel’s reflection shows up prominently in the puddle at the end. And they kept that shot in the credits for five whole seasons!

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  40. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on January 21, 2013.]

    Maybe he figured out that Spike was a vampire from the mirror thing, but until the basement fight he didn’t know that Buffy knew? I forget his specific reaction.

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  41. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 26, 2013.]

    I was glad I wasn’t the only one to laugh about Buffy’s counselling skills: first Willow, then Woods. It made me feel sad for Buffy, but it was very irresponsible from Woods – who takes his job as principal very seriously – to hire Buffy as such. It was wrong to let Buffy believe she was right for the job and it was wrong for the poor students who needed real counsel.

    I don’t really appreciate Giles characterization. He talks to Buffy with reproach, not with advices, even though what he says about Spike makes sense. Also, he seems to have reverted back to season 1 when he couldn’t understand that even in the worst of times, you need to relax and joke, or else you sink. Again, another factor to put Buffy on edge. He should be the wisest and so, he should have taken charge from the start, instead he’s drowning Buffy in responsibilities and guilt: that doesn’t sound like the Giles we know.

    I’m also sorry that they didn’t go further with Buffy and Woods, the scene in the restaurant were nice, with a good chemistry.

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  42. [Note: JEL posted this comment on April 26, 2013.]

    I am not convinced that Woods necessarily had a romantic interest in Buffy when he invited her to dinner. Or if he did, it was minor and secondary to the main purpose which was to talk to her about being the Slayer, his mother etc. I don’t think there was any real opportunity there that was missed. (At least within the story itself.)

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  43. [Note: RetepAdam posted this comment on September 13, 2013.]

    Giles missing the point so hard at the start of the episode seemed contrived.

    With the chip in his head, Spike could be controlled by The First and attack anyone, period, end of story. However, he couldn’t fight back against the Bringers without pain. So, there was zero upside and all downside. Getting the chip out at least allows him to be an asset as a fighter.

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  44. [Note: mwsc042 posted this comment on December 2, 2013.]

    I noticed something during a recent viewing that I hadn’t before – at the very beginning of the alley fight when the first vampire turns the corner – that is the same vampire we saw in the opening sequence of 5.22! It’s only for a brief second, but I watched and re-watched that same segment and am convinced it’s reused footage. Not to mention we don’t actually see that same vampire at all during the fight (dark lighting and quick editing aside…). Anybody else pick up on that or is it just me seeing things? I wonder how much other reused footage there is throughout the series, I’m fairly certain now that the practice here and on Angel was minimal.

    Like

  45. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on January 5, 2014.]

    One of the things I love about this show is how the titles always refer to multiple storylines. Buffy and Xander are experiencing first dates, while Andrew and Wood are experiencing dates with the First.

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  46. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on January 29, 2014.]

    I can’t dislike the Xander storyline in this episode because it pays off so nicely with the “Xander wants to become gay” joke at the end.

    I thought the Asian jokes were a bit off base. And I don’t particularly like the scene at the end. You’re talking to the freakin first evil, Wood! Why are you giving him the time of day, much less letting him manipulate you!

    And I disagree with Giles on the whole “Why are people still dating?” thing. You have to go on with your life, you can’t let circumstances take over and suck out all your happiness or living becomes pointless. Not an episode flaw necessarily, but if that was a point the episode was trying to make I have an issue with it.

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  47. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on March 1, 2014.]

    I agree that the Xander date is awful, but I don’t think the problem is just in the fault of the actress. The lines and the logic are lousy. He is the one making all the moves on her, and yet she has been planning all along to tie him up and bleed him? I like the idea that there are signals that they are supposed to use with their cell phones – but he is tied up. When could he have reached his cell?

    Giles’s behavior at the end bothered me, too – I thought he was reacting harshly with respect to their joking around – until I took a look at the big picture from his perspective. The Watcher’s Council has been blown up and most of the Potentials have already been murdered. He used to have a large organization backing him, but now he is nearly all of what remains. The pressure must be enormous. I wish that the Buffy verse had done more with this; Giles needed more arc in this season and this could have been the impetus to supply it.

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  48. [Note: Seele posted this comment on March 1, 2014.]

    1) Maybe she wasn’t planning on killing Xander, just someone, and Xander’s interest in her just happened to make him convenient?

    2) Willow couldn’t remember whether his code meant “help me” or “ignore me,” so maybe he tried to send the Ignore code and accidentally ended up needing the Help code anyway?

    3) Interesting. If they’d done that – emphasized that Giles didn’t know what he was supposed to do anymore – would that have partially forgiven (on the part of the writers, not necessarily on the part of him) his inconsistency about what Buffy’s authority and responsibilities should be?

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  49. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on March 1, 2014.]

    It would not just be ignorance on Giles’s part, but the huge psychological whammy that comes with realizing he is, as far as we know, the last watcher (although I guess that one guy in the UK survived, but he was surely incapacitated for a while). No matter how old you are it is devastating to lose your parents.

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  50. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on March 2, 2014.]

    Maybe, with the chip out, Spike just felt like tackling Giles? Giles gave him a lot of grief over the last few years, even when Spike gave a lot…

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  51. [Note: the_long_way_round25 posted this comment on May 18, 2014.]

    The grave with ‘Snyder’ on it in the scene with Giles & the Potentials in one of Sunnydale’s cemeteries.

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  52. [Note: ILikeSpike posted this comment on October 3, 2015.]

    I totally agree and, please, a huge shoutout to James Marsters for his heartbreakingly superb acting during, and especially at the end of, this scene; he looks so emotionally thrashed. My heart bleeds more for Spike in that one second than at any other point in the whole series because he’s trying so hard to do the right thing.

    Like

  53. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 27, 2015.]

    So I rewatched the “death wish” scene from Fool for Love recently and I just got this feeling that having Wood be the mother of that slayer just feels so trivial. It gives you the feeling that the world is a lot smaller than it is. Now that’s not to say you can’t connect events to certain characters retroactively and make it work (Breaking Bad for example) but something about how it was done here just didn’t do Fool For Love any favours (and I’m not even THAT crazy about that episode though it is very good). It didn’t really feel like they got that much use out of it in regards to Spike’s development. I give them credit for trying but it just didn’t seem to come together in any grand way.

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  54. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on November 27, 2015.]

    If you didn’t think the show got much use out of that aspect with regards to Spike’s development, let me introduce you to an episode called “Lies My Parents Told Me”.

    Like

  55. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 27, 2015.]

    Wasn’t really crazy about that one anyway. Plus a lot of that development was more focused on the trigger as opposed to Wood (though he still played a part).

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  56. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 27, 2015.]

    Mainly Becoming Part 2 (though the Lie has become problematic), The Body (even though it’s a downer and it feels a little too different from a Buffy episode despite people saying it’s a point for Buffy to be taken seriously on the whole) and Once More with Feeling (it’s really grown on me).

    Like

  57. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 27, 2015.]

    In fact for the sake of simplicity here’s the reasons why I can’t give a P to the same episodes that Mike did:

    Innocence (pretty good and I’ve gained appreciation for it now that I understand it’s place in the series but something about it doesn’t click, maybe it’s the idea of the sex leading to the loss of the soul or something)

    Passion (also pretty good and the Passion speech is great, I think why this one felt off to me is that I knew Joyce was gonna die a natural death in the series so when Jenny died here it felt kind of weird, plus there’s a bit of contrivance)

    I Only Have Eyes For You (lack of subtlety and the plot isn’t that strong)

    The Wish/Graduation Day Part 2 (since Mike has stated he doesn’t really consider these P level anymore I won’t say much, Wish in particular is pretty flawed and Grad just didn’t go all the way for me.

    Hush (I’ve stated this elsewhere but I feel this one is overrated, the communication theme isn’t that well thought out, there are several holes in the plot and bits are contrived, the atmosphere and monsters are great though)

    Who Are You? (Pretty good but it doesn’t quite go up there, the Angel two-parter definitely felt more investment worthy)

    RESTLESS (actually I think this would be another episode that I’m kind of crazy about, lot of details and stuff, it’s just annoying how the foreshadowing outside the Season 5 stuff is such a let down)

    No Place Like Home (fine but no really anything to go nuts over)

    Fool for Love (pretty good and the backstory is really good but I never really felt the level of Love (get it) for this one that others do)

    The Gift (while this is one of the stronger finales, Buffy’s thoughts prior to the sacrifice are pretty cringe-worthy and some stuff doesn’t add up, great music though)

    After Life (I really liked this one when I first watched it but the shallowness of the plot has gotten to me, still really good but some tweaking could have made this one stronger)

    Dead Things (The Trio material is really good but I just don’t care for the Buffy/Spike stuff, especially since it’s partially ripping off Faith and Ted, the title is pretty cool)

    Normal Again (I just don’t feel like it’s P level, maybe the concept could have been taken a bit farther)

    Selfless (Oh boy this one was up there for a while but the Buffy and co material as really begun to piss me off recently)

    Conversations with Dead People (another one I really like but the inconstancies with the first and other broken promises really let this one down in retrospect)

    Lies my Parents Told Me (Some good Spike material I guess but I just can’t get a feel for Giles’ actions here, good title)

    Like

  58. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 27, 2015.]

    Since me and Scott posted at the same time be sure not to miss my reasons for not going along with some of Mike’s P scores.

    Like

  59. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 27, 2015.]

    To be fair it’s not like I have a long list of “OMG amazing episodes” for other shows either. Like if something is going to get a P level for me it’s got to be damn enjoyable and give me reason to keep coming back.

    Like

  60. [Note: J.C. posted this comment on November 27, 2015.]

    Earlier, I thought a “P” score for Louis simply meant a passing grade. And I’m like, “Shit, he REALLY doesn’t like this show.” LOL

    I wouldn’t give out a lot of 10/10s to any series, either (lots of 9s for BtVS, though).

    Like

  61. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 16, 2016.]

    When Buffy talks about it being wrong for Spike to have that muzzle being wrong I’m presuming that she was referring to it being on him with a soul and not before since that chip was really the catalyst for him to grow as a person. I guess the idea is that if she had chosen to give him a new chip that would be the act of evil since she would be giving a restraint to a potentially good person.

    Huh the security code for this one said UTAH. That’s odd.

    Like

  62. [Note: Doyden posted this comment on April 21, 2016.]

    Re the chip
    Spike could at any time found a dr to remove it if he payed them . This is America after all where money can get you what you want wether it’s the right thing or not
    He never does ,interesting I think ,he tries once , but only because his pissed off .Perhaps he likes being able to connect with other other people after all harmony is hardly an incentive to change

    Like

  63. [Note: Doyden posted this comment on April 23, 2016.]

    I am sure wolfram and hart would have obliged for a price , after all they look out for their demon clients

    Like

  64. [Note: Doyden posted this comment on April 23, 2016.]

    I don’t remember it said that of all demons only vampires cast no reflection,he might have suspected ,but only had confirmation later during the fight

    Like

  65. [Note: Samm posted this comment on April 23, 2016.]

    But there was no W&H presence is Sunnydale, Spike doesn’t understand what they do nor care. All he knows are they are evil lawyers.

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  66. [Note: Traveler81 posted this comment on May 2, 2016.]

    My interpretation of the “Why does everyone thing I’m still in love with Spike?!” is more of a flippant reference to Buffy’s intense attraction to and connection with Spike.

    It’s a lot easier to say “in love with” than explain the complex relationship they have. She doesn’t say it in a serious way, so I don’t see any continuity problems.

    Perhaps subconsciously though, she’s wondering if she’s currently in love with Spike.

    Like

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