Buffy 7×20: Touched

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rebecca Rand Kirshner | Director: David Solomon | Aired: 05/06/2003]

As Buffy the Vampire Slayer enters its final three episodes Rebecca Rand Kirshner, for the first time, gets everything right. Pretty much all of her episodes have been solid outings, but this is the first one that really sucked me in and didn’t let go. “Touched” is the last episode of the series that is pretty much entirely focused on the characters, and it spreads that love to a lot of people, with Buffy, Faith, and Spike leading the charge. The writing is clever in several places and the acting is as solid as ever. This is one of those all-around solid episodes that doesn’t make any major mistakes.

In the wonderful opening scene we see a mixture of confusion, excitement, and frenzy. The now Buffy-less group is mostly pleased she’s gone, but the frenetic camera tells us that the situation is not as pleasing. This scene uses the shaky cam style correctly by not overdoing it and using it to express a specific emotion — a sense of panic. Faith doesn’t even know what to say at first, so she settles on postponing the discussion for another day. When the discussion continues we, expectedly, see Kennedy trying to push her ideas on everyone and act like she’s the leader now. It’s obvious what Kennedy wants, but to her credit she listens when Faith tells her to back off.

Things get really interesting when Spike returns to find Buffy gone. Spike’s initial reaction to Willow’s colorful rendition of what happened to Buffy is absolutely hilarious. But more importantly, it’s wonderful seeing Spike stand up for Buffy when no one else will. Earlier this season Buffy put her faith in Spike, and it’s now paying off for her with Spike gladly showing his faith in return. Their reliance on each other really asserts itself here and has become something quite beautiful and powerful. I also love the nod to “Lies My Parents Told Me” [7×17] (in regard to the comment about Buffy surpassing Giles) and Buffy’s series-wide growth as a person and a leader.

The soul of this episode is really the sublime scene between Buffy and Spike in a then abandoned house. As this scene begins, I get the impression that Buffy is sulking and just wants to beat herself up over how everything’s gone down. At first, Spike seems to be a bit overly earger to defend her regardless of the facts. They’re both coming from opposite extremes, and it takes a little bit of conversation and expression between the two of them to find that healthy place of perspective in the middle. As Spike somewhat smugly points out, Buffy was right about the vinyard. The thing is, I always thought Buffy’s argument was plausible, just that her approach wasn’t. This is something Buffy realizes after a little spirit boost from Spike and is why she plays the dodge game with Caleb alone.

But before I jump ahead, let me dig a little deeper into this scene between Buffy and Spike. Spike is kind of right when he says, “You were their leader and you still are. This isn’t something you gave up. It’s something they took.” Their conversation, with the usual brilliant mixture of funny and sorrowful, eventually makes its way to Buffy getting all introspective. She essentially re-verbalizes what she was getting at with Xander and Willow in “Selfless” [7×05] and fully came to understand in “Conversations with Dead People” [7×07]. This time around she’s still using her uniqueness as an excuse to cut herself off from people. The fact Buffy kept herself isolated from the potentials wasn’t a huge surprise, and was actually foreshadowed by these two earlier episodes. What we’ve seen in S7 so far is that characteristic stretched to its extreme and displayed on a larger scale.

Buffy says to Spike, “People are always trying to connect with me, and I just slip away. You should know.” Spike amusingly responds, “I seem to recall a certain amount of connecting.” But Buffy’s right when she said they “were never close.” But she strikes a bit of a nerve when she tells him that he only wanted her because she was unattainable.

Spike, now having listened to her “pity ditty,” responds with one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard a television character say to another. So I’m just going to quote it: “You listen to me. I’ve been alive a bit longer than you, and dead a lot longer than that. I’ve seen things you couldn’t imagine and done things I’d prefer you didn’t. I don’t exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood, which doesn’t exactly rush in the direction of my brain. So I make a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong bloody calls. A hundred plus years and there’s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of. You. Hey, look at me. I’m not asking you for anything. When I say I love you, it’s not because I want you, or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you… and I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You are a hell of a woman. You’re the one, Buffy.”

This scene is sublime in ways I can’t even put into words. It’s not only amazing in its own right, but it’s a superb culmination of seven years worth of Buffy’s fantastic character development and insight. I also can’t think of a better end to the tumultuous relationship between Buffy and Spike. When I see the two of them just holding each other in a loving embrace, I can’t help but feel a little bit of that love rub off on me too. This moment isn’t about sexual attraction, desire, or lust. It’s about pure undiluted and genuine love between them. And it’s in this moment that I think Buffy comes to love Spike in return. It’s a love and respect from one person to another — the Jesus kind of love, if you will. After this scene, it becomes absolutely no surprise to me at all when I see Spike letting himself burn to save Buffy and the world in “Chosen” [7×22]. Wonderful!

Although the Buffy/Spike scene takes away the ‘top moment’ prize, there’s several other notable moments that are worth cheering. One is the reunion of sort between Faith and the Mayor. The episode puts Faith in a very new position, one of leadership, in which she’s a bit out of her league. I’m so glad Harry Groener returned for this — I can’t think of a better way to get under Faith’s skin than to have her face the Mayor again after all that’s happened in her life. I also like that the First, although very much embellishing the Mayor’s personality, gets right to it and starts twisting that metaphorical knife by firing up that animosity between her and Buffy. He says, “You’re doing a great job with them, by the way. Much better than Buffy ever did. You were smart to kick her out. … You think she cares about you? She nearly killed you, Faith. … No matter what you do, Buffy will always see you as a killer, not as a person.”

After the First rattles Faith a bit, Wood comes in and ends up chatting with her about it. Wood touches on the theme of not only the episode, but also something that’s very close to Buffy’s series-wide personal struggle. He says, “listen, nobody wants to be alone, Faith. We all want someone who cares, to be touched that way.” Let me make note of the fact that I think it’s worth working hard to find that person too. One additional note is that I think it’s premature for Wood to tell Faith that she’s doing a good job leading — she’s hardly done anything yet and hasn’t even been tested under extreme circumstances. That will certainly change by the end of the episode though.

Speaking of being touched, it’s at this point where everyone pretty much just ‘gets it on.’ This scene is constructed in a very interesting way. Each sex scene is preceeded by a conversation by the respective couple. Faith and Wood talk about the First and loneliness, Kennedy tries to help Willow feel safe and grounded, and Xander and Anya pretty much just get it on. The scene begins and ends, though, back on Buffy and Spike, simply holding each other in true love and understanding of one another. To me, anyway, there’s something about that kind of raw emotional connection — sans selfish physical gratification — that feels transcendent in its power. Also interesting is the quick cut of the First relating to that connection by twisting the human need to feel into a desire for tactile evil. Neat stuff.

The next day, we see everything play out. There’s also a few enlightening comments, such as when Wood asks Faith where she needs him, and she responds with “by your phone. I’ll call you when I need you.” Ouch, but totally Faith — someone who hasn’t achieved the understanding of herself that Buffy has. The Faith-leading group at the house run into a trap while Buffy strikes a huge success against Caleb and grabs what he’s been hiding from her. This is a touching statement about the myriad forms of love and what each can bring to the table in a time of crisis. Some forms are temporary in their power, while others are more far reaching.

The end of the episode consists of two battle sequences that play out very differently — one lead by Faith, and one by Buffy alone (although not alone in spirit). Faith and the potentials run into a bomb while Buffy, in a very cool-looking sequence and with a renewed confidence, evades Caleb and finds what she’s looking for. This is really fun to watch. It’s neat how the confusion (swirling flashlights and all) of the potentials’ fight with the bringers connects us with the frantic camera in the beginning of the episode.

Although “Touched” isn’t a shocking game-changer, it’s nonetheless an example of a very solid character-based outing that gets just about everything right. The episode also does a great job at bringing out my emotions and connection with the characters. From the frantic opening sequence to the Mayor visiting Faith to Spike’s tremendously beautiful conversation with Buffy to the fascinating intercutting of the characters all trying to feel loved and touched by one another to Buffy’s slick fight with Caleb, “Touched” has a bit to think about, a bit to cheer about, and a whole lot to fall in love with. All in all a great episode.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ I hesitate to put to ‘+’ on here just because Felicia Day’s talking in this episode, but what the heck, here it is.
+ The idea of using Kennedy to bait a bringer out into the open.
+ The spell to make the bringer speak by channeling itself through Andrew. It’s just oddly fitting.
+ Spike not taking ‘no’ for an answer and Buffy postulating, “boy, you really do have a problem with that word, don’t you?” Hurray for subtle continuity!

– Why did Giles kill the bringer they were interrogating so abruptly? The information he was getting was accepted as worthy intelligence!
– The bedroom conversation between Willow and Kennedy feels a bit awkward to me simply because their personalities are so very different from each other. Although I don’t hate their relationship by any means, it certainly doesn’t seem like a good match to me.


[Score]

95/100

Advertisements

140 thoughts on “Buffy 7×20: Touched”

  1. [Note: DarthMarion posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    Beautiful review! I would be a little harsher with the ep. Because I find the fact that Faith is so good at strategy and leadership a little bit odd (however, in the ends, they fall in the trap). Also, even if I find Spike’s speech really beautiful, it sounds really…like a speech, a little bit unnatural. And finally, well, I did’nt find the scene with everyone sleeping together except for Buffy and Spike not so subtle.

    And it wouldn’t be a cons if some episodes in the final five weren’t forgetting them in some way, but the lack of Xander, or Anya and Dawn makes me a little sad.

    Nice conclusion to your review: “”Touched” has a bit to think about, a bit to cheer about, and a whole lot to fall in love with. All in all a great episode.”. I love when you say things like that Mike!

    Also, yay for the fresh new site, shiny ^^! Will you give your views on another show? I know after seven seasons of review you’d be exhausted, but I’d be here reading for sure!

    Like

  2. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    Great review, mike. And I completely agree with the score as well. It´s so nice to see that someone else, other than me, thinks this episode is awesome and that is completely all about the characters. I get the feeling that most people hate this episode and it´s unfair. And I´m also glad you mentioned one of my favourite scene in this episode: the scene where the First Evil is talking about how it misses feeling a neck snap. Wonderful and SMG nails it.

    But really, this review illustrates what I feel about the episode.

    btw, the new site is very good. Very shiny!

    Like

  3. [Note: Emily posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    It’s so nice to read a new review again!!! The new site looks awesome, Mike.[quote]And it’s in this moment that I think Buffy comes to love Spike in return.[/quote]I totally and one hundred percent agree. I think Bangel fans like to delude themselves into thinking that Buffy never loved Spike- that she only told him that in “Chosen” because he was going to die. IMO, she never loved him the way she loved Angel, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t love him. There are many different kinds of love, and I truly believe that in the end, Buffy and Spike *did* love for each other.

    Like

  4. [Note: Dave C posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    Good review, Mike. This really is a great episode, and it almost–ALMOST–makes up for the crapfest that is “Empty Places.” Call me a sap, but the Buffy/Spike scene is one of my favorite things in all of Season 7.

    Like

  5. [Note: Mel posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    “Why did Giles kill the bringer they were interrogating so abruptly? The information he was getting was accepted as worthy intelligence!”

    Morale, I would say. I mean, the girls are already feeling like the big bads are gonna kick their asses, and then they hear about the way the bringers are hiveminding to end them all? (I know only a couple were in the room with him, but don’t tell me those girls don’t talk.) There’s no need to let them be even more terrified. They got what they needed and then Giles cut him off before he was able to do damage to the fighting force.

    Like

  6. [Note: Susan posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    Great review. I’ve been looking forward to it since I love this episode, mostly because of the Buffy/Spike scene. Looking forward to your next two reviews and wrap-up of the whole season. I watched this episode last night and the Buffy/Spike scene by itself again after that. (I definitely need to get a life!) In my opinion she’s loved him for quite a while, even in season six (pre-soul), at least up to the attempted rape scene. Why else would she be jealous and hurt in the pre(non)wedding scene and again when she sees him with Anya?

    Like

  7. [Note: Adam posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    I think this is a good episode in a not-so-good season. It’s weird thinking about how in season 4 when Buffy and Spike were real enemies how their relationship would end up turning into. BtVS is at it’s final episodes at this point, and I think it should’ve gone out with a bang. Really not that much happens until the last half an hour of Chosen. So, therefore, I’d give this episode an 80-85.

    I could go on and on but I’ll just stop here for now.

    Like

  8. [Note: Sam posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    When I saw the update just now, I almost went through the roof. I am so excited that you came through with another review and that you finished your updates (for now). It must have taken a lot out of you.

    About Touched — I am really pleased that you are distinguishing the differences between these last episodes. When I watched the last five episodes of the series, the four episodes before Chosen were so similar in their plot (winding down the series) and visual texture (that grainy, shaky cam look) that I was not really able to distinguish between the quality of these episodes. They all felt about the same to me, so your individual analyses are proving really helpful. Thanks.

    I must also say that I am impressed by the Spike/Buffy scene, as well, and this is coming from someone who thought the writers cut too many corners in establishing a Spuffy scenario. It really paid off here.

    Like

  9. [Note: Ender posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    “You sad, sad ungrateful traitors”

    I love that line and I love this episode. I’ve always been a fan of Spike, and I’ve never understood why so many people bash the last two seasons of Buffy. This episode shows so much of the relationship between Spike and Buffy. Whenever Buffy is ready to just give up, it’s always Spike who turns it around. It’s just a beautiful relationship and feel a lot more mature than the teen angst relationship that was Bangel. The Spike/Buffy relationship just felt so real. It wasn’t a fairytale. They hurt each other, they abused each other, and ultimately, they relied on each other. A great episode, and a great review too, incidentally.

    Like

  10. [Note: Emily posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    [quote]In my opinion she’s loved him for quite a while, even in season six (pre-soul), at least up to the attempted rape scene. Why else would she be jealous and hurt in the pre(non)wedding scene and again when she sees him with Anya?[/quote]Susan, I don’t think she loved him in S6. Could Buffy have loved a soulless thing? I also don’t think the jealousy is proof of her love. You could be jealous without loving someone. I definitely think she cared for him, starting back in S5, but I don’t think she started to love him until S7.

    Like

  11. [Note: Christian posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    Such a nice episode and great review.

    The only thing that kind of bothered me is the Scythe coming out of nowhere… or was it just me? Did I miss something?

    Other than that, great ep! I realy liked that they included a Heather Nova song. The osng is called “It’s Only Love” and it was included in the European Version of the Buffy Soundtrack “Radio Sunnydale”.

    Like

  12. [Note: Phrenesia posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    Wonderful review, Mike! I’ve read so many opinions on all the episodes, most of them pretty controversial, but I always come back to yours =) I understand the characters and their motivations the same way you do. Plus I love no end that you like Spike *g* It’s a nice change from the still-raging Spike Wars on other forums.

    And it’s in this moment that I think Buffy comes to love Spike in return.

    *sighs* His speech is probably the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen/read. Big plus is the lack of weird metaphors of stars and hearts and stuff..it’s so simple and honest. Very poetic..=P

    Like

  13. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    Yay, a new review! And it was worth the wait. You summed up beautifully why the episode was so incredibly, well, touching. That scene between Spike and Buffy just makes my heart melt.

    Like

  14. [Note: wytchcroft posted this comment on October 4, 2009.]

    Solid episode where the different elements come together –

    compared to Empty Places where they just fall apart.

    The fact that Empty Places is so bad might make this story gleam a little brighter than it should (the end of S7 is so low key which i still find weird, not necessarily bad just… odd)- but yeah it’s a good one.

    Like

  15. [Note: Colin posted this comment on October 4, 2009.]

    While this episode had many important moments and showings of charcter developments, it was truly a bit boring in places, and though it has done nothing wrong, it wasn’t on the same pegging as other A episodes.

    Also, you are being WAY too harsh with the spelling/grammer thing. My friend posted a message that was perfectly reasonable on here and said it was deleted. Not all countries have american spelling, you know.

    Like

  16. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 4, 2009.]

    @Colin: I have deleted very few comments in the site’s entire history. The few I’ve removed (we’re talking less than five total) were basically complete gibberish, unreadable, or random nonsense. It is possible that the comment system failed to post the comment correctly, which would technically be my fault since I wrote the code, but in that case it’s not intentional. So if your friend left a reasonable comment, I’m afraid I have to dispute the claim that I intentionally deleted it.

    Like

  17. [Note: Sam posted this comment on October 5, 2009.]

    I have to agree with those that feel that the rest of the Scoobies are depicted as traitors in this episode. We never get any insight into what they were thinking when they threw Buffy out; all we saw was the ultimatum. Furthermore, it seems telling that several times in this series, the only way the writers knew how to make Spike look sympathetic was to place him in direct contrast with other characters behaving worse. All those Scoobies are being mean to Buffy, and then Spike comes in and tells them off and then gives Buffy the strength to go on fighting. Since when did Buffy have to rely on her boyfriend to feel validated? I’m sorry, but this is Spuffy fanfic material at its most nakedly desperate, and it’s not the first time this has happened (and won’t be the last).

    Like

  18. [Note: RandomTask posted this comment on October 6, 2009.]

    I must second Sam.

    *rant ahead*

    I felt what they did to the Scoobies was pure character assassination, and audience manipulation at its finest. “Oh look, Spike will stay by poor Buffy’s side no matter what! You really can change your abusive boyfriend into a good man if you stick by him!” Yeah, it’s not like he didn’t seek a soul out just to get into her pants. I used to love Buffy. By the end, I no longer felt much sympathy or respect for her. I’d sooner see Faith or Giles take the lead.

    Honestly, everything after ‘Lies My Parents Told Me’ made me sick and depressed. After ‘Chosen’ limped to the finish line, I was thankful there was at least a season of Angel left to wash the bad taste out, even if it was the weakest season with a certain someone I never wanted to see return sidelining half the cast.

    The problem with Spike is he’s a very awful person who never truly redeemed himself. Even after he gets a soul, he ends up screwing a soulless Harmony and being abusive towards her, and the audience is directed to laugh along with it. Instead of working hard to mend his mistakes and being wracked by guilt like Angel, he comes off as a misogynistic opportunist predator out to get his jollies.

    I don’t think he actually showed any real heroism that wasn’t completely self-motivated until the last two episodes of Angel, but by then it was too late.

    Like

  19. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on October 6, 2009.]

    I agree with Sam and RandomTask. The way the writers sacrifice everything just to prop up Spike is appalling.

    Like

  20. [Note: Sam posted this comment on October 6, 2009.]

    Whoa. I actually came back here to say that my last post was too harsh. My issues here are actually the fault of “Empty Places”, not this episode, because I actually love the Spike/Buffy scene. It’s amazing.

    Then I read RandomTask’s post, and I was beside myself. Before I go and make a fool of myself, can anybody else confirm what s/he said about Spike & Harmony in S5 of Angel?

    Like

  21. [Note: Jeremy posted this comment on October 8, 2009.]

    I don’t get where all of the Spike hating is coming from. As far as I can see he has been suffering quite a damn bit for the last season trying to be a better man. Buffy sympathizing with Spike in my opinion is quite rational: contrast it with Xander’s “jealousy and grumpiness” stick and I wind up liking pretty much any guy that Buffy dates or likes. And I don’t really see where the out of characterness is coming from either: Scoobies know there is big danger coming, Buffy is all resilient and determined this season because she feels she has been through the worst already, Scoobies still do care, they get scared, they go to the extremes. Spike has also seen the worst, doesn’t get scared, can think like Buffy. I think the principal power in motion here is fear: what pits them on different sides is whether they are willing to overcome it to better themselves. But thats just me 😛

    Like

  22. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on October 11, 2009.]

    In Season 6 I would call the relationship as a form of co-dependence. Two extremely troubled psyches trying to find comfort in the other person, wanting to lose oneself in the other and pure act on instinct (the pleasure principle, as we recall).

    I would never come to think that Spike doesn’t love Buffy in Season 7, but I would doubt, that she ever does. She comes to respect him, to enjoy his prescence, and to appreciate his full support. But I wouldn’t mistake her feelings for love. It’s a new adult kind of friendship they have. Not the kind of “we-spent-all-our-lives-together-and-know-all-of-each-other’s-secrets”, but the kind of friendship, where you decide that you want to be friends, that you want to invest in this relationship.

    It’s a very rare, clear thing, Plato describes it in various cases as the best kind of relationship, not misguided through passion, as passion is missing in this juncture.

    Like

  23. [Note: Tash posted this comment on October 20, 2009.]

    To ‘Sam’

    In S5 of Angel, once Spike is made corporeal again, one of the first things he does is grab a at first reluctant Harmony and suggests they go make with the sexy time. She agrees and they start having sex, although once they start, it becomes obvious that this is not what Spike wants (face turned away from Harmony as they’re having sex)The sex is thankfully cut short when Harmony nuts out due to some kind of weird possession force that is affecting Wolfram & Hart.

    I don’t however remember Spike being abusive to Harmony in Angel, not like how he was in S4 of Buffy in any case. And so what that he had sex with a ‘souless’ vampire, he’s not Buffy – he never drew that line.

    Plus, by this time Harmony is trying to be a ‘good’ vampire ie: not drinking human blood and as she points out to Angel that it’s harder for her, she doesn’t have a soul. At least she’s trying, she wasn’t forced to work for Angel.

    So pretty much I think that RandomTask’s comment was full of crap.

    In regards to the episode, I agree with Ender on the “You sad, sad ungrateful traitors” line. God I love it. I usually say it along with Spike (I’m not lame AT ALL ) And in agreement with pretty much everyone else about the Buffy/Spike scene. What girl wouldn’t want to be told that they are ‘a hell of a woman’.

    Like

  24. [Note: Jeremy posted this comment on November 4, 2009.]

    No fucking way is Touched better than Chosen. Stop analyzing them and just appreciate sheer genius when ya see it, y’all?

    Like

  25. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on November 4, 2009.]

    Wow, what is UP with the Spike bashing in these comments? Can’t say I’m surprised by the contributors, but you guys are seriously reaching and/or distorting events here.

    @RandomTask, “”Oh look, Spike will stay by poor Buffy’s side no matter what! You really can change your abusive boyfriend into a good man if you stick by him!” Huh, we must have been watching different shows. Last time I checked, it was Buffy who was beating the crap out of Spike and then leaving him to burn in an alley. And it was Buffy who was calling Spike disgusting, soulless, evil, etc. And what exactly is wrong with Spike staying by Buffy’s side? He’s always been pretty devoted to her, even after said abuse by Buffy, so not sure what your point is there. Loyalty is bad?

    And here’s jarppu again, with the usual “the writers made this show all about Spike and then it sucked” rant. Unfortunate that you never actually engage in any discussion about this conjecture.

    I thought the scene with Buffy and Spike was beautifully done, and I have no problem with her getting a pep talk from a character who obviously loves her unconditionally and has stuck by her through some seriously rough times, some of it inflicted by her upon him. Talk about hoping to change an abusive partner.

    Like

  26. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on December 2, 2009.]

    Sam wrote:

    “the only way the writers knew how to make Spike look sympathetic was to place him in direct contrast with other characters behaving worse.”

    This is a very common criticism of what people seem to see the writers somehow misleading people about the true nature of… a fictional character created by the writers. Instead of seeing the writers fleshing out each character and showing us the shades of grey that all human natures consist of, they see lies and manipulation to conceal some immutable, independently existing Truth. Given that there are very few objectively confirmable truths about human motivations even in real life, let alone within fiction, I find this attitude hard to understand.

    “All those Scoobies are being mean to Buffy, and then Spike comes in and tells them off and then gives Buffy the strength to go on fighting. Since when did Buffy have to rely on her boyfriend to feel validated? I’m sorry, but this is Spuffy fanfic material at its most nakedly desperate…”

    If this were true, it would suggest that (a) Buffy was 100% correct in her handling of the Empty Places situation and therefore deserved no criticism, (b) the Scoobies’ treatment of her was motivated purely by a desire to spite her, rather than their own assessment of the situation, and (c) that it was somehow weak and pathetic of Buffy to rely – as all humans do – on external validation at times of great stress and self-doubt.

    Since all three are patently incorrect, it suggests that your summary of the situation was kind of deluded. I have to say that I often see this kind of one-sided version of the story in the rush to paint Spike as purely evil or selfish rather than – as he clearly is – a mixture of good and bad.

    Like

  27. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on December 2, 2009.]

    And Random Task‘s post was a great example of these kind of wild generalisations that people scatter about in order to validate their strdislike of Spike. It’s a shame that they allow Spike’s undeniable bad points to blind them to his good ones, because he is a fantastic character.

    “- pure character assassination

    – it’s not like he didn’t seek a soul out just to get into her pants.

    – …everything after ‘Lies My Parents Told Me’ made me sick and depressed.”

    The problem is that your valid criticisms are drowned out by the white noise of exaggerration. I actually think you have at least an arguable point here:

    “The problem with Spike is he’s a very awful person who never truly redeemed himself. …he comes off as a misogynistic opportunist predator out to get his jollies.”

    And as a feminist myself, I’d really like to discuss whether he can be accurately called a misogynist, a predator etc. I love Spike, but the infamous AR meant that I could never see him in the same light afterwards. (The allegedly ‘abusive’ relationship before the AR doesn’t get me too worked up, as not only were they both equal participants but it looked like a hell of a lot of fun. 😀 ) It would have been wrong for them to get back together, and *yet* I was still kind of hoping they would. Why is this? What makes Spike so sympathetic? Or is it that we unconsciously blame Buffy? I think that would be fascinating to explore.

    Like

  28. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on December 2, 2009.]

    People on this forum like to throw the word misogyny around as a pejorative description of Spike, and I think you’ll find that if you look up the actual definition of misogyny, it does not describe Spike’s behavior at any point during Buffy’s seven seasons. A misogynist is someone who hates women, or who holds a negative attitude towards women as a group. See Caleb in S7 for someone who is truly a misogynist. Spike, on the other hand (and I pointed this out in the comment section for the episode Crush in S5), never displays any tendencies to hate women in general, and in fact has a much greater tendency to worship the important women in his (un)life. This is perhaps not always expressed in the ideal manner (kidnapping Buffy, all of S6), and yes, his behavior towards Harmony was atrocious, but that does not by extension mean that he hates women. On the contrary, I would argue that he has an incredible amount of respect for them. To repeat myself from the Crush comments, Spike is a creature who has spent 100 years seeking out Slayers because they are the only foe truly worthy of him, and oh, they just happen to be exclusively women – this is not because he hates women and wants them to die, but because he respects and is attracted to their strength and power. Then he goes ahead and falls in love with one, and spends the rest of the show being her lapdog. I really don’t see how you could honestly examine the character and conclude that he is a misogynist. Calling Spike a misogynist is simply another example of a wild generalization.

    And sure he’s a predator, because he’s a VAMPIRE – so what? Buffy and all her friends are murderers – how many demons has she killed in the course of this show? Anya’s killed hundreds of people, and Willow was never actually punished for flaying Warren.

    Like

  29. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on December 2, 2009.]

    @Shannon: I couldn’t agree with you more. The way folks have been throwing that word around lately has been bugging me a bit.

    Like

  30. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on December 13, 2009.]

    Hi Shannon! This is in response to your comments both here and on the Crush forum:

    Yes, Caleb is the foremost misogynist on this show, and Warren is a close second. However, the fact that a woman is the most powerful foe for the evil undead makes the SHOW feminist, not Spike; Spike hasn’t sought Slayers out because he respects them, he seeks them out to kill them. That isn’t very respectful at all–it’s not as if he’s searching for them have tea and cookies.

    However, rather than take my word as a “wild generalization”, there are specific moments on the show that allow you to trace the roots of Spike’s misogyny (and yes, he is). Right from the beginning, there’s that moment in “School Hard”, where he snarls “Women” at Buffy and Joyce. After that, he is incredibly devoted to Drusilla for their first 5 episodes on the show, and his behavior towards her is very tender, indeed. However, as soon as she regains her strength and he becomes dependent on her, he is absolutely miserable and resentful. In “Surprise”, he drowns his sorrows in alcohol; in “Passion”, he lashes out at Dru when she dotes on him the same way he did for her — “I won’t have you feeding me like a CHILD, Dru!” Of course, this dominant trait is not exclusive to Spike. Many men feel the need to be dominant and resent having women in positions of authority, but it doesn’t make them feminist. Naturally, Angelus exploits his insecurities brilliantly, leading Spike to sabotage his plans for world destruction by aiding Buffy in order to get Drusilla back.

    Flash forward 2 years, when Spike returns with Vamp-Harmony. Spike’s treatment of Harmony speaks for itself, although you won’t see me sympathizing with Harmony, since she’s also now a member of the evil undead. However, it’s in Season 5 where things fall into place. Spike wakes up after an erotic dream and realizes that he’s actually in love with Buffy. After this, he displays typical stalker behavior. Loitering in front of her house? Check. Stealing her underwear? Check. Building a shrine to her? Check. Making his own life-sized blowup doll (the Bot)? Check. Also, funny and creepy.

    However, it’s in “Fool for Love” where we really get to the root of Spike’s misogyny. As a human, William the Bloody was an incredibly sweet, insecure mama’s boy who had no luck with women. Frankly, he is one of the most sympathetic characters the show ever had, and I really wanted to spend more time with him–he was adorable. However, people who are insecure actually have monstrous egos–they cannot take rejection or accept any external constructive criticism. So Cecily’s rejection of William, while unbelievably and unnecessarily harsh, put William into a tailspin that ultimately got him killed, because he couldn’t simply come to terms with the fact that the woman with whom he was infatuated was obviously not worth the effort.

    So after Drusilla murdered William and the demon that called itself Spike lodged in his body, Spike was so repulsed by William’s status as a nerdy virgin that he remade himself over into this punk-rock bad boy who was wild and out of control and who dominated his women. That’s why when he discovered what a Slayer was, it fueled that resentment of women that William had (Spike knew this, thanks to inheriting William’s memories), and it fueled his violent hatred of Slayers. When Spike killed his first Slayer, he got off on the sensation so much that it aroused him sexually; it made him hard. (You call this feminist behavior??) In fact, if Drusilla hadn’t shown up immediately, there’s only one other way Spike could have relieved his sexual tension on the spot like that, and frankly, it’s something most Spike fans simply do not wish to consider.

    All this is brought home in “Crush”, when Spike ties Buffy up, tells her that he loves her, and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t admit the same. As soon as Buffy rightly rejects him, Spike launches into a full-on misogynist tirade! “What the BLEEDING hell is wrong with you BLOODY women? What the HELL does it take? Why do you BITCHES torture me?” Oh yeah, that’s another example of Spike’s misogyny–he constantly calls women he’s in love with bitches: “Out for a walk, bitch.” / “Bitch is gonna see a change.” / “Bitch is gonna get what she deserves.”

    First off, Shannon, as much as I respect both you and Gabrielleabelle, her argument in the “Crush” thread that Spike’s lack of moral compass prevents him from realizing the hurt he’s doing to Buffy is just wrong. How many times have we seen vampires grin evilly before sinking their teeth into a victim or snapping their necks? Vampires’ soullessness doesn’t make them ignorant; it makes them enjoy their wrongdoing. THAT’s why vampires need to be slain; because they will always choose evil over good (Spike’s “selflessness” in the episodes between “Intervention” and “After Life”, admirable though it is, only occurs because external circumstances are forcing him to make those behavioral changes–without the chip and his love for Buffy, he’d still be actively evil, and his decision to stick around is solely based on the fact that, without the ability to harm humans, he’s got nothing else to do). Ensouled humans, on the other hand, struggle with the choice between good and evil on a daily basis. Spike knows that tying Buffy up and threatening to kill her if she doesn’t say she loves him is wrong, but he doesn’t care, because he loves her, and his own needs and desires are all that matter to him. Second, because Spike inherited William’s memories, their insecurities are the same: It takes so much effort for both of them simply to admit that they have feelings for a woman, that they both feel that said object of affection should be so flattered by the attention that they would automatically acquiesce to William/Spike’s admiration. I gather that many Spike fans feel that Buffy’s biggest problem is that she also doesn’t simply give in to Spike and let him have his way with her; they certainly seem to be operating from the standpoint of “He’s so hot! If I were his girlfriend, we could make it work.” If you don’t believe me, check out Sunburn’s post in #27. She calls herself a feminist, yet admits that if she thought a guy was hot enough, she’d let him slap her around, as long as she got to slap him back (yeah, that’s healthy). I swear, this doesn’t apply to all of them, but there are some Spike fangirls who are clearly mistaking their own rabid fandom for feminism. (How else do you explain people who sympathize with an evil, undead bad boy over the beautiful, moral woman who fights every day to save the world from evil demons who want to destroy it?)

    Finally, there’s “Dead Things”, the episode that proves that Spike is ultimately the abuser in their relationship. Sure, Buffy is behaving absolutely horribly throughout the course of their trysts; she’s slapping him around and calling him a disgusting, soulless thing (which he is, and let’s be honest, if THAT’s his punishment for murdering the thousands of men, women and babies that he’s bragged about, he could be a lot worse off). However, Spike is actually getting off on Buffy behaving worse and worse; he’s getting off on turning her into a monster. Need proof? Remember that incredibly hot sex scene in “Smashed”? How does it start? Spike smacks Buffy in the face. Remember the look of delicious pleasure on his face, the utter satisfaction in making her realize that the fact that he could hit her and not have the chip go off mean that there must be something wrong with her? He LOVED making her feel like shit, and it only got worse. Remember in “Gone”, when invisiBuffy nearly rapes Spike? That was atrocious behavior on her part, and yet as soon as Spike found out it was actually Buffy, he consented to having sex with her! Is that the pattern of a typical abuse victim? If Spike actually cared about her, he would have said no; he would have pointed out what this kind of behavior was doing to both of them; but he encouraged it. He loved bringing her down and watching her debase herself.

    All this brings me to “Dead Things”. Shannon, in post #25 you wrote, “Last time I checked, it was Buffy who was beating the crap out of Spike and then leaving him to burn in an alley.” Wow, way to remove the context! You do remember that in that scene Spike was trying to convince Buffy that she murdered Katrina, right? That’s why he buried the body, and that’s why he was trying to convince her to run away with him. I’ve already explained his pathological hatred of Slayers, and since Spike has failed at destroying Buffy’s body the way he did to Nikki Wood and the Chinese Slayer, he was now waging war on Buffy’s soul. He wanted to destroy her inner goodness, to make her into a murderer on the run and to destroy everything she stood for, what a Slayers stands for. That’s why Buffy was beating Spike in that alley–she was fighting for her soul, for her life. Poor Spike? Please. In the very next episode, Spike is accosting her in the hallway of her own house, not at all caring who might see them acting intimate together. Does that sound like someone who is scared of his “abusive partner”, as you put it?

    To wrap this all up, I’d like to refer to your final paragraph in post #28: “And sure he’s a predator, because he’s a VAMPIRE-so what? Buffy and all her friends are murderers-how many demons has she killed in the course of the show? Anya’s killed hundreds of people, and Willow was never actually punished for flaying Warren.” This, to me, sums up what’s at the core of being a Spike fan: Embracing moral relativism to a degree that astounds me. Your tone in this paragraph seems to indicate that there is no difference between being a human, a vampire, or a 1000-year-old ex-demon, that they all operate on the same moral plane. Well, if that’s the case, why even bother slaying vampires at all? After all, with that logic, they’re not evil, they’re just different, and they deserve to be understood. Except that’s totally untrue, and undercuts the daily struggle Buffy and her friends undergo every week to fight evil and conquer their own personal, natural demons. Vampires kill for food, and for pleasure (Spike and Angelus have both broken people’s necks, and enjoyed it). Buffy and her friends kill demons to SAVE LIVES. Yes, you’re right, Willow was never punished for flaying Warren, something that she should have at least dealt with. You know whose fault that was? The writers. They gave her the short shrift in S7. As for Anya, I have yet to see a single fan defend her actions during her demon days. On the other hand, despite your argument in “Crush” that “no one is saying that Spike’s not doing evil things anymore”, plenty of people are actually saying that in regards to that episode (read comments made by Ari, Clem’s Kitten Basket, and Tranquility).

    Shannon, this was not meant as a personal attack against you. I think you’re an incredibly intelligent person with a sharp wit, and I enjoy debating with you. (I also think that Gabrielleabelle is a sweetheart, so I don’t mean to offend her, either.) I am also not an “anti-Spike fan”, as you put it. He’s actually my 5th favorite character on the show (after the Core Four), and he’s brilliantly played by the very handsome James Marsters. However, I realize that for a while I’ve been saying that I think Spike is misogynistic without actually making a case for it. Well, here is my case.

    Like

  31. [Note: Sam posted this comment on December 14, 2009.]

    Another point I forgot to mention which indicates Spike’s misogynistic attitudes:

    In the episode “Family”, Spike expresses his admiration at the tactics Tara’s father uses to keep the family women submissive.

    Like

  32. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on December 14, 2009.]

    Sorry, I meant to write Sam L. in the above post. Anyway, I looked up the quote from “Family”. Spike’s chip goes off when he hits Tara, and he realizes that she isn’t a demon, so he says to her dad:

    “There’s no demon in there. That’s just a family legend, am I right? Just a bit of spin to keep the ladies in line? Huh, you’re a piece of work. (smiles) I like you.”

    Like

  33. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on December 14, 2009.]

    Wow Sam, that was epic! I have some things to say – I agree with some of what you say, and disagree with a lot of it, but I’d really rather not respond in the comment thread. Any way we can move it the forum?

    Like

  34. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on December 14, 2009.]

    Sorry, meant to add – maybe you could just copy your rant (and the comments from other episodes that you reference?) into a new thread in the Buffy forum.

    Like

  35. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on December 14, 2009.]

    I’ll do that, Shannon! Yeah, that was pretty epic, but I had a lot to say and I wanted to provide evidence to back it up. So, I’m going to copy the whole post (and re-word my subsequent post about “Family” into the original to include it as one) and move it to the forums. Any ideas on where I should put it? (Also, do you go by a different name on the forums? I don’t see Shannon there anywhere.)

    Like

  36. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on December 14, 2009.]

    Never mind about that, I’m going to put it in the “Spike and the Message of BtVS” topic on the forums. That’s where it should go, really.

    Like

  37. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on December 14, 2009.]

    Here’s some views I hold on things Sam L. discussed recently:

    (in order of appearance in his post(s))

    I always felt the reason he was so pissy to Drusilla, and in general, after he became crippled stems more from being seen as weak and pathetic by Angel. He has always felt like he was in competition with Angel for Dru’s affections. He’s also a very physical person, so being unable to do the simplest of tasks himself would make him feel worthless, and people who are feeling that low tend to not be the best company.

    Being a stalker does not mean you are a misogynist. Yes, he does creepy things, but those come from obsessive rather than misogynistic tendencies. A woman would stalk a man in similar ways.

    Putting women on a pedestal is something that William very much did, and it is a trait that carried over in to his vampiric state.

    As I said earlier, he’s an incredibly physical person. He’s a brawler that loves to prove himself with tough opponents. If you are a vampire, you really can’t get much tougher than a Slayer. So of course, he would search out Slayers to fight and kill. This has nothing to do with the fact that they are women; his want to defeat them stems from the fact that they are strong, and defeating them bolsters his ego and reputation. As for his arousal after defeating one, I feel it’s more related to the absolute violence and chaos that surrounds him (this was in the middle of the Boxer Rebellion, I believe), combined with the thrill of the hunt/battle/kill. He could have easily felt the same way had he just defeated a man.

    Yes, he calls women “bitches” a decent amount, but he also calls men names pretty frequently (git, wanker, ponce, berk, etc.). Also, a good portion of the time he’s calling Buffy a bitch, she IS being a bitch. It’s not necessarily misogynistic to call it as it is.

    He is evil, so of course he would want to turn Buffy dark, whether he loves her or not. He wants her to be more like him so that they could actually have some sort of life together. There’s really no way for him to be “good,” so the alternative is what he goes for. Often the times he’s deliberately hurting her feelings are in retaliation to her hurting his. Not that this excuses that kind of behavior, but even humans often say or do spiteful little things to hurt the ones they love.

    I don’t remember him trying to convince her she murdered Katrina. Both she and he thought she DID murder Katrina. He was just trying to help, albeit in a terrible way; that way the only way he really knew how to help, though. He IS evil, remember.

    As for her pummeling him in the alleyway, I always thought she was using him as a kind of cathartic release–all her frustrations, worries, anger, fears, etc., were being channeled from her to her fists to his face. And he realized this, and let her do it.

    As for Tara’s family, he was impressed by the manipulation itself, not who it was done to. He “liked” her father because he was very good at doing a nasty bit of evil.

    ———–

    I am not a Spike fangirl. Yeah, I like his character, but he’s not one of my favorites. So I am not trying to defend him because of bias or anything.

    Like

  38. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on December 14, 2009.]

    Hi Leelu! Thanks for the response. I love discussing these issues with other fans. Now, at Shannon’s request, I copied my post and pasted it in the “Spike” thread on the forums, but I’m going to go down the list of points you made and discuss them:

    1. Re: Angelus’s tormenting of wheelchair-bound Spike no doubt fueled his resentment of having to compete with him for Dru’s affections. Good call. You’re right. I will definitely give this one to you.

    2. No, being a stalker does not make a man misogynist (of course, there are women stalkers); but in this case, it does fit in with his MO, and I was using it as a transition to tie it in to the rest of my argument.

    3. Re: Putting women on a pedestal… Yes, he does (sometimes when he barely knows them), and it angers him when they do not live up to the expectations that he has created for them without their consen. Not very respectful. Xander does the same thing, and it’s infuriating, particularly since he’s a lousy boyfriend. OTOH, Xander isn’t a serial killer.

    4. Re: Spike being a brawler — Sure, killing a Slayer would definitely boost his ego, but your theory about Spike’s arousal isn’t convincing. He became aroused immediately after drinking the Chinese Slayer’s blood–you can see it in his face that it was sudden and had not occurred prior to the fight. Also, considering how flamboyantly heterosexual Spike is, your speculation that Spike would just as likely have been aroused by killing a man isn’t that plausible.

    5. With all due respect, Leelu, I can’t take seriously your position that Buffy is being a bitch most of the times Spike calls her one. You did not provide any concrete evidence to back that up (i.e. episodes, quotes), so I take it this is your personal bias.

    At this point, I’m going to stop. I admit that I’ve been downplaying Buffy’s responsibility when she beats Spike in the alley in “Dead Things”–there are a lot of her own personal issues in that scene that she is taking out on him, and she should definitely be dealing with them herself instead of taking it out on the most convenient person available. OTOH, I’ve noticed that twice you said that Spike’s actions can be explained by the fact that he’s evil… as if that were an adequate reason or excuse.

    You say you’re not a Spike fangirl, and that’s neither here nor there. Whether or not you are is your prerogative. However, I’ve seen several people on this site state that Spike ultimately needs to be held to a different set of standards because he’s evil and soulless, to which I again say that that ultimately defeats the purpose of the show. If, like Clem’s Kitten Basket says in post #9 on the “Crush” comments that “you can’t pass standard moral judgments on a vampire’s actions–it’s like being horrified over the fact that a cat catches birds”, then that means they should not be slain simply on the basis of their being soulless demons. Frankly, that’s absurd–it’s why they MUST be slain. I mean, is anyone defending Angelus or Drusilla’s actions? After all, they had no souls either, so how can we judge them?

    In fact, I’m noticing that the main crux of your argument is that none of these events are Spike’s fault. Virtually every one of your arguments is that it’s not Spike’s fault — that all his actions and behaviors are Buffy’s fault, or it’s Angel’s fault, or it’s the fault of the chaos surrounding him in the Boxer Rebellion (which he contributed to), or simply because he’s evil… and that’s why I am confounded, because Spike is the only character on this show for whom simply being evil is a valid explanation (if not actually a defense) for his behavior.

    Like

  39. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on December 15, 2009.]

    Oh no, I wasn’t meaning to imply that his reactions to things, his behavior, wasn’t his fault. I was merely mentioning external influences, or whatnot. How he reacts to that stuff is entirely on him; our choices are what makes us. Of course, he IS evil, so it’s not SURPRISING when he does evil things, but again, that DOESN’T excuse him from DOING those evil things. He should NOT be held to a different standard, but it SHOULD be realized that he will do vile things because it’s part of his demonic nature. No one should be disappointed, or surprised, or whatever, when he does those things.

    And for examples with Buffy, it’s so much effort to go back and look for specific things! haha Laziness took over. 8P Um…I remember the “out for a walk, bitch” is in response to her snapping at him first. And she’s not being bitchy to him first EVERY time, just a fair chunk of the time. 8P

    As for the Slayer killing stuff, he’s got the blood lust going throughout all this. He finally gets to drink some (most likely awesome) blood, and his arousal gets to full tilt at that point. I still hold to my assumption that if it had been a man the same thing might likely have happened…it wasn’t about the person, so much as the violence and the blood.

    Like

  40. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on December 16, 2009.]

    After this post, I’m going to continue all topic of discussion in the “Spike” thread on the forums (and I have a lot to respond to there), but before I do that, I’ll just say this:

    About the “out for a walk, bitch” scene in “No Place Like Home”, where she punches him in front of her house: The last time Buffy & Spike saw each other was in the previous episode, “Out of My Mind”, when he attempted to murder her by having his chip removed. If the doctor who performed the “operation” hadn’t faked him out, he would have succeeded. He also pulled this stunt while Buffy was dealing with the sudden medical problems of both Riley & Joyce. However, not only did Buffy let Spike live–she didn’t even do the de-invite spell.

    So, even though she spares Spike’s life (and this is the 2nd time he’s tried to kill her since being chipped) and allows him access to her home (with her ailing mother inside), your “example” of Buffy acting bitchy is that she confronts someone who just tried to kill her (again) about why he’s mysteriously lurking in front of her house.

    Are you sure you’re not a little biased? 🙂

    Like

  41. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on December 17, 2009.]

    Excellent posts, Sam L. People just seem to get enamored with Spike’s ‘cool’ image and just forget what a monster he really is. That seems to happen especially on this site. Perhaps because mikejer himself is quite biased towards Spike.

    Like

  42. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on December 17, 2009.]

    Hey, I said I was being lazy, remember? haha I’m just going from what I can remember, and I don’t remember what all exactly happened directly prior. 8P

    Like

  43. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 17, 2009.]

    jarpuu, I’d like to know how I’ve been “quite biased” towards Spike. I feel I’ve generally kept a level head in regard to all the major characters throughout the series. Spike does some bad things and I’ve pointed those instances out. After reading over all my text, do you really believe I give some sort of free pass or preferential treatment to Spike as opposed to the other major characters? I won’t lie: I think Spike is an extremely fascinating character and is involved in some of the top moments in the entire series. But I’ve never let that stop me from criticizing him (or any of the characters) when I felt they were out of line.

    I think the root of the disagreements surrounding Spike boil down to our own individual interpretation of what a soul — and lack thereof — means within the context of the Buffyverse. The moral lens in which one views someone like Spike through will dramatically alter their view of him. Without coming to a consensus on this basic question, there is little hope in any real understanding of each other’s perspectives. Could the writers have done a better job at clarifying what a soul means? Sure, and there might lie a flaw in the show. But an argument can also be made that that ambiguity is actually a strength. After all, would we be having all these discussions if that were not the case?

    Like

  44. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on December 17, 2009.]

    Okay, Mike beat me to the punch.

    Jarppu — Thank you for the compliment. I appreciate it. However, I don’t think it’s fair of you to say that Mike is “biased” towards Spike. Mike has said before that Spike is one of his favorite characters, but he has never made excuses for any of his behavior prior to getting the soul. In fact, a lot of the heated debates on these threads are the direct result of Mike’s assertions that without a soul, the demon in Spike will always be the dominant figure, and that aside from a handful of well-intentioned gestures, Spike’s behavior in episodes like “Crush”, “As You Were”, and “Seeing Red” are consistent with that demonic nature. That’s pretty much the same place I’m coming from–I’m just more confrontational about it.

    Mike hit the nail on the head, though, when he stated that our opinions of Spike all depend on where we stand on the “soul” issue. So, while Buffy behaves despicably in S6 and treats Spike in a manner which I’d consider abusive against another human, I simply can’t bring myself to sympathize with him because he’s still an evil, undead serial killer whose actions are still entirely motivated by selfishness (with the exception of “The Gift” and “Bargaining”). I recently came around on S7 Spike; I love him now and I’m glad that the majority of the focus was on him and Buffy, although I wish the other characters weren’t largely tossed aside between CWDP & Chosen (I’ll touch on that in my next post in “Chosen”). I expressed my antipathy for pre-soul Spike here, because I wanted it to directly contrast with the episode where Spike is most supportive of Buffy and earns back the unwavering trust she had placed in him all year long. Selfish? Perhaps, but I’m only human.

    Like

  45. [Note: Susan posted this comment on December 17, 2009.]

    I just wanted to say how much I’ve been enjoying the posts throughout the past month, in particular the ones by Sam L. and Leelu. Great reading! Have you read the essay by Rhonda V. Wilcox called “Every night I save you: buffy, spike, sex, and redemption”? It’s probably been around for years but I’ve just read it recently and find it really interesting. As a big Spike fan, I love reading essays concerning his character and believe that both of you do a fantastic job of backing up your comments and opinions. What a great character he is to provoke such arguments. I know he was created by Joss Whedon and that James Marsters was just the actor, but I can’t help but wonder what that character would have been in the hands of a different actor and whether these kinds of discussions would still be going on if that were the case. Does anyone know how much was Whedon and how much was Marsters? Or is that even a fair question?

    Like

  46. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on January 7, 2010.]

    What is with the camera movements at the start? I understand what they were trying to do but it made it hard to concentrate on what was happening. Not that it mattered as the first scene was just crazy and I couldn’t understand anything that was being said, especially by Amanda.

    Great to see Spike threatening Faith for Buffy. In ‘Graduation Day:Part 1’, Wesley told Buffy not to worry about Faith, that she was a “footnote.” Now Spike tells Buffy that he could make Faith a “footnote in history.”

    Favourite scene was Spike and Buffy’s dialogue to each other and the part where everyone gets it on, except Buffy and Spike. I never liked the Kennedy/Willow relationship as Kennedy was stronger than Tara, although I’m always amused by Kennedy’s tongue stud. oh, and the Mayor returns.

    Like

  47. [Note: Randy posted this comment on January 8, 2010.]

    Susan – Thanks for the tip on that article! It was a really interesting read, and as I’m still pretty new to the show, I didn’t realize there were actual Buffy “scholars”. I am going to have fun with this. 🙂

    Jarppu – Of course you agree with Sam. Most of us know exactly what you’re going to write, because it’s the same blanket statement about the writers screwing up and Spike being awful every time. Maybe you could back it up with something substantial? I find myself wondering if you even like this show…

    Sam – I’ve gotta disagree with your view that Spike’s obsession with Slayers is a form of misogyny. Yes, he’s trying to kill them, but it’s more about the challenge it poses for him. I think he viewed his human life as mediocre, and now he’s trying to break away from that and prove himself — it’s obviously something that elevates his status with other vampires. In their world, beating a Slayer is probably like climbing Mt. Everest or winning a Superbowl. After killing the Chinese Slayer, Darla and Dru both look at him differently — he’s now the good-looking kid with the athletic ability. :p

    Like

  48. [Note: dthmtl posted this comment on April 29, 2010.]

    Sorry, the bomb ruined this. Yes, I know, fiction, but that amount of explosives in a confined space would kill everyone from concussion wave and even if someone survived, say goodbye to eardrums. You don’t get up, shake off dust, and walk away from this. The scythe in rock was plain dumb and smelled of writers who run out of ideas. Rest was great.

    Like

  49. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 3, 2010.]

    Excellent episode, though the fact that it comes right after the mediocre “Empty Places” hurts it a bit. For instance, I would have been more moved by the Willow-Kennedy stuff (and with Willow taking the final step in putting Tara to rest) had I not still been ticked off with her for the way she treated Buffy. Still, mostly great. Spike flat-out OWNED this one.

    Like

  50. [Note: Aisha posted this comment on June 8, 2010.]

    Oh, Faith. Clearly Buffy was onto something with the vineyeard, but presented in a poor way. The First sees everything they do. He set the path to throw off Faith and the group. She only did research and strategized towards that point. She led them away from what she thought was another massacre only to be punished for it. I feel that the whole Faith taking over for Buffy thing was not a crazy twist, but maybe unnecessary. I mean it would not do to actually have Faith lead the charge in Chosen. It was not Faith’s show, but I have trouble seeing the point of that digression. Ws it that Buffy needed to regain confidence? Can anyone shed some light?

    Does Scythe seem give-me-a-breaky to anyone?

    There is a lot of emphasis put on Spike and Buffy’s relationship during Season 7 and other characters coverage is lost, but that is the reality of the situation. I find that it does get annoying. IMO the writing makes these maneuvers so that her relationships with others are put on the back burner in order to form a relationship with Spike almost equating him with Angel. Someone who is there for her unconditionally. Again, IMO he will never mean the same to Buffy as Angel. Buffy knows that. I think Spike knows it as well (Chosen), but he would never admit it to Angel. One thing I have thought about is what Spike would do if he didn’t love Buffy? How would he spend his time? His willingness to Fight the Good Fight has a lot to do with the fact that Buffy is the Slayer. Angel could do that without Buffy. Can we argue that Spike does the same as Angel in AtS Season 5 during Not Fade Away or does he just “want to see how it ends.” He did carry out Lindsey/Doyle’s wishes to fight evil through the (fake) visions.

    Like

  51. [Note: Merry posted this comment on June 13, 2010.]

    I have a lot of problems with S7. It’s my second least favorite season (after S1, obviously), but none of the problems I have are about Spike. I can see why some people would be annoyed that he got so much attention in S7. I disagree, because I think the Potentials are the reason the rest of the Scoobies lost attention (Spike, after all, WAS a main character), but I get it. But Spike, a mysognist? Oh, please. The idea actually makes me laugh a little. He’s definitely a little delusional (and at times v. clueless) about the women in his life pre-soul, but never a woman-hater.

    The scythe bothers me. It’s just a big weapon that is somehow awesome. It’s like the writers were fighting to put something in that could be some “special” game changer. But then again, I think most of the end of S7 was pretty bad, plot/writing-wise.

    I might not hate the Potentials as much if it weren’t for Kennedy, who I CAN’T. STAND. The only time I think I ever loved Faith as a character was when she told off Kennedy in this episode.

    Like

  52. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on June 28, 2010.]

    This also shows how difficult it is to lead. That opening scene shows clearly how hard it is. Faith presents an idea, and everyone disregards it, even Xander starts joking that they should write a letter when Faith suggest kidnapping one of the Bringers.

    And I still love how this show leads a lot with gray areas. This is not black and white, but gray areas. And I love it!

    This is my fourth rewatch of the entire series, but this themes just fascinate me.

    And the Buffy/Spike also still fascinates me to no end.

    Like

  53. [Note: sming posted this comment on July 8, 2010.]

    “Touched” is my favorite episode, for many of the reasons Mike put forth, and I agree with his grade. I wasn’t a huge Bangel fan, although the Buffy-Angel story arc is fabulous and emotionally riveting. The problem is that their love so obviously sprang from teen angst. There didn’t seem to be any reason, plot-wise, for Buffy to fall in love with Angel except that he was mysterious, on her side, and handsome. And Angel saw Buffy as his redemption and loved her for that, but it’s weird to believe that a 200 yr. old world traveler would fall romantically in love with a 16 year old, no matter how special she was. This allegedly ultimate love just happened too quickly for me to believe it to be anything other than puppy love. I wasn’t even surprised that Angel went evil after sex because that would be the naturally feared-for result in a teen girl’s mind, almost like a fable. Granted, I’ve been watching this well into my twenties, so maybe I’m watching it at the wrong age.

    Anyway, I digress. I love “Touched” because this episode finally brings to a satisfactory conclusion the epic, seasons-long love story of Spike and Buffy. Unlike the Buffy-Angel love story, we see why they fall in love. First, Spike just sees Buffy as his 3rd Slayer-killing challenge. As she frustrates his efforts, he becomes obsessed with her and gets to know her. He occasionally works with her, a first for him, so that he can win Drusilla back. Meanwhile, his romantic bona fides are established: he’s pretty much the most affectionate and romantic of the soulless vampires, and he doesn’t march to Evil’s drum quite the way the other vampires do. The experience of working with a Slayer affects Spike so much that Drusilla realizes he’s not completely focused on their love anymore. She leaves him, and he heads back to Buffy for good. While he wants to destroy Buffy, the chip stops him and gives him and Buffy more time to get to know each other. He eventually moves from a crush/ fascination to love. His evil nature continuously yields to his love for Buffy, and he starts to slowly become a better person. Once she realizes that he loves her (albeit in a soulless way), and she learns that she can rely on him to protect her and her family, she starts to like him more and more. Once Spike’s chip stops working on Buffy, their relationship goes from inequal to equal. Buffy, still stunned from returning to life, can express the full strength of her frustration and desire to Spike, and he can face her equally. But she can’t trust him, so she’s using him rather than giving to him, which is love, and she realizes this and has to call it off after the Doctor incident shows that Spike’s nature is irrevocably evil. He can never become a trustworthy, good man without a soul.

    So what does Spike do? First, he tries to rape her because he’s evil and crazed. Then his love for her makes him so horrified that his instincts drove him to rape that he achieves the impossible, which is a Spike thing (remember the 2 Slayer killings?) and finds someone to return his soul. So his love for Buffy actually inspires him to change his nature and become more human. That’s already a beautiful story right there. It gets better, in that his complete devotion, as expressed in “Touched,” finally blows past all her lonely Slayer defenses to the point that when she’s at her wits end, his love re-infuses her with confidence so that she can beat Caleb, get the scythe, come up with an amazing plan that beats the First forever, and unfreeze and reconnect emotionally with her Scooby loved ones. “Touched” perfectly shows that pure sort of giving, non-voyeuristic love, and I’ve never seen such a convincing love scene on TV before. I’m convinced because of their history, and I’m convinced because of their really good acting. And that’s my eighty cents.

    Like

  54. [Note: Wolven posted this comment on August 18, 2010.]

    Great review, I really enjoyed this episode too.. I loved the Buffy/Spike scene and the little speech he gave her was really heartwarming.

    I don’t think Faith was necessarily ‘good’ at leading or strategizing as some of you suggest… she really struggled at first.

    I kind of see a parallel with politics. When someone is in charge and things don’t go how the people want (even though not everyone sees the grand scheme of things) the overthrow Buffy and elect one ‘for the people, of the people’ and realize that things aren’t much different with her in charge and Faith realizes quickly she has to lay the law down to get anything done because the potentials really don’t have a clue what to do. I really liked in when Faith shut up Kennedy and that fact that she used her as bait!

    The scene at the end was great… I loved the tension and build-up… which slayer would get the power sort of thing.

    Yeah I agree with someone up there ^… I don’t think she loved Spike in S6, the jealousy was more about her… she needed/used Spike to feel, she felt so disconnected from everyone else after having being pulled out of heaven. The jealousy was more from the fact that it made her feel bad about herself, competition with other women or whatever you know? Like she is supposed to be the best, why is he going off with others, if you know what I mean

    Like

  55. [Note: Wolven posted this comment on August 19, 2010.]

    I also loved Spikes reaction to the group in the kitchen… definitely good to see him stand up for Buffy after watching the painful revolt calling them ‘ungrateful’ etc… it would’ve been nice to see some more dialogue in this, see Spike go harder on them maybe, would’ve been good to see more realization from Giles and Willow as to what they did to Buffy.

    Like

  56. [Note: Lesley posted this comment on November 3, 2010.]

    I’m in the process of watching this episode now, and I really hate to say this, but I have never been a fan of Kennedy. I don’t like how pushy she is, I absolutely *hate* the assumption that’s given with her regarding Willow getting together with her (“Oh, you’re a girl who likes girls? Me too! Never mind the fact that I was initially just SUPER in love with this one girl, and forget the fact that we have nothing in common whatsoever, and you’re kind of an annoying drip, let’s get together because in this world, there are only so many gay people! Right? … Right?”), but really, I would be willing to overlook all of this…

    … but their love scene does nothing for me. I’m just not interested in watching Kennedy slobber all over Willow and try to pretend that there’s some intense emotional connection there. I just don’t feel it. Kennedy is probably my least favorite character, simply because she was given so much import with so little true dimensional development.

    Whew, rant over. Great reviews as always, Mike. 😀

    Like

  57. [Note: Jermzy posted this comment on December 13, 2010.]

    Screw Bangel, Spike and Buffy are meant to be (the only time I can remember liking a souled Angel on Buffy was in the pilot- he was actually interesting then).

    Like

  58. [Note: John posted this comment on January 14, 2011.]

    I have very mixed feelings about this episode; some scenes were great but the overall plot was a little iffy still. Spike ripping apart the Scoobies for what they did to Buffy was great; even if I normally tend to ignore it as a horrifically out-of-character moment it was still great to see somebody stick up for Buffy. Like Wolven, I almost wish Spike had been harder on them; the decision was just so OOC that it really is rage-inducing.

    Faith as the leader was also kinda disappointing, as it made no sense for her to be one; Xander and Willow have both been fighting the good fight 2-3 times as long as she has and have a more established track record of sanity.

    However, the personal scenes in this episode are touching, for the most part. I wasn’t a huge fan of Willow/Kennedy; the relationship always felt very forced and silly (Kennedy somehow knows Willow is lesbian, Willow is somehow okay with such pushy aggression mere months after Tara’s death, etc, etc)and that scene just really lacked emotional impact for me. Spike saved this episode for me, though; his talk to Buffy was truly touching.

    Like

  59. [Note: John posted this comment on January 14, 2011.]

    I should specify that by out of character moment I meant the end of Empty Places with Buffy’s eviction from the house.

    Like

  60. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on January 22, 2011.]

    This is a good episode, not great but well done. I always cheer a little bit when Spike tells everyone off for kicking Buffy out. Bunch of idiots. 😛

    I also love the scene between Buffy and Spike. And I like how they contrasted everyone else going at it, presumably out of fear and the need to feel connected, while Buffy and Spike are content to just lay in each others arms. Their relationship is beyond the surface. This was done well. And Spike gave Buffy the love and encouragement that she needed to not feel sorry for herself which got her to get out there and kick ass Buffy-style. Her friends could learn a thing or two from Spike (imagine that!).

    One thing bothered me: How did Spike know that Buffy was arguing about the fact that Caleb was hiding something at the vineyard? He wasn’t there for the whole ambush and isn’t that where she was talking about it? Did I miss something?

    Like

  61. [Note: first posted this comment on March 6, 2011.]

    It did not seem like Kennedy/Willow relationship had much of a substance. Yet, they managed to stick a weird sex scene here. Possibly, a somewhat forced inclusion due to fan response to a lesbian character’s death. It’s unfortunate that we did not get to see any intimate moments from Willow & Tara’s relationship in seasons 4 or 5 (Not even in “seeing red” in S6). It was “left to our imagination” although we saw a lot from Riley and Buffy to a point where there was nothing left to imagine.

    Like

  62. [Note: A posted this comment on April 28, 2011.]

    I didn’t the sex scene was weird. It was what it was. I don’t really like Kennedy, but I think the scene was fine. Everyone’s just gettin’ it on on their last night on earth is all. 😛

    And it was a nice way to add a potentially controversial scene without making it the whole point of the episode.

    Like

  63. [Note: Tara posted this comment on September 15, 2011.]

    I have to disagree with Emily. Not all B/A fans try to delude themselves. I love Angel and Buffy together. They are, IMO, only one of TV’s versions of true love/soul mates. I also love Spike and Buffy together. Spike and Buffy have heat and passion, while Angel and Buffy were intense and romantic. In this case, which is very rare, I believe Buffy has two soulmates. And I believe in my heart that she loves Spike. Not quite as intensely as Angel, but she still loved him.

    I also despised Kennedy. Why did they have to give Willow a new love? Tara and Oz were her soulmates. The writers moved Willow on to fast after Tara.

    Spike’s speech was beautiful. Not to flowery, very meaningful.

    Like

  64. [Note: serenissima posted this comment on November 9, 2011.]

    Buffy and Spike were definitely soullmates. As someone else pointed out, Buffy and Angel’s ‘love’ reeked of teen angst and mere infatuation; so much emphasis is put on it, IMO, because it was Buffy’s first love and it ended badly, as most first loves do. Why would Angel even fall for Buffy, a bratty, superficial teen when he first saw her? And why would Buffy fall for Angel? What did they have in common aside from killing? What did they even TALK ABOUT?! (This is the same issue I have with Bella and Edward in Twilight; they talk about nothing but how amazing they both are and how much they love each other. Narcissism at it’s finest.)

    Buffy and Spikes relationship grew and matured over time; we see them as enemies, we see them as friends, we see them as friends with benefited, we see them as equal partners. It’s an adult and mature relationship with it’s share of ups and downs and abuse on both parts, sure, but, as a Slayer and a Vampire, they both have dark and violent natures so I don’t really feel like it’s fair to compare these negatives ( the AR, Buffy’s physical abuse) to real-life relationships.

    They understand each other far better than Buffy and Angel ever did, or even Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies. They have real, true love.

    ‘They put the spark in me, now all it does is burn.’ Enough said.

    PS Friends dont let friends ‘ship Bangel!

    Like

  65. [Note: x factor posted this comment on December 29, 2011.]

    To me, the mini-Spike monologue made me squirm. It was just way too cheesy. Basically, he ends up repeating the same line that Riley used on Buffy in season 6 – “you’re a hell of a woman”. Blech. If anyone wants a Buffy-pick-me-up speech that is far more natural feeling, just look up Xander’s speech in The Freshman.

    But a B/S episode is a lot easier to stomach with him having a soul. Although i thought the execution fell flat, at least the storyline itself was more believable than anything in season 6.

    Like

  66. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on December 29, 2011.]

    x factor: I didn’t mind the speech here. Although, Xander’s one in ‘The Freshman’ was fantastic.

    -Spike can track Buffy down almost 24 hours after she has left. Pretty cool.

    -This episode was the second to feature three main character sex scenes. The first was ‘The Harsh Light of Day’.

    -This was also the final episode to feature a sex scene.

    -The tongue stud! That’s all.

    Like

  67. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 21, 2012.]

    How about this: Spike was a misogynist like Warren and Caleb, but William wasn’t. The fact that William has to remember Spike’s unlife through shared eyes doesn’t make them the same person. They just keep calling William “Spike” because that’s what they had gotten used to calling him over 5 years, but as Buffy told Wood, Spike “doesn’t exist anymore.”

    Essentially, Spike killed himself in Africa because he thought that Buffy would love William more than him.

    Like

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

    @ Ryan ONeil

    This would assume that a soulless/ensouled vampire are two completely separate beings. There is enough proof in the Buffyverse to show that this is not fully the case- while Angel is determined to distance itself from Angelus, ensouled Spike and Darla very much resemble their previous selves. On the forums here, there is an interesting theory that the changes a vampire goes through when they turn are twofold: a demonic essence fills them with the love for chaos, and their moral restraints are removed. Vampires are not demons stealing the faces and memories of humans- they still are their mortal selves, just warped. I personally believe that, when a vampire is ensouled, they are given their moral restraints back and can feel remorse, but the darkness still exists.

    Also, I agree with others on here that the term misogynist is used too loosely for Spike. He does not hate women- he is shown to have a respect for them, but puts them on pedestals. Spike can be a nasty person/vampire, but it is not exclusive to women. He is only terrible to Harmony because she is such an idiot, he has just been ditched by the love of his unlife, and he is a flamboyantly heterosexual guy with a vapid, hot girl throwing herself at him. At this point, after he has been dumped by Dru, I feel that he had given up the idea of a romantic, committed relationship and just went for easy sex with someone he would not care about. This does not excuse him from anything obviously- although I’m a Spike fan, I still cheered when Harmony finally shot him with a crossbow in Crush. Spike isn’t too nice to his fellow men either- he repeatedly uses terms like “wanker” and regularly insults Xander and Giles when they are around. This is to a lesser extent since there are less men on the show, none of whom were ever in a romantic relationship with him, but it still stands that he is usually not good to others, not just women.

    That being said, I love the evolution of the Spuffy ship because as Spike says “I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you… and I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. ” They have known each other for five years at this point, and their beginnings certainly weren’t romantic. Neither one has an idealized vision of the other now- Spike has seen Buffy at her absolute worst, and Buffy understands his darkness and his history. This isn’t a relationship where two good looking people quickly and mutually fall in love/lust after several adrenaline filled fights. These are two people who have grown together through extremely difficult times, yet who have still chosen to start a new relationship. Had Spike not died (I won’t count his resurrection, since I haven’t seen AtS 5 yet), I think they would have tried a romantic relationship again, this time one that could last.

    Like

  69. [Note: Tel Prydain posted this comment on November 25, 2012.]

    I concur that series seven does often feel like the Spike show. Even Wood seems only to exist in order to progress Spike’s character.

    Conversely, I always felt that Kennedy got a bad rap for being non-Tara.

    Despite the constant comments around Kennedy not being Willow’s type, I think that finding another quiet soulful woman would mean that the newbie would always be Tara MrkII. After the last relationship, it makes sense that Willow night fall for someone a lot tougher than Tara was, and someone for who was magic-free.

    More to the point, it never struck me as being the same type of relationship. Kennedy is clearly not Willow’s soulmate like Tara was or a confidant like Oz was, but rather it’s two people finding solace in a time of war. Are people just miffed that Willow wants a sexual relationship rather than a deep, soulful, romantic relationship?

    The real problem is that we had half a season of Willow and Tara becoming friends, experiencing the passion of magic and then falling in love. We experience that process with Willow.

    Meanwhile, Willow and Kennedy happen mostly off screen, and we never actually get to follow through that process, see how they spend time together or get to know Kennedy the way Willow does.

    Wish this series ditched some of the dead weight at the start and spent even time on the core crew Dawn/Xander/Willow/Giles. I feel like a lot of stuff (including the apparently out-of-character stuff in Empty) would have been less jarring if we had seen what was happening with those guys rather then seeing them as background wallpaper.

    I just wish we had skipped the Anya is bad/Spike is crazy stuff at the start of the season, got the potentials in sooner and then had a better chance to see the core folk interact with the potential slayers and see them cope with the craziness that ensues.

    Like

  70. [Note: Gon posted this comment on January 28, 2013.]

    (English is not my language, so please forgive my mistakes) I normally agree with the high-scored episodes in this site, but I must say I don’t understand this one. The Buffy-Spike conversation makes a good scene, all right, but a conversation doesn’t make an episode. I mean, a normal Buffy episode has a plot, and the plot makes characters grow. But I honestly don’t see a plot in this one.I have other major problems with this episode. The first one, as many have pointed out, is the premise. I just can’t buy the friends-turning-their-back-on-Buffy story. During that first scene, I just wish Joyce Summers would open the front door and say “get out of my house, all of you”. They’re all strangers to me. Then the writers try to give us some of the old Willow in the scene where she explains what happened to Spike but that just makes it worst; old Willow would never betray Buffy and accept being under Faith’s command. Then, there’s the meaning of the schyte. This episode implies that Buffy is the Chosen one, even if her friends (and herself) doubt that, even if there are other slayers (Faith and, in the future, the potentials). The schyte serve that purpose as a modern version of the sword in the stone, that only the Chosen one can have. But at the end this doesn’t work for me for 3 reasons: 1) that single weapon couldn’t possibly be effective against an army of Ubervamps; 2) the Chosen idea conflicts with the final message of sharing power; 3) it is also in contradiction with the narrative that presents Spike as “the warrior” who sacrifice himself at the end to save the day.I think the Willow and Kennedy talk is bad. Should we understand Willow is Angel now? A moment of true happiness can turn her into a bad girl again? I feel that’s just re-writing all the Willow arc.Finally, the last scene looks just so not-Buffy to me. A bomb, really? And with the ticking sound effect? Is this “24”? I’m really trying to accept that season 7 has good things, but I don’t see them here.

    Like

  71. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 28, 2013.]

    To address your first point, remember that Willow saw what Faith did for Angel over on Angel Season 4. I do think that she at least has a little more trust that Faith’s grown up a bit. But I agree that the whole situation is a little odd, but that’s mostly dealing with what happened in “Empty Places” — there’s where the root of this complaint is.Your second point I just disagree with. The entire season has been thematically built around the concept of sharing power. It’s hinted at many times earlier in the season — of people sharing their power with others to succeed. In “Touched,” this sharing of power occurs emotionally between Spike and Buffy. Spike gives back to Buffy what she gave to him at the end of “Never Leave Me.” The fact that the scythe is not just for Buffy (e.g. Faith claims to feel its power equally to Buffy in “End of Days”) is yet another hint of where their true path to victory resides. Buffy’s been going about it the wrong way thus far, which is what got her kicked out of the group.That single weapon may not be the only key to their victory, but what it was forged for (the chosen one) is what gives Buffy the idea to break that tradition and do what she does best: subvert what’s expected of her. So she has Willow spread its power around to all the Potentials. Thematically, it makes perfect sense and has been very well built up to. This explanation should help address your second complaint.As for your third problem, think about who was the one who gave Spike the strength to be there at the end. Who inspired him to seek a soul — something unprecedented for a soulless creature. Spike’s sacrifice has Buffy written all over it. Without Buffy, Spike simply wouldn’t be there.Your comparison of Willow to Angel doesn’t land for me either. Willow’s concern is about losing control — it has nothing to do with happiness. Willow lost herself in Season 6 because Tara died, not because she was thrilled about it.I’ll concede that the bomb does feel a little out of place on this show, but Caleb did use one to blow up the Council in “Never Leave Me” — so it’s not totally out of the blue.

    Like

  72. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on January 29, 2013.]

    I think that Gon was just trying to come up with a fanwank for why Willow tolerated somebody like Kennedy instead of looking for somebody better.

    Like

  73. [Note: Gon posted this comment on January 29, 2013.]

    I think you make a valid point about Buffy sharing the schyte later. But wasn’t there something about only Buffy bein capable of taking the scythe from the stone? What I’m saying is that the episode gives the idea she’s THE one and only (and that’s also what Spike says) and I feel that it’s that idea to give her strenght to react. So I find this episode a bit contradictory with the message of the sharing power. But I like your remark about Buffy breaking the tradition. It’s true that Buffy gave strenght for Spike being there at the end but it’s also true Angel give her the talisman to use at the end… so, I don’t really think we can say Spike’s sacrifice can be seen as a result of Buffy’s work… At most, I can see the result as a shared gig – and that would make sense for the idea of shared power. But still, it’s Spike own decision. I don’t agree with that one.As for Willow, I’m talking about this part of the dialogue with Kennedy:WILLOW: I’ve been controlling myself and I— if I lose that control, let myself go, I could just go.KENNEDY : Hm. You worried you’re gonna turn into big bad Willow?WILLOW : It’s not stupid. When we first kissed, I turned into…Warren.The idea of “turning bad” is very present and the cause is clearly having sex… so I’ll keep my previous interpretation. This looks a lot like Angel’s course.Still, my main problem is that I don’t see a plot in this episode, just scenes.Season 7 is still a big disapointment to me, but I can say some of the things you wrote made me revalutate the idea (not the execution) of it.

    Like

  74. [Note: Gon posted this comment on January 29, 2013.]

    🙂 lol No, I was not. I don’t like the Willow and Kennedy relationship mostly because I think is made without sensibility (I agree with comment 72 from TelPrydain, though)

    Like

  75. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 29, 2013.]

    Well, here’s the thing: the inscription at the church that says “It is for her alone to wield” was written a very long time ago with the notion that only the single slayer could use it. There’s only supposed to be one slayer at a time, but Buffy’s already caused that history to be broken (see “Prophecy Girl”). It’s written for THE Slayer, yet there is no longer one slayer anymore, which the text doesn’t account for. In “End of Days” we get confirmation that Faith also feels like the scythe is hers, not just Buffy. This is the key. When Willow spreads its power around, it’s then no surprise that each Potential feels ownership to the scythe and can utilize its full power.

    Faith would have been able to pull that scythe out of the rock as easily as Buffy did, but Buffy was the one do it because of her unique instincts, her growth over the years, and the (reciprocal) strength given to her by Spike to go face Caleb again.

    All of this doesn’t mean that Buffy isn’t special, it just means that her power isn’t what makes her special, at least not any longer. She, as a person, is special. That’s the distinction.

    As for the amulet that Angel gives to Buffy for the battle, it’s said to only be used “by a champion.” Spike, at this point, is no champion. But when Buffy tells him about the champion bit and then hands it over to him, she’s creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. He becomes that champion by making the choice to bear that burden, and because Buffy thinks it’s so. The question comes down to, why would he ever choose to do this, with the inherent risks involved? He does it because of Buffy — because of all of that foundation that was built between the two of them throughout the season. He not only does it for her, but because of her. He says in “Chosen” he can actually feel his soul now, and that’s because he finally understands what sacrifice is all about. Again, without Buffy, Spike never wears that amulet and is nowhere to be seen in this battle. Angel may have delivered the amulet to Sunnydale, but his involvement ended there.

    [Edit] Oh, and speaking of Angel, Buffy was the reason Angel found the strength to find purpose in life (and otherwise wouldn’t be in the position to get the amulet in the first place) rather than letting the sun burn him up. Remember Buffy’s speech to him in “Amends”? “Never Leave Me” does for Spike what “Amends” did for Angel, and Buffy is the catalyst for both of them to believe in themselves. It’s also no coincidence that the First Evil was the entity trying to get them to [i]not[/i] believe in themselves. 🙂

    Like

  76. [Note: Daniel posted this comment on February 13, 2013.]

    I’m a huge fan of your episode reviews, Mike. I’ve literally been sat here for hours reading through your takes on season 7, as well as the eons of comments posted over the past few years. I’m happy to have found somebody else so passionate about this show as myself. I find I’m in agreement with 99.99% of what you’ve said about each episode, it’s freaky!

    Like

  77. [Note: Michelle posted this comment on February 14, 2013.]

    So i’m just throwing in my opinion here and I honestly am just going off of the emotions i read in Buffy during the episode Touched but here goes: You mentioned that you feel the plot was leading to the assumption that Buffy is THE ONE and has to defeat the First on her own. I believe Spoke’s speech showed her that she was still the chosen, reminded her of all that she had done, and reminded her of what made her different from all the slayers before her: She didn’t have to do any of it alone. She had her friends and family all along. I believe this plants the seed that is then ‘watered’ by the First when it appears to Buffy in The episode ‘Chosen’ the First points out one word in particular during their conversation ‘Alone’. And this is when Buffy realizes that they will defeat the First. In my opinion she had that ‘lightbulb’ moment and realized that the First underestimated Buffy’s support system her ‘army’, the one thing that set her apart was the large amount of love in her life. If you pay close attention you can see that the First is trying to tear apart the group, this is because in the end Buffy wasn’t alone, she was never alone, and that is why she chose to share her power, because she had truely been sharing it all along. One slayer, one watcher, one with the skills and strength, she had allowed the potentials to be taught by her watcher, to learn her skills, and in the end she gave them her strength, But ya know, that is just my opinion

    Like

  78. [Note: WCRobinson posted this comment on July 27, 2013.]

    I absolutely love this episode. The Buffy and Spike content is just perfect, and serves as such a poignant way to pretty much wrap up their character arcs. Spike sticking up for Buffy at the start, and the amazing scene in the abandoned house…

    I would actually give this 100. When I think about the best of S7, this immediately comes to mind. Even if there are other great episodes in the season!

    Like

  79. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on July 28, 2013.]

    I think that this is the second best episode of the entire series, after The Gift. Buffy finally learns what love is. While the way in which it is done is beyond terrible, I see Buffy being kicked out as being essential to her learning this lesson. It’s not the fact that her friends turned on her that gets me; it’s the fact that they did for no reason.

    The Buffy/Angel relationship strikes me as an archetypal Tristan/Isolde type deal. In Wagner’s opera (based, of course, on a similar but less philosophical myth), the characters can’t ever satisfy their desire for each other, and die the “Love-death”, so that they may annihilate themselves in each other in death. It sounds awfully pretentious (and it is), but it’s seen by many as the greatest romance ever written. The Buffy/Angel relationship is extremely redolent of Tristan and Isolde: the Curse prevents them from satiating their desires, and after Buffy kills Angel, she assumes a new identity (in effect ‘killing’ Buffy). It’s all moving, and a fairy tale romance etc.

    But Buffy’s relationship with Spike is something completely different. It begins with the two of them desperate: Spike is jam on the floor, disabled, really, and Buffy is depressed out of her mind. It’s pretty ugly, on the surface. But Spike lays his finger on the essential nature of his love for Buffy at it’s core: it’s about her, not about him. During S6 their motives were purely selfish and based purely on desire, just as Buffy’s relationship with Angel was. But after Entropy, something changes. Spike has a moment of self awareness. he can see the monster inside him, and he fights back. Angel was cursed with a soul, Spike fought for his. For Angel, living, loving, is a curse, it’s pain, which is similar to how Buffy mistakes pain for fire in her relationships over the years. For Spike, it’s what he wants; he wants to be better, and like Faust, is saved because he tried.

    Buffy is so closed off towards Potentials and her friends because she is the Chosen one; like Angel, she was in a sense cursed with this life. Giles handed her the responsibility of saving the world over and over again. Her friends tore her out of the ignorant bliss of nonexistence. She closes off from them because they bind her to this hard, painful life that we are all thrust into without any choice in the matter.

    So when Spike tells her that he loves her not because of anything to do with him, but because of her, he shows her what it takes to live in this world. Just as Spike only truly becomes a man when he submits (I hesitate to use the word, because it doesn’t really express what I mean) to Buffy, Buffy becomes a woman when she isn’t just chosen, but when she chooses to live her life. Buffy needed to get kicked out so that she could return to bear the responsibility of being the slayer out choice, not out of destiny.

    The Austrian philosopher and polymath Rudolf Steiner thought that true love on a cosmic scale is when a human being comes to know herself, and having gained this freedom of thought submits herself to the service of the universe. On a personal level, you could say that Spike comes to know himself (winning his soul), and submits himself to the service of Buffy (in troubadour style, not like a servant; like Dante and Beatrice). He shows her true love, and they spend the night together not in passion, but in spiritual connection. I think it’s the most beautiful relationship ever put on television, by an infinite distance.

    That’s my take on this episode. This is not a case of Buffy standing by her man or what have you. On the contrary, the message is not to women about dealing with their men, but to men about how they should behave towards women. I think Spike was, while not a misogynist like Caleb, certainly a sexist. But by rediscovering the Divine Feminine, he becomes a human being that is not constrained by gender notions, but who acts as a free human being out of love for Buffy. Now his next step is to extend that to everybody else, which he does in Chosen, and the light of his soul literally closes the mouth of Hell. Ultimately, Spike’s transformation in S6-S7 is perhaps the single most important thing this show ever did (which says a lot, because Dawn is an incredible metaphor), and the fact that it gets lost in the debate over Spike vs. Angel is sad.

    I like Angel, and I loved his show too. But his relationship was about consummation, which has the same root as the word “consume”. Spike learns (even if he doesn’t entirely understand) and the shows Buffy the truth of love stated by Osho: “If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because, if you pick it, it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.”

    By the way, sorry about being a bit didactic, and extremely long winded. I just feel like this episode is so important that it needs to be given its due.

    Like

  80. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 28, 2013.]

    This is fabulous comment! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Although I can’t quite agree with “Touched” being the second best episode in the entire series — despite seeing the argument for it being up there — I do think that it’s a vastly underrated episode and a Season 7 gem.

    I’m in complete agreement with your analysis of Spike’s transformation, and I love that Osho quote about the flower — beautiful, as is “Touched” and its exploration of love.

    Like

  81. [Note: Monica posted this comment on August 31, 2013.]

    This is just another episode that makes me ill in the direction it went in. Aside from the fact I loved that Faith finally got Buffy’s life, something explored since her arrival in “Faith, Hope, & Trick,” and wasn’t quite sure how to handle it, I was really bothered by the lack of attention to the characters who are in need of a closing arc with such few episodes left.

    Also, Spikes speech to all about kicking out Buffy really made me grimace, as well as the fight between he and Faith. The (attempt at) sacrificing the characters we’ve loved and scene grow for seven years for Spike to be the hero really hit me hard. I really don’t care for this end-of-the-series story arc. At all.

    Like

  82. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on September 2, 2013.]

    Thanks, Mike, for the kind words. It means a lot coming from you. I return the complement to you, and your fabulous reviews.

    Like

  83. [Note: Shoregrey posted this comment on September 8, 2013.]

    Noticing no one has commented that Wood basically went from one slayer to another…trying to replace mommy it would seem. There is a bit of a creep factor for me when it comes to Wood and Buffy and Faith.

    Like

  84. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on March 3, 2014.]

    That’s sort of true, although I think it’s more nuanced. Wood never actually made a pass at Buffy – all he did was take her out to dinner – and his sex with Faith was initiated by Faith.

    Like

  85. [Note: Elizabeth A posted this comment on June 5, 2014.]

    My problem with comparing Angel and Spike’s actions when they were good vs. evil, souled vs no soul and their relationship to Buffy is that Angel was already good and souled when we first met his character. It was a while before he turned bad. Spike was introducted as evil with no soul and was that way for years on all the way until season 7. Would Buffy even have wanted anything to do with Angelus if she had met him when he was already evil?

    Like

  86. [Note: SnoopyWoodstock posted this comment on June 19, 2014.]

    I thought Xander’s role as a traitor was actually worse in
    “Becoming” season 2 when he doesn’t tell Buffy that Willow is trying again
    to restore Angel’s soul and instead tells her “Willow said kick his ass.”

    Did Buffy ever find out that Xander knew Willow was trying again, but didn’t tell her on purpose.

    Like

  87. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on July 31, 2014.]

    Wow… I really, really must be in the minority here, because this is one of my least favorite episodes of the series.

    It’s sort of like “Where the Wild Things Are” in that all the character insight is drowned out by the massive fuckathon that is this episode’s third act. The scene with Mayor!First is great, yes, but all I can remember about this episode is “Kennedy and Willow do the do while Spike is loving and compassionate.” (Oh– and let’s not forget the totally forced Spike love scene. “Oh Buffy, you’re so great. I’m a noble and selfless man who wholeheartedly loves you. Let’s overlook the whole me trying to rape you and kill your family, I’m changed now because I have a soul! I’m so tormented and sexy.”)

    Like

  88. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on July 31, 2014.]

    I’m sorry if this sounds rude, but did you miss the entire fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons?! I think Spike made it pretty clear that he loves Buffy. The development between Buffy and Spike this season pretty much culminated into this moment. Buffy doesn’t appreciate Spike because he has a soul. She doesn’t appreciate Andrew very much even though he has a soul. So why should she appreciate Spike? Buffy appreciated Spike because he fought for not only his soul, but the validation of his soul throughout season seven as well. The sex scenes you are listing didn’t even, in total, span through a fourth of this episode or even an entire act, a length far less than that of the sex scene in “Where the Wild Things Are”.

    Like

  89. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on July 31, 2014.]

    Here’s the thing… yes, ever since “Out Of My Mind” it’s been clear that Spike loves Buffy. But throughout the fifth and sixth seasons, it’s just as clear that his love for Buffy is far from noble. William Pratt was genuine in his love for Cecily, and when he was turned, that morphed into love tinged with obsessive sexual desire and violence.

    The reason I bring up Spike’s soul is that it seems to exist solely as a way to get rid of the unsavory aspects of his love. I adore his arc in Season 5 because it manages to balance his genuine care for Buffy with his nonexistent moral compass. Spike might love Buffy with all his heart, but he still can’t understand why knocking her out, tying her attempt, and killing his sire for her doesn’t make her love him.

    This episode is the culmination of Buffy and Spike’s development come season 7, but that’s exactly the problem. I don’t think season 7 does their relationship justice. More specifically– it completely ignores the fallout of their relationship in season 6, not to mention his skeeviness throughout the past three seasons. What’s even worse is that his actions in “Seeing Red” are completely ignored after everyone realizes he has a soul. In “Beneath You,” Xander shows concern because “he tried to rape [Buffy],” but he has no problems letting Spike stay in the Summers basement only three episodes later. As you yourself mention, having a soul isn’t a reason to appreciate someone. But I don’t think it’s a good reason to forgive someone for hurting you in the way Spike hurt Buffy.

    Last point: “Touched” objectively has more sex than “Where the Wild Things Are.” To quote myself on the WTWTA review:

    The episode dedicates one minute and thirty-eight seconds to Buffy and Riley fucking. That’s absolutely nothing compared to Touched. For christ’s sake, Riley spends more time investigating a leaky bathtub this episode.

    And that’s not even a whole 1:38 worth of sex: it’s split up throughout the episode, unlike this episode’s Act 3 triafucklon.

    Like

    1. Have you seen season 2 and 3? Angel really hurts Buffy and on S3 she, Giles, even Xander with “like the old times”, they forgive Angel ’cause the show has been clear about the differences between a vampire without soul and with soul. And in both examples (Angel and Spike), you can’t apply to real life. It’s just a show with metaphoras

      Like

  90. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on July 31, 2014.]

    “it completely ignores the fallout of their relationship in season 6, not to mention his skeeviness throughout the past three seasons.”

    But it doesn’t. In season 6 Buffy could not even start a stable relationship with Spike because he didn’t have a soul. In order to fix this Spike fought for his soul at the end of season six. Buffy knew this and because of this their relationship had a stable foundation, a foundation which was built upon all throughout season 7. It doesn’t ignore they’re fallout in season six 1) because it that was addressed in the first half of the seventh season (in “Beneath You”, “Sleeper”, “Never Leave Me”, and capped off in “Showtime”), and 2) because the Buffy/Spike arc in season 7 occurred because of they’re relationship fallout (Spike would not have acquired a soul otherwise).

    “What’s even worse is that his actions in “Seeing Red” are completely ignored after everyone realizes he has a soul. In “Beneath You,” Xander shows concern because “he tried to rape [Buffy],” but he has no problems letting Spike stay in the Summers basement only three episodes later.”

    The rape was already covered in the first half of season seven for one, and two, Spike didn’t pose much of a threat during that time period (until he started killing people). Three to four episodes later, granted, Spike stayed at Xander’s, but Xander made it clear that he was against that. Buffy explained that Spike has a soul. Spike got a soul. While that is in know way an excuse for him to attain forgiveness it is a way of showing that he has a moral compass and that, on some level, he thinks of the moral and ethical consequences of his actions. At this point in the series this was widely accepted among the characters.

    “But I don’t think it’s [a soul] a good reason to forgive someone for hurting you in the way Spike hurt Buffy.”

    No it is not a good reason. It is a foundation, a stage-setter if you will, for forgiveness. By the end of the season Spike proved himself worthy of forgiveness (if not forgiveness, then of an overlooking of his actions in “Seeing Red”) in my opinion.

    “Last point: “Touched” objectively has more sex than “Where the Wild Things Are.” To quote myself on the WTWTA review:

    – QUOTE –
    The episode dedicates one minute and thirty-eight seconds to Buffy and Riley fucking. That’s absolutely nothing compared to Touched. For christ’s sake, Riley spends more time investigating a leaky bathtub this episode.

    And that’s not even a whole 1:38 worth of sex: it’s split up throughout the episode, unlike this episode’s Act 3 triafucklon.”

    The entire plot of “Where the Wild Things Are” revolved around sex with virtually no meaningful subtext or character insight. The sex scenes in “Touched”, at least to me, have depth to them, especially the one between Buffy and Spike. They were all spontaneous with respect to the characters. I don’t care if there’s a sex scene as long as there is a valid character meaning behind it which “Touched” presents quite effectively.

    Like

  91. [Note: Zach posted this comment on October 17, 2014.]

    I don’t get the hate on sex scenes…Are we supposed to think because Touched had sex scenes it actually hurts the episodes score? That’s ridiculous…It’s like complaining about how all the characters breathed in this one.

    Like

  92. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on October 17, 2014.]

    Rereading my previous comment on this review, I would like to account for a grammatical error I made, mostly because I’m a perfectionist who is far from perfect: when I said “know” in one of my sentences, I meant to say “no” (I feel really embarrassed actually).

    Also, I kind of implied that Buffy and Spike had sex in my last paragraph. They didn’t. I meant that they had a more sensual experience that was meaningful in terms of character development.

    Zach: I agree… There is no problem with a sex scene as long as it is meaningful for the insight and development of the characters.

    Like

  93. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on March 17, 2015.]

    I’m sorry but I do not understand how anyone justifies Spike calling Buffy a bitch because she was acting like a bitch. WHAT? So men can just go around disrespecting women and it’s supposed to be justified because they “deserved it”? I’m starting to think that the real misogynists are the commenters themselves.

    Anyways change of subject, so this show can be really excellent at times and be really awful at times because just like other teen drama shows, writers seem to not care about theirs characters to the fullest extent. They insult the characters and the fans by writing ridiculous story lines at times and almost not working hard to make the story memorable. It is more common with shows like this for the writers to sacrifice good writing and characterization for what the fans want and what characters they root for or the camps the fans root for. I don’t know why I am ranting about this on a seemingly good episode but I hate inconsistency. And I am not trying to insult the fans of this show by saying it’s a typical teen show because I am not saying that at all but you have to admit that it’s fan base was mostly teens and geared towards teens when this show was created and it hits the common note of all drama shows that geared towards teenagers, inconsistency and inaccurate characterization and not to mention so many damn stereotypes of how teenagers act, as seen on season 1 and beginning of season 2 most commonly. It can have moments where it is very disrespectful to what we go through growing up, I mean can you blame us for acting like brats like miss Summers occasionally demonstrates(which is one of the truer stereotypes)? I mean hello high school is hell, which is a common theme in the beginning of this show.

    Okay I’m done with my rant, nothing more to see here (:

    Like

  94. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on March 17, 2015.]

    Okay never mind, I am not done ranting. I forgot to say that this show kind of compares a little to Mad Men, as weird as that sounds. Hear me out, Mad Men is a very dark show where it seems as though the characters never seem to have an happy ending, especially the couples that we all want together never end up together because some people as much as the fans want them together are just not compatible or will just never work. Mad Men also shows more of the dark side of the characters personality and puts the most emphasis on that which Buffy does the same. It’s similar to what fans say that Joss Whedon is the writer that likes to kill off beloved characters, how dark and twisted is that? but the only difference is that Mad Men doesn’t start off cheesy and has a very consistent story line, musical score, and just overall cinematic production. & it’s a show geared towards adults. Coincidence? I think not. Teenagers are obviously not favored in this world but then again, who could blame the world? but shows should gear towards teaching teenagers values and morals without it being a damn after school special and just overall being more realistic and pushing towards a end to a lot of the faults in our society that start with negative teen influences.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s