Beneath You

Written by Douglas Petrie
Directed by Nick Marck

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy was using Spike for sex and validation, Buffy stopped using Spike, Xander left Anya at the alter and she went vengeancy again, Spike assaulted Buffy, Tara died, Willow went nuts, Willow got un-nuts, something nasty is coming, Sunnydale High reopened, Buffy got a job there, and Spike came back wrong.

Frankfurt, Germany: You may be forgiven for double-checking which show you're watching, but no, the running chick in the bright red hair/wig isn't Jennifer Garner. But she's being chased by the same guys in robes we saw last year, and she sure moves like Buffy, scaling walls and fighting off the nasties like a pro. But it's not enough to save her as they pile on her and the knife comes down into her stomach. She lies limply as the robes leave... then her head turns to the side and says, in an unearthly voice, "From beneath you, it devours." Someone screams -- and Buffy is in bed, with Dawn trying to wake her. Seems the Slayer was the one screaming, and she just dreamed about the girl being killed. "There's more like her, Dawn. Out there, somewhere..." She gets out of bed to stare out the window. "And they're gonna die." Outside, something rumbles, and a furrow suddenly runs up the streets and lawns, like Bugs Bunny on steroids is burrowing... and forgot that left turn at Albuquerque.

In the basement beneath the school, Spike is still crawling, still nuts. He's not only talking to himself, he's carrying on a conversation with a local rat. (Presumably not of the Amy variety, unless Willow pulled something we don't know about. Not that we'd object...) "Now is not the time. You know it. I know it. But making them understand... is a totally different matter. No manners is the problem. Proper breeding, lack of etiquette. All of it lacking, All of it lost on them." For those of you keeping track, the hair is still quite curly, and the accent is smoother, more cultured than we've come to expect. The ground starts rumbling and he stands, afraid. "Not the time. Not hardly ready! Stop, please, mum! Make it stop!" He covers his ears and screams.

Dawn, on the other hand, is having a good morning. Xander is driving her to school again, but this time, Buffy's coming as an employee instead of a hanger-on, and Dawn is psyched. As long as Buffy doesn't talk to her or in any way acknowledge her in front of her friends, of course. (Which, considering her friends consist of Kit and Carlos, as far as we know, seems silly, but what the hell. She's 16.) Buffy promises, but is still slightly weirded by not having an actual job description other than dealing with "troubled kids". Xander offers moral support, reminiscing on his high school years. Dawn points out that he hated high school, and he returns (in a truly clunky transition), "Yes, but at least then I was dating." Buffy points out that there's nothing stopping him from dating now, but he says it's just not clicking, due to the whole 'leaving at the altar" thing. "It's not something you just bounce back from," Buffy says. Xander responds, "Sure it is. Anya bounced back to being a vengeance demon, and I bounced back to being a dateless nerd." Apparently, Anya's been hanging around the Bronze a lot, doing the vengeance thing, and Xander is depressed. Dawn tells them both to ease up on the dating demons things; Buffy responds with little sister kissing demons last Halloween. Dawn knows when she's beaten and pouts..

Principal Robin is delighted to see Buffy, and shows her to her very own desk, but can't clarify the job thing. He just tells her that the students will want to talk to her, and she just needs to be an understanding authority figure. And she can give detention if she wants. "A little authority is a wonderful thing. But just remember that, while you are here to help, you're not here to be their friend, Trust me, you open that door and these students will eat you alive." Buffy blinks. "You heard about Principal Flutie, right?" (And can I say how much I love a show that makes a hilariously funny in-joke referring to six seasons ago?) Principal Robin makes a bad joke, assures Buffy that the students needs someone who they can respect, and he needs someone who understand them, then moves on to his first gang of juvenile offenders of the morning. Buffy sits at her desk, then heads off to check on the most troubled person she currently knows. In the basement.

In England (which is not the basement), Willow is putting off the whole "going-home" things as long as possible. "I don't want to go back home just so I can screw up again." She's terrified of all things Sunnydale, of knowing her own limits, of loosing control of the badness again and, mostly of not being accepted back. Giles tells her, "Willow, we could spend another two years here training and practicing and learning to home your powers, and still there'll be now way of knowing for sure if the friends you left behind you are still your friends.... I'd love to offer you some guarantee that you'll be welcomed back to Sunnydale with open arms, but I can't. You may not be wanted -- but you will be needed." He leads her off to the cab. "Trust yourself, and the others might follow."

Back home, a dog owner is walking her adorable little Yorkie, and asking herself why she didn't get a cat. She gets the chance to change the decision when there's a rumbling -- and the sidewalk opens up and swallows said adorable Yorkie. The owner is next, towed along the sidewalk by the leash as something big and dark looms out of the hole over her. She start running, looking over her shoulder as she goes, so she doesn't see the guy until she's almost run over him. It's Xander, of course, and he quickly deals with the damsel in distress who has run into his arms.

He takes the dogwalker, Nancy, to the Summers house, where she describes everything to Buffy, Xander and Dawn. She's a little worried when they don't think she's crazy, but goes with it. Xander mixes comfort with flirting as Nancy describes what happened; when she gets to the rumbling, Buffy murmurs, "From beneath you, it devours," her dream starting to make sense. "Should we round up the gang?" Dawn asks. Xander: "Good thinking, except... this is the gang." Buffy promises Nancy they'll try to save the dog. "Fortunately, the only thing I need is--" A voice comes from the doorway. "What you need, is help." Buffy looks up to see Spike leaning nonchalantly against the living room doorframe, looking excessively sexy in a tight, royal blue shirt. And looking way more sane then the last time we saw him, by the way. "Fortunately, you've got me."

It's to the Scoobies' credit that no one lunges up immediately to stake him, but that cold be the shock talking. Nancy asks quietly who he is, and Dawn starts, "He's Buffy's... " "Ex," Xander fills in abruptly. Nancy: "And I', thinking it's a little more complicated than just that." Xander: "It always is." Buffy tells Spike, "You've changed." Spike: "I have." Buffy: "New clothes, better hair, not so much with the crazy... I like it." Spike is utterly relaxed; if he was any calmer, we'd have to start searching for the pods. And we might anyway. But he tells Buffy to calm down, he doesn't really like being here where everyone hates him. Xander invites him to leave if he's that uncomfortable, but he tells Buffy they need to talk. "By the way, and for the record, " I admit -- when last you saw me, I was a mess. Out of my head. I admit it. The last week, living in the school basement... well, you saw me." Dawn, hearing that, shoots her sister an extremely surprised look. "Yes, I saw Spike," Buffy admits, and informs the truly PO'd Dawn that they can discuss it later. A fight almost starts, Spike stupidly tries to defend Buffy, and everything almost goes to hell. Buffy breaks it up, then moves Spike into the foyer to continue the conversation. "Do not start by saying you're sorry," she warns him. "I'm not here to atone," he responds. He's there to help; "I'm just a guy with his ear to the ground, and even I can feel it. Something's coming. I don't know what exactly, but something brewing. And it's so big, ugly and damned, it makes you and me look like itty bitty puzzle pieces. If I'm wrong, tell me." Buffy responds (pissing me off all over again): "Everything about you is wrong, Spike." But she can't deny trouble coming, or deny that she needs his help, no matter how much she wants to (and she wants to a lot).

She splits the Scoobies up -- Xander takes Nancy home, Buffy and Spike are heading on patrol. As this is being decided, Xander takes a moment to be very clear to Nancy that Buffy isn't his girlfriend; Dawn takes a moment to pout at being left home where it's safe, but she makes the best of it. Xander hates having Buffy go anywhere with Spike, but gives in to Buffy's judgment (exhibiting the most mature behavior we've seen in about two years). As they leave, Dawn stops Spike: "You sleep, right? I mean, vampires -- you sleep?" Spike: "Yeah. What's your point, Niblet?" Dawn: "Well, I can't take you in a fight or anything, even with the chip in your head. But you do sleep. If you hurt my sister at all, touch her? You're gonna wake up on fire." It's a calm promise, not a threat, and it leaves Spike speechless (for once). Which continues as he and Buffy patrol, having no idea what to say to each other, although Spike does ask, "When exactly did your sister get unbelievably scary?" He reiterates that he's just there to help as they find the hole in the sidewalk and start investigating. Buffy asks what happened to him. He answers matter-of-factly, "Well, you saw me. Those ghostly types in the basement got in my head. Made me flat-out, bug-shagging crazy. And I'm not exactly bragging about it, but they were stronger than I was. Made me see things. Do things. " Why am I not buying this? He asks Buffy why she didn't tell anyone; she says she was hoping he was a mirage. He apologizes for being real, and asks her to hold the flashlight (which he calls a "torch"; he's being awfully British tonight); she hesitates, then leaps backwards as the brush of their hands sends her flashing back to the bathroom. "Look, us working together, it's not a way for us to get back together, if that's what you're thinking," she warns him shakily. Spike tells her, "It's not. Look, I can't blame you for being all skittish...." Buffy stares at him. "Skittish? That's the not the word I would use. You tried to rape me. I don't have the words." Spike can't look at her. "Neither do I. I can't say "Sorry," I can't use "Forgive me." All I can say is, Buffy, I've changed." Buffy: "I believe you.... I'm just not sure what you've changed into." She knows there's something he's not telling. Spike: "You're right. But we're not best friends anymore; too bad for me. I'm not sharing." He tells her to make use of him if she wants, and there's nothing to find in the hole in front of them. He walks off without looking back, leaving Buffy to follow if she wants to.

Xander and Nancy arrive at Nancy's apartment, but his awkward attempts to hit on her are cut off when she asks if she can call him sometime. Xander: "just to check in?" Nancy: "No, I'm hitting on you." Xander is delighted, but before he can really respond, there's a rumbling, and something starts coming at them from under floor. They makes it off ground level to another set of stairs, and stare in horror as the attack falls silent. Twice in one night -- maybe not a coincidence, but the only person Nancy knows who would do this is her ex-boyfriend, Ronnie. Psycho, she was trying to get him to go away, and she might have made a wish to that effect....

Anya nods understandingly over a drink at the Bronze to the young woman expostulating her about her cheating ex. "And you know what I wish?" the woman asks. Anya sits up straight. "God, do I want to."

The chick gets distracted before she can get around to making her wish (largely because Anya is working to hard at the sell), and then the Scoobies show up to distract Anya. She admits that, yes, she granted Nancy's wish. "you wished and I dished. I didn't think you were gonna go all narc on me." Informed of the situation she's caused, Anya's really only upset about the dog. Xander takes issue with that: "People's lives are in danger and you give it up for the Yorkie?" Anya sighs heavily, "You never understood me, Xander." Nancy picks up on the vibes, and Xander admits Anya's his ex. Anya starts to walk away, but Spike grabs her to stop her. Anya pulls away. "Spike! You don't get to go there again." Spike: "Please. I've already forgotten about our little time together." Nancy blinks at the entire crew, trying to figure the pairings out. "Is there anyone here that hasn't slept together?" Xander and Spike exchange a truly priceless look, before Buffy moves the conversation along. Of course, Nancy wished for the spineless worm part -- not the killer carnivore part, but "same phylum It's not cheating, I just... embellished," Anya defends herself. Xander tells her to unembellish and she refuses ("Bite me, Harris!"); she has codes of conducts and standards to operate by that they'll never understand, because they're all so... human. "I'm not," Spike points out pleasantly, moving in closer. He starts to threaten her into turning the spell off, but Anya isn't even listening; she's just staring at him in amazement. "Oh my god. How did you do it? I can see you." Spike starts to back away, but Anya keeps pursing, grabbing his arm and not letting go. Spike starts to get furious and, when Anya won't let it go, finally hauls off and punches her.

Anya falls to the floor and Spike goes after her again, but she knocks him backwards onto a pool table and comes up in full demon face. "I am so gonna kick your ass." Spike pops back to his feet, ready and willing, but Buffy grabs him before he can do anything, and punches him right in the game face. He hits back, and Buffy retaliates and we're back in sixth season. "Working out some personal issues, are we?" Spike taunts, all calmness and coolness forgotten, as Buffy keeps punching him. "Hey, I guess this will be first contact since you know when. Oooh, up for another round on the balcony then?" Buffy is getting more and more hurt and furious, and Spike isn't defending himself against her assault with anything but his mouth. He laughs as he gets up. "Right you are, love. I haven't changed. Not a lick. And watching your face trying to figure me out was absolutely delicious." Her face has now given up on mad and is just wounded; you can practically see the ghost of Angelus Past running through her head. Xander suddenly shouts that Nancy has disappeared -- "She's out there alone and she's worm bait." She strides away from Spike without a glance back.

Outside, Nancy is getting as far away from the Scoobies and their terrifying interpersonal relationships as she can get, which would be a good move except for the whole worm thing. One of which starts chasing her down the alley. She runs, of course, but can't find any way out until she hits a fire escape and clambers up. Safety -- until WormRonnie attacks the foundation, knocking her loose. Buffy appears on the roof to help, with Spike unexpectedly scaling the roofs behind her. Inside the Bronze, Xander works on Anya to reverse the spell, but she's still reluctant; she's in enough trouble with D'Hoffryn, and isn't looking for anymore. "You don't want to see him angry. Trust me." Xander tells her, "Nice friends you got." Anya: "Nice friends I had." She informs Xander her life has fallen to pieces, and none of it happened until he dumped her at the altar. Xander shakes his head. "And sooner or later, Anya, that excuse just stops working." Anya looks up at him sullenly, and guiltily.

The worm bursts from the ground below Nancy; before he can eat her, Buffy swings down from... somewhere, and sweeps both herself and Nancy off to a nearby dumpster. They emerge to find no sign of the worm, until it burst from the ground directly behind Buffy. The Slayer turns to face it, but Spike suddenly jumps to he ground behind her. Grabbing a long hunk of metal rebar, he advances on Wormboy. "Leave the real battles to the demons, yeah? That's right, the Big Bad's back, and looking for a little--" He lunges... and Wormboy shifts and changes into a naked man. But it's too late for Spike to stop; his improvised spear plunges deeply into Ronnie's shoulder. Ronnie screams, and Spike screams with him, as the chip fires. Spike stares at Ronnie, eyes wide and appalled, as apparently the soul fires.

"I'm sorry," Spike stutters, and pulls the rebar out. He stumbles backward as Ronnie falls to the ground; Buffy and Nancy rush to him as Spike stares at the spear in his hand. "Wrong. Wrong maneuver. Not hardly helpful." (The accent is back to smoother British.) "Please help me," he murmurs, then screams, "Help me!!!" Buffy glares up at him from beside Ronnie. "You're not the one who needs help!" She calls an ambulance as Spike starts pacing and muttering, until Buffy loses patience and yells, "Whatever you're doing, do it somewhere else! I am through with this!" He shrinks back, throwing his hands up between them, "Oh, oh, lucky girl. Calls it quits, now there's an option. If only it were so easy. If only, if only... What the hell are you screaming about?" he yells to thin air, as the two women divide their time between helping Ronnie, and staring at Spike nervously. "No need to shout. No need to shout!" The last words turns into a scream, and Buffy's expression suggests that she's finally figured out something weird is going on. Spike comes up laughing. "I get it. The joke's on me. Lots of laughs. Yeah. Hey, bring the wife and kiddies. Come see the show." He starts to leave, twirling the rebar like a baton. "Cause it's gonna be a circus." Then he suddenly lunges forward to kneel beside Ronnie, in front of Buffy. "Just the beginning, love. A warm-up act. The real headliner's coming, and when that band hits the stage, all of this, all of this, Will come tumbling in death and screaming, horror and bloodshed." He takes a breath as Buffy stares in growing fear. Then he says, very deliberately, "From beneath you, it devours. From beneath...." His voice trails off, and his expression collapses. "Poor Rocky," he murmurs then suddenly, unexpectedly, starts crying, racing past Buffy down the alley and away.

Buffy doesn't have time to think about any of it; Xander comes pounding down from the other end with Anya in tow. Buffy shoves her cell phone into Xander's hand and tells him to look after everyone, before she takes off running in the same direction Spike went. Anya wanders over to look at Ronnie, and Xander tells her she did the right thing. I know this is bad, but it could be worse." Anya nods, looking a little sick. "Ooohhh, it will be."

[I cannot do the ensuing scene justice. James Masters is a god and the whole thing is just too damn painful. But here goes anyway. Just remember that the whole thing is lit entirely in deep shadows and blue-white light, and Spike's accent fades in and out from lower to upper class.]

Buffy follows Spike's trail to one of the hundreds of old churches in Sunnydale. She goes inside and finds is empty, rows of pews and a huge cross on the altar, close to the floor. Spike speaks from the shadows, his shirt off and balled up in one hand, the slashes on his chest clearly visible. "Didn't work," he says miserably. "Costume. Didn't help. Couldn't hide." He throws the shirt away and moves closer to Buffy, who backs off, thoroughly wigged by this point. "No more mind games, Spike," she tells him. He shakes his head. "No more mind game. No more mind. " Buffy reaches tentatively towards one of the wounds on his chest. "Tell me what happened to you." He flinches back defensively. "Hey, hey! No touching! Am I flesh? Am I flesh to you? Feed on flesh. My flesh. Nothing else, not a spark. Oh, fine. Right then. Solid through. Get it hard, service the girl." He starts unfastening his pants, and Buffy screams, "Stop it!", grabbing his hands. He shoves her back and she throws him into a pew, splintering wood. "Right," he says from the ground, in the tone of someone trying to figure it all out. "Girl doesn't want to be serviced. Because there's not a spark. Ain't we in a sodding engine?" Buffy walks carefully towards him. "Spike, have you totally lost your mind?" He looks up at her and, for a second, he's actually Spike. "Well, yes. Where have you been all night?" Buffy brushes that off with trademark obliviousness to the subtext. And, well, the text. "You thought you would just come back here and... be with me?" Spike shrugs. "First time for everything." Buffy: "This is all you get. I'm listening. Tell me what happened."

Spike is still sprawled at her feet. "I tried to find it, of course." Buffy demands, "Find what?" Spike: "The spark. The missing... the piece that fit. That would make me fit. Because you didn't want..." His voice cracks. "God. I can't.... Not with you looking." He crawls backwards, huddling in a tiny ball in the deepest shadows, then stands. "I dreamed of killing you." Buffy immediately picks up a stake from the remains of a pew, but it's debatable if Spike is even aware she's still there. He's pacing around the other end of the church, near the altar. "I think they were dreams. So weak. Did you make me weak? Thinking of you, holding myself, and spilling useless buckets of salt over your... ending."

"Angel... he should have warned me."

Buffy's face suddenly changes, her eyes widening slowly as she starts to get it. Spike keeps going, pacing through the shadows, talking. "He makes a good show of forgetting, but it's here. In me. All the time. The spark..." Buffy shakes her head in helpless denial, as Spike walks slowly up from the side. "I wanted to give you... what you deserve. And I got it. They put the spark in me, and not all it does is burn. " Buffy doesn't look at him as she breathes, "Your soul..." Spike laughs. "A bit worse for lack of use." Buffy turns slowly to look. "You got your soul back. How?" Spike asks, suddenly very young and vulnerable, ""It's what you wanted, right? It's what you wanted, right?" he calls up towards the ceiling, then starts wandering away again. "And now everybody's in here. Talking. Everything I did, everyone I... and him. It. The other... The thing... beneath. Beneath you.. it's here, too. They all just tell me go... Go. To hell."

Buffy looks caught between terror, tears and simple incomprehension. "Why. Why would you do that?" Spike looks back over his shoulder at her. "Why does a man do what he mustn't? To become the kind of man who would nev-- To be the kind of man..." He starts sounding like he's reciting from something. "'And she shall look on him with forgiveness, and everybody will forgive and love... and he will be loved.' So everything's okay, right?" He's at the front of the church; as Buffy watches, crying in silent shock, he drapes himself slowly over the cross, almost embracing it. "Can-- can we rest now? Buffy... Can we rest?" She stands silent, speechless, motionless, as smoke rises from Spike's body and the cross it's burning on.

Review coming soon


"I was too busy making the same Alias comparison someone else did. After Jack got through saying "Now they're doing _Run, Lola, Run_", > that is. *giggle* "
"< g > So, by that token, and moving east to west as our band of merry Evil Robes seem to be--- we should see a Nikita-look-alike getting knifed in London or New York next week? Or maybe they're going south to north (Istanbul to Frankfurt) and they'll end up in Reyjavik, with a "Charmed" lookalike? Hey, they've already killed Felicity in effigy during "The Wish", I wouldn't put it past them..." -- Valerie and Chris

"Not remembering who called it, but it looks like the dying girls are Slayer potential. *Very* athletic, but not quite trained well enough. Wasn't it expecting to meld into one of Buffy's prophetic dreams. Eeep. And while my minds thinking of it, when will the Watchers let Buffy & Co know whats happeneing? Or are the robed evils taking out Watchers as well?" -- Julie

"this is getting -- very eeksome. There's something about watching those girls get hunted down, after six years of watching one triumph, that's very disturbing."
"I really hope they stop starting episodes like this. For some reason, it's so much worse watching here than it would be in, say, a Dario Argento film. These are the kinds of scenes Buffy was created as an antidote to."
Yes and no. Both girls so far have given a pretty impressive accounting of themselves -- a far cry from the victim stereotype Joss was skewering when he came up with Buffy. And, if they *are* proto-Slayers, then even their killers are viewing them as at least potential major adversaries, not just splatter fodder. The crucial difference between those scenes and even, f'rinstance, I Know What You Did Last Summer (which irritates me because the SMG character does everything right from a survival standpoint and still buys it literally a few steps from safety, while the JLH makes all the *wrong* choices but manages to somehow stay alive long enough to get rescued) is, I think, that they're being hunted *because* they're capable -- enough so that it was fairly clear one or even two of the hooded guys might not have been able to take them out. They had to be ruthlessly outnumbered and outpowered." -- Chris, Mike and Valerie

"while my minds thinking of it, when will the Watchers let Buffy & Co know whats happening? Or are the robed evils taking out Watchers as well?"
See, you hit my question. Where are these girls' Watchers? How long before Giles finds out about this? One could be accident, two is coincidence, but three--- if this happens next week, the CoW needs to put in an emergency call to him and then Buffy to let them know what's up."
"Exactly! But will the stuffy old farts? Quite possibly not. But we can live in hope. Especially if it means more Giles on screen. But then again, what's to say the CoW weren't the first casulaties? Cut the communication lines first *then* go for the cut off troops. Eeek. Now I'm scaring myself."
"This is always assuming that it *isn't* the CoW in those robes. I kind of doubt it, but it has to be left as an option.
"I just don't see that. Did they like being slackers so much they decided on early retirement? Or is bird watching more rewarding? It just doesn't play for me. It would if they were trying to off just Buffy and Faith so as to get a new Slayer who can be firmly under their thumb." -- Julie and Chris

"Nancy the dog-walking victim of the week. She comes off a bit like Xander. Rather purposely. I'm mad. I liked her, but it looks like we don't get to see her again. Pity. I think we need a normal person again. Then again, normal has a somewhat limited life expectancy with the scooby gang."
"Pretty much exactly sums up my reaction to her. Although I was amused *and* pitying poor Xander. "She's not gonna call." Uh, no, Xand. No way."
"I don't know, I think she will be back at some point. Just because I suspect things are going to get really strange in town in the coming months, even by Sunnydale standards, and when helldogs start popping out of the walls, she may decide those freaky people she met weren't so bad after all." -- Julie, Chris and Mike

"Spike rat hunting. Oh, dear. Wasn't Angel doing that when Whistler found him? Taking after Daddy again. And he's still starking raving. And, ooo....William's education is starting to show. And more badness coming, and Spike knows it. Is he going to be our 'big-bad' barometer? Sanity when needed, cryptic insanity otherwise? As opposed to Angel being Sane Cryptic Guy in first season."
"I wonder about this too. If the FIrst (or Whoever) was telling him stuff, then maybe that's where he was getting this. On the other hand, he seemed to be holding three simultaneous conversations there during his big meltdown, and god knows who/what he's seeing at any given moment. I'd say the PTB were using him for their own ends... but there's no way to be sure. " -- Julie and Chris

And what's with rats in the basement of a brand spanking new building? Shouldn't that take time? Or are Hellmouth rats bionic?"
"Bionic. And sneaky. Like the cockroaches, the Hellmouth breeds them hardy. You've got really evolved rats there." -- Julie and Chris

"is there anybody here who hasn't slept together?" And Xander & Spike looking at each other and then quickly away was hysterical! Now they're making slash jokes. Oh, dear. Hey, Ohmigawd, laughing so hard at that... "
"There was a lot of giggling at that point. Although it did make me wonder what Xander and Buffy got up to this summer, that that didn't come up. < g >"
"Nah, they had one chance to make a joke with it, and let's face it: Spike/Xander is just more inherantly amusing a thought than Xander/Buffy or Buffy/Anya. ;) " -- Julie, Chris and Dianne

"Poor Will. Giles is handling her just right. But then, he's had lots of > practice 'parenting' with Buffy all these years and helping her through several crises."
"He's really turned into Ad Hoc Therapist Extraordinaire, hasn't he? It's not that he's any better at understanding people, he's just more confident now, having had so much practice (and knowing Willow and Buffy so well). He might have given the same excellent answers back then, but there would have been lots of "uh, well, em, that is, it rather seems, uh, yes, well..." "
"They did do a really good job with this; she brought up and panicked about every issue I could think of. Where *can* she draw the lines about the appropriate use of magic? She'll need to use it, need to help, but if there's a big Evil to face, how is she going to handle it without going mediavel Dark Willow again? Ackkk! Also, we were cheated on the Giles-ness. I want more Giles! You realize, we're not going to get more Giles for weeks and weeks now!" -- Julie, Chris and Mike

"'The uniform' he'd put on, I take it, was essentially an attempt to be Angel The Great Poof? Hey, it was a way of dealing with a soul that he had seen in action and that had seriously impressed Buffy, why not try? But it was just an act -- he's far from holding something that together yet." -- Dianne

"[Spike's sanity] was so sudden--- and such a turnaround--- that I didn't buy it for a good long interval. I was convinced that he was the First for several minutes, and only when it was obvious people could touch him was I sure he wasn't. Then I was *still* waiting for the other shoe to drop, because this was way, way too soon for him to be coherent."br> "I was pissed until it was revealed to be a red herring. But I still have to wonder, if he is so torn apart psychologically, how was he able to keep it together for so long? Sheer force of will? While he's never been in short supply of that, I'm tempted to believe he made a desperate raid on the school nurse's medicine cabinet before stopping over Buffy's. A spoonful of Ritalin or Zoloft might've been just the ticket to keep the crazy at bay."
"That was what I figured at the time, but not *his* will. But then I couldn't figure out how it would serve the First's (or what/whoever's) purposes to have him appear to be sane for a little while and help Buffy, unless the idea was to get him inside her defenses and use him against her. In which case, that result was accomplished far more effectively by letting him have that spectacular meltdown in front of her. And maybe, just maybe, the First figured that out for itself, changed tactics when it became clear she *wasn't* ever going to let her guard down around a got-it-together Spike -- at which point we suddenly have him in the alley trying to shout down the voices in his head." -- Chris, Mike and Val

"And was it my imagination, or did Spike actually get to say "bugshite" on-air?"
"If it was your imagination, it was mine too. *snerk*" -- Mike and Val

"Anya can see Spike's soul!"
"And she was so thrilled! And wanting to know how it happened! I can't tell if she wanted to get one too, or was totally floored that it was possible."
"Maybe a little of both. I think she's majorly regretting going back to being a demon. She grew up too much to be good at it any longer. Which is why I think they get them so young, while they're still in a self-centered stage of life, ie: 'I'm the only one who's pain matters, it all about me,' which seems to be necessary to do that. Willow's really good (or bad) at that when she's hurting which is why D'Hoffryn tried to recruit her.
"She sounded like she'd just found out that the first one of her circle of buds was pregnant. The same sort of "Oh, cool! When did that happen? When's it due? How do you feel? Tell me everything!" sort of response. :) " -- Julie, Chris, Julie and Dee

"Anya's in a spot and no mistake; both times she's used becoming a demon as an out when human life got too hard. However, her adventure as a human the second time around has obviously had a big impact on her, which she hasn't managed to shake off yet. But at the same time, it's been a very easy thing for her to just go back to the old ways and pretend nothing happened. It's tempting to believe that something's fundamentally changed in her, but I'm not at all unconvinced that if left to her own devices, she'd find a life of cruelty steadily easier to get back into; old habits die hard, after all. Having the Scoobies around to constantly remind her of the cost of what she's doing is going to make that a lot harder, though. And at the same time, she is in a rotten spot, because outside of being a vengance demon, her only other option is to go back to Scoobiedom, where she never really fit in all that well and now would feel even more out of place. Plus it's just not fun to constantly hang out with the guy who you just ended a relationship with (or the one you slept with to get over the former). And never mind the daunting prospects of having to voluntarily give up immortality and oodles of power, and contending with her pissed-off demon boss, if she actually does choose the high road. Of course, she could always go rogue. (Boy, I'm just thinking away here, aren't I?) D'Hoffryn seems like a formidable foe, but I'm guessing he'd have some trouble taking on Anya, Buffy, Spike and Willow, or even just Willow. If Anya wanted to defect, one imagines she could do it easily with a little help from her friends. Which still leaves the question of what becomes of her and Xander, as he seems to have firmly ruled out the concept of dating a current vengance demon (as opposed to "former"). Maybe that would change as he saw Anya come down more firmly on the side of good? Or maybe that's the excuse he's been using for not trying to patch up a prickly situation--"Well, even if I could get her to talk to me again, she's all demony anyway, so what's the point?" Which, that last may be a very apropos response to this very email, but that's neither here nor there. " -- Mike

"Oh, he *is* still a chiphead. *And* insane. Which Buffy doesn't get at first, showing no > sympathy for Spike and worrying about skewered guy.(Yea, actually calling for an ambulance. What a concept!)"
"Which is valid, crisis-wise. IT's when she *still* doesn't get it after a fairly spectacular meltdown that I decided her paranoia is only appropriate in her Slayer capacity, and it makes her look really stupid in her personal life."
"Ehn, I can sympathize. "Man bleeding to death in front of you" vs. "ex-boyfriend who tried to rape you having a conniption fit". Not hard to prioritize there. And she did go after him once the wounded guy was safe and it became apparent that something was really wrong. "
"Or else on some level she recognized the soul response (the Vampiric Clinical Psychology term, that is ) and, given her last *bad* run in with him and her less-than-Angelic past dating history immediately started expecting a soul/no soul/is-it-Angel-or-Angelus? routine? I can't say, with her past, I really blame her for being hyper-cautions on startlingly sudden changes-of-heart-and-demeanor." -- Julie, Chris, Mike and Dianne

"[I'm] still reeling from what I *did* catch, most particularly the stuff about "Service girl..." as he started unbuttoning his pants, and "Girl doesn't want to be serviced" after Buffy clocked him. So many of the levels on which this is killing him were already in place before the re-souling, as we've been discussing for quite a while. Stripping away the Spike-tude and having it that raw and right at the surface is just...I *so* don't have the words. Spike has lots of words, and they all connect together in their own horrendous way, but they're not helping in the least. He still can't make sense of it, find the right thing to do. Find the thing that will please her." -- Valerie,p> "Spike/William. As I think it is truly *both* of them in there. William is much stronger than I previously thought. He's the part that loves Buffy. The part that remained capable of love. Which if you look at Dru and Angelus, neither of them were. Dru may have been fond of him, but she loved manipulating him more. And Angelus...nothing but bad there according to the Judge thingy in second season. And Angelus never *wanted* to love or care and I think it has to do with what he was like in his breathing days. Liam was, well, not a good person. He was a lazy, lying careless sot who only had the capacity to care about himself--maybe. Basically, there was nothing redeeming about him then. And even less after he got brought across. Cruel just got added to the mix. William on the other hand was a pretty decent if wimpy guy. He fell in unrequited love and was treated horridly. He probably would have recovered from that but unfortunately there was Dru...this beautiful woman who wanted him and didn't see him as a joke. So he became Spike to make her happy and to want him. Then eventually they turn up in Sunnydale. Things happen, Angelus comes back, and Spike is treated carelessly by the fickle, machocistic Dru and his attention Buffy. And William, who is still in there somewhere, falls for her. The demon part (Spike)fights it as does William who doesn't want to be hurt again. But, then chipiness. Which is the excuse William needs to not kill her. But how does he relate to her? He tries the same method that worked with him and Dru, because it's the only somewhat successful relationship he's ever had with a woman. Hence the roughness and abuse and the eventual attempted rape. *That* is the line in the sand for William and what causes him to realise that he can't be important to her as he is. But who had been important to her? Angel. And what did he have that Spike/William didn't? A soul. So he goes off to get one. So that he will be seen be her as possible deserving love and forgiveness. And got way more than he bargained for." -- Julie

"Considering that history, I'm surprised he's managing to be as healthy about it as he is."
"I think it's because he's had lots of practice battling to stay in charge. Remember when Angel said he'd had lots of practice fighting his inner demon in "The Dark Age?" He's got nothing on William. He only started fighting it when he got his soul back. William's been doing it from the start. And he eventually got strong enough to go and *get* his oun soul back, something Angel wasn't capable of. When the demon get Liam, he just sat back and let it happen. That's why Angelus had *no* human weaknesses and Spike did. So I'm thinking William's got a good chance of getting through this. Having a little help wouldn't be amiss, but that may not come until much later given the scooby gang hostility level. Frankly, I think he deserves the same consideration that Willow does. They both did evil things, knowingly, and should be given the same chance to redeem themselves (and not for food, either.;-p) After all, didn't Angel get that chance after killing Jenny?" -- Dianne and Julie

"That old disused, sensitive soul is in agony having to deal with *all* the evil he's done through the years. He can't rest because of it. And if the first is torturing him on top of it all, it's a wonder he hasn't set himself on fire at this point, never mind being completely insane. (Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah.) So, what is he refering to as 'him' and 'the other?' Is it the First? Or is it his demon self? Dunno, but I think it may be a mixture of the two of them. Last week when he said that only the three of them were ever there, was he including Buffy or not? If he wasn't he may have been referring to his demon half *and* the First. Joss only knows and he'll torture us more before letting us know, that much is certain. " -- Julie

"I'm still with 3=Spilliam/Buffy/TheFirst... but I'll still buy Spike/William/TheFirst too."
"And then there's the fact that Joss isn't that good at math anyway. He can always change his mind later, with that kind of phrasing. The rat. Okay, bad visual. Back to calling him obscenities. < snerk >"
"O.k., we all know Joss+numbers= interesting-permutations-of- accepted-reality-and-academic-principle, but I've got to figure the man can count to three, at least. He only needs one hand to do it, for heaven's sake! :) " -- Dianne and Chris

"I'm thinking something else, actually. Go back to the church scene, after Buffy figures out that Spike has a soul. She asks if it wasn't what she wanted, and she doesn't answer, so he looked up at the sky and addresses the same question to it. Then, he's talking about the voices in his head and says one of them is "it, the other" (presumably the First). But, he also refers to "him", at which point he's looking right at the cross. Are we actually going there? Should that actually read "Him"? IOW, does Spike now have the same boss as Dr. Sam Beckett? Maybe Buffy will start having dreams about an old black woman in Nebraska in the next episode. " -- Mike

"Um, actually, I don't think [he is still a chiphead]... Watch that scene again -- he grabs his head because he's *expecting* it to hurt, but then he looks _very_ surprised. I think it's because his head _isn't_ hurting, when he fully expected it. And then, of course, he goes all whacko again right after that, so he's not rational enough to be able to tell anyone "Hey, I'm not chipped any more!" Although considering that he now seems to be multiple-personality-boy, one wonders if William isn't chipped, but the vampire-demon *is*?? I've read that for true multiples, it's not only a change in personality and mannerisms, but that their brain waves change from personality to personality -- is it really that much of a stretch to imagine that the human personality is unaffected by the chip? " -- Maureen

"I decided, about 1/2 way through the ep that this behavior that hearkens to multiple-personality or Others Speaking Through Him kind of stuff is Spike's response to hearing a conscience. It's been so long since one has spoken to him that he no longer recognizes it for what it is and believes it to be someone else he can hear and so talks back to it. Afterward, discussing the ep, we expanded this to the idea that when he was *helping*, that assuaged the conscience, keeping the sense of "hearing voices" thus at bay, but when he stabbed the guy, it ended the ability of his actions to keep the conscience at bay and the guilt overcame him again. The parade of former Big Bads could be tormenting him symbolically in that he was one of the evil ones, and he's being tormented by the idea of the bad he's done and his inability to prevent evil from touching people and harming them as he once harmed them. I like the idea that what he is or was trying to find and give Buffy is someone who *wouldn't* have tried to rape her, someone like William with a conscience to recognize that line rather than someone like Spike who in addition to lacking the conscience had the skewed experience of his relationship with Dru to further twist his behavior. Of course, this could be that he's become a gateway to voices and people and creatures and the Big Bad could be getting into his head, manipulating him while he's weakened by a conscience he no longer knows what to do with. But I rather like the conscience-as-hearing-voices idea." -- Amy

"Consider this my endorsement of James' nomination for thespian godhood. I don't think I managed to pick up my jaw for an hour." -- Valerie

"But they *lied* when they said this season would be fluffy bunnies. They lied and lied and lied! Only in AnyaWorld are there fluffy bunnies like the last two eps!" -- Chris

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