It's night in a Sunnydale cemetery, so things can't possibly be quiet. And as it turns out, the night silence is buzzsawed by the sound of motorcycles; the Terrible Tribbles ride again. But Warren, Jonathan and Andrew aren't just doing an outdoor production of Easy Rider; they're in hot pursuit of two vampires who have something they rather want. Urging each other on by helmet comlinks, they nevertheless stop in despair as the vampires make it out of the cemetery -- then stop again when they see both vampires knocked to the ground by a small blonde missile. A disclike object that one of them was carrying clanks to the ground; Buffy, unnoticing, punches in and goes to work. As Warren observes the scuffle, he waves the other two off, and moves in.
Buffy's busy fighting off one vampire, but the other one's regained his feet. Unfortunately, said feet soon find themselves without a leg to stand on, as he's lifted off the ground. Sitting atop the cemetery fence is Spike, holding the second vampire by the collar, and calm as a Cheshire cat. As he watches Buffy struggle with the other one, Warren sneaks in and grabs the discy thing. No one notices.
Spike waits for a critical moment in the fight before shouting a halloa. Buffy responds as casually as she can while within biting distance, and Spike works up to his pitch; he'll kill the second vampire if -- but Buffy knows the demands. She flatly refuses to tell her friends about her and him, but says that he's free to if he likes, and them dashes one vampire's hopes entirely. Spike isn't so easily dissuaded, but Buffy reasons that if her friends can handle her going all Andrea Yates on them and not hold a grudge, they'll deal with her and Spike's fling thing. And she turns and walks away. Spike, probably out of disappointment more than anything else, drops the second vampire. As he does, he calls out to her, "In that case, why won't you sleep with me again?"
The second vampire, who's already crossed the space between him and Buffy, does a double-take at that despite himself. It's an ill-advised move. "Because I don't love you," Buffy says, as the dust disperses.
"Like hell," Spike says, stubbing out his cigarette.
Speaking of the ninth circle, Xander's apartment may not be boca del infierno, but it's doing a remarkable simulation; sad music, low lights, and Xander on the floor swigging crappy beer. Right, because alcohol's done Xander's family so much good up to this point. He flicks off the stereo, and goes for one of those aimless walks you take when you run out of beer. As he turns onto the sidewalk, we pan over to see an anxious-looking Anya watching him behind the brush.
Willow ambushes Tara coming out of class, and makes it look exactly like she was standing there waiting for Tara to come out of class. Tara doesn't exhibit so much as a shaving of displeasure, though. They start with the cute banter, and Tara asks about Willow's neck after the basement bout, and Willow laughs a little too hard at Tara's joke, and Tara gives her the classic sideways grin, and oh, they're just so adorable. Goddamnit. Tara pounces on Willow for not sticking around last time to find out about the other-girl kissing, and reassures her that "she's just a friend." Willow half-heartedly tries to deny any suspicion, then practically goes supernova with happiness. She then invites Tara to coffee, and Tara accepts, with a look in her eyes that would make me a lesbian even if I weren't sort of one already (except for the male thing). They stumble over each other's words some more and grin and make nervous birdlike movements. It remains thoroughly endearing.
Downtown Sunnydale finds Dawn and Buffy shopping in theory; in practice, they're taking inventory of all the stores Dawn's stolen from, and filing them away for future reference as places they can no longer shop in. Buffy finally suggests the pet store, which Dawn is initially hesitant about due to animal-confinement issues. In the midst of all this, we learn that Dawn's returned and/or is paying for all the stuff she stole, and is fairly resigned about it. Dawn finally agrees to go look at puppies in lockdown.
Jonathan's busying himself with a mockup of a chemistry set he stole from a 50s B-movie. Warren is, as usual, not the model of patience, and urges Jonathan on with whatever he's doing. Jonathan, in response, lets slip a snark about Warren's murdered ex, but barks away Warren's indignant reaction. Warren seems to reconsider, and promises Jonathan great rewards when he's finished. Jonathan expresses his desire to take his "share" of whatever they're planning to get and part ways with the others. Warren offers placid platitudes of comradeship, which is made less convincing, if more funny, by calling Jonathan "Short Round." He then goes over to Andrew, who, while wearing a shirt my mother would be embarrassed to buy for me, expresses sympathy for Jonathan, for which he's quickly chided. However, Andrew continues to muse: "He's got that same look on his face; the one he had that time I highlighted in all his Babylon 5 novels -- right before he told his mother on me!" Conclusion: Jonathan can't be trusted. Warren expresses confidence that it's not a concern. He tries to explain that Jonathan will be out of the loop very soon by metaphor, which with Andrew, you might as well just turn the car around and start from the beginning.
Xander gets home, and immediately has the breath knocked out of him; Anya's sitting in his living room. Despite gulping for air, he manages to get his carefully rehearsed conciliatory speech out: "Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I'm like, Oh God, was that me? Is this my life?...I want to make up for it. I want to take away the hurt. I love you so much." Anya's not unmoved, but she doesn't get what went wrong. Xander has all the answers: "I'm an idiot." He apologizes for waiting until the last minute to break off the engagement. Somehow, that's not doing it for Anya; she demands to know if Xander still wants to get married. Xander answers way too slow, and when it comes -- "Someday, yes, very much. When we're ready" -- it's not the right one by a long shot. He tries to point out the advantages of waiting, and Anya lays into him, hurt beyond words. Xander, confused, hurt, and completely off script, pleads with Anya for some kind of reconciliation. And Anya, her back towards Xander and her countenance suddenly, decidedly demonesque, intones, "I wish you were never born!"
But he's still standing there, still apologizing as awkwardly and earnestly as ever. She turns around -- what the hell? She continues to throw horrible tortures out for him to fall victim to (I like the tentacles-in-the-eyes one), but none of them make him any less alive, or less abject, although she does get excited for a minute when he admits to ripped intestines. But it's metaphor pain, and a frustrated-beyond-belief once-and-future vengance demon storms out of the apartment, leaving Xander stricken, and having no idea how lucky he is.
Halfrek is telling Anya trade stories over coffee, but Anya's intensely fascinated by the plastic flower on the table. She apologizes for her lack of interest, and Halfrek twigs to the reason quickly. Anya explains about the lack of wish fulfillment, and Halfrek admonishes her that she can't make a vengance wish on behalf of herself. Apparently it's a union thing. Anya didn't know because she's never been a scorned party since becoming a demon, the first time. Halfrek suggests trying to have someone else wish Xander harm for her, and inadvertently strikes comedy gold.
Dawn walks into the Summers kitchen, and it's Buffy Stewart! She's cooking breakfast, she's got multiple syrups, and she's suggesting a girls night in, and possibly a girls' fortnight as well. Dawn assures Buffy she's over the trying-to-kill-her thing. But Buffy isn't just guilty; she genuinely wants to spend time with Dawn, and, horrified, immediately casts herself in the overbearing mom role. But Dawn waves all Buffy's anxieties away; she's actually more interested in spending a different sort of quality time with her sister, i.e. patrolling. The reaction is predictable; Buffy instantly does her impression of the Berlin Wall. Dawn tries logic (she's the same age Buffy et al. were when they began patrolling) and plaintiveness (she just wants to help) and eventually falls back on simple truth (as long as she's the Slayer's sister, danger's going to be hard to avoid). Buffy, however, remains obdurate, and Dawn finally backs off.
Over coffee, Willow's relating the plot of Doublemeat Palace to Tara, and the two minutes they spend discussing it contain more entertainment than the entire forty-odd minutes of the episode in question. Tara's now all nostalgic for Scooby days, and it's another warm Willow & Tara moment; collect the series. Anya comes up, and is greeted with big hug by Willow (who would have thought?) as she hasn't seen her since the wedding. And yes, she's back, but things are far from okay. Willow offers to help, and that's all Anya needs. "You're lesbians, so the hating of men will come in handy. Let's talk about Xander."
They aren't the only ones she approaches; she pounces on Dawn in the magic shop, and Buffy at home. But Buffy, while not defending his actions, stands steadfast by her friend, Dawn's developed a sudden allergy to the word W-I-S-H after the misadventure with Halfrek, and Willow and Tara disabuse Anya's rather narrow concept of lesbianism. In the meantime, Dawn's put half-heartedly to work in the magic shop for stealing (and possibly learns the meaning of "coagulate"), Buffy's called upon to defend her romantic track record, and Willow and Tara are judged to be derelict in their dykey duties. It's all rather chuckle-licious. Finally, Anya begins to open up to Buffy, first accusing her of caring only for Xander and not her, and then admitting just how much what Xander did to her hurt. Buffy softens, and comes within a sliver of an actual wish when Xander appears. Anya, disgusted with what she perceives as everyone's tendency to side with him against her, storms off. Xander starts after her, and is firmly grabbed by a mindful Slayer, who tries to convince Xander to let Anya cool down and give her some time. Xander instantly switches from Fix-Everything mode to self-loathing, in the process kicking over a ceramic lawn gnome. Buffy starts with the calm, reasoning talk -- then breaks off to gape at the now-defunct outdoor decoration; "Did Willow put that there while I was dead?" Xander, however, cuts her off mid-rant as he pulls a hidden camera out of the construction. Buffy wonders as to its origin, and Xander's got a theory involving a certain obsessional vampire, which Buffy reluctantly acknowledges the likelihood of.
Spike, when confronted with the camera, looks bemused, and is nonplussed by Buffy telling him she's going on Xander's suspicions here. His disdain changes to genuine offense when he realizes she believes Xander and not him. Buffy points out that he's rather far from an angel (or even an Angel) on the morality scale -- "I don't hurt you," Spike says, so sincere it hurts. Buffy acknowledges, at least, the truth of the emotion behind the statement, but it's not enough for Spike. He avows, once again, the authenticity of his feelings, and Buffy hears him out, only to tell him, simply, gently, and even with a little regret, that she doesn't feel the same way, and he has to move on. "Get out," he hisses, cutting her off mid-speech. She resignedly backs off, and he watches her go.
Anya's relating her frustrating lack of progress re: pain and dismemberment re: Xander to Halfrek in the magic shop. She simply can't find anyone who doesn't care whether Xander gets hurt.
Spike suddenly bursts into the shop. "Hey," he mutters. "I need a thing."
Anya's face brightens like a shined-upon prism. Unfortunately, there are semantics to be worked out; in a hasty confab with Hallie, she outlines the difficulty of granting Spike a wish, his pesky Y chromosome being the barrier in question. However, going by Halfrek's remarks, Anya is apparently capable of granting wishes to men; it's just against her general vengance policy, which Hallie convinces Anya to rethink, then ducks out. Anya and Spike suddenly are very much aware of each other, and quickly begin playing it cool, or as cool as Anya gets. Spike reiterates his request for a potion of some sort (in a much more subdued manner then the last time he asked a magic shop owner for supplies, no?) that will make less with the emotions. Anya begins rummaging for something that Giles left behind. "Eases the hurt, makes the sun shine a little brighter, makes boring people more interesting." What she comes up with, however, is a bit more plebian than we would normally expect from Giles, but far from ineffective. Spike looks at the bottle of Jack on the counter and gives a rueful grin.
Back at home base, Willow's got the bare-wire thing going as she's hooking her computer up to the camera to find its brothers and sisters. Xander, on speculation duty, muses that if they rule out Spike, there are really only three suspects left. The Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew punching bags in Buffy's head receive another fierce drubbing.
In reality, the trio are more wary than menaced, as Jonathan does the hoodoo he does passing well to find a location on an old map. A big lollipop-looking thing shines a beam onto the map, which Jonathan confirms as their desired destination. Warren's about to expound, when the map mercifully catches fire and saves us all. Plus Jonathan gets to make this really funny girly scream as he runs to put out the blaze.
Anya and Spike are knocking back shots. This should go well. Spike's recounting the less-than-productive conversation with Buffy (though he's being a good boy and not naming names). Anya will insist on turning the conversation back to her, however, and Spike is glad to share in her contempt of Xander, even to the point of giving Anya genuine support. Anya steers the conversation towards wishing, and while Spike doesn't quite jump for the bait, conjuring up hypothetical torments for Xander holds a certain recreational appeal for him.
The nerds are, over Jonathan's protests, using his blanket to put out the fire; meanwhile, Willow's honing in on them. Anya and Spike, however, have moved on from potential Xander-torture for the time being; they're both speculating on their disparate twists of fate. They both state that their initial interest in their respective love objects was merely passing curiosity, and the viewer looks at them both dubiously. Then they both relive the discovery of feeling, the bliss of fulfillment, the seductive dancing -- Spike quickly issues a retraction on that one.
Back to Willow, she's got to get past the nerds' security, so she probably won't be able to get through until just before the commercial break. Anya and Spike are now recounting the work put into each relationship, and the fact that it never seemed to be enough. "I saved the Scoobies I don't know how many times," Spike sighed, "and I can't stand the lot of you." "Me either!" Anya eagerly agrees. "I hate us!" It's agreed upon that the Scoobies are far too nice, in fact stultifyingly so. Spike takes this opportunity to praise Anya's forthrightness, saying "you're the only one of them I wouldn't bite if I had the chance." Anya's far too moved by this compliment, and compares it to how Xander reacted to her more plain-spoken side. Spike immediately pawns it off on Xander being uptight, which appears to be a new notion for Anya, and rather an appealing one. Spike elaborates: "You and me, love, we should have been dead hundreds of years ago. And we're the only ones who are really alive."
Willow's found the locations of the other cameras, and they're everywhere a Scooby would conceivably found. This makes no one happy, but she's still looking.
And we're down to the last shot, which Spike gallantly offers Anya. This may be a good time to mention that red is a good color for Anya. She thanks Spike warmly, saying "it feels good to be with someone who understands." As Spike draws closer to her, she confesses that some small part of her believes it's some lack in her that led to Xander's rejection. Spike takes her in hand, and gives damn good assurance of Anya's desirableness, but she still wants to know why it went wrong. "The two of them," sighs Spike, "they're weak, is all." Anya's eyes are filled with equal parts pain, gratitude, and longing; Spike sniffles, but nevertheless draws closer, as the two continue murmuring to each other; promises to display sexy dances are exchanged, and their lips mee --
"Wait, wait!" Anya cries. "What are we doing?"
Spike only hesitates for a second. "Moving on." And they proceed to reenact The Red and the Black.
And wouldn't you know, Willow's just about to hack into the network. Anya's just got enough time to confirm to herself and Spike that she's only doing this out of grief and drunkenness, and Spike's got just enough time to not care. Across town, the nerds freak out as an alarm indicates their systems been broken into. They're hastily shutting down the cameras until they come across Spike and Anya groping on the wood table. Suddenly fear of discovery is supplanted by newly uncomfortable trousers.
Willow, on the other hand, leaps up from the table upon seeing the feed, but she's not fast enough to keep Xander from seeing it. As they stare in shock, Dawn sails in and no one can recover fast enough for her to not get a free show. Willow looks at a devastated Xander in concern, but her eyes quickly drift to Buffy, who looks nearly as torn apart. She orders the camera off and stalks out, as a sheepish Willow finds the disable function after the horse has got out. Or more specifically, Xander, who's disappeared and left Buffy's weapons chest open. He's thundering down the road, holding a big broadaxe and looking more dangerous than we've seen him since "Revelations".
Sitting outside, Buffy confesses about Spike to a more-understanding-than-not Dawn. They're interrupted, though, by Willow's announcement of Xander's kamikaze mission.
Anya and Spike are busy reassembling themselves in the midst of a much messier Magic Box. It's pretty quiet, and there's a lot of light between the two of them. As Spike gets to the door, she tries to say something but can't, and he gives her a nod that seems to say everything, then goes. He's about one step out the door when the ax thuds into the wall next to him. As Buffy runs up the street, Xander tosses Spike like a salad, then starts pummeling him; the vampire remains limp throughout. Xander exhorts him to fight back, and Spike, as best he can, reminds him of the chip. Xander really doesn't care. He pulls out a stake, and first Anya tries to stop him, but Buffy doesn't really have to bother with 'try'. Xander barely notices, however, and rounds on Anya. While she's trying to process that he knows what happened, Buffy gives Spike a low glare and a verbal shot across the bow: "Didn't take long, did it?" Xander's on the attack again, but Anya's rallied; she remembers that she's not the first one to deal an injury here. Xander points out that Anya's chosen what he sees as the least productive way of dealing with their problems, and Anya reminds him that their problems are in fact his problems: "The mature solution is for you to spend your whole life telling stupid, pointless jokes so that no one will notice that you are just a scared, insecure little boy." Xander goes back on the offensive: "I look at you, and I feel sick, because you had sex with that." "That" being Spike, natch.
Spike, his breath recovered, purses his lips and doesn't even look up when he says, "It's good enough for Buffy."
Xander reacts automatically -- "Shut up and leave her out of -- " before realizing that the thing he really didn't want to believe is now out in the open. He looks at Buffy, begging for a denial, but her face is more like a sworn affidavit. Even Anya's aghast. Xander's hit the wall: "I don't want to know any of this," he says, his voice cracking, and goes. Buffy turns back to Spike, who isn't even making a pretense of bravado now, gives him the glare of death, and turns away. The two centagenarians-plus are left to grapple with the aftereffects. Spike recovers first, muttering darkly about Xander, even forming the magic words, "I wish -- "
"Don't," Anya sighs, almost absently. She goes back into the Magic Box and begins to clean up.
"Things fall apart. They fall apart so hard." The speaker is Tara; she's come into Willow's bedroom unannounced, with a face full of sorrow. She's recounting the difficulty of putting the relationship back together again. Willow is eager to impress upon Tara her understanding of this, but Tara's got something else in her mind: "Can't we just skip it? Can't you just be kissing me now?"
Willow doesn't have to be told twice. She fairly flies into Tara's arms, and the two of them kiss with unabashed passion. It's indescribably sweet.
Once again, nobody said nothing. I don't explain 'em, I just hang with 'em.
Back to Episodes.
Once again, nobody said nothing. I don't explain 'em, I just hang with 'em.
Back to Episodes.