Fool for Love

Written by Douglas Petrie
Directed by Nick Marck

Perri's Review | Chris's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Oh. My. God. Could there be a cooler episode than this to finally fill in Spike's backstory? No synopsis can possibly do justice to the incredible performances, directing and editing, but I'll give it a shot.

It's your pretty standard graveyard fight -- Slayer versus vamp, witty banter flying and Slayer is winning. But the vamp is good -- too good; as Buffy somersaults over a tombstone at him, he grabs her, and manages to ram her own stake into her stomach. She yanks the stake out with bloody hands, and tries to run, the vampire close on her trail. But as he and his incredibly bad hair close in, Riley suddenly appears from out of nowhere and tackles him. After a brief scuffle, the vamp runs; Riley is briefly torn, but centers on helping his girlfriend when she passes out.

Riley patches Buffy up at her house; she's intent on hiding the damage from her mother, which leaves out hospitalization. Although Joyce seems to be feeling a bit better, Dawn helps with the cover-up, and Riley offers to take over patrol. Worried, Buffy makes him promise to take the Slayerettes with. Which the Slayerettes don't take too seriously , by the way, following along behind uber-serious military Riley-on-a-mission with loud voices and potato chips at the ready. Riley is quickly torn between killing vamps and killing Scoobies.

Meanwhile, Buffy retreats to Giles and the magic shop, her new seeming-vulnerability driving deep holes into her confidence. Unfortunately, she can't find what she's looking for -- accounts of the last fights of the Slayers, details on how they died and, more importantly, why they lost. But there's nothing available, as the Slayers themselves were usually the only ones who had the details of those fights. And their Watchers, Giles points out quietly, were likely too busy grieving to write down the details. Buffy winces, but realizes there's one source that won't have either problem....

And Spike gets slammed into a wall by an intent, but noticeably off-her-game Buffy. "You killed two Slayers," she informs him. "You're gonna tell me how." As usual, Spike's cooperation doesn't come cheap. Seated opposite her old nemesis in the Bronze, Buffy tolerates his comments on the beer for a while, but her patience is running out. But Spike has to be a pain; he wants buffalo wings and, when Buffy turns to order them, notices her wound with interest. Pieces are falling into place for our favorite bleached blond. "Were you born this big a pain in the ass?" Buffy demands in annoyance. "What can I tell you, baby?" he smirks. "I've always been bad."

Um, yeah.

London, 1880
A young man, dressed in what would have been close to the height of conservative fashion, worries over a piece of paper, struggling with a bit of poetry. He reminds the watcher of no one so much as... well, Wesley Windham-Pryce in a cravat. < g > And, across the room, he spots what is obviously the object of his devotion, Cecily. As he rises to join the group, he is quizzed as to the latest murders around town, but William (for that's what he's called) is utterly uninterested in anything as dark and unpoetic and icky as dead bodies. In retaliation for his somewhat tactless way of phrasing this, the bit of poetry he's been slaving over is stolen and read aloud. "My heart expands, 'tis grown a bulge in it/inspired by your beauty effulgent." Giggles abound and one girl comments, "Have you heard? They call him "William the Bloody" because of his bloody awful poetry." Another gentleman jokes, "It suits him. I'd rather have a railroad spike through my head than listen to that awful stuff!"

William blushes in humiliation, the more so when Cecily rushes from the room. He follows, and, under direct questioning, pours his sweet heart out to the girl. She listens, considers, and tells him, "You're nothing to me, William." And for the parting shot as she leaves, "You're beneath me." Furious and mortified, William rushes from the house into the streets, nearly knocking over a young brunette and her companions in his rush. That same woman finds him huddled in an alley a few minutes later. "And I wonder what possible catastrophe came crashing down from heaven and brought this dashing stranger to tears?" a very familiar, and more than slightly deranged voice asks. It's Drusilla, of course, and she chooses the right seduction tack, offering him the chance to be more than any of the fools around him. Before William quite knows what's happening, what he's agreed to, her teeth are sinking into him and he's screaming in pain....

Sunnydale, the Present
Riley and the gang have settled down to serious hunting; in fact, they've tracked down the vamp who came so close to killing Buffy. He's got a gang in his little tomb with him, though, and Riley shoos the others away, assuring them, "We can kill them just as dead in the morning."

Meanwhile, Spike's story continues over a game of pool at the Bronze. Buffy is not impressed by the lead-in, and even less impressed by Spike's delight in the new state he'd found himself in....

Yorkshire, 1880
Pinned to a wall by a pissed-off Angelus, to be precise. Seems William -- or Spike, as he's insisting on being called -- has been being more than a bit messy with the bodies and such. The gang -- Angelus, Spike, Darla and Dru -- are all stuck hiding out, and tempers are flaring. Spike doesn't care; they're the bad guys, after all, and he's not interested in being told to be careful. An alpha-male fight ensues, which Spike loses. But in the process, the bored young man searching for a challenge finds out about Slayers.

Sunnydale, the Present
"After that, I was obsessed," Spike reminisces. "I mean, if you're looking for fun, there's death, there's glory, and sod-all else, right? I was young."

"So how did you kill her?" Buffy asks levelly. Spike proceeds to demonstrate; before Buffy can do more than reach for her pool cue, Spike has her in a tight grip, vamp face on. "Lesson the first: A Slayer must always reach for her weapon. I've already got mine."

China, 1900
Spike finds his Slayer in the Boxer Rebellion -- a Chinese girl of exceptional skill with body and sword. But all of her moves aren't enough to save her. One close call for Spike ends -- with a luck explosion nearby -- in his favor, and he closes with the girl. Then he drains her. "Tell my mother I'm sorry," she murmurs in Chinese, her dying words. Spike is too busy being high on her blood to care. Drusilla arrives as he's standing over the body; they have a little blood and lust interlude before heading out to find the rest of their 'gang' and brag. Darla is irked and reluctantly impressed; Angelus is just ready to leave the whole thing behind. They stride out of the city, Spike walking with the grace and confidence of a man who's just proven himself to be the ultimate predator.

Sunnydale, the Present
"It was the best night of my life," he smiles, licking barbecue sauce off his fingers. Buffy just watches him in mingled hate and disgust. He shrugs. "But you can kill a hundred, a thousand, a thousand thousand, and the armies of hell besides, and all we need is for one of us, just one, sooner or later to have the thing we're all hoping for."

"And that would be what?"

"One... good... day." Buffy backs violently away, and Spike laughs. "The problem with you, Summers, is you've gotten so good, you think you're immortal."

"Not really," Buffy shakes him off. "I just know I can handle myself." Which he promptly disproves by punching her in the stomach, right on her wound. Her cry of pain blends with his, getting the momentary attention of the Bronze patrons. Both ignore the audience, and Spike strides out, ordering Buffy to follow. She does

Across town, Testosterone Boy (just going by Riley these days) breaks into the crypt with the vampire nest, alone. He swiftly faces and kills the vampire who attacked Buffy, then, as the other vampires lunge for him, pulls the pin on a grenade, drops it, and runs like hell for the exit. Loud boom, dead vamps.

Back at the Bronze, Spike and Buffy are ready to rumble, facing off in the alley. Buffy pins Spike quickly, but he doesn't actually care. "Lesson the second:" he says, "Ask the right questions. You want to know how I beat them? Question isn't how'd I win. The question is, why'd they lose?" Big difference. For some reason, he demonstrates that his chip only hurts him when he intends to do damage; Buffy simply does damage, knocking him to the ground at her feet. "How'd you kill them, Spike?" she demands, with a foot on his chest and a stake at his heart. Spike throws her over his shoulder and a fight ensues.

Herein follows the part I can't do justice to, so I'm not gonna try. Spike's demonstration fight with Buffy is intercut with scenes of a punked-out Spike fighting a Slayer on a New York subway car in 1977. The Slayer is very very good, Spike's match in every way. As he fights in both past and present, his lecture to Buffy on luck and death continues. "Death is your art. You make it with your hands day after day." Spike believes that, in the end, every Slayer is fascinated with death; that he won his fight with the New York Slayer (neatly breaking her neck), because she wanted to die. "Every Slayer," he concludes, "has a death wish. Even you."

:The only reason you've lasted as long as you have," he says to the present-tense Buffy, while stripping a familiar black leather trench coat off of the past-tense Slayer, "is that you've got ties to the world. Your mum, your brat kid sister, the Scoobies -- they all tie you here. But you've just been lucky is all. Sooner or later... you're gonna want it. And the second--the second that happens, you know I'll be there. I'll slip in... have myself a real good day. Here endeth the lesson."

"I just wonder," he adds, starting to wander away, "if you'll like it as much as she did."

Buffy's heard enough. "Get out of my sight, Spike," she breathes. "Now."

It's the wrong approach; he takes up the challenge, walking closer and getting in her face. Way into her face. Taunting her, challenging her, daring her to hit him, to fight him... or to do anything else to him. Confused, angry and beginning to pick up the subtext, Buffy backs away. He follows, and surprises the living hell out of her by leaning in to kiss her. She jumps back even further, her eyes wide with shocked anger. "What the hell are you doing?!" He grabs her, pulls her closer, and the tension between them is thick enough to cut with a sword. "Come on, I can feel it, Slayer. You know you want to dance." "Say it's true. Say I do want to..." Her voice trails off as she meets his eyes... and abruptly shoves him backward. He falls to his back at her feet. "It wouldn't be you, Spike. It would never be you." She throws his promised money at him, scattering it over his chest and the ground. And for the parting shot as she leaves, "You're beneath me." Spike stays on the ground, staring around him. Slowly, jerkily, he gathers his money, as the sobs -- of hurt, of wounded pride, of old memories and, finally, of hatred -- begin to rack his body. Hatred wins the day.

He surprises the hell out of Harmony as he breaks into the crypt, and heads straight for the shotgun, muttering imprecations under his breath the whole time. Even Harmony's desperate attempts to remind him that Buffy will kick his ass if he tries anything -- even if the chip lets him. But Spike won't be persuaded. "Sure, it'll hurt like hell for about two hours. But she'll be dead just a little longer than that." He slams back out, even as Harmony screams after him that he's never been able to kill Buffy before. A point someone else has apparently made before.

South America, 1998
"Why couldn't you kill her?" Dru demands of her furious and embarrassed ex, who is full of reasons and justifications, all of which Dru ignores. "I can still her floating all around you. Laughing!" A very uncomfortable chaos demon -- Dru's latest toy -- watches uncomfortably as the two vampires face off, and exists as fast as he can move. Dru doesn't appear to notice. "You're all covered in her. I look at you, and all I see is the Slayer." And Spike can't deny it.

Sunnydale, the Present
Buffy's night, bad as it's been, is still on that downhill slope. She arrives home to find her mother packing an overnight bag. Her problem -- her headaches -- might not be nothing; the doctors want to run a CAT scan. None of Joyce's reassurances can make a dent in Buffy's sudden fear. She forces a smile for her mother... then slips out of the house to the back porch, and sinks slowly down to huddle on the steps, slumping forward over her knees as the first tears slip free. She doesn't hear the footsteps over her harsh, quiet sobs -- not until Spike, his face still contorted in anger, cocks the shotgun.

Buffy's head comes up, but she's too tired to do anything, can only demand in weary hatred, "What do you want now?" Spike is prepared to tell her, or just to lift the shotgun, point it and shoot.... until he takes in her tearstained cheeks, and the weary defeat in her eyes. Slowly, in spite of himself, his anger begins to fade away. It's a toss-up as to who's more surprised when he demands, "What's wrong?" Buffy gauges him for a moment, then looks away. "I don't want to talk about it."

His face softens still further, with something that closely resembles... caring. "Is there something I can do?" he asks, with every evidence of sincerity. Buffy, her eyes wide and confused, can't answer. Spike studies her for a long moment, then walks over to sit beside her on the porch, laying the shotgun behind him. When she continues to stare straight ahead, barely able to acknowledge him through her bewildered, exhausted pain, he lifts a hand and tentatively, awkwardly pats her shoulder. Even after his arm drops again, he stays seated beside her, lending wordless sympathy with his presence as Slayer and vampire both struggle with their hearts.


Perri's review coming soon!

Chris's Review

I'd say I was speechless, but I've been babbling on the phone and on IRC about these eps to anyone who'll listen. How do I love this? Let me count the ways in which I've been blown away....

First off, James Marsters is God. We have to clone him as soon as possible. And preserve those cheekbones and that acting ability for the general gene pool. Oh yeah. Forever. In great detail. Yup.

(SMG was very, very very good tonight too, but I have no personal interest in her cheekbones or genes. There's enough SMG stalker sites out there, they can take care of that. ;> )

Spike was *Wesley*. Sweet, smart, imaginative--- and prissy, and far-too-sensitive for his own good, and god, did he have bad hair. My theory about innate capacities for good just being exploited and expanded and turned to darkness by the encroachment of the demon is way, way held up here. Looks like anyone who put their bets down on the square that said "good before turned" gets to collect now.

How much did I hate that bitch Cecily for grinding him down like that? There are ways of turning a guy down that don't humiliate him utterly, you know --- that first "I feel nothing for you" was harsh; but the "You are beneath me" was *heartless*. Bitch. Bitch. *BITKA*. Would Spike have been as bad, as thoroughly wicked and weird and able to love, if Dru had got him on any other day of his life? I kind of doubt it. How much of what he is, is a pure preservation of the guy she bit on that night in 1880? (And other thought... the murders they were discussing. Any bets it was the Whitechapel Ripper that had the guests so worried?)

Perri has a better theory about this too, or a more complete one. Perri, share!

Tonight was JM's night, all the way down to the ground. William, Early Spike, Punk Spike, and currently conflicted, chipped, loving-and-hating-and-damn-lost Spike all in the same night. Cripes he's talented.

I loved, loved, loved, the almost 'date' atmosphere of Spike and Buffy's discussion--- his demand for wings, the pool game they played throughout his explanation, the body language all evening long. No one in the bar watching them would've thought it was anything other than a tension-filled evening between a couple that had been together way too long.

I loved, and felt so bad for Giles, during Buffy's research for causes of Slayer deaths. I've always said he is happily and with full knowledge of himself living in Denial. He knows what the odds are--- and he has no intention of acknowledging them until he has to.

The Chinese Slayer had her ducks in a row, but I loved the way it was completely laid out: some days the vamps get lucky. They have teeth. Slayers have stakes, which can be dropped. Swords, which can be taken away. Slayers heal more easily, since they don't dissolve into a puff of dust if you put a stake into a human, but they can also be hurt more easily. It ain't a matched fight, some days. One girl dies... the next one is called. Ow. Doesnt' get more explicit than that.

The seventies Slayer had some great moves too--- she kept fighting, she didn't stop, she even *had* Spike, twice that I saw. She just wasn't quite in control enough, or fast enough, or *something* there.... The scenes of that fight, intercut with Spike's lecture and 'demonstration', were incredible. Especially Billy-Idol-Spike lecturing Buffy from the floor of the subway, stripping his now-favorite-coat off the dead girl. He was _evil_. There is no fluffy-bunny living in there. He is funny, and smart, and sexy, and passionate, and these are all fascinating and enjoyable things, but even now, he is not *good*. (Except... see a couple paragraphs down).

Then they went past the fighting into why Buffy has lived so long, about the death wish that any person has, and that a Slayer would possess in even greater detail. If all you live and breathe is death, it starts hypnotizing you. I can see this. Spike, personifying this death wish, moving in on her... was just really, really mesmerizing. And I could see Buffy coming to terms with the idea, and rejecting the concept that her death would be because of something petty, just one vamp out of a hundred. That "you are beneath me" was a rejection of the vampire, of dying for anything less than the world or an apocalypse or someone she loved.

Spike, in his own wonderful warped innuendo way, knew that's how she meant it, but experienced it in the same way he experienced that rejection a hundred and twenty years ago. Being overlooked, undervalued, rejected as a threat and a lover.... Bad, bad, *bad* moment there. I believed he was going to kill her this time, that he *meant* it this time.

The flashback with Drusilla was wonderful, for several reasons: one, I don't think Spike got it then. He really didn't know what Dru was trying to tell him about Buffy in South America, and about his feelings for her. Two, the Chaos Demon. *SNERK!* Some relative of Cerunnos, just got back from the ether by the slime, and man, stuck in that *classic* situation... just made everything funnier and scarier. And a nice guy, to boot. (And no, Dee, there are *still* no horns on my helmet... but I'd admit that this guy is related to Chaos. :> )

Poor Joyce. Maybe she *does* have cancer. Or maybe they're going to have to tell her the truth about Dawn before she loses her mind. Either way, I love how they're milking the situation.

Oh, and I gotta smack Riley. Smart plan. Poor execution. Take *back-up* next time, Testosterone Boy! I loved the toys, but he *so* could've been taken out if things had gone badly. This macho thing is killing his relationship with Buffy every other minute that I watch. Especially when compared with---

That last, lovely, unbelievable scene between Spike and Buffy... I can not stop singing the praises of James Marsters & Sarah Michelle. Wow. Just... wow. And, ow. And... does she have some clue now? Is she beginning to wonder what's up with him, now that he's done something so odd and weird and sweet? Or did she even notice? Under the circumstances, maybe, maybe not....

(And here's where that paragraph up there, about Spike being Evil, gets looked at again). Tell me something. If the Judge would've fried him because of the love he felt for Dru... what would happen to him now? If there can be good demons, who are not, by their natures, evil--- can there be vampires that can be redeemed, soul or not? Can someone who's been vamped re-learn that sort of thing, a baby step at a time? Because I honest to god thought that Spike was incapable of true empathy; I thought that his love for Drusilla was a kind of reflectiong of self-love, or the shallower kind of love that's based on what being with someone makes you feel. To have him actually ask Buffy what's wrong, and *care*... blows my mind. I haven't been this impressed since... a long time.

All Hail Joss. Ave Joss. Hosannahs to Joss. Bowing down in worship to Joss, and the writer, director, and editor of this ep, with little candles for JM & SMG.


"Spike's little speech about the slayer's having a death wish, about Buffy's ties holding her to earth makes me think Joyce's illness may be Buffy's achilles heel this season. The thing that holds her most strongly to this earth (even if she doesn't always pay attention to her mom), is threatened. What will that mean to her? And is Joyce's illness tied into the Restless i mage of Joyce being walled in? Did the monks making Dawn Buffy's sister increase Buffy's ties to this world, possibly giving her an edge she isn't aware of yet?" -- Karen

"And that scene in China of the four vamps walking through the rebellious crowd - amazing, just amazing." -- Karen

"Yum. Yum. Wow. YUM. Um, sorry, the hormones have kicked in and you're not going to get anything useful out of me. WOW. OK, I'm officially drooling over the boy. Which I never really have before, mostly because I have this mental block about drooling over characters that would prefer to have me for lunch rather than to have me over *for* lunch. YUM. The bit with him in the alley kneeling in front of Buffy, just sort of casually hanging out there. WHOA BABY. " -- Lizbet attempting coherence. And failing.

"...How much do I love the double turn-on-head that Joss et al do? William the Bloody as Wesley Wyndham-Spike? What could be funnier? Then the brutal put down that makes us identify with sensitive William-the-Poet, while making us squirm every-so-slightly since we were just snickering at him ourselves. And then with Dru in the alley, the perfect, hysterical, why-hasn't-anyone-reacted-like-this-before reaction of, "OUCH!" when she bites him. Duh! Of *course* it's going to hurt. And then the esculating pain and fear as he keeps screaming makes you shudder. Brilliant. Just brilliant. " -- Lizbet

"One of the things I love about this show is the development of the vampire mythology. In Doppelgangland, when Willow is concerned that her vampire self is gay, Buffy mentions that it's just the demon in her double. However, Angel corrects her saying, "well, not exactly." The demon only releases the violence and inhibitions of the person, once they're soulless; it doesn't make the person something they're not. Hence, we see Angel reckless and dangerous in the past, and he becomes a reckless and dangerous vampire. In Spike's case, he was a poet, even if a bad one, and a lover (of love). It makes perfect sense that he would be able to love as a vampire without a soul; this fact makes him much more interesting than Angel. We've seen how much Spike loved and protected Dru. Not to mention, he's perceptive and imaginative. He knows how to perform; but when he's not performing, he still has that imagination, self awareness, and sensitivity. Now, if Buffy can get a clue and realize how attractive and sexy Spike is... " -- Leslie

"I'm pretty much with you on the 'He's His Own Best PR Department' theory. I mean it was a while before he could get Angel and Darla to stop calling him 'William', and 'the Bloody' was now bloody appropriate, no? But he had bad associations with it and wanted a new name. He just found the need for a really bad-ass derivation to cement it. Plus, we hear the railroad-spike derivation from the Watchers... who would have to have relied on reputation, rumor, and hearsay for their information on most vampires, no? I mean it's not like they sat down with these guys and conducted background interviews. < g >" -- Dianne

"(And, can I point out that -- since a nice pious young lady of 18XX- whatever was *not* likely to have been named by her mother after one of the most notorious psychotic, incestuous, scandalous empresses of Rome -- that puts us with all four of them changing their names to go with their new personas. "Liam and William and Mary and Sue" (or whatever the girls were named ;) became "Angelus and Spike and Darla and Drusilla" -- *much* scarier, no?)" -- Dianne

"And I'm still fascinated by the parallels between Riley and Spike. Even as Buffy's boyfriend, to whom she cannot say she loves, grows more and more distant, acting more and more irrational, her enemy, to whom she will not say she is at the least attracted, grows closer to her. Damn. That end scene was so perfect. Awkwardness, the completely freaked out look on Buffy's face, but still she didn't tell him to leave -- she's incapable of doing so, for so many emotional reasons. I don't even know what to think." -- Mary Beth

"And the incredible flashback scene to NY mixed with the present, the editing, that speech. . . amazing. The pain I felt for Spike as Buffy basically spat on him and walked away. . . and then the *thud* I felt as that feral look came over him. Damn. " -- Mary Beth

[RE: Spike is Wesley]
"No, actually he was Oscar Wilde. < gg > If that young man wasn't a prime example of the "Aesthetic Movement", I'll eat my feathered hat. All he was missing was a green carnation as a boutonniere. :)" -- Maureen

"Angel seemed antsy in China in the version from Spike's pov, but I (and probably Spike as well) chalked it up to Spike annoying him. Still glad they have the timestamps, tho, and that I'm *not* destined to be Timeline Girl in another fandom. Cynthia Bergstrom's research and details have improved sharply since she's been called upon to do this on a semi-regular basis (not that she sucked to begin with, but I had some minor nitpicks); but except for the 1880 one, there still seems to be less to go on in these than there has been in other shows involving immortal-character flashbacks. All hail the mightly Timestamp Subtitle!" -- Valerie

Back to Episodes.