Lies My Parents Told Me

Written by David Fury & Drew Goddard
Directed by David Fury

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Plot:
Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike got his chip out and Giles strongly disapproved, but Buffy thought the soul was enough to keep Spike good; Wood turned out to be the son of a Slayer, the one Spike killed in a subway -- and Robin knows now it was Spike who did it.

A stormy night in a big city, and a punked-out Spike is throwing down with a familiar figure in a long black leather coat. Her name is Nikki Wood, and she was a Slayer in New York long before Buffy Summers was born, much less Chosen. Spike is having fun, since Nikki's giving him a good fight. He's distracted enough not to notice the young boy crouched behind a park bench, watching. Spike gets Nikki down, but she kicks him back off, only to find herself caught from behind. Spike's fangs start for her neck, but the little boy knocks over a trash can; Nikki takes the moment of surprise to break free. She throws a stake, and Spike catches it inches from his heart. "Spent a long time trying to track you down," Spike tells her. "Don't really want the dance to end so soon. Do you? Nikki?" He tosses down the stake and starts to wander off. "By the way," he turns to tell her, "love the coat." Then he's gone, leaving Nikki alone in the rain with the young son who calls for his mama. He wants to go home, but it's not safe there any more; she tells him he'll go to Crowley's house. The baby boy wants to stay with his mother, but she shakes her head. "Remember Robin, honey, what we talked about. Always gotta work the mission. You know I love you. But I got a job to do. The mission is what matters." Robin nods reluctantly, but leaves with her, racing back only to pick up the stake Spike dropped--

And swings it at the vampire coming through the clear California night for his throat. As he focuses on his vamp, Buffy and Spike have their own opponents a few feet away. It's not much of a fight for them, and Spike intervenes before Robin's can get too ugly. He stakes the vamp and offers Robin a hand off the ground. "Little tip, mate -- stake's your friend. Don't be afraid to use it." Robin just looks at him; as Spike walks away, his hand clenches around the stake until blood drips from his palm. "Just waiting for my moment," Robin whispers.

The bell rings to start another day at Sunnydale High, and Buffy checks in with Robin. "Situation still normal. Or as normal as this school ever gets. No fires, no one's head's going kablooey, and the swing choir and the marching band have gone back to their normal, healthy seething resentment." Shutting down the Seal seems to have quieted things down. Robin is impressed; he tells Buffy watching her reminds him of his mother and she takes it as the compliment it's intended. the quiet moment is broken by Giles, who strides in announcing, "Everything's terrible! It's a total catastrophe!" Seems he just got a look at the new, nearly bookless library. Computer-phobic boy strikes again. Great first impression to make on Robin, G-Man. They shake hands, and Giles expresses his appreciation of allies; he doesn't think the Seal stopped anything either. "War is inevitable." Buffy drags him back from a sidetrack on the library to the new information he's found about Spike, then has to drag him back from a de-chipping sidetrack. Robin listens in utter confusion to their quick recap of Spike's tangled history, looking as if he desperately needs an aspirin. Anyway, Giles thinks he may have found a way to permanently disarm Spike's trigger; it will take some magic, though.

Xander finished chaining Spike to the wall in preparation, and Spike is disconcerted to realize Robin is present. Giles' new toy is a prokaryote stone that will actually go within Spike's brain to locate the root of the trigger's power. Spike's response to having something put into his head is predictable: "Bugger that!" But if he understands the trigger, the hold will hopefully be broken, so Spike gives in reluctantly. Willow starts the insertion incantation and the stone starts glowing and writhing. Giles moves it closer and it puts out a little tendril that pulses up Spike's cheekbone into his eye. [Editor's Note: Joss has been watching way too much Farscape; he's picked up their unhealthy fascination with eyeballs. Between this episode and next... < shudder >] Buffy races to his side, but he assures her he's okay, although he doesn't know how he's supposed to know if it's working.

Then the room starts glowing and he hears a familiar voice -- his own, reciting excruciatingly bad poetry. The basement is gone and he's in a Victorian parlor, William 'Wyndham-Pryce' in full wussly splendor, reciting poetry about Cecily to a well-dressed older woman who listens adoringly, and loves every word. This is William's mother, Anne, who is also in favor of William having a girlfriend: "You need a woman in your life." William assures her, "I have a woman in my life," looking back at his mother with just as much adoration. "I will always look after you, mother. This I promise." The moment is broken when Anne begins coughing, the heavy, choking coughs of advanced tuberculosis. William sits on the floor at her feet, leaning against her knees as she sings... a very familiar song. William's eyes get wider, and wider, and turn yellow. Spike vamps out, turning towards Buffy and throwing her across the room. The chains hold even as Spike goes insane. He throws his cot across the room, nailing Dawn, and keeps howling. Then he suddenly freezes, and the stone dribbles back out of his eye to fall on the floor. Spike looks at Buffy in shame, then can't look at her anymore. Robin looks on, his face set and still.

A little later, Spike wants the chains off, but no one's inclined to cut him loose. He knows what the song is now, "Early One Morning," and admits that his mum sang it to him -- "when I was a baby," he clarifies hastily. He asks about Dawn, and is assured she's okay, which she mostly is. It's the Potentials who are freaked about having Spike in the house, but Anya tells them he's got a Slayer "get out of jail free" card. She still to be harboring some resentment over that, given how hard Buffy came down on Anya herself after the frat boy incident. Andrew answers the phone in the middle of this; it's Fred, calling from Angel Investigations for Willow. [ED: gotta love the time-travel aspects of un-synched crossovers, huh?] In the basement, Giles continues trying to interrogate Spike about his mother, but Spike is touchy. Buffy gives in and starts to unlock Spike, but Giles' extreme objections stop her. Spike stares at his manacled hand... and another hand clad in black lace slips over it.

Drusilla smiles at William as he stands in his mother's parlor. "Such a pretty house you have, Sweet William," she purrs as they begin to waltz. "It smells of daffodils.. and viscera." He's a lot more mussed up than the last time we saw him, and tells Dru not to get attached; they won't be there for long. hey commence to making out on the couch; it's quite obvious William is now proto-Spike. The whole world lays ahead of him and his dark princess: "We'll ravage this city together, my pet. Lay waste to all of Europe. The three of us will teach the snobs and elitists with their folderol just what--" Drusilla stops him, confused. "Three?" Spike: "You, me, and Mother. We'll open up their veins and bathe in their blood as they scream our names across the-- what?" Drusilla: "You... you want to bring your mum with us?" Spike sees no problem with this: "Well, yeah. You'll like her." Dru: "To eat, you mean?" Before Spike can clarify, the lady in question makes her unsteady way into the parlor, delighted to see the baby boy who has been missing for days. All traces of Spike are subsumed back into William. "You needn't have worried, mother. You'll never have to worry about anything again." Anne takes this in, takes in the woman behind him. "I'm the other that gave birth to your son," Drusilla introduces herself. William tries to explain things: "I am no longer bound to this mortal coil. I am a creature of the night. A vampire." His mum looks at him. "Are you drunk?" William shuffles his feet: "A little bit." As she starts coughing, William abandons Dru to go to her side. "Think of it. No more sickness. You'll never age another day. Let me do this for you." Anne doesn't get it, but he hugs her close. "We'll be together forever. It only hurts for a moment." His fangs are out as he sinks them into his mother's neck.

Willow heads down to the basement to tell Buffy she needs to head for L.A. to do all the stuff we saw on Angel a few weeks earlier. As she leaves, the argument about Spike resumes, but Buffy has made up her mind. She releases Spike, and they both head up the stairs. Robin stops Giles before he can follow. "We've got ourselves a problem," Robin says flatly. They both think Spike is a weapon waiting to be used; Spike is an integral part of the First's plan. "Something needs to be done," Robin says suggestively. Giles paces away. "Buffy won't allow it." Robin: "Buffy would listen to her Watcher, wouldn't she?" Giles laughs. "You don't have much of an idea of the Watcher-Slayer dynamic." Robin tells him he was raised by a Watcher; when he gives the name, Bernard Crowley, Giles puts the pieces together: "You're Nikki Wood's son? Spike killed your mother." He also gets more of why Robin is so hot to go after Spike. Robin shrugs it off. "Does it matter?" Robin demands passionately. "He's an instrument of evil. Now he's going to prove to be our undoing in this fight, Buffy's undoing -- and she will never, never see it coming. Now, I'm talking about what needs to be done. For the greater good, Giles... and you know I'm right." Giles isn't happy -- but he's also not arguing. He looks towards the ceiling as if for guidance, then finally asks, "What exactly do you propose?" Robin: "I just need you to keep Buffy away for a few hours."

Giles seems to agree; the next thing we see is Giles walking through a cemetery with a dubious Buffy, who's not sure about a training session here and now. "Now more than ever," Giles tells her, "it's crucial to maintain focus on your Calling." Buffy's fine with that, but she's way not happy about leaving Spike at Robin's house with Robin as babysitter (although no one at Casa Summers wanted him there). Giles gets serious. "We're on the verge of war. It's time we looked at the big picture." Buffy looks incredulous. "Hello? All I do is look at the big picture. The other day I gave an inspirational speech to the telephone repairman." Giles: "It takes more than rousing speeches to lead, Buffy; if you're going to be a general, you need to be able to make difficult decisions, regardless of the costs." Buffy just shakes her head; she's been making them all along, in the way she treats the Potentials, and her family, and Andrew. The discussion is broken as a vampire shoves his fist out of a grave.

Robin leads Spike through a locked door to his "sanctuary;" it's dark as they walk into the small, windowless room. And Spike wishes it had stayed that way when Robin turns on the lights, because the walls are lined with crosses, all sizes. "It's the Hellmouth, Spike," Robin says cheerfully. "You can never be too careful." He boots up his computer as he tells Spike to say away from the walls and he'll be all right. Spike paces, asking with sudden suspicion, "What's your story?" Robin types at the computer. "No story. Just trying to do what's right. Make a difference." Robin tries to reverse the question, and Spike blows him off: "Not much for self-reflection." Robin gets that. "You strike me as the kind of guy who just careens through life," he says, as he strips off his shirt to the tank top underneath. He opens his desk drawer to reveal a small arsenal of sharp and metal stuff. "Completely oblivious to the damage he's doing to everyone around him." Spike's eyes narrow: "That right?" Robin keep speaking as he puts on a studded gauntlet. "I know a lot about you, Spike. You see, I've been searching for you for a long, long time. Ever since you killed my mother." On that, he turns to face Spike, who is tensed for action. "I killed a lot of people's mothers," he says, not helping the situation. "Yeah," Robin says, turning back to put on the second gauntlet. "You'd remember mine. She was a Slayer." Spike gets it. "So that's it, isn't it? Brought me here to kill me?" Robin shakes his head slowly. "No, I don't want to kill you, Spike. I want to kill the monster who took my mother away from me." He punches a button on the Mac and iTunes begins to play a song - "Early One Morning." Spike tries to fight it, but can't do it; he vamps out against his will. Robin looks satisfied. "There he is."

William returns to his Victorian home and sees Anne's cane standing by the couch, but his mother nowhere in sight, until she greets him from the door. Her hair is loose and she's smiling and young, obviously in the peak of health. William begins making plans for their eternal life: "What's your pleasure?" Anne turns to him as if confused. "Pleasure? To take my leave of you, of course." She recites a bit of his poetry and asks, "You honestly thought I could bear an eternity of listening to that twaddle?" Spike snarls, lost to the demon, and Robin eggs him on. "That's right, dog! Fight back!" as he punches Spike. In his head, Anne keeps on speaking sweet poison. "I hate to be cruel... No, I don't. I used to hate to be cruel in life. Now I find it rather freeing. nothing less will pry your greedy little fingers off my apron strings, will it?" William begs her to stop, but she keeps going, her tongue striking with all a mother's knowledge of her son's weaknesses. Spike fights Robin as he didn't strike out against his mother, as she tells him she should have bashed his brains out when she first saw him. Robin pins Spike to the wall and shoves his face to the side, into one of the crosses. Flesh hisses and burns as William's mother turns away from him: "God, I prayed you'd find a woman to release me. But you scarcely showed an interest. Who could compare to your doddering, housebound mum, a captive audience for your witless prattle." Spike shoves Robin away from him, and William advances on Anne. "Whatever I was, that's not who I am anymore." She smiles. "Darling... that who you'll always be. A limp, sentimental fool." Robin knocks Spike across the room; he lies dazed in a pile of book, though it's hard to tell if he was felled by Robin's blow, or the memory of his mother's words. "Is this what it felt like?" Robin demands harshly, landing blow after blow. "When you beat the life out of her? Toyed with her? When you snapped her neck?" He's screaming by the end, utterly out of control.

Buffy is utterly in control in the cemetery, toying with a vampire that Giles tells her not to kill. "Would you let this vampire live if it meant saving the world?" he asks. Buffy shrugs, exchanges some banter, and resumes punching. "Giles, we had this conversation, when I told you I would sacrifice Dawn to stop Glory from destroying the world." Giles persists, pointing out what she's been through since then: "Faced with the same choice now... you'd let her die." Buffy sighs. "If I had to, to save the world. Yes." The vampire attacks from the back, but Giles still won't let her kill him. "So you really do understand the difficult decisions you'll have to make... that any of us is expendable in this war?" Buffy looks at him incredulously between punches. "Have you heard my speeches?!" Giles: "That we cannot allow any threat that may jeopardize our chances of winning." Buffy: "Yes, I get it!" Giles: "And yet, there is Spike." Buffy stops in her tracks just long enough to get tackled again.

Robin is still raging, though more quietly, working out 30 years of rage and frustration on a nearly unconscious Spike. He puts on his shirt, then methodically strips his mother's coat from Spike's prone form, before lifting a stake high... "You want to run, don't you?" Anne demands. "Scamper off to you new little trollop? Do you think you'll be able to love her? Think you'll be able to touch her without feeling me?" Anne is seriously invading William's personal space now, in the worst of ways. "All you've ever wanted was to be back inside, and you finally got your wish, didn't you? Sank your teeth into me, an eternal kiss." William stammers and denies, wigged beyond the telling of it as she grabs him and plasters her body against his: "I only wanted you well." Anne: "You wanted your hands on me. Perhaps you'd like the chance to finish what you started." William. "I loved you. I did. Not like this." He finally shoves her away, and she tells him to get out; when he doesn't, she comes after him with a long stake. He blocks it away, and they are frozen in front of the fireplace for an endless moment. "There, there, precious," Anne gloats, her eyes yellow and her fangs long and shining, "it will only hurt for a moment." "I'm sorry," William whispers, his eyes wide and appalled, and grieving.

"What?" Robin asks, stopped in his rampage. Spike looks up at him from the floor, vamped, battered and bloody, and repeats it. "I'm sorry." In one move, William pulls back his arms, and stakes his mother neatly through the heart. Her face returns to its previous beauty, and she smiles at him before she collapses into dust at his feet. William stares, and as Robin's arm descends with the stake, Spike's hand shoots up to block it. He kicks Robin off and back. "Sorry?" Robin asks, straightening painfully. "You think sorry's going to make everything all right?" Spike sneers. "I wasn't talking to you." The fight begins again, but Spike is in control, and Robin is badly out of his league. Spike talks as he fights: "I don't give s piss about your mum. She was a slayer, I was a vampire. That's the way the game is played" He back-kicks Robin to the floor, but he bounces back up and attacks again, enraged. "She knew what she was signing up for," Spike tells him, as he kicks him across the room. "Well, I didn't sign up for it!" Robin roars. Spike: "Well, that's the rub, isn't it? You didn't sign up for it, and somehow it's my fault." Robin rushes to grapple with him: "You took my childhood. You took her away. She was all I had, she was my world." Spike: "And you weren't hers." Robin freezes a few feet away. "Doesn't that piss you off?" Spike continues, his talent for finding those weak spots apparently genetic. He throws Robin into a wall again, and this time, he's too battered to take the punishment and slumps to the floor. "I know slayers. No matter how many people they've got around them, they fight alone. Life of the Chosen One, the rest of us be damned. Your mother was no different." Robin clings to his belief even through agony: "No. She loved me." Spike: "But not enough to quit though, was it? Not enough to walk away, for you."

He crosses the room and hunkers down in front of Robin's battered face. "I'll tell you a story about a mother and son. See, like you, I loved my mother. So much so, I turned her into a vampire. Yeah, so we could be together forever. She said some nasty bits to me after I did that. Been weighing on me for quite some time. But you helped me figure something out. See, unlike you, I had a mother who loved me back. When I sired her, I set loose a demon, and it tore into me. But it was a demon talking, not her. I realize that now." He stands and crosses the room to the computer. "My mother loved me, with all her heart. I was her world. " He punches the button, and "Early One Morning" begins playing again. Nothing happens. The trigger of 100-year-old guilt and pain is broken. "That's a nice little song you got there. Thanks, Doc. You cured me after all. I got my own free will now. I'm not under the First or anyone else's influence. I just wanted you to know that--" His face suddenly changes to a vampire's fright mask. "--before I kill you." With one smooth pounce, he's across the room, fangs buried in Robin's neck.

Buffy continues to fight her vamp as Giles continues to lecture Buffy on sacrifice for the greater good. Buffy continues defending Spike. "Spike is here because I want him here. I need him.... It's different now -- he has a soul." Giles: "And the First is exploiting that to his advantage." But he's played his hand out too far; Buffy stares at him in sudden comprehension, staking her opponent. "You're stalling me." Giles doesn't even have the grace to look guilty. "It's time to stop playing the role of general, and to start being one." Buffy isn't listening anymore -- she's already on the run for Robin's house. Spike comes out just as she heads in; he's tired and bruised, but alive, and once more wearing his long, black coat. "What happened?" Buffy asks, as if she's afraid of the answer. Spike doesn't speak, simply swings the door back open. Robin is slumped on the floor inside, his clothes ripped, his body bloody -- and alive. "I gave him a pass," Spike explains, "Let him live, on account of the fact I killed his mother. But that's all he gets. He even so much as looks at me funny again, I'll kill him." He leaves, and Buffy takes a long, long moment to compose herself before she can walk in to Robin's side. She helps him stand, then takes in the "sanctuary" -- the trap -- before turning back to him. "I lost my mom," she says quietly, "A couple of years ago. I came home, and I found her dead on the couch. I understand what you tried to do. But she's dead." Robin: "Because he murdered her." Buffy's having none of it. "I'm preparing to fight a war, and you're looking for revenge on a man who doesn't exist anymore." Robin tells her not to delude herself, but Buffy is through listening (as if she ever started). "Spike is the strongest warrior we have, and we are gonna need him if we're going to come out of this thing alive." She looks at him very seriously, and he bows his head in resignation. "You try anything again," Buffy says, "and he'll kill you. More importantly, I'll let him." Robin can barely see through his blackened eyes, but he looks back up at that; she continues, "I have a mission... to win this war. To save the world. I don't have time for vendettas." And another woman turns and walks away from Robin Wood, saying as she goes, "The mission is what matters."

Safely at home, Buffy checks on the injured Dawn, sleeping soundly, then braces herself for one more confrontation. Giles is waiting outside her bedroom. He tries to explain, but she cuts him off before he can really begin. "Spike's alive. Wood failed." Giles pauses, regroups, and unwisely keeps going. "That doesn't change anything. What I told you is still true. You need to learn--" She cuts him off again. "No. I think you've taught me enough." Softly, but with infinite finality, Buffy closes the door in Giles' face.

Continuity:
The trigger the First planted in Spike's mind, was based in a song William's mother sung to him when he was human. Spike turned his mother in an attempt to make her healthy and immortal, just like him, but staked her when it all went horribly wrong, and he realized what he'd done. The trigger is now defunct.

Relationships:
Giles and Buffy's is very close to nonexistent at the moment.

Characters:
It's been a long time since I saw an episode where I so desperately wanted to bitch-slap everyone involved. Except Spike. No, no, Spike gets it, too, if for no other reasons than going along with Buffy and being an idiot when he was William.

Buffy was certainly in fine form -- Slayer Girl who will do whatever she wants, and the hell with what anyone else thinks. Especially if the others are right and she's totally wrong. With that trigger still functioning, Spike should have stayed chained up -- it's not a matter of trust, it's a matter of ticking time bombs that the soul can, demonstrably, not do a damn thing to short-circuit. Buffy's faith (courtesy of the damn soul, and don't get me started on how much I still hate how much faith she places in that soul instead of Spike himself) is laudable; her execution is dumb as a post. Dawn, whom Spike protects like a demon, got hurt when he was chained and the trigger was activated; how much else does she need? In her zeal to prove to Spike that she trusts him and, maybe, make up to him for the crap he put him through, Buffy was being pigheaded and blind even for her. I won't say much else, because everyone else does a good job of it in SunSpeak. I will say that Giles and Robin were absolutely right about the fact that letting Spike loose was the wrong decision.

And that was the last damn thing they were right about. In one way, Giles doesn't get as many culpability points as Robin -- he yielded to the temptation someone else offered, of just standing aside while someone else did something his Slayer said was wrong, and he thought was right. But it's not trying to let Robin kill Spike that make me want to kick his ass (although it's certainly not helping). It's betraying everything he's been telling Buffy for seven years. "If you're going to be a general, you need to be able to make difficult decisions," he tells her -- he left a year ago to force her to make decisions. But she's only to make those decisions when he agrees with them; otherwise, he'll go behind her back and conspire with others to make them for her. Was Buffy's decision wrong? Unquestionably. But it was her decision; Giles' responsibility, by his own words and choice, was to keep advising on her to change that decision, and to be prepared to deal with the consequences. That was the role he set himself in when he left the Scoobies for London, what he's said over and over is what he will do. Buffy is the General, Buffy is the Slayer -- do I agree with that. Not particularly. But Giles has claimed over and over that he does, has shoved her into the role ready or not -- he had no right on earth to set her up in authority, then undermine it at the absolute weakest point. His motives might have been pure (mostly; if it had been Xander or Willow, he'd have been singing a different tune regarding whether they got killed), but his methods sucked beyond the power of telling -- I'd have shut the door in his face, too. I have ever in my entire life wanted so badly to slap Giles, no matter how much I love him.

And then there's Robin. His crime of betrayal is less heinous -- he's only known Buffy a few months, but he's been out to avenge his mother his entire life -- but, sadly, the overt crimes are almost entirely his. I'm not pissed at him for choosing to try to kill Spike; I pretty much expected that, although I would have been pleasantly surprised and impressed as hell had Robin been able to overcome his need for vengeance in the interests of saving of the world. No, I'm not pissed -- but by the end of the episode, I had unhappily lost all of my respect for him. Throwing down against Spike in a fight would have been fine. What I can't respect is the part where he knew it was wrong. Knew it so well that he couldn't just do an Inigo Montoya -- "You killed my mother, prepare to die." No, he had to convince himself Spike was a monster all over again, had to use the First's trigger to talk himself into believing it was The Right Thing To Do, than use the trigger again to turn Spike into the ravening, out-of-control monster Robin had pictured in his head all those years, because the Spike in front of him didn't fit into his daydreams of hatred and revenge. He couldn't fight Spike the souled vampire, battling by the Slayer's side to save the world -- that would be Wrong, and he damned well did know it. So he twisted and turned and conspired and connived and set up his little scenario so that he could have what he wanted and even convince himself it was Right. I like Robin, and I feel sorry for him -- he surely got the short-end of the parental stick. But he can't wander around being that four-year-old forever; hopefully, getting the crap beaten out of him knocked some maturity into him. (Bruce phrases this much better, and much shorter, in SunSpeak.)

Of course, Spike wasn't helping, but then, when does he ever. Maybe his speech about mothers helped knock Robin out of those four-year-old resentments, maybe not; I'm sure Spike himself was utterly indifferent to all potential therapeutic value, he was just being a pain in the ass, getting some of his own back. Which he deserved; Giles and Robin set him up good and proper, and it was a betrayal of Spike as well as Buffy. Chaining him in the basement would have been one thing, and Spike was wrong to allow Buffy to set him loose. Killing him when he's been busting his ass to help them, fighting beside them, was a bullshit call; the remarkable part is that Spike didn't kill Robin. It would almost have been mature -- not killing him because Spike did kill Nikki -- except for the running commentary on mothers. Spike always did have a problem with his mouth.

And William.... it's hard to want to dope-slap William for a few reasons. One -- he wouldn't understand why, he'd just look at you with those completely gormless puppy-dog eyes and refuse to fight back. Two -- he honestly had no idea what he was doing was a Bad idea. He loved his mum, he wanted her healthy, he wanted her with him. His motives were probably the purest Spike's have ever been, and it's hard to be annoyed with someone for doing something out of that much love. Plus, the look on Drusilla's face? Priceless. Some things, you just savor forever.... Third -- he got bitch-slapped beyond anything he deserved. The realization that he'd killed his mother instead of saving her, replaced her with this... monster, was all the punishment he needed, and quite a bit more. Without a better baseline, it's impossible to tell if Spike is right and his mother did love him, or if the demon let loose what she'd always felt. For Spike and William's sakes, I choose to believe the former. In which case, we still don't know why Spike and Harmony stayed essentially unchanged (at least, until Spike consciously decided to be different, to become the Big Bad), while Liam, Angelus and Angel, and Anne and her demon, are (usually) completely different people. Joss and company have been twisting and bending the rules for far too long, and this just does not help.

Best Moments:
Spike and Nikki's fight. It's always deeply cool to see Slayers who came before Buffy, the fight was good, and Baby!Robin was exceptionally adorable.

"The swing choir and the marching band have gone back to their normal, healthy seething resentment." < snickering helplessly >

Giles' freak-out over the computerized library. Poor baby! such a welcome blast back to the technophobe Giles we knew and loved (even if they were recycling dialogue). Then seguing right into the whiplash Spike backstory, and Robin's face throughout... Classic.

Anya's bitter little rant about get out of jail free cards. I love it when this show occasionally nails itself for hypocrisy, and it's best when Anya does it. No one snarks like Anya.

Drusilla's face when William wants to bring his mum. Not getting over that anytime soon, or seeing him shuffle his feet when his mum demands if he's drunk.

Any and all cracks Buffy makes about speeches -- see above re: ME nailing themselves. Does this mean we won't have to listen to any more of them?

I can't say I enjoyed the flashbacks to vamped Mum, but they were certainly done bone-chillingly well. Really excellent stuff, particularly intercut with the present-day assault by Robin.

Questions and Comments:
The dialogue really fell down when Robin was trying to get Giles to help him; very stilted for several sentences there, not at all what I expect from this group. (I bitch endless about plot and characterization; about dialogue, not so much.)

Rating: 4 stars out of five. Well-written and acted; the performances make up for the incredible stupidity of everyone concerned who were, at least, largely being stupid in character.

SunSpeak

"..Did anyone else think Spike's mother reminded them of Joyce?" -- Mel

"*sigh* I have always identified very closely with Buffy, and have never had the fits at her that some people have had because I could usually see where she is coming from. I want to smack her so hard right now. I'm sick of her refusing to listen to anyone else. I'm sick of her never giving a damn about anything but what she considers important. And yes, I know, that's no different from anything she's ever done before, but for the first time, I disagree with her profoundly enough that I just want to beat her around the head and shoulders."
"And once again, a supposedly feminist hero is being defined by her boyfriend. That's what is so damn irritating to me."
"You know, I never thought of it that way and you're right. Buffy subordinates every one else in her life for the boyfriend. She's always relegated the Scoobies, Giles and Dawn to a back seat whenever she wanted Spike or Angel. While I agree that Spike is a formidable warrior (and quite tasty), Giles had a really good point. Until that trigger was gone, Spike was a huge threat to anyone in the Summers' household including the slayers in training (SITs) that Buffy is trying to protect. How many SITs equal one Spike? Spike is not a super weapon that one can drop and end the war. Having most of her forces vulnerable to an inside attack was not a brilliant tactical move. Despite her logical reasoning that he's a strong warrior, that's not why she did it. She loves him, he's the boyfriend and everybody else falls somewhere towards the back of the line in Buffy importance. What a great role model for young women. -- Lizbet, Karen and Maddog

"ok, while I agree with you all that having Spike around is a tactical mistake (tho I don't necessarily believe killing him was the best option either) try and turn your statements on their ears. Buffy IS a good role model in that she is a strong female, who has her own opinions and beliefs, fights for them, and stays very human in her capacity to make mistakes and to feel. That, to me, has always been the best part of shows in the Jossverse (and a couple outside it) that the characters still screw up and screw up badly, and that they love and hate and hurt and it affects them the way it'd affect anyone else. To me, at least, Buffy isn't defined by her boyfriend as much as her boyfriends gain definition by her or even by loving her; Angel was a wreck before he fell in love with her and wanted to protect her. Riley followed orders and did what he was told without question until he fell for Buffy and she opened his eyes. Spike fell for her and became a great warrior for "good", and survived torment at the hands of evil because of this love (not to mention being the only vampire to actively seek out and reclaim his soul.) I think THAT is the point; that love drives people to do things both unbelievable and unspeakable. And it's not even romantic love necessarily; look at the events of the ep last night: Spike Turns his mother as an act of love (answering Angelus' question from "Prodigal" after he's killed his family: "Is this an act of love?") and it, of course, works out painfully. (and what is with the Oedipal stuff this season? I hate that play in English AND Greek....) Robin wants to kill Spike b/c he's a little boy inside who lost his mother, whom he loved. Giles is trying to keep his family safe by eliminating Spike as a threat. And Buffy is trying to save Spike b/c she at least cares for him, if not actually loving him. (P;us, she's likely having those Angel flashbacks: no one trusting him but her, but he actually turns out to be a good person who can be saved/redeemed. (forgetting about Angelus for the moment.) So....I'm thinking that's what they're trying to do. Power of love and all that. But, as I said above, I do agree that Buffy was wrong to do things like remove the chip and release Spike while the trigger was still active, tho I'm not so sure I agree with Giles and Robin's solution. (Since lying to one's children works abot as well as alcohol in the Jossverse; anyone recall "Benediction" which sets Angel up to be sunk?)" -- Mel

"I don't agree with Robin and Giles' solution since they could have just kept him chained up until they were sure if the trigger worked or not. I do think they might have convinced Buffy of the necessity of that if they presented her with a logical argument. Of course, logical arguments are nobody's strong point in the buffy-verse." -- Maddog

"Another point is that whenever Buffy does get like this, it's pointed out (repeatedly, at great length) as a flaw in her character, as opposed to being her _only_ character trait, which would be the case in most mass-produced pieces of entertainment). That said, my main gripe with Buffy being overly partial to Spike is that it's _been_ _done_. We've seen this storyline before, we know how it plays out, and she was supposed to have learned her lesson by now." -- Mike

"I was going to write a long diatribe on why I've never thought Buffy was a good role model. Then after talking with friends, it really came down to the fact that I'm still holding Buffy's behavior with Angel against her. Now I've never liked the gushy love of my life/undying love kind of crap. Maybe it's because I'm an engineer and I'm immune to both romance and mirth, but whatever the reason,the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer risked hundreds of innocent lives in Sunnydale when Angelus was loose always bugged me. But Buffy has matured since then. Buffy has an excellent point that Spike is the strongest warrior she has. But it just doesn't come across to me like she's making a detached decision on what's the best way to win the war. It still seems to me like Buffy is favoring her boyfriend at the possible expense of others. But that's just my read on it." -- Maddog

"I mean, really, doesn't it feel a bit like we're sliding back into season six a bit? Buffy's totally ignoring Dawn (who actually seems in danger of being shuttled off the screen entirely), more preoccupied with Spike by the day, Spike's gone back into "I-don't-care" mode about being evil and/or killing, Giles is even more unhelpful than before, Willow's still scared of that big bad magic, Xander, Anya et. all are increasingly useless; the only one who's had any kind of growth this season seems to be Andrew. Not surprisingly, he's also the most likable of the bunch. This is Not Good. I'd like to think that the writers know what they're doing, and I'm hoping they come up with a good way to justify all this. But it's getting steadily harder to care about these characters." -- Mike

"Still boggling over Spike becoming the most mature of the Scoobies in the wake of "Lies". Gone from obsessive, compulsive, attention-deficit-disordered vamp to someone who actually knows how to prioritize. And Giles. Tell me, would it detract from his stud-muffininess if he were dope-smacked with a snow shovel? 'Cos the guy needs it. Back in Season Three, the whole dumb-cluck Watchers' ritual that sapped Buffy's strength and locked her in a house with a guy who was a psychotic killer before he became a vampire .... I say, old sod, if Buffy hadn't been in brownout back then, she'd have snapped you like a twig for the Crucimentum debacle, so now you pull something even more bone-headed when she's at full charge? You don't even have the excuse that you were just following orders."
"Considering how often he has been hit on the head, no. And he's British... wouldn't that make him more of a stud crumpet?"
"Actually it would not effect his studliness value at all. And he would be unconscious and hurt, which means there'd be comfort. So, actually, you'd be doing a lot of us a big favor." -- Bruce, Lizbet and Maddog

""THIS is what Iím talking about. The guy is untouchable in this group. Or should I say ĎSo touchableí?" -- Tom. [Aka Spawn of Chaosí parents - Officially jumping off the Giles bandwagon. If for no other reason than to annoy the list mommies (hey Iím a younger brother.. itís MY JOB)] [Ed. All of that is a quote. I don't need to make stuff up for Spawn]

"As for Principal Wood ... well, I figure Spike made the right call. Plea of temporary insanity rejected because he so set him up, but I'm inclined to sentence him to ass-kicking served and call the debt paid..." -- Bruce

"Oh, in talking with my friend's about Buffy's suitability as a role model the one thing that emerged is that they think the way Willow has been handled is a terrible example. Flay someone alive and get sent off to England for a summer to ride horsies with Giles, that's punishment?"
"When I turned sixteen, I was told that if I was in a car accident I would be grounded for a month. Five months later, I was in a horrible accident that totalled my first car and sent my sister and me to the emergency room. When I asked my parents about my punishment, they said I was doing a much better job of punishing myself than anyone else. I think the same thing happened with Willow. When she came down off of her nihilistic high, she did a much more effective job of punishing herself than anyone else could do. And what was Buffy (or anyone else) supposed to do to her? What would have been the appropriate punishment for trying to end the world?"
"Uh, an appropriate punishment for trying to end the world by magic? Not sure of an appropriate punishment for that. But I mentioned her flaying Warren alive and punishment for that, not for trying to destroy the world. She killed another human being. She did not kill him in self-defense or in defense of a friend or the world. She killed him for revenge. If Faith is considered bad and needs to be punished and redeemed for accidentally killing a human, why has Willow gotten off so lightly? Yeah, I know Faith has done other nasty things but Willow doesn't exactly have a clean record either. I don't believe that magic affected Willow's judgment so much that she had no idea of right and wrong when she killed Warren. I don't really want to see the character in jail or anything but just a bit more, I dunno, guilt would be nice. She seems to have gotten over it pretty fast." "Plus, and I know this proves that the Buffy people are insane, but they don't consider being with Giles the be-all and end-all of the world. ;)"
"Just goes to show you how silly they are." -- Maddog and Lizbet

"I'm not saying I entirely agree with it all, but here's what I've seen so far (I know everyone will call me out if I'm wrong about it): so far as any (or basically all) of the Scoobies are concerned, punishment hasn't been so much about retribution, as it has been about *stopping the threat*. I think every one of the Scoobies - Buffy, Xander, Willow, Anya, and oh yes, I'm not forgetting Giles here - have done things in their past that haven't been dealt with in a punitive sense. (Oh, and I know I'm a year late, but I think that with what Warren did back towards the end of last year, if Willow's hand had been stayed, he'd still have been looking at Murder One and a date with the needle.) In the real world, what Willow did was certainly criminal, on the line between manslaughter and murder, though one might be able to argue crime of passion.... but maybe there come times when retribution for past crimes has to *wait*. Maybe in the coming fight, if the world doesn't end, Willow can redeem herself and accept responsibility, much as Faith did. And, of course, if the world *does* end, who cares whether one crime of passion goes unpunished? It gets lost in the background noise. Back in the War to End War, the Sequel, FDR and Churchill allied themselves with Josef Stalin. Was it a Good Thing that they did? Of course not. But all the alternatives were lots, lots worse. For what it's worth." -- Bruce

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