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BtVS rewatch: SEASON 7

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  • That's fantastic, thank you Tiny Tabby. I have moved the dates on a slot each so Sleeper falls due on the weekend of 24 July now. Thank you for being flexible with us. Hopefully this will give some time for some more responses/discussion of CWDP and the opportunity for other people to catch up too. I hope to read/respond to CWDP myself during this week.


    • First of all, thank you to Dan, your observations on mental health issues made me examine the structure of CWDP more carefully.

      At first and for a long time, I couldn’t help but think that the First’s war game was a bit daft and ineffective. If it really were pulling Spike’s strings all along, then why didn’t it get him just to kill everyone in the gang? That would surely have been the best way to ensure he got dusted and eliminated from the scenario. Wouldn’t it? But of course the First was dividing and conquering that way, waging psychological warfare. Undermining the mutual trust the gang has in each other.

      When FirstCassie disappears, I thought I was hallucinating when her final form bore a striking resemblance to the flower that Willow pulled through the earth in Lessons. But I subsequently found out from TriBel, to whom I owe a great deal in understanding this season, that this was yet another manifestation of the monstrous feminine, as symbolised by the vagina dentata. We see it in Ronny the Sluggoth, and it’s a recurring theme, as SpuffyGlitz has explained also in her review of BY.

      I love the whole eerie atmosphere of Dawn’s being trapped in the house, and Joyce splayed out on the couch in her death throes is a true shocker. I’ve chosen to interpret the reference to mother’s milk running red as the First being a kind of dark mother, one half of the binary force of dark and light. That kind of thinking smacks to me vaguely of an ancient doctrine called Manicheanism which was deemed heretical in the early Christian church. However, it’s a darned good story and it makes quite a gripping episode.

      Much has been made of Buffy’s “therapy” session with Webster. She feels comfortable about offloading her issues onto him, since she knows the confidentiality will be permanently sealed. Webster is a funny character, quirky and believable. The exemplar of how vampires can retain their human traits. Buffy is clearly happier to open up to the undead, than to her own friends.

      Willow finally gets to assert herself while being taunted with her own grief. Good for her, she’s beginning to look more like the Willow I’ve come to know and love. Or is she?

      The whole episode has a dreamy quality about it. The song lyrics are very pertinent, about loneliness, the longing for trust and belonging. (At least that’s how I interpret them.)

      I feel sorry for Jonathan, and I really disliked seeing Warren again. Could’ve done without that. But of course that all plays into Andrew and his desire, as with Ford, to make up narratives.

      And of course there’s that horrible ending.

      I do enjoy this, and it’s up there for me as one of my favourite episodes of the whole series.

      Thanks again, Dan, and I hope you’re doing all right and not having to argue too much with your mum.

      Take care, everyone.
      Last edited by debbicles; 14-07-20, 10:35 AM.
      You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

      "There's a lot of comedy to be gotten from the world's doom spiral right now." Tracey Ullman, June 2018


      • There’s a lot for me to catch on. I’ll reread this thread and post some responses soon.


        • Hello, it’s nice to see you back, PuckRobin. Hope you’ve been keeping well in your neck of the woods!
          You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

          "There's a lot of comedy to be gotten from the world's doom spiral right now." Tracey Ullman, June 2018


          • Originally posted by PuckRobin View Post
            There’s a lot for me to catch on. I’ll reread this thread and post some responses soon.
            I'll echo debbicles, it's great to see you on the thread again. I've been trying to put time aside to respond to CWDP for a couple of weeks now and hope by tomorrow to have done so. It'll be great to read your thoughts on the S7 eps too.


            • StateOfSiege97
              StateOfSiege97 commented
              Editing a comment
              oh yes, puckrobin—

              i echo the echo—

          • Sorry DanSlayer for how long it has taken me to get to reading your review.

            Originally posted by DanSlayer View Post
            According to the DVD commentary the main characters isolated and not interacting with each other was to enforce the idea of being alone. When I picked this episode over a year ago, I didn’t expect society as a whole would be forced into months of isolation against an enemy we can’t see or directly touch, but life imitates art sometimes I suppose.

            The theme of isolation and separation in this episode is really stark and of course works so well to give contrast to coming together and empowering each other. There are factors that draw boundaries between the characters in the season and they aren't always an easy and ready team like they have been at other times in the past. They might have come some way beyond the troubles that separated them last season but the presence of the past is always there and the group just aren't able to be exactly what they were any more either so we are seeing some ongoing adjustments. We get some senses of what can be working to keep those boundaries up between them in their separate sections here as well as that threat looming in on them. That it is as you say an enemy that threatens but can't always be seen or touched does bring with it an ominous tone.

            Mental Health is talked about more and while the stigma still exists, people generally know of and believe things like depression, anxiety, PTSD etc., are real. Some say it may have unfortunately gotten trendy and of course, there are still reactions such as: “If everyone has it, it’s not a disorder anymore is it?” And of course there are corporations willing to get free publicity from it, but not actually treat their effected employees. I myself have been dealing with an anxiety/depression mix for the last few years, it may run in my family; but past generations didn’t have the ability to talk about it or effectively try and manage it, so I can’t say for sure. Inter-generational trauma can last decades into a society and we see it represented in The Fanged Four: Angel when cursed with a soul and the remorse and guilt; Drusilla the only vampire with a shattered psyche, Darla forced to feel her own remorse and guilt while pregnant with Conner, and Spike so recently struggling with his own returned soul.
            You're right that mental health is an area that has become better understood and which less stigma surrounds. Big steps have happened even within the last couple of decades. Being able to more readily and openly talk to professionals now is something we should certainly see positively, but the need to seek support for such issues doesn't always result in real acceptance and understanding from others.

            Mental health is such a key factor when considering what the different members of the group have been through and how their experiences have deeply impacted them. Season 6 really digs into responses to trauma and the intensity of its impact. Of course that doesn't have to be only evident in rock bottom moments and those issues don't disappear even when the person is dealing with some of the effects of it better than other times. The importance of what affected them during S6, built on from so much of what was there before, feeds into who they are after and onwards too. We know of affecting traumatic events right back from the earlier seasons and within the characters' greater backgrounds that influence their lives. It's definitely one of the most recurring themes through the show.

            I find the idea of inter-generational trauma represented within the vampire family interesting. Obviously the connection between those characters isn't a traditional biological one and the events you mention were separate triggers, but the familial bond that connects them does originate fundamentally in a repeated traumatic event and one that strips them of an emotional connection and stability. When that emotional and moral lack is bridged it brings with it mental anguish.

            I appreciate them taking the time to explore Buffy’s psych here, even if it is between murder attempts. Having an inferiority complex over superiority complex sounds like a contradiction but it can happen.

            And it really serves to emphasise that coming through season 6 didn't just wave a magic wand and make everything better. There were factors that played into the disconnection that happened then which were already there within the group/individuals and so will continue to factor into how they relate on top of the more recent experiences too. Buffy's reliance on her friends and also sense of being separated from them because of her role is a recurring factor and the open consideration to it here is intriguing.

            I think it is notable as debbicles says that Buffy chooses to speak to Holden probably in great part because of her surety it will go no further. Rather like we have seen her work out some of her anger and frustration on patrols in the past this opportunity to work on some of her emotional troubles is taken. Again she's whispering in a dead man's ear, but possibly facing it more internally than she chose to at points last season. Even though the conversation where the reveal of Spike having sired Holden happens within the crypt, more of a potentially hidden revelation again, Buffy doesn't deal with this by shutting everyone else out, even if she does take a command on what they're going to do. So as Holden refers to himself as a fast learner during their fight we again see that ongoing aspect in the season of building onto experiences of the past sitting over this conversation and Buffy's response too.

            Some of the disability community that I’ve met can seem rather insular and even holier than thou, when they see others trying to integrate themselves more. There are a lot of barriers and negativity around having a disability for a lot of people but it turns into self-righteous pride and/or a doomsayer attitude that prevents a person from trying. As a recent college grad, working with the public in the pandemic has some real roadblocks for me, but I want to be resilient and move on with my goals in life. Not as dramatic as crawling out of a grave, but important nonetheless.

            There is a real complexity to the interaction between society and the individual on matters of mental health, disabilities, sexuality, race etc. We often see how factors can contribute to othering explored through the series, in many situations. Mental health has featured repeatedly, especially in Normal Again with the factor of what is 'normal' and the label of being healthy or not was very directly considered. As TriBel talked about regarding the meanings connected to Spike's 'smell' too, and as has been/will be again directed at others as being considered 'dirty', distinctions are often used for othering and separation and the weight and impact that social expectations and labelling can have are significant. Responses can definitely at times perpetuate the limitations suggested upon people and close off openness to opportunities to work beyond any actual barriers and boundaries. If those exist.

            It is interesting that you refer to having resilience to work beyond these things and linking that to Buffy's fight back out of her grave is great. This works really well with the repeated focus on strengthening others this season and I like that it isn't easy, or indeed always successful. There are certainly times when this season emphasises how things can go wrong and plans and intentions fail. A great deal of this is represented by the threat that The First plays, with the undermining that is repeatedly seen in this episode from playing on fears and bringing in doubt, emphasising isolation. All things which affect emotional strength and security and that's a huge part of the season.
            Dawn matured from a girl they wouldn’t let see a dead body (supposedly they may have intended the character to be younger than 14 when planning the season early on; before choosing Michelle but I don’t know if that’s verified), watching her sister die to save her, to resolve to stay in the house and save what she believes is her mother. Now some of that could play into her trauma and grief of losing parental figures, but she does show the maturity and growth to try and protect others even with no powers of her own and limited skill in battle, which is commendable.

            This is a great point. The characters are pressed to see the danger that has been beneath them, churning away to pull them down, but we see them push back against it straight away. Dawn doesn't crumble and really stands determined and bold greatly because of a lot of what she has been through. We saw when she faced Glory how gutsy and brave she could be and that she was willing to stand and fight beside Buffy in Grave. This season began with the emphasis on passing on experience and the lessons learned and Dawn shows a lot of the results of that here.

            Her experience I think is the most ambiguous of them all. Is that really Joyce coming to warn her and trying to fight through? In this sense it is another incident that leads us not only to question what is real but also underlines significance in what is seen and whether or not that can be believed. Yet The First isn't corporeal and a great deal of what happens in the Summer's home is more like a supernatural haunting from something that can realise a degree of presence. The items moving around in the blink of an eye, the appliances turning on and off and general poltergeist-esque activities. As BtVS fan stated, none of that blends with what we see and know of The First and it stands out from the other experiences because of it. But it doesn't mean that the end result and the moment that Dawn shares with Joyce can't just be another negative manipulation. If it was confirmed by the writers that it was definitely meant to be The First then I have to feel it was taking an opportunity and piggy-backing a supernatural occurrence in order to be able to handwave the issues away. The idea that The First would try to affect Dawn's confidence in her sister makes a general sense to me. Particularly with that attack happening at Revello, it really underscores that it is about removing a sense of security. Certainly this experience is going to have psychologically traumatising effects on Dawn and what was said will definitely play on her mind and whether she can believe what she heard, considering whether something seen can also be false. Dawn's desire to believe both, that it's false and Buffy wouldn't be against her but also that what she was was real and her Mum is watching over her will create a really difficult emotional mix.

            Johnathan healed from his suicidal leanings from Earshot and built resilience even though it ends in his death here.

            I know I'm a stuck record on this, but I just adore Jonathan's appearances through the show. Seeing him now having come to a different perspective on a period which generated such resentment and fuelled so much of his tendencies to lash out and try to seek restoration for how he was treated back in school is fascinating. I think the sense of nostalgia he has for a time passed despite negative experiences then perhaps comes in part from a sense of security of what is known. It makes sense that at the start of trying to walk a different path now, connecting to an earlier time could seem reassuring and particularly as he is considering if he can reach out to those same people and make different choices to change where he has gotten to since.

            Whilst there is again a sense of a character that hasn't paid for the crimes that they have committed here, Jonathan is showing remorse and the desire to rectify what he has done in a way that Andrew still isn't. Jonathan's focus isn't entirely on himself and this is emphasised by his willing acceptance that those people probably still wouldn't care about him. Because of this his murder feels somewhat tragic. There's a lack of completion to both fully facing his past but also to the realisation of what he was striving to reach to do now. That his death is at the hands of his friend, his ally in those past crimes, really underscores the consequences of choices. And it is really this which serves to both emphasise what he has come from, but also his desire to reach for something else.

            Willow is able see through The First’s ploy for her to commit suicide here, though Willow’s coming to terms with what she did and her trauma of watching Tara’s death would be terribly mishandled during The Killer In Me, (with or without the Season 8 comics little retcon, it doesn’t work either way for giving Willow a sense of closure nor prove why Kennedy is a god new partner for Willow in my view).

            This is great in that it has drawn my attention to what we see here in Willow's ongoing grief being exposed before I am reviewing The Killer in Me and considering the psychological aspects explored for Willow in that. From the start of the season and running alongside Jonathan and Andrew's return here, the repeated aspect of what characters are looking to change and move on from is really front and centre for Willow. There are comparisons being drawn constantly between the negative actions and pasts of the different characters and the opportunities and support being offered to them.

            With Willow especially here how the desire of The First to manipulate and undermine the characters also reveals aspects in reflection of what factors are the biggest threats to it. Willow's power and strength are dangers as well as group cohesion. The wish to pull them down has to be acted out in isolation so that they are more vulnerable and so doubts can linger and corrode more easily. How they respond to having had these experiences in isolation is an interesting factor heading forwards.

            And in the end Buffy does share the power of the Slayer to hundreds of others, who may grow to understand her and help her approach her complexes and trauma in healthier ways then an old classmate throwing a statute of Mary at her.

            Yes, the direction Buffy goes which empowers all the potentials helps to remove some of the sense of separation that she feels from being distinct to everyone around her. Although becoming one of many is only one aspect of feeling isolated as the weight of her role as the Slayer places leadership on her shoulders in a way that is still isolating. We see both the pressure of this and the potential of the connection to others increasing in the later episodes when she and Faith are talking and show understanding of each other that comes from experiencing the same things. It is very like the connection that Spike and Angel have in being able to understand the challenges they face when souled, even if they do respond in differing ways.

            Of course the connection to The First in Buffy's experience here isn't fully exposed until the next episode. The trigger is another 'enemy hidden within' aspect that reflects the desire to damage the foundations and certainty of the group. We of course are simultaneously seeing Spike's pick up in the bar and later murder of the girl and at this point don't know that he wasn't in the driving seat for it all. But whilst the plans The First had for Spike are never fully realised, that it connects to this wish to undermine and separate the group is emphasised by Buffy first coming across a victim during a routine patrol. Her duty and his ongoing nature being brought forward as The First tries to play puppet master in the background.

            So as debbicles raised, the question does occur, why not get Spike to just kill them all? I agree it's this desire to undermine and damage the core certainty of the group. Beyond what is happening with Spike that we haven't found out fully about yet, there's also the question of why does The First do things here to bring itself to their attention now. The change in the mythology from Buffy's resurrection and the idea of a more open and outright war plays its part here too. There's a mix of what is known and hidden as uncertainties are played with and perhaps these open attacks also are deliberately timed with Jonathan and Andrew getting to the seal unnoticed too, showing also a need to distract and preoccupy them as the greater goal is progressing.

            If anyone has the DVDs I encourage you to listen to the commentary track on this episode. It’s one of the funnier ones. Jane Espenson wrote some of it while in Vegas, she intended for Dawn to get out but go back for her mother, only to be told by Whedon that he never wanted her to leave the house, having an axe swing at Dawn/the camera created a bit of kerfuffle for the crew on the technical side of things. It’s Espenson, Danny Strong, Tom Lenk, Drew Goddard and Nick Marck the episode's Director. I find it pretty enjoyable.

            I've never listened to any of the DVD commentaries but might try to see if I can slot this in before I move on to watching Sleeper.

            Thank you for writing the review amidst dealing with the effects of the shifting social restrictions at the moment and with your stubborn mother! I found your consideration to the aspect of mental health and resilience a really interesting angle to focus on.

            That isolation is such a significant part of this episode is really stated strongly immediately as an important theme with the song playing over flashes of Buffy's solitary patrol, Spike at the bar, Willow in the library and Dawn arriving home to an empty house. The lyrics of the song really focuses on a need for someone that isn't met to me, talking of falling but questioning where the person was, so I like debbicles suggestion loneliness along with a wish for trust and belonging plays it's part. Having a whole episode that then keeps everyone separate and takes us from one to the next without them coming together and sharing their experiences or tackling the threat together is really unusual. It's there in the stark visual of Buffy's unanswered phone. But of course this focus on isolation, suggesting that everyone is fundamentally alone, does still reinforces a sense of the importance of connections through their absence and the need for them to be alone to be more vulnerable.

            So much of the episodes of the season so far have repeatedly gone over the impact of the past, identity, forging a future and supporting each other. In examining some of the characters alone we see both their individual strength as well as the struggles they are experiencing and feeling made stark. The realisation of the threat that has been underneath is of course playing on these fears. And judgement of actions of the past and how they meet or fail their own expectations and those of others is there again. As I said earlier, how they respond afterwards is key and illustrates how both experience and ongoing struggles feed into their choices.

            I think how Buffy references her past behaviour in the S6 relationship with Spike as being monstrous when talking to Holden does add an additional layer into understanding some of what she is going through and the healing it can give her as well to restructure and change their dynamic this season. She definitely has a tendency we've seen plenty of times to blame herself for things but there is undeniably some truth in what she says. The statement that sex and death, love and pain are connected for vampires in a way she hates draws back to that feeling of punishment and disconnection that she felt back then by being in the relationship and which fed her taking actions that hurt her through using him. But whilst there is inverse and character consistency in seeing potential for a future that comes with a soul (a connection that's heavily underscored by the plot of The House Always Wins over in AtS) that presents the opportunity for change to both learn from and move beyond the past that they shared, there's a lot of understandable uncertainty that remains too. As we've said already, they don't know what he's like souled and wariness has been voiced by the other characters and seen in Buffy's responses so far too. The events of the episode here of course adds further into the uncertainty around who he is now and the events here are followed up in the next episode. How much Buffy's conversation with Holden affects what follows in how she responds, will be interesting to consider.

            I have to say the return of Jonathan and Andrew feels somewhat contrived. To keep in with the theme of connections I roll with it and assume it is their knowledge of the others and the area which makes them appealing to The First to involve and manipulate. Even if it does mean drawing them all the way back from Mexico.

            As I said earlier, Jonathan is a favourite of mine. Both he and Andrew examples of those that are (to differing extents) addressing their pasts and looking to change the path they are walking. Obviously Jonathan's real input finishes in this episode and I know that Andrew is a bit of a marmite character, but I do enjoy his ongoing inclusion. I'm not sure how much that is about Tom Lenk's performance rather than the character himself though because I can see issues with how the comedic element of his presence is used to hinge a fairly heavy disregard towards his past actions. Less understandable arguably than those in the mix already who have stronger personal ties within the group such as with Willow, Anya and Spike. And whilst we do see both Spike and Andrew kill in this episode, Andrew is being influenced but is still very much in charge of himself and it's a long time before this is addressed.

            I think Dawn's experience was pretty terrifying and that she chose to stay in the house really makes me feel the depth of loss she still has regarding Joyce. The image of Joyce lying on the sofa really underscores the element of the ongoing presence of the past and loss in the spaces around us. There was very much a horror feel, as if that was the easiest way to break the youngest member and make her most susceptible to generating ongoing fear of abandonment. The only other time the actions of The First leaned towards horror was in the visual of Cassie's morphing face as her smile, a gesture so often symbolic of friendliness, twists into an evil grin before rolling and twisting inside out in a grotesque visual to couple the promised threat. A call again, as debbicles,mentioned to the monstrous feminine.

            How stunned the characters are by their experiences is shown in flashes afterwards and is where the episode leaves us. In each moment after, and with that warning and sense of coming danger hanging over. This all very much reflects the episode over in AtS, Apocalypse Nowish. And not just in the way the episode ends on the stunned impact of what Angel is seeing. The separations that have been generated between people form problems in their individual dynamics and keep some of them isolated and distanced. The wish for the influences of the past to be lifted weighs on them and affects their abilities to communicate and support each other as the pressures of expectations and what they want for themselves don't always meet. But there we do see moments of realisation and reaching out as worries of what they are facing bring them together. However, even if they fight cohesively as they do in the tremendous fight scene against the Beast, it doesn't mean everything will go as they want. And the real threat is still hidden amongst them and able to start to gain purchase and progress while they are distracted. The air of doom is heavy and signs of problems looming are rife. Like the uncontrollable infestation of rats building up, there are omens they can see and feel, but the bigger picture is still covered. The real danger remains unknown, like the trigger, hidden within Cordelia.

            So yeah, things are pretty ominous all round. But not wanting to finish on a totally doom and gloom note, for a quick light aside, I just want to say how much I love Dawn's anchovies song. It's one that gets sung in my house whenever they are mentioned or on the menu. They're so delicious.


            • Buffy the Vampire Slayer season seven rewatch – “Sleeper”

              Hello, everyone at Buffy Forum!

              I am sorry that I haven’t been on for a long time. I was hired for a new job just before the virus hit the US and have been working a lot of overtime and double shifts to compensate. My job requires strict compliance with CDC recommendations and it’s been quite a task to keep everyone safe and sound. Thank you, Stoney, for allowing a few weeks to catch up. I’ve now managed to read all of the rewatches and comments on the season seven thread and will play catch up myself after this is fully posted.

              I’m posting it in three parts because it’s long and I’m not sure all the pictures will be okay unless I spread them out.


              “Sleeper” was the eighth episode in season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Directed by Alan Levi and written by David Fury and Jane Espenson, it’s an important episode that comes right after “Conversations with Dead People,” the first big attack in Sunnydale by the Big Bad of the season and right before “Never Leave Me,” in which the First’s true identity is revealed. But in “Sleeper,” Buffy and the Gang are still thinking about the strange message, “From beneath you, it devours.” They don’t know who the bad guy is yet. But after the disaster of last year when the Scooby Gang ignored the Trio, Buffy wants to make sure that the Big Bad won’t get the jump on them this time.

              As a big fan of detective novels, it seems to me that “Sleeper” is all about the ‘whodunit.’ Almost everyone in the episode is investigating something, interrogating someone, sifting through evidence or speculating about their motives. I like to think of “Sleeper” as the middle of a three part mystery series in which “Conversations with Dead People” reveals the crime, “Sleeper” is the investigation and ruling out of suspects and “Never Leave Me”is the final interrogation and discovery of the First. Xander and Anya even play ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ with Andrew in their quest to solve the case.

              XANDER: Okay, let's look at this objectively. Figure it out in a cold, impersonal, CSI-like manner. 'Cause we're a coupla carpet fibers away from a case.

              One of my favorite shows in the 2000s was “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” It looks like Xander was a big fan, too. It was all about a team of forensic investigators “trained to solve criminal cases by scouring the crime scene, collecting irrefutable evidence and finding the missing pieces to solve the mystery.” It was the top show on TV during Buffy’s seventh season and produced a whole bunch of spin-offs set in different cities.

              It seems to me that “Sleeper” could almost be an episode of a new spin-off, “CSI: Sunnydale,” in which Buffy follows the clues until she realizes the killer might be part of her own team: an evil soulless vampire who left town and came back with a soul and a weird weakness for old English ballads. What makes it different from CSI, though, is that Buffy realizes that she’s not really investigating a crime but uncovering major plans for war. This makes it end more like “Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy”, a Cold War thriller, because Spike is revealed to be a “sleeper” – in Cold War dramas, this is a double agent created by the enemy to lie in wait and destroy from within.

              In “Conversations with Dead People,” the writers give us theexact date and time when the episode starts in a title screen: November 12, 2002 8:01 pm.

              All of “Conversations with Dead People” happens in one night and “Sleeper” starts right after Buffy dusts Holden. Xander says it’s 4:30 am when Buffy knocks on his door, so we know that at least eight and a half hours have passed from “Conversations with Dead People” to “Sleeper” and it’s the morning of November 13when Buffy finds out that Spike isn’t in Xander’s apartment.

              The rest of “Sleeper” seems to happen in two days. On November 14, Buffy tails Spike from a distance and on November 15, Spike leads Buffy down into the basement which leads right into the last scene of Spike wrapped in a blanket in Buffy’s living room. “Never Leave Me” starts almost where “Sleeper” left off. It’s still nighttime and the Scooby Gang is cleaning up the living room, Buffy is tying up Spike and Andrew is showing off his new Spike cosplay outfit now that he’s a killer too. Since almost the entire episode of “Never Leave Me” takes place in one day, the mystery finally ends on November 16th, 2002 when Spike is captured and Buffy figures out the identity of the mysterious Big Bad.

              If “Sleeper” is really the middle part of a mystery arc from “Conversations with Dead People” through “Never Leave Me”, then it works in the same way as the midseason “Innocence” episode does in season two. The storm that wakes Angel up in “Surprise” rains on Angel when he loses his soul at the start of “Innocence” and we have to see both parts to understand the entire mystery of what has happened to Angel. The woman Spike murders at the end of “Conversations with Dead People” is seen in the basement being buried by a humming Spike at the beginning of “Sleeper” and it’s the same with Buffy knocking on Xander’s door after finding out that Spike was Holden’s sire.

              One of the best things about a lot of mystery stories is watching how the detective pieces together the mystery from all the clues left by the writers while the reader sees if they can spot the solution first. “Sleeper” tries to do this by putting us in Buffy’s head as she tries to figure out how Spike could be killing again now that he has a soul. But the viewer knows something Buffy doesn’t know. We actually see that Spike is murdering people and burying them in a basement in the first scene. So the mystery of “Sleeper” isn’t really about who is committing the crime, but why.

              This makes “Sleeper” closer to an episode of “Columbo” than “CSI.” “Columbo” often showed the killer in the first scene because the writers were more interested in the psychological game between suspect and detective, calling their show a ‘howcatchem’ rather than a ‘whodunit.’ And that makes Buffy more Lieutenant Columbo than CSI Investigator and “Sleeper” more of a psychological drama that centers on the relationship between Buffy and Spike.

              It’s also a fun fact that the director of “Sleeper,” Alan Levi, had directed at least three episodes of “Columbo” before his work on Buffy.

              So we have a cat and mouse game between Buffy and Spike that reminds me of the same dynamic in season two between Buffy and Angel after he loses his soul and starts killing again. Angelus always loved to play with his food and Buffy fears that maybe Spike is doing the same thing. When they investigate the giant wormhole in the pavement in “Beneath You,” Buffy is doing a little side investigation of her own:

              SPIKE: I can't say sorry. Can't use forgive me. All I can say is: Buffy, I've changed.
              BUFFY: I believe you.
              SPIKE: Well, that's something.
              BUFFY: I just don't know what you've changed into. You come back to town. You make with the big surprises. Twice. I don't know what your game is, Spike, but I know there's something you're not telling me.
              SPIKE: You're right. There is. But we're not best friends anymore, so too bad for you. I'm not sharing. – “Beneath You”

              Spike’s reveal in the church that he has his soul back seems to solve the mystery. But Spike is still acting weird and secretive, refusing to leave the school basement and talking to himself.

              BUFFY: Spike, this basement is killing you. This is the hellmouth. There is something bad down here, possibly everything bad.
              SPIKE: Can't hear you. Can't hear you.
              BUFFY: You have a soul? Fine. Show me.
              SPIKE: Scream Montresor all you like, pet.
              BUFFY: Get up and get out of this basement.
              SPIKE: I don't have anywhere else to go. – “Selfless”

              The mention of Montresor comes from the Edgar Allan Poe crime story, “The Cask of Amontillado.” Montresor is the bad guy who walls up his friend alive in his family catacombs to get revenge for poor treatment. When he places the last brick, his victim cries out his name, asking to let both of them leave. “Let us be gone. For the love of God, Montresor!” Because of the AR, Spike sees Buffy as the victim in the story who begs that both should leave, which means that Spike must see himself as the evildoer in the story who must pay for his crimes by walling himself up instead.

              But Buffy doesn’t agree and forces Spike to come out of the basement. She doesn’t bring him home, though. I think it’s because the memory of the attempted rape is too fresh and Dawn would feel threatened. So she brings him to Xander’s apartment instead, maybe hoping that simple human contact will heal whatever’s making him sick. She remembers how much Angel suffered with his soul and thinks Spike might just be going through the same thing.

              But after “Conversations with Dead People,” Buffy isn’t sure what to think. It just doesn’t add up. Spike has both a soul and a chip that should prevent him from killing anyone. Did Spike get the chip removed when he fought for his soul? Was Angel just a better person with a soul? Was the human William just evil? What if the soul makes no difference? It didn’t make a difference for Warren or Willow or other humans. What if she’s placed an evil serial killer in Xander’s apartment and he’s fooling them all and laughing at her?

              Worst of all, does it mean that she has to kill Spike?

              Before Buffy takes action, she needs to do some major detective work. So Buffy ends up at 4:30 in the morning in front of Xander’s door, waking Xander from a deep sleep. He seems sleep-dazed as he walks out of the bedroom.

              XANDER: Okay, okay. I'm coming. I'm up.

              Xander wasn’t even in “Conversations with Dead People,” so he’s unaware of everything that happened. It’s weird that in such an important episode that the First decided that Xander wasn’t worth haunting. Originally, there was a major scene between Xander and Jesse/The First, but the actor wasn’t available. So for the only time in the entire series, Nicholas Brendon did not make an appearance in a Buffy episode.

              But I like to think in my head that Xander did have a conversation with Jesse/The First. Maybe Jesse talked to Xander about what happened to Willow and how he saved the world. Since the First likes to make people feel hopeless, maybe it would lead into how Xander failed with his parents, Anya, Buffy and Willow in different ways. And Xander could bea little freaked out by the ‘dream’ that he’s just had. It would have been really interesting. But any thoughts about telling Buffy or Willow would have been pushed aside anyway after hearing from Buffy that Spike might be killing again.

              XANDER: At 4:30 in the morning, Sweet Mamalooshin!
              “Sweet Mamalooshin!” or “Sweet Mamaloosa!” is another version of the Yiddish word ‘mameloshen’. It’s like saying “Sweet Mother!” Since it’s literally the Yiddish word for "mother-tongue" (Mame = mother and loshn = tongue or language), it refers to the comforting Yiddish language that aJewish mother spoke in the home in Germany or Poland, whereas Hebrew and Aramaic were the official languages spoken by fathers in their prayers and studying.

              Talking to a Jewish friend, I found out that there’s also another sense there of soul vs. mind. It’s a sexist gender stereotype to divide women into soulful beings and men into mindful beings, but it also plays into ideas about the soul in season seven and the Mother and female spheres of power as opposed to the Father and male spheres of power. I bet TriBel or SpuffyGlitz or others could explain this a lot better than me from reading their wonderful comments.

              It also fits in the episode “Sleeper” really well considering that Spike is murdering because of guilt over his mother. We see in “Lies My Parents Told Me” that the moments before her death is what gives the First power over him, causing the trigger. The mother theme is also a part of Dawn’s story because she tried to resurrect her mother and listened to Joyce’s words about Buffy betraying her in “Conversations with Dead People”.

              Starting the episode with Xander waking up from a deep sleep also points to the title “Sleeper” and starts the idea of sleep as the line between dreams and reality. The script says that Xander is still ‘disoriented’ as he nears the front door. That’s some big deal REM Sleep there and I don’t think it’s unintentional that the teaser starts with Xander asleep and ends with Spike “asleep” in a sense. The first line even brings up the mystery of Spike’s identity for Buffy. Is he the evil soulless Spike or good souled Spike? Which is doing the killing?

              XANDER: Who is it?
              Maybe Xander is thinking it is Spike and he’s lost his key. Or Anya needing some comfort after the events of “Selfless” and “Him.” Or even Willow wanting to talk about her time in England. Or even another apparition of Jesse. But he seems surprised to find out who it actually is.

              BUFFY: It’s Me.
              XANDER: Buffy?
              If it was anyone else, Xander would assume that it was a personal problem unless told otherwise. But Xander knows that this can’t be good. Buffy wouldn’t come over and bang on his door at 4:30 in the morning unless something was really wrong. Buffy is in super slayer mode as she ignores Xander to look in Spike’s bedroom.

              BUFFY: Where's Spike?
              As Buffy looks in Spike’s bedroom, Xander is still trying to pull his thoughts together from sleep. Why does Buffy want to know where Spike is? Is there something Xander can do to help?

              XANDER: Spike?
              When Buffy realizes that Spike is out, she’s worried that Holden might have been telling the truth. She calls out in the empty apartment before turning to Xander in alarm.

              BUFFY: Spike! Xander -- Is he here?
              Buffy hopes that there is a simple explanation. Spike is in Xander’s bedroom or taking a shower or maybe even behind the apartment taking out the garbage. Xander is a pretty smooth talker even in the worst of times, so when he stutters, it’s a sign that he’s sensing Buffy’s extreme anxiety.

              XANDER: N-n-no. He's out. least he was when I got home.
              Buffy hasn’t slept all night, but she’s wide awake as she looks around the apartment, probably imagining the worst deeds of Angelus in major season flashback.

              BUFFY: Any idea where he went?
              Buffy looks outside Xander’s window blinds as if she expects to see Spike biting someone in full view of the streetlight. Xander reads her anxiety as worry that Spike is safe. It’s not much of a stretch considering how psychologically tortured Spike has been since he returned to Sunnydale.

              XANDER: I dunno. Creature of the night, Buff. He's probably out…creaturing. Why? What happened?
              It says a lot about his feelings about souled Spike that Xander’s first thought is to assume something bad happened to Spike rather than assume Spike has done something bad.

              XANDER: Is he in trouble?

              Xander says this with concern. He is ready to put on his Scooby suit and rescue one of the gang if necessary. But Buffy looks out the window with a clenched jaw. Spike is not in trouble because of some bad guy out there doing harm to him, but because Buffy is the good guy who might have to take him down because he’s the bad guy.

              BUFFY: I hope not.
              As Buffy looks out the window, the camera jumps to an unknown location somewhere that looks like a basement with stairs. We hear breathing and humming and the sound of shoveling as the camera passes over some old, broken furniture, wet cardboard boxes and tools. It’s not a vampire lair. It’s someone’s house. A big pile of dirt grows even bigger as it flies out of a large hole. It’s Spike humming as he hops out. We see the woman who was murdered at the end of “Conversations with Dead People.” There’s a terrible crunching noise as Spike throws her in the hole like a sack of potatoes. As Spike covers the body, he hums louder and louder, shoveling in rhythm as the scene ends.

              The whole scene is shot like a horror movie that goes way beyond the average detective drama. Maybe even a Vincent Price body-snatcher movie where his servant buries bodies in the castle dungeon. Where is this house and why does it have an unfinished basement with a dirt floor? The house must have been chosen by The First as a good place to hide Spike’s victims. But why not the school basement? Is it because Principal Wood is there and the First wants to keep the people he’s manipulating separate from each another?

              We never really learn what the plan was for Spike to bury them all here except to keep them out of the graveyard and away from the attention of Buffy on one of her patrols. Were Spike’s victims just a test of the trigger? Or maybe blackmail material to make sure Spike was under his complete control when the actual plan against the slayer was activated and these sired vampires would then become minions that would physically fight for the disembodied First when the time came? If Spike became useless, then at least the First could have Buffy dust him for his crimes. Whatever the First is planning, it turns Spike into a serial killer.

              That may seem like a bizarre description because vampires are natural serial killers, smelling fear, feeding on humans and throwing away bodies or burying them in graveyards to rise again. But one of the biggest clichés of a serial killer is that they have “bodies buried in the basement.” Or sometimes even the walls or the refrigerator. Unlike vampires seeking out a quick lunch, some serial killers want to hide their kills in a specific spot because they have a special relationship with their victim that goes beyond the actual murder and want their dead victims nearby in a kind of domination ritual. One of the reasons that Angelus was the most evil vampire ever was because he liked to play with his food a little bit more that the average vamp and Drusilla is a kind of serial killer trophy come to life, a constant reminder of Angelus’ extra special flair.

              Trained by Angelus, Spike had a streak of real cruelty that rivaled his teacher. But he never seemed that interested himself in creating a big mechanized lair like the Master or ruling a vampire kingdom. He was far more interested in seeking out slayers than planning long, drawn-out demonstrations of his power. Half the time, he just got bored and preferred spending most of his time pleasing Drusilla by killing this or that person for her. Too self-absorbed to really grasp for power and too selfish to share whatever woman he loves with anyone else, he seems to have little interest in siring humans even in season two. We never actually see him sire Ford or Sheila and it seems likely that it was Drusilla who got to make new children.

              So all this biting and siring seems out-of-character even for soulless Spike. It’s hard anyway to imagine the Spike of season two spending a lot of time in the basement making his own vampire army. It’s so weird that the viewer realizes something has to be wrong, especially when Spike keeps a blank expression on his face throughout the scene. This Spikebot who hums to himself seems drugged or hypnotized, a true psychopath who has zero feelings towards the people he’s killed. He’s not even gleeful at how evil he is. The real Spike would be muttering to himself, complaining about the damp smell, crowing over his eventual victory over Buffy and making funny wisecracks as he dumps the bodies with a cigarette hanging from his lips.

              But mixing the vampire lore of siring with human serial killer tropes makes the point that souled Spike is still a combination of demon vampire mixed with the flaws of the human William. None of this is surprising since “Sleeper” was written by Buffy regulars David Fury and Jane Espenson who had real differences about how to write William the Bloody.

              Fury saw soulless, chipped Spike as a serial killer who was only constrained by the prison bars of the chip, his love for Buffy making him even more of a stalker and potential rapist. But Espenson had a more positive take on the character. She saw Spike as a soulless mass murderer but also love’s bitch who tried to change through his love for Buffy. Both writers, however, agreed that Spike was ultimately irredeemable without a soul. So in season seven, Spike gets one.

              And yet, he’s still a serial killer. The soul hasn’t changed a thing. Or has it? The song is a clue that there’s more going on beneath the surface than Spike’s sleeping children and a fiery Hellmouth.

              Spike burying ‘bodies in the basement’ also has a psychological meaning: keeping things hidden even from oneself. Spike’s repressed memories of what happened with his mother are one of the many bodies in the basement buried in Spike’s unconscious along with his terrible personal shame about being unlovable dorky poet William. “Early One Morning” is the key to those feelings of shame and guilt that hide behind Spike’s pseudo-bluster and antagonistic attitude.

              In the original script of “Sleeper”, though, the song “Early One Morning” is nowhere to be found. Instead, the script has the song “I’ll Be Seeing You” in several places. That makes me wonder if the original trigger was tied to Spike’s mother or something else that was never used? “I’ll Be Seeing You” was written in 1938 and was a big World War II hit. The lyrics are nostalgic for the past, a metaphor for memories that won’t go away which fits Spike’s trigger:

              I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
              That this heart of mine embraces all day through
              In that small cafe, the park across the way
              The children's carousel,
              The chestnut trees, the wishing well
              I'll be seeing you in every lovely summer's day
              In everything that's light and gay
              I'll always think of you that way
              I'll find you in the morning sun
              And when the night is new
              I'll be looking at the moon
              But I'll be seeing you
              But the song doesn’t have a lot to do with anything else and it’s from a very specific time period that doesn’t have any relationship to anything we know about Spike. I’m guessing that the script of “Sleeper” was probably written long before the rest of the season when Whedon was still working out the plotline. He knew that Spike would have a trigger, but hadn’t decided what caused it and “I’ll Be Seeing You” was a placeholder until things were more finalized. The song “Early One Morning” is not only from William Pratt’s childhood, but it’s more than about memories that won’t go away. It’s also about betrayal and the lyrics are first person removed as opposed to the first person lyric of “I’ll Be Seeing You”: We are hearing a tale told by someone telling a tale:

              Early one morning, just as the sun was rising
              I heard a maid sing in the valley below
              Oh don't deceive me, Oh never leave me,
              How could you use a poor maiden so?

              Remember the vows that you made to me truly
              Remember how tenderly you nestled close to me
              Gay is the garland, fresh are the roses
              I've culled from the garden to bind over thee.

              Here I now wander alone as I wonder
              Why did you leave me to sigh and complain?
              I ask of the roses, why should I be forsaken?
              Why must I here in sorrow remain?

              Through yonder grove, by the spring that is running
              There you and I have so merrily played,
              Kissing and courting and gently sporting
              Oh, my innocent heart you've betrayed.

              How could you slight so a pretty girl who loves you?
              A pretty girl who loves you so dearly and warm?
              Though love's folly is surely but a fancy,
              Still it should prove to me sweeter than your scorn.

              Soon you will meet with another pretty maiden
              Some pretty maiden, you'll court her for a while;
              Thus ever ranging, turning and changing
              Always seeking for a girl that is new.

              Thus sang the maiden, her sorrows bewailing
              Thus sang the poor maid in the valley below
              "Oh don't deceive me, Oh never leave me,
              How could you use a poor maiden so?"
              The change from “I’ll Be Seeing You” to “Early One Morning” was probably made early on since the following episode “Never Leave Me” is a direct quotation from the lyric of “Early One Morning.” The popular English ballad was first published by William Chappell in his Victorian "Collection of National English Airs" in the 1850s although the song probably goes back much further than that. Chappell explains its inclusion:

              If I were required to name three of the most popular songs among the servant-maids of the present generation, I should say, from my own experience, that they are Cupid's Garden, I sow'd the seeds of love, and Early one morning. I have heard Early One Morning sung by servants who came from Leeds, from Hereford and from Devonshire, and by others from parts nearer to London. The tune was, I believe, first printed in my collection from one of the penny song-books collected by Ritson, and it is curious that scarcely any two copies agree beyond the second line, although the subject is always the same - a damsel's complaint for the loss of her lover."
              The song’s original melody was taken from an earlier ballad called “The Forsaken Lover” with different lyrics. It was the theme song of a popular Canadian children’s TV show “The Friendly Giant” and the opening of “Radio 4 UK Theme” heard every morning on BBC Radio 4. There were a lot of different versions of the lyric in Victorian England after the first few lines, but “Early One Morning” was always full of the same kind of questions by a woman complaining how poorly she has been treated by her former lover. This is very different to “I’ll Be Seeing You” which is in first person and non-judgmental.

              If the trigger works as an endless guilt-trip, then “Early One Morning” makes more sense because it’s about Spike’s feelings about his mother and Buffy and probably every single victim that Spike has harmed in his life, including himself. The fact that his mother sang it to him as both a child and an adult and even had a music box that played the melody means that the song meant a lot to the Pratt family. The message of the song probably would have given the young William an early sense of the shame and guilt of betrayal. In “Sleeper” we see how Buffy fears that Spike has betrayed her trust once again after the events of the AR and how the First plays with that as well to control Spike.

              Also, the song directly relates to the title “Sleeper” because it tells a story of what happens when the sun first rises in the morning. Traditionally, the idea of a new day means a new chance at life. A lot of this has to do with the dangers of the darkness of night because nighttime before electrics lights was terrifying. You had to survive the dark on your own while fighting off wolves, robbers and other dangers. Even in gated cities, most people assumed that anyone out after dark was trying to rob or kill you. People walked around armed after the sun went down. Buffy’s patrols in the graveyards are just distant memories of an average villager making their way across a pitch black town while avoiding anyone who would do them harm.

              But the new chance at life also had to do with sleep itself as renewing our health, not only to heal from injuries but to recharge our emotional and hormonal batteries. We spend a third of our lives asleep, a biological need so important that we literally die without it despite the ways in which it makes us vulnerable to anything that goes bump in the night.

              Classically, the metaphor of sleep is double-edged, representing both the finality of death and the potential for rebirth. We can ‘sleep like the dead,’ ‘sleep with the fishes’ and Death itself is known as the ‘Great Sleep.’ But we can also get ‘beauty sleep’ or a ‘good night’s rest’ and in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, sleep equals both death and change, for good or evil.

              In the very first episode of the series, Giles tries to explain the rise in mystical events near the Hellmouth. Something big is coming! Something evil! Something sleeping!

              GILES: The influx of the undead, the supernatural occurrences, it's been building for years. There's a reason why you're here and a reason why it's now!
              BUFFY: Because now is the time my mom moved here.
              GILES: Something's coming, something, something... something is, is gonna happen here. Soon!
              BUFFY: Gee, can you vague that up for me?
              GILES: The signs, as far as I can tell, point to a crucial mystical upheaval, very soon. Days. Possibly less.
              BUFFY: Oh, come on! This is Sunnydale! How bad an evil can there be here?
              Cut to the lair of the Master. There are candles everywhere as vampires bearing torches are gathering.
              LUKE: The sleeper will wake. The sleeper will wake. The sleeper will wake. The sleeper will wake, and the world will bleed. Amen! – “Welcome to the Hellmouth”

              The ‘sleeper’ in season one is The Master, head of the Aurelian order and Great-Sire of our lovable gang of kooky homicidal vampires Darla, Angelus, Drusilla and Spike. Forces that lie sleeping until they rise again is a pillar of mythology, the Heroor Villain snoozing in an undisclosed location awaiting some future date to awake and fulfill their destiny like the sleeping power in a Potential, waiting patiently for a change that may never come. The whole vampire myth even works this way. Vampires are human beings who are murdered and then placed in the earth to ‘sleep’ until they awaken, changed by the demon into someone else.

              KRALIK: I'll have your daughter. I won't kill her; I'll just make her like me. Different. She'll go to sleep, and when she wakes up, your face will be the first thing she eats.
              Joyce's eyes are wide with terror. Kralik stops to consider.
              KRALIK: I have a problem with mothers. I'm aware of that. – “Helpless”
              And there are other kinds of changes when sleeping that are even more dramatic:

              GILES: I feel like hell in the morning.
              We see Giles reach the landing and stop in front of a small mirror hanging on the wall while he releases a big yawn, stretching his arms. We see that Giles is a demon! Light brownish tan skin, with long horns sprouting from the sides of his forehead, curving back and around his really long, hairy, ears, ending in sharp points next to his cheeks. As he yawns he shows us a set a fangs much like a vampire's. He smacks his lips when the yawn is done and finally opens his sleepy eyes and sees his new form for the first time.
              GILES: Uh! Wha-- Wha--(touching his horns) No! – “A New Man”

              There’s a real worry about all the changes that can happen when one is unconscious. Most societies believe that gods, fairies and demons play with us during the night for their amusement like Bottom the weaver in A Midsummer Night’s Dream who is turned into an ass or Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis who is turned into a giant bug. It’s not a surprise that so many awful things happen in Buffy when someone is sleeping.
              Poor Giles wakes up a Fyarl demon in “A New Man,” Xander wakes up split in two in “The Replacement,” and Cordelia wakes up pregnant in “Expecting.” The entire identity of a werewolf like Oz is separated from the human by the long sleep after every full moon as they rage during the evening and then awaken as a human the following morning with few memories of what happened.

              Even vampires aren’t immune to the potential transformations that happen during sleep. Not only does Angel lose his soul shortly after waking in “Surprise” but Spike finds himself chipped after a long drug-induced sleep in “The Initiative.”

              The word ‘sleep’ comes from the Old English word ‘Slaepere’ which means either one who sleeps or one who is inactive or dormant. This is from the German/Gothic root word ‘Slepan’ which comes from one of the first Indo-European words ‘Sleg/p.’ which means ‘to be weak.’ This makes sense when you think about all the soldiers and corporate leaders and health gurus who take pride in how strong they are in only needing a few hours of sleep a night. Sleeping can easily be perceived as weakness because we’re not really under our own conscious control. So much of it is our bodies doing things without our approval or input and control freaks resent giving up any free time, even to rest and heal.

              The idea of a sleeper as weak and limp continued in German, Dutch and Middle English until the 1200s where the meaning began to change as more complex words for sleeping like the Greek ‘Hypnos’ and the Latin ‘Somnus’ were added to the English language. To sleep soon meant to dream, to meditate, to have vision, to die and even to create life through sex. The word ‘sleeper’ grew in stature until it no longer meant someone weak, but someone who only seemed to be weak but who was actually strong. In Shakespeare’s time, it began to describe “a person who proves more important than expected” like the medieval Joan of Arc with her religious visions or the modern sleeper spy who can bring down an entire army singlehandedly.

              Some of the fear surrounding sleep also had to do with the doubt a person felt when waking up after a night filled with disturbing dreams. Were they real or not? Dreams were a source of wonder and terror in ancient times. Greeks thought the brain filled up with blood before sleep and drained out when awakened and this created dreams sent by the gods. Nighttime, sleep and death were linked. The god of sleep Hypnos was the twin brother of the god of death, Thanatos and their mother was the goddess of night.

              The idea of sleep as some kind of tie to the gods is in every culture and almost every religion. A ‘sleeper’ who was given the gift of sight was an important person in most societies and villagers eagerly awaited the morning to hear of new portents of the future through their visionaries.

              GILES: Sh-sh-sh.
              They see Buffy with her head down on the desk. He waves Angel to follow him.
              GILES: Seems Buffy needed some rest.
              ANGEL: Yeah. She hasn't been sleeping well. Tossing and turning. She told me. Because of her dreams.
              Buffy suddenly awakens.
              GILES: Buffy, what's happening?
              ANGEL: She had another dream.
              BUFFY: I think I know where Spike and Drusilla are. – “Surprise”
              Visions play an enormous part in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both Buffy and Faith have Slayer Visions which turn dangerous in “Restless” when the First Slayer seeks revenge on the Core Four after they use her power to defeat Adam. But even humans and demons are gifted with the power of visions. Drusilla is able to see the future through the distorted lens of insanity and Doyle is given his gift by the Powers That Be and transfers it to Cordelia, who suffers a kind of hypnotic loss of consciousness that mirrors sleep and blurs the lines between wakefulness and an alternative dream-like reality.

              Dreams took on another dimension when Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams, claiming that dreams full of hidden meanings that reflected unconscious hopes and fears. That‘subconscious’ was a realm of thought beyond the mind’s control that revealed our desires and intentions and could be interpreted with the help of a therapist who would be the ultimate CSI investigator of the human psyche. Xander dreams of a happy ending for himself and Anya in “Selfless,” Angel dreams of Buffy burning up during a church wedding in “The Prom” and Spike dreams he’s in love with Buffy in “Out of My Mind.”

              When we sleep at night, the brain weaves together memories, desires and fears in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand. In a dream, the mind can find the perfect solution to a problem, but dreams can also cement fears. So sleeping can also reveal psychological trauma. The mind replays frightening experiences in dreams almost exactly as they happened in real life for several nights after the event, which is a main feature of post-traumatic stress disorder.

              BUFFY: I mean, yeah, you know, sleeping's hard, but just because of the whole waking up in a box thing. So maybe waking up's the problem. You know, but just for a second. I sleep okay. Great even. Except, you know, for the dreams. – “Flooded”
              So the break of day in “Early One Morning” is really about the line between the romantic dreams of the sleeper and the everyday reality of the wide awake, the young maiden awakening every morning to mourn the absence of her lover. Her night was filled with romantic dreams of happily ever after until she woke up to the cold, harsh light of day. This reflects Spike’s inability to come to terms with what has happened to him long ago. His refusal to “wake up” to long-repressed memories makes him a psychological sleeper easily manipulated by the First.

              “Conversations with Dead People” takes place at night not only because of the horror movie vibe but because Spike’s nighttime ‘creaturing’ has a dream-like quality between sleep and waking that matches the eerie hauntings of the First when it visits Willow and Dawn and Andrew. Willow even questions whether she’s fallen asleep.

              WILLOW: I know you. I mean, I saw your picture.
              CASSIE: Yeah, I know, it's kind of weird 'cause we never really met.
              WILLOW: Or kind of weird because you’re really dead.
              CASSIE: Yeah, well.
              WILLOW: Did I fall asleep?
              CASSIE: No, no, I'm here. I mean not ‘here’ here. It's kind of complicated. Kind of ironic, too, you know. – “Conversations with Dead People”
              Spike buries the bodies at the same time Xander is rising at 4:30 am – two hours before the 6:30 am sunrise that happened in Santa Barbara, California on November 13, 2002. (Yes, there is a website that tells you that!) So there is still plenty of time left for Spike to finish burying his latest victim and return back to Xander’s apartment before anyone knows what he’s done even as the song he’s humming is about a dawn he’s not directly seen in over a hundred years.

              Meanwhile, it’s already morning in other places around the world. We’ve already seen several cities in season seven showing young women murdered by bad guys like Istanbul in “Lessons” and Frankfurt in “Beneath You.” We don’t know yet why this is happening. But there are clues throughout the series that many young teenaged girls are trained for battle in anticipation that they might be called as the slayer:

              KENDRA: The things you do and have. I was taught they distract from my calling. Friends, school, even family.
              BUFFY: Even family?
              KENDRA: My parents, they sent me to my Watcher when I was very young.
              BUFFY: How young?
              KENDRA: I don't remember them, actually. I've seen pictures. But that’s how seriously the calling is taken by my people. My mother and father gave me to my Watcher because they believed that they were doing the right thing for me and for the world. Please, I don't feel sorry for myself. Why should you?
              BUFFY: I don't know, I... I guess it just sounds very lonely. “What’s My Line?”

              We don’t know that much about Faith’s early life, but it’s hinted that she had some kind of previous training before she was called. We know her first watcher was English and that most slayers in the United States seem to have British Watchers because the main Watchers Council is based in London. It is at least eight hours later there and the sun is shining in merry old England while Spike is still burying bodies in the dead of night in Sunnydale, California.

              We see Watcher Robson enter an apartment, dressed in his neatly pressed Giles-like outfit, holding a book and carrying an attaché case. Like the Watcher who trained Kendra, Robson watches over another young woman who could turn slayer if Faith dies in prison. There is an ominous pause as we see books scattered everywhere and a broken vase full of flowers on the floor. Realizing that he may be at a crime scene, Robson calls out for his charge just as Buffy called out for Spike in Xander’s apartment:

              ROBSON: Nora?Nora?
              He stops when he finds her body, her shirt marked by bloody stab wounds and the blood looks fresh as it pools beneath her. Definitely a crime scene, but there are no CSI detectives around to tell him who did it.

              ROBSON: What—?
              Robson has obviously forgotten that at every crime scene, the perpetrator may still be around. A black-robed figure comes from behind with the same curved dagger that murdered the other young women, a weapon SpuffyGlitz so eloquently talked about in her wonderful review of “Beneath You.” Robson is as quick as Giles and uses his case to stop the blade, pushing the robed figure back.

              But before he can arm himself with a sword mounted on the wall, another attacker appears from around the corner and stabs him in the back.

              By this point, viewers who have been following the season are starting to see a trend here. We weren’t sure who these young women were before (criminals? informers? witches?) but now that we’ve gotten to the heart of Watcher territory, we can clearly guess that all of these women were potential slayers like Kendra. And someone is trying to kill them all despite the fact that they are all very young. The script says that Nora is only fifteen years old when she dies. That makes her only a little bit younger than the youngest Summers woman back in Sunnydale who is traumatized after a night of emotional terror but still alive when a frightened Willow runs into her house in search of her sister. And just as Buffy ran into Xander’s apartment calling for Spike and Robson ran into his apartment calling for Nora, Willow races through the front door calling for Buffy to tell her the Big Bad is finally here.

              WILLOW: Buffy!
              As Willow starts to race up the stairs to tell Buffy about her nighttime visitation claiming to be a messenger of Tara, she is stopped in her tracks by a small voice in the living room.

              DAWN: She's not here.

              Sometimes dreams can feel so real that it’s hard to distinguish between sleeping and reality. Willow turns to see a filthy, sleepless Dawn hugging a couch cushion to her chest as the rest of the room looks like Spike’s lower crypt after Riley got through with it in “As You Were.” Dawn’s sleepless night looks like a nightmarish crime scene after the First went full-blown Stephen King meets Spielberg with electronics flashing, windows blowing out, furniture flying and bloody messages on the walls all accompanied by a continuous knocking that Dawn believes is her mother.

              DAWN: Why are you doing this!
              DAWN: Why are you— I don't understand. Stop. Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Aah!
              Knocking stops.
              DAWN: Hello?
              DAWN: Once for yes...once for yes, twice for no. Mom?
              DAWN: Mom, it's you?
              DAWN: Are you OK?
              Knock. Knock.
              DAWN: You're not…mom…mommy...are you alone?
              Knock. Knock. The house starts to shake like an earthquake. Dawn screams as the room explodes.
              DAWN: Why are you doing this? – “Conversations with Dead People”
              Like Spike, the First is using the past to manipulate people. This scene echoes the final scene in “Forever” when Dawn casts a spell to resurrect a zombie version of her mother. It almost enters the house until Dawn destroys the spell:

              BUFFY: Dawn, you know this is wrong. You know you can't let this happen. Not to Mom.
              DAWN: But I need her. I don't care if she –
              A pair of feet walking on grass.
              DAWN: I'm not like you, Buffy. I don't have anybody.
              BUFFY: What?! Of course you do. You have me!
              DAWN: No, I don't. You won't even look at me. It's so obvious you don't want me around.
              BUFFY: That's not true.
              DAWN: Yes, it is. Mom died, and it's like you don't even care.
              BUFFY: Of course I care. How can you even think that?
              DAWN: How can I not? You haven't even cried. You've just been running around like it's been some big chore or something. Cleaning up after Mom's mess.
              Buffy slaps Dawn across the face. Dawn yelps and puts her hand to her cheek. Buffy puts her hand over her mouth in horror.
              BUFFY: Dawn, I've been working. I've been busy, because I have to-
              DAWN: No! You've been avoiding me.
              BUFFY: I'm not! I have to do these things 'cause when I stop, then she's really gone. And I'm trying. Dawn, I am really trying to take care of things, but I don't even know what I'm doing. Mom always knew.
              DAWN: Nobody's asking you to be Mom.
              BUFFY: Well, who's gonna be if I'm not? Huh, Dawn? Have you even thought about that? Who's gonna make things better? Who's gonna take care of us?
              DAWN: Buffy –
              BUFFY: I didn't mean to push you away, I didn't. I just, I couldn't let you see me. Oh god, Dawnie, I don't know what we're gonna do. I'm scared.
              DAWN: Buffy –
              Sound of someone knocking on the front door.
              BUFFY: Mommy?
              DAWN: Buffy.
              BUFFY: Mom.
              Buffy runs toward the door. Dawn swiftly picks up the photo of Joyce and rips the photo in half. Buffy pulls the door open. There's nothing there.
              BUFFY: Dawn.
              She begins to sob. Dawn comes forward and hugs her.
              DAWN: It's okay. – “Forever”
              All of the sources of Dawn’s emotional traumas are in this scene. Her feelings of being abnormal because she is the Key. Her loneliness. Her fears that Buffy doesn’t really want her. Her guilt over trying to resurrect her mother. Her guilt about destroying whatever it was knocking behind that door before Buffy could open it. And the First uses this to torture Dawn, even provoking her to cast a spell to reach her mother just as she did in “Forever”:

              DAWN: I know you're there. I will cast you out. My mother needs to talk to me.
              Dawn's holding a bowl and sprinkles dust from the bowl on the ground in front of her. A force pushes her backwards across the room. She stops when her back hits the wall, but she's still got the bowl in her lap, sprinkling dust.
              DAWN: I cast you from this place. It is your poison and your bane.
              Something scratches Dawn's face, leaving a bloody gash. She screams, but continues to sprinkle dust.
              DAWN: It is the skin that is cut from your flesh!
              A strong wind blows out all the candles. The living room window explodes inward, shattering pieces of glass all over her and the room. – “Conversations with Dead People”
              Finally, Dawn sees Joyce and she’s not a zombie from the dead after all. She looks just like her mom. But her mother’s message only confirms all of her fears about Buffy.

              JOYCE: Things are coming, Dawn. Listen, things are on their way. I love you, and I love Buffy, but she won't be there for you.
              DAWN: What? Why are you—?
              JOYCE: When it's bad, Buffy won't choose you. She'll be against you.
              The vision of Joyce starts to fade.
              DAWN: No! No, don't go! Please, don't go! – “Conversations with Dead People”
              After such trauma, hugging a pillow to her body is the only comfort Dawn has and she remains in that position all night, ignoring the destruction all around her. Like Spike, the First is trying to make her into a ticking emotional time bomb who can be manipulated to act against Buffy. If the First had been successful in getting Willow to kill herself, it might have worked.

              It might even have worked if it was the old Willow of season six who was so self-absorbed with her own problems and addiction to magic that she endangered Dawn’s life.

              DAWN: It's late. I just wanna go home.
              WILLOW: Uch! No way! I said we were gonna have fun, and we're gonna have fun.
              DAWN: I'm serious, I think we should just get out of here.
              WILLOW: (mocking) ' I think we should just get out of here.' Come on, Dawnie, it's grownup time, do you wanna play with the grownups or not?
              DAWN: Why are you acting this way?
              WILLOW: Oh, don't get all weird on me, we're fine. Everything's fine. – “Wrecked”
              But that was nothing compared to the threats that Dark Willow made that touched directly on Dawn’s fears that she was abnormal and unlovable, mocking her feelings and threatening to turn her back into the Key.

              DAWN: You're back on the magicks.
              WILLOW: No, honey. I am the magicks.
              DAWN: Did you kill that guy?
              WILLOW: It's an improvement, believe me.
              DAWN: I have to go.
              WILLOW: Why? So you can run and tell Buffy?
              DAWN: Willow, please, just listen to me.
              WILLOW: You don't have to talk. Just think real loud. I can hear you.
              DAWN: You're freaking me out.
              WILLOW: Oh, don't be like that. I'm just a little wired. And I have some things to do. I thought if anybody'd understand-
              DAWN: I miss Tara, too! But this? What you're doing here? This is not the way to go! You're only going to make things worse! But I promise, it's not too late to-
              WILLOW: You miss her?
              DAWN: Yes.
              WILLOW: Did you cry? Of course you did. I get that. I understand the crying, you cry because you're human. But you weren't always.
              DAWN: Yes, I was.
              WILLOW: No, please. You're telling me you don't remember? You used to be some mystic ball of energy. Maybe that's why you're crying all the time, Dawnie. 'Cause you don't belong here. Wanna go back? End the pain? You'll be happier. I'll be happier. We'll all be a lot happier without listening to the constant whining.
              DAWN: Willow, stop!
              WILLOW: "Mom!" "Buffy!" "Tara!" "Waah!" It's time you go back to being a little energy ball. No more tears, Dawnie. – “Two to Go”

              Since that moment, there has been very little closeness between Dawn and Willow in season seven. Like Spike, their relationship that was so close in the summer between season five and six when Buffy was gone has been damaged. Dawn has forgiven Willow, but she’s now treating her foster mother as the one who has to be taught things:

              DAWN: My advice to you is do exactly what everyone else does all the time.
              WILLOW: Got it.
              DAWN: Do what everyone else does, wear what everyone else wears, say what everyone else says.
              WILLOW: OK.
              DAWN: People may say something to you you don't understand. Just don't be afraid to keep your mouth shut and pretend like you know what they're saying.
              WILLOW: You know, Dawn, I've been to college before. – “Selfless”
              But Willow in season seven is not the same person as the Willow in season six. She’s learning about the real sources of magic under the guidance of a coven and was still in training when she had a terrible vision of the First.

              WILLOW: I felt the Earth. It's all connected. It is but it's not all good and pure and rootsy. There's deep, deep black. There's…I saw, I saw the Earth, Giles. I saw its teeth.
              GILES: The hell mouth.
              WILLOW: It's gonna open. It's gonna swallow us all. – “Lessons”
              This prophetic vision is one of things that prompted Willow to return to Sunnydale and her fears that she might not be up to the task are played upon by the First. But Willow knows a Big Bad crime scene when she sees one. She pushes aside her personal fears to rush to Dawn’s side.

              WILLOW: Dawn? Oh my God. Dawn, what happened here? What--you're cut.
              Dawn brushes off Willow, her mind still filled with visions of her mother and the message about Buffy.

              DAWN: I'm all right.
              WILLOW: Let me see. Make sure –
              DAWN: I saw Mom.
              Dawn says this with such assurance that Willow for a second is taken aback.

              WILLOW: What?
              DAWN: She was here, Willow. I saw her. And she spoke to me.
              Dawn doesn’t tell Willow what her mother said. But Willow puts two and two together and figures out that the same monster that came to her last night pretending to be Tara must also have come to Dawn pretending to be Joyce.

              WILLOW: Oh, Sweetie.
              DAWN: Now, she was right here. And then she wasn't. She –
              Dawn is so hopeful sounding that Willow seems afraid to tell her that it was a false vision. A really bad one.

              WILLOW: It wasn't her.
              DAWN: What?
              WILLOW: At least, I don't think. I saw something, too. And it looked like someone else. But it wasn't –
              Up to this point, Dawn has been in a dream state of her own until Willow’s words which acts like a splash of cold water on the face.

              DAWN: I don't understand.
              WILLOW: It's the Big Bad, Dawn. The one we knew was coming.

              Willow doesn’t say any more. She’s as quiet about her experience with Cassie as Dawn is silent about her mother’s message. One of the reasons the First is so successful in season seven is that it uses the love and guilt people have about their dead loved ones to play on their greatest desires and fears. Willow is trying to convince herself the vision is lying because it said what she actually feared; Tara would want Willow to kill herself rather than harm people. Just like Dawn, the First plays on Willow’s worst fears about losing control. There’s always the possibility that The Big Bad could be evil and still be telling the truth.

              CASSIE: That's why I came. We needed to warn you.
              WILLOW: You saw my path? What do you know? What—what did you see?
              CASSIE: You don't want to know what we saw.
              WILLOW: Oh, God!
              CASSIE: But if you stop completely. No more magic.
              WILLOW: Right. Right. Stop. What about Giles? He made it seem like it was just as dangerous for me to quit completely, like I'll go off the deep end again—
              CASSIE: You can't. If you do so much as another spell—
              WILLOW: I tried to stop. I tried. What if I can't do this?
              CASSIE: Don't think that way.
              WILLOW: Well, how can I not? You're telling me I'm gonna murder all my friends. I'm not strong. I'm not an Amazon. I'm just me.
              CASSIE: Well, there is one thing—one thing you could do to stop it.
              WILLOW: What? Anything.
              CASSIE: And you could see her. You wouldn't have to talk through me.
              WILLOW: Tara?
              CASSIE: That's what you want, isn't it?
              WILLOW: Of course.
              CASSIE: So go. Be with her. Everybody will be safe, and you'll be together again. It's not that bad. Really. It's just like going to sleep.
              Willow suspects that something's wrong. She stands cautiously.
              WILLOW: Who are you? – “Conversations with Dead People”

              The First makes a mistake by playing on Willow’s fears of losing control. Willow knows that Tara would want Willow with her, but not if it meant going against the natural order of things. Suicide would be just as life-denying and hateful to the earth spirit Tara revered as resurrecting Buffy was. As someone who broke the barrier between life and death, Willow’s fearis breaking that barrier again. So Willow realizes that this isn’t Tara at all, especially when it uses the idea of sleeping to erase the past. The First says suicide is “just like going to sleep” which is far too close to Willow’s mind wipe of Tara.

              But Dawn wants so desperately for the vision of her mother to have been real that she continues to believe that Joyce was there despite the Big Bad’s interference.

              DAWN: But that's what she said. Mom. She said things were coming. Things were on their way and that she loves us. So it had to be her, right? I mean, her warning was true?
              WILLOW: I don't know, Dawn. I'm just don’t think we can trust anything right--
              DAWN: So maybe the evil thing messing with you was here, too. Only maybe it was the thing trying to keep Mom away. 'Cause she was trying to protect me.
              Dawn relates her mother’s message while leaving out the part about Buffy turning against Dawn. Which shows that the First’s plan to separate Buffy and her sister is working to plan.

              DAWN: Maybe?
              We cut to Buffy, who is just as confused as Dawn. Was what she heard last night true or was it a lie?

              Xander is just as cautious with Buffy as Willow is with Dawn. Xander knows that Buffy’s feelings for Spike are complicated and as Buffy paces, he calmly pours coffee as if they were talking about the new band at the Bronze instead of Spike becoming a killer.

              XANDER: Why would a vampire lie about who sired him? What's that, some kinda status symbol for the undead – My sire can beat up your sire?
              Buffy tries to be logical like Xander, but she seems shaken.

              BUFFY: I’m not saying I don't believe him.
              XANDER: You just don't want to.
              We’ve seen this talk between Buffy and Xander before when Buffy found it hard to accept that Angel was evil. In the end, she had to stake Angel and send him to Hell even though he was resouled. She tries to explain to Xander and Willow in “Selfless” how impossibly hard it was:

              XANDER: You have no idea what she's going through.
              BUFFY: I don't care what she's going through!
              XANDER: No, of course not. You think we haven't seen all this before? The part where you just cut us all out. Just step away from everything human and act like you're the law. If you knew what I felt—
              BUFFY: I killed Angel! Do you even remember that? I would have given up everything I had to be with— I loved him more than I will ever love anything in this life. And I put a sword through his heart because I had to.
              WILLOW: And that all worked out OK.
              BUFFY: Do you remember cheering me on? Both of you. Do you remember giving me Willow's message: Kick his ass.
              WILLOW: I never said that—
              XANDER: This is different—
              BUFFY: It is always different! It's always complicated. And at some point, someone has to draw the line, and that is always going to be me. You get down on me for cutting myself off, but in the end the slayer is always cut off. There's no mystical guidebook. No all-knowing council. Human rules don't apply. There's only me. I am the law. – “Selfless”

              Xander probably remembers that conversation and doesn’t want to make the same mistake again. He understands how her feelings about Spike are connected to her feelings about Angel. What makes it doubly-hard to tell Buffy to just ‘kick his ass’ is that Spike has tried to make amends by getting his soul back and is now suffering from some kind of mental displacement because of it. One that makes him even more vulnerable and weak than the chip ever did.

              So Xander empathizes with Buffy’s fear that she might have to kill someone she cares about. And Xander also saw both his best friend Willow and his ex-girlfriend Anya go on murderous rampages that he feels partly guilty about because he encouraged Willow to use magic to bring Buffy back and abandoned Anya at the altar.

              Xander is more accepting of souled Spike than he ever was of soulless Spike. It’s not just the soul although that helps an awful lot. It’s his realization that all of them are compromised in some way, including himself. He can’t really hate Spike when he’s also tried hard to earn some kind of redemptive forgiveness.

              Still, Xander’s not sure they can trust Spike. When Buffy asks Xander to take Spike in, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference between his treatment of chipped Spike in season four and souled Spike in season seven:

              SPIKE: Don’t see why I have to be tied up.
              XANDER: It's just while I'm sleeping –
              SPIKE: Like I'd bite you anyway.
              XANDER: Oh, you would!
              SPIKE: Not bloody likely!
              XANDER: I happen to be very biteable, pal! I'm moist and delicious.
              SPIKE: Alright, yeah, fine, you're a nummy treat.
              XANDER: And don't you forget it! – “Hush”

              SPIKE: Sodden sleeping chair is bloody – sodden.
              XANDER: The quake just knocked a couple of pipes lose. There is a wrench hanging up over there by the workbench. Try tightening the coupling.
              SPIKE: Do I look like a plumber to you?
              XANDER: No, you look like a big mooch that doesn’t lift a finger around here. But I have to get to work.
              SPIKE: Yeah, delivering melted cheese on bread, doing your part to keep America constipated.
              XANDER: Mock not. Remember who pays for the plasma around here, pal. You earn your keep or you don’t get kept. When you’re done fixing that leak, try cleaning up this mess. And doing a little laundry for once wouldn’t kill you – unfortunately. – “Doomed”

              The Xander/Spike dialogue is some of the best in the series and I laugh every time I watch them. They are very Felix and Oscar, very Odd Couple like, and I wish that we had seen more of their scenes together. Xander’s snarky invitation for Spike to enter his apartment in season seven is only different from season four in that the setting is different. Before, Xander was living in his parent’s basement delivering pizzas and hot dogs on a stick. Now, he has a great apartment with a nice view, two separate rooms and a great job with a huge amount of responsibility. But Spike is still Spike and he’s still gonna leave towels all over the floor and eat all of his food, soul or no soul:

              XANDER: You're gonna live in that small room over there. I know it looks like a closet, but it's a room now. You're not gonna touch my food. I take the first shower in the morning, and if I use up all the hot water, that's your tough noogies. And I hate this plan. Are you keeping up, or do you need some kind of English-to-constant pain in my ass translation?
              Spike stands in the doorway.
              BUFFY: Invitation.
              XANDER: Is there something more emphatic than hate? Can I revile the plan? Fine. I invite you in. Nimrod.
              SPIKE: Don't want your soddin' food anyway. – “Him”

              But I think Xander knows Spike is different, too. Despite what he did to Buffy in “Seeing Red,” he tried to make up for it by coming back with a soul and Xander feels that if Buffy’s okay with it, then Xander is as well. At least Spike doesn’t have to be tied to a chair because he has two checks in the soul and the chip that prevent him from doing harm and he’s less nasty than before because of his soulful guilt although he still puts on a big blustery show of bad-ass Spikedom.

              But Spike is also far more helpless and scared than soulless Spike with a chip and a lot of it is Spike’s love for Buffy. The same feeling that makes him loyal to the Scooby Gang also makes him a possible danger to Buffy’s emotional health. That’s why Xander’s really worried about Buffy possibly falling for Spike again so soon after “Seeing Red” – the concern over Spike is no longer for his safety or his wounded feelings but for Buffy and her emotional equilibrium in taking this guy back into her good graces.

              But that’s what Buffy wants and Xander respects that. So after reading Spike the riot act when he takes the spare closet space, Xander grudgingly admits that Spike’s changed except for still leaving towels on the floor:

              XANDER: Well, Spike definitely seems a little more cogent, less bl-bl-bl-bl-bl. I'm just saying. Once you get back the soul, doesn't that mean you start, like, picking up your own wet towels off the floor?
              WILLOW: No, but maybe you start to feel really bad about leaving them there. – “Him”
              The two work together well when Xander takes Spike along to talk to RJ’s brother and Spike is the one who figures out that the spell must lie in the jacket they both wore.

              Standing in front of the mantle, Spike's looking at the pictures that adorn it.
              SPIKE: You're wearing your brother's jacket. Here, in this picture.
              BROTHER: Oh, no, dude. He's wearing mine. That jacket was with me all the way through high school. Gave it to him when I graduated, right before I started over at the Pizza Barn. I'm in the management program.
              XANDER: So, Lance, where did you get the jacket?
              LANCE/BROTHER: Oh, dad gave it to me. Made a big deal about it, too. How he met mom wearing that jacket. She was a former Miss Arkansas. Very hot in her day.
              XANDER: Wow, that's wonderful. Boy, it's getting late. – “Him”
              This scene is similar to the buddy hijinks Xander and Spike have at the end of season five when they go to see ‘Doc’ for information except that there’s far more snark and hostility:

              SPIKE: Found Ben's room at Glory's. Didn't learn much.
              XANDER: Wait, wait, wait. Ben? At Glory's? You're saying all this time he's been subletting from her?
              SPIKE: This is gonna be worth it.
              Spike bitch-slaps Xander upside the head.
              Shot of the two of them from the rear as they both grab their heads in pain.
              SPIKE/XANDER: Ow!!
              Cut to the front again. They both stumble, use each other to regain their balance, and continue walking.
              SPIKE: Last time. From the top. – “Weight of the World”
              The Odd Couple vibe is present again at the very end of “Him” as Xander and Spike once again fight the forces of evil with another big, brilliant plan:

              Xander and Spike are stealthily walking beside the display window for an electronics store. They're sneaking up on R.J., who's walking down the street with the cheerleader on crutches.
              XANDER: Now, you're sure you understand the plan?
              SPIKE: I think I got it, yeah.
              Xander and Spike run out into the street. Xander tackles R.J. while Spike takes the jacket off of him. They run away with the jacket. – “Him”

              So we get snarkiness but also a kind of grudging respect between Xander and Spike right before the events in “Conversations with Dead People” that explains Xander’s responses to Buffy in “Sleeper.” Even after Spike clocks Xander to leave the apartment, Xander doesn’t even mutter so much as a weak “kick his ass” when he talks to Buffy over the phone.

              So when Buffy rubs her hair out of her face and looks at the floor when Xander tells her that she just doesn’t want to believe Spike’s killing again, Xander knows he’s touched a nerve and tries for a bit of objectivity and humor:

              XANDER: Okay, let's look at this objectively. Figure it out in a cold, impersonal, CSI-like manner. 'Cause we're a coupla carpet fibers away from a case.

              Buffy takes Xander at his word and comes up with a logical reason why Spike couldn’t have sired Holden.

              BUFFY: Spike can't be doing this, Xander.
              Is she thinking of Spike’s soul here? Does she wants to believe that Spike has become a better man because of that? But she thinks better of mentioning it in front of Xander in order to avoid that argument and goes for the obvious reason of the chip.

              BUFFY: He couldn't if he wanted to.
              XANDER: Why not?
              BUFFY: Well, for one thing, pain chip, remember? He can't hurt anyone.
              Xander can’t believe that Buffy’s saying this.

              XANDER: That didn't stop him from hurting you.

              Buffy gives Xander a look for bringing up ‘that’ again. Despite Spike getting a soul, I think Xander still wants her to remember the AR and how dangerous Spike can be.

              Buffy seems embarrassed that in some ways, Xander’s angrier about what happened than she is. Then again, Xander doesn’t seem to know much of the real story between her and Spike. He never saw the wild sex or the beatings or the emotional torture that led up to that moment. As Buffy tells Holden, she’s still unable to talk to her friends about it. She can’t even really discuss it with Spike:

              BUFFY: I just…if you knew what I've done, what I've let myself become. My best friends don't even…you'd laugh if you heard some of the things I've done to them.
              HOLDEN: Buffy, I'm here to kill you, not to judge you.
              BUFFY: The last guy I was with, it got really…I behaved like a monster, treated him like…but at the same time, I let him completely take me over. Do things to me that…I'm sorry. Wow, I didn't mean to get all True Confessions there. I don't know what's wrong with me. – “Conversations with Dead People”

              So instead of true confessions, Buffy once again brushes the hair out of her face so that Xander can’t see her full expression. Xander backs off and throws up his hands in a defensive stance. He’s simply laying out the evidence like any team member of CSI: Sunnydale and personal feelings can’t get in the way. So he comes up with another theory:

              XANDER: Hey, objective here. Maybe the chip's not working anymore.
              Does Xander know that the chip stopped working on Buffy? Has Buffy has ever told him that Spike could have killed her in season six? Buffy is still so ashamed of what happened with Spike that she’s secretive about everything to do with him. Even when she sees Spike in the basement, she doesn’t tell Xander or Dawn that he’s back.

              But didn’t Xander see Spike hit Buffy in the Bronze in “Beneath You”? He was probably so upset over Anya that he never noticed the chip failed. But Buffy definitely remembers Spike’s pained reaction when he stabbed a snake monster who turned human in the shoulder before running into a church.

              BUFFY: It's working. I've seen it.
              XANDER: Is it? Or is that what Spike wants you to think?

              Xander is right to be suspicious. We’ve already seen Spike pretend in “Smashed” that the chip is still working when Buffy hits him:

              SPIKE: A man can change.
              BUFFY: You're not a man. You're a thing.
              SPIKE: Stop walking away.
              BUFFY: Don't touch me!
              As Spike turns her around she punches him with her other hand. He pulls back and backhands her. Buffy falls to the ground. Spike looks surprised, puts his hand tentatively to his head with the beginning of a smile. Looks at Buffy, who is still getting to her feet and has her back to him as he clutches his head.

              SPIKE: Ahh, ahh, ohh!
              Buffy gets up, backhands Spike and he goes down. He gets up to a kneeling position with his back to Buffy and stays there, looking at the ground. She speaks to his back.
              BUFFY: You're a thing. An evil, disgusting, thing.
              She walks past him as Spike lifts his head to watch her go. Slowly an evil grin spreads across his face. – “Smashed”

              Buffy must have realized Spike was pretending when Spike reveals the next day that the chip didn’t work on her. Does she imagine that Spike is even making up the whole ‘soulful Spike’ act? No, Anya confirmed the soul was real, but there was no way to confirm that the chip was still working. Maybe he had it taken out at the same time.

              BUFFY: You think it's an act?
              XANDER: I don't really know. And neither do you.
              Xander is doing what any good detective would do by going through the evidence and coming up with theories that fit the facts. Spike could be lying and he has betrayed the gang several times, especially at the end of season four. But Buffy feels differently. She can’t prove Spike’s soul has changed him like a carpet fiber can prove the guilt or innocence of an offender. But her instincts are sometimes all that she has to go on – and they’re telling her that something else is happening here.

              BUFFY: No, uh-uh. There's something. I can feel it. He's different. He’s changed. And if it is an act, then the Oscar goes to –

              Buffy and Xander see Spike standing in the doorway. Oops. It’s not a great thing when the suspect walks in on the investigators. Usually, there’s a scene. How much has he heard with his vampire hearing? We already know that Spike has been killing again. But like Buffy, we’re not sure that Spike even knows what he’s doing. There’s a moment of awkwardness when Buffy and Xander watch Spike for any signs of an Academy Award performance. From his point of view, Spike feels he’s walked into the middle of something that doesn’t involve him.

              SPIKE: Well, this can't be good. You here at this hour. Trouble?

              Buffy’s presence seems to make Spike nervous. But it is because he’s worried she’ll stay or worried she’ll go? The viewer isn’t sure yet how guilty Spike is but he seems utterly sincere in his concern that Buffy would be standing in Xander’s kitchen this early in the morning. It’s funny that after debating whether Spike is acting, Buffy does a terrible job of pretending that nothing’s going on.

              BUFFY: No. No trouble. I…I was just…uh, we were just...
              Spike sees that she’s lying, but I think he feels that he has no right to know if she doesn’t want to tell him why she’s there. Nope, no stalker here. Not anymore. Buffy has the right to her privacy. So he gently closes the door and shrugs, smiling.

              SPIKE: Right, none of my business. No worries.
              Unlike everyone else in “Sleeper,” Spike’s not anxious to investigate where he’s not invited. As he turns away, Buffy steps forward, longing to apologize or maybe just ask him outright if he’s killing again.

              BUFFY: Spike, I…

              Spike turns in surprise as Buffy fumbles, uncomfortable. Buffy is talking to him? At his expectant gaze, Buffy slips into small talk.

              BUFFY: How was your night?
              That was unexpected. Buffy is treating Spike like any other friend and the small intimacy seems to light up Spike’s face.

              SPIKE: S'alright.
              There’s a weird shyness between them. Spike steps closer to continue the light banter. Buffy lowers her eyes, unable to look him in the face for a moment for fear of what she’ll see there. But Spike misreads the moment and smiles as he stands almost bashful in front of Buffy. Are they having a conversation?

              SPIKE: And yours? Did you, uh, bag any baddies?

              The obvious yearning to connect throws Buffy. But maybe that gives Buffy a chance to interrogate Spike to see if he’ll react to Holden’s name. She and Xander watch his face carefully as she tells him about dusting her old classmate.

              BUFFY: One. Vampire. Someone I used to know, actually. A little. Holden. Holden Webster.

              Instead of guilt, Spike seems to radiate sympathy at Buffy having to kill someone she once knew. He moves slightly closer to Buffy in an awkward way as if to sympathize while keeping a careful distance.

              SPIKE: You knew him, huh? That musta been a picnic.

              Buffy is most likely thinking of having to kill Spike and her eyes cloud a little bit.

              BUFFY: Yeah.
              Buffy and Spike’s eyes lock for a moment and then Spike backs off first, dropping his gaze and turning away. He’s come too close and shown too much and realizes that he’s invading her space. They’re not having a conversation and maybe he doesn’t deserve to have one after what he’s done to her.

              SPIKE: Well, I'm gonna turn in before I drop. 'Night.
              Spike moves as quick as possible to the bedroom and shuts the door as Buffy looks downward, lost in thought. Xander points out that if Spike’s doing an act, he does deserve an Academy Award.

              XANDER: You see that? You see how he reacted when you mentioned "Webs?" Cool as Cool Whip. What's up with that?
              The bizarre name “Webs” refers to some cut dialogue here from a bit earlier that explains what Xander is talking about:

              XANDER: Webs? From high school? You didn't tell me the vamp you dusted was Holden "Call Me 'Webs'" Webster. Nobody called him "Webs." Went to school with him for ten years, not once did anyone ever— Right.
              Buffy is even more confused than ever. Every instinct is telling her that Holden was telling the truth and yet the same instinct tells her that Spike couldn’t be the killer. She needs more evidence before condemning him. Way more evidence. She needs to see it with her own eyes. Since Spike can’t leave the apartment during the day without extreme hardship (and one of Xander’s blankets), she feels confident leaving him for the time being.

              BUFFY: The sun's coming up. I need to get home and check on Dawn. We need to keep an eye on Spike.
              Xander immediately knows what Buffy wants but he’s got real life issues that are more pressing.

              XANDER: Whoa, whoa, whoa. When you say "we," you mean "me" and me's gotta go to work. I've got a big client meeting in a couple of hours.
              Buffy woke Xander up at an early hour when he had a big important meeting that morning. It’s a great example of how Xander puts the needs of his slayer friend and the people of Sunnydale ahead of his personal commitments that he doesn’t even mention it until he has no choice. It’s also a reminder that Buffy has been up all night and needs to go home to get a decent amount of sleep to clear her mind.

              But they can’t leave Spike alone. It’s too dangerous. And it’s essential that Buffy gather more evidence. So they have to find someone who can alert her the second Spike leaves the apartment.

              BUFFY: Xander, this is serious. We cannot let him leave this house until we know if he's killing again. We need to find someone that can watch him.
              The scene immediately switches to Anya standing in Xander’s living room, looking angry.

              ANYA: Uh-uh. Forget it, Harris.
              Xander is wearing a nice suit as he opens all the window blinds until light is pouring into the apartment. He’s comfortable enough with the idea of the chip and soul as barriers to Spike’s murderous rages that he’s not too worried, but he might as well leave Anya with some extra protective sunlight as a wall between his ex-girlfriend and his roommate.

              XANDER: C'mon, An. You said you'd do it on the phone.
              ANYA: Yeah, but that…
              Anya realizes that she’s talking too loud and looks at the closed door to Spike’s room as she lowers her voice.

              ANYA: That was before you told me Spike's killing again and now you want to leave me here alone with him?
              Obviously, Xander lured Anya over to his apartment without telling her the whole story. Their relationship is already filled with anger and resentment and she feels that he’s been less than honest with her. Anya is also human again and that brings back all of her earlier fears about death:

              SUAVE XANDER: You haven't been hurt like this since you became human. Maybe it's finally hitting you what being human means.
              ANYA: No, that's not it.
              SUAVE XANDER: Yes, I think it is. You were gonna live for thousands of years. And now you're gonna age and die. That must be terrifying.
              ANYA: You don't understand what it's like.
              SUAVE XANDER: Being suddenly human? I think I can get what that would be like. And we can get through it together.
              ANYA: You can't make it any different. I'm going to get old. And you can't promise you'll be with me when I'm wrinkly and my teeth are artificial and stuck into my wrinkly mouth with an adhesive.
              SUAVE XANDER: No, I can't promise that. But it doesn't sound terrible. And that's saying something. I promise you, Anya. Very soon you won't be thinking about getting older. – “The Replacement”
              Her love for Xander made Anya accept her mortality. Now that their relationship is in tatters, she’s more fearful than ever. It also doesn’t help that Anya has personal history with Spike.

              XANDER: You didn't mind being alone with him before.
              Xander says it so low that Anya doesn’t quite catch it. And it’s obvious that Xander doesn’t want her to.

              ANYA: What was that?
              XANDER: Nothing.

              Is Xander is still resentful about her sexual one night stand with Spike? If so, he blows it off pretty quickly. And he does have a point. If Anya didn’t have a problem with soulless Spike then, why should she have one now? The main difference, of course, is that Anya was a demon again when it happened. But Xander may not realize that.

              XANDER: Look, we don't actually know that he's killed anyone. Y'know, lately. Might all just be a mistake.
              Anya points out that Xander probably doesn’t even believe what he’s saying.

              ANYA: But you don't think so.
              He has no answer to that. A frustrated Anya wonders why she’s stuck with the job of watching Spike and runs down the list of clues that Buffy and Xander surely already looked for in Spike’s room, right? Right?

              ANYA: Have you searched his room? For clues? Trophies from victims? Killers like to keep trophies sometimes. Scalps, necklaces made from human teeth...
              The script adds the word ‘genitals’ to Anya’s list of serial killer trophies, but Xander’s reaction is still the same. He’s charmed by Anya’s wacky logic and sense of imagination.

              XANDER: Y'know, it didn't occur to me to look, but thanks for the tip. Okay, you'll be safe out here. Plenty of sunlight to hide in.
              The joke of hiding in sunlight goes over Anya’s head. She wants something a little more substantial.

              ANYA: What? That's it? You’re not at least going to leave me a crossbow or a flame thrower? Something to protect myself?
              Xander is probably thinking about Anya endangering his apartment as much as endangering the investigation as he rejects that idea.

              XANDER: We don't want him to know we suspect anything.
              There’s another funny contrast that shows how far Xander has come as he picks up a hard hat to wear with his nice fitting suit. He’s able to juggle two roles at the same time which also relates to other pairs in season seven like souled Spike vs. soulless Spike the killer.

              XANDER: Besides, if he tries to leave, I don't want you confronting him. Call Buffy and let her know that he's on the move. You're gonna be fine.
              Anya takes the last parting shot.

              ANYA: Better be. 'Cause if I get vamped, I'm gonna bite your ass.
              Xander grins as he exits, muttering under his breath.

              XANDER: Wouldn't be the first time.
              Once again, Anya doesn’t quite hear what Xander is saying.

              ANYA: What was that?
              Which is sad because Xander is obviously still attracted to her and loves her. There’s a little funny scene cut in which Anya sits alone in the apartment and cringes in terror as she imagines the doorknob slowly opening and moves constantly to stay in the sunlight.

              We then see Buffy running up the stairs in a panic when she makes it home. She’s seen the disaster in the living room and imagines the worst has happened.

              BUFFY: Dawn? Dawn!
              Willow comes out of Dawn’s room and closes the door.

              WILLOW: Buffy, it’s okay. She's okay. Not hurt. She’s just exhausted. Finally fell off to sleep.
              BUFFY: What the hell happened? Downstairs looks like...
              WILLOW: Hell happened? This Big Evil that’s been promising to devour us? Well, I think it started chomping.

              I love Willow’s line and it makes perfect sense after the weird mouth full of teeth that Cassie turned into before disappearing.

              Buffy looks guilty. She’s spent all night talking with Holden about her personal problems and then worrying about Spike killing and didn’t even answer her phone, leaving Dawn all alone to be threatened by the Big Bad. What good is a cell phone if you don’t answer it?

              BUFFY: Oh, God. And it started with Dawn?!
              The whole scene feels like replay of “Smashed” when both Buffy and Willow left Dawn alone. But Tara was with Dawn all night that time. This time Dawn was all alone with IT while Buffy talked with Holden and Willow was with Tara. But it wasn’t Tara after all.

              WILLOW: Both of us. Buffy, this thing knows us. It made us think that we were talking to people we knew. Mine said it came with a message from Tara, but Dawn actually saw…
              Willow hesitates to tell Buffy because the pain of almost seeing Tara is fresh in her mind.

              WILLOW: Your mother.This thing, it had me for a while before it started letting loose with pulse-pounding terror. But before that, the lies were very convincing. It just seems real.
              Buffy immediately thinks about Holden. Was that all a lie, too?

              BUFFY: Lies.
              Could it be that Holden was lying and Buffy’s instincts are right after all?

              WILLOW: Maybe to confuse us. Mess us up. Or maybe just to be cruel.

              Willow has touched on every point that Buffy’s feeling right now. Confused. Messed up. Victim of a cruel world. Maybe Holden was the new Big Bad if it came to visit so many other people?

              BUFFY: A vampire I killed last night told me Spike sired him. Two nights ago.
              Willow is shocked at the news that Spike might be killing again. It probably also plays upon her fears that she, too, might lose control and do the same.

              WILLOW: Well, that's impossible, right? So maybe it was another one, a fake out, you got one, too. It wasn't a real vamp--
              Buffy tries to be honest with herself. It just doesn’t seem like the same vision as Willow and Dawn.

              BUFFY: Dusted real enough.

              Willow is silent for a moment and then carefully prods Buffy about her feelings.

              WILLOW: Buffy, do you think Spike is--?
              Buffy cuts off Willow before she can even say it.

              BUFFY: I can't...
              Buffy can’t what? Tell if Spike is killing? Imagine Spike reverting back to what he was? Imagine what she has to do if he is? Is it because she really feels deep down that he’s innocent or is it because she can’t face once again killing a vampire she cares about?

              BUFFY: I hope not.But if I'm wrong and he is, then I have to see it for myself.

              Buffy’s not going to accuse Spike without clear evidence. She needs to see for herself that he’s on the prowl again.

              BUFFY: I have to be there to stop him.
              This is reminiscent of Buffy’s talk with Giles in front of Jenny Calendar’s grave:

              Buffy: I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't kill him for you...for her...when I had the chance. I wasn't ready. But I think I finally am. – “Passion”
              Buffy made the mistake of letting her emotions interfere with her slaying duties and she’s determined to not let that happen again. But she also wants to avoid jumping to conclusions like when she almost killed Angel after first learning he was a vampire before knowing about the soul in “Angel.” Once again, Buffy has to be sure if Spike is really killing again or someone else is setting them up. She needs some kind of proof.

              In Xander’s apartment, Anya is thinking the same thing as she silently enters Spike’s room. Putting on her best detective face, Anya examines the oversized closet with old equipment and pieces of furniture that Xander has stored away. We see Spike stretched out on a small cot, naked except for a small sheet draped over his body and pants crumpled over the side of the cot.

              In an episode called “Sleeper,” it’s meaningful to see Spike sleeping in such an exposed way. There doesn’t even seem to be any lock on his door. Of course, soulless Spike was used to having creatures enter his crypt at all times of the day, morning, noon and night.

              Cut to Spike asleep in his crypt. A ray of sunshine falls on his face as the door opens. He screams and jumps up to find Buffy standing beside his "bed."
              SPIKE: Oh, it's the Slayer. For a second there I was worried. – “Checkpoint”
              We’ve seen that Spike can be a heavy sleeper. We’ve also seen that Spike sleeps either fully clothed or no clothes at all.

              BUFFY: God, do you sleep through anything? I was like yelling, and nothing.
              Spike sits up on the edge of the bed. He's completely naked.
              SPIKE: I'm a bit knackered. Had a long night. – “Wrecked”

              Spike seems to sleep deepest when he’s had a long night either having wild sex with Buffy or siring people under the trigger of the First and burying them in the basement. So he genuinely seems to be out when Anya prowls around his room, searching for clues like Sherlock Holmes at his sleuthiest. Anya’s search is a literal version of the episode’s emotional investigation of Spike’s motives. It’s like all the clutter stored away in the closet out of sight represents the confusion inside Spike’s mind as he tries to make sense of his past.

              Anya crosses to the dresser and looks inside as she watches Spike out of the corner of her eye. Her investigation leads her to pick up his clothes and go through the pockets methodically, looking for any serial killers mementos stuck in the seams. No genitals yet. Just as she looks through the jacket pocket, Spike turns over in his sleep, facing her.

              She freezes like a deer in the headlights for a second, but Spike still seems to be fast asleep. Nervous, she continues to look for clues and when she shifts her hand from one pocket to the next, there is a sudden movement and her wrist is caught in Spike’s grip. As a vampire used to predators, Spike had purposefully turned towards her in anticipation of this move and was probably awake for some time after she entered.

              This wrist grab is nothing new for Spike, who has used it before in other contexts:

              Spike sleeping on top of a coffin, covered with a blanket. A greenish hand reaches for Spike's throat but he grabs it with eyes still closed.
              SPIKE: From the sound of those massive mud flaps, I'd peg you as a demon. Which means you're in for a world of...
              Spike opens his eyes to see Adam standing over him and leaps off the coffin.
              SPIKE: …pain.

              ADAM: Spike, I want you to come with me.
              SPIKE: Do you? Well, let's go then.
              Spike swings around and punches Adam in the stomach. Adam is unaffected as Spike shakes his hand in pain.
              SPIKE: Ow.
              ADAM: Come. You're going to help me with my problem.
              SPIKE: Why is that exactly?
              ADAM: I'm going to help you with yours. – “New Moon Rising”
              Anya is no Adam, though, and his steady grip on her hand seems to tighten as Spike speaks to her with the even tones of a serial killer ready to strike.

              SPIKE: Anya. Do be specific and tell a fella just what exactly you’re doing here.

              Anya’s mind races as she tries to think of what Sherlock Holmes would say if he were caught in such a compromising position.

              ANYA: Well...Spike...I am here, obviously, for, um..,
              And it suddenly comes to her.

              ANYA: Sex.
              This doesn’t have quite the effect that Anya wanted. Instead of the bad guy either having sex with Holmes or trying to beat him into unconsciousness, Spike sits up and pulls the sheet higher around his waist in a very un-Spike display of modesty. It seems that the soul hasn’t just given Spike a conscience. It’s also made him gun-shy where sex is concerned.

              SPIKE: Uh, beg pardon?

              Why is Spike totally uninterested in having sex with Anya? Part of it is the shiny new soul and another part is Spike’s feelings for Buffy, but Spike is also aware of the horrible consequences that would ensue. His stupidity in allowing things to go so far with Anya was directly responsible for his visit to Buffy’s house that terrible evening. Also, the guilt over the AR probably still overwhelms him, making the idea of having sex with anyone as appealing as a staking.

              SPIKE: I'm sorry. Not that it matters any more, but I needed you to know that.
              BUFFY: Why?
              SPIKE: Because I care about you.
              BUFFY: Then you might want to try the not sleeping with my friends. – “Seeing Red”
              He’s also a guest in Xander’s house and as a souled being, the idea of sleeping with Xander’s ex probably seems like a crummy way to thank his host. But as a newly souled vampire, Spike is also worried about hurting Anya’s feeings. Even before the soul, Spike always had affection for Anya while hating the rest of the Scooby Gang.

              SPIKE: It's a terrible thing, love is. I been there myself. It ended badly.
              ANYA: Of course it did. It always does. Seen a thousand relationships. First there's the love, and sex, and then there's nothing left but the vengeance. That's how it works.
              Spike smiles, leans in really close.
              SPIKE: You and I should just go do the vengeance. Both of us! You eviscerate Xander, and I'll stake Dru. Like a project.
              ANYA: I don't know. I just can't.
              Spike looks resigned. He takes his arm down.
              ANYA: You can go do Dru though.
              SPIKE: Yeah. I will.
              Spike doesn’t move, looking straight ahead like Anya.
              SPIKE: Maybe later. – “Where the Wild Things Are”

              So Spike’s not going to reject her outright without letting her down easy.

              But Anya puts on a big show of desiring Spike for fear of otherwise provoking some serial killer rampage. She’s not able to see that Spike has zero interest in screwing around.

              ANYA: You and me. Here and now. Let's go, let's get it on, you big bad boy.

              Spike looks flustered as Anya continues to come on strongly in the worst way.

              SPIKE: Wait, wait Anya, just a minute, this is not exactly... is that a stake?

              Anya freezes. How is she going to explain that? And then she remembers that vampires like a little push with their shove.

              ANYA: Yes! Kinky!
              Spike is surprised for a second, but accepts it. After all, Anya is a former vengeance demon with a thousand years of sexual experience behind her and he was into chains and stakes when he had Harmony playact Buffy. One wonders whether Spike ever used them in sex play with Buffy considering that he had the Buffybot programmed to push her stake into his heart before sex.

              SPIKE: You know you should be afraid of me. I'm bad.
              BUFFYBOT: You are. You're very, very bad.
              Suddenly she twists out of his grasp and flings him across the room. He lands on his back on the bed. The BuffyBot jumps on top of him, straddling him, and puts her stake against his chest.
              SPIKE: Are you gonna do it that way?
              BUFFYBOT: No.
              She grabs the neck of his t-shirt and rips it open as Spike grins. Then she puts the stake against his bare chest.
              BUFFYBOT: This way.
              SPIKE: You can't do it.
              BUFFYBOT: I could never do it. I'm helpless against you, you fiend.
              She drops the stake – “Intervention”
              As Anya waves the stake around, Spike tries to hedge around the fact that he doesn’t want sex.

              SPIKE: Ah, well, yeah, but what are you...
              Anya presses a finger to his lips, silencing him. Spike looks surprised, but stays silent.

              ANYA: Shh! No questions. No talking. I can't help it. I can't stop thinking about you and us and our brief but unforgettable time together. I mean, why else would I be here? I mean, it's not like I'm snooping around for proof you're some kind of whacked-out serial killer.

              Oops. Anya’s let the cat out of the bag and now the bag’s in the river. In a desperate attempt to divert Spike’s attention away from what she’s said, she crawls up Spike’s body seductively to bury her face in his neck.

              ANYA: I don’t know why I said that. Forget I said that. It’s craziness talking. It's just nerves, nerves. Nerves and…horniness. Oh, just shut up, William, and take me. Take me now.

              They stay motionless for a second until Spike pushes Anya away gently. Anya gives a relieved look when Spike turns away for a moment to collect himself and then puts on her ‘sexy’ face again when Spike turns back to look at her.

              SPIKE: Anya...
              ANYA: Mmm?
              SPIKE It's not that I'm not tempted. Obviously, if things were different, you're a right catch.

              Spike believes he’s letting Anya down easy while Anya breathes a sigh of relief that it’s not happening.

              ANYA: I got it. No problem. I understand.
              And then Anya realizes that Spike has just turned her down for sex and despite her relief, she’s really offended.

              ANYA: You think I'm fat.
              SPIKE: What?
              ANYA: Well, either that or the haircut.
              SPIKE: Ridiculous! The do's quite fetching.
              ANYA: Oh, right, now you like the haircut.
              SPIKE: Love it!
              ANYA: Sure, as a friend.
              Anya's haircuts seem to have a lot to do with her self-esteem. Like Oz, she dyes it in a constant array of colors. Like Spike, she styles it to suit her mood. Short or long, curly or straight, Anya's feelings about herself and her attractiveness are directly tied to her hairstyle. So if Spike's not interested, it's one of the first things that comes to mind.

              And Anya’s self-esteem has taken a beating since season six. She’s lost Xander, she’s lost her job as vengeance demon and now she can’t even get Spike to have sex with her. It’s a huge blow to her ego and she starts to lash out at Spike in retaliation.

              SPIKE: Anya...
              ANYA: You know, you were a lot more fun when you didn’t have a soul.
              This reminder of Spike’s soulless past must hurt and it starts to wear down Spike’s patience.

              SPIKE: Oh come on now, I just explained to you...
              ANYA: I'm only saying, Soulless Spike woulda had me upside down and halfway to Happy Land by now.

              It’s a very funny line. And it’s probably true pre-season five. The dialogue is similar to the Spike-Willow exchange in “The Initiative” where Willow takes Spike’s inability to bite her as a sexual rejection.

              WILLOW: It's me, isn't it?
              SPIKE: What are you talking about?
              WILLOW: Well, you came looking for Buffy, then settled. I--I... You didn't want to bite me. I just happened to be around.
              SPIKE: Piffle!
              WILLOW: I know I'm not the kind of girl vamps like to sink their teeth into. It's always like, "ooh, you're like a sister to me," or, "oh, you're such a good friend."
              SPIKE: Don't be ridiculous. I'd bite you in a heartbeat. – “The Initiative”
              The implied equation of rape with siring makes the Willow/Spike scene somewhat disturbing today. But the Anya/Spike scene is amusing because neither has any real interest in fooling around. It’s Spike who makes the first move to end this before it gets any more out of control by covering himself up with more than a thin sheet.

              SPIKE: I need my pants.
              Anya throws them at Spike, her attempt to play Sherlock Holmes a big bust.

              Poor Anya is still brooding over Spike’s rejection when he exits the closet. Spike looks apologetic as she flips a magazine in the living room and glances at the phone, ready to call Buffy the second he leaves.

              SPIKE: Didn't mean to hurt your feelings, luv.
              ANYA: Who's hurt? I'm fine.

              Anya is obviously hurt and Spike realizes that there’s not much more he can say. The best thing for him to do is to go out so she can read in peace.

              SPIKE: Right. Look, I've got things to do.
              ANYA: Don't stick around on my account.
              Spike turns as if he would say something else and then opens the door and leaves. Anya turns around and then picks up the phone to call Buffy as Xander instructed.

              ANYA: It's me. He's leaving.
              A cut scene in the script shows Buffy actually waiting outside Xander’s apartment with her cell phone:

              BUFFY: Got it. I'm on it. Thanks.What? Of course you're not fat, why would you –
              She sees Spike pass by.
              BUFFY: We'll talk later.
              Buffy sets out like Columbo tailing a suspect, hot on the case. Maybe even stopping a possible crime. But unlike her patrols in graveyards and mortuaries where Buffy looks for clues to where sleeping vampires are waiting to be newly reborn, Buffy is now searching for clues to what one particular vampire who has also been newly reborn with a soul has been doing night after night. Has he been killing again? Is his demon stronger than his soul?

              What she doesn’t know is that Spike’s demon has been awakened, but his new shiny soul has been sleeping the whole time.

              End of Part One
              Last edited by Tiny Tabby; 30-07-20, 09:19 PM.


              • Thanks for the great opening, Tiny Tabby.

                I love your rundown of the Spike/Xander relationship being like The Odd Couple. I loved the TV version especially with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. (And Firefly star Ron Glass played Felix in the 1980s version The New Odd Couple.)

                I see one of the season 10 alternate covers did a riff on the Odd Couple nature of their relationship by spoofing one of the posters for the 1968 movie version.

                I'm not sure about assigning Xander as the Felix and Spike as the Oscar of the duo, I guess it plays in season four with Xander complaining about how Spike doesn't clean.the apartment or do the housework. For example, this scene from the final episode of the Odd Couple when a newly remarried Felix departs.


                And yet, Xander himself is pretty slovenly. And I bet that Felix would be more likely to be addicted to watching Passions than Oscar would.

                And speaking of TV, I grew up with the Friendly Giant and I certainly recognized the theme tune's use in Buffy. It amuses me to think children's TV would turn Spike into a psycho killer.