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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.


              • Stoney
                Stoney commented
                Editing a comment
                Thoroughly enjoying reading this so far, looking forward to the rest.

            • 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.




              • I think Xander probably got more house proud when he acquired his own place with his own money in The Replacement - we've seen evidence he has his own suits by season seven and apart from his wedding one they fit him. The only times Spike dresses smartly are when he's pretending to be someone else - I imagine he's a bit of a slob.


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

                  “Sleeper, Part Two”

                  I’ve watched all the episodes of Buffy and I still can’t picture what Sunnydale looks like. One episode shows a beach. Another episode shows a desert. Another the woods or mountains. Sunnydale has it all! An international airport, a university, a military base, an amusement park, a bus depot, a train station, a major seaport, a natural history museum and a zoo all for a population of less than 40,000 people according to the sign that Spike keeps knocking down. Compare this with the 8 million people who live in Los Angeles and I wonder if the tax rate is 90% to pay for all this!

                  Since Mayor Wilkins founded Sunnydale, maybe the whole city is magically designed and paid for by enchanted money. And it runs on witchcraft, Hellmouth energy and mystical dimensions maybe opened by the Guardians who watch over the slayer? But there isn’t any explanation for how the city keeps growing with all the daily death tolls. Who is moving there and why? Even though most people ignore the vampires everywhere, the students at Sunnydale High see enough that they voted Buffy Class Protector.

                  JONATHAN: We don't talk about it much, but it's no secret that Sunnydale High isn't really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here…but whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you, or helped by you at one time or another. We're proud to say that the Class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history. – “The Prom”

                  Buffy can’t get a loan for a huge house in California which only makes sense in Sunnydale. Hundreds of miles of sewer tunnels for 40,000 people only makes sense in Sunnydale. Castles and towers and haunted mansions lining the streets only makes sense in Sunnydale. Cemeteries the size of football fields decorating the entire town only makes sense in Sunnydale. The lack of famous fast food restaurants definitely only makes sense in Sunnydale. Not even Starbucks wants to expand there. Xander says it’s a one Starbucks town in season one, but we never see it. The Espresso Pump corners the market on coffee.

                  The big outdoor mall packed with people doing nighttime shopping in “Sleeper” is one of the weirdest Sunnydale locations ever. It’s not even the normal downtown area with the Magic Box, but a boulevard right out of a Frank Capra film or "Miracle on 42nd Street." Street entertainers, harmonica players, food vendors and even magicians are everywhere. I guess the mimes and street dancers are just outside of the frame. If the First was looking for a quiet spot where Spike could kill his victims without witnesses, he might as well have chosen Disneyland at Christmas time. I should know because I’ve been there! Don’t even think of it!

                  Maybe it’s not Sunnydale but somewhere else. We don’t know how far Spike and Buffy go, but both are supernatural creatures who can run fast and for a long time. Did Spike go 90 miles out of town? It sure looks like they’re at the famous Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California. I used to live in San Diego and made a lot of trips to the Los Angeles area and I know it pretty well. The script even mentions that mall as an example of where they are. I guess the director decided to just make it easy and film it there.

                  It’s hard to believe that Spike and Buffy walked that far. Maybe Mayor Wilkins just magically recreated his favorite places for Sunnydale and this copy of the famous Los Angeles outdoor mall was placed near the beach.

                  Why did Spike go there and not downtown Sunnydale? Since we know it’s November 13th, maybe it’s just a Veteran’s Day celebration that’s two days old. Fire sales, free drinks, fireworks and maybe a famous musical band. It’s a way for Sunnydale to attract lots of people from nearby cities and make its vamps fat and happy. Spike could find lots of people to sire here.

                  Everybody seems really happy that the Third Street Promenade has reproduced itself because there’s a big crowd of people all walking and talking and buying and smiling and laughing and waiting to get into the new trendy club. Is it because Aimee Mann is appearing at the Bronze a few miles away? But it doesn’t really seem like the kind of place that souled Spike would want to be. I thought that maybe the First took Spike there as a decoy to confuse Buffy, but in a later scene a bouncer says that Spike is a regular there. So maybe he goes to be alone in a crowd, if you know what I mean, so he won’t run into the Scooby Gang.

                  The script says that if there’s a clock, it should show that it’s 8:37 PM. I’m not sure why or what it means, but it seemed important to Fury and Espensen. Maybe it’s an inside joke. Looking online, the sun was setting at 4:51 PM that day, so it has nothing to do with sundown unless they want us to know that it really is Santa Monica and it took Spike and Buffy three and a half hours to get there.

                  Buffy says Spike looked like he was on the prowl. But Spike is acting like the opening Spike who buries bodies in the basement. He’s checking out all the people around him, but there’s no swagger or sparkle in his eyes. He doesn’t say anything funny or sarcastic. In fact, we never actually hear Spike speak at all in the entire scene. We see him talk with a woman from a distance, but we don’t hear a thing. This wipes Spike’s personality from the scene.

                  The thing we do hear is an old blues song by a harmonica player as Spike walks around a corner. When Spike passes by, the song changes to the same melody that Spike was humming in the basement and continues until we see Buffy stalking Spike. She’s almost so close that you would think he’d notice but she doesn’t seem that worried that Spike might sense or smell her. Maybe she thinks that the crowds are good cover. Maybe too good because they keep getting in her way so that she almost loses sight of Spike.

                  There’s a lot of fast cross-cutting here of Spike moving through the crowds and then Buffy trying to keep her eye on him despite all the people. On Wikipedia, the scene was compared to Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” but it reminds me more of Brian DePalma’s “Blow Out” where John Travolta is running through the crowds trying to prevent serial killer John Lithgow from murdering Nancy Allen:

                  The camera switches from close ups of Spike to Buffy’s view through the crowd. We don’t see anything from Spike’s perspective. Buffy sees Spike from a distance and we’re still looking through her eyes. Spike is very far away and moving to the back of a line at the club. He seems to say something to a young woman in front of him. They talk for a few seconds, he whispers in her ear and they head off together as Buffy tries to move closer.

                  I think it’s funny that everyone in Buffy’s group is constantly turned off by Spike and grossed out over his actions while so many other people crush on Spike instantly from Sheila to Lydia the Watcher to Andrew to the woman in line (the script calls her Linda). Linda is with Spike for less than a minute before she’s ready to go off with him. Xander may have thought about stealing RJ’s jacket, but I guess Spike didn’t. But it’s a curse for Spike because he’s still like William in so many ways. Spike’s love life always comes to grief because Spike falls in love with women who don’t want him at all just like William fell in love with Cecily.

                  Buffy loses Spike in the crowd. In the shooting script, there was a whole bit cut about a policeman trying to ticket her:

                  Buffy moves forward with purpose, the path finally clear. When suddenly, from behind, a HAND GRABS Buffy's shoulder. She spins around, tense, sees an unflinching POLICEMAN, and he's suddenly around her, blocking her view of -- and her access to -- Spike.
                  POLICEMAN: You sure do walk fast.
                  BUFFY: I'm sorry.
                  She sidesteps, getting Spike back in her POV, but the policeman won't let her leave.
                  POLICEMAN: Been trying to catch up to you since that last intersection there. The one you walked across. Without the benefit of a crosswalk.
                  Buffy, still watching Spike, speaks to the policeman distractedly. He's writing in his TICKET PAD now.
                  BUFFY: What?
                  POLICEMAN: Jaywalking. Now, normally I'd give you a warning-
                  We see Buffy's POV. Spike is nodding his head to the girl, the girl nodding back, Spike taking her by the hand, leading her away from the crowded club line. Buffy interrupts the cop, her tone impatient.
                  BUFFY: It's okay. Give me the ticket.
                  POLICEMAN: You realize you crossed about twenty feet in front of a moving vehicle
                  BUFFY: Seriously, it's fine. Just give it to me. (off his look) Officer.
                  Buffy looks again She can still see Spike and the girl in the crowd - but they are moving away quickly. The cop hands her the ticket and Buffy moves to go, but he stops her. Holds out a pen.
                  POLICEMAN: Not so fast. Address and signature.
                  Exasperated, Buffy frantically grabs the pen and scribbles her information as quickly as possible. Murmurs-
                  BUFFY: You've got to be kidding me...
                  POLICEMAN: You know, I don't like your attitude-
                  Buffy glances into the crowd again. Nothing. No Spike. She shoves the pad back into the cop's hands.
                  BUFFY: Yeah, I've been saying that about me for years...
                  And she bolts. The irritated cop looks after her, decides to let it go.

                  I’m glad that they cut this. Buffy has a lot of run-ins with the police in episodes like “Becoming” and “Bad Girls,” but those are moments that have meaning and bump her scenes with Spike and Faith. Having a cop here is just so Buffy has a better reason for why she can’t follow Spike than heavy crowds. She’s the slayer! Buffy can’t follow one vampire with his very slow-walking victim just because she loses sight of him for a few seconds? Maybe she should have tried something like the hilarious crowd splitting scene in “The Princess Bride.”

                  But I think that would have failed anyway because the First would have been far too smart for that. I have a better theory why Buffy gets so far off track. Maybe the Spike she’s following is actually the First and leading Buffy astray. She sees glimpses of Spike after she loses sight of him. As Buffy looks everywhere, we only see blurry shots of Spike’s head behind other heads. But this ‘Spike’ actually seems to be leading her so far away from Spike that she doesn’t even hear Linda’s screams. The First could have led her all the way to a parking garage and then vanished so that Buffy lost the trail completely.

                  I feel like her detective work here is a metaphor for her relationship with Spike until ‘Sleeper.’ Buffy has been investigating Spike for six seasons, trying to decide whether he’s good or evil. With Angel, it was easier because the difference between being souled and soulless was so obvious. But soulless Spike and souled Spike are a lot harder to separate because Spike was never as evil as Angelus was. Or maybe Liam was so damaged that Angelus tried a little too hard to be the worst there ever was.

                  I think that the love Spike had for Drusilla gave fans the idea that Spike was somehow more human or soulful than other vampires. There’s a lot of this in fanfiction which is fun to read but it softens Spike too much sometimes. It confuses love with morals and if a mass-murdering serial killer in a film loves his dog or child, we like them a little bit more like Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver” or Michael Corleone in “The Godfather.” A gangster can also be a war hero. The farther vampires move from being killing machines (I’m thinking “Twilight”), the closer they become to humans with a problem that needs to be managed, not destroyed.

                  Spike’s love for Drusilla that causes him to team up with Buffy in “Becoming”, makes him more appealing even when he’s outrageously evil in “Lovers Walk” and “The Harsh Light of Day.” Chipped Spike is more of a management issue for Buffy than someone to be dusted because he Spike falls into the defanged villain category. Since all he can do is make nasty remarks, he becomes harmless and even lovable because he seems like the bad boy who could be redeemed once he falls in love with Buffy. If we saw him rip out of the throats of young girls as a present for Drusilla, I bet viewers would see the real difference between soulless Spike and souled Spike pretty quickly.

                  I think with Spike’s return that people were expecting some kind of Angel/Angelus before-and-after transformation and were disappointed when souled Spike came back without the same huge difference. But they accepted the very similar personalities of human Darla/vamp Darla and the human and vampire versions of Harmony and Holden, who are also closely related. Angel is the exception, not the rule, but because he came first, Buffy fans expect that the same good/bad personality would be the same for every souled vampire.

                  William Pratt was in always in love with love and becoming a vampire only made that worse. Spike was obsessive about love in a dangerous way. Since Buffy has similar issues with love, I think she somehow relates to Spike no matter how disgusting he acts because he sided with her to win back Drusilla, came to kill her to win back Drusilla and after all that, threatened to kill Drusilla to win Buffy because he fell in love with her.

                  Why didn’t Buffy dust Spike after “Crush”? She has a kind of “there for the grace of God go I” attitude, I think. If Buffy had become a vamp, would she be in love with Angel the same way that Spike is devoted to Drusilla? This is why she mentions in “Lovers Walk” that she can’t seem to hide her feelings from Spike because he understands them. The same goes for her relationship with her family. William was devoted to his mother and so Spike has a basis for understanding Buffy’s feelings about her mother and sister even though he is a soulless demon. Spike has always come in useful when Buffy most needed it and watches over Dawn because of the same reasons he’d have done anything for his mother or Drusilla.

                  I like how the word “Sleeper” kind of covers how Buffy sees Spike from his “Hello, Cutie,” in “Becoming” all the way to his “Can We Rest?” from “Beneath You.” Is Spike good or is he bad? Is he an enemy or an friend? How far can she trust him? Even Spike himself doesn’t know in “Walk Through the Fire” from “Once More With Feeling”:

                  SPIKE: First he'll kill her, then I'll save her
                  TARA: Everything is turning out so dark
                  SPIKE: No, I'll save her, then I'll kill her
                  WILLOW: I think this line's mostly filler
                  GILES: What's it gonna take to strike a spark? – “Once More With Feeling”

                  Whenever Buffy wanted to doubt, she saw Spike’s lack of a soul and whenever she wanted to trust, she saw Spike’s overpowering sense of love. Even after the AR, Buffy brings Dawn to Spike’s crypt because of that confusion that cuts both ways over his good and bad qualities. She forgives a lot from Spike that makes no sense to her friends.

                  Now that Spike’s returned with a soul, Buffy’s not sure what to think. She’s trying to find out whether he’s sired Holden and that will tell her whether Spike has really changed. It’s something she’s wanted to know for six seasons now. As she’s said in the past, Buffy should tie a bell on him, especially now that he’s been wandering Sunnydale in a kind of trance that once again points to the title of the episode, “Sleeper.” It’s not just a reference to a sleeper agent. Spike is a ‘sleeper’ who doesn’t seem to have any control over his actions like a sleepwalker. If "Sleeper" is a detective story, then the real mystery is within Spike's mind. Not even a CSI Investigator could find the clues to crack this case.

                  There have been a lot of books written about sleepwalking and zombie-like trances where the person has no memory at all of what they have done. It sounds like a horror movie, but in real life it’s more common than people think because of how we sleep in five stages. Each phase lasts less than an hour and then moves to the next stage. Light sleep, light sleep with brain waves, deep sleep with fast delta brain waves, deep sleep with slow delta brain waves and finally REM sleep until you wake up.

                  1. Light Sleep - The first stage is so light that if you wake up, you won’t even remember sleeping. There are no brain waves here.

                  2. Sleep-specific brain waves – This second stage lasts seconds. If you wake up, you feel like you were ‘dozing’ off without really losing consciousness.

                  3. Deep sleep with fast delta waves – This third stage has long bursts called delta waves in a rhythmic pattern. If you wake up, you’ll feel like you lost a sense of time.

                  4. Deep sleep with slow delta waves – This fourth stage is the deepest stage of unconsciousness where the brain waves slow down to a crawl. If you wake up in this stage, you’ll be confused, unable to answer questions and quickly go back to sleep. It’s also known as sleep drunkenness.

                  5. REM sleep – This fifth stage is the most important stage in which rapid eye movement happens beneath your eyelids. If you are woken up in this stage, you’ll remember vivid dreams and nightmares because at this point, your brain is just as active as when you are wide awake. REM sleep is the most dangerous stage of sleep because your body is following signals from your brain and wants to act out the scenario in your head.

                  Sleepwalking happens in the fifth stage of sleep when the brain controls the body without conscious thought, causing dreams. So why don’t most people sleepwalk since almost everyone dreams? The body gets ready for REM sleep by sending hormones that paralyze muscles so that we don’t accidentally kill ourselves while running from tigers and lions and bears. If we dream we’re jumping from a plane, our arms and legs can’t move. Otherwise, you could jump out of the window without even knowing it.

                  So why do some people sleepwalk? Or talk in their sleep? Or wet the bed? Hormones go haywire so that the brain and body don’t get the same message, which lets a person become conscious while the brain is still dreaming. The body doesn’t paralyze itself like it’s supposed to do so a person can wake up and feel like they can’t move their body. People used to think it was a demon lying on their chest that prevented them from moving. The brain would catch up in a few minutes and the person could then get out of bed. But today, sleep scientists and doctors must act as detectives as they gather evidence and follow clues to help those with sleep disorders that can be dangerous or even deadly.

                  This REM sleep disorder is called ‘parasomnia’ and can cause people to attack their furniture, their family or even themselves. In worst case scenarios, they have to tie themselves to the bed to avoid hurting someone. Parasomnia is genetic but scientists experimenting on cats (noooo!!!) found that they could block the paralyzing hormones by cutting a tiny part in their brain. The cats acted out their dreams by running around, eating, purring and even going to the bathroom in their sleep. When one cat pounced too hard, it woke itself up and was confused about where it was. Hormones released during REM sleep are at their weakest when young which is why children wet the bed, thrash around, talk in their sleep and sleepwalk more than adults. Nightmares are more vivid, too, which explains the bogeyman in the closet. The vast majority of kids grow out of it, though, as their brains grow.

                  In sleepwalking, the parts of the brain that control walking and talking and movement and depth are wide awake, but the conscious part is still asleep. Someone can be ‘half-asleep’ and react to things around them without any conscious thought. The eyes are open, the voice can speak, the ears can hear, but it is not connected to consciousness. In an episode such as "Nightmares", almost everyone is afflicted with a dreamworld that is also reality in a sense - where the characters sleepwalk through their worst nightmares.

                  Because people can still see and hear and taste things, real life events merge with a dream world. So a sleepwalker’s memory is made up of things they are actually doing like driving a car down a street and things that they imagine in their dream like driving a car down a street with lions and tigers and bears. Sleepwalking is tied to dreams and then those dreams are tied to memory. This is why dreams don’t make a lot of sense but use a lot of real memories of people we know and places we’ve been. The body reacts to what happens in dreams, sweaty and heart pounding if the dream is scary or sexually aroused if the dream is sexy. A man can actually become erect and a woman experience increased vaginal blood flow. If one has to go to the bathroom, sometimes the bladder can just let go.

                  One in five people will sleepwalk at some point and it’s amazing what they can do. Not only talk and walk, but eat, drive, have sex, sing songs, dance and cook. There is no awareness, though. Because of that, someone’s personality can change so they are no longer recognizable. Cheerful people become mean, modest people become sexual, and nonviolent people become violent like one sleepwalker who snarled like an animal and crouched in the corner after destroying his furniture. Others sleepwalk into a kitchen and make breakfast for themselves like Joyce suffering from her brain tumor. Worst of all are cases like the person who chased and almost strangled a neighbor to death while sleeping.

                  Any kind of criminal activity while sleeping is called violent parasomnia, which can be caused by severe trauma. Sometimes, tragedy happens as in a famous case in Canada. Ken Parks fell asleep on his couch after being up for days. He got up, walked out the door and into his car, drove fourteen miles to his in-laws house and took a tire iron out of his car. His father-in-law woke up to find hands around his throat and lost consciousness. When he awoke, his wife was beaten to death with the tire iron. Ken Parks was at a police station where he had walked in covered in blood and told them he had just killed two people. He then looked at his bloody hands and screamed.

                  There was no real motive to kill them. No fights, no life insurance policy. He claimed he couldn’t remember anything. He even asked, “Did I have anything to do with it?” Officers thought he was acting. But when doctors scanned his brain, his delta brain waves were horribly abnormal every time. Was he sleepwalking when he did the crimes? He had suffered from it in the past. He was found not guilty since English, US and Canadian law is based on the idea that a guilty person must demonstrate ‘mens rea’ or a guilty mind. The defense has been used many times in other sleepwalking homicides when doctors found the same abnormalities in brain waves. All of them had suffered extreme trauma.

                  We see a version of this in Angel's "Somnambulist" when Angel believes he's killing in his sleep, but it turns out to be far more complicated than a simple sleepwalking stunt.

                  A supernatural show like Buffy has magical trances and spells that are a lot like sleepwalking. Spike could be walking and talking and flirting and killing and have no memory of it. His actions are out of his control even with the chip and the soul to stop him. I think that Spike’s sleepwalking has a lot to do with a sense of identity as we will see.

                  So sleepwalking Spike smiles at Linda like he smiled and flirted with the woman in “Conversations with Dead People.” Spike puts one arm around her as they walk and grabs her other hand while looking around to see if anyone’s watching them. It’s flirty and creepy and Linda looks like she’s had too much to drink.

                  LINDA: So, um, what kind of name is "Spike?"
                  Spike makes a humph noise and doesn’t answer her. He must have told her his name when they were in line for the club, but he’s not interested in small talk. After a few more scenes of Buffy searching in different directions, Spike pulls Linda into an alley behind a building and looks behind him. Does he know Buffy’s following him? But then he turns to glance right and left and we realize it was a fake-out. Spike is checking to make sure no one’s watching them. Linda is hoping for a major make-out session and probably thinks Spike is just being careful so they won’t attract attention. The script also says that she’s a little drunk on booze and danger.

                  LINDA: What, you gonna make me guess? All right –
                  She takes Spike’s hand. He puts his hand on her lower back as they swing like they’re kind of dancing.

                  LINDA: I'll guess you're a little bit bad?
                  Spike closes his eyes as Linda drops his hand and places her fingers on his chest, teasing him. She has no idea.

                  This whole scene has a very “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” kind of feeling. The book and movie were popular in the 70s when feminism was just starting to make strides. A woman wearing sexy, revealing clothes with bare midriff goes off with scary man and gets murdered. It was a warning to women not to get too liberated or they might be killed. It falls into the clichéd horror movie death that Whedon said he was tired of because they were all about punishing women who were sexually confident. Like “Jaws” or every horror movie with young teens, a bad girl is attacked by a monster, devoured and then never heard of again.

                  I guess Fury and Espensen wanted to show the kind of danger that could happen if a woman wants a bad boy and lets her guard down without knowing him. It also shows the kind of danger that could happen if Buffy trusts her bad boy Spike. Can she trust him now that he has a soul? Best case scenario is that Spike is sleeping with a lot of women. Worst case scenario, he’s killing them and turning them instead. Either is hurtful to Buffy, but the second scenario means that Buffy has to kill him.

                  At least we get some closure with Katrina but none with Linda who is just dumped on the ground dead after the scene is over. It’s sad not only because she died a gruesome death but because it’s easy not to care. Maybe it’s even easy to blame Linda for being rash enough to wander off with some strange guy while drunk and then go into an alley behind a building where something bad might happen. Buffy is feminist but it still falls into clichés of what happens to bad girls instead of good girls.

                  We see Buffy running cut with a scene of Linda and Spike swaying, lips right up against each other but not touching.

                  LINDA: Am I right?
                  Spike makes a little noise as if he’s agreeing.

                  LINDA: You a bad boy? 'Cause I don't mind. You know I was getting pretty bored waiting over there on that line. I hate waiting.

                  Linda starts kissing his throat. Spike looks up in ecstasy before he buries his face in her neck like the vampire he is.

                  LINDA: Know what I mean?
                  It’s a mix of lust and bloodlust. We’re not supposed to know whether Spike is trying to have sex with Linda or kill her. It’s the ‘Is Spike good or bad?’ question that Linda asks and not even Buffy can answer. I’m not sure that Spike could even answer it with his soul because of the guilt that he feels about his past. So when Buffy suddenly appears in front of him, Spike’s expression changes like he’s been caught lifting the lid on the cookie jar.

                  Spike pauses as he and Buffy look at each other.

                  I think this pause is important because it happens right before a choice by Spike has to be made. ‘Is Spike good or bad?’ is now stopped in time by Buffy. It’s a lot like Spike cornering another women in “Smashed”:

                  SPIKE: I'm dangerous. I'm evil.
                  WOMAN: I'm sure you're not evil.
                  SPIKE: Yes, I am. I am a killer. That's what I do. I kill. And, yeah, maybe it's been a long time, but it's not like you forget how. You just do it. And now I can again, all right? So here goes.
                  He morphs into vamp face. The woman screams.
                  SPIKE: This might hurt a little.
                  He bends over to bite her, then flings himself back, yelling in pain, crashes into a Dumpster. The woman runs off. – “Smashed”

                  We don’t know if Spike could have taken the next step and bitten her because the chip went off and took away all choice. In “Sleeper”, Buffy acts like the chip in this scene. She keeps walking until she’s right up in Spike’s face, stopping him from making any choice at all. There’s no chance for the chip to go off or his soul to stop him from biting Linda.

                  Spike looks confused when Buffy smiles seductively and nods her head.

                  BUFFY: You know you want it.
                  Want what? To have sex with Linda? To bite her? Human lust and demon bloodlust are confused because both work through desire. Spike looks puzzled as Buffy smiles again. He’s unable to make a decision for himself. She comes even closer to him.

                  BUFFY: You know I want you to.

                  This seems to give Spike the go-ahead to commit a terrible crime. The decision isn’t based on his new soul or the chip. He’s making a choice under the direction of the one person he trusts more than anyone else in the world. Buffy. She says that his bloodlust is okay and it’s okay to kill Linda.

                  Spike turns around with a hungry look that scares Linda.

                  LINDA: Um, is everything...?
                  Spike vamps out and growls, causing Linda to scream as he sinks his fangs in her neck.

                  The chip does not go off as Spike feeds. Buffy smiles and nods her head in approval.

                  BUFFY: There's my guy.

                  There’s no chip or soul anymore. Just Spike and demon bloodlust and Buffy who tells him to let it rip. It’s very much like Drusilla in “Crush” who tries to convince Spike that the chip can’t stop him from killing if he wants to.

                  DRUSILLA: You're a killer. Born to slash and bash and bleed like beautiful poetry. No little tinker-toy could ever stop you from flowing.
                  SPIKE: Yeah. But the pain, love, you don't understand. It's searing. It’s blinding.
                  DRUSILLA: All in your head. I can see it. Little bit of plastic, spider-webbing out nasty blue shocks. And every one is a lie. Electricity lies, Spike. It tells you you're not a bad dog, but you are. – “Crush”

                  There’s even the same confusion as both Drusilla and ‘Buffy’ talk to Spike like he’s lost and then found. Is good or bad Spike in control?

                  SPIKE: It's been fun while it lasted, Harm, but I think it'd be best now if you hit the road.
                  HARMONY: Why? Because she's back?
                  SPIKE: No. Because I am.
                  DRUSILLA: And there you are, my darling, deadly boy. – “Crush”

                  After the commercial, we see Linda is dead. Spike is still growling as he bites even harder to get the last bits when ‘Buffy’ gets his attention.

                  BUFFY/FIRST: Now, doesn't that feel better?
                  The question has a lot of meaning. Spike’s demon feels better after feasting on human blood. Spike’s body feels better freed from the chip. Spike’s soul feels better leaving the moral choice to Buffy. Spike’s mind feels better now that he’s free of memories that he’d rather forget.

                  But is there anything left at all of Spike? He raises his head like a zombie and he’s no longer in game face but his mouth is dripping blood. Spike looks at ‘Buffy’ as he dumps Linda to the floor. He’s like a sleepwalker whose movements and even emotions can be fully awake but morals and consciousness are asleep and then starts to wake up. Doctors call it ‘confusional arousal’ where the person is confused after abnormal REM sleep. Spike doesn’t really know where he is and doesn’t really know what is happening as he watches ‘Buffy’ smiling at him. Spike looks panicked and leaves the alley with blood still dripping from his mouth. ‘Buffy’ morphs into ‘Spike’ as the First watches him run through the crowd.

                  The scene ends with a question from “Early One Morning” that is all about the idea of moral choice and free will which is such a huge part of Spike’s identity and comes to a turning point in season seven.

                  SPIKE/FIRST: How could you use a poor maiden so?

                  The change from Buffy into Spike means metaphorically that old soulless Spike is back.

                  But we also now know for sure that the thing urging him on is the same monster who was tormenting Spike as it morphed into different Big Bads in “Lessons” and the same monster who talked to Willow and Dawn and Andrew in “Conversations with Dead People.”

                  There are so many questions in this scene that the show never answers.

                  When did the First begin to use Spike? Why does the First step in to help Spike kill the woman? With every kill, is the First always there as Buffy or someone else to tell him what to do? Does the First want Spike hyped up on human blood and craving more? Why?

                  Does Spike believe that he’s been dreaming when he ‘awakens’ later on? How does the trigger of “Early One Morning” work on Spike? Is Spike making his decisions from demon instinct, from the First or is he actually sleepwalking memories from his soulless days when the chip never existed so he can bite without pain? When do his memories fade? He remembers meeting Linda and that was after “Early One Morning” was played on the harmonica, so the amnesia isn’t caused by the song. Is there anything stopping Spike from killing Linda if the First hadn’t shown up? His soul? Fear of failing Buffy? Memories of being human? Or is the First stepping in right before the kill just to make fun of Spike?

                  Why didn’t Spike sire Linda? He sired one victim and buried her in the basement. Was the crowd was too large to carry Linda out of there? Is Spike becoming more self-aware than the time before and that’s why ‘Buffy’ had to show up?

                  Why wouldn’t someone running through a crowd with blood all over their mouth attract attention? Did he bite through his tongue or something? Did Spike run so fast that no one could stop him? Maybe they thought he was in a violent fight with someone? Did Spike wipe off the blood before he entered Xander’s apartment or afterwards?

                  In the next scene, Spike is sleeping on top of the sheets shirtless and barefoot without removing his pants. Side note: where is Spike getting his clothes from, anyway? It’s hard to believe that they’re Xander or Riley or Giles hand-me-downs. The shiny leather pants in particular are really ugly.

                  If Spike was disoriented before, he’s even more confused when Buffy enters his room and throws him off the bed. He lands on the floor in shock as Buffy starts yelling at him.

                  There’s something wrong about what Buffy does here. She thinks Spike might be doing something terrible behind her back, but she didn’t really gather enough evidence to be sure of anything. The relationship between Buffy and Spike has always been full of abuse, especially in season six. From their fights as enemies in “School Hard,” “What’s My Line,” “The Harsh Light of Day,” “Smashed,” to their sexual relationship that ended up with a severe beating in “Dead Things” and an attempted rape in “Seeing Red,” the Buffy/Spike relationship has always been violent and physical.

                  It felt justified when they were actually fighting each other as slayer and vampire and Buffy was protecting Sunnydale from Spike’s evil ways. But in seasons four through six, Buffy threw sucker punches and kicks at a chipped, defenseless Spike. Spike wasn’t exactly an innocent, though, sneaking behind Buffy’s back, working against her, stalking her, stealing her things and even lying to her when lives were on the line:

                  SPIKE: Well, speaking of dishes, to what do I owe this unpleasant-
                  Buffy hits him in the face
                  SPIKE: Ow! Bloody hell!
                  BUFFY: I don't have time for banter, Spike. Where's Harmony's lair?
                  SPIKE: Haven't seen her in months. How should I know-
                  Buffy hits him in the face again
                  SPIKE: Ow!
                  BUFFY: Where is she?
                  SPIKE: At least lay off the nose.
                  Buffy pulls back her fist.
                  SPIKE: Okay! Okay! Used to have a cave in the north woods. About forty meters past the overpass construction site.
                  Buffy punches him in the nose again.
                  SPIKE: Ow!! I was telling you the truth!
                  BUFFY: I know. – “Real Me”

                  Buffy’s violence towards Spike feels like she’s acting out her issues on someone evil and annoying. Chipped Spike is a vampire punching bag. He takes her abuse without a lot physical damage because he’s a fast healing vampire and gives Buffy as much emotional pain as she gives him. I think this probably connects to Spike saying in “Never Leave Me” that Buffy likes men who cause her pain because Buffy always seems to come back for more.

                  Buffy’s abuse becomes a part of Spike’s attraction to her. His dream that reveals his feelings for Buffy is filled with Buffy threats of violence and death:

                  BUFFY: Spike, you're a killer. And I shoulda done this *years* ago.
                  SPIKE: You know what? Do it. Bloody just do it.
                  BUFFY: What?
                  SPIKE: End ... my ... torment. Seeing you, every day, everywhere I go, every time I turn around. Take me ... out of a world ... that has you in it! Just kill me! – “Out of My Mind”
                  Spike didn’t mind the violence too much because it sexually and emotionally turned him on and his attraction to slayers is violence as a kind of foreplay. But Buffy also gets some emotional relief out of beating up Spike which he points out after she punches him again:

                  Spike is painting his nails when Buffy bursts into his crypt.
                  SPIKE: Morning, sunshine. If you've come around for eggs or sausage, I'm fresh out.
                  Buffy grabs the lid of the coffin and pulls it out from under Spike so that he tumbles backward into the coffin. He sits up.
                  SPIKE: Hey, careful! These are wet!
                  Buffy slides the lid back onto the coffin so that it slams into Spike's chest, pinning him against the opposite side of the coffin.
                  BUFFY: How could you let her find out like that? From books and papers? You hate me that much?
                  SPIKE: I was just along for the ride. Not like I knew she was mystical glowy key thing. Nobody keeps me in the bloody loop, do they?
                  Buffy bangs the lid and steps back.
                  BUFFY: You could have stopped her.
                  SPIKE: Oh, yeah, here it comes. Something goes wrong in your life, blame Spike. News flash, Blondie.
                  Spike picks up the lid up, tossing it aside.
                  SPIKE: If kid sis wants to grab a midnight stroll, she'll find a way sooner or later. I just thought she'd be safer with big bad looking over her shoulder.
                  BUFFY: She shouldn't have found out like that.
                  SPIKE: You didn't think you could keep the truth from her forever, did you? Maybe if *you* had been more honest with her in the first place, you wouldn't be trying to make yourself feel better with a round of 'Kick The Spike'. – “Blood Ties”
                  When Buffy and Spike finally have sex, it comes after a total slug fest because Spike can finally fight back when the chip fails. But the physical damage is nothing compared to the emotional beating their words provide:

                  SPIKE: Oh, poor little lost girl.
                  Spike jumps up to swing on the chandelier and kicks Buffy in the face.
                  SPIKE: She doesn't fit in anywhere. She's got no one to love.
                  Buffy throws Spike against the staircase, smashing the banister to bits.
                  BUFFY: Me? I'm lost? Look at you, you idiot! Poor Spikey. Can't be a human, can't be a vampire. Where the hell do you fit in?
                  Spike swings but Buffy punches him in the stomach and throws him into the fireplace.
                  BUFFY: Your job is to kill the slayer. But all you can do is follow me around making moon eyes.
                  SPIKE: I'm in love with you.
                  BUFFY: You're in love with pain. Admit it. You like me because you enjoy getting beat down. So really, who's screwed up?
                  SPIKE: Hello! Vampire! – “Smashed”

                  The more that Spike falls in love with Buffy, though, the more he resents her attitude that he’s nothing more than a disgusting thing who can’t be trusted. It’s not the violence that bothers him because as a vampire, he understands that. It’s Buffy’s dismissive attitude that he’s nothing to her. She can hurt him with words as much as he hurts her. Her beating in "Dead Things" was nothing compared to the way that she psychologically torments him. In season seven, Buffy tells Holden that she was using Spike for one thing or another and treated him like a monster despite the fact that he loved her in his soulless way. Like when she accuses him of using a camera to spy on her when it's really the Trio.

                  SPIKE: You think I was spying on you. You think I could do that?
                  BUFFY: Because you don't lie or cheat or steal or manipulate...
                  SPIKE: I don't hurt you.
                  BUFFY: I know.
                  SPIKE: No, you don't. I've tried to make it clear to you, but you won't see it. Something happened to me. The way I feel about you. It's different. And no matter how hard you try to convince yourself it isn't, it's real.
                  BUFFY: I think it is – for you. – “Entropy”
                  What’s weird is how much Spike wants to drag Buffy into the dark with him while asking for the kind of trust that he doesn’t deserve. Spike lies about the simplest of things because it gets him what he wants. Soulless Spike tells Buffy that he doesn’t hurt her, and he probably he believes it when he says it. But right before that, he protests that he would never spy on Buffy even though we saw him stalk her all through seasons five and six. Spike’s inability to see how contradictory this is leads to tragedy as he tries to continue their violent relationship even though Buffy has told him to stop:

                  SPIKE: Let yourself love me.
                  BUFFY: No, stop it!
                  SPIKE: I know you felt it when I was inside you. You'll feel it again, Buffy.
                  BUFFY: Please don't do this.
                  SPIKE: I'm gonna make you feel it. – “Seeing Red”

                  The forced ‘soulless Spike’ fake-out that Spike uses to hide his soul in “Beneath You” is horrible to a lot of viewers who expected Spike to come back a different person. But I think that Spike is just pretending to start up their violent relationship again and maybe even mentioning the AR as a kind of weird trying for suicide by slayer:

                  BUFFY: You haven't changed, Spike.
                  Buffy punches Spike in the face. He punches back.
                  SPIKE: Working out some personal issues, are we?
                  Buffy punches and kicks Spike again
                  SPIKE: Hey, I guess this would be first contact since, uh, you know when. Ooh, up for another round up on the balcony, then?
                  Buffy punches Spike again and he lands on the floor, laughing.
                  SPIKE: Right you are, luv. I haven't changed. Not a lick. And watching your face trying to figure me out was absolutely delicious. – “Beneath You”

                  After the scene in the church in “Beneath You,” Buffy doesn’t know what to think and no longer physically touches Spike. Not just because of the AR, but because they have no idea how to physically continue their relationship now that it’s no longer based on violence. Until now.

                  When Buffy bursts into Spike’s room while he’s sleeping and throws him violently to the floor, it’s exactly what she did with soulless Spike in his crypt. She’s in full “Spike is evil” mode so she feels she has the right to abuse him again. It’s also possible that some of this is unresolved tension from the AR and Buffy feels that this time she’s the one who’s going be on top if they’re going to have a drag-out violent fight. For all she knows, Spike will vamp out and attack her. The script makes it clear that it’s 4:30 am again, which means Buffy hasn’t really gotten sleep for two nights in a row. Maybe this is making her more unreasonable than usual.

                  BUFFY: Did you kill her?

                  Spike is still trying to wake up. It’s a lot like Xander the night before when Buffy pounded on his door, demanding to see Spike.

                  SPIKE: What?

                  Her question is direct and tugs at his new soul. Are you a killer? Well, yes, he is. Is Buffy talking about someone from his past? Buffy makes it clear that she’s talking about something more recent.

                  BUFFY: The girl. Last night.
                  Spike turns on a light as he lies on the floor to ‘shed light’ on her meaning. He has no idea what Buffy is talking about.

                  SPIKE: What girl? What are you talking about?
                  Buffy doesn’t let up the pressure as she walks around the bed to stand above him.

                  BUFFY: I caught the first act. I missed the curtain call. Did you kill her? Did you turn her? Is she one of your kind now?

                  Buffy is really angry here, practically yelling at Spike. Is this really the best way to find out the truth? Buffy is using the detective’s interrogation method of surprise to keep Spike unbalanced so she can find out the truth. She first invades his personal space and accuses him of committing the crime and then she tries to provoke a confession as to what really happened before he can come up with a coherent defense. The problem is that she can’t think of a motive beyond Spike being an evil vampire in the past. But he has a soul now, which makes no sense at all.

                  Spike is totally overwhelmed by all the questions that make no sense to him. Is Buffy talking about the woman he flirted with last night? Why is she accusing him of killing and turning her? Why is she treating him like he’s soulless Spike? The ‘one of your kind’ must really hurt because it says he’s a murderous vampire who has to be tracked by the slayer to prevent him from killing people.

                  SPIKE: Did you...are you following me?

                  Buffy doesn’t really have an answer to that. She’s not interested in Spike’s hurt feelings. She is the slayer and that means she is the law where demons are concerned.

                  BUFFY: Answer the question. Where is she?
                  The script says that Spike is simply blown away by the accusation and very upset. He can’t believe Buffy is acting this way when he’s done nothing wrong.

                  SPIKE: Who knows? I talked to her, is all!

                  Spike’s sleepwalking memories are a jumble of real memories, false memories and no memories at all of what happened. So Spike does remember Linda. He can probably picture the woman in his mind but can’t really remember much more than talking with her.

                  BUFFY: Really? It looked like more than talking to me.

                  Did it? All Buffy saw was Spike coming on to her in line and whispering in her ear. He didn’t vamp out or lurk in the bushes or grab her roughly or try to bite her. Buffy is somewhat reaching here, adding an eyewitness account that isn’t real. Is this to trick Spike into confessing or did Buffy really see something out of the ordinary?

                  SPIKE: Well, I certainly didn't off her!
                  People say that souled Spike isn’t much different from soulless Spike, but the difference seems obvious to me. Spike isn’t violent or nasty, but hurt and confused like Xander or Willow would be at the same accusation. He pleads with Buffy to think about how crazy her accusation sounds.

                  SPIKE: Where are you getting this? You know I can't.

                  Buffy believes that Spike is using the same excuse that Buffy had with Xander. Spike couldn’t have killed Linda because he still has the chip.

                  BUFFY: Right, the chip.
                  And Spike blows up because she just doesn’t get it. At all.

                  SPIKE: Not the chip. Not the chip, damn it -
                  Spike stops in frustration. Buffy doesn’t see that he could never kill anyone anymore. Not like that.

                  SPIKE: You honestly think I'd go to the end of the underworld and back to get my soul, and then…

                  Spike can’t continue because it upsets him so much that Buffy doesn’t believe he’s changed. He’s said it before in “Crush” and “Entropy” except this time it’s real. But Buffy still doesn’t trust Spike. So the violent relationship starts up all over again except that this time, Spike isn’t really turned on by the violence anymore.

                  SPIKE: Buffy, I can barely live with what I did. It haunts me. All of it. You think that I would add to the body count now, you're crazy.

                  Spike doesn’t usually express the anguish he feels inside after getting back his soul. He doesn’t show it in the same way as Angel because he has different emotional hang-ups about himself. But it’s still there.

                  This reminds me of Spike’s conversation with Angel in “Just Rewards” when Angel also finds it hard to believe that Spike has changed.

                  SPIKE: Necromancer tried to make a deal with me.
                  ANGEL: What?
                  SPIKE: Said he could bring me back—body and soul—if I used our close personal relationship to double-cross you.
                  ANGEL: Tempting. So what'd you say?
                  SPIKE: You see, right there, that's the problem. You having to ask me that. I don't play for that side anymore, or haven't you heard? – “Just Rewards”

                  I think part of the problem is the difference between Angel and Spike. Angel was raised in a society that prized Catholic guilt and remorse as a virtue, so he has less issues showing his torment than Spike, who was brought up in a repressive time of Victorian fortitude and the masculine stiff upper lip. During his line, Spike starts putting on his shirt like he’s covering up his embarrassing confession even as he’s making it.

                  Angel was also cursed with his soul, so it actually seems more believable that he’d be guilty and full of pain. Spike chose to have his soul back of his own free will, which seems suspicious. Does Spike seem less pitiful somehow because he asked for it? Buffy fights back any feelings she might have about Spike’s choice because her job is to protect the innocent and she needs to know what Spike was doing with that woman.

                  BUFFY: So, what, you just troll the promenade looking for drunk co-eds because you're hungry for conversation?
                  A real detective would have used Spike’s new soul as a way to get him to confess. Buffy’s sarcasm feels personal. Maybe her feelings aren’t about Buffy the slayer, but Buffy the woman. She’s paranoid because she doesn’t like seeing him with other women. Spike sighs in relief and chuckles as he slips on his shirt. He knows what this is about now.

                  SPIKE: Oh, is that what this is. Right.
                  BUFFY: What?
                  SPIKE: You're jealous.

                  If Buffy was angry before, she’s really furious now. Spike is trying to dodge the questions by turning the interrogation on her.

                  BUFFY: Don't play games, not now.

                  Spike suddenly gets a burst of confidence now that he thinks he knows why Buffy’s so upset.

                  SPIKE: Yeah, you saw me chatting up another bird, I’m giving the eye to somebody else. Touched a nerve, did it?

                  The script says it strikes a nerve with Buffy and she covers. But I think that SMG says her next line as Buffy outraged that Spike is trying to make this all about their relationship rather than her duty as the Slayer. There’s a touch of both in there that makes the conversation degenerate into the usual Buffy/Spike nasty accusations against each other to be hurtful.

                  BUFFY: Don't flatter yourself.

                  Now that Buffy thinks Spike is a murderer, she’s gone right back to the old nasty relationship between them and Spike goes right along with it because he’s hurt.

                  SPIKE: It burns, huh! But you can't admit it, so you trump up some charge about me being back on the juice-

                  Spike wants a confession out of her that she’s jealous. He must know that it’s not that simple, but Spike clings to his story to hurt Buffy like she’s hurt him. The conversation is no longer about Spike killing, it’s now become about Buffy and Spike’s relationship and Spike thinks she’s been listening to a lot of gossip that isn’t true.

                  BUFFY: This vampire I killed, he told me…

                  SPIKE: Told you what? That I go out? Yeah, I talk to people…women. I talk to them because I can't talk to you.

                  Does Spike have the right to talk to Buffy like this after the AR? But Spike is being accused of a terrible thing and to defend himself, he tries to explain why he goes out whether Buffy wants to hear it or not. He’s avoiding her because he’s still in love with her. I think she’s not sure how to respond so she responds with sarcasm as if he’s blaming her for going out every night.

                  BUFFY: Oh, Spike, save it.

                  Spike goes on, now unafraid to tell her the whole truth:

                  SPIKE: As daft a notion as ‘Soulful Spike the killer’ is, it is nothing compared to the idea that another girl could mean anything to me.
                  Is it that crazy that a souled vampire could kill? Warren had a soul and could kill. So could Willow. But Spike loves Buffy. He got his soul for her so he could be a kind of man. Or at least have the conscience of a man so he would never hurt her. Why would he start killing now?

                  SPIKE: This chip they did to me. I couldn't help it.

                  SPIKE: But the soul I got on my own. For you.

                  Spike is saying that the chip forces morals on him. But the soul, which gives him his own moral conscience, was chosen because of Buffy. She’s why soulless Spike would do such a crazy thing.

                  Buffy is deeply moved, I think, and finds it hard to continue.

                  BUFFY: I know.
                  There’s a cut line here that’s really interesting:

                  SPIKE: And everything I felt, feel - it only cuts deeper now.
                  Spike is not only talking about the murders that he’s done, but about the love he feels for Buffy. It was selfish love before, but now he loves her in a different way. Spike knows that he doesn’t deserve her so he tries to spend time with other people so he doesn’t bother her with his feelings. This idea does come back in the comics.

                  SPIKE: So, yeah, I go and pass the time with someone. But that's all it is. Time. God help me, Buffy, it's still all about you.
                  Spike is very emotional here and Buffy doesn’t doubt he’s sincere. Yes, they could be lies to get back together with her, but he seems very genuine. He’s almost in tears. So Buffy decides to drop the hardball interrogation and tell Spike the evidence she’s been holding back.

                  BUFFY: Spike. This vampire told me you sired him.
                  Spike was obviously not expecting this because he looks shaken and confused. Maybe someone from the past?

                  SPIKE: That doesn't mean…
                  BUFFY: He said you killed him. Dumped him in a parking lot somewhere.
                  Spike knows that he didn’t kill anyone and dump them in a parking lot in the past six years. If that’s all that Buffy has, then he’s in the clear.

                  SPIKE: And you believed him? Vampires, not known…

                  BUFFY: I did follow you last night. And you know what? You didn't look lonely or casual to me. You looked like you were on the prowl.
                  Spike saying that all vampires lie makes Buffy angry. So what is Spike? Isn’t he a vampire? Humans lie, too. Even souled Angel wasn’t always truthful.

                  Spike doesn’t remember being on the prowl at all. But his confessions of love for Buffy have also made him realize how much he respects her judgment. It’s not possible, is it?

                  SPIKE: You can't know that.

                  Buffy’s interrogation has begun again and this time, she appeals to his honesty. Just tell me. Trust me.

                  BUFFY: So then tell me. Tell me what happened. You talked to her. Then what?
                  Spike can’t remember anything out of the ordinary.

                  SPIKE: We talked. That's all I remember.
                  Buffy pauses. Is it possible that Spike is killing and doesn’t know it?

                  BUFFY: All you remember?
                  Thoughts must run through Buffy’s head about the soul and vampires and the craziness that Spike was talking about with soulful Spike the killer might actually be caused by real insanity brought on by the soul. Spike tries hard to relate to Buffy all he can remember, but it’s blurry.

                  SPIKE: I don't know. I go out. I talk to people. I don't. Boring. It all bleeds together.

                  I like the Freudian slip of his time with victims bleeding together. Spike is confused. But Buffy is starting to piece things together.

                  BUFFY: Well, if you seem to forget that much…
                  Buffy is giving Spike an ‘out’ here. Maybe he’s not responsible for his actions like the Canadian sleepwalker who killed his mother-in-law in his sleep. Maybe the soul has made him insane enough that he’s not aware of his actions. But Spike finds it impossible to believe that he’d forget feasting on humans.

                  SPIKE: Not that. The taste of human blood? That I'd remember.
                  Spike says this in a weird way. It has nothing to do with killing people and more to do with the delicious memory of devouring humans.

                  BUFFY: Spike. You were camped out on the Hellmouth talking to invisible people. Recently. How can you be sure of…
                  Buffy has now half convinced herself that if Spike has done something terrible, he’s innocent of any knowledge. But she seems to be blaming it on the soul rather on an outside force despite what Willow and Dawn experienced a few nights ago. Spike senses this, I think, and becomes angry. Buffy isn’t being fair in his opinion. He just confessed his love for her and how hard it is to live with his soul and Buffy accuses him of murdering people based on one vampire’s claim and nothing else. It hurts and he lashes out at her.

                  SPIKE: No! You are wrong! You've got an accusation from a pile of dust and not a shred of proof.

                  Spike echoes Buffy in “Smashed” when he accuses her of being less than human.

                  BUFFY: You're wrong.
                  She kicks him hard. He flies back into the opposite wall, but immediately bounces back and comes back over to her.
                  SPIKE: Then how come you're so spooked, luv? And why can I - (punches her) do that?
                  Buffy slowly looks back over at him, panting.
                  BUFFY: You're wrong! – “Smashed”

                  Spike doesn’t want to believe he could kill with the soul he fought so hard for. He can’t remember anything and he’s upset to think that Buffy doesn’t believe him.

                  BUFFY: So I'll get some.

                  Buffy’s unshakable belief that Spike is killing again, maybe unknowingly, seems to affect Spike deeply. After she leaves his room, he takes a deep breath and tries to collect himself.

                  There’s a cut line here from the script as Buffy leaves that makes it clear what Spike is worried about.

                  SPIKE: And if you don't? What's it going to take to make you believe in me?
                  Spike knows that Buffy is the slayer and she stands alone against the forces of darkness. She has to put aside her feelings in order to do her job. She made this clear in “Selfless” and hasn’t changed her mind no matter how much Spike’s decision to get his soul moves her. Is he worried that Buffy will find proof? Or is Spike worried that Buffy will never find that proof but still believe he’s a killer and their relationship will stay in the same poisonous rut as before?

                  Buffy is probably worried about the same thing. She turns to the available Scooby gang, Buffy, Willow, Dawn and Anya, since Xander is most likely at work. Willow is at her computer, Dawn hands out books and Anya looks resigned to another non-fun session of research where no one makes any money.

                  BUFFY: Okay, Guys, find me some evidence that he did this.

                  Does Buffy want them to find facts to fit her theories so she can dust Spike? Anya finds this weird.

                  ANYA: Really? Are you sure that’s what you want?
                  Buffy realizes how terrible that sounded. She’s not trying to destroy Spike. She’s trying to find out the truth.

                  BUFFY: Find me the proof that he didn't.
                  Dawn is still upset by the vision of her mother and she uses Willow’s words to tell Buffy that the vampire was probably another version of the Big Bad who visited the other night.

                  DAWN: You only think Spike is turning people because that vampire told you so, right? But that night, I mean, we were all told things that weren’t true.
                  WILLOW: Maybe.
                  Wait, didn’t Willow tell Dawn that it was all lies? Why is she changing her mind now?

                  DAWN: What? What maybe?
                  Does this mean that her mom was telling the truth? Dawn is putting together her own evidence about the truthfulness of the vision.

                  WILLOW: Well just because those weren't the spirits of, you know, our people...just because they were some evil thing, it doesn't mean what they said can't be true.
                  Has Willow been thinking about what Cassie said and brooding on whether it’s true? Holden’s confession has her thinking that maybe this is one of those evil prophecies that’s true like in “Prophecy Girl” or Mayor Wilkins’ prediction that Buffy and Angel wouldn’t make it. Even rotten Rack told the truth about some things.

                  Dawn looks worried. Does that mean that he mom was right and Buffy won’t choose her when the time comes?

                  Anya doesn’t make her feel any better.

                  ANYA: I used to tell the truth all the time when I was evil.

                  This is a really funny line but it's not true. Which makes it funnier.

                  It’s not good enough for Buffy, though. She still needs evidence.

                  BUFFY: We can't assume anything. We need hard facts.
                  ANYA: Well, if Spike is biting people again, shouldn’t there be more dead people with neck trauma, right? We can find that.
                  Anya’s logic doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why would a few deaths mean that Spike was killing people? Aren’t people dying every day from vampires and demons in Sunnydale? This part of the plot never made much sense to me. Willow looks on the computer and says that there aren’t any more deaths than normal. So does that mean under a hundred? Real estate must be really cheap in Sunnydale with all the turnover.

                  WILLOW: No.
                  ANYA: No, we can't find that? But that's easy. That computer is a moron.
                  I like how Anya avoids saying Willow is a moron by blaming it on the computer.

                  WILLOW: I mean, no, there's not really an increase in neck injuries, but...
                  BUFFY: But what?
                  WILLOW: Missing people. Eight maybe, oh, ten of 'em. No bodies, they're just...missing, mostly young, lotsa girls...

                  This still doesn’t make any sense. One giant monster could have eaten a class of coeds. Or a vengeance demon killed them all like a few weeks ago. The writers should have come up with better proof than this.

                  Dawn is worried because it seems to confirm that bad guys tell the truth and that the vision of Joyce wasn’t lying. That kind of doesn’t make sense either since Dawn has seen Spike lie and tell the truth and knows that even demons are shades of grey when it comes to being honest.

                  DAWN: So it's true. What that vampire told Buffy turned out to be true.
                  The only one who still seems to be rational here is Buffy. Guys, we’re in a Hellmouth town, deaths are everywhere.

                  BUFFY: Maybe. But it still doesn't prove that it's Spike.
                  There's no evidence here that reveals the identity of the culprit. So far, it's all one big red herring. Buffy's detective work so far has been one big wild goose chase down a wrong way street.

                  BUFFY: Right now, he's the only one who knows for sure.
                  Or maybe even Spike doesn’t know.

                  There are memories that play tricks on you, especially traumatic events that people can’t remember except for brief flashbacks. A lot of people can’t remember how they felt when something terrible happened but they can see those events in small flashes in their minds and that’s what’s happening to Spike. It’s the kind of amnesia that sleepwalkers sometimes have when they flash on events that they thought only happened in their dreams even though they were living them.

                  The real problems begin when they finally wake up.

                  Last edited by Tiny Tabby; 06-08-20, 07:11 AM.


                  • Fantastic Tiny Tabby! Thank you for continuing to post on Sleeper, I'm really looking forward to rewatching the ep and reading your thoughts.

                    As a buffer post, I thought I'd just add a quick reminder to everyone that there are links to all the different reviews, and their varying parts, under the spoiler on the first post of the thread. Just to help navigate and jump around the thread more easily.


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

                      “Sleeper, Part Three”

                      In every detective story, the investigator gathers clues and interviews suspects to find out what’s true and what’s false. As Sherlock Holmes once famously said, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

                      But if you aren’t a genius like Sherlock Holmes, then you might not think of all the possibilities and you end up assuming things are true that really aren’t. Like a crop circle means space aliens have landed. Or the sun goes around the earth. Or a vampire with a soul and a chip is murdering people behind your back.

                      Buffy and Xander try to be CSI-level objective, but in season seven, sometimes what seems to be true is actually an illusion and what seems to be an illusion is actually true. Like Dawn’s confusion over the vision of her mother, it’s hard to trust your own senses. Sometimes bad guys tell the truth. And sometimes good guys lie.

                      If “Sleeper” is written like a detective story with Buffy hot on the trail of the murderer, the solution to the problem isn’t just fingering the vampire suspect and sending them to a dusty death. It’s separating false from true and the appearance of guilt from real accountability. Buffy knows that things aren’t always what they seem in Sunnydale. In “Prophecy Girl”, Buffy’s first Big Bad battle is with the Master but she doesn’t even fight him.

                      Instead, Buffy slowly turns around and allows him to bite her despite herself, drowning in a puddle of water. Because it’s one thing to walk in your sleep with nothing but your own mind to guide you. It’s another thing to let someone else do it.

                      Although we think of ‘mind control’ as very 20th century, the concept of someone controlling another person’s mind actually goes back to the earliest times. Mind control could be either good or evil depending on the guide. Many gods required their admirers to be in an endless thrall like the god Jasmine in Angel season four who literally had her followers kneel in obedience while still believing that they have their own free will.

                      Good guides were usually gods, family spirits or religious figures who would lead people to find out new information or discover a way to solve their problems. In ancient India, sick people were taken to temples for the gods to take over their bodies and heal them. In Greek and Roman myths, similar “sleep temples” were built to allow the gods to guide them in dreams and affect their behavior afterwards. Shamans in different cultures would place a person in need of healing in another state of consciousness until they were unable to feel pain. But there were also bad guides, evil spirits and sorcerers who would use sorcery to control people and make them do terrible things.

                      One of the oldest versions of mind control was the ‘evil eye’ which is in almost every known culture. In the earliest writings of ancient Sumerians, Chinese and Egyptians, the fear of a cursed gaze that can harm and even kill people resulted in the creations of eye talismans that would ward off the spell.

                      Some psychologists think it’s because the eye is the most powerful sense that can tell truth from falsehood and see through a person’s outer appearance to the core of their identity. The evil eye has the power to destroy that identity and expose a person’s darkest secrets and desires just by looking at them. The worst was when the evil eye captured the ‘divine emanation’ which was in all living things and used it against them by controlling their actions.

                      This idea of a ‘divine emanation’ that ran through all living things and controlled the mind and body. In “The Book of Healing,” the famous Muslim philosopher Avicenna believed that there was a scientific way to control minds through the power of suggestion and alchemists/doctors tried to channel the ‘divine emanation’ through blood-letting and leeches. Talismans could also be evil versions for that divine emanation of the evil eye, drawing bad things to it like the mask in “Dead Man’s Party” that controls the undead.

                      The fear of mind control by an evil force is common in fantasy and supernatural stories and almost everyone in Buffy has been possessed and/or controlled by another force at one time or another.

                      In “Bad Eggs”, Giles is controlled in order to create more hosts for the mother Bezoar and her eggs. In “Primeval”, we find out that Riley is artificially controlled by Professor Walsh/Adam. In “Buffy vs. Dracula”, Xander is entranced by Dracula to do his bidding. And in Angel’s “Expecting”, Cordelia is placed under a telepathic thrall to bear the offspring of a Haxil demon.

                      But it was all in the realm of the supernatural. It wasn’t until Dr. Frederich Mesmer brought his theories to pre-Revolutionary France in the 1770s and 1780s that the idea of people scientifically controlling those ‘divine emanations’ really took off. Dr. Mesmer became so famous that his name became a verb, to mesmerize. In front of audiences, Mesmer claimed to direct the divine emanations through magnets and placing his hands on a person while gazing directly into their eyes.

                      Calling it ‘animal magnetism’, Dr. Mesmer then took control over his patients by putting them into a series of trances that had six stages:

                      Stage one was the waking stage where someone was totally awake.
                      Stage two was the transition stage where a patient became sleepy
                      Stage three was the sleeping stage where the patient cannot feel pain or respond
                      Stage four was the somnambulist stage where a patient will follow all directions of the mesmerizer
                      Stage five was the lucid somnambulist stage where the patient will walk and talk and act without knowing what they are doing
                      Stage six was the independent stage where the patient passes beyond the control of the mesmerizer and back to themselves

                      Dr. Mesmer was so popular despite the mockery of scientists that the idea of ‘animal magnetism’ and a ‘magnetic personality’ were used hundreds of years later to describe a charismatic personality who could ‘mesmerize’ the people around him through some object that focuses the gaze like an evil eye, like Giles does with Buffy in “Helpless” and Warren does with Katrina in “Dead Things”

                      A century later, embarrassed scientists called mesmerism ‘hypnotism’ after the Greek word ‘hypnoun’ which means ‘put to sleep. There was a lot of scientific experimentation, but hypnotism was mainly known through entertainers hypnotizing audience members in theaters, making them slide around on imaginary ice or dance to a tune in their heads. The idea of delayed hypnosis came from these theatrical performances because these humbug entertainers would claim that a 'post-hypnotic suggestion' would make someone do something long after they left the theater. They claimed as mesmerists that they could make a person sing or walk or talk or even imagine that they’re talking to the love of their life, as Drusilla does with Giles in “Becoming.”

                      Most of the ‘hypnotists’ were phonies and frauds who hired ‘audience members’ to come up and pretend to be hypnotized. But this didn’t seem to make hypnotism any less popular despite the exposure. Their notoriety only led to a lot of books and plays that showed mesmerists as monsters who controlled their patients and made them do monstrous things. In “Trilby”, one of the most popular novels at the turn of the century, the evil Svengali hypnotizes the title female character to sing and she becomes a huge star until he ends up killing her. This story was echoed later in “The Phantom of the Opera” in which the title character becomes obsessed with an opera singer and keeps her under his influence.

                      But hypnotism became much more than a side show through an unknown doctor from Austria who popularized the idea of the psychiatrist as a detective of the inner mind. A young Sigmund Freud traveled in 1885 to study with a famous French doctor, Jean Charcot, who was experimenting with treatments for hysteria. Hypnotism was thought to be a fraud and a hoax by other doctors, but Charcot was successfully treating patients. Through hypnosis, Freud slowly developed the theory and practice of psychoanalysis by exploring memories and feelings that had previously been repressed to cure a patient of hysteria.

                      We see this in a supernatural way when Buffy falls into a trance and Willow has to enter Buffy’s mind to bring her back. This is a literal way of showing how Freud’s psychoanalysis works through hypnosis. There’s a lot of metaphor in Buffy of magic as a metaphor for drugs or lesbianism, but one thing that I haven’t seen discussed is how magic acts as a metaphor for psychology.

                      Willow’s head trips didn’t end with Buffy. She also used mind tricks to make Tara forget her argument with Willow, magic becoming another form of psychological mind control with Willow as the mesmerist who keeps her subject under control like Svengali.

                      In the end, Freud moved on from hypnosis, but it continued to be used to cure people with troubled psychological states, a kind of way of communicating with the ‘unconscious’ mind. American Doctor Clark L. Hull conducted studies which led to an American interest in hypnotism for sports and rehabilitation from drug or alcohol addiction. It was also used for pain addiction and post-traumatic stress, especially in the military.

                      There were others, though, who wanted badly to use hypnotism that were not that far removed from the ancient fears of the evil eye. First planned by the Nazis, the idea of mass hypnosis or ‘brainwashing’ became the Holy Grail for certain scientists who saw the political benefits of controlling minds.

                      American soldiers who defected to the Communist side in the 50s during the Korean War were said to be brainwashed. People who became beatniks or hippies or who joined groups that were out of the mainstream were said to be brainwashed. Books like “The Manchurian Candidate” in 1959 spread the idea of a ‘sleeper’ agent who would be activated by a post-hypnotic trigger and then forget what he has done so he can never betray his controllers. In the book, the sleeper agent plays solitaire at the guidance of his evil mother who triggers his brainwashing as an assassin who kills when he sees the Queen of Diamonds card.

                      In real life, the CIA conducted hundreds of experiments to recreate the fictional Manchurian Candidate and try to control the minds of others. Like Maggie Walsh, they hoped that through torture, drugs and psychological desensitization that they could create ‘sleeper’ agents who would do their bidding. From 1953 to 1967, the CIA’s Sidney Gottlieb used Canadian and US citizens as test subjects for his experiments in mind control.

                      The top secret project was called MK Ultra and very little is even known about it today. There are a million conspiracy theories online, but there are actual documents and eyewitnesses that suggest Gottlieb continued certain Nazi experiments on concentration camp victims and released several convicted German scientists to continue to work on mind control. The CIA wanted to develop a “perfect truth drug” that they could administer to Soviet or Chinese agents and then turn them against their countries. In their desire to do this, they subjected innocent people to horrific experiments, like giving LSD without consent to mentally disturbed patients for six months.

                      The few CIA documents that were not destroyed after a Congressional Investigation and official apology by President Gerald Ford to the victims show use of chemical, biological and radiological methods of mind control that cost almost 100 million dollars by today's standards. They administered drugs to men in brothels and drugged CIA agents, causing one to commit suicide in his hotel suite after his horrific experience with LSD and other drugs like mescaline, cocaine, AMT and DMT.

                      Other patients voluntarily signed up for drug trials without knowing the true extent of the tests. One arm might be injected with amphetamines and the other with barbiturates to control the victim. Hypnosis was also used to place post-hypnotic suggestions in people’s minds and cause temporary amnesia while doing certain tasks. But it was no use.The search to create a Manchurian Candidate never did work. But the success of the movie version led to even more books, comics and films that dealt with the fear of the sleeper agent who would kill after hearing or seeing a trigger.

                      Some movies made fun of post-hypnotic suggestion like “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” where Woody Allen is hypnotized into stealing jewels and “Zoolander” in 2001 where Ben Stiller is forced to assassinate people whenever he hears the song "Relax".

                      It’s possible that the success of “Zoolander” gave the Buffy writers the idea of Spike’s trigger because it showed how well the device still worked and it was used again in the movies “Captain America: Civil War” where Captain America’s best friend Bucky is brainwashed and Joss Whedon’s own “Serenity” where a television commercial causes River to go on the attack.

                      But Spike’s trigger was a natural part of a long character arc in which he is a victim of institutional mind control from season four onwards. The chip that prevents Spike from harming anyone was originally thought of as a procedure similar to the brainwashing of the violent Alex DeLarge in “A Clockwork Orange” who is forced to watch violence as drugs are pumped into his system that create a feeling of revulsion, even towards the Beethoven music that plays over the images.

                      In fact, the Buffy writers talked a lot about “clockwork orange-ing” Spike. The writers of Buffy thought that Spike didn’t have much of a chance of reforming without a soul and that the chip was the only thing holding him back. So the chip was played for comedy, giving Buffy a reason not to dust Spike.

                      But the whole idea of the chip is kind of sickening. What people find fascinating about mind control is what scares us because it’s very close to our fears that we’re not a full person and even worse, that we're insane. The idea that we are not responsible for our own actions and that we are not our own person is terrifying. The original author of the book, Anthony Burgess, felt that Alex was a psychopathic monster who rapes and murders without remorse. But even more monstrous was the lack of free will through institutional control, turning Alex into an inhuman machine that has no reason to exist. A person without free will is like a ‘clockwork orange’ who can never truly be rehabilitated unless he’s given the chance to try, free of brainwashing.

                      After Spike chooses to get his soul to “be a kind of man”, the Scooby gang accepts that Spike is crazy in the basement and Spike himself seems to think this too. That makes sense to me because the ways in which he must look at his former actions must be confusing. It’s like looking at a funhouse mirror and realizing there’s another side of himself he never knew.

                      So when Buffy comes to Spike and accuses him of killing, it’s inconceivable to Spike because he feels so divorced from the old Spike he used to be. He’d rather think it was Buffy being jealous than anything he’s done recently. The idea of mind control doesn’t even occur to him because the guilt is so overwhelming to him just like it was to Angel in “Amends.”

                      So why does the First seem to pick on vampires with a soul? Is it because they’re still demons who can be brainwashed to kill the slayer but with a sympathetic human side that can be preyed upon and twisted until they break down? Or does it have to do with the nature of vampires themselves that makes them easier targets when they’re souled?

                      Like Angel, Spike thinks he deserves to be haunted and so he can’t get enough perspective to realize he’s being used. It’s actually kind of a surprise that Spike is getting ready to go out again after everything Buffy told him. But mingling with strangers has become a security blanket for Spike to avoid his real problems. Time spent in the Bronze and clubs is time not spent thinking about feelings and things that he’s done and ways in which he’s hurt Buffy. It’s a way to avoid the pain he feels after getting his soul which plays right into what the First has planned for him.

                      The weirdness of souled Spike wandering through his former life by going to live at Xander’s place again, hanging out at the Bronze and trying to deal with Buffy and Dawn after the AR are awkward because he has a dual sense of himself as soulless Spike and souled Spike and a bit of William mixed in there. The First capitalizes on this sense of identities by haunting Spike with people from different versions of his past and confusing him enough to carry out the First’s plans and point to any bizarre memories as part of his own madness.

                      So the idea that he’s secretly killing is so bad to Spike that he can’t even accept that Buffy might be onto something. So when he gets ready to go out, there’s no doubt that Spike believes he’s acting under his own volition.

                      Is it possible that someone could fail to remember their own senses? Spike says that he would remember drinking human blood, but under hypnosis, would he?

                      To stop thinking about Buffy’s accusations, Spike decides to leave for somewhere crowded like Disneyland at Christmas time so he can’t hear himself think. He puts on his jacket and feels for cigarettes. Finally finding them, he lifts them up to see an unfamiliar brand and freezes.

                      Spike has a flashback of the woman in “Conversations with Dead People” placing the cigarette pack down in front of Spike at the bar in the Bronze. Okay, that’s not too bad. There’s another flashback of the two of them laughing and drinking. Okay, that’s still not too bad. A third flashback of her lying on the ground with her throat ripped out. Yikes!

                      Are these memories real?

                      Maybe Buffy caused false memories by telling Spike he’s killing people. Is it the power of suggestion? Spike is obviously terrified by the flashbacks. Could Buffy be right? It can’t be possible. His mind is playing tricks on him ever since he returned from Africa. He’ll go to the Bronze, find the woman alive and bring her back to Buffy. That’ll prove that he’s not killing again.

                      As Spike leaves his room, Xander is watching TV with what looks like a girlie magazine in front of him and eating a frozen dinner from a plastic tray while he laughs at whatever he’s watching. It’s kind of sad that no one seems to cook in that beautiful apartment.

                      Spike moves to the door and Xander races out of his chair and pushes past him to block Spike at the entrance.

                      XANDER: No, no. You're not going out.

                      Has Buffy given Xander instructions to guard Spike and not let him leave after their recent talk? Or is this still from the previous day when they’re supposed to call her if he goes out. You would think Buffy would want Spike to go out so she can follow him again more closely this time. Maybe even take Willow with her to put a guiding spell on him like Tara did in “Bargaining” to find Willow.

                      But maybe Buffy doesn’t want to take that chance because someone else might die. Spike is willing to take that chance and asks Xander to let him leave.

                      SPIKE: I have to go.
                      Xander has a Xanderism that is very funny here as he finishes chewing his food.

                      XANDER: Buffy was very clear about the not-leaving-of you.
                      I like that Spike tries to explain to Xander what he’s doing rather than running out the door. I guess it’s the effect of the soul because soulless Spike wouldn’t have even bothered.

                      SPIKE: I know what the Slayer told you. It's not true. Let me go and I'll find a way to prove it.
                      Spike could have just called Buffy and told her about his flashbacks. Well, actually I guess that wouldn’t have been such a great idea.

                      XANDER: Okay, I'm gonna list the reasons that won't happen. One--
                      Spike doesn’t have time for this. He knocks Xander out with one punch.

                      Xander slides to the floor while Spike grabs his head and yells from the chip pain.

                      SPIKE: Ow!
                      Is this a sign of the chip deteriorating? In season four, even lifting his fist would have had Spike rolling in pain.

                      Now he can knock someone out and it just causes a head jab. Is it because he really doesn’t mean to hurt Xander very much? Xander seems pretty hurt when he calls Buffy.

                      Spike’s violence here says a lot about the soul and how it’s different from the chip. It’s hard to believe that there weren’t any non-violent ways to get Xander to move. Spike could have locked Xander in the bathroom or tried to reason further with him. Instead, he knocks him out in a cartoonish manner so that Xander is flat on the floor. There is a look of slight regret as Spike opens the door and looks at Xander on the floor before he walks out. But he doesn’t call for help. It’s a real jerky move.

                      One guess is that Spike knew exactly how much force to use so that Xander would be out but not seriously harmed. This is why the chip barely goes off. Another guess is that Spike’s need to be his own man and make his own decisions is so threatened by the flashbacks that nothing can stand in his way. He’s still a demon even if he has a soul. Or it could be the First.

                      We switch to the Bronze where a musical act is happening.

                      It’s Aimee Mann who was probably loved by Joss Whedon after her Oscar nomination in 1999 for scoring one of his favorite movies, “Magnolia.” Mann sings two songs at the Bronze from her 2002 album “Lost in Space.” The first song, “This Is How It Goes” plays under the first half of the scene as Spike moves past all of his old familiar places looking for the woman who gave him the pack of cigarettes.

                      LYRIC: This is how it goes
                      You'll get angry at yourself
                      And think you can think of something else
                      And I'll hear the clanging of the bells
                      'Cause I can't stop you baby
                      'Cause I don't have the bribery in place
                      No bright shiny surface to my face
                      So I won't go in the market place
                      With what I'm selling lately
                      The song is about showing a false front and we see a crowd enjoying the song until the camera pulls back and we see Spike moving past all of his old familiar places. I really like how all the scenes are like Spike retracing his past as soulless Spike, Spike in love with Buffy and souled Spike in his quest to find the missing memory that fits.

                      It was on the Bronze main floor that Spike first saw Buffy and her friends in “School Hard” and that’s where the camera starts until it pans to Spike sitting at the bar like in his flashback in “Conversations with Dead People” when she offered the pack of cigarettes.

                      SPIKE: She had blonde hair. A nice looking girl. I was here talkin' with her...
                      LYRIC: 'Cause this is how it goes
                      The waitress doesn’t remember anyone like that at all. Was she even really there?

                      SPIKE: ...the other night. I'm looking for someone who mighta seen her...

                      WAITRESS: No, sorry.
                      We next see Spike sitting at one of the little Bronze tables like in “Crush” when he dressed up as Riley to impress Buffy.

                      LYRIC: 'Cause it's all about drugs
                      It's all about shame
                      We then see him near the pool table where he told Buffy about killing slayers in “Fool for Love,” but the woman from the other nights not’s there either.

                      LYRIC: And whatever they want
                      Don't tell 'em your name
                      Spike walks through the crowd and starts walking up the stairs to the balcony. Maybe he can find his answers there. But who is he really looking for? The woman who gave him the cigarettes? Or his old self?

                      We cut to Buffy in her house holding the phone to her ear. We don’t see the other women researching with her, but the camera is so close that they might be there just off-screen.

                      BUFFY: He hit you?

                      Xander is holding an ice pack on his face as he talks on his end of the phone line. He’s talking funny, so Spike must have really hurt him.

                      XANDER: Knocked me out. He's been gone at least half-an-hour.

                      This news almost makes Buffy sure that Spike is going out to kill. Whether he’s aware or not, she has to stop him.

                      BUFFY: Any idea where he was headed?

                      Spike is now sitting on the balcony of the Bronze where he and Buffy had sex in “Dead Things” as they watched the people below. A new Aimee Mann song starts called “Pavlov’s Bell” that fits Spike’s situation with both the chip and the First.

                      Pavlov’s Bell was the name of an experiment conducted by the famous Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov who won a Nobel Prize for his work at the turn of the century. He invented the idea of “classical conditioning” which was a learning process where a stimulus was paired with another stimulus to elicit the same response from both. Dogs drooled when smelling and seeing meat so Pavlov rang a bell every time they were given meat. After a while, the dogs would start drooling when they heard the bell even though there was no meat. It’s the idea of responding to old things in new ways and started the psychological school of Behaviorism. It’s also considered another offshoot of behavioral hypnotism in which a person or animal is trained to go through a series of motions without thinking.

                      So many of Spike’s responses are related to the idea of classical conditioning through the chip, the trigger and even Buffy in a way. I feel like Spike has struggled for independence from the beginning because he’s very susceptible to being controlled. This probably explains why he’s always mean because it gives him an illusion of independence.

                      But there’s no one to control Spike on the balcony. He’s all alone and pulls out his flask from “The Gift” and drinks from it as he scans the crowd. As time goes by and she doesn’t show up, Spike is probably becoming more and more concerned. He’s also probably thinking about the last time he was there with Buffy in “Dead Things” and it makes him even more grim about how he hurt her.

                      LYRIC: Oh Mario, sit here by the window
                      Stay here 'til we reach Idaho
                      He’s surprised when a voice speaks next to him.

                      CHARLOTTE: One of 'em take your wallet?
                      Spike turns to see a gorgeous woman standing there. He sighs. It’s not the woman he’s looking for.

                      SPIKE: What's that?
                      CHARLOTTE: Way you're scanning that crowd; you look like you're out for blood.
                      Spike doesn’t pick up on her meaning.

                      SPIKE: I’m just looking for a certain bird I met here the other night.

                      LYRIC: And when we go
                      Hold my hand on take-off
                      Tell me what I already know
                      That we can't talk about it
                      ]QUOTE] CHARLOTTE: Is it me? [/QUOTE]

                      The woman rubs her hand on Spike’s shoulder.

                      SPIKE: Sorry, luv. Don't think so.
                      Spike doesn’t even move as he turns her down. Why does he turn her down? Is it really because he doesn’t want company or is it because he’s afraid to find out if Buffy is right?

                      LYRIC: No, we can't talk about it
                      She walks in front of Spike showing her nice outfit and figure.

                      CHARLOTTE: Not even if I ask nice? Or are you the type that has to be convinced?
                      She crosses to sit on the other side of Spike and moves her face closer to him.

                      Because nobody knows
                      That's how I nearly fell
                      Spike looks annoyed at this point. He’s trying to find a particular woman and not this one.

                      SPIKE: Friendly Warning, pet. I'm the type best left alone.
                      LYRIC: Trading clothes
                      And ringing Pavlov's bell
                      History shows
                      Spike looks like he’s getting ready to say something really crude when she backs off.

                      CHARLOTTE: Oh. I get it. You'd rather I slip into something more comfortable.
                      She vamps out in front of Spike who reacts in horror as the song continues to play. He actually sits up and back away from her as she grins at him.

                      LYRIC: There's not a chance in hell, but
                      Oh Mario, we're only to Ohio
                      It's kinda getting harder to breathe

                      Why is Spike so frightened of a vampire? Why couldn’t he sense who she was before she changed into game face? It’s as if his memories and his senses are all out of whack. Is it because he now has a soul and he’s actually gone crazy from it? I think that it has more to do with Spike’s realization that what you see is not what you get and the truth is hard to distinguish from the lie. Something he doesn’t want to think about right now because of the implications of what it means for what Buffy said about Holden’s claim.

                      CHARLOTTE: Should we pick off the crowd one by one or block the exits and ravish the place?
                      Spike is disgusted by her suggestion. It’s very close to Drusilla’s attitude in “Crush” and Spike must hear the resemblance. It’s a part of his life that he no longer wants to think about. He may also see the old Spike mirrored in Charlotte the vampire. She doesn’t care much. She just wants to wild out, fists and fangs, like he did long ago. So Spike backs away from his own reflection.

                      SPIKE: Get away from me.

                      The vamp woman leans forward with a sexy smile full of fangs.

                      CHARLOTTE: What's with the wallflower act? You didn't seem so shy when you were biting me.
                      Spike is in shock. Proof. That’s what Buffy wanted. Now Spike has that proof right in front of him. As he looks at her in confusion, she says something that almost sounds like she knows what he is.

                      CHARLOTTE: I'm not asking if you want to be soul mates.
                      LYRIC: I won't let it show
                      I'm all about denial
                      It’s probably just a coincidence but the mention of souls and vampires seems to make Spike even more upset. The lyrics are singing about denial and that’s what Spike is still in. He doesn’t want to believe it’s true. There’s a feeling that it’s not Charlotte, but soulless Spike in front of him. Can he kill him off?

                      LYRIC: But can't denial let me believe?
                      CHARLOTTE: Just figured you'd want to have some fun.
                      She looks down at a couple dancing on the main floor.

                      CHARLOTTE: I take him, you take her. Or the other way round, whatever.

                      This is exactly what Spike did with Drusilla in “Crush” when they killed a couple and feasted on them.

                      The way she says “the other way around” as if choosing victims is linked to sexual orientation and identity is funny. We’ve seen Spike bite both male and female and his preference seems to be age based rather than gender based from his ‘veal’ remark in “School Hard.”

                      [QUOTE] LYRIC: That we could talk about it

                      Spike grabs her by the shoulder to shut her up. She couldn’t be telling the truth. Wouldn’t he know if he had sired her? He can’t accept what she’s saying. It must be a trick.

                      SPIKE: No, you’re lying.
                      LYRIC: But we can't talk about it
                      The two start fighting each other with growls, punches and kicks. Spike knocks her to the floor and she turns around to look at him from the floor.

                      CHARLOTTE: Is that all I was to you? A one- bite stand?
                      It’s a funny line, but it feels totally out of place here. It seems to shock Spike enough that he doesn’t even react for a minutes, allowing the new vampire to kick him in the chest, punch him in the face and flip him onto the stairs without even fighting back. Is this a metaphor for Spike allowing the memory of his old self to beat himself up?

                      LYRIC: Because nobody knows
                      That's how I nearly fell
                      Trading clothes
                      And ringing Pavlov's bell
                      History shows but rarely shows it well
                      Well, well, well, well
                      Spike finally starts fighting in earnest, dodging her wild kicks and backing away from her punches. He gets a few jabs in himself until she grabs a bamboo incense holder off the table and tries to stake him.

                      LYRIC: Because nobody knows
                      That's how I nearly fell
                      Trading clothes
                      And ringing Pavlov's bell
                      Spike grabs the holder and brings it away from his chest, swinging her around until she’s flipped in the air and he stakes her before sending her off the balcony onto the main floor.

                      She dusts as she hits the ground right before Aimee Mann and the band goes silent. As the onlookers react with looks of panic and concern, Mann looks back at her band and starts to play again.

                      LYRIC: History shows
                      Like it was show and tell
                      Spike looks at the ground where she fell with a look of horror and confusion on his face.

                      The realization that Spike has been killing again without knowing it plays into the fears he has on returning from Africa. It also has a lot to do with Spike’s issues with identity which was a problem even as William Pratt.

                      There are at so many different William/Spikes that we know of in the series that it gets confusing. The first is the timid William Pratt who wrote bad poetry and lived with his mother. The second is the soulless vampire who was made by Drusilla who wants the world to think he’s a bad-ass vampire. The third was chipped vampire Spike who had to adapt to his inability to kill or harm. The fourth was Spike in love with Buffy who feels like everything he has inside is being carved out and replaced with Buffy. The fifth is souled Spike who returns from Africa with a soul. And there’s even a sixth Spike who is a feral beast without mind or heart.

                      Are these all the same Spike? Of course they are. But they’re all unnatural except for the first William Pratt, meaning that they rely on magic to keep alive the various personalities. But it seems like every vamp Buffy faces suffers a little from dissociative identity disorder which adds to the chaotic feel of the half-human, half-demon mind.

                      It used to be called ‘double consciousness’ in past centuries and was thought to be a state of sleepwalking in which a person switched from “a normal consciousness to a somnambulistic state.” Freud and other early psychiatrists originally thought there was a connection between this disassociation and trauma, but later disavowed it in favor of the term schizophrenia or ‘splitting’ between two different personalities that was revealed through hypnosis.

                      Dissociative identity disorder is a controversial disorder that was first known as multiple personality disorder. The film “The Three Faces of Eve” made the idea of one person with multiple identities popular as Joanne Woodward changes within the space of a few minutes from a mousy, frightened person to an overly-confident sexpot. The case of Eve White and Eve Black (and a third personality later) was so popular that several films were made that showed a person suffering from this disorder. The TV mini-series Sybil also showed a woman who was in thrall to her different personalities and could not retain the memory from one to the next. The huge ratings led to even more works based on multiple personalities, but also a lot of doctors who doubted that it was real.

                      There is usually one dominant personality who identifies with the person’s name, but that personality is not aware of the other ones. The other personalities are aware of the dominant one, but refuse to acknowledge it or pretend that it has no real meaning. Sometimes, it is a psychotic break in which a person is mirroring another personality that they wish to retain like Norman Bates in Psycho, who believes that he is both himself and his disapproving mother.

                      Memory gaps, amnesia, time loss, trances and ‘out of body’ feelings are typical of dissociative identity disorder. The different personalities called 'alters' develop differently and even have different memories and experiences. Someone who suffers from it would do things out of character for the main personality. They may even forget their own belief system, committing criminal acts and losing all sense of the morality of their original selves like in “Fight Club.”

                      This reminds me a lot of the way that the personalities of vampires work. The old personality of the human is known to the demon, but it chooses to ignore it in favor of a connection to something of greater evil that calms down its demon. Angel, Darla and Spike have trouble remembering their human selves and in many ways forget their weak human selves until they are souled. There isn’t that much difference between human Darla and vampire Darla in terms of personalities except that one is far more vicious than the other. And this may be why the First finds it easier to screw with vampires. They’re already dissociated from their identities and a souled vampire is even worse.

                      Dissociative identity disorder is rare (possibly even less than .005 % of the population), but dissociative episodes are common, brought on by mediation and drugs and connected to shamanism and demonic possession in different cultures. Certain individuals are more able to enter a dream state because of their ability to dissociate. They don’t become different people, but have a state of disassociation from their true self.

                      This is almost always caused by severe childhood trauma that creates a mental split to repress that trauma. Watching someone die, facing horrible abuse, living through a nightmarish experience can all bring it on. It’s too stressful to deal with the memories, so people try to escape. If something triggers the memory, they cope by changing into someone else. They’re still the same person but different because the needs are different. It can make someone feel like they’re living in a dream.

                      The mythology of vampires on Buffy is strong because the interest in identity confusion is so high as people reject the parts of themselves they don’t like in favor of someone they’d rather be. In real life, identities of humans can take the form of possessing spirits, deities, demons, animals, or mythical figures like The First in certain cultures. So there’s a fine line between supernatural possession and mental issues when Spike returns from Africa babbling in the basement. It’s hard for Buffy and the Scooby Gang to tell if it’s just Spike reacting to the shock of the soul or whether it's something else. It’s hard for Spike, too. When Buffy comes to him in “Selfless”, Spike is sure that it’s her as she tells him that they’ll get through this together and caresses him gently.

                      SPIKE: I don't trust what I see anymore. I don't know how to explain it, exactly. It's like I've been seeing things. Dru used to see things, you know? She'd always be staring up at the sky watching cherubs burn or the heavens bleed or some nonsense. I used to stare at her and think she'd gone completely sack of hammers. But she'd see the sky when we were inside and it'd make her so happy. She'd see showers. She'd see stars. Now I see her.
                      BUFFY: Spike.
                      SPIKE: I'm in trouble, Buffy.
                      BUFFY: I can help you.
                      SPIKE: I could never ask. Not after...
                      BUFFY: It's different. You're different.
                      SPIKE: I could never ask.
                      BUFFY: Spike, it's me. It's you and it's me, and we'll get through this.
                      SPIKE: Never...
                      BUFFY: We'll get through this. – “Selfless”

                      When the real Buffy walks up, she sees Spike stroking his own hair almost as if he’s Buffy or imagining that he’s Buffy and it’s hard to understand how exactly the First works on the mind. When he realizes that the other Buffy or this Buffy was unreal, Spike laughs at himself. Does he realize that it’s the First? It’s much more likely that he thinks he’s just gone insane. Who is the real Buffy? Who is the real Spike? He says that he doesn’t trust what he sees. Does he believe Buffy when she tells him he’s different? How is he different? Who is the real Spike? How does he see his former self? We get an idea from an earlier scene in “Help.”

                      BUFFY: Spike, what are you doing?
                      SPIKE: Nothing. If I don't move, if I don't think, if I don't listen to the voices, then I won't hurt...much.
                      BUFFY: I need to ask you something.
                      SPIKE: Don't.
                      BUFFY: There's a girl, she's in danger, and she needs your help. Now. Time is running out. It's Friday, the day Cassie said she's going to die.
                      SPIKE: I can't. I can't hear you.
                      BUFFY: Is there something evil in the school? Down here, maybe. Spike, please, do you know anything?
                      SPIKE: Yes. There's evil. Down here. Right here. I'm a bad man. William is a bad man. I hurt the girl.
                      Spike starts punching himself violently in the face and Buffy grabs his wrist.
                      BUFFY: Spike, stop it! What did you do?
                      SPIKE: I hurt you, Buffy, and I will pay. I am paying because I hurt the girl.
                      BUFFY: Spike. No. It's not me. It's a different girl, OK? Her name is Cassie Newton. Please, do you know anything specific?
                      SPIKE: Don't—don't leave me. Stay here, and help me be quiet.
                      BUFFY: I think it's worse when I'm here.
                      SPIKE: Don't let him hurt the girl. – “Help”
                      We get much more of this in “Never Leave Me” when Spike tries to tell Spike who the ‘real’ Spike is and Buffy refuses to believe him. But here, when he asks Buffy for help in figuring it out, her response is unhelpful and cruel. Times have changed, and the depiction of Spike’s mental distress is kind of old fashioned and even troubling in the way Buffy and the others treat it. Like her attitude towards the Trio, Buffy’s making the same mistake and not seeing how important it is to figure out what’s wrong with Spike.

                      It’s only when Holden mentions that he was sired by Spike that Buffy becomes interested in him. But it’s only to accuse him of killing again and so Spike journeys to the Bronze to prove to Buffy that she can trust him only to find out that he has no idea at all who he is. Meanwhile, Buffy has made her way back to Not the Third Street Promenade where she saw Spike last night and realizes that she doesn’t know him either after what she’s found out. She’s walking to the front of the line as if she’s going to ask about Spike when a bouncer stops Buffy.

                      BOUNCER: Hey, sweetheart, you wanna go on in? Go ahead.

                      Since some clubs are picky about who can enter, it’s surprising that he’s going to let in Buffy who is wearing a long turtleneck sweater with her hair in a plain ponytail. But I guess she’s young and pretty enough.

                      BUFFY: Actually, I need some help. I'm looking for this guy. Bleached-blonde hair, leather jacket, British accent, kinda sallow, but in a hot way.
                      Spike would probably be surprised at Buffy’s description. She called him a hottie in “Lessons” but this is the first time we’ve heard her admit to anyone outside of her group that Spike is attractive. It’s accurate, though, because the bouncer knows right away who he is.

                      What I really like about this scene is how it relates to the scene before. Both Buffy and Spike are looking for a Spike who no longer exists. The soulless Spike who threatened to kill Buffy and lied, stalked, pursued and almost raped her a year before. By reducing Spike to his appearance, it eliminates the difference between soulless Spike in Buffy’s mind and souled Spike who seems genuinely sorry and collapses both of them into the description of a pale human being who resembles Billy Idol.

                      BOUNCER: Yeah, yeah, I know the guy – Billy Idol wannabe?
                      Billy Idol was an English punk rockers who was part of the punk and glam rock movements in the 70s and 80s. Like Spike, he traded in his nerdy glasses and clothes for bleached blonde hair and black leather to fit a retro-1950s rocker look in 1976.

                      BUFFY: Actually, Billy Idol stole his look from...

                      When did Spike tell Buffy this? Probably when they were having a sexual relationship in season six. We saw Spike dressed in a very similar way when he was fighting Nikki Wood in 1977, one year after Idol created his look in West London. It’s a very funny thought that Spike was in London during the punk revolution in the mid-70s and that he influenced the look.

                      The bouncer probably looks at Buffy like she’s crazy. She realizes that Spike would have to be over 50 now in human years to have influenced Idol.

                      BUFFY: Never mind. Has he been here?
                      BOUNCER: This guy your boyfriend or something?
                      Buffy pauses. She’s been asked this question so many times. It’s a great scene and it's brief but memorable. Buffy is forced to think about her relationship to Spike in so many ways. How he looks, how she feels about him, how he acts.

                      BUFFY: No. I need to find him. As soon as possible.
                      The bouncer smiles because he thinks she’s in love with this guy and trying to find him.

                      BOUNCER: Yeah, he comes here a lot lately. Every night he leaves with a different girl. Chicks like Billy Idol.
                      The bouncer looks at Buffy with a sad expression as she looks upset. Spike leaves with them? So it’s not just talking like Spike said.

                      BUFFY: How many girls?
                      The bouncer mistakes her concern that the women might have been murdered for jealousy.

                      BOUNCER: Look, this guy. This "not-your- boyfriend" guy. If I were you, I'd lose him. He's a real player.

                      Buffy nods as her face grows dark about her ‘not-your-boyfriend’ guy. Unless there’s a good explanation, she’s going to have to stop Spike before he kills again. But where is he?

                      He’s doing the same thing Buffy is doing. He’s trying to find someone to tell him who Spike is and what he’s doing. The sense of disassociation from himself is very strong.

                      It’s kind of funny to see Spike backstage at the Bronze looking for a payphone. It’s one of the things that really dates the show today as he digs for change for a call when Aimee Mann and her band walk down the stairs.

                      AIMEE MANN: Man, I hate playing vampire towns.
                      Aimee Mann is the only musical guest to have a line on the series and it’s a funny one. It kind of makes sense that a rebel indie writer and singer like her would know about the vampires of Sunnydale.

                      Spike has called Buffy before on a payphone in “Smashed” but this is the first time we’ve seen him ring her cell phone.

                      SPIKE: Hello? It's me.
                      When he called Buffy in “Smashed,” she wasn’t even sure who he was because he was putting on a Big Bad Vampire voice.

                      SPIKE: (in a deep voice) Slayer.
                      BUFFY: Spike?
                      SPIKE: (in a deep voice) Meet me at the cemetery. Twenty minutes. Come alone.
                      BUFFY: Spike?
                      SPIKE: Bloody hell. Yes, it's me.
                      BUFFY: You're calling me on the phone?
                      SPIKE: Just be there.
                      BUFFY: Why? Are you helping again? You have a lead on this frost monster thingy?
                      SPIKE: Something like that, yeah. Thought you might be up for a little grunt work.
                      BUFFY: What?! No, no grunting!
                      SPIKE: I was talking shop, luv, but if you got other, me, cozy little tomb with a view...
                      Buffy makes a face and hangs up. – “Smashed”

                      But now Spike sounds scared. We don’t hear Buffy’s response as Spike tries to keep his voice from shaking as he describes a person he doesn’t even know. It’s very much the three faces of Spike as he tries to remain calm.

                      SPIKE: I'm seeing...I think I’m remembering. I think I've done some very bad things.

                      Spike must be having all kinds of flashbacks that we can’t see that have been triggered by the vampire woman he dusted. He’s almost panting from fright even though vampires don’t need to breathe

                      We see Buffy still at the Promenade with the huge crowds as she tries to understand what Spike is saying. He’s done some bad things but he can’t really remember?

                      BUFFY: Where are you?

                      The question might as well have been “Who are you?” This doesn’t sound like Souled Spike the Serial Killer. It just sounds like a very frightened vampire with a soul. Spike reveals that he’s remembered more than just images. There’s a house involved and he can even remember the address.

                      SPIKE: I need...I need to see you. There's a house. 634 Hoffman Terrace.
                      Buffy starts walking fast now that she has somewhere to go. If she can make it through the crowds.

                      BUFFY: I'll meet you.
                      She’s still talking on her cell phone when Spike hangs up. Good old payphones, already out of time! When Spike tries to walk away, he’s surprised by a familiar voice behind him.

                      SPIKE/FIRST: You shouldn’t have done that.

                      We now get the climax of Spike’s dissociative identity disorder as he comes face to face with his doppelganger. And Spike doesn’t react which lets us know that he’s seen himself before and he’s chalked it up to his own personal madness that he’s trying to hide from Buffy. ‘Spike/First’ walks up to Spike who looks confused.

                      SPIKE/FIRST: It’s not time yet, not nearly. You're going against the plan.

                      The Big Bad has a long term plan that involves killing young women, terrorizing Dawn, trying to get Willow to kill herself and having Spike sire and make minions. It’s confusing throughout a lot of season seven as to what it wants Spike to do and what it hopes to accomplish. But bringing Buffy to see Spike’s sirings was not supposed to happen.

                      Spike is also ‘going against the plan’ which means that he must have been aware of the actual plan at some point. Or it could just be the First talking out loud to itself. Spike’s confused expression shows that he has no idea what that plan could be or who he’s even talking to.

                      SPIKE/FIRST: But we can make it work.

                      Spike once again looks horrified and confused. Is this him or an extension of him and he can’t tell the difference anymore?

                      Does the First really mean this? Or is he just making fun of Spike’s tendency to get bored with plans and just jump into trouble by not waiting for the Night of Saint Vigeous? It brings back the attitude that heartless, soulless Spike had before his first fight with Buffy and that doesn’t sound good for either Buffy or Spike.

                      SPIKE: What can I say? I couldn't wait. Nobody gets out. Especially the girl. – “School Hard”

                      Nobody getting out, especially the girl, is probably what the First is counting on.
                      Last edited by Tiny Tabby; 12-08-20, 10:22 AM.


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

                        “Sleeper, Part 4”

                        I think one of my favorite scenes in all of season seven is the Abbot-and-Costello like banter between Buffy and Giles and Robin Wood as they talk about the causes of Spike’s behavior.

                        BUFFY: Spike? What about him?
                        GILES: I told you my concerns when you recklessly chose to remove the chip from his head.
                        ROBIN: Wait, sorry, chip?
                        GILES: Uh, it's a long story.
                        BUFFY: The military put a chip in Spike's head so he couldn't hurt anyone.
                        GILES: And that would be the abridged version.
                        BUFFY: But he wouldn't hurt anyone anymore because he has a soul now.
                        GILES: Unless the First triggers him again.
                        ROBIN: Triggers the chip?
                        BUFFY: No, the trigger's a post-hypnotic thing. The First put it in his head. It was—made him— He was killing again.
                        ROBIN: So, he has a trigger, a soul, and a chip?
                        GILES: Not anymore.
                        BUFFY: It was killing him, Giles.
                        ROBIN: The trigger?
                        BUFFY: No, the chip. The trigger's not active anymore.
                        ROBIN: Because the military gave him a soul? Sorry.
                        GILES: We don't know that the trigger is inactive. What I brought back may help us to disarm it, to ascertain exactly what it is that causes Spike's behavior. – “Lies My Parents Told Me”

                        I love the whole soul, chip, trigger scene and I think that it says a lot about Spike that he’s controlled by so many different things that push him so many different ways because that’s how Spike’s life has always been from the beginning of his life as William Pratt through the comics.

                        But the specific thing inside Spike that Buffy and Giles can’t explain to Robin Wood that makes the trigger work and causes Spike to be so easily controlled by people isn’t funny at all. It explains how he can be so different from other vampires. He really isn’t that different. We just know his personal traumas better.

                        The idea of traumatic events from the past disturbing the mind and body has been around for a long time in drama with Lady Macbeth’s famous sleepwalking scene:

                        GENTLEWOMAN: Since his majesty went into the field, I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep.
                        DOCTOR: A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefit of sleep, and do the effects of watching! In this slumbery agitation, besides her walking and other actual performances, what, at any time, have you heard her say?
                        GENTLEWOMAN: That, sir, which I will not report after her.
                        DOCTOR: You see, her eyes are open.
                        GENTLEWOMAN: Ay, but their sense is shut.
                        DOCTOR: What is it she does now? Look, how she rubs her hands.
                        GENTLEWOMAN: It is an accustomed action with her, to seem thus washing her hands: I have known her continue in this a quarter of an hour.
                        LADY MACBETH: Yet here's a spot.
                        DOCTOR: Hark! She speaks: I will set down what comes from her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.
                        LADY MACBETH: Out, damned spot! Out, I say!--One: two: why, then, 'tis time to do't. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.
                        DOCTOR: Do you mark that?
                        LADY MACBETH: The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? What, will these hands ne'er be clean?--No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with this starting.
                        DOCTOR: Go to, go to; you have known what you should not.
                        GENTLEWOMAN: She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of that: heaven knows what she has known.
                        LADY MACBETH: Here's the smell of the blood still! All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!
                        DOCTOR: What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged.
                        GENTLEWOMAN: I would not have such a heart in my bosom for the dignity of the whole body. – “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

                        Trauma and sleepwalking go together here because it’s a great metaphor for how people deal with feelings that they can’t handle. When Buffy is brought back from the dead, she’s traumatized and talks about “Going Through the Motions” in “Once More With Feeling.” So could it happen with a vampire? When a person is vamped and loses their morals in favor of connecting to a big powerful evil force of nature, are they a sleepwalking version of their old selves going through the motions because they don’t have the same connection to their feelings that they did when human?

                        Vampires have the same memories and emotions as their human self, but they’re unconnected to them like they’re not really affected by them in the same way. When someone isn’t conscious but walking around or disassociated from themselves, the original person is and isn’t there. But they act based on the original trauma like Liam and his father and Darla and her prostitution and Drusilla and her torment even if the demon makes them react differently than a normal human. If they then get their soul back like Angel or Spike, it must be doubled because of the awareness of how they reacted to that trauma as a demon.

                        As we know, vampires sleep and dream like humans and both Angel and Spike have had REM sleep where their memories affect what they dream. They are even paralyzed like a human being during sleep, vulnerable to whatever lies in the dark.

                        DAWN: Spike. You sleep, right? You. Vampires. You sleep.
                        SPIKE: Yeah. What's your point, Nibblet?
                        DAWN: Well, I can't take you in a fight or anything, even with a chip in your head. But you do sleep. If you hurt my sister at all, touch her, you're gonna wake up on fire. – “Beneath You”

                        So emotional trauma making the leap from human to demon isn’t really that far out in Buffy. We see a lot of vampires react to who they used to be, their feelings twisted and distorted into something sick that is based on a traumatic experience when they were human. Drusilla remembers Angelus torturing her family and ‘punishes’ him for it when he’s Angel. Jesse tells Xander that becoming a vampire means that all of his human problems are solved:

                        XANDER: Jesse! I know there's still a part of you in there.
                        JESSE: Okay, let's deal with this. Jesse was an excruciating loser who couldn't get a date with anyone in the sighted community! Look at me. I'm a new man! – “The Harvest”

                        Kralik talks about his horrible experiences with his mother, which created an insane vampire:

                        KRALIK: May I call you Mother? My own mother was a person with no self-respect of her own, so she tried to take mine. Ten years old, she had the scissors. You wouldn't believe what she took with those. – “Helpless”

                        When Spike got his soul back, was it like a sleepwalker waking up to find out that they drove twenty miles somewhere or walked into another neighborhood or like the guy who ‘woke up’ to find blood all over his hands and his dead in-laws on the floor? If Spike suddenly remembers what he did to his mother and sees it from a human William’s point of view, would the trauma of reliving the incident in his mind as a souled vampire shake him so badly that the First is able to trigger him? Is that why the First goes after Angel too? Because the trauma is relived three times. Once through the human and second through the vampire to act out in twisted, horrible ways and then a third time seeing it through new eyes?

                        Spike’s trauma of siring his own mother and then experiencing her mockery and hatred is also based on trauma. Williams’s feelings for his mother and his need to take care of her lasted beyond his transformation as a vampire and that’s why he selfishly tried to keep her with him against her will. From his mother to his demon and Drusilla to Angelus to the chip and Buffy, Spike is always under the control of someone or something until the end of the series where he regains his soul and starts to make his own choices. I’m going to put on my own detective hat here and look at the clues in Spike’s life to figure out why this is so and why the trigger is so successful.

                        Spike wants desperately to be his own man and have total independence and he constantly fools himself that he does, like when he sings “My Way” at the end of “Lover’s Walk.” But the thing about trauma is how it can secretly control you and slowly destroy any sense of self-worth. Of all the characters in Buffy, Spike fights harder than anyone to be independent but Spike is always so dependent on the opinion of other people when he sees himself. Spike is always trying to impress and changes his personality and behavior to do this. Spike presents the person he thinks friends and enemies should see instead of exposing his true self and that doesn’t have to do with the chip or the trigger or the soul, but with the trauma that he carries inside.

                        SPIKE: With all the rubbish people keep sticking in my head, it's a wonder that there's room for my brain. – “Lies My Parents Told Me”

                        I think that William had bad self-esteem problems that caused this and made him judge himself based on how others saw him. A lot of this comes from his relationship with his mother. We don’t know when his father died or if William even knew his father, but his mother overcompensates for the loss of any other caretaker. When one parent dies, sometimes the child will take on a caretaker role themselves to step in for the missing parent.

                        TriBel has already pointed out the Oedipal relationship between William and Anne, but I also think that there’s a simple feeling of “who watches the watchman”. William takes care of his mother to enable her to take better care of him. His self-esteem is very low, maybe because of the lack of a father, so his mother’s opinion means a lot more to him than most people in their twenties.

                        Spike is trying to provide what he feels is missing from his mother’s life and his unwillingness to leave her and get married is a part of this. His social conditioning as a Victorian caused all kind of influences like his love for poetry, his fear of crime, his class issues, his worship of women and his unwillingness to leave his mother alone when she was dying especially after she might have raised him all alone. All of these things would have shaped his personality and made him even more dependent on the opinion of others.

                        When William reads his poem to his mother, he looks worried that she won’t like it. But when she overpraises it, William gets an ego about his work that covers up for his low self-esteem and then embarrasses himself when he goes out in the real world where people see it needs a lot of work. His mother doesn’t tell William the truth and so it makes him disconnected from reality because he starts to assume unconditional love and acceptance and demand the same. So when she tells him to go after Cecily, he believes that his poetry and his professions of love will win her without much of a problem.

                        William is horrified even as a vampire when his mother rejects him because Spike never loses that dependence on the opinions of those he loves or even hates. If becoming a vampire means all of the bad things that a human does become even worse because of how the demon uses them, I think that Spike’s co-dependency with his mother becomes a weird obsessiveness with getting validation from people he loves.

                        It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people because he’s a soulless vampire, but I think Spike deciding to sire his mother isn’t about love, but about obsession. He wants her evil too because she’ll always tell him how wonderful he is and when demon Anne rejects him and makes fun of him, it crushes his former human identity more than a lot of vampires because William got all of his support from his mother to such an extreme point that even as a vampire, he wants her with him.

                        I think Spike never recovers from this and runs as far as he can away from it by becoming Psycho Railroad Spike in retaliation, which is everything that his mother would hate. The opinion he wants now from others is that of fear and horror, which impresses Drusilla and Angelus. Drusilla becomes Spike’s ‘destiny’ because she takes the place in many ways of his mother and Cecily all in one. Someone who is sick in a certain sense and can give him the conditional love he needs and can also fulfill romantic fantasies. Drusilla can be Spike’s caretaker and give him what he needs and he can be her caretaker, but because she is only technically his mother as the one who gave birth to his demon, he can also sleep with her and combine both Anne and Cecily in one person.

                        I don’t know if Angelus is the missing father or the rival brother who sleeps with Drusilla, but it has the same effect on Spike in how she casts him out in favor of her ‘daddy’. Spike tries to be even more evil and psycho to win back Drusilla and make Angelus jealous but it’s all really about his loss of his mother and his fantasy version of Cecily, which is probably one reason he starts to seek out slayers because Angelus seems to be afraid of them and it’s one way that Spike can beat Angelus and win back Drusilla.

                        Spike hunting down slayers and getting approval from Drusilla, Darla and Angelus is just like William reading his poetry to his mother and Cecily and the party. It’s the best night of his life when he kills his first slayer because it makes his companions look up to him. None of them have ever killed a slayer. It’s as if he became world famous as a poet. Now everybody in the demon world knows his name and the inflated ego that he developed living alone with his mother is happy. But there’s still a feeling of low self-esteem that never goes away and I think he doesn’t feel it until he gets back his soul.

                        When Buffy defeats every attempt to kill her, Spike is humiliated but hires others to get rid of the slayer so he can save Drusilla. It’s another echo of his need to save his mother and take care of her but then Buffy puts him in a wheelchair and he’s the one who needs Drusilla to take care of him. The caretaker dynamic that worked so well for William and his mother is shattered here because William didn’t want to be utterly helpless and reliant on his mother and I think that plus Angel’s return breaks the total hold that Drusilla has over him. Maybe it even brings back memories of his mother’s death. I think that Spike is also slowly becoming obsessed with Buffy because she’s responsible for probably the worst night of his life by putting him in a wheelchair, causing Angel to lose his soul and take Drusilla away from him again with no one to care about him at all.

                        So Spike decides that he doesn’t want to destroy the world alongside his companions. He’s willing to do the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ and team up with Buffy to get Drusilla back. It becomes a replay of his vampire mother, though, with Drusilla having nothing but contempt for his emotional weakness. Spike decided to not destroy the world because he loved Drusilla and wanted her for his own? He’s a limp, sentimental fool and Spike is rejected once again.

                        Spike’s reaction to rejection is once again to do everything the person who wounded him would hate, becoming Psycho Edge Lord Spike who threatens everyone through his tears and turns to the buffoonish Harmony in retaliation. His self-esteem is so low that he takes Harmony as the anti-Drusilla who will look good on his arm and sexually please him without Spike ever having to give back. Spike doesn’t care about Harmony’s opinion in any way and so she can’t hurt him and he brutalizes her to make that clear. They get so little emotional support from one another that it’s not a surprise they break up so quickly.

                        Spike’s self-esteem by this point is dependent on the hatred of his mortal enemy, Buffy. Buffy is the person who destroyed his reputation, ruined his relationship with Drusilla and unsouled Angelus. So he stupidly challenges Buffy after getting the Ring of Amara because he’s more obsessed by what she thinks of him than on becoming King of all Vampires, invincible and all-powerful. Spike gave up all of that just to prove to Buffy and the world that he isn’t what he most fears, William Pratt, with low self-esteem. When Spike goes to LA to get his ring back from Angel, he makes a vow that he’s going to stand on his own and do things his way and be his own man, but he goes right back to Sunnydale and Buffy where he is captured by the Initiative to experience a totally different kind of control.

                        Thanks to Maggie Walsh, Spike has a chip put in his head that doesn’t even allow the basic demonic instincts of a vampire. He can’t harm any human being and he doesn’t even know he can harm a demon.

                        Chased by the Initiative, Spike has to rely on the strangest of all caretakers, Buffy Summers. I think that this fits into his new obsession with Buffy and touches upon the same issues that William had with his mother. Chipped Spike has to rely on Buffy and her friends after he’s chipped. He only comes out of Giles’ apartment and Xander’s basement when he learns he can fight demons, but he still needs their help when he’s shot by Riley and his team. So he not only has the chip preventing him from killing, but also the Scooby Gang pushing him to do good. Buffy and the Scooby Gang help Spike, prevent him from committing suicide and protect him from the Initiative.

                        I think this is the biggest blow to his self-esteem so far since Spike can’t even project his Big Bad image anymore and everything collapses. His opinion of himself as an important Big Bad was puffed up by Buffy’s hatred of him but now she feels sorry for him. So when Adam offers a chance to get the chip out, Spike betrays them to get control over himself. But when he’s betrayed by Adam. Spike saves the Scooby Gang, does some fast talking and he continues to hang out in his crypt in Sunnydale to stay under Buffy’s protection in the hopes of getting his chip out.

                        So the ego boost when Spike settled down in his own crypt to defend himself and be independent collapsed after the failure of all his plans. He doesn’t kill Buffy, he doesn’t get the chip out and he’s forced to fight demons like himself because he’s reliant on Buffy and helps her. But I think that the William in him that was socialized to be a caretaker is also why he starts to help the Scooby Gang and Buffy despite his hatred of them. More and more, Spike’s relationship with Buffy turns from hatred to interest as he shows up to help Buffy. This feels like part of William’s need to take care of someone and play to their opinion as a way to feel good about himself until Spike suddenly realizes that he’s in love with Buffy.

                        So control shifts from his love for his mother to his love for Drusilla to his love for Buffy. This doesn’t mean that Spike wants Buffy to be his mother, but it does mean that Spike is using the emotional storage banks of William to value the person he loves, Buffy, and their opinion above all else in order to feel good about himself. Since Buffy refuses to let Spike take care of her, something that he needs in order to boost his self-esteem because of what he gets back, then that is transferred to her little sister who needs protection.

                        Spike and Dawn’s relationship is like Spike and Anne’s relationship since both have each other’s backs in terms of emotional closeness. Dawn is the first to know that Spike is in love with her sister, feels for him when Buffy rejects him and trusts Spike to protect her. Spike alters his personality and behavior to please Buffy and her sister, changing from disinterested vampire to helpmate and protector.

                        This all changes when Buffy returns from the dead and uses Spike for sex. The ego boost that Spike got from saving Dawn and fighting for Buffy is gone and it’s low self-esteem again when Buffy ignores him and hides their relationship from her friends. Spike’s inability to be what Buffy needs because he’s a soulless vampire and his inability to go back to what he was because of the chip creates a situation in which he can’t be a Big Bad Edge Lord vampire who has the respect of Drusilla and he can’t be a loving man with a soul who Buffy could trust.

                        So Spike does what he always does and becomes the very thing that Buffy would hate the most. Spike tries to force himself on Buffy to make her love him, unable to either save her or kill her just like he tried to make his mother evil so that she would give him the unconditional love he wanted.

                        There is no way out for Spike to get what he needs unless he removes the chip or gets a soul. He decides on the soul because he believes that it is what Buffy would want him to do. So he fights for his soul and becomes the kind of man who would never hurt Buffy again. But this also creates a huge problem because of his former relationship with his mother. When Spike gets his soul back, all of the feelings of William come rushing back too. He can’t handle the pain of his own selfishness and the First uses this trauma to control him.

                        Spike can understand everything he did because he has a soul and the memories of all that he did are awful, but I think it’s how weak he was is what truly haunts him, because Spike knows that it wasn’t just the demon, but his own issues as William. Spike is now haunted by all that he’s done and believes that he’s not worthy to be anyone’s caretaker anymore. Not after what he’s done.

                        All the self-hatred and low self-esteem of William bubbles to the surface and makes him easily controllable by the Big Bad. It doesn’t seem like Spike’s problems are fixed, though, even at the end of season seven. Spike has to convince himself that he wasn’t wrong about his mother and that he was her world. Even after the trigger is broken, Spike still suffers from low self-esteem because he must believe that his vampire mother was lying. He can’t accept that there was any truth to it at all and it breaks the spell of the trigger. But I’m not sure that the trauma is gone.

                        I think it’s why Spike finds it so hard to accept Buffy’s ‘I love you’ in “Chosen.” Spike is still controlled by his own past in ways that stop him from becoming truly independent even after Buffy takes out the chip and the trigger is broken. Spike sacrifices everything to help Buffy fight the First during the last part of season seven and is willing to save her and all of the world through his death without her loving him back. It’s the best night of his life when he sits with Buffy and holds her because he’s finally done something worthy of respect that makes Buffy look up to him and he wants to fulfill that by showing her how much he’s changed.

                        But he doesn’t believe that he’s worthy of being loved, only pitied. I think that his fears that his mother told the truth about him and that Cecily and Drusilla were right to reject him makes him push Buffy away. She deserves to be in the world, in the light and Spike can only be a caretaker in the sense of giving up his life to save her and everyone else. He’s not worthy himself to be taken care of or given the unconditional love he wants. Not just because of what he’s done, but because of who he is. William, the limp, sentimental fool.

                        When he’s brought back from the amulet, though, Spike is controlled again by Wolfram and Hart and Lindsay. He’s a ghost wandering the halls, unable even to rest after saving everyone. All he can do is lash out. His fears about Buffy loving him and being a ghost affect Spike’s low self-esteem explain why he retreats to Edge Lord Spike in front of Angel because he feels once again that he has nothing to contribute and no one to take care of. Only Fred seems to care and there’s a little bit of a bond between them.

                        When Spike is no longer a ghost, he has sex with Harmony, makes fun of his mother’s siring and acts out in ways that cover up a lot of trauma. Souled Spike is just as snippy with a lot of the Scooby Gang in season seven as he is with Angel and others in season five of Angel and I think that can be explained by his embarrassment over who he fundamentally is as William now that he has a full understanding with the return of his soul. Spike not only hates himself for being a demon without a soul who murdered thousands of people, but also as the pathetic William with a soul who needed unconditional love to the point of obsession as a demon.

                        Spike still has the same old low self-esteem when he asks Andrew to hide from Buffy that he’s still alive. Lindsay plays on this by convincing Spike that he should be a hero like Angel, setting Spike up in an apartment by himself and convincing him to save others. When Fred dies due to Wolfram and Hart’s evil plan, Spike realizes that he is needed as a caretaker after all, but this time, it’s for his rival.

                        If Spike changed himself before to be even more evil and psycho to make Drusilla happy and Angelus jealous, now he proves himself to be worthy of souled Angel’s respect. The end of Angel is as suicidal as the end of Buffy and once again, Spike is at the center of it. Spike sacrifices everything to help Angel fight the Senior Partners during the last part of season five and I think it’s linked to his low self-esteem as he sacrifices everything to help Buffy fight the First at the end of season seven.

                        But I think that Spike starts to finally forgive himself in ‘Destiny’ and in the final episode of “Not Fade Away” when he reads the poem that the party people made fun of so long ago. It’s a real boost to his ego when the crowd approves and it says something to him about his essential worth despite everything that’s happened.

                        The idea of Spike controlled by other people and things continues through the comics, Whedon approved and not, with everything from the ‘soul flu’ to Archaeus affecting him. It’s not until the end of the comic series that Spike becomes a souled vampire who can be his own man and relates to Buffy and the Scooby Gang with a more mature level of self-esteem and empathy not only for others, but for himself.

                        But in “Sleeper”, Spike isn’t sure who he is. His memory is fuzzy and he’s like a person suffering from a multiple personality disorder. He remembers what it was like to be William and Spike, but can’t even remember this other person who is going to the Bronze every night and killing different people. Plus he’s seeing weird multiple versions of himself and Buffy and Drusilla and probably his mother and before he could chalk it up to the soul. But now, he’s not sure what is causing it. But it’s bad. So he calls the only person who can help him. Or maybe stop him.

                        There was a cut scene when Buffy comes to the old house that makes it clear that basement house was supposed to be a creepy one.

                        EXT. CREEPY HOUSE – NIGHT An old house, no lights in the windows. Creepy. INT. CREEPY HOUSE - ENTRYWAY – NIGHT. Buffy enters through the creaky unlocked front door of the house into a dusty living room.
                        BUFFY: Hello? Spike?
                        She walks through the room, full of slightly old decor. A plate of dusty cookies and a tea set are sitting out on the coffee table, as if tea was interrupted days ago. A hungry looking cat is hunched over the cookie plate, eating. Buffy is looking back at the cat as she moves farther into the room. When she turns her head back to the front again, SPIKE IS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HER. (classic horror movie cheap startle.)
                        SPIKE: I did some bad things here.

                        If Spike killed the woman who lived in the house and now it’s all dusty, how long ago was this? There’s a tea set and cookies and a hungry cat, so it couldn’t have been that long and the script says ‘days ago.’ So why is there all the dust? Did the First have Spike sprinkle dust everywhere to creep Buffy out when she arrives?

                        Spike’s line is really weird here, too. Is Spike in shock at what he did? Or is he being controlled by the First? He already thinks that he’s hearing voices and seeing things – so how does he know it’s even Buffy? I can’t figure out if Spike is being controlled here or not.

                        The scene in the filmed version starts on the stairway to the cellar and we don’t get any setup for the house. Spike walks down the stairs alone into his serial killer basement to show Buffy where the ‘bad things’ are:

                        SPIKE: Down here.

                        It all has a very creepy vibe. Not even a ‘haunted house with Dracula in his coffin’ vibe, but ‘Norman Bates dressed as his mother in the basement with a butcher knife’ vibe. It’s like “Psycho” when the women investigating the house for clues starts to walk down the creepy basement steps to find Norman’s secret and his dead mother’s skeleton is waiting for her.

                        Maybe Buffy is thinking this too, because she stops instead of following Spike down the stairs. He turns around to see her still standing at the top landing.

                        SPIKE: You won't come down?

                        Didn’t Spike call Buffy? Does Spike worry she thinks this is a setup? Is Spike sad that Buffy still doesn’t trust him or maybe he relates because he wouldn’t go down the stairs either? Probably both going on.

                        SPIKE: I understand. A risky proposition.

                        Buffy’s been in worse places like the Master’s lair. Is it really that risky? I doubt that Buffy is afraid of anything down there. But maybe Buffy doesn’t want to see the final reveal of the mystery that she’s been following the whole time because it means that Spike has to die. Spike is disappointed when Buffy won’t follow him down. Why should she trust him now? He was wrong about killing and wrong about helping her and wrong to even come back. He’s still a bad man.

                        Spike runs into the First looking like his old self. Since Spike can’t look in a mirror, it must be an even weirder sensation than for a human.

                        SPIKE/FIRST: There's an order. Slayer's not in order. But it can’t hurt to play. Get your claws in the mouse, y'know?

                        I like how the First tells Spike that it’s playing with both of them, but by saying that there’s an order and the slayer’s not in order, does that mean it’s not time for the slayer to die yet? Maybe the First needs all the potentials to come to Sunnydale so it can destroy all of them at once. But like a cat, the First can play with her first like a mouse. It reminds me a lot of Angelus. And maybe it reminds Spike of Angelus, too, because he tells it off.

                        SPIKE: You are not here.

                        We saw Spike talking to someone this way before when he was in the basement. Does Spike think seeing himself is caused by his own craziness after getting the soul? The First acts like evil soulless Spike. Does Spike think it’s his past haunting him? He tell Buffy about it when she walks next to him even though it’s obvious she doesn’t see double Spikes.

                        Spike’s line is also like Angel’s line to the First in “Amends”:

                        JENNY/FIRST: Trouble sleeping?
                        ANGEL: You're not here.
                        JENNY/FIRST: I'm always here.
                        ANGEL: Leave me alone.
                        JENNY/FIRST: I can't. You won't let me. – “Amends
                        Buffy looks mad. Does she think Spike was daring her to come down with the ‘risky proposition’ line? Spike didn’t mean it that way, but Buffy maybe takes it that way and grips a stake as she walks down the stairs.

                        Buffy is all slayer as she faces Spike, ready for anything. If she has to stake him, then she does. But like any good detective, she’s going to give the guilty suspect the chance to explain themselves and why they did the crime.

                        BUFFY: All right. What do you want to show me?

                        People who can’t see the difference between soulless Spike and souled Spike should see it here.Soulless Spike would have gotten angry or challenged Buffy to show him what happened or made it into an attack on Buffy to defend himself. Souled Spike looks at Buffy with guilt and fear as he tries to tell her he’s killed again.

                        SPIKE: I've been remembering. The girl. I walked her home. The one you saw. And the one before that. And I think I killed her. And I think...I think I killed the lady who lived here. And there might be others.

                        The way that Spike talks about his killings is just like the way that people try to describe their dreams. The memories flash through his mind and he’s not sure exactly what happened. Buffy looks at Spike as if she doesn’t believe him and then she finally takes in what he’s saying with a look of horror.

                        BUFFY: Oh, my God.

                        Spike starts to walk away, shaking his head and his voice sounds scared.

                        SPIKE: Yeah.

                        I think that Spike can’t look Buffy in the face anymore and decides to change the subject and show her where the bodies are buried. Buffy follows Spike as he looks down at the large dirt floor of the basement.

                        SPIKE: I think I buried them here.

                        I really like this moment because it’s a great metaphor for how the memories of the past are buried below and ready to spring up at any time. Buffy can’t understand what’s happening. Spike isn’t confessing like a guilty suspect but acting like a detective himself, going over what he thinks happened like he wasn’t even there. He still hasn’t explained why he did all this.

                        BUFFY: Spike. Why?

                        I think this question finally pisses Spike off. Can’t Buffy see he doesn’t know? Doesn’t she see he’s as confused as she is? It’s the same frustration from their fight the night before in Xander’s closet. Spike is different now with a soul. The thought of killing disgusts him. Then again, humans with a soul kill all the time. So Spike reaches for the same thing Buffy does and mentions the chip.

                        SPIKE: Well I don’t know, do I? I don't even know how. Shouldn't be able...

                        Why doesn’t the chip work on Spike? I don’t know how it can work from a scientific point of view because how would it know if Spike wanted to kill a human or a demon? But if Maggie Walsh used magic to create the chip, I guess it would always know what was intended. If Spike’s trigger puts him into a sleepwalking state, then it makes sense that it wouldn’t go off because Spike’s conscious self is asleep and it’s a demonic sleepwalker who is committing the murders.

                        Buffy and Spike can’t know this, of course, but Buffy’s about to get an eyeful after the First starts singing the same melody Spike was humming in the opening scene.

                        SPIKE/FIRST: Early one morning, just as the sun was rising, I heard a fair maid sing in the valley down below…

                        Spike stops with a weird look on his face, drawn to the song. Buffy doesn’t hear anything.

                        BUFFY: What? What is it?

                        Spike turns away from her, looking back toward the First, who continues to sing.

                        SPIKE/FIRST: Oh, don’t deceive me, Oh, never leave me. How could you use a poor maiden so?

                        As the First finishes his song with a smirk, Buffy tries to get Spike’s attention.

                        BUFFY: Spike!

                        Spike turns around in vamp face with no sign of recognizing Buffy on his face. Like Dr. Mesmer who hypnotized his subjects, Spike has been put into a trance by the First so that his human side is repressed in favor of a feral vampire demon. He doesn’t even speak when he’s in that state.

                        Before Buffy can react, Spike grabs her stake and throws it into the jars on the shelves, glass flying all over. Buffy punches Spike to the floor near the glass.

                        This creepy serial killer cellar with all the old stored things covered in cobwebs and forgotten reminds me of Xander’s closet with its clutter and later, Buffy’s basement. They’re all messy places filled up with the lives of other people like Spike’s memories. When Spike picks up the broken piece of glass to attack Buffy, I think it’s like his broken state of mind.

                        Buffy doesn’t realize that he’s not the Spike she knows any longer and stupidly walks up to him, getting way too close.

                        BUFFY: What are you doing?

                        She looks shocked when Spike slashes her arm with the piece of glass. She kicks at him and slams him to the ground, lying on top of him.

                        Does this fight bring back memories of “Seeing Red?” Not really. Spike is in game face and doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing and this time, Buffy is in control. I think Buffy sees this more like Xander in “The Pack” or Willow in “Villains” who are also transformed into someone totally different.

                        QUOTE] BUFFY: Spike. Listen to me. You don't want to do this. [/QUOTE]

                        It’s a lot like what she would say to Willow or Xander if they were bewitched. Buffy always tries to reason with her friends, even when they are trying to kill her. She also might relate after her experience in “Normal Again” when she when all serial killer herself and tried to kill everyone.

                        The First finds Buffy’s attempt to get through to Spike amusing. He is playing with her.

                        SPIKE/FIRST: And it's just about to get fun.

                        A hand pops out of the dirt, then more hands as vampires start to rise from the dirt floor. Spike buried these victims. We saw it ourselves. But what’s weird is that they didn’t rise the next night after they were killed even though they were vampires. They’re all rising at the same time, which is strange. Again, it’s all a metaphor for Spike’s hidden crimes and the most important one about his mother, all buried inside.

                        We know from William in “Lies My Parents Told Me” that sires don’t know when their victims will rise. It’s a great image that shows us what Spike has done, but it doesn’t make sense. All I can think of is that the First is actually controlling them and has programmed them to all rise at the same time when he sings Spike’s song. Or maybe there’s another song we can’t hear that the new vampires hear that triggers them.

                        Buffy punches Spike several times until both of them stop to look at the rising vampires. Even Spike looks confused, like he doesn’t know what’s happening.

                        BUFFY: Oh, god.

                        Thinking of what happened in “Lies My Parents Told Me”, it’s hard to say what Spike is dreaming as his demon goes crazy. Is he remembering his mother? Or William the Bloody killing one of his victims? Is he utterly mindlessly and attacking without any consciousness at all? When he hits Buffy, does he even know who she is? Does he think it’s some random victim? We know from “Never Leave Me” that the First can send him to randomly target someone like Andrew. But who does he think he’s attacking and why? Is it his mother? Angelus? Drusilla? We’re never really in his thoughts and Spike doesn’t tell.

                        We saw how the First manipulates Angel in “Amends” by entering his memories in dreams and then having Buffy see how disgusting Angelus was by also putting them in her dreams and slayer visions.

                        Does the First do the same thing here? Does he want Buffy to lose all faith in Spike so that she dusts him?
                        Spike himself is confused. Does he see himself through Buffy’s eyes like Angel does in his dreams? Does Spike even have any connection at all to the people he’s vamped? In a cut line from the script, the First orders Spike to “protect his children” which is really weird. Later, Spike ignores them while Buffy dusts them.Or because it was all done without his knowledge, they mean nothing to him? Were vamps like Charlotte and Holden buried here and rose a while ago? Why did the lady who owned the house rise a long time ago? For some reason, the First decided they weren’t good enough to be part of Spike’s army of children and Spike dumped them somewhere else like a parking lot.

                        Buffy punches Spike to the ground again and then rushes to dust the vamps. They prevent her from getting her stake and surround her, one vamp swinging the shovel at her. It’s hard to believe that a small nest of vamps would defeat Buffy so easily.

                        There are three men and two women here, but the old lady is delayed in rising so Spike seems to have vamped both boys and girls. Two vamps take Buffy by the arms to hold her in place as the First kneels down to a still vamped out Spike.

                        SPIKE/FIRST: You know what I want you to do.

                        Spike doesn’t respond the first time to the First. He just sits and pants like a dog, so it tries again, giving him instructions.

                        SPIKE/FIRST: They're waiting for you. Take her, taste her, make her weak.

                        What does the First want Spike to do? It’s hard to say how licking Buffy to death fits into its plan. So it must want Spike to bite her. Does it want Spike to drain Buffy so that she’s too weak to protect those around her? Maybe put her in the hospital like Angelus did? Or does it want Buffy to stake Spike so that he’s no use to her? Then why place Spike in the house anyway as a sleeper agent?

                        Is it just trying to pull an Angelus and make Buffy crazy enough so that she gives in to the First? Does the First think Buffy isn’t part of the Slayer line so she doesn’t really matter any way and he can kill her? Could its plan all along have Spike turn Buffy so that she’s on their side as a slaypire? Maybe the First wanted to wait until the Watcher’s Council was blown up or Faith was dead before he did that. But I think there’s a creepy subtext of sexual rape in the ‘take her’ that is very bad because of “Seeing Red”

                        The line is used before in “Amends” where Angel is shaken after a dream in which he’s been having passionate sex with Buffy before biting her.

                        JENNY/FIRST: You want her?
                        ANGEL: No.
                        JENNY/FIRST: Take her. Take what you want. Pour all that frustration and all that guilt into her and you'll be free.
                        ANGEL: No.
                        JENNY/FIRST: You can't live for eternity with all that pain. This is what you are. This is why we brought you back. Take her! And then you'll be kill her. – “Amends”
                        So maybe the First means for Spike to rape Buffy, then bite Buffy and kill or turn her.

                        It’s hard to believe that Buffy isn’t able to break away from the two vamps, especially when Spike walks up and growls as he places his mouth near her throat. But maybe she’s waiting to see what Spike will do.

                        BUFFY: Spike! No!

                        When Spike gets close and sniffs at her neck, Buffy acts like he’s about to bite her. But Spike looks down at the cut that he made on Buffy’s arm and licks the bloody wound.

                        Why doesn’t Spike bite down on Buffy’s neck? It’s not like three other vampires haven’t already made a snack of her and I feel like he would want to bite over the scars of his three rivals.

                        Is it because the First said to taste her and play with her like a mouse? Is it just Spike having an appetizer before the main course? Does he still love Buffy so much even in his sleepwalking trance that Spike moves from her jugular to the least dangerous part of her to sample blood? I thought it would be sexual when I first saw the scene, but Spike suckling at Buffy almost seems more like child and mother than anything else. Which brings up all of Spike’s Oedipal issues with his mother again and makes sense because of what causes the trigger.

                        The First seems to have made a mistake like all bad guys do near the end of a show. He didn’t account for slayer blood, which has power when it comes to vampires. It’s also the first time that Spike has tasted Buffy’s blood, which is amazing considering all the fights they had and the sex that they had. Buffy has already been tasted by three other vampires, but Spike is the only one who has held back until this moment. So maybe the emotional shock of tasting her for the first time snaps him out of his sleepwalking state.

                        Whatever the blood does, Spike gets back the memories of all the people that he murdered over the past few weeks or months. There’s one image of Spike carrying a dead woman through the streets of Sunnydale that almost makes me laught because it’s so Sunnydale. No one even thinks anything of it.

                        In a way, Spike’s recovered memories are a metaphor for how Spike sees his former crimes. As a soulless vamp, it was just senseless killing. As a souled vamp, it feels like watching another part of himself commit the crimes, but he’s still guilty.

                        Spike looks up at Buffy, his face suddenly looking very human again. She looks at him almost hopeful as he looks at her and knows who she is.

                        SPIKE: I remember.

                        More images flash through Spike’s mind and Spike reels in horror, collapsing against a wall and curling into himself.

                        Buffy fights all the vamps by breaking the shovel handle off and dusting them all, one by one, in a row. Spike covers his head as the vamps are killed. He can’t even look at what he’s done while the First kneels to mock him.

                        SPIKE/FIRST: You failed. Now she's gonna kill you. You lose, mate.

                        Why does the First do this? Is it to make Spike fight back? Does the First want Spike to make a last stand against Buffy even though he remembers everything? Does it just enjoy tormenting Spike because it’s evil?

                        There’s one funny moment when the older lady who owned the house comes out of the ground far too late and Buffy lifts her out of the dirt and apologizes before staking her.

                        BUFFY: Sorry, ma'am. But it's my job.

                        After the vamp goes poof, Buffy takes her giant shovel handle stake and goes searching for Spike. He doesn’t move and seems to squeeze into a tighter ball as Buffy walks slowly up to him.

                        Does the First think that Spike has something up his sleeve to avoid Buffy’s staking? Or does he want Buffy to stake Spike? She stands in front of him as he turns his face upwards to look at her. As Spike starts to cry, Buffy doesn’t move.

                        Neither says anything and then Spike slowly opens his jacket so that Buffy can’t miss her target. He’s not planning to fight back or run. He’s giving her a clean staking.

                        SPIKE: Do it fast, okay?

                        It’s suicide by slayer. Spike has finally given up. He was suicidal in “Doomed” when he thought he was helpless and under the control of the chip. But now he has a soul and he still can’t rise above his nature. A killer is always a killer.

                        Going back to his decision in “Seeing Red” to get the soul, Spike believed that he could change and become the kind of man who would never truly hurt Buffy. After winning the soul, he thought that at least he prevented that from ever happening. But now it has happened again and Spike doesn’t have anywhere else to go. He’s failed and hurt the girl and now he must pay.

                        Again, this is just like the First torturing Angel into raping and murdering Buffy or killing himself. Both vampires with souls are reduced to self-loathing, suicidal messes which seems to be the First’s specialty.

                        Why is Spike crying? He’s not only sad about the failure of his soul but sad that Buffy has to go through the emotional turmoil of dusting him. It’s the same old low self-esteem that William had centuries ago. He thinks that Buffy hates him now and could never trust him or let him help her. Even though he has a soul like Angel, their relationship has now gone back to slayer and vampire in “School Hard” where her one job was to kill him.

                        But Buffy doesn’t feel that way. She can’t kill Spike when he’s obviously in so much pain over what’s happened. He also has a soul now and for Buffy, that makes him all too human. Spike can’t understand why she’s dragging this out.

                        SPIKE: He said you'd do it.

                        This immediately puts Buffy in detective mode. Who is “he?” Is there another vampire that Spike is working with? Or does this have to do with the Big Bad who visited Dawn and Willow?

                        BUFFY: Who said?

                        Spike seems surprised that Buffy is asking him. Does he think she can see the First? He kind of looks over to the left and explains who “he” in a way that Buffy must think is crazy. Spike was talking to himself? Spike was singing to himself?

                        SPIKE: Me. It was me. I saw it. I was here the whole time. Talking. And singing. There was a song...

                        Spike clutches his head in despair and curls into a ball again.

                        I’m trying to think of what this looks like from Buffy’s point of view. Spike takes her down to the basement because he starts to remember killing people. He then vamps out, cuts her arm and the people he vamped rise up to grab her. Spike takes a taste of her blood instead of draining or hurting her and has a fit, falling to the ground in horror after saying he remembers. Then Spike says that ‘he’ said Buffy would stake him for killing them and setting her up and prepares himself for death. When asked who “he” is, Spike says that it’s himself singing and talking.

                        What is Buffy thinking? She’d already guessed that Spike might be doing this without knowing. But she probably thought it had something to do with his insanity. Now it’s obvious it’s something outside of Spike. Spike clutches his head as he talks about the song, as if he wants to squeeze it from his mind.

                        BUFFY: What are you talking about?

                        Spike seems to be deep inside his own thoughts now, barely noticing Buffy. He doesn’t want to remember anything. Not just the killing and siring of the people, but also what he did to his mother and Buffy.

                        SPIKE: I don't know. Please, I don't remember. Don't make me remember.

                        Up to this point, the First must think that it has won. After all, Buffy is confused and Spike suicidal and not making much sense. But Spike suddenly turns to the left and screams at an empty space as Buffy watches.

                        SPIKE: Make it so I forget again! I did what you wanted!

                        Spike did what “he” wanted. Which means if Buffy stakes Spike, she’s also doing what “he” wants. She turns to look and sees nothing. But she’s not dumb.

                        BUFFY: There's something here.

                        Buffy throws the shovel handle aside. Spike isn’t responsible in her mind. He’s as unable to help what he’s doing as he’s unable to stop the chip from going off.

                        But it really shows how bad off Spike is that he begs for Buffy to kill him anyway. Put him out of his misery. He’s lost all sense of pride now as he openly shows how low his self-esteem really is behind all the Big Bad talk.

                        SPIKE: Oh, God. No, please. I need that. I can't cry this soul out of me. It won't come. I’ve killed and I can feel it. I feel every one of them.

                        Buffy kneels next to Spike. She’s trying to push through his madness, calming him so that he can understand.

                        BUFFY: Something's playing with us. All of us.

                        Spike has been controlled before by so many people and things, but this in a way is the worst because the First knows Spike’s deepest, darkest secrets. Thinking about how the First manipulated Angel in “Amends”, it’s a lot like when Angel is also tormented about the human he used to be.

                        ANGEL: A demon isn't a man. I was a man once.
                        JENNY/FIRST: Oh, yes, and what a man you were.
                        MARGARET/FIRST: A drunken, whoring, lay-about and a terrible disappointment to your parents.
                        ANGEL: I was young. I never had a chance to...
                        MARGARET/FIRST: To die of syphilis? You were a worthless being before you were ever a monster.
                        Angel can't take much more, and he holds his hands to his ears.
                        ANGEL: Stop it! Stop! – “Amends”
                        When Spike says “Don’t make me remember. Make it so I forget again!” it’s because the First is probably saying the same kind of stuff that it said to Angel. Bringing up how useless William Pratt was and how he killed his own mother who hated him and rejected him. I think the most important phrase in “Amends” is “you were a worthless being before you were even a monster” which would torment any vampire with a soul because they can blame the demon for crimes, but not the human.

                        SPIKE: What is it? Why is it doing this to me?

                        Spike’s grief is so sad that Buffy doesn’t know what to say. She’s honest enough to tell Spike that she can’t figure out the mystery.

                        BUFFY: I don't know.

                        This is a mirror version of a scene with Buffy and Angel in “Amends” when Buffy tries to convince Angel that someone is doing this to him and Angel grabs his hair with his hands in the same way. The First must really give people a migraine with all the voices.

                        BUFFY: Angel, something is doing this to you. You just have to control it, okay? I know that you're confused.
                        ANGEL: I think you're the one who's confused. I think you need to...
                        JENNY/FIRST: She wants you to taste her. Think of the peace. You'll never have to see us again.
                        Angel struggles for control of his mind. He grabs his hair with his hands in desperation.
                        BUFFY: Angel, how can I help you?
                        ANGEL: Leave me alone!
                        He runs toward her window and dives out. Buffy is in shock over it all. – “Amends”
                        But unlike Angel who runs away, Spike asks Buffy for help

                        SPIKE: Help me. Can you help me?

                        Is it surprising that Spike asks Buffy for help? She is the slayer and she’s helped him before and vice versa. The first truce between Buffy and Spike started with Spike asking for help to get rid of Angel so he could have Drusilla back. When he is first chipped, Spike asks for help when the Initiative chases him by promising information. It’s something the soulless Spike can understand because of the “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine” common self-interest. But he also knows that Buffy and her friends are the white hats who help people in trouble.

                        Even when he was a soulless vampire, he knows that Buffy helped him by bringing Angelus down in “Becoming,” bringing him into Giles’ apartment in “Pangs”, escaping the bad guys in “Tabula Rasa” and protecting him from Xander’s anger in “Entropy.”

                        But I think it also goes back to William Pratt and his role as ‘caretaker’ for his mother and she for him. He takes care of Drusilla the same way and Spike sees helping someone as a form of love, even if it’s selfish, because of his memories of William. So when he ‘loves’ Buffy, he wants to help her and they first holds hands when he helps her up from fighting a demon in “Listening to Fear.” He helps Buffy save Dawn in “Intervention,” helps her fight the Knights in “Spiral”, helps by facing Doc in “The Gift” and helps Buffy by saving her from dying in “Once More With Feeling.”

                        Even after the events of “Seeing Red”, Buffy takes Dawn to Spike’s crypt because she knows that despite everything that Spike will always help those he loves.

                        Ever since Spike returned from getting his soul, Buffy avoided helping Spike because of the fear that he might try to start up their toxic sexual relationship. So she runs from the church in “Beneath You” and leaves him in the school basement for several weeks until Spike helps her to save Cassie in “Help.” After that, Buffy finds him a place in Xander’s apartment even though Spike protests that he doesn’t want her help. That he doesn’t deserve it.

                        But now Spike is openly asking her for help and Buffy has to make a decision. If she helps Spike, then that means she has to bring him fully back into her life. No more running away or pretending the soul doesn’t matter. She’ll have to get close to him again and after the events of “Seeing Red,” that’s a very hard choice to make. Dawn and the others will be angry at her after what Spike has done.

                        But Buffy also knows that there’s no way to defeat whatever this big bad is without understanding what it’s doing to people and that includes Spike. So there’s some selfish self-interest of her own in making the decision to open her door to Spike once more and let him in. I also believe she cares for Spike especially because he got the soul for her and now it’s killing him inside. So Buffy lets him in.

                        BUFFY: I'll help you.

                        The line is said off-screen so that we can see the reaction of the First and it doesn’t seem happy at all. This wasn’t part of the plan.

                        There’s a line in the shooting script here that was probably cut for time.

                        BUFFY: We'll find out what's doing this and we'll stop it.

                        The line is very comforting and very slayer and very mothering, like Buffy would say to Dawn. When we see Spike again, he’s in her apartment wrapped in a blanket like a small child who has had bad dreams, sitting by the fireplace as Buffy watches close by.

                        The last time that Spike really asked for help like this was in “Pangs” when he was wrapped in a blanket as a shield from the sun. Now, Spike is wrapped again in a blanket but now it’s because his soul is so exposed that he’s like a newborn who needs protection.

                        I believe that Buffy brought him home that night and wrapped the blanket around him while she called a Scooby meeting. Spike stares forward into the fireplace as they chat, clutching his hands in fear and horror at what has happened. He doesn’t have any control over himself and is totally reliant on Buffy to stop him from killing again. It’s a huge difference from his attitude in the earlier part of the episode when he was sure his soul (and the chip) were making him a kind of man like he talks about in “Beneath You.” He also looks guilty that he’s asked Buffy for help and the next episode shows that Spike’s self-esteem is through the floor now.

                        Buffy has already bandaged her arm and is just finishing up telling everyone the whole story about what happened in the basement. They all keep looking at Spike as they talk, just a little spooked by the whole serial killer aspect of it.

                        ANYA: And you believe him?

                        Buffy obviously just finished telling them how Spike didn’t know what was making him kill.

                        BUFFY: You didn't see him down there. He really didn't know what he'd done. It wasn't in his control.

                        So Buffy is convinced that Spike is innocent and is being framed by the real suspect. Which doesn’t make anyone feel better.

                        In the original script, Anya makes a comment that makes much more sense coming from Xander:

                        XANDER: Oh, an out-of-control serial killer. You're right, that is a great house guest.

                        Willow gives Xander a funny look here. There’s no doubt she’s thinking there’s more than one out-of-control serial killer in the house.

                        Xander must sigh in relief off screen that Spike won’t be at his place anymore after being punched in the face. It’s not a surprise that he’s a little angry. It’s Dawn who is surprisingly mean. She suddenly realizes that Spike, the person who tried to rape her sister, is now going to be a permanent house guest and reacts badly.

                        DAWN: Wait. Is he staying here?

                        It’s sad to see how much Dawn is unable to forgive Spike despite getting his soul. Buffy knows how upset she is, but is honest in saying that she’s not sure of anything except that she can’t let Spike kill again.

                        BUFFY: I don’t know. But I'm not letting him out of my sight, that’s for sure.

                        WILLOW: Buffy, he's been feeding. On human blood. That's gotta do stuff.

                        Do vampires really get addicted to human blood or is it just that Willow thinks of everything in terms of drug addiction because of her own experiences with magic? Angel does act weird when he drinks Connor’s blood later on, but I think Willow is thinking about herself because of what the First told her through Cassie’s ghost.

                        Buffy is getting the vibe from her friends that they’re worried Buffy is inviting Spike in because of personal reasons and this makes her annoyed. They’re not getting how this is connected to the Big Bad.

                        BUFFY: I'm not keeping him around just to help him. I think there was something there. Talking to him. Making him do things.

                        Is Buffy protesting too much? Why not help Spike? She almost sounds defensive about why she’s keeping Spike there.

                        But Willow doesn’t notice this because she’s freaked out about what Buffy’s saying about the Big Bad. She’s starting to get what Buffy is saying and realizes that the same reasons that everyone’s worried about Spike may apply to her. Just because it’s the bad guy doesn’t mean that he’s lying and Willow’s magic could end up destroying them all just as easily as Spike vamping out.

                        WILLOW: Something like what was talking to us?
                        BUFFY: Maybe. And if it was, then it’s been screwing with Spike big time.

                        We see Spike listening, but he doesn’t say a word as they all discuss his fate. He probably doesn’t feel like he has any right to say anything because of what he’s done. Spike’s relying on Buffy’s mercy and he trusts her enough to decide whatever’s right. If she wants to dust him, she can. If she wants to help him, she can. It’s all sad.

                        Xander is more suspicious about Buffy’s motives. We’re talking a sleepwalking serial killer here and Buffy’s pity for Spike could be dangerous. And maybe she still has feelings for him.

                        XANDER: So you want him around because...

                        Buffy cuts that off before it can start.

                        BUFFY: Look, there’s something evil working us. And if we are ever going to have a chance to fight it, we need to learn everything we can about it. This thing has been closer to Spike than any of us.
                        WILLOW: And if you want to understand it –
                        BUFFY: I'm going to have to get close to Spike.

                        This doesn’t sound good at all to Xander. Letting Spike stay in Buffy’s house isn’t just dangerous for their physical safety, but also for Buffy after what happened last year. He remembers what happened the last time Buffy got ‘close’ to Spike.

                        XANDER: Nah, It's too dangerous.

                        Buffy makes it clear that this isn’t a group decision. It’s not about her and Spike and their relationship. It’s about something a lot bigger.

                        BUFFY: I don't have a choice. Whatever this thing is, "from beneath us", it's bad. And it's only getting worse.

                        To prove Buffy’s point, we see the flat in England where Nora the potential lies dead on the floor. Giles busts open the door like he knows something is wrong.

                        How did Giles know something was wrong? Was Robson able to call after he was stabbed? Was there some assigned signal that Robson failed to make, some phone call or pager number that was never sent? Was Robson and his charge supposed to show up somewhere and failed to appear? When Giles breaks the door open, it’s obvious that he expects the worst. Has he already heard of the other potentials who have been murdered? He looks down to find Nora on the floor, dead.

                        GILES: Oh, dear God.

                        Giles feels for a pulse and then stands up to scan the room.

                        GILES: Robson? Are you here? Robson?

                        Giles hears a noise and races over to find Robson with a bloody wound in his stomach, head propped up on a chair. Which is weird because he was stabbed in the back when we last saw him. There must have been more of a fight that we didn’t see. Giles kneels besides him and mourns.

                        GILES: You too.

                        Robson opens his eyes and startles Giles.

                        GILES: Dear God, I thought you were –

                        Robson struggles to speak as Giles leans forward to listen.

                        ROBSON: Gather them.
                        GILES: What?
                        ROBSON: It's started.
                        By gather them, I guess Robson means to gather up the remaining potentials to keep them safe. How much does Giles know about what’s been happening? If the Watchers know the potentials are under attack, why aren’t they better guarded? How many are there? Why is Giles alone when he enters the flat if he fears any kind of attack? What happened to the Watcher guys who kidnapped Faith to take her back to England? Couldn’t they form some kind of advanced unit to fight off the crazy bad guys with swords? We don’t know enough. But for now, it’s clear the potentials have to be protected just like Buffy is protecting Spike.

                        GILES: It's alright. I understand. I'll take care—

                        As Giles speaks, a figure with a large double-edged axe appears to swing it directly at Giles’ head as the scene fades out. It’s a great cliffhanger that caps an episode full of them.

                        Do the Watchers even know who is attacking them? They don’t seem to realize what kind of the danger they’re in because they don’t protect themselves in the next episode. But this is a reminder that “Sleeper” is only the second part of a three-part mystery that started with “Conversations with Dead People” and ends with “Never Leave Me.”

                        To find out who the Big Bad is, Buffy and Giles have to wait until the events of “Never Leave Me.” Like Spike’s trigger and Giles’ possible survival, it’s another mystery that has to be solved by the Watchers and the Scooby Gang.

                        And it better be solved soon. Because it’s not the fate of the Watcher’s Council and the Potentials that rest on Buffy and the Scooby Gang solving the mystery of the Big Bad, but also the world.

                        As a detective whose job is to find the evidence that reveals the Big Bad and saves the world, Buffy knows the initial crimes, but she still doesn’t know the motive or the real perpetrator and his plans for total world destruction. So Buffy has to get close to the one person who has had intimate, sustained contact with the enemy despite the misgivings of her family and friends. If Spike is sleepwalking, then Buffy has to wake him to find out the heart of his mystery.

                        The solving of that mystery doesn’t end in a big reveal in the final scene but a new beginning. Not only for her friends and family and Spike, but for herself.

                        Thank you for your time.
                        Last edited by Tiny Tabby; 19-08-20, 11:39 PM.


                        • debbicles
                          debbicles commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Loving all this. I never thought of those three episodes in the light of a detective mystery.

                      • Really looking forward to watching the episode and reading through the review this week. It's finally hit the top of my things to do and I'm really excited about getting back into the rewatch and reading this.

                        I'm also really pleased to say that with the help of thenewbuzwuzz and rahirah I've worked out ways for passing on links for the reviews to The Sunnydale Herald fandom newsletter. Our RSS feeds don't trigger for activity in existing threads so when significant activity occurs we need to submit a link and Sleeper's went in today's issue.


                        • debbicles
                          debbicles commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Well done.

                      • Tiny Tabby I just wanted to post a quick apology for not getting to reading and responding to your review yet. Things have been a bit manic around the children returning to school and starting to try to go through the site amends that are needed. I have now managed to fit in rewatching Sleeper though, so hope that I'll be able to read and post very soon, and before Never Leave Me falls due of course.

                        American Aurora, SpuffyGlitz and Cheese Slices, if any of you have completed the final parts of your reviews as you were hoping to in this block of time I'd still encourage you to post. We may well be able to insert the last parts within the thread at the correct place and then provide a link back to it so that you don't feel like you are interrupting as such, if that helps. Please don't hesitate to message me if you have any questions or concerns.