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BtVS rewatch: SEASON 7

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  • Stoney, I am hard at work on Seeing Red now!

    It’s so long, it may still be running at the same time as Never Leave Me because I’m going to post about four chapters a day to the end, but I will start posting it very soon. I’m going to put it in the Season Six Rewatch thread where it belongs plus create a new folder where I’ll copy it just to contain the monster and make it more readable with all links going back to the Season Six posts.

    I’ll make it very clear where I stopped posting so those who were reading it don’t feel obligated to read the whole thing again. I would suggest starting maybe two posts beforehand since they all link together on the same train of thought that leads to the AR.


    • debbicles
      debbicles commented
      Editing a comment
      Excellent. I’m adopting the brace position because you still haven’t covered That Scene!

    • Stoney
      Stoney commented
      Editing a comment
      Fab, thanks Aurora. I'll put links to all the remaining parts on that first post of the S6 thread too to help people jump around the thread for the review.

  • OK, so i'm not too late to make my contribution? I was afraid that I had fallen off the bus and been swallowed by the crater... I'm still here... gasp. I'm hanging onto the bumper of the bus, but i'm still here.

    It's been an odd year.


    • debbicles
      debbicles commented
      Editing a comment
      Now I’ve got a vision of you clinging to the bottom of that speeding bus in “Speed”! Glad you’re still there! Hope you’ve been keeping well.

    • Stoney
      Stoney commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi blue it's great to see you back. We have had a few jiggles as reviewers have changed so your review is currently planned for mid March now. Please feel free in the meantime to jump into the discussions.

  • @Tiny Tabby Thank you for finding the time around your new job, and all the extra hours and pressures you've been under there, to put so much thought and effort into producing a review for Sleeper. I thought I'd post my responses so far as I've just gotten half way through the review and hopefully I'll be able to finish up over the weekend, but by Monday at the latest.

    I absolutely love considering Sleeper against crime shows. Placing it as the investigation to follow CWDP, the middle of the trio before the final realisation of what they are facing in Never Leave Me, is great. The way that the episode directly flows from the end of CWDP and continues to reveal the events of the same night really emphasises the strong connection between the episodes and, as you say, this carries on into NLM. It really appeals to me to consider the episodes together in this way and Sleeper through this lens of an investigation. Love the connection between the director and Columbo.

    Originally posted by Tiny Tabby View Post
    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.
    Your point of how we as viewers are watching Buffy investigate whilst knowing Spike did it is great. Bringing us to be wondering on the 'why' rather than who. Which, as you said, is what the final part of the trio of episodes will consider.

    Buffy's ability to look past the simple answer at the end and question what she is seeing is a great follow up to the repeated times that questioning what is seen has featured, trying to find the hidden truth, the connections and impacts between people and, as we'll eventually see, how experiences from the past helps to inform your perspective.

    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.
    And this, the struggles and tenuous grip on reality that Spike has been experiencing since he regained his soul, really is key to what is going on with him and accepting his denials and confusion in Sleeper to be genuine. Again, how much past experience plays its part can be questioned as Buffy's history with Angel and her past relationship with Spike both influence her responses. In particular the connection with Amends, and Angel struggling with his crimes, suffering with his soul as you say, is so great for the repetition of The First being behind events and Buffy's feelings things aren't always as they appear.

    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.
    That's really interesting, I never knew what that reference was to. This is great alongside your point that the psychological drama of the episode centres on Buffy and Spike's relationship and the uncertainties and history between them has been a constant focus of their interactions so far.

    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?
    The difference of the soul and whether it will make a difference to who Spike is now is fairly repeatedly questioned through the first half of the season. And without certainty of what they can expect it's even something very directly stated by Dawn as she suggests the soul can't be seen as a guarantee at all. Of course it isn't in itself. One thing that the soul seems to consistently be represented as providing is a different capacity for morality than what was there before. So it is more (another repeat of the season) the potential that is there now. So that wariness and the times when Buffy has been both distanced as well as tentatively supporting, work to openly questioning here and build up towards her assertion that she sees worth in who Spike can be.

    I think the uncertainty works well and how they took time and gave a lack of surety for so long. Not only for working up to the reveal of the influence and presence The First has had from the start, but in the characters reacting to having history with Spike but (again thematically important) not having had any experience or knowledge of who he was as a human to lead them on who he has become now. Again it works well as a compare and contrast to Angel where they obviously had negative experiences with him when he became unsouled and didn't know Liam, but he was returned to being someone they did know previously when he was resouled.

    Interesting to hear that there was a scene originally intended between Xander and Jesse. I'd assume that again those past experiences were being given weight and their influence probed.

    All these past experiences churning and playing their part works so well for the links that you drew to the influence of 'mother' figures in S7. Particularly within this trio of episodes for Dawn and, as will eventually be understood, for Spike.

    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.
    I love this and it works well with Spike's disorientation and confusion over his memories and experiences.

    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?
    It could have been the only dirt-floored basement locally. I tend to imagine that it is a fair distance from Revello and it was about the privacy and reduced chances of Spike being seen. The First would probably want to avoid the risk of drawing people to the seal at this point too. But as you say, as we don't ever learn what the plans were for how The First wanted to use Spike, it is hard to know. As he is intended to be an enemy within, with that hidden trigger waiting to exploit at some time, it seems keeping his activity under the radar could have been a contributory factor at the least.

    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.
    As Dru was left Sheila whilst being told to eat something, I always assumed she'd sired her.

    But it's a great point that the prolific siring is something that feels off for how Spike behaved even when soulless. That in addition to him not acting like you'd expect and the repetition of the song add together as factors which play into the viewer feeling something may be wrong I agree. The lack of tendency under his own choices to sire links in interesting ways of course too with the revelations of LMPTM and the idea of the suppressed memory perhaps having an unconscious influence.

    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.
    Love this and the details about Early One Morning. Linking the song to the episode title through the reference to a new day, to the subsequent episode title and then the duality of good/evil connections with 'sleep' and examples of waking changed too, are all just really great.

    Considering the importance and significance that is often associated with sleep as you raise, particularly with the visions that Buffy can have, it perhaps works for an emphasis on experience and intuition here that Buffy isn't sleeping during all of this and that flow of it being held over one night as she is seeking what is hidden and conducting this investigation instantly, instead of sleeping on it. Another example of facing reality when awake as you raised for tying with Early One Morning.

    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.
    I love how this emphasises the connections between people, which works with your observations about Dawn's experiences in CWDP and how The First is trying to manipulate by exploiting people's emotional connections. The underlining to connections is also there in how we are moving away from the physical isolation that everyone was operating within in CWDP to coming together and approaching things together in the aftermath of those events and experiences.

    Even when there is a continued push away from teamwork in this episode as Spike sets out alone to try to get to the bottom of events as Buffy is doing the same (although she has been sharing the issue with the gang first and is trying to stalk Spike to witness what is happening), eventually this is also broken when Spike 'calls' Buffy on the phone (a variation of the repeated calling out you noted) and the episode ends with Buffy and Spike facing the threat together and then everyone being in the house as a group.

    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.
    Great tie between Willow and Spike for how they are being viewed as whether they've changed from who they were in the past and both are being treated with some degree of uncertainty at points. Both of course fearing that they won't have changed and this is the kind of insecurity that The First tries to take advantage of to weaken people and have them isolate themselves.

    Churning up Dawn's worries that she won't matter is one of the most successful acts during CWDP as she holds this fear under the surface and doesn't share it. It's a fair point that Willow doesn't share the details of what was said to her either.

    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.
    Excellent observation. As it's nearly impossible to fully remove your doubts and fears about someone who is lost in their absence it really plays on often leaving worms of doubt that can bury into people's minds and play on their memories (rather like the Prokaryote Stone).

    There’s always the possibility that The Big Bad could be evil and still be telling the truth.
    This is one of my favourite parts of this episode, the acknowledgement that our own fears can be the worst thing that can undermine us as the fact that there is the possibility that they are true is what gives them power.

    Still, Xander’s not sure they can trust Spike... 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:
    I think there are possibly still some lingering issues about his break with Anya and her hook up with Spike still underneath it all, but I can see the argument that Xander's own uncertainty is somewhat affected not just by knowing Spike is souled now but in looking to both respect Buffy's wishes and also protect her.

    His genuine concern for Buffy and the wish to help I think stands out really clearly with how he tries to help her through this episode and in how he responds to her clearly torn emotional response at the start. Which can be argued to reflect back to his own experiences, raised again so recently, in passing on the message to kick Angel's ass. Something as you say he doesn't even hint towards a repetition of even later when he's been knocked out. I would also say that he displays his own lack of serious concern that Spike is actually killing (even though it turns out to be true) when he leaves Anya to keep an eye on Spike alone.

    Xander can’t believe that Buffy’s saying this.
    What surprises me here is that it suggests that Buffy didn't speak to the others about feeling that she had returned wrong and all she discussed with Tara about why Spike could hit her and the chip still be functioning. If she didn't truly believe the chip was still working then considering taking Dawn to Spike after he attacked her in Seeing Red would have been surprising. It could be the residual secrecy about the relationship as you suggest but I think continuing from her conversation with Holden those fears even now of being labelled abnormal and her feelings of some disconnection from those around her being exposed puts a barrier up from talking openly. Both aspects could be at play of course. As much as there is some coming together and breaking of the isolation we saw in CWDP, your comments are making me realise how often we are also definitely still seeing fears and insecurities making people hold back somewhat too. But regardless, the current situation could of course have changed anyway, and that is what Xander encourages Buffy to consider.

    So whilst the emphasis in response is on Buffy's feeling that something is 'off' about the situation, working with staying awake as facing reality, trusting intuition and experience, it also coincides with what is being hidden too. In suggesting that the reasons that she is basing her gut response on in themselves could be false, there is some balance given that facing the reality could actually turn out to be that things might not be what you expect and believe. As much as Buffy is hoping and expecting to find that something is amiss, she is preparing as well for finding out the truth is that Spike is killing. Which it is of course. But not wilfully or knowingly.

    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.
    It's an interesting point that it is another small indicator of the difference between Spike and his soulless self. Of course the brilliance of this scene from the conversation between Buffy and Xander and then after Spike arrives is that there is scope for interpretation for and against believing that he is covering or is being sincere. We're not ruling out what truth is going to be revealed, what is truly the secret being hidden.

    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.
    There is an almost William awkwardness to Spike as he responds to Buffy's questions, which seem to be taking the opportunity to probe and gauge his reactions. Again that suggestion of the change in him is underlined as he backs away, but of course that could be because he is trying to cover and doesn't want to push his luck in keeping up the air of innocence. That things can easily be read two ways is emphasised as Xander questions his calm response as if it was suspicious I think, "Cool as Cool Whip. What's up with that?" As I understand it Cool Whip is an imitation cream, so Xander is suggesting that the calmness could be false. Even though it was the total opposite of a jumpy or nervous reaction which would have been more of a confirmation, almost because of that it could be suspicious.

    Anya is also human again and that brings back all of her earlier fears about death:
    Great point about Anya's fears of her own mortality. This is something that I think I'll keep in mind in seeing her progress onwards from here this season as my memory of her behaviour after Selfless is that she struggles with some choices in putting others before her own fears and concerns and this leads into her contribution in the final fight which costs her life. Interesting to think of how the risk to her of being there and those underlying worries bubbling might inform her behaviour to come.

    In raising the point that Xander may not realise that Anya was a demon at the point when she hooked up with Spike this again is highlighting a lack of transparency of what happened in the past (like with Spike's chip and his ability to hit Buffy) affecting a character's judgement of the present. So where experience and knowledge is flawed we're also seeing how it can hinder perceptions too. Intriguing, I'd never have noticed this without you questioning these moments.

    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.
    Oh I love that as another duality in balance. Fantastic catch.

    Which is sad because Xander is obviously still attracted to her and loves her.
    Which is why I think Xander's intuition, even though he was schooling Buffy to accept what was said about Spike might be true, that it isn't. Otherwise him leaving Anya there alone seems foolishly risky.

    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.
    Yes it does and this no doubt adds into Dawn's feeling that there could be some truth in the suggestion that Buffy won't be there for her when she needs her.

    I agree that the question over Spike's change as being paper thin will play on Willow's own fears. The two are very deliberately reflecting each other in coming to accept and balance the sides within themselves this season and at this stage both are wary about what they can achieve.

    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.
    I wonder how much, if at all, being around for these events, being involved in this situation and seeing Buffy's determination to find out the truth about Spike might have affected Giles' opinion that she is letting her feelings cloud her judgement later in the season.

    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.
    His sudden awareness of Anya when she's closer to the bed makes you wonder if he would have woken in time if she'd made moves to use the stake to remove the risk rather than, like Buffy as you say, also looking instead for some evidence.

    And again we have another seeming example of the difference in Spike as he pushes Anya away for likely a myriad of reasons I agree.

    Interesting thoughts about how Anya's hairdos change. Her mood after Spike's rejection does seem to be an expression of her lack of a sense of security and direction as she very obviously didn't really want to go through with it, although she may have been willing to. She isn't so much hurt by him as tormenting herself about her own fears of being undesirable and this really matches the sense of worries being exposed.

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

    Originally posted by Tiny Tabby View Post
    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.
    There's definitely a suspension of disbelief that is required in accepting the willingness of the residents to ignore the truth of the town around them. It works neatly at the moment against the significance of the worries within people. But generally, the wish to deny the threats about us and the literal representation of an ability to deny things we don't want to face we can attach to the selective blindness of the Sunnydale residents is actually an aspect that I've grown quite fond of. The little touches now and then like in this episode, The Prom, or Snyder's conversation with the police at the end of School Hard, when there is an acknowledgment of awareness, just means it appeal to me.

    I've never particularly put thought though into the disbelief suspension required repeatedly for all the features the town of Sunnydale sports. I'm pretty sure I've raised an eyebrow on occasion but never really thought about all the features combined. It's a busy place!

    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.
    I wonder if it is supposed to be considered in connection to CWDP specifying it was 8.01pm at the start then? Maybe the idea is to indicate that there is some regular pattern and deliberate scheduling to this? I can't remember if any other episodes provide specific times.

    I think the references to time, what happened 'one time' in the past, that 'it's not time yet' with the sense of The First's plan and mentions of time in general are repeated across this trio of episodes. In fact, time is given emphasis from the very start of the season when Dawn refers to having a plan the 'whole time', what she'll do 'next time' and Buffy's recount of her 'first time' slaying. Looking back on times in your history occurs regularly and this emphasis on time works with that sense of everything being connected and the weight of the past on the present and future too.

    But I can't think of any specific reason why those specific times in themselves would be note worthy. Other than in underlining that it is late but still a feasibly busy time of night still. Wanting 8.37 precisely is odd though.

    Of course for Spike specifically in this episode the precision of what he was doing when is something that he won't be able to recall. That element of losing time and being sketchy on the details of where, when and what comes to play as significant in its lack of detail and accuracy.

    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.
    I like this idea, that The First is aware that Buffy is there and deliberately pulls her away from where Spike has taken Linda.

    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 there is definitely a good deal of determination in Angel's actions unsouled that link back to his father and a lot about his personality and background in how he handles becoming souled that makes the difference between his souled/unsouled selves seem more dramatic a shift. There are consistencies in Angel's persona between being souled and soulless. The actual difference in a vampire mythological sense I think works the same for them both. That they respond and handle it differently makes sense to me from a mix of various different factors including their personalities, backgrounds, paths to being souled and coping mechanisms.

    I agree that there were factors in Spike's story such as his devotion to Dru, and his loyalty to Buffy S5-early S6, that made some want to view him differently and have him proven to break the verse truth about the limitation of soulless vampires. But the writing didn't choose to go there and instead actually had his belief he could walk the line fall painfully apart. As you say, we saw plenty of times Spike was evil in his actions too. This even went through S6 as his inability to see why his responses and actions at times were problematic were highlighted time and again leading up to the later events in the season and triggering his choice to get his soul.

    I actually find the idea that Spike isn't very different souled difficult to match to the far more quiet and restrained version of him that we see in S7. He's a lot less brash and is more contemplative about his actions and reserved. Yes he chooses to still try to put up a front to some extent. The idea that he doesn't share his emotional weaknesses and risk seeming vulnerable fall to those different personality aspects for me though and I still see a stark difference when he's souled.

    But a big issue is that he did try to hide it at first as you later consider, even going to the extent of acting out as his soulless self when he fears his souled state being revealed. Aside from that he has consistently seemed different to the other characters though I think, albeit a confusing mix of withdrawn and unstable. But the experience (informing the present yet again) of how he acted and trying to work out which 'him' was genuine when he first returned in itself raises this question of whether he is performing again now. The uncertainty around him from the characters' points of view because of that does make sense. So, as you say, Buffy is trying to work out where she stands with him and that wariness of what the underlying truth is remains. That element of duality again at play with the push/pull of their relationship, which always had both.

    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.
    As Buffy's first time with Angel led to some terribly damaging fallout, the idea that Joss said he was tired of seeing women punished for being sexually confident did surprise me. And yes, the idea of what good girls do compared to bad girls is used repeatedly in the series, especially when lining up Faith beside Buffy. Sometimes in S6 Buffy's issues with hers and Spike's activities seemed to be drawing from her ideas of what the social acceptability was of what they chose to do. We can see this as wrapped up in her problems with having the relationship itself of course, but the slightly judgemental element of what things good girls didn't do was also in there.

    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.
    I really loved all the information about sleepwalking. It is a fascinating thing to compare to the 'unconscious' actions of Spike when he's under the trigger here and that seeming presence and yet absence that scatters through this moment. By Spike pausing and watching Buffy as The First its a little confusing as to whether he's already triggered. Particularly when we'll see later that this can mean acting ferociously feral like a switch has been flipped. But The First needs to trigger him and control him through acts of seeming conscious behaviour too. He's not going to manage to isolate potential victims by running into a club vamp face on. So that notion of the absence of conscious decision whilst seeming cognizant is great. The 'sleepwalking' Spike watches and seems to interact with Buffy but it is all in this dreamlike state and even when he kills Linda and then seems to get a bit more conscious as he flees, the confusion and distress is evident. He's not really making any of these choices consciously and his memories are scattered and incomplete from this seeming sleepwalking activity.

    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?
    I'm thinking that the trigger works as the song plays and The First is somewhat able to influence and control Spike from there. Perhaps the point of giving Spike the memories of Buffy encouraging him, even though The First was already in control and could have just had him bite Linda with no fanfare, is that it will play into him feeling that these memories are just dreams and dismissing any thoughts of it being real. As he's confused and 'waking' he'll not think he's really been murdering people at all. It will also add to the melee of guilt as the idea of Buffy seeing him killing and murderous will just add to his distress about his past and all that he's already done when soulless.

    EDIT: The thought has just occurred that this is like the opposite effect to the one Spike quoted in S10 about having the connection of Buffy's horror at his murderous past in his memories after the mindwalk. As I remember it, he felt that helped strengthen him then and remind him how disconnected he was now from his soulless self that committed those crimes. Seeing Buffy encouraging him and being pleased with such behaviour against his memories instead could fill him with horror at the darkness in him corrupting her and the damaging influence he can be.

    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?
    It is really hard to know and of course Spike might not have any memories of any of this at all. The girl he is confessing to talking to with Buffy might be someone else he did just meet and chat with at a bar later, although I suspect not. But the apparent confusing wakening happening after he's killed Linda does suggest to me that he could have been triggered and not in the driving seat from the moment the song was playing. As you remarked, he isn't acting like himself as he walks silent and purposeful. Whatever seemingly awake state The First has him in with the trigger I don't think there's anything actively consciously needed from Spike that The First being Buffy and speaking to him prompted, other than playing into this dreamlike quality of the experience. The secondary stirring towards some consciousness after the kill maybe implies this I think.

    I like the idea that perhaps he is working through memories and replaying them. It would be another factor that would make any glimpses of recollections seem more like a dream.

    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.
    Yes they are horrible.

    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?
    I think Buffy is referring to the fact that he was clearly picking her up rather than just talking.

    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.
    It is that need to present a front and shield himself from feeling weak and vulnerable that goes back to his responses to William and the traumatic rejections and mockery he's experienced. His emotional responses is a side that he will show around Buffy more willingly and he will talk more dispassionately about such things to Angel, although he does the latter whilst still staying very emotionally guarded. But generally he doesn't tend to outwardly show his inner turmoil. For me it's a matter of personality and coping mechanisms, as he has clearly changed, it's not that he has no guilt about what he's done. I very much agree with you that the difference in the backgrounds of Liam and William affect how they outwardly respond. I personally think S7 does a good job of both showing his different manner and the shifts in him as well as these snippets of openness where his emotional responses to his past memories are exposed too. With all the context of him as an individual, his personality and hang ups, background etc, it makes sense that he handles it as he does I think and works for showing some character consistency alongside the change and distinction in him now too for me.

    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.
    I must admit I do find it a bit much that he's putting any pressure on his belief that he thinks she's jealous and then pressing the point that he can't talk to her. But it is all part of honestly answering the accusations being made and that is what Buffy is wanting to address too. So it's all a bit messed up and the emotional history and present difficulties both are having being around each other again makes it a complicated situation.

    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.
    How Buffy takes command of this situation and brings the intensity down by starting to converse in a less combative way works really well alongside her picking up on the key point in Spike's comment implying his memories of what he does may be more patchy than makes sense. They just don't appreciate how absent he is for those periods yet. It does seem like she's linking it to the tenuous grip on reality he seemed to have only recently when he was dwelling in the school basement.

    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.
    Whilst I do think that there is concern and hurt that he isn't being believed just for his own assurances layered in here, I do think there is a good dose of Spike's own background fears being raised by the whole conversation too. The underlying worry of having to face that despite everything he's tried to do he's still actually bad, collides against this suggestion the blanks in time he's experiencing could connect to a truth he'd find so distressing. He wants to fiercely push back against the suggestion, but you can see that slight doubt and insecurity sparking. Wanting to know for himself triggering his own investigation too.

    As I said, I'll hopefully be back with thoughts on the rest in the next couple of days. I'm very much enjoying reading through your ideas.


    • Stoney,

      Thank you for al the wonderful comments. I am going to work now and will be working double shifts all weekend and then up to Wednesday, so please take your time. There’s no rush at all. I won’t be able to read it probably until Wednesday anyway.

      I hope to respond then to your observations. Some wonderful things that I never even thought of that make Sleeper an even better episode to me!


      • First of all, I really have enjoyed your reviews, Tiny Tabby. I love that they raise more questions than can be answered.

        I especially like the comparison you make to the three parter being like an episode of “Columbo”. Here, there’s an extra layer of complexity: in Columbo the killer was always aware of his/her actions. In this story, Spike’s unaware of what he’s doing, until the curtain lifts briefly - does the First show him this, is it his newly-restored soul that torments him by giving him glimpses of what he’s done “under the influence” (so to speak)? We don’t know, he doesn’t know, Buffy sure as heck doesn’t know, and it’s fun to guess. Any way it goes, the result is the same: Spike distrusts himself, and is filled with renewed self-loathing. It doesn’t take much to produce this in him.

        The First is trying to splinter the gang, but because Buffy’s nature is to trust and offer compassion, it makes its first miscalculation. Instead of staking Spike, whose death wish has now taken over him, she brings him into the fold. He’s now under her protection. Again!

        The First will briefly succeed in driving a wedge between them all, but it will ultimately fail. The end of Sleeper is the start of that storyline.

        I don’t quite know why the writers insisted on that heavy-handed reference to William the Bloody. (Often in S6-7 I wished I could fathom what on Earth they were trying to achieve!) It’s not as if the gang ever referred to Spike as that before. Only Buffy has ever called him William. If they were going for the Angel/Angelus dichotomy then it doesn’t happen again, so they must’ve had second thoughts.

        I’m sure that Xander’s exclamation has some relevance to the difference between men and women. Maybe it points to Buffy’s ability and willingness to trust her instincts? Sounds like a really promising avenue for research and probably would shed light on some aspects of S6-7, which I view as one story.

        I love your analysis of Buffy’s emotional responses. I don’t think we ever get to see if she tells the gang about the chip not working on her. I think she hugs that to herself as a piece of knowledge about her relationship with Spike that she just wants to keep secret. I don’t think she’s worked out its implications, and as you say, the only other person who knew about it is no longer around.

        Stoney, as ever your thoughts are complex and provide much insight. I love your reference to the S10 mindwalk. That never occurred to me.
        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


        • Interesting point about considering Buffy following her instinct and male/female distinctions debbicles.

          I'm glad they dropped the 'William the Bloody' reference Spike makes in the shooting script as it sounds really awkward, but I do think it is all about trying to push the separation that exists whilst also trying to balance him giving weight to his responses to his memories of what he did. It's a difficult one to manage with the souled vamps as they feel that connection because they remember doing it all and they're still a demon with those drives too. Perhaps when Anya calls him William she's actually trying to test him or make him feel uncomfortable by making it more personal.

          I looked up the S10 post mindwalk conversation to see how Spike actually phrased what he said and it wasn't just that Buffy's horror reminds him of the difference in who he is now but also who he wants to be souled, and so makes him want to turn from the rush of the kill you don't forget. It does somewhat disconnect him from who he was, but not in denying his connection to his past but in that sense of who he can be now differing. So yes, still interesting when considering how he could feel in response to having a 'dream/memory' where Buffy is egging him on to kill. I think it would be pretty destructive to plant that and help to make him feel he doesn't have worth and is just dangerous/corrupting. This might work interestingly against the things that The First as Dru is saying to him about his worth when he's captured. Anyway, we're a little way off that. I've spoilered the page below in case anyone is interested but hasn't seen it.

          S10 #15

          Thanks Tiny Tabby for looking to fit in discussing the episode still, especially when you're clearly still incredibly busy. It would be great to hear more of what you think about it but please don't feel pressured to if you're exhausted! I'm hoping to dedicate my time tomorrow to reading the rest when I've a peaceful house again and can focus on just BtVS.


          • Oh, I’d forgotten Anya called him William, too. Yes, my take on that would be to make it more personal. Of course, it goes hand in hand with that very funny “upside-down and halfway to Happy Land” line. Mind you, what I do find pretty nonsensical is that business of Anya making a fuss about being fat. As if we needed any more adverse body images.

            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


            • My final batch of thoughts responding to Tiny Tabby 's fascinating review of Sleeper.

              I love your consideration to the times people are under an illusion of free will when they are really being controlled and that works so well alongside the questioning of what is real. The 'love' that everyone felt for RJ in Him worked on this notion of the superficial and false against what is real. The season shows how much people influence and impact each other and we're building into the positive way that can empower. But there is of course the flip side and where there are difficulties and insecurities, fears can drain people's sense of self and certainty. The assurance of people's emotions towards each other doesn't always come easy. As much as experience can help to inform your choices because of the past, the past can also hold you back. Dawn's uncertainty and insecurities especially are highlighting how hard it can be to be confident of what is real and what isn't and how troubled experiences like a feeling of abandonment in the past can, even if unfairly so now, influence what you feel is the present truth. Or at least are willing to be led to fear will be the future.

              Originally posted by Tiny Tabby View Post
              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...
              Originally posted by Tiny Tabby View Post
              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.
              I really like considering the manipulations and actions of The First in its desire to break up the group as playing the role of an evil guide and controlling sorcerer. The comparison here to an evil eye is great in a season that focuses so much on sight and perception as people grapple with aspects of their identity and The First plays on fear.

              Excellent tie with hypnosis and Dru's manipulation of Giles in Becoming. As someone again who is referred to as having 'sight' beyond the visual and is able to draw on someone's inner feelings and insecurities, it's a brilliant comparison that I'd never considered. And of course works so well on to the consideration of Freud's psychoanalysis in exploring memories and feelings that had been repressed. Love considering magical acts as a metaphor for psychology and how well this works against The First using Spike's emotional connection and repressed memory as a way to hide the trigger.

              The notion of mind control is definitely alarming and the morally questionable intentions of utilising this are clear in the examples you gave. It made me think of a particularly successful entertainer in the UK, Derren Brown, who performs shows and experiments which all work around the power of suggestion and the idea of mind control. I'd highly recommend watching his stage or screen shows if you can, some stream on netflix I think going from what is said on his website. His tv shows often are based on a very deliberate social experiment, such as whether you can manipulate someone into committing an appalling act, or another to believe they are taking a bullet for someone else. He's a fascinating performer. He's also an incredible painter.

              All intended as a form of entertainment of course and nothing like the dark and sinister experiments of Gottlieb and the attempts to create a true sleeper agent. But even so, the idea of simply how suggestible people can be is a little alarming if you imagine someone truly skilled using it in harmful ways. The fear of being controlled and lacking free will, how restrictive the idea of that is, plays a direct contrast of course in being able to move forwards independently and prove yourself. The contrast of a superficial control like the chip against personal free choice.

              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.
              I think you're right that The First is deliberately using how fragile Spike's mind is currently. How tortured he is by all he's done to play on his fears and get these moments of blank time submerged within his constant struggle and mix of memories and emotions.

              I do tend to read Spike's heading out as being partly in response to what Buffy has said. I can see the interpretation that at first he may have still been looking to escape just as he always has. Yet as much as I think he honestly doesn't feel he is going to have been responsible for killing, there is possibly also an intention to test and prove that he can pay attention to all that happens and be sure of himself. As disbelieving and hurt as he was by Buffy's suggestion, it's still unnerving because he does have those blanks.

              Obviously the sight of the cigarette packet is key and couples with that slight uncertainty and hearing the suggestion to start to break down the clouded chunks of time. Still I think you're right that Spike's initial response is not to accept these as literal memories yet, but to go to try to find this woman. Doing that will prove the strange memory of her can just be put down to being another disturbing fake vision as this still feels a ludicrous suggestion of reality.

              Is this a sign of the chip deteriorating? In season four, even lifting his fist would have had Spike rolling in pain.
              This is an interesting point about the chip. I tend to think of the chip as being so linked to Spike's intentions and feelings that times when he'd really like to do harm can perhaps be enough, like aiming the gun in The Yoko Factor. Yet something such as his slap to the back of Xander's head in WotW could happen as there was little wish to actually do true harm behind it. But it definitely isn't consistent as he jumped Buffy and it wasn't until he got close to biting her in Out of My Mind before the chip fired. Here he's looking to knock Xander out, so again it's hard to put up much of an argument that intention shouldn't have triggered it before he acts, as that has been shown to happen before. It's probably just true that it has always been a little random in how quickly it fires, but I like the idea that it could link here to the chip becoming less stable.

              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.
              I think he did it knowing how much force would be affective but safe and chose it for sheer expediency. As you say, he is still a demon too and he didn't want to get into a big debate with Xander, he'd spent the time he was willing to in trying to reason with him and Spike can be very dismissive of people. It's something we saw back in William too as he looks to dismiss the people at the party as vulgarians and can perhaps be linked to times when he doesn't want to engage in a way that would make him feel vulnerable. There is no real wish to get into any of this with Xander and possibly expose how he feels about it or how his conversation with Buffy went and affected him. It's quicker to just force him with one punch and emotionally it is safer for him to knock Xander out.

              Interesting to think of Spike moving around as he searches for the woman, on the brink of uncovering something important, passing through all these spaces where significant moments have occurred at points in the past.

              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.
              I really like this and would say that maintaining barriers and using violence as a defensive mechanism against revealing weakness or vulnerability that relates is a significant motivator for lashing out.

              The idea of Spike passing from one thing that influences him to the next and not being independent can be related right back to his relationship with his mum and the lack of breaking away from some of the more childlike interactions of their dynamic we'll see revealed in LMPTM. (EDIT: His relationship with Anne being key is something I saw you later delve into). Of course in siring him, being 'the other that gave birth' to him Dru took control. From the beginning Dru chose him because she could see that he would be what she wanted him to be. Not as he was, but as she would change him into. Now again Spike has changed for a woman, for Buffy, and although he didn't know fully what difference it would make to him, this time he chose it for himself in a more conscious way. Spike's path from here steadily builds him towards gaining more independence and surety of self, but it is a very slow process. One that I'd even argue was still ongoing at the end of S12.

              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?
              I think when he goes out flirting and talking it is exactly as he said to Buffy, to pass the time, but that isn't what he's doing now and why he's not remotely engaged by her but quite irritated instead. What is really interesting is that he doesn't even have the slightest flicker of recognition with this woman and though he clearly puts what she says about biting together with Buffy's accusation to assume he's being told he sired her, there's still no sense of familiarity towards her. And he continues to deny the truth of it because it is so utterly confusing to him and such an appalling idea as his physical step back and rejection of the moment strongly conveys I think.

              This whole scene does really underline his lack of consciousness during these acts of killing/siring from his responses to her. It was quite a clever idea I think to actually get to witness him coming face-to-face with someone he has sired, one of his victims, and seeing the total lack of any connection or recollection when that happens.

              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.
              I don't tend to see the vampires as ignoring their old personality as the original personality is such a huge part of what forms the vampire they become. Their motivations and insecurities are drawn from the human they were. They often try to push back against aspects of themselves or their lives that they didn't like, rejecting the parts they don't in favour of being someone they'd rather be as you say. So they respond to these aspects in a soulless and demonic way because they can't process these issues as a human any more. Some reactions to their human pasts can be dramatic rejections (such as Angel's denial of emotional ties and Spike's wish to not be viewed as weak) or they can embrace aspects that are then warped by being a demon (Angel's wish to prove himself and Spike's fixation on love). As you later consider, their connection to their human pasts is somewhat disassociated because of their lack of soul. It makes sense as their moral breadth and emotional depths are limited and the reactions to their human origins and any traumatic aspects of their pasts are processed now as a demon.

              I like the suggestion that The First is especially able to plague the souled vampire because of the twists between their past soulless and their souled selves. The connection they feel to who they were, their memories of having committed those acts and the demon side within them still craving the blood and violence, makes the melding with a conscience and moral boundaries when souled a truly very troubled mix. One that can readily be psychologically affected. The idea of a sense of disconnection from who they were is definitely in there, alongside their ownership of their pasts when souled. It has to be a very confusing mix alongside the torturous guilt that it isn't surprising both Angel and Spike have moments when they aren't coping. So perhaps that in itself makes the vulnerability to being used in a way that does shut out conscious thought more possible. It is interesting to consider how The First's trigger creates a greater break, a literal separation from conscious behaviour that is more like a true dissociative episode.

              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.
              Yes, this is where that struggle to separate what is and isn't real really goes against him and made it easy for The First to add to the trauma and torture when he was struggling so much with the memories of all he'd done. That moment in Selfless when The First pretends to be Buffy is a perfect example of it just playing with him to make his hold on reality feel even more tenuous.

              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.

              I think Spike's mental condition in the early part of the season is definitely treated in ways that could be looked on as callous or cruel but it is one of those times when I think the context of the show moves it slightly out of sync with real life transposition. The soul does create a meaningful separation but there is still that connection and continuity and Buffy is understandably working through a whole mix of emotional responses to Spike's return due to their history which layers into how able she is at first to see there is more happening for him. As you say there's supernatural woven into the depiction. That Buffy is able to eventually process everything and look to first encourage Spike out of the basement and then comes to support him as she does is partly due to that meaningful separation existing too, but with the continuity as well it is healing for them both from what they had done to each other in the past. But Buffy's incredible capacity for love and forgiveness is a key factor.

              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.
              I think this is harsh considering what she has done for him so far in the context of their history, even though she has been somewhat withdrawn too. Buffy's caution and fear she may be getting mislead and risking allowing a vampire who is killing to roam free and be taking them for fools, benefiting from their willingness to give him a chance and not just dust him for past wrongs, is understandable I think. She's still looking to be sure, so she isn't wanting to just dust him on the risk alone.

              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.
              I never really considered the idea of how they are looking for evidence of a Spike who he no longer is, but I really like this. Particularly for how we can then relate that the answer is he is both gone now, as Spike has changed, but also is still present and part of who Spike is and how this works incredibly well for that need Spike has to better accept and integrate the sides within himself that comes later.

              So I can see the argument that the focus of both is in looking to find a Spike who doesn't exist any longer. I think it's important to note also that both are searching because they're hoping to find their belief he doesn't is the truth.

              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.
              That's great as a reflection of uncertainty about him and who he has become within, whether he's truly changed or not. That Spike is experiencing the same confusion after being faced with the vampire he sired and his increased loss of surety of himself works really well for their two searches reflecting each other as you say.

              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.
              How much he is struggling here I think is really well illustrated by his choice of phrase, "I think I've done some very bad things." It connects back to that scene you mentioned in Help when his hold on reality was so tenuous and that sense of being evil was such an overruling thought that he lashed out at himself, "There's evil. Down here. Right here. I'm a bad man. William is a bad man. I hurt the girl." Describing killing as bad is almost childishly simplifying it all. Facing the possibility that he has actually somehow done the things Buffy accused him of, things he would never consciously have chosen to do, is hard to face and is tearing at his hold on reality. So he reaches out to Buffy like a lifebelt. Even though this could mean he's bringing judgment down on himself, he'll welcome it if all this is true.

              Nobody getting out, especially the girl, is probably what the First is counting on.
              Yes it does imply that using Spike as an inside man who has enough trust to get Buffy into a trap where she is outnumbered and killed is just going to be an acceptable secondary plan.

              Originally posted by Tiny Tabby View Post
              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 insight we are given to what influences some of the vampires in the series is definitely what gives them distinction, rather than in truth them being mythologically speaking any different to each other I agree.

              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?
              This is a great point. The intensity of his perspective on some of what he's done it definitely going to be immense when he's souled and he can understand and feel it all in a more complex way.

              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.
              I agree that the foundation of Spike's deep need to build a persona and his constant focus that we see through the series on image and identity, how important they are to him, links back to traumatic experiences William had. I think we've seen this raised at various points as we get glimpses of his past in earlier seasons, and will do so more in episodes yet to come. It's interesting to also consider the general social influences you gave that will have impacted on his personality and could have also made him so focused on the opinions of others. Especially for how it interacts and combines with times we also see William as a dreamer and that defence mechanism to try to reduce those whose opinions will impact him, who matters, to emotionally protect himself. Looking to dismissing others as unimportant (those vulgarians as I mentioned earlier) and cover with attitude continues on into his vampire self. But it is still about that awareness of self and worry of self-worth and desire for acceptance.

              The lines that tie how Spike handles his relationship dynamics between his human experiences, newly sired ones and onwards are strong. When he becomes souled it is just another factor and layer that is affected by all that has been before, those experiences which help form you, and being souled is a new context for viewing it all yet again.

              I agree that Spike's desire to sire Anne is grounded in an obsession about what he would continue to get out of the relationship that he had had with his mum. It isn't primarily driven by this notion of saving her, not that he'd see that. As horrified as he is by what happens as a vampire, his souled response to it must surely be so much worse. All of the memories that Spike is now dealing with, ones with far less personal connections, are difficult enough to process that the idea The First is able to use such a traumatic memory for the trigger makes a lot of sense. Souled Spike's need to restrict thoughts of that is deeply embedded, as we'll see play out soon when the attempts to break the trigger lead to the revelations about his past.

              It's interesting to think of how Spike responds to both Dru and Angel in light of what happens with his mum too. I do hope that you will join for discussing LMPTM when we get there too.

              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.

              There is also the factor that Dru is a soulless vampire that wanted someone to give her attention but her willingness to return the devotion that Spike wanted to shower on her is limited. We won't see his early awakening to that painful truth until AtS 5's Destiny but it matches the relationship issues which happened in S2 when Angel returned to them and the pleasure that Dru seemed to get from the two vampires competing for her attention. As focussed as Spike had been in curing Dru, she doesn't show the same regard for trying to get him well again. It's a repeated emotional rejection and his reclaiming his image to strengthen himself and fight back against it again shows both his motivation for love/acceptance but also the need he has for an identity that protects his emotional weakness. Your consideration for how that includes acting in ways that counter what Dru would want of him is very interesting.

              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.
              I like the notion that Spike's need to have a role like he had with his mother feeds into his relationships when chipped too and why he continues to be around the scoobies even before he realises he's fallen for Buffy. I think it ties well to how he otherwise connects his sense of identity and belief in himself alongside Buffy's opinion of him. Even before she was someone he loved, her response to him represented his success and strength. It was important to him for her to see him as a threat, a foe equal in strength and power, just as beating Xin Rong helped gave him the reputation and validation he desired.

              It's interesting to think of how protecting Dawn and making good on that promise after Buffy's death helped to temper his feeling of utter failure when Buffy had to jump. The desire for a role and the importance the influence of the balance in his dynamics has also gives another angle to his greater dismissal of Dawn on Buffy's return when Buffy shows signs of leaning on him above others. It also adds in a layer to his choice to return to Sunnydale even when his clear distress about what happened between him and Buffy could arguably have led to him wanting to stay away. And, as you say, with the greater emotional understanding whilst also wanted to help he also doesn't feel he is worthwhile. All of this alongside the trouble trying to work through the confusion and guilt with the memories makes him very emotionally vulnerable and an easy target for The First.

              I agree that a continuing lack of self-worth affect him at the end of S7, and on into AtS. But I think he does use the time he has souled with both Buffy and Angel, to connect with his duality as they bring forward different sides to him. They help him find a new sense of self now souled in different ways that combines towards positive progress then in the comic seasons. A time when he eventually also stops withdrawing so much from others he cares for and becomes finally far more integrated in himself as well as socially. Even if he's still showing clear signs of questioning his worth at the end, he's more self aware and willing to consider these things rather than shield himself. Wow we're whizzing over the whole series!

              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.
              This is a great way of highlighting how confusing all his current mass of internal thoughts must be.

              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.
              I think with the later attack we see on Faith it might suggest that initially the intention was to destroy the potentials before taking out the current slayers. It makes sense that way, that order, to eradicate the line fully. But as new potentials can keep being called presumably, the need to act in quick succession if not all at once would make sense.

              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.
              I agree he's clearly not sure of what he's describing and somewhat distanced from it, as if he's not really seeing himself having done these things but having that feeling he'll later state as there also being, 'noone else' too. He is saying 'I' and yet there is no real ownership of the actions other than understanding that it might be true, despite himself.

              It is also interesting to note that he is also muddling up the memories a little and getting facts wrong as he tells Buffy he walked the girl home that she saw, but he didn't, he killed her and dumped the body. It perhaps supports that the girl he had been looking for all night that he got the cigarette packet from and remembered talking to in the pub ('I talked to her is all'), was who he thought Buffy was asking about in the first place and she wasn't the first ('and the one before that'). As Buffy was quickly tailing him it's likely illustrating that he has no true sense of when these occasions were in relation to each other. It might also work with the idea that The First was in control for most of the time with Linda, from when the harmonica played, and the intention on that occasion was to cause confusion and distress with the image of Buffy goading him on.

              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.
              I think the lack of connection to his conscious mind has to be why the chip doesn't fire, but how it can sense intentions like that is hard to guess. It wouldn't make sense for Maggie Walsh to use magic when she was the representation of modern/scientific approaches against the scoobies branch of demon fighting I think. So perhaps there is an electrical firing in an area of the brain that indicates a person wants to commit violent acts or a chemical reaction the chip could identify? I know too little about science/biology to put together an informed suggestion I'm afraid.

              When Spike picks up the broken piece of glass to attack Buffy, I think it’s like his broken state of mind.
              Nice and I like your suggestion the rising bodies are Spike's hidden crimes. A metaphor which extends to include his mother's murder, buried inside.

              That Buffy's instinctive response it to try to break through to Spike is interesting. She must have been considering from all he's said that he isn't in full control of himself because she isn't responding as if she believes this is the big reveal that it was all a rouse and she's been tricked to come here by him.

              It is really strange how the vampires all start to rise simultaneously, especially as this wasn't the plan. Perhaps the timed rising was what was going to occur and this is how The First saw it as working to their advantage and playing with Buffy instead, possibly killing her or weakening her by making her stake Spike. Or maybe there is some connection The First can manipulate as the essence of evil that all vampires feel connection to, to hold them back or release them and they are being triggered to rise now because they can ambush Buffy.

              Thinking of what happened in “Lies My Parents Told Me”, it’s hard to say what Spike is dreaming as his demon goes crazy... We’re never really in his thoughts and Spike doesn’t tell.
              The images that Spike is seeing in LMPTM I think is due to the Prokaryote stone and normally Spike would just be absent, like he is asleep and unaware of what is happening so wouldn't be able to tell. It'll just be more blank time to him.

              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”
              It is really hard to try to deduce what The First was planning and how this is the revised version, what it wants here. Chances are that either Buffy staking Spike and having that emotional drain or him biting and weakening, perhaps even killing her, would suit it. Killing both active slayers would be necessary to ensure the slayer line can't pass on if all the potentials are also dead, but it probably doesn't matter if they die separately, other than the chance Buffy's death could create a new slayer. If that is still a chance with her too it would have made sense to wait.

              I'd never thought of the creepiness in the instruction to take her but as Spike will stop himself here because of his reaction to the images he has, I could imagine that it may have been intentional as another example of the difference between unsouled/souled Spike. In Seeing Red it's clearly stated from Buffy to Spike that he only didn't rape her because she stopped him. Here Spike stops himself through his souled reaction of horror to the realisation he's been killing. It's a huge leap from his soulless self who fondly recalled moments of murder and mayhem, killed without care or remorse, looked on the demonic destruction of the bikers at the start of S6 as fun, couldn't see why dumping Katrina's body mattered and stood in his crypt talking to Clem, confused by what had happened in the bathroom for what he'd done but also why he hadn't continued.

              I think you're right that the assumption has to be it's because he's tasting slayer's blood which is distinct, and it's that which cuts through the trance The First has on him. It works neatly with another mystical truth about slayers having prophetic dreams, this notion that it enabled him to 'see' what he had done. But perhaps it was more that the quality of Buffy's blood simply acted in a healing way. As it was slayer's blood alone that could save Angel from a poison designed to kill the dead, it seems plausible that a taste of slayer's blood could break the hold on Spike, heal him.

              But now Spike is openly asking her for help and Buffy has to make a decision.
              Great link back to the idea of Spike seeking that reciprocal helping/caring dynamic that really satisfies the acceptance he craves. I think a great deal of Buffy's wariness is about not knowing her own feelings towards Spike as much as uncertainty over his intentions and who he has become. But her feeling that this all relates to the same big bad that has been trying to torture and torment them all automatically puts Spike more naturally into the 'us' column for her. Buffy's remaining feelings for him too, even as uncertain as she is of what they are, lead her to want to respond.

              The visual of her in the comforting fabric of her jumper here factors in to seeing her as being compassionate and not clinical in her response to him I think. His dark clothing very typical of course, but still reflecting both his wish to disappear and his fears of the darkness still inside him.

              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.
              It's logical that how
              unstable this situation is is affecting everyone. Particularly Dawn I think, who we know is worrying that Buffy is going to let her down and this could be that moment. It is totally reasonable for her to feel this puts her at risk in her own home and that she feels unsettled by that. The home should be a place of security and the thing that invaded and tore it apart the other day, attacked her, is suspected to be the same that has managed to break past the chip and soul to make Spike kill again. Over and over without his knowledge. It is an alarming thing to propose him staying with them before you even factor in the personal betrayal Dawn felt at him abandoning her and attacking Buffy.

              The season starts with the sense of a new revitalised routine and structure in the Summers' home. Buffy is training Dawn and she and Xander are working a structured support system. It is a positive step on from where they were in S6, directly addresses some factors of it, and that sense of learning your 'lessons' from the past really plays over it all. Now two of the people who were missing at the start and had been at the centre of a lot of the distress and disturbance of last season are being factored back in and that sense of stability is rapidly going out the window. How is everyone fitting back together and will it work or just keep destabilising them further again? I think this is what drives Dawn's wariness and Buffy's defensiveness because she isn't denying that part of the drive is to help Spike in itself. As much as she is just presenting this as a fait accompli, which can certainly be seen as unfair to the others that live there too, she is at least being honest it isn't all about the threat of what is coming, even if there is some defensiveness overlaying it too.

              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.
              There is definitely a tone of having put himself at their mercy and not feeling he should try to interfere with the discussion about the risk of helping him. It is easy to understand why he'd feel that and also why it feels necessary to have him nearby if keeping an eye on him is a significant factor, despite his lack of involvement in the conversation. It feels fair too to not hide their concerns and probably a good idea that he understands the worries directed towards him as well.

              So as much as we see the group separated and discussing Spike, they make it clear he's listening. It doesn't even look like he's attempting to hide that he's paying attention and we can see in the framing in one of the screenshots you use that he's angled to listen to them as they are aware and looking at him.

              He's even slightly overlaid to Dawn which visually combines him in the group even as there is a distance from them gathered at the table. The clear effort to help him feel comforted in the soft seat and with the blanket emphasise that there is care going in to how he is being treated. It's not just functional. It is interesting to also note that there is a slight visual rhyme between the soft folds and texture of the jumper that Buffy is wearing and the blanket wrapped around Spike. It is another factor that helps to give that sense of care and connection between the two blonds. You could even argue with the beige and grey it works neatly as an indicator that their connection is moving away from the often emphasised black and white, good and evil, dynamic of the past.

              The sense of both coming together and taking a risk in doing so works really well with Willow's responses as you say. The fears she has of her own control are painfully strong without the notion that she might be taken over without her knowledge herself and that she's potentially a second ticking time bomb.

              Sleeper is no doubt yet again an episode that plays very heavily on the connections between the characters. Not just the main group of course, but obviously heavily with the idea of affect and influence between Spike, his victims and The First too. This notion of coming together to face the threat at the end is something that will continue to snowball as the advice of Robson leads to Revello becoming where all roads paved with fear go. Well they do if you're a potential in danger of being targeted for elimination anyway.

              It is interesting to note that there is no sister episode now from AtS until Habeas Corpses sits before Potential. Most likely greatly to draw the two shows together at the right points for crossovers to come, but in considering the thematic ties it really emphasises the danger looming and the weight of the threats being faced. All those warnings and threats that were felt in the last episode, mirrored in the tone of AtS's Apocalypse Nowish, continues to hold there alongside BtVS. In both the danger of an enemy within, hidden and hard to see or control is played. This works of course with the literally hidden threats but also really to those fears that are being manipulated and the worry that the warnings are fair and the reality that will need to be faced.

              Thank you for a really interesting review Tiny Tabby. I loved the additional factors you brought in with the investigative nature of the episode, how it works within the set of three, how significant the experiences of the past worked in influencing decisions in the present and with the considerations on how the trigger works, the comparison with sleepwalking and the psychological factors at play. Thank you.


              • Buffy Episode 7x09 (#131)

                "Never Leave Me"

                The 9th episode of the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired on November 26, 2002 – two days before the US Thanksgiving that year.

                In her review of “Sleeper”, Tiny Tabby had positioned this as the final part of a trilogy of stories. “Conversations with Dead People” was the first major attack on our characters by the Big Bad. “Sleeper” was the detective show with Buffy looking for clues and gathering evidence. And “Never Leave Me” is the episode where Buffy gets to say “J’accuse!” and point to the power behind the scenes.

                This was the episode that finally revealed the identity of the season’s Big Bad. But it wasn’t just a revelation to Buffy and her friends. This was supposed to be news to those viewers at home too.

                It might seem odd in retrospect that the Bad Guy hadn’t mentioned its name in its chats with Spike, but looking over the 2002 posts on the newsgroups, I see it wasn’t officially known.

                Instead the fan community – possibly the show’s production team used this phrase in an interview – called the bad guy Morphy. It’s a play on the Big Bad’s ability to shapeshift or “morph” into dead characters, and of course, the common name “Murphy” – as in the expression “Murphy’s Law.” ("Anything that can go wrong will go wrong".) By this episode most fans had tired of the silly placeholder nickname. But even after the big reveal, some fans continued to call the entity “Morphy”. And that’s what I’m going to do in this rewatch – at least until the big reveal later.

                I say “big reveal”, but fans long suspected who was behind this season’s events.

                In the old Ellery Queen mysteries, beginning with the 1929 novel “The Roman Hat Mystery” they’d pause before the big reveal with a Challenge to the Reader. The reader had all the same facts as the detective. Could the reader solve the mystery first? It was updated to a fourth-wall-breaking Challenge to the Viewer gimmick in the 1976 Ellery Queen TV series, where Ellery Queen played by actor Jim Hutton directly addresses the viewer and asks if they figured it out.

                You’ll find such a scene at 1 hour and 23 minutes into this YouTube video of the pilot episode:

                And the answer in this case would be yes, the viewer had figured it out. They figured it out by the end of “Lessons”. Or for many, before that episode even aired. Buffy was one of the first big shows for the internet generation – and my sense is the fans knew an awful lot about what was going on. But even if you didn’t follow the spoiler chat rooms and the like, the clues were there.

                As Buffy notes herself later, the Big Bad’s modus operandi resembles a villain from the show’s past. But there were doubts. Was a one-time villain from past seasons really big enough to be a season-long Big Bad? And if it was that character, why the secrecy? The hardcore fans who would have delighted by this sort of return would have likely guessed the answer very quickly.

                The idea that Morphy was this old foe – abbreviated FE by some – seemed too obvious. They reasoned that such a reveal would be anti-climactic. So, fans looked for other candidates for Morphy’s true identity.

                Some hoped that Morphy’s shapeshifting into past Big Bads at the end of “Lessons” meant that one of the defeated foes was returning from beyond the grave for a rematch. Some hoped that it was the Mayor – back with new powers thanks to his ascension/death. Others wanted it to be Glory. They cited she had shape-shifting powers when she turned into Ben. (Wait. Ben is Glory?)

                Another suggestion was that Morphy was Angel’s The-Powers-that-Be gone bad. Also along those lines, some fans wanted to see the Watchers Council develop into the Big Bad. It would be a subversion of Buffy’s original mythology and stress her independence.

                Yet more fans looked outside of the show’s mythology for an all-powerful entitywith a known track record for lying. Now, who could that be? Their answer matched the punchline of the “Church Chat” sketches on late 1980s / early 1990s episodes of Saturday Night Leave. Could it be .. ? Satan!

                Here’s a clip where the Church Lady (played by Dana Carvey) rearranges the letters of Santa Claus’s name to reveal who is corrupting the youth of America.


                But fans decided, no, no it couldn’t be Satan. The existence of Satan in the Buffyverse would imply the existence of God. And as far as the Buffyverse is concerned, there was “nothing solid” on the existence of a being that Joss Whedon was fond of calling “the Great Sky Bully”. The Buffyverse was a place of hell-dimensions and hell-gods. But the actual Devil and the actual God? No. Besides advertisers freaked out over the criticism of the fast-food industry with Season Six’s “Doublemeat Palace”. This would have bothered them even more. And Buffy’s role as the Slayer was to both fight the forces of darkness and to sell soap for the network.

                Finally after months of speculation – mostly about why the show’s creators were dragging this out – the answer would be revealed.

                And to provide those answers, the powers-that-be turned to one of the show’s most experienced creators and one of its least experienced.

                Director David Solomon was a co-producer on “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and had worked his way up to co-executive producer for the show’s final season. “Never Leave Me” was the 17th of the 19 episodes directed by Solomon, beginning with season two’s “What’s My Line part 1.” He wasn’t the show’s most inventive or talented director, but he was a “steady hand on the tiller.” Solomon continued his association with the Buffy TV family as a director/producer on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse and on Marti Noxon’s UnREAL.

                On the other hand, this was only writer Drew Goddard’s third professional writing credit – and the previous two credits were also 7th season episodes – “Selfless” (directed by Solomon) and “Conversations with Dead People” (the Trio scenes). He would go on to write further episodes of Buffy and Angel, and then have a career as the writer/director/producer of such TV shows as Lost, Daredevil and The Good Place, as well as the movie Cloverfield.

                The episode’s Previously On segment begins with scenes that Goddard wrote for “Conversations with Dead People”.

                ANDREW: You're just scared.
                JONATHAN: Of course I'm scared. Last time we were here, thirty-three-point-three bar percent of us were flayed alive.

                The opening moments of the Previously On segment focuses on Andrew. It sets up his and Jonthan’s return to Sunnydale, that one of their number was dead, and that there was a threat in the city. From the Trio’s – well, Duo’s – perspective, the threat isn’t just the monster that eats your bottom. The Scoobies could be a threat too. One-third of their gang was killed at Willow’s hand, and this plays into Andrew’s fears later this episode.

                Andrew and Jonathan were 50% (sigh, no comical fractions here) of the Bads from season six who had left Sunnydale at the end of season six. And in a way, Morphy had something to do with all their returns. Willow returned from England because of the undisclosed threat to Sunnydale. After some magical misdirection, Willow went to a place of safety in Sunnydale – 1630 Revello Drive, the Summers residence. (Were the events of “Same Time, Same Place” in some way orchestrated by Morphy to prevent Willow from establishing herself again in the Summers home and Buffy’s surrogate family?)

                When Spike returned to Sunnydale after getting his soul, he went straight to hell, psychologically speaking. And physically speaking, he went to the basement directly above hell. He tells Buffy in “Selfless” that “I don’t have anywhere else to go.” The guilt-ridden Spike couldn’t return to the scene of the crime – 1630 Revello Drive. He couldn’t go back to his old crypt, home of the soulless Spike – that was someone else’s residence – the residence of a Spike who died in Africa when he received his soul. He couldn’t even go back to the Bronze to see if they renovated the Blooming Onion back onto the menu. The tasty, salty goodness would have been a reward – and Spike didn’t feel like he deserved one.

                So, he went where his kind belonged. The Hellmouth. I think in the show’s mythology that the Hellmouth sends out a signal to all the beasties around “Come to me, my children of the night.” And while many creatures move to Sunnydale (despite it having the one girl in all the world with the strength and skill to kill them), most do not get quite as close to it as Spike did.

                Morphy was playing with Spike’s mind – playing up his doubts and fears, manipulating him and forging him into a weapon to do…. Well, something.

                On prompting from Buffy, Spike left the basement – visited the Summers’ house and found sanctuary in the sort of Slayers auxiliary building of Xander’s apartment.

                In “Conversations with Dead People” Jonathan and Warren visit the school first. Jonathan wants to visit Buffy, but Andrew cautions that Buffy will throw them in jail no questions asked. Andrew depicts Buffy as a figure without mercy. It seems Morphy was feeding Andrew a script to ensure they came to visit it at the Hellmouth instead of going over to 1630 Revello Drive.

                The Previously On section of “Never Leave Me” continues with more beats from “Conversations with Dead People as Warren (not thirty-three-point-three bar percent of the Trio returned to life, but just Morphy in geek form) talks to Andrew in the halls of Sunnydale High.

                WARREN: Nice job.
                ANDREW: Do you have any idea how hard it's been to act this cool?
                WARREN: Now, that death thing was all part of the master plan. If Short Round pulls off his end of the bargain, we'll both become gods.

                The clip focuses on Andrew’s temptation. He’s being offered apotheosis.

                What the Previously On conversation cuts is what Andrew previously told Jonathan about what would happen.

                ANDREW: We find it. We alert the slayer. We help her destroy it. We save Sunnydale. Then we join her gang and possibly hang out at her house.
                In a sense, Andrew got his supposed wish – to join the Scooby Gang and hang out at Buffy’s house. But not in the way he expected.

                But it seems like the possibility of hanging with Buffy was all just a honey-trap to lure Jonathan into helping out. Spending time with the Scoobies appealed to Jonathan as later asks Andrew:

                JONATHAN: Do you think they'll really let us join their gang?
                Later still in “Conversations with Dead People”, Jonathan states again his need to reconnect with the old high school crew.

                JONATHAN: I miss my friends. I miss my enemies. I miss the people I talked to every day. I miss the people who never knew I existed. I miss 'em all. I want to talk to them, you know. I want to find out how they're doing. I want to know what's going on in their lives.

                ANDREW: You know what? They don't wanna talk to you?all those people you just mentioned. Not one of them is sitting around going, "I wonder what Jonathan's up to right now." Not one of them cares about you.

                JONATHAN: Well, I still care about them. That's why I'm here.
                Andrew’s admonishments are a dark reflection of what Buffy had said to Jonathan in “Earshot”, there she’d said no one was paying attention because they were involved in their own problems. It was to tell Jonathan that no, it wasn’t all about him, and at the same time that his feelings that others were always thinking about him and laughing at him was largely in his head.

                Jonathan was a delightful character in Buffy. Actor Danny Strong brought a lot to the part, and the writers responded by transforming him from a comic victim figure in the background of season two to one of the Big Bads, and a Big Bad with a genuine redemptive arc.

                And yet, all that seems wasted by the next scene in the Previously On segment, when Andrew stabs Jonathan. The young man bleeds out on the Seal of Danzalthar. It was all a plot to try to open the seal.

                Jonathan was murdered and betrayed by one of his best friends.

                The Previously on sequence then gives us another demonstration of Morphy’s power by showing it appear as Joyce in “Conversations with Dead People”.

                The fake Joyce warns Dawn:

                JOYCE: Things are coming, Dawn.
                DAWN: Why are you—?
                JOYCE: When it's bad, Buffy won't choose you.

                Then, there are Willow’s reassurances from “Sleeper” … if you can call them that … that it wasn’t really Dawn’s Mom but the Big Bad, “the one we knew was coming.”

                It would appear that Morphy is planting the seeds of doubt in Dawn’s mind. Jonathan was betrayed by Andrew. Morphy tells Dawn that Buffy will betray her. Dawn would be a ready audience for this. Dawn felt betrayed when her mother and Buffy (temporarily) died. She felt betrayed when she discovered nearly her whole existence was a lie – her family ties forged by magic not birth. She felt betrayed and abandoned when her surrogate parents Willow and Tara broke up. And then betrayed again when Willow abandoned her to go on a magical-drug binge in “Wrecked”. Dawn hero-worshipped Xander who then left Anya at the altar in “Hell’s Bells”. She also hero-worshipped Spike who was having a secret affair with Buffy. Then in “Grave”, Xander betrayed Buffy’s confidence and revealed to Dawn that Spike tried to rape Buffy.

                This episode’s title “Never Leave Me” comes the lyrics of the song Morphy uses to trigger Spike. It is the folk song of young maid being spurned by her lover and now her loneliness. It is a song of betrayal.

                Oh, don't deceive me,
                Oh, never leave me,
                How could you use
                A poor maiden so?
                Betrayal and loneliness are themes that recur throughout the episode and touch on many characters.

                Further exposition from “Sleeper” again establishes that Morphy’s a shapeshifter. And from “Beneath You”, Spike warns how something is coming.

                While everything seems centered on Sunnydale, the Previously On section gives another couple glimpses of the global threat at play here.

                We see the death of two potentials – the Turkish one from “Lessons” and the German one from “Beneath You”.

                After seeing the death of potential slayers, we head back to Sunnydale, where we see Spike –once the killer of two actual slayers – back to his old ways as he bites the woman from “Conversations with Dead People”.

                Then we hear Willow’s exposition from “Sleeper” that Spike has been feeding on human blood and “That’s gotta do stuff.” And Buffy’s realization that something was there controlling Spike. And we see Morphy-as-Spike singing part of Early One Morning, Spike’s trigger song that we’ll hear again in this episode.

                And then, from “Sleeper” Spike regain his memories of his various killings as the images flood back to him.

                Spike says he can feel everyone one of those deaths. Then he pleads to Buffy “Help me.” She says “I will help you.”

                In the Summers’ residence, Buffy and Willow talk.

                BUFFY: 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.

                Finally the Previously On segment ends with last episode’s exciting cliffhanger, where Giles is in danger of being decapitated by a robed psycho.

                And now, the answers that viewers were waiting a whole week for (back in those pre-binge-watching days).

                Or not…

                The episode does not resolve the cliffhanger. In fact, the cliffhanger will not be resolved until “First Date” –five episodes and three months away.

                Instead of an exciting battle between Watcher and Evil Monk, we’re treated to some conversation and DIY home repair.

                __________________________________________________ _________________________


                This scene continues on the same night as “Sleeper” as the Scoobies discuss how to solve a problem like Spike.

                DAWN: So the basement was filled with bodies?

                WILLOW: Apparently..

                DAWN: And Spike could've sired countless others and buried them around town?

                Willow nods.

                DAWN: And we're waiting for him to do what, exactly? Do something crazy?

                WILLOW: It's not that simple.

                Dawn knows all this information. She was there for the Scooby meeting at the end of last episode – a meeting that occurred only at most a couple hours before. But she’s running something through her mind. As Xander repairs the house, battening down the hatches from any external threats, Dawn thinks of how Spike seeded dead girls around the city, who arose in vampire form to attack Buffy. These buried vampires in waiting could be anywhere. Even 1630 Revello Drive. Perhaps Dawn is thinking of the old horror movie trope. They haven’t locked the monster out. They’ve locked inside with them.

                There was a time when Dawn would have stood up for Spike. She once said his chip was the equivalent of a soul. There was a time when she longed to hear spooky stories of the Big Bad Spike preying on little girls in coal bins. But that time is not now.

                In “Beneath You”, Dawn was annoyed when she discovered Buffy had encountered an insane Spike in the school basement and didn’t say anything to the others. Dawn issued a warning to Spike – if he hurt Buffy again, she’d torch him while he was sleeping.

                And now, here’s a killer, vampire-siring Spike in her house again. I feel like Dawn’s contemplating setting fire to Spike.

                On the other hand, Willow is not contemplating punishment. She had a strange, almost poker-face in the “what do we do about Spike?” scene in “Sleeper” and she has that look here too.

                Maybe it’s because she is herself a threat now living in Summers’ residence. Last season, she tortured and murdered Warren, tried to kill Jonathan and Andrew, threatened to unmake Dawn into glowing energy, tried to kill Buffy, and for an encore tried to destroy the world.

                And Willow knows that she’s not completely cured either. When she “grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs. The creature is driven by rage.” To quote opening lines to the 1970s Incredible Hulk TV show.

                It could just as easily be her that they were talking about in hushed, worried tones. In fact, it was Willow they were talking about that way earlier this season.

                DAWN: She didn’t finish? She didn’t finish not being evil?

                - “Same Time, Same Place”
                Buffy felt awkward about welcoming Willow back into the fold, and Willow herself felt so isolated that her magic apparently fractured space and time to separate her. The line “Never Leave Me” could apply to Willow’s insecurity regarding her friends.

                And while Xander was accepting of Willow, in “Selfless” he used her as an example.

                XANDER: Then don't! This isn't new ground for us. When our friends go all crazy and start killing people, we help them. (looks at Willow)

                WILLOW: Sitting right here.

                XANDER: I'm sorry. But it's true.

                In that episode, Xander was arguing mercy for Anya who in her role as vengeance demon had slaughtered a bunch of frat boys.

                Buffy had a different solution --- a sword to the chest.

                Anya certainly remembers what “Lady Hacks Away” wanted to do to demons gone bad, and now she expects to see similar vengeance dealt out to Spike.

                ANYA: (bitter) Shouldn't we stab him through the chest? Isn't that what we do when these things happen?[

                WILLOW: Look, Buffy knows what she's doing.

                ANYA: Well, Xander, you know what we're all talking about. You've always been part of the "Spike is evil" faction.
                Perhaps this is Anya playing the role of newly human. Humans kill demons. She’s a human now; therefore …

                Back in “Selfless”, Buffy justified her decision because Spike and Angel didn’t choose to become soulless monsters. The lack of souls removed a degree of moral responsibility. On the other hand Anya willingly chose to become a vengeance demon – twice. She has moral culpability.

                Anya has gone overboard in embracing aspects of humanity before – such as her love of money and her American boosterism back in season five.

                Her past experiences inform Anya’s resentment, but she doesn’t seem repentant at this point for her demon days. For her, perhaps, Anya the Demon is “of the past”.

                She is right, of course, about Xander. He pulled out his membership card for “Spike is evil” club when Buffy was arguing to kill Anya.

                XANDER: No, of course not. You know, if there's a mass-murdering demon that you're, oh, say, boning, then it's all gray area.

                BUFFY: Spike was harmless. He was helping.

                XANDER: He had no choice.
                And last season in “Entropy” Xander was ready to stake Spike when he discovered the vampire and Anya had a one-night stand.

                Before Xander was a member of the “Spike is evil” club, he was a member of the “Angel is evil” club. If there’s one thing you can count on Xander Harris for, it’s to have harsh words for vampires.

                Except for this time.

                Xander doesn’t want to talk about it. He focuses on his work.

                XANDER: I've got a house to put back together.

                It is an uncharacteristic response. So uncharacteristic that some fans at the time wondered if it was sign that Xander was possessed and working for Morphy. Where was the anger? Where was the sarcasm? “Where be your gibes now?” – to quote both Hamlet and the Master.

                Xander himself has crossed the line several times, nearly jeopardizing his friendship with Buffy when he flew off the handle yet again, and gave into his darkest impulses. This is a Xander on his best behaviour. He is probably afraid of Buffy leaving him.

                But also, Xander has learned something. Buffy has shown mercy and forgiveness to the two women that Xander loves most in the world – Willow and Anya. Maybe he’s a little less eager to demand demons be put to death than he once was.

                And also, he does need to work on the windows and make sure that Fort Buffy is indeed secure. Buffy’s home is a sanctuary for waifs and strays – Xander who was bullied at school and at home, the outcast Willow who strayed from the path of righteousness, ex-vengeance demon Anya, and the two vampire with souls – among so many others.

                But 1630 Revello Drive isn’t just a sanctuary. It’s a fortress. The current headquarters of the Scooby Gang in their never-ending fight against evil. It’s protected from most vampires by the same rules that protect most homes – the rules of magic that require an invite to enter. But for other threats, more physical barriers are needed.

                The windows that Xander repairs are a special kind of barrier. They allow one to view the outside world. To see the beauty of the outside, but also to see the approaching threats. That vision is now impaired by the translucent plastic that Xander has temporarily put over the windows. Next episode, he boards up the windows – further blocking the view.

                It’s like their heads are buried in the sand – as Anya points this out. Both Xander and Willow react – Willow with that strange poker face of hers.

                ANYA: (rolls her eyes) Fine. You guys keep your heads buried in the sand, but I think we should all prepare ourselves for the possibility that William the Bloody is back.

                In all of the 7th season, the only time that Spike is called “William the Bloody” is in “Never Leave Me” – and it happens three times. Here, when Anya calls Spike “William the Bloody” to state how they should all be frightened of him since the name “Spike” no longer provokes fear in the gang. It’s a reminder of who he used to be.

                The second time is when Buffy mocks Spike for claiming to understand the violence within both of them now that he has a soul and the third time is when Willow tries to define how Spike is acting differently than normal, using Anya’s definition to make it easier for Buffy to explain what happened up there.

                The first and third time are psychological ways to separate souled Spike from unsouled Spike to define the vampire who kills without conscience – the second time when Buffy uses it, it has a very different meaning which has more to do with Buffy and Spike’s view of vampires, souled and unsouled.

                What Anya fails to appreciate is that Buffy’s home isn’t just a sanctuary or a headquarters. It’s a prison too. There’s a famous old saying that walls and gates are built for two reasons – to keep something inside or to keep something outside from coming in.

                The walls of Buffy’s home or the mystic seals over the Hellmouth keeps the forces of evil locked up tight.

                Psychologically Buffy has often had to compartmentalize her life to deal with the pressures of being a Slayer – something only “one girl in all the world” is supposed to know at any given time. She wants the metaphorical rubble swept up and the metaphorical windows repaired. Buffy describes herself as “the law” in “Selfless”. And as any rage-tweeter knows, there’s a word that goes with law the same way peanut butter goes with jelly – order. Buffy is a force for order.

                Morphy, on the other hand, seems to be a force for chaos. It wants to open magical seals. By bringing in threats from the dawn of time or by impersonating those long gone, it seeks to break down barriers.

                If Morphy has its way, it’s … well, I’ll let that world-renown expert of paranormal containment, Dr. Peter Venkman, explain what’s at stake.


                Spike aka William the Bloody would have taken great delight in causing mass hysteria. Back in Yorkshire 1880 he was an agent of chaos when he argued tried to convince Angelus to let go of polite society.

                Sod off! (laughs) Come on. When was the last time you unleashed it? All out fight in a mob, back against the wall, nothing but fists and fangs? Don't you ever get tired of fights you know you're going to win?

                And then there was the hell-raising William the Bloody that Buffy first met, The one from “School Hard” who got impatient and attacked before the special feast day.

                That’s who Anya fears is back.

                And from the next scene, it almost appears as if she were right.

                But the song lyric immediately before “Oh, never leave me” is “Oh, don’t deceive me.” It is a song about deception and people who are not as they appear.

                The next scene starts with a shot of black boots very much like Spike’s.

                The camera pulls out slightly and we see a swishy leather duster flapping as the man walks with a familiar “cocky swagger” to use script’s description. The camera pans up this black-clad man to reveal… Andrew?

                Andrew thinks he’s walking with the coolness of Spike – a dark swagger that is supposed to resemble an evil version of John Travolta’s confident swagger walk from opening credits of the 1977 classic Saturday Night Fever.

                Travolta walks through Brooklyn to the sound of the Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive (also the title of the film’s sequel). And I have to wonder if Andrew was hearing this in his head.

                Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk
                I'm a woman's man, no time to talk
                Music loud and women warm, I've been kicked around
                Since I was born
                And now it's alright, it's okay
                And you may look the other way
                We can try to understand
                The New York Times' effect on man

                Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother
                You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive
                Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin'
                And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive
                Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive
                Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive
                Five years after this episode aired, there would be a geeky call back to the Travolta strut that if you mentioned it to Andrew, it would make him stop and reconsider his strutting.

                In 2007’s Spider-Man 3, part-time superhero and full-time geek Peter Parker is possessed by alien goo. Under its influence he makes unwise decisions – roughing up criminals more than he needs to, snapping at the people he loves. And walking like an emo dork version of Travolta. 13 years and dozens of superhero films after this movie’s release and this is still considered a laughable low point in geek cinema.

                But Andrew wants to wear the coat because it makes him look macho and manly. And why wouldn’t he? By the late 1990s and early 2000s, what TV Tropes calls “Bad ass long coats” are everywhere. Agents Mulder and Scully investigate strange happenings in such coats on the X-Files. And some actor (my memory is cloudy – part of me sees Jonathan and part of me sees the name of a SeaWorld dolphin) wears such a coat in the Matrix. Wesley Snipes is vampire who fights vampires in the Blade movies.

                The Blade poster suggests one of the more practical uses of the long coat – it can conceal awesome weapons.

                Also, the coat can billow. It’s the 21st century of a cape or a cloak. It billows out behind you like a cape – almost goth-like peacock feathers. Several of DC Comics magic users wore cloaks … and the Phantom Stranger traded in his 1970s collared cape for a trench coat. In his comic book series The Books of Magic, writer Neil Gaiman referred to these characters as the Trenchcoat Brigade. They had a spinoff comic appear in the spring of 1999.

                It was unfortunate timing. While the comic was being published, at Columbine High School, the students who perpetuated one of the most infamous shootings called themselves “The Trench Coat Mafia”.

                But Spike doesn’t wear a man’s coat. He wears the coat of a woman – a Black woman, in fact.

                The coat was a symbol of power and strength for Nikki – the vampire slayer of 1970s New York. When Spike killed Nikki he took the coat as a trophy – to wear the skin of his victim.

                The coat represents chaos – the long coat swishes around. It refuses to be constrained. It’s a tidal wave of darkness bouncing around. And that’s the image Spike wants to give. He’s dangerous. He’s unstable. No one will know what he’ll do next. Spike wants to be chaos-incarnate. Of course, that person would be attractive to someone like Andrew a geek so repressed that it finally takes a magic super-spell in the comics for him to come to terms with his own sexuality.

                But what kind of coat is Andrew/Spike/Nikki actually wearing? Some call it a trench coat – others call it a duster. Trench coats were specifically designed by Thomas Burberry and adopted by British officers in World War I to keep out the rain. The word “trench” obviously comes from the soldiers who fought in the muddied trenches behind no man’s land. By World War II, the trench coat was standard issue for most forces fighting in Europe on both sides because of its ability to withstand weather and the cold, its deep pockets designed to hide personal effects and weapons.

                A duster is a light, loose-fitting coat was originated as a second skin for horsemen to protect themselves from trail dust. They were made of canvas or linen with slits up the back for horseback riding. Later, when the automobile craze took over, men and women adopted the duster to ride in open cars on dusty roads. The canvas and linen was traded in for fine leather and the design became sleeker and more fashionable. The back became ‘vented’, leaving a horizontal fold that goes across the shoulder blades in back (sometimes called a cape) that straps under the arms. Combined with the bottom slit, this creates a nice billowing effect that is even more pronounced than a trench coat.

                So, it looks more like Spike has a duster than a trench coat – and it’s a woman’s coat which would make sense considering his slender frame. So where did Nikki Wood get the idea from her coat?

                Many Black liberation groups in the mid-60s adopted a kind of uniform designed to protect themselves in their struggle for equality, the Black Panthers adopting a long black leather coat, black pants and dark sunglasses. This was followed by Hollywood’s Black exploitation movies of the 60s and 70s which often featured black stars in leather coats to evoke Black militancy. Richard Roundtree’s Shaft wore an iconic leather trench coat that radiated style and Pam Grier’s Foxy Brown chased down villains in her shorter, paired down leather duster that moved with her as she karate chopped and pummeled the bad guys, adding a feminist vibe to the famous black long coat.

                There’s no doubt that Nikki was influenced by the political fashion choices all around her and Spike’s adoption of her coat was a kind of transference of political meaning from one to the other just as Andrew’s adoption of Spike’s coat was a similar attempt at transference.

                What Andrew does not know is that swishy-coat, unstable bringer of chaos Spike is a constructed identity. In reality, Spike was William – a nerdy outcast not unlike Andrew himself.

                William wasn’t originally a creature of chaos. He liked proper society, the ordered lines of poetry, taking care of his mother. Even Spike at times can seem very domestic in his concerns.

                Andrew is a geek who is pretending to be tough by impersonating a geek who is pretending to be tough.

                But Spike isn’t Andrew’s only model here. Andrew – as this episode and others won’t let us forget – is the brother of Tucker Wells, the one-off villain from season three’s “The Prom”. Tucker also wore the long black coat of swishy chaos.

                And yet like Andrew and Spike, Tucker’s goth look is also a put-on. We see in a flashback that Tucker originally looked like this.

                This isn’t to say that geeks play acting darkness can’t be evil or dangerous. The killers at Columbine High School Massacre were both. And Warren Mears may be a geek at heart, but in many ways, he was the most evil and most dangerous foe that the Scooby Gang ever faced – he even killed one of their band.

                In her mammoth novelization of season seven, Chosen, Nancy Holder describes Andrew this way.

                Kicker boots.

                Long, dark coat.


                And the most evil-looking human on the planet award goes to … Andrew, master of all darkness, the man who had killed his best friend.

                Master of all darkness, that is, except for Warren, who was the uber-master of all darkness.

                And with that Warren appears. Or rather Morphy in the form of Warren.

                WARREN: (claps his hands together) All right! Looking good. How do you feel?

                ANDREW: (Bad) Good.

                WARREN: Excellent. We've got work to do.

                ANDREW: I have to do work right now? Can't I just…walk around for a while? In my coat?

                WARREN: Oh, don't go soft on me now. We're right in the trench and the exhaust port's in sight.

                Once again, Morphy-as-Warren makes a Star Wars reference. (X-Wing fighters flew into the trenches and shot a torpedo into an open exhaust port in order to blow up the Death Star. The reference to trenches might also subtly tie to the trench coat like garment that Andrew is wearing.)

                Its dialogue in both this episode and “Conversations with Dead People” is filled with the kind of pop culture references that the real Warren Mears would have made – especially if Warren needed to coax Andrew into doing something. He’s playing on Andrew’s tendency toward fantasy. But how much of the true Warren is Morphy. Is it just an act?

                In “Touched”, this evil entity appears to Faith in the form of her old mentor the Mayor, and there he implies that it is more than simple mimicry.

                FAITH: You’re wasting your time. I know who you are. What you are.

                MAYOR: Yeah, nobody’s explained to you how this works, have they? You see, I am part of The *Spoilers* as you kids call it, but I’m also me – Richard Wilkins III, late mayor and founder of Sunnydale. Here I’ll prove it to you. Ask me a question only I know the answer to. Something like (heh-heh) where did I hide the Moon Pies in my office? Or who was my favorite character in Little Women? Meg! (heh-heh) I know! Most people guess Beth, but Meg …. she’s such a proper young lady. Remember when Jill burned her hair?
                Now, if we were to take Morphy’s words at face value, the entity is more than just copying dead people. It is the actual dead person as well, or is it just plundering the memories of the dead?

                Well, on the one hand, we could take the word of deceitful liar like Morphy at face value.

                But on the other hand, it has also impersonated Buffy and Joyce – and spoken evil and deceptive things while in those forms. It’s harder to tell when Morphy takes the form of dead villains. But would Buffy or Joyce ever say or do the things that Morphy does while in their forms? No.

                Instead it seems like Morphy is using the memories of the dead person to play a part.

                It’s like how Giles described vampires back in the season one episode “Angel”.

                GILES: A vampire isn't a person at all. It may have the movements, the, the memories, even the personality of the person that it took over, but i-it's still a demon at the core, there is no halfway.
                That description doesn’t quite track with the vampires we’ve met over the years – who seem very hung up with aspects of their mortal lives. But to describe what Morphy does, it seems apt. And when as with “Conversations with Dead People”, he carries on the Star Wars references beyond even Andrew’s comprehension – well, that’s just burying yourself in the part.

                Morphy’s acting wasn’t always flawless. That well-known drama critic William the Bloody has some acting notes for the entity in “Bring on the Night”.

                SPIKE: You're not Drusilla.

                DRUSILLA/MORPHY: (giggles) No, I'm really not.

                SPIKE She was crazier than you.
                But Andrew Wells isn’t as discerning as Spike, and he responds to Warren as if he’s the real deal.

                I mentioned earlier that the “Never Leave Me” also refers to a sense of loneliness. And here is Andrew, all alone. His best friends are dead, and the being that wears their faces isn’t even real in a physical sense. Andrew is all alone.

                ANDREW: I thought that was it. I did what you told me. It's not my fault it didn't work.

                ANDREW: Why do I have to do all the wet works?

                WARREN: Hey, you know the rules. I can't take corporeal form. Here – feel.

                It’s not my fault. This evasion of Andrew’s will reach its ultimate conclusion in “Storyteller.” Does Andrew truly object to “wet works” being done? Or does he just object that he’s the one to do them. Does he object to blood being spilled or just blood on his hands.

                Morphy again goes for the Star Wars reference.

                ANDREW: Cool.

                WARREN: Pretty bitchin', right? I'm like Obi Wan.

                Here’s the thing though. Andrew is dressed up like he’s supposed to be evil. The Big Bad. Like Spike. Or possibly Tucker. He’s the dangerous villain of the tale.

                And yet the Star Wars references in this scene and back in “Conversations with Dead People” are to the actions of the heroic characters – to the Rebel Alliance, not Darth Vader and the Empire. Does Andrew want to be the hero or the villain?

                Like he does in a later scene, Andrew takes the macho pop culture scenario, and turns it to something softer.

                ANDREW: (wistful) Or Patrick Swayze…

                Morphy as Warren actually seems irritated that Andrew is polluting his Star Wars references with a reference to a chick flick, Ghost. Is the gender-fluid Morphy cosplaying a bit of Warren’s misogyny? He tries to steer Andrew on back with a reference to him being his “Iron Fist” – whether that’s to the Marvel Comics hero or to a kung-fu film reference, I’m not sure.

                Or maybe he’s just quoting Lenin’s famous statement “With an Iron Fist, We Will Lead Humanity to Happiness”, a phrase that hung over Russia’s first detention camp in Solovki. Morphy might be chaotic, but it can also be authoritarian – the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

                ANDREW: I just don't think I can kill anybody else.

                Again, is this “killing is wrong” or “I don’t want to be the one to do it.”

                Morphy does some morphing to reassure Andrew. He becomes the murder victim Jonathan.

                JONATHAN: Oh, will you stop worrying about that?

                ANDREW: I didn't want to kill you. Warren made me.

                How precisely did Morphy do that when it can’t touch anything? Again, it’s another question to ponder when I get to “Storyteller”.

                JONATHAN: Hey, I'm glad he did. This is the best thing that's ever happened to me.

                ANDREW: It didn't hurt too much? I'm not very good at stabbing.

                JONATHAN: You know, it wasn't that bad. It was like a sharp pain, then a burning, then a general queasiness. It's kinda like when I used to get ulcers in high school, only at the end I became one with Light and Hope.

                Morphy looks like Jonathan. The words are said with Danny Strong’s cadences and with the immense charisma that he brings to the role. And yet, the spirit of the words is very much not Jonathan.

                Of the Trio, Jonathan is the most moral. He’s the one who was most freaked out when Katrina pointed out their actions were rape. He was the one who was remorseful and bitter over Katrina’s death. Jonathan is the one who betrayed Warren to Buffy when Warren was planning to kill again.

                The true Jonathan would not advocate murder. The true Jonathan would … maybe not perfectly … advocate for moral responsibility. And as Andrew continues to protest, maybe he’s taken on a bit of the morality of the true Jonathan.

                JONATHAN: Hey – this isn't your fault, okay? (taps his chest) It's my fault the ritual didn't work. I screwed up.

                Morphy tries to alleviate Andrew’s moral dilemma by telling him the words that he most wants to here. It’s not his fault.

                JONATHAN: I'm little. I don't have as much blood as other people. (beat) And I probably should've told someone I was anemic. (pause)

                This moment should be gruesome --- a killer talking to his dead victim about the ethics of murder. And yet, it’s the joie d’vivre in Buffy scripts and the comic skills of Tom Lenk and Danny Strong that make this land perfectly.

                The most horrifying thing can often have an element of humour. I imagine as Jonathan bled out that Morphy suddenly gained access to Jonathan’s thoughts it realized the flaw in its plan. The one vital piece of information that Warren didn’t have. Otherwise, perhaps Morphy would have worked harder on Jonathan and tried to make him murder the full-blooded Andrew instead.

                Morphy no doubt figured that Andrew would be easier to manipulate. And he was probably right. But Andrew to his credit is still pushing back. He still holds firm on not killing. Perhaps it’s this moment here that shows redemption for Andrew is truly possible.

                Finally, Morphy just gives up. He devises plan B.

                JONATHAN: Okay, calm down. We can work around that.

                It’s the same kind of evil smile that Morphy-Spike had in “Sleeper” that okay, plan B will work just fine too. Morphy chooses to see temporary defeat as a harbinger of its ultimate victory.

                Meanwhile, in the Summers’ home, the ropes are being pulled tight on Spike.

                We see here an example of 1630 Revello Drive as prison. Buffy is locking up her prisoner for the good of others. Although perhaps prison isn’t quite right. Crazed Killer Spike isn’t in control of his actions.

                As it turns out, there is a word that means both the granting of protection and sanctuary to those seeking aid and comfort, and a place where those mentally unhinged who are a danger to society can be locked away for the good of all. That word is asylum.

                If you said the word “asylum” to Andrew or Xander, they’d probably think of Arkham Asylum which since the 1970s has been the home of Batman’s craziest and most dangerous foes. Most notable of all such foes would be the Joker – once billed as the Crown Prince of Crime – he was recast as a murderous unstable trickster. You never know what the Joker – chaos personified -- is going to do next. Oh, and he has a long swishy coat too.

                BUFFY: We're gonna get to the bottom of this.

                As Jonathan translated the cryptic warning of Morphy from “Mexicalan” into English, “It eats you starting with your bottom.”

                Buffy’s comment crosses some lines into the complicated history she has with Spike. Words like top and bottom can refer to sexual positions. That was certainly an undercurrent in Cole Porter’s 1934 song “You’re the Top”. The singer seems to be a repressed and not terribly good poet, like someone else we know.

                At words poetic, I'm so pathetic
                That I always have found it best,
                Instead of getting 'em off my chest,
                To let 'em rest unexpressed.
                The initial singer then idolizes the subject of the song as the top, and they are but a bottom.

                You're the Nile, You're the Tow'r of Pisa,
                You're the smile on the Mona Lisa.
                I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
                But if, Baby, I'm the bottom,
                You're the top!
                The gender of the singers seems to change with different recordings of the song. Here’s one with Bing Crosby and Donald O’Connor.


                In some ways, “You’re the Top” is the 1934 version of a Buffy episode – filled with more pop culture references than you could fit into a clown car, and with an undercurrent of sexual tension.

                Of course, “we’re going to get to the bottom of this” also sounds like cop-speak, like how Anya and Xander interrogate Andrew later. And there have never been any kinky interpretations of cops. Ever.

                BUFFY: We just can't take any chances.

                SPIKE: Don't –

                This moment touches on the big elephant in the room – the attempted rape. When Buffy pleaded with Spike to stop, and he didn’t until she stopped him.

                She pauses – perhaps reflecting on that and what Spike means.

                But he’s not asking her to stop and go easy. He’s asking her to be harsher.

                SPIKE: Make it tighter. The knots'll give.

                This isn’t the first time that Spike has been tied up in one of the Scooby Sanctuaries. Spike’s induction to the Scooby Gang came in the season four episode “Pangs”. It was the first time that Buffy encountered chipped Spike, and she tied him to a chair as he might pose a danger.

                Then Spike just whined about the discomfort.

                SPIKE: Grrr. Bloody hell, woman. You're cuttin' off my circulation.

                BUFFY: You don't have any circulation.

                SPIKE: Well, it pinches.

                BUFFY: Get used to it. I have more important things to worry about.
                Back then, Spike was harmless. He couldn’t have hurt the Scoobies if he wanted to.

                Back then, Spike was also soulless. Whether he could hurt the Scoobies or not would have meant little to him, aside maybe deriving some pleasure from their pain.

                But Buffy was also different back then. Spike was the bad guy. Maybe sometimes a comic bad guy – an occasionally useful bad guy. But he was a soulless fiend. A thing. Not even the slightly more human soulless thing of late season five and early season six.

                But now, Spike has a soul. And that means that his feelings, his comfort, are actually important to Buffy.

                And for souled Spike, there is something more important now. The safety of others.

                SPIKE: I get free, someone's gonna die.

                The original shooting script has a slightly different variation of those lines.

                (Original Shooting Script:
                SPIKE: Don’t –
                She stops. Looks at him. He nods at the ropes.
                SPIKE: You’re doing it wrong. The knots'll give.
                They share a look.
                SPIKE: Pull me tight.
                They stare at each other. Then Buffy YANKS the ropes as tight as she can. )

                In the aired version, he says “make it tighter”. In the original, it’s “pull me tight” – which is a lot more suggestive of their past relationship.

                Bondage also occurred during one of Buffy and Spike’s escapades in “Dead Things”.

                Spike produced a pair of handcuffs and asked:

                SPIKE (cont'd): Do you trust me?

                BUFFY (softly): Never.
                But this time, Spike doesn’t trust himself.

                END OF TEASER

                We end the teaser with a dangerous Spike bound and constrained. Meanwhile Morphy is goading Andrew to release the shackles that bind the forces underneath the Hellmouth.

                I'll be posting act one tomorrow and the rest throughout the week.
                Last edited by PuckRobin; 23-09-20, 03:19 AM.


                • This is really good and it looks like it'll be another magnum opus like the Sleeper review and I'm so here for it :-)


                  • This discussion really has driven the idea of BTVS as a “psychological” plane that is being explored and is simply no longer the ‘suspended belief’ type of narrative that began “high school is hell” story I thought I was watching. After all, “vampires,” and “nightmares” are indeed suggestive of the “true story” that is being shown (and that we, perhaps, * always * were trying to make show; that is of the * internal * landscape of the protagonists. (I simply “dumped” the entire “change of narrative” on to Dawn’s perceptions, with Buffy, now “second string player,’ as in Buffy acting as her psychological avatar, and,maybe, perhaps, as her sister, as well==considering, especially, the death of Joyce; or the notion of a divorce and possible blended family—to include friends or lovers in one’s own story of “independence/actualization.”

                    The writers give the characters somewhat of a “shared” consensus toward the nature of reality that is “challeneged” by ever more “extreme” challengers—literally from ‘out of space, (e.g. Glory and Dawn) to become ‘out of mind’ as is “’Morphy’” and The First.

                    The BIGGEST bad is supposed to be “The First” and it has no “material” in which to have effect upon this reality—according to my notions of “spirit,” in the past,. Those of “spirit” have been shown to lack the ability to actually shape/effect the material world, without ‘doing something’ to “take on material” in some form—e.g. the vampire itself— which really disappointed me, in comparison to other villains, and “dismiss” the “most dreadful of all power of the First,” (aka “fear”—often considered the most primal human emotion).

                    WE know someone in our own POV of that person, whether by personal biases that drive our own ‘narrative’ about that person—the unknown given whatever shape our senses provide, e.g. as to danger/acceptance to become indifference or interest; whether we accept or refute observations provided by the “objective observer/third-person,” e.g. the ‘narrator’s voice’ when reading, or a “trusted” friend’s opinion, or that “gleaned” from “unknown biases,” considered and accepted notions of the nature of reality, a super reality, as described by those of faith, and those ideas that shape a “general consensus” of culture, social media, etc—all as examples.

                    I do think that love is supposed to be the big, sekrit power that overcomes fear—it is not always “unreasoned;” and even the material notion of self. This “self” described is in favor of the “psychological” realm that is the “sense of self” as having more power to the “will/intent/power” of a person in making a choice: to maintain “self preservation/identity” in “ultimate terms.” That is to say, the “self” simply said, in absolutes of ‘good”—e.g. self sacrifice—or in ‘evil’—the material actualization/clarification of mind in “the choice” expressed in action, even we can see, and upon which all that muddle/struggle of ever increasing risk in the realms of the “gray area” is ‘resolved.”

                    “Th-th-that’s all, folks!”

                    (Yeah, all that darkness and murky shifts its foundation so much I really can’t tell” “who” is on first’” , for a resoltion that is ‘a bit of undigested gravy.’ Unless Spike is the entirety for your viewing—and I really fell that is the story, a lot, on this forum—and even feeling “the story” is satisfied—with Spike, achieving conciousness/ “awake,” with now, non-boogity Xander, barely considering “the state,” of the other ‘avatars’ of the psychological plane, and leaving the id/nightmare for “conscious,” (not truly awake, like Spike, who can’t be in that reality, of course) and ‘“just running down the road, trying to
                    lighten my load, seven women on my mind.”—XANDER/Joss). Sick of seven. Sorry, Be well and STAY THAT WAY--THANKS!! ALL!!



                    • American Aurora
                      American Aurora commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Interesting thoughts on the First, sybil. I have my own thoughts on what it represents but I'll probably wait until Chosen - but I think that it has just as much to do with the internal landscape of the characters as "High School is Hell."

                  • Season Seven Rewatch
                    Never Leave Me
                    Part Two

                    ACT ONE

                    As both Buffy and BuffyMorphy said in “Lessons”, “it’s about power.”

                    That’s established by the opening shot of act one which begins with a worm’s eye view under the desk – implying smaller, weaker people looking up – that pans up to a nameplate symbolizing power and authority.

                    The camera keeps panning up from the title to the person himself, Principal Robin Wood. Robin M. Wood, in fact. He’s holding court with two rowdy students. He choses to wield his power with a standard educational gambit.

                    PRINCIPAL WOOD: Now, guys, look, we can settle this one of two ways. You can repaint the walls or I can suspend you and report this little incident on your permanent record.

                    But the students challenge that authority.

                    HOFFMAN: Fine. Do that.

                    I wonder how Sunnydale High’s previous principals would have handled such open defiance. I think Flutie would probably sputter ineffectually and let the students get away with it. Snyder mocked Flutie’s method in “The Puppet Show”. “That's the kind of woolly-headed, liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.”

                    I suspect Snyder would have relished being able to blacken these students permanent records. He’d probably salivate at the possibility of ruined lives. But other than a burst of momentary pleasure, it would have achieved very little. If the kids had been football players, he’d probably bully Willow or someone into re-painting the wall.

                    Principal Wood has a different approach. He acknowledges what the children said. He confides in them. And then he says what we all probably long suspected.

                    PRINCIPAL WOOD: Okay, I was bluffing. I hadn't really thought that one through. (beat) Listen, this whole permanent record thing is such a myth anyway. Colleges never ask for anything past your SAT scores, and it's not like employers are going to be calling up to check to see how many days you missed back in high school.

                    Sure, Buffy is fiction. Robin Wood’s words are fiction. But if you ever heard a threat like this in school, I defy you not to hear Wood’s admission and think “A ha! I knew that permanent record stuff was a lie!”

                    Just a couple weeks ago a Star Trek podcast was discussing a black mark being placed in Worf’s permanent record. The host mentioned how in grade 12 he and his friends ran an underground newspaper at his school. When they were caught, they were told no university would ever take them. He now has a degree in English lit and his co-conspirator is a medical doctor. “I don’t know. It’s something people say to make you feel bad about your actions.”

                    In “Beneath You” Wood joked to Buffy “There's only three things these kids understand: the boot, the bat, and the bastinada.” Now corporal punishment was a thing of the past by the time I reached high school. (It was outlawed in Ontario in 2004, and Toronto banned it in 1970 before I was even born.) But in the slightly smaller city I grew up in – we still had the threat of physical punishment in elementary school. It was “the strap” – a leather strap that they could theoretically whack on your hands. I say theoretically because although we were always threatened with the strap, I couldn’t recall anyone who ever received a beating, until I met a friend in adulthood. He is a couple years older than me, so maybe it was slightly more common then.

                    But he said that principals were reluctant to use the strap back then, and when they did apply it to him – they were so restrained that it didn’t hurt at all. Fear of the strap was far more potent than the actual strap. Once he realized that, my friend became even more rebellious.

                    So, no, Robin Wood wouldn’t inflict the physical punishment on these two. And they might have challenged him if he tried.

                    Wood could try suspension. That’s what Snyder did to Buffy. But it didn’t take. And again, these two jokers probably wouldn’t care.

                    PRINCIPAL WOOD: So, listen, I could suspend you but that would mean calling your parents, alerting your teachers, filling out paperwork and quite possibly having to talk to the school board. All of which sounds positively exhausting to me.

                    Again, he’s showing a bit of his day to the students – complaining about aspects of his job. But he’s lulling them into a false sense of security with a dollop of confusion. They wonder where Wood is going with this. Then Wood drops his trump card.

                    PRINCPAL WOOD: No. No, I think it would be much easier if I just called the police, let them deal with it.

                    They look confused. Is this part of Wood’s chatty act?

                    PRINCIPAL WOOD: Oh, and in case you're wondering, this is the part where I'm not bluffing.

                    Wood is still soft-spoken, but he’s self-assured and assertive. And the boys cave.

                    GRIMES: We'll repaint it.

                    It’s a masterful act of knowing when to exert power and when to hold back. And Wood gets what he wants with minimal hassle. He’s clearly in a different league than Sunnydale’s other principals.

                    Then Dawn comes to the door. This time, she wants something.

                    As Buffy’s going to babysit Spike, she can’t come into her day job. Not that Dawn can tell the truth. She goes with the old sick day lie. And like so many who call in sick (not that I have any personal experience with this) Dawn overeggs the pudding.

                    Dawn tells in great deal of how Buffy is vomiting. She’s less specific on what is causing the vomit. Dawn is going with the “too much information” gambit. She shuts down any follow-up questions by oversharing her lie.

                    DAWN: Her exact words were, "I've got stuff coming out of both ends."

                    PRINCIPAL WOOD: Thank you. That's very helpful.

                    She succeeds in making him feel uncomfortable. Not that it was absolutely necessary. He was already more than willing to give Buffy time off. Dawn probably takes some pride in making “The Man” a bit squeamish.

                    I like her broad grin at her helpfulness.

                    And she does an extra victory lap by saying hi to the defeated students.

                    DAWN: Sure. No problem. (to the boys) Hey, guys, how's it going?

                    GRIMES: Pretty good.

                    Hoffman and Grimes seem slightly awkward here. Fortunately for them Dawn didn’t see their humiliating defeat at the hands of Principal Wood. But they do witness Dawn’s minor victory.

                    And it truly is a minor one. We learn in later episodes that Principal Wood is holding back information. He knows that Buffy is the slayer, and would understand. He knows Buffy has urgent things to do.

                    We transition to Buffy in the middle of an urgent phone call with someone far less understanding than Principal Wood.

                    BUFFY: I need to find him as soon as possible. He's not answering any of his numbers.

                    We then hear a familiar voice on the phone, and the camera cuts mid sentence to the man on the other end of the call, Quentin Travers from “Helpless” and “Checkpoint” – the head of the Watchers Council, seated at end of a boardroom table.

                    QUENTIN TRAVERS: Miss Summers, the Watcher's Council does not keep track of our lapsed employees.

                    Travers sits with two globes behind him – like the kind that Giles had in the library of the original Sunnydale High.

                    Why the presence of a globe in a library?

                    Although globes existed as early as the ancient Greeks, the first modern terrestrial globe was invented by Copernicus. They didn't take off in popularity until the 15th century after the discovery of the Americas. Within a few centuries, explorers and mapmakers issued new discoveries which were eagerly recorded by globe manufacturers every year and then sent to every Renaissance library, aristocratic parlour or merchant office which would prominently display them on a stand.

                    Globes would appeal to a man like Travers, he can hold them in his hands and spin them around. It would give him the comfortable delusion that Quentin Travers is responsible for making the world spin.

                    QUENTIN TRAVERS: Ever since Mr. Giles pulled up his stake in Sunnydale, we've not made it our business to follow his every move.

                    This is Travers defaulting to his old routine – that Giles and Buffy just aren’t that important to him. And in “Checkpoint” Buffy called him on his attitude. Travers’s bossy ways lead Buffy to a revelation – one that informs the theme of season seven.

                    BUFFY: See ... I've had a lot of people talking at me the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am. And I've finally figured out why. (looks Travers in the eye) Power. I have it. They don't. This bothers them.
                    In “Never Leave Me”, Buffy brushes off Travers’s attitude – although she’s more annoyed than defiant.

                    BUFFY: (rolls her eyes) You don't have to get all British and dodgy, Mr. Travers. I know you have ways of finding him.

                    Strictly speaking, Travers isn’t all British and dodgy. He’s more Transatlantic and dodgy.

                    The Transatlantic or Mid-Atlantic accent is the default accent of British actors who want to sound American, but not too American. (Such as Cary Grant.) Or American actors who want to sound British, but not too British.

                    Quentin Travers is played by actor Harris Yulin, who was born in Los Angeles, CA. By upholding the image of the Watchers as largely British, he is pretending to be something he’s not.

                    And maybe Travers really isn’t British. Maybe he’s affecting an accent to impress his peers. Giles does much the same thing in that his original North London Ripper accent was replaced by the RP of snivelling, tweed-clad guardians. Maybe Travers looked to John Houseman in The Paper Chase for inspiration.


                    When Yulin first appeared in “Helpless” in January 1999, “Vinny”, a poster on compared him to actor George C. Scott.

                    If you have a part that's perfect for George C. Scott but you can't get
                    him......hire Harris Yulin.
                    That might not be entirely fair to Yulin’s impressive career in film, television and theatre. But he certainly has made a career of playing pompous authority figures – such as the skeptical judge in Ghostbusters 2.


                    One of the performances I most fondly remember is when Yulin appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the episode “Duet”. It was the highlight of the show’s first season, and Yulin’s performance as Aamin Marritza or should I say Gul Darhe’el, was a big part of that episode’s success.

                    DS9 was set on a space station that orbited Bajor, a world that until recently has been oppressed by the Cardassians – sort of space Nazis, if you will. Yulin played a Cardassian suffering from an ailment that one could only get at a certain labour camp during the occupation. Yulin claimed to be Marritza, a mere filing clerk to the “butcher of Gallitep” Gul Darhe’el, but an investigation showed that in reality he was Darhe’el himself. Yulin bellowed out a confession of how he enjoyed killing and torturing Bajorans.

                    And then suddenly his Bajoran interrogator realized it was all an act. Harris Yulin’s character really was just the file clerk who had undergound plastic surgery to look like his old boss. Marritiza felt that both Bajor and Cardassia needed to hear such a confession to be able to move on.


                    It was powerful stuff. And reminds me, just a little, of Spike’s speech later in this episode.

                    QUENTIN TRAVERS: Well, I suppose if the matter's urgent, we can look into it.

                    As Travers gives into Buffy’s request, we see he’s not alone. He sits at a long table with a bunch of other Watchers including Nigel, Lydia and Philip from “Checkpoint”. All that brain power. All that experience. And they offer none of it to Buffy.

                    BUFFY: (curt) I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

                    QUENTIN TRAVERS: Not at all. Good day.

                    But then it doesn’t sound like Buffy wanted the Council’s help. It’s unlikely she would have trusted them with information about Spike. Much like her fears over Dawn in “Checkpoint”, she’d probably worry they’d just send a kill squad to take out Spike.

                    Then again, the only time that the Watchers have personally interfered en masse – to control their slayers. They sent kill squads after Faith and they showed up to make sure that Buffy was worthy of their information. But they didn’t do anything to stop the Mayor, Adam, Glory or any other threat to Sunnydale. Up until now the only threat that has concerned Travers is rebellious women.

                    And he’s still concerned about women getting out of control. It’s with a sense of pompous relief that he tells the Council.

                    QUENTIN TRAVERS: The girl knows nothing.

                    The girl probably knows a great deal. She knows there is something haunting them. She knows it is lurking in the Hellmouth. She knows it is influencing Spike. Buffy doesn’t know the broader picture, but she does have some details.

                    But Travers seems most pleased that Buffy doesn’t know more than them.

                    But Travers gets out of his chair and walks over to a great map on the wall.

                    The threat is global.

                    Quentin Travers was seated in front of two large globes and then moves to a huge map.

                    Maps take a complex reality and simplify it to preserve – or even heighten -- the essential meaning of what they represent. They ensure that you see the forest, not just a bunch of trees. Maps represent, record and communicate a vision of the world. Maps craft a reality we achieve in no other way. We are always mapping the invisible or unattainable.

                    Maps shape the world with lines and grids. They draw thick lines between countries – almost like imaginary walls.

                    In ancient and medieval worlds, maps were confined to either large-scale property or small scale cosmological and religious meaning. Civil servants, lawyers, merchants and religious leaders made drawings of monasteries, cathedrals and fields for planning and legal purposes. Medieval European mappeamundi – mapped everything from the Garden of Eden to Garrisons in the Royal Castle. The first large scale wall map in Britain was in 1238 when Henry III ordered a map of the world to be painted in the Great Hall.

                    If we look at the maps in Quentin Travers’s command, the very fact they center on Europe with the Americas to the left and Asia to the right has a lot to do with the arbitrary history of mapmaking. As the inventors of the first practical marine chronometer which enabled navigators to determine longitude at sea, the British produced extremely accurate charts with the aid of the Royal Society. It’s hardly surprising that they chose the Observatory in Greenwich, England as the Prime Meridian, the basic reference point of 0 degree. It is amusing to think of the pompous Travers believing himself (and the Council) as the centre of the world -- almost literally.

                    Travers sees the maps from a militaristic point of view, in terms of territories and navigation to execute orders and operations of the Watchers Council organization. From his point of view, a map is a graphic representation of the world drawn to scale to provide information on location and distance.

                    The particular map behind Travers is very large with a scale designed for tactical and logistical planning like you would see in a war room. The map has small boxes called ‘insets’ that can be enlarged for more detail, moved or minimized if needed. One assumes that each inset represents an attack by Morphy and/or the location of a Potential Slayer. It has all the trappings of what we recognize as a 20th century War Room.

                    War Rooms look like a big open theatre with large maps on one end and the decision makers on the other side, looking at boards with the latest possible information. One of most important elements for a successful War Room is to have everyone in the same room, which makes sharing information easier. Sometimes, there is a plotting table which was just a map stretched across a table as in Churchill’s famous underground War Room. And just as in World War II Travers has a team of Watchers constantly reporting intelligence on Morphy and then plotting it on the wall maps.

                    Andrew Wells follows in the Watchers footsteps by creating a big map of his own for Slayer HQ. It’s a little more fanciful than the one in the Watchers Council, even if the art style resembles Giles’s various lecture sketches.

                    But there’s one piece of the puzzle not to be found on any of Quentin Travers’s maps and globes. It’s the person Buffy most wants to speak to. And despite his attempt to appear a cool, cool, considerate man to Buffy, it’s clear from the urgency of Travers’s order that he too badly wants to speak to this unmapped figure.

                    QUENTIN TRAVERS: And we need to find Rupert Giles. As soon as possible.

                    The interaction between Travers and Buffy stands in stark contrast to Wood’s interaction with his students.

                    Wood varied his tone with the students, semi-confiding in them, before bringing a hammer down. The kids were standoffish and he defused the situation.

                    Travers, on the other hand, is consistently unpleasant to Buffy. Buffy wanted Travers to contact Giles and he plans to do so. Round One to Buffy. Travers gained little information from Buffy. He almost has confirmation bias over her lack of knowledge. He gained little.

                    Travers wouldn’t hack it at Sunnydale High.

                    Part of the problem is that Travers was concerned with preserving his dignity, his image as the unflappable power broker. Another Sunnydale High principal would have something to say about that too.

                    Back in the 1990s, actor Armin Shimerman was appearing two popular genre shows at the same time. On Buffy, he was Principal Snyder. Over on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he was Quark, owner of the local bar and shady trader in goods and information. Quark is a Ferengi, an alien species that were introduced on Star Trek: The Next Generation to be the show’s Big Bad. That never really panned out. They were more comic characters, parodies of late 20th century capitalism. DS9 did a lot to expand on the Ferengi, giving the culture a belief system based around the Rules of Acquisition.

                    And I can see Quark or Snyder popping in to quote 109th Rule of Acquisition: “Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.”


                    Then we cut back to Buffy’s room – Spike is still tied up in a chair. He’s twisting his head, sniffing and grunting. We’ve seen Spike depressed before. We’ve seen him hurt before. He was starving away in “Pangs”. This isn’t starvation though. This is something else.

                    Spike has a soul. He has an element of humanity that no other vampire has…. Okay, no other vampire except some guy with a big forehead living in LA has.

                    But for all his humanity, Spike’s animal nature seems at the fore here.

                    There’s an old saying that the difference between a dog and a wolf is only its last meal. And Spike’s last meal was a seven-course feast of young women and men through Sunnydale. Through the flashbacks we saw Spike bite more people than we ever saw soulless Spike bite in all of season two.

                    BUFFY: Can I do something?

                    Buffy offers help. It’s the compassionate side of her nature. It’s why the First Slayer told her “You are full of love.” Not sexual or romantic love, although of course, it’s complicated where Spike is concerned, but a simple empathy for others who are suffering. This is what makes Buffy a hero – far more than any predestined super power.

                    Spike made a similar offer to Buffy at end of “Fool for Love”. When he sees the tearful Buffy, he asks “Is there something I can do?” And the look she gives Spike suggests her sense of good guys and bad guys blurred.

                    While Buffy needed companionship in “Fool for Love”, here Spike wants privacy. He wants to hide this side of himself – the side he is deeply ashamed of – from Buffy.

                    SPIKE: I think you should probably go—

                    He stops and turns his head inward. Buffy goes to get a towel to help wipe the sweat of Spike’s face. But he goes into vamp face.

                    When she comes to help, Spike turns on her.

                    Buffy is startled by his change.

                    But her look isn’t fear. If anything, there might be a little sense of recognition in her expression. Buffy has been through this before.

                    At the end of season two, she needed to banish Angel to a hell dimension for the good of the world. In “Selfless” – an episode written by Drew Goddard, just like “Never Leave Me” – she refers back to that decision as the hardest thing she ever had to do.

                    And yet, Angel returned in season three. Buffy first encounters the returned Angel in “Beauty and the Beasts”. He’s snarling like a beast.

                    Much like Oz in his werewolf cage, Buffy restrains the now-beastly Angel. This isn’t the chatting psycho Angelus. This Angel has no speech, other than a snarling growl.

                    Buffy went to see Giles, passing off Angel’s return as merely a dream she had. Giles says that Angel would have been tortured in a demon dimension where time would run differently, and he’d have been in torment for centuries. At first Buffy fears that Angel is lost to a feral nature, but Giles’s words contain the promise of hope.

                    GILES: It would take someone of extraordinary... will and character to survive that and, uh, retain any semblance of self. (swallows hard) Most likely, he'd be, be a monster.

                    BUFFY: A lost cause.

                    GILES: Maybe. Maybe not. In my experience, there are... two types of monster. The first, uh, can be redeemed, or more importantly, wants to be redeemed.

                    BUFFY: And the second type?

                    GILES: The second is void of humanity, cannot respond to reason... or love.
                    Giles’s statement that there are monsters who can be redeemed informs her actions with Angel back in the third season, and also her relationship with Spike in this episode. It’s tragic that Giles once fostered Buffy’s belief in redemption is so murderous toward Spike later this season.

                    When Buffy first reaches out to Angel to see if he can be reached, he snarls at her touch. But still she does bring out something in him later that episode. Perhaps it was that experience that makes her accept that this is merely a side of Spike.

                    Spike – like Angel before him – is locked in a power struggle with his vampiric nature. It’s Spike’s mind and soul vs. his animal instincts and bloodlust. This round goes to the animal.

                    Once upon a time Spike took pride in his animal side. In “Doomed” he was ecstatic to discover his chip had an out clause. He could still hurt demons – there was an outlet for the violent beast within.

                    That’s right! I’m back! And I’m a bloody animal!”
                    But that Spike is gone. A part of him was gone even before he got his soul back. In “The Gift”, Spike tells Buffy “I know that I’m a monster. But you treat me like a man.” Ultimately Spike went on a quest to get his soul, to restrain his animal.

                    And now, thanks to Morphy’s machinations, the souled vampire has temporarily left the body. The morally conflicted Spike and the more sadistic William the Bloody are gone too. Left in its place is a beast with little identity beyond a need for blood.

                    The sceme cuts to an exterior shot of Buffy’s home – still in daytime.

                    Then we are back inside, in the hallway outside the bedroom where Buffy and Willow talk.

                    BUFFY: He's been feasting on humans for weeks. He's having some pretty bad withdrawals. I think we need to get him some blood.

                    It’s not hunger that Spike is suffering from. He’s not the sickly, starving creature we saw in “Pangs”. It is withdrawal from quitting cold turkey from his weeks long blood-fest. For three years Spike had been feeding on animal’s blood – sometimes mixed with Weetabix – and then suddenly he was having more human blood than he ever had in his bad old days.

                    It must be like spending years on a keto diet and then suddenly eating every piece of candy in a candy store. That would mess up a normal human. Add in whatever blood magic keeps a vampire’s body functioning after death and who knows.

                    Willow knows where they can find some blood fast.

                    WILLOW: Do you want me to kill Anya?

                    Buffy thinks about it.

                    BUFFY: No, we should probably try to wean him off humans. He'll have to make do with animal blood.

                    It’s gallows humour – a callback to Anya’s annoyance at the “stab through the chest” double-standard and also a callback to their initial dislike of Anya. I think Willow is trying to break Buffy out of her funk by recalling more callow days.

                    Spike cracked a similar joke in “Flooded” when the recently-resurrected Buffy was finding her concerned friends a bit too much to take.

                    SPIKE: You want me to take them out? Give me a hell of a headache, but I could probably thin the herd a little.
                    Fans were scandalized that Buffy could even joke about the death of her stalwart friends.

                    Sometimes this humour is necessary. It’s understandable, if not entirely fair to Anya who was prepared to offer up her own life (and instead lost her best friend) in order to retract a vengeance spell. Maybe Willow is also trying to turn Anya’s very real concerns for the Scooby’s lethal measures into a joke.

                    Willow is trying to help, as she is when she offers to get the blood for Buffy. Willow returns to the trash talk as she rolls her eyes at Xander’s “lectures on proper tool maintenance. Tool talk—not my thing.”

                    Buffy thanks Willow. I expect that Buffy remembers the days when she used to buy blood for Angel. Willow’s humour and simple acts of kindness help alleviate Buffy’s suffering.

                    Then Willow asks how Buffy is doing in there. Buffy’s answer is all about the person she’s looking after.

                    BUFFY: He's in pretty bad shape, past the point where he can tell me anything.
                    WILLOW: I wasn't asking about him.[/QUOTE]

                    Buffy says she’ll be okay. We’ll see other characters later in this episode lie when they claim to be fine.

                    While Buffy draws strength from her friends, there’s always a part of her that she feels she can’t share.

                    Buffy has great power … and as Stan Lee wrote in Amazing Fantasy #15, back in 1962 “with great power, there must also come … great responsibility.”

                    Thirty years later, a futuristic version of the popular wall-crawler was introduced – Spider-Man 2099. The Spider-Man of 2099 is Miguel O’Hara. His brother Gabe quoted Peter Parker’s famous phrase, and as Miguel contemplates risking his life to help others, writer Peter David makes this ironic comment

                    But David is wrong to even joke that is merely “great guilt” that motivates Spider-Man or Buffy. It’s not destiny either. It is an innate aspect of their characters that they extend their power to help others. And it is a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that Buffy feels she cannot entirely share either.

                    Earlier Xander was repairing the walls and windows to keep monsters out, and to keep the monster Spike inside. But Buffy puts up barriers of her own – to keep the emotional toll her responsibilities take on her from spilling forth and affecting her friends.

                    As the camera is still on Buffy, we hear Warren’s voice “She won’t feel a thing.”

                    Ironic, as Buffy most certainly does feel a great many things. But also worrying because Warren was more than willing to end the lives of women. And Morphy-in-Warren’s form incited Andrew to murder. Then it popped back up as the victim, reassuring Andrew that it was all right. What terrible deed could Morphy be convincing Andrew to undertake now?

                    Morphy/Warren is next to the knive-wielding Andrew, goading him onto what is surely a terrible dead.

                    WARREN: Just do it fast.

                    WARREN: Cut her deep. Cut her quick. It'll be over before she knows what hit her.

                    ANDREW: What if she squeals?

                    WARREN: Better go for her throat first.

                    “What if she squeals” – that sounds like old cops and robbers dialogue for killing a witness. (The kind of banter that Andrew has with Xander and Anya later.) But we see that he meant squeal quite literally. Their victim is a pig. Not a fearsome boar, but a cute harmless pig.

                    It’s not the first time we’ve seen a cute little pig in Buffy In her novelization, Nancy Holder gives us the pig’s perspective and her connection to Sunnydale’s past.

                    His victim was an adorable little piglet, heir to the mantel of school mascot, which, okay, she knew the job was dangerous when she, um, got picked from the litter for it. One of her predecessors had been a pig named Herbert, who, legend claimed, had been eaten up by Xander Harris.

                    Legend in this case was the first season episode “The Pack” when a hyena-possessed Xander feasted on the mascot for the Sunnydale High Razorbacks.

                    But Andrew is thinking of a different pig when he tells Warren.

                    ANDREW: Babe 2: Pig in the City was really underrated.

                    WARREN: (fast) Don't think about Babe.

                    Morphy seems to share Warren’s disgust at Andrew’s reference to a feel-good kiddie movie.

                    Instead Morphy/Warren suggests the most absurdly macho sequel movie ever – one where the hero slaughtered wild beasts and skinned them for their clothing.

                    WARREN: You're Conan. You're the Destroyer.

                    Like a lot of nerdy guys with male power fantasies the real Warren probably had a poster of the 1971 Frank Franzetta painting Conan the Destroyer – the painting which gave the later movie its name. Maybe even the trio stole the original painting.

                    In 2010, that painting sold for $1.5 million.

                    And Morphy/Warren is using the image of Conan to reframe Andrew’s thoughts away from kindly farmers to the barbarian kill machine that is Conan.

                    WARREN: It's you against nature. You're the hunter. You're primal. You live off the land.

                    Somewhere in his time at the original Sunnydale High Andrew must have taken an English class where they broke down the three initial conflicts in a story. Man vs. Man (Wood getting the better of his students, Buffy and Travers verbally sparring), Man vs. Himself (Spike struggling with his bloodlust) and Man vs. Nature. Nature in the form of the pig looks pretty cute actually.

                    But Warren’s words have the desired effect, to bring out the psycho in Andrew.

                    Andrew psyches himself up for the kill. And Morphy gives him one last push over the edge into crazy town.

                    WARREN: You're Andrew. Everyone knows you. You play by your own rules. It's kill or be killed –

                    ANDREW: THAT’LL DO, PIG!

                    When I first watched this episode, I assumed Andrew’s battle cry was “Kill the pig!” Perhaps a callback to Lord of the Flies by William Golding (required reading back in my high school days) where lost children go psycho and execute their fat classmate Piggy. But no, Andrew has taken the final, insipid line of both Babe and Babe 2: Pig in the City and turned it into a war cry.

                    From the original Babe

                    And from Babe 2: Pig in the City

                    Maybe Morphy implanted a song in Andrew’s head too. “That’ll Do” written by Randy Newman and sung by Peter Gabriel which appeared in Babe 2.

                    A kind and steady heart can make a grey sky blue;
                    And a task that seems impossible is quite possible for you.
                    A kind and steady heart is sure to see you through.
                    It may not seem like very much right now but it'll do, it'll do.

                    When you find yourself in the middle of a storm
                    And you're tired and cold and wet,
                    And you're looking for a place that's cozy and warm
                    You'll make it if you never forget:

                    A kind and steady heart can conquer doubt and fear.
                    A little courage goes a long long way,
                    Get's you little bit further down the road each day,
                    And before you know it you'll here someone say:
                    That'll do, pig, that'll do.

                    A kind and steady heart is sure to see you through.
                    A little courage goes a long, long way,
                    Gets you little bit further down the road each day,
                    And before you know it you'll hear someone say:
                    That'll do, that'll do,
                    That'll do, pig, that'll do.

                    It’s no Early One Morning, and the wretchedness of the song would probably drive anyone to madness.

                    Oh, who am I kidding? Andrew’s probably just enraged because this Academy Award nominated song was robbed at the 71st Academy Awards. Stephen Schwartz’s “When You Believe” from Prince of Egypt won the Oscar instead.

                    Andrew’s rage at Schwartz might have continued when Sunnydale High put on a production of Schwartz’s 1970s rock musical Pippin in Buffy and Holden’s junior year. (She helped Webs move the lighting board.) Andrew’s big demonic claim to fame was attacking the school play with “flying demon monkeys”. Although as Warren recalled the events including someone yelling “Run, Juliet!”, maybe Andrew needed to spend a year preparing his magical skills to wreak his wrath on the Sunnydale Drama Department for daring to honour that Oscar-stealing Schwartz with a production of Pippin instead of putting on Randy Newman’s Faust.

                    The flying monkeys come from The Wizard of Oz, or perhaps Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life Times of the Wicked Witch of the West which recast the villains as misunderstood heroes. If Maguire’s novel did influence Andrew, it must have really aggravated him to see it adapted into the wildly successful Broadway musical … by Stephen Schwartz. (Maybe Andrew cast a spell bewitching the Tony voters with magical pizza so that they passed over Wicked when it came to Broadway’s highest honour. Andrew rigging the 2003 Tony Awards would make a lot of sense.)

                    Perhaps Morphy has opened up old wounds. But Andrew being Andrew, his look of fury quickly turns to an idiotic expression as he lunges for the pig.

                    And the comedy continues as Andrew fails about lunging after his porcine quarry. But the pig is too smart for Andrew, and it scurries past Morphy.

                    Like any evil overlord, Morphy complains about his lackey – putting a button on the slapstick comedy.

                    WARREN: That's the worst attempted pig slaughtering I've ever seen.
                    Is that Morphy talking? Or is it a part of Warren who slaughtered his ex-girlfriend Katria as if she were little more than an animal.

                    So, why a pig?

                    America Auroa explored that very subject in her masterful review of Once More with Feeling.


                    “Part Ten: “A World of No” – Mr. Gordo in the Underworld”

                    Why the pig in particular is so important to Buffy mythology can be explained through the larger meaning of the animal in underworld mythology. Throughout various cultures, the pig is perceived as a devourer, emblematic of death. Omnivorous and eternally hungry, it is the only domesticated animal that will willingly feed upon itself and human beings. As shown in the New Testament, a herd of pigs can recognize and exorcize a demon because they represent the demonic impulses of death.

                    From Polynesian to Celtic Hells, the boar/pig is the Moon Goddess and the Lord of death with tusks and cloven hooves – an animal both sacred and unclean in many religions. Norse Goddesses were often mounted on a boar and herds of pigs notoriously led Persephone down to the underworld.

                    In China, pigs were gluttonous cannibals who represented the moon goddess and in Egypt, the death and resurrection of Osiris is directly linked to the pursuit of a boar. In many religions, the pig sits at the entrance to the underworld to eat unprepared souls who are not properly cleansed.

                    The name “persephone” comes from a sheath of grain – or another word for death –but Pherrepheta – one of the etymological roots of the name “Persephone” – literally means “killer of suckling pigs.” The “Kore” – the maiden – was linked to the sacrificial qualities of an animal that was considered the “uterine animal of the earth” and sacred to the Mother Goddess as the death fed on their blood. Numerous pigs were sacrificed and thrown into pits or “mouths” in the earth, serving as an entrée (in both senses of the word) that led to the underworld mysteries of death. In some ways, they were the official emblem of the Eleusinian Mysteries of Dionysus and the entrance to the underworld.

                    This places Buffy the Vampire Slayer squarely within Western mythology where the dead must be fed blood to live – especially that of the sacred pig and goat. In the cult of Dionysus, the bridge between the living and dead, his maenads feed the dead with blood-offerings. When journeying to the underworld, Ulysses and Aeneas must offer blood to the shades below before they can bloom into individual life. Drinking blood becomes a metaphor for death becoming life – heated and excited – a way in which vampires mimic the form of a living being. As Spike says in The Gift:

                    SPIKE: Blood is life, lackbrain. Why do you think we eat it? It's what keeps you going, makes you warm, makes you hard, makes you other than dead. (The Gift)

                    Pig’s blood becomes a running joke throughout the series as a means through which Angel and Spike keep their murderous tendencies in check by drinking pig’s blood instead of feeding on humans. From a mythological point-of-view, their addiction to pig also represents their middle state between the living and the dead.

                    Morphy might be an evil from the dawn of time. But Andrew is a strictly urban creature. He looks for a very non-Conan solution to their dilemma.

                    ANDREW: (winded; frustrated) I'm not very good at stabbing. (beat) Isn't there some other way we could get blood?
                    And we find ourselves in a butcher shop. Andrew slaps down his number.

                    Clearly Andrew has thought this through. He’ll just slip his rather unusual request in the middle of a perfect normal order … for a Carnivore Society Barbeque.

                    ANDREW: I'd like twelve pork chops, two pounds of sausage, (rushed) eightquartsofpigsblood, three steaks…um…halibut… and…uh…some toothpaste…

                    I love how Andrew says his true order slightly faster than the rest, and then kind of runs out of extra products to hide it. I wonder what else he’d have tried to put on the list if he wasn’t cut off.

                    It reminds me of the classic Woody Allen film Bananas, when he tried to downplay his purchase of a porno magazine amidst more respectable publications.


                    BUTCHER: This is a butcher's shop, Neo. We don't sell toothpaste.

                    Maybe an order of eight quarts of pig’s blood (about the same amount of blood as in a human body) would seem out of place in a normal butcher shop. But this is a Sunnydale Butcher Shop. They’re probably open 24 hours to serve all the chipped, souled and dieting vampires and demons in the town. I almost expect to see a sign in the window “Demonic Rituals – a speciality!”

                    Or maybe the butcher just figured Andrew was planning to cover a prom queen in pig’s blood, like in the 1976 film Carrie.


                    After all, a member of the Wells family did ruin the Sunnydale High prom once before.

                    But toothpaste in a butcher shop? That one would stand out anywhere.

                    In novelization, it’s at this moment that Andrew realizes that maybe his Spike costume isn’t as cool as he thought it was. (As a fan of comics, maybe Andrew should consider how ridiculous Batman tends to look when he’s running around Gotham City in the daytime.)

                    And to people not in the know, he doesn’t look like Spike. The butcher thinks Andrew is dressed as Neo, the long coat wearing lead character in the Matrix movies.

                    In our world Keanu Reaves played Neo. But for one brief shining moment in the Buffyverse, Neo was played by Jonathan Levinson – the friend who Andrew recently murdered. In season 4’s “Superstar” Jonathan used magic to reshape the world into one where he was much, much cooler. Even after the spell was broken, Riley had trouble recalling who the star of The Matrix really was.

                    I wonder if this reference makes Andrew think of his murdered friend.

                    Andrew tries to blend in by saying “hi” to one of the other patrons. His skills at not calling attention to himself are as keenly honed as his pig slaughtering skills.

                    ANDREW: Ooh, steak sauce.

                    Apparently the steak sauce line was an ab-lib from Tom Lenk. If so, it’s another reason why he’s in so many episodes this season. The actor and character are an utter delight.

                    Andrew displays the source of his power. The thing that can transform living animals into dead animals all nicely carved up. It’s a special power that helps in getting what you want – it’s the cash in his wallet.

                    Andrew hands over his money, takes his blood and the rest of his order, and turns to leave.

                    Andrew, being Andrew, bumps into someone. A certain red-headed someone.

                    He drops his blood and sundry pounds of flesh – spread out on the butcher shop floor as incriminating evidence.

                    Andrew looks up from his purchases to see the face of the person who he bumped into. His eyes widen in fear and recognition.


                    It’s Willow. And her eyes widen in fear and recognition too. Oh, she’s not afraid of Andrew. She’s afraid of herself.

                    Andrew might need to resort to butcher shops because he couldn’t kill and skin an animal. But Willow killed and skinned the real Warren. She tried to kill Andrew too. He’s a reminder of her worst self – a destroyer who played by her own rules.

                    END OF ACT ONE

                    Instead of putting the commercial break here, I'll continue a bit into the second act.

                    ACT TWO

                    We come back from the commercial break where Andrew fleeing the butcher shop with Willow in Hot Pursuit.

                    He doesn’t get very far, as he turns right and runs through the alley at the side the shop. He then turns around and faces his pursuer. Andrew’s eyes are wide with terror and he makes a simple request.

                    ANDREW: Don't kill me.

                    WILLOW: I'm not gonna kill you.

                    ANDREW: Don't torture me and send me to an eternal pain dimension.

                    WILLOW: I'm not gonna.

                    This is the relatively jovial, non-murderous Willow. Andrew should be fine unless he dredges up any painful memories.

                    ANDREW: Warren killed Tara. I didn't do it.

                    Like that one. Of course, Andrew would have to bring up the very reason that Willow went nuts the last time. And of course, he’s denying his culpability in those events. That aspect of Andrew will be addressed more in “Storyteller.”

                    The episode’s title “Never Leave Me” refers in part to how one’s past never leaves, and these two are haunted by a shared past.

                    ANDREW: And he was aiming for Buffy anyway.

                    And Andrew just keeps digging. Now Willow is hurt. And pissed off.

                    WILLOW: Not making it better.

                    Then Andrew tries to rationalize his way out of it.

                    ANDREW: And you got your revenge.

                    ANDREW: You killed my best friend. We're even.

                    And Andrew killed his other best friend, so he and Willow have something in common.

                    WILLOW: Even? You think I get satisfaction from what I did?

                    Willow is horrified that Andrew thinks that something which has darkened her soul, kept her walking on eggshells, forced to keep her most amazing talents locked down … that he thinks this makes her happy. He doesn’t understand vengeance.

                    Andrew obviously didn’t study magic with the Kalderash people.

                    ENYOS: To the modern man vengeance is a verb, an idea. Payback. One thing for another. Like commerce. Not with us. Vengeance is a living thing. It passes through generations. It commands. It kills.
                    Andrew pleads with her again.

                    ANDREW: Maybe not, but let me keep my skin, OK?

                    ANDREW: (anxious) I'm not bad, I'm not bad anymore. I'm good. I do good things now.

                    And Andrew insists he is good now. Well, I suppose everything is relative. He is technically more good than when he stabbed Jonathan to death three days ago. And his pig-slaughtering was a bust.

                    The originally shooting script ads an extra line to the questions. I wonder if Willow’s softly spoken question is meant to be menacing.

                    (Original Shooting Script:
                    ANDREW: Don't torture me and send me to an eternal pain dimension.
                    WILLOW: I'm not gonna --
                    ANDREW: Warren did it. I didn't do it. Warren shot her.
                    Willow, who up until this point has been mostly confused and suspicious, becomes hurt, angry. We see pain on her face.
                    WILLOW: (softly) What are you doing here? )
                    ANDREW: (anxious) I'm not bad. I'm not bad anymore. I'm good. I do good things now. (pause) I'm here doing good things... )

                    Perhaps Andrew thinks he’s gotten away with his tale of redemption, Unfortunately he’s dumb. He overlooked the obvious evidence.

                    WILLOW: Then why do you need lots and lots of blood?


                    Andrew tries to think of another strategy.

                    He opts to contradict his last sentence.

                    ANDREW: I am bad. (nodding) I'm bad, I'm evil.
                    It’s not a very convincing performance. He decides to up his game.

                    ANDREW: But I'm protected by powerful forces. Forces you can't even begin to imagine. (beat) Little. Girl.
                    He gets into even more.

                    ANDREW: If you harm me, you shall know the wrath of he that is darkness and terror. Your blood will boil, and you will know true suffering.

                    And the original script has an extra line in his bluff.

                    (Original Shooting Script Additional Line Here:
                    ANDREW: Why don’t you do us both a favor, and turn, and walk away. )

                    Andrew’s speech reaches it’s natural conclusion.

                    ANDREW: Stand down, she-witch. Your defeat is at hand—

                    What would Andrew have done if had finished his speech? Would he have tried to summon a demon? Likely any demon he could summon wouldn’t be a match for Willow. Heck, some of the demons would probably want her autograph for her famed example of water cooler vengeance.

                    Andrew refers to Willow as a Little Girl. It’s reminiscent of Spike’s speech at the beginning of season four’s “Wild at Heart” It’s the first time the phrase “Big Bad” appears in the show.

                    Watch your mouth, little girl. You should know better than to tempt the fates that way. 'Cause the Big Bad is back, And this time, it's... Urrgh! Aaaahhh!
                    Spike doesn’t get to finish his speech about he’s the Big Bad and he’s going to cause trouble for Buffy. He’s electrocuted by Initiative goons, and then neutralized by the chip.

                    Andrew doesn’t get through his Big Bad speech either. Willow cuts Andrew off by shoving him into the wall.

                    I began this part by mentioning the “It’s about power” theme of the season. It looks like Andrew is about to get a very personal lesson in power, from a teacher who is now to get bored easily.

                    End of Part Two
                    Last edited by PuckRobin; 26-09-20, 05:42 PM.


                    • Hey, this is great stuff. Keep it coming.

                      It wasn’t just Weetabix, don't forget about the burba weed! Adds a bit of spice, don’t you know!

                      Buffy draws strength from her friends now, but ironically they will end up fulfilling Spike’s little rant to her in NA, casting her out into the dark, where she finds some peace with him. And at pretty much a similar point in S7 to when NA aired in S6. It’s all part of the First’s plan. And it’s all part of the writing and production team’s episode symmetry. I think, anyway.

                      Thank you, PuckRobin, please keep the reviews coming! They’re great fun to read.
                      Last edited by debbicles; 26-09-20, 05:34 PM. Reason: Cos. I should never type with my glasses on.
                      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


                      • Buffy Season Seven Rewatch
                        Never Leave Me
                        Part 3

                        Previously, we last left Andrew and Willow in an alley beside the butcher shop where the ex-Trio member had been buying massive amounts of blood. Andrew tried to bluff his way out of it by acting like the Big Bad. But well, he was season six’s Mini-Me Bad. Warren was the most evil of the Trio. And even the Trio paled next to the might of Dark Willow.

                        But Willow and Andrew do have something in common – each one is responsible for eliminating thirty-three-point-three bar percent of the Trio. Now it looks like Willow might be trying for best two out of three.

                        Willow just slammed Andrew into the wall. So, let’s rejoin the scene already in progress and see if a certain Big Bad is back.

                        WILLOW: Shut your mouth.

                        WILLOW: I am a she-witch, a very powerful she-witch.

                        Of course, Willow stops to correct herself in true Buffyverse style.

                        WILLOW: Or…“witch” as is…more accurate. I'm not to be trifled with.

                        Andrew tries to talk, but she shuts him down instantly.

                        WILLOW: I'm talking. Don't interrupt me, insignificant man.
                        Now Willow really gets going with the threats as if she’s Kali.

                        WILLOW: I am Willow. I am death. If you dare defy me, I will call down my fury, exact fresh vengeance, and make your worst fears come true.

                        Andrew gets a lump in his throat. She’s won. All with the power of words.

                        Her job done, Willow breaks character and lets a bit of classic Willow shine through.

                        WILLOW: Okay?

                        It might be a callback to “Doppelgangland”, when she impersonated Vampire Willow, the precursor to Dark Willow. She broke character to wave at Oz.

                        Back in the third season, Willow couldn’t convincingly portray evil. Now she’s gone through the method acting of actually having been evil for a time. Almost destroying the world prepared her for this gig.

                        It’s also why she’s more intimidating than Andrew’s attempted bluff. Andrew tries to make himself forget the bad things he does. But Willow’s past actions haven’t left her. She’s in no denial about the darkness within.

                        There seems like a missed opportunity here. In Drew Goddard’s previous episode “Selfless”, Willow’s eyes go black and she reverts to Dark Willow’s personality when she uses her powers.

                        We see it again many times throughout the season.

                        But here, there are no scary black eyes. Willow keeps her power – and an aspect of her true self – in check. She’s pretending to be good ol’ Willow pretending to be Dark Willow. There are more layers to Willow’s persona than there are in a blooming onion.

                        The original shooting script has Willow go to a darker place.

                        (Original Shooting Script:
                        WILLOW: I am a she-witch, a very powerful she-witch. (beat) Or…“witch” as is…more accurate. (beat) I'm not to be trifled with.
                        Though she’s bluffing, we see real anger shine through in her speech.
                        WILLOW: You think you frighten me? With your dress-up? With your cribbed speech? (pause) I destroy souls.
                        Andrew stands there, eyes wide in terror
                        WILLOW: You want to play games? I'm begging you to play games with me. (pause) When I'm finished with you, you'll be on your hands and knees praying for Warren's fate, pleading for Warren's fate.
                        It's hard to tell if she's bluffing anymore.
                        WILLOW: I am Willow. I am Death. If you don't do exactly what I say, I will bring your nightmares to reality. (pause) Now what say you to that?

                        If the original script went darker, Nancy Holder’s novelization went lighter as we see what Willow is thinking.

                        Realizing that she could use his weirdness against him, she decided to run with the scary Willow iteration. Getting herself in character, she pushed him soundly against a brick wall. “Shut your mouth. I am a she-witch, a very powerful she-witch, or witch, as is more accurate. I’m not to be trifled with. I am Willow.” And I sound like the Wizard of Oz. But he’s buying it. “. If you dare defy me, I will call down my fury, exact fresh vengeance, and make your worst dreams come true.” She raised her brows. “Okay?”
                        Well, the reference to the Wizard of Oz seems accurate.


                        If Willow is the Great and Powerful Oz. then Andrew has to be the cowardly lion.

                        But he’s now a caged lion as Willow grabs Andrew and leads him away.

                        The scene immediately cuts to the front door of 1630 Revello Drive. Willow is holding onto Andrew just like she had in the alley.

                        I imagine first she marched Andrew back to the butcher shop to pick up his bag of meat. If the butcher noticed anything he probably rolled his eyes and thought “It’s Sunnydale – what are you going to do?” And then Willow force-marched Andrew through several city blocks. She’d be like an angry parent dragging a bratty child through the store – exposing Andrew’s shame for all to see.

                        This is Andrew’s first visit to the Summers’ home. Oh, he and his now-deceased Trio comrades had kept an eye on the place before – an electronic eye in the form of a camera concealed in a garden gnome. But he had never crossed the threshold before into what might be Sunnydale’s answer to the Hall of Justice, headquarters of the Superfriends – from the long-running cartoon of the 1970s and 1980s.

                        But has Andrew truly entered the hall of heroes?

                        Besides Willow, the house already numbers other two “Big Bads” – well, not minor inconveniences – among its residents, although transformed beyond recognition. There’s two-time vengeance demon and twice-redeemed Anya who was an enemy when she first appeared in season three, and who caused trouble once again this season. And then there is Spike – originally one of the co-Big Bads of season two until a little incident with a pipe organ put him into a wheelchair and lackey status for the rest of the season. He promised to be the Big Bad of season four too, until he was chipped as part of an insane government science experiment. They have long, chequered pasts as vampire and vengeance demon.

                        What about the other residents? Dawn is a former shoplifter. Xander’s slut-shaming comments last season got him in trouble with both the Scoobies and fans last season. And Buffy herself has had moments where she abandoned or tried to kill her friends.

                        Perhaps Andrew isn’t so much entering the Hall of Justice as he is entering the Hall of Doom, home to the Superfriends’ foes the Legion of Doom.

                        And yet, these aren’t just supervillains, but those on a path to redemption.

                        It’s clear that Season Seven is all about redemption. The joke is that even as Buffy fights off the Big Bad, her house is full of villains who in other seasons would be the bad guys the Scoobys were fighting. It becomes even more of a Halfway House for Former Legion of Doom members when Faith arrives.

                        But the Big Bads don’t seem to ever get together and talk about how ‘bad’ they were. Instead, there’s a lot of jockeying for position and whining that other villains have it so much easier than them. Anya in particular is jealous of how much leeway Buffy gives to the others when she herself was run through with a sword.

                        ANYA: Don't waste your time down that road. Spike's got some sort of "Get Out of Jail Free" card that doesn't apply to the rest of us. I mean, he could slaughter a hundred frat boys, and— (everyone looks at Anya disapprovingly; Anya laughs it off) Forgiveness makes us human. blah-dee-blah-blah-blah. – “Lies My Parents Told Me”
                        Even Morphy sees that it can play upon the sense of unfairness that each person seeking atonement feels when comparing themselves to the others:

                        ANDREW: What do you want from me, Jonathan slash [Morphy]?
                        JONATHAN: I have an assignment for you.
                        ANDREW: Um, I follow Buffy's orders now. I'm redeeming myself for... killing you—I mean, for... killing Jonathan.
                        JONATHAN: Really, why? (laughs) So you can earn a spot on her little pep squad? You think she'll ever let you in? You're a murderer.
                        ANDREW: (nods) Confidentially, a lot of her people are murderers. Anya and Willow and Spike.
                        JONATHAN: Interesting. And you're the only one she makes seek redemption. Does that seem fair to you?
                        ANDREW: (squirms in place) I guess not.
                        - “First Date”
                        Andrew is wrong, of course. Everyone on Buffy’s little pep squad has suffered and is need of healing and forgiveness like the ghostly James who reenacts his crime over and over again by possessing people in search of closure.

                        GILES: To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's, it's not done because people deserve it. It's done because they need it.
                        – “I Only Have Eyes For You”
                        One of the reasons that Buffy is the hero of the show is because she allows all of these repentant villains to live in her home even though she’s battled all of them at one time or another. Not because they deserve it but because they need it.

                        And Willow, Spike, Anya, Faith and Andrew need to know that someone believes in their possible redemption even when they are at their most despairing like Spike at the end of this episode. And that belief then allows them to forgive not only themselves, but each other.

                        But first, they have to want to be redeemed.

                        When Willow and Andrew enter 1630 Revello Drive, Xander is repairing the windows as Anya and Dawn look on.

                        WILLOW: Look who I found.

                        XANDER: Oh, this can't be good.

                        The original script had Willow say “Look what I found” – somewhat dehumanizing Andrew.

                        It’s set that there are no second chances to make a first impression, and Andrew has made some truly bad first impressions.

                        If Andrew was at Sunnydale High with the Scoobies, little impression was made. They can barely remember his name or his filial relationship to season three’s Tucker Wells. (When the Scoobies identified Tucker as the baddie behind the events in the late season three episode “The Prom”, only Oz knew Tucker by sight.) So, let’s look at the impression Andrew made when he met the various Scoobies in season six.

                        His first encounter was with Spike in “Smashed”. The then-soulless vampire had invaded the Trio’s lair to demand that local science expert (and robotic plaything manufacturer) Warren examine his chip. Spike could now hurt Buffy, but other people still triggered his pain response. Spike threatened to snap a vintage Boba Fett doll if Warren didn’t examine the chip. As Warren examined the results, Andrew tried to start up a conversation.

                        ANDREW: You're English, right?
                        SPIKE: Yeah.
                        ANDREW: I've seen every episode of Doctor Who. Not Red Dwarf, though, 'cause, um...
                        JONATHAN: 'Cause it's not out yet on DVD.
                        ANDREW: Right. It's not out on ... (weakly) DVD.
                        SPIKE: (yells) Warren!
                        Spike’s first impression of Andrew would be that he’s an insufferable nerd. (To be fair, most Scoobies have this impression of Andrew.) Spike might also see Andrew as an idiot. I mean how can someone bend time and space to be able to watch Doctor Who episodes that whose master tapes had been wiped since the 1970s (97 episodes are still missing and 12 more were only recovered after “Smashed” aired.) and yet not figure out how to work a multi-region VCR?

                        But aside from his membership in a team of supervillains, Andrew doesn’t say or do anything particularly evil. (Not that soulless Spike would have cared.)

                        Buffy and Willow first hear and later see Andrew two episodes later in “Gone”. The Trio are robbing the local video arcade. They’ve made themselves invisible and Buffy herself was accidentally turned invisible. Warren intends to use the invisibility ray gun to eliminate Buffy, but Jonathan and Andrew object.

                        INVISIBLE WARREN: You'll have to find me first! There's three of us, against just one of you.
                        INVISIBLE JONATHAN: Hey, you lied to us!
                        INVISIBLE ANDREW: Fight her yourself!
                        INVISIBLE WARREN: (angrily) Think she cares about that? I go down, we all go down!
                        INVISIBLE BUFFY: And I promise, you're all going down.

                        When Willow makes the Trio visible again, her and Buffy have no idea who Andrew is. Jonathan and Warren state he’s Tucker’s brother, which they accept. Warren declares that they are Buffy’s “arch-nemesises ... ses.” But they seem so absurd at this point. And Warren is the only one of the Trio who sounds murderous.

                        But something changed in Andrew before he met the other Scoobies – something that formed a dividing line in his morality. That something is the death of Katrina in “Dead Things”.

                        Initially Andrew cries over Katrina’s death, just muttering “Oh god” repeatedly. But by the episode’s end, Warren has poured his psychological poison into Andrew’s ear.

                        WARREN: Wasn't that hard messing her game up. She figures it out, we'll take care of her.
                        ANDREW: We really got away with murder. That's... kinda cool.

                        A creepy smile bends Andrew's lips. He's definitely warmed up to the idea. Jonathan eyes Andrew and Warren uncomfortably. He's starting to realize just how deep he's in it now.
                        For more about “Dead Things”, you can read my multi-part review here.

                        But it is this post-Dead-Things Andrew that Xander, Anya and Dawn first meet.

                        Xander discovers the Trio making trouble in a bar during “Seeing Red”. Warren has become imbued with demon-strength and pummels Xander. Warren might have permanently messed up the young Scooby, but Jonathan reminds Warren that they have a time-sensitive robbery to perform.

                        Now Andrew speaks up.

                        ANDREW: We're just gonna leave him there? What if he sics the Slayer on us?
                        So, Xander’s first impression of Andrew would be that he’s someone who is perfectly fine with Warren making Xander “without a face” as previously threatened. Later in “Seeing Red” Buffy would get her second impression of Andrew when he cheers Warren on. “Kill her! Kill her!” This Andrew seems to derive pleasure from others pain and suffering.

                        Jonathan and Andrew are arrested during “Seeing Red” and are in prison when Warren commits his ultimate crime – the murder of Tara. (Possibly felon murder as the death was an accidental biproduct of him trying to murder Buffy.) Tara’s death makes Willow go all vengeance-crazed and dangerous. Anya is sent to protect Andrew and Jonathan to keep Willow from crossing that final line herself.

                        When Anya tells the now surviving Duo of Tara’s death – and their own impeding doom – Andrew seems largely concerned with Warren. He’s more interested in a killer than the victims. Except possibly when Andrew himself might become Dark Willow’s villain.

                        ANDREW: Stop it! Just, stop! (to Jonathan) Why is she doing this? Tell her! We didn't do anything.

                        JONATHAN: Yes we did. We signed on. We teamed up. We wanted to see where all our plans would take us, well
                        take a look.
                        Anya sees an Andrew who evades any personal responsibility for his actions and who has no concern for who got hurt in his wake – except for Warren, of course.

                        Buffy and Xander escape with Jonathan and Andrew in a police car. Eventually they make it to the Magic Box, where Anya is already looking up defensive strategies. Andrew proposes something to Anya, Xander and Buffy that sink their impression of him even further.

                        ANDREW: Then what are we doing here?

                        They all turn on him, annoyed.

                        ANDREW (cont'd): You know - I could summon a demon to kill her.

                        XANDER: And I could smack you so hard your eyeballs switch sockets.

                        BUFFY: No one is getting killed. Sit down.
                        Anya and Xander are working hard to protect Jonathan and Andrew, but Andrew tries to coax his colleague into betraying their protectors.

                        ANDREW: Why are you helping them?

                        JONATHAN:Because they're saving our lives, you moron.

                        ANDREW: Uh-huh. And what then? Even if they kill that Wicca b-tch, you think they'll just let us walk? They own us.

                        JONATHAN: So what do you want me to do?

                        ANDREW: Look around. You know Magick. We're in a Magic Shop. (intense) We can take them.
                        I’m not sure if Xander and Anya heard Andrew’s reference to Willow a “wicca b-tch” or Andrew’s schemes, but Xander does tell them to shut up, and Andrew’s true colours are on full display.

                        Later Willow teleports Buffy, Dawn and herself to the Magic Box. Andrew and Jonathan grab swords to ineffectually defend themselves. While Buffy and Anya try to restrain Willow, Xander leads the others out and to safety.

                        So, perhaps Dawn’s first impression of Andrew is when Andrew turns his sword on his protectors.

                        XANDER: Whoa, whoa. Okay, Andy, let's put the sword down.
                        ANDREW: No way. I'm not gonna die. Not because of something I didn't even do.
                        XANDER: You're not gonna die.
                        ANDREW: Oh, yeah? Who's gonna protect me? You?
                        DAWN: Leave him alone!
                        That scene was originally for “Grave” but appears at the end of “Two to Go”. In “Grave” Willow launches a fireball at the fleeing characters. The blast impact knocks Xander out and sends Buffy and Dawn falling into an underground chasm. Meanwhile, Willow is intent on destroying the world. Andrew and Jonathan take this opportunity to thank their protectors by running away.

                        For Xander, Dawn and Anya, Andrew is the guy who helped the person who killed Tara, the person who loudly advocated that the Scoobies be hurt or killed, and who repaid the Scoobies kindness by running away. No wonder Xander hastly decides that Andrew’s reappearance “can’t be good.”

                        Willow quickly backs up that assumption when she tells them what Andrew was doing.

                        WILLOW: Guess who was buying mass amounts of blood at the butcher's shop.

                        Ah, the butcher’s shop has a special meaning for the Sunnydale crew.

                        Whistler ended Angel’s 20-year ratboy lifestyle when he clued him into modern conveniences.

                        Whistler: Hey! Look, you're skin and bones here! Butcher shops are throwing away more blood in a day than you could stand. Good blood. You lived in the world a little bit, you'd know that.
                        - Becoming, Part One
                        Over the year you can see how Angel filled out once he discovered he could supplement his once-a-month rat diet some good old pig’s blood.

                        Sometimes even Buffy would go fetch it for him.

                        BUFFY: Uh, that's for you.
                        Angel reaches for it
                        BUFFY: Uh... I-it's fresh from the butcher.
                        ANGEL: Thanks.
                        He reaches in and takes out a quart-sized plastic tub of blood. He gives it a brief look, then slips it back into the bag and sets it aside.
                        Buffy looks away shyly, knowing he doesn't want to eat in front of her.
                        ANGEL: You're being careful, right?
                        -Band Candy
                        Sometimes they support small independent butcher shops like Sol’s and Saul’s. Other times, characters get their supplies at bigger establishments such as large meat-processing plants. “Never Leave Me” isn’t the first time an evil Wells purchase coincided with purchasing blood for a vampire with a soul. In “The Prom”, Buffy runs into Angel getting blood from the same meat-processing plant as where Tucker Wells has been getting cow brains.

                        Since getting his chip in season four, Spike has apparently been a frequent customer of Sunnydale’s butcher shops. Buffy uses this to her advantage in “Superstar” in order to blackmail Spike into helping them.

                        JONATHAN: We're not getting anything out of him.
                        He walks away and Spike holds the back of his head. Buffy lunges forward and shoves Spike back against the crypt again.
                        SPIKE (surprised): Hey what are you doing?You're not supposed to do that!
                        BUFFY: You're pretty much relying on butcher's blood these days right, Spike?
                        SPIKE: What are you saying?
                        BUFFY: Just that the butchers in this town respect Jonathan. They do him a favor and you might find yourself getting kind of thirsty.
                        Of course, if you don’t want to visit a butcher’s shop or a meat-processing plant there are other options in Sunnydale, such as the various demon bars.

                        BUFFY: Nope, go ahead. (the girls walk up to the bar) Down all the yak urine shots or pigs blood spritzers you like. (Spike smirks)

                        VI: Gross. (the girls back away from the bar)

                        SPIKE: Got that right. Prices they charge, you could get human blood straight from the body. (Molly stares at him) Vampire...
                        - Potential
                        Butcher shops sound like the best and cheapest option for things-that-go-bump-the-night to stalk up on their necessary supplies. And it’s very suspicious to find that Andrew is not only back in town but shopping at the equivalent of the Demon 7/11.

                        From everyone else’s perspective, things look bad for Andrew. But from Andrew’s point-of-view, things are looking up. This episode is all about putting clues together, and Andrew finally spots a telltale clue that suggests things aren’t as he thought. As the script put it, “Andrew’s beginning to suspect he’s been had.”

                        Even before she started play-acting as the goddess of death, Andrew had been reacting to Willow as if she was going to kill him at any second. Andrew didn’t see the quirky red head everyone else did. This is clearly how he’d been seeing Willow up to this point.

                        ANDREW: (to Willow) Hey, your hair's not even black anymore.

                        Once Andrew realizes his life isn’t in immediate danger, he has the strength to push back against Xander’s questions.

                        XANDER: (annoyed) What're you doing back in town?
                        ANDREW: (meek) You'll get nothing out of me, carpenter.

                        I love how Andrew says “carpenter”. In an old-fashioned police show the line would be “You’ll get nothing out of me, copper.” And Andrew says “carpenter” with the same disdain other criminals would use when they say “copper”. Andrew knows Xander’s true occupation because last season the Trio had Xander’s building site under surveillance.

                        Xander returns the cop-show dialogue with a classic line of his own.

                        XANDER: (rolls his eyes) We'll see about that.

                        Ah, the interrogation scene. It’s a hallmark of most cop TV shows dating back to the original Dragnet from the 1950s.The crook is held in custody while two cops tag-team to get a confession out of the criminal.


                        Here’s another interrogation in Homocide: Life on the Street.


                        Often these interrogations are conducted in a special room, where observers can watch through special two-way mirror. Andrew is placed in 1630 Revello Drive’s Holding Cell #2. Better known to viewers as Dawn’s bedroom.

                        While the childish trappings of the room might be out of place in any ordinary cop show, they seem perfectly appropriate given that it is a man-child who is going to be questioned.

                        As Xander ties Andrew to a chair, Anya ruffles through the pockets of Andrew’s special Spike-style coat. She’s checking for clues. This freaks Andrew out.

                        ANDREW: Careful with my coat. It's expensive.

                        ANYA: Is it new?

                        Anya holds up the coat – something that Andrew seems to care about more than people’s lives. Then she drops onto the floor and steps on it repeatedly.

                        It’s unclear if Andrew’s cosplay coat has the same magic invulnerability as Spike’s coat. Spike’s coat endured nearly 30 years of daily wear and tear, was worn into countless battles, and yet survived until an explosion in the Angel episode “The Girl in Question.” That is one durable garment.

                        Or at least, Spike believed he was always wearing the same coat.

                        I’ve known more than a few parents who had to swap out their children’s frayed and damaged teddy bears with near-identical new models. (For example, when on stuffed Totoro doll was lost on a European vacation, the mother assured her daughter that the doll had travelled back to America on a special flight in a special box – marked Maybe Dru kept mail ordering identical coats from Wolfram & Hart and secretly replaced Spike’s coat when he wasn’t looking.

                        While Spike would reclaim his beloved coat later this scene, at this point he wanted nothing to do with it – or his soulless past. Recently-souled Spike would probably gladly stomp on his old coat. In another contrast with Andrew, Spike asked Buffy to make his bonds tighter to prevent escape. Andrew, however, yelps in pain as Xander tightens his bonds.

                        XANDER: Now, we can do this the hard way, if you want.
                        As Xander spouts cop-show cliches, Anya stands with her arms folded and glares at Andrew.

                        XANDER: But believe me when I tell you, this will go much easier if you just tell us what you know.

                        Xander pulls the ropes tight again and gets right in Andrew’s face as he finishes his line. Xander may be a nerd but he’s seen enough movies and TV to know how this is supposed to go.

                        Andrew also goes all cops-and-robbers with his denial. He switches up the standard expression “barking up the wrong tree” just to sound cooler.

                        ANDREW: Ow! You're barking up the wrong asparagus, man. I don't know anything.

                        Xander sits next to Andrew.

                        XANDER: Here's the thing – I don't believe you.

                        Andrew responds with his standard denial of guilt. Xander tries to sound reasonable in his effort to continue the conversation.

                        ANDREW: I haven't done anything wrong.
                        XANDER: Well, then, you won't mind if we ask you a few questions.
                        ANDREW: Yeah…okay.
                        XANDER: Why were you buying blood at the butcher shop?

                        Andrew is prepared for this one and has an answer at the ready.

                        ANDREW: I-fell-in-love-with-a-beautiful-vampire-girl-down-in-Me-hi-co-now-we're-trying-to-make-a-go-of-it-on-the-straight-and-narrow-and-put-our-lives-back-together-here-in-Sunnydale.

                        In her novelization, Nancy Holder offers her (and Xander’s) suspicions of how Andrew came up with his obviously phony story.

                        Xander privately suspected he was getting his material from Tarantino’s From Dusk to Dawn.
                        Certainly at the time the episodes aired I suspected that Jonathan and Andrew’s trip to Mexico was inspired by the 1996 horror film written by Tarantino. And it’s not the first time that the hotshot writer/director (and mediocre actor) Quentin Tarantino inspired moments in Buffy.

                        Andrew flashes a cheesy grin that says “Did I get away with it?”

                        He didn’t get away with it. Anya explodes in anger and grabs Andrew. While her dialogue may be cribbed from the same cop shows and movies that Xander and Andrew are borrowing from, she does also make a very real point.

                        ANYA: You think this is a game, junior? People are dying. Friends’ lives are in danger!

                        I’m not sure if Andrew recalls that Anya had been a vengeance demon, but his face shows real fear.

                        The classic interrogation duo is Good Cop / Bad Cop. One cop is reasonable and respectful. The other is a psycho with a berserk button. As she can no longer get her “vengeance on”, I think Anya relishes her role as the bad cop.

                        Acting as the good cop, tries to talk her down. Instead it escalates further.

                        XANDER: Hey, Anya –
                        ANYA: Now you want to waste my time with deceptions? Not on my watch!

                        She slaps him, hard, across the face. Andrew screams in pain.

                        In theory, police aren’t supposed to rough up their suspects. Obviously, they very often do. And fictional cops beat up their subjects too.

                        For example, here’s a good cop / bad cop routine from the 1987 Dragnet.


                        As there are drawers ready at hand in Dawn’s room, Andrew should count himself lucky that Xander didn’t stage a reenactment.

                        But Xander is the good cop, and he asks to speak to Anya outside.

                        We leave Andrew crying around in Holding Cell #2 (aka Dawn’s room). More on Andrew’s tears when I do my rewatch of “Storyteller” in a couple of months.

                        Meanwhile, the action switches over to Holding Cell #1 – Buffy’s room.

                        Anya and Xander are tag-teaming to fool Andrew, pretending to be much worse than they are. But there’s a different kind of pretense going on in Buffy’s room where Spike is tied up. He’s trying desperately not to let Buffy see the monster within, to see how weak he truly is and how little control he has over himself. With the chip, Spike was incapable of killing humans, but he was still able to maintain control over his image. With his soul, Spike believed it was impossible that he could kill and Buffy was wrong about him siring Holden. Because he’d changed. Now, he’s been proven wrong and the soul almost seems like a pointless quest, a pathetic attempt to become a man that’s ended in disaster because of his need to hunt, to kill, to drink human blood.

                        We see Angel try to do the same in an early episode of season one, but Darla mocks his attempt to act like he’s human:

                        DARLA: You're living above ground, like one of them. You and your new friend are attacking us, like one of them. But guess what, precious? You're not one of them.
                        She draws the window blinds open. Angel stumbles backward to get out of the light.
                        DARLA: Are you?
                        ANGEL: No. But I'm not exactly one of you either.
                        DARLA: Is that what you tell yourself these days?
                        She opens the refrigerator and sees the bags and bottles of human blood.
                        DARLA: You're not exactly living off quiche. You and I both know what you hunger for - what you need. Hey, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's who we are. It's what makes eternal life worth living. You can only suppress your real nature for so long. You can feel it brewing inside of you. I hope I'm around when it explodes. – “Angel”

                        Angel isn’t the first vampire to keep his blood in a fridge.

                        In the early 1990s on the Canadian TV series Forever Knight, Detective Nick Knight of the Toronto Police kept blood in his fridge – cow’s blood. Nick was “brought across in 1228” and had given up human blood. His fridge contained cow’s blood stored in wine bottles. It was enough to fool his human cop partner Don Schanke, when he poked about Nick’s fridge. “Should we be talking about a drinking problem here?” (When in the 2nd season premiere Nick was falsely accused of a crime and the cops raided his fridge, he passed off the blood as “paint thickener – an old European technique”. The explanation sort of worked – Nick, like Angel, was an artist.

                        But although Nick has renounced his vampire heritage as much as he can, he’s tempted by blood and can drink his supply like a lush.


                        His friend in the know, Natalie (the city’s coroner calls him on his animalistic nature)

                        Forever Knight, however, works on the “Anne Rice routine” that Spike mocks in “School Hard”. There is no cosmology of a soul separating vampires and humans – it seems more a question of biology. And while Nick may distance himself more from vampire society than others, even the regular vampires are somewhat reformed. Nick’s semi-sire Janette (she seduced the human 13th century Nicholas and let him to their mutual sire -- kind as if Dru had led Spike to Angelus instead of biting him herself) runs a local goth club, and she takes her blood in wine glasses, mixed with a little wine.

                        Janette tempts Nick with a sip from her glass, but then mocks that he must be on duty. And he is. He’s investigating a string of murders that the press are blaming on vampires. Janette mocks the idea that vampire is behind it. “Nowadays nobody is that stupid.”

                        For Nick Knight, his actions are based in morality – being a vampire is wrong. For Janette and the others, their lifestyle changes are a matter of practicality. Acting like a old-time vampire is a good way to end up dead in the modern world.

                        And yet, we still see the animal lurking underneath these civilized vampires. Their feral nature is bubbling under the surface. Darla would mock them for their hypocrisy too.

                        Like Darla, Morphy mocks the pretense that Spike can behave like a man. Spike can barely contain himself from going into gameface before losing it and snapping at Buffy. With the added soul, it’s even more humiliating as his demon takes over and tears directly into the bag in a blood-fury like a dumb animal.

                        Buffy doesn’t seem to have much of a reaction. She’s neither intrigued by the blood drinking nor repelled. There’s no titillation as there would be for viewers of a horror film.

                        Buffy has become acclimated to it, adapting to the sight of vampires doing their blood thing with a corresponding decrease in sensitivity. Vampires drink blood, Spike is a vampire, so…no big deal. She’d already been through the whole bumpy look with Angel and got over it pretty quickly:

                        BUFFY: Hey! Don't be a baby. I'm not gonna hurt you.
                        ANGEL: It's not that. I...
                        BUFFY: What?
                        ANGEL: You shouldn't have to touch me when I'm like this.
                        She looks up into his vampire features.
                        BUFFY: Oh.
                        She removes her glove and reaches up to touch his brow and his wound, brushing gently across and down his cheek.
                        BUFFY: I didn't even notice.
                        She moves closer to kiss him. He responds, and they kiss gently. – What’s My Line, Part One

                        Buffy understands why a souled vampire might feel weird about indulging – but it’s not even the O Negative that represents human life, but cheap butcher stock that’s similar to what she eats every day on a Pepperoni Pizza. In her mind, Spike indulging in pig’s blood is the same thing as eating bacon. It’s weaning a drug addict off the good stuff by substituting the weak stuff. Feeding a non-human source to both Angel and Spike probably feels like a virtuous deed to her – like substituting a non-alcoholic beer for whisky to help an alcoholic friend.

                        But there’s a certain level of shame when the vampire is souled – the feeling that they’re not quite a demon and not quite a human. And when that vampire is souled and in love with a slayer, it makes them feel doubly-shamed to indulge in front of their beloved – especially when they are helpless and dependent. This can feel condescending even when the beloved in question is another vampire:

                        DRUSILLA: I brought something for you. Poor thing. She's an orphan. Her owner died without a fight. Do you like her? Hmm? I brought her especially for you to cheer you up. And I've named her Sunshine! Open wide.
                        Spike turns his face away from her.
                        DRUSILLA: Come on, love. You need to eat something to keep your strength up. Now, (waves the puppy around) rrrrr, open up for mummy.
                        SPIKE: I won't have you feeding me like a child, Dru.
                        ANGELUS: Why not? She already bathes you, carries you around and changes you like a child. – Passion
                        Spike isn’t really into being fed – for him, the hunt is everything. It’s humiliating enough that Spike is incapacitated in Becoming because Buffy pushed him under a pipe organ which allows Angelus to run off with Drusilla. But Spike really hits bottom when he’s chipped and finds himself utterly at the mercy of Buffy and her friends for food and shelter, once again unable to feed himself.

                        The ‘interrogation scene’ in “Something Blue” is an unsouled version of “Never Leave Me” as Buffy ties up Spike and feeds him blood in order to find out more about a possible enemy. But while souled Spike is humiliated by his inability to control his demon, tearing through the blood bag like an animal, unsouled Spike is mortified that he’s forced to eat like a human, delicately drinking pigs blood through a straw like a milkshake:

                        Giles enters, carrying a mug that reads "Kiss the Librarian" with a straw protruding from it. It contains blood.
                        SPIKE: It's about time. Hope you got it warm enough.
                        Buffy takes it, sighs, and makes a face as she puts it close enough to Spike that he can suck through the straw.
                        SPIKE: I don't know why you're so dainty all of a sudden. You've done this for Angel — you must have.
                        Buffy pulls the mug away, leaving Spike with the straw dangling from between his lips.
                        SPIKE: Hey! Give it!
                        BUFFY: Okay, that's it. The invalid amnesiac routine is over. The kitchen is closed until you can tell me something useful about the commandos.
                        SPIKE: I'm tryin' to remember. It was very traumatic.
                        BUFFY: How long are you going to pull this crap?
                        SPIKE: How long am I going to live once I tell you?
                        GILES: Look, look, Spike — we have no intention of killing a harmless creature, but we have to know what's been done to you. We can't let you go until we're sure that you're impotent —
                        SPIKE: Hey!
                        GILES: Sorry, poor choice of words. Until we're sure you're –
                        BUFFY: Flaccid?
                        SPIKE: You are one step away, missy.
                        BUFFY: Giles, help! He's going to scold me.

                        BUFFY: You know what? I don't think you want us to let you go. Maybe we made it a little too comfy in here for ya.
                        SPIKE: Comfy? I'm chained in a bathtub drinkin' pig's blood from a novelty mug. Doesn't rank huge in the Zagat's Guide.
                        BUFFY: You want something nicer? A look at my poor neck? All bare and tender and exposed, all that blood just pumping away –
                        GILES: Oh, please.
                        SPIKE: Giles, make her stop. – “Something Blue”

                        The same animal ferocity for blood makes Spike lunge forward in the bathtub, arms raised just as chair bound Spike tilts his head skyward and slightly raises himself in order to feed from the bag of pigs blood. It’s clear, even with a soul, that Angel and Spike aren’t suddenly going to thrive on pizza and peanut butter sandwiches. They’re still wedded to their essential physiological nature, which is to drink blood. Like mosquitos, ticks, bed bugs and leeches, they live a blood-feeding lifestyle in which finding FOOD is the primary drive. There are thousands of creatures from bookworms to bats who are called “obligate sanguivores” – these vampire wannabees who need blood to survive as opposed to creatures like mosquitos who supplement their blood drinking with nectar and fruit juice.

                        On Forever Knight, Natalie is always trying to ween Nick off blood and onto chemical concoctions or human food, but her efforts are doomed to failure. The most Nick can stomach are small bits of raw steak – his system just rejects blood substitutes. He doesn’t even derive pleasure from human food, unlike the “obligate sanguivores”.

                        Much like Spike and his blooming onion and buffalo wings, these creatures can ingest other food for pleasure, but they need blood to live as Buffy is reminded when she catches Angel hanging out at the hospital, fighting off vampire thieves and maybe hoping for a fix himself:

                        BUFFY: How did you know about this?
                        ANGEL: It's delivery day. Everybody knows about this. They only ruined one bag.
                        BUFFY: Do you think you could make sure the hospital gets the rest? – “The Dark Age”
                        Angel actually looks slightly crestfallen that he can’t sample the product unlike this vampire

                        Blood is vital to the existence of every vertebrate on earth, travelling through a complex system that spans the body. The tubes that contain blood can be opened and closed by other creatures who drink straight from the tap. Unlike the smaller parasites who only nibble and nosh enough to stay alive and making it possible to drink deeply from their victims for a long period of time, vampires are so large that they most likely need to drain their victims dry and move on quickly to another. It’s probably a pain in the ass that leads to crazy schemes like the Master’s invention in the Wishverse that mass produces blood expressos for everyone!

                        MASTER: Vampires, come! Behold the technical wonder, which is about to alter the very fabric of our society. Some have argued that such an advancement goes against our nature. They claim that death is our art. I say to them... Well, I don't say anything to them because I kill them. Undeniably we are the world's superior race. Yet we have always been too parochial, too bound by the mindless routine of the predator. Hunt and kill, hunt and kill. Titillating? Yes. Practical? Hardly. Meanwhile, the humans, with their plebeian minds, have brought us a truly demonic concept: mass production!
                        VAMPIRES: (cheer) Yeah! Yeah!
                        XANDER: We really are living in a golden age. – “The Wish”

                        The Master himself makes it clear that vampires are created to hunt and kill. So blaming Spike for ravenously tearing through the bag of pig’s blood is like blaming a human for having a digestive system. Vampire were designed through magic and their demon to be predatory monsters – the substitution of pig’s blood for human is an acceptable alternative in Buffy’s mind. She’s not mocking Spike’s need or trying to humiliate him for something he can’t help – she’s feeding him just like Willow fed Oz in “Wild at Heart” or Tara in “Tough Love”.

                        But sometimes, a vampire needs more than pig’s blood to sustain themselves. In Angel’s fourth season premiere “Deep Down”, Wesley sees the need for drastic measures to revive the starving Angel.

                        WES: He's been down there too long. Pig's blood isn't enough. He needs more substantial nourishment.

                        JUSTINE: Like what?

                        Justine, handcuffed to the wall, stares wide-eyed at the knife Wes pulls out.

                        JUSTINE: Oh, screw you. I'm not feeding that thing.

                        WES: Your blood's too thin.
                        -“Deep Down”
                        Of course, there was that one time when Buffy decided that maybe pig’s blood wasn’t enough. She made a different choice than Wesley did. When Angel needed slayer blood to survive, she sought out another donor.

                        FAITH: Is he dead yet?
                        BUFFY: He's not gonna die. It was a good try, though. Your plan?
                        FAITH: Uh-huh. The Mayor got me the poison. Said it was wicked painful.
                        BUFFY: There's a cure.
                        FAITH: Damn. What is it?
                        BUFFY: Your blood. As justice goes, it's not un-poetic, don't you think?
                        FAITH: Come to get me? You gonna feed me to Angel? You know you're not going to take me alive.
                        BUFFY: Not a problem. – “Graduation Day”
                        Buffy ended up feeding herself to Angel almost to the point of death – but only after Faith slipped out of her grasp. So Buffy has a literal idea of what it must feel like to want to murder someone for their blood and the thought must flit through her mind from time to time that she almost fed a human being to a vampire in her fury and fear, even though she had a soul.

                        Holding up the bag for a feral Spike isn’t even close to the worst thing that she’s had to do to keep a vampire healthy and sane enough to help her defeat the Big Bad.

                        As Buffy feeds Spike, Anya and Xander have a strategy session.

                        Xander and Anya enter the bathroom with their serious faces on. Once the door is shut, they break character and Anya breaks into a gleeful grin.

                        ANYA: Did you see that? I actually made him cry.

                        She could bring a man to tears without her old powers. Xander is equally delighted in her performance.

                        XANDER: You were perfect. I was worried I overdid it with the whole easy way/hard way thing.

                        But Anya reassures her fellow actor, and then goes on to wax poetic about her improv skills.

                        ANYA: No, you were great! And I wasn't sure if I should slap him, but then he made me want to slap him so I thought “Okay, slap him!”

                        Xander pulls out another cop lingo classic.

                        XANDER: He'll be singing in no time.
                        ANYA: So, what do we do now?

                        That’s really is the question, is it? Not about their tied-up, little hostage. But what do Anya and Xander do with each other?

                        For Anya, things spiralled out of control when Xander left her at the altar in “Hell’s Bells”. She was robbed of her happy ending. But for Xander, who grew up in a toxic household with alcoholic, arguing parents, marriage wasn’t a happy ending, but a very unhappy beginning.

                        In “Normal Again” when Xander tried to explain his feelings after leaving Anya at the altar, Buffy asks “You still want to date?”

                        In “Entropy” he expresses similar thoughts directly to Anya.

                        XANDER: All I want is for us to be together. I love you. I just wish we could go back to the way things were before.
                        Anya unsuccessfully tried to use her newly-restored demon powers to curse Xander. Now, here we are months later. Anya’s back to being a human. And their bonding over interrogating Andrew is almost date-like. They are bonding over their good-cop/bad-cop role-play. For Anya, it’s probably also satisfying the part of her that longs for her vengeance demon days. She’s making scumbag man squirm.

                        But they don’t address that broader question and just revel in the cop show cliches.

                        XANDER: Well, now we let him stew in his own juices for a bit, then we give him the hard brace.
                        ANYA: Right.
                        Buffy enters, and the script notes that Anya nods to her an “NYPD-Blue” manner. When asked how her “guy” is, Buffy doesn’t speak in cop movie talk. This isn’t a game to her. Spike isn’t talking now, but “We’ll get there.” Buffy she shows the emotional toll of her time with Spike, as she rubs the back of her neck.

                        The bathroom of the Summers’ home is, in cop parlance, the scene of the crime. Spike’s big crime – his attempted rape of Buffy. After seeing a feral Spike, Buffy has come to the place where she last saw soulless Spike. Maybe as she rubs her neck, she’s thinking of past times.

                        If so, Xander – who was there for the aftermath in “Seeing Red” – does not make the connection.

                        Buffy asks about Andrew, and Xander and Anya go back to their game.

                        ANYA: (tough) The weasel wants to sing. He just needs a tune.
                        XANDER: He's primed. I'll be pumping him in no time.

                        Xander has a look of pride when he comes up with his “primed” / “pumping” metaphor. It’s a bit of construction speak mixed in with cop speak. But the looks on Anya and Buffy’s faces suggest he’s gone into an odd area. Their cop talk was already skirting the sexual, but with Buffy there as a confused observer, it just kills the mood.

                        Of course, Buffy used this metaphor twice in the past with Spike, both times when she was questioning him. The first was in Giles’ bathtub where she intentionally conflates the pumping of blood with the pumping of bodies, arousing and tempting Spike with both food and sex.

                        BUFFY: You want something nicer? A look at my.. poor neck? All bare and tender and exposed.. all that blood just .. pumping away..
                        GILES: Oh, please.
                        SPIKE: Giles, make her stop. – “Something Blue”
                        The second time was far more personal as Buffy casually inserts the double entendre into her interrogation of Spike, playing on the sexual tension between them:

                        BUFFY: So any idea what's causing this?
                        SPIKE: Oh. So that's all. You've just come to pump me for information.
                        BUFFY: What else would I wanna pump you for? I really just said that, didn't I? – “Once More With Feeling”

                        Spike’s reaction is intense frustration and he makes it clear in his song lyric that he’s tired of Buffy toying with his feelings and using him.

                        SPIKE: Whisper in a dead man's ear,
                        It doesn't make it real.

                        The toxic relationship between Buffy and Spike ended in disaster – by an act so unforgivable that Spike could only make amends by regaining his soul so that he would never hurt Buffy again, so he could be a kind of man. But since his return, neither Buffy or Spike have really talked about what happened. By feeding Spike, Buffy has primed him to be pumped for information. But this time, for Buffy, the soul makes it real.

                        Last edited by PuckRobin; 02-10-20, 10:35 PM.


                        • debbicles
                          debbicles commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I thought it at the time and I still think it. Nice bathroom!

                      • Buffy The Vampire Slayer
                        Season 7 Rewatch
                        “Never Leave Me”
                        Part 4

                        We return to Holding Cell #1. You might know it by its more common purpose this season, Buffy’s bedroom. It was previously Joyce’s bedroom, and then Willow and Tara’s bedroom. It was the scene of one of the show’s worst crimes – the death of Tara. As it is the largest of the three bedrooms at 1630 Revello Drive, some might call it “the master bedroom”. But the bedroom’s current master is using it to securely hold a captive.

                        The scene begins with a film technique called “rack focus.” That’s where you pull or shift the camera’s focus from the foreground to the background or vice versa. It’s used to reveal information or build a connection between people or things.

                        In this case, we don’t begin on a person. We beginning on the knotted ropes binding Spike to the chair. We don’t see Spike’s face – even his hand is positioned to have less of a sense of humanity. What’s important is that a “monster” is bound securely – a situation that most viewers would correctly suspect was likely to change before the episode was over.

                        Spike’s bonds blur as the focus shifts to the background as Buffy – the current master of the Master Bedroom comes through the door. She is Spike’s jailer, but also his caregiver too. We’d previously seen her feeding the feral beast.

                        Buffy has a one-word question for her captive / patient.

                        BUFFY: Better?

                        And we see that gone is the fanged, feral and feeding beast we saw previously. Instead we see Spike in his human face, head bowed and in contemplation.

                        He glances briefly at Buffy and nods his head.

                        BUFFY: Good.

                        Buffy’s response is short – almost perfunctory. She could be saying she’s glad that Spike is not overwhelmed with hunger as he was when we last saw him. Or she could be describing his moral condition. He appears human and has a soul, and so perhaps he possesses goodness. However, unlike Andrew who previously insisted on his goodness, Spike wouldn’t make that claim.

                        All Spike has to do to remind himself of his own despicable past is to watch Buffy sit on her bed and remember how he used to make frequent pit stops into Buffy’s boudoir in Season Five, rifling through her underwear drawer and sniffing his way through the dirty clothes hamper in an obsessive desire to have at least some part of her for himself. (It was a different bedroom and a different Spike, but how much has changed?)

                        CLOSE ON BUFFY'S PINK SWEATER, hunched up and pressed into someone's face, obscuring it for a moment, the someone raises his head, drawing in the scent. It's SPIKE. He is standing in front of Buffy's dresser, its drawers all pulled out and tumbled. Eyes closed, he allows himself a soft, low...
                        SPIKE: Mmmm...
                        Now we see RILEY standing behind him in the doorway.
                        RILEY: What are you doing in here?
                        SPIKE: What, me? I was um…uh...
                        Stashing the sweater behind him, he looks at Riley, glaring at him. Tries the offensive…
                        SPIKE: What are you doing here?
                        Riley crosses to him, fists clenched.
                        RILEY: Looking for the girl who's gonna rip your arms off when she finds out you were in her bedroom. (Walks forward.)
                        SPIKE: Oh yeah? Well…me too.
                        RILEY: (bemused) Were you...were you just smelling her sweater?
                        SPIKE: (scoffing) No…
                        Riley looks at the sweater behind Spike's back. Spike realizes he's caught and brings the sweater out in the open. Tries a little bare-faced bravado:
                        SPIKE: Well, yeah, all right, I did. It's a predator thing, nothin' wrong with it. Just ... know your enemy's scent, whet the appetite for a hunt.
                        He smells the sweater again in a more aggressive feral way than before, GROWLING as he does.
                        SPIKE: Ah, that's the stuff! Slayer musk, it's bitter and aggravating!
                        ON RILEY, his eyes narrow. He's seen and heard enough.
                        RILEY: Out.
                        He grabs Spike by the collar and hauls him out of the room. As Spike is pulled past, he grabs something very small and lacy from Buffy's top dresser drawer and stuffs it into his pocket.
                        As Riley hustles Spike out, Spike grabs a piece of lacy pink underwear from a drawer. – “Shadow”

                        Later, Spike ventures further into stalker territory, by pulling an Angelus in “Into the Woods,” standing directly in front of her bed as Buffy sleeps – all under the helpful pretext of warning her about Riley’s vampwhore adventures:

                        BUFFY: (sleepy) Riley?
                        We see Spike standing by the door.
                        SPIKE: It's me.
                        Buffy wakes up fully, sits up holding the sheet to her chest.
                        BUFFY: Every time you show up like this, you risk all of your parts, you know that?
                        SPIKE: I wouldn't be here if I didn't have a good reason. As usual, I'm here to help you, and I – are you naked under there?
                        BUFFY: Get out.
                        SPIKE: No, I'm serious. I mean, not about the naked part, I mean...
                        BUFFY: Get out or I will drop you out head-first.
                        SPIKE: I wanna show you something.
                        BUFFY: What?
                        SPIKE: You need to see this. But we need to move if we wanna get there in time.
                        Buffy raises her eyebrows to indicate that she can't get dressed with Spike watching. He scoffs.
                        SPIKE: Oh, please! Like I give a bloody damn.
                        He turns his back, and then makes an agonized face, forcing himself not to look as Buffy reaches for her clothing. – Into the Woods
                        Spike is banished from Buffy’s house soon after that, so there isn’t much opportunity to prowl around her daily laundry. One assumes that Spike visited her bedroom after her death during that summer and it’s even possible that Buffy and Spike had a few sexual escapades in her house in season six, but we never actually see them together in her bedroom except in Buffy’s dream sequence from “Dead Things” in which Spike is making love to Buffy in her bed like a normal man instead of where we find them on a consistent basis – his vampire crypt.

                        But this is definitely the first time Spike is back in Buffy’s bedroom since getting his soul and he and Buffy are distinctly uncomfortable as she sits on her bed, hands folded in front of her. There’ll be no erotic Xander-inspired pumping of information here. The script says Spike looks exhausted, beaten but coherent. And he looks beaten. He can’t even look Buffy in the face when she walks up to him because he’s so ashamed. When Spike was soulless, he had moments when he felt suicidal like “Lovers Walk,” when Drusilla left him or “Doomed,” when the chip took away the ability to hunt and kill. But it was nothing compared to this because it’s not about him anymore. It’s about Buffy and what he’s put her through and even more importantly, it’s about the people he’s killed even when souled.

                        Buffy calmly sits on the bed as Spike continues to look away, her face a careful blank. She keeps her distance from him, not closing the gap between them as the camera films Spike from the side with Buffy above him.

                        She’s in the position of power, but her voice is soft and comforting and her face is empathetic. She needs to find out why Spike did this, who might be guiding him and what the danger is that’s facing them all. But at the same time, she’s fearful to bring up anything that might trigger a rehash of their season six relationship. It’s all still too fresh and Buffy has always been the kind of person to sweep something emotionally traumatizing under the rug rather than deal with it. And Spike may be feeling the same way. The script says that Spike finds it hard to talk and it’s not hard to imagine why.

                        Up to this point, Spike has been more secretive about his soul than he’s let on. The madness, the voices talking to him, the lost time, the strange feelings of not knowing where he was were all chalked up to the return of his soul. Despite his confession in the church at the end of Beneath You, he and Buffy have avoided talking about what happened last year and who, what, when, where and how he got his soul. But now that Spike has broken down completely at the end of “Sleeper,” crying and openly begging for help, offering himself for Buffy to stake, he doesn’t see the need to hold back any longer. He’s going to tell Buffy the truth as he sees it – the truth about everything – and if it sends him off to the dustbin, then so be it. He doesn’t deserve much more.

                        This is the first of two scenes between Buffy and Spike in “Never Leave Me” that examines Spike’s moral complicity in his near century of soulless monster mayhem. Buffy doesn’t know it, but this issue haunts Spike’s guilty soul so much that it allows Morphy to control him. Not only what he did to countless thousands of people in the past hundred years, but also because of what happened between newly-sired William Pratt and his mother.

                        To Spike, his century-plus binge fest of McPlasma Happy-Meals-On-Legs prove one thing and one thing only. He is a monster. Buffy is only interested in Spike’s memory of his latest victims since returning from Africa, but Spike recalls everything that he did before he regained his soul. All of his past haunts him, both the memories of what he can remember and the fears of what he can’t remember at all. He feels guilty for all of it, even what he can’t remember. It’s all so overwhelming that Spike’s first statement is simply a statement of fact.

                        SPIKE: I don't remember anything.

                        Buffy assumes Spike means his shift into feral demon in the previous scene and takes his statement as an apology for snapping at her.

                        BUFFY: Well, you were having pretty bad withdrawal…

                        Spike quickly interrupts her.

                        SPIKE: No, not that. I don't remember...what I did.

                        “What I did” – Spike may not remember his killing spree, but he’s not denying it happened. He might not want to name the deed, but he’s not denying it. He takes full responsibility. For everything. And he doesn’t just mean the past few months.

                        Buffy leans forward a bit. The interrogation has begun by Spike spilling everything he knows – which isn’t much. Or at least not much that’s relevant to her investigation.

                        BUFFY: Nothing?

                        SPIKE: It's all flashes here and there. It's like I'm watching someone it. Kill people.
                        Is this how Spike feels looking back at the deeds of his soulless self?

                        In fact, what Spike is describing sounds like the psychological state Stoney talked about in her brilliant season six rewatch review of “After Life,” a state that Buffy knew well after digging out of her own grave. Depersonalization Disorder (DPD), is a very serious mental health state that involves a certain level of disassociation from oneself because of severe trauma. Sometimes it gives you a sense of watching yourself, or acting like a robot while going through the motions. In the magic-filled Buffyverse with its possessions and body-swaps, it is a bit more literal than in our world. In fact, you could say soulless vampires are the ultimate expression of feeling like a robot. Or it would be if the original soul was present and conscious of what was happening.

                        Does a souled vampire have this same sense of disassociation from their soulless self? When Angel was first souled, he seemed to have trouble breaking away from his former soulless self and rejoined the Whirlwind like Buffy kept up her patrols, ‘going through the motions’ like a robot Angelus – until Darla finds him out:

                        DARLA: Where have you been?
                        ANGEL: Darla.
                        DARLA: Answer me!
                        ANGEL: Just out. Why?
                        DARLA: Feeding?
                        ANGEL: Yeah.
                        DARLA: On vermin?
                        ANGEL: No.
                        DARLA: Don't lie to me.
                        ANGEL: Look I've killed men. You've seen it!
                        DARLA: Rapists and murderers, thieves and scoundrels. Did you think I wouldn't notice? Only evildoers, that's all you hunt now. You swore to me. You said if I took you back, you'd prove yourself.
                        ANGEL: And I will.
                        DARLA: Good. Now is your chance.
                        Darla pulls off the blanket, revealing the missionary couple’s baby.
                        DARLA: I went back before dawn. They were still cowering there. Praying to their god for a salvation. They didn't know that their only savior was at the waterfront, dining on rats. I won't be made a fool, Angelus. Not by you. Not by anyone.
                        ANGEL: I didn't mean...
                        DARLA: While Spike…Spike!...was out killing a Slayer, you were saving missionaries from me!
                        ANGEL: I'm sorry...
                        DARLA: No. No more words. Act! – Darla)

                        When Darla demands that souled Angel kill the baby, he rescues it and abandons the only family his soulless self had.

                        Spike, on the other hand, returned to Sunnydale to be with his human family of the past three years and is determined not to harm the girl or anyone else by going through the motions of white hat Scooby, knowing that he now has a choice thanks to his new soul. And now it’s all been blown to hell. Spike must feel that even the soul wasn’t enough. Nothing good will ever come from William Pratt aka William the Bloody aka Spike except his own dusting because he’s a monster and always will be one. And of all people, Buffy should know that best.

                        Of course, the reason that Spike feels this so strongly is because of his new soul. So instead of using some euphemism or some excuse for what happened, Spike now has the courage to state his perceived crime openly. He’s a monster whose only purpose is to “kill people.” He sheepishly tries to explain what happened to him before and after the crimes were committed, knowing that it can’t bring a single person back. Spike shakes his head despairingly.

                        SPIKE: (beat) I've been losing time for a while now, waking up in strange places…

                        Losing time is another symptom of Dissociative Identity Disorder – or as Tiny Tabby mentioned in her wonderful review of Sleeper, Multiple Personality Disorder. Some feel that the multiple personalities are induced by the psychiatrists themselves. The initial public perception of this condition would come in horror tales – such a Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the 1980s and 1990s comics written by Peter David, the Incredible Hulk was said to suffer from this condition. So, perhaps this is something one would come to expect of monsters.

                        But Buffy was in that basement in “Sleeper.” She felt something else was there. Not the disordered mind of soulful Spike the killer split into two parts like a cartoon version of souled Angel and soulless Angelus, but a presence that was far more disturbing and dangerous. A Big Bad that attacked Dawn, terrorized Willow and guided Spike’s murders. So despite her misgivings, Buffy continues to ask probing questions without the sort of detective role-play that Xander and Anya indulge in – a role-play that distances themselves from the suspect. No, Buffy has to ask a question that brings back all the badness of last year and beyond.

                        BUFFY: When did your chip stop working?

                        Spike’s chip is both the bane of his existence and the only reason for his existence for the past four years living with the Scooby Gang. It’s a restraining bolt that not only prevented Spike from harming another human being, but also prevented Buffy from throwing Spike in the dustbin. Asking Spike this question puts him in a precarious position because Buffy could finally be justified in dusting him – especially if he’d lied about getting it out all this time.

                        Yes, Buffy did see Spike scream in “Beneath You” when he attacked Ronny in the guise of a monster. But he also screamed to fool her when she struck him in front of the Natural History Museum in “Smashed.” So it’s possible that he got the chip out at the same time that he also had his soul returned. True, Spike’s pain in “Beneath You” looks far more genuine than his “oh the pain, the pain” performances in “Smashed”, but it’s possible that the soul gave him insight into humanity and made him a better actor – a sparkling metaphysical Julliard education.

                        The question of the chip also brings up their disastrous relationship of last year. Buffy initiated a relationship with Spike knowing that he was able to hurt her. In fact, it only began once he confronted her with the knowledge. And it ended the moment Spike took advantage of his loosened restraining bolt to try and rape her.

                        So it’s a very touchy subject and Buffy asks it in a matter of fact “I am the Slayer and I have to ask these questions” way without any trace of emotion even as her hands continue to clutch at the coverlet she’s sitting on. Spike looks at Buffy straight-on, looks away for a moment and then looks back at her without breaking focus.

                        SPIKE: I wasn't aware that it had, you know. Not 'til now.

                        In “Out of my Mind” and “Smashed”, Spike took great delight in the thought that his chip – the thing that had kept him in check for seasons – was gone or stopped working. He relished the thought of being able to hunt and kill without the searing pain. But now, he tosses off that revelation matter-of-factly as Buffy had asked the question. In fact, he seems almost regretful that it still doesn’t work because people have died. All of which makes Buffy realize that it’s likely he honestly didn’t know.

                        Spike looks away from Buffy, dropping his gaze, as she continues to prod deeper. There’s no more pretense that Spike is too crazy to question or too damaged to push. Buffy has to know the truth.

                        BUFFY: And the losing time? How long has that been going on?

                        Spike takes a deep unneeded breath before trying to explain why he never told her.

                        SPIKE: Things have been wonky for me since I got back.

                        Is Spike ashamed on some level that he was so afraid to tell Buffy about the soul or discuss what happened that he never told her about all the time lapses and other bizarre psychological states that he’d been suffering? If he had been braver or a little faster in telling her the truth, could he have saved all those people? Does the thought haunt him like Buffy’s death on the tower? And if Buffy hadn’t stopped him, he might still be killing people right now.

                        Getting his soul back didn’t prevent Spike from murdering people. If anything it seems like the soul helped him murder them because he chalked up anything abnormal to having a soul. Another example of how the soul meant nothing because Spike is such a monster. He hesitates even mentioning it to Buffy because it sounds pathetic – like a bad excuse – but Spike’s determination to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth motivates him to bring it up.

                        Morphy in the form of Dru had said it to him back in “Lessons”

                        DRUSILLA: You'll always be in the dark with me,
                        Spike tries to go on speaking to Buffy about what’s changed.

                        SPIKE: Ever since…

                        He can’t finish the sentence, but Buffy finishes it for him.

                        BUFFY: You got your soul.

                        Spike’s reluctance to talk about his newly acquired soul, his grand quest to give Buffy “what she deserves” is in line with his thoughts that it seems to have ended in failure. Spike-with-a-soul seems like a greater monster than Spike-without-a-soul-but-with-a-chip ever was. He’s also acutely aware of how the idea of the soul is so closely connected to how Buffy feels about her relationship with Angel. If Spike left Sunnydale with the idea that Buffy would love him because of the soul, the soul has now left him with the knowledge of how pathetic that dream was.

                        Morphy told him that too in “Lessons”.

                        THE MASTER: The next few months are going to be quite a ride, and I think we're all gonna learn something about ourselves in the process. You'll learn you're a pathetic shmuck, if it hasn't sunk in already.
                        Spike tries to make light of his soul to Buffy, cracking a joke as if the soul was just a new bicycle that he was trying out after years of driving. Except you’re never supposed to forget how to ride a bike.

                        SPIKE: Figured that's what it was like. It'd been so long since I had one.

                        It’s sad to think that Spike had forgotten what human existence was like. But then he only spent between 25-30 years as a human, and over 120 years as a soulless vampire. His past humanity would be a distant memory, and one filtered through his much longer experiences as a murderous demon.

                        Of course, it does appear that vampires with a conscience do have the ability to slip into flashbacks quite as bit, as both Angel and Nick Knight seem to find relevance to their current situation by flashing back to some experience from their long life or unlife. But Angel himself makes it clear that he can barely remember being human despite his soul:

                        ANGEL: You ever miss it? You were turned, what, five years ago?
                        HARMONY: Oh, that. Yeah. Graduation night. I don't know. It's weird. Part of me always knew life would end after high school. I was very popular, you know. The whole "golden years" thing.
                        ANGEL: I don't remember what it was like. Being human. It was too long ago.
                        HARMONY: Not so great. Zits. Dandruff. Mortality. Although I do heart. And the way it would thump when I kissed a really hot boy for the first time. – Not Fade Away
                        It’s possible that Spike wasn’t thinking of being human, though, but thought it was a side-effect of placing a human soul inside a vampire body, fated to wrestle with the inner demon.

                        Buffy pauses at Spike’s joke. It’s not that funny, but it serves to relieve the tension. It also opens the door to the one question that Buffy hasn’t yet asked Spike. One that has nothing to do with the investigation and everything to do with what happened last year.

                        In “Beneath You,” Buffy had already asked Spike the crucial question of why he went to seek out his soul.

                        BUFFY: Why? Why would you do that—?
                        SPIKE: Buffy, shame on you. Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her. To be hers. To be the kind of man who would never…to be a kind of man. She shall look on him with forgiveness and everybody will forgive and love. He will be loved. So everything's okay, right?
                        This is repeated by Spike in “Sleeper” when he tells Buffy that he got the soul for her – because he still loves her.

                        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. This chip—they did to me. I couldn't help it. But the soul, I got on my own—for you.
                        BUFFY: I know –
                        SPIKE: So, yeah. I go and pass the time... with someone. But that's all it is is time, 'cause—God, help me, Buffy—it's still all about you – Sleeper
                        But except for a vague reference by Spike – how he went “to the end of the underworld and back to get my soul” in “Sleeper,” – the whole soul-getting thing is a mystery that intrigues Buffy as much as finding out who the new Big Bad is in town. So Buffy shifts gears from interrogating Spike about the murders to something much more personal.

                        BUFFY: How did you do it? How did you get your soul back?

                        It’s an uncomfortable question that threatens to open up a whole Pandora’s box filled with ghosts of the past. Spike looks directly at Buffy as if to answer her and then turns and shrugs, sounding a bit like the old soulless Spike mocking the pretensions of others – but this time directed at himself and his soul quest as he smirks at Buffy.

                        SPIKE: “Saw a man about a girl.”

                        Spike is riffing on a 19th and 20th century idiom “see a man about a dog” or “see a man about a horse” to avoid explaining why one is leaving. During Prohibition, apparently it was a common phrase used when one went to get an illegal drink. By adding “girl” to the phrase, Spike is pointing to Buffy as the reason he went to get a soul.

                        It’s a deflection and Buffy knows it even as he turns to look her in straight in the eyes. Buffy’s gaze shifts uncomfortably – the script describes her reaction as “Buffy bristles ever so slightly at this. Spike pretends he doesn’t notice.” Is Buffy bristling at Spike gently mocking the idea of getting his soul or is it because she fears he’s once again reminding her of why he went on his soul quest in a vain attempt to get back together? Or is there another reason?

                        There is something pitiful about Spike continuously pointing to Buffy as the reason he sought out his soul. Not because he loves her or hopes they can be together or even because he wants to atone for what he did in “Seeing Red,” but because it takes away his own agency and places it firmly in Buffy’s hands. It’s as if Spike is so self-loathing that he can’t conceive of what an incredible thing he’s done – the very thing he fought for makes him feel like he doesn’t deserve it. And so he gives all the credit to Buffy. Does Buffy resent this? Does it make her feel uncomfortable that he’s laying all the responsibility of the decision – and its good and bad consequences – on her?

                        Or is it possible that there’s even a little bit of frustration that Spike did something that Angel wasn’t able to do even though he loved her as well? Like Darla who fumed over Spike killing a slayer instead of Angel, there must be a tiny part of Buffy that feels if Spike could do it, then why couldn’t Angel?

                        Of course, it wasn’t even a man that Spike sought out. But there’s not much that Buffy can discern from the cryptic comments that follow. It’s not that Spike doesn’t tell her the truth, but he’s not as forthcoming as she’d like.

                        SPIKE: I went to seek a legend out. Traveled to the other side of the world. Made a deal with a demon.

                        This description doesn’t explain very much. When did Spike hear of this ‘legend’ and how did he know where to go to find him? Who is he and how does he have such extensive power? We get the impression that this demon legend is connected to Vengeance Demons from D’Hoffryn’s statement in “Selfless”:

                        D'HOFFRYN: I figured I'd be hearing from you soon. The flaying of Warren Meers? Oh, truly inspired. That was water cooler vengeance. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall. – Selfless

                        As American Aurora pointed out in her season six rewatch review of “Seeing Red”, the wall of the demon cave Spike visits in Africa in “Villains” has a drawing of Willow skinning Warren. So “Lloyd the Demon Legend” may very well be a kind of Vengeance Demon – maybe for soulless vampires? One who has the same power to alter time and space as Anyanka in “The Wish” but demands the same kind of trials as the Valet in “The Trial.”

                        Spike didn’t necessarily need to go halfway around the world to get his soul from a legend. He could have gone to Willow and Tara, and ask them to use the spell that restored Angel’s soul. But there would be little agency for him. He would be going from a chip to a curse that was still controlled by someone else.

                        I have to wonder if part of Spike’s original motivation was to have an epic tale to tell Buffy – that he travelled the world, fought all manner of nasties – all for love of her. This is very much like the Spike we first met back in “School Hard” where he was gleeful to talk about his epic battles against slayers.

                        SPIKE: Yeah, I did a couple Slayers in my time. I don't like to brag. (can't keep a straight face) Who am I kidding? I *love* to brag! There was this one Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion, and… – School Hard

                        But now that he’s achieved his goal, Spike’s very guarded about the whole thing because his epic tale of himself as hero has been shattered by what he learns about himself thanks to the soul. So he makes it sound ridiculously easy because Spike’s self-image of himself as a monster despite the soul makes him trivialize the attempt to win it, creating the impression that it was no big deal. Nothing that Buffy should admire, anyway.

                        Buffy seems a little annoyed at his flippant way of telling the story, shaking her head as if to say, “That’s it?” Spike makes it sound like something so momentous as getting a soul was just another shady deal with a demon, like hiring the Order of Takara or his stupid Suvolte eggs in the basement scheme. In her mind, Spike’s still hiding something.

                        BUFFY: Just like that?

                        There’s a little bit of the old toxic fireworks between them as Spike reacts to her sarcasm with an irritated scowl and a firm denial. It seems that Pandora’s Box is ready to explode.

                        SPIKE: No. Not just like that. There was a price. There were trials.

                        Spike looks away from Buffy for a moment, trying to recount what happened in the moments before he won his soul. But instead of specifics, Spike gives vague impressions of how harrowing and difficult the trials were. Instead of fighting, we hear about pain. Instead of bugs, we hear about torture. Why does Spike go into such generalities when Buffy is obviously asking for specifics?

                        Perhaps it was too private an experience for Spike to tell it to Buffy. We only saw a small portion of the trials and it’s possible that they had something to do with a human or demon past that Spike doesn’t want Buffy to know about. But from Spike’s next statement, it’s obvious that the memories of the trials are generalities because they aren’t really about the trials at all.

                        SPIKE: Torture. Pain. Suffering. Of sorts.

                        Spike’s use of the term ‘of sorts’ implies an inferior, lesser version of the original. Meaning the torture, pain and suffering of the trials were nothing compared to something else, provoking a response from a puzzled Buffy.

                        BUFFY: Of sorts?

                        Spike looks up at Buffy, shrugging.

                        SPIKE: Well, s’all relative, innit?

                        Buffy senses where Spike is going and her voice becomes steely as she braces for impact.

                        BUFFY: Meaning?

                        Spike hesitates, then decides to say it.

                        SPIKE: Meaning I have come to redefine the words ‘pain’ and ‘suffering’ since I fell in love with you.

                        The script says “Buffy’s taken aback by his abruptness” and I think that’s an understatement when looking at Buffy’s expression. Her jaw practically falls to the floor in surprise and anger as she makes an exasperated sound and spits out her indignant response.

                        BUFFY: How can you say that?

                        How can Spike say that? Especially after all that he’s put Buffy through since his first arrival in Sunnydale? Despite their constant fighting, Spike’s romantic obsession with Buffy continued through four years of stalking and a toxic sexual relationship despite her attempts to turn him away. He tried to make her feel guilty for not loving him. He bragged of murdering past Slayers. He accused her of denying her feelings for him. He manipulated her when she returned from the grave in a traumatized state. He tried to rape her when she rejected him.

                        Yet, it sounds like Spike is blaming Buffy – or at least his love for Buffy – for all the pain and suffering he experienced throughout their relationship. Spike is seemingly making an inside joke to himself comparing the pain and suffering of the trials to his life as a soulless vampire in love with Buffy and finding them wanting.

                        Spike is also aware of how awful it sounds at first hearing and looks away from Buffy, his voice almost breaking down as he reminds her of his culpability as a monster.

                        SPIKE: Apparently, I’ve just slaughtered half of Sunnydale, pet. Not really worried about being polite anymore.

                        Buffy rolls her eyes as she angrily stands up from the bed, crossing her arms in front of her in an act of defensiveness.

                        BUFFY: So, that's what this is about. You feeling sorry for yourself, Spike?

                        So far, so bad. It looks like the old Buffy/Spike relationship is back once again with Spike acting as selfish as ever despite his soul. Opening the box and letting the ghosts of the past haunt the two of them has simply set them back to square one with both defensive and on the attack. Especially when Spike lifts his head to look her straight in the eyes and holds her gaze.

                        SPIKE: I'm feeling honest with myself. You used me.

                        Buffy is thrown off balance by Spike’s blunt statement. It’s not manipulative or hurtful – it’s just a statement of fact. One that Buffy herself said several times in season six.

                        BUFFY: He's everything I hate. He's everything that I'm supposed to be against. But the only time that I ever feel anything is when…don't tell anyone, please.
                        TARA: I won't.
                        BUFFY: The way they would look at me. I just couldn't...
                        TARA: I won't tell anyone. I wouldn't do that.
                        BUFFY: Why can't I stop? Why do I keep letting him in?
                        TARA: Do you love him? It's okay if you do. He's done a lot of good and he does love you. And Buffy, it's okay if you don't. You're going through a really hard time and you're...
                        BUFFY: What? Using him? What's okay about that?
                        TARA: It's not that simple.
                        BUFFY: It is! It's wrong. I'm wrong. Tell me that I'm wrong, please. Please don't forgive me, please. Please don't. – Dead Things

                        The script says that Buffy bristles, but doesn’t back away as she responds to Spike, as honest with him as he is with her.

                        BUFFY: Yes.

                        But instead of following up on her admission with an attack, Spike admits that Buffy never tried to tell him anything different. Buffy was honest with him even though Spike was unable to understand her in his soulless state. But now he sees everything differently though the nature of the soul.

                        SPIKE: You told me that, of course. Never understood it though. Not ‘til now.

                        Of course, the time that Spike is referencing is Buffy’s final breakup with Spike in “As You Were” – a moment that was incredibly empowering for her and painful for him.

                        SPIKE: So, you come for a bit of cold comfort? The bed's a bit blown up, but then, that was never our-
                        BUFFY: I'm not here to…and I'm not here to bust your chops about your stupid scheme, either. That's just you. I should have remembered.
                        SPIKE: So this is worse then, is it, this is you telling me-
                        BUFFY: It's over.
                        SPIKE: I've memorized this tune, luv. Think I have the sheet music. Doesn't change what you want.
                        BUFFY: I know that. I do want you. Being with you makes things simpler. For a little while.
                        SPIKE: I don't call five hours straight a little while.
                        BUFFY: I'm using you. I can't love you. I'm just being weak and selfish.
                        SPIKE: Really not complaining here.
                        BUFFY: And it's killing me. I have to be strong about this. I'm sorry, William. – As You Were
                        Although she did say the word “using” perhaps Spike is also thinking about what Buffy told him after their first night of Spuffy Sex in “Wrecked”.

                        SPIKE: I'm just saying, vampires get you hot-

                        BUFFY: No. A vampire got me hot. One. But he's gone. You're just convenient.
                        As Spike continues to speak, Buffy slowly realizes that Spike isn’t blaming her for the ‘pain’ and ‘suffering’ that he spoke of – he’s blaming himself. His love for Buffy caused him to fight for his soul – but it’s the soul he got for her that is now causing all the pain as he starts to comprehend Buffy’s self-loathing in season six and why she treated him so badly.

                        SPIKE: You hated yourself and you took it out on me.

                        Just as with his recent murders, Spike sees the relationship between Buffy and himself from a distance – thanks to the soul, he now realizes the kind of pain Buffy was in and how terrible it was that he tried to drag her into the darkness with him.

                        At the time Spike thought Buffy’s resurrection had made Buffy a creature of darkness like him. But what he hadn’t realized back then is that her darkness wasn’t demonic – it was human. A thoroughly human depression that soulless vampires just aren’t capable of feeling or even understanding (well, unless you’ve taken a lot of psychology courses like Holden Webster did).

                        Spike now sees Buffy’s self-hatred and fear that she came back wrong – something he encouraged to keep her away from her friends. He knows why Buffy refused to acknowledge his feelings and beat him in an alleyway – because she was afraid that she was the evil, disgusting thing that she saw mirrored in a murderous, soulless vampire.

                        Buffy is no longer offended by Spike’s words. She’s realizing that Spike isn’t trying to hurt her, but grappling with the new revelations that come with his new soul. The very fact that Spike is saying these things – that he’s admitting she used him but understands why – shows that he’s come back different than before. In “As You Were”, soulless Spike frowned in confusion when Buffy told him how it was killing her to be in a relationship with someone she couldn’t love. But souled Spike gets it. Or at least, he’s starting to get it.

                        BUFFY: You figure that out just now?

                        Spike looks at her with an embarrassed shrug and then looks away.

                        SPIKE: Soul's not all about moonbeams and pennywhistles, luv.

                        Spike’s phrase ‘moonbeams and pennywhistles’ sounds like an idiom that describes a fanciful view of life that is sorely lacking in reality.

                        Moonbeams are what they seem to be – a shaft of light from the moon during one of its phases. Their light is diffuse and cold as opposed to the strong, visible, intense rays of light that come from the sun. Traditionally, moonbeams represent the middle ground between day and night, darkness and light.

                        A pennywhistle is another word for a tin whistle – a very simple flute-like instrument that’s cheap to manufacture and easy to play because it has six open holes on top with a simple mouthpiece to blow in air like a jug. The sound is small and tinny compared to the traverse flute used in European, Asian and African cultures, in which air is blown across the top of a shaped mouthpiece to move down the body of the instrument to create sound through vibration or the Aboriginal cultures, which use bees wax and irregular shapes to create a unique sense of vibration.

                        Spike’s phrase makes sense considering that both moonbeams and pennywhistles are diminished versions of the real thing. The warmth and splendour of sunlight and great beauty and resonance of real flute music correspond to romantic ideas of the soul as something that emanates from the body, beautiful and spiritual. Those ideals collapse in the harsh light of day, exposed as the Wizard behind curtain, as the shallow whisps of moonbeams and tinny toots of pennywhistles. In Spike’s mind, his soul only deepens his self-loathing by opening his eyes to reality.

                        The actual phrase ‘moonbeams and pennywhistles’ doesn’t seem to have an origin in any poem, nursery rhyme or lyrics that I could find. There is only one reference I could find and it’s regarding Victorian children’s literature – a mention of the moonbeams-and-pennywhistle aspects of fantastical tales of the time. So I’m assuming that it’s a Victorian phrase that evokes childhood flights of fancy for William Pratt, a namby-pamby view of the soul as a precious and wonderful thing – a far cry from the darkness and self-loathing that emanates from his actual soul.

                        SPIKE: It's about self-loathing. I get it. Had to travel around the world, but I understand you now. I understand the violence inside.

                        What does Spike mean by ‘the violence inside’? To Buffy, it sounds like Spike is starting to launch into one of his “Love’s Bitch” speeches where he plays the truth-teller who psycho-analyzes everyone around him and supposedly tells it like it is. It’s another form of deflection – something Spike is very good at – in order to cover up his own feelings and point the finger at other people.

                        It’s possible Spike is so overwhelmed by guilt because of his soul and so full of self-loathing that he’s displacing his own feelings of inner violence onto Buffy. It sounds like he’s accusing Buffy of being a violent creature like himself and Buffy takes him at face value, mocking his supposed insight into her nature when he’s committed violence upon thousands over a century of terror.

                        BUFFY: Violence. William the Bloody now has insight into violence?

                        Buffy mocks Spike’s moniker – which is funny considering it originally came from his bad poetry. But I think that despite Spike’s presumption that he can always read the room, Buffy’s misreading Spike’s intent here. His insight has more to do with Spike’s former belief that Buffy was violent because she was a Slayer – a supernatural being like himself who thrived on violence. Faith certainly seemed to think so.

                        FAITH: You're actually gonna take orders from him?
                        BUFFY: That's the job. What else can we do?
                        FAITH Whatever we want. We're Slayers, girlfriend, the Chosen Two. Why should we let him take all the fun out of it?
                        BUFFY: Oh, that would be tragic, taking the fun out of slaying, stabbing, beheading.
                        FAITH: Oh, like you don't dig it.
                        BUFFY: I don't.
                        FAITH: You're a liar. I've *seen* you. Tell me staking a vamp doesn't get you a little bit juiced. Come on, say it.
                        She stops and folds her arms, waiting for Buffy's answer. Buffy can't help but smile, and looks down to hide it.
                        FAITH: You can't fool me. The look in your eyes right after a kill? You just get hungry for more.
                        BUFFY: You're way off base.
                        FAITH: Tell me that if you don't get in a good slaying, after a while, you just start itching for some vamp to show up so you can give him a good (grunts and punches)!
                        BUFFY: Again with the grunting. You realize I'm not comfortable with this.
                        FAITH: Hey, slaying's what we were built for. If you're not enjoying it, you're doing something wrong. – Bad Girls
                        But with the return of his soul, Spike can see a very different kind of violence here than the fists and fangs of William the Bloody.

                        SPIKE: Not the same.

                        Buffy in many ways saw herself as a monster in season six, almost willfully wanting to believe that she came back wrong and punishing herself because she was having a relationship with Spike. Allowing Spike to take her over – despite the failure of the chip to stop him from doing anything he wanted – was suicidal in nature. That kind of inner violence – that inner self-harm – is far more psychologically damaging as the strongest punch and the most vicious battle and Spike views Buffy’s inner turmoil very differently from the inner violence of his old soulless self.

                        SPIKE: As bad as I was, as evil and as wretched as I was, I never truly hated myself back then.

                        Now that Spike has a soul, he understands how much he acted like a monster in their relationship and how much Buffy suffered. And that in turn, has caused him to feel the true pain and suffering that he speaks of. In comparison to the torment of knowing what he has done to Buffy and countless others, the torture of the trials is nothing at all.

                        SPIKE: Not like I do now.

                        And now that he’s killed again, Spike’s soulful view of himself as a monster spurs on that inner violence every bit as much as his demon. So much so that Buffy will have a tough time in the next scene convincing him that he’s more than just a monster. And the soul proves it.

                        Buffy reflects on what Spike has told her.

                        Meanwhile, back in Holding Cell #2 (Dawn’s room), Xander enters alone carrying a glass of water. He politely chats with Andrew while untying his bonds.

                        XANDER: Sorry about that. She shouldn't have hit you.
                        Xander is in full good cop mode. He offers Andrew the glass of whater.

                        The gambit is working. Andrew takes the water and confides in Xander.

                        ANDREW: That chick's psycho,
                        XANDER: You don't know the half of it. She's a Vengeance Demon, you know. She's bad news.

                        There is a certain taint of misogyny in some aspects of geek culture – a twisted version of the “No Girls Allowed” idea to children’s club houses. The Trio was run by arch-misogynist Warren. So, it figures that Andrew’s bond with Xander would be over how Anya sucks.

                        And then Andrew decides to share what he knows about Anya.

                        ANDREW: This one time I saw her having sex with Spike.

                        The Trio had bugged the Magic Box. Willow hacked into their cameras just as Anya and Spike found solace in each other. The Trio were also watching the cameras.

                        Xander is supposed to be playing the good cop here, but when he’d first seen Anya and Spike’s tryst, he was the bad cop – a murderous cop. He tried to murder Spike and hurled hurtful accusations against both Anya and Buffy. It was one of the worst things that Xander had ever done.

                        Not that Andrew knew of any of this. He had a rather different assessment of the video footage.

                        ANDREW: (intent on the screen) He is so cool. (catching himself) And, I mean, the girl is hot. Too.
                        At this moment I wonder if Andrew is thinking that Spike is too good for a psycho like Anya.

                        Xander is trying his best to hold it in, but his lack of happiness would be apparently to anyone less oblivious than Andrew.

                        Xander deflects his feelings by describing bad cop Anya’s lethality. But Andrew seems more pedantic than scared.

                        XANDER: She's killed more men than smallpox.
                        ANDREW: Does smallpox still kill people?
                        XANDER: She's killed a lot of men. (beat) She tortures them. Anyone who incurs her wrath. One time she… (beat) No. Never mind.
                        Xander seems to be enjoying the “never mind” approach, as that’s freaking Andrew out.

                        ANDREW: What?
                        XANDER: It's not important.

                        In Silence of the Lambs, serial killer Hannibal Lecter demanded “quid pro quo” from FBI agent Clarice Starling. If he was to share his personal knowledge of serial killers, she had to give up personal details.


                        Andrew doesn’t demand any personal details from Xander, and yet he offers them unbidden.

                        Xander could easily have picked more impressive tales from Anya’s demon days. The punishments in “Beneath You” and “Selfless” would both suitably scare Andrew. Or he could have picked any number of horrific events that Anya described back on their very first date at Sunnydale High’s prom.

                        But he doesn’t. Instead Xander explains what Anya “did” to him, or is still doing to him.

                        ANDREW: What'd she do?
                        XANDER: Well, there was this one guy… (thinks about it) There was this one guy…he…uh…he hurt her real bad…so she paid him back.

                        The original shooting script is more explicit about Xander’s transgression.

                        (Original Shooting script line:
                        XANDER: Well, there was this one guy… (thinks about it) There was this one guy…he broke her heart…so she paid him back. )

                        Then Xander continues to describe Anya’s punishment.

                        XANDER: She killed him, but she did it real slow. See, first she stopped his heart. Then she replaced it with darkness. Then she made him live his life like that.

                        XANDER: But he still had to go…do his job and see his friends and wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, but he had to do it all…empty.

                        A heart replaced with darkness – that resembles the title of Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness. Xander’s dream in “Restless” focused on the movie Apocalypse Now, a movie which updated Conrad’s novel to a Vietnam War setting.

                        XANDER: (beat) Without anything to look forward to. Ever.

                        Xander didn’t need to open up like this. It’s not truly forming a bond with Andrew because he doesn’t quite realize that Xander is talking about himself. This isn’t something Andrew needs to hear. It’s something that Xander needs to say … to somebody.

                        He’s expressed these feelings before in season 6.

                        We see him drinking alone in “Entropy.”

                        And in “Seeing Red”, Xander turns down a woman who’s hitting on him.

                        XANDER: Sorry, I'm just looking to curl up with the quiet alone tonight.

                        In “Entropy”, Xander expresses some of these feelings directly to Anya.

                        XANDER: I know there's nothing that I can say or do to make up for what I did. I can't. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I'm like, 'oh god, is this my life? Was that me?'

                        But perhaps the clearest explanation of these feelings is what he said to Willow and Buffy in “Normal Again”, the first time he saw them after the failed wedding.

                        XANDER: I know that I'm a better person with her in my life. But things got so complicated with the wedding, and with my family, and with her ... demons, and ... what if it all goes to hell, a-and forever? But then I left ... and ever since ... I've had this painful hole inside. And I'm the idiot that dug it out.

                        Back then, Xander accepted that it wasn’t Anya who tore his heart out and left a hole. That was Xander himself. Xander admitted that “I screwed up real bad.” And Buffy said “Hey, we all screw up.”

                        That shows Buffy’s approach to redemption. One can screw up and get better.

                        Not that Andrew would completely follow that. Xander screwed up badly as he transitioned from a teenager to a man. But Andrew seems stuck in a much younger child-state. He can’t quite empathize with a heart replaced with darkness.

                        ANDREW: (unsure) Sounds…bad…

                        This brings Xander to his senses. He’d used the opportunity to confess his feelings, which clearly hadn’t diminished over the months. But it wasn’t quite something that would terrify Andrew.

                        XANDER: (snapping out of it) Well, then she tore out his intestines and rubbed ‘em in his face and took pictures of it.

                        ANDREW: (horrified) Oh, god.

                        Xander’s rapid change in tone to his story recalls a similar comic beat in “Crush” where Spike is telling Dawn a scary story.

                        SPIKE:Well, I went into the house. Lady was there with a couple teenaged sons. Little older than you. I killed 'em right quick, the whole lot. But... someone was missing. There was supposed to be a little girl. So I got real quiet.

                        He pauses for effect... acting it out, listening...

                        SPIKEvery soft) And I hear this tiny noise coming from the coal bin... this little sigh... so I listened harder... it's very, very quiet...
                        Buffy enters and Spike hastily Bowdlerizes the ending to avoid occurring Buffy’s wrath.

                        BUFFY: Yeah, okay. Let's hear the story Spike's been telling my little sister. She looks to Spike -- a challenge.

                        DAWN: Go on, Spike.

                        SPIKE: Right. Yeah. So I knew the girl was in the coal bin. I ripped it open -- very violent -- hauled her out of there... and gave her to a good family in a nice home where they were never ever mean to her and didn't lock her in the coal bin.

                        He looks defiantly at Buffy.

                        DAWN: What? That's so lame.
                        Dawn may have found Spike’s forced happy ending lame, but Andrew doesn’t find Xander’s revenges to the dail of vengeance lame at all. He’s terrified of Anya tearing out intestines.

                        Xander smiles as he says supposedly reassuring words to Andrew.

                        XANDER: But she's downstairs now. Don't worry about her.

                        Xander’s words have the same effect as hearing an announcement on a plane. “This is your captain speaking. There is no truth to the rumour that our engines are on fire. Don’t bother to look out the windows.” Andrew panics.

                        Xander rapidly changes the topic from Andrew’s panic which probably freaks him out just a bit more.

                        XANDER: See, the thing is, we've all been a little on edge lately. Some bad things have been happening, and the girls –they're all looking for someone to blame.

                        Xander is trying to establish a bond between him and Andrew. They’re both geeks. They’re both men. He’s now framing Anya not just as a vengeance demon but as a woman. The Trio had a certain “no girls allowed” clubhouse mentality – especially fueled by Warren’s misogyny. Xander is appealing to the Guy Code / Bro Code – crassly expressed as “Bros before hoes.”

                        He is playing on the sexism with Andrew’s little gang. The idea that women are angry, irrational – not calm and reasonable like Xander. (Maybe Andrew hasn’t noticed that most of Xander’s friends are women. And if anyone of the Scoobies can claim to be irrational, overly emotional, judgmental and fly-off-the-handle … well, Xander himself fits that bill.)

                        ANDREW: I didn't do anything.

                        Spike accepted responsibility for his actions – even if he can’t remember them. But Andrew can’t fess up. Maybe he’s afraid to. Of all the Trio, Jonathan was the one who was the closest to the Scoobies. He was the only of the gang they actually remembered from their school days. Jonathan also helped Buffy stop Warren.

                        The shooting script has Andrew continue his lies.

                        (Missing Shooting Script Lines:
                        XANDER: I know. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I get that. (beat) But they don’t. They need answers. It does seem suspicious, you know, you buying blood.
                        ANDREW: The blood wasn’t for me. I was just buying meat. )

                        Xander is still the good cop. He doesn’t need to call Andrew on his BS. Because Xander’s partner was nearby, listening.

                        ANYA: (OS) YOU LYING SON OF A BITCH!

                        I love the contrast on Xander and Andrew’s faces as they hear Anya showing from outside.

                        Anya charges into the room – scaring the crap out of Andrew.

                        ANYA: You're gonna tell us what we need to know, and you're gonna tell us right now –

                        XANDER: Anya, no!

                        Bad cop Anya roughs up the perp.

                        This shot last for less than a second, but the screen grab shows part of the charm of Tom Lenk – the expression on his face is just perfect.

                        Good cop Xander plays his part and tries to pull Anya off of Andrew.

                        ANYA: Get off me, Harris!

                        It’s odd to hear Anya call Xander by his last name. And then she extemporizes again and slap Xander … very hard. I wonder if Anya’s anger over their failed wedding bubbled into her performance.

                        Xander flashes a “What the hell?” look at her.

                        And then one of the cutest bonding moments between the former lovers is when she mimes “Sorry”.

                        But they break character only for a fleeting moment. Then she’s back to her role as bad cop – or perhaps crazy cop such as Martin Riggs, Mel Gibson’s character in the Lethal Weapon films.


                        ANYA: C'mere, you pipsqueak!

                        Andrew SCREAMS under her assault.

                        ANDREW: Get her off me! I'll tell you! I'll tell you what you need to know!

                        Anya and Xander have obtained their confession. Perhaps Andrew Wells finally understands violence.

                        Meanwhile in Holding Cell #1, Buffy and Spike hear the commotion.

                        Spike has a confused WTF look. Buffy knows Officers Harris and Made-Up-Last-Name-Jenkins have been talking in cop show cliches and maybe they took their stage show a bit too far.

                        She leaves the room to check on the idiots next door.

                        BUFFY: Excuse me.

                        Buffy opens the door and leaves.

                        When she closes the door behind her, we see another figure not previously visible in the room. As the Buffybot would say “It’s Spike – and he’s wearing the coat!”

                        Well, sort of. In this episode, the part of coat-wearing Spike will be played by Morphy.

                        MORPHY/SPIKE: Well, we've got ourselves a problem.

                        Morphy looms over Spike.

                        And Spike looks shocked as all his past sins are made manifest – well, insubstantially manifest – in this form before him.

                        It would seem Spike’s past will never leave him.

                        Meanwhile, Buffy enters Holding Cell #2 to check on her junior officers.

                        BUFFY: Everything okay?

                        Reveal the scene she's looking at:

                        Dawn's room, trashed. Furniture flipped over. Xander, sitting against the wall, holding his face. Anya, on top of Andrew on the ground, one hand around his neck, the other arm in mid-strike, about to hit him again. Andrew, wide-eyed, looking at Buffy for help, shaking his head frantically -- no, everything's not okay.

                        ANYA: Fine.

                        I love this tableau from Anya’s shark-like grin as she says fine, and Andrew with eyes saying “help” as he shakes his head. It’s hilarious.

                        From Buffy’s perspective coming upon this moment is a bit like the tableau in The Puppet Show, when the curtain on what is supposed to be a performance of Oedipus Rex opens to reveal instead the aftermath of Buffy’s adventure.

                        But unlike Principal Snyder, Buffy gets what she sees. It’s not avant garde, although it still might be theatre of the absurd.

                        Buffy shrugs and returns Anya’s one-word statement of normalcy with one of her own.

                        BUFFY: Okay.

                        Buffy shuts the door and leaves Andrew in the … tender care … of Xander and Anya. If Anya wasn’t play-acting it would be a bit like Angel abandoning the lawyers of Wolfram & Hart to their fate at the hands of Darla and Drusilla.

                        Buffy pauses at the door to Holding Cell #1. She hears voices – or rather a voice – Spike’s.

                        SPIKE: (O.S.) What do I do job half done never send a boy to do a man's job –

                        We hear Spike LAUGH. Then his ramblings turn into SINGING.

                        SPIKE: (singing) "Oh, don't deceive me. Oh never leave me. How could you use a poor maiden so?"

                        Buffy enters the room cautiously – looking around, as if she expects to find someone else there.

                        Was she expecting an intruder? Clem come to serenade Spike? Maybe she’s just checking to see if the Insane in a School Basement Spike has made a reappearance.

                        She resumes her questions.

                        BUFFY: Who were you talking to?

                        SPIKE: What's that?

                        The Spike who answers is not the one she left. The self-loathing is gone. The feral beast appears to be gone too. He’s docile – like a limp doll, or a puppet just waiting for its strings to be pulled.

                        Buffy tried interrogating her suspect again.

                        BUFFY: I heard you through the door. Who were you talking to?

                        SPIKE: Nobody. I was just, uh, keeping myself company.

                        The script says that Buffy is “totally weirded out.” It’s as if someone had given Spike a lobotomy while she was out of the room. She looks concerned for him.

                        BUFFY: Are you okay?

                        SPIKE: Fine. (beat) How are you?

                        It’s a repeat of the dialogue that Buffy had in the other room. “Okay” and “fine”. However, here instead of Anya’s shark-like grin or Andrew’s bulging and terrified eyes, Buffy just sees a docile and placid Spike. Andrew might not have known it, but things had been going fine in the other room. Spike’s calm demeanour tells us things are far from fine here. If she didn’t know better, it was like the old soulless Spike, coiled liked a snake, was waiting for a moment to strike.

                        And meanwhile, we quickly cut to Holding Cell #2 as bad cop Anya continues to threaten up her perp. Andrew is well and truly pumped.

                        ANYA: Now, you can talk or I can keep hitting you. Believe me, I'd love to keep hitting you.

                        The quick cutaway to Anya and Andrew isn’t in the script. But we see she’s backed Andrew into a wall – that wall will soon be very important.

                        Buffy continues probing her vampire with a renewed sense of caution.

                        BUFFY: Spike?

                        SPIKE: I'm fine, Buffy. Really.

                        SPIKE: I'm just feeling a bit…peckish, I suppose. Do you mind?

                        Spike bobs his head around as he decides on the right word – a British word for a light hunger, dainty and inoffensive. It’s a word Spike has used before – but with a bit more personality and mocking than here – when he requested a plate of “spicy Buffalo wings” in “Fool for Love”.

                        This time it’s not chicken wings that Spike is asking for. We have another rack focus shot where focus shifts from Spike to the bags of pig’s blood on Buffy’s nightstand and then back to Spike. The previous rack focus was to emphasis Spike’s bonds. This rack focus is used to show the means of his liberation.

                        Buffy is skeptical, but if the blood stops the feral Spike from emerging, she’ll take the risk. She moves to the nightstand – always on guard, keeping her eye on Spike. Something smells fishy here – and it’s not the halibut that Andrew bought at the butcher shop.

                        But as she turns her head towards the blood, she takes her eyes off Spike.

                        And it’s the chance he needs. We see another close-up on Spike’s bound hands – as they curl into fists. He goes into vamp face. Spike doesn’t have a sword to hack away at the Gordian knot of his bonds. But he has a direct and violent solution that Alexander the Great would have approved of. He shatters the chair.

                        A 1940s BBC radio series Dick Baron – Special Agent was fond of using the phrase “With one bound, Dick was free” to gloss over how the hero escaped the cliffhanger of the week. Well, with one bound Spike was free. And he quickly takes out the slayer. She’s not his target. She’s merely … inconvenient.

                        Spike turns his attention to his real target. The one on the other side of the wall.

                        And on the other side of the wall, in Holding Cell #2 (aka Dawn’s room), the weasel has finally found his tune. And he’s singing quite the song.

                        ANDREW: We needed more blood to activate the Seal of Danzal –

                        Andrew’s confession song is cut short when Spike’s arm breaks through the wall and grabs him

                        Spike yanks Andrew through the thin dividing wall and into Buffy’s room. Xander and Anya are shocked by the quick action.

                        Spike is lucky the wall seems to be made of sheetrock or another material easy to burst through, otherwise Spike would have needed to use the doors. The wall looks like a thin dividing wall, with little support or sound-proofing. In the original continuity, Dawn’s room was merely a storage room for Joyce’s gallery stuff. It was the monks who altered reality, transformed the Key into the human Dawn and reshaped the storage room into a bedroom. For its original purpose, there would have been no need for sound-proofing. But Joyce and now Buffy probably consider it handy that they can easily listen into the conversation. Oh well, I’ll leave the tool talk for Xander Harris. He’ll no doubt have to patch the wall.

                        The more important point is that Spike has Andrew. And the monster has decided to satiate his peckishness with a screaming weasel.


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