Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 03, Episode 08
Writer: Dan Vebber
DIR: David Semel
Blurb: Spike returns to Sunnydale and kidnaps Willow so she can create a magic spell that will make Drusilla love him once more.
My Blurb: Ah, yes… this title. There seems to be some confusion about whether this episode’s name is “Lovers Walk” or “Lover’s Walk”, which is actually a fine distinction with clearly different meanings. The Buffy episode description insert on the DVD goes without the apostrophe [which is also what the Buffy Wiki goes with, if that matters] but the DVD titling has used the second title, instead. I’m going with the apostrophe-less title as it seems much more accurate to the theme of the episode.
Scene 01: We open on the Sunnydale High Quad as Willow walks side by side with Xander. She’s complaining that things are a nightmare. Her problem is her 740 SAT score for the Verbal. Xan tries to tell her that her one score is close to his combined sort of says she’s not “Cletus, the slack jawed yokel” as she’s over dramatizing but she’s not comforted.
They sit on a bench so Xan can stroke her hair. Behind them is Cordy and Oz walking up.
Cordelia startles them by asking about their scores, causing Xan to jump away from Wills. He covers by saying that Willow is very sad about her scores. He turns attention instead to Cordy’s results.
Cordelia did quite well (in keeping with a comment she made in an earlier episode that she always does well on standardized tests) and Xan jokes with her about how his standing will be damaged if it’s discovered he’s dating a brain. She replies that she does have experience with covering up her internal geek.
Oz meanwhile takes a glance at Wills’ score and confirms that she should be upset. Then he clarifies that he’s using his sarcastic voice. Xan comments on its resemblance to his regular voice. Oz says he’s heard that before but wants to move on to plans to celebrate another huge thing put to rest as they barrel toward the end of high school.
Cordelia mouths “NO” at Xan over Oz’ suggestion of a double date sorta thingie. But Xan tells Oz that it has potential.
Commentary: And of course, Xan is jumpy because he and Willow are still flirting around with each other and presumably struggling with their not-kissage intent. But what I like about this scene is that Oz and even Cordy are funny but not over the top. It’s an easy-breezy scene that still manages to make us feel sorry for both Cordy and Oz that they still haven’t twigged to the fact that Willow and Xander keep acting suspiciously guilty around one another.
Scene 02: Buffy wanders up, and she seems dazed. She’s shocked by her own scores and despite Xan’s suspicions that she’s done horrible, she actually kicked ass on the SATs, belying her apparent inability to actually get in any actual study time that we keep seeing.
Willow is over-excited on her behalf and opines that Buffy’s entire future has been opened up. This is what Buffy is wearing her confused face over, as she explains that she’d stopped thinking about a future at all. Cordy exclaims that this is exciting as she can now leave Sunnydale and never return… but she meant that in a positive way… for Buffy, y’know, not for herself.
Cordelia clarifies her point by saying that getting out of Sunnydale is a good thing and nobody would want to return to their Hellmouth flyspeck of a town.
Scene 03: Cue the Sunnydale sign being illuminated by a set of auto head lights. A car smashes through it and crashes into the curb. We see bottles falling out of it as the car door opens.
Spike is ungraciously deposited onto the tarmac. He gives a drunken “home sweet home” and then collapses onto his back, passed out.
Commentary: Which is a big thing, to see Spike returned to haunt the Slayer some more. Alas for the stupid blurb ruining the moment slightly. WHY are blurbs designed to give away all of the good details, rather than keep things on the mysterious side? I don’t understand it.
Anyway, I recall being very happy to see Spike making another run for the Slayer but was wondering what this return was about, since he’s so obviously inebriated. I think that I did note that Dru wasn’t in the car, but I didn’t think beyond that.
Credits Be Crediting
Scene 04: Spike makes his way to the factory where he and Drusilla were hanging about before Angelus crashed their domesticity and ended up getting it half burned down.
He’s clutching a bottle of hooch and drunkenly singing Sinatra to himself. He shouts to Drusilla that he’s home, but breaks down into drunken laughter, then tears.
He wanders to Dru’s doll collection. He then shares with us that Drusilla ended up leaving him, probably over that whole turning on Angelus thing and helping the Slayer save the world.
His heartbreak turns to anger, as he morphs and then beats a porcelain doll into shards with a tall candlestick holder. He calls her names but then stares at Dru’s doll’s remains on the floor and whines about what she’s done to him.
Commentary: I want to mention the morph effect here, because it was much more smoothly edited than is usual. Instead of focusing on the morph taking place, we get Spike’s sudden jerking of his head from side to side and then looking up to have the vampire bumpy face in place. It was a very smooth transition doing it this way, rather than focusing on the special effect of the morphing itself.
I also wanted to focus on bringing back Spike without Drusilla. As we now know, Spike will become a far greater character within the Buffyverse, but I do recall that when I first realized that Dru wasn’t going to be in the episode, I felt a bit disappointed. It seemed like Spike really shined when he was playing off of Dru or Angelus and now both were no longer there to support him.
I’m happy to say, I needn’t have worried. James is more than capable of holding interest in the Spike character without the accoutrements of the other characters propping up his own. In fact, some of my very favorite Spike moments will not involve him acting “vampirey” at all, so I’m so glad that they didn’t kill the character when they thought they were going to do so and gave James Marsters a bigger bite at the apple.
Scene 05: Elsewhere, Xan is in the hallway of Sunnydale High haranguing Cordelia about going out with Oz and Wills. He insists that they’ll have fun, but Cordy was thinking they’d be doing something “classy”. Xander cannot believe that she’s not finding the thought of bowling classy.
As he tries to convince her that he can guarantee fun, he notices that she’s placed pictures of them together from when they visited “the pier”. [Isn’t it funny that I’d first assumed Santa Monica… but then started wondering if Sunnydale now had a pier as mysteriously appeared as a bus depot, a huge mall and a second high school? Oh, honestly… this show and Sunnydale‘s supposed size and geography -- you just have no idea from one day to the next just how big Sunnydale is, despite continuing to hear comments that it’s a small ‘burg.]
Xan comments that he had no idea he was locker door material. Cordy gives him a smile but tells him he’s barely worthy… and plus, she looks really good in those pictures.
Commentary: I love how the Cordy/Xan relationship has been built upon from when they first kissed under threat of death in BECOMING, where it was entirely ridiculous to me, to now where … well… yeah, it’s still ridiculous, but now it’s in a way that is so very cute instead of really weird and disturbing.
Which of course, is the plan so that when it finally comes out that Wills and Xan are playing smoochies on the sly, it can be extra hurtful to us. Joss does love to punish the viewers for being fans of his shows.
Scene 06: As they’re walking down the hallway, Oz and Willow meets and greets them. Oz asks Cordy if they’re bowling, recognizing her inherent veto powers on any plans involving herself.
[And, oh my gosh. What is Nicky doing with his hands on his face like that? He’s so frikkin’ adorable… why, oh why does he so often turn ass-y and irritate me when he can be so adorable?]
The verdict is that Cordy will give it a try. Xan tells Oz and Wills that they should be prepared for a crushing, before telling Cordelia they should go to a lane to practice.
Scene 07: Willow and Oz proceed to her locker, while Wills assures Oz that she’s very good at bowling. Or at least she was when she was bowling with those inflatable bumpers in the gutter lanes.
Oz gives her a small smile and presents her with a surprise gift. It turns out to be a Witch Pez Dispenser, filling her with hitty-joy. They cute up the screen before Oz wanders off to - hopefully - actual class.
Wills is left standing there thrilled with Oz’ thoughtfulness, but guilt ridden over her sneaky time with Xander.
Commentary: Oh my god. These two are so freaking adorable I just want to vomit through my huge smile face. But then we see Will’s guilt mug and I’m reminded what she’s goofing with behind Oz’ back and I’m all “bitch”, which is totally not a thing I should be thinking about my Wills!
Damn you, Joss!
And of course way back when, I had no idea of Joss’ anti-happiness fixation so while I knew there had to be fallout from Will/Xan eventually -- I didn’t realize that I was deliberately being set up for it to happen in this episode.
No -- even the mutha-frickin’ title didn’t clue me in, as I was focused on it referring to Spike and Drusilla. It’s so much better to watch television shows when you have no actual logical thoughts looking ahead… except when it’s not. Damn you, Joss!
Scene 08: In the library, Buffy is meeting with Giles where he’s exclaiming how happy he is with her accomplishment on that SAT business. He’s also got the table laid out with camping gear as he’s finally getting to go on a retreat. One just happens to be taking place very close by in the woods edging Sunnydale.
[I’m not the only one who for just a moment, seriously wondered how much fun camping could be in his tweed outfits, right? I mean, I’m not the only one who never saw him as actually wearing regular old jeans around?]
Buffy teases him a bit about making sure he’s not going to become a hermit in the woods.
Giles tells her that her mother should be very pleased, which Buffy confirms amusingly by saying her head spun around and exploded. Giles confirms that was a metaphor and not a Hellmouth thing. Buffy then tells Rupert about her mother’s crazy talk about her being able to leave for college after high school.
Rupert hesitates and Buffy goes on that she knows that isn’t a possibility, but Giles shocks her by agreeing with Joyce. He goes on to hesitatingly consider that Faith could take over and allow Buffy to really explore her potential outside of Slaying -- while of course not suggesting that she ignore her calling or that she never return to Sunnydale to see to her duties.
He offers to discuss it further when he gets back. He then asks her not to do anything rash while he’s away in a tone that suggests he has a specific worry. To Buffy’s questioning, he asks if she plans on seeing Angel while he’s away. Buffy doesn’t lie about seeing him again, but does assure him that he and she can be friends and nothing is going to happen.
Commentary: I love this little scene for Rupert. It’s just another sign that he’s come to view Buffy as not only a person, rather than a tool, but that he’s also come to see her as a ward who deserves to have a life of her own outside of the Council’s demands for her.
I also love ASH’s acting as he uncomfortably brings up Angel and the look of doubt he can’t keep from his face as Buffy keeps insisting that neither she nor the vampire want anything other than to be friends. Obviously, we’ve seen their “friendship gatherings” and can spot that Buffy isn’t being truthful to herself, let alone everybody else about the lingering attraction between her and Angel. I started now to wonder if in addition to being about Spike/Dru, maybe the title was also in regards to Buffy/Angel.
I still blissfully didn’t think about Oz/Willow/Xander/Cordelia -- despite the fact that evidence should be overwhelming at this point that the episode is going to lead to secrets spilling in order to break up the foursome. I just kept thinking that this would be a “comedy of uncomfortableness” with their date and it’d be later in the season when things reach a head. I know I pretty much figured it’d be used to break up Cordy/Xander since they’re kind of not a solid couple anyway, but I feared at what was going to happen with Oz/Willow.
See how good I am with avoidance.
Scene 09: Outside, Willow is walking-talking with Xander and she’s stressing out about how bad of a plan it is for them to be double dating together when they’re already feeling guilty about their together-time.
Xan tries to assure her that this is going to go just fine. That Oz and Cordy will only know that they’re old friends and that there is no reason for them to think that there has been one or two unwise indiscretions. He asks if he can kiss Will’s earlobe. She says no, then maybe yes, but then no again -- trying to ward him and her feelings off with Oz’ Pez Gift.
Xan strokes her hair and offers that he wishes he wasn’t so attracted to her and they could make it all stop. Willow is open to suggestions.
Scene 10: That evening, Buffy is in the kitchen with Joyce who has gone into “college” mode. Buffy is kind of college-talked out, but Joyce tells her that this is her chance to really embrace her future for something that isn’t Hellmouth problems. She asks her if there is anything really keeping her there, now that Faith can watch over things.
Scene 11: There is, of course.
We see Angel is reading Sartre. Somehow, Spike is able to spy on him from just outside without Angel’s notice. [I suppose he’s just too busy navel-gazing about his lot in life and how it impacts Buffy.]
When Angel wanders into another room, Spike sneers that he’s not afraid of Angel. He tells the empty room that he and Dru were happy. He’s slurring. In between gulps at his bottle of booze, he complains that Drusilla was brainwashed against him. He tells Angel’s not-presence that he’ll be going down… before tripping over the flower planter and passing out in the mansion courtyard.
Angel’s superior vampire hearing doesn’t detect Spike’s loud, drunken complaints.
Scene 12: The following day, the morning sun finds Spike’s unconscious form. It focuses its power beam on his exposed hand, waking him up with a case of combustion.
Spike leaps up with a yell. Angel doesn’t hear a thing.
He gets his hand to a cistern to douse himself, but the sun’s hurtful rays keep finding him, sending him fleeing up the manse stairs [which, you’d think would be far, far worse for him and he’d go up like a Roman Candle long before he could make an escape].
Scene 13: Spike flees to his car with the clumsily painted windows. He makes it into a dive into the back seat smoking here and there. It leads to another bottle of whiskey which he uses on his burned hand and then self-medicates some more.
He complains that things are just too much.
Scene 14: Later in town that morning, Spike has found a way to stay in the shadows enough to enter the local magic shop, now reopened with a new manager presumably after Drusilla killed the last one.
Spike seeks a curse, something really nasty involving boils maybe. The clerk/probably owner is new agey and tries to soothe Spike’s negativity but is cut off by his request for a leprosy spell. She haughtily informs him that they don’t carry leprosy.
Willow comes in, but she doesn’t see anyone else there because of the shelves blocking her view. Clerk leaves Spike to peruse to help her. Willow is there for ingredients and the clerk pegs that she wants a love spell, which Spike overhears with interest.
Actually though, Wills wants to try an anti-love spell, hoping to dispel those lusty feelings. Our clerk makes a suggestion about the ingredients while Spike is focused on Willow doing magic and his overhearing that she knows how to cast a love spell.
Will happily leaves, allowing our unfortunate clerk to return to try to assist Spike with something less vengeance minded. For her troubles, she gets killed via throat tearing.
Scene 15: Across town at the Mayor’s office, Wilkins complains to Allan about his lack of a decent short game in golf as he putts and misses in his office. He jokes with Allan about selling his soul for a decent putt, but it’s a bit late for that. He then suggests offering up Allan’s soul instead to Allan’s look of sudden panic. Richard laughs at his momentary stricken look. Allan has actually met with the Mayor to inform him about Spike’s return.
Allan complains about Spike killing the store clerk in broad daylight and mentions that Sunnydale PD had a helluva time covering that one up. Wilkins laughs off the last year’s festivities with Spike, Angelus and Drusilla playing in town but he’s less amused this year when he has those important plans of his own to tend to.
A decision is made to “send a committee” to usher Spike out of town one way or another.
Commentary: I like, sort of, how the Mayor Wilkins bits are playing out over the course of the season. It serves to connect the Mayor’s unseen presence with the odd comments made in Season 2 by Snyder making it clear that he’s been assigned to Sunnydale High specifically to put a lid on the distracting supernatural occurrences taking place there and to help the PD to cover up the weirder occurrences -- usually with PCP Gang-related excuses.
But the attempt to retroactively make Richard involved in all of the dark undertakings in Sunnydale doesn’t really hang together comfortably. It seems more than a little suspicious logic-wise, that he didn’t seem to intervene in keeping Angelus from activating Acathla which you’d think would’ve really ruined his own plans. So, while I appreciate what they’re trying to do, it doesn’t quite work for me the way they were hoping it would.
Scene 16: Over at the mansion, Angel has built up a fire in the fireplace. He turns and Buffy is sitting there, where they’ve been discussing all of this college frenzy that her mother has gotten in.
While talking, Buffy lets slip that Joyce doesn’t yet know that Angel is back or that he and her daughter are… friends… again. Buffy explains that Joyce is still getting her feet in regards to the whole Slayer issue as it is. She then offers that she thinks her mother’s sudden obsession with picking out a college away from Sunnydale is due to the Slayer-information processing and Angel sympathizes that she wants Buffy somewhere away from the monsters.
Buffy tells him there are reasons for staying though, but when he asks her to list them all she can come up with is her Slayer duties, clumsily avoiding talking about staying because he’s there. She asks for his opinion on what she should do. Angel tries to approach things as her friend, so offers that she should take the opportunity being presented and leave. It’s clearly not what she wanted him to say. She gets up to leave, tossing out a comment that there isn’t really anything holding her there anyway and thanks him for his advice.
He asks why she’s leaving when she just got there, but she blames Joyce for worrying when she doesn’t check in regularly with her. There is disappointed tension between them.
Scene 17: Later, Willow is mucking about in the lab after school when Xander joins her in answer to her phone call. She presents what she’s doing as an experiment and offers that he’s fallen behind in chemistry so this is good study for him. He jokes that he thought she loved him because he was “academically dangerous”. She hands him a raven feather and he jokingly tickles her face, flirtingly. She smiles for a moment, but then pushes him away and focuses on her spell casting.
It takes Xander some more time to twig onto the fact that he’s not there for after hours tutoring/flirting but because Willow is trying to be-spell him. He’s irked that she’d mess with this sort of thing after his experiences with magic but she tells him this is a way to make their wrong feelings just go away. Xander asks if she really needs the dark arts to keep their hormones in check and now that she’s also annoyed, she says she’s thinking not really… at this particular moment. He goes to turn on the lights so they can get the place cleaned up before Oz or Cordelia finds out what Willow was messing with and start asking questions.
Commentary: And here we get a grand hint of the issues that our Willow will be struggling with in upcoming seasons: She’s always ready to resort to magic to make life easier, and she doesn’t have much scruples about other people’s consent first. I’ll have plenty to rant about when we reach Season 6 since as with so many others, but magic=crack thing really pissed me off but I need to move on because that rant is coming on right now and this isn’t the place for it… not really….
Scene 18: Alas for both of them, Spike has arrived and is very interested in Willow’s newfound dark arts craftwork. He grabs Xan from behind, but Xander kicks off the wall and slams him into the chalkboard. It’s brave, but not all that effective and he gets thrown to the floor.
Willow in the meantime grabs up a microscope and tries to bash Spike’s head with it. She’s disarmed and Spike tells her that she’s not being very nice as they’re going to be good friends. He then swings the microscope into Xander, knocking him out cold with a vicious blow to the head.
Scene 19: A bit later and Xan has been laid out on a bed with blood running down the side of his face. Spike is issuing orders to Willow about her casting a spell for him and then gets angry when she doesn’t immediately know he’s interested in a love spell. He’s also drunk again.
He makes sure that Willow can cast it for him and to her response that she can try, he violently grabs her by her hair and gets up in her face. He threatens to shove a broken bottle through her face if she doesn’t do it right, too.
To Willow’s begging him not to hurt her, he relents. Spike sits down next to her and complains about how Drusilla ran around on him after they left Sunnydale and didn’t even have enough respect for him to just kill him.
Suddenly, the scene goes from horrifying [REALLY] to more amusing as Willow is sitting there wondering what the hell, while Spike pours out his heart over his pain at Dru’s leaving him behind over Buffy and his truce with her. [Alyson’s acting here is aces as poor Willow doesn’t know what the hell to do with any of this information or what exactly she’s supposed to say about this sudden Dr. Phil moment.]
Spike’s tearful complaints about Dru turns into crying on Willow’s shoulder. He has a complete breakdown when he tells her that Dru told him they could still be friends. She hesitatingly pats his hand with a “There, there”, still looking completely confused.
Spike’s amusingly heartbroken rant turns dangerous again though, as he comments on how Willow smells and her neck. He morphs and tells her he hasn’t had a woman in weeks [obviously sexually suggestively, since he did “have” the store clerk].
Willow jumps up and offers she’ll do the spell Spike needs if he gets her the ingredients but barters there will be no having of any kind with her.
Commentary: I love this scene but man is it harrowing. Alyson and James both do an amazing job of swapping from horror to tragic-comedy and back to horror throughout their dialog scenes together. But that horror bit with Willow being threatened is almost too much. It’s hard to move into the comedy in the scene at first because it comes on so closely on the heels of Spike’s threatening to put a broken bottle into Willow’s face and of course Alyson is too strong an actress so her terrorized Willow is a little too good.
But Spike’s laying his head on Willow’s shoulder to complain that he’s miserable and Alyson’s look of utter befuddlement while still trying to cope with her fear is comedy gold. I really hate to word it this way, but I am so glad that Nicky just had to lie there unconscious so that the work of Aly and James wouldn’t be interrupted by Xander.
These two actors are phenomenal together and it’s a bit surprising that we don’t get more of them in two person scenes since Spike becomes fixated on Buffy. It was a waste of potential not to have more scenes between Willow and Spike -- especially after she becomes powerful enough to hold her own against him.
I just can’t praise this scene enough… but it really is downright scary to watch Spike threatening Willow with this sort of violence, even before the return from tragic-comedy to horror with the implied sexual threat.
Scene 20: Over at the high school, Buffy is in the library working out. Oz and Cordy rush in because Xander and Willow never showed up at the bowling alley and they can’t find them.
They check out the lab, where Cordy and Oz were set to meet them before going on their ill-advised double date. They find the remains of Willow’s “mad science” going on, but with everything smashed and signs of a struggle.
Buffy starts listing possibilities and Cordy isn’t comforted with the many “or” statements Buffy is making in regards to Xan’s possible fate. Buffy sends them off to retrieve Giles from his retreat while she goes to get weapons and start a search, hoping that whatever happened, her two friends didn’t get far enough to vanish.
Scene 21: In the library, the phone rings. It’s Joyce wanting to schedule time for a college talk, though she apologizes that she may have gone a bit overboard with her enthusiasm.
Buffy tries to tell her mother that she really needs to go, but then she hears Spike’s voice over the phone.
Scene 22: In the Summers’ house, Spike smiles at Joyce having not been dis-invited after he retreated from Sunnydale. Mrs. Summers only remembers Spike as the one who partnered with her daughter of course to stop Angelus and so isn’t prepared for how much danger she could be in.
At the library, Buffy drops the phone and runs.
Scene 23: In the kitchen, Spike is reiterating the tale of woe about Drusilla and Joyce is all sympathy.
Meanwhile, Angel is… well… lurking outside Buffy’s house. He spots Spike and Joyce together and has a rush of panic. But of course, he can’t enter Buffy’s house because Angelus did get a “no come in” dis-invite.
Spike teases Angel at not being invited in, while Joyce yells at the suddenly returned killer vampire to get away from them. Angel tries to get an invite, but Joyce isn’t dumb [just sadly not informed by her daughter about which side is which after her experiences in BECOMING, and understandably probably wanting to just forget the whole thing].
Alas, with her not knowing the true score, Spike is able to playfully menace her behind her back with Angel powerless to intervene.
Spike’s taunting of Angel ends when Buffy comes in from behind him and power shoves him onto the kitchen island counter. She invites Angel in, all to Joyce’s utter confusion about who she’s supposed to be afraid of now.
Commentary: This scene is also another great one for James Marsters as he’s just a laugh riot. And the threat on Joyce is so obviously different from the real and actual threat against Willow, so we don’t even have to struggle through it. It’s just FUN.
It does annoy me though that Buffy obviously never thought to do the anti-invite ritual against Spike… and worse, won’t for quite some time to come. It seems really stupid, especially in future after this episode.
It also bugs the hell out of me that Joyce would still be kept in the dark. Not necessarily about Angel… that’s a can of worms and I can sympathize with Buffy’s wanting to avoid all of the explanations about it. But not warning her that her truce with Spike ended and she should avoid him and call her immediately if he’s spotted again is … again… stupid.
But… this scene with Joyce and Spike ameliorates my annoyance by being so utterly charming and funny.
Scene 24: Buffy goes to stake Spike with a wooden spoon, but he warns her that he has her witch. This causes Joyce to start exclaiming in confusion about Willow being a witch. She’s ignored as Buffy confirms he has Willow and Xander.
Angel tries to threaten their location out him, but Spike won’t spill. He offers that Willow is going to work a little spell for him and then he’ll let them both go, but Buffy points out he hasn’t been real good about keeping his word [like the with the fact that he wasn’t ever supposed to revisit Sunnydale again]. He offers that they can tag along with him as he gathers the spell ingredients but warns if they get in the way, they’ll be responsible for Buffy’s friends’ deaths.
Scene 25: Meanwhile, Cordy and Oz are in his van racing toward the retreat to fetch Rupert’s help. Oz comes to a sudden hard brake and sniffs the air. He tells Cordy that he can smell Willow nearby.
She’s not at all impressed with this and tells him that if this is some sort of residual werewolf thing, it’s very disturbing. He agrees with the sentiment, but he can now locate where she is. They race for a rescue.
Commentary: The only thing I don’t like about this scene is Oz gives the explanation that Willow is a friend, and this apparently allows him to recognize her scent on the air. That’s … uh… kinda-sorta fine, I guess. I mean, I’m a bit iffy on a werewolf in human form having super senses of smell that would pick up and track another person from inside a van, but whatever… okay, I’ll go with it.
What I’m having trouble with is his not recognizing Xander’s smell in the lab. He specifically says that he didn’t see any blood. This had a bit of a small problem anyway, due to Xan’s head being so bloody after being bashed. Surely there’d be blood on the floor and the microscope base. But I let it slip by without comment.
But now? Surely Oz sees Xan as a friend, and has spent enough time in his company to also recognize his scent. And if he has this super sense of smell even while human, then surely he should’ve most definitely have detected the scent of spilled blood in the air?
This feels like a “sudden power introduction” for this particular scene in order to get Cordelia and Oz to Willow and Xander without any attempt to back track the scripting to make sure that it would make sense with what we saw earlier in the episode. It’s just… clumsy….
Scene 26: In the alleys, Spike tells Buffy and Angel they just need to grab a few supplies and then they’ll get to see her friends. He complains that he’s sobering up and his head is killing him. When he says he wishes he were dead, Buffy pulls out a stake and tells him to wish real hard.
Angel intervenes to remind her that they need him to get Willow and Xander back. She snarks that they’re probably being held at the factory. Spike’s face tells the audience that is exactly where they’ll be found, but he intuits he isn’t that thick, so Buffy stands down but is clearly irritated at having to do so.
Scene 27: As they’re walking through town, Spike stops again and Angel - also getting annoyed - questions why. Spike stares at a bench and reminisces about a good time he had there with Drusilla, eating a homeless person. He gives a small laugh, remembering how he begged for mercy, making Dru bite harder.
He glances at the stone-faces of Buffy and Angel, who clearly don’t share in the warm memory. Buffy walks away.
Scene 28: At the now-closed-for-new-ownership magic shop, Buffy kicks in the door so they can get whatever it is Spike needs for Willow to complete the love spell against Drusilla.
Spike mopes some more, getting on both Angel and Buffy’s last nerve. Angel accuses Dru of being fickle just to rib him and this leads to a short fisticuffs before Buffy tosses him across the room.
She complains that Spike moping around isn’t going to get her back, and Angel accuses Dru of not really caring all that much for Spike anyway. Spike rages that they don’t know anything about him and Dru’s relationship and then blames them for the breakup. Buffy accuses him of having turned into the shell of a loser over her.
He turns the commentary around on Buffy and Angel’s pathetic relationship. Buffy and Angel tries to stand by their “friends now” explanation but Spike isn’t buying. He tells them both straight out that they aren’t friends and they’ll never be friends. He points out that they’re both in love with one another and will be until they destroy themselves because that is what love is. He accuses them of being more pathetic than he is because he’s at least honest enough to admit that he’s love’s bitch.
Commentary: So, this is the speech that is so famous and I’ll admit that James’ delivery is spot on for it. But what I really like about this speech isn’t really the words in themselves, so much as how it reflects back on Angelus’ speech in Passion about the forces working their will inside of us, putting humans and vampires on the same side when it comes to the power of the heart to rule over the head.
It’s a nice bookend between Angel and Spike and how in a certain light, they’re not as different from one another as they may like to think. But it’s also a nice way to highlight the problem of Buffy and Angel trying so hard to pretend that they can slip into the friend’s relationship without dealing forthrightly with everything they’ve already been through in both loving and trying to kill one another. It’s a topic that Buffy and Angel will continue to struggle with all the way through to Season 8 of Buffy in the comic series.
Scene 29: But while that was happening, Willow hasn’t been sitting on her duff waiting. She at the top of the stairs in the factory basement, attempting to break through the door. Not that it gets her anywhere, but at least she isn’t sitting around and acting helpless.
On the bed, Xander comes to shakily.
It falls to Willow to describe just how deeply in the doo-doo they are.
Xander tries to stand up, but collapses dragging Willow down with him. She cradles his head and they feel the sudden urge to liplock. Willow remembers they aren’t supposed to make out, but Xan plays the exception for imminent death card, which Wills allows.
They kiss. Just in time for them to be “rescued” by Oz and Cordelia! [Because Joss is a mean, mean man. Also, I really like=not like how Cordy and Oz managed to open the door to the basement and make their way down the stairs silently and without shouting for them or anything so that they can waltz up on this kissy face debacle.]
Obviously, both Cordelia and Oz are flabbergasted by the display. Oz looks angry but just tells them that they have to get out of there in his lowkey way. Cordy isn’t as restrained and rushes up the stairs barely holding back her tears.
She doesn’t get far.
Scene 30: Cordelia steps on a weak stair and falls through the stair case into a subbasement. We see that a rebar has punctured through her torso!
Commentary: ARGH. These scenes. Y’know, we all knew that our lovebirds-on-the-sly were going to get caught, but it was still difficult to see the shock on Oz and Cordy’s faces. And just as I am getting ready for a “this is what you get” at Xan and Willow, Cordelia ends up paying the highest price by plunging to her grievous injury… it’s just awful to witness and I was so angry at Xan and Willow for their … well, affair seems too strong a word but their ‘flirtations’… that I totally ignored their imminent death exemption, even though ordinarily I may have forgiven them because of the high stress circumstance. But, no… they’re both giant poop-heads.
Scene 31: Back with Buffy, Spike and Angel, they’re leaving the magic shop with the supplies [Amusingly, they have so many supplies that I’m sitting here thinking just what the hell kind of spell is this… it sure isn’t Amy’s simple “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered” spell… and what exactly supplies did Spike collect that he still has THIS much that needed to be gathered?].
Their progress is interrupted by the Mayor’s minions though. They find themselves surrounded by more vampires… and of course, just after Spike had told Buffy he’ll be on his way in a few short hours without any more trouble at all.
Scene 32: The vampire gang leader is named Lenny who Spike describes as one of his workers from before he left. Lenny is pissed that Spike has returned because he apparently sees himself as having moved up in the world since his departure. Lenny offers that Buffy and Angel can walk away and she’s tempted.
But Spike reminds her that if he dies, Willow and Xander die. Buffy sighs that they’re staying. Obvs a huge rumble breaks out.
Our trio make a good showing, but eventually retreat back into the magic shop as the remaining vampires close in.
Scene 33: In the shop, Buffy breaks up a chair to provide stakes. As they wait for the vampire gang to break in for them, Buffy points out that she violently dislikes Spike.
More fisticuffs go on.
Scene 34: Meanwhile, in the basement of the factory, Xander climbs down to be with the weakening Cordelia. In the meantime, Oz has gone for help.
Scene 35: Back in the shop, the attempts to kill Buffy, Spike and Angel continue. [We have the usual great fight choreography with the not so great stunt people showing up too obviously, but this is a fun free for all.]
Angel ends up under a door and Buffy has to help him up, reminding us that Angel isn’t yet healed from his brush with Hell Torture. In the meantime though, Spike throws off his doldrums and beats the unliving hells outta Lenny for mocking him as having gone soft.
Buffy and Angel grab Holy Water bottles from one of the shelves and begin pummeling the invading vampire forces with them, with Buffy surprisingly warning Spike to get down first… probably because she didn’t have a minute to think about that.
The Mayor’s big gang flee without anyone the wiser over his involvement.
Scene 36: With the fisticuffs having given Spike a new viewpoint on how much more fun life is without the moping over Dru, Spike waves off Buffy’s demand to get to the spell so he can be on his way. He tells her that her friends are at the factory, just as she had already guessed. She gives him a “you jerk” look. Meanwhile Angel is still having trouble staying on his feet and Spike mocks them for thinking that they’re just friends.
He goes on to happily say that he’s been all wrong headed about this break up with Drusilla, what with all of the weeping and crawling and nattering on. He decides that he should’ve been handling this better by tying Dru up and torturing her until she likes him again. He leaves with a self-satisfied smile.
Spike offers on his way out that love is a funny thing.
Commentary: This scene was so very cute and James really can be adorable when he’s in grin-evil mode. I loved the way that this all wrapped up without the big rescue by Buffy by just having Spike tell her where Willow and Xan are after he decides to handle Drusilla in a different way. It’s also kind of funny to think of him torturing her, because you just know that Dru would be brought around to liking him again what with her special brand of wackiness.
But what I loved really is how you can forget that something really tragic is happening because James Marsters is so busy making you smile along with Spike’s antics in the shop. I also loved Buffy’s eye roll when she hears that she was right all along and they didn’t need Spike to find her friends after all.
Scene 37: But back in the subbasement, Xander is hovering over the stricken Cordy. Willow watches as Cordelia appears to be slipping away….
Xan begs her to hold on, but Cordy tells him that she can’t see and then falls unconscious as he weeps over her.
Scene 38: Cut to a funeral!
[OH MY GOD!!]
The camera pans down over the mourners as the priest recites over the grave. Just when we the shock is blending into grief that they actually killed Cordelia the way that they killed Ms. Calendar, we see Buffy and Willow walking along nearby and totally not dressed in mourner’s wear. Buffy confirms that Cordelia is going to be alright.
[OH, JOSS!!!! Except, it’s better than the alternative so… Ugh; Do I be frustrated at his mercilessly faking us out, or do I feel gratitude that he was only mercilessly faking us out?]
Willow confirms that she lost a lot of blood, but is expected to make a full recovery. Buffy has obviously been brought up to speed because she asks about Xander seeing Cordelia and then asks about Oz. Willow tells her she didn’t know there was anything inside of her that could feel this badly. Buffy is sympathetic, despite this really being Willow’s own fault.
Scene 39: In the hospital, Xander drops in to check on Cordelia. She is entirely cold toward him and tries to ignore his presence. When she does speak to him, she tells him to stay away from her and looks away from him. After he leaves, she cries.
Scene 40: At the mansion later, Buffy and Angel greet one another. But Buffy tells Angel that she’s not coming back again. She tells Angel that they’re not friends. She offers that she can’t lie to herself anymore about what she wants from him that she’ll never have.
Angel tries to come up with a way that they can still see each other, but Buffy offers an easy way: He just has to tell her that he doesn’t love her.
Obvs, he can’t do that. Buffy walks away.
Scene 41: In her bedroom, Willow fiddles sadly with her Witch Head Pez Dispenser as Oz has walked away.
Scene 42: Oz is at The Bronze, alone with his guitar though he finds he can’t play it. He sits deep in thought.
Scene 43: Xander is in the library with the lights mostly out, putting away books and feeling like a heel [as well he should].
Scene 44: Cordelia lies in bed, staring at nothing, having “walked away” metaphorically.
Scene 45: Buffy sits on a bench and ponders her and Angel, numbly.
Scene 46: Meanwhile, Spike is driving through the desert in his clumsily blacked out windows and screaming a punk version of Sinatra’s “My Way” … the only one happily ready to face his [he presumes temporary] singlehood.
The Good: James Marsters really has fun with acting out a drunken, moping Spike and his amusement with the role is infectious.
I loved the adorable moments with Xan/Cordy and Oz/Willow before it all goes wrong.
I love the retrospective hint into the problems that Willow is going to have as a character messing with magic. You can see right here that magic is going to become her crutch for dealing with messy, emotional things that will be built upon moving forward, quite subtly at first. It's a wonderful way to bring "perfect Willow" down a peg.
That scene in the factory basement when Spike is threatening Willow is truly disturbing and actually scary despite knowing that obviously Willow isn't going to have a bottle end pushed into her face. Aly and James are fantastic.
I also loved Spike's weeping for sympathy on her shoulder, before he just as suddenly becomes threatening again.
And the scene where the oblivious Joyce is being mock threatened by Spike to goad the locked out Angel is hilarious. I especially liked his pantomiming his biting her in the clownish way and when he tells Angel that "You're a very bad man".
I liked Spike's "love's bitch" speech, though not as much as most do. But I like the bookend it makes with Angelus basically saying the same thing about passion's will being in the blood.
The "death" of Cordelia was well done. It was sudden enough to take one off guard, but then the real situation was revealed quickly enough for the 'gag' to not be overdone and cause our logical mind to unravel the illusion before the joke was finished.
I had some extra fun with the huge group of vampires battling Angel, Buffy and Spike [with one tiny caveat in Other Thoughts].
I really liked the closing montage of everyone miserable with their romantic strife, except Spike who starts out as miserable and leaves full of vigor and purpose.
The Bad: The only thing that really bugged me was Spike actually bellowing outside the mansion and Angel totally not hearing that racket. I don't care if he was sleeping, Spike is LOUD just outside his doors.
Other Thoughts: I had worries, as mentioned in the review, of trying to present Spike without Angelus-jabs or Dru-worship as a part of the episode, but I'm very happy to say that it wasn't a concern. Spike is entirely entertaining.
The bits with Buffy's high SAT and thinking about college provided good character work for Giles and Joyce, but I did find it a bit repetitive when they kept having Buffy focused on whether she could really leave when everyone, even her Watcher is telling her "YES" already.
I was a little annoyed at some details of the story, but they weren't bad enough to place in The Bad: Spike's rambling spying on Angel, who remains totally clueless for one. Another was Oz very convenient scenting of Willow from his van during a random drive through town. And the ninja approach for Oz and Cordy so they can see Willow and Xan at just the wrong moment was clumsy.
I did enjoy making Richard completely aware of all of Spike's doings from Season 2 but it is also a problem logically as it just isn't sensible that he wasn't interfering in stopping Angelus from ruining everything with the Acathla statue-demon. It makes the retrospective opinion on the whole thing a little too clumsy to work.
I liked that Buffy and Angel are being forced to confront their very real and powerful feelings for one another after their not convincing attempts to be "just friends" and it was inspired to have Spike, of all people, be the one to force the revelation on them. The only thing that bugs me though, is how they have Buffy tell Angel he doesn't need her help anymore after we saw him turn basically helpless over a door being toppeled onto him. Clearly, he does need protection still. And what's more, even if he agreed with Buffy that he's fine on his own now - that really makes it difficult to explain why he doesn't frickin' leave, then. I can't help but feel that this revelation that they can't be friends should've come later in the season after some real soul searching by Buffy.
Despite my love of Spike and Joyce in her kitchen, it did really irritate me that once again the storytelling chose to have Buffy not tell Joyce anything about Spike's being dangerous and they actually had The Slayer not perform a dis-invite spell against him either before, or even now! The only thing keeping it out of The Bad is the real amusement of seeing Spike and Joyce having a civilized conversation about Drusilla's being unreasonable.
Was anyone else thinking that Angel looked a little too ridiculous sitting out so much of that magic store fight under the door? It just felt like they were keeping him out of the action a little too long for it to be believable, unless he's always on the verge of passing out just walking around. He sure didn't look that weak when he was threatening Spike. That just came across as silly.
The Score: This is a really fun episode, except for a few harrowing scenes. Those scenes, all involving Spike threatening some really gruesome violence against Willow, almost don't belong in the episode at all. The switch in tone is a bit too drastic even though it is phenomenally acted. I like the way that all of our characters romantic relationships have unravelled by the end.
4.0 out of 5 stars
Next Up: Angel & Faith, Season 2, Issue 12