Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Tor.com

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Real Vampy Love Bitches of Sunnydale

(Apologies for posting this out of order, everyone. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but as I was on the road and down with a cold a couple weeks ago, the odds seem good that whatever it was, it’s down to me. Sorry.)

In theory, things are bright for Buffy Summers as “Lover’s Walk” opens: she’s aced her SAT exams, to widespread (and perhaps slightly insulting) cries of “Holy s#@%!” There’s a slender prospect that she can get into a good school, one that places minimal value on death sports as an extracurricular, and that Faith could maybe hold down the Hellmouth if she does go off to get an education.

The Mayor’s not really on anyone’s radar yet, so everyone’s daring Buffy to dream: go to college, train for something other than monster population control, get a life that isn’t all about death, death, and the occasional evisceration. Joyce and Giles are united in urging her to get a start on a quasi-normal existence. In service of demonstrating this commitment to a proper work-life balance, Giles then breaks off the conversation and bolts to the woods, to camp, meditate, be unavailable, and get up to who knows what other fun Watcher stuff. Or maybe he’s just off signing the lease on the creepy hotel the Watchers use as a trap in “Helpless.” Other things that are good in the life of Buffy: her boyfriend’s back and while there’s already been trouble over that, the two of them are starting to move past the whole “you’re dangerous, Angel, and I had to put you down like a rabid dog” issue. Sometimes these long-running relationship struggles have to be set aside. They’re oh so very last year, after all.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Real Vampy Love Bitches of Sunnydale

But the idea that everything is coming up Buffy is all vapor, really, and we see it as soon as Spike rolls into town, drunk as drunk gets and with no plan at all. “Lover’s Walk” is Spike’s lone S3 appearance and it’s mostly a comic romp. He’s been dumped by Drusilla and, when he realizes Angel isn’t as dead as previously advertised, fixes on the idea of taking revenge on his sire. Through it all, he’s substantially defanged: he’s looking to give Angel boils or bad cable service. There’s no sign of all of William the Bloody, Slayer of Slayerzzz. . .  at least not until a drive-by encounter with Willow gives him what seems, to his drunken, love-bruised heart, like a better idea: ensorcel Dru.

Willow is messing around with love spell stuff, of course, because of her guilt over her ongoing tendency to end up in cheaty-pants kiss-fests with Xander. This is pretty her first attempt on BtVS to use magic as an easy way out of a problem: she wants to do a “delusting” (I love that word) so the two of them can get back on the monogamous and narrow. But Spike overhears the words “love spell” and naturally thinks “W00t!” Soon he’s eaten the magic shop owner, bashed Xander on the head and made off with both kids. Even as the Mayor and his doomed assistant decide to have Trick run Spike out of town on the sharp end of a stake, he’s alternately menacing Willow and pouring out his troubles to her.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Real Vampy Love Bitches of Sunnydale

This scene, between Spike and Willow, is superfantastic. Still drunk, he swings wildly between pathos and menace. It’s always funny when he sucks a woman into comforting him, but at the same time it’s undeniably creepy: the quicksilver turns to genuine threat are frightening and Alyson Hannigan’s terror is absolutely convincing. When she finally stands up to him: “There will be no bottle in face, no having of me of any kind,” it’s cheerworthy. (Interesting, too, that little whiff of foreshadowing that Spike might be inclined to a little bit of rape.) Boundaries firmly established, Willow sends Spike off to the store to pick up supplies. Instead he goes to Buffy’s house. (Does anyone know why? I mean, I love the Angel-Spike-Joyce scene, but why is Spike there? There’s an implication that Willow’s spell book might be at Chez Slay, but it’s wafer-thin. She had a spell book in the chem lab.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Real Vampy Love Bitches of Sunnydale

Anyway, Spike cavorts behind Joyce, having his drunken taunty fun, until Buffy shows and gives Angel his invite back. The three of them negotiate a truce: they will all go get the spell stuff, Willow will do her thing and Spike will release their friends. And then the Mayor’s welcoming committee shows up. Battle ensues! It’s a fun fight, or at least Spike thinks it is. When he’s not dishing out damage, he’s offering BuffAngel a few home truths: you’re incapable of being friends, kids, he basically says. Get over the big pretense. By now, the clouds have rolled in completely. Oz and Cordelia catch Xandillow mating in captivity, and when Cordelia runs away she ends up speared on a hunk of rebar.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Real Vampy Love Bitches of Sunnydale

Buffy decides Spike is right and that she needs to give Angel his walking papers. By the end of the episode everyone’s betrayed, alone, sad or on the road, drunk, and singing Gary Oldman. The moral here might be “don’t cheat on your significant other, or ally with the Slayer against them.” Or possibly “TV relationships never last, folks, so don’t get too invested.” Maybe it’s just “Tune in next week for another thrilling episode!”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Real Vampy Love Bitches of Sunnydale


A.M. Dellamonica has a short story up here on Tor.com — an urban fantasy about a baby werewolf, “The Cage” which made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. She also has a second story up here called “Among the Silvering Herd.”

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