Mon
Apr 15 2013 12:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Maybe this is a girlfriend test?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Buffy, Xander

“I Was Made to Love You,” by Jane Espenson

In the wake of Spike’s shocking and wholly unexpected declaration of love last time, Buffy has been left feeling creeped out and dirty. And since Glory hasn’t bothered to come up with a readily pummelled snake-monster and the Byzantos are off gathering their forces—or sharpening their swords or maybe training up a few new slaughterable holy lambs—she needs something else to beat on if she’s gonna productively deal with these entirely valid feelings. Her choice? Xander in a sumo suit.

Xander and Giles are quick to assure her the problem lies with Spike. But sick, sad love must be in the Sunnydale air, because elsewhere in town a cute little pixie of a woman is getting dropped off in a bad neighborhood, and she says she’s looking for true love.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Joyce

Yes, it’s dating time in the land of Mom. She’s super nervous, dressed up fine, and Buffy and Dawn are helping morale by being adorable teases. It’s all very warm and sweet. Thank goodness Joyce is totally over her brain tumor and will be all right forever.

The pixie, in case you’re curious, is April, and she’s looking for someone named Warren Mears. She accosts Anya and Tara as they’re discussing high finance out in the city somewhere. They don’t know Warren, alas, so she makes her way across town, asking everyone she sees and ending up at the Bronze just in time for party hour.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Ben

Most of the gang, Joyce and her date excepted, are there. Buffy is considering the possibilities of a BenUffy romantic partnership. Buffeny? Buffen? The mash-up of names alone will tell you it’s not to be. But dancing happens, coffee is discussed, and a phone number is exchanged. All the preliminary groundwork for an unworkable relationship seems to be laid.

It turns out Warren is Bronzing too, with his current girlfriend. Warren, we see, is a craven coward, because when April shows up, he bundles Katrina out the back way.

April makes quite an impression. Xander and Willow are both struck by her physical attractions, being just appreciative enough—in a lusty oinker way—that Tara finds herself unimpressed. My heart, on the other hand, is warmed a little by the sight of these two lifelong friends girlwatching together. Anya claims to be unthreatened and also notes that April talks much as she does.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Willow, Xander, Tara, Anya

Hey! Spike’s at the Bronze too—what a surprise! Once again he sees just enough Buffen flirt to make him feel  jealous and unhappy. He doesn’t have a snake to punch either, so instead he makes an obscene suggestion to April. She chucks him through a window. Then she throws Buffy across the Bronze for good measure.

While everyone else in the city is out either actively dating or fleeing their avowed true loves, Giles has once again been watching Dawn. He’s wrung out and glad to be relieved of duty. Then Joyce comes home as the guard is changing, and teases Buffy about the sex she didn’t have with Brian.

“Mother!”

Oh, Joyce. You’re adorable. You’re breaking my heart here.

April, meanwhile, is knocking on doors, well into the wee hours, looking for Warren the so very unworthy.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Giles, Xander

The gang concludes in a trice, whatever that is, that April is probably a robot. We’re not wasting time on a mystery here, Jane Espenson seems to be saying: these are seasoned evil-fighters and they know a Ted-type when they see one. With that out of the way, they embark on a little analysis of Warren’s motives in building her before buckling down to the hunt. Their discussion about loneliness and whether everyone deserves someone sets off a little soul-searching within Buffy, and after a little moping over the phone number she got from Ben, she calls and sets up a coffee date.

He’s just changed from being Glory, and so he’s in her red dress. This little moment of ‘heh’ one of the few goofy moments in an otherwise low-key and tragic story.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Ben

But Ben, what are you thinking? You can’t possibly believe there’s any good to be had in a relationship where Buffy’s the Slayer and you’re the hobbit hole for a deranged deity who wants to dismember her and kill her younger sibling.

Unlike Ben (appparently) Warren is still capable of a certain amount of common sense. He reasons that if April is here in Sunnydale he should flee like a terrified thing. He packs, lying to Katrina all the while. Before they get away, though, Buffy shows up.

He reveals that April’s a robot. Buffy’s all, “Duh!” (Okay, that’s good for a small ‘heh’ too.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Giles, Spike

While that’s happening, Spike shows up at the boogety boogety store. The Scoobies have closed ranks on him, and Giles gets to be the voice of Go the Hell Away, Spike. Or, as he puts it: “We are not your friends. We are not your way to Buffy. There is no way to Buffy.”

Spike takes this badly, going home and trashing the remains of his Buffy altar.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Warren, April

Warren is a sad weasel of a man. Buffy learns he built April, made her into his upbeat and obedient ideal girl-slave and then, when he discovered he didn’t want that so much, he abandoned her. He was figuring her batteries would run out. Instead she bumps into Katrina. They compare boyfriend notes, and this turns out very badly for Katrina’s ability to breathe.

Even as his girlfriend lies possibly dying on a park bench, Warren tries to weasel out of telling April the truth. Buffy makes him. April gets confused about who it is Warren loves and attacks Buffy. This gives all of us a fantastic opportunity to see the Slayer fighting her future electrotwin, or at least some of her parts.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, April

There is no winning in this fight. For April, it’s all lose. She runs out of juice.  Buffy stays with her as she powers down, and tells her some comforting lies. It’s a terrible act of mercy. Somewhere along the way, she realizes that she’s not in need of a Ben shaped friend—that she needs to cultivate some emotional self-sufficiency.

If I had shut off the TV at this point in the series, I might have said “I was made to Love You” was the saddest damned thing I ever saw on BtVS. The characterization of Warren, from frame one, is as perfect a portrait of misogyny as anyone might care to take in. Everything he does to April—all the little sexist grace notes like making it impossible for her to cry, because good girlfriends don’t resort to emotional blackmail—is simply horrifying.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, April

Watching her blink out there on the swingset, still loving him, is like watching a helpless abandoned kitty starve to death. It really gets to me.

It’s ingenious storytelling, in its way, because Spike’s also suffering because of his hunger for a love he can’t have. April, is in a sense a way of showing how acutely his misplaced affection for Buffy must pain him. And yet he is no  innocent, no Galatea. Even if he didn’t do what he does next, it would be obvious he’s as much a Warren as an April.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Warren

And what Spike does, as you all probably know, is track down Warren—just after Katrina dumps him—and demand that he build a Buffybot.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Was Made to Love You, Spike

Glory’s big appearance in this episode is an afterthought: she hears Buffy’s no coffee for us message to Ben. She’s equal parts paranoid about what’s up and hurt over the rejection.

And then . . .

Well. Let’s just say I have reached the point in this rewatch where I’m trying to figure out if a couple glasses of sparkling rose will make what comes next easier or harder to take.

Next time: I kinda just want to skip past the next bit, don’t you?


A.M. Dellamonica has kaboodles of fiction up here on .com! Her ‘baby werewolf has two mommies,’ story, “The Cage,” made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. There’s also “Among the Silvering Herd,” the first of a series of stories called The Gales.

Now you can read her novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

44 comments
Shariq
1. Shariq
Warren Mears. Probably the evilest son-of-a-bitch to ever show up in this show.
Sean Dowell
2. qbe_64
While you may rightly consider the origins of Buffybot gross, I think it's safe to say that Buffybot, and SMG's portrayal thereof, is awesome.

How is your money indeed!
Jenny Thrash
3. Sihaya
... and they take our sunshine away.

Wrong Whedon story, but it's all the same.
Alyx Dellamonica
4. AMDellamonica
Buffybot is awesome! (And one might argue that many of us have gross origins, depending on how we choose to look at them.)

I had at one point conflated Warren Mears with the fellow from "I Robot, You Jane" who tries to electrocute Buffy. Because, you know, woman-hating robot makers.
Shariq
5. Eric Saveau
I kinda just want to skip past the next bit, don’t you?

Yeah. Yeah, I really kinda do :-(
Shariq
7. build6
when I first saw this episode I was thinking it was a strange "detour", but it's actually very important because it sets up the "origin" of the Buffybot, which is actually really important/useful.

but I find I rarely/can't watch this episode because of how it ends

@2 - "how is your money": yet another line that makes me laugh like crazy and people who aren't familiar with Buffy have NO idea. I was waiting to talk about it once the rewatch gets to Intervention :-)
Marie Veek
6. SlackerSpice
@4: Yeah, well, there's 'ugh, I just stepped in animal poop' gross, and then there's 'give me one good reason why I shouldn't dump your skeezy ass in a volcano' gross.
Rob Rater
8. Quasarmodo
I hadn't expected them to back to the robot well, but it was more than worth it for the Buffybot. Sheer brilliance!
Vicki Smith
9. EclecticMayhem
I'm just glad that there will be a few weeks' grace between next week's Buffy recap and Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides over on the Farscape rewatch...
Shariq
10. huntece
@1 yep not even a doubt
Shariq
11. Dianthus
Having learned my lesson, I hereby resolve not to talk about stuff that happened in the past while we're...talking about about stuff that happened in the past. Wait. What?
It takes brass, is all I'm sayin'.

And now, for something completely different....
Spike isn't nearly as much of a @!#! Warren as Warren is. Love him or hate him, I think we can all agree he'd never impose a 'no crying' rule. In fact, Dead Things juxtaposes an image of Spike in handcuffs with an image of Katrina in handcuffs. By then he'll be playing Katrina to Buffy's Warren.
Constance Sublette
12. Zorra
Next time: I kinda just want to skip past the next bit, don’t you?
I want to skip over the next bit, but it's this episode that I skip over, in fact.

As I know just how frackin' much of the truly disgusting and horrifying Bad that Warren is, and how much of him we get next season, I feel it is OK.

Also -- too many girl robots or simulacrums of them in the entire series, not to mention Doll House, Serenity and Firefly.

Bored now.

(Not really Bored now, just squicked beyond belief -- and I have control of what I put in front of my eyeballs!)
Shariq
13. Dianthus
@12. We do like to objectify our women, don't we?
Marie Veek
14. SlackerSpice
@12: Not to mention that any squick over Spike creating a sexbot of Buffy after being rejected by her seems to be played for laughs.
Risha Jorgensen
15. RishaBree
@1 @10 - It's probably because he's the most horrific picture of purely human evil that we see. Others Bads slaughter babies to gain mystical power. Warren metaphorically-roofies and rapes his ex-girlfriend, in the way of countless sociopaths you can meet at a party anywhere.
Shariq
16. Dianthus
@14. There's a lot of squicky stuff played for laughs in this show. That kid's head exploding in s7? Hilarious!
@15. Nevermind that he abandons April and essentially leaves her for dead. She's not alive in the biological sense, but she is self-aware.
Marie Veek
17. SlackerSpice
@16: But when the humor centers around a guy getting a sexbot built that's made to be and look like *an actual person in their life who rejected them as a potential boyfriend*, well... see my above comment re: the volcano.
Shariq
18. Dianthus
@17. She's part of Spike's progression, tho'. From the mannequin to the 'bot to the real Buffy. I dunno why/how Spike thought he could get away with it, but I don't really care, cuz Intervention is my favorite ep. Plus, the 'bot becomes key in defeating Glory. Somebody had to have her built, and Spike's the logical choice.
So here are three good reasons:
1. When Giles cries out to Buffy for help, the 'bot changes direction to head for him rather than Spike.
2. Torture.
3. Defeating Glory.
Shariq
19. Dianthus
Slightly OT - if you're a fan of Jane Espenson a/o James Marsters, head on over to Hulu and check out the most recent ep of Warehouse 13. Good stuff!
Jack Flynn
20. JackofMidworld
Fricking Warren.

And, yeah, I will NOT be reading the next bit with anybody else around.
Shariq
21. Gardner Dozois
The ending of this episode is one of the saddest of any episode of the series. Staying with April while the lights slowly go out for her is also one of Buffy's greatest acts of compassion.
Shariq
22. Dianthus
@21. Showing compassion for the non-human types (April, Spike, Oz) makes Buffy special, IMO, considering it's her duty to protect humanity from The Other. It's far too easy to fall into 'Us v. Them' thinking in such cases.
Speaking of compassion, do we have any Bostonians in the crowd? I've been hearing reports on the explosions all morning. Heartbreaking.
Constance Sublette
23. Zorra
@22 Dianthus:
Showing compassion for the non-human types (April, Spike, Oz) makes Buffy special, IMO, considering it's her duty to protect humanity from The Other.
You are so right in this perceptive observation.
Alyx Dellamonica
24. AMDellamonica
Buffy has a lot of qualities that make her hard to like when they're on display, but it's this compassion that makes me love her. It would be easier to be the person she fears she's becoming, in "Intervention." That she isn't as hard as she thinks is truly wonderful.
Shariq
25. Dianthus
@23. Thank you, Zorra. It's kind of you to say.

@24. IIRC, Giles counters Buffy's claim of hardness with the word 'resilient' in Intervention (others words too), and Buffy says the're all words for hard. I don't think I've ever seen resilient used that way. Resilient's about bouncing back, or things bouncing off you, right?

Seems to me Buffy's less attractive qualities were mostly related to or exacerbated by the trauma she suffered with her resurrection.
I think Rule #1, re: resurrection, should be DON'T.
If you're determined to do it anyway, at least dig her up first! Geez. Willow's s'posed to be the smart one.
Jason Parker
26. tarbis
Sorry, I feel the need to be that guy this week.
The party was at the college, not the Bronze. None of the Bronze sets had windows, which makes sense for a club, and it is very clearly not a Bronze set when Xander is replacing the window.

On one hand this is an episode with a solid emotional core. On the other hand none of the characters the viewers actually care about are really threatened. (The title character is not going to be killed by a random monster of the week and we all know it.) That makes the action come off kind of toothless and low stakes.
Shariq
27. Dianthus
@26. I think we all end up being 'that guy' from time to time. Some of us more than others, maybe.
Aside from setting up the Buffybot, this ep really doesn't move things forward. Still, it's good as far as it goes.
Shariq
28. Gardner Dozois
In terms of the overall season Glory arc, it's mostly another wheel-spinner, of which there have been several. It was necessary to put these in to keep things from coming to a head with Glory before the end of the season. Fortunately for Buffy, Glory, although tremendously powerful, is not particularly bright. She knows Buffy's the slayer fairly early on, and even knows where she lives, and even suspects that she might know who the Key is, but she basically leaves her alone while doing nothing much to actually find the Key for large parts of the season.

Of course, Buffy's not terribly bright either. Once she learns that there's a clock running, that the dimension-opening spell must be done before a specific date, then all she really has to do to solve the problem is to get in a plane with dawn and go to France and wander around Europe in a rental car for a few weeks, new place every night, and stay hidden. No way Glory would ever be able to cast around and find her again in time before the clock ran out.
Shariq
29. MackTheFife
When Warren showed up during my rewatch, the first thought that popped into my head was, "He's going to come to a sticky end." Ouch! Heh. Eww! Heh.

I admit I was crying during the scene on the swings. It was all so perfectly sad and dreadful. (Also, I was home sick that day, which always help the tears flow.) Buffy had to spend so much time helping April die.

Then she went home.

Everyone has been avoiding this bit, but I have to say that Buffy's final line -- "Mommy?" -- nailed it. When I first saw this episode, I didn't know what would happen next week, but I knew this was real.

But man! I had no idea how real.
Shariq
30. Dianthus
@29. Speaking for myself, I didn't want (painfully) real! Real is out there, and it's out to get us. Didn't we just get a terrible reminder of how much real can really hurt? I wanted Campy-Fun-Kick-Ass Time, Damitol!
*sigh*
Sometimes I feel like Whedon's the Bad Boyfriend we can't shake. He's not happy just plunging a knife into our collective heart, no. He goes Angelus on us. B*st*rd.
Chris Nelly
32. Aeryl
This is one of those episodes I called foul on when I orginally watched, having not started at the beginning, because I was like "Robots? WTF are robots doing on BUFFY?!"

Then you go back and watch, and realize they've been there all along.

The tabletop RPG even had entire skill set in superscience, for building robots, weaponry. That's how deep into the show's structure it goes. But without that knowledge, it's kinda jarring. I was like "Did I change the channel and catch a Star Trek TNG rerun with SMG?"
Risha Jorgensen
33. RishaBree
@32 - If I recall correctly, the Hellmouth is supposed to make "weird science" work better than it does elsewhere. Which would in theory make Ted and April and Adam somewhat magical instead of purely scientific, I suppose.
Chris Nelly
34. Aeryl
BTW, Alyx, I forgot to mention this, but that quote you used for the title is bloody brilliant. Totally spot on, and it breaks my heart every time I read it.
Vicki Smith
35. EclecticMayhem
I'd just like to say how absolutely STUNNING Kristine Sutherland looks in that halter top/dress/thing. STUNNING.

"mommy?"


*wah!*
Emma Rosloff
36. emmarosloff
I, too, find this episode hard to watch (the next one, impossible), but more for what it heralds -- Joyce's death is so tragic and brings such hardship to Buffy and Dawn's lives (not to mention all of the horrible things that Warren goes onto do as a villain in the next season).

This is essentially the end of BtVS being a light, funny show. After The Body, there's just no going back. Sure, a quick, funny quip can be had here or there, but the overall morose tone starts to pervade everything, and you feel like you can't shake it off, even when you're done watching.

Still, some really grippng stuff ahead, and I won't lie when I say that most of my favorite moments are in the next couple seasons.

Also, I caught Warehouse 13, and I squealed with pure delight when I realized the professor was James Marsters! It looks like he'll be something of a reoccurring character, too. I wasn't surprised to see Jane Espenson's name on the screen, either. I feel like I see her name everywhere. Can I have her career please?
Shariq
37. build6
@35 - Kristine Sutherland is just overall fantastic :-)

I think the next few episodes would feel quite different if we didn't like her portrayal of Buffy's mom so much

the casting of this show is just great
Shariq
38. Dianthus
@36. Spike's evolution is, for me, the silver lining of the dark cloud ahead.

I didn't even know JM was going to be on Warehouse 13. When the woman pushed that pile of stuff the desk, I said aloud "Is that who I think it is?" Talk about bounce and squee! That he'll be a recurring character, for a time, makes me very happy. Now if only they could get him on OUaT.
Chris Nelly
39. Aeryl
OOOOOOH!! Who could he play on OUaT? Who's left to cast?

I think the Disney roster's about done, but with Dr. Whale's past showing that they are willing to expand beyond typical fairy tales, he could be anyone. Even, dare I say it, Dracula???
Alyx Dellamonica
40. AMDellamonica
Emma--morose, yes. That's exactly how I feel about the turn in mood, post "The Body."

Tarbis, thank you for the correction about the Bronze.
Shariq
41. Dianthus
Not to take away from the actor who played Jefferson/The Mad Hatter, but I could see JM doing that up a treat. I don't really see him as Dracula - I don't think he's right for the part physically, but I'd love to see him in there somewhere.
We've already had Sir Lancelot. What about Arthur, or another knight like Sir Galahad? He could be my 'Knight in Shining Armor' any day.
Shariq
42. Dianthus
On 2nd thought, there's prob'ly some rule against Knights of the Round Table bringing the snark. Merlin. Yeah. Slingin' spells and snarking @ Regina.
Shariq
43. Dianthus
Ugh. Delayed Reaction Thinking...the bane of my existence.
Had forgotten about George Hamilton (aka The Man With The Tan) in Love at First Bite. Also, Tom Cruise as Lestat. I guess Drac's a possibility after all.
Also, too: Robin Hood - William Tell - Reynard the Fox (minus the anti-Semitic propaganda).
Emma Rosloff
44. emmarosloff
@38: "Spike's evolution is, for me, the silver lining of the dark cloud ahead." Couldn't have said that better myself. That's totally what I was referring to when I said some of my favorite moments were ahead.

And I had the exact same reaction, watching Warehouse 13. My only quibble is that in recent times JM tends to be relegated to the "goofy, wise-cracking villain" role (see: Torchwood), and while he does it well, it's a little formulaic when he could clearly do so much more. I mean, that's what Spike was at his start (albeit a bit more menacing), but he get to be so much more.

I'm seeing this new character follow a pattern very close to the Torchwood one. There just wasn't a ton of depth there, and how I'd love to see JM get into it with a complicated character again. There's totally room for it with this new character, but... I don't know if they'll go there. He seems to be there largely to bring the funny (and maybe some more viewers?). I'm certainly not complaining, but it still feels like a bit of a waste. I guess we'll see.
Shariq
45. Dianthus
@44. St. Germaine's not exactly a stretch, no. Still, he has the financial independence to do what he wants, so that's ok. I'm glad he's back and having a fun time.
Oops, looks like Robin Hood's been taken.

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