Apr 1 2013 1:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Singing in the Key of Key

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Dawn

“Blood Ties,” by Michael Gershman

Holey Hellmouth, Vampfans, Buffy’s twenty! That’s not quite a Slayer record—I think Nikki Woods lived to be twenty-two—but it’s still very impressive, don’t you think?

Joyce totally does. She is basking in the warm glow of no longer being seriously ill, and naturally enough wants to throw her hard-working eldest a party. Buffy, on the other hand, isn’t sure it’s a good idea to take any focus away from the Glory hunt. She expresses this concern to the gang. They wisely advocate partying hard and working smarter, by homing in on the thing that would seem to be their one potential tactical advantage when fighting a deity.

Which is? Beating Glory to the nifty-sounding Key thing she’s after.

Giles and Buffy try to distract everyone from this juicy if obvious topic, but when that doesn’t work, they ’fess up about having the Key all handily tucked away in the care of the public school system. Maybe truth’s not such a good idea, but Buffy’s not willing to keep lying to her friends-slash-team about who they’ll be risking their lives for this spring.

At this point, despite having apparently heard Joyce, Giles and Buffy talking about her being said Keylike object, Dawn hasn’t quite come ’round to the truth. She knows something’s up, and has been lurking about trying to overhear more. Now, when she turns up at the Magic Box and the newly clued in XandAnya act discomfited by her mere existence, she decides enough is enough. Time to go into active sleuth mode!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Glory

The Knights of Byzantium also have the Key on their collective tiny minds, and are praying to find it and kill it (praying, as opposed to searching for and attacking it) when Glory’s minions show up to help them practice their kickin’ sword moves. And then die. This goes awry, because the knights are all brawn and the minions are... well, are they all brain? They’re not fighters, by any stretch. But they have Glory, and she’s happy to come mop up the victors. She kills everyone but Orlando (whose name is Middle Byzant for “defeated by everyone”) and drags him off to her place for torture. When it turns out he knows nothing, she sucks out the part of his consciousness that binds his sense of self. Or something like that. It’s what Giles said she’s been doing to the easily captured minimum-wage earners of Sunnydale.

Against Buffy’s better judgment, the birthday celebration occurs, and to her surprise it’s mostly enjoyable. Nobody turns evil, nobody turns to a Fiorl demon and the Watcher’s Council, having recently been put in their place, sends an empowering bundt cake instead of the usual deadly ritual. In fact, it’s all very down to earth, though Anya is practicing her advanced coveting skills on Buffy’s gifts and Dawn is trying to work out why everyone’s still acting odd. It doesn’t help that her present to Buffy is a picture of the two of them, sourced from the past they don’t really share. It’s an awkward moment, and soon she’s flouncing off to her room, cooly considering her options, and shimmying down the nearest tree to the yard, where she runs into the dark masterlurker himself. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Giles, Joyce, Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara, Dawn

Ah, Spike. He has that same battered box of chocolates as previously, and he doesn’t quite dare give it to Buffy. He decides in a split second to give the Slayer what she really needs for her birthday, which is to serve as bodyguard on Dawn’s proposed expedition to go steal stuff from the Magic Box. This is, I feel, pretty thoughtful. Having your sister not-killed on your birthday is a pretty good present by Slayer standards.

They go, they break in, and with almost no effort at all... Spawn! Spike plus Dawn is Spawn! Now I must jump around the apartment giggling and scaring the cats... okay, where was I?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Dawn, Spike

Spawn finds the Giles diary entry on the monks, the Key, the Slayer, the whole damned situation. He didn’t write in code, Sumerian, or use coy euphemisms. He also didn’t take the diary home, tucked in his hard-to-pick jacket pocket.

So the two of them puzzle out the truth.

Not surprisingly, Dawn reacts like an emotionally high-strung teenager. She zooms home, opens a vein, and effectively kills the party by bleeding on it. The guests flee and she has a mini-showdown with Buffy and Joyce about their having been a pair of overprotective fibbers.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Dawn, Joyce

A contrite Buffy hits the Magic Shop next day to see what she can learn, with the idea that knowing about her origins will console Dawn. In the process, the gang realizes Spike was in on the break-in. Buffy confronts him, but in his usual Spike way, he just lays out some hard truths for her: Buffy’s the one who lied, he didn’t know there was anything to hide from the kid, she and Giles are terrible at keeping secrets and anyway he’s busy painting his nails, so go away. That part is what passes for hilarity at this point in the seven-season arc. By which I mean, it’s pretty funny, but it’s not a gut-buster.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Ben is busy discovering that Orlando is the latest brainhoovered victim of Glorificus the Magnificently Scented. Jinx seems to think this is a good reason for Glory and Ben to call truce, and makes unconvincing threat noises. Ben points out that Glory can’t touch him.

Really, Ben? This is interesting... ish. It’s mysterious, anyway.

Dawn spends her day making Joyce feel guilty as all git out, getting suspended from school, burning her diaries, and finally slips off out of the house to feel grief-stricken and woeful in private—this time without a Spikey escort.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Willow, Tara

The Scoobies respond to her disappearance by scampering all over Sunnydale in pairs, speaking in a fairly normal tone of voice to each other (and anyone who might care to overhear) about how OMG, Dawn’s, like, not a real person. And hey, it’s a big secret! In a town packed full of minions, mages, deities, vampires, generic enemies of Buffy and homicidal Byzants. I think this is silly.

But instead of being exposded by her nearest and dearest, Dawn remembers that the population of the hospital psych ward may have some insights into the nature of her existence. Orlando cheers her up considerably by shrieking “Destroyer!” at the sight of her, and follows up with a rousing performance of the Byzant ‘Kill the Key’ litany, which as silly knight songs go is vaguely rhythmic, but doesn’t hold a candle to even the weakest tunes in Spam-a-Lot.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Dawn, Ben

Paging Doctor Ben! He comes bearing hot chocolate and attempts to console her, basically being the mensch he pretends to be when he’s not summoning Queller demons to kill helpless madmen or beating the crap out of Jinx. Dawn tells him she’s not real and he puts it together.

“You’re the Key?” He then goes into a panic so intense he turns into Glory in scrubs. Which, I admit, I wasn’t expecting the first time. Were you?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Dawn, Glory

Glory doesn’t remember Ben’s big discovery, fortunately, and the conversation that follows is tense but delicious: she wants Dawn to help her with the Key search, and Dawn delicately pumps her for info—on herself! I call that intrepid girl sleuthing. It works pretty well right up until the moment that Glory reverts to her pattern of deciding that Dawn knows nothing but might be good for a little sanity-slurpage.

Fortunately, the thing about going to the hospital in search of information is that’s the next place the Scoobies go to seek Dawn. A fight breaks out—Buffy and Spike don’t come anywhere close to defeating Glory, but they try hard and entertain her a bit—us too—and that gives WillTara time to teleport her into the sky. This makes Willow faint, which is pretty much the first time she keels as a result of doing powerful magic, unless you count the restoring Angel’s soul spell, which I think caused some swoonage. She did have a concussion at the time, though.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Glory, Willow, Tara

During the fight, Buffy gets the sharp end of a tire iron in the chest. Once Glory’s gone, she appeals to Dawn using the gory wound: this is Summers blood, she says, and you have it too. Basically: you’re a part of me and I love you. She tactfully doesn’t add: “So chill already, willya? You’re making this all much harder.”

Dawn, who has to be emotionally exhausted by now, caves in, calls off the identity crisis and gives her a hug.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Dawn

So who doesn’t know Dawn’s the Key now? Basically, Glory, her underlings, Harmony, the editor of the Sunnydale Gazette and the still-surviving hordes of Byzantium. The whole Scooby gang, Joyce, Spike, Ben and Dawn herself are now in on the secret.

Do we have a term for an episode that’s emphatically not a wheel-spinner?

Maybe it’s a plow. This episode is so very focused on the main storyline that it has no real B story: no great attention is paid to any of the Scoobies. Instead, we just get the barest reminder that Spike Luvs Buffy 4Evah, Anya is newly human and strangely acquisitive, and Willow’s overreaching with the magic. This lack of subplot is one of the things that happens more and more as we get further into the latter half of Buffy—there’s less other story to shift our attention to and from the big events. This, when combined with the muting of the humorous bits, is another contributor to the overall doleful tone building up, like mildew, on the last few seasons.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Willow

But for now Dawn and Buffy are reconciled, there’s no more dancing around the gang to be done because everyone’s in the know, and the big thing we viewers have all learned is that not only does Ben share a body with Glory, but he comes with an extra-handy Confuse-O-Matic so that nobody remembers and exploits the beauteous one right in her Achilles high heel.

Does it seem unfair to anyone that his confuse ray, unlike Dawn’s, works on the psych patients as well as healthy people? ’Cause they’re not freaking out when he walks by.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blood Ties, Dawn

Next time: Crushing, crushing on you...

A.M. Dellamonica has kaboodles of fiction up here on! 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.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer on ‹ previous | index | next ›
Chris Nelly
1. Aeryl
OK, first off, BAD (not-Andrew)Harmony minion! You forgot to get her the unicorn candle!! Dawn learning she's the Key is Andrew's fault, retroactively. If he hadn't forgotten it, she wouldn't have had any light to read by!!!

OK, I'm done.

BTW, fourth picture down, if anyone is curious what brought that on.
Alyx Dellamonica
2. AMDellamonica
Bwahaha, Aeryl! I am down with blaming pseudo-Andrew and actual Andrew for everything.

Apropos of nothing, today it is my fate to begin the essay on "The Body."
Eric Wyatt
3. SunDriedRainbow
....are you suggesting there is a relationship between Ben and Glory?
Dr. Thanatos
4. Dr. Thanatos
@3 Sundried:

Nah, I have it on the best authority that they are "just friends"
Dr. Thanatos
5. MackTheFife
I've been racing for months to catch up with the rewatch, and I finally made it. I was hoping to make it before "The Body", and especially before "The Gift", and here I am!

Yes, I was really surprised the first time, when Ben turned into Glory. During this rewatch, several things in the last few episodes made a good deal more sense.

Since the beginning of the season, the big-sister/little-sister dynamic between Buffy and Dawn has seemed correct. Buffy really hated having Dawn in her way -- until she saw that Dawn needed her, when she became a loving, rather more patient, protector. I love that.

Thank you, Alyx, for doing this rewatch. And all the regular participants -- it's been a lot of fun reading the gang, these many weeks!
Dr. Thanatos
6. build6
(1) Spawn!!!!!

(2) "Spike Luvs Buffy 4Evah" - damn straight

@3 - haha!
Dr. Thanatos
7. Dianthus
There are actually folks out there who 'ship Spawn, and I gotta say it squicks me a little. I much prefer the Partners-in-Crime vibe they've got going on in this ep. Plus, we once again see Spike protecting Dawn while Buffy's not around. **Telling hard truths doesn't make Spike very popular in some circles. **For some reason, I'm not able to form paragraphs anymore. What's that about? I hit 'enter' and get nothing, nada. **Glory refers to Spike as Buffy's boyfriend. She is all too quick to deny it. Never say never, my girl.** **Andrew is Evil in every incarnation!**
Risha Jorgensen
8. RishaBree
In other words, not a good episode, not a bad episode, just relentlessly... there.
Don Barkauskas
9. bad_platypus
Dianthus @7: It's apparently a propblem with IE10.

Clicking on the "Compatability View" icon fixes it.
Dr. Thanatos
10. Dianthus
@9. I'm not even using IE10! Maybe it's time to go back to Firefox?
Dr. Thanatos
11. Dianthus
This is a test. This is only a test.
If this were an actual emergency...we'd all be in a heap o' trouble!

Thank you, (not so) bad_platypus
Kit Case
13. wiredog
Spike plus Dawn is Spawn!
Definitely spikes (hah!) the squick meter. How old was Thachtenberg when this was taped? Eeew. I mean, she's sorta cute, but, eew.
Dr. Thanatos
14. Gardner Dozois
Those Dawn-haters out there ought to consider what the poor girl goes through in this episode: she finds out that her family is not really her family, that she's not really human, that she only came into existence a few months ago and all her memories of her past life are false and of things that never actually happened, and that she's being relentlessly hunted down by a murderous god. Teenage kids have acted out over much less profound things, so it's little wonder that Dawn does. If it twisted her psychologically for the rest of her life, as having been an abused child often does, it would not be surprising. As it is, she manages to come through it as a fairly normal kid, in spite of being frequently attacked by monsters in subsequent years, except for a relatively mild kleptomania problem.

It's tempting to imagine her on a psychiatrist's couch years from now, telling them "I'm not really human, see? I'm a magical creature created out of a ball of energy and I didn't really exist until I was fourteen, although I REMEMBER existing, and I have all these false memories of my family life..."
Chris Nelly
15. Aeryl
A kleptomania problem shared by her older sister, I might add.
Dr. Thanatos
16. Dianthus
I was always disappointed they didn't do more with Dawn's supernatural origins. It made sense Dawn would be a Potential (Potential) since she was 'made from' Buffy, but that was just a big psyche-out. Even in the comix, s8, crazy stuff was happening to her, but it wasn't b/c of her origins.

Now, however, she's fading away cuz there's no magic. Buffy died to save Dawn, and now they're (maybe) gonna kill her off anyway. Bastard people. Hasn't Buffy suffered enough?
Chris Nelly
17. Aeryl
SPOILER Continued

Don't worry, Willow is a Horcrux for the Seed, having absorbed so much of it's power when Buffy destroyed it. She'll be back in time to save Dawn. ;^D
Dr. Thanatos
18. Dianthus
@17. That's what I was thinking. Wouldn't Willow get the magic back in time to save her? I dunno. When asked to describe the final arc in one word, one of those involved replied "loss" and Dawn's the one currently in jeopardy.
I'm really not loving the direction of most of the speculation there lately. Spike and Illyria? Yuck! Illyria killed his friend! Can Joss & co. be held responsible for fan speculation? No, but they're not helping. I wouldn't put anything past them at this point.
Chris Nelly
19. Aeryl
My opinion is that we are "losing" Willow. As in she becomes the Seed and loses part of her humanity. I don't think they'd take Dawn so quickly after Giles, but I might be wrong.
Dr. Thanatos
20. Dianthus
It's like this thing with Spike and Harmony....we're supposed to be okay with it cuz
a) she's not hung-up on him anymore
b) she might not have a soul, but hey, she hasn't killed anyone in ages.
That's what passes for logic in this crowd. Insane Troll Logic is more like it.
Emma Rosloff
21. emmarosloff
@14: I don't hate on Dawn or the concept behind her character or how she copes with her extraordinary circumstance. I hate on Michelle Trackenburg's portrayal of Dawn. There's a lot of interesting stuff going on with Dawn; I agree. And she's a teenager, and teenagers are prone to act out. No arguments there.

But I find her irritating because of how MT chose to portray her. A better actor could've made Dawn's struggles compelling; could have given her turmoil some complexity. Instead I feel like MT hits the same note over and over whenever Dawn's upset -- her performance feels too heavy-handed. Enough that it actually works against how she's written.

I completely agree that we're supposed to feel sorry for Dawn, that there are plenty of reasons to be. And yet, I don't. I think that says a lot about how subpar MT's performance is (IMO). Whenever she's a part of a pivotal scene, I literally skip ahead. In fact, there's a good chunk of season 5 I have no desire to rewatch because she's the focal point of what's going on.

But there are good bits here and there, in between. I love the scene between Spike and Buffy in this episode. He really calls her on her bullshit... and I think this is the beginning of her budding respect for him. Sure, she still finds him obnoxious as hell (and will soon be disgusted to learn he's crushing on her), but actions speak louder than words. The fact that Spike goes out of his way to protect Dawn really means something to her... and it won't be the last time he goes out of his way to keep her family safe.
Dr. Thanatos
22. Dianthus
@21. Buffy really needs someone around to keep her honest. Same with Angel. Cordy was doing a pretty good job of that, 'til they killed her off. Flawed characters are fine, but eventually you've got to get your head out of your a**!
Dr. Thanatos
23. Gardner Dozois
Spike might be said to have been doing a better job of that than Angel even before he got his soul back. Even before then, in the period between getting chipped and getting his soul back, Spike was doing a lot of good and even noble things: protecting Buffy's family, fighting Evil, helping to defeat Glory and avert Apocalypse, NOT killing Buffy (with the shotgun) when he had the chance--all that without his soul. Angel, on the other hand, as soon as he becomes Angelius again, thus becoming like Spike is supposed to be, immediately goes on a killing spree. Even before he's resouled, Spike is a very unusual vampire. Angel is more the standard model, except for having his soul forced on him by chance.
Dr. Thanatos
24. Dianthus
@23. Whedon has said that Spike is "more evolved" than Angel, and it shows. It's also caused a lot of controversy in the fandom. There was an on-line essay called How Spike Ruined BtVS (or something like that). I never read it, but as I understand the author's arguement, it actually sorta makes sense. If vampires are capable of change - ala Spike - then it's wrong to stake them.
In the comics, vampires aren't killing anymore, so they don't get staked. They've been side-lined for a worse threat: zompires. The zompires are basically mindless killing machines who don't retain any memories or characteristics of the people they once were.
Forget Seeing Red. For some, Spike's Unpardonable Sin is outshining Angel. When it was announced he'd be moving over to AtS, I read comments like 'of course Spike will get the Shan-shu, cuz JM's starting to look his age.' Meow!
Dr. Thanatos
25. Gardner Dozois
I forgot Spike's most noble act, coming up shortly in the rewatch, letting Glory torture him and almost beat him to death rather than reveal who the Key was--mostly because it would destroy Buffy if Dawn was killed, but perhaps to some degree because he likes Dawn, with whom he has a Big Brotherly protective relationship, itself pretty odd for a vampire. Angel would probably also resist torture to keep a vital secret--but it's impossible to imagine Angeleus doing it for a second, and Spike is supposedly just as unsouled as Angelius.

Yes, if vampires are capable of change and even redemption, as Spike seems to demonstrate, then automatically staking them because they're Evil and unredemable becomes more problimatical. They ran into the same problem with ANGEL, where they got increasingly into the idea that not all demons were Evil, and even identified groups of them with peaceful refugees, so that rather than monsters, they became an analogy for distressed immigrants, some good, some bad, so that you would have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether they desrved to be snuffed or not. This also put a bit of a damper on automatic, unthinking slaughter.
Dr. Thanatos
26. Dianthus
I totally agree with you, re: AtS, but even on BtVS we had the relatively harmless Clem. Plus, the folks discriminating against the peaceful demons were Gunn's old crew, most of whom would be victims of discrimination themselves for being Black/poor. An interesting point, but highly inconsistent, not that consistency was ever a big concern for ME.
Rest assured, I'll have plenty to say about Intervention when it's time.
Angelus wouldn't spit on you if you were on fire. He'd bust out the marshmallows.
Chris Nelly
27. Aeryl
At the same time, I think that the show does evolve in its treatment of vampires, except staking newborns as they rise, which I think is fair to say, aren't capable of the reasoned thought and deep passion older vampires like Spike are. For the most part, with a few exceptions, Buffy doesn't go after vamps and demons unless they are acting against humans. When she goes after one in an alley, it's typically menacing someone. There are many demons in Hells Bells that Buffy doesn't kill.

Harmony is another example, and interesting one in fact. She doesn't have much interest in fighting the urge to feed on humans until required, but she still expresses a desire to evolve. She walks away from Spike(not that he cared), she seeks out old friends, she tries to do good but betrays the gang on AtS, sure. But she honestly acts no different that souled Harmony would have, which may explain why she doesn't change that much and retains more humanity.
Dr. Thanatos
28. Dianthus
They might loosen their restrictions somewhat over time, but these are the same folks who told us demons (vampires) don't change - ironic, considering who says it - and that Buffy's job description is pretty clear. They made allowances for certain vampires, but only so they could use them in order to get a point across. Buffy stakes Holden Webster in s7 only after spilling her guts to him. It's unwise, if you ask me. Here, let me hand you all my psychological weaknesses on a silver platter so you can use them against me (Duh). That he doesn't is awfully Jake of him, but she dusts him anyway.
They never explicitly said that younger vamps were worse than older ones, and Kissing Toast was 'the worst of the worst' and he was so old he'd developed hooves.
Dr. Thanatos
29. build6
you know, re: Spike vs. "other vampires" -

I'm rewatching a few episodes and came upon "Something Blue" where Buffy and Spike were planning their wedding (*sigh*/*swoon*). Near the end when the Xander-attracted demons were punching their way into the crypt, Spike turned to tell Buffy that he was worried he wouldn't be able to protect her -

this was something that irritated Buffy ("you think you have to protect me?!") but it also says something about Spike that, even as a vamp, he's got pretty automatic/strong feelings about his role in a relationship (compare/contrast with Drusilla and Angelus when they were trapped in a barn in AtS)?
Dr. Thanatos
30. Gardner Dozois
If you HAD to hang out with a vampire, and somehow they were enjoined against killing you, so the experience lasted more than a couple of minutes, you'd probably be better off hanging out with Spike than Angelus. Spike's wittier and a lot more fun, for one thing, as long as he's not killing you, and interested in a wider range of things. See how he actually gets along with Joyce in a chatty, have-a-cup-of-tea way in a couple of sense (although the danger of him killing her hangs over the scenes, of course, unknown to Joyce). It's hard to imagine Joyce enjoying sitting and chatting in the kitchen with Angelus. Angelus is grimmer and more single-minded, really not interested in much of anything except killing. It's hard enough to imagine her enjoying chatting with gloomy, sullen Angel.
Dr. Thanatos
31. Dianthus
@29. I could imagine Spike taking a swing at a couple of those demons in Something Blue (and I'm right there with you on the swooning), even tho' he thought he couldn't hurt them at the time.
I think Spike secretly admired Joyce for trying to brain him with that fire axe in School Hard. After all, she was just protecting her child. It's what any proper mum would do.
@30. I would far rather hang out with Spike than Angel myself. Angel's boring, and he has stupid hair. Seriously, Angel always seems to be presenting himself as something he's not. Aping Society ways as a nasty vampire, collecting object d'art, being all mysterious, listening to Barely Man-enough. Phooey!
Spike's way more fun, and even when he's Evil, he understands the meaning of the word 'truce' and honors it. He even goes so far as to spare a cop's life to show willing.
Dr. Thanatos
32. Gardner Dozois
He did seem sincerely regretful when Joyce died--another emotion that a soulless vampire theoretically shouldn't be able to feel, according to the rules as they laid them down in the first few seasons.
Dr. Thanatos
33. Dianthus
@32. Whedon's so anti-authoritarian he doesn't even play by his own rules!You mentioned Spike's nobility in Intervention (IIRC). There's nobility in that, in undertaking a Hero's Journey, in just showing up night after lonely, miserable night (146 of them) to honor a promise he made to a lady. Thinking about that makes me angry and sad all over again about what's to come in s6.
Michael Ikeda
34. mikeda

I see Angelus as primarily interested in causing pain of all kinds (especially mental anguish) preferably in "creative" ways. Not that he doesn't enjoy the actual killing, but it's actually secondary to tormenting someone beforehand.

Soulless Spike may actually enjoy killing for its own sake more than Angelus does, although what Spike seems to enjoy even more is a good brawl. I do agree that Spike's other interests do make him more able than Angelus to be interesting company for most humans.
Dr. Thanatos
35. Gardner Dozois
Yeah, if for some reason he couldn't kill you, you might enjoy having a beer with Spike. Probably not with Angelus, even if he couldn't kill you either. One thing they didn't do much with is that Spike was a highly educated man before he was turned, and so probably had been exposed to a wide range of subjects and who'd had a variety of interests, including poetry. Angel had been a village lout who had tavern brawls and chased skirts; he's learned a lot subsequently, but in some ways still struggles against his limitations--perhaps that's why tormenting people in "creative" ways is so important to him.
Dr. Thanatos
36. Dianthus
Oops! 147 lonely, miserable nights.
Angelus was an artist (artiste?), and his medium was pain. That makes him sound fancy. He was a psychotic b*st*rd! Spike was never quite as violent, and couldn't push Dru's buttons the way her 'Daddy' could. Of course not. 'Daddy' installed them.
Liam went so far as to suggest stealing the family silver to finance a night of druken debauchery.
William had the benefits of a Classical education, and Spike had the benefits of those memories. They did have him reading Greek in s7.
Spike makes, and gets, a lot of pop culture references that do, or possibly would, go right over Angel's head.
Angel always kept himself apart from the group, while Spike was right in there, whether they wanted him or not. That's why he took so much abuse from them. They felt like they had to push him away.
Of course, he was originally meant to be just a cardboard villian - the villian of s2 - for Buffy to knock down. I think he's longevity was, in part, due to JM's acting chops. They kept giving him more to do b/c they knew he could handle it.
Dr. Thanatos
37. build6
(my bad, it's *Darla* not Drusilla in the barn with Angelus)

@32 - re: emotions-he-shouldn't-have-as-a-vampire: in S6E03, after Buffy's return, he was standing outside (under what I consider his "favourite tree") crying.
Dr. Thanatos
38. Dianthus
Harmony (to Spike):
"You're so sensitive."

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