Mon
Apr 8 2013 12:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: The main guy’s all bumpy!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Spike, Drusilla

“Crush,” by David Fury

Buffy has been single for long enough now that she’s allowed to sit in the Bronze watching, fifth wheel-like and somber but not actually crying, as WillTara and XandAnya boogie to the music. This happens a lot on the show: we see that point where one of the main characters has moved out of the just broke up phase and into some variation of wishing they weren’t the single one. Remember Willow and her vicarious smoochies?

As she’s doing this, Spike shows up and tries to chat—he’s going on about the flowering onion snack again, for one thing. Do they deep fry it in blood or something?

Buffy is baffled, but not about the onion thing. Why is Spike chatting her up? Actually, I’d thought she had a clue or two about this. I thought “Fool for Love” might have given her some idea. But no, apparently not—she blows him off just as Xander returns to the table, with Anya, to heap a casual insult atop the rejection.

From this exchange, we learn that you should never hurt the feelings of a brutal killer, because if he’s Spike he’ll steal your hard-earned cash and go buy beer for himself with it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Willow, Tara

We also get to see Willow is having appalling, aspirin-chugging, OMG overdid the magic headaches. Teleporting Glory last week has left its mark.

But nobody wants to talk about Glory, at least tonight. No Glory anywhere in this conversation... oh look, there’s Ben! He’s got nothing to do with Glory. Let’s talk about him. Or, rather, to him: Buffy hops up and goes to thank him for looking after Dawn in the previous episode.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Harmony

It’s a little chain of events that leads to Spike seeing Buffy smiling at Ben, and coming over all jealous. Later on, he’ll go home to the crypt and end up chasing Harmony around (this by way of foreplay) while she wears Buffy’s blue cashmere sweater and pretends to be all Slayertastic.

Elsewhere, death! You might think Amtrak would know better than to send a train to Sunnydale at midnight, and you’d be right. But passenger trains, you see, are always incredibly late, and so Drusilla has had the necessary darkness and leisure time to kill everyone on the train from L.A. (It’s a common enough problem: you get on the train, you don’t really eat junk food, and then you see that everything available in the dining car is over-processed, over-priced and generally yucko. Suddenly you have to source your own snacks... and, obviously, the vending machines aren’t going to cut it. Really, it’s a wonder non-vampiric customers don’t eat each other, routinely, on some of the longer runs.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Willow, Tara

Next morning, we see WillTara and Buffy coming out of some kind of English class. They’re talking HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. Tara argues that Quasimodo had no moral compass and was thoroughly motivated by selfishness, and that therefore he and Esmerelda could never work out as a couple. The message (as one of you mentioned just a few weeks ago) is plain for all to hear, but Tara underlines it anyway: don’t date the unfeeling inhuman bumpy-faced monster. Buffy, alas, isn’t really paying attention to either the text or the subtext, or even their upcoming HUNCHBACK exam. Her mind is on work: she’s just found out about the train slaughter.

It’s a day for bailing on your scholastic responsibilities, as it turns out. That afternoon, Dawn surprises Spike—who, in an odd twist, seems to be wearing one of Riley’s sweaters—and asks him to show her the sewers. After a quick attempt to convince her he has scary and dangerous stuff to do, he relents, and soon he’s regaling her with tales of his favorite killing sprees of days gone by.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Spike, Dawn

Then Buffy shows up and ruins the punch line. Spoilsport.

As the sisters head home from the graveyard, Buffy opines that hanging out with Spike is dangerous and icky, then accuses Dawn of having a crush on him.

Dawn’s devastating riposte, of course, is: Spike’s totally into you.

This is a total jaw-dropper for Buffy. She runs it by Xander when they’re checking the train for fangprints, and he finds it hilarious right up until the moment that it also comes out that Dawn’s into Spike. Xander’s ego takes one on the chin—hey, didn’t she use to have a crush on meeee?—and they both miss the fact that Drusilla’s left one of her creepy dolls on the train.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Xander

(What Buffy says in this exchange is she knew Spike was obsessed with her, but didn’t clue into the romantic angle. Since she has had plenty to distract her of late, and no shortage of reasons to have gone in for a bit of denial, I’m gonna buy in.)

When Buffy gets home from this fun excursion, she finds Spike at Casa Summers, hanging with her family and then claiming to know who got peckish on the railroad. Buffy’s still all freaked out by what Dawn told her, but catching homicidal vampires—as opposed to the Sucking Consensual Rileys kind—isn’t really optional. Before she knows it she’s in a car, staking out a nest.

Trouble is, sadly, the vamps Spike has identified have nothing to do with the train slaughter. He doesn’t know who did it and also doesn’t care.

“Is this a date?” Buffy asks.

“Do you want it to be?”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush

She’s so revolted she almost barfs. She compares Spike and his chip to a serial killer and his prison cell, and rejects him most emphatically.

He staggers home to lick wounds and finds Dru there.

“I want us to be a family again, Spoik,” she tells him. (Over in L.A., you see, she and Darla are all vampy and hanging with the Angel cast, getting up to all sorts of trouble.) The ‘knicknack’ in his brain is no deterrent, she says. Mind over matter seems to be her argument here, which considering the state of Drusilla’s mind ought to give Spike pause.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Spike, Drusilla

Then Harmony interrupts, for about a nanosecond, before Spike tosses her out on her ear. He and Dru go to the renovated Bronze and kill some people. Well, Dru kills them in slow motion and hands one to Spike. He drinks.

That’s what you get, The Bronze, for getting rid of the onion thing!

By now, Buffy has confided in Joyce and Willow. They ask and she can’t remember—because she was that upset—if she really, truly, thoroughly discouraged Spike. (My answer: yes!) The consensus seems to be she has to go back and talk to him some more about how she’s not interested in having any kind of romantic relationship, now or ever. She heads for the tomb, where she finds the creepy Buffy shrine and then the business end of a taser.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush

But she’s not alone in the getting zapped unconscious department. Dru foolishly hands the taser to her Spoik and gets zorched, too. He ties everyone up and, once they’re conscious, offers to kill Dru for Buffy as proof of his love.

Can you love without a soul? Buffy votes no.  Dru disagrees. It’s all very messy, with Buffy laughing at Spike, death threats a-flying, and him begging for any “little crumb of hope” she can offer.

Naturally, they (and we) have all forgotten about the third woman in the mix. Harmony shows up shooting and a big fight breaks out. Dru decides Spike’s beyond saving when he keeps her from killing Buffy, and flees. Harmony huffs away. Buffy slugs him in the face and revokes her invitation to her home.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Spike

It’s not, perhaps, his finest hour but everything Spike does in “Crush” is, I have to say, pretty . . . well, reasonable’s not the word. It’s consistent with his character, and it’s a good-faith attempt at being honest about his weird and twisted feelings. Once he’s exposed, he tries his damnedest to convince Buffy she feels something for him.

His offer to kill Dru shows that he doesn’t quite get it... and, of course, the tragedy is that he can’t. It would beggar belief if the Initiative, of all people, had been able to build a chip with soul. Spike’s argument that he’s changed has been proved a self-serving lie many times over even before this. In this episode it’s made especially clear, when he bites into the dead girl at the Bronze.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crush, Spike

Perhaps it was especially important to reinforce this—chips ain’t souls—with the Buffybot waiting in the wings.

Next! More sick sad love than you can shake a stick at!


A.M. Dellamonica has tons of fiction up here on Tor.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.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Tor.com: ‹ previous | index | next ›
22 comments
MackTheFife
1. MackTheFife
In Buffyland, we only occasionally see the police involved with the monster mayhem. If they're onscreen, it's usually to add another roadblock to the real investigation or rescue. Surely the real Sunnydale PD would at least have something like the Dresden Files' Special Investigations.

Odd speculation: I was surprised to see, in the last picture above, the girl's eyes are closed. I know we saw Dru twist her neck, so she must be playing possum -- dead people always have their eyes open. That's how you know they're dead. Hmm. Spike can't hurt people, but could he make a vampire anyway?
Marie Veek
2. SlackerSpice
@1: Considering that Sunnydale was run for a century by Mister Richard "I just wanna be a giant snake" Wilkins, I'm not surprised.
Constance Sublette
3. Zorra
Spike's not the first vamp to pretend to want to kill / torture Buffy for the sake of another woman. Angel did it with the evil Faith once too.

I quite liked the Darla - Dru episodes on Angel.

Love, C.
MackTheFife
4. Dianthus
Spike's finest hour? No, but consider...the look on his face when Dru casually kills that girl, and the hesitation before he bites her (oh, yeah, vampire, right).
Also, his insistence that he can be good, too. He was good - helping that woman - in Triangle.
Speaking of, IIRC, Jane E. wrote that ep, and she'll go on to write Intervention. These eps constitute a dialog of sorts btwn the pro- and anti-Spuffy factions.
IMO, it's definitely Jane for the win! Whether she had a better grasp of what was really going on there, was more persuasive, or if it's all just a big coninkydink, Spike can and will be Good.
Don't forget what he said to Willow in Lover's Walk, either:
"She didn't even care enough to cut off my head or set me on fire."
This is, in the topsy-turvey vampire world, a true declaration of love. I can't help but wonder if Buffy has some inkling of that. She pretty much dares him to do it, and is fairly viscious about it. Of course, she herself sacrificed her own 'Great Love' for a much bigger cause.
MackTheFife
5. Dianthus
Where'd my last post go? Am I not supposed to mention the Oedipal Complex? It's a real thing.
But Quasimodo is not a monster. IMO, he's a tragic figure. Deformed, developmentally disabled, reviled by the local populace, and not properly socialized. I remember the scene from the (old B&W) movie where Quasimodo is tied (chained?) to a pillory sort of thing while the locals torment him. It's the Gypsy Girl (Esmerelda?) who takes pity on him and gives him water.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
@5, Both can be true. Quasimodo can be a person unworthy of love, for reasons outside his control, and a tragic figure to be pitied, which is why this analogy is SO APT.

Spike is unworthy of love, because he has no soul and because of it, incapable of return human mortal love that doesn't have a twisted demented acts tied to it.

But at the same time, his lack of a soul is not his fault, and he is genuinely trying to be better, and as such is worthy of our pity.

As an aside, gypsy is a deragatory term for people of Romani descent. If you wouldn't refer to people of Latin American descent as beaners or wetbacks, you shouldn't use gypsy.
MackTheFife
7. Dianthus
@6. Quasimodo was not unworthy of love. He was as worthy of love as any other person, and he was denied that love. Likening him to someone who cheerfully killed thousands of innocent people is not an apt anology.
Chris Nelly
8. Aeryl
He was unworthy of love, because he was incapable, through NO FAULT of his own, of returning that love in a healthy fashion.

He felt that because he loved, he was entitled to love in return, which, no. It's not a complete analogy, but it is apt.
Alyx Dellamonica
9. AMDellamonica
I am watching this conversation with interest, but don't yet have anything to add to it. Except this: Dianthus, did you say one of your posts vanished?
MackTheFife
10. Dianthus
@9. Yes. Ihad mentioned Fury and LMPTM in a post, and when I came back later, it was gone. I wasn't sure it if it was considered inappropriate or if it was just a random thing.

@8. I forgot to thank you earlier. Getting admonished
for using culturally insensitive language by someone who personally insulted me added a delightfully surreal element to my day.
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
How did I insult you? And it was more of an FYI, not an admonishment, but wevs.
MackTheFife
12. Dianthus
@11. Down the memory hole, huh? Fine. I'll give your little FYI all the consideration it deserves.
Unlike Quasimodo, Spike is capable of understanding things on an intellectual basis, if nothing else. When he finds out Dru 'bagged herself a Slayer" he is sincerely happy for her. But give him a moment. He realizes that Buffy would see it differently, and has the grace to say so.
IMO, Fury misappropriates Hunchback to push his agenda.
Also, Quasimodo would be worthy of love freely given.
Bridget McGovern
13. BMcGovern
@Dianthus and Aeryl: I'm not entirely clear on the miscommunications and misunderstandings at work here, but as far as I can tell, neither of you were attempting to insult the other further up in the thread, and I hope we can keep it that way: a civil discussion , not an argument.

For what it's worth, while I agree that "Gypsy" can be a problematic term, it is the designation used in Hugo's novel, and in every adaptation of that work that I'm familiar with, up to and including the 1996 Disney version. And in spite of the fact that it can be used in a pejorative way, the word is still commonly used by Romani organizations to this day. But I agree that it helps to be aware of the potential dangers of using the term--sorry for the digression. Back to the polite, evenhanded exchange of ideas currently in progress...
Chris Nelly
14. Aeryl
@12, Is this about weeks ago? Srsly?

I don't necessarily disagree with that Quasimodo is worthy of love freely given, but THAT'S the trick. Plenty of people demonstrate themselves unworthy of love by trying to compel love, or refusing to accept its rejection.
MackTheFife
15. Dianthus
@12. As much as you'd like to forget about it, I haven't. You may think me petty or oversensitive, but there it is. I was just savoring the irony of it.
Bridget McGovern
16. BMcGovern
@Dianthus: This has been dealt with--Aeryl apologized for any offense that may have been given. Alyx had some excellent advice to help put the situation in perspective, and I've asked you both to move on. I think we all value your input on the rewatch each week, but if you can't participate without holding a grudge, it's going to be a problem. Life it too short to have to moderate the same squabble every week. If the two of you can't disagree without taking it personally, don't respond to one another. But this is the last time I'll be commenting about this--please move on, before I have to start deleting comments. I'd really prefer not to.
MackTheFife
17. Dianthus
@16. Point taken. Never fear.

Anyhoo...
When Spike goes to sit down with Buffy at the Bronze, he's not wearing his usual Creature-of-the-Night drag. He's made a superficial wardrobe change to look more like the sort of 'normal guy' he thinks she'd like. Fury takes a superficial resemblance - they're both bumpy! - and gives us this: Spike pulling a boneheaded stunt certain to incur Buffy's wrath.OTOH, we get another opportunity to compare Spike and Angel. Post-Curse Angel goes back to his 'family' for a time. Here, Spike has the same choice to make, but his feet are already set firmly on another path. Even Fury seems to concede a certain inevitability to it.
Jason Parker
19. tarbis
I must be slow because this is the first time I've linked William's behavior with Cecily to Spike's stalking of Buffy. It's the same kind of behavior from the same thought process ("I love her so she must love me") only turned up to 11.

Also kudos to Harmony. She finally leaves a physically and emotionally abusive relationship in the dust and never really goes back to it. That's a rare thing for any show and in hindsight it seems odd that she is the only clear case I can think of on a show that is about empowered (and empowering) women.
MackTheFife
20. Dianthus
@19. Harmony, presented as a stereotypical 'dumb blonde,' is more than she seems. In AtS s5, it turns out she's been working for W&H, and she makes a competent personal assistant for Angel, who, true to form, has very little patience with her and gives her no credit for her work.
Also, Spike has a moment of revelation when he realizes how much he took her for granted. The only problem I have with this is that Angel took Buffy for granted, and Buffy took Spike for granted (and was also abusive), so how is Spike's treatment of Harmony so much worse? It was bad, no question, but still...
William obviously had a very sheltered life, tho' not so sheltered as Quasimodo. All that blather about not wanting to think of teh ugly. His social status (i.e., wealth) granted him that luxury. He was a 'Momma's Boy' too. Maybe he expected a woman's love b/c of his relationship with his mum?
Alyx Dellamonica
21. AMDellamonica
@19 Kudos to Harmony indeed, Tarbis! It takes her a few tries, but she does eventually give up on Spike.

Hmm. Momma's Boys on BtVS. Or perhaps in Whedonstuff. Interesting potential discussion topic there--I'm betting there are more Daddy's Girls to be found, but I'd have to do a head count.
MackTheFife
22. Dianthus
@21. The only other 'Momma's Boy' in BtVS I can think of off the top of my head would be Robin (maybe). Warren might qualify, too - wasn't he staying with his mom while in SunnyD?
Not sure about AtS. Angel killed his parents. Gunn's parents were killed (?), Wes's dad was a cold-hearted monster (no info on mum), Cordy's dad was a tax cheat (again, no info on mom). The only one who had had a happy home life with two loving parents was Fred.
We can only speculate on William's formative years. Dunno if they even thought of it (seeing as JM's a southpaw), but back in the day Lefties were mostly forced to learn to write right-handed. That William was writing left-handed suggests he didn't go to public school.
If he was an only child, and his father wasn't part of the picture (?) then he and his mom would've been close. He loves her, she loves him. He might have had a nanny or governess as well, for another close relationship. It could color how his thinking on the issue: that's just how it works, right? Then he goes out into the wider world and finds out differently.
It's hard to believe anyone could be so naive, but it was a very different time.
IMO, what happened to William is what might've happened to Owen if he'd met a vampire instead of a Slayer.

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