Mon
Feb 10 2014 1:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Drop the bone already!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done

“Get It Done,” by Douglas Petrie

Buffy wanders through her own darkened house, dressed casually and taking in the camping Slayettes all over her floor. Her general vibe is den mothery. There are a lot of girls now. One, Chloe, is crying in a corner. Before Buffy can ask what’s wrong, the First Slayer knocks her down the stairs and tells her: “It’s not enough.”

At this point I’d be wishing I could have prophecy dreams set in Tahiti. I mean, she can roam through the Potential-infested house when she’s awake.

Elsewhere, Anya and Spike are ambling through one of Sunnydale’s finer alleys, and Anya is beating herself up for having decided to become human again. She’s not enjoying the prospect of being mortal and vulnerable. Nor does she love living with a dozen or more teenagers. So instead she is attempting awkward banter with Spike about their plan. Which isn’t crime solving, patrol or research. No, they plan to blow off tension by drinking themselves stupid.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done, Spike, Anya

Having said that, I submit that choosing to go anywhere on foot in this town means banking on being attacked. Anywhere else, this would be victim blaming, but I’m sure that by now none of the Scoobies even notices that they build combat time into every trip: Okay, I want to be at the Bronze by eight o’clock for the first band. So: fifteen minutes to get there, ten to fight off an average of two point six vampires and/or demons, and then another five to make sure none of them’s got an amulet, mystic weapon or tattoo-type sigil. Add five in case someone’s woozy or needs active bandaging and... we need to leave at seven, right?

The awkwardness between Spike and Anya, as they stroll toward the inevitable dust-up, comes from their having spanged each other that one time. Anya’s all stirred up. Mostly, she’s annoyed that Xander went out on a date last week, and is trying to feel Spike out about whether he had any sexual motive whatsoever in suggesting the two of them go for a drink.

Happily, one of D’Hoffryn’s assassins turns up, right on time, and tries to kill Anya. Defeating it—Spike declines to actually go for the kill—puts an end to that conversation.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done, Robin

Over at the school the next day, Robin suspects that the Hellmouth has, as Buffy puts it, begun its semi-annual percolation. Students are tense, fighting, committing minor crimes and in some cases vanishing altogether. Robin is far from thrilled with this trend. He gives Buffy his mother’s weapons bag, and asks to see her base of operations.

The first person he meets at Chez Slay is, alas, Andrew. Buffy introduces him as their hostage, and he makes his usual stunning first impression. Then she takes Robin out back where the girls are training, under Kennedy’s drill-sergeanty tough-hate tutelage.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done, Kennedy

Willow is next. Caught by surprise, she attempts to conceal what they’re all up to. It’s cute, and unconvincing. Buffy reassures her that all the cards are on the table.

Except, of course, the ones Robin has up his sleeve. What he really wants is a good look at Spike, who is downstairs arguing with Anya about his non-lethal handling of the previous evening’s assassination attempt. Robin’s not overly impressed about Spike having gotten all soulful. The two of them have a tense, sparky energy as they size each other up. I enjoyed it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done, Spike, Robin

By now, Dawn has examined Nikki Wood’s slayer bag of tricks, which contains a bad smell and a big locked box. The group has barely begun to explore what it might be good for when a gruesome and bummerific discovery brings all their preparations to an abrupt halt.  Chloe, the weeping Potential from the prophetic dream, about whom Buffy has done absolutely zilch, has hanged herself. The First, now appearing as Chloe, has been camping the corpse. It treats the whole gang to a big ol’ trash-talk about how ineffectual they are.

This is no happy moment in Slayerville, and the fact that Buffy has to bury the poor kid in an unmarked grave, out in the boonies, doesn’t help her overall state of bonhomie.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done

She come home and lays into the upset and demoralized Slayettes—plus everyone within earshot—accusing them of being a defeatist cadre of slackers who need to up their game. Up it? Heck, find it! Willow’s being all timid with the magics. Soulfulness has not helped Spike to become an ever-more effective slaughterer of wicked monsters. Even Anya’s tendency to heckle gets a steaming share of snark. Concluding on a general theme of “We have to do something, dammit!” Buffy hauls the team upstairs to open up Nikki’s slay box. This contains shadowcasters that tell the story of the first Slayer. The shadows themselves are creepy and cool, and they open a vortex. Buffy jumps in, telling the others to find a way to get her back.

Sadly, this particular vortex comes with a party favor: a decently mighty demon pops out and attacks them. He’s something like a bottle deposit. If they want Buffy back, they have to return him. This particular demon would rather explore the streets of Sunnydale, killing unwary pedestrians. He flings the Scoobies around, tosses Spike through the ceiling and runs off, chortling, into the night.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done

It’s Dawn who has to get the team onto the task of retrieving Buffy from wherever. She’s remarkably graceful as she pep talks them into it. Spike assigns himself to demon-catching duty, noting he needs a little something first. Willow is obliged to figure out that vortex, homicidal urges be damned.

On the other side of the vortex, Buffy is still not in Tahiti. She has instead found a couple old African gents who say they know why she’s come and what she needs. And yet neither of them is brandishing a loaner copy of THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO DEFEATING THE FIRST EVIL. They announce they’ve been hanging around in this desert since the beginning, and they refer to Buffy as the Hellmouth’s last guardian.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done

“Latest,” she corrects, incorrectly.

The guys also say they cannot give her knowledge, only power before bonking her on the head.

Back at home, Willow tries opening the portal and gives herself a zorch of scary, eyes-go-black Evil Willow mojo. She shrieks so loudly that it wakes Buffy. It turns out the three wise guys have chained her to the earth. This is a reprise of their original Slayer creation ceremony. Their idea, which they’re pretty convinced is fantastic, is they’ll load Buffy up with even more power by imbuing her with a bunch of smoky CGI essence-of-demon.

Buffy is emphatically not keen on becoming more demonic and less human. They try to force the smokey demon essence into her all the same. “This is what you want,” they tell her. The parallels to sexual assault are clear. Still, we’ve all seen squickier things on this show.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done

By now, Spike has retrieved his black leather coat from the basement of the school. I’m sure you all remember where he got this garment: he pulled it off Nikki Wood’s cooling corpse. Robin asks about it as Spike saunters past, and he tells him he got it in New York.

Oh, William. This, as far as Robin is concerned, is as good as a signed confession, along with a general invitation to swing by the crypt and stake him sometime. (Normally I might call that a misunderstanding. But Spike is, in fact, guilty.)

Spike chases the bottle deposit demon down, whales on him, breaks his neck, and lights a cigarette on his tusk before dragging him back to Chez Slay. Willow reopens the portal by sucking some handy life-energy and spiritual power out of the others, including Kennedy.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done, Willow, Kennedy, Anya, Dawn, Xander

Back in ye ancient past, Buffy has by now broken the chains binding her to the ground, and told the Slayer development team that she does not want to download their useless, uninformative update. She breaks their leader’s staff, and demands information. He touches her head, lighting up the cave and giving her a vision. Then she’s home, and the Scoobies are all around.

We got her back! We don’t suck! Yayyyyyy!!!

Where does this mostly moral victory leave the gang? Willow finds that Kennedy is freaked out by her psychic vampirism, but seems to feel it was necessary for her to understand how the magics worked. Buffy admits to having turned down the power-up, and to being scared it might have been a dumb choice.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done

The regrets are because of what the old dudes showed her: there’s a ginormous army of Turok-Han vampires waiting on the other side of the Seal of Danthazar.

“Get it Done” may not be either a laugh riot or an edge-of-the-seat adventure, but there’s not much wrong with it either. It’s spectacularly okay, as episodes go, which is rather sad in and of itself. Still, it nudges a number of storylines forward. It brings us closer to an obvious—even on first watch—Robin/Spike showdown. It fills in some necessary background on the Slayer myth, and shows Buffy making a critical choice: her humanity over an increase in her raw power. Even as she does so, Spike and Willow risk their humanity, by reaching for darkness and power at her behest.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Get It Done, Spike

The little snippet of Dawn onscreen shows her filling Giles’s role, essentially, by attending to the few clues they’re able to acquire and by giving the team their marching orders when Buffy is gone. This will lend authority to her voice, later, in the argument that gets Buffy booted out of the house.

Finally, “Get it Done” gives the First another chance to strut its stuff. It not only gets to show us that ugly-butt army festering within the Hellmouth, but it kills Chloe without ever laying a claw on her.

Next: Storytime and a nice white whine


A.M. Dellamonica has a book’s worth 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. (Watch for the second of The Gales, “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti”!)

Or if you like, check out her sexy novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

20 comments
Dianthus
1. Dianthus
"The medium is the message."
-Marshall McLuhan

This quote seems particularly apt in relation to GiD. The origin story of the Slayer, related to us via Shadowcaster, in an interplay of Light and Dark. That's the whole history of the Slayer line. It's also the world we live in, and maybe, just maybe, part of why it's so hard (sometimes) to live in the world.
We could try ignoring or rejecting it, but it won't work. Just ask Willaim (FFL) or Buffy (AYW/SR). Far better to recognize it, in ourselves, in others, in the world around us, and go about our lives as best we can despite it.

Whoever thought we'd hear words like safe and sane coming from Spike? The End is nigh.

It may have given Spike an excuse to interrupt Buffy's date in the previous ep., but he had good reason to be wary (even afraid) of going back down into the HS basement by himself. Here, he'll go...on a mini Hero's Journey, to reclaim a part of himself that isn't pretty, but necessary if he's gonna be an effective part of the team. Again I refer you to the Star Trek (TOS) ep. The Enemy Within.

This is also the ep. where Spike refers to himself as "unique, more or less." Spike is, in fact, more unique at this point, 'cuz Angelus is once again loose about L.A. ME only used words like 'unique' and 'anomaly' after Spike got his soul, but he was different from the get-go. After all, The Judge threatened to burn him and Dru both for their latent humanity. Plus, he was willing to team up with his mortal enemy against a common threat. He put love, however selfish/possessive, ahead of true Evil.

Somewhat OT:
Years ago, I read an interview with JW, and the topic of Die Hard was raised, in relation to the treatment of Bonnie Bedilia's character, Holly, and feminism in general. JW argued that by removing Holly's watch (a Rolex), it was an attempt to deprive her of her identity.
I never got the impression that Holly regarded the watch as part of her identity, certainly not the way Spike regards the coat as part of his. It was another character, Ellis the Yuppie cokehead, who made a big deal about the watch, 'cuz: Rolex.
Watching the movie (I've seen it several times), it seems to me removing the watch is just a way to build tension during the big boss fight near the end of the movie.
It was a reward from her employers for something work-related, but watch or no, the accomplishment still stands, and her identity is intact.
Cain Latrani
2. CainS.Latrani
"On the other side of the vortex, Buffy is still not in Tahiti."

It's still a magical place, though.
Dianthus
3. Alex C.
"Spectacularly okay"
That's basically it, I think. This episode accentuates a lot of the most important trends in the main character arcs of the season - Buffy, Spike, Willow - but doesn't do a lot in the process to make itself a stand-out or memorable in many ways. The main exception is the big reveal regarding the origin story of the Slayer, which is actually a very nice pay-off to something that's been hinted at ever since "Restless".

The next episode is precisely the opposite: "Storyteller" does not do much at all for the main arc of the season, or even for the development of the main characters, but it is nonetheless one of my favorite episodes from this season, and probably one of the most underrated of the show.
Alyx Dellamonica
4. AMDellamonica
You're right--the Slayer myth is important, and it does connect back to "Restless" in a really pleasing way.

I had the general idea that "Storyteller" was pretty beloved.
Dianthus
5. Alex C.
@4. Interesting, I had something of an impression that it was a fairly overlooked episode.
Jack Flynn
6. JackofMidworld
"...and told the Slayer development team that she does not want to download their useless, uninformative update..."

Almost laughed loud enough to garner strange looks from coworkers.
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl
@6, Me too, that was too funny!

Buffy making a critical choice: her humanity over an increase in her
raw power. Even as she does so, Spike and Willow risk their humanity, by reaching for darkness and power at her behest.

And changing her tune in a big way by the end. At the start of this episode, she's asking everyone to give up their humanity(epitomized by Anya's snarking, because what does it mean to be human, other than to be AFRAID) to be useful to her.

And it seems Buffy's own humanity has flown the coop by this time, given the shameful way she acts about Chloe. The girl fell in combat to the First. She was fighting against the First, on the First's home court, and lost, and Buffy shamed her for it. If Rona or Vi had died in combat against a newly risen vamp in the cemetary, would she have shit all over them too?

But she finally seems to recognize the danger she's in, and pulls back, thankfully. But the damage has been done. Spike's tipped closer to his darkness than we've seen this year, letting the First back in and setting up the confrontation with Wood. Willow's STILL looking to take power, not understanding that her power comes from everywhere and if she would open herself to it fully, she wouldn't have needed to do what she just did(WHY OH WHY COULDN'T IT HAVE PUT THE KIBOSH ON Will/Ken?) And the team is further from trusting Buffy than ever before.

Good note on how Dawn picks up the slack here, but BOTH Summers sisters are channeling their inner Giles here, Dawn the helpful, researching Giles, Buffy the unhelpful, insufferable know it all Giles.
Dianthus
8. Dianthus
@7. Spike's tipped closer to his darkness than we've seen this year? Wuh?
Going back down into the HS basement is huge. Think about it. What's down there for him? Madness. Torment. Despair. Abandonment. He faces all of that to get his coat, to be a fighter again, for Buffy. This is where Spike gets his mojo back.

BTW, just to be clear, no one's arguing about Buffy being less human as an outcome, or that this is a super great ep. It's a solid, mid-level offering.
Chris Nelly
9. Aeryl
It's no mistake that after he revels in the thrill of fighting and killing, The First is able to get it's hooks into him again.

I'm not saying it wasn't a necessary part of his development, that he didn't have to come to terms with this part of himself, but as Buffy just learned, power comes with a cost.
Dianthus
10. GarrettC
I think the journey of Spike here is an important thing that the show does because it has so often taken a binary position on the soul, and has created the expectation, both through Angel and through several monologues, that having a soul means not killing people (and feeling REALLY bad about it when you do).

Spike has been troubled very deeply by that, and even has some Angel guilt by osmosis going on, but here he's forced to begin confronting the idea that maybe, just maybe, soul or no, he's a killer. They hit the idea directly later on, after the confrontation with Wood. Spike doesn't end up killing people on screen, knowingly, but it's clear that he's realized he can, that he might, and that if he does he won't always bother himself to feel bad about it.

That seems like a pretty big deal to me. Spike with a soul does not mean that Spike the monster is gone. And what's strange is that objectively speaking, this isn't a good thing, but the show treats it as though it is. It does mean that the show is taking a more complete look at what the soul is capable of than it usually does, which is good. But the show has heretofore wanted us to believe that the soul is responsible for enkindling goodness, whereas Spike's soul is just now beginning to come to terms with the fact that it's okay with continuing to be and do evil. It's a cool moment when he tells Wood he'll kill him, because he means it and it's badass and all. But it's also frightening in how deeply it challenges everything the show has established in defense of Buffy, et al's, (essentially ethno-centric) killing of demons without concern or remorse while holding human life in reverance above all.

It's also frightening because evil Spike capable of remorseless acts of violence is what the show spends its energy during these few episodes telling us we want, and telling us they need. And while there is something important and interesting here about evil being unavoidable, inherent, or even necessary, I'm not sure the show ever actually finishes the thought.
gina gatto
11. gcatto
I don't think that at this point The First is really able to get it's hooks back into Spike. The trigger is still there and could be activated and is purposefully in LMPTM, but I see this return to his ass-kicking self as being on his own terms as nudged by Buffy. He's not through that journey yet but here he learns that having a soul doesn't mean he has to be docile, sitting-on-the-sidelines Spike.

Up until this point he's struggling with what having a soul means and also with The First's control over him. Having a soul for a vampire though still brings with it the came challenges that a human having a soul brings. I don't think it makes a difference vamp vs. human in that respect anyone with a soul could still do evil things. Maybe it's heightened in a vampire because they also have an actual demon to contend with. I guess in an evil human you could call that a metaphorical demon, or whatever else you want to call it that makes humans do evil things.

When he tells Wood he's going to kill him it's a psychotic and scary moment. He knows he's capable of those things because he's done them but in his present state although he threatens it he doesn't go through with it and then comes down on the side that he'll only kill (a human) in retaliation if Wood were to attack him again. I think that's a pretty reasonable outcome and that Spike with a soul isn't into cold blooded (warm blooded?) killing.

I think that if Spike with a soul, not under control of The First, went around killing people for sport Buffy would slay him. Kind of like her choice with Anya (did we ever know/decide if demon Anya had a soul? I don't remember that being covered). Buffy refrained from passing judgement on evil-doing humans since, as stated several times in the show, that wasn't her domain. Then of course there's the threat that Buffy leveled at Wood, should he get in her way she'd let Spike at him. I look at that as she was still the General talking and maybe she meant it, but bygones because it didn't play out that way.
Chris Nelly
12. Aeryl
To not see that Spike's return to violence leading back to the First being able to trigger him, after several episodes where that didn't happen, is to ignore the seasons of parallel experiences in this show.

Willow dips back into the heavy magics, and this is shown to be a bad thing, because of how it leads to her to feed from others and prevents her from seeing the true source of her power. Why would Spike's actions this episode not be subject to the same rules?
Jason Parker
13. tarbis
For all that I like the mythology of a Slayer being esstentially vampire with a soul and a pulse I really wish they had laid off the sexual assualt imagery. Not that I don't understand why the team on this episode decided to put it front and center, it makes for powerful easily understood symbolism. However making the link between becoming a Slayer and being violated in body and soul so explicit ends up tainting the finale by turning what was written and shot as a moment of empowerment into a "wait a second" moment.

On a happy note I like to imagine Slayer Prime, who just had her soul damaged and demonic essence slammed into her body realizing she had super strength. There she is, there are the people that did this to her, and she has a length of chain attached to each arm that are dandy flails. It's a happy image for me at any rate.
Alyx Dellamonica
14. AMDellamonica
Tarbis, I like the way you think:

On a happy note I like to imagine Slayer Prime... etc.
Dianthus
15. Dianthus
@9. Not only was TFE noticably absent in this ep, it seems to have... forgotten? abandoned? whatever plan it had for Spike. What better time to trigger him than when he's ensconsed in Buffy's home, surrounded by Potentials?
No. This is Spike tapping into the power that comes from the darkness within to kill a demon and bring Buffy back. Just 'cuz the power is rooted in darkness, exercising it doesn't make someone evil.
Buffy's certainly not evil, and her Slayer power is rooted in darkness. Her words may be a bit harsh here, but I think she's earned them.
Plus, Spike's already told her he's not interested in adding to his (human) body count.
Willow's problems are her own.

@11. I agree. Warren...Rack...Willow...Andrew...Faith...They all had souls and did evil. Spike doesn't do any evil here.
Dianthus
16. Dianthus
Another word or three, re: Buffy.
She's using her power, but she can't do this all by her onesie (nor should she have to). Willow and Spike have power, and Buffy rightly calls them out, IMO, for being too scared to use it.
Alyx Dellamonica
17. AMDellamonica
She's definitely not wrong in saying she needs everyone working at full strength, risky or no. In a sense, what she does in Spike's case is give him permission to enjoy himself while fighting on her side.
Chris Nelly
18. Aeryl
@15, You are making my point for me. Why didn't TFE trigger him this episode? Because his disavowal of violence held TFE at bay.
Michael Ikeda
19. mikeda
Willow's basic S7 arc is finding her way back to a good balance in her use of magic (the relationship with Kennedy being a big part of this). So far this season Willow has (understandably) probably been too cautious. Buffy's little diatribe is a reminder of this.
Dianthus
20. Dianthus
@18. Bullshit! Your argument assumes facts not in evidence, and I'm having none of it.

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