Mon
Feb 3 2014 1:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Try our new Spike, now without chips!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Giles

“First Date,” by Jane Espenson

Flashback to Giles getting an ax swung at his head, by a Bringer, while he talks to a half-slain Watcher named Robson. It turns out the Bringer had squeaky shoes, and thank goodness for that. Giles, though, plays up his own excellence and razor-sharp instincts in sharing this little vignette with the Potential Slayers. He and they and Buffy are in a graveyard, training in a pack, and as he continues to expound about his honed state of combat alertness, Spike tackles him from out of nowhere. 

Spike hadn’t heard that Giles wasn’t the First, see, and as they climb to their feet there’s a bit of Brit on Brit head-butting. Giles calls Spike a berk (a term I have only ever heard Giles use) and demands to know why the Initiative chip didn’t jolt everyone’s favorite leashed vampire straight into Painesville for attacking him.

Buffy admits she had the thing pulled while the Initiative was in town. The Slayettes, especially the new one who doesn’t speak English, stare on in confusion. Someone needs to make them a multilingual cheat sheet entitled Major Sunnydale events since 1997. People we killed, boinked, and ran out of town on a rail.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Giles

Later, at the house, Giles indicates his extreme unhappiness about the dechipping. Buffy’s more worried about Principal Wood—she’s chosen now to be concerned about why he was lurking in the school basement with the shovel. She’s adamant that Spike can become a good man.

“I wanted more for you,” Giles says, and now he’s talking less about the prospect of Spike eating the Slayettes and more about Buffy’s romantic and emotional well-being.

Speaking of romance, Xander is at the hardware store, meeting a nice woman. (Well. Not really nice, as we’ll see. Hmmm. And not really a woman either. ) Oblivious to her flaws, he turns on the charm, gives her advice about rope and asks her out.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Xander, Lyssa

Buffy heads off to work and goes snooping in the principal’s office. She gets caught almost immediately, fibs her way out of it, and finds herself agreeing to go to dinner with arguably evil Robin. Once she’s out of his office, he takes a bloody dagger and sticks it in the cabinet she was just about to open. It’s part of a big collection of shiny weapons. Cue ominous music!

The dinner plan leads to one of those wonderful BFF BuffWillow talks about whether—assuming Robin isn’t a horrible, Potential-murdering minion of darkness—Buffy might be attracted to him. Xander bursts in partway through, to announce that he, too, is among the dateworthy. Cute banter ensues.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Willow

Over in the kitchen, Andrew is attempting to program the microwave when First Jonathan appears. Andrew tries to ward him off with a cross, unsuccessfully. Jonathan tells him that, being a murderer, he has little chance of making the Scooby squad. Ha! Andrew points out that Anya, Spike and Willow are all murderers, and they’re in the club.

So, Jonathan says, gliding past that: Wanna kill the Potentials?

Andrew’s initial reaction to this is a creditably emphatic nuh uh, but faux Jonathan is insistent. He points out that back when she was turning into Warren, Willow brought a gun into the house. It’s not going to be the failed stabbing of Piggly all over again, he promises. No, all Andrew has to do is corner and trap the Slayettes in the basement and start shooting.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Jonathan

Which, to me, still sounds difficult.

Anya, meanwhile, is unhappy with the news that Xander has a date. She’s trying to get the blood—or possibly Dawn-spattered pizza—out of Buffy’s blouse whilst working up a jealous rant about whether Xander is serious about seeking other romantic options. Then Spike turns up, and claims he’s totally okay with Buffy dating. The exchange between the two of them, naturally, is a bit awkward. It’s also well-intended on both sides.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Anya

Lyssa turns up on time for her Xander date. She may be bad, but at least she’s punctual. And, for the second that they’re on-screen together it seems to be going well. Willow, Dawn and some of the Slayettes are, meanwhile, trying to dig up info on Robin so that Buffy can assess his potential for villainy. 

Sadly, there’s nothing much to find that predates his arrival in Sunnydale. Which is ominous in and of itself. Easily as suggestive as the shovel thing and the handy office knife cabinet. It’s looking wicked over in Robinland.

Everyone is far too busy to keep an eye on Giles, and this, surprisingly, turns out to be a shame. He has broken out the Sharpies and made another set of drawings—reminiscent of his overhead projector slides from “Hush”—and used them to upset new Potential Choa-Ahn badly with pictures of Noseless the Turok-Han ripping girls in half. Talking about this turns to him discovering that Willow has a new girlfriend and Xander and Buffy are stepping out, too. He gets huffy, and reminds them that they should be putting their energy into fighting the First.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date

Speaking of whom, Andrew is lurking around seeming to obey its evil dictums, spying on the Potentials, and searching for that gun of Willow’s.

Buffy’s evening out gets off to a bad start. Robin leads her down a dark alley, claiming it’s the route to a nice little French bistro. What’s actually in the alley? Vampires. Buffy dusts a trio of them and then makes ready to accuse Robin of setting her up. Then he toasts the other two. He helps her up and points out the restaurant. 

So... he’s not evil?

Across town, over coffee, Xander and Lyssa are processing his failed wedding. She’s very sympathetic, and questions whether his seeing Anya all the time is healthy for either of them. What a swell girl!

Robin, it turns out, is a freelance demon hunter. Of course he knows Buffy is the Slayer. He maneuvered both himself and her into their current positions at the high school for logical, Hellmouth-related reasons. He gaily laughs off the idea that it was Buffy’s ace counselling skills that got her the job there at SHS. He knows a big fight is coming and he wants to help. 

Buffy, logically enough, wants to know why. We don’t have three seasons left to unlock his secrets, so he spills his backstory with alacrity: his mother was a slayer, and a vampire killed her when Robin was an adorable and precocious (we assume) four-year-old. He has vamp-hunting skills because his mother’s Watcher raised and trained him. 

Buffy’s takeaway on this is, mostly: “Slayers can have kids? Dude.”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Jonathan

Over at the house, Andrew has found the gun. He asks Jonathan a bunch of questions: how and why the Slayettes have to die, why the First doesn’t just use Spike to do the deed, and whether the First has any weaknesses. Once he’s turned the conversation in that direction, First Jonathan quickly realizes Andrew’s just playing along. In fact, he’s wearing a wire.

He bleeds gorily and beats him with an incorporeal guilt stick: tells him Jonathan is suffering. He insists that Andrew has to keep on chuggin’ down the evil road. Then he appears in the room where Willow and the others are trying to listen in. He still looks like Jonathan, but he’s even more decayed. 

Threats are uttered. Everyone is duly scared.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Xander, Lyssa

By now, Xander’s date has taken him down to the Sunnydale High Subterranean Seal of Supervamps. (That thing is just like Audrey Two; it’s always hungry.) Lyssa, using the very rope Xander advised her to buy, is going to string him up and bleed him dry.

And so the Scoobies are debriefing about their failed attempt to capture the First on tape when they get a text from Xander about his latest apocalyptic dating failure. Spike heads off to fetch Buffy—despite his claims to the contrary, he’s only too happy to bust up her evening out—and finds her having chemistry and dessert. He, she and Robin zoom off in the car to save Xander, which makes for a deeply uncomfortable vibe.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Spike, Robin

Lyssa gets as far as sticking Xander in the gut before they show up. She’s tough: Buffy and Spike take her on while Robin cuts Xander down. The seal opens just a little: Robin gets his foot grabbed. But it’s not enough, and the emerging Turok-Han loses an arm when the thing snaps shut.  

(Robin also gets enough of a look at the Spuffy dynamic to guess that he doesn’t have a shot, romantically, with the Slayer.)

Everyone goes home and Xander declares he’s going gay, as all the women who take him seriously as a date prospect seem to be demons. “I’m mentally undressing Scott Bakula,” he declares. This makes Andrew happy. For once he and I are on the same page. (On it are the words “Praise Scott Bakula. Oh Boy!”)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Robin, Spike

But Giles poops all over this party. He waves his flash cards. Bad stuff is going down. “It’s time to get serious!”

Spike is ready to be serious. He has taken the First’s declaration to Andrew that it isn’t “time for him” to mean he should flee the jurisdiction. Buffy says no. She’s not ready for him to not be with her. He asks, reasonably enough: So what about Robin?

What about Robin? Well, he’s washing up after the fight when his mother (or, actually, the First) shows up for a chat. He tells her to get out, but she offers up a golden intelligence nugget: the one about Spike having killed her.

That’s sure to complicate matters, isn’t it?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Date, Robin, Nikki Wood

“First Date” is what we’ve taken to calling a wheel-spinner here in these columns. It nudges a few game pieces around the Good versus First board. Robin gets promoted from Mystery to Ally, and the First makes another move against House Slay. It’s also, like many Espenson-penned episodes, a bit of a comic break from the darkness before and yet to come.

It’s not hilarious, or world-shattering, but it’s okay, and the cliffhanger is a good one. We’ve only just learned Robin’s a stand-up guy, and now the First, in its ongoing campaign to rid the good guys of Spike, has made another solid move to take him out of the picture.


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.

25 comments
Constance Sublette
1. Zorra
This was the highlight for me in this season, the Wood, Spike, Slayer arc and the whole back story. It was terrific. The impact of it disappears though, for re-watching, since we know. But I still love it, and wish there had been a lot more of this instead of the slayettes and Kennedy and Andrew.

Love, C.
DougL
2. DougL
It was a pretty decent episode and where Season 7 kicked into a bit of a higher gear. I really enjoyed Season 7 despite all the mixed reviews it gets.
DougL
3. RobinM
I enjoyed this story the first go around because we're not really sure about Robin until the end. I like me some good backstory. Seeing Dead Jonathan still makes me wonder about adding Andrew to the Scoobies. I always thought it should have been Andrew that died and Jonathan that hung around considering his stronger connection to the gang during high school.
Sydo Zandstra
4. Fiddler
@RobinM.

If they had Jonathan stab-kill Andrew instead of the other way round, it would have been a break from how his character was built up during the series, I think.

Both Andrew and Jonathan aren't real killers. But Jonathan wouldn't have fallen for the First/Warren's scheme. Jonathan is the smarter of the two, and Andrew was the weakest/easiest target.


Also, one of the things I keep liking about this episode is the drawings depicting Buffy as the Slayer. I keep laughing at that when rewatching 'Hush' too.

And kudos for Giles adding 'Buffy' under 'The Slayer' on the drawing this time. Since there are 2 slayers now. Forewarning anyone?
DougL
5. DougL
I also liked the call back to Scream or whatever episode that was called where Giles' fantastic art skills made their first memorable appearance.
DougL
6. GarrettC
Oh, man.

This episode sets up the Giles stuff that makes him a bad character who I don't like, which I don't like.

:(
DougL
7. Dianthus
Why do people think you're still in love with Spike, Buffy? Only 'cuz it's true.
It bothered me the way Buffy was talking to Spike in their awkward scene, tho. It sounded very much like when she was accusing him of hunting again earlier in the season. And while he puts a brave face on it, one look at his expression (after Buffy's turned away) shows Spike's heartache. JM has the most expressive face.
But wait! Jane hasn't abandoned us! Buffy runs to check on Spike after the fight with Xander's latest demon girl (he's a demon magnet, after all) like it's the most natural thing in the world. She's still not ready to fully acknowledge her love for him (silly girl), but the truth will out.
There's an icon floating around Spuffyland that features Buffy's line from this ep ("...the best thing I've ever had in my mouth.") and a screen cap of Spike from Gone. It was a bit of a shock the 1st time I saw it, but it made me LOL. Someone was feeling very naughty when they put that together.
DougL
8. Dianthus
Oops. Isn't this the same problem we had earlier? Either the 1st wants to be rid of Spike, or it has plans for him. Can't really be both, right?
DougL
9. Alex C.
Lovely review, Alyx.

That being said, I wouldn't describe it as a wheel-spinner so much as a set-up episode - and an important one at that. Buffy, Spike, Giles, and Wood are now well and truly set on a four-way collision course that in character terms is one of the best things S7 has going for it. It'll take a few more episodes to get to the explosion, but "Lies My Parents Told Me" is well and truly worth it, on a great many levels. "First Date" isn't quite one of Jane Espensen's best episodes, but it is very much a good one in my book.

Above and beyond the nice flashes of humor before the season takes a sharp turn down the dark road in the next episode, the personality dynamics on display here are quite gorgeously realized in the way they grow out of the previous development of the characters. The growing breach between Buffy and Giles is a fine example - it doesn't exactly make for the most emotionally soothing viewing experience, but I do think that it's very well done.

Although on the surface what they're arguing about is Spike and whether he can be trusted, it doesn't take much scratching to get at the root issue here: after multiple seasons of wavering over the issue on both sides, Buffy is finally moving toward the decisive moment when she is no longer going to regard Giles as her mentor, or defer to him as such. It's a neat little ironic reversal from the previous season: she's finally doing what he wanted her to do then, and he doesn't like it one bit.

On his end, Spike is exhibiting more and more signs of the dominant theme of his character in this season, which I think can be most coherently summed up thusly: after spending roughly five seasons going through the slow, painful, and often weird process of unbecoming a villain, he's now going through a more rapid process of becoming a hero - one who does genuinely selfless things. It's fitting that he learned what a hero is from Buffy, because before the end is over he's going to have to remind her once she starts to forget it herself.
DougL
10. Alex C.
@8. I think it's fairly clear what the First Evil wants from Buffy and Spike: it wants both of them to be broken spiritually, emotionally, and mentally (so basically it's Angelus all over again, writ large). It doesn't want them dead, because Spike is useless if he's just a pile of ashes, and Buffy dying would just result in another Slayer being called to take her place. So it throws everything plus the kitchen sink to torment them, but passes up on several chances to just kill them.
DougL
11. oddballlucy
Aww, I love Giles and his proper Britishness! Just FYI, it's "burk", a very British term for an idiot - I call people burks all the time :P
Tom Smith
12. phuzz
I always thought it was spelled berk, and urban dictionary tells me it's from the ryhming slang "Berkshire Hunt", I'll leave you to work out what insult that's supposed to rhyme with.
Mind you, calling someone a berk isn't that offensive, the sort of insult you could use in front of your mum, and if it was from Berkshire Hunt, then really it should be pronounced 'bark', so maybe that's not really the origin of the phrase.
Bristish swears on US telly are amusing, sometimes you can get away with being much ruder, eg, Giles could probably get away with saying 'bugger you', but would probably not get away with 'fuck you in the arse'...
gina gatto
13. gcatto
When I watch this episode I always wonder if it should have been obvious, pretty much immediately, to Buffy that Robin's mother was killed by Spike. She make that connection here right? Maybe it's just because we as the audience were seeing the flashbacks in Fool for Love, but given that there's only one Slayer at a time up until recently and that she knows where Spike killed his two slayers and when it seemed like a quicker connection.

I enjoy this episode though if I can get past the part where Ashanti is in it. I should remind myself more often that cameo is counteracted several times over by Giles' slayer flashcards.
Jenny Thrash
14. Sihaya
To Burke someone is to kill them by asphyxiation, a la Burke and Hare. I always understood that this was the origin of the insult, too - you're a Burke if your brain is obviously deprived of oxygen.
Jason Parker
15. tarbis
I have a lot of sympathy for Giles's rant at the end of this episode. One of the safest places he knows got blown up, people who were his co-workers for decades have been murdered, and the body count is somewhere in the double or possibly triple digits. This is a serious end of the world, not one of those with a couple tremors and trio of demons like the one in the middle of season four. He arrives in Sunnydale to find everybody putting their personal drama in front of saving the world. That was understandable when the Scoobies were teenagers, but these people are supposed to be adults now and still they're acting like this. If none of them are going to be the grown up then he needs to be, but he is frustrated by the knowledge that he shouldn't have to be the only one.

Unfortunately like most youth marketed television BtVS prizes the youthful and idealistic over common sense. Giles is over forty therefore he is wrong and can never exercise actual authority. He also can only act as an obstacle instead of proposing workable alternatives. It's a limitation of the genre and form.

Also I have to say that letting Spike run around unescorted in the teaser was a champion bad idea. You either keep him joined to the hip with somebody that can beat him down if the First sets him off or chained up. It isn't safe for anybody to have him wandering around.
Chris Nelly
16. Aeryl
@13, Sad to say, but the sparse casting for POC made it OBVIOUS that Robin had to be related to Nikki, once his "Slayer was my mom" story came to light.

@15, But Giles is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong, wrong, wrong. It the desire for camrederie and companionship that has driven Buffy to be the best of all Slayers, and it's that desire that allows her to see the choice that ensures her victory. If she'd listened to Giles here or all those years ago(because this is a lecture he's given her before, and he was wrong then too), she'd have never learned that.

And it also displays a fundamental distrust of Buffy, that continues to play the remainder of the season(and the comics too with disastrous consequences). Just to recall, she murdered her lover in cold blood, at the age of 17, because that's what was required to save the world. To believe that she's placing her personal life ahead of the job that needs doing, just shows you how much he has changed.

In addition, he's wrong because Buffy wasn't out with Robin for her own gratification, she's investigating him.

With seeing how far off base Giles is in regards to everything else he does this episode, like trying to explain the situation to Chou-Ahn, I have a hard time understanding why you'd think he was right on this.
Jason Parker
17. tarbis
@16 Notice that he is ranting at the group. A group where instead of doing research they're gossiping about love lives. The closest any of them came to doing something useful was hoping the First would be dumber than a corner coke dealer.

I'll give Buffy credit for sacrificing when situations got bad. She also begged and whined and tried to avoid work more often than not. And she's the most dedicated of the Scoobies.

For that matter Buffy's big widing the circle idea will mean nothing at the end of the day. Her victory comes because the First's plan interfered with Wolf, Ram, and Hart's plan. If they had been cool with letting the First have Earth then a thousand Slayers won't have helped the situation.

You can have your opinion, but considering that Buffy is going to have to give a "Why aren't you people working" speech in a couple episodes I think Giles is at least as entitled to give his.
Chris Nelly
18. Aeryl
But Buffy's shown to be wrong as well, which is why she gets kicked out of her own home.
Jason Parker
19. tarbis
Aeryl, I think weren't talking about different speeches. I was thinking about the sooner one in "Get It Done."
On the upside that particular speech worked (they did get pissed off enough to perform), on the downside she kept trying to keep people pumped via anger which does not work for anybody.
It didn't help that her defense for being in charge was "because I'm the Slayer" instead of "because I'm a good leader" or "because I have experience." We can further discuss Buffy's descent into might makes right when we get to it. This is still a little early in the season.
Chris Nelly
20. Aeryl
That one is no better. Buffy shamed a girl who committed suicide. That is all kinds of FAIL as a leader.

All I'm saying, is that she tries to do the Giles School of How to Lead, and it fails miserably. This is in line with all his advice being pretty darn terrible this season.
Jason Parker
21. tarbis
Failure as a leader is not achieving your goals or not having your resources together at the end. Being nice doesn't enter into it. Leaders who get results can be dickheads so long as they keep getting results that those following can accept for the price paid. (See generals, CEOs, a lot of managers.)

Buffy started getting people killed for no benefit to anyone. That was when she failed as a leader. Not when she was a jerk about someone who listened to their fear.
DougL
22. Alex C.
@15 - 21, tarbis.

Several points:
- For that matter Buffy's big widing the circle idea will mean nothing at the end of the day. Her victory comes because the First's plan interfered with Wolf, Ram, and Hart's plan. If they had been cool with letting the First have Earth then a thousand Slayers won't have helped the situation.
Sort of, but not really.

Buffy's plan would never have worked without the amulet that Angel gave her enabling Spike to blow up the Hellmouth, but it also never would have worked if she and Willow hadn't activated the Potentials. If Spike hadn't been surrounded by a dozen Slayers, and if they hadn't had the Scythe to fight with, he would have been turned into a pile of ashes long before his mystical soul-bomb had a chance to go off. Both elements are crucial to the plan's success.

Also, in the event that the amulet didn't work for some reason, and the Scoobies all died killing as many Turok-Han as they could, then the thousands of new Slayers around the world (plus Team Angel back in LA)would become the back-up plan for humanity's survival.

So Buffy's big idea definitely wasn't meaningless.
- Also I have to say that letting Spike run around unescorted in the teaser was a champion bad idea. You either keep him joined to the hip with somebody that can beat him down if the First sets him off or chained up. It isn't safe for anybody to have him wandering around.
That's going to become the primary source of contention in the Buffy/Giles/Spike/Wood clash that builds up over the next few episodes and explodes in "Lies My Parents Told Me".

The bottom line is that Buffy is now committed to believing that Spike has the potential (seasonal theming alert!) to become a good man, and to that end is now prepared to trust him up to the hilt to give him the chance to prove he was worthy of her belief. She's seen him throw off the influence of the trigger once already, and knows that he resisted the First's best attempts to break his will while he was a prisoner. For his part, we'll see that Giles doesn't like Spike, doesn't trust him, and doesn't care about his desire to achieve personal redemption.

Ultimately we'll see that in this argument Buffy is right and Giles is wrong - not because she's the hero and he's the fallen mentor and that's what the genre demands (although that's there too) but because she's the one who has the better experience and clearer view of who Spike is as a person now. Giles doesn't seem to care about Spike's soul, and we'll see that even after the trigger is broken he'll insist that it doesn't really make a difference.
- Unfortunately like most youth marketed television BtVS prizes the youthful and idealistic over common sense. Giles is over forty therefore he is wrong and can never exercise actual authority. He also can only act as an obstacle instead of proposing workable alternatives. It's a limitation of the genre and form.
Giles isn't wrong because he's an over forty parental/authority figure on a youth-marketed tv show. He's wrong because of fundamental elements of his character that've been consistently developed for multiple seasons.

If we go back to "Restless" from S4 (the bible of character analysis in BtVS) we ought to remember that Giles' dream opened with him hyponotizing Buffy while lecturing her about the importance of traditions stretching back to the beginning of time... and Buffy laughing in his face in response. That's the setup for his role in the last season in a nutshell.

There had to come a point in the series when Buffy would outgrow Giles and no longer need him as a teacher. A large part of this season is about how they get to that moment.

After this episode she does come to adopt a large part of his attitude, and parrot a number of the things he says... and those are the very things that get her into trouble, as we'll see.
- I'll give Buffy credit for sacrificing when situations got bad. She also begged and whined and tried to avoid work more often than not. And she's the most dedicated of the Scoobies.
I don't think that's fair. We've seen little if any of that sort of thing from Buffy since the 4th season.
- Failure as a leader is not achieving your goals or not having your resources together at the end. Being nice doesn't enter into it. Leaders who get results can be dickheads so long as they keep getting results that those following can accept for the price paid. (See generals, CEOs, a lot of managers.) Buffy started getting people killed for no benefit to anyone. That was when she failed as a leader. Not when she was a jerk about someone who listened to their fear.
Here's the thing. Buffy's eventual failure as a leader came in large part from doing exactly the same things that "got her results" earlier. She had better ideas for how to fight the Big Bad than any of the others, but did such a thorough job of isolating herself from everyone around her that it didn't matter.
Jason Parker
23. tarbis
@22 I'll give a lot of that as difference of opinion. (I don't think Buffy ever gave the others a solid reason to trust Spike, even if she and the viewer did have some cause.)

However, Buffy's ideas for fighting the Big Bad were not good. Going back to the vineyard in force was a bad plan. Going in quietly did work, but that wasn't the plan she proposed when people turned on her. Opening the Hellmouth meant that if the amulet failed to work properly (a poorly researched amulet from a questionable source) she would be leaving the door open for the First's minions. Also a poor plan.

From a making a show perspective they didn't have enough episodes to come up with and execute a good plan, but lets not pretend that Buffy is a great leader or tactical genius either. Her plans worked because she was the title character and this was a television series not on any kind of recognizable logic.

I'll also admit that my arguments about this might have gone a little over from where they started. However there is nothing incorrect about telling the people making orientation jokes or gossiping about love lives to start taking a situation that just killed dozens of people you've known for decades seriously. The Scoobies were somewhat isolated from the main bodycount, Giles wasn't. (I'll also admit that part of my sympathy for Giles's position may stem from approaching the series now as an adult instead of a young adult. These days I know my drama is unimportant.)
Chris Nelly
24. Aeryl
I also wanted to address the whole "Wolfram and Hart didn't agree like the First's plan" because I think that's a misreading of the situation.

IMO, W&H wanted Angel dead. They had his team, and had shuffled Connor(the true threat) off to his alternate life. Without Angel alive, his team works for W&H in perpetuity, and no one cares about Connor enough to recover his true identity.

If Buffy hadn't activated the Potentials, hadn't drawn all the Ubervamps to one place, the amulet wouldn't have worked as effectively. W&H were counting on that, that Angel would try to use the amulet(it apparently only works in sunlight, imagine if they'd try to draw the Ubervamps out at NIGHT?), Buffy, Faith and the Potentials die in the onslaught. Also, if they hadn't been prepared for a quick getaway, that vaunted Slayer Army would've gotten buried in the rubble of Sunnydale, something else W&H were counting on.
DougL
25. Alex C.
@23, tarbis. Several more points in response:

1) On Buffy not giving the others solid reason to trust Spike - that's actually a big part of the point, I think. The audience with its privileged access to all points of view, is clearly meant to infer that Buffy was correct in her decision to trust Spike (that he's going to redeem himself has been the entire thrust of his character development for three seasons, and Buffy merely placed herself on the right side of that issue), but that she was wrong not to make a greater effort to explain her decision to the rest of the group. The fact that she didn't is very in-character: her reasons for trusting Spike are rooted in very emotional experiences (the fact that he got his soul back essentially for her sake, that he first threw off the trigger's influence rather than harm her, the way she found and saved him from the First, etc) - which is precisely the part of herself that she's been growing progressively more reluctant to share with people for the past few years (as was underlined in CWDP).

All this ought to be understandable to the audience, but it's also a key part of what undermines the trust between her and the rest of the group (the debacle at the vineyeard was not enough on its own to precipitate the mutiny). The irony then is that it is Spike who winds up saving her from her lowest point of the season, and sending her back into the fight, in "Touched".

2) On whether Buffy's plans for fighting the Big Bad were no good - here I disagree. Her proposal to take the entire group with her back to the vineyard was reckless (although it's worth noting that she said she was open to suggestions on how they would do so, the only thing she was adament on was that they had to go back), but she was correct in her belief that that was where they would find the key to defeating the enemy.

Within the terms established by the story, the plan in "Chosen" also holds up. The entire point of the Big Bad's plan is that the more time goes by, the stronger and nastier its power and army are becoming, and it's a matter of inevitability that sooner or later its topside minions will succeed in unsealing the Hellmouth to let them out. With Buffy's plan, even in the worst-case scenario where the amulet doesn't work and they all die, they get to kill a lot of the enemy as they go down fighting, and when the Turok-Han come boiling out of the Hellmouth, it's into a world now populated by thousands of Slayers, the only enemy that the First is shown to be seriously worried about. In planning terms, it's at least as solid as what they came up with for "Graduation Day".

Sure, the entire thing is riddled with what we might call Hollywood tactics, but that doesn't really bother me. As we've all pointed out and agreed before, the strengths of BtVS as a show were never about the high quality of its plotting and world-building, neither of which was ever anything to write home about. The real point lies in the growth and development of the characters, and on a deeper level of the show's elaborate use of metaphor, which became especially pronounced in the show's final (and by far the most meta-textual) season.

The fact that Buffy is the one who gains the key insights (seeking the Scythe, empowering the Potentials, and trusting Spike) which result in the defeat of the Big Bad is not (just) a reflection of protagonist privilege by the writers; it makes full sense in light of the way that she has grown and developed as a character over the preceeding seven seasons up to this point.

The reason that the First Evil is a dangerous opponent (despite being incorporeal) is that it is uncannily good at getting the characters to do what it wants even when they ought to know full well not to trust it. It makes Spike and Andrew into its puppets (for a time), causes Dawn to distance herself from her sister, scares Willow into shutting down her strongest powers for most of the season, goads Faith into following her own (deeply flawed) instincts, and gets Wood to go after Spike. Buffy, with her many years of experience at making a mess of (evil) people's plans (as Spike so memorably explained to Adam in S4), is the one who has the best grasp of how to fight it, despite all the mistakes that she makes along the way. She helps Andrew (in "Storyteller") and Spike (all season), puts Wood in his place (in LMPTM), tells Willow to snap out of her funk and be awesome again (then asks more nicely in the finale), rallies Faith out of her down after "Touched" (and never holds the mutiny against her), and comes up with the idea to give her power to the Potentials, etc, etc.

As character work this is all quite good and well handled, and forms a big part of why I consider S7 to be a creditable season of the show, at the end of the day.

3) Getting back to Giles in this episode. I've never wavered in my opinion that he is an ass in this season, but I that it makes sense in character terms for him to behave this way.

Giles' comments here are not justified, in my view, because the idea that the Scoobies are not taking the situation seriously is unfair - there is little in the immediate sense that they can do about it that they aren't already doing, and the fact that they're trying to remain somewhat light-hearted shouldn't be held against them. We see what Giles' approach does to Buffy when she embraces it after the next episode - by the end of "Empty Places" she's completely burnt out, and requires Spike's intervention to turn her around.

Moving forward to "Get It Done", Buffy's rant is also reprehensible in many ways, but at least it rests on some legitimate complaints (that Willow and Spike are holding back out of fear) as well as an understandable but out-of-line reaction to the earlier event.

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