“I Was Made to Love You,” by Jane Espenson
In the wake of Spike’s shocking and wholly unexpected declaration of love last time, Buffy has been left feeling creeped out and dirty. And since Glory hasn’t bothered to come up with a readily pummelled snake-monster and the Byzantos are off gathering their forces—or sharpening their swords or maybe training up a few new slaughterable holy lambs—she needs something else to beat on if she’s gonna productively deal with these entirely valid feelings. Her choice? Xander in a sumo suit.
Xander and Giles are quick to assure her the problem lies with Spike. But sick, sad love must be in the Sunnydale air, because elsewhere in town a cute little pixie of a woman is getting dropped off in a bad neighborhood, and she says she’s looking for true love.
Yes, it’s dating time in the land of Mom. She’s super nervous, dressed up fine, and Buffy and Dawn are helping morale by being adorable teases. It’s all very warm and sweet. Thank goodness Joyce is totally over her brain tumor and will be all right forever.
The pixie, in case you’re curious, is April, and she’s looking for someone named Warren Mears. She accosts Anya and Tara as they’re discussing high finance out in the city somewhere. They don’t know Warren, alas, so she makes her way across town, asking everyone she sees and ending up at the Bronze just in time for party hour.
Most of the gang, Joyce and her date excepted, are there. Buffy is considering the possibilities of a BenUffy romantic partnership. Buffeny? Buffen? The mash-up of names alone will tell you it’s not to be. But dancing happens, coffee is discussed, and a phone number is exchanged. All the preliminary groundwork for an unworkable relationship seems to be laid.
It turns out Warren is Bronzing too, with his current girlfriend. Warren, we see, is a craven coward, because when April shows up, he bundles Katrina out the back way.
April makes quite an impression. Xander and Willow are both struck by her physical attractions, being just appreciative enough—in a lusty oinker way—that Tara finds herself unimpressed. My heart, on the other hand, is warmed a little by the sight of these two lifelong friends girlwatching together. Anya claims to be unthreatened and also notes that April talks much as she does.
Hey! Spike’s at the Bronze too—what a surprise! Once again he sees just enough Buffen flirt to make him feel jealous and unhappy. He doesn’t have a snake to punch either, so instead he makes an obscene suggestion to April. She chucks him through a window. Then she throws Buffy across the Bronze for good measure.
While everyone else in the city is out either actively dating or fleeing their avowed true loves, Giles has once again been watching Dawn. He’s wrung out and glad to be relieved of duty. Then Joyce comes home as the guard is changing, and teases Buffy about the sex she didn’t have with Brian.
Oh, Joyce. You’re adorable. You’re breaking my heart here.
April, meanwhile, is knocking on doors, well into the wee hours, looking for Warren the so very unworthy.
The gang concludes in a trice, whatever that is, that April is probably a robot. We’re not wasting time on a mystery here, Jane Espenson seems to be saying: these are seasoned evil-fighters and they know a Ted-type when they see one. With that out of the way, they embark on a little analysis of Warren’s motives in building her before buckling down to the hunt. Their discussion about loneliness and whether everyone deserves someone sets off a little soul-searching within Buffy, and after a little moping over the phone number she got from Ben, she calls and sets up a coffee date.
He’s just changed from being Glory, and so he’s in her red dress. This little moment of ‘heh’ one of the few goofy moments in an otherwise low-key and tragic story.
But Ben, what are you thinking? You can’t possibly believe there’s any good to be had in a relationship where Buffy’s the Slayer and you’re the hobbit hole for a deranged deity who wants to dismember her and kill her younger sibling.
Unlike Ben (appparently) Warren is still capable of a certain amount of common sense. He reasons that if April is here in Sunnydale he should flee like a terrified thing. He packs, lying to Katrina all the while. Before they get away, though, Buffy shows up.
He reveals that April’s a robot. Buffy’s all, “Duh!” (Okay, that’s good for a small ‘heh’ too.)
While that’s happening, Spike shows up at the boogety boogety store. The Scoobies have closed ranks on him, and Giles gets to be the voice of Go the Hell Away, Spike. Or, as he puts it: “We are not your friends. We are not your way to Buffy. There is no way to Buffy.”
Spike takes this badly, going home and trashing the remains of his Buffy altar.
Warren is a sad weasel of a man. Buffy learns he built April, made her into his upbeat and obedient ideal girl-slave and then, when he discovered he didn’t want that so much, he abandoned her. He was figuring her batteries would run out. Instead she bumps into Katrina. They compare boyfriend notes, and this turns out very badly for Katrina’s ability to breathe.
Even as his girlfriend lies possibly dying on a park bench, Warren tries to weasel out of telling April the truth. Buffy makes him. April gets confused about who it is Warren loves and attacks Buffy. This gives all of us a fantastic opportunity to see the Slayer fighting her future electrotwin, or at least some of her parts.
There is no winning in this fight. For April, it’s all lose. She runs out of juice. Buffy stays with her as she powers down, and tells her some comforting lies. It’s a terrible act of mercy. Somewhere along the way, she realizes that she’s not in need of a Ben shaped friend—that she needs to cultivate some emotional self-sufficiency.
If I had shut off the TV at this point in the series, I might have said “I was made to Love You” was the saddest damned thing I ever saw on BtVS. The characterization of Warren, from frame one, is as perfect a portrait of misogyny as anyone might care to take in. Everything he does to April—all the little sexist grace notes like making it impossible for her to cry, because good girlfriends don’t resort to emotional blackmail—is simply horrifying.
Watching her blink out there on the swingset, still loving him, is like watching a helpless abandoned kitty starve to death. It really gets to me.
It’s ingenious storytelling, in its way, because Spike’s also suffering because of his hunger for a love he can’t have. April, is in a sense a way of showing how acutely his misplaced affection for Buffy must pain him. And yet he is no innocent, no Galatea. Even if he didn’t do what he does next, it would be obvious he’s as much a Warren as an April.
And what Spike does, as you all probably know, is track down Warren—just after Katrina dumps him—and demand that he build a Buffybot.
Glory’s big appearance in this episode is an afterthought: she hears Buffy’s no coffee for us message to Ben. She’s equal parts paranoid about what’s up and hurt over the rejection.
And then . . .
Well. Let’s just say I have reached the point in this rewatch where I’m trying to figure out if a couple glasses of sparkling rose will make what comes next easier or harder to take.
Next time: I kinda just want to skip past the next bit, don’t you?
A.M. Dellamonica has kaboodles of fiction up here on .com! Her ‘baby werewolf has two mommies,’ story, “The Cage,” made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. There’s also “Among the Silvering Herd,” the first of a series of stories called The Gales.