Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3x08 Review: In Which Spike Goes on a Bender and Everything Gets WorseBetter
Written by Dan Vebber
Directed by David Semel
Willow is in a despair spiral because she didn’t get a perfect score on the SAT test. Cordelia did surprisingly well. Oz feels they should celebrate getting over the standardized test hurdle. Great! A double-date with two couples where half of each couple is cheating on the other half with each other, and the other halves are clueless. Fun times will be had by all. Buffy did pretty well on the test too (better than I did, actually, which has always annoyed me). Also, does Willow’s shirt remind you guys of anything?
Cordelia is very excited for Buffy’s scores, because now she can leave Sunnydale forever. And she means that in the nicest way possible, because what kind of loser would want to live in Sunnydale?
The Spike kind of loser, that’s who! Spike does a sadsack reprise of his original entrance in “School Hard,” smashing his car through a Welcome to Sunnydale sign (in fact, I think they may have used the same shot), but instead of strutting out like he owns the place, he falls out in a bourbon-sodden heap.
Spike staggers into the burned-out factory, singing a few lines of “My Way” in a morose fashion (and hey, he can sing). A notable detail is that Drusilla is absent. Dang it. He starts crying, and is still very drunk. He finds Drusilla’s dollies. Apparently she left him. He vamps out and tries to snap out of his funk by smashing Drusilla’s stuff while swearing at her and blaming her for his sadsack state.
At school, Cordelia feels Xander’s choice of double date activities sucks. He wants to do bowling. Also, Cordelia has a bunch of pictures of her and Xander together in her locker door. They run into Willow and Oz, and they all agree on bowling. Oz gives Willow a PEZ dispenser with a little ginger witch head. She is very touched and wants to find a PEZ werewolf to go with it. When Oz leaves, Willow has guilt face. As well she should.
Giles is about to head to a wilderness research trip of some kind. He’s packed a whole camper’s worth of stuff. To Buffy’s surprise, Giles is in support of the idea of Buffy going somewhere outside Sunnydale for college, because her SAT scores are so good that she could get into somewhere great. She doesn’t quite know what to make of this attitude. Giles wants her to be careful while he’s gone, and that specifically means not spending too much time with Angel. Buffy assures him that she and Angel are just friends, which is hilarious.
Willow is panicking about double date bowling. She thinks Cordelia and Oz will figure out what’s going on. Maybe you should stop doing what you’re doing and tell them the truth instead of waiting for them to find out! Xander says he wishes they could just stop being attracted to each other.
Joyce is gushing about Buffy’s college prospects. She thinks college not on the Hellmouth would be a chance for Buffy to have that more normal life she claims to want (and also maybe she won’t die young if she gets away from Sunnydale). Is there any reason for Buffy to stay in Sunnydale?
In fact, yes, and he’s at the mansion reading Sartre. Ew. Spike peeks in from the boarded up courtyard entrance, which Buffy and Faith smashed in their fight last episode. Angel walks off into another room, and Spike taunts drunkenly after him. He ends up tripping over the little flowerbed thing and falling asleep. His wakeup call comes in the form of a searing beam of sunlight to the hand. He runs back to his blacked-out car for shelter and pours some bourbon down his throat and some more on his hand.
Now we’re at the magic shop from S2, but there’s a new proprietor who gives off slight Professor Trelawney vibes. Spike comes in because he wants to buy a curse to use on Angel (who is the reason for his and Drusilla’s breakup, according to him). Proprietor lady doesn’t particularly want to help him curse someone, so when Willow walks in, she immediately goes to help her instead. Willow is there for ingredients to an anti-love spell, because why use willpower and honesty when you can solve your problems with magic?
Spike overhears Willow and the proprietor talking about love spells, and he’s very intrigued. Willow pays for her stuff and leaves, and then Spike bites the proprietor lady. He has a better idea now.
At City Hall, the Mayor is playing mini-golf in his office, and his assistant Allan fills him in about Spike’s activities. The Mayor apparently had eyes on Spike all last year, but he isn’t interested in indulging him this year, so he has Allan go find Mr. Trick to send a “committee” after Spike.
Buffy is telling Angel about all the college stuff. She also tells him Joyce doesn’t know he’s back, and that they’re “friends” again. Hahaha, friends. Buffy fishes for him to admit he wants her to stay, but fishing works better with bait, and she forgot to tell him that he’s one of the reasons she wants to stay before she asked him what he thought. He says he thinks she should go, take advantage of this opportunity. She grabs her bag and gets ready to go. They’re both upset but not talking about it.
At the school that evening, Willow and Xander meet in the chemistry lab. She’s working on the de-lusting spell, and holy crap, can nobody in this show use a Bunsen burner correctly?
Xander figures out that she’s doing a spell, and he objects because of the mayhem that happened the last time a love spell was cast. When he said he wished he could stop being attracted to her, he didn’t actually mean he wanted to magically poof those feelings away. Willow doesn’t care, though. She wants it to stop now.
Drunk Spike shows up and knocks Xander out with the corner of a microscope (yeah, pretty sure a blow like that would be fatal) and brings both of them back to the factory. He wants Willow to do a love spell to get Drusilla back for him. When she acts less than confident, he threatens to shove a broken bourbon bottle through her face. Willow is completely terrified. Then he starts pouting about Drusilla leaving. He explains it to Willow, who is getting whiplash from his mood swings. Towards the end of this pity party, he starts stroking Willow’s hair, and then he breaks down crying on Willow’s shoulder when he gets to the part about Drusilla saying they could still be friends. He notices the smell of Willow’s neck and vamps out, then makes an incredibly unwelcome suggestive comment. Willow, terrified, tries to set some boundaries for this hostage situation. She’ll do the spell, but only if Spike refrains from attacking her—physically or sexually. He agrees, but he’ll still just kill Xander if she doesn’t do it. She tells him where to get the other ingredients she needs.
Cordelia and Oz come to get Buffy in the library, which is where she went after Angel didn’t confess how much he wants her around. They’re worried about Xander and Willow because they found the broken stuff in the chem lab. Buffy sends the other two to get Giles from where he’s camping out in the woods. When she goes to gear up in the library, her mom calls the library phone. She wants to set up college talks. Then Buffy hears Spike’s voice in the background. She drops the phone and runs for the door.
Next scene, Spike is giving the same mopey speech he gave Willow to Joyce, and she’s making him hot chocolate. Angel approaches the house (probably hoping to make up with Buffy after their sort-of fight). He sees Spike inside and tries to rush in, but he’s still disinvited from the ritual they did in “Passion” and is stuck outside. Joyce is terrified, and Spike taunts him, pretending to bite Joyce from behind, where she can’t see. Buffy shows up and slams Spike down on the kitchen counter, invites Angel inside, and is about to stake Spike with a wooden spoon when he says that he has Willow and Xander. Joyce is very confused because the last she knew, Spike was the ally and Angel was the enemy. Nobody keeps her in the loop.
Oz and Cordelia are heading out of town in Oz’s van. Cordelia is panicking. Oz stops the van because he can smell Willow. He follows her scent in the van.
Buffy and Angel go with Spike to get the spell stuff. Buffy would really like to stake him, but Angel reminds her that they need him to find Willow and Xander. Buffy is less certain—Spike isn’t very creative; they’re probably in the factory. He denies it, and they believe him. He keeps being all drunk and mopey and they are not amused. They go in the magic shop, which is locked up and crisscrossed with crime scene tape. Buffy and Angel are growing increasingly impatient with Spike’s moping, so they start taunting him, which sets him off. Now he blames them. He starts taunting them back about how they’re awkwardly trying to be “just friends.” According to him, love is all about surrendering yourself to your passions.
Willow tries unsuccessfully to break open the factory’s door. Xander, who has blood all over the side of his face, wakes up. He definitely has a concussion, but he’s pretty coherent. They pretty much can’t see a way out of this situation, which Xander feels is a good enough reason to start snogging again. Enter Cordelia and Oz. Cordelia turns to run away, but falls through the staircase and gets impaled through the gut on rebar.
Buffy, Angel, and Spike leave the magic shop with all the love spell supplies when the Mayor’s “committee” (hehe) shows up. And there’s that vampire from “What’s My Line: Part 2” who the writers forgot was already dusted. Spike says Willow and Xander will die if Buffy and Angel let him die, so the three of them start fighting the committee. Buffy manages to stake a couple, but there are too many more, so they run back into the magic shop and barricade themselves in. There’s a pretty cool power shot of the three of them.
Vampires start coming in the back instead, and Angel tries to hold the door shut.
At the factory, Xander awkwardly tries to lower himself down through the staircase to get Cordelia, and Oz has gone to get help.
Vampires break the door down on Angel, and Spike’s former goon taunts him about “going soft,” which infuriates Spike. Buffy helps Angel up. He’s still healing from hell. They see a bunch of bottles of holy water and grin. As soon as the vampires break in through their barricade, they start hurling the holy water like grenades until the vampires run away. Spike has had a blast. Buffy and Angel are incredulous. Spike doesn’t care about doing the spell anymore. Now instead of mind-controlling Drusilla to come back to him, he’ll torture her until she comes back to him. What a romantic. Also he tells Buffy where Willow and Xander are. Then he leaves. Why are you letting him get away, guys?
Xander gets to Cordelia in time for her to pass out, and the next scene is of a funeral. Wait, what? Willow and Buffy are walking past on the sidewalk in front of the cemetery. Cordelia is in the hospital. The rebar missed her organs (somehow). She feels extremely guilty. Up until she got caught, she wasn’t sure who she wanted more: Xander or Oz. Now she knows she wants Oz, and he won’t talk to her.
Xander brings flowers to Cordelia and starts to do an apology speech, but she tells him to go away. Once he does, she starts crying. (Um, I’m pretty sure he should be in a hospital room of his own. He has a serious concussion.)
Buffy goes to visit Angel. He perks up when she arrives. Aww. But she does not come bearing good news. Spike had a point: they aren’t friends, and they can’t pretend that’s all they are. He’s mostly recovered now, so he doesn’t need her help anymore. He doesn’t want her to leave. She says the only way they can still see each other is if he says he doesn’t love her. That’s not something he’ll ever be able to say, so she leaves.
Sad music plays as we see everyone miserable and alone, thinking about their crappy romantic situations. Then the episode ends on Spike tearing down the highway in his de Soto, screaming along to “My Way.”
Even though “Lovers Walk” is the episode where everything goes wrong, it’s very enjoyable. Drunk Spike was the perfect catalyst to shatter all the main characters’ delusions and force their secrets out into the open. I suppose they could’ve achieved the same effect using a monster-of-the-week, but this way is so much more fun. It’s such a relief to see characters besides Buffy getting called out on their crap (especially since the amount of crap Buffy has actually pulled in no way resembles how much she’s been getting called on it), and the Willow/Xander affair is finally over. It would, of course, end in the most painful way possible, since this is TV. Since this is Spike’s only episode this season but the next time we see him, he’ll be a series regular, I’ll include a bit of analysis on him. Holy crap does he have some messed up ideas about love. Yes, he sees through Buffy and Angel’s paper-thin “just friends” façade and helps them snap out of it, but he thinks love is something he can obtain through mind control and violence. I think this came up at some point in S2, but I can’t remember exactly where. Spike has love confused with possession. He doesn’t care what Drusilla actually wants; he just wants her to want him. Also I think he may be misunderstanding her reasons for dumping him. Maybe it was a little bit about him “going soft,” but it looks like it might’ve been more about him being extremely clingy. Not attractive, dude. I love Buffy and Angel’s exasperated interactions with him.
I can’t tell if Angel is Buffy’s only reason to feel reluctant about the idea of leaving for college, but he certainly seems to be the main one. I do think it’s likely that another reason she wouldn’t want to think too hard about her future is that she doesn’t want to get too optimistic about actually having one, but that’s not a topic of discussion this time. It seems like things are mostly back to normal with Buffy’s relationships with everyone else. Giles is only a little bit frosty on the subject of Angel, but he’s trusting her to make the right decision. She has a bad habit that started way back at the beginning of S2 of trying to prod Angel into telling her what she wants to hear without, and this usually results in an argument or one of them leaving. Communication, people! Unfortunately, even with good communication, she and Angel are in a rather impossible situation. Thanks to his stupid curse, could only be together if they loved each other less. (So maybe you should try to figure out a way around that? No? It’s never going to come up at all in either show?)
Unless I’m forgetting something from the first two seasons, this is the first time Willow demonstrates her willingness to use magic as a cheat to get out of dealing with her problems. It will not be the last. Oh wait, now I remember the similar thing from S2. She risked Angel’s and Jenny’s lives on her theory that Angel would be able to force Eyghon out of Jenny and into himself, and that Angel’s demon would be able to beat Eyghon from the inside. As reckless as that plan was, it was at least confined to Plot A. This time, she’s trying to apply a Plot A solution to a Plot B problem. How about exercising some self-control instead of resorting to magic? Well, because that would be harder, and why bother when magic is an option? This is an extremely dangerous mindset to have, but we won’t really see fallout from it until S4.
Xander and Willow both seem to have an equal share of uncontrollable hormones in their affair, but Xander is always the one who seems less troubled about acting on them. He initiates almost everything in this episode, and unlike Willow with Oz, he doesn’t seem torn or guilty whenever he’s around Cordelia. He says he wishes his feelings for Willow could go away, but he makes no effort whatsoever to conquer them. After behavior like that, I’m glad Cordelia refuses to listen to his apology at the end. Also, can he seriously get that concussion checked out? Why are head injuries always treated so casually on this show?
Poor Cordelia. It’s interesting that her locker seems to have a lot of significant moments in her and Xander’s relationship. She used it to hide the fact that she was wearing his necklace in “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” and now she has his pictures all over her locker door. And then, after the many, many times her life has been threatened since the show began, she actually comes closest to dying right after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her. Harsh.
Giles is barely in this episode, but he’s in it enough for us to learn that when he camps, he doesn’t rough it. He brings a mountain of gear. That’s kind of hilarious. Also he wants Buffy to go elsewhere for college. Like Joyce, I think it's much more about his desire to keep Buffy from dying a horrible early death than it is about wanting her to have an excellent education, but he definitely does want that also.
So Angel likes to read French existentialist novels in his spare time. Ew. (I had to read one in high school, and I found it extremely tedious.) I guess it sort of makes sense, given his situation. The universe hasn’t exactly been kind to him. Now he can’t even spend time with the girl he loves because he loves her. Super unfair. His smile when Buffy comes to the mansion is so cute, though. Can someone just give him a hug? I think he needs one.
“I can see why you’d be upset. …That was my sarcastic voice.”
“You know, it sounds a lot like your regular voice.”
“I’ve been told that.”
“She saw these scores and her head spun around and exploded.”
“I’ve been on the Hellmouth too long. That was metaphorical, yes?”
“We don’t carry…leprosy.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.