Written by David Fury
Directed by David Attias
The Bronze is back in business, having refurbished after Olaf smashed everything. It looks nice. The gang is enjoying it, but Buffy is sitting off to the side. Spike Joins her. He’s wearing very un-Spike colors, emphasized by how they clash with his hair and nail polish. Buffy doesn’t understand why he’s talking to her. He wants points for fighting at her side against Glory. Xander and Anya come over and kick Spike out of his seat. Willow and Tara join them too. Also, Spike stole the cash Xander left on the table.
Willow is still getting headaches from the teleportation spell, but nothing has happened lately, so they’re enjoying some down time. Buffy notices Ben sitting nearby and heads over to thank him for looking after Dawn until she got to the hospital. While Xander lectures Spike for stealing his money, Spike jealously watches Buffy chatting and laughing with Ben.
A train pulls into the Sunnydale station (because apparently there’s a Sunnydale train station). Nobody gets off, so the guy working at the station checks the passenger car, and every single person inside is dead of bite wounds. He tries to flee, but gets back into the car, from which we then hear screams of agony and ripping noises. Fun!
Buffy comes home, and Giles is there with Joyce and Dawn. She tells them about her night. Giles was there to make sure everyone stayed safe while Buffy enjoyed a few hours of fun. Dawn seems to have adjusted rather well to the knowledge that she’s the Key. Giles advises Buffy to treat Dawn normally, rather than letting things slide because of the circumstances. Buffy promptly yells at Dawn about stealing her sweater.
Except that Dawn didn’t steal it. Spike did! Gross. Harmony tries to seduce Spike. It doesn’t work very well (which has become a pattern of late), and she suggests they try something different, like playing a game. So Spike has her dress up in the clothes he stole from Buffy, and she prowls around the crypt with a stake and does a really absurd job of pretending to be Buffy. Spike then tackles her.
Buffy, Willow, and Tara are walking to class, and Willow and Tara are arguing about whether Esmeralda should’ve ended up with Quasimodo instead of Phoebus. Tara votes Phoebus because Quasimodo’s actions were all selfishly motivated. Buffy hasn’t read the book. She plans to prepare for the test by watching the Disney movie. Oh boy. (Which is what Willow says.) Then Buffy steals a student’s paper because she notices the article about the train massacre.
Dawn is at Spike’s crypt. He’s a bit cagey about what he’s up to, and about the lower room of the crypt. She’s there because she doesn’t feel like going home yet, and she appreciates the way he doesn’t talk down to her or avoid her. She even feels safe around him, which he finds very offensive. He perks up when she says Buffy is anxious about what would happen if he ever got his chip out.
Buffy gets home, and Joyce is worried because Dawn still isn’t back from school. Buffy heads out to look for her. Dawn is still at Spike’s crypt (it’s after dark now), and he’s telling her stories of his sordid past in a rather ghost story campfire fashion. The story involves killing a family and then finding the last surviving member (a little girl) hiding in the coal bin. But Buffy shows up before he can finish, demanding that he help her find Dawn. Or not, since Dawn is right there. Spike gives a highly edited version of the end of the story, and then Buffy takes Dawn home.
On the way, Buffy lectures Dawn about hanging out with Spike. Dawn might have a bit of a crush on him, which Buffy finds horrifying. She explains the reasons it’s horrifying, which unfortunately almost make her sound like a hypocrite because of her history with Angel. Dawn certainly thinks so. She doesn’t see the difference between a vampire with a soul and a vampire with a chip.
*record scratch* Wait, seriously? Dawn, I thought you were smart! A soul is the most important ingredient of personhood. It’s what gives you empathy, an understanding of right and wrong, and the free will to overcome your worst instincts (if you choose to). The chip is just a shock collar. Not remotely the same thing.
Unfortunately, that’s not the argument Buffy gives Dawn. She just says Spike is a monster and even if he wasn’t, Dawn is only fourteen. Dawn points out that her having a crush doesn’t matter because Spike is too obsessed with Buffy to notice anyone else. That doesn’t compute for Buffy at all.
Buffy and Xander are investigating the passenger car the next day. She hesitantly and very reluctantly asks him if he thinks Dawn is right about Spike. Xander bursts out laughing. Even if it’s true, it’s hilarious. And nothing to worry about, since it’ll never happen. He’s less amused when Buffy tells him Dawn was hanging out with Spike because she has a crush on him. They leave, since there seem to be no clues. Au contraire! In the luggage rack, there’s a blindfolded porcelain doll. Drusilla! Yesss.
When Buffy comes home, she finds Joyce telling a funny story to Dawn...and Spike, who came to apologize about the whole Dawn situation the day before. Spike pulls Buffy aside. He has info for her about the train massacre. Buffy’s very twitchy around him. He thinks the culprits are two vamps holed up in a warehouse, so they should go dust them. They end up sitting in his car at the warehouse. Spike offers her a drink out of his flask. She declines in disgust. She’s getting more and more annoyed when vampires finally show up.
Buffy and Spike follow them into the warehouse, and they skedaddle the moment they see Buffy. Buffy notices that they seem to have been living there for quite a while, which means they had nothing to do with the train massacre. She doesn’t appreciate him wasting her time. He opens the door for her, at which point she has had enough. She demands to know if he thinks this is some kind of a date. He forcefully denies it—unless a date is what she wants.
This removes all doubt from Buffy’s mind. Spike does have a crush on her. She’s so revolted she nearly pukes. Then she tries to talk him out of it, but it gets better! Not only does he have a crush on her, but he thinks it’s not entirely unrequited. Also he thinks if she was in love with Angel, she could love him too. She’s officially sick of that comparison. He tries to convince her his feelings are real, but she won’t let him get his “I love you” out. She firmly tells him there’s nothing there and leaves.
Spike, sad and rejected, returns to his crypt. Drusilla is there. She wants him back. She fills him in on everything that’s been happening in L.A. After Angel nearly burned her and Darla to death, though, she’s not as keen on the plan to drive him nuts (or evil). She’d like Spike’s help. Spike doesn’t particularly want a rematch with Angel after how things went in “In the Dark.” He tries to convince her he’s doing well in Sunnydale, but she’s psychic. She knows about the chip, but she doesn’t think it matters. Technology can’t overcome nature. He agrees, but the chip does hurt a lot. Oh I do miss the Spike/Drusilla chemistry.
Enter Harmony! She’s not happy Drusilla is there, especially when Spike tells her who she is. Drusilla finds Harmony hilarious. Especially the part where Spike will supposedly choose Harmony over her. Spike grabs Harmony by the throat. He picks Dru, and he tosses Harmony out.
Buffy is still freaking out about Spike, and Willow and Joyce are there for emotional support. Joyce worries Buffy might’ve accidentally led him on. Buffy thinks beating him up all the time might have given the wrong impression, but she hopes it might blow over quickly. Willow and Joyce are less optimistic. Willow thinks Buffy needs to talk to him again and make it absolutely clear there’s no chance. Buffy thinks that’s a terrible plan. Avoiding him forever is a much better one.
Spike and Dru are at the Bronze. I love Dru’s dress.
Dru notices a couple making out on the loft. Uh oh.
Buffy’s getting ready to go confront Spike. She and Willow comfort themselves with the notion that he might just want her dead again. Buffy gives Willow a task while she’s gone.
Dru is in vamp face as she and Spike approach the couple. She breaks the girl’s neck and tosses her to Spike, then bites the guy. Spike watches Dru, looks at the girl’s neck, then vamps out and starts drinking with gusto.
When Buffy gets to the crypt, Spike isn’t there. She checks the lower room, where she finds some bones, some roots, a lit torch (how?), an open coffin...oh, and also Spike’s horrifying Buffy shrine, which includes photos, sketches, the mannequin, and several things Spike has stolen from her room. She gets the heck out of there, but not fast enough. Spike is back. As is Dru. Who tases Buffy with a cattle prod until she goes unconscious. Dru hands it to him, and he uses it on her!
Buffy wakes up in chains, in the lower room. Dru is tied to a pillar, and she’s not happy with Spike. Spike explains the situation. He loves her (or so he thinks). He insists on it, and goes on at length about it. Drusilla starts cackling. She saw this coming long before he did. Buffy definitely doesn’t love Spike. She also believes (rightly so) that you can’t love without a soul, which means that whatever Spike feels is not love. Drusilla disagrees, but as someone with no soul, her perspective isn’t very reliable. What’s more interesting about her line is that it’s a reference to Othello.
Spike has decided he can prove he loves Buffy by staking Drusilla for her. Buffy disagrees. Spike doesn’t appreciate her dismissive attitude. Drusilla was his whole world, and they had such sublime evil times together for over a century. That should mean something. It certainly seems to mean something to Dru. Buffy doesn’t care, though. So Spike explains the rest. Either Buffy acknowledges some smidgeon of reciprocated feelings...or Spike will untie Dru and let her eat Buffy. Buffy tells Spike his only chance with her was when she was unconscious. She’s kind of mean about it, though, starting off all seductive and doe-eyed.
Spike proceeds to throw a tantrum, in which he blames the women for all his problems. That’s attractive. Especially when he calls them bitches. He particularly blames Dru, because if she hadn’t cheated on him, he never would’ve come back to Sunnydale, gotten chipped, and developed these wretched feelings. He blames Buffy for his feelings for her. He decides he might as well just kill them both so he’ll be done with his girl problems.
Trouble is, he forgot about girl #3. Harmony reminds him with a crossbow bolt to the back. She gets too talkative, though, so he attacks her. While they fight, Buffy and Dru struggle against their bonds. Dru escapes hers first and attacks Buffy. Buffy does pretty well considering her hands are still in shackles. But then it looks like Dru is going to do the same thing to Buffy that she did to Kendra. Spike tackles her before she can really get anywhere with it, then unchains Buffy. This is the last straw for Drusilla. Very sad to have lost Spike, she leaves. Harmony leaves too, with much more attitude. And absurdity. FREAKING STAKE HER ALREADY.
That leaves Buffy and Spike alone. Spike seems to think this will end on a positive note. And it will! Just not for him or his shrine, because Buffy punches him so hard he crashes into it, then walks out. She goes home. Spike follows, trying to talk her round. Buffy wants him gone from her life. He doesn’t seem to get it through his head at all...until he reaches the threshold and bounces off it. She unapologetically closes the door in his stunned face.
“Crush” is a very good episode, and I’m kind of surprising myself with that opinion. Most episodes that prominently feature Harmony and/or Spike’s gross crush on Buffy are not episodes I find enjoyable, but this one manages to be good in spite of those things. Largely because it also has Drusilla in it, but also because of Buffy’s reaction to Spike’s feelings. She just couldn’t be more creeped out and bewildered, and she has the full support of the Scoobies and her mom. Also, I’m not sure I paid attention to the literary references before, but they’re fantastic. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Othello. More on that in Spike’s section of the character analyses. On Buffy’s side of things, this is an episode about dealing with someone who likes you when you would much rather they didn’t. On Spike’s side, it’s an episode about moral agency and what it means to have no soul.
Buffy is in the unenviable position of being the girl who finds out that a guy she’s never thought of romantically (whom she would probably hate if she cared enough to have such a strong emotion about him) is completely obsessed with her. She doesn’t just seem to be grossed out by Spike’s feelings, it’s like she feels dirtied by them. (Actually, if memory serves, doesn’t she say something like that in one of the next few episodes? *checks transcript of the very next episode* Oh hey, she totally does!)
Xander continues to be very ridiculous regarding Dawn’s crushes. Why should he be jealous if she has a crush on Spike instead of him? She’s fourteen! He should be appalled at her taste if she has a crush on Spike, but jealous? I’m glad he didn’t know about Spike’s obsession with Buffy, though. It can be uncomfortable sometimes when the last character to know about an unrequited crush is the subject of it.
Based on Willow’s pro-Quasimodo/Esmeralda attitude and the undeserved sympathy she has shown Spike in the past, I wouldn’t have been too surprised if she hadn’t been wholly opposed to Spike’s crush on Buffy, but I’m very glad it didn’t turn out that way.
Anya only has one line in the whole episode, and it’s one that’s sympathetic towards Spike. (Not of his crush on Buffy, just that Xander kicked him out of the chair he was sitting in.) To me, it seems a little symbolic of her attitude towards her own past as a demon. She still thinks of it with fond wistfulness, rather than shame and remorse.
If Dawn has a crush on Spike, then that’s a new development. I think it might have less to do with how cool he is and more to do with how he’s the only one who didn’t lie to her. They were the last two characters to find out she’s the Key, and they found out together. She definitely needs to be schooled on the nature of the soul, but it’s very perceptive of her to have picked up on Spike’s crush before anyone else did.
In the episode, Spike is compared to Othello and to Quasimodo. Othello, who murdered his wife after being tricked into thinking she’d been unfaithful. (Spike is all set to stake Drusilla, who was unfaithful, and he’s generally incapable of seeing the ways he has contributed to his own problems with women.) Quasimodo, whose actions, as Tara says, were selfishly motivated because he had no moral compass or understanding of right and wrong. (Spike has no soul and therefore no moral compass, so all of his actions by default are selfishly motivated. It wouldn’t be right for someone like Spike to end up with the woman he wants—or any woman, for that matter. He doesn’t even have Harmony anymore by the end.) Also, the contrast between Spike and Angel is fascinating. Spike is indignant when Buffy isn’t awestruck by his willingness to stake Drusilla for her, because she is “the face of [his] salvation.” Angel, on the other hand, considers Darla to be the one who damned him, but he still wanted to save her. Did the writers draw that parallel on purpose? I hope they did, but it still holds if they didn’t. What Spike calls love is clearly mislabeled. If someone is really in love, they respect the other person’s feelings. Spike tries to force Buffy to admit to feelings she doesn’t have, first by pestering her, and then by knocking her out, chaining her up, and threatening to kill her. Spike believes the chip and his feelings for Buffy are causing him to change for the better, but the evidence the episode shows proves otherwise. If he can look back with such fond reverence on his time with Drusilla, then his moral alignment is clearly still chaotic evil. I’ve seen some arguments claiming that his hesitation before biting the dead girl’s neck indicates some measure of goodness in him. I disagree. Spike is all about the thrill of violence. What’s thrilling about feeding off corpses Drusilla has to provide for him? It’s like the vampire equivalent of being a spoon-fed invalid. Drusilla taking him back isn’t enough to outweigh how weak and emasculated he would feel in that position.
Seeing Giles waiting at home with Joyce and Dawn for Buffy to get back was one of the most domestic scenes he’s ever had. It’s an interesting contrast with the scene where Buffy comes home to find Joyce entertaining Dawn and Spike with her wacky work stories. The scene with Giles feels very comforting and natural. Giles is Buffy’s father figure. He belongs there. Spike, on the other hand, is a jarring, unwanted addition to that space.
“I’m not joking.”
“Oh, I hope not. It’s funnier if it’s true.”
[Spike offers Buffy his flask.]
“It’s not blood, it’s bourbon.”
“I lie awake every night—”
“You sleep during the day!”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.