Written by Drew Z. Greenberg
Directed by Turi Meyer
We open on a couple trying to plead their way out of a mugging when Buffy shows up. She was expecting monsters. The would-be victims leave, and Buffy easily beats up the muggers. Spike leaps in and tries to help, giving himself a chip headache and the muggers the opportunity to flee. Spike is annoyed that the Intitiative didn’t give him a chip that allows him to at least attack lawbreakers. After walking into a bad double entendre, Buffy rolls her eyes and leaves. Or, starts to. Spike wants more snogging, and he calls her a tease. Buffy resumes leaving, and he yells after her that he’s the only one she’s got. How nice.
Willow is sad and alone at the Summers’ house. Amy the rat is fussing a bit in her cage. She thinks they could get a playmate for her, and wow Willow still doesn’t see how Tara leaving was entirely because of her horrible actions. It suddenly occurs to her that she might finally know a way to find the spell to change Amy back to a human. She just says “reveale” and a spell appears on her dresser. Seriously? It was that freaking easy to get the spell? Then why the crap did it take THREE YEARS? Anyway, Amy is human now. She looks around, then screams.
The trio is doing a museum heist. Andrew lowered himself down from a window in the ceiling and was about to cut a circular hole in the glass when Warren and Jonathan just walk up to him and ask why the crap he’s bothering with this. Warren uses a methane torch to cut a hole in the glass, and he steals a large diamond from the display case. Despite Warren’s dismissiveness about Sunnydale’s security, they get apprehended by the one old guard. They use a freeze ray on him. It works, but it also freezes itself and Jonathan’s hand to it.
Amy is clothed now. Willow offers her hot chocolate, but she’s still jumpy and queasy. She closes the window and drapes with magic. Also, she doesn’t know it’s been three years since she turned herself into a rat. She thinks it’s been weeks. Willow updates her.
Buffy arrives home and goes to talk to Willow. She wants to talk to her about snogging Spike, but before she can get to that, Amy walks in. Also, Buffy doesn’t know about Willow and Tara’s breakup. Buffy and Amy briefly catch up. Amy wants cookies. Buffy invites her to stay on the couch. She backs down on talking to Willow about her issues. Dangit.
Amy is still reeling about all the stuff she’s missed. Also, she saw a news report about the guard getting frozen. The newsman says the guard is in “critical yet stable” condition. Which is an oxymoron.
Still, yay, I guess, that that guard isn’t going to die. Buffy heads to the crime scene, and there’s a really funny moment where she tries to jump and see over the crowd, and because her hair is in pigtails, it bounces. She sees them wheel out the guardcicle, then leaves. That’s when she runs into Spike. He’s still very interested in talking about the snogging and she’s still very not. It didn’t mean anything to her; she was just upset because Giles left. He should let it go. He thinks that’s just what she’s telling herself to feel better about it. He grabs her, she punches him, and he instinctively punches back. ...With no chip pain. Uh oh. See, this is why they should’ve staked him in S4 instead of acting like a no-violence-against-humans chip suddenly made it unethical to kill the irredeemably evil monster. Buffy punches Spike again, tells him he’s a disgusting evil thing, then leaves. Spike, meanwhile, is all wicked smirks. He can attack humans again!
Spike is picking his first victim now that the chip doesn’t work. He sees a woman go into an alley alone and follows her. He treats her to a rant about how he’s a dangerous evil monster and a killer. He vamps out and lunges at her neck. Chip pain! He’s confused and angry.
Tara and Dawn are having milkshakes. They went to see a movie and now they’re having dessert. Tara wants to make sure Dawn knows she’s always there for her and she didn’t move out because of Dawn. She adores Dawn. Aww. Dawn hopes she and Willow will get back together, but Tara can’t just accept Willow’s behavior. Dawn thinks Willow has been doing better. Wow, then Dawn has very much not been paying attention.
The Scoobies are discussing the frozen guard at the Magic Box. Anya is annoyed because Giles took some of the books to England. Buffy wonders if they should call him, but Willow doesn’t think that’ll be necessary. She can just hack her way to the relevant police files! With magic. Wait, I thought the reason Willow started hacking in the first place was because it was exciting to break down security barriers and stuff. How is it exciting to do it with magic? All the risk and tension is gone. Bah. She finds out that a big diamond was stolen. It doesn’t seem to be supernatural, though. The Scoobies are all weirded out by her use of magical hacking, and she gets offended. Anya doesn’t know why everyone’s avoiding topics like Tara and Willow’s overuse of magic. Willow has interpreted Tara’s departure as a buildup of “little things that didn’t matter,” and that it’s better this way. Wow. The subject switches to Amy.
Back to the Trio. What are they up to with that diamond? Well, I guess that’s for later. Spike breaks in and threatens Warren’s limited edition Boba Fett action figure until he agrees to see what’s up with his chip. They think they might be able to use Spike to their advantage, but Spike isn’t interested.
Willow gets home. Amy is a bit anxious because of how long Willow was gone. Also, she doesn’t want to go visit her dad yet, because he won’t be happy to learn why she was gone for three years. She wishes she could do a memory spell on him. Willow advises against it, but only because of potential backfire, not because she’s learned her lesson. Amy wants to go out and have fun. Willow decides that’s a good idea, and out they go.
Warren does the chip analysis. Andrew brags to Spike about having seen every episode of Doctor Who. Now that’s interesting. Because there are about 97 episodes of Classic Who that are impossible to watch at all due to some extreme incompetence on the part of BBC’s archivers in the ‘70s. Did Andrew manage to get hold of them? Because he could probably make a lot of money restoring them to the full collection. Or does he just mean he’s watched all the available ones? Whatever. Spike is not impressed. Fortunately, Warren is done. The chip still works just fine. Spike, surprisingly, is totally fine with this development. If his chip still works but he can hurt Buffy, then that means there’s something wrong with her.
(Does it, though? It seems to me that the easiest way for that chip to work would be by jolting the part of Spike’s brain that shows the most activity when he’s hurting humans. And we’ll just assume for the moment that there’s a portion in a vampire’s brain that floods with dopamine or something whenever the vampire harms a human, thereby making that sort of feedback response plausible. If Spike really believes Buffy is a “creature of the darkness,” then maybe that part of his brain no longer lights up when he tries to attack her. Maybe it’s more about his perceptions than about objective reality.)
Tara brings Dawn home. Dawn sneakily guilts Tara into sticking around until someone else gets home, and she curls up against her on the couch. Aww.
Willow and Amy are at the Bronze, playing psychic poker while Willow continues to update Amy about stuff she’s missed, like Xander/Anya. Some guys try to hit on them. Amy is okay with that and wants to go dance, and then she uses magic on one half of a nearby lesbian couple to get a dance partner for Willow. Willow is mortified and gets Amy to undo it. Willow might be “free,” but she doesn’t want anything romantic with anyone right now.
Later, Willow stares down the olive in her martini. Wait, so is she twenty-one now? When the heck is Willow’s birthday? Amy rejoins her, but the guys object to her ditching them. They seemed cool before, but now they’re pretty blatant misogynistic jerks, so Amy and Willow curse them into dancing in cages in humiliating outfits. Because that’s totally a proportionate response!
Xander is psyched because he’s found their villain! Or not. He’s looking at a D&D manual. Anya thinks they’re wasting their time trying to find a frost monster who eats diamonds. Xander updates Buffy on the details of Tara and Willow’s breakup. Buffy thinks Willow’s at pretty low risk for going off the rails, but Anya disagrees. Sometimes, when a goodie two shoes gets a taste of reckless behavior, they like it way more than they expected and quickly find themselves unable to stop. Buffy is defensive more for her own sake than Willow’s, because if Anya is right, then it might not be so easy for her to stop using Spike to keep her mind off her depression. The phone rings, interrupting the conversation.
It’s Spike. He tries to be all mysterious, but Buffy thinks he’s being obnoxious again. Also, why is he calling her on the phone? She pointedly tries to make the conversation sound completely Slayer business related. The way Xander and Anya were talking about Willow has her convinced that she can’t confide in them about her own issues, so now she’s trying to pretend she doesn’t have them. They’ve noticed a pattern lately in the supernatural threats: they’ve all been really dorky lately. Maybe they’re connected, but they’ll have to find out later. Buffy heads out to patrol.
Spike intercepts her, annoyed that she didn’t meet him at the cemetery like he asked on the phone. She’s annoyed that he’s bothering her again. She punches him when he won’t get out of the way, and he punches her back, revealing how much it doesn’t hurt. She’s horrified. More so when he explains that it’s because of her, not him. They start fighting for real. She refuses to believe she’s why he can hit her without chip pain, but he keeps rubbing it in her face. Maybe she’s not as human as she used to be. This is already what she was afraid of, so it’s really getting to her. Their fight ends up in an abandoned building.
Willow and Amy are still enjoying abusing their magic at the Bronze. Willow turns the band into an all-chick band, they mess with some people’s height, and Amy conjures some farm animals.
Buffy and Spike keep fighting, doing significant damage to the building while they’re at it. Spike’s still taunting her about being all lost and without a real place in the world. Buffy taunts him back about how pathetic he is to be following her around making puppy eyes. He thinks he’s supposed to be screwed up because he’s a vampire. What about her, though?
Willow isn’t having fun at the Bronze anymore. She turns everything back to normal, and it seems that nobody remembers what she and Amy did to them. Willow wants to keep having magic fun. Is there anything that can top the Bronze?
Buffy and Spike’s fight continues, and then, just when they’ve broken the building so much that it starts coming down around them, Buffy kisses him. They’re still being pretty violent with each other, and then they start having sex. I mean. I think so. I’m not exactly sure how the logistics of it are supposed to work, since all they did was unzip. But whatever. The point is, gross!
Even though I feel like “Smashed” is a mostly well-done episode, it’s difficult to enjoy. (I’m pretty sure I already said something about how that’s a common thing with S6.) The Trio continue to be incredibly underwhelming as villains, but they’re probably the only actual weak point in the episode. Everyone else’s stories are pretty strong. The problem is that they’re not remotely enjoyable. Like they have been before, Buffy’s and Willow’s story arcs are strongly paralleled. Unlike before, everything is miserable and nothing is okay. They’re both self-destructing. Buffy at least knows that what she’s doing is wrong, but now that Giles is gone, there’s no one she feels like she can confide in. Willow refuses to acknowledge that she’s the one at fault, but at the rate she’s going, she’s sure to hit bottom soon. The adorableness of Tara and Dawn is pretty much the only thing keeping the entire episode from being a huge downer, but in a way it makes what Buffy and Willow are doing worse, because here we see the people who will be hurt by it most. And then there’s the plotline of Spike thinking his chip has stopped working, only to discover that Buffy has simply become an exception to it. This is a very aggravating plotline for me, because I’ve never felt the chip was a good enough reason for the Scoobies not to stake Spike, and now Buffy is actually vulnerable to attack from him. The only reason he isn’t trying to kill her is that he’s currently more interested in screwing her. JUST FREAKING STAKE HIM ALREADY. Also, why is freshly de-ratted Amy so completely and unapologetically unethical in her use of magic? Is that consistent with what we knew about her from the early seasons? I mean, sure, she turned Buffy into a rat in “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” but she was under the influence of a love spell. She definitely did use magic on her teacher so she wouldn’t have to actually do her homework, though. So maybe she was willing to be at least a little shady, but it still seems like a bit of a leap from that to what she was doing at the Bronze. I mean, putting a spell on a random woman to make her attracted to Willow instead of her girlfriend? That’s super messed up. And it’s also incredibly stupid that after three years of failing to turn Amy human again (assuming regular attempts were even being made in the first place), all Willow has to do is use a basic summoning spell to get hold of the de-ratting spell. Just like they should’ve staked Spike seasons ago, they should’ve turned Amy human again in S4, at the very latest, and they could’ve been using her as an example of how dangerous magic can be ever since, so that Tara’s position about Willow’s overuse of magic (prior to the memory spells) would seem much more reasonable.
It’s heartbreaking how isolated Buffy has become from all of her friends. She actually tries to talk to Willow about her issues, but she’s so ashamed (and possibly still resentful towards Willow for bringing her back) that the slightest interruption is enough to make her back down. But at the same time, she doesn’t have the willpower to stop herself from taking advantage of Spike’s obsession for her when that seems to be the only way she can feel anything. These physical encounters might involve some measure of attraction on her part, but they’re mostly happening because of her growing feelings of self-loathing, her desperation to feel anything even if that something contributes to the aforementioned self-loathing, and her complete lack of respect for Spike. (I actually agree that Spike doesn’t deserve respect, since he’s a monster, but he should be staked, not used as a sex object.)
Xander seems to be doing pretty well for the moment. Oddly, in the absence of Giles, he suddenly seems to possess some real wisdom about human nature. What he and Anya tell Buffy almost sounds like one of Giles’s speeches.
Maybe Anya and Xander combined have the wisdom of Giles, but they’re definitely not as perceptive as him about Buffy’s emotional state. And they also aren’t as enthusiastic at getting to the bottom of a Plot A mystery as Giles. They treat it like a boring chore, but Giles viewed it like a thrilling opportunity. (Which only adds to my list of questions about why he thought leaving was a good idea. How much Plot A fun can he possibly have in England? He’ll just be stuck behind a desk working with other Watchers all day, and even Giles finds most of the other Watchers pompous and insufferable.)
Dawn is no longer upset with Tara about the breakup! Yay! However, she definitely has a very immature view of the situation. Willow does not deserve to be in a relationship at all as long as she’s convinced she’s in the right even as she’s blatantly power-tripping.
Spike continues to be remarkably good at believing his perspective is fact. (And yes, I know that we basically all do that to some extent, but it’s much scarier when the one doing it is a very persistent stalker.) Buffy is already isolated from her friends, and now he’s doing his best to make her feel even more separated from them so that she’ll keep turning to him. It’s sickening. I am not looking forward to six more episodes of this.
The last thing Willow needs right after Tara left her for using magic to get her own way all the time is validation, but she gets plenty of that in this episode. First, she proves she’s still using magic to help people by turning Amy human. Then, Amy conveniently is fully on board with using magic in all the fun exciting ways Willow wants to use it, and then some. Also, it just occurred to me that Mr. Madison apparently has no idea what happened to his daughter. Based on the dialogue in this episode, none of the Scoobies ever told him that Amy turned herself into a rat. What the crap? Why was Amy Willow’s pet rat for three years? She should’ve been with her dad! Maybe if Mr. Madison had been involved, the Scoobies would’ve been a bit more motivated to turn Amy back into a human more quickly.
“Remind me not to help you.”
“Optimism! I remember optimism.”
“That’s because you’re like a thousand.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.