Written by Doug Petrie
Directed by Nick Marck
Good grief that was a long and comprehensive set of previouslies. Anyway, we open in Frankfurt, Germany (actual location caption this time), where a girl with pink and black hair is on the run from robed dudes like the ones in Istanbul last time. She parkours her way to freedom...almost. They catch he, overpower her, and stab her. Then she very creepily looks at the camera and says “From beneath you, it devours.”
Buffy apparently saw this in her nightmare, from which Dawn is trying to wake her. Buffy has moved into the room that was Willow and Tara’s last year (and Joyce’s before that). Buffy is pretty sure that wasn’t just a dream, and that girl wasn’t the only victim. She gets up and looks out the window. More girls are going to die.
The camera pans over a street, then a park. Something big and likely dangerous is burrowing its way across town.
Spike is still in the school basement, which also contains multiple rats. He’s been using them for food. And he’s still crazy. The rumbling of the burrowing thing shakes the basement, and Spike screams, covering his ears.
The next day, Xander’s driving Buffy and Dawn to the high school. Dawn makes it clear that while she thinks it’s awesome Buffy will be working at her school, she is not to attempt to socialize with her at all. The topic shifts to Xander’s dating life. Which is nonexistent. And he’s not sure how to fix that.
Principal Wood shows Buffy her office (which is a cubicle, but it has a window). Buffy makes an awesome reference to “The Pack” (I love S1 references in S7) while she’s asking questions about what he expects her to do. He wants her there to relate to the students. Then he has to go leave to deal with some students who got sent to the office. Buffy goes down to the basement in search of Spike.
Willow’s about to catch a taxi away from Giles’s awesome house. She’s really anxious about leaving so soon. She’s not confident she’s got her self control down, she’s afraid of the big evil that’s rising up, and she’s particularly afraid of facing the Scoobies. Giles believes she can handle this and that they need her in Sunnydale. He helps take her stuff to the cab.
A lady is walking her dog in Sunnydale. The dog starts growling and won’t move. And then it disappears into the ground. Whatever got it yanks her by the leash and instead of letting go of it, she lets it drag her all the way to the hole. She gets up and tries to flee, and runs right into Xander. Does that constitute a meet-cute?
Xander takes her to casa Summers, where she explains what happened. Her name is Nancy. Xander tries to flirt by being funny, but he screws it up a bit. Buffy thinks this rumbly underground monster might be that “from beneath you it devours” thing. And why is Spike suddenly in the house, hair back to normal, graciously informing her that she now has access to his help? At least Buffy’s reacting to this more how I expected her to react to him in “Lessons.” As in, shocked and not happy to see him. Spike has serious nerve showing up there like this. Why, if he’s not crazy, is he not acting remorseful? Why isn’t he explaining about his soul?
Spike, bafflingly, thinks he deserves a private audience with Buffy. Xander heartily disagrees. Spike apologizes. Oh, not for trying to rape her. For being crazy in the basement. Because that’s the real crime. This makes Dawn all indignant (in a bratty way, dang it) about Buffy not telling her she saw Spike, but Buffy refuses to be embarrassed. Before this can devolve into a complete shout fest, Buffy decides she’d rather have that private audience after all.
Buffy isn’t happy to see Spike. He wants to help her deal with whatever this new Big Bad is. He can sense it, and he’s sure she’s getting an inkling of it from her Slayer visions. (You know, this is the first time it’s occurred to me that she hasn’t really had any of those since S1. Unless you count the dream that involved Faith while she was in the hospital in “Graduation Day.” Prophetic Slayer dreams were supposed to be a thing that happened whenever there was a serious evil threat, but that particular Slayer power has been severely underutilized for most of the show. Buffy doesn’t want Spike’s help, but she thinks he’s right, which means she probably needs all the help she can get.
Buffy goes back into the living room and starts gearing up. Xander is doing better with Nancy than he was at first. Except that Nancy thinks Buffy is Xander’s girlfriend. Buffy’s plan is to patrol with Spike while Xander takes Nancy home. Xander hates that plan. Spike tried to rape Buffy, but now she’s going to let him patrol with her? She points out that he failed to rape her, and she can definitely beat him if he attacks her. Wait, seriously? Is she really that over it? Spike trying to rape her was clearly the most traumatic thing to happen to her, with the possible exception of what the Council did to her in “Helpless.” How can she be okay with spending time with Spike? Is it that she wants to prove he didn’t break her? I could maybe accept that explanation, but it would be much better if she told him to get the hell out of her life.
Dawn is going to stay home, but anyone who finds anything out will be checking in with her. She pulls Spike aside before he can leave. He seems to expect she’ll be her usual friendly self when it comes to him, but he is very wrong about that. She threatens to set him on fire in his sleep if he ever touches Buffy again.
Buffy and Spike are on patrol, and he’s being inordinately casual, wondering when Dawn became terrifying. Buffy is dryly snarky at him, but she wants to know what the deal was with him being crazy in the basement. He says it was because of the ghost things in there. Okay, maybe, but why was he even in the basement in the first place? Buffy didn’t tell anyone she saw him there because she was hoping she’d hallucinated him or something. He hands her a flashlight and she has a flashback to the attempted rape. She doesn’t want to work with him, especially if he thinks this is the gateway to them getting together again. He doesn’t. But he’s still not apologizing. Or acting remorseful. Or sparing her the unpleasantness of his presence. She can tell he’s changed, but she’s not sure into what and he’s not telling. They don’t find anything in the hole in the sidewalk. The creature is long gone.
Xander and Nancy make it to her house. She’s still struggling to believe all the stuff she’s heard about Sunnydale is actually true. She asks him out. They’re actually hitting it off pretty well. But then the rumbly ground monster comes to her house and bursts up out of the floor. It’s a giant worm with teeth. Xander doesn’t think this is a coincidence. Nancy mentions a guy, her ex. He was a total jerk, but not a supernatural jerk. He abused her and stalked her after they broke up. She says enough for Xander to realize that Nancy was one of Anya’s vengeance clients.
Anya is already working on the next one. And wow, I really love her hair like this. I hope she doesn’t change it for the rest of the season.
Before she can get a vengeful wish out of this next chick, Buffy, Nancy, Xander, and Spike come walking up. They ask if she turned Nancy’s ex into a giant worm monster. She laughs as if that’s the funniest thing she’s ever heard, then quietly says yes. That delivery was hilarious. Nancy is horrified. So is Anya, once Buffy says that Mr. Tremors ate Nancy’s dog. *snort* Anya tries to storm off, but Spike grabs her. Which she doesn’t appreciate. Everyone’s tangled love lives end up on the table in front of Nancy, which prompts her to ask if any of them haven’t slept together. Spike and Xander give each other uncomfortable looks. Bahahahaha.
Nancy only wished her ex was a worm, not a giant destructive worm demon. Xander wants Anya to undo it. Anya haughtily refuses. She has rules! And then she notices that Spike has a soul. Before she can spill the beans on that, he punches her so hard she crumples to the floor. Wow, then he goes in for some more. The hell is wrong with him? Anya gets up, game face on, and punches him across the room. Buffy joins the fight on Anya’s side. Spike punches her too! WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM? She lays into him, enraged by his callous attitude. Which only grows more callous. Is he trying to provoke her into killing him?
Xander breaks up the fight by pointing out that Nancy ran away and could be in serious danger. Buffy reluctantly goes after her, charging Xander with convincing Anya to undo the wish.
Nancy is lamenting her horrible luck when Mr. Tremors comes after her again, ripping up pavement behind her. None of the doors she tries are unocked. She gets on a fire escape ladder, but it starts breaking off the building. Buffy is on the way! With Spike in pursuit, unfortunately.
Anya won’t budge on Mr. Tremors. She’s in serious hot water with the D’Hoffryn and the other vengeance demons because of her crappy work lately. This would only make it worse. She’s still trying to blame Xander for how her life fell apart. He doesn’t find it a convincing argument.
Buffy gets Nancy to safety before she can fall into Mr. Tremors’ mouth. Spike appears and starts attacking Mr. Tremors with a metal rod. But then it turns back into Nancy’s ex, and Spike’s chip goes off because he just impaled a human (through the right shoulder; he’ll probably live). Realizing what he’s done, Spike’s mind crumbles. Buffy calls an ambulance for Mr. Ex. Spike has a rather disturbing freakout, which grows more and more sinister, ending in “from beneath you, it devours.” Then he starts crying and runs away.
Xander and Anya arrive. Nancy is very angry with Anya, and she leaves. Xander/Nancy is probably not happening. Buffy leaves to follow Spike. Xander is proud of Anya for having the guts to reverse the wish, but Anya knows there will be consequences.
Buffy finds Spike inside a cemetery chapel. He’s shirtless for some reason. He describes the blue shirt as a costume, which didn’t work. She wants to know what happened to him. He’s still in crazy mode, though. So instead of explaining, he starts to unzip his pants so they can have sex. THIS IS NOT OKAY. Alarmed, Buffy immediately tries to stop him, so he grabs her throat, so she throws him all the way across the chapel. Well at least she’s in character. There’s clearly some part of Spike that still expected to get back in her pants.
Buffy’s going to let him talk. That’s it. So he better freaking talk. He does so in vague gibberish. He went looking for “the spark.” JUST SAY IT. Freaking useless poet souls. He says he dreamed about killing her. She grabs a broken chunk of pew. He apparently masturbated a crazy amount while thinking of her. She (and we) needed to know that why? I need some brain bleach. Then he says Angel should’ve warned him, and Buffy starts to get it. Spike got his soul back so that she would love him, but instead it’s driving him crazy. He seems to think him getting his soul was what she wanted. Yeah, definitely not. He’s tormented by his past and by the evil thing that’s coming. She’s kind of horrified, and he’s offended. He did this for her! Can’t she appreciate it? He walks slowly up to a giant cross and drapes himself over it. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy. This makes no sense.
So you can probably tell that I do not like “Beneath You” at all. I mean, I’m glad Buffy’s done being weirdly okay with Spike’s presence (or, at least, that she was, before he made it her problem that he’s crazy and soul-having, which is a horrible thing for him to do to her), and I actually do like Xander and Anya’s side of the story, but I hate pretty much all of Spike’s scenes. Except for the ones where he’s getting his butt kicked, which are gratifying. Nothing he does makes sense or is okay. I hate that the main season arc is the justification for him inserting himself into Buffy’s life again. I hate that the focus is on him, when it should be on Buffy. We’re clearly supposed to feel sorry for Spike and the trauma of his past, but why should we when he spends most of the episode pretending he’s still his same old soulless self? If it’s so traumatic, then why does he slip back into that persona (right down to making suggestive remarks to Buffy) like it’s a security blanket? Why can’t he just beg for help? GAH. This episode is so frustrating.
So this episode is pretty much the vast majority of the closure or catharsis Buffy gets for the attempted rape, which is grossly unfair. I suppose I can accept that she was trying to come across as strong and unaffected until he got so close that that strategy failed. She didn’t want to give him power by changing the way she acted around him. That makes sense. It becomes clear enough that she’s not as okay as she’s pretending to be, which also makes sense. But she in no way seems to be over those issues by the end of the episode. I know Buffy is a very selfless person, but she shouldn’t let Spike make her think it’s her responsibility to help him adjust to being soulful.
I love Xander being protective of Buffy and proud of Anya for making the good (but hard) choice. I like that he’s making pathetic attempts at flirting and dating. Even if he’s still in love with Anya, he can’t be with her as long as she’s a vengeance demon, so he has to try to move on. But there might be hope for them yet.
Oh yeah, the dilemma between what Anya knows is right and what is expected of her from the vengeance demon community getting bigger and bigger all the time. It’s fantastic.
Dangit, Dawn, don’t be a brat! You were doing so well in “Lessons.” No relapsing to what made me dislike you in S6, please.
I know this a favorite episode of many Spike fans and Buffy/Spike shippers, but I don’t understand why at all. Spike splits his screentime between disturbing (yet inexplicable) madness, offensive presumption, and some of the most inappropriate humor of his entire run on the show. Not a great start for his career as a vampire with a soul. Why does he pretend he’s still soulless? How dare he taunt Buffy about the attempted rape. How dare he shame Buffy for not being grateful and impressed that he got his soul. His madness still makes no sense at all. At least in “Lessons” it was consistent. But I’m much less inclined to believe it’s genuine when he can go several scenes perfectly lucid before reverting to being crazy. Is this some kind of split-personality thing? Does he seem sane when the demon’s driving, crazy when the soul is? If that’s what the writers were going for, it’s stupid. Angel and Angelus don’t take shifts controlling his personality, so why should Spike’s demon and William’s soul do that with him?
Willow is on her way home, but she’s not looking forward to it, for about a thousand different reasons. So far, I find S7 Willow very compelling. Her attitude about her crimes is far more compelling than Spike’s about his. It would actually make more sense for her to be the one who went crazy instead of him, but I’m glad her redemption arc is being handled better, because even at her worst, I care much more about Willow than I do about Spike.
Yay supportive Giles and his awesome Westbury house. Boo, he’s not going back to Sunnydale with Willow.
“Don’t much fancy sticking my head in there.”
“But if something bites it off, that’d be a clue.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.