Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Crush

Summary

The Bronze has reopened (after the troll bashing from Triangle) and the gang are there dancing, except for Buffy who is alone. Spike sits with her, to her surprise. He feels since they fought Glory together (in Blood Ties), she could cut him a bit of slack. But nobody does and he walks away angry. Xander notices he stole Xander's change. Willow is still getting headaches from the teleportation spell she used in Blood Ties. Buffy sees Ben and goes to talk to him. She thanks him for helping Dawn, he clearly is worried what she may know. Xander confronts Spike who ignores him but is upset at seeing Buffy with Ben. At the train station, a train arrives but nobody gets off. The station master walks aboard and sees a car full of dead people. He flees but is caught by an unseen creature on the train and killed.

Buffy arrives home where she finds Joyce, Dawn, and Giles. Joyce says she wasn't feeling safe with Buffy gone, then backpedals and says of course she felt safe with Giles there. Giles goes to leave and Buffy speaks privately to him about Dawn. He says they should treat her normally and Buffy immediately yells at Dawn for stealing her sweater which Dawn denies. We cut to Spike fondling the missing sweater. Harmony walks in looking for sex, but he's not in the mood. She suggests a game. He has her dress like the slayer and pretend to be hunting him, this gets him sexually excited.

Willow, Tara, and Buffy are in school arguing over the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Buffy sees a headline in the paper about the incident on the train and realizes it was a vampire. At his crypt, Spike finds Dawn. She won't leave and soon Spike is pumping her for information about how Buffy feels about him. Buffy gets home to find Dawn missing and goes to look for her. Spike is telling Dawn a story about one of his killings of a family. Buffy bursts in just as he is about to describe how he killed a little girl. She was coming to get Spike to help her and is outraged to find Dawn there. Dawn wants to hear the rest of the story and Spike bowdlerizes it, saying he gave the girl to a good family who were really nice to her. On the way home, Buffy is lecturing Dawn and wonders whether she has a crush on Spike. Dawn says Spike is in love with Buffy.

Buffy and Xander search the train car for clues. Buffy asks him about Spike and he finds the whole thing funny. They don't find anything, but we see a doll suggesting Dru is in town. Buffy comes home to find Joyce telling a story to Dawn and Spike with Spike pretending to be amused. He came to apologize about the night before and he tells Buffy he has a lead on the vampires who killed the people on the train. She goes with him as they stake out the supposed vampire nest. She's uncomfortable in the car with him. They enter the vampire nest and the vampires just run away. Buffy realizes they aren't the killers she is looking for. As she leaves, Spike opens the door for her - shocking her. She asks if he thinks this is a date. He tries to tell her he loves her, but she cuts him off. She rejects him and leaves.

Spike returns to his crypt where he finds Dru waiting for him. She tells him about Darla and Angel and says she wants him back. He says he doesn't want to go to LA and she reveals she knows about the chip. She tries to convince him that the chip can't control him and he can still be evil. Harmony enters and thinks Spike has picked up some vampire and is hoping for a threesome. He tells her it is really Dru and throws her out. He says he's back.

At home, Buffy is telling Willow and Joyce about Spike. Willow says Buffy has to go to Spike and make it clear there is no chance of anything happening. Buffy asks Willow to do something for her while she's gone. At the Bronze, Dru kills a couple and Spike feeds from the woman.

Buffy goes to the crypt and finds the Buffy mannequin and a collage of drawings and photos of her. Spike and Dru arrive. Dru knocks her out with a stun gun and then Spike turns it on Dru. When Buffy awakes she is chained as is Dru. Spike tells Buffy he loves her. Dru says she knew. Buffy says you can't love without a soul, but Dru says they can. Spike says he's going to kill Dru for Buffy. He talks about all Dru means to him, but Buffy isn't impressed. He says if Buffy doesn't admit to something between them, he'll release Dru instead and let her kill Buffy. She still won't say anything. He goes crazy, talking about how women are ruining his life. He admits the whole thing with Buffy is crazy, but he's stuck with it. He starts talking about killing them both, but he's struck by an arrow in the back - it's Harmony. Spike starts fighting with Harmony while Dru and Buffy struggle to free themselves. Dru wins and attacks Buffy. She's starting to succeed but Spike finally frees himself from Harmony and pushes Dru aside and frees Buffy. Dru and Harmony leave. Buffy punches Spike in the face and knocks him down. He runs after her. She tells him she wants him to leave town and never come near her, her friends, or family. He tries to enter her house, but Willow has cast a spell uninviting him.

Analysis

I never had a problem with Buffy failing to realize Spike was in love with her. After all, he's just somebody she never thinks about that way. I could see that kind of blindness. What I couldn't understand was how she managed to miss how Spike is clearly paralleling his life to Angel and that his feelings, however bizarre, are genuine. Cruelly brushing him aside seems the worst possible thing to do. Or is it the very similarities to Angel which cause Buffy to react so harshly?

The parallels between Spike and Angel are really stunning when you start to think about them. Both were pretty unhappy humans who failed to live up to the expectations of those around them (Angel's father found him a continual disappointment and Spike was rejected by the woman he loved). Both were sired by women (Darla and Dru) they came to love and spent years with terrorizing the world. Both were stopped from being traditional vampires by an attack on them (the gypsies and the initiative). Both attempted a reconciliation (Angel tries to go back to Darla in the flashbacks we see in the crossover episodes Fool For Love and Darla while Spike clearly is thinking of getting back together with Dru in this episode). Both make half hearted attempts at acting like vampires (Angel is ready to kill criminals and Spike feeds from the girl Dru kills). Both turn against the woman who sired them when asked to kill and feed on someone (Darla wants Angel to kill the baby and Dru wants Spike to kill Buffy). Both are put on the path to redemption via their love for the slayer. Finally, both are exiled from the slayer's presence - Angel because their love is too great and Spike because it is too little.

Spike clearly sees the connection, he makes it to Buffy. But she just sees differences. It's interesting that in the flashback episodes Fool For Love and Darla, Darla derisively compares Angel to Spike - Angel is feeding off rats while Spike has killed a slayer. In this episode, Dru speaks of Angel who set her and Darla on fire. Meanwhile, Spike won't even kill Buffy when she's tied up and waiting. There's also an analogy between Darla's gift of the gypsy girl to Angel (which both cursed him and gave him the chance of redemption) and Dru's gift of Buffy to Spike. By giving in to his evil urges, Angel ultimately became better (the Angel curse is a masterpiece of irony). Meanwhile, resisting his urges may actually have set back Spike's journey to redemption.

Buffy is right in saying that the chip is not the same as a soul. Angel truly feels badly about the evil he has done. Spike is merely no longer capable of that evil. But he's still a pretty vicious person. He's always as nasty as he can be and if he can hurt someone, he will. He has no conscience. But that doesn't mean he can't develop one. I was glad to see Dru make the point that vampires can love. Dru, despite the fact that she is insane - or maybe because of it, always has great insights and revelations. She has felt vampire love and can testify to it. And Spike's love for Dru (which we saw in Lover's Walk) was clearly genuine. It was because he could love that he could recognize the love between Angel and Buffy. And while what he feels for Buffy may be infatuation, it may also be legitimate love.

When Buffy said she wanted Willow to do something for her, I knew she was going to stop Spike from entering her house again. The fact that she had never done that was important to Spike. He had brought it up to Riley when they had argued over Buffy (in Shadow). While at one level Spike had understood this was simply because Buffy considered him harmless, at another he genuinely believed it indicated some kind of affection for him. An affection he felt could bloom into love.

Buffy comments that beating up Spike is a kind of foreplay. I suspect she's right. She pays a lot of attention to Spike. More and more this season she has gone to him for help, even trusting him with her family. I'm surprised Joyce didn't bring that up. Her family is the most important thing in the world to Buffy. By trusting that to Spike, wasn't she paying him a great compliment. Wasn't she saying that of all the people she knew, he was the one she had the most faith in to protect those she loved? I think you can forgive Spike for feeling like one of the family after that. And it wasn't just a one time thing, Buffy goes to Spike this episode to help her look for Dawn. If she saw him as an ally in finding Dawn, why so much anger at finding Dawn with him.

The opening scene in the Bronze really set the stage for what was to come. Spike's comments about deserving some credit for fighting Glory are legitimate. Buffy doesn't even reply to this and she says nothing when Xander kicks Spike out of his seat. And why is it Anya (the least sensitive of the gang) who actually notices that Spike's feelings are hurt? Like Spike, Anya is also an exdemon (also unwillingly so). The parallel between Anya and Spike has never been strong (although both love a member of the gang and both seek redemption through that love), but it is there. We know Anya has feelings and fears, why can't the gang realize that Spike is the same? Of course, Spike doesn't help matters with his attitude, but they could cut him some slack.

Spike says he has genuinely become better and maybe he has. I think the old Spike would have killed Dru and Harmony - especially Harmony who could drive a saint to murder. Even more significant to me was Spike pretending to find Joyce's incredibly dull story interesting and funny. Admittedly, he was a bit sarcastic, but not hurtful as is his usual style. He was actually trying to be nice to somebody. And that's real growth for Spike. Spike may not be inwardly good, but if he acts good is there any real difference? If between the chip and his feelings for Buffy Spike acts like he has a soul, isn't he really the same as Angel.

There is a clear analogy here with Dawn. She's not real, but she acts like a real person and people have false memories which seem like real memories. Buffy has no problem accepting Dawn as her sister and treating her as one. Why, then, reject Spike so abruptly. Is it because he reminds her of the tragedy of Angel or because when she thinks too deeply about his situation she sees the parallels to Dawn. Buffy reacted very strongly when she discovered Dawn was with Spike. While her anger at Dawn (who should have called home) was understandable - why be so angry at Spike. She had entrusted Dawn to his care before, clearly she wasn't worried for the girl's safety. I think she was upset because seeing them together, she realized how alike they were and how that similarity drew them to one another. Both are mystical creations turned into something very different from what they first were (Dawn from energy to girl by the monks and Spike from killer vampire to Buffy boyfriend wannabe by the initiative). Both are trying to live in a society they really don't fit into. Both feel a strong tie to Buffy, yet also feel rejected and marginalized by her. Dawn connected to Spike, she liked the way he talked to her. For all his failings, Spike has real insight into people and his ability to hurt them is also an ability to help them. And he really made an effort to be nice to Dawn and make her feel good. Seeing them together, so happy, had to make Buffy realize that at a certain level of abstraction they were the same. And that had to lead to some disturbing thoughts. If she can accept Dawn as a sister, why not Spike as a lover? And if she cannot accept Spike in that role, then how can she accept Dawn? When people are caught in logical inconsistencies in their actions they often react irrationally. And that's what happened here. Buffy substituted anger for argument.

The argument about Quasimodo is clearly meant to foreshadow the Spike/Buffy story. Tara says Quasimodo had no moral compass that "Everything he did he did out of love for a woman who would never be able to love him back" and "You can tell it's not going to have a happy ending when the main guy's all bumpy". Both these statements clearly apply to Spike. And at least Willow empathizes with Quasimodo while Buffy remains neutral.

On a lighter note, how sad is Harmony. She's willing to dress up as the slayer for sex games with Spike. I always wondered how he kept his fetish secret from her, but it appears he never really tried. And she put up with it. And even though she leaves him, we know she'd come back in a second. As a human, Harmony was pathetic. As a vampire she's tragic.

Some quick final thoughts. In both Buffy and Angel this week, but especially Buffy, the opening sequence (the bit before the credits) seemed longer than usual. I was glad to see references to Willow's headaches and nose bleeds. I also liked Xander's sudden concern that Dawn had a crush on Spike and not him. It was very Xanderish. Will Joyce and Giles never get together? This is a match made in heaven, let's see it happen. I mean she's calling him Rupert - how more intimate can they get. Will Spike see Ben as a competitor in love and try to do to him what he did to Riley? I really loved Spike complaining about the absence of the flowering onion from the menu. Those silly chalk outlines on the train were hysterical as was Buffy sitting in one of them.

Lines of the week:

"You should never hurt the feelings of a brutal killer." - Xander with good advice.

"Like you could ever hurt me." - Spike ignoring Xander while being terribly hurt just watching Buffy with Ben.

"I don't believe in science." - Dru striking back at all those people who don't believe in vampires.

"No threesomes unless it's boy, boy, girl. Or Charlize Theron." - Harmony laying down the law.

"Well, I do beat him up a lot. For Spike, that's like third base." - Buffy wondering whether she sent Spike the wrong signals.

"I'm through playing." - Spike making a decision.

"I'm drowning in you." - Spike revealing the depth of his love.

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