Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Smashed

Summary

A couple are being mugged in an alley. Buffy intervenes, surprised to discover they really are just muggers, not vampires. She sends the couple off and starts beating up the muggers. Spike rushes in, but howls in pain when he hits the human muggers. They escape and Buffy is angry with Spike for interfering. He wants to talk about the kiss and their relationship, she walks away. Cut to Willow all alone in her room. She starts talking to rat Amy, whom she takes out of her cage and puts on the bed. She suddenly realizes how to change Amy back. She does the spell, Amy turns back into herself and screams.

The stooges break into the museum and steal a diamond. They use a freeze ray on the guard. Jonathan freezes his hand using it. Amy is still really jumpy. Willow has lent her some clothes. She doesn't realize how long she was a rat. She thinks there is still time to go to the prom and hopes Larry will ask her. Willow has to break it to her that Larry is gay, Larry is dead, and prom is over. Amy asks how long she was in the cage. Cut to Buffy coming home. She goes up to Willow's room where she finds her alone. She starts to talk to her, obviously about what is happening with Spike, but Amy walks in. She is still adjusting to the whole school being destroyed by a giant snake. She asks if Buffy has cookies, any kind but cheese. Buffy offers to get some, but Amy goes downstairs. Buffy says she'll make up the couch so Amy can spend the night. Downstairs, Amy talks about all the things that have changed: Joyce's death, Willow dating girls, Snyder being eaten by a snake, the school destroyed, Tom and Nicole, and people getting frozen. Buffy points out there is a new flavour of gatorade, too, and asks about the people being frozen. Amy turns on the tv, the news is covering the museum break in.

Buffy goes to the museum where she sees them wheeling out the frozen guard. She meets Spike there who wants to talk about the kissing. She says she kissed him because of Giles leaving, that she was lonely and depressed and made a bad decision. He accuses her of trying to convince herself of this. She hits him and he hits her back. It's clear he feels no pain, but he fakes the pain. She hits him again, tells him he's evil and disgusting, and walks off. Spike tries to attack a woman in an alley. But when he does, the chip kicks in.

The next day, Tara is taking Dawn out for a shake. Apparently, they also saw a movie. She assures Dawn her leaving the house had nothing to do with Dawn. Dawn hopes Tara and Willow will get back together. She says Willow has been careful about magic. Xander, Anya, Willow, and Buffy are reading the news about the guard who is expected to thaw successfully. Buffy wonders whether they should call Giles. Willow pulls out her computer and they are happy she isn't going to use magic. But she uses magic to hack in to the police system and learns about the diamond being stolen. Anya points out they are all worried about Willow's use of magic and know why Tara left. She realizes she's blurting out things again. Willow says she's fine, that things are ok. She says she doesn't want to leave Amy alone for too long.

The stooges are admiring their diamond. Spike breaks in. He wants Warren to look at his chip. The stooges aren't cooperative and he threatens to destroy a Boba Fett figurine if they won't help. True Star Wars fans, they cave. They think they can strike an alliance with him to keep Buffy out of phase 2 of their plan. Willow returns home and asks Amy if she wants to see her father. Amy is not ready for that and the explanations yet. She wants to go out and have fun. Willow is reluctant at first, but eventually agrees. Warren is checking out Spike's chip and says it is working normally as far as he can tell. Spike warns them not to tell anyone about this. Spike realizes this means there is something different about Buffy.

Tara and Dawn return home. Dawn convinces Tara to stay with her until someone else returns home. Willow and Amy are playing pool at the Bronze. They are using magic, not pool cues. Willow tells Amy about Xander being engaged. A couple of guys come over and ask them to dance and Amy wants to. Willow doesn't. Amy uses magic to attract a woman, Bree, for Willow. But Willow says she's not ready and Amy sends her back. She and the guys go to dance. Later, Willow is drinking a martini. Amy comes over. The guys come over still wanting to dance. Amy doesn't want to. When Willow defends her, they call her Ellen. Amy and Willow use magic and put the guys, scantily clad, in cages above the dance floor where they dance.

Anya, Xander, and Buffy are looking for a freezing demon who likes diamonds. Xander thinks he has found it, but he's reading a D&D manual. Anya doesn't think such a demon exists. Xander says they need Willow. Buffy thinks she's out with Amy. Xander says Tara thinks Willow is doing too much magic and so do others. Buffy says Willow is level headed. Anya says those are the ones you have to watch out for. They never do anything wrong and when they do they go wild. The phone rings and it is Spike. He asks Buffy to meet him in the cemetery in 20 minutes. But she hangs up.

As they leave, Buffy wonders whether the things which have been happening lately: the bank robbery, the diamond heist, the exploding lint are connected. Anya thinks they are lame. Buffy goes off to patrol. Spike blocks her way. She hits him. He hits her back. No pain. He tells her she came back wrong. They start fighting in earnest. Buffy claims he is tricking her. She knocks him through a door, into a building. At the Bronze, Willow and Amy are going magic wild. They do all kinds of things like change the band and turn dancers into animals. Meanwhile, Buffy and Spike are fighting and busting up the place. They also mock each other. At the Bronze, Willow and Amy are tired with messing with the dancers. Willow returns everything to normal. They decide to go on to doing something bigger. The fight continues. But suddenly, Buffy kisses Spike. As the building starts collapsing around them, they have sex.

Analysis

Okay, how many episodes are going to end with Buffy and Spike kissing after her claiming she would never touch him? We've now had three in a row. And this time it looked like a lot more than a kiss. That point aside, this was a really fine episode. It demonstrated Tara's error in leaving Willow and paralleled Willow and Buffy in a very interesting way.

Willow and Buffy are both without their governors. For Willow, this was Tara. She was the only one who exercised any sort of control over Willow. Xander was afraid of her. Buffy was ignoring the problem. And Giles found she wasn't listening to him. But Willow was eager to please Tara. While she wasn't ready to give up magic, she was ready to pretend to give it up. And that is something. Willow did not listen to what Tara was saying (this is clear when talking to rat Amy she says your lovers leave you for no good reason), but she did hear the anger in Tara's voice and she wanted to eliminate it.

But without Tara there exercising what little control she did, Willow is free to run wild. It starts, as always, with good intentions. Willow finally frees Amy. Now, Amy has spent years as a rat and is pretty messed up. So, even assuming there isn't anything demonic going on here (and you have to wonder when Amy got angry about how long she was in the cage, did Willow use some magic on her to calm her with unknown side effects), she can be forgiven being a little strange and a little wild. She wants to go out and have fun and Willow goes along with this. And pretty soon they are using magic to have fun. First to play pool. Then Amy uses magic to attract a girl for Willow. Willow says no to this, but not because she disapproves of the use of magic on innocent people, but because she still feels devoted to Tara. Later, they use magic on the guys who are bothering them and use it on the crowd at the Bronze merely to amuse themselves.

In many ways, that final act is the worst thing Willow can do. The magic is trivial, but it's completely unmotivated. She and Amy are simply bored and use magic to relieve their boredom. That's an abuse of power no matter how you look at it. Meanwhile, Tara, whose mere presence would have prevented this, is sitting at home with Dawn waiting for Willow to turn up. And Willow, feeling even more bored and more deserted, is ready to move on to greater abuses of magic.

Buffy has been abandoned by her father figure, Giles (note her first move is still to contact him, she asks whether they should call him when researching the freezing of the guard). She tells Spike that she kissed him earlier because of her confusion over that abandonment (although that only accounts for one of the two kisses this season and not the kiss last season in Intervention). Now Spike further confuses her when he demonstrates she is not fully human. One of the things Buffy spoke about when she described her stay in heaven, was the sense of completion. She was at rest. Her job was done. Well, when Spike tells her she isn't fully human, he removes another governor, one which stops her from giving in to her desires and which allows her to rest emotionally.

For Buffy, Spike and her relationship with him is an escape from the hell she now finds the world to be. He is someone who understands what it means to come back from the dead (starting with the bloody fingers and ending with the sense of emptiness). He is someone she can confide in. For all his outward cynicism, Spike is a sensitive romantic. But he's a vampire (sans soul) and he's done many evil things. Buffy wants him, in Once More, With Feeling she turns to him when she needs something to live for, something to give her meaning. But the rules of the world, the rules that say slayers and vampires (or at least the soulless) don't mix, still control her. When Spike points out she may be in the same category, that control is released. While the lost of the control of Giles removes a comfort, a sense of security, the removal of the moral control removes a painful constraint. Buffy can now give in to her baser passions.

Spike has often said that Buffy wants evil in her men. That she wants to at least flirt with the darkness. He told Riley this was why she would never truly love him in Into the Woods. But at the same time, Spike didn't think he had a chance with her. But the post death Buffy is different. Unable to find solace anywhere else, she has compulsively reached for Spike. She pulls herself back when her intellect regains control of her emotions. But when he removes the reason for control, if Buffy isn't human she doesn't have to act like a human, she's free to give free reign to her emotions.

The final scene, Buffy and Spike fighting and then having sex, is reminiscent of a lot of the other vampire sex scenes we've seen. Certainly, it's the kind of thing we saw in Angel in Reprise when he has sex with Darla. Buffy, like Spike, is bridging two worlds. She's integrating the world of darkness, which she passed through in death and resurrection, with the world of light. Like an epic hero, her journey into the other world has changed her, given her a new tool to use in this world.

Probably the cruelest moment in this episode occurs when Buffy tells Spike he's not a man but a thing. In The Gift, Spike says that Buffy treats him like a man. In Forever, he says of the dead Joyce that she never treated him like a freak. To the sensitive William who lurks below the tough Spike's exterior, that's really important. He desperately wants to belong. When Buffy turns on him, he's hurt. And that leads him to make a bad decision when his governor is turned off.

When Spike realizes he can hit Buffy without feeling pain, he immediately thinks he is free of the chip. And he immediately sets out to do evil. But this is a decision on his part, an exercise of free will. We know that he can choose to be good. And he's driven into that decision in large part because Buffy, the one ennobling thing in his unlife, tells him he's a monster and he has no choice but to be evil. She couldn't have done anything worse. It's interesting how when he accosts the woman in the alley, he launches into a diatribe against Buffy. He realizes he is merely redirecting his emotions, which are a mixture of love and bloodlust. He fears, as he has always feared, that love weakens and emasculates him. By demonstrating he is still a killer, he intends to demonstrate Buffy does not control him.

Fortunately, for Spike, the chip is functioning and he doesn't fall back into evil. Instead, he has the opportunity to do to Buffy what she did to him, demonstrate that the external moral control placed upon her has been removed and allow her to make a choice. And she responds much as he did. First, falling into violence - fighting with Spike and trying to reassure herself that she is truly the slayer. Eventually, she makes the choice Spike wants, although it isn't clear if it is the right choice.

One revelation which comes to Buffy and Spike while they fight is how alike they are. Spike says Buffy is lost, that she doesn't fit in anymore. That she has no one to love. The same can be said of Spike. Buffy points out his role is to kill slayers and he's fallen for one instead. Part of the reason they come together, in addition to simple lust, is the realization of how much they actually have in common. And that does hold out some hope for their future relationship.

All of these characters are at a turning point in their lives. Willow can fall further into dark magic and become an abusive and evil person. Or she can return to her earlier ways, eschew magic, and work for good. Buffy can pursue her dark side, something which terrified her last season, or can try to integrate her darker nature with her desire to do good. Spike can continue casting himself in the role of the big bad, hoping for release from his artificial constraints, or he can genuinely work at being good not for the reward of Buffy's love or the friendship of the gang, but simply because it is the right thing to do.

Xander's comments about the seductive nature of magic and how tempted Willow would be to just give in to it and go wild clearly are meant to parallel Buffy's ultimately giving in to her lustful feelings for Spike. Buffy and Willow both completely escape their controls. Willow uses magic without any concerns and Buffy hurls herself, figuratively and literally, at Spike.

Dawn seems to be the binding factor here, the factor which helps reunite the divergent aspects of these characters' lives. She is openly working to reunite Tara (the moral compass) with Willow (the powerful witch). Love for Dawn allowed Buffy to accept her return to life. And Dawn is the only being both Spike and Buffy love and care for. Their relationship may be built out of a mutual caring for her.

It's surely a measure of how uninteresting the stooges are to date, that I don't even really care what phase 2 of their plan is. They seem to be acting at variance to the rest of the Buffyverse. While they are players in Sunnydale, they really aren't having a significant influence on the key players. I have to wonder whether Spike, having vampire hearing, didn't hear what they said about phase 2 and whether he will tell Buffy about it. Meanwhile, I have to agree with Anya's assessment of lame.

Some quick final thoughts. I loved Tara obsessing about the size of Dawn's shake. I liked the way the connection between Willow and Buffy was made at the beginning when Spike yells at Buffy that she is all alone and we cut to Willow all alone. I wonder if we are meant to see a parallel between Buffy and Amy, both brought back from another existence by Willow. I liked the way Amy held her hands rat like at first. I loved the scene with Buffy bouncing up and down, trying to see over the heads of the crowd. I assume the lair is in Warren's home, how else could Spike break in. He was invited in before when he had Warren build the Buffybot. I loved Spike being driven mad sitting next to Andrew and Jonathan. Was Bree a Lord of the Rings reference, intended for the non Star Wars geeks?

Lines of the week:

"Yes, because muggers deserve to be eaten." - Buffy on why the chip doesn't allow Spike to attack bad humans.

"A man can change." - Spike pleading his case.

"You're not a man. You're a thing." - Buffy putting Spike down the cruelest way she can.

"You're a thing. An evil, disgusting thing." - Buffy rubbing it in.

"Good God. That's a lot of shake." - Tara on Dawn's eating habits.

"Helps to wash down the raisinettes." - Dawn explaining her choice of beverage.

"Promise me you'll eat something green tonight. Leafy green, not gummi green." - Tara trying to instill good dietary habits.

"Is this that thing I do that you were commenting...?" - Anya realizing her social problems.

"You don't wanna hurt the Fett." - Warren demonstrating he is as much a geek as the other stooges.

"Nothing wrong with me. Something wrong with her." - Spike making the breakthrough.

"You came back wrong." - Spike doing his best to hurt Buffy.

Got a comment? Send me mail.

Go to more Buffy the Vampire Slayer reviews.
Go to other tv reviews.
Go to my home page and get links to everything.