Buffy the Vampire Slayer - As You Were

Summary

Buffy is cleaning grease off the grill. A coworker is talking to her about office politics. He mentions he's taking an MBA via night courses. She says she has reapplied to university. Later, Buffy is walking through a cemetery on her way home singing the Doublemeat song (which she can't get out of her head). She's accosted by a vampire, but when it smells her (the Doublemeat smell) it doesn't want to bite her. Angry, she stakes him. At the house, she finds Spike lurking outside. She doesn't want him inside, with Dawn. So they have sex in the yard behind the trees. Inside, Buffy gives Dawn the Doublemeat burger she brought. But Dawn just can't eat any more of that stuff. Willow comes in the room and notices a grass stain on Buffy's coat which she pretends is from fighting vampires. Willow says she and Dawn are going to the Bronze and Buffy should come with them. But she opts to stay home.

At the Bronze, Anya and Xander are fixated on wedding plans. Willow tells Dawn that when she was little she spent hours dreaming about her wedding to Xander, but looking at him and Anya agonizing over it she's just happy. She's chipper because there is a chance Tara will go with her to the wedding. At the house, Buffy is struggling with the grass stain.

The next morning, the sound of the garbage trucks awakens Buffy who fell asleep on the sofa. She rushes out with the garbage, but the truck pulls away. She gets the mail and it has a rejection notice from the university. She applied for readmission too late. At work, the MBA guy is lecturing her again. He sends her to the counter to attend to a customer. It's Riley. He says he's been tracking something, has not slept in 24 hours. It's dangerous and he needs her help. She's so boggled she can't think what to say and just babbles. She goes with him.

Riley tells her they are tracking a suvolte demon. She finds all his hitech gadgets amusing. He tells her the suvolte breed quickly and are getting out of hand. They find the one they are tracking, in the street. Riley pretends to be with the forestry service and claims it is a bear. He and Buffy attack it. Riley manages to shoot it with a tracking dart, but it escapes. They pursue it in his car. He tells Buffy he has some big things to tell her, she makes a reference to dying. She takes off her coat and he hands her some gear to wear, saying her outfit is too noticeable. He tells her he loves her hair.

Xander and Anya are in their car going to pick up his uncle. She has demons teleporting in. They are both upset and neither really like these people/demons who will be staying at their apartment. But they are determined to have a perfect wedding. Riley and Buffy come to the dam. They have to climb over and down it (using one of his gadgets) to get to where the demon is. It attacks and they subdue it. They are staring into each other's eyes when a woman (also a soldier) appears and asks Buffy what she's doing with her husband. Riley introduces his wife Sam. The demon comes to and Sam goes to fight it. Riley tells Buffy he has been married for 4 months. The demon knocks down Sam and he tackles it. Buffy leaps in, says consider it a wedding present, and kills the demon. Riley and Sam are unhappy. She realizes they didn't want it killed. Sam says Riley must not have told her it was a homing operation. She asks Buffy if she has a safe house. Buffy invites them to her home.

At the house, Dawn, Willow, and Xander are waiting. Willow offers to hate Sam for Buffy. This way, Buffy doesn't look petty but the hate is there. Buffy agrees. Dawn is pretty bitter. Riley and Sam explain the demon came to the hellmouth to spawn. They believe it already laid its eggs. Xander says it's easy, they track the demon to its nest and destroy it. Then he asks about photographer vs place settings. Buffy points out she killed the demon. Sam says that's okay and suggests disposable cameras - you put them at each table, guests take the photos, you take them home. Xander likes it. They explain someone plans to sell the eggs on the black market. An unfriendly foreign nation could then use them in an attack on a civilian area. The dealer is known as The Doctor. Sam asks Willow to do a locating spell, but she explains about her addiction. Riley says they'll split into two teams. He'll look for The Doctor and Sam and Buffy can look for the nest. Sam talks to Willow before they leave. She tells her in the jungle they had two shamans working for them and they got addicted. Now both are gone. She says she never met anyone strong enough to quit before.

Buffy and Sam are looking for the nest. Sam explains how she and Riley met and how it took him a year to get over Buffy. She asks if Buffy is seeing someone and she says no. Buffy suggests they split up. Sam leaves to find Riley and Buffy goes to Spike's. She tells him she needs information about The Doctor. She asks him to tell her he loves her and wants her. Soon they are on the bed. Cut to post sex napping and Riley comes busting into the crypt. Spike is enjoying the situation until Riley calls him The Doctor. He asks where the eggs are and starts hitting Spike. Buffy hits him, too. Spike denies everything. Riley starts searching the crypt and goes underground. Buffy goes with him. They find the eggs. Spike comes down and Riley says he should have kept them frozen. Spike claims he is keeping them for a friend. Buffy hits him and says no more games. Spike says all she's done is play him, that she has always known what he is. He leaves. The eggs hatch and they flee. Buffy takes Riley's grenades, activates one, and tosses them below. The explosion kills the hatchlings.

Anya and Xander are arguing. They are in the bathroom hiding from their relatives. Xander explains that their wedding causes him to feel dread, but he's looking forward to their marriage. And he realizes Riley and Sam have a great marriage and that's depressing Buffy. This placates Anya. Riley tells Buffy he and Sam are off to Nepal. He says he could kill Spike and asks if she wants that. She says she's sleeping with him. Riley says he noticed. She accuses him of enjoying the situation. He says he dreaded returning. He says he hates seeing her with Spike, that she looks awful in the Doublemeat orange uniform, and the burger smell is terrible. He says none of that matters. She's still the first woman he loved. She's still strong. She's still beautiful. He says situations change, but she's still the same. She tells him that she is sorry about what happened in Into the Woods.

Sam comes out, she's telling Xander about how they married in a helicopter. She gave Willow her email address so they can keep in touch. Dawn hugs Riley. A helicopter arrives for them. They all wave goodbye. Willow goes over to Buffy and says 'what a bitch'.

Spike is looking at the rubble of his crypt. Buffy comes in. She tells him Riley is gone. She says she's leaving him. She says she's using him to make herself feel temporarily better. She says she's being weak and selfish. She says it's killing her. She says she has to be strong. She says 'I'm sorry, William' and walks into the sunlight.

Analysis

Buffy finally makes a decision. I'm not sure if it's the right one, but at least she makes it. And she finally treats Spike properly. And everybody else is too preoccupied to notice.

I'm going to start with my big complaint about this episode, Dawn. Last episode, her thefts became obvious. Yet this episode there was no reference to that at all. No anger from Anya or talks about repayment. No punishment. In fact, the Buffy/Dawn relationship seemed better than ever. I was really disappointed at the lack of follow through here.

One of Spike's constant complaints is not being treated like a person. Although Buffy hurts him terribly in this episode, she does treat him like a person, not a thing. When she tells him she has to leave him, she calls him William. She emphasizes his humanity. She isn't leaving him because he's a monster, she's leaving him because she doesn't love him and a loveless relationship is killing her. As tough as this is for Spike to accept, it's the message which is most acceptable to him.

The big thing, here, is how incredibly unhappy Buffy is. Before she was stimulated by sex with Spike (in Smashed), then she actually seemed to have fun with him (in Dead Things), but now she seems unhappy when she does it. She expressed no emotion with Spike this episode and she seemed as sad and depressed after sex as before it. She has realized, for whatever reasons, she cannot take this relationship to the next level - she can't have genuine emotion for Spike. And that turns it into a soul deadening experience. Like working at Doublemeat. A job like that is okay for a summer or part time while in school, but as a career it will fry your brains. The kind of relationship Buffy has with Spike is great for a fling, but trying to continue that, trying to pretend it means more, means living a lie and that will fry your soul.

Now, I don't like this. I'm a Buffy/Spike shipper and I want their romance to work. But if Buffy can't feel genuine emotion for Spike, she can't. And working at the relationship won't create that feeling. So leaving him is the only thing she can do. And she did it the nicest way possible. She treats Spike like a real person, plus he gets the opportunity to lord it over his rival Riley.

Riley left in Into the Woods, slightly more than a year ago. While a lot has happened in that time, it really isn't a long time. Sam and Riley have been married for four months. So about 8 or 9 months after Riley and Buffy split, he married. Sam says Riley took a long time to get over Buffy, but assuming they were romantically involved for a month or two before marrying, it really only took him about 6 or 7 months. Not really that long. Riley got married before Buffy started having sex with Spike. And she had died in between - a life altering experience. He doesn't have that excuse. So, I'd have to say his despair over his relationship with Buffy wasn't all that deep.

Sam has a big advantage over Buffy, she's prepared for their meeting. She knew it was going to happen and she certainly seems ready. She has prepared her speech to Buffy and she's boned up on what her friends are like. She knows just how to handle Willow and Xander and even Dawn. Buffy, on the other hand, is largely speechless. It takes her pretty much the entire episode to actually articulate her feelings, her anger at Riley and the sense that he has come to flaunt his happiness in her face.

Xander and Anya are pretty much relegated to comic relief in this episode. Their obsession with the wedding makes perfect sense, but I found it strange that Xander shows up at the house without Anya. I assume she's looking after their house guests, but a line about this would have been helpful. I am happy to see that Xander's uncle hasn't been forgotten.

Some quick final thoughts. I'm betting the only thing the would be MBA knew about Machiavelli was his name. What is an Arnold Palmer? Maybe Dawn's ultra good behavior is the repercussion of the discovery of her thefts. Riley says the suvolte are almost extinct, then talks about how quickly they breed. Either he or the writers seem confused. I love the way Xander and Anya keep eating to deal with their frustration. I loved Willow making a face as Riley and Sam hold hands and she tells Xander about the disposable cameras. It's interesting that when Buffy finds Spike he's reading. I'm betting poetry. I'm guessing Spike hatched his plan in order to get money to help Buffy. My experience with university admission policies is that they are so complicated it's no big surprise Buffy was unaware of the date deadline and so surprised and upset at her rejection.

Lines of the week:

"Maybe the time is right for you to come outside." - Spike with the double (maybe triple when you consider coming out of the closet) entendre.

"I'm starting to have dreams of gardenia bouquets." - Xander on the serious downside of weddings and why everyone should elope.

"My hat has a cow." - Buffy saying pretty well the only thing you can say in such a situation.

"National forestry service. We got a wild bear." - Riley with the lamest of cover stories.

"I'm gonna win." - Buffy wrong on who has the biggest story to tell.

"They got dental?" - Buffy asking the most important question about any job.

"Love the hair." - Riley noticing.

"Better no guy than the wrong guy." - Sam with some disturbingly good advice.

"Tell me you love me." - Buffy trying to convince herself.

"If you love Riley Finn that much, you should just marry him." - Anya with some deceptive dialogue.

"It goes away after many bathings." - Buffy on the smell.

"It's killing me." - The words Spike doesn't want to here.

"I'm sorry, William." - The nicest thing Buffy has ever said to Spike.

Addendum

Ask and ye shall receive. Many thanks to Michelle who was able to identify the mysterious Arnold Palmer. For those of you who have forgotten, this was the drink Dawn brought to Willow at the Bronze. Michelle says it is 1/2 ice tea and 1/2 lemonade. She notes she's only seen this drink in California.

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