Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Sleeper

Summary

It's 4:30 AM, Buffy wakes Xander looking for Spike. He's out. Spike is in a basement burying the woman he killed in Conversations With Dead People.

It's London, England. A man arrives home and calls for Nora. He finds the body of a girl on the floor. One of the hooded guys we saw in earlier episodes attacks him and he fends him off. He goes for a weapon, the room is full of books and swords and looks like Giles' place did in Sunnydale, and a second hooded guy stabs him. Willow comes rushing home shouting for Buffy but finding Dawn amidst the chaos. Dawn tells her she saw and spoke to Joyce. Willow says she doesn't think it was Joyce and that the big bad is messing with them. Dawn says Joyce said the evil was coming and that she loved them, so it was true. And she says maybe the evil was there and trying to keep Joyce from protecting her.

Xander wonders why a vampire would lie about who sired him. He thinks Buffy doesn't want to believe it. She says Spike can't hurt anyone because of the chip and Xander says maybe it isn't working anymore and Spike has been faking it. She says she can feel he has changed. If it is an act, she says it's Oscar worthy. Spike enters, sees her, and asks if there is trouble. She tells him she slayed a vampire she knew, Holden. He comments on how tough that must have been and says he's going to bed. Xander feels he was unnaturally cool when she mentioned Holden. Buffy says they have to watch him, but Xander has a big client meeting. Buffy says they can't let him leave the house. Xander gets Anya, who's willing to do it until she learns Spike may be killing again. He tells her she'll be safe in the sunlight (he's opened all the blinds in the living room, and not to confront him but just tell Buffy when Spike leaves.

Buffy gets home, sees the chaos, and starts screaming for Dawn. Willow tells her Dawn is ok and that the evil put in an appearance. She says she got a contact from Tara and Dawn saw Joyce. Buffy tells her about Holden and Willow thinks that was a lie to. Buffy says she'll have to see for herself what Spike is doing.

Anya sneaks into Spike's room as he sleeps and searches for clues. He wakes and catches her. She pretends she's there because she wants to have sex with him. He says no and she gets upset, claiming he thinks she's fat and her hair is awful. She says he was more fun when he was soulless. He asks for his pants. Spike leaves for the evening and Anya phones Buffy and tells her.

Spike is walking in a crowded street. There's a harmonica player. We see Buffy following him. She sees him approach a woman and walk off with her. She seems to lose him in the crowd. The woman asks what kind of name is Spike. He doesn't answer. They find a quiet spot, Spike keeps looking around to make sure nobody is watching. The girl says she thinks he's a little bit bad. She says she likes that. They start making out. Buffy walks up. She tells Spike he knows he wants it. The girl doesn't seem to notice. She says she wants him to. He puts on his vampire face and bites the now screaming girl. Buffy appears happy. Spike drops the lifeless girl and runs away, blood dripping from his mouth. Buffy morphs into Spike and says "How could you use a poor maiden so".

Buffy rousts Spike out of bed and demands to know what happened to the girl. He says he just talked to her and wants to know why she was following him. He says he can't hurt anybody and when she mentions the chip he gets upset and says that's not why. He says he didn't get a soul to add to the body count. That he can barely live with the memory of all the evil he did. He thinks she's jealous that he was talking to another woman. He says he talks to other women because he can't talk to Buffy. He says the chip was done to him, but the soul he sought out. He says he passes time with other women, but it's just passing time. It's still all about Buffy. She tells him Holden said he sired him. She says he looked like he was on the prowl last night. He can't remember exactly what happened. But he says he'd remember if he tasted human blood. She says he was recently talking to invisible people, who knows what he might do. He says she's wrong, that she has no proof. She says she'll get some and leaves. Spike looks pensive and confused.

Buffy tells the gang they need to get proof Spike did it. Anya asks if she's sure that's what she wants and she says she'd like proof he didn't. Dawn says she's only suspicious because of what Holden said but that what those visitations said wasn't true. Willow says even if the visitations weren't what they seemed to be, they might still have been telling the truth. Anya says she told the truth when she was evil. Buffy says they can't assume anything. Anya says there should be an increase in dead people with neck injuries, but Willow says there hasn't been. But she does find an increase in missing people - 10 of them. Dawn says what Holden said is true. Buffy says it doesn't prove it's Spike, only he knows. Spike pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and has a flashback to meeting the girl in the bar in Conversations With Dead People. He goes to leave, Xander tries to stop him, he knocks Xander out even though the chip kicks in causing him pain.

At the bar, a band is playing and Spike is asking people if they remember the girl. Xander calls Buffy to tell her what happened. Spike goes to the platform and looks out over the bar. A woman talks to him, coming on to him, but he's uninterested. She's a vampire who says he sired her. She wants to kill the crowd. They fight. He stakes her and she falls to the dance floor disintegrating. The band stops, everyone stares, the band starts again.

Buffy talks to the doorman at the bar asking if he has seen Spike. he knows him, calls him a Billy Idol wannabe, and asks if he's Buffy's boyfriend. She says she just needs to find him. He says he comes all the time and always leaves with a different girl. He advises her to dump him and calls him a player. Spike calls Buffy and tells her he's remembering things and thinks he has done some very bad things. He tells her to meet him at 634 Hoffman Terrace. He hangs up and as he walks away faux Spike appears and says he shouldn't have done that, it's not time yet, he's going against the plan, but they can make it work.

At the house, Spike takes Buffy to the basement. Faux Spike appears and tells him to get his claws in the mouse. He tells her he's remembering and he thinks he has killed many people. He says he doesn't know how it happened. Faux Spike starts singing Early One Morning. Spike turns into his vampire form and he and Buffy fight. The bodies Spike buried now come out of the basement as vampires and fight Buffy. They manage to grab and hold her and faux Spike tells Spike to attack her and taste her and make her weak. Spike licks the blood from her wound and suddenly remembers everything he has done under the spell of faux Spike. He falls back and she destroys the other vampires. Faux Spike tells him he has failed and now she'll kill him. Buffy sees another vampire struggling to get out of the ground, lifts her up, and slays her. Spike exposes his chest for the stake. He babbles about him and the song. She drops her weapon. Spike says he doesn't want to remember. She realizes there is something there. He says he can feel all the people he killed. He asks for help.

Buffy has brought Spike home and tells the others she believes he was being controlled. Dawn asks if he's staying there and Buffy says she doesn't know but she's not letting him out of her sight. Willow says he's been feeding on human blood and that's got to do things. She says the evil was close to Spike and if they hope to understand it they have to try to get close to Spike and see the evil through him. She says it's bad and getting worse.

Back in London, Giles enters the house and finds the dead girl. He finds the man (Robson), not quite dead, who tells him to gather them and that it's started. Giles says he understands and a hooded guy comes up behind him and swings an ax at him. The scene ends before contact is made.

Analysis

I'm sane, more or less, and I have the advantage of being able to tape and rewatch what's happening. And then days to think about it. And I'm not sure which is the real Spike or the real Buffy or if that was the real Joyce and who is doing what to whom. So in the context of the story, these characters have to be incredibly confused not to mention terrified. Too often I watch a show and what's happening seems so obvious to me I simply can't understand the confusion of the characters. With Buffy, I share it. But not in the sense of a badly written show where nothing makes sense. This is a well written show with lots of confusing detail that takes time to work out. Lots of time and probably more information than we have. In lots of ways, Buffy is like a very well written mystery.

That said, there are moments when I get a little frustrated with the characters. They sometimes suffer from the Hamlet syndrome - they just won't say what's on their minds and get it out in the open. Willow never comes entirely clear about Cassie and what happened. But even more importantly, Dawn never reveals Joyce's message. As I speculated last week, she keeps it secret and talking about it would be the best thing to do right now. Every body has to tell everything. That's the only way to puzzle this all out. But that's only a little annoying. While I think Willow should be clearer - especially on why Dawn shouldn't believe what she heard, Dawn being secretive actually makes sense within the context of the character and the story line.

The puzzle of what to do with Spike is a big one. The evil seems intent on turning the gang against each other. If the message from Joyce was a false one, then it has already succeeded in planting a seed of doubt in Dawn's mind about Buffy's loyalty. And if that really was Joyce, then it just lucked out. Xander already mistrusts Spike and now Buffy knows he's under the control of the evil. He can now attack and kill humans, despite the chip and the soul. It hurts him when he remembers, but he's still a danger.

Spike's discussion of the chip and the soul was interesting and I think an important issue for Buffy and how she can deal with the situation. He says the chip was done to him. So his rebellion against it, his desire to do evil, was natural. Imprisoned, he sought to be free. But the soul was something he sought. Buffy has ennobled Spike. He wants to be better for her and so got his soul back to help him be a better man rather than the monster he knows he is. Hence his despair when he realizes he has sinned, even while under the control of another. And then he offers himself up in sacrifice, because having a soul makes it painful for him to bear those memories. He wants to be punished, because he knows he has done something horribly wrong. In this regard, he's no different than Willow who said very similar things in Lessons.

Spike really wants to be good. He really feels badly about the evil he has done. Like Willow, he has to be helped. His punishment is the guilt he carries within himself. Killing him would be superfluous. And it would be killing, not slaying. Spike doesn't just have a soul, he acts like a person with a soul. He manages to fight against the evil, despite his weakened state. This is an enormous victory. Half mad he still remembers the most important thing in the world to him - Buffy. The evil can make him do all kinds of terrible things, but it can't make him hurt the person he cares most for in the world. It's defeated by his love, which this - if nothing else - proves genuine. Human blood, which should evoke his blood lust, calms him and changes him from vampire to human when it is Buffy's blood.

Spike's willingness to sacrifice himself, baring his chest for the stake, is the kind of heroic action you expect from a Shakespearian character. But unlike Richard III, who does something very similar in that play, Spike isn't making a calculated move and that makes the gesture all the more significant. He's not simply taking a risk to achieve a goal, he is completely ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. But he achieves something unexpected. Just as Buffy's blood cleansed him of the vampire evil and the control of the evil, so does his offered sacrifice clear her mind and make her aware of the evil presence in the basement. The Christian parallels are obvious. Through a blood sacrifice, they are brought to the truth.

I found myself wondering why the evil, since it was in the basement, didn't attack and destroy Buffy and Spike itself. Now, it may simply want to prolong the agony or like the idea of the gang destroying one another. But I'm betting it's simply not capable of corporeal interactions. It can project images, like Cassie and the alterSpike, and it can use the dead, like Holden and vampires in the basement. But it doesn't have a corporeal form and can't do things in the real world. Which may be why Jonathan was sacrificed. He may be the vessel which will be inhabited by the evil. Thus giving it the ability to fully realize itself in the real world.

Anya does not have much imagination. Stuck for an explanation for her snooping she heads straight for sex. What if Spike had taken her up on the offer? Would she have weaseled out of it or gone along with it. Anya's morality is difficulty to comprehend. At times she seems completely selfish, at others remarkably caring. She's not in a relationship with Xander at the moment, but having sex with Spike would still seem like cheating. Would she have done that to herself and to Xander? It's very Anyalike that Spike's rejection bothers her - even though her offer of sex was just an excuse. And she takes it personally, in terms of her weight and her hair.

The speculation that the girls being killed were slayers in training looks to be true. And now Giles knows what is happening. The cliffhanger ending is a bit of a failure. We all know ASH is signed for several more episodes and a spin off series is being considered. So the character is not likely to be killed. Although he may well be captured. But I'm betting Giles shows up to start putting all the pieces together and we start getting a better idea of the evil and it's objectives.

In the opening scene when Spike is burying the body, he hums Early One Morning. The harmonica player in the street scene starts playing the same tune. Faux Spike says "How could you use a poor maiden so", a line from the song. In the basement, he sings the song setting off Spike. Here are the lyrics:

Early one morning, just as the sun was rising
I heard a maid sing in the valley below
"Oh don't deceive me, Oh never leave me,
How could you use, a poor maiden so?"

Remember the vows that you made to me truly
Remember how tenderly you nestled close to me
Gay is the garland, fresh are the roses
I've culled from the garden to bind over thee.

Here I now wander alone as I wonder
Why did you leave me to sigh and complain
I ask of the roses, why should I be forsaken,
Why must I here in sorrow remain?

Through yonder grove, by the spring that is running
There you and I have so merrily played,
Kissing and courting and gently sporting
Oh, my innocent heart you've betrayed

How could you slight so a pretty girl who loves you
A pretty girl who loves you so dearly and warm?
Though love's folly is surely but a fancy,
Still it should prove to me sweeter than your scorn.

Soon you will meet with another pretty maiden
Some pretty maiden, you'll court her for a while;
Thus ever ranging, turning and changing
Always seeking for a girl that is new.

Thus sang the maiden, her sorrows bewailing
Thus sang the poor maid in the valley below
"Oh don't deceive me, Oh never leave me,
How could you use, a poor maiden so?"

The song seems to apply to Spike's victims, who he seduces, destroys, and abandons; and to Spike himself who has been abandoned by his love Buffy. The song itself seems to be a trigger mechanism which turns Spike evil or accentuates the control the evil has over him. It's an interesting choice of control and reminds me of films like The Manchurian Candidate and The 39 Steps.

The chip really is working. When Spike hits Xander he recoils in pain. But there's no one there for him to be putting on an act for. The evil seems able to make Spike ignore the pain or possibly Spike is basically sleepwalking (hence the title) and so the chip doesn't kick in because it doesn't realize he's really doing anything. Of course, given the spy movie parallels, it's possible the title implies a sleeper agent - someone pretending to be one of the good guys but ready to turn on them when the time is right. That describes what Spike was, but it might also apply to what he will be (he's still under the control of the evil and that force may well have intended for this to happen - if Buffy stays close to Spike it also means Spike is close to Buffy and the evil can learn about her as she can learn about it). Or, it may apply to Dawn who is keeping her big secret. Or to Buffy, who Dawn thinks will turn against her. As I said above, confusion reigns.

Some quick final thoughts. Others have mentioned this, but I only just noticed it. The woman Spike killed at the end of the last episode really looks a lot like Harmony. Willow raises the interesting point of whether the evil was trying to confuse them or just being cruel. Probably both. How many of you thought, as I did, that the girl on the street was going to bite Spike when she was kissing him on the neck and saying she didn't like to wait? I notice, based on the closed captions, that some dialogue was cut when faux Buffy approaches Spike and the girl on the street. She greets him and he says Buffy, but we don't hear that and it works better this way since the girl's reaction wouldn't seem to make sense if there were this dialogue.

Lines of the week:

"You didn't mind being alone with him before." - Xander just looking for trouble.

"Soulless Spike would have had me upsidedown and halfway to happy land by now." - Anya on how Spike was more fun in the past.

"I need my pants." - Spike with an undisputed truth.

"Didn't mean to hurt your feelings." - Spike trying to be nice to Anya.

"There's my guy." - Faux Buffy cheering on Spike.

"How could you use a poor maiden so." - Faux Spike demonstrating a passion for folk music.

"No not the chip. Not the chip." - Spike setting priorities.

"I can barely live with what I did." - Spike on remorse.

"I talk to them 'cause I can't talk to you." - Spike not being believed but telling the truth.

"This chip they did to me. I couldn't help it. But the soul I got on my own...for you." - Spike on his motivation.

"God help me Buffy, it's still all about you." - Spike on his desperation.

"I used to tell the truth all the time when I was evil." - Anya on one of the big paradoxes.

"A one bite stand." - Angry vampire girl.

"Man, I hate playing vampire towns." - Aimee on the problems of the bar circuit.

"I think I've done some very bad things." - Spike remembering.

"Help me." - Spike reaching out.

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