Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Killer in Me

Summary

Giles is about to leave with the slayerettes. He notices Vi left her notebook and asks Dawn to take it out to her. He tells Buffy (who seems to have a cold) that he's worried about leaving her alone. He is taking the slayerettes on a visionquest as he did Buffy in Intervention. She, apparently, has described the journey to them in not very flattering (to Giles) terms (involving the Hokey-Pokey and a rasta mama slayer). Willow comes down to say Kennedy is feeling ill and upset about not being able to go. She says to bring her back s'mores. Giles realizes he'll end up singing camp fire songs. Xander comes in and tells him to get out there. Dawn comes in and says Molly and Rona are fighting over who drives the first leg. Buffy says Giles should have renewed his California driver's license. Anya comes in and says Rona won and he should probably let Molly out of the trunk. Buffy goes downstairs to see Spike who is chained up. They both agree it's a relief to have the teens, or at least most of them, out of the house for a couple of days. She comments on the chain and he says it's safer that way. He says as long as FE might control him he wants to be chained or in her company so the others will be safe. He's about to say more when he has a spasm, then another. The chip is malfunctioning.

Buffy walks into the kitchen to find Willow making tea for Kennedy. Spike is better, for the moment. Buffy teases her about the tea for Kennedy. She asks what she knows about the chip and the answer is not much. Secret organizations don't have web sites. Buffy wonders whether Spike being able to hurt people while controlled by FE was a result of the chip malfunctioning. She teases her again about the tea. Willow enters Kennedy's room to find her up and getting dressed and obviously healthy. She says she didn't go with Giles because she has a separate mission and she needs Willow to help her. Cut to a bar, presumably the Bronze, where Willow and Kennedy are sipping drinks with little umbrellas and a band is playing. It's clearly a date and Willow is angry. She goes to leave, but Kennedy tells her she's sexy when she pouts and she wants her to stay. Willow agrees to stay for one drink. Kennedy asks how long she's known she's been gay. Willow says she's presuming she is gay. She asks if Kennedy can tell just by looking and she says no, that wouldn't be fun. She says the process is fun. Flirting. laughing, looking into each other's eyes. Or if she's hot you get her drunk and hope she comes on to you. Willow says three years ago. And it was just one woman.

Spike is bleeding, he popped a blood vessel. Buffy wonders whether the problem was caused by FE controlling him or maybe by the new soul. He says maybe he's just not meant to live so long, like Buffy. She says they'll fix it, they'll do research. He points out there is nowhere to research. She admits it's not a book thing, but a phone thing. Kennedy asks about Willow's parents and she says her mother was proud at first, as if it were a political statement, and then that wore off and it wasn't a big deal. That she hardly ever met Tara. She says they were private, only she uses the present tense and then corrects herself. Buffy is phoning a contact number for Riley, but she isn't sure if she's really leaving a message at some undercover thing or talking to a bewildered clerk at a flower shop. Spike has another spasm. Kennedy says she knew when she saw Gone With the Wind. She knew she wanted to sweep Scarlet off her feet. Willow points out she was 5 at the time and Kennedy admits it would not have been easy. Willow doesn't understand why Kennedy likes her. She points out they have little in common. Kennedy says she likes the way Willow turns off the Moulin Rouge CD early so it has a happy ending. The way she speaks. Her lickable freckles. She's not into the magic stuff, but since it matters to Willow it's cool with her.

The girls get home, they kiss, Willow turns into Warren. Throughout these scenes, sometimes we see Willow and sometimes Warren. Willow/Warren (WW) doesn't understand why Kennedy is stunned. She looks in a mirror and sees Warren. She runs downstairs with Kennedy coming after her. Anya, Xander, and Dawn see her and think it's FE. WW says it's Willow and to ask Kennedy. Kennedy isn't sure what happened. Andrew walks in and thinks it's FE and gets angry saying he won't be fooled again. They call for Buffy and she comes up and hits WW, knocking her down. Spike is still having spasms. They realize WW is corporeal and not FE. Andrew thinks it's really Warren and hugs her, touching her breasts. She pushes him away. She convinces them she's Willow (especially with a story about Aquaman underroos and Xander). Anya thinks it's a glamour and Willow thinks she brought it on herself. That her subconscious did it because she feels badly about killing Warren. Buffy says they'll figure it out, but WW insists on doing it herself and takes off. Spike is on the floor and Buffy goes to him. Kennedy follows WW. Spike says maybe they can't wait for Riley's people to call back.

Kennedy catches up with WW. She says it's kind of funny her changing into a guy, but WW doesn't see the joke. She says she has a plan, she's going to get some help. She tried to do something herself, but it didn't work - something is blocking her. WW doesn't want Kennedy with her, but she won't leave. WW says she's going to see some old friends. Buffy and Spike are in the woods. They start digging. Apparently, they are going back to the Initiative headquarters. Spike says there was a drug which really worked for the pain. Buffy says they may also find some files. They find the hidden entrance, open it, and drop down into the building. At home, the phone rings and Andrew gets it because he says he left the number for a guy who is getting him a copy of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Xander asks if he can get two. Anya and Dawn smile at this and Xander says 'loser'. It's a British guy named Robson on the phone. Xander talks to him and then tells the others what he learnt (basically what we saw at the end of Sleeper). They wonder if Giles is dead and they were dealing with FE. They try to remember if he touched anything, but can't recall that happening. They decide to go to the desert and find Giles. Andrew wants to come and they don't want him. But he pleads and they give in. Cut to Giles sitting alone at a camp fire.

A coven is in session. WW shows up and we realize it's the campus Wiccans where she met Tara way back in Hush. They still do the bake sales, but are into more serious stuff as well. Amy is there. She says she knows she's messed up and the wiccan group is helping her get back together. They try to help, but the spell they attempt fails. Willow gets angry and slaps Amy. She says it wasn't her, it was Warren, and runs off. Kennedy runs after her. WW says she's turning into Warren and who knows what she might be capable of. She runs off and throws up a magical barrier stopping Kennedy from following.

Buffy and Spike are wandering through the Initiative building. The corpses from the final battle - or maybe it's the demons they killed - are still there. And there seems to be something alive. In the car, Andrew tries to play car games but no one cooperates. Anya wonders whether FE knows they are coming. They wonder what they can do without Buffy or Willow. WW is walking down the street. She starts crying. Then she suddenly walks off with purpose. Spike and Buffy are attacked by a demon. Amy and Kennedy are alone. Amy lets slip that she knows Kennedy is a slayerette. Spike has a spasm and can't help fight the demon. It knocks down Buffy and drags Spike's body away. WW is buying a gun, from the dealer who sold him the one he used to shoot Buffy and kill Tara.

Giles is in the desert. The gang jump him. They can feel him. They explain they thought he was noncorporeal evil. At the Initiative base, Buffy finds and defeats the demon. She gets Spike and lights come on. Soldiers are pointing guns at them. The man in charge says Riley said she tried to contact him. The phone call worked. He says they were instructed to do what ever she asked to help Spike. WW is walking down the now daytime streets with a gun. Buffy is told the chip has degraded and will be fatal to Spike. She's told the decision is hers. They can repair the chip or remove it.

Kennedy tries to get Amy to explain why she did this to Willow. She attacks her and Amy easily knocks her aside with magic. She admits she hexed Willow, but it was her subconscious which picked the form of the punishment. She says Willow gave in to evil, almost destroyed the world, but everyone forgave her and still cares about her. She says Willow needed to be brought down a peg or two and it was just a game. She claims she's not the bad guy, but she wonders where he is. She teleports Kennedy to the house - it's the same scene as when Warren shot Buffy in Seeing Red. WW walks up with the gun. She starts recreating that earlier scene. WW is confused, conflating her actions with Warren's. Kennedy realizes that she's not talking about Warren killing Tara or Willow killing Warren, but about Willow kissing Kennedy and forgetting about Tara. That doing that was like killing Tara all over again to Willow. That's what she feels guilty about and that's what made the spell work. Kennedy says she didn't do anything wrong. That she's beginning to understand magic and it's like fairytales. She goes to kiss WW saying she's bringing her back to life. Willow reappears. She's weak, but apparently ok. Kennedy helps her in the house and says she'll make her some tea.

Analysis

I really expected more stuff explained in this episode. Instead we just got more questions with tantalizing hints of explanation. And that's good. So we have to wonder how Amy fits into the whole FE arc (if at all) and whether Willow is really over it now. We have to wonder what really happened to Giles, although it's nice to know he's corporeal and not FE. And we have to wait at least a week to learn Buffy's decision, although anything but removing the chip would be wrong.

The start of the Kennedy/Willow storyline is really a chance to ask Willow a lot of questions fans probably would ask her if they could. Willow talks about Tara being the only woman in her life and about her mother's reaction (pretty predictable given what we learnt about her in Gingerbread). We learn her mother barely met Tara. We learn that she liked the privateness of it all. And we learn, most importantly, that Tara still exists for her in the present. She hasn't really accepted Tara's death. This, of course, is coupled with Kennedy's explanation of her attraction to Willow. An explanation that actually reminded me a lot of the kind of thing Tara would say. All of which explains the incredible sense of guilt which led to the hex starting and Willow turning into Warren. At least on the outside.

For most of the episode, I thought Willow was channeling Warren. But in retrospect, I think what we saw were the Warrenlike elements within Willow. And what Warren did isn't all that different from what Willow did. They both gave in to their rage and struck out at the person who had hurt them. Warren shot Buffy and accidently killed Tara. Willow flayed Warren and almost destroyed the world. Neither was really fully in control. Of course, the real Warren was always evil and conscienceless. While Willow is mostly good, she has her evil side as we saw in the alternate realities of The Wish and Dopplegangland and later in the real Villains and Two to Go/Grave. Willow's fear of using magic is really a fear of the inner evil breaking lose again. And that's what happens, for a brief time, when she turns into Warren. Warren exemplifies evil to her. Partly because of what he did and partly because of her reaction to his deeds. Willow thinks she has done the most evil thing possible, destroying Tara's memory, and so it allows the most evil aspects of herself to gain control temporarily.

It's interesting that Amy says she's not the bad guy. While she's hardly the good guy, she does have a point. Willow's punishment is self inflicted. She's the one who decided kissing Kennedy was the equivalent of murdering Tara. She's the one who selected Warren as the atavar of the evil she felt within herself. And she is the one who gave in to evil on a huge scale, far greater than anything Amy ever did. Amy's anger at Willow being constantly forgiven and accepted while she is outcast is understandable. In some ways Amy is to Willow what Spike is to Angel. Not really that different yet for reasons hard to explain never fully accepted and loved.

There is a theme of Kennedy not understanding magic running through this storyline. She brings it up when they are in the bar. WW says it to her when she runs away from the coven and stops Kennedy from following her. It's raised again when Amy explains the spell she cast. But in reality it is Amy, not Kennedy, who fails to understand. Amy has cast a spell, but she can't even understand how it worked or why it worked the way it did. Kennedy ultimately does understand. What's more, she understands the underlying psychology of the magic and how to undo it. Amy complained that it came easy to Willow and the others had to work twice as hard to be half as good. But maybe it wasn't Willow, but her motivation. Kennedy, motivated by love, makes a quantum leap in understanding. Amy, full of hate and desirous of revenge, barely comprehends what she herself has done.

It's nice the way tea is used in the episode. When Willow is making tea for the supposedly sick Kennedy Buffy makes it sound dirty. There's clearly a lot of sexual suggestiveness there and that, no doubt, enhances Willow's feelings of guilt. If this is just a fling, then doesn't it diminish the significance of her other relationship with a woman? If she can have sex without commitment, does that mean her commitment to Tara wasn't real? But at the end, when Kennedy talks of making tea, there are no sexual overtones. It is, instead, an emotional connection. The relationship with Kennedy is deeper than merely the sexual. Kennedy more than hinted at this in the scene in the bar when she talks about what she sees in Willow. While she jokes about sex, it's nonsexual things which attract her. Willow's soft heart (the Moulin Rouge bit)and her essential sweetness (the freckles a sign of her childlike nature). These are the same things Tara loved in her. The kiss in the bedroom was a sexual overture. But the kiss in the garden was an act of love and salvation. It was a fairytale kiss, devoid of vulgarism. And it brings back the sweet and innocent Willow. And the tea, is the tea of childhood and tea parties and sedate, solid, simplicity. It's the tea of the times when things used to be 'nice and quiet'. Those times Buffy alluded to (interestingly in the previous tea scene) and which Willow could not remember at that time. The kiss brings it all back.

On the Giles front, there were a lot of little annoying things. How could no one, in this very huggy type group, have hugged Giles? And how did Giles avoid ever eating around them? It would have been a lot better if they had had their suspicions about Giles earlier. This is a nit, but Buffy writing is generally above such things. Also, if you are a visitor from England, do you need a California driver's license? I know a Canadian visitor doesn't need one. Another interesting question is how did Robson survive. Why didn't the bringers kill him? Or possibly they did and that was FE on the phone.

Both the Willow and Giles stories assisted in the development of Andrew. In the former, his resentment of FE was clearly demonstrated. He really is trying to be good, at least insofar as the underdeveloped psyche of Andrew can understand good. And he desperately wants to be part of the gang. If the evil we see in Amy and have seen in Spike is partly caused by not being allowed in to the gang, maybe the gang ought to reconsider their rejection of Andrew. He is trying very hard to fit in and to make the others like him. Witness his attempt at car games.

Buffy has to remove the chip. Not simply to save Spike physically (after all what if a repaired chip malfunctions - they may not be able to reach the Initiative in time again) but because his salvation is only possible if he is free to choose between good and evil. In the Willow storyline, we saw her making that choice. Pushed to evil by a combination of guilt and hex, she ultimately chose good and became Willow again. This is a smaller version of her reclamation by Xander in Two to Go/Grave. Andrew has also attempted to choose good and we saw that in his refutation of what he thought was FE. Spike has never had the chance. As a vampire he had free will but no soul. Then neither. Then a soul and no free will. By removing the chip, Buffy can see he has both. And he will then have the choice of being saved or damned. Nothing Spike does that is good really means anything as long as the chip forces him to do it. Only when he can be evil with impunity will his good acts have value.

Some quick final thoughts. Was that the longest ever previously on Buffy sequence? It sure felt like it. Warren does a good job of running like a girl. When will the revelation that Buffy's resurrection is linked to FE come out? I'm glad to see Riley is still jealous of Spike. Did Buffy have a cold or did SMG?

Lines of the week:

"me doing the hokey-pokey" - Giles upset at a not entirely inaccurate description of the visionquest.

"You should probably let Molly out of the trunk." - Anya with a very true and very strange statement.

"It's just tea." - Willow not even believing it herself.

"Remember when things used to be nice and quiet." - Buffy asking a question that begs for a no.

"Who you gonna call? God, that phrase is never gonna be usable again." - Spike on the sad demise of a really useful phrase.

"Tara and I are kind of private." - Willow letting her real feelings slip through.

"Bad touching." - Willow with the kind of language Andrew would understand.

"Because you're annoying." - Xander on why they want to leave Andrew behind.

"You think I'm evil if I bring a group of girls on a camping trip and don't touch them?" - Giles with a very good point.

"We're to provide you anything you need to help assface here. Those were his exact words, ma'am." - A soldier being a little too exact and Riley still being a bit jealous.

"I am good." - Kennedy not being very modest.

"I have no idea." - Willow not really knowing how she is.

"I'll make you some tea." - Kennedy bringing things full circle.

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