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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 7 - Fool For Love

7 November 2013

Synopsis: While fighting a typical vampire Buffy makes a mistake and ends up with her stake in her abdomen. Riley patrols for her and takes revenge while she asks Giles how previous Slayers met their ends. He can’t help but Spike can, having killed two himself. He tells her the story of his life and claims that all Slayers have a death wish. When Buffy rejects him he grabs a shotgun and intends to kill her. However his anger melts when he sees her crying over news that Joyce is going into hospital for a CT scan.Spike gives a Slayer lesson

The Good: This was a very strong episode which blended two different stories together with great skill.

Buffy’s season five arc has been intriguingly focussed on her Slayer powers, what they are and what she is capable of. It was a nice juxtaposition for her to be the one getting staked for once and to run vulnerably across a graveyard being stalked by a vampire. Her discussion with Giles over the lack of records about previous Slayer deaths made sense and led naturally to Spike. His explanation that a Slayer’s two weaknesses are her weapon and her death wish was pretty interesting.

The point about Slayer’s needing weapons might seem fairly obvious but it did fit both Buffy’s wound and the death of the Chinese Slayer (which was a terrifically choreographed final sequence). Perhaps there is also a deeper lesson about the need for Buffy to become as self reliant as her enemies. The concept of the death wish is pretty fascinating. It feels very much like a continuation of ideas from “Restless” and “Buffy vs Dracula” where the Slayer’s existence is linked to darkness in a way which Buffy doesn’t understand yet. Just hearing Spike talk about the mortality of the Slayer made for good television. The writers really explored the relentless nature of the job, the fascination with death and the potential for sexual feelings to become connected to the battle.

It would be interesting to know what Buffy took from the discussion. In the end she is far more preoccupied with Joyce whose situation doesn’t seem to be improving. I liked Dawn’s brief attempt to be helpful showing us their growing cooperation. Of course Riley had a great day. He got to patch Buffy up, do her patrol for her, take personal revenge on the vampire and kill all of his friends. This is the situation he would clearly be more comfortable in and it will be interesting to see if next episode this has knock on effects.

Spike’s story was a terrific achievement showing us the versatility and depth of both character and actor. The flashbacks (linked with the corresponding episode of Angel) were well put together to show us Spike’s origins. He worshipped one woman hopelessly before Drusilla turned him and he then transferred that affection to her. The contrast between him and Angel was very well drawn with one rejoicing in planning while the other lives to be spontaneous. The rivalry and jealousy between them played into what we saw in Season Two and helped expand our understanding of Spike. We can see the desires and ego which drive him as well as appreciate the wisdom he has accrued.

The stories were solid but the texture was gripping. I liked the outfits, wigs and settings of the flashbacks, simple as some of them were. I also enjoyed the editing choice to have Spike speak to Buffy from his flashback while killing the New York Slayer. The final scenes of Spike’s “lesson” were slick and fluid and had a tension and sense of consequence when really nothing more than talking was going on. It was a series of brilliant choices in writing and directing. Not to mention acting. James Marsters made Sarah Michelle Gellar look ordinary, so brightly did he shine. Of course he has a tremendous range to play with as William becomes Spike, is nearly killed, falls in love and gets rejected. His character is in many ways now a more interesting version of Angel. He is dark and mysterious, he walks the line between good and evil and he is trapped. Not by a curse but by love (and the chip in his head). He wants to fire that shotgun but can’t because even the demon inside him can’t give up on the idea of something better.

The Bad: We didn’t need the scene with Drusilla and the Chaos Demon. It was a fun throwaway line back in “Lovers Walk” (308) and added nothing here. In fact it tried to rewrite history in an unconvincing way. Back then it was clear that Spike was in love with Drusilla and was far from obsessed with Buffy. Now it was presented as if he really was becoming obsessed with her two seasons ago.

I didn’t enjoy Xander and Willow acting as if they had never been on patrol before. They once had to do it with no help (301).

The Unknown: I just about bought the final scene at the porch. Between her disgust with him and his shotgun it was tricky to imagine that Buffy was so addled that she would actually be comforted by his presence. It’s interesting how much tougher it’s been to accept Spike on Rewatch. On first viewing he was my favourite character and his residence in Sunnydale seemed like a natural choice given what a great character he is. Here though I had to ask myself whether I could accept that his demon heart could be melted or if her shell-shocked mind would accept his hand on her back. I did accept it but only just.

I also thought Cecily was presented as too polite for someone who would then tell William he was beneath her. Why not just say you see him as a friend? The idea that he was already called William the Bloody (before being turned into a vampire) didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Although I did like that the idea of torturing people with railroad spikes came from one of his arrogant acquaintances.

Best Moment: The climax of Spike and Buffy’s dance outside the Bronze was him trying to enact his dreams and kiss her. She is understandably shocked and he pushes it thinking his feelings might be reciprocated. Instead she shoves him down, telling him he’s beneath her. It’s exactly how she’s always felt about him and his shame and misery (as he recalls Cecily’s words) were well communicated.

The Bottom Line: As terrific as this episode was, something on Rewatch keeps it from being one of the classics. Perhaps it just didn’t quite land a solid punch (in terms of emotion) but was satisfied instead with just stirring the pot. Still, that’s only a qualification to explain my score rather than a knock on an episode of great quality.

 

 

Cordia’s Second Look
Fool For Love
Season 5, Episode 7
Original airing: 11/14/2000

My Rating: 83

The Good: What this episode does well, it does really, really well. Spike’s story and how he relates it to Buffy is very powerful and well done. The acting, writing, directing, camera work, everything is just wonderful. It was really fun and interesting to see Spike evolve from a social outcast human to his current reprehensible demon self.

The flashbacks were excellent for showing this change. We got to see his look, accent, and attitude all completely shift to the Spike we’re familiar with on the show. I loved how this was interwoven with Buffy’s desire to learn more about her Slayer heritage. In the end, I found it interesting that the Slayers died because they had a moment of hesitation. Spike describes it as a desire for an understanding of death. Buffy reacts very violently to this idea. We’ve seen her playing and exploring this idea since her interactions with Dracula (S5E1). She even let him bite her. So I think this makes a lot of sense and is presented very well.

I also think it’s interesting that each of the Slayers died from a single mistake. In some ways, it seems like Spike just happened to be there to take advantage of that moment. The hint that Buffy could die at any time from dropping her guard is quite scary. It’s exactly what happened at the beginning of the episode. She wasn’t almost killed by a Spike-type vampire. It was just one random demon.

This all leads into and stems from Buffy’s conversation with Giles. There are no written records of Slayers’ last battles because it’s too hard for the Watchers to handle. We’ve seen over and over again in the show how close Buffy and Giles have become. I think it’s completely reasonable to think this same relationship would have developed between other Watcher/Slayer pairs. This was a very sweet scene on its own.

My favorite part of these entire episode is how the subway scene and the alley scene are merged together. The blocking is perfect to give me the mental image that Buffy can actually see Spike killing the Slayer and taking her jacket as he talks to her. The visceral side of it all feels very real. I also love the far shot of Spike kneeling in front of Buffy as he talks to her. He looks completely relaxed while her body language looks like she’s about to explode.

When Spike tries to kiss Buffy, I think she has a moment of complete clarity and panic. Yes. She’s attracted to the darkness. But she doesn’t like it and she doesn’t accept it. So she purposefully uses words she knows will hurt Spike, then leaves. She’s not just pushing him away, she’s pushing her own darkness away.

Finally, this bleeds into the last scene with Buffy and Spike. Buffy’s deer-in-headlights look as Spike asks to help her, then sits down next to her makes me think she is completely frozen. She’s trying to deal with this new information, the unknown illness effecting her mother, school, running the household, and caring for Dawn. It’s took much. This sudden display of sympathy from Spike is just too much.

The Bad: Most of the things I disliked in this episode were just the silly side things. These little bits looked completely ridiculous to me next to the amazing story being told between Spike and Buffy. The worst to me was the slow-motion moment of the vampire gang walking during the Boxer Rebellion in China. This whole moment felt very cheesy to me. They even had the explosions in the background and billowing coats. It was just too silly for me. I was also annoyed by Spike’s decision to vamp out in the Bronze. All I could think during this was how stupid it was and why wasn’t anyone screaming?

Finally, I was annoyed by the Scoobies’ terrible patrol tactics. They’ve been doing this plenty long enough to know better than to shout and loudly munch on chips. I could understand them being lax while out patrolling with Buffy, but they’ve gone solo before. In the past, we’ve seen them being sneaky with weapons, flashlights, crosses, etc. They know better and this was just a cheap gag to make Riley look silly with his sneaking around.

The other bit of the episode I didn’t like was the retelling of history with Spike’s final flashback. It was fun seeing the chaos demon Drusilla was cheating on Spike with, but the dialogue was completely contrary to what we had already heard happen. In “Lover’s Walk”, Spike tells everyone Drusilla left him because he betrayed her and Angelus by working with Buffy (S3E8). I don’t think there’s any argument here that Spike lied because this is a pretty humiliating thing for him to admit. Now the flashback tells us that Drusiilla senses Spike is obsessed with Buffy. We have seen this obsession grow over the course of season 5. It had nothing to do with Spike’s return to Sunnydale in “Lover’s Walk”. There’s just no reason for this rewrite and I found it very annoying in a show which is so good at maintaining continuity.

The Unknown: One bit of the episode I struggle with is Riley’s little solo vampire killing trip. He completely reasonably suggests they all wait till morning, then goes back alone with a hand grenade. This seems like masochistic and potentially suicidal behavior. Did he choose this route to protect Willow, Xander, and Anya from the fight? Did he do it to prove he could? Did he do it because Buffy didn’t want him patrolling alone? There are a lot of different questions concerning his motivation for a pretty stupid decision. I’m hoping this comes back in future episodes either in a direct conversation or as a hint to a new personality shift in our dear Captain Cardboard.

Favorite Moment: As I mentioned in The Good, the parallels of the subway scene and the alley scene are just fantastic.

The Bottom Line: This episode has a really strong story and excellent acting. However, the emotion didn’t grip me fully enough for me to consider this a truly amazing episode. I’ll settle for it just being very, very good.

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  • After listening to the "Fool For Love" podcast (which I did a while after watching the episode, as the 'casts are quite lengthy by this point), I had to put in my two cents on the "you are beneath me" debate. I totally, totally took Buffy 's use of that phrase as being coincidental because of Spike's reaction to it, and because of the theme of the episode--you are undeniably what you are. Spike had built himself up into believing that he could win Buffy, so he is absolutely crushed to have his unworthiness confirmed by her opinion. I really doubt Spike would have told Buffy that the society girl that had shot him down had used that phrase, just like I doubt that he would've included in his narrative that he was lucky to have killed the Chinese slayer--Spike was trying to impress Buffy! Just as Buffy tries to deny the darkness being attractive to her (and the emphasis is on darkness, not Spike specifically), Spike wanted to believe that he was what Buffy wanted specifically as an *individual*, and both were shocked by the realization that they believed wrongly.

    Posted by Matt E., 09/11/2013 3:39pm (5 years ago)

  • Really enjoyed this episode; really had fun watching it. Three things bothered me, and kept me from scoring it in the 80's:
    1.) Continuity issues. I am not the first to notice these, but I was rather dumbfounded at how noticeable were the differences.
    2.) The "Resevoir Dogs Walking In Slow-motion Towards The Camera" shot really has been done to death.
    3.) By far my biggest issue with the episode--WHY is Buffy confused as to how she was defeated?? Maybe if she stopped with the unnecessary theatrical jump-flipping and, it pains me to say, just kicked ass like Faith, she wouldn't be so open to counter-moves. Even the two slayers killed by Spike just looked stupid to me, letting him off the ropes to go grab their stake or failing to just snap his neck for no apparent reason... They damn well better have wanted to die, because that explanation is far, far more palatable than that they were incompetent.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by Matt E., 07/11/2013 5:54pm (5 years ago)

  • There was one mistake in this episode- Spike and Angel mention is S02E03 that Angel is Spike's sire, and I thought it was a little careless of Whedon to have Drusilla siring Spike in this episode and I'm surprised that nobody else has noticed this.That said, I really enjoyed this episode on the whole. I loved Spike and Buffy's 'dance' outside the Bronze, and I also loved the editing as Spike was re-enacting his killing the New York slayer, even though I think he should have drunk her blood rather than break her neck and leave her there.
    I also thought the on-going story of Spike's love for Buffy really fitted well into this episode. Spike tries to get close to Buffy, but she keeps pushing him away until the very end, when Spike finds her in tears and she accepts him sitting beside her and patting her back. I thought it was an excellent end, showing that both Spike and Buffy maybe need each other even though neither of them want to admit it yet.

    Viewer score: 95 / 100

    Posted by Ella, 21/08/2013 11:55am (5 years ago)

  • "You're beneath me" is the second time we see Buffy echo the words of another woman to a vampire. The first was "Close your eyes" which Darla says to Angel before she sires him, and then Buffy says before she stabs him to stop Acathla. This happens a third time with the phrase "It's the mission that matters" in season 7. I don't think that Buffy is conscious of these phrases and their significance to the people that she repeats them to - It is coincidental, and an literary device to add resonance to the episode and highlight the significance of the phrases. Spike would never have told her about Cecily. Not in a million years. Spike is a unreliable narrator as witnessed by the "it was time to get myself a gang" contrasted by the fact that he is pretty well bottom of the hierarchy of the fanged four. They are not his gang, it is Darla's gang.

    Viewer score: 99 / 100

    Posted by liz, 09/02/2013 5:02am (6 years ago)

  • Just listening to your commentary for Fool for Love - enjoying it immensely. Have to disagree with your dislike of the "power shot" of the fanged four - not silly at all. So packed with meaning - Angle has a soul and is feeling all conflicted by killing things and Spike completely high on the fact that he killed a slayer. Spike is a vampire on the rise (signified by the jump off the barrel) Angel is a vampire on the downward spiral (he's about to spend 100 years eating vermin) The music is amazing! Also, was interested to hear your dislike of the final flashback to South America. I think the point of it is to show that Spike has this thing for the slayer that he's not acknowledging but Drusilla, with her second sight, knows it. Season two does a good job of showing us Spike's growing fascination with Buffy culminating with going to her for help with the Angelus problem. The South American scene just illustrates that that interest doesn't go away once they leave Sunnydale - in fact it destroys their relationship. But Spike doesn't believe it and returns to Sunnydale all set on vengeance. it's not until he has the dream in Out of My Mind that he admits that Dru was right. As for why Spike was at the party; I'm not sure why this is even a question - he was an invited guest. William is of upper class and there is no reason why he would not be invited to a posh soiree like that. I've always assumed that three people that tease him about his poetry are other guests, not the hosts of the party.

    Posted by Tranquility, 09/02/2013 12:30am (6 years ago)

  • The Good: Took me by surprise when buffy got staked by nikki sixx out of motley crue circa 1989, it’s a good reminder she is not infallible. Giles is great in the scene where he and buffy are discussing it, especially when he says “painful”. It’s the interaction between Spike and buffy however that makes this episode, actually it’s the interaction between Spike and anyone that does. During the first flashback scene as someone takes the unfinished poem from him there is a line where he says “please the inks are still wet” amazingly acted part from James marsters and it’s hard not to have empathy and pity for the pathetic mummy’s boy we see in the flash back. As cool as the modern spike appears Buffy’s repeat of the line “you’re beneath me” from Cecily transports him straight back to where he was at the beginning.
    The editing between the train in the 70’s and the ally outside the bronze is jaw dropping and the way both interweave is absolutely inspired, that coupled with an incredible monologue from spike make this the best scene I have seen on buffy so far.
    The last scene comes very close to it though, it makes sense spike just wants to shoot her and be done with it but he wavers and asks her what’s wrong and we find ourselves in new territory . Spike comforts buffy and she lets him.
    The Bad: Angels Irish accent is truly horrific.
    The Bottom Line: This is one of my favorite ever episode’s , in most shows of the time and perhaps now you would never feel empathy for a villain the way you do here. I really advise checking out the audio commentary on this episode too. ( but there may be spoilers )

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by cody paul, 26/11/2012 5:45pm (6 years ago)

  • Listening to the two of you argue about whether Buffy knew about the "you're beneath me" comments from Cecily or not.

    Here's the thing: The verbal sparring between Buffy and Spike between leading up to the flashback with the above mentioned comments leaves off with "What can I say, baby, I was born bad." The next scene shows that this is a TOTAL LIE. There is no way Spike has made himself THIS vulnerable. He's remade himself into a yobbish punker. Why would he tell her about something he would not wish to remember himself (evidenced by the fact that he presents himself as a major badass). Amy and Cordy are wrong wrong wrong. You are assuming that Joss Whedon characters are like mediocre-TV-show characters who always tell the truth. Puh-leez.

    Viewer score: 92 / 100

    Posted by Liane, 18/11/2012 8:05pm (6 years ago)

  • Don't shatter my illusions guys. I haven't seen this in a decade, but please tell me this is still one of THE great episodes of modern sci-fi.

    Posted by the Gman, 02/11/2012 5:19pm (6 years ago)

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