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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.

68
/100

Episode 2 - Beneath You

4 November 2013

Spike hugs the cross

Synopsis: Buffy dreams of a girl being killed in Germany who says “From Beneath You it Devours.” A Sunnydale woman Nancy is then attacked from beneath the ground. Xander helps her and Spike appears, seemingly sane, offering to do the same. They work out that Anya cursed Nancy’s ex-boyfriend and Xander convinces her to reverse the spell. At that moment Spike stabs at the monster connecting with the man and being gripped by guilt as a result.

The Good: This was a very entertaining episode. It combined the monster-of-the-week with the wreckage from last season and hinted at the Big Bad for this year. The pace was good as we moved quickly from one dramatic set piece to the next.

Spike’s psychological meltdown won’t fit with any medical textbook but it demonstrated his conflict in an emotive way. I liked the way he got dressed up and acted like his old self temporarily. It added to Buffy’s confusion and made me temporarily question what was going on. It ended up being a demonstration of what his old self hoped would be possible: that he could just show up again, do good and be forgiven. But the reality was far more complicated. Once he stabbed Nancy’s boyfriend he was overwhelmed with guilt. Even before that he was afraid of how Buffy would react and pushed her away at the Bronze. The final scene in the church was well shot to give a haunting sense of the geography of his mind.

The Nancy story looks like a clever bit of misdirection. Surely it is the Hellmouth and whoever plans to open it that will eventually devour from beneath. But the immediate threat of her cursed boyfriend also came from the ground which added to the mystery. The effects department did a good job with the Sluggoth and the ground it tore up. Xander’s attempts to make a connection being ruined by Sunnydale was a nice subplot too.

Once again Giles gave a very sweet speech that makes you wish he was your mentor. I’m glad Willow is taking her time to get back home but I don’t think there’s much doubt that she will be forgiven.

The Bad: When the Sluggoth popped up for its fight with Spike there was the slightly awkward moment when you realised that the demon couldn’t do any more than just sit there and wait to be whacked.

The Unknown: Xander was a little too awkward when explaining to Nancy that Buffy isn’t his girlfriend. But I will chalk it up to him having been out of the game for such a long time.

The attack in Frankfurt was far less convincing than the Istanbul one. The girl here didn’t seem to really be running for her life. The fact that Buffy sees it in her dream is a nice way to connect that story to the Scoobies. It’s been a while since Slayer dreams were a big deal so this is another good way of bringing things back to the shows origins.

I remain displeased that Anya is allowed to operate as a Vengeance demon right under Buffy’s nose. How can cursing people be shrugged off as somehow not worth Buffy’s attention?

I assume the double meaning in the episodes title was intended. Obviously we have the immediate threat of the cursed Ronnie but also the greater threat of being devoured. Beyond that though “You’re beneath me” was the line Buffy had for Spike back in “Fool for Love” (507).

Best Moment: James Marsters has given many an amazing performance over the years. The confused emotions of his torment were always going to be a big challenge but I think he met it with a typically mesmeric soliloquy in the church.

The Bottom Line: An eventful and entertaining follow up to last episode and last season.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Beneath You
Season 7, Episode 2

Original airing: 10/1/2002

My Rating: 67

The Good: I like the trend the show is giving us around the murdered girls. These two openings have been intense and interesting and are obviously Slayer related. Bringing it back to the beginning apparently includes Buffy’s prophetic dreams!

It was fun to have a one off character with some spunk to her. Nancy was pretty entertaining and I like her interactions with Xander. I was also quite amused by the scene in the Bronze where Nancy’s presence allowed a bit of who-has-slept-with-who comedy. Xander and Spike’s shared glance at the end was perfect.

I also appreciated Dawn’s moment in this episode. It was nice to see her stand up to Spike in Buffy’s defense. I was curious how she would react to Spike given their previous rather friendly relationship. This made sense given Dawn’s knowledge of the rape attempt and supported Dawn’s growth into a stronger individual.

Anya seems to be waffling. I suspect she’ll be brought back into the Scoobie fold, at least on a part time sense, and she’s displaying a tendency towards that. Last episode, she was told to shape up and do some real damage with her curses. She’s out doing her best, but she also caves to Xander’s puppy eyes in the end. I think this is a good place for her in terms of the show. She’s a demon again and she has her loyalties there, but she can’t completely ignore the three or so years she spent as a human.

Finally, I really liked Spike and Buffy’s interactions. It’s interesting as a viewer to see Buffy off balance. And Spike’s sudden sanity and straight forward acknowledgement of his wrongs puts her in a place of true confusion. The final scene is so heart breaking and Sarah Michelle Gellar displays it all. She’s prepared to kill Spike if she must, but her realization about his soul shocks her to her core. I can’t help but wonder what she’s thinking.

The Bad: Nothing stood out to me as particularly terrible in this episode, except for a few of the special effects concerning Ronnie the Worm Demon. But I won’t let something like that dampen my enjoyment of this episode.

The Unknown: I don’t know what to make of Spike at this point. The first scene in this episode seems to indicate something turned him from crazy to sane and then perhaps he went crazy again? Or was it an act of will?

Willow’s return is also a puzzle. I expect things will work out in the end amongst all the Scoobies, but I am intrigued to see how the show will get from A to B.

Favorite Moment: I really liked how the scene in the street was presented for Buffy and Spike. It felt very true to the characters and their past relationship for both of them to just lay it all out there in the conversation. Buffy bluntly tells Spike she’ll never forgive or trust him due to the rape and he accepts that. But she also believes him when he says he’s changed. I wish characters would have these kinds of conversations more often. It’s quite refreshing and suited the situation well.

The Bottom Line: I really enjoyed this episode throughout. I was entertained and engaged, which has been lacking in the last season. It feels like there is purpose so far to Season Seven with the flow of the stories and the inexplicable endings to both episodes. I can’t wait to see the next one.

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