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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 17 - Lies My Parents Told Me

24 February 2014

Robin shows Spike his Itunes

Synopsis: Giles returns with a method for unlocking the trigger in Spike's brain. Spike relives memories of the time just before he was turned when he was caring for his dying mother. He won't tell Giles anymore about what he saw but Buffy unchains him anyway. Robin suggests to Giles that they kill him behind Buffy's back. Giles distracts Buffy with talk of how to win a war while Robin takes Spike to a locked room where he attempts to kill him.

The Good: I smiled at Giles' demands for an improved library and Robin's confusion over Spike's chip, trigger and soul. His "work room" was a nice idea and I liked his decision to try and trigger Spike so he could come face to face with the demon and not the man.

Spike flashbacks tend to be strong and seeing his relationship with his mother was definitely interesting. To see his loyalty to her survive his turn only to be cruelly spat in his face was affecting. The way he reached cartharsis over their relationship did mirror Robin's struggle in a clever way. Both men blamed a demon for the painful loss of their mothers love. But while Spike can now accept that it was only a demon trying to hurt him, Robin is forced to see that his mother actually prioritised her calling over him.

The Bad: It's a very clever piece of writing but it didn't click emotionally on screen. Perhaps it was to do with the way the two stories were presented. The episode was bookended by Robin's sad realisation. And seeing him understand that his life's vengeance was in vain really was the emotional punch of the story. But instead of the focus being on that it was Spike who received far more attention. It was his backstory that dominated the middle of the episode. His story was sad too but in the end the emotion was taken out of it. Spike's revelation that the pain he'd clung to was nothing but a demon's lies meant we no longer had to feel stung by his cruel treatment.

Although the link is there it was not expressly made clear that the First had been using Spike's bitterness over his vampire-mother's words to trigger his killing sprees. It felt like Spike conquering that and overcoming the trigger should have been a bigger deal. Both to him, to Buffy and to the story as a whole. But it was treated as an afterthought in Spike swaggering off into the night or Buffy being angry at Giles' deception.

Also it's tough to feel for Spike anymore. The trigger story came so quickly on the heels of his psychosis (after regaining his soul) that we've never adequately dealt with who he is now. The way he's reclaimed his coat and his cigarettes felt like fan service. His threat to kill Robin if he attacks him again seemed ridiculous. The show is struggling to escape the criticism that they've just given Spike a soul so that he can be the same cool, killer he was but now we won't worry about him eating people.

The moment when Spike threatens to kill Robin just before the ad break but doesn't was manipulative and stupid.

The Unknown: During their graveyard debate Buffy says that she would now sacrifice Dawn if it meant saving the world (a reference to her opposition to that idea in "The Gift" 522). I found that a somewhat surprising statement. It seems like the writers think we should have understood that based on the severe wording in her speeches. Yet her coddling of Spike and Andrew has made the opposite case. This story put Buffy in an awkward position. With the trigger still active she seemed foolish for not keeping Spike tied up.

Why did Robin put his shirt back on during the fight with Spike? Was it cold in there?

I guess Willow is off to L.A. to get some help from Angel.

Best Moment: The build up to Robin playing the trigger music built anticipation for their confrontation nicely.

The Bottom Line: The Robin story has been very basic. They've had him glare at Spike for episodes now and this wasn't a strong enough story to make it all worth it. Sadly it felt like an attempt to recapture the magic of "Fool for Love" (507) rather than an important story in its own right.

It's been ten episodes since "Conversations with Dead People" when the First made a very loud and threatening salvo. Since then all its plans have been thwarted, Buffy has given a bunch of speeches and her house is packed full of people. It's time for events with real consequence to start happening.

 

 

Cordia's Second Look
Lies My Parents Told Me
Season 7, Episode 17
Original airing: 3/25/2003

My Rating: 72

The Good: I found this episode quite fascinating. It was really fun to see more back story on Spike that doesn’t contradict anything we already know. I also liked the story’s use of Robin and Giles. I can’t say I’m happy about the fallout of all this, but it is some of the most interesting drama we’ve seen in a while.

Spike’s history, especially his early vampire life, has been explored before, so I’m glad they were careful not to contradict the prior information. In some ways, it makes a huge amount of sense that Spike was obsessively attentive to his mother. He has always seemed to really latch on to women and make them his world – he did it first with Drusilla, then with Buffy. Coming to terms with this was a neat way to resolve his trigger issue. And I can believe that essentially he isn’t sorry for the killing he did as a vampire. Buffy points out that Robin tried to kill a man who doesn’t exist anymore and I think Spike sees it that way too. He’s a different person now with his soul and why should he apologize for those past behaviors? I may not agree with him, but I think I see the logic.

Meanwhile, I really, really liked Robin’s story. The flashback of his mother fighting Spike was a wonderful bit of dual story telling. We know Spike was on a Slayer hunt at this time and his reference of that was a nice nod to Fool for Love (S5E7). But I really liked the conversation after the fight when Nikki pointed out the only thing that matters is the mission. I’m guessing this is one reason most Slayers don’t have children. As Robin learned, and Spike pointed out, the child will never be more important than the need to slay.

I think Robin’s decision to trigger Spike pointed out Buffy’s assertion that Spike is a different man now. Robin says he wants to kill the monster that killed his mother, specifically. He wants Spike to vamp out and fight back. Otherwise, he could have easily staked Spike in the dark and been done with it. Instead, he risks everything, including his own life, to do it the hard way. I think it also strengthened Buffy’s position on Spike that Spike let Robin live. Spike really is their strongest, best fighter and Buffy will do anything to keep him fighting on her side. If only Giles had been there for that moment.

It was painful to watch Giles betray Buffy. It put me in mind of his injecting her with the weakening serum in Helpless (S3E12). He doesn’t want to do it, but he thinks it’s for the best. There was similar fallout, but this betrayal was worse. He was forced by the Watcher’s Council to inject her. His decision to help Robin kill Spike was all his own. And even after learning Spike is cured and alive, he holds to his party line. I think Buffy was quite justified in closing the door in his face. Now that Spike is ensouled and trigger-less, any of Giles’ arguments just seem abusive. For him to still argue against Spike shows an incredible lack of faith in Buffy’s judgment.

The Bad: Nothing struck me as particularly poor in this episode, although I do think Spike laid it on a bit thick at the end. He really rubbed his mother’s love in Robin’s face.

The Unknown: I imagine if you haven’t been watching Angel that the phone call from Fred was quite confusing.

Favorite Moment: Spike and Nikki’s fight was a great nod to Spike’s prior mission to kill Slayers. It also reminded me of when he first came to Sunnydale to kill Buffy in School Hard (S2E3). Perhaps it’s weird to be nostalgic of it all, but we haven’t seen that Spike in a long time and he really was a wonderful villain to hate.

The Bottom Line: I greatly enjoyed this episode. I think it solidified Buffy’s defense of Spike and gave some very interesting layers of tension to our allies. How will Robin fit into the group after this? Will Buffy forgive Giles? I like an episode that leaves me interested in seeing the fallout.

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Comments

  • I can't give too high a score, as I just am not terribly impressed with this lackluster seventh season, but several things stood out to me.
    Spike's mother going all Angelus on him was fantastic, not only because of the show's lack of an adequate villain since season three, but also because of the immense pain and confusion displayed on newly-turned William's face; his naïveté at that point is conveyed so well by Marsters. Always nice to see Drusilla, but I must admit that J. Landau's obvious aging bothers me, what with the character being immortal; you'd think more could be done with makeup.
    I enjoyed the end, with Buffy slamming the door in Giles' face--clearly their relationship has changed, and it actually reminds me of the rapport between Giles and Jenny, although obviously without the romantic aspect. I think by this point, both in the story and in Buffy's Slayerhood, it makes so much sense for her to be headstrong and sure of herself, rather than goofy and indecisive, and frankly, drama between our protagonists is much more satisfying than anything we've seen from The First.

    Viewer score: 62 / 100

    Posted by Matt E., 21/02/2014 4:12pm (3 years ago)

  • The best character of this episode is the actress who played William's mother. I don't know who she is and I don't think I've ever seen her before but she was great. Seeing her go from sweet mother to evil vampire was fantastic to watch. The best part from her was watching her face transform back to human as she was dying from being staked. Total evil mind-frak. No wonder Spike feels guilty.

    It was nice seeing Drusilla again. My favorite part of her returning is her "WTF" face when Spike introduced her to his mother.

    The scene in the graveyard with Giles talking to Buffy about the end of the world was my favorite scene of the episode. She's willing to let everyone she loves die for the good of the world and he's willing to betray her trust for the good of the world. The ending with Buffy shutting the door in his face reminded me of the end of The Godfather.

    Random thoughts on different episodes.
    I finally caught up and listened to the Once More With Feeling episode it's a great episode but after I listened to the Joss Whedon commentary, Tara's I'm Under Your Spell song has permanently been ruined for me. It used to be a sweet song about love but now I'm distracted by Willow going down on floating-Tara. I never noticed it before I listened to him.

    Now that I think about it, The First attacking now because the Slayer line has been disrupted by Willow bringing Buffy back makes know sense. Technically the Slayer line was disrupted back at the end of season one when Xander brought Buffy back to life after The Master killed her. I could be wrong.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Andrew the geek, 20/02/2014 3:09pm (3 years ago)

  • A bunch of thoughts on “Lies My Parents Told Me”
    - I’m glad they showed Principal Wood having a wrapped up hand after the macho way he hurt it.
    - Giles is back and in grand fashion. His outrage on the lack of books is a wonderful mix of humor and sincerity. It also seems like a callback to season one when he spoke to Jenny about books. I would have been satisfied if they only used that part, but it was awesome to see his continued seriousness of the apocalypse. Doom is coming and Giles can’t overlook Spike’s history as a killer as well as the fact that he doesn’t have a leash anymore. I love that finding a cure for this is the reason he was gone for a couple of episodes. I didn’t think they were going to come up with a good reason.
    - Sophisticated Spike reminds me a lot of Wesley.
    - Hey! Since Dawn is now likeable we through a bed at her? Not cool.
    - The first thing we see Andrew do is help the Scoobies by answering the phone. Nice.
    - Kennedy bothers me. Rona doesn’t. Her worry about Spike is valid and her tone seems rooted in being worried, not antagonistic. (*cough* Kennedy)
    - Xander is continuing his role as mature guy. His “come on” look to Anya during her rant about Spike was a favorite moment of mine in this episode. “Forgiveness makes us human,” is a favorite quote.
    - Giles is willing to betray the trust of his loved ones for the greater good. Great consistency with his character.
    - The actress and the show did a great job portraying William’s mother Anne. Spike’s devotion to the women he loves makes a lot of sense seeing his mom. I like the portrayal of his mom because it reminds me of Joyce. Joyce and Anne may be the only good parents on this show so when they appear I notice. Anne’s turn into vampire mom was convincingly horrifying to watch. I thought it brought out the emotion well because it pained me to see such a nice character turn the way she did. (Also Spike’s mom is named Anne. That is Buffy’s middle name. Nice.)

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Jarrid, 17/02/2014 11:25pm (4 years ago)

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