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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 8 - Sleeper

8 January 2017

Spike and the Big Bad

Synopsis: Buffy returns home to find out what happened to Dawn and Willow. She wonders if what Holden told her was a lie. She follows Spike and then discovers that several girls have gone missing. He doesn't remember anything but we see him burying bodies.

The Unknown: This was a curious episode. It felt like there was always something missing to actually ignite it. The kindling was there but no spark.

In essence I suppose we already knew the conclusion of the episode before we even started. We saw Spike in the basement being tormented by the Big Bad in the final scene of the season opener. Since then we've seen Spike being confused by talking spectres on more than one occasion. So at the end of the previous episode when we saw him feeding on a woman there was one obvious conclusion we could jump to: the big evil of the season was somehow making Spike kill people. And that's what was happening. So we spent a whole episode establishing something we already knew and at no point did the episode add anything else of undisputed value.

We got a little light comedy which was fine. Xander making comments under his breath and Anya pretending to come on to Spike were solid scenes. Similarly Buffy following Spike and then watching him confusedly kill people was intriguing. But once Spike began to remember I was waiting for either the big reveal or the big judgment.

The Bad: The big reveal would have been some kind of plan to kill Buffy. I actually thought the simplicity of burying a bunch of vampires in one dingy basement to trap the Slayer was brilliant. If the big evil had hatched this cunning scheme just to kill her then the episode could have concluded with a real desperate fight as Buffy struggled to survive. Spike would have held the key to tipping the balance in her favour and his struggle with sanity would have provided good tension.

That didn't happen though. Instead Spike was overwhelmed with guilt and Buffy dispatched the vampires as if they were a minor nuisance. So perhaps the big judgment was coming. After all, Spike had just murdered nearly a dozen people. Not only that but turned them so that the Scoobies would have to face even more enemies. Sure, it wasn't his fault. He was under a spell. But perhaps Buffy was going to conclude that such a dangerous weapon couldn't be left on the Hellmouth to be toyed with. Even if she wasn't going to kill Spike perhaps he needed to be sent away or strapped down or something. But no, instead she says she's going to get close to him so she can learn about the big bad. Ok...is that why this episode existed? To justify why Buffy would suddenly be willing to be around the guy who nearly raped her. It was an unsatisfying conclusion to an unsatisfying episode.

Spike's fight with a vampire that he turned was bizarrely filmed with arty cuts to the band playing in the Bronze. It might have been an effective change of pace if the fight mattered. But we knew Spike would win against an anonymous opponent and so it appeared like the whole sequence was simply designed to plug the band.

The Unknown (again): The expansion of the attacks on outsiders was interesting (as some Brits were hacked down in London) and the return of Giles is always welcome. However the cliff-hanger of his impending demise was weak. Major characters don't get murdered with a to be continued tag mid death-stroke.

Did those vampires all rise at the same time on purpose? In which case why was this too early to bring Buffy down there?

Best Moment: Dawn and Willow discussing their respective night and Dawn trying to work out whether to believe what Joyce told her.

The Bottom Line: An episode in search of a purpose. It ended with apparently no forward momentum. Spike is exactly where he was seven episodes ago: a confused, potentially threatening mess.

Another thing this episode seemed to imply is that this season is about Spike and not Buffy. So far he is the one with a recognisable character arc. Perhaps hers will become clearer soon but right now he is being protected and coddled as if he is the chosen one.  

 

Cordia's Second Look
Sleeper
Season 7, Episode 8

Original airing: 11/19/2002

My Rating: 53

The Good: I enjoyed the Buffy and Spike portion of this episode. Their scenes together were heartfelt and quite emotionally charged.

The first part of the episode wasn’t too bad. I was pleased with all the honesty and openness flying around amongst our Scoobies. Almost everyone shared what they had experienced and they all talked about it. And I was ok with the idea of Dawn not sharing everything about Joyce’s message, but I felt the show hit the nail too squarely on the head with her evasiveness. It was overdone.

I also liked Spike and Anya’s scene. It was funny and the shock factor got me when Spike grabbed Anya’s arm.

The Bad: Overall, I found myself disappointed in this episode. The majority of it is from the concept of Spike being brainwashed by the Big Bad. There’s no indication this is a spell and if we’re supposed to believe it’s psychological conditioning, than it’s pretty darn impressive. Too trigger Spike’s memory and violence with a song is a little too farfetched for me. I actually would have believed it more if it was presented as a spell.

But the most egregious part of the episode was Buffy’s decision to bring Spike into her home with Willow and Dawn to attempt to get close to the Big Bad. She’s just seen that Spike has literally no control over his violence and she’s going to make excuses to house him? I couldn’t get behind that notion. She also treats him like a hurricane victim and a child as she talks about him while he’s in the room. It felt silly.

Favorite Moment: I appreciate that no matter what the show is sticking to the idea of Spike in love with Buffy. Everything he does, he does for her. He makes that very clear during their conversation in his bedroom.

The Bottom Line: This episode felt like it was intended to maneuver Spike and Buffy closer together. I’m fine with the concept, but the execution was full of holes and left me shaking my head.

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  • Hey there! I know I'm years late on this podcast but I just have one thing I wanted to point out! In your podcast you mention that they're really emphasizing the band and you were surprised that they had two songs. Well, a really neat thing about that is that the song they're playing during the fight scene at The Bronze is actually called Pavlov's Bell, which I think is a nice tie in to what this episode is trying to get across--that Spike is not acting on his own free will, he's been conditioned to disassociate when he hears his trigger song. I just think that it's a really nice detail that you won't catch unless you know the song, and I think the song fit really well with the fight scene (even if the fight itself was a bit annoying)

    Viewer score: 63 / 100

    Posted by Raven, 08/01/2017 12:57pm (6 months ago)

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