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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S04E03: “The Harsh Light Of Day”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will burn herself out on her “New Year, New Me” plan in about two hours. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
  25. Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
  26. Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
  27. Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
  28. Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
  29. The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
  30. This show caters to the straight/bi female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!
  34. The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.
  35. Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.
  36. Economic inequality is humorized and oversimplified.
  37. Buffy is an abusive romantic partner.
  38. Riley is the worst.
  39. Joss Whedon has a problem with fat people.
  40. Spike is an abusive romantic partner.
  41. Why are all these men so terrible?

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.

We join Oz on stage at The Bronze. Willow and Buffy are in the crowd, and so is Stupid Fucking Douchebag. Buffy is trying to do the thing where she doesn’t look at him or notice him, but she’s secretly scoping him out in a mirror. Which, honestly, must be a nice change in terms of dating. A dude having a reflection, I mean. Willow points out that Buffy has spent all week with SFD and therefore it’s okay if she wants to look at him. Buffy argues that she doesn’t want to crowd him, so we’re clearly in the “We don’t know if we’re dating” stage of dating here. Willow tells Buffy that since she’s single, there’s nothing wrong with crushing on a dude, something that I really think Buffy needs to have hammered home for most of the series. Why, you ask? Because any time Buffy has any kind of romantic or sexual attraction toward a guy (though I’m still on the fence as to whether or not Buffy might actually be asexual or demisexual), there are extremely negative consequences.

Buffy, it’s not you. It’s your creator.

SFD offers to walk Buffy back to her dorm, since it’s “not safe around here.” I assume he means Sunnydale. Buffy takes him up on his offer, while Willow and Oz and Devon (the singer) pack up the van.

We need to have a chat, Devon. It’s about your outfit.

Willow, Devon, and Oz are standing next to Oz's van. Devon is wearing some kind of printed jacket over a t-shirt that's several sizes too small, revealing his abs and low-rise jeans.

First of all, If you’re about to leave the house, a good thing to do is check and make sure your pubes aren’t visible or likely to become visible during the course of whatever errand you run. I don’t know, maybe it’s a shadow from your belt buckle making it look like I can see your pubes, but that really shouldn’t be a question I’m having to ask here. The possibility of seeing your pubes should be 0% without me having to think about it. Second, only one man gets to wear a child-sized t-shirt and get away with it, and that man is Chris Evans as Captain America. This half-assed sorta crop-top t-shirt look cannot be blamed on ’90s fashion. I was there. This was not common.

Devon, you need to be dressing every day like those are the clothes an archaeologist is going to dig you up in. Don’t embarrass the entire human race.

Devon and Oz go back inside, and who shows up but my favorite character in the entire god damn series. Like, even more than Giles, maybe:

It's Harmony! Yay!


Willow: “Harmony, hi! Hey, I haven’t seen you since–”

Harmony: “Since graduation. Big snake, huh?”

Willow: “Yeah. So, how was your summer vacation?”

Okay, okay. Sunnydale nonchalance is starting to grow on me.

Harmony tells Willow that she really wanted to go to France, but she didn’t. Also, she’s surprised to learn there are museums there. Willow tells her she hasn’t changed at all, and Harmony is like, well…

Harmony is all vamped out, mouth wide open and full of fangs.

She attacks Willow and we go to the opening credits.

This gives me a chance to talk about #10. We saw Harmony get bit by a random vampire at the end of “Graduation Day (Part 2)”. We’ll find out later in the episode that she’s been hanging out with Spike, who is not her sire and who doesn’t seem to be the most patient of teachers. So…Harmony has pretty much been going it alone, from what we can see in the series. Yet she’s doing a bang-up job pretending to be human to lull her prey into a false sense of security. She’s not dressed in leather or dramatic makeup, looking as dangerous as possible. She’s just Harmony, adapted to vampire form.

After the commercial break–which on Hulu was a Smirnoff commercial that implied Ted Danson is an alcoholic and I can’t wrap my mind around how that’s going to sell the product but okay–Oz saves Willow in the nick of time.

Harmony: “Okay, fine. Hide behind your boyfriend. But guess what? I have a boyfriend, too. And he’s going to be mad that you were mean to me!”

She runs away, and we join Buffy and SFD mid-stroll. He’s asking her questions about her life, which are obviously difficult for her to answer since the only hobby she has is killing monsters that SFD may or may not accept the existence of.

Hey, this brings something up. Are all the students at UC Sunnydale from Sunnydale? SFD certainly didn’t go to Sunnydale High. Why would anyone come to the college if it has such a high rate of disappeared or murdered students? And since #8 wouldn’t apply to them, being from out of town and not as blasé about demons walking among them, wouldn’t someone end up running to the news or writing a book or at least turning the place into a horrific kind of danger tourism attraction?

Case in point, SFD notices Buffy’s bite scar (which, like Giles’s tattoo is going to come and go throughout the series). It’s clearly a human-shaped mouth thing going on. But Buffy says she was attacked by an angry puppy–thus dooming Angel to that unflattering moniker in several fandom circles of the time–and he just kind of accepts it. Buffy asks SFD about his life, and he tells her about his dead dad.

SFD: “I’m okay to talk about it now. And I’m not doing the deep, get sympathy routine. I mean, don’t you just hate guys who are all ‘I’m dark and brooding so give me love?'”

Buffy: “I don’t think I’ve ever met that type.”

SFD then immediately jumps into the deep, get sympathy routine. He tells Buffy that what bummed him out about his dad dying was the thought of all the things his dad left unfinished, and how that’s made SFD appreciate “living for the now.” Buffy can obviously understand this because it hits her right in the destined-to-die-young. She tells SFD about how she drowned but came back from being dead, so she doesn’t put stuff off anymore.

SFD: “That’s great. I mean, everybody says they get it. ‘Oh man, me too, live for today.’ But what they really want is an excuse to goof off and not study for finals.”

SFD, of course, is so much nobler than those a-holes, because he uses “live for today” to dupe chicks into sleeping with him so he can blow them off right away. I wish I could reach into the screen, slap him, and gently herd my girl away from him. Instead, she asks him what he’s going to regret not doing and he says he’s going to regret not asking her to go to a party with him. Then he asks her if she wants to go to the party, and she, of course, says yes because she’s like eighteen and hasn’t heard that line before.

Meanwhile, at Giles’s apartment, he no longer has a tattoo. Because what did I just say up there? He and Xander are reorganizing the occult books.

Xander: “I don’t get your crazy system.”

Giles: “My system? It’s called the alphabet.”

Anya lets herself into the apartment, which Giles dislikes for two reasons. One, she just let herself in. Two, the last time he saw her she had unleashed Vamp!Willow onto the world. Though she’s human now, Giles isn’t her biggest fan, and she doesn’t ingratiate herself by telling him that she needs to talk to Xander, so Giles should leave. When he doesn’t (because it’s his apartment), she makes a very confused Xander leave with her. In the courtyard, she drops this bombshell:

Anya: “So, where is our relationship going?”

Xander: “Our what? Our who?”

Anya: “Relationship. What kind do we have and what is it progressing toward.”

Xander points out that she used to be a demon who tortured and killed men in many inventive and varied ways and that creates an issue in the relationship they don’t have. Anya is terrible at picking up on hints, or actually, outright rejection, so she forges ahead:

Anya: “I can’t stop thinking about you. Sometimes, in my dreams, you’re all naked.”

Xander: “Really? You know, if I’m in the checkout line at the Wal-Mart I’ve had that same one.”

Anya wants him to agree on some kind of verbal dating contract but he points out that relationships evolve naturally over time. He doesn’t know how, but that’s how they work.

Cut to Buffy’s dorm room, where SFD drops her off and is about to kiss her goodnight when Oz and Willow run up to hint at Harmony having been turned into a vampire. SFD asks Willow if her bleeding neck is okay and Buffy gets it. SFD fully understands bleeding emergencies, though, and he tells Buffy he’ll pick her up for the party.

In the dorm room, Oz tenderly cleans Willow’s wound:

Oz is gently cleaning Willow's bite mark with an expression of devoted concern.

Willow: “She just made me so mad. ‘My boyfriend’s going to beat you up.'”

Buffy: “‘My boyfriend?'”

Willow: “Well, I mean, if you believe her. She always lied about stuff like that. ‘Oh, he goes to another school. You wouldn’t know him.'”

Buffy says that whoever would date a dead Harmony would have to be the most tolerant guy in the world, so cut to:

Harmony hugging Spike from behind.

After the commercial break, we slowly sink below the normal life of Sunnydale, to Spike’s subterranean digging project. He’s looking to tunnel into a crypt, and things seem pretty serious because he slams the foreman’s head into a table in frustration. At that point, Harmony comes in to hang all over him and request that he kill Willow in retaliation for being mean to her. Spike points out that if he kills the Slayer’s best friend, she’ll know he’s in town. Which he’s trying to avoid.

As a boyfriend, Spike is outright abusive. When Harmony complains that she doesn’t want to eat the human they have chained up because she had a math class with him, Spike slams her into a wall. Harmony tries to match his violent posturing with sexy simpering, but there’s a definite feeling that it’s calculated for survival. If you’ve seen True Blood, it’s very similar to the way Tara reacts to Franklin while he’s holding her captive. While I don’t believe Harmony is truly a captive, I do think she’s staying with Spike for survival. And this is point one in my argument for #10. Harmony is adaptive for survival in a way the other female characters on the show are not. Now, I’m not saying staying in an abusive relationship makes you strong. That’s not part of her strength. But while we see Buffy and Willow struggling to fit into their new college lives and, over on Angel, Cordelia dealing with being newly poor, we’ve got Harmony here who has literally been killed and transformed into an actual monster. Yet, she’s found a vampire to attach herself to, she’s learned how to manipulate him, and she’s done this all in the same amount of time it’s taken the other characters to deal with shit that, let’s face it, is pretty ordinary even when they are constantly fighting evil. If Harmony was just the girl we see on the surface, she wouldn’t be able to do all of this. It makes me wonder if her high school days as a lackey to Cordelia wasn’t just Harmony lying low and waiting for the moment to strike.

Anyway, Spike promises he’ll take Harmony to a party the next night. Which is when Buffy and SFD are going to a party. Which is where we go, next. Bif Naked is playing at this party, which is awesome because that’s how I found out she existed. They’re headed into another room to dance, which is weird because they’re walking away from the place where everyone is dancing, and who should they run into but Spike and Harmony, with a near-corpse dangling between them. SFD thinks the guy is just drunk, and the conversation goes a lot like two exes who are still way bitter and hateful about their breakup and not like a conversation between two people who are going to try to kill each other real, real soon:

Spike: “Say, let’s have a look at the new boy.”

SFD: “Hi, I’m [redacted on account of fuck him, that’s way].”

Spike: “I like him. He’s got, um, what’s the word? Vulnerability.”

Buffy: “And you with Harmony. What, you lose a bet?”

Spike makes a break for it, actually pushing the near-dead guy into Harmony to secure his getaway. Buffy runs after them both and they trade verbal punches amid a series of physical ones, while Harmony (wisely) stands back and just watches.

Buffy: “What’s the matter, Spike? Dru dump you again?”

Spike: “Maybe I dumped her.”

Buffy: “She left him for a fungus demon. That’s all he talks about most days.”

I feel like the last time we saw Spike, Dru had dumped him already for a Chaos Demon. I suppose they could have gotten back together in the meantime, but without knowing that his plan to torture her into coming back to him worked, it seems like a continuity error.

The fight kind of ends when Spike calls it off, which might seem weird and like he only gets away because he’s needed for the rest of the series, but remember, he’s killed Slayers before. I think making him one of the only vampires we ever see who has been able to kill multiple Slayers was really smart, but something that maybe should have been revisited as the series went along and they kind of made him into a joke.

As he leads Harmony away, she shouts something at Buffy about the Gem Of Amara. Spike grabs her, hurting her in the process, because again, abusive. And you know what? I’m making a new number. #40: Spike is an abusive romantic partner. We already got a hint of this in his interactions with Drusilla, but since she’s his sire I go back and forth on whether or not the power imbalance between them makes him an abusive partner to her. I think the only time we saw him physically harm her was when he knocked her out during the final season two fight with Angel, and I feel like that doesn’t really count because he was trying to stop her from, you know. Ending the whole world. I’m not even sure we could make a case for the emotional and mental abuse of Drusilla because more often than not we saw Dru harming Spike in that arena. But once we take Spike and put him in a relationship with any other character, he’s controlling, isolating, and physically violent with an explosive temper and no regard for the mental or emotional well-being of his partner.

Meanwhile, in Xander’s basement apartment, he’s hanging up a disco ball when Anya stops by. He offers her a juice box, but when he turns back from the fridge, she gets naked. End scene.

Buffy calls Giles to give him the update re: Spike and Harmony. Wait, let me rephrase: Buffy calls sweaty, out of breath Giles who is holding a fencing foil and mopping his brow, clearly having exerted a lot of physical effort working out, sword-fight style. I just want to state for the record how fucking furious I am that we never got that scene, but how many times did we have had to watch Angel shirtlessly and sweatily Tai Chi his way through his gloomy vampire sadness? This is bullshit.

Oh, right. The phone call.

Buffy: “Yeah. Spike with Harmony. If you can believe it. I couldn’t figure out why he ran away, but Harmony said something. Why they were here. They, they were looking for the gem of something. Um. Amara.”

Giles: “The Gem of Amara? Are you sure?”

Buffy: “Yeah, what’s up?”

Giles: “It’s, it’s just um, it’s not real.”

Giles reads to Buffy from an old book that says vampires looked all over for it in the tenth century before concluding that it just didn’t exist. It’s basically a vampire myth. Satisfied that there’s no danger, Giles tells Buffy to go to bed, and she pretends like she’s totally not out at a party.

Back at Spike’s subterranean lair, Harmony is lounging in bed reading tabloids while Spike broods over drawings of his plan.

Harmony: “Is Antonio Banderas a vampire?”

Spike: “No.”

Harmony: “Can I make him a vampire?”

Spike: “No. Wait, on second thought, yeah, go do that. Take your time. Do Melanie and the kids as well.”

I’m not 100% on why Spike is keeping Harmony around if he doesn’t like her at all. As she chatters on, he screams at her to shut up. But when he sees her lying there all cute and sexy…

Harmony, the most goldenly-tanned vampire in the history of the world, is lying on a mound of pillows with her blonde hair falling all around her shoulders, which are bare except for the thin straps of her silky, pale blue nightie.
Who wouldn’t?

And here is Harmony, playing to her strengths. At heart, Spike is the abusive person he is because he was basically the original Red Piller. An awkward dork who was rejected so many times that once he got a little taste of acceptance, his ego exploded into a violent, consuming fireball. Harmony has spent so many years watching and participating in Cordelia’s bullying of the weakest members of the herd, she can tell that Spike is a lonely, attention-starved nerd who’s never had a chance with a girl who’s basically a real live Barbie doll. In fact, when we see “Cecily” reject Spike in a season five flashback, she is exactly like Harmony. Though she annoys Spike thoroughly, he has to have her. She represents all the women who ever turned him down. Harmony knows that she has this power over him and she’s using it to her advantage as a fledgling vampire who needs food and protection. She even taunts him about Drusilla as part of their foreplay; she attacks his vulnerabilities to make him crave her more.

God damn, Harmony. Teach me your ways.

Over at Xander’s house, we rejoin Anya’s tactical seduction still in the explanation phase:

Anya: “–at which point the matter is brought to a conclusion with both parties satisfied and able to move on with their separate lives and interests. To sum up, I think it’s a workable plan.”

Xander: “So, the crux of this plan is–”

Anya: “Sexual intercourse. I’ve said it like a dozen times.”

Her theory is that if they bang, she’ll be over liking him and can return to life as normal. Xander tells her that he believes sex is about more than just getting down, that there are feelings involved. And as he says this, he mentions that considering these things makes him a woman. Because only women care about emotions during sex because toxic masculinity go go go. (#6) Anya insists that it’s just silly of them to not have sex. Xander gives in, musing aloud that Anya is more romantic than Faith.

Buffy returns to the party and tells SFD that the reason she ran after Spike was that he’s an old friend who’s an alcoholic and shouldn’t be at a party full of beer. SFD tells her she did the right thing and asks if she used to date Spike, resulting in hysterical giggles. Buffy and SFD dance to Bif Naked’s “Lucky,” which isn’t a very long song but is for some reason still playing later in the night when Buffy and SFD are sitting on a couch talking about making choices and other life-affirming bullshit that dudes say when they’re trying to bang you. So, of course, they end up having sex. Giles finds something worrying in a book and tries to call Buffy, but she’s busy making the worst god damn choice in men.

After the commercial break, Buffy wakes up alone in SFD’s bed. She’s trying to collect her clothes up from the floor when he comes back with coffee and an excuse about his mom coming to visit, so he can’t hang out. He tells her he’ll give her a call.


In Xander’s basement, Xander and Anya are very quietly and tensely getting dressed when Anya announces that she’s fully over him. When Xander doesn’t care enough about that, she storms off. And in Spike’s lair, Spike wakes up to find Harmony writing “Spike Loves Harmony” on his back in black lipstick. He gets mad, presumably because it’s his black lipstick. Harmony is not wearing that 1996 shit in 1999. He also storms off.

Are we starting to sense that the theme of the episode is the title of the episode? Are we all on the same page here?

Buffy goes back to her room and immediately starts undressing, not realizing that Giles and Willow are both there. While Giles gives Buffy a withering glare, Willow stands behind him making all sorts of exciting hand signals that roughly translate to “good for you for getting some last night.” Mortified, Buffy starts trying to lie about being at the library all night long on a Saturday, while Giles makes this face:

Giles is looking at Buffy with an expression that says plainly "I do not believe a word you are saying an you are digging your own grave at this point."

Prompting Buffy to just give up and declare:

Buffy: “You know what? I’m an adult and it’s none of your business where I was!”

Giles: “And I’m sincerely relieved to hear it. Now can we discuss the impending disaster?”

Turns out, the Gem of Amara might actually be real and it might actually be in Sunnydale. Buffy makes plans to find Spike and eliminate him before he can get to the gem, and Giles leaves to do more research. The second he’s gone, Willow wants to hear all about Buffy and SFD, because Willow is also young and dewy-eyed and not suspicious enough of men. She’s living a little bit vicariously though Buffy’s dating life:

Willow: “I love this part! Don’t you love this part? When it’s all new and everything’s a discovery?”

That’s a #21. No, it’s not terribly far in advance, but pretty soon here Willow is going to be making some big, big discoveries.

Spike’s people have managed to tunnel beneath the crypt, so he tells Harmony that she’s not allowed to leave the lair because the risk of leading the Scoobies back there is too great. She tells him it’s unfair that he promised her he’d take her to France and all these other great places, but now he’s imprisoning her underground. He turns violent, calling her stupid and shoving her into a wall (which seems to be his signature abuse move).

Harmony: “I don’t know why I let you be so mean to me.”

Spike: “Love hurts, baby.”

So, here’s the deal. I saw this season. Millions of other people saw this season. How on Earth did we ever buy the transformation of Spike The Girlfriend Abuser into Spike The Toothless Woobie? If “cinnamon roll” had been a meme at the time, people would have been calling him their beautiful, dead cinnamon roll, too pure for this world or something. I used to absolutely love him. I felt bad for him. Why is it only now, during this specific rewatch, that I’m seeing what an absolute villain he is? Was it James Marsters’s charisma that did it? Why are the men on this show (and I woefully have to include Giles on this one, for actions later in the series) so fucking terrible?

Why are all these men so terrible?

Fuck it. #41: Why are all these men so terrible?

What follows is a montage of Buffy roaming UC Sunnydale’s campus with a yearbook, trying to see if anyone has spotted Harmony around, interspersed with shots of her checking her lack of messages and Spike digging. Spike finally enters the secret crypt and it is chock-full o’ treasures. Harmony joins him and asks if she can take stuff, while Spike jerks a necklace off a corpse and puts it on, expecting to feel invincibility course through his veins or something, but it doesn’t work. In the background, Harmony is playing dress-up with her newfound cache while she chatters on and on about how they have all this money now and can go to France, etc. Spike rips part of the casket off and stakes her.

He stakes her.

Spike intends to kill his girlfriend and a huge portion of the fandom just kind of glosses over this. What’s worse is, that same part of fandom will grudgingly admit to his later attempted rape of Buffy (while explaining away why it was really Buffy’s fault), but some feel this moment was justified because Harmony annoyed him. The Spike apologia is so bizarre. The weird thing is, I know I’m going to like him later. I know he’s one of my favorite characters. I know this about myself. Why does this happen?

Luckily for Harmony (and for us), one of the pieces of jewelry she’s idly put on is the Gem Of Amara, a little ring in the shape of a skull like something you could buy at Hot Topic. To test it out, Spike wraps a crucifix in a piece of tattered cloth and holds it against Harmony’s head. Furious she takes off the ring and throws it at him, ordering him to get out. He gleefully announces that he’s going to go outside, presumably into the daylight, leaving a hurt and tearful Harmony behind. Despite her transparent manipulation, Harmony really does want Spike to love her because people like Harmony crave love and adoration. It’s what drives them to position themselves as “above” everyone else.

At Giles’s apartment, the gang is in research mode. Well, most of them are in research mode. Oz is looking through Giles’s records. When Giles says there are more important things going on, Oz holds up a copy of The Velvet Underground’s Loaded and Giles agrees that at least that album is more important than a super evil Slayer-killing vampire getting his hands on an ancient relic that will make him impervious to every vampire weakness.

Xander, however, has uncovered something even more important hidden behind stacks of books and boxes:

Xander: “Whoa, Giles has a TV. Everybody! Giles has a TV! He’s shallow, like us!”

While Willow and Giles both make excuses for why there might be a television in a grown man’s house, Xander finds a news report about a massive sinkhole. This pretty much confirms what I’ve been thinking for most of the series, that the number of subterranean lairs beneath Sunnydale pose a threat to the town. The gang takes off with this new information.

I feel obliged to point out that for most of this scene you can see the tiniest shadow of Giles’s chest hair, and that’s going to lift my spirits for days.

Buffy is walking across campus when she sees SFD talking to another girl, giving her the same speech about his dad dying and living for now that he gave Buffy before. She interrupts them and SFD tells this random girl that he’ll talk to her later. When Buffy asks him why he didn’t call her, he tells her it’s only been a few days and everything is okay, but he’s vague and puts her off when she tries to make plans with him. She asks if she’s done something wrong and he says that he had fun, but that’s all it was.

Buffy: “It seemed…like you liked me.”

SFD: “I do. But I”m starting to feel like you thought that meant…what? Some kind of commitment? I mean, is that really what you want right now?”

Buffy: “I just thought…”

SFD: “Look, I’m sorry if you misunderstood something. I thought things were pretty clear.”

Buffy: “I-I didn’t mean to mis– I’m sorry.”

So, here’s the thing about this full-time douchebag. He spends a week hanging with her, having these deep conversations about his dad dying or whatever, stringing her along. Then, when she thinks that means something he’s like, no, that’s not what’s happening and it’s weird that you would think or want that. And then he ends up making it seem like it’s all her fault for not seeing through his blatant manipulation.


What’s worse is, after SFD leaves, Buffy hears:

Spike: “Well, that was pathetic.”

Right before day-walking Spike punches her in the face.

After the commercial, Spike monologues about how he’s outside in the day and suddenly, fight scene. On campus, in broad daylight, with tons of people around. Except conveniently, every single person we saw in this scene before the commercial break has suddenly disappeared. This is so lazy, you guys. I love this show, but this is so lazy. Now, it’s possible that society is so jaded that if someone saw a guy punch a girl in the face in broad daylight, nobody would intervene, but this is a campus full of students who’ve been going to Take Back The Night rallies and whose parents have warned them about the big, wide world. I just feel like someone is going to step in to be the hero. But that doesn’t matter because, again, everyone wandered off during the commercials. There needed to be a reason that Buffy is standing next to a building on a crowded, busy campus during the middle of the day and nobody is seeing this.

Going past all of this, Buffy stakes Spike and realizes that he’s got the Gem Of Amara and thus, invincibility. The jackass holds up his hand and actually shows her the damn ring, which is like, come on. Villany 101. If I were a vampire with the Gem Of Amara, I would put it on a chain and wear it around my neck or something. Or, if this were Vampire: The Masquerade, I would be a Tzimisce (which is the clan I always played, anyway) and I would use Vicissitude to make a little pocket in my finger I could just slide the ring into and cover with my skin, much in the way I always made a pocket and put my two handfuls of soil in so my dice pool was never affected.

You know. If I were a nerd or something. Pfff.

Spike is about to kill Buffy when Willow, Oz, and Giles find the crypt and Harmony, who’s crying.

Harmony: “Being a vampire sucks.”

I know, baby. But you’re going to get through this.

Xander has gone to Buffy’s dorm to warn her about Spike. Anya finds him there and wants to talk about their relationship, but Xander tells her he doesn’t have time, leaving her wounded. It’s a good thing she can’t do the vengeance anymore.

Giles, fully prepared to stake Harmony, asks her if Spike has the Gem.

Harmony: “He staked me and then he took it. He tried to take it right off my finger, like I wouldn’t have just given it to him. I would have given him anything he wanted. He was my platinum baby and I loved him.”

So, Harmony really did love Spike, though I can’t see a reason why she would beyond Stockholm syndrome caused by having to hang with this dude to survive. Harmony, for all the strength I see in her, has fucking terrible taste in men. I’m not sure that’s really her fault, though; all the men here are awful. It’s kind of like Beauty And The Beast, where everyone rags on Belle all the time for picking a guy who imprisoned her in a castle but the only other eligible bachelor in town was a guy who wanted to breed her and keep her from reading and who tried to get her father locked up in an asylum so it’s no fucking wonder the Beast seemed like a better option. I don’t blame Harmony for falling for Spike, and I’m psyched that she ends up leaving him on and off.

In the fight that is improbably not witnessed (and I must add, is taking place in front of a huge bank of windows, so even if everyone is inside, someone is going to notice a girl getting her ass beat and thrown through a glass table), Buffy grabs Spike by the throat, choking him. (#20) Xander arrives to help and is promptly knocked out. Things look bleak. Spike taunts Buffy about how SFD treated her and tells her that Angel said she wasn’t good in bed. All of this just fuels Buffy’s fury, and she manages to wrestle the ring from Spike’s finger. He flees into a conveniently open grate of some kind, leaving Buffy with the Gem.

Back at Giles’s apartment, the gang gathers around the Gem and talk about how to destroy it. Buffy says they’re not going to do that.

Giles: “Buffy any vampire that gets his hands on this is going to be essentially unkillable–”

And then Buffy makes this face at him:

Buffy's got this face on like she's waiting for Giles to catch up.

And Giles is like, oh, right.

Oz says he can drop the ring off in L.A. when he plays his gig there, but Xander still hasn’t caught on.

Willow: “She’s giving the ring to Angel. Don’t make a fuss.”

Giles asks if Buffy is sure that she should give her vampire ex-boyfriend a ring that will make him able to walk around in the day and live life like a normal guy and she reiterates her stance that Angel definitely needs to have it. And Giles makes this face:

Giles looks super conflicted and sad and doesn't look Buffy in the eye.

You know, because Giles was recently almost tortured to death by Angel, who also murdered his girlfriend. Oh, and he’s totally and fully falling in love with Buffy as I will obnoxiously harp on about in this season because this might have actually been the season I started shipping them? Maybe it was “A New Man” where I did that? Or something. IDK, that was a thousand years ago. Prepare yourselves. But yeah, kind of consider his position here. Angel, the guy who, again, tortured him and murdered his girlfriend, is finally fucking gone and his Slayer is still hung up on protecting him. That sucks. I feel for you.

But not so much that I can forgive your season seven transgressions, Giles.

On campus, Buffy asks Willow if all guys are going to be evil after she has sex with them. Willow says that it’s no big, Buffy just misjudged and that’s okay.

Buffy: “[SFD] said it’s okay to make mistakes. It was sweet.”

Willow: “No, it wasn’t. He was saying that so you would take a chance and sleep with him.”

Buffy agrees that SFD is a manipulative and bad person, but that only makes her question why he doesn’t want her.

Buffy: “Am I repulsive? If there was something repulsive about me you’d tell me, right?”

Willow: “I’m your friend. I would call you repulsive in a second.”

Buffy muses that she and SFD could work things out, and Willow is basically like, what did I just say? But nicer, because she’s Willow. Buffy wanders around campus sad, and we see Anya and Harmony also wandering around campus sad. For some reason. Even though only one of them has cause to be there. And also Buffy doesn’t notice Harmony like fifty feet away from her. So, okay.

There are a lot of plot holes and nitpicks in this episode. The most major one, I think, is that the Gem Of Amara was lost since before the tenth century but it’s buried in a Christian tomb in California that’s filled with jewelry and relics in styles ranging from the late middle ages to the Miss Universe pageant. This happens a lot, and I can somewhat buy that maybe vampires from Europe were somehow coming to this Hellmouth, but would they bring crucifixes with them? But there’s also a lot to like here. Jane Espenson writes really fast-paced, snappy episodes with dialogue to die for, and she has a great grasp on what we like most about the characters. Season four is considered a throwaway season by some fans, but a lot of the most quoted lines of dialogue originate here. I continue to enjoy season four more on this rewatch than I have in the past, and I’m super psyched to get to the haunted house episode.


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  1. Brian

    #42: Why are all these men so terrible?

    I feel like saying “Whedon” is too obvious but at the same time… *waves hands in his direction*

    January 5, 2018
    • Rachel

      Yeah, he actually hated the Spike character. He was suppose to be a one off but he was a fan favorite.

      January 8, 2018
  2. Anne Marie
    Anne Marie

    I can’t wait for you to recap This Year’s Girl/Who Are You and the subsequent Angel episodes. (I love Faith so much that one throwaway line about her made me excited about that.)

    Also, it gives me a happy that you’re thinking of solutions to vampire problems in V:TM terms. (A Vampire larp in the 90s was my introduction to the wonderful world of nerdism. Always played Brujah.)

    January 5, 2018
    • LeaPrufrock

      Malkavian ftw!
      The V:TM red made me very happy, it was the first RPG I ever played and I’ve got very fond memories of the group in uni. Where everyone in the RPG society – everyone – had a black neo-wannabe leather trench coats. God bless the early-mid 00s

      January 8, 2018
  3. I’m not sure fans’ forgiveness is limited to Spike- Faith tried to rape both Xander and Riley, and she’s beloved and excused all the time. I think this is a general issue the show had, where they’d want to cast someone as either a villain or a hero without regard for what they’d done in previous episodes.

    January 5, 2018
    • Helen

      Thank you! I’m very far from being a fan of Riley, but I hate that the show not only never acknowledges that he was raped by Faith but actually seems to blame him for it.

      The Buffyverse started off with ‘redemption’ being one of it’s main themes, but they seem really confused about how much work needs to go into being redeemed. Faith gets what, 3 years in prison and then everything’s written off. She was a really good character, but slotting her back into season 7 with barely a murmur about the past was bizarre.

      January 7, 2018
  4. Eb

    In the year 2525 when you finish these recaps, pretty please do Kindred: The Embraced? Such magnificent trash with so many craggy-hot character actors! Plus, there are only like eight episodes.

    January 5, 2018
  5. shel

    I do think we can like a character, and enjoy their role on the show while still fully admitting that they are big dicks. I love Spike, he’s a great character and through the series he usually adds something great to the show. I did/do not like his relationship with Buffy, because he’s an abusive fuck and I don’t think he is a good choice for a romantic partner. I wish they had played their relationship more like Angel and revamped Darla on Angel- that’ they are drawn to each other but it’s just misery.

    I know Angel himself is problematic as well, but I give him more credit for wanting to do good and wanting happiness for Buffy beyond himself. (I suppose you could make that same argument for spike in the later seasons, except you know, rape attempt, and I know we have the whole soul/no soul thing… but it just doesn’t play the same for me) I do wish Riley hadn’t been so bland, since it would have been nice to see Buffy with an equal partner who wasn’t caught up in their own shit… but they didn’t do it right with Riley.

    As someone who was sort of tracking with the Scoobies as they went through school/college, this sort of episode was actually really great, cause college guys can be dicks and it was a way to make Buffy just like the rest of us getting used by some guy.

    January 6, 2018
  6. Crystal

    “Why are all the men so terrible?”

    Because Joss Whedon is acutely aware of male terribleness and genuinely wants to be non-terrible, but lacks the self-awareness and humility to see that he hasn’t managed it.

    January 6, 2018
    • Mj

      There’s not really evidence that the desire is genuine, tho?

      January 6, 2018
    • Crystal, yes!

      My thought was along the same lines. Whedon is/was the CLASSIC “Nice Guy.” You just *know* before he got The Moneeeeeyz and couldn’t get a girlfriend, his go-to was “Chicks only like assholes, not Nice Guys like me.” He wanted to be physically attractive like Angel or Spike, and took his revenge on all the men he was jealous of by making them be abusive. So, pretty girl Buffy only falls for assholes, thus proving his point, and he’s had his Red Pill Revenge. Ironically (and arguably, some find him adorbz), Xander –who is so obvs JW’s avatar– is SUPPOSED to be just this awesome guy, but he’s one of the most dick-ish, misogynist males on the show. Because, ya see, Joss is clueless. And a dick-ish, misogynist male.

      January 6, 2018
      • Nocturnal Queen
        Nocturnal Queen

        Notice how Fred (who is the waif with a tragic backstory and vague, unspecified mental illness that Joss loves to create) first had a crush on Angel and then fell in love with Gunn who is macho but in the end neither of those turned out to be anything lasting so she got with the nerdier Wesley. It’s like somebody went “What would happen if Xander wrote a tv-show” and then wrote it with his mindset. That is sort of what happened since Xander is Joss and Joss is Xander.

        January 7, 2018
        • Agent_Z

          Tbf, Wes never got a chance to date Fred either.

          January 7, 2018
          • Jenny Trout
            Jenny Trout

            Too soon.

            January 7, 2018
          • Nocturnal Queen
            Nocturnal Queen

            True, but narratively she was supposed to end up with him and he was the right one for her (not what I personally think. Just what Joss and the writers seem to think). The relationship didn’t end because there was a problem with him (unlike her previous relationship). Fred didn’t really have any arcs independent of men. She just had one big love triangle and was then used as an incubator (like Darla and Cordelia at various points).

            January 7, 2018
        • Good call, Nocturnal Queen. Wesley always rubbed me the wrong way. You could tell he was supposed to play the Giles role in “Angel.” Just, no.

          Alexis is no Anthony.

          Do you think that milquetoast army guy (forget his name now, he was such a “Who cares?”) Buffy dates in Season 4 is ALSO a Joss Avatar? He was the WORST.

          January 7, 2018
          • Nocturnal Queen
            Nocturnal Queen

            I don’t think so since he’s not a moderately attractive nerd.

            January 7, 2018
        • Satish

          I’m sorry…I don’t get this comparison of Joss with Xander at all. I feel that the very existence of Oz as a character itself shows that Joss does not think of Xander as the epitome of guyhood. If Xander was Joss’ definition of awesome, then wouldn’t he have shown Buffy ending up with Xander? Forget about ending up with Xander, Buffy was never shown as having even the slightest smidgen of a romantic interest in Xander for even a single second in all the seven seasons (the mindspell in Bewitched…excepting). On the other hand, Xander is mostly depicted as a kind of insecure loser (except for episodes like Zeppo or the 6th season finale), who initially keeps hitting on Buffy even though she has absolutely zero interest, who cheated on Cordelia with Willow, who willfully misled Buffy about Willow’s soul restoring spell for Angel, who always let his jealousy of Angel (and later Spike) get over any considerations for Buffy’s happiness…As a male watcher :-), I never got the impression that Xander was being shown as someone to emulate. He was a sidekick who was either there as comedic foil or as someone who creates problems for the main character…with some occasional moments of redemption, thrown in between. Willow, even with her witchcraft obsession repeatedly endangering the Scoobies, was depicted as a much more substantial and a much more sympathetic character, second only to Buffy…

          Just to be clear, this is not a defense of Joss. Given the recent revelations by his ex-wife as well as the fact that he seems to use feminism as a marketing gimmick, I do not have much of an opinion about Joss the person. Also, as has been pointed out multiple times in this site, I understand there are a lot of sexist / misogynistic tropes prevalent in Buffy

          I have not read Seasons 8 to 11 of Buffy…so, I don’t know if anything changes there with respect to Xander’s characterization…

          January 17, 2018
          • Nocturnal Queen
            Nocturnal Queen

            Whedon himself has stated that Xander is based on him.

            “Whedon had a great deal of artistic freedom on ‘Buffy,’ and with this show more than many others, the creator and his creation cannot be separated. But whatever part of him is Buffy, Whedon always has asserted that his true alter ego is Buffy’s insecure friend Xander (Nicholas Brendon), who has no superpowers. In a recent episode, Buffy’s sister, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg), talked to Xander about that.
            ‘We pretty much made the statement when Dawn said, “Maybe that’s your power, seeing everything, knowing, being the person who observes and reports,'” Whedon says. ‘Basically that’s like saying, “You’re the writer, not the star.” You couldn’t have made him more mine and the writers’ proxy than that.”

            He also said: “Xander is obviously based on me, the sort of guy that all the girls want to be best friends with in high school, and who’s, you know, kind of a loser, but is more or less articulate and someone you can trust.”

            Xander is treated differently than the rest of the cast. He is often positioned as the neutral voice of reason and whenever he makes mistakes he is not really called out on them. Buffy’s and Willow’s actions has consequences. Willow’s addiction made people lose trust in her and she lost the trust in herself. When Buffy couldn’t kill Angelus, she felt bad when he hurt people. When Xander lied about Willow trying to bring back Angel’s soul it wasn’t called out. Even when it was brought up again, years later, it was just briefly and with no negative consequences for him. When he summons a demon that killed people, he didn’t admit it even when it could help them. And when he finally did admit it, there was zero consequences. He didn’t even seem to feel guilty about it. When he was influenced by that hyena thing and tried to rape Buffy, he remembered it afterwards but didn’t acknowledge it or her pontential feelings.

            Considering Xander’s entitled feelings about women and his shaming of them when they have sex with other people than him and in a way he doesn’t think is appropriate, I would stop admitting that Xander is based on me if I were Joss.

            Sorry for my many grammatical mistakes. English is not my first language.

            January 21, 2018
  7. “How on Earth did we ever buy the transformation of Spike The Girlfriend Abuser into Spike The Toothless Woobie?”

    Because the show gave him a Heel Realisation moment and a redemptive arc.

    1. His attempted rape of the woman he in-his-own-twisted-way loves leads Spike to realise he’s actually gone too far and needs to change drastically.

    2. He goes to battle some monster-creature (I forget the details) in order to get his soul back, then goes through the torture of having his soul back and knowing what he’s done and actually trying to change and be a semi-decent guy, while getting constantly knocked back in the process by the Scoobies who (rightly) are massively skeptical of the whole Heel-Face turn. Which… seemed to me to be a pretty darned good metaphor for the level of effort an abusive person has to put in to manage genuine change in their lifestyle.

    3. He does all of this and still does not end up in a LTR with Buffy. He does, if I recall, get some sex and does by the end become a friend she can turn to for support. But they don’t stroll off into the Sunset Of Happy Ever After. There is no ‘OK, you did all this and as a reward for your heroism in becoming an averagely decent person you now Get The Girl’ moment.

    Despite all the show’s flaws, I feel that this was something they ultimately handled very well, vastly better than I’d expected. I mean, it’s nearly twenty years since I saw it and I don’t know how it would stand up to a rewatch, or whether you’ll see things in it that I missed (which is a fair bet) and I’m sure it’s not perfect. (I am going to be so interested to see what you think of the storyline when we get there.) But the later seasons did really stand out in my mind for genuinely trying to put Spike through a proper journey back towards some kind of redemption instead of just being all ‘Yeah, he’s horrible, but isn’t he sexy so let’s pair him with Buffy and call it a good thing’.

    January 6, 2018
    • Jenny Trout
      Jenny Trout

      The problem is that “toothless woobie” Spike didn’t occur in fandom *after* he got his soul back. I remember discussions on the Spuffy list I was on that Spike getting his soul back was going to ruin the character. I know I wasn’t the only one with that opinion. So, I’m definitely going to be watching with an eye on his season six arc without my Spuffy goggles on.

      January 6, 2018
    • Gayaruthiel

      My thoughts exactly! Also, sorry for being late to the party 🙂 The reason for which we love Spike, as opposed to SFD for example, and other horrible men is that Spike evolves and grows as a character. When we meet him he is a pure sociopath, 100% egocentric. Buffy is the first person that makes him want to do something without the personal gain in the prospect. And it confuses the hell out of him. It angers him. (Now that i wrote it, i cant help but remembering readin similar assesion of Joker/Harley Quinn relationship, where it was explained that he abused the hell out of Harley, because she made him feel unwanted feelings. Huh.) The scene i remember the most is after Buffy’s mom dies, and she sits crying on the backyard porch, there is noone else but Spike that comforts her – despite the fact he came there prepared to kill her, and the fact that she despises him. Which takes me back to what i think was foreshadowing from that episode where Spike comes back to town for the first time and kidnaps Willow – after he says “Im loves bitch, but at least im man enough to admit it”, Buffy says to Angel “I can full you and everyone else, but i cant full myself… or Spike, for some reason”. There. He “gets” her in the way that no other friendly character does. I suppose its because they are on the “good” side, while he is on the “bad” and Buffy is somewhere in between. He understands all that anger and frustration and agression and sadness that she feels better than any other person out there. That is why they are able to connect, even though both of them hate the idea.

      Huh, now that i write it, one more thing pops to mind. I read recently that patriarchal culture is bad for the guys because while girls get a functional circle of friends, guys very often dont process their feeling or hardships with the male friends, and the only vent for them are female romantic partners. Which is why, the article said, so many widowers dies shortly after their wifes – they have no other real emotional support. So if the same was real for Spike, when he (subcontiously) noticed that he has a connection with Buffy, he had to make it into a full blown romantic realtionship, with sex and whatever, because it bever occured to him, that he and Buffy could be just friends. Even though that is what they become at the end, and that is what works best for them both, since sex they were having was not that healthy (i have nothing against BDSM, but the way it made feel Buffy (dirty), and appaently Spike too (when he says openly that he does not want to get close with her when she\s invisible)).

      So Spike begins with littlest slefless things and ends up with a huge sacrifice – and he does NOT do any of it to get into Buffys pants. Which is what sets him apart from the “nice guys”. In the end he gives his life to save her, even though he knows well enough she doesnt love him back, and bever will. He actually stops wanting it, which is shown in the diealogue right before his death.

      Phew, that was a LOT of amateur psychoanalysis of people that dont exist 😀 Ill be gratefull for comments because usually i dont write posts that long 😀 But anything fir Spike!

      January 20, 2018
  8. Agent_Z

    Real smart, Spike. Show her were the ring is on your person so she knows where to attack.

    I honestly don’t know what it is that would make people excuse such repulsive behavior from a character. I want to say we’ve gotten better but then again Damon Salvatore and Kluas Mikaelson still have fanboys and fangirls.

    Speaking of, any plans on doing Vampire Diaries at some point?

    January 6, 2018
  9. Lougarry

    But surely it’s reasonable to assume that, as vampires don’t have souls, they are by nature selfish, amoral and incapable of real love and therefore all vampire relationships are inevitably manipulative at best and abusive at worst. Do we ever see a healthy, loving relationship between vampires, whether it involves Darla, Drusilla, Spike or Angelus? It seems a bit odd to single Spike out here.

    January 6, 2018
  10. Nocturnal Queen
    Nocturnal Queen

    Society has conditioned us to always excuse men’s behaviours and adapt ourselves around them. We romanticize and eroticize it or blame it on the women.

    Spike is a stalker, rapist and abuser. Honestly, he doesn’t even change much after he gets his soul. He should have stayed away from Buffy and let her seek him out if she wants to forgive him or have any contact. Instead, he goes back to Sunnydale and hangs around her.

    Buffy’s arc of being a domestic violence survivor basically stops after the attempted rape. The story is no longer about her dealing with the trauma, it suddenly becomes all about him. How he has changed. How everyone is so mean against him even though he abused their friend and has a chip in his head that causes him to kill peopple and hurt Dawn. He still gloats about all the people he killed. He didn’t even show that much sympathy for Robin Wood when he found out he killed Robin’s mom.

    I hope none of his apologists complain about Christian Grey because they are practically the same except one is a former poor dude who is now rich and the other is a former rich dude who appropriates working class culture to seem rebellious.

    By the way, didn’t James Marsters date Mercedes McNab (Harmony) when she was barely legal and he was close to 40? (Not to mention his creepy song about teenage Michelle Trachtenberg)

    January 6, 2018
  11. I actually really love Spike as a villain. It’s after he gets the chip in his head and becomes “good” that I start to dislike him. As an evil vampire, Spike is awesome. When he tries to be anything else, he’s…. not.

    January 6, 2018
    • Nocturnal Queen
      Nocturnal Queen

      I don’t think he truly stopped being a villain since he is an abuser who occasionally helps out so that he can manipulate his way into Buffy’s heart, but I think the people who write the show stopped wanting us to see him as a villain. In my opinion, Spike was the Big Bad of season 6, even though it was probably not the writers’ or Joss’ intention.

      January 6, 2018
      • Trynn

        Oh I completely agree.

        January 15, 2018
      • Now that I’m no longer at work, I can say more. Basically, I still think Spike is a villain (haven’t seen season 6 yet so I can’t comment on that specifically) but like, we’re clearly supposed to start seeing him as either a good guy or turning into one.

        I absolutely LOVED Spike when everyone was all on the same page about how evil he was. now that he’s supposed to be “good?” He’s a terrible character.

        January 15, 2018
  12. Saint_Sithney

    With Spike’s characterization, I think there’s an important parallel missing to real world dynamics. Spike is the only character I can think of existing in a modern-day setting that has any sort of conceivable excuse for not knowing that rape is wrong. We’re explicitly shown that Angelus’s little coven was his introduction to sex, and we’re given plenty of detail on how the foursome engaged frequently in sadism, torture, and questionable (or non-existent) consent. Even the polygamous nature of the group rested on questionable consent. Buffy continued that tradition by engaging in non-negotiated sadistic acts and eventually raping Spike. He was introduced to sex with non-consent and non-negotiated sadism, so it makes more sense to me that he’d have a fuzzy idea that only yes means yes.

    Which still doesn’t mean his behavior should get a pass or that it isn’t problematic. Nor do I think it was in the forefront of the writer’s minds that Spike has never been in a non-abusive relationship and has never experienced full, true consent. I think if it was acknowledged, it could have given us some interesting things to work with… though they seemed to limit acknowledgement his abuse with the bullshit “People who have been abused become abusive” trope.

    January 6, 2018
  13. Jane D
    Jane D

    I love these. In your copious amounts of free time (that was sarcasm) you should think about streaming an RP session or two if you already haven’t (if you have and I’ve missed , I am sad.) Somehow I think that would be entertaining.

    Thank you for mentioning demisexual. It was a term I can totally relate to and had not run across before. I’ve been living with the ‘not fitting in or feeling quite normal’ for most of my life (and I’m older than you, gasp). I’m extremely introverted when it comes to my personal life, I’ve always felt wrong and that I didn’t fit into the defined categories I knew about. Honestly I’ve mostly given up on that aspect of my life so it’s not world altering, but it’s till nice to be able to finally look at yourself and know that it’s ‘not just you’.

    As a Canadian Alt Rocker who did her time in the 90s, I loved Bif too, She put out a book in 2016 if you have any interest in her story and not just her music

    Once again, thank you for the fun you bring you us all, not to mention all the other stuff!

    January 6, 2018
  14. Mike

    I wonder if there’s something to the fact that Marsters is now playing an abusive asshat on Marvel’s The Runaways that also seems genuinely likeable when he’s not being blatantly abusive… He literally beats his wife and son, on top of being an absentee dad most of the time, yet you genuinely want him and his son to ‘work it out’ when they start to spend time together.

    I always find it a little worrying when actors play bad guys TOO well. In general actors seem to do best when they’re either playing someone very similar to themselves, or absolutely nothing like themselves (that’s been my experience working with and around actors anyway, maybe it’s not accurate on the whole. But most people I talk to either they tap into how they would feel in these situations because the character is like them, or they’re so different that they can easily disassociate entirely from the character so their own feelings don’t interfere with how they play them) so when I see someone who has played ‘the lovable abuser’ well multiple times, it makes me very much hope he falls into the latter category.

    January 7, 2018
    • Nocturnal Queen
      Nocturnal Queen

      Have you seen the creepy song he wrote about Michelle Trachtenberg when she was a teen and he was a middle aged man?

      January 7, 2018
  15. Kim

    “He turns violent, calling her stupid and shoving her into a wall (which seems to be his signature abuse move”
    Hey, where and how did he and Buffy’s first sexual encounter occur? Up against/in a goddamn wall, you say? Probably unrelated…

    January 9, 2018
  16. the-great-dragon

    I’ll be honest, it’s taken me so long to get to season 4 recaps because I’ve been DREADING Spike. I understand that people enjoy him, and I appreciate your candor in admitting that you’re going to like him later, but I’ve always found him incredibly disturbing and unpleasant (think Christian Grey levels of ‘I can’t stand this dude.’)

    I’m glad I read this recap, because I think just seeing someone who loves the show and loves Spike just admit that he’s toxic is really gratifying to me. People shouldn’t feel like they can’t love the character, but there’s been some drama in Buffy fandom when it comes to accepting that some people don’t love Spike, so I was a little nervous about where these recaps would go in terms of acknowledging his less desirable characteristics. Not that I thought you would be unkind or dismissive, but I do know that this stuff can be a bit touchy at times.

    So thank you for this recap and your frankness. And I do hope you continue to enjoy Spike as you go through the rewatch. I know I rewatched SPN a while ago and realized how much Dean sucks, and that was a…rough realization, tbh. I know how hard it can be to contend with problematic favourites.

    March 20, 2018
  17. I think “he turned into a joke” isn’t that accurate a description of Spike’s arc. He turned into a hero (the romantic hero, at least) and gave him most of the jokes. But it’s not like he stopped being the vampire who could kill a Slayer, or stopped being a physical threat to Buffy. He just didn’t want to kill her. To paraphrase Faith…His priorities….shifted.

    May 23, 2018
  18. Aletheia

    Re: “The most major one, I think, is that the Gem Of Amara was lost since before the tenth century but it’s buried in a Christian tomb in California that’s filled with jewelry and relics in styles ranging from the late middle ages to the Miss Universe pageant.:

    Things like that happen all the time, oddly. Something major goes missing, usually in times of war or other conflict, and are found centuries later and many countries away. The best case scenario of that is finding a long-lost artefact in a collection of someone who knows it’s old and potentially valuable but doesn’t know *what* it is, but more often than not it’s found in a barn or hidden in a wall (or tomb, hah) with a hodgepodge of other things.

    In the specific case of this show, though… I’m not sure (though that’s because I’m just reading your recaps instead of watching it, because they’re amazing 😀 ). If the Christian tomb was shown to date back to the 10th century, then… yeah, there’s an issue there, but if it’s more recent (mid-1500s onwards), then it’s at least semi-believable. 🙂

    August 6, 2018
  19. Aletheia

    Re: “The most major one, I think, is that the Gem Of Amara was lost since before the tenth century but it’s buried in a Christian tomb in California that’s filled with jewelry and relics in styles ranging from the late middle ages to the Miss Universe pageant.”

    Things like that happen all the time, oddly. Something major goes missing, usually in times of war or other conflict, and are found centuries later and many countries away. The best case scenario of that is finding a long-lost artefact in a collection of someone who knows it’s old and potentially valuable but doesn’t know *what* it is, but more often than not it’s found in a barn or hidden in a wall (or tomb, hah) with a hodgepodge of other things.

    In the specific case of this show, though… I’m not sure (though that’s because I’m just reading your recaps instead of watching it, because they’re amazing 😀 ). If the Christian tomb was shown to date back to the 10th century, then… yeah, there’s an issue there, but if it’s more recent (mid-1500s onwards), then it’s at least semi-believable. 🙂

    August 6, 2018
  20. Sylvia

    Not to harp on shit in a kind-of old post, but I’ve always felt like people ignoring Spike’s terrible behavior was part of a larger pattern regarding how we view the main characters in BTVS-specifically, that so many of them do such awful things that we collectively decided to forget it so we wouldn’t have to hate all our faves. Like, there is a lot of messed-up sexual stuff in this series. Spike attempts to rape Buffy. If I’m remembering correctly, it’s heavily implied that Angelus raped some of his victims as well. Faith raped Riley by letting him believe that she was somebody else, and a lot of people also count that as her raping Buffy, given that she used Buffy’s body without her permission. Willow has sex with Tara while she’s still mind-wiped, making her consent dubious at best. I’m not saying it’s good that the fandom just sort of….ignores this, but I do think it kind of makes sense.

    January 10, 2020

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