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:
- Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
- Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
- Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
- 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)
- Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
- The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
- All the monsters look like wieners.
- If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
- Angel is a dick.
- Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
- Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
- Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
- Science and technology are not to be trusted.
- Mental illness is stigmatized.
- Only Willow can use a computer.
- Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
- Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
- Oz is the Anti-Xander
- Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
- Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
- The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
- Smoking is evil.
- Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
- How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
- Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
- Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
- Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
- Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
- The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
- This show caters to the straight/bi female gaze like whoa.
- Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
- Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
- Slut shame!
- The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.
- Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.
- Economic inequality is humorized and oversimplified.
- Buffy is an abusive romantic partner.
- Riley is the worst.
- Joss Whedon has a problem with fat people.
- Spike is an abusive romantic partner.
- 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.
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:
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…
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:
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:
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?”
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…
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.
BABY, HE IS NOT GOING TO CALL YOU.
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:
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.
FUCK THIS GUY.
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:
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:
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.