Saturday, 12 March 2011

Buffy: 3.8 ‘Lover’s Walk’

Cool animation to Spike’s “Love’s Bitch…” speech.

Writer: Dan Vebber
Director: David Semel

What's the sitch?

A drunken, miserable and broken-hearted Spike returns to Sunnydale after being dumped by Drusilla who went and ran off with a mucus-covered chaos demon due to not being able to get over Spike having teamed up with the Slayer to defeat Angel’s world destroying plans last season. This has gone and left our favourite platinum vamp a bitter and broken creature of the night…until he hatches a plan to get Dru back using a love spell. But for that he’ll need a witch. Luckily for Spike Willow fits the bill. So he kidnaps the red headed Wiccan along with Xander, who are both caught in the midst of their own growing mutual attraction, and locks them up telling Willow to do the spell or he’ll kill Xander. Willow agrees but needs supplies. Spike heads out to get those supplies but soon runs in to Buffy and Angel. Telling them he has Willow and Xander hostage somewhere they’ll never find, he forces the pair to help him get the ingredients he needs to cast the love spell as well as to fight off a bunch of local demons just aching for a piece of Spike’s hide.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

It’s all about love, baby. Well, more precisely, being Buffy it’s actually about the pain and confusion and misery of love. Home truths are told…mostly by Spike. For some reason he can see through the lie Buffy and Angel are both living regarding their relationship. They aren’t ‘just friends’ and never will be. It takes this evil vampire, a creature of confounding emotional empathy and sensitivity, to tell the truth about love and passion. At the same time Willow and Xander are fighting their growing mutual attraction and physical urges. They feel terrible about what is happening between them as they both care deeply for their respective partners and yet seem helpless to stop it. Thinking they are gonna die trapped in the old factory, they give in and engage in a passionate clinch…only to be caught in the act by Oz and Cordy who’ve come to rescue them. The episode ends unhappily for almost everyone. Buffy knows what Spike said about her and Angel is true, while Cordy is in hospital after getting injured fleeing from the sight of Xander cheating on her. Oz, meanwhile, has gone quiet and withdrawn as would be his way, and Willow and Xander are distraught but have no idea how to fix things. The only person who ends this episode happy is Spike. He had an epiphany, deciding to become the old Spike again, to forget magic and moping and to just go get Dru back the way he knows best…with evil and extreme violence. And he leaves town a cheerful and reinvigorated monster.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?


Why it rocks

Spike, Spike, Spike… Need I go on? Okay, I will.

Spike’s drunken arrival in town knocking down the Sunnydale sign as he did in his very first entrance in season 2.

James Marsters. He’s utterly brilliant and owns this episode entirely. From his first scene crashing the car in to the Sunnydale sign ala last season’s ‘School Hard’ (only this time falling out in a drunken stupor), to pouring out his heart to Joyce over hot chocolate, to his vulnerable and passionate speech about the nature of love, the guy is a pure joy to behold.

The aforementioned scene with Joyce. It is typical of Buffy that a scene/story you think will go one way goes and takes a sharp left turn. We assume Spike is gonna attack or hurt Joyce when he goes to Buffy’s house. In fact, he just wants some motherly comfort and a friendly non-judgemental ear. Both actors play it beautifully and its almost a shame when Angel and then Buffy turn up to move the plot along. This scene is the start of what is one of the most sweet, subtle and fun relationships on the show. Spike and Joyce genuinely seem to like each other and form an odd sort of mother/son bond. It wasn’t hugely explored but it is there. And when in season 5 Joyce dies and Spike comes to the house with flowers, it isn’t an act. He genuinely liked the lady. But then as we find out later in the show Spike has some major mother issues to deal with.

The pain of love. Yep, love in Buffy is never pleasant or smooth or fairytale. It’s pain, pain and more pain. And ‘Lover’s Walk’ brings that pain mostly to Willow/Oz and Xander/Cordy but also to Buffy and Angel by exposing the lie they are both living. This of course will lead to Angel leaving for LA at the end of this season with the promise of his own successful series.

Dan Vebber. The guy wrote a great script full of heartache, pathos, pain, hilarity, violence, thematic depth and major character development. There is no big monster to slay this week or a mystical thingamabob to find/destroy, it is simply all about the characters and what they are going through. It’s brilliantly Buffy that in the end Spike can’t be arsed with the love spell and just tells Buffy where he’s stashed her friends before heading off a much happier vampire. Not many shows will go and nullify an entire episode’s plot with one line and then just let the villain walk away having been the overall winner from proceedings.

Spike leaving town in his car while happily singing along to Gary Oldman’s performance of Sid Vicious’s version of ‘My Way’. Priceless.

Why it sucks

Hardly any Giles.

Where’s Faith?

It's Buftastic

Spike’s drunken, violent arrival in town. Classic!

Dialogue to die for

Oz: "I can see why you'd be upset. Uh, that was my sarcastic voice."
Xander: "Y'know, it sounds a lot like your regular voice."
Oz: "I've been told that."

Buffy: "She saw these scores and her head spun around and exploded."
Giles: "I've been on the Hellmouth too long. That was metaphorical, yes?"

Spike: "You're not friends. You'll never be friends. You'll be in love 'til it kills you both. You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other 'til it makes you quiver, but you'll never be friends. Love isn't brains, children, it's blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it."

Spike: “I'm really glad I came here, you know? I've been all wrongheaded about this. Weeping, crawling, blaming everybody else. I want Dru back, I've just gotta be the man I was, the man she loved. I'm gonna do what I shoulda done in the first place: I'll find her, wherever she is, tie her up, torture her until she likes me again.”

And another thing

According to the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign Spike runs over, the population of Sunnydale is 38,500.

That really was James Marsters’ hand on fire in the scene where Spike wakes up in the sun. They couldn’t figure out how to do it with a stuntman and keep it all in the same shot, so James volunteered. It took two takes and he received some minor burns but says he was happy to have done it.

The version of ‘My Way’ Spike sings along to is sung by Gary Oldman playing Sid Vicious in the movie Sid and Nancy – a tip of the hat to the inspiration behind Spike and Dru.

How many stakes?

Spike’s doing it his way. 4.5/5

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