Wednesday, 11 July 2012
BUFFY 5.7: FOOL FOR LOVE
Nice little tribute vid for this ep.
WRITER: Doug Petrie
DIRECTOR: Nick Marck
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
While fighting an 80’s hair metal vamp, Buffy gets stabbed by her own stake and is forced to flee injured. Naturally shaken by her near brush with death our gal seeks out answers as to why previous Slayers got beaten, but no records exist of those Slayers’ final battles. Giles suggests it is likely because their Watchers found the whole thing far too painful to document. So, reluctantly, Buff turns to the one source she knows of with direct experience of a Slayers final battle: Spike, the slayer of Slayers. Meanwhile Joyce is slowly getting worse and is heading in to hospital for tests and observation, which poor Buff is finding hard to cope with.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
Fool for Love is about asking uncomfortable questions of yourself and getting the honest answers that you really don’t want to hear. Also it’s about who a person really is beneath the surface, beneath the persona we build for ourselves and show the world; the image we try to project. Who are we really deep down? What is it we really, truly want from life?
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
Hmm, I guess its 80’s hair metal vampire. And maybe Spike.
WHY IT ROCKS
The script. Fool for Love is simply a brilliant episode. It is the first easy five star episode of the season. Why? Partly because Doug Petrie’s script is full of such depth and wonderful character work. We find out who Spike was and how he came to be who he is now. We watch the construction of his badass character. We see the twisted dynamic between him and Angel, Dru and Darla. We see him kill two Slayers. And this is all shown while he’s trying to explain (for cash…and Spicy Buffalo Wings) to Buffy how he killed two Slayers. There is so much going on here. The ep is primarily about Spike and how he came to be, but it is also about who Buffy really is and what it truly means to be a Slayer: isolation, pain and certain death.
Flashbacks of a Fool (for Love). Through beautifully realised flashbacks to London in the 1880’s, China in the 1900’s, New York in the 1970’s we see the Spike persona being gradually put together piece by piece starting with the name, the accent, the scar on the eyebrow, the hair, and finally the black leather coat. All of this based around a rebellious attitude and an obsession with killing Slayers. This is Buffy mythology working at its best.
The direction. Nick Marck did a beautiful job with this episode. The direction is smooth, yet tight and tense with some brilliant cuts and scene changes as we seamlessly move between ‘now’ and old London and China and 70’s New York. Stylistically the big fight on the subway train between Spike and 70’s Slayer Nikki is the highlight. It’s all neon and gritty and brutal and has Spike narrating to Buffy from inside the fight itself while cross cutting beautifully to the pair sparring in the alley outside of the Bronze. Stunning.
The art direction. The episode looks great with the flashbacks being as lovingly put together as always. And even though the London Street set is obviously the usual old town set redressed, it still looks good, as does a standing Mexican village set redressed to be China, while the internal Chinese temple set where Spike kills his first Slayer is a beauty. But you can’t beat the cool 70’s subway train where Spike kills Slayer no. 2.
Two Parter. Fool for Love is actually the first part of a two-part tale concluding in Angel with the wonderful episode Darla. The flashbacks to Spike being turned by Dru and the chaos in China were filmed in conjunction with Angel with the ‘Darla’ scenes being the flip side scenes to what we see in Fool for Love i.e. shown from a different perspective – that of Angel or Darla, not Spike.
Eroticism. There’s a lot of suggestive and not so suggestive sex stuff in this ep. Doug Petrie admitted in his commentary that this was the filthiest ep of Buffy he’d worked on up ‘til then. He takes much pleasure in Darla and Dru getting turned on as Angel and Spike fight and Angel goes to stake Spike. Or as Petrie puts it, “The guys trying to thrust their poles in to each other.” And Dru slowly, sensually sucking Slayer blood off of Spike’s finger has to be one of the weirdest/grossest/hottest images ever in Buffydom.
SMG. Sarah is great in this episode. Though it's primarily a Spike episode it is also about Buffy trying to understand herself better while also dealing with her fears for her mom. The chemistry between Sarah and James Marsters is riveting. It’s a kind of fascinated repulsion she conveys. The end scene where Buffy goes outside on the porch and breaks down under the strain of worry for her mom is very touching as is Spike’s reaction to her when he turns up with darker intentions.
James Marsters. I know I always bang on about how bloody great James Marsters is as Spike. So guess what? I’m going to again. Cuz he is. With this episode we get a whole other layer to the character. We get more dimension, more history, more complexity, more subtlety, more wonderful contradiction. Seeing James as a sensitive foppish young poet is as far from the smart-ass, brutal vampire Spike as you can imagine…and yet James sells it so you can see perfectly the same man in both. Spike is a persona William has built over years to protect himself from hurt and against his still rampant insecurities. He may be evil. He may be soulless, yet somehow the emotional damage done to him as a man still remains, as does that deeply sensitive side to his nature, which James Marsters shows us so brilliantly. James’ performance has to cover so much ground here while always remaining emotionally truthful, which it does. All the way through we feel for Spike despite the awful things he does. And Buffy’s putdown to him at the end of their lesson which echoes the putdown from his first love who rejected him is deeply wounding for Spike and affecting for the audience too.
WHY IT SUCKS
In 1880’s London there are some very dodgy English accents going on, though not from Mr Marsters whose accent, as always, remains impeccable.
Also in 1880’s London, and later on in China, we see some typically dodgy wigs. Poor Boreanaz suffers the worst as per usual with a long messy mane that really doesn’t suit him. James’ wavy auburn wig isn’t much better either. Luckily the girls, Darla and Dru, both look great.
70’s slayer Vs 70’s vampire
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Buffy: Don't worry. Accelerated healing powers come with the Slayer package. And the boyfriend who comes complete with combat medical training — that's just a Buffy Summers bonus.
Dawn: C'mon, who's the man?
Buffy: You are. A very short, annoying man.
Dawn: When do I get to patrol?
Buffy: Not until you are never!
Buffy: Look, I realise that every Slayer comes with an expiration mark on the package. But, I want mine to be a long time from now. Like a Cheeto.
Cecily: I do see you — that's the problem! You're nothing to me, William. (She stands and looks down at him.) You're beneath me.
Spike: What can I tell you, baby? I've always been bad.
Spike: The first lesson: A Slayer must always reach for her weapon. (He puts his vamp face on.) I've already got mine.
Spike: Death is your art. You make it with your hands day after day. That final gasp, that look of peace. And part of you is desperate to know: What's it like? Where does it lead you? And now you see, that's the secret. Not the punch you didn't throw or the kicks you didn't land. She really wanted it. Every Slayer has a death wish. Even you.
Spike: Come on. I can feel it, Slayer. You know you wanna dance.
Buffy: Say it's true. Say I do want to. (She pushes him to the ground.) It wouldn't be you, Spike. It would never be you. (She throws the cash at him.) You're beneath me.
AND ANOTHER THING
The original title for this episode was Love’s Bitch. An awesome title they should have stuck with.
Fool for Love was one of the fastest ever written episodes of Buffy. Doug Petrie pulled several all-nighters to get it done by drinking endless Red Bulls and grabbing short naps on set. He says he tried out all the beds on set, finding Buffy’s bed to be weird, making him feel like some kind of perverted stalker, so he settled on Buffy’s mom’s bed instead, which apparently was the most comfortable of all. Apparently he learned this habit from Joss who would regularly get some sleep on the beds on the set.
HOW MANY STAKES?
You’re no fool if you love this. 5 (out of 5)