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William The Buddy

Buffy Episode 7.2 Beneath You
AirDate: 1st Oct 02

"Come on, Ron. Do it."

"I canít."

"But you ALWAYS do it. Itís your thing."

"Yeah, but I got addicted. The power went to my head, and it started to cause problems for me and all of my friends."

"So you had to stop?"

"Yeah. Itís not easy. Thereís constant temptation to start up again, but I just canít. Itís too hard to control. Itís evil and its allure is powerful and it corrodes my soul."

And so goes my internal dialogue over Buffy spoilers. Like any recovering addict, Iím just living day to day, trying to focus on the positive. As it stands, Iím proud to say Iíve been clean for two episodes. Okay, admittedly I found out in the summer that the school would be open, Spike is still a vampire and WANTED to have his soul back, and Dawn would make some new friends and begin learning the Slayer ropes from Buffy. But as of this season Iím trying my best to avoid Hercís weekly spoiler column, Wandaís mailbags, and the wildfeed summaries. Iím sure most of you will agree that itís just better to be surprised by the events of each episode.

And episode 7.2, ĎBeneath Youí, may not have had any actual surprises, but it definitely had some great twists. Letís seeÖ

After thinking last week that weíd be revisiting the girl in Turkey fleeing the dark robed assassins (I guess they really did kill her), I was pleased and excited to see a totally different girl being chased through the nightclub district of Frankfurt. Run, Lola! Run! Oops Ė Too late. Two down, and how many to go? Whatís the deal here? Who are these pretty girls getting hunted down and killed at the beginning of each episode? Will the trend continue next week? One popular theory Iíve heard discussed is that theyíre girls in line for the Slayer job, and some evil cadre is bumping them off one at a time. But if thatís the case, do you think thereís any point to this mission? Say Faith were to die. A new Slayer would then be called. If the girl whoís next in line for the job got whacked before she took over, it would then, I assume, fall to the NEXT person in line. So my question now is, do you think thereís a finite number of potential Slayers in the world? Can these nasties in the robes kill all of them so thereís NO ONE in the on-deck circle? An interesting idea, and if these girls are, in fact, what some of you are assuming they are, we may yet hear the answer.

"From beneath you, it devours." YIKES!! Can I just say now that theyíre setting up this yearís Big Bad perfectly? A constant, gradual increase in tension, with just enough tidbits of info along the way to keep us hooked and make us feel like weíre figuring something out. I love how everyone whoís at all plugged in to the supernatural is feeling that something huge and horrible is coming. Speaking of which, about ten people who emailed me in the last week voiced the same theory on what this enemy could be. Itís a clever concept relating to a single episode in season 3. I hadnít personally thought about it, but the logic is sound and if those of you who brought it to my attention end up being right, my hat will be off to you. For the record, Iíve decided not to publicize it yet in case itís accurate and some people will feel like we ruined it for them (see first paragraph. Spoilers bad).

My least favourite episode last year (and, but for Season 4ís ĎBeer Badí, my least favourite EVER) was ĎDoublemeat Palaceí. The reason being that, in a season that was attempting to add new depth to the characters as they tackled some seriously complex and grown up emotional issues, a Monster-of-the-Week episode that seemed straight out of the first season just didnít fit with the current arc. But Season 7 is on a different plane altogether. Now weíre talking about the oldschool Buffy style, and last nightís appearance of Ronnie The Giant Worm was not only an excellent red herring for the ongoing mystery of the impending evil, it was also fun and brought back memories of some of the great episodes from the first couple of years. I wouldnít mind at all if this season contained a lot more of these single-episode monster hunting adventures and, lest ye think that Mutant Enemy is reduced to an Either-Or formula, ĎBeneath Youí still contained some really powerful drama and it managed to drive a number of the plotlines forward.

In the only Willow-Giles scene of the evening, we learned that Willow (still unsure of her control between the crayon-breaky and scary-veiny personas) is on her way home. At first I was a little surprised that we havenít yet heard her name mentioned back in Sunnydale, but I now see the wisdom behind this restraint. Sheís going back to them, overcome with guilt and grief over her unconscionable actions last spring, feeling like thereís a very real possibility that the damage done is too great and theyíll never be able to forgive her. If we had already heard the Scoobs thoughts on this, weíd know in advance the reception that awaits her. But as it stands, Iím personally biting my nails right along with Willow in anticipation of their reunion and whether her friends (Dawn, for example, whoís become, as Spike said, "incredibly scary") will be able to forgive her. While I donít honestly think theyíll reject her outright, itís not going to be an easy moment for anyone involved and the healing process should be, justifiably, a long one. Isnít it funny to look at the parallels between Willowís situation on this series, and Wesleyís on Angel, then consider that these actors are romantically linked in real life? Maybe not. Sorry. Can I freshen up your tea?

Which brings us to Xander and his love life. I have both a dart and a laurel for Mr. Harris this week. It was nice to see him attempting to re-enter the dating scene, and I really like Nancy and I hope that we havenít seen the last of her. Xanderís fumbling was cute and added some of the best moments of levity to the episode (sidenote: I LOVED the look between Xander & Spike when Nancy asked if any of them HADNíT slept together). On the other hand, maybe my love for Anya (her look was better this week but still kind of wacky) has me a touch blinded, but I had a real problem with the way Xander seems to have absolved himself of any and all guilt in their breakup. His tone now seems to imply that her Anya-ness naturally forced him away from her and he canít be expected to show any remorse for LEAVING HER AT THE ALTAR AND BREAKING HER HEART. Hmph! By the way. Before I forget Ė "Oh, penis!"

The last person Iíd like to focus on before I close is Spike. James Marsters has made no secret of his love for Shakespeare, and itís really showing in the knockout performances heís delivered so far this season. Admittedly, the first episode was just a taste, but last nightís script gave him license to immerse himself fully in complex and multi-layered madness, complete with a brief bout of denial when he donned the blue sweater and presented himself as William, that nice boy from down the street whoís always ready to lend a hand. But as he said in the breathtaking scene in the church, the costume didnít work. Joss and Marti promised us that Spike-with-a-soul would not be a carbon copy of Angelís story, and theyíve made good on this claim. Weíve seen Angel tormented by the guilt that having a soul has brought him, but heís a much older vamp and about as emotionally stable as anyone whoís ever been on the show (Giles excepted, of course). Somehow Angel has managed to bring himself to a place (I know -- Los Angeles) where his never-ending mission to do good and atone for his crimes brings him peace. Heís a champion, and heís comfortable wearing this mantle. Spike, on the other hand, is no champion. He is, as he once famously uttered, "Loveís bitch. But at least Iím man enough to admit it." Spike is a creature of rage and passion, which unfortunately erupted in the painfully ugly rape scene last season that, apparently, James Marsters still isnít comfortable viewing (I donít think itís much fun for any of us to have to see).

Thatís one of this showís main strengths, and the thing youíll never be able to convince your non-watching friends of: There is no series on television (maybe EVER) that has its characters growing and changing so completely over the years. Itís hard to believe that when Spike first came on the scene he was your basic two-dimensional villain. Cold, vicious, and existing solely to make trouble for Buffy. Now here we are, five seasons later, and Spike is as conflicted and complex a character as exists on any network. There were moments last night in his rambling, delirious confession that broke my heart and affected me as deeply as that episode-closing scene last season when Buffy was sobbing in Taraís lap and crying, "Please donít forgive me." He regained his soul in the hope that it was the one missing piece that would allow Buffy to love him. Now, not only is he torn apart by guilt and shame and the tortured voices of everyone heís ever wronged, but he has to face the reality that what he saw as his only hope was a mistake and it will still never be enough. Spike draped himself over that churchís cross in an act of complete and utter hopeless surrender. Knowing what we know about him, and knowing the things heís done, we canít possibly be expected to sympathize with him or care about his pain.

But we do, donít we?

Take care, everybody, and weíll talk next week. For the record, we wonít be seeing new episodes of Angel in Canada until Tuesday night at 10, so with both shows on the same night itíll probably be Thursday or so before I can submit my Angel reviews. Try not to email me with any spoilers between Sunday and Tuesday night, okay?

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