Buffy the Vampire Slayer: S07E02: Beneath You
This week’s killing of the anonymous girl by robed persons takes place in Frankfurt! It’s especially horrible because the girl obviously had other plans: she is all dressed up for a night of clubbing, she has rather cool punk outfit going on and accessorized with a metal collar. Her hair is pink. Here’s another hint for my future parenting handbook: “No, you can’t dye your hair pink because it attracts murderous monks.” She gives robed guys a good run for their money but finally they corner her right next to the dance club and after a short fight stab her with the same funky knife. Instead of dying peacefully, she turns to the camera and says in deep creepy voice: “From beneath you it devours.”
Buffy wakes up with a scream. Yay, prophetic Slayer dreams! Dawn is conveniently here, so Buffy can share her dream and grimly predict that more girls will die. She looks a bit upset by that, but not to the point of doing something about it, say, calling Giles of Watcher’s Council or hitting books for research.
Somewhere outside something burrows underneath the road, ruining the tarmac. Looks like an Attack of Huge Demonic Moles!
In his basement Spike is closing in on a fat rat. See, souled vampires prefer eating rats, the least cuddly ones of all urban animals! Actually, this is awful. This school has a crazy homeless guy squatting in a basement AND is rat-infested! Everything starts shaking, probably because Huge Demonic Moles damaged the foundation, and Spike gets really annoyed because of their terrible timing and lack of manners. He does some crazy rambling and screaming. The rat, completely unfazed, just sits there.
Wide Xander drives Buffy and Dawn to school in his new shiny car. Xander is looking sharp and being friendly, supportive and articulate. It’s all quite scary. Something must be terribly wrong. They chitchat about Buffy’s new job (counseling troubled schoolchildren), muse about their nonexistent love lives and share a sweet friendship moment. At her new office (well, desk) Buffy receives a motivation speech from principal Wood. She flat-out refuses to laugh at his crappy joke, which I admire. Slayers do not suck up to their bosses! She asks if she can give detentions and principal grants her that authority. Wait a sec, she’s a counselor! What is she going to give detentions for? For being too troubled?
After principal takes off, Buffy immediately sneaks away (right, skive hard, play hard, that’s our motto) and goes to check up on Spike in his basement. He is nowhere to be seen. The rat is still sitting there, though. I think it’s glued to the set.
Cut to drab, quaint English autumn rain. Willow is sitting on a porch of a quaint English Giles’ manor. Giles actually says “quaint” at some point and a minute later opens a brolly. I don’t think it can be any quainter, but it would all be much more authentically English if they’ve just shown a fish-n-chip shop on the corner and a couple of Pakistani kids playing outside. Willow is afraid to go back to Sunnydale. She didn’t spend nearly enough time in England, because she still didn’t learn to speak Cockney. She should’ve said: “Cor blimey gov’ner, I don’t want ter go, I want ter stay ‘ere in yer posh digs. I’m still all over the chuffin’ shop, right! Wot if I go all ballistic again?” or something to that effect. Actually, she’s mostly worried that her friends are not ready to forgive her. But Giles assures her that even if she’s not wanted in Sunnydale, she will be needed. Aww.
At night in Sunnydale, a girl called Nancy is walking her dog, bitching to herself that dogs are too ‘high-maintenance’. I already dislike her. A tarmac-wreaking monster attacks again and apparently EATS the poor doggy! This show is getting really disturbing with all the dog-death references. Nancy runs away and bumps right into Xander. He takes her to Buffy’s place and she tells them about the attack while Buffy bandages her hand. Buffy makes a connection between under-tarmac monster and phrase from her dream: “From beneath you it devours”. Xander is trying to comfort Nancy, but he brings up the dog death again and proverbially kicks himself. Nancy though, does not seem all that upset. Dawn offers to round up the gang, but Xander reminds her that they ARE the gang. That’s so sad, considering that in the better days the gang could consist of up to nine people. Buffy promises Nancy to get right on the case.
“What you need is help,” says Spike, who appeared in the room completely unnoticed. It’s like they have no locks in this town. “Fortunately, you have me.”
He looks positively yummy! He had a haircut and did his roots. He’s wearing a blue t-shirt he must have stolen from some tiny schoolboy, because it’s about ten sizes too small and sleeves barely cover his elbows. His voice is velvety and charming, and he’s very cool, calm and collected.
Everybody instantly switches to hostile. Xander threatens Spike with “pointy weapons”, which slightly disturbs Nancy. He also explains that Spike is Buffy’s ex. Spike starts by saying that when Buffy last saw him a week ago in the basement he was a mess, out of his head. Dawn and Xander act incredibly shocked and hurt that Buffy did not mention seeing him. I bet nowadays she has to tell them what she had for breakfast and how many times she brushed her hair, but to be fair, she does tend to keep a lot of secrets.
Buffy and Spike go out to the hall to talk privately. She says: “Do not start by saying you’re sorry”, and he answers “I didn’t come here to atone.” Phew, thank god for that! We have enough vampires with souls who like to atone a lot. Spike just wants to help Buffy, because he has a feeling that something really big and bad is coming. She agrees that something is indeed coming (it’s quite masterful how she works insults in here and there without disrupting the flow of conversation), and asks since when did Spike become “Champion of the people”. The thought of Spike as a Champion really amuses me, and I don’t now why, I guess because he is so small. I know it’s silly, considering that Buffy, the ultimate warrior of the people, is completely tiny. He says he just wants to lend her a hand, if she wants it, and adds something like: “Balls in your court”, and hell knows what it means but I’m sure it’s dirty.
Buffy returns to the rooms and starts issuing battle orders. Xander gets a mission of driving Nancy home. Xander goes to a lot of trouble making sure Nancy understands that Buffy’s not his girlfriend. Dawn tells Xander that he has a little drool on his face. A little? He’s frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog! He’s going to stain the carpet! Buffy says that she and Spike are going to check out the scene, and Xander objects, reminding her quietly that Spike tried to rape her. It was sweet and all, how he is brotherly protective of her, but didn’t Spike try to KILL Buffy about hundred-odd times? How come THAT never bothered anybody? Buffy only says she can take care of herself. Dawn proclaims herself “Command Centre”, although she’ll just be home doing homework, but that other one sounds cooler. As other turn to leave, she stops Spike and calmly, coldly and convincingly tells him that if he hurts Buffy in any way, he’s going to wake up on fire. Spike actually looks scared. Oh, you just have to feel sorry for him. I mean, pretty much everyone he knows more or less wants to kill him. That must be depressing.
Spike and Buffy are examining the hole in the pavement. He tells her “those ghostly types in the school got into my head. Made me flat out bug-shagging crazy.” Bug-shagging? So it’s not just rats, then. So that made him “see things, do things”. Questionable things, I presume. He asks why Buffy didn’t tell anybody she saw him, and she says she was hoping he’s “Some kind of mirage.” He apologizes for being real and she forgives him. They both look unbelievably cute in this scene. Spike asks Buffy to hold a torch (them metaphors are getting subtler every year) and passes his flashlight to her. She takes it, accidentally touches his fingers and has a scary flashback to the rape scene. Firmly, she tells him that working together is not the way to get back together, he does not argue with that and tells her that there is nothing he can say to apologise for what he did, but he has changed. “I believe you,” says Buffy, “I just don’t know what you’ve changed into.” Oh, Buffy, we’re all wondering about that. She tells him that she knows there’s something he’s not telling her. He confirms that there is, but they’re “not best friends anymore, so too bad for me, I’ not sharing.”
Xander drops Nancy off at her apartment. There is some nervous awkward flirting, and they both do look like they’re desperate for a date. As Nancy is about to leave, the underground monster attacks again, pretty much destroying the hall. More contractey goodness for Xander! Xander and Nancy climb some stairs. The monster bursts through the tile work – hey, it’s a giant worm! Worm monster says “Hi, I’m Worm McClure. You may remember me from such movies as Tremors, Dune and Men In Black 2.” Well he didn’t, but he should have. What I especially liked in this scene is that the monster did not attack ‘just as they were going to kiss’. I think it’s brave and smart to sidestep clichés like that. What I didn’t like is the fact that Worm didn’t bite off Nancy’s head. He just flailed about growling and went away. “Are you OK?” asks Xander and corrects himself: “Dumb question. Are you injured, are you hurt?” Another great little moment. It is a dumb question, yet one used unnecessarily often in all the action movies. How much OK can a person be after surviving a gunfight or attack of space monsters? Sorry, personal pet peeve. Nancy whines that her psycho-ex-boyfriend would love it if he knew monster is trying to kill her. She’s right; every time I imagine some of my exes being chased by giant worms I can’t help but chuckle merrily. Xander cautiously asks if Ronnie the psycho ex was into demon-raising, but Nancy says he was just an abusive bastard. They share a little tender ‘we have both been through traumatic break-up’ moment, until Nancy says, among other things: “all you can do is just wish that it would stop”. Xander grimaces as if he had a really painful thought and asks: “Wish?” I love his acting in this scene by the way.
Cut to: The Bronze. Anya is goading some girl into wishing something terrible upon her cheating boyfriend. Anya’s hair is sort of nice in a peculiar way, but the outfit, once again, is al kinds of wrong. The girl describes cheating boyfriend as “spineless pig”. Just imagine that for a second. Scary, isn’t it? Anya is starting to get excited, but is cut short by the appearance of Buffy, Xander, Spike and Nancy. She grumbles “Oh, penis!” Hehehe. Buffy displays a big knife for Anya to see. I thought it was stated before that Vengeance Demons couldn’t be seriously hurt by swords, but whatever. They establish that it was indeed Anya who turned Nancy’s boyfriend into the Worm. Nancy is shocked, Anya says defensively: “You wish it, I dish it. I thought we were clear on that.” She also says she has a quota to meet. Quota? Looks like the job of a Vengeance Demon is not as glamorous as it appears! Sigh. Buffy tells Anya the story of Dog Demise, and Anya is genuinely upset. Oh, finally, somebody feels the sadness! Xander tries to make her see the big picture, insisting that people’s lives being put in danger is more serious than an eaten dog. He also explains to Nancy that Anya’s his ex. Anya has clearly had enough and tries to leave, but Spike pushes her back on her chair. “Hands off the merchandise! You don’t get to go there again!” she protests. “Please, I’ve already forgotten about our little time together,” he answers, and I’m surprised she doesn’t smite him there and then. Oh well, Anya is rather easy-going. Nancy tries to figure out all the entangled relationships in the group, and finally exclaims: “Is there anyone here who hasn’t slept together?” Xander and Spike exchange a little glance but think better of trying to explain to Nancy that they, indeed, has slept together for a while, but not in the biblical sense. Just in the same basement. (Now that I think about it… No, too scary a mental picture.)
“At least we’re all bipeds, which is more than I can say for Ronnie, the worm boy,” giggles Anya. Xander starts pressuring her into reversing the spell, but she is all: “Bite me Harris, I have rules to work with!” Spike steps up to Anya and begins threatening her, and suddenly she stares at him in a childlike amazement and gasps: “I can see you! Ho did you do it?” Um, everybody can see him thanks to those spray-on clothes. He tries to shut her up, but she’s too excited, so he loses it and punches her in the face, she falls and he hit her again. Anya throws him across the room, gets up wearing her scary demon face and promises to kick his ass. I squeal in delight. Spike jumps from the pool table he landed on, looking too sexy for his shirt, and his accent magically changes into broad Cockney. For no reason whatsoever Buffy gets in the middle of it and robs poor Anya of a good fight. Spike is only too happy to get beat up by the Slayer instead. Buffy says he has not changed, and he agrees enthusiastically. He taunts her in the nastiest way possible, bringing up the rape again and inviting her to have sex in public places. She does not answer, because sometimes a punch in a face is a wittiest comeback. Bronzing crowd observes a fistfight between bumpy-vampire-faced guy and a tiny girl with very little interest. Sunnydale public is so jaded! In fact, at the first hit DJ even changes the music to something more bar-brawl friendly.
Xander notices Nancy is gone, and is worried that the Worm might attack her again. Buffy goes to find her, leaving very dissatisfied Spike behind, while Xander tries to talk Anya into reversing the spell.
Nancy is walking down the street, muttering: “Freaks, I surround myself with freaks.” I mutter: “Bitch, judgemental ungrateful dog-hating bitch.” And then the Worm attacks! Yes! There’s a chase, and just as Nancy’s about to fall into Worm’s mouth from collapsing fire exit ladder, Buffy swings by on the rope, Spiderman-style, and saves her. Spike, still in the mood for fight, attacks Worm with a metal pole and skewers it just as it turns into a naked guy! Anya did cancel the spell after all! Skewered naked guy (aka abusive bastard ex-boyfriend) collapses on the ground, and Buffy immediately wraps him in the blanket to spare herself the sight of his less than attractive body. Spike slowly takes in what just happened and looses it completely. He staggers, mumbles, pleads for help, shouts at his imaginary friend and finally tells Buffy that it’s nothing compared to what’s coming: “all this will come tumbling in death and screaming, horror and bloodshed. From beneath you, it devours.” Until that last line, Buffy, who’s busy trying to help the wounded, mostly just stares at Spike in disgust (I must admit, if I were her, he’d be in restraints and on medication since last week’s episode). And then he looks like he’s going to throw up – or cry – and runs away. Xander and Anya arrive at the scene, Nancy verbally attacks Anya and leaves. I guess abusive bastard ex-boyfriend isn’t her favourite person ever, but she left critically injured human being in a company of “freaks” she does not trust. I hope she’ll never be back. Buffy leaves Xander and Anya to wait for the ambulance she called, and follows Spike. Xander is appreciative of Anya doing the right thing, but Anya knows she’ll have to face the consequences.
Buffy walks into a church, it’s beautifully lit inside with soft blue light. Spike is in there, shirtless (yay!). He throws his shirt on the floor and explains: “It didn’t work. Costume. Didn’t help. Couldn’t hide.” Of course it was a costume! only spandex can be that clingy. Would be more obvious if he embroidered a red “S” on his chest, for “SuperSpike”. Although I feel really cheated because he did not wear cape and tights. Especially tights.
Buffy tries to touch healing scratches on his chest (from the previous episode) and asks him what happened, and he dramatically freaks out about being looked upon as “flesh”, and then starts to subserviently undo his pants, preparing to “Service the girl”. Buffy angrily bats his hands away, he grabs her throat and she throws him across the church benches. “Girl does not want to be serviced”, figures Spike and carries on babbling about the missing “spark”. Buffy asks him if he completely lost his mind, and in a moment of blissful lucidity he answers: “Yes, where have you been all night?” She asks him again to explain what this all means, and he produces a long, crazy, incoherent speech about the spark, and dreaming of killing Buffy, and trying to be the man she deserves. It’s all beautifully acted and written, and describing it really would not do it justice, so I won’t try. He mentions that Angel should have warned him, and says: “They put the spark in me, and now all it does is burn.” Buffy realizes Spike is trying to tell her that he has his soul back. She is very intelligent woman, by the way. It was not an easy conclusion to jump to after all that crazy talk.
“It’s what you wanted, right?” asks Spike. Buffy is understandably shocked and a little angry. He shouts the same question to the heaven. Hehe. Love is… always having somebody to blame. Religion is… (see above). He tells her that now everybody is in his head, all his victims (I guess), and “Him” (your guess is as good as mine), and “It, that thing beneath you.” And they all want him to go to hell. Reciting nice, almost bible-like verses about love and forgiveness, Spike hugs a huge crucifix and asks: “Can we rest now?” Smoke billows from his skin, but he does not move. Behind him, Buffy is crying.
Well, this episode certainly was funny, well acted and depressing as hell. Since Sadgeezer’s rating system is a complete mystery to me, I’d give this episode, say, 27,057 out of 10, but it loses 50 points for too much crazy talk, although I add 70 points extra for shirtless Spike.
In all, this episode is rated a mysterious 27,027 out of 10.
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