Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Lovers Walk

Spike is back, and immediately the series hits a level of fun that it simply can’t achieve without him. It makes you realise what a poor imitation Mr Trick has been so far this season. Spike needs to be in this full time, and there are hints here of how that could be done. The key is to make him more of an annoyance than a threat. He is de-fanged to a certain extent here by making him an alcoholic, which would not be sustainable of course in the long term, but it does show how he could move towards being part of the main cast of characters rather than somebody they are trying to kill.

That’s not to say he doesn’t still pose a threat at this stage. Alyson Hannigan sells that the best, acting for all she’s worth in a scene where Spike is using her as a shoulder to cry on, having just threatened her with a broken glass, and never letting us forget that she is sat next to a terrifying monster. It is a testament to Hannigan’s abilities that in a scene with her and James Marsters, we can’t take our eyes off Hannigan for a second. That takes some doing. Then there is the moment when Buffy hears Spike on the other end of the phone, in her home with her mother, a moment of frightening helplessness.

But mostly, Spike is just hugely entertaining here. His hand catching fire when he falls asleep outside is an illustration of how he has hit rock bottom, but it is also a laugh-out-loud moment. There is something accidentally joyous about seeing Joyce becoming a kind of mother figure to Spike, listening to his troubles, feeding him little marshmallows and giving him advice, and then we can’t help but share Spike’s enjoyment at Angel not being able to get into the house. That moment is a clear indication of how Spike is the best character in this whole show. Angel might have been a fallen hero, but his soul is back now and he is supposed to be one of the good guys we root for, but instead if you’re anything like me you’ll have been watching that scene firmly in camp Spike, laughing along at the momentary humiliation of the boring one of the two vampires.

Of course, Spike is not just in this episode to make us laugh. He also creates a situation that leads to the end of every relationship in the show. With Angel and Buffy he simply does that with some home truths, in one of the best speeches this show has ever produced:

“You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be in love until it kills you both… I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it.”

That sums up this season so far in a nutshell. Angel, Buffy, Willow and Xander have all been deluding themselves, pretending that they can control their urges and somehow not be a slave to love, but they were wrong. As Buffy admits, “I can fool Giles, and I can fool my friends, but I can’t fool myself, or Spike for some reason.” The end of Buffy and Angel’s relationship feels like a natural progression; the end of Willow and Oz’s relationship feels like it’s unfinished, the only one that might just have a chance of a reconciliation; the end of Xander and Cordelia’s relationship is brutal. For a moment we even think she is dead, with a clever trick of cutting from her passing out to a funeral, but that would have meant lifelong gnawing guilt for Xander and he isn’t that kind of a character in this show, so that can’t happen. Instead, we are left in no doubt that they are over, and Cordelia is broken-hearted. It’s a stark representation of the brutal scars that infidelity can inflict.

With Spike getting his mojo back, heading off in his car singing “I did it my way!”, I just want him back as soon as possible. As for everyone else, one question now hangs over this series: where do they go from here?   RP

The view from the Sunnydale Press…

You know, I was all set to start with something totally different when I looked up the episode number and realized that the title was not what I thought it was.  I thought it was Lover’s Walk, as in a nice path for which lovers might stroll.  But, noticing the lack of an apostrophe, I realize this is a far more direct statement about what happens in this episode.  I was really hoping it would be something sweeter.  I had a hunch that we were up for something worse but, what did not happen in the last episode, Revelations, happens here: the secret of Willow and Xander is out.  Beyond the fact that I’m terribly unhappy about it because the writers have completely sucked me into the lives of the characters, I also have to wonder why  Willow and Xander could not get out of captivity.  It’s pretty evident Oz and Cordelia walk in without making a sound, so what was the problem?  They didn’t need breaking out, so why were they not heard?  Ok, I realize that maybe it was just a simple iron bar across the door, so it’s certainly not a show stopper; more than anything I was just supremely disappointed to see the couples break up because I really had come to like the pairing.  I’m dying to see what happens next.  But first, I think this episode deserves a review.

“What kind of moron would ever want to come back here?”  Without waiting for the answer, I thought: Spike.  Before the word could even form in my head, someone ploughs through a sign and our friendly neighborhood vampire is back, returning with all the pomp of his last visit.  Spike shows us the “real life issue” of this episode.  He’s lovesick.  He’s missing Dru.  Willow and Xander are also having issues with love.  Willow is going to make a potion for them to stop lusting after one another and Spike wants her to do similar for him.  And this says nothing of the toxic non-friend relationship between Buffy and Angel.  Everyone wants a quick fix; a drug that makes all the pain go away.  It’s Spike who makes the realization that there is no quick fix; “Love’s bitch” just has to get on with it.  Carry on… do what needs doing and embrace the future.  And for Spike, that’s being true to himself.  “Love’s a funny thing…” For Buffy, she realizes the only solution is to actually walk away.  She does what needs doing.  (I’d question how true they will stay to this, but the writers have me singing a different tune to 20 odd episodes ago.  I think they might stay true to their words!)

Meanwhile there are other lightly touched-upon items that I thought were working towards more, but perhaps that’s for a later episode.  Buffy does far better on her SAT than Principle Snyder probably expected and she realizes she has a future, and that future might be somewhere outside of Sunnydale.  I have to give the writing loads of credit because there’s such a natural progression to this show.  Any of my earlier quibbles seem absurd even now, in Season Three.  Two episodes ago, it was the night before the SAT, and now we’re post SAT.  Now that Buffy has prospects for her future, I can’t help but wonder where they will lead.  (I can’t wait for Season Four!)  Speaking of other big things, in one simple line, the Mayor explains away so much about the oddities in previous episodes, since the very beginning.  He comments on how the police have to cover up certain things.  It dawns on us that the Naussicaan in the graveyard in the last episode is probably cleaned up before anyone can find it.  Those bullets throughout the school during Slayerfest, probably covered up as well.  It does mean the Mayor has a much wider reach than we realized, but at least it explains away continuity issues.  I wonder where that will lead.

“You’re having too many or’s!  Pick one!”  Cordelia has often struck me as having the best lines.  But there was one line that really hurt: “I fell.”  It’s such a simple comment as she falls through the stairs and finds herself impaled by the rebar.  She’s been stabbed in the back both literally by the metal rod, and figuratively by Xander for kissing Willow.  The fact that it misses her heart might be equally symbolic but that doesn’t change the absolute shock I had that the next scene was a cemetery and a burial in progress.  Talk about subverting expectations!  Just as I thought I was over Jenny’s death, I had the sinking feeling that they were taking Cordelia away from us too.  Glad she survived, but the question is, how will the gang recover?  I mean, I did think they might try to rationalize it that Xander was losing consciousness and she was giving CPR… I mean he was bashed in the head and had icky blood all over his face. Not exactly romance material.  Hell, he should have a concussion, so guys, use whatever tools you have!  At least it would save face and then the two could steadfastly stay away from one another.  Admittedly, Oz and Cordelia may not be so easy to fool, and I know it’s just that I really hope we manage to keep the gang together.

And speaking of subverting expectations, when Spike goes to see Joyce, we are programmed to think it’s a bad thing.  The fact that they are having a drink together like old friends is both brilliant and funny and a testament to the writing.  Sadly, Joyce never gets to the bottom of what’s going on; at least not on-screen.  But that’s all the more reason why I can’t wait to see the next one.  If I had just one wish, it would be that the Lovers run back to each other in the next episode.   ML

Read next in the Junkyard… Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Wish

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on junkyard.blog. Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com. Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Reviews, Television and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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