Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Lover's Walk   Rewatch 
June 3, 2015 10:30 PM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Buffy weighs her options for the future and Willow and Xander fight their attraction. A heartbroken Spike blows back into town, kidnaps Willow to cast a love spell on Drusilla, and forces everyone to confront their feelings.
posted by yellowbinder (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Almost definitely my favourite Spike episode, and I would have been happy if he stayed gone this time. He never realllllly worked as comic relief/love interest for me. He's great fun here though, both with the comedic moments and his ability to speak truth to our crazy in love characters. I just started the episode and realized it's too late for me to really appreciate it, so I'll come back after viewing tomorrow with more detailed thoughts.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:42 PM on June 3, 2015


I remember this episode being a little awkward, because Spike was obviously a great character but at the same time he was also way too evil for Buffy to let him live and it kind of seemed like his big story was done. He had a great exit in his previous episode, and this one felt a little anticlimactic at the time. You could tell that the writers were floundering a bit with him. As cool and funny and sexy as he was, he was also a no-kidding serial killer, and it was hard to justify why Buffy didn't just stake him already. He could be pitiful and endearing, and they played that up here, but at the same time... he ate people. He was an evil killer, exactly the kind of creature Buffy was supposed to slay. But there he was, hanging around with the Scooby gang and making quips. It got weird.

So they kept him around, and slowly he shifted from bad guy to one of the gang. They found a way to make him work, but it took some real strain to get there and this is where that strain begins.

All that being said, one of the things that made the later, transitional Spike so compelling was that even without a soul, he somehow wanted to be good. They kind of justified it as his love for Buffy inspiring him to be better... but even that is pretty weird when you think about it. He's a freaking vampire! NOTHING should make him want to be good! It was like the demon in him never completely took, and somehow he held on to part of his soul. The writers put the chip in his head and finally just gave him a soul, but even without that stuff he was already on his way to being one of the good guys. (And it's worth noting that he went and GOT a soul. He made that choice!)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:06 PM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


And it's worth noting that he went and GOT a soul. He made that choice!

I remember him getting smug at Angel about that at one point.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:36 AM on June 4, 2015


He had a point! They were both evil killers, but Angelus was nothing BUT evil and Spike was more complicated.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:53 AM on June 4, 2015


All that being said, one of the things that made the later, transitional Spike so compelling was that even without a soul, he somehow wanted to be good. They kind of justified it as his love for Buffy inspiring him to be better... but even that is pretty weird when you think about it. He's a freaking vampire! NOTHING should make him want to be good! It was like the demon in him never completely took, and somehow he held on to part of his soul. The writers put the chip in his head and finally just gave him a soul, but even without that stuff he was already on his way to being one of the good guys. (And it's worth noting that he went and GOT a soul. He made that choice!)

Well I don't think the show thought very hard about the logic (and went back and forth on it depending on writers: in 5 he becomes a good man, in 6 he needs to be evil again...), but I think of a vampire as a human being without a moral compass, and a desire to do bad things. However, falling in love with Buffy means he has a competing desire to make her happy/win her affections, and this is strong enough to overwhelm his desire to do bad things. But, as the show demonstrates, he tends to just secretly do bad things so Buffy doesn't know. There is a certain logic there.

He had a point! They were both evil killers, but Angelus was nothing BUT evil and Spike was more complicated.

Indeed. It's worth noting that while both weren't exactly the best humans before vampirism, Angel was essentially a waste of space, while Spike was fairly sweet, even if he was a ninny.

This is a great episode. Spike is electric in it, very funny and very threatening all at the same time. I think the show does dance on a knife edge in keeping him alive, and it really is appallingly stupid that Buffy just lets him go at the end, in fact I think this is the most egregious example of her doing so (in 4 at least he becomes harmless). The show takes some trouble to demonstrate that a drunken, heart broken Spike is still extremely dangerous, and his initial ramblings about Drusilla have a very unpleasant tone.

The important plot reason for Spike's introduction is to drive the plot: a new (or old) element to push forward slow burning plots: he forces Buffy and Angel to acknowledge their feelings, and Xander and Willow finally get caught in pretty much the most dramatic way possible (note that Xander will spend weeks complaining about how they didn't do anything that wrong, while Willow will just accept that she did wrong and deserves it. More evidence for the "Xander is terrible you guys" camp).

There's also a bit of talk about the future here, with SAT results revealed and Buffy having done well. Maybe she can go off and have a different life! Note that Faith is reduced to "safety slayer" here, and her staying in Sunnydale on her own is just assumed. Of course, this won't work out terribly well

-English person question here. Do SATs really determine your choice of university that much? They're like an IQ test, right? Does your actual academic performance not affect it?
-Spike actually has hid them in the factory, which is a great gag
-Pez witch!
-Willow describing bowling as sexy
-Note Willow turning to magic to alter feelings for the first time
-Angel can speak french?
-Why doesn't Buffy mention that Spike is evil to Joyce rather than hanging up immediately. Lucky he doesn't kill her really..
-"Love isn't brains children, it's blood. I may be love's bitch but at least I'm man enough to admit it."
-Holy water grenades!
-Angel actually still wants to see Buffy at the end, allowing her the chance to display maturity
-"I did it myyyyyyy way!"
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:32 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


-English person question here. Do SATs really determine your choice of university that much? They're like an IQ test, right? Does your actual academic performance not affect it?

Basically your ability to get into undergrad is based on a mixture of your high school grades and your score on either the SAT or the ACT. Generally the further you are from high school, the more your test counts, but straight out of high school a combination of good grades and a strong SAT score are crucial for going to a good school.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:53 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


After we learn more about Spike's background, I realised that he's actually got a habit of doing things for love. He tries to become the person his beloved wants him to be, to the extent that he loses himself - first by becoming a vampire, later sacrificing that self to get a soul again. But the bit of him that remains is his loyalty to the one he loves. He really is love's bitch. There's something both romantic and frightening about that.

At last the Willow/Xander thing is over. I was really beginning to hate the delicate, sensitive guitar music that played every time they snogged. It was the kind of music that goes with a Disney innocent first kiss, not a knowing betrayal and conflicted lust. The only downside will be watching Xander act self-righteous and entitled over the next few episodes. Oh Xander, if only your SAT scores had been high enough, you could have founded 4chan.

Oh, and Angel is reading Sartre. Of course he is, it goes with the brooding like nothing else except possibly Camus. Wanker. Speaking of which, this episode marks the first occasion of Spike saying "pouf". Later he broadens to include "poufter". Cracks me up every time!
posted by Athanassiel at 7:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd forgotten about the fakeout cut from Cordelia passing out to a funeral, which moves down to Buffy and Willow walking by saying "So Cordelia's gonna be ok?" Dammit Whedon!

Anyway, yes, fantastic episode. Spike and Joyce remain one of the best pairings on the show and his making scary motions behind her while Angel struggles at the door is a riot. The Mayor is also a delight in is short scene, jokingly asking for his assistant's soul to trade for a better golf game, and wondering if a loose cannon rocking the boat is a mixed metaphor or not. So adorably, affably evil.

But yeah they really do let Spike off super easy here. He kills people in this episode for chrissakes. Once he's chipped it's more understandable that they let him skulk around, but I guess Buffy and Angel are too confused by their feelings to try and kill him once he tells them where Willow and Xander are.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:06 PM on June 4, 2015


Oh, and good call about Willow resorting to Magic to fix her feelings. The Season 6 plot is awfully hamfisted but it's a really consistent character flaw throughout the series.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:19 PM on June 4, 2015


I suppose there was a certain amount of retcon-ing going on, but it seemed like in the glimpses we got of Spike from decades past, he always had a weird streak of goodness in him, mixed in with the "William the Bloody" stuff. I'm thinking of how he turned his mother into a vampire, hoping to save her, and was horrified when she turned out evil and kind of made a pass at him. And then there's the Drusilla stuff, where he had a real tender, protective attitude toward her that seemed kind of weird for a vampire.

It's been a long time since I thought about this, but when the show was on I was a real Spike fangirl and my theory was that getting turned into a vampire amplified your own id, eliminating your inhibitions (thus vampire Willow was gay, because deep down Willow was gay but kind of in denial) and making your worst qualities take over (thus vampire Willow was a sadistic killer). But in the glimpses we got of Spike as a human, he was such a good-hearted, hapless little romantic dweeb, and maybe the goodness in him was so strong that even being vamped up wasn't enough to turn him 100% monster. He was a sadistic killer, but he also had a conscience while Angelus or Darla or Drusilla didn't. (I remember, even back in his early days on the show, when the rest of the vampire gang wanted to destroy the world and Spike thought that was nuts.)

Come to think of it, the show also walked a fine line with the mayor, making him weirdly jolly and wholesome while also being a homicidal monster. During this era the show had two bad guys who were evil in really weird, charming, contradictory ways. The mayor was basically straight up evil with an avuncular shell, while Spike was a more complicated, unpredictable guy.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:48 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Doesn't Angel almost say as much in the second Vamp Willow episode? Buffy says "just remember, a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person they were!" and Angel goes "well, actually, n-... I mean yes totally"
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:20 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


At last the Willow/Xander thing is over. I was really beginning to hate the delicate, sensitive guitar music that played every time they snogged. It was the kind of music that goes with a Disney innocent first kiss, not a knowing betrayal and conflicted lust.

I think that, and Xander's "Willow, I love you" declaration in Becoming were just the show jerking the Willow/Xander shippers around before crushing their dreams forever.

Spike: his attempt to get Dru back by coercion (the spell) seems consistent with some of his behavior in later seasons.

I imagine Giles coming back from his retreat and discovering that while he was gone:

1) William the Bloody returned to Sunnydale.
2) And then kidnapped Xander and Willow.
3) And then Buffy let him go.
4) And Cordy was seriously injured in some freak accident.
5) And every member of the Scooby gang broke up with their significant other.

And then Giles decides that he is never, ever, ever going on a retreat again.

It's a fantastic episode, amazingly funny given the amount of angst doled out at the end.
posted by creepygirl at 9:09 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


"just remember, a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person they were!" and Angel goes "well, actually, n-... I mean yes totally"

Yeah, I think that the tossed-off gag was as close as they ever got to coming out and saying it. Funny to think, then, that human Spike was a pure-hearted, romantic fellow and human Angel was a cynical, pleasure-seeking party boy... and eventually, after they became vampires with souls, they kind of switched roles.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:56 PM on June 5, 2015


All that being said, one of the things that made the later, transitional Spike so compelling was that even without a soul, he somehow wanted to be good.

One of the reasons I liked the S4 chip storyline, and was a bit disappointed by where they eventually took Spike, was that it seemed like he'd been given a prosthetic soul, one he'd need to work to incorporate into himself but which eventually might become a near-replacement for the original, in the way that people with functioning prosthetic limbs eventually add them to their body map and experience them as another limb, just a slightly odd one.
posted by Acheman at 4:10 AM on June 6, 2015


During this era the show had two bad guys who were evil in really weird, charming, contradictory ways. And were also united in their ability to brutally diagnose the issues in Buffy and Angel's relationship. Guess evil gives you relationship insight.

The Cordelia death fakeout (new band name) was one of the few (if not the only) times Joss reverse-Jossed us. I fell for it the first time. I guess it says something about the show that this felt like a perfectly valid direction it would take, if only for a few seconds.

I am pro-Spike in general, though I agree that there was really no reason to keep him alive at this point in the show (I guess yet another problematic aspect of the Buffy-Angel relationship: angst causing murderers to go free, a lot). It's interesting that vampires seem to get this mixture of amplification, both of the thing you were (Angel: a wanton jerk, William: a sweet guy but a fool for love) and the thing you couldn't be (Angelus: calculating, slow-burn torture, Spike: brash thrill-seeker). I wish they could have explained why Spike has that special quality that motivated him towards goodness, but I think there's some evidence of different vampires showing different qualities (those who weren't just snarling extras), like Dalton, who reads. Of course, this trying to figure out if redemption is possible on a case-by-case basis would have probably cut down on the fight scenes. I'd kind of like to see the "Buffy: Vampire Rehab" show, though.

I love the character consistency of Willow's conflict avoidance, wanting everything to be okay with a quick fix. I also like that she and Spike are actually more similar than you'd think in that regard, and that they meet coming in to the magic shop for essentially the same thing. I always thought those two should have had more scenes together. Speaking of characters who needed more scenes together, Spike and Joyce having hot chocolate (and the mini marshmallows)!

I think one of the biggest nerd moments of my life was getting excited when I got my SAT scores and realized they were exactly the same as Willow's, including the breakdown. (I was also disappointed in finding out my verbal was somehow lower than my math...how??) It's heartbreaking every time Buffy sees a way out of Sunnydale, and then has to realize she's stuck with her calling.

Giles needs to stop going away to do things, though I love this exchange:

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

I just wish they'd cut the "baby" taunts out of the script. Eesh.
posted by ilana at 11:44 AM on June 8, 2015


Spike driving full-tilt out of town blasting the Sex Pistols is a fantastic moment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:43 PM on August 6, 2015


I'm not much of a Sid Vicious fan but his version of "My Way" is just Spike to a fucking T.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:56 PM on August 6, 2015


If the understanding is that turning Vamp amplifies and corrupts ones human personality traits, I think both Spike and Angelus make sense.

Liam was a waste-of-space manipulative hedonist. In human form, this was basically just a 17th-century Irish PUA, but Vampirism took the manipulation and added a sharp vicious cruelty to it. Remember that Angel is not Liam, but rather Angelus with a soul added to make him remember and regret all of Angelus' actions.

William was, as the episode says, a Fool for Love. A reckless romantic. Vampirism corrupts that into Spike being an obsessive stalker with rash tendencies and no care for consequences. But that obsessiveness still always needs a focus, be it Dru or Buffy, and that's just enough unselfish thinking to drive him towards good sometimes, and eventually get him to seek a soul on his own accord. If put into V:tM, I don't know what Angelus would be, but Spike would be 100% Toreador.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:04 PM on October 12, 2015


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