Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Crush   Rewatch 
November 25, 2015 8:27 PM - Season 5, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Spike reveals his romantic feelings for Buffy, who disgustedly rebuffs him. Drusilla arrives hoping to entice Spike to come play with Angel and helps him reconnect with his old evil self.
posted by yellowbinder (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
OK, now this episode truly marks a low in failing to kill vampires. It's not just that Buffy just punches Spike after he tied her up and almost set Drusilla on her, she also lets Drusilla, the insane evil vampire live. I think the writers sometimes forget what Buffy's day job is!

Other than that absurd conclusion, this is a good episode, with Spike's feelings come into a head. At his worst, Spike is a scary misogynist, and that's at full force here, as he ties up Buffy and Drusilla and demands that they listen to him. I think his character evolution in this season is earned precisely because of episodes like this, but it could be argued that the writers are a little flip floppy in how dangerous he is. Oh well: we'll see that in full force in 6.

We also have Buffy being interested in Ben, he being the only unattached male on the show who's not Spike (maybe she wouldn't have slept with Spike in 6 if she'd just signed up for e-harmony or something...). Luckily this plot line will not go too far, I wonder if the writers could sense the lack of chemistry there.

-Buffy doesn't know about it, but Spike actually kill someone in this episode.
-"I'm drowning in you Summers."
-"We can love quite well, if not wisely."
-Cute moment where Tara looks for change and Willow provides it. Just fun background stuff
-"The sodding onion got remodeled off the menu"
-The first and only appearance of the train station
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:10 AM on November 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Buffy doesn't know about it, but Spike actually kill someone in this episode.

I think 85% of fandom has collective amnesia about this episode, because tons of people are still spouting the idiotic "Spike was harmless once he was chipped, so it was ok for the Scoobies not to stake him" argument, which really, really, cannot be supported given Spike's actions in this episode.

There's also a sizable contingent that seem to feel that Buffy was being unfair and species-ist against demons when she assumed that Spike couldn't truly love her. I think it's perfectly reasonable for Buffy to have doubts about Spike's "love" for her and what that means, when that "love" leads him to kidnapping her, threatening to kill her, and then offering to kill Drusilla (whom he supposedly "loved" as recently as three years ago.)

Onto other parts of this episode. I find Tara kind of irritating in this exchange:

BUFFY: Poor Will. Still getting those headaches?
WILLOW: Fewer and further between, but...yep, they're still exercising their visitation rights.
TARA: Honey, in case you didn't hear me the first six thousand times, no more teleportation spells.
WILLOW: Well, it's just we have squat in the way of Glory-fighting arsenal, and ... another run-in with her and my headaches and nosebleeds are gonna be the least of our problems.

If Willow hadn't done that teleportation spell in the previous episode, the world would have ended, so I think that Willow's completely right that her headaches and nosebleeds are a small price to pay. (And since Tara doesn't have an alternative solution to The Glory Problem, I'm not sure that categorically forbidding future teleportation spells is a great idea.) I'm also rather annoyed that Giles (in Blood Ties) and Tara (in this episode) are making hand-wringy comments about how much advanced magic Willow is doing, without offering to take on some of the load. It's not like either one of them is helpless in the magic department, even if they aren't as powerful as Willow is now.
posted by creepygirl at 10:42 AM on November 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

While Spike did, technically, kill in this episode, Drusilla had snapped his victim's neck first (so I assumed while she was still alive, she was basically paralyzed, which got around the whole "Spike can't hurt people" thing). Not that it lets him off the hook, of course.

I enjoy this episode because I think Drusilla is a lot of fun in general, and I like when Harmony shows up. But I like it less and less the more I've watched it. (Although I appreciate Spike knows how he feels is pretty messed up. Although that's kind of the only time.)

(And the way the show -- overall -- treated Willow really bothers me. Willow's power was necessary when they needed it but once they didn't ... well ...)
posted by darksong at 12:00 PM on November 26, 2015

I always assumed that Dru was the one who killed that woman.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:11 PM on November 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

(maybe she wouldn't have slept with Spike in 6 if she'd just signed up for e-harmony or something...)

You know, they never come right out and SAY this, but Buffy only tends to maintain long-term relationships with guys who are, like her, super-strong. And things went downhill with Riley once he WASN'T super-strong anymore. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I don't think Buffy is all that sexually compatible with normal human men, because she could snap them like toothpicks.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:15 PM on November 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Do you know, I somehow missed that Dru killed the person first. That actually totally makes sense! Still pretty, you know, evil....

To be fair, I think Tara is doing the overprotective lover thing with Willow, Oz did similar beforehand. I also suspect it was thrown in there as a way to explain why they don't just use that very effective tactic every time Glory turns up again. You're right in that there is a split of pressure on Willow to both do magic and control it, but I do think that's deliberate, and that's where drama stems from. Contra the excesses of Season 6, Willow's magic wasn't all about fun, after all her first major act of magic was restoring Angel's soul. It's not that Willow is wrong about magic being necessary, but she lacks the wisdom to know when it is and when it isn't.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:41 AM on November 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

To be fair, I think Tara is doing the overprotective lover thing with Willow, Oz did similar beforehand.

I think there's a difference in the way that Oz expressed his concern:

WILLOW: I don’t know. Then again, what is college for if not experimenting? You know, maybe I can handle it. I’ll know when I’ve reached my limit.
OZ comes up to them: Wine coolers?
BUFFY: Magic.
OZ: Ooh, you didn’t encourage her, did you?
WILLOW: Where is supportive boyfriend guy?
OZ: He’s picking up your dry cleaning, but he told me to tell you that he’s afraid you’re gonna get hurt.”
WILLOW with a smile: Okay, Brutus. (Oz just looks at her) Brutus – Caesar? (Willow looks form Oz to Buffy) Betrayal – trusted friend? (Makes stabbing motions with her banana) Back stabby?
OZ: “Oh, I’m with you on the reference, but – I won’t lie about the fact that I worry? I know what it’s like to have power you can’t control. I mean, every time I start to wolf out, I touch something –deep – dark. It’s not fun. But just know that what ever you decide, I back your play.

To me, that treats Willow as someone who is allowed to make her own decisions, even ones that worry him.

"Honey, in case you didn't hear me the first six thousand times, no more teleportation spells." is an authoritarian "don't do it because I said so" kind of communication. Like if Willow isn't on board with what Tara thinks she should do, it's because she didn't hear Tara the first six thousand times. There is no acknowledgment that Willow might have heard Tara, but disagreed with her about the necessity of doing another teleportation spell.

Also, I would say that here, Willow is right and Tara is wrong about the necessity of using magic.
posted by creepygirl at 8:18 AM on November 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm just here to say this one of my absolute favorite episodes.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:24 AM on November 29, 2015

My favourite part of this episode, on rewatch, is when Harmony shoots Spike and gives him one to go on with. I don't really like Harmony much overall, but given what a stupid, entitled prat Spike is being, it is pretty satisfying to watch him being taken down by the vapid blonde girl he always underestimates. He does treat her like a dog. Go Harmony!
posted by Athanassiel at 3:37 AM on December 6, 2015

I hear what y'all are saying about Tara vs. Oz in their ways of expressing concern about Willow's magicks, but there's also different power dynamics in play. Oz, for all of his emotional maturity (and in fact in part because of it) had more power in that relationship. He was older, more experienced, and far more self-confident than Willow was at the time. Now, because he was an almost mythically good dude (prior to the Veruca bullshit), he recognized that fact and didn't exploit the power dynamic, so as much concern as he had for Willow there, it makes sense that he'd soft-pedal it knowing that 1.) she'd hear a whisper from him so there was no need to shout it and 2.) that the responsible thing for him to do was to model that they were equals.

Tara is also on the saintly side of "good partner" but the dynamic is flipped. It's never explicitly stated as far as I can recall but this is clearly Tara's first relationship, she comes from a deeply fucked-up family that emotionally abused her (and maybe physically abused her as well) and Willow is now confident in herself and her abilities but also expects a similar kind of support from Tara that she got from Oz. They're relationship is in a healthy place right now, thankfully, but it makes sense that Tara has to be a bit firmer in expressing her worries about Willow than Oz ever needed to be.

On a different subject, on this rewatch I'm really trying to tackle the Xander Problem, i.e. why he's so often so hatable in this group of characters (and now that we're in S5 I'm trying to figure this out with Dawn as well. I'm a bit of an apologist for both characters but, um... it's not always easy.) TRIGGER WARNING: I'm about to go on a tangent about the Penn State Scandal from about ten years ago...

When the Penn State scandal broke, I remember following it all on the blue here, and there was a youngish man, named McQuarrie IIRC, who witnessed Sandusky in the act of molesting a child, and then consulted with his father and a few other people about what to do about it, before eventually bringing it to the authorities. He was (again, going from memory) shortly out of college, junior coaching staff, and knew that this was potentially career-ending for him. And I remember people in the thread focusing a lot of their rage at him for taking his time to alert people as to what was going on, when from how I saw it he obviously should have acted sooner, but he was the only person who had an opportunity to do the right thing who actually did anything right at all there. And I think it comes down to the fact that of all the people in that story, he's the only one who a rightfully-outraged person can imagine being in the shoes of. Sandusky, Peterno and the others were too monstrous to empathize with even a little, but one can easily imagine being McQuarrie, and hesitating when he did is something none of us wants to think we would do (and hopefully something none of us would do.

TANGENT OVER, my point is that I think that Spike is presented to us as a stylish monster, played by James Marsters having the time of his life in the role, and making him very fun to watch. Like Cordelia before him, the fact that he's introduced in a villanous role makes his moments of warmth, heroism and vulnerability feel like depth, and make him more interesting. Xander, on the other hand, is presented as one of the heroes, and for teenage boys watching, the gateway character with whom to identify. And he never has supernatural powers, making him the most grounded recurring character in the series aside from Joyce. So when he's good, it comes across like him just doing the job he's there to do, but when he's shitty, we feel the failure, and it's not magic-addiction or losing his soul or flying away on a Black Ops mission or trying to control the werewolf. It's shitty stuff that we're very familiar with in real life.

So when Xander sucks, which is a lot of the time, it's that he sucks in the same way your ex-boyfriend or the dude behind you in Bio sucked. When Spike sucks, he's tying up two women he claims to love and demanding those women decide which one he's going to murder. The latter is obviously far worse, but it's a lot more fun to watch and chances are it's not bullshit you've had to deal with every day and just cringe your way through it.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:44 PM on September 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

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