Buffy the Vampire Slayer created by Joss Whedon

Drop me a line | Season Seven Archives Sunday Oct 13, 2002
  Buffy Reviews, Vol #7 Issue #2

7.2: Beneath You

Written by Doug Petrie | Directed by Nick Marck

BRIEF SUMMARY: A giant worm is hunting down it's ex-girlfriend (only in Buffy ,eh?) and it's all Anya's fault. Plus Spike has regained his sanity - or has he…

Not a happy camper
Enjoyable episode this. You've got the story arcs progressing along nicely as well as a one off story and a killer ending. Just like the old days! Spike took centre stage here and showed why he's probably the most complex character in the Buffyverse right now (though Wes would be in the running as well). At least it's confirmed now that it was his intention to get his soul back, not a badly phrased wish. It was a cute trick to see him unhinged at the start then be super cool Spike later on. At first I thought it was incredibly rushed to see him so well adjusted, but my fears were groundless as he was merely putting on a façade, trying to be old Spike, calm on the surface but a torrent of emotions underneath. The final scene, of him telling Buffy in his rambling way that he has his soul back was extremely well done. The shot of him cradling the crucifix while Buffy looked on crying was immensely powerful stuff. I must confess, this has really started to make the attempted rape scene make more sense from a story point of view. It was of course ugly and brutal, but that was the whole point. It basically killed off the old Spike as it was the final desperate act of a person who wasn't quite a man and not quite an evil demon. It served as the catalyst for driving Spike to get the one thing that could possibly redeem him - a soul. When I first viewed the bathroom scene I was very disturbed by what I considered to be a shock plot device to get ratings up. But on hindsight, it truly was the most emotional brutal act that could really draw a line under old Spike. That or killing someone would probably be the only things that could do it. It was also interesting when Anya spotted he had a soul. That was when his cool persona fell apart like a straw hut in a hurricane. But she seemed genuinely pleased. Probably out of all the Buffy crew, she could relate most to the problems of being a demon and having the ghost of human emotions. It does make you wonder quite what the deal is with Anya though. If she's a demon, she shouldn't have a soul. So how can she still be feeling guilty about the acts she's committed? And why didn't she go through the same insane guilt trip that Spike's currently on? I reckon being a vengeance demon is a slightly different set up to your bog standard demons. More a case of having demonic powers but being human. We also found out that Spike's still chipped when he accidentally stabbed Ronnie. I won't go into the whole chip thing again (what is the point of having an anti-violence chip if Spike can still do the violence but suffer a huge headache after it? Not much use then is it.) but I was quite curious to see if he still had it. Since he's effectively a 'good guy' now he doesn't really need it so every human still has the upper hand on him. I've been very impressed by the way Spike has been portrayed of far this season. My one worry is that the insane rambling will soon grow old fast, but I'm pretty sure the writers will have him level out soon.

Buffy. Mmm...
Buffy is still in 'fight monsters and say funny lines' mode which is very enjoyable. Her storyline still hasn't quite been established yet, though it's obviously connected to the girls who are being killed and the big bad. It's interesting that this time she dreamt about the girl (who looked very much like Lola from, eh, Run Lola Run) and seemed to feel that it was connected to something bad. She didn't say if she knew these were potential Slayers or not but that seems to be the connection. I also wonder if she had a dream of last week's victim but possibly dismissed it. Very intriguing. I'm wondering if this is eventually going to lead to Faith being targeted. Would be pretty cool but I still have my doubts we'll see her back in the show. Buffys obviously and understandably very wary of Spike but the fact he got his soul back for her must buy him back some ground. It's fascinating to look at and is starting to rival the old Buffy/Angel combo as great stories. Like I said, Buffys future this year is still being laid out but the pieces are being put in place: the job at school, the new principal, the girls being killed and her relationship with Spike. It's fun to watch and I'm very much enjoying this version of the character compared to last year.

Didn't you used to be blonde?
Xander got some more meat this ep. As he tried to get on with his life and put the moves on Nancy. I don't think she'll be back which is a shame as she seemed quite an interesting character. I like the fact that the 'gang' are basically a core unit of Buffy. Xander and Dawn. It reminds me of Angel's first season and clearly shows the bond between them. It's clear that though financially he's very successful his love life is stalling at the moment. I don't know if he's fully moved on from Anya and I suspect the pair of them might get back together. I really hope they don't though as the two characters are far better apart than together. Although Anya's wish caused the worm monster she wasn't really involved much this ep. She did revert the spell so this is probably another step along the way too fully giving up being a VD but where is it going to lead? Her and Xander were talking but they are still obviously in pain - her because of the wedding and him because of her fling with Spike. We'll have to see but it's crucial these 2 characters don't revert to being melded together again.

I'm smiling because I'm not annoying anymore!
Dawn is still incredibly very likeable indeed. The writers have totally nailed the character spot on this year - funny and tough, not argumentative and petulant. Not much for her to do this ep. but she's still very humorous and enjoyable to watch. The Junior Scoobys were absent as well from this ep. which is a good thing. Nothing worse than being force fed characters whom the writers want you to accept. Slow and well paced appearances are the key to get us used to them. Also her calm statement that if Spike touched her sister she'd set him on fire. Very well delivered and left the viewer in no doubt that this was no idle threat. Good stuff.

Do you know when my spin-off is starting?

Willow & Giles are still in England though Willow voices her concern about seeing her friends again for the first time. There's not much to say here except the two of them are always likeable and interesting to watch. It looks like this will be the last we see of Giles for a while which is a shame but I'm sure he'll be back later in the season.

All in all, this was a rather good episode. The subplots of the girls being killed around the world is intriguing, all the cast are very likeable right now, and we had a story separate from the arc that was wrapped by the close of play. What elevates the episode though is the fantastic finale and very good imagery of Spike on the cross. Electrifying stuff.

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David McNulty
'If you hurt my sister at all, touch her? You're gonna wake up on fire.' - Dawn
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Fanzone - Genuine comments from various message boards

Fan 1: 'Old Spike was interesting and made for a cool badass bad guy, but one can only go so far in that direction before it gets boring. That's why I liked sad, drunk Spike from that one s3 episode. Admittedly, s4 Spike was a little lame, since he was forced to tag along with the Scoobies, and it just never really made sense to me why they still kept him around instead of staking him on the spot. When Spike started falling in love with Buffy, I initially thought it was a lame idea, but then I saw that this was really just a better way to make Spike a thorn in Buffy's side, first by being the unrequited, obsessed lover in s5, and then by being requited...over and over and over again in s6. The almost-rape was perfectly in character, even if it still bothers Marsters to watch the scene. Now we have resouled Spike for s7, and we'll have to see how it plays out. I have to say, I'm afraid that without his edge, he may not be all that entertaining and engrossing anymore. While the penetent, schizophrenic Spike we saw in "Lessons" seemed to fit, he wasn't all that fun to watch, particularly around the other hilarity in the episode. Let's hope that Spike will still have his edge to a significant degree.'

Fan 2: 'So far she (Buffy) seems to be repeating old patterns (concealing her vampire lover after he's done something bad); her friends/family are pissed; and there doesn't seem to be much examination of Buffy's inner journey. Meanwhile ... we have a LOT of what's going on with Spike. After S6 shouldn't we see more of what's inside Buffy's rather than Spike's head?'

Fan 3: 'OKay. I know I'm probably going to take flack for this, 'cause nobody likes people that talk about how they know everything, but I'm surprised how many people post about whether or not Spike meant to get his soul back in the cave. I always figured he did, because he/the writers always danced around him actually saying "I'm here to get the chip out." He kept making references to giving Buffy what she deserves, which, considering he's all ga-ga for her, is a soul-owning lover. Doesn't everyone else agree with this?'

Fan 4: 'Basically, the (rape) scene last year was more about emotional impact then the actual physical act. I think the primary reason they played up the physical part of it(having Buffy weakly beat him off) was to not trivialize the act itself(remember its still a very sensitive issue). As far as emotional impact, look at it through her eyes. The guy she was seeing, who despite herself kinda liked, was trying to hold her down and rape her. Even if she just threw him off a second after, just the fact that someone she's been sleeping with would turn on her like that is quite a smack in the face.'

Fan 5: 'JM should get that emmy, although if they did not get one for writing "the body" I wouldn't count on one for spike either. Also, I love reading all the speculation, but patience is a virtue and you'll find out soon enough what Joss has in mind for the Scoobs this year. To all of you who hate Dawn, feel that Spike is a loser, think Xander is fat, want Willow to date only women (or only men) and think Anya got too mean, why are you watching? Are you the same person you were 7 years ago? if so, I am so sorry for you.'


Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Anne Summers) Website: SMGfan.comJames Marsters (Spike aka William the Bloody) Website: James Marsters.comNicholas Brendon (Alexander 'Xander' LaVelle Harris) Website: Nick Brendon.comAlyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg) Website: HDC - Alyson Hannigan CentralEmma Caulfield (Anya Emerson aka Anyanka) Website: Anya.Org.UKMichelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers aka The Key) Website: Michelle-Trachtenberg.com

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