Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 5 Episode 7

April 19, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5-07 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Bloody Awful Poetry: A Buffy The Vampire Retrospective, S5 E7


Episode 7

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

The episode kicks off the way so, so many do: With Buffy fighting a vamp. This one is a punk rock inspired monster, and Buffy is taunting him as she dishes out the beating… until he grants her own stake and stabs her in the belly with it! Buffy tries to flee with Punk Vamp bearing down on her, and she is eventually saved by Riley.

At home, Riley is bandaging up Buffy’s wound, and Dawn is in on her wound. Mom comes home, and Dawn covers for her sister’s injury. While Buffy is on the shelf, Riley agrees to patrol with the rest of the team.

And so he does, with Willow, Anya, and Xander all in tow. The latter (lattest?) of the three eating potato chips and all three of them loudly chatting away while Riley tries to sneak through the cemetery.

Now look… I’ll usually jump on any opportunity to lambaste Xander when the writers think they are making him sympathetic, but this scene is just moronic. Willow and Xander in particular have been hunting with Buffy and the gang MANY times before. They aren’t friggin’ Dawn out here, having no idea what is going on. But hey, this is supposed to be that BTVS humor we know and [feeling verb], I guess. Characterization be damned.

Elsewhere, still recuperating, Buffy is studying slayers with Giles, and she wants a special emphasis on how and why previous slayers had died. Giles points out that most Watchers probably didn’t have much to report on that final confrontation. Buffy annoyingly asks if they just didn’t care, but a quiet Giles responds it would be because they were busy dealing with grief. Take THAT, Buffy! Giles loves you.

Anyway, Buffy remembers she knows someone who can give her in-person details about slayer deaths…

So we cut to Buffy and Spike together, and I have no idea if any of this is real for several moments due to the sex dreams Spike has been having the last few episodes. But no, it turns out that THIS scene is actually happening. She wants info on how he killed two slayers in the past; he wants… buffalo wings.

Do vampires still need vitamins and minerals and shit? Or do they get everything they need to survive from blood?

I ask because, not that buffalo wings are amazingly life-sustaining as a foodstuff, is he just eating them for the taste? Or do they actually nourish him? Help him get protein from the chicken meat? I don’t know. This show gives me so many questions, but I actually like this one. I’ll buy that vampires DO eat real food, but I want to know if they are getting anything besides yums out of it. I’m am ponderous!

Then again, this is probably one of those times I’m putting eight thousand times more thought into something than the writers ever did. Like remember when Angel said he couldn’t do rescue breathing on a drowned Buffy in the season one finale? Because vampires “don’t breathe”? That has turned out to make no sense whatsoever. Hell, Spike constantly smokes, and that involves a lot of breath in / breath out.

So I am going back to that moment, and I think Angel was just a shy boy.

We start cutting now to Spike retelling his origin story, and in London in 1880, Spike was a straight up geek. He writes poetry, and we see that his bullies called William The Bloody because his poetry is “bloody awful”.

Which, if you were wondering about how I felt about that line/reveal

Spike likes a girl from his era, but she is embarrassed of him. He reads her a poem that he wrote for her, and she tells him that he is beneath her. A depressed Spike roams the streets of London before being set upon by Drusilla, who seduces and turns him.

And… okay, going by the chain of events, I GET IT. 1 begets 2 begets 3, so 1 KIND OF begetted 3! But Spike said that Angel was his sire. Not his sire’s sire. Also, were we ever given any sign that Dru was the one to turn Spike before? This comes out go nowhere. Why not stick with the story we had been told and have Angel turn him? There is too much begetting in this version.

Back in real time, Riley and his bothersome teammates find Vampy Ramone, but it turns out he has a whole nest of allies with him. The heroes agree to leave and come back in the morning while the vampires are asleep.

You know what’s silly? Why do so many vampires live in the same city as The Slayer? Like… they could drive out to San Jose and all be SO MUCH SAFER. Why did this never dawn on me before? But here, the idea that they are just so vulnerable, even as a nest, as they sleep during the day made me realize it’s stupid to even live here. There is one (1) Slayer IN THE WORLD, and she pretty much stays within city limits.

You don’t even have to go FAR. Three hours away, and you are golden to feed on anyone you want.

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Why are these fools electing to stay in Sitting Duck City?

The answer is “Because Hellmouth”, but what sense does that make!? These vamps aren’t doing anything to/about/for the Hellmouth, so what does it have to do with their staying?

Go to Seattle, vampires. There is, like, no sun there. Live like kings!

Oh well. MOVING ON…

We go back to the past to see Spike with Angel, Drusilla, and… and… that season one lady who died early on. What was her name? Something! I give the show credit for the fact that I DO recognize her, and I like the continuity of bringing her back, but they clearly think I’ll remember her name, and I do NOT.

Anyway, Spike has an argument with Angel, and the latter mentions a slayer, creating an obsession in Spike, who needs to prove himself now.

In China, Spike gets himself his first ever fight with said slayer. They brawl, and she clearly has the upper hand. But an explosion outside saves his life and puts the slayer in peril, allowing him to feed off her and kill her… and now we see how Spike got his eyebrow scar. Drusilla comes into see a victorious Spike, and they bang. When they leave, they meet up with Angel and his season one vamp lady. Spike calls it the best night of his life.

In real time, Spike gets awfully judgy about Buffy asking all these questions about the slayers he has killed. He reveals he knows she is injured and why she is suddenly so concerned with slayer mortality.

Elsewhere, Riley just says “screw it” to waiting until morning now that he has gotten the Scooby idiots to leave him alone. So he marches in wit that Big Riley Energy and blows up the vampire nest with a grenade. Which, I mean, that will do it.

Wait, WOULD it?

I feel like I don’t know enough of the difference between grenades in fiction and grenade in real life to know if that could dismember the vampires in a nest enough that they wouldn’t heal. So saying that, I’ll let the show have this one based on my own ignorance. But I’m watching you, buster!

Spike and Buffy start angry sparring, even with her weakened state in play. And we start flashing back to the New York City subway in 1977, where Spike manages to look EVEN MORE like Billy Idol than usual. This was his second encounter with a slayer. As we cut back and forth between then and now, we see that the spar is mirroring his fight aboard the train.

Spike tells Buffy that it’s his experience that all slayers have a death wish, then we see him break the 1977 slayer’s neck.

Another death NOT with a railroad spike.

GOD DAMN IT, even in his origin story flashback, we still don’t see him actually kill anyone with a railroad spike! This is just bullshit at this point, BTVS! I was promised railway spikes. I don’t even WANT them, but you still promised!

(I did call this, though)

An agitated Spike taunts Buffy to try to get her to kill him, and when that doesn’t work, he moves in for a kiss. She tosses him away, throws a crumpled pile of money at him for helping her out, then tells him that he is beneath her, bookending the words of his last mortal love.

Spike is out for blood now! You done goofed, Buffy! He charges into his lair and grabs a shotgun. Harmony tries to talk him out of it, but he says it will be worth the severe shock from the implant to squeeze off a round and end Buffy once and for all.

A final flashback now, this one to an epilogue of season two we had not yet seen: Spike calls out Drusilla for messing around with an antlered demon. The demon backs off so the couple can talk, and Dru points out that Spike is covered in Buffy and obsessed with her. More re-writing of Spike’s history here to imply he always had this weird crush on Buffy that he VERY CLEARLY never did until, like, five episodes ago.

At home, Buffy sees mom packing because she has to spend the night at the hospital to get a CAT scan, even though CAT scans take, like, minutes. But whatever; I’d want to get out of the house that Dawn is living in, too. But doesn’t the hospital, you know, not just give away rooms they might need for other patients?

Buffy heads outside and sits on her stairs crying. Spike and his shotgun sneak up on her, but ultimately he sets it down and sits with her in silence instead as the episode comes to a close.

Before I jump into next episode, I have to brava this one here. This was one of the better episodes of the series; probably a Top Ten, and I might have to make such a list when I’m done with the retrospective series. Especially in the back half of the episode? Where we had a frustrated Riley just bombing out the vamps, the mirrored fight scenes, Buffy telling Spike he is beneath her, and then that ending?

Look, I find the whole idea of a Spike/Buffy romance silly, but this was all really well done. Good work, BTVS. You got yourself a good one here!