Drinks Taken: 22
Vamps Dusted: 0
Follow the whole rewatch here!
Dang, y’all, a lot happened in last week’s recap. We met Glory, this season’s Big Bad, and we learned that Dawn is actually the Key, a.k.a. a ball of energy that can create a portal, and some monks inserted her into everyone’s memories as Buffy’s little sister. Cool cool cool.
This week gets even heavier, so there’s nothing wrong with a little liquid courage.
The Buffy Season Five Drinking Game Rules
Drink once every time:
A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Willow and/or Tara gets witchy with it
Riley is a drag
Things get funcomfortable between Anya and Xander
Dawn is annoying
The Magic Box has customers
Anya loves money
Spike has zero chill around Buffy
Drink twice every time:
Giles drinks tea
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a call back to previous season shenanigans
Someone uses a payphone
Glory sucks someone’s brain
I’m gonna flaunt my powers a bit here and add a drinking game rule for this next episode, because it feels very necessary and I don’t know how else to cope: drink once every time David Boreanaz butchers Angel’s Irish accent. Sláinte!
5.7 “Fool for Love”
Allow me a brief preface/admission. I’m not a fan of the flashback episodes of Buffy, but this is the exception. Maybe it’s because I’m pro-Spike? Maybe it’s because it actually paints a layered portrait of a villain? Maybe it’s because it explains Spike’s obsessive nature in a way that Twilight never did for Edward Cullen? At any rate, I just need to warn you that my recap is longer than usual, and I’m not sorry about it.
The episode opens in classic fashion: with Buffy fighting a vamp in the cemetery (drink) while making clever quips. In this case, she’s referencing the vampire’s B.O., which must be extremely overpowering since his huge Ramones hair doesn’t even get a mention. But unlike other episodes, this vamp manages to stake her in the gut, WHAT, and I have never been so thankful to see Riley show up. He zaps Vampy Ramone into running away, then takes Buffy home and bandages her up. After promising not to tell Joyce about Buffy’s wound, Dawn begrudgingly agrees to handle Buffy’s chores, while Riley will take patrol. “When do I get to patrol?” Dawn whines. “Not until you’re never,” Buffy replies.
The following night, Riley is in total Initiative mode (I thought I’d never have to type that word again but there’s no other way to describe his obnoxious military hand signals, etc.) while Anya, Xander, and Willow follow behind, eating chips and acting like they’ve never patrolled before. Riley spots Vampy Ramone heading into a crypt, but it’s full of other vampires, so he suggests they come back in the morning. But his pants are totally on fire, because he comes back alone and throws a bomb into the tomb, wiping out all of the vamps. Okay then!
Buffy is really shook by her slip-up, and I can see why–Vampy Ramone was nothing special, which is a stark reminder that even the Slayer can make a mistake. She wants to learn more from the OG Slayers, particularly about their final battles, but there’s no record of them, because their Watchers were too upset to put it to paper. I get that but also, isn’t that, like, a really important part of the gig? Then she realizes she can go straight to the source, i.e. a person who has killed two Slayers, i.e. Spike. He agrees to spill the beans for cash and an order of hot wings, and we head into the first flashback of the episode.
It’s 1880 London, and Spike, known as William, is a rather pathetic, bespectacled wannabe poet with poofy hair. He’s at a party, mooning over a woman named Cecily, when a guy grabs his poem and reads it out loud. It’s SUPES embarrassing, especially when a woman says, “They call him William the Bloody because of his bloody awful poetry,” and then the reader replies, “I’d rather have a railroad spike through my head than listen to that awful stuff.” GET IT YOU GUYS? Undeterred, William follows Cecily into a room where she completely shuts him down, causing him to run out of the party and into an alley, where Drusilla finds him. She begins to stroke his ego, telling him he’s special (no wonder he falls in love with her), and promises to give him a better life… by biting him, of course! He seems into it at first but then erupts into a lot of “ow ow ow” and this is even more embarrassing for him than the poetry stuff.
Cut to Yorkshire, 1880. William, who now goes by Spike, is rolling with Dru, Darla (hi Darla!) and Angel, and the latter is not happy with Spike’s show-off behavior. The “Irishman” (drink) tells him that his public antics are likely to get all of them killed, and if not by the mob, then by the Slayer. This is the first time Spike is hearing about the Chosen One, and he is very intrigued.
Fast forward to China, 1900. It’s the Boxer Rebellion, so we know Spike is about to kill his first Slayer, who is a badass Chinese girl, light on her feet and swift with the sword. Too bad an explosion distracts her, allowing Spike to get to her neck. Dru arrives, totally turned on by the Slayer’s death (ugh), and they begin furiously making out. I have not missed this! They eventually meet up with Angel and Darla, then walk away in slo-mo from the burning city.
Now we’re back at the Bronze, where Spike has been telling his tale to Buffy. To illustrate the fact that it can only take a moment for him to get the better of a Slayer, he punches her in her wound–it makes his head spin, but still, she’s hurt. Buff is pissed and insists on Spike demonstrating how exactly he could get the best of her, so they head into the back alley and he finally spills the deets on his second Slayer kill, which we see in the final flashback.
It’s 1977 New York City, and as the Shaft soundtrack plays, a Slayer (who definitely took notes from Pam Grier) is battling Spike (who definitely took notes from Billy Idol). The scene shifts back and forth between this fight and the Bronze alley, where Spike tells Buffy:
Every day you wake up to the same bloody question that haunts you: is today the day I die? Death is on your heels, baby, and sooner or later, it’s gonna catch you. Part of you wants it. Not only to stop the fear and uncertainty, but because you’re just a little bit in love with it. Death is your art, you make it with your hands day after day. Every Slayer has a death wish. Even you.
Back in 1977, we see the subway car hurtle through a spot where the lights cut out, and Spike seizes the opportunity to jump on top of the Slayer and break her neck. Then he takes her leather trenchcoat–the same one he’s wearing in this moment in 2000, when he stares at Buffy and asks her to punch him. The tension between them is sizzling, and after she refuses to hit him, he leans in as if to kiss her, and she’s totally wigged out. Spike pushes forward, saying, “You know you want to dance.” Buffy, with ice in her voice, responds: “Say it’s true. Say I do want to. It wouldn’t be you, Spike. It would never be you.” Then she pushes him to the ground, and throws the cash on top of him, saying, “You’re beneath me,” before walking away.
It rings of Cecily’s rejection, and as Spike begins to cry, I really feel for him. But then his tears turn to a look of murderous rage, and he rushes to his crypt to grab a gun so he can kill his third Slayer.
We take a quick detour to South America, 1998, where Dru is asking Spike why he can’t push his thoughts about Buffy away, why the memory of her continues to eat away at him. Then we see that they’re fighting in front of a demon with antlers covered in slime, whom Dru was obviously cheating with. Awkward! Antler guy leaves, but Dru has had it–she tells Spike that when she looks at him, all she sees is the Slayer.
Back at the Summers house, Buffy finds her mom packing for an overnight stay at the hospital, because the doctors have ordered a CAT scan. Fuhhhh. Buffy, totally freaked out, escapes to the porch to cry, and that’s where Spike finds her. After one look, his murder plan goes out the window, and IMO, this moment is some of James Marsters’ best work (SMG’s performance, per usual, is flawless).
He asks her what’s wrong, and when she won’t say, he simply sits down next to her and gently pats her back. Then they just sit together in silence, an incongruous pair finding strange comfort in each other.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
6 (including the drinks for Angel’s godawful accent)
It’s the infamous Chaos Demon!! Spike was right, dude is gross, but also… seems like a nice guy?
Spike’s Rebel Yell
I gotta be honest, Billy Idol Spike can GET IT! More late 1970s flashbacks, please.
Buffy’s Season Five Hair Slays
It’s been said before, and we’ll probably feel the need to say it again, but Buffy’s hair is magnificent this season.
This episode opens in a place much scarier than a cemetery: a hospital. Joyce is sliding into the CAT scan, and the fear on her face is devastating.
Meanwhile, in a luxurious penthouse, Glory is trying on heels and talking with a demon monk named Dreg about an incantation. Dude is peppering her with compliments like she’s the Ann Perkins to his Leslie Knope (my fave: “Your Creamy Coolness”). He assures her that the spell will do its job, and she just needs to pick up a few things to make it work.
Over at the Summers’ house, Riley finds the front door ajar and then discovers Spike, sniffing Buffy’s sweater. Ew, Spike! Thank god I can distract myself with the realization that Buffy has a Magic Eye poster (drink). Riley shoves him downstairs (not before Spike snags a pair of Buffy’s undies, double ew!), where Spike tries to sow seeds of doubt in Riley’s mind about his relationship with Buffy. He scores a major point when it becomes clear that he knows about Joyce’s trip to the hospital–and Riley doesn’t.
At least Riley does the right thing and heads straight there, where he hugs Buffy, who is clearly glad to see him before she has to head into a private room to get her mom’s results. The doctors have found a “shadow” on her brain, and they need to do a biopsy, and oh shit, I’m already tearing up. The procedure happens pretty quick, and the findings are no bueno: Joyce has a brain tumor. It might be operable, and her chances of beating it seem good, but Buffy is still overwhelmed and scared. Ben the Friendly Hospital Guy shows up and tells her to get out, get some air, which she interprets as a chance to head to the Magic Box and ask the Scoobs to find a spell to heal her mom. Riley gently tries to dissuade her from the idea, but when she won’t budge, he agrees to take Dawn out (and not tell her the results). What follows is the only time my feelings towards Riley border on affection: he takes Dawn out for ice cream and sits with her, watching the carousel (yes, Sunnydale has a carousel) and listening to her talk about her 10th birthday, when Joyce rented the whole carousel for her party. But they had just moved to town, and Dawn didn’t have any friends, so the three Summers girls rode that thing for the full hour, just them. It’s a really sweet moment that Dawn proceeds to ruin by informing Riley that he’s good for her sister, because Buffy never gets worked up about him like she did for Angel. Jeezy creezy, get a clue, Dawn (drink).
Over at the Music Box, post-family-separation Tara is looking gorgeous while she wonders if the woman (Glory) they’re searching for is something old, something ancient, something that predates the written word. Giles thinks she may be on to something but has to help a customer, who is OH HI GLORY. She buys some stuff, no big deal, but when Anya is going through receipts later, she sees that Giles sold two things (amulet and bloodstone) that you should never sell together, because they can be used to TL;DR transform something into a monster. The Scoobs realize they just had their first brush with Glory, then Buffy arrives and begs them for a spell to heal Joyce. Giles sadly informs her that the medical and the mystical aren’t meant to be mixed, and thankfully he can turn her rage towards Glory, who plans to use the incantation on a cobra.
Cut to the Sunnydale Zoo, which I’m glad was already established in Season One so we don’t have a whole carousel situation again. Glory breaks the glass and grabs the cobra, then she and Dreg begin the spell until Buffy rushes in and interrupts. They fight, even though Buffy got staked like two days ago (Slayer healing powers?), and Glory still kicks the crap out of her while the cobra turns into a giant snake man hybrid. What is with this show and bad CGI snake monsters? Though, to be fair, part of the snake is practical effects, respect. Glory charges Snake Man to find the Key, and methinks there are far more effective, less inconspicuous beings to do this, but Cobra Guy slithers off on his mission.
Riley finally shows up at the Magic Box, and Xander calls him on his MIA BS, which I really appreciate, but that lands us in the middle of a weepy montage of Riley back at Willy’s bar (where for art thou, Willy the Snitch?!). The same vamp lady hits on him again, and this time, he goes “home” with her, letting her bite him until he stakes her angstily. Ugh, drink! Buffy heads back to the hospital so she can be with Joyce while she hears the tumor news, while Cobra Guy picks up Dawn’s scent by the carousel and tracks it back to the Magic Box, where it discovers Dawn, screaming her head off. The monster tails it back to give Glory the news, but fortunately, Buffy attacks it a few blocks from its destination, choking it on a chain like Jabba the Hutt. After it fakes her out, she kills it for real with a lot of face punches which seem kinda ineffectual but who am I to judge a Slayer’s work?
Back at the hospital, Joyce tells Buffy that she wants to deliver the tumor news to Dawn alone, then asks if she has bad hair, because she doesn’t want to look like a scary mom. It’s so sweet and sad and I’m getting all choked up, you guys! Buffy heads to the hallway, where she encounters Riley, who is totes wearing a Turtleneck of Shame. As he hugs her, he asks her to let it out, but she can’t, because Joyce and Dawn need her. So she heads back into her mom’s room, leaving Riley alone. Womp womp.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
16, and I ain’t complaining.
Xander & Anya Comic Relief
Between Xander calling Riley “Captain America” and Anya getting pissed over Xander’s casual joke about a cult that worships bunnies, these two are the saviors of levity in this episode.
Giles for Life
Is Amy Still a Rat?
Yes indeed, and you’d think they would move her to the magic shop by this point but nope!
So I realize that Spuffy is a controversial topic, but did revisiting “Fool for Love” alter your perspective at all? And do we think Marc Blucas is still bitter about where the writers took Riley?
Join me in the comments to debate Spike’s character then tune in next week when Kandis recaps “Listening to Fear” and “Into the Woods,” which is viewed by some (me) as a celebration occasion!