Honestly you could pluck Angel entirely out of this scene for me, and I don’t even mean that as someone lukewarm to romance THOUGH ALSO THAT. I just don’t feel he brings a whole lot to it other than Buffy’s accusatory “What do you know about it? YOU’RE NEVER GONNA DIE.” Which is so beautiful and true and hurtful, and I wish they’d better explored that idea between Buffy and Angel for more than being the wedge that makes him leave for his own spin-off. (Also David Boreanaz is just NOT anywhere close to Tony Head and SMG’s acting level and he falls almost embarrassingly short here in my opinion, BUT I DIGRESS.)
The real meat of this scene is Buffy and Giles: Buffy for her outburst, and Giles for bearing witness to it. I love how her questions to Giles hang there unanswered, and how they spiral so quickly.
“I wonder who she is.” A moment of compassion for someone she doesn’t know, WILL NEVER know, who is about to be given this cruel fate and has no idea what’s waiting for her. Whose own life is about to end, just as surely as Buffy’s will.
“Will you train her?” Can I relate to her for a moment, to how you were with me? Will you mention me to her? Will she know who I am? Will you remember me enough to tell her? Did I matter enough to try? (And the exquisite flash of pain that crosses Giles’ face at the thought of someone just stepping in to replace Buffy. Of having to go through this all. over. again.)
“Does it say how he’s gonna kill me?” She laughs a bit here, like it’s a joke, like she wondered what certain doom was waiting for her in the cafeteria lunch today. Like she can’t believe these are the words coming out of her mouth. And how she so desperately doesn’t want to know, she doesn’t want to ask what’s coming next, she DOESN’T, but she has to.
“Do you think it’l hurt?” And there’s where she loses it and so do I. Sarah delivers this line with such perfection. So afraid and so innocent. Nobody should have to ask this question, but especially not a girl barely in high school. And it’s like if she has to die, then she has to die. But god, what if it HURTS? It’s so visceral to me. And she sounds like a child pleading with her parent to keep the pain away, to save her, But nobody can, and as she lashes out at Angel’s attempt at comfort, it’s when the anger comes full force.
Buffy goes through so fucking much here, and we feel every single emotion. The twists the stories and characters make, I found in later seasons it could be so difficult to connect with Buffy. But this moment, this fucking moment. I come back here sometimes, and I wonder, just how much of this little girl ever really went away.
can’t possibly do that! It wouldn’t be appropriate!” I exclaimed, shocked by
the suggestion my butler just made.
not? I did at least ten times…with Albert!” he responded unfazed.
I couldn’t possibly poison Giles just for a few days off really! What kind of
person would I be?” I panicked
“ A person
that gets what he wants! A person like me.” answered Nico looking straight into
I suddenly didn’t
really want to drink my tea anymore. I placed the cup back on the table and
reflected on what Nico had just told me. Strategically speaking weakening an enemy
to obtain victory was the best option. But we were talking about Giles. Apart
the fact that I was convinced he was immortal I couldn’t possibly poison my
adviser, my ally in front of all the bureaucrats. There had to be another way
than poisoning and blackmailing him with the antidote to obtain a day off.
could still go back to operation honey pot?” suggested Nico with a frown.
idea of using his weakness is perfect, but we picked the wrong one… We’re
talking about Giles not Sid, so he won’t budge when it comes to women. That
kinky royal adviser has a bigger weakness than those nice legs of mine.” I triumphally
Giles had a
sweet tooth. Desserts were always his favorite part of the menu. He was worse
than Nico really, but he had the skill to hide it very well. The only thing I
had to do was to tempt him with a delicious chocolate-strawberry cake and
strike while he was savoring him. By striking I obviously meant ask him to let
me go on vacation, not literally strike him with a blade. Nico had somewhat misunderstood
cooking was worse than my flirting skills, I went down town to buy the sugary
bait. The baker was kind enough to help me personalize it a bit. It wouldn’t
harm to make it seem like I made it, so I added a few blueberries and I nice
message on top of it. Nico had remained at the castle to spy on our target.
When I came back, he told me Giles had retired to his room for a little break.
The timing was just to perfect. Sweet! (No pun intend.)
“A cake for
me? But I just had lunch.” asked Giles surprised, but I just saw a sparkle in
“But I went
through so much trouble just to make it for you.” I pouted a bit.
just one bite.” he sighed and after a few minutes. “You still won’t go on
can’t you at least arrange for one day off. Please! I rea-“ I suddenly stop
begging when I noticed Giles face was turning beat read.
started coughing and gasping for air. It was frightful sight and I immediately
called for the doctor. After a while, Giles managed to whisper something: “Strawberries”. That man could be saying his last word and
the only thing he managed to say was a fruit’s name, why must his love for
dessert take him away like this really? The doctor finally gave me some explanation
regarding Giles’ cryptic message.
that he has an allergic reaction caused by the strawberries he just ate.”
recover? Will he…die?” I asked looking at Giles’ cheeks who were dramatically
gave him some medication. The swelling and the coughing should go away in a few
left, I decided to nurse him until he fell asleep. Giles had been mumbling a
few words but because of his swollen cheeks, I understood “Bubble” which may
have meant “Trouble”. I still can’t get over the fact that I accidentally
Side note: I can picture the princess poking his cheeks while he’s asleep :3 Also I hope it doesn’t bother anyone that I use the first person perspective (we say it like that in French but I don’t know the English term for it).
Giles braids Buffy's hair because it got messed up during a patrol and Buffy was freaking out because she had her and Willow's official first date that night and she didn't want to look like a mess and Giles I know I just saw her at school today but it's Really Important What Am I Gonna Do!!!! And Giles reluctantly tells her that he learned how to French braid a long time ago and can probably still do it and the look of pure joy on Buffy's face makes Giles smile his dad smile, you know the one.
okay oh my I’ve calmed down somewhat but I still really cannot believe how into each other Giles and Jenny are because it’s unbelievably adorable
first off, Jenny’s face as Giles is leaving is wonderful
she starts off with kinda soft eyes
and a sweet smile
and then goes to “dorky as all get-out” once he’s turned around and is walking away
the Unflappable Jenny Calendar seen here, folks
look at this lil bean she can’t take her eyes off him and she can’t stop smiling
she tries to go back to being cool at the end but we all saw that, jenny. we all saw it.
ALSO OKAY I HAVE TO ADD the fact that Jenny looks suddenly cool and collected at the end probably has to do with the fact that Giles, who was walking away, turned around again to look at her? Like she’s all dorky grins and stuff when he’s not looking but when he turns around she has to pretend she was already going back into the classroom.
“yep. cool. just leaving. look, I’m going to toss you a flirty look over my shoulder because I’m totally confident and casual about this. not a dork. not me.”
GILES WALKED BACKWARDS INTO THE LIBRARY
BECAUSE HE HAD TO GET ONE LAST LOOK AT JENNY
I cannot with these two they’re such smitten idiots even when they’re dating
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Leo had to visit another kingdom, leaving the teachings to Giles this week. But during today’s lessons, she couldn’t get yesterday out of her head.
… . .
Hearing the women talking while she climbed into her carriage.
“She wasn’t even interested in being the princess.”
“I heard she snuck in and begged them to make her princess.”
“Begged? She probably slept with the king herself!”
“What else could she do? She won’t have a prince with her looks.”
She paused on the step, hearing their gossip about her. Giles called her attention.
“Princess?” Giles held his hand out. “Are you alright?”
“Hm?” She looked to him, giving a smile before taking his hand to get in easier. “Yes. Just a little tired.”
He gave her a warm smile, “When we get back to the castle, I’ll have Nico make you a relaxing cup of tea and have a bath prepped for you.” Watching her sit, he then climbed in himself.
“That sounds wonderful.” With the door shut, she looked out the window to wave to the people. She glanced at the women who were talking, doing her best not to watch them.
… . .
Hm?!” Blinking, she realized Giles was calling her.
He let out a sigh, “You’re distracted. Is something the matter?”
She started to shake her head, but when she opened her mouth, she paused. “Well…” Trying to shake the thought away, she picked up her pen to take notes. “N-no, it’s nothing.”
But when she tried to write, Giles gently placed his warm hand on hers to stop her. “If something is wrong, I wish to resolve it. Otherwise you won’t be able to focus on your studies.”
He had a point, making her put her hands in her lap. “Well…I remember when the village was getting excited about the day the Princess Elect would be chosen. And seeing the posters all around.”
“Of course. We wanted the villagers to prepare for the occasion. The Princess Elect doesn’t happen very often.” He offered a smile. “But then I chose you on that eventful day.”
“Yes, the day was rather busy for both of us.” Looking down at the table. “But…I often wonder if I didn’t come if I’d even be looked at.”
“It’s possible another girl could have been chosen, yes. But you were chosen. Why are you thinking of that now when it doesn’t matter?” He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
Feeling his finger tips, she felt her heart skip a beat. “Yesterday was the day we went to the village where you made the announcement of my being chosen. But as we rode back, I heard some of the villagers talking…” Looking at him, “Giles, why did you chose me as the princess?”
He looked at her, almost surprised she was asking him this now. Giles offered her a soft grin, “I saw something inside of you. It’s a little hard to explain, but understand I picked you because I knew you could fulfill the duties.”
Looking back down, “But it wasn’t anything you wanted on your posters…”
“And what exactly was on those posters that makes you think this?”
Taking a deep breath, she reached for the papers to her left before pulling out one of those very posters. It looked wrinkled and old, holding it to him. “You wanted to find someone with grace, beauty, all those kind of things.” When he took the poster to read it better, he glanced to her as her shoulders sank. “You wanted a girl who could easily pass as a princess.” She could feel herself trembling, hands closing into fists. Her head lowered, attempting to hide her fallen face. “A girl who’s pretty looks could easily obtain any prince for this kingdom.”
She could hear his sigh, facing away. “Princess.” He waited patiently until she looked at him. Putting the poster on the table, “Do you not think you’re beautiful?”
Looking back down from his question, she bit her lip before shaking her head. “There are countless women in the village who are pretty. And they can talk much easier to others, or learn dances without stumbling or stepping on one’s foot.” Hearing him sigh again, she turned away getting up from her seat. “I-I don’t feel well. I wish to rest in my chamber.”
She couldn’t hide the break in her voice, knowing she was starting to feel tears down her cheeks. But as she started to step away, a hand took hers. Looking down to the man who started standing up, he kept a firm grip on her hand. “Giles, what are you-”
“Forgive my boldness, Princess.” Pulling her to him, he wrapped his arms around her. His voice was soft, starting to speak in a low tone. “I’m sorry if I ever made you feel you weren’t enough. But I don’t want you to think that way.” Tightening his grip around her, Giles could feel her trembling in his arms. “You have worked so hard since you got here. I don’t believe there are many who would be in your position who’d be so focused, and do as well as you have been.” Hearing sniffles, he brought a gentle hand to her chin. “Princess?”
Looking at him with teary eyes, her nose and cheeks were red. Lips trembling, she blinked a few tears away. “You…really think so? You’re not just saying that?”
Seeing her face, Giles could only smile before wrapping arms around her once more. “We’ll cut the lesson short today.” Her face was buried in his chest, holding him as he gently rubbed her back. His lips softly pecked the top of her head. “How about you take a relaxing bath? We can continue our lesson tomorrow.”
As he let go, she noticed parts of his clothes were damp from her crying. “Oh, I’m sorry.”
He shook his head, “No need to apologies. Just go get some rest. I’ll check on you in a bit.” When she nodded, he wiped the remaining tears from her cheeks. “You are very beautiful, no matter what those women said yesterday.”
She looked surprised at him, but before she could say anything, he shook his head. Not letting her worry about it, she decided to go with a nearby maid. When she left the room, Giles looked back to the poster she had hidden from him. Picking it up, he brought it over a candle to let it burn away.
This is one of the most subtly brilliant one-offs I’ve ever seen. The gimmick is simple - everyone is turned into their costumes.
Buffy thinks the symbolism of Halloween is this simple:
Buffy: It’s come as you aren’t night.
But Giles knows that it’s a little more complex than that.
Ethan: It’s quite a little act you’ve got going here, old man.
Giles: It’s no act. It’s who I am.
Every character in this episode is wearing a costume. Even the ones who aren’t dressed up for Halloween are wearing a disguise. So first let’s go through the supporting cast before addressing the Big Four (Spuffy and Cangel).
Oz only appears briefly in Halloween, but he’s still present nonetheless. Oz has a face that he shows to the public: The face of cool band guy. But there’s another side to him, a concealed one - the feral wolf, which we have yet to see, but will come out later on. Oz is in costume.
Dru has a hidden face she hasn’t shown to us yet this season. So far she’s only shown us her vulnerable side - the side that dresses in a white gown similar to Buffy’s in Prophecy Girl, the side that’s weak and innocent. But this is a costume - Drusilla has a vamp face. Unlike Spike, she was introduced in human face and only showed her game face later. The violent, demonic animal inside is Drusilla’s hidden face.
As a shopkeeper, Ethan shows the world a godfatherly persona, pretending to be a friendly fellow taking a casual interest in a customer’s needs. And while doing this, he wears green. In reality, Ethan is a villain, a demon-worshipping sorcerer with a dark history and a willingness to hurt the innocent. And he wears red, the complementary color to green, when showing us his true face.
Giles wears the persona of a fuddy-duddy librarian, the “sniveling, tweed-clad guardian to the slayer” in public. In private, though, he has a dark past, a second name (Ripper) and the capacity for violence and terror that we shouldn’t underestimate. Giles shows us his hidden face for the first time in this episode, hinting at the darkness we’ll see from him in future seasons and the dichotomy that begins to truly flesh him out as a character and make him more complex than simply “Buffy’s substitute father and watcher.”
The face Willow shows to the public is the face of shy teenage nerd, covered up completely and afraid to speak or come out of her shell. She presents an image of powerlessness through her lack of confidence. But there’s a hidden side to Willow. When called upon, she can be confident. Sexy. Powerful. Dangerous. Willow’s outfit is I think meant to be “sexy witch” - she certainly looks like a witch. It recalls not only Vampire Willow, but Dark Willow as well.
On the surface, Xander is a doof - an uncool teen with a general reputation for being weak and incompetent. But Xander has another side - a side we’ll see separated from him again in the episode The Replacement. He has a side that’s cool, confident, suave and tough, a side that can handle himself in a crisis and be counted on to save the day. Throughout future Halloween episodes, Xander will wear an outfit meant to symbolize what he isn’t - at least, not predominantly - anymore. In Fear Itself he dresses as James Bond, the opposite of what he is that season - a broke loser, essentially. In All the Way, he dresses as a pirate, or a homeless filthy sex-crazed maniac mooching money off of others. By that point, he’s becoming cooler and more successful, so he dresses as what he isn’t anymore - or at least what he’d like not to be.
Okay, on to the big four….
In the first scene of the episode, Cordelia flirts with Angel. She sits down opposite him and makes the first move; she makes references to Barbie Dream cars, emphasizing her femininity and wealth. From Buffy’s point of view, Cordy seems like exactly the girl she wants to be - living a carefree life with only the obligation to look good and spend money. She emphasizes this with her critiques of Buffy’s hair, comparing her to a street urchin. In the next scene, she comes into the bathroom with Buffy and Willow and puts on lipstick, emphasizing her costume, her looks, her femininity. She reveals that she wasn’t aware Angel was a vampire, but also shows lack of concern for that fact. She says frankly, “You might be hot stuff when it comes to demonology or whatever, but when it comes to dating, I’m the Slayer.” This emphasizes again that Cordy is what Buffy isn’t - she’s not a fighter, she’s not an expert on demons, she’s not a hero or a champion. She’s a rich girl who can afford to play the damsel in distress and spend all her time looking pretty and worrying about dates. Right?
Cordelia’s costume is compared to Catwoman several times. It certainly is reminiscent of a superhero costume, isn’t it? Dressed like that, put into dangerous circumstances, Cordy suddenly shows another side of her. With Buffy incapacitated and Willow intangible, Cordelia suddenly becomes the only woman in the Scooby Gang capable of actually fighting or saving the day. And she does so. She helps, she scoffs at Buffy’s sudden vulnerability (Oh, faboo, more clinging). Cordelia dresses like a superhero, and it turns out that she can be one. Underneath it all, Cordy has a side that is tough, that can be a fighter, that cares about more than the simple, shallow pleasures of being rich and popular.
From Cordelia’s point of view, Angel is an attractive prospect. She’s already stated she’s attracted to him; he’s saved her life and she’s bonded with him independent of Buffy. I don’t think her pursuit of him has ever been about simply one-upping Buffy, unlike with Owen. Cordy was attracted to Angel from the start all on her own, and she’s begun pursuing him in earnest. She finds him at the Bronze and commiserates over their shared missed dates; she brings him coffee, and actually manages to make Angel smile. Cordy is laughing too; they’re getting along, making jokes and bonding. I honestly wish Buffy hadn’t interrupted them - they were hitting it off. Cordy emphasizes her feminine, wealthy side, and it does indeed attract Angel - Buffy has good right to be jealous.
Cordy likes Angel, I think, because she senses something kindred in him. They did both grow up to wealthy parents and were both rather spoiled brats as kids. Both are also relative outsiders in the Scooby gang who have a history of being popular; Cordy doesn’t exactly fit in with the group, and neither does Angel, at least not very well. They also both have a bitchy, nasty side - Cordy as “Queen C” and Angel as Angelus.
Cordy inquires about Angel in the bathroom, and I think is subtly chastising Buffy for running out on him. She saw that her running out made him unhappy, after all. She then asks about him, to hear his story. She’s curious and speculative, even asking if he lives at home. Cordy reveals that she was unaware Angel was a vampire - this episode is the first glimpse Cordelia gets at Angel’s hidden face, and the first glimpse he gets at hers. So far Angel has only seen the Cordelia that’s a damsel in distress, and she’s only seen the Angel that’s “handsome man save me from the monsters.” In this episode, she gets her first glimpse at his inner darkness, while he gets his first glimpse at her inner light.
Cordy doesn’t take Buffy’s words seriously at first, but I think she’s quite accepting of the idea of Angel as a vampire “But the cuddly kind. Like a care bear with fangs?” Then warns off Buffy, saying she’s afraid of the competition. Cordy seriously intends to go after Angel, even if she’s currently dating Devon. Devon has been flaking on her, avoiding her and generally ignoring her, so why not go after Angel?
In the Halloween induced chaos, Cordy runs into Angel again, quickly recaps what’s going on, and asks him how he is. She also reassures Angel when Buffy runs out that Buffy will be okay, and sticks up for him to Buffy, saying “Angel is a good vampire. He would never hurt you…He’s our friend.” Seasons later, Cordy will respond similarly to Wesley’s accusations against Angel (You don’t get to come in here and accuse my friend of this.) We’ve started a pattern here - Cordy will stick up for Angel to anyone who doubts him.
After the battle is over, though, Angel ignores Cordy in favor of Buffy, which annoys her. Xander tells her she’s never going to get between them - believe him, he’s tried - and Cordy seems to give up after this. She doesn’t bother pursuing Angel anymore - but honestly, I think she should. Angel brings out good qualities in Cordelia. Around him, she’s friendlier, willing to help save the day, and willing to stick up for him to others. We see another side of Cordy this episode with regards to Angel - a side that’s compassionate, and friendly, and even noble.
Cordelia’s relationship with Buffy in this episode is also focused on. Cordy sees Buffy as the Slayer - she’s everything that Cordy’s persona seems to not be. But Cordy has a side that’s brave and kind like Buffy too. Cordy wants to deny her inner Buffy (I’m not some sniveling little cry-Buffy) and warns her off as competition. But Buffy will later in this episode deride Noblewoman! Buffy’s clinginess, and help deal with the problems herself.
Angel in the opening scene wears a blue shirt. He looks almost normal, almost human, hanging out at a nightclub and drinking coffee while talking with Cordelia, even smiling and laughing. Buffy shows up and Angel picks a strand of straw from her hair, which makes Buffy self-conscious. Angel actually doesn’t mind that she’s willing to get dirty; he says at the end of the episode that he hated the noblewomen of his time for their vapidity. Angel is attracted to the tough, masculine side of Buffy, but he seems on the surface to only like her vulnerable human side. He rarely acknowledges her as an adult or as the Slayer; her slayer half seems distant to him. So Buffy runs, upset. I’d imagine that Angel immediately started blaming himself and wondering what he’d done wrong to make her go.
Angel next shows up during the battle; so far this episode we’ve seen him at his most human, and its easy to forget that he’s a vampire. During the battle, though, Angel’s game-face comes out. His inner darkness is revealed. Earlier on in this episode, he wore a light-shirt costume, but here he’s in his trademark black, and his demon face appears from beneath his angel-face - only for a moment, but its enough to frighten Buffy. Angel sees the humans he’s trying to befriend are scared by his demon side. Stripped of her memories, Buffy sees his demon-face and runs away, screaming and terrified. Buffy to Angel represents being human, connected to the human race. She shows him that humanity still, on a primal level, doesn’t want him.
Although Angel likes Buffy’s strength, his own show will reveal that he has a basic fairy-tale mentality when it comes to saving the girl. He wants to be the hero on horseback, swooping in, sweeping the girl off her feet, and slaying the dragon. Here, Buffy allows him to do so. He gets to save the girl for a time. But the monster inside of him isn’t dead. He can’t be human, not fully human. Angel this season will find that the demon inside of him is not gone, just laying dormant. And Buffy doesn’t accept it - she’s ignoring it.
Angel is generally a miserable, serious person. We’ve yet to see anyone attain a genuine laugh from him. He usually stands about, frowning, pouting, being angry, miserable, sometimes pleased, but never happy. Angel’s relationship with happiness is rather similar to an addict’s relationship to caffeine. As Liam and Angelus, he was addicted to happiness - to serving his own pleasure. He couldn’t get enough of it; he was high on pleasure all the time. As Angel ,with his soul, he tries to quit happiness cold turkey and be miserable all the time. But the only true way to wean oneself off of an addiction - especially to something that’s healthy in small doses - is to learn to get small doses daily. And who can help Angel learn to take happiness in small doses, like a cup of coffee each day rather than an addiction?
Cordy is the first character we ever see get Angel to laugh. She brings it out of him with a silly joke, but she still does so. She gets Angel to smile like we’ve never seen him smile before. With Cordy, Angel can be human. She brings out his human face the most of any character on the show; around her, he becomes awkward, sweet, smiling. He’s able to enjoy happiness and humanity in small doses, and slowly wean himself off of his addiction issues.
Right now, Angel’s too preoccupied with Buffy to guess that Cordy could be the perfect girl for him. But he’s notably never derogatory of her. He never insults her, at least not directly. He doesn’t try to offend her or even bat away the idea that he could be involved with her to Buffy; he doesn’t say “It’s not what it looks like” or “I’d never date her.” I’m guessing, based on Angel’s personality, that he figured it was something he’d done to make Buffy feel insecure, but unobservant as he is never guessed that it was Cordelia.
In battle, Angel sees another side to Cordy - the one who’s willing to stick up for him and fight to save the day. I think he’s touched by this act. Angel is an obsessive guy; when he falls, he falls hard, and he can’t see anything that’s not his obsession. Buffy is his current obsession, and as a result he can’t even notice that he might have a good thing going with Cordelia.
At the end of the episode, Angel tells Buffy that he found the noblewomen of his day very dull. Currently, Cordy is in that position - but as this episode reveals, and as we will see later on, there is more to her than that. Cordy is someone exciting, interesting. There is nothing dull about her.
Spike spends most of this episode in game-face. He entered the show like that, with his vamp-face on, dressed in red and black. But all of this - every inch of him, from bleach-blonde head to combat-booted toe - is a costume. Starting with his name - Spike, an assumed name - to his fake blond hair, his leather coat stolen from a slayer, and his game face loaned form Drusilla. Spike’s persona is made up entirely of illusion. On the surface, he plays the role of the Big Bad.
Watching Buffy fight, Spike is clearly enticed by her strength. He’s attracted to her slayer side, her masculinity, her strength. It’s clear that he wants a challenge, not a simple fight where he can win easily. Yet later in the episode he revels in Buffy’s vulnerability. I think its possible the spell affected even the people not in costume - it forced them all to take on the persona that they wear outside. Spike becomes the Big Bad so much that it takes over his priorities; he looks as surprised as anyone when the spell is broken.
So here’s my theory: Spike was hit by the spell too. He is wearing a costume - everything on him is borrowed - and it caused the Big Bad side of his persona to take over completely. When he snapped out of it, our William was as astonished as anyone else and that’s why he quickly retreats. That’s also why he seems to revel in Buffy’s easy defeat whereas earlier in the same episode he was impressed by her strength and stamina. He temporarily loses himself in the Big Bad.
Then what is Spike’s hidden face? His hidden face is William, of course - the sweet, emotional, lovelorn poet. Let’s take a look at William, then - 19th century nobleman from the upper class, who’s only job is to look attractive, find a wife and be in love. Basically, he’s everything Buffy wants to be. William is quite similar to the persona Buffy turns into in this episode - he’s no fighter, he’s an upper-class twit and immaculately groomed. Also, he has darker, curlier hair than Spike - just like Buffy’s costume.
Spike is Buffy and Buffy is Spike. in Season 5, the villain Glorificus shared a body with Ben. Glory was a blonde, super-strong chick with special powers; Ben was an unassuming brunette with none of those powers. Spike and Buffy are both Glory on the surface - blonde, strong and dangerous - and Ben on the inside (Brunette, sweet and vulnerable).
Just as the Big Bad is menacing the vulnerable Noblewoman, the tables are turned. Buffy the Vampire Slayer springs up and beats up our nobleman William. You see, Spike’s Big Bad Persona can be just as scary and dangerous as Buffy’s Vampire Slayer ID. And their two vulnerable sides are equally vulnerable. Again, no matter what the circumstance, Spike and Buffy are equal.
As far as Spuffy goes, this episode shows Spike is now obsessed with Buffy the Slayer. He admires her, he watches her, he’s impressed with her fighting skills, so much so that he even ignores Drusilla’s needs. This is the first sign of Buffy’s eventual replacing of Dru. Buffy interests him more than Drusilla does now - of course, Dru is stuck in permanent vulnerable mode at the moment, while Buffy is out there kicking ass, and its clear which side Spike finds more desirable (i.e., ass-kicking). Dru doesn’t get his attention until she brings up Buffy. I love his line “eyeballs to entrails, my sweet.” That’s how Spike sees love - as Dru asks him “Do you love my insides, the parts you can’t see.” Spike doesn’t want to just love who someone is on the surface. He wants to have all of them, love all of them. In Season 7, he’ll tell Buffy that he’s seen the best of her and the worst of her. He will indeed love her insides as much as he says he loves Dru’s.
Big Bad takes over and makes the Slayer his priority. He could have easily spent his time searching for other blood to drink, but Buffy is his obsession. She’s what matters. She’s the Slayer, and he wants to fight her. Dance with her. He finds her meek and vulnerable, and as he leans in, there’s an element of seduction there. She’s appealing - even her vulnerable, weak insides, he finds attractive. He gets close to her, takes off her wig - symbol of vulnerability, leans over her. I think he wants to drink from her, maybe even to turn her, or maybe already he even wants to kiss her. I think Spike is as drawn to Buffy’s meek insides as he is to her strong outsides.
She returns to her normal self, and I think he does too, as the spell wears off, Big Bad Spike snaps back to Spike/William, and he looks stunned and confused. But I think deep down he’s pleased that Buffy snapped back - he wants a better fight. He runs off, I think stunned by her reverting to herself, telling him “Hi honey. I’m home” and beating him down.
Spike’s hidden persona isn’t played too much this episode - but that’s why its hidden. Spike’s insides match Buffy’s insides - There’s a strong resemblance between William and “Elizabeth”, as I’ve dubbed Buffy’s costume self. Indeed, both Spike and Buffy were reasonably wealthy sorts before destiny called, shallow and emotional with their only concerns being fashion, poetry and love. Fate has turned them both, though; they’ve lost their ability to be that way, ever again, permanently. But hey, the personas they’ve evolved into aren’t so bad. They just need to learn to balance them. Spike needs to learn to be both Big Bad and William the Bloody Awful Poet. It isn’t until Angel Season 5 finale Not Fade Away that we see him mix the two personas together - using Spike’s confidence to finally read one of William’s poems in public. It’s a long road ahead, but I look forward to seeing it.
Buffy’s feminine side in this episode is symbolized by Angel - he plucks a blade of straw, a symbol of her strong slayer side, out of her hair. Her masculine side is embodied by Spike, who pulls off her dark wig, a symbol of her sweet, vulnerable side. Buffy wishes she could be a girl whose only job is to be beautiful, rich and boy-crazy - it goes beyond wanting to impress Angel. In general, she wishes she were sweet and vulnerable.
Buffy has an innate desire for someone sweet, sensitive and vulnerable - note the guys she tends to chase. Sensitive poet Owen, shy awkward Angel, mumbling Tom. Confidence is a turnoff for her - Buffy would’ve been all over 19th century William. She tends to go for guys who are sweet and kind on the outside, but nasty on the inside, with that shy persona concealing dark secrets.
Buffy has begun to wear the Slayer persona more and more. In the episode The Wish, we see a Pure Slayer version of Buffy - a girl who became essentially a killing automaton, like Kendra, and is easily defeated by the Master. I’m going to call her “Buff” (cause it sounds like Tough, and that’s just what I am). That girl - that rather Spike-like girl - is a part of who Buffy is. Part of her enjoys the violence, the excitement, the danger. But parts of her just want to be a child again.
That’s where “Elizabeth” comes in. Elizabeth, noblewoman Buffy, is what Buffy wishes she could be - pure child, pure human, pure innocence. She’s pretty, dark-haired, glamorous and vulnerable, exposing Buffy’s feminine side and showing off that she can be vulnerable and frightened. This side is an easy, happy, carefree existence. So it seems like Buffy should just go and be Elizabeth, right? It’s easier.
But not only is Elizabeth more vulnerable, she’s also less good. She doesn’t fight to save the day; she doesn’t seem to really care about anything or anyone but herself. She lets others do all the rescuing, and cowers in the corner, while still making demands on everyone. She’s rather mean and shallow, in fact, putting down everyone who appears poor or desolate. She’s a haughty person, and a selfish one.
And Buffy - the Buffy we know - is a hero. As the Slayer, she’s a champion. She cares about other people. She fights for their safety, she beats back dark forces, and she defends her friends. She doesn’t get to be glamorous and carefree doing so, but she is a much better person than childish, selfish Elizabeth.
Buffy doesn’t run across Spike until near the end of this episode, but it is interesting to me to see how she responds to him. Vulnerable Elizabeth is scared, wimpering, but doesn’t scream. I wonder if she’s a little attracted. When she saw Angel’s game face, she screamed uncontrollably and ran the other way. Spike, though, she lies there. She doesn’t move, or squirm, or protest. She lets him lean into her, bending her back over the crate, moving in for…something. She looks almost sad when he slaps her - but I think Elizabeth is rather attracted by the Big Bad.
Buffy then jumps up,when she’s restored, with a huge grin on her face. She looks right at Spike and says “Hi honey. I’m home.” Spike will later on echo these words in End of Days - “Honey, you’re home.” She’s paraphrasing the traditional lines of a 1950’s house husband. But the “wife” she speaks to is Spike. He’s “Honey” to her. Already B? That was pretty fast. And beating up Spike gets Buffy to say “It’s good to be me.” It’s refreshing - hitting him, being herself. He makes it comfortable and acceptable to be her.
Buffy is definitely not in love with Spike here. But I do think she’s attracted to him from day one. He brings out her confident side, her strong, forceful persona, and I think she likes that. She likes being able to be the assertive, dominant one. She’s usually so defensive and insecure, so needing to justify her actions. But with him, she can do what she wants, be herself, no pressure, no judgment. No need to defend. “Buff the vampire Slayer” comes out around Spike. She beats him up and I think its a rush for her. Makes her feel strong. Confident. Capable.
That’s a lot to say for a couple who as far as we know have only directly spoken to each other four times, in a few brief scenes. But in those four brief scenes, every single one of them has showcased a remarkable chemistry that goes beyond basic good guy/bad guy. Personally, I think Buffy is attracted - physically - to Spike. It doesn’t go beyond that at this point, but the physical attraction is enough. They’re still in the attraction phase of the relationship. She likes punching him, he likes fighting her. In What’s My Line, they say “I’d rather be fighting you anyway.” “Mutual.”
In short, I think this episode shows us perfectly that Spuffy and Cangel were meant to be. Around Angel, Cordelia drops her bitchy Queen C persona and becomes the heroic Saint Cordy. Around Cordy, Angel drops the mysterious Angel persona and lets the nicer side of Angelus - the human side that laughs at jokes and lives in the world - come out. Around Buffy, Spike drops his Big Bad persona and becomes William, shy sensitive poet trying to justify himself to the woman he loves. Around Spike, Buffy drops her Elizabeth persona and becomes the Slayer, strong, confident woman of the world.
And conversely, each of their Season 2 lovers makes them retreat into their false identity. Around Xander, Cordelia is all Bitchy Queen C, with none of heroic Saint Cordy coming out. Xander brings out the childlike mean girl in Cordy, although occasionally she does show her sweet side to him. Around Buffy, Angel is all mopey miserable cursed boy, never smiling, always concealing the joy-loving (albeit evil) demon within. Around Drusilla, Spike has to play his Big Bad persona, act evil and talk tough, because as soon as he lets his inner desire to save the world come through in the Season 2 finale, Dru dumps him asserting he isn’t demon enough for her. And around Angel, Buffy has to be Elizabeth - vulnerable, emotional and needy - because she doesn’t feel comfortable being the Slayer around him. As she put it in the previous episode, “Its hard to slay vampires when you’re having fuzzy feelings for one.” All of their season 2 romances will force our heroes to retreat into their costumes instead of be themselves, or let the more difficult-to-accept side of their personality shine through.
But Season 2 (and Lovers Walk) will split these romances up. Our heroes will all go their separate ways. Angel and Cordy will go off to LA, where Angel will nurture Saint Cordy and make her a hero, and Cordy will nurture Liam and let him find some joy. Buffy and Spike will stay in Sunnydale, where Buffy will nurture and bring out sweet William, and Spike will nurture and encourage Buffy the Vampire Slayer to grow up and accept herself.
And here’s some thoughts on the other characters romances: Willow will find someone - Kennedy - who can nurture Dark Willow and help her reconcile to shy Willow. Xander will find someone - Anya - who will nurture confident Xander and reconcile him with dorky Xander. Oz will find someone - Veruca - who will show him his need to accept the hidden werewolf. Giles will find someone - Olivia - who seems able to accept his Ripper self.
Ah, young love. So based on passion, so little based on common sense.
Also, Fun Fact: Buffy dresses Willow up as her idea of sexy. Buffy’s idea of sexy is to wear combat boots, black leather, and red. Hmmm.