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'Buffy' nostalgia recap: The dichotomy of Spike

Season 5 | Episode 7 | “Fool for Love” | Aired Nov 14, 2000

You know the old adage that implies everyone is either a lover or a fighter? Well, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer challenges that notion in a big way. When we meet Spike in “School Hard,” he’s a vicious killer, but we don’t realize that he’s anything more special than the other vamps that roll into town for an episode to wreak havoc.

Later, when he returns to play a bigger role in the second half of season two, we learn that he was part of Angel’s old crew during his Angelus days—and that Spike is driven by love (for Drusilla) to do everything he does. It’s a sweet quirk, a fun twist, but not something that we (or at least I) gave a lot of thought to the first time around watching Buffy.

When Spike returns for (more or less) good in season four, we finally get to know him as more than a villain, albeit an interesting one. He has violent tendencies; he joins the Scoobies in their fights against evil because he can’t harm anything that isn’t demonic in nature. He is funny and weird and likable and personable in ways that many of the men on the show (Angel, Riley, I’m looking at you) never are. He has a big heart and love dictates his actions, even when he doesn’t want it to. When he realizes that he’s crossed the thin line between love and hate and is falling, hard, for Buffy, he’s in a panic.

Most of our revelations about Spike come slowly, peppered in or settled in the background so that we barely even notice them. But in “Fool for Love,” we get what amounts to Spike’s origin story; we delve into exactly what makes him tick and ticks him off. It’s glorious, just how complicated and conflicted he is.

I would love to split this piece into two simple parts, to list all of Spike’s loving traits and then to list all of his hateful ones, but they’re so intricately intertwined that that’s impossible. So, with that in mind, let’s start at the beginning:

As a human, Spike wore his heart on his sleeve. Back then, he went by William, and he was known for his poetry. It might not have been great poetry, but it was heartfelt and William wasn’t afraid to put himself out there, romantically. That fearlessness in following his heart and instincts carried over to Spike’s vampire days.

In spite of his sensitive soul, Spike has always had a dark side. After being laughed out of a social gathering or his “bloody bad” poetry (which the party guest described as worse than having spikes driven through them—hence the nickname), Spike is found by Drusilla, who sires him almost immediately. He seems a little startled, but not afraid of the demon, death, or what he might become. That my friends, is a dark side.

He stood up to Angelus. Maybe it was a little bit to impress Dru, but I think a lot of it was just for him. Spike rebelled against Angel and Darla’s rules, rampaging through the towns they visited and almost getting them killed. He wasn’t afraid of death, even as a vampire. As a human, he didn’t play it safe with his heart; as a vampire, he didn’t play it safe with anything. He loved Drusilla and he loved his existence (which is as close to a love for life as you can attribute to a vampire, I suppose), but he celebrated that love in the most gruesome and violent ways.

He fought Slayers (yes, multiple) and won. Spike has killed two Slayers in his time. First, he killed a Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion; then he killed a Slayer in New York City in the 1970s. In both instances, he explained to Buffy, he won because the Slayer in question decided to die. Slayers, according to Spike, all have a death wish. They fight and fight and then they hit a point where they realize they don’t want to fight anymore. That’s when they lose and they die. Spike pursued Slayers for the rush of it; he wanted to prove that he was the most daring, evil, terrible vampire ever—but he also wanted to prove to Drusilla that he was the kind of man she should respect and love. His early romantic rejections as a human scarred him permanently, leaving him both a hopeless romantic and a vengeful mess any time love goes awry. He would do anything for love and is capable of anything when spurned. It’s a dangerous combination.

He was ready to endure torture to kill Buffy. When she rejects his kiss and tells him, in the most directly vicious way possible, that she would never be with him because he’s beneath her (echoing his human rejection), Spike resolves to kill Buffy, no matter how much pain the chip in his head gives him in return. In that moment, he becomes almost as evil as he likes to think he is.

He forgets his rage and comforts Buffy the minute he realizes she’s in pain. Of course, when Spike arrives at the Summers home and finds Buffy grieving over bad news about her mother’s health, he melts. All of the anger and rage drains out of him quickly and easily and he just wants to help. At the end of day, he’s passionate and rash, but love conquers all in the world of Spike. His quiet attempt to comfort her is legitimately one of the sweetest moments in the entire series.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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