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'Buffy' nostalgia recap: Spike dives down the delusional rabbit hole

Season 5 | Episode 14 | “Crush” | Aired Feb 13, 2001

Spike’s love for Buffy runs deep. It’s twisted, passionate, pure, unsettling, undying, and polarizing. Maybe it starts sooner than we realize or sooner than Spike realizes, but it all comes out in season five. From the moment Spike realizes that he’s in love with Buffy, things just get creepier and creepier.

In “Crush,” Spike takes a couple of extra creepy steps. First, he engages in some Slayer role play with Harmony, which is the kind of moment that makes you laugh, then pause, then think, then gag a little, then kind of laugh again. But then Spike takes things to the next level: He takes the real, actual Buffy on a date.

Now, the Buffy might be real and actual, but the date is kind of anything but. While he decides it’s a date and slyly acts likes it’s one, Buffy thinks it’s evil-hunting as usual—for a while, at least. But Spike’s behavior is too weird to ignore. He wants to get her drinks, learn about her interests, help her out of goodness of his heart. In Spike terms, all three of these things spell L-O-V-E. When Buffy does figure it out, she confronts Spike about it, demanding to know if it’s a date. He pretends it isn’t at first, but eventually kind of, sort of admits that it is … maybe. Big mistake. She isn’t impressed by the gesture. Instead of swooning, she lays into Spike, explaining that he’s unlovable and incapable of loving himself.

It’s a verbal beat-down, and it leaves Spike perfectly primed for the return of Drusilla, the previous love of his afterlife. Dru tries to convince him to go back to his evil ways and they get their dance on. Eventually, Dru helps Spike knock out and capture Buffy, because, you know, he has the chip in his head and so much love for her in his non-beating heart. He knocks Drew out (well, shocks her out, more accurately) and takes both his objects of affection back to his crypt, where he chains them up and waits for them to awaken. Since the drinks and chitchat and offers of help didn’t do the trick, Spike decides to try scare tactics. He threatens to set Dru loose to kill her if Buffy doesn’t give him some little sign that maybe, someday, she could love him too.

So surprisingly, this doesn’t work. Dru gets out. A fight ensues, which Buffy wins because the show isn’t called Drusilla the Vampire Slayer Slayer or Spike: The Successful-at-Getting-Over-People Guy. Spike intervenes to save Buffy, and Drusilla leaves town, having given up on Spike. When Spike goes to talk to Buffy about the night later, he can’t enter the Summers’ house; his invitation has been magically revoked.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Not Spike loving Buffy, although that does continue until at least the end of the series, and presumably forever onward in one form or another. And no, not Buffy’s disdain for him, because there was plenty of that to keep any Angel purists happy for seasons to come. No, I’m talking about the pure delusion that hangs over Spike’s entire quest to win Buffy’s heart, at least up until he [SPOILER ALERT] regains his soul and sacrifices himself in the series finale. Spike’s love for Buffy often manifests in creepy ways, of course, but this is more than just that. Spike isn’t just scary in how he chooses to express his love for Buff, he’s completely delusional about how she feels about him, many times before the massively mixed signals she sent him in season six. In just this episode, he:

  • Does the Harmony thing.
  • Tries to trick her into going on a date, or at very least, enjoy a fake date with her without her knowledge.
  • Attempts to threaten her into a relationship, as if choosing her over Drusilla or dangling the prospect of death in front of her will lead to a change of heart in the romantic direction.
  • Thinks that, even after everything he’s done on the crazy train that night, that he and Buffy will be able to talk it out. It’s like he thinks they’re engaging in a passionate lovers’ spat instead of a very real, serious, and, on Buffy’s end, life-threatening encounter.

It’s the kind of behavior that would get any normal (and by “normal” I mostly mean “living and mortal”) guy slapped with a restraining order. It’s the kind of manic and erratic behavior that should make a person fear for their life a little even if you remove the kidnapping and vampirism. It’s scary.

Later, Spike will go on to add the following to his list of crazy-in-love, emphasis-on-the-crazy offenses:

  • Building a sex bot to look exactly like Buffy.
  • Okay, make that threatening a robotics nerd into building a sex robot that looks exactly like Buffy.
  • Attempted rape, as a means of making Buffy see that she really loved him (yikes to the power of infinity).

Now, I feel like it’s worth pointing out that, on the whole, I love Spike. I think he’s a fantastic character. He’s the kind of character that you either love or love to hate, depending on the season, the episode, the line. James Marsters created in Spike a character that transcended what was on the page. He was meant to be a one-week villain and he blossomed into a central figure in the series and the greater mythology of the BtVS universe. Spike is amazing, Marsters is amazing. There’s a lot of amazing happening here. There are even some moments when I think that Spuffy would be amazing, if they really had the chance. Spike makes Angel seem a little boring and Riley seem, well, a lot boring. He loves Buffy unconditionally, even when he absolutely hates her. But, as much as I want to root for the relationship, I can’t—not fully, anyway. It’s not healthy.

It’s one-sided, in many ways, and often just as much to Spike’s emotional detriment as to Buffy’s. He loves her more than she will ever love him because Spike is the kind of guy who always loves more. And the loving more wouldn’t necessarily be the problem. Spike thrives in the loving more. He feeds on it. He needs to be needed, and that means he’s the kind of person (being?) that doesn’t really mind giving more than he gets in the love department.

But he projects things onto Buffy because it’s a role she’s not interested in filling. She doesn’t need him, not long-term and not when she’s feeling her best, or even just better than her worst. She doesn’t want to need him, and she doesn’t even really want to use him, and he just can’t accept that. And that’s why, as much as I want to root for Spuffy sometimes (because sometimes I really do), I just can’t. If I did, I would be suffering from major Spike Syndrome.

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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