Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | April 3, 2011

Robin’s Review: S2, E07 – Lie to Me

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 207 – Lie To Me

Synopsis: Buffy sees Angel talking to Drusilla and begins to worry. Ford, an old friend of Buffy’s from LA transfers to Sunnydale and Angel is suspicious of him. Willow discovers that Ford hasn’t really transferred to the school and she, Xander and Angel follow him to an underground club. There a group of young people have a cult that worships and imitates vampires. Ford goes to Spike and offers him Buffy in exchange for being turned. Buffy follows Ford into the club but he locks the door behind her and reveals that he has a brain tumour.

The Good: This was a terrific episode and interestingly I didn’t remember it being so good. One of the reasons this was so good was that it served both the ongoing story and worked as an individual episode. Joss Whedon himself both wrote and directed it and the way he managed to develop the main characters stories while also placing Ford at the centre was very impressive.

Spike and Drusilla might have been merely plot points in the midst of Ford’s story but instead we learn important things about them. Angel’s guilt over what he did to Drusilla was evident in the opening scene and it the revelation of what he did to her was a genuinely uncomfortable moment. Angel forces Buffy to admit that she loves him and then has to explain to her how he tormented and tortured an innocent girl. That conversation pushes aside the fairytale elements in the vampire\slayer romance and makes you imagine how Buffy must feel knowing that this is the kind of thought that exists inside his head. This revelation will doubtless play an important role in the ongoing dynamics of the battles with Spike and Drusilla and definitely makes them more intriguing.

In addition to all that we just get another enjoyable glimpse of them Spike and Dru as a couple. Following up what we have seen of them so far they seem so fascinating to watch. On the one hand Spike is perfectly sane and calculating and can be frustrated by poor mad Dru as she complains about her dead bird’s lack of song. On the other though he instantly apologises to her as if she has all the power and he needs to constantly mollycoddle her to maintain her affections.

I thought the dialogue between the main characters was very sharp as well. Xander has fun chirping away in the background at both Ford and Angel (“I’m going to have to go with Dead Boy on this one”). Willow comments that “ours is a forbidden love” when its revealed that Angel was in her bedroom and true to herself calls out “Nice to meet you!” at poor deluded Chanterelle after Angel offends her. Giles’ responses to being taken to a Monster Truck Rally was suitably amusing. Meanwhile Spike is rapidly developing his own memorable vocabulary and style of speech. His comment on Ford’s arrival at the factory was cutting: “Did we finally find a restaurant that delivers?” But he was also able to coin the phrase “I don’t feature you living forever” along with dryly responding “Yeah I know who I am too” to underline how unimpressed he was with Ford’s opening gambit.

The main event though is Ford and we get a really interesting story. Unlike most of the creepy students Buffy has had to deal with Ford had a genuine relatable reason for his insanity. A lot of Buffy episodes have floundered on the motives of its human villains but when Ford reveals his brain tumour the story received a shot of reality that took it to another level. At first he seemed to just be part of a cult of lonely kids who don’t understand what vampires really are. Ford either was taken with this idea or just played the role well to convince everyone of it. We saw him repeating lines from vampire movies and he seemed convinced that using that angle was the best way to convince Spike of his intentions. Ford was also smart, unlike certain other antagonists, and anticipated Buffy’s next move. He knew he couldn’t defeat her with strength and so devised a way to lock her in the club.

The injustice of his young life ending so early was a real twist on our expectations for Buffy bad guys. Not since “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” has such an authentic and relatable problem been the source of supernatural danger. What I particularly liked about Ford’s situation though was that it was his selfishness that made him a bad guy. He could have been completely ignorant of what vampires do and be seen as simply a fool. But clearly he was ready to sacrifice a bunch of other vulnerable people as long as he was able to keep on living. Buffy of course was there to lay down the moral lesson, explain what demons really are and save the day.

What gives the episode its final seal of approval is the unity of the storytelling. The first scene of the episode allowed Buffy to see Drusilla and discover her relationship with Spike. It didn’t seem an important detail in relation to Ford until suddenly Buffy is trapped in the club and faced with terrible odds. Thanks to those earlier scenes she has the leverage to defeat Spike by threatening the weakened Drusilla. It was a smart bit of writing and to place a perfect full stop on this busy episode we got the final scene at Ford’s grave. The episode is called “Lie to Me” and it’s only now that it’s placed in its proper context. It could have referred to Ford’s lies to Buffy or to his fellow vampire-worshippers, or to himself or indeed Angel’s lie of omission about Dru. Instead it’s Buffy who uses the actual phrase in asking Giles to make her increasingly complicated world sound simple. Something he just can’t do.

The Bad: It’s more a personal preference than a real critique but I was hoping Buffy would give her “you don’t get to be immortal, the demon takes you over” speech to all of the people in the club and not just to Ford.

The Unknown: What relationship does Angel really have with Spike and Drusilla? There seems to be so much that could be explored with their interactions over the decades.

Best Moment: Angel, Willow and Xander enter the vampire club and look around. Chanterelle warmly welcomes Xander and Willow and explains a little about her beliefs. Angel walks up and calls her a fool. She walks away offended and Angel says he has seen deluded people like this before: “These people don’t know anything about vampires. What they are, how they live, how they dress.” Just as he says that a man walks past them wearing the exact same outfit as Angel. It’s the fact that Angel is making a very serious and important point that made that moment of comedy so daring and memorable.

The Bottom Line: A seriously impressive episode on many levels. Cancer is probably too serious a topic to spend much time on and so it was smart to reveal it at the end and then move on. Ultimately Ford was selfish and thoughtless and got what was coming to him. Surrounding that the show sparkled and shined. The writing was excellent, the cast were too and the storytelling served the episode and the season really well.

70/100

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