Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | November 4, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S5, E07 – Fool For Love

Fool For Love
Season 5, Episode 7
Original airing: 11/14/2000

My Rating: 83

The Good: What this episode does well, it does really, really well. Spike’s story and how he relates it to Buffy is very powerful and well done. The acting, writing, directing, camera work, everything is just wonderful. It was really fun and interesting to see Spike evolve from a social outcast human to his current reprehensible demon self.

The flashbacks were excellent for showing this change. We got to see his look, accent, and attitude all completely shift to the Spike we’re familiar with on the show. I loved how this was interwoven with Buffy’s desire to learn more about her Slayer heritage. In the end, I found it interesting that the Slayers died because they had a moment of hesitation. Spike describes it as a desire for an understanding of death. Buffy reacts very violently to this idea. We’ve seen her playing and exploring this idea since her interactions with Dracula (S5E1). She even let him bite her. So I think this makes a lot of sense and is presented very well.

I also think it’s interesting that each of the Slayers died from a single mistake. In some ways, it seems like Spike just happened to be there to take advantage of that moment. The hint that Buffy could die at any time from dropping her guard is quite scary. It’s exactly what happened at the beginning of the episode. She wasn’t almost killed by a Spike-type vampire. It was just one random demon.

This all leads into and stems from Buffy’s conversation with Giles. There are no written records of Slayers’ last battles because it’s too hard for the Watchers to handle. We’ve seen over and over again in the show how close Buffy and Giles have become. I think it’s completely reasonable to think this same relationship would have developed between other Watcher/Slayer pairs. This was a very sweet scene on its own.

My favorite part of these entire episode is how the subway scene and the alley scene are merged together. The blocking is perfect to give me the mental image that Buffy can actually see Spike killing the Slayer and taking her jacket as he talks to her. The visceral side of it all feels very real. I also love the far shot of Spike kneeling in front of Buffy as he talks to her. He looks completely relaxed while her body language looks like she’s about to explode.

When Spike tries to kiss Buffy, I think she has a moment of complete clarity and panic. Yes. She’s attracted to the darkness. But she doesn’t like it and she doesn’t accept it. So she purposefully uses words she knows will hurt Spike, then leaves. She’s not just pushing him away, she’s pushing her own darkness away.

Finally, this bleeds into the last scene with Buffy and Spike. Buffy’s deer-in-headlights look as Spike asks to help her, then sits down next to her makes me think she is completely frozen. She’s trying to deal with this new information, the unknown illness effecting her mother, school, running the household, and caring for Dawn. It’s took much. This sudden display of sympathy from Spike is just too much.

The Bad: Most of the things I disliked in this episode were just the silly side things. These little bits looked completely ridiculous to me next to the amazing story being told between Spike and Buffy. The worst to me was the slow-motion moment of the vampire gang walking during the Boxer Rebellion in China. This whole moment felt very cheesy to me. They even had the explosions in the background and billowing coats. It was just too silly for me. I was also annoyed by Spike’s decision to vamp out in the Bronze. All I could think during this was how stupid it was and why wasn’t anyone screaming?

Finally, I was annoyed by the Scoobies’ terrible patrol tactics. They’ve been doing this plenty long enough to know better than to shout and loudly munch on chips. I could understand them being lax while out patrolling with Buffy, but they’ve gone solo before. In the past, we’ve seen them being sneaky with weapons, flashlights, crosses, etc. They know better and this was just a cheap gag to make Riley look silly with his sneaking around.

The other bit of the episode I didn’t like was the retelling of history with Spike’s final flashback. It was fun seeing the chaos demon Drusilla was cheating on Spike with, but the dialogue was completely contrary to what we had already heard happen. In “Lover’s Walk”, Spike tells everyone Drusilla left him because he betrayed her and Angelus by working with Buffy (S3E8). I don’t think there’s any argument here that Spike lied because this is a pretty humiliating thing for him to admit. Now the flashback tells us that Drusiilla senses Spike is obsessed with Buffy. We have seen this obsession grow over the course of season 5. It had nothing to do with Spike’s return to Sunnydale in “Lover’s Walk”. There’s just no reason for this rewrite and I found it very annoying in a show which is so good at maintaining continuity.

The Unknown: One bit of the episode I struggle with is Riley’s little solo vampire killing trip. He completely reasonably suggests they all wait till morning, then goes back alone with a hand grenade. This seems like masochistic and potentially suicidal behavior. Did he choose this route to protect Willow, Xander, and Anya from the fight? Did he do it to prove he could? Did he do it because Buffy didn’t want him patrolling alone? There are a lot of different questions concerning his motivation for a pretty stupid decision. I’m hoping this comes back in future episodes either in a direct conversation or as a hint to a new personality shift in our dear Captain Cardboard.

Favorite Moment: As I mentioned in The Good, the parallels of the subway scene and the alley scene are just fantastic.

The Bottom Line: This episode has a really strong story and excellent acting. However, the emotion didn’t grip me fully enough for me to consider this a truly amazing episode. I’ll settle for it just being very, very good.

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Responses

  1. I enjoyed your review and agree with a number of points. However, I thought the scene with Druisilla and the chaos demon was a great segue to past events to allow the change of present and future events in the current scripting. I think at the time the scene is meant to be, that Spike did not have any feelings for Buffy in the script or anywhere else. To join the past with the present the script called for Drusilla to see into the future which then gave a great reason for Dru to leave which I like because it allowed Spike to leave a century old love affair for someone new without him seeming like a cad. She is prescient remember so this scene was foretelling what was to happen later. As far as Spike thought at the time it really was all about his alliance with the slayer against Angelus because he really did not have feelings for Buffy beyond perhaps his obsession with slayers in general and Buffy’s physical attraction.
    Oh and I loved the slow mo scene. How bad is Spike. He has just killed a slayer and he swaggers from the battle with all the pride and arrogance in his kill that a vampire would feel. He is on top of the world. He just proved that he is all grown up as a vampire. He is acting, as they all are, in charachter with the show’s portrayal of the nature of vampires – ruthless killers who get off on murder and mayhem.

    As for Rileys solo killing trip, I thought that fit in well with the scenario that he is on powerful drugs that alter his physical strength and perhaps his personality but even more it is background information on the reason for his slide into vampire suck jobs. He feels insecure about his position with Buffy. He feels inadequate as her mate and he would hate himself for where it was all taking him. He couldn’t help but let a bit of his dark side out to play.


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