Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | January 28, 2013

Robin’s Review: S5, E18 – Intervention

Synopsis: Buffy is worried that she is becoming hardened and Giles suggests a quest to help her find answers. While they are away Spike’s Buffy-bot comes online and Xander and Anya see them having sex. Glory sends out her minions to discover who the Slayer protects and they bring Spike in for torture. The real Buffy returns and they save Spike just in time but he refused to give up the Key’s identity.

The Good: The season-long arc of Buffy’s self-discovery continued here in a way which nicely tied together various stories. I really liked the way that on reflection she took on board the distance that existed between her and Riley before he left. That’s not to say she was to blame for it but she recognises a problem in herself and with Joyce gone she feels a pressing need to express love for those around her. This story arc actually began back in “Restless” (422) and so it was appropriate that the First Slayer was the vision she saw. I also really appreciate that Buffy never expects its audience to swallow the supernatural so upon hearing that she is full of love and that death is her gift Buffy simply responds “What?” The reassuring thing is that we can expect this mysterious answer to be explained further down the road. All credit to the writers for building a story and adding slowly to it as the season has progressed.

In a season about Buffy’s identity it feels entirely appropriate that we get to see a robot version of her. The Buffy-bot antics were typically entertaining with Sarah Michelle Gellar effortlessly blank and chirpy. The scene where Spike lustfully eyes his new toy was terrifically creepy and the way she was programmed to treat him was revealing. Most of what was said was played for laughs but to hear her suggest that he could really bite her brought his insecurities to the fore. When she asks if she should “start this programme over” and he was temporarily brought out of his fantasy you could see how wrapped up in it he had become.

The comedy was solid as you would expect. The bot trying to hold hands with Spike in front of Xander and Anya, referring to Angel as “bloody stupid” or analysing Willow and seeing “Gay 1999-Present.” The way the gang responded was ok. I liked that Xander picked up on something being majorly wrong when “Buffy” didn’t ask about Dawn. I think the real Buffy’s return was timed just right as it was becoming silly that Willow and Xander weren’t more disturbed by her strange behaviour.

Glory’s torture of Spike was suitably brutal and backed by a fine final makeup job. He was resourceful in escaping and the way Buffy tracked him down (remembering the Snake’s path from 508) made sense.

The Bad: Glory remains a problem though. She spends a lot of time sitting around and whining so I was pleased to see her actually torture Spike and show us how threatening she can be. However when Spike escapes she stays in her room. She orders her minions to chase him but why didn’t she walk down a couple of flights and join in the battle in the lobby? If we had seen her getting weak or transforming into Ben it would have explained this away. The Scoobies didn’t come across much smarter for depositing Spike back to his crypt, alone. What is to stop Glory from taking him again?

I’m not sure I bought Xander’s sympathy for Spike. He has repeatedly joked about killing Spike or at least seeing him suffer. I don’t mind him having sympathy for a mangled person but to point it out so directly to Buffy felt awkward and entirely a setup for the final scene.

Glory’s minions looked less than useless against the Knights of Byzantium (513) but can now take Spike down with little difficulty. There was also a failed attempt to give Tara a laugh-line when she acts tolerant only to learn that Buffy is sleeping with Spike and immediately call her crazy. It didn’t fit her character to say that and the delivery was flat.

The Unknown: Spike’s story was a classic case of reaping what you sow. He created the Buffy-bot to taste the love that he can’t obtain fairly. His punishment was to be recognised as precious to her and brutally tortured by Glory. To put a touching cap on things Buffy comes to find out what he told her and sees his genuine love for her in a way she didn’t expect. So she kisses him as a thank you and then tells him she won’t forget it. If you are a Spike fan it was a lovely moment and as you would expect he played the moment perfectly as he recognises that she isn’t his robot. However you have to wonder if this was a wise move on Buffy’s part. She could still have thanked him without the kiss. The kiss seems just like the kind of encouragement which she refused to give him in “Crush” (514). This is still a demon, one who might spitefully turn on her the way he nearly did to Drusilla. This is still a creature who stole her identity to create a robot he could have sex with. The writers clearly want us to sympathise with Spike and to some extent I’m happy to play along. However if you ignore the fun comedy, the Buffy-bot is a gross and despicable creation and if I were Buffy I would be less trusting of his motives.

I assume Dawn’s theft of the earrings is a cry for attention in the wake of Joyce’s passing.

Best Moment: It’s hard not to see the final scene as the best moment as it was played perfectly to make you sympathetic to Spike. Looking elsewhere I really liked the scene where Buffy told Giles her fears about becoming hardened.

The Bottom Line: I thought this was very good but it shared the same weaknesses which have run through the season.

68/100

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Responses

  1. When Buffy realized that Spike had taken privileges with an ersatz persona, she informed him in no uncertain terms and a slap in the face to cease and desist with his yucky activities. The Buffy-bot was soon put out of commission until she returned on episode “The Gift” to help Buffy battle a dimensional disaster that threatened to end order in the universe.


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