Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 3, 2013

Robin’s Review: S6, E09 – Smashed

Synopsis: Spike hounds Buffy about their kissing and is surprised when he punches her and his chip doesn’t activate. He tries to attack another woman but it seems to work. He asks Warren to check on it and it seems to be functioning fine. So he concludes that Buffy came back as something other than human and he taunts and attacks her. They begin fighting and then having sex in a crumbling home. Meanwhile Willow realises that she has the power to turn Amy back into a human. Amy wants to go out and party and they use their magic to light up the Bronze before becoming bored. Dawn spends time with Tara and hopes she will reconcile with Willow.

The Good: This was a really enjoyable episode showing Buffy and Willow delving deeper into their respective darkness.

It seems like there’s no end to Buffy’s dislocation from the world. Now we discover that she may not be entirely human, resurrected as something a little different just as Doc warned Dawn about (517). But instead of focussing on Buffy, we stay on Spike for most of the episode and once more are treated to a tour de force. We are reminded from the start of the episode that he is a vampire, someone whose instincts are bad. When Buffy brushes him off he yells after her that she’s “got no one else.” Not exactly the uplifting sentiment he was able to sing to her (607). Then he rushes off to kill someone (when he thinks the chip has stopped working) just after telling Buffy that he was a changed man. We then get good comedy as he threatens Boba Fett in order to get the trio to help him and then he’s off to see his beloved.

Once more Spike proves to be one of the most watchable characters ever created. He is positively giddy at the news that Buffy is not human. Again a deeply inappropriate reaction for someone claiming he can be her boyfriend. Yet he still sees it as an act of love. Somehow he is bringing her the truth – that she is more like him than ever and no one but him can understand. As they begin beating on one another you know this is foreplay to him and she seems dead on when she says “You’re in love with pain.” But she can’t resist the release which he offers and their fight turns to sex but becomes no less violent. In a surprising and memorable image the house they’ve brawled into collapses around them. It’s a moment you sense the writers have been building to for two seasons now and everyone delivered. It’s one of those occasions when a very direct metaphor, Buffy’s world falling apart, is so well executed that it doesn’t seem on the nose.

Willow turning to the dark side has been planned even further back. With Tara the narrative demanded a partner who would take her further down this path and so Amy pops back into existence. The choice was fine and fit the theme of Willow’s developing power. Their playtime at the Bronze felt less significant than the fact that they were out in the open turning the world into their own fantasy camp and yet it didn’t satisfy them. What’s next?

Having complained about most of the comedy in Season Six so far I thought the writers hit their straps throughout this. Amy talking about Larry taking her to Prom was a nice call back while Buffy telling Spike she was thinking of Giles (when they kissed) was a soft ball. Spike threatening the Trio was easy stuff while his creepy phone call to Buffy which went wrong was beautifully plausible (“Yes it’s me”). The most memorable exchange was of course Buffy seeing Amy. “How have you been?” – “Rat. You?” “Dead.”

The Bad: Nothing definitely bad but I have some concerns.

The Unknown: I was borderline on Dawn’s irritating attempts to reconcile Tara with Willow. They’d be cute if she were ten and not capable of understanding how serious the issue is. The two creepy guys at the Bronze trying to push Amy into dancing was an odd moment. I know they had to be objectionable somehow but it wasn’t the most inspired piece of writing. My eyebrows also rose at Amy and Willow playing pool without cues in full view of everyone. Magic has certainly grown in its ease of use and its apparent power. Willow didn’t break sweat transforming Rat into Amy and then Amy can click her fingers and alter someone’s will in a way which once formed the basis of a whole episode (409).

What does the diamond give the Trio and what is their plan? I had to laugh at Spike telling Buffy to meet him in the cemetery. Which one Spike? Come on!

Best Moment: It’s hard to look past the closing scene but Spike is so good in so many scenes. Look at that phone call and listen to the oozing self confidence that somehow isn’t diminished by the comic disappointment which interrupts it. His flexibility as a character allied to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s chops make them wonderful to watch.

The Bottom Line: This was a big step for Buffy who now has to deal with a whole new wrinkle in her depression. But for Willow you get the impression this was only the first step. Good stuff.

68/100

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