Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 702 – Beneath You
Synopsis: Buffy dreams of a girl being killed in Germany who says “From Beneath You it Devours.” A Sunnydale woman Nancy is then attacked from beneath the ground. Xander helps her and Spike appears, seemingly sane, offering to do the same. They work out that Anya cursed Nancy’s ex-boyfriend and Xander convinces her to reverse the spell. At that moment Spike stabs at the monster connecting with the man and being gripped by guilt as a result.
The Good: This was a very entertaining episode. It combined the monster-of-the-week with the wreckage from last season and hinted at the Big Bad for this year. The pace was good as we moved quickly from one dramatic set piece to the next.
Spike’s psychological meltdown won’t fit with any medical textbook but it demonstrated his conflict in an emotive way. I liked the way he got dressed up and acted like his old self temporarily. It added to Buffy’s confusion and made me temporarily question what was going on. It ended up being a demonstration of what his old self hoped would be possible: that he could just show up again, do good and be forgiven. But the reality was far more complicated. Once he stabbed Nancy’s boyfriend he was overwhelmed with guilt. Even before that he was afraid of how Buffy would react and pushed her away at the Bronze. The final scene in the church was well shot to give a haunting sense of the geography of his mind.
The Nancy story looks like a clever bit of misdirection. Surely it is the Hellmouth and whoever plans to open it that will eventually devour from beneath. But the immediate threat of her cursed boyfriend also came from the ground which added to the mystery. The effects department did a good job with the Sluggoth and the ground it tore up. Xander’s attempts to make a connection being ruined by Sunnydale was a nice subplot too.
Once again Giles gave a very sweet speech that makes you wish he was your mentor. I’m glad Willow is taking her time to get back home but I don’t think there’s much doubt that she will be forgiven.
The Bad: When the Sluggoth popped up for its fight with Spike there was the slightly awkward moment when you realised that the demon couldn’t do any more than just sit there and wait to be whacked.
The Unknown: Xander was a little too awkward when explaining to Nancy that Buffy isn’t his girlfriend. But I will chalk it up to him having been out of the game for such a long time.
The attack in Frankfurt was far less convincing than the Istanbul one. The girl here didn’t seem to really be running for her life. The fact that Buffy sees it in her dream is a nice way to connect that story to the Scoobies. It’s been a while since Slayer dreams were a big deal so this is another good way of bringing things back to the shows origins.
I remain displeased that Anya is allowed to operate as a Vengeance demon right under Buffy’s nose. How can cursing people be shrugged off as somehow not worth Buffy’s attention?
I assume the double meaning in the episodes title was intended. Obviously we have the immediate threat of the cursed Ronnie but also the greater threat of being devoured. Beyond that though “You’re beneath me” was the line Buffy had for Spike back in “Fool for Love” (507).
Best Moment: James Marsters has given many an amazing performance over the years. The confused emotions of his torment were always going to be a big challenge but I think he met it with a typically mesmeric soliloquy in the church.
The Bottom Line: An eventful and entertaining follow up to last episode and last season.