Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | February 24, 2014

Robin’s Review – S7, E17 – Lies My Parents Told Me

Synopsis: Giles returns with a method for unlocking the trigger in Spike’s brain. Spike relives memories of the time just before he was turned when he was caring for his dying mother. He won’t tell Giles anymore about what he saw but Buffy unchains him anyway. Robin suggests to Giles that they kill him behind Buffy’s back. Giles distracts Buffy with talk of how to win a war while Robin takes Spike to a locked room where he attempts to kill him.

The Good: I smiled at Giles’ demands for an improved library and Robin’s confusion over Spike’s chip, trigger and soul. His “work room” was a nice idea and I liked his decision to try and trigger Spike so he could come face to face with the demon and not the man.

Spike flashbacks tend to be strong and seeing his relationship with his mother was definitely interesting. To see his loyalty to her survive his turn only to be cruelly spat in his face was affecting. The way he reached cartharsis over their relationship did mirror Robin’s struggle in a clever way. Both men blamed a demon for the painful loss of their mothers love. But while Spike can now accept that it was only a demon trying to hurt him, Robin is forced to see that his mother actually prioritised her calling over him.

The Bad: It’s a very clever piece of writing but it didn’t click emotionally on screen. Perhaps it was to do with the way the two stories were presented. The episode was bookended by Robin’s sad realisation. And seeing him understand that his life’s vengeance was in vain really was the emotional punch of the story. But instead of the focus being on that it was Spike who received far more attention. It was his backstory that dominated the middle of the episode. His story was sad too but in the end the emotion was taken out of it. Spike’s revelation that the pain he’d clung to was nothing but a demon’s lies meant we no longer had to feel stung by his cruel treatment.

Although the link is there it was not expressly made clear that the First had been using Spike’s bitterness over his vampire-mother’s words to trigger his killing sprees. It felt like Spike conquering that and overcoming the trigger should have been a bigger deal. Both to him, to Buffy and to the story as a whole. But it was treated as an afterthought in Spike swaggering off into the night or Buffy being angry at Giles’ deception.

Also it’s tough to feel for Spike anymore. The trigger story came so quickly on the heels of his psychosis (after regaining his soul) that we’ve never adequately dealt with who he is now. The way he’s reclaimed his coat and his cigarettes felt like fan service. His threat to kill Robin if he attacks him again seemed ridiculous. The show is struggling to escape the criticism that they’ve just given Spike a soul so that he can be the same cool, killer he was but now we won’t worry about him eating people.

The moment when Spike threatens to kill Robin just before the ad break but doesn’t was manipulative and stupid.

The Unknown: During their graveyard debate Buffy says that she would now sacrifice Dawn if it meant saving the world (a reference to her opposition to that idea in “The Gift” 522). I found that a somewhat surprising statement. It seems like the writers think we should have understood that based on the severe wording in her speeches. Yet her coddling of Spike and Andrew has made the opposite case. This story put Buffy in an awkward position. With the trigger still active she seemed foolish for not keeping Spike tied up.

Why did Robin put his shirt back on during the fight with Spike? Was it cold in there?

I guess Willow is off to L.A. to get some help from Angel.

Best Moment: The build up to Robin playing the trigger music built anticipation for their confrontation nicely.

The Bottom Line: The Robin story has been very basic. They’ve had him glare at Spike for episodes now and this wasn’t a strong enough story to make it all worth it. Sadly it felt like an attempt to recapture the magic of “Fool for Love” (507) rather than an important story in its own right.

It’s been ten episodes since “Conversations with Dead People” when the First made a very loud and threatening salvo. Since then all its plans have been thwarted, Buffy has given a bunch of speeches and her house is packed full of people. It’s time for events with real consequence to start happening.



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