Sunday, June 12, 2011

Buffy Blog: "Lovers Walk"

As with "Revelations" the very title of this episode, "Lovers Walk" written by Dan Webber (who will go on to write "The Zeppo") and directed by David Semel, tells us a lot about what is going on in the episode narratively and visually. "Lovers Walk" centres around several lovers walks, several lovers walks that have woven themselves through seasons one, two, and three of Buffy. There's the Spike and Drusilla lovers walk, the Willow, Xander, Cordelia, and Oz lovers walk, there is the Buffy and Angel lovers walk, and there is the Buffy and Slayer lovers walk.

Spike, the monster of the week of "Lovers Walk" if you will, has returned to Sunnydale looking for the lover that spurned him for a chaos demon, Dru, knocking down the same Welcome to Sunnydale sign he knocked down the first time he arrived in sunny Sunnydale in "School Hard" in season two. This new and not so improved Spike who arrives back in Sunnydale is not the same Spike who arrived in Sunnydale early in season two and left in the last episode of season two. The new Spike returns to Sunnydale a drunken mess and with little of the self-esteem he had in season two. It is the "truce" that Spike made with Buffy which has, claims Spike, led Dru to leave him, caused him to turn even more to demon alcohol, and led to his loss of self-esteem and manhood (a loss treated in humourous fashion in this episode as well as later ones as we will see). Spike turns to Willow at the end of act one and particularly in act two to help him with his lovers walk. For the first time but not the last time (see season four) Spike threatens Willow sexually and with death if she doesn't help him get Dru back.

Willow, as we know from earlier episodes of season three, is engaged in her own lovers walk. She and Xander have been secretly having an affair behind Oz's and Cordelia's back. Feeling guilty about this after Oz gives her a Pez Witch Willow goes to a magic shop (the clerk at the magic shop just like the clerk we saw in the magic shop in season two's "Passion" will be killed by a vampire) where Spike, who overhears her telling the clerk she wants the ingredients to perform a "delusting" spell so she isn't cheating on Oz anymore, decides to kidnap Willow (he also kidnaps Xander since the Xandman is present at the "delusting" spell Willow is trying to perform at Sunnydale High). Before Willow can do the spell, however, she needs her spell book which she has apparently left at Buffy's or told Spike she left at Buffy's because she knows that Buffy can deal with Spike. So off Spike goes to Buffy's house in search of the "missing" spell book.

Spike arrives at the Summer's house just as Joyce is having a telephone conversation with Buffy about college--Buffy, Cordela, and Willow (despite Willow's anger at scoring only a 740 on the verbal part of the SAT) did quite well on their SAT's (poor Xander didn't saying Willow's verbal score was similar to his total score) and so Buffy, as Giles notes, can get a first-rate education at the college of her choice. During the course of the episode Joyce, Giles, and even Angel push Buffy to consider leaving the slaying to Faith, at least for the moment, so she can go off to the university of her choice. Buffy, however, has something other than college on her mind. While Joyce is talking to Buffy about college Spike arrives and Buffy hears his voice across the telephone line hurrying home. Before she can arrive, however, it is Angel, who Joyce doesn't realise has come back from a hell dimension to what we think is the rescue. It is not that simple, however. Joyce knowing only that Angel turned into a demon in season two and that Buffy and Spike worked together to defeat Angel at the end of season two is skeptical of Angel's claim that Spike is dangerous. While Angel is trying to warn Joyce and Spike is faux threatening Joyce Buffy arrives. Buffy invites Angel in to the Summer's home and prepares to kill Spike until Spike tells the Slayer that he is the one who kidnapped Willow and Xander and that he will only let them go if Buffy and Angel help him get the ingredients for the love spell he wants to let loose on Drusilla. Buffy and Angel, of course, have no choice but to do what Spike asks. So off they go to the magic store.

As this is Buffy things are not that simple, however. At the beginning of act two the Deputy Mayor has informed the Mayor, who we know is the big bad of season two and once Buffy and the Scoobies out of the way has big plans which we are not privy to yet, that Spike is back in town. He asks the Mayor what he wants to do about Spike. He tells the Deputy Mayor to send a "committee" to deal with the Spike problem, to kill him, in other words. As Spike, Angel, and Buffy are leaving the magic shop with the ingredients for Willow's love spell they are confronted with the mayors welcoming committee. The epic fight that results will restore Spike's self-esteem and manhood. At the end of act three Spike leaves Sunnydale to, as he tells Buffy and Angel, to do what he should have done in the first place: torture Dru until she loves him again.

So one lover's walk may be over but as I noted this was not the only lovers walk of "Lovers Walk". During Buffy's, Angel's, and Spike's trip to the magic shop and during the epic fight with the mayor's committee Spike, insightful as ever (Buffy notes that she can't for whatever reason fool Spike), notes that Angel and Buffy despite claims that they are simply friends will never be friends. Their blood, he says in a wonderful speech, is screaming their mutual love inside them. Blood, not for the first time nor the last, is important in the Buffyverse.

While all of this is going on another lovers walk comes to a conclusion. Oz and Cordelia heading off to find a Giles on a Watcher's retreat in Breaker's Woods, are able to find Willow and Xander thanks to Oz's werewolf heightened sense of smell (she is scared Oz says). The Willow and Xander they find, however, are a Willow and Xander in loving embrace. Cordelia seeing this turns and heads up the stairs leading to the basement in which Spike has been holding Willow and Xander against their will. The stairs collapse leaving Cordela impaled on a piece of metal and Oz off in search of medical help. The scene ends with Cordela fading into unconscious.

What follows is a truly mean, to us viewers anyway, cut. The camera cuts to a funeral. The camera then pans to Buffy and Willow in the cemetery discussing the fallout from Willow's and Oz's lovers walk. Willow tells Buffy that a lot of grovelling on her part will be necessary for her to get back into Oz's good graces and that Cordy is in the hospital and is expected to make a recovery. Sigh of relief.

The episode ends with some closure to each of the lovers walks we have seen throughout this episode and earlier in season three. Willow, as I said, intends to grovel her way back into Oz's good graces. Cordy tells a Xander who brings flowers to her hospital room that she never wants to see him again. He leaves. Buffy tells Angel that they are not friends and that if he can't tell her he doesn't love her she must leave him presumably forever. Angel says nothing. Buffy leaves. Spike heads off to get Dru back through, we presume, loving torture. Each of these seeming conclusions are ambiguous, however. At the end of the episode we see Angel, Willow, Oz, Cordy, and Buffy silently experiencing the pain of the lovelorn alone in loneliness. We are not shown whether Spike got Drusilla back or not. Where these lovers walks and the pain they often bring will lead us will become apparent throughout season three and throughout the remainder of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. God Joss and Company really seem to revel in bringing us viewers the pain.

God I love this scene: The Joyce-Spike scene that follows Buffy hearing Spike's voice on the telephone, is, like the first one in Becoming in season two, wonderfully humourous and shows the chemistry the two actors, Kristine Sutherland and James Marsters, had together. I love it when Spike asks Joyce if she has any of those little marshmallows for the hot chocolate she has given him to drink. Spike in a domestic setting is inherently funny.

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