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Captain Cardboard, or How I Learned To Stop Seething And Love "As You Were"

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Dec. 18th, 2004 | 05:08 am

By request...

First off, this episode?  Written by Douglas Petrie.  Douglas Petrie also wrote "Fool For Love", "Flooded", "Beneath You" and "Get It Done".  Douglas Petrie writes sympathetic, intelligent, nuanced Spike... so what the hell is up with this, the episode that Spike-lovers want to set alight with the already-burning reel of "Seeing Red"?

Come with me now, if you will, gentle viewers. Join me on a new voyage of the mind...

"As You Were" opens with Buffy at the Doublemeat Palace, scraping grease as she gets a lecture on Machiavelli from a co-worker.  Random?  Probably not, since this is Buffy, Land of the Meaningful Non Sequitur (remember Tara's little Quasimodo monologue in "Crush"?), and there were a million other ways to establish that (a) Buffy's at the Doublemeat, and (b) there it blows.

So, Machiavelli, huh? 

Well, Machiavelli's famous for writing "The Prince", one of the main points of said work (I paraphrase because I care) being that people can be pretty dumb, and sometimes the ruler (as the smarter person who knows what is better for aforementioned dumb people) is required to do some really ethically grey stuff in order to cattle-prod the stupid towards the greater good.

Well.  Isn't that special.  Hold that thought.

After an interlude to discuss Buffy's meaty reek, we're back at Revello, where Spike pops out from behind a tree to ask Buffy for some lovin'.  They then get their naughty on right there in the front yard, because heaven forbid Buffy let Dawn down by having sex with Spike in her bedroom; it's far gentler on little Dawnie's subconscious if she happens to wonder what's taking Buffy so long, looks out a window, and sees her sister takin' it from the undead against a tree.

Moreover, wasn't Buffy just in the graveyard?  If we needed a Spuffy sex scene here, why didn't they get horizontal on a tombstone or something?

Instead, here they are, boinking like bunnies in a well-lit area next to the mailbox in front of God and the neighbors and...

And hey, wait... what terribly interesting camera angles!  Why do we keep looking at this scene from way the hell down the street, like we were some sort of former Initiative member who'd come to the first place he'd think of to look for his ex-girlfriend?

Did I say that out loud?

And Riley doesn't show up at Revello, does he?  Doesn't come by the Magic Box, doesn't go to Xander and Anya's, doesn't knock on Giles' darkened door.  Nope, straight to the Doublemeat. 

How'd he know she worked there?

Man, it's like he's been following her or something.

Did he maybe ask Xander, Dawn, or Willow?  No, he did not.  We are expressly told in a later chunk of dialogue that he called them, left a message, but did not actually speak to them until he saw them at Buffy's house.  Moreover, we're given a Xander line that lets us know that Riley told Xander and Willow in the message that he was married.

Nice of him to tell them right away, huh?

So, here we are in the Doublemeat, and Riley's just about to enter, having deduced with his psychic powers that Buffy must work there.

But before Riley can appear -- we're treated to another Meaningful Non Sequitur from our good friend Todd:

"Zeitgeist! You're not taking the pulse of the public, the next thing you know you're LBJ handing the house keys over to Nixon."

Well, now. 

LBJ? good-ol'-boy straight-shootin' (at least on the surface) military guy.  Nixon?  Mr. Watergate.  I could go on and talk about Kennedy, the oh-so-perfect heroic martyrman who came before LBJ to whom LBJ could never live up in the public's mind... who had defeated Nixon before... but I won't.

So basically, what Todd is saying here is that if you don't notice what the public needs... like, say, a little monster in their man... you might find out that some tricksome smooth-talker has taken your spot.

Dude.  I bet that would totally piss you off.  Especially if LBJ had been all "Nixon, you will never be president" and staked him with a plastic stake or something.


Anyhoo, here's Riley.  For a man who spent Seasons 4-5 being quite efficient in his briefings on the dangers of the Hostile In Question and whether it was a kill or retrieval mission, he's gotten rather lax. 

Notice all the things he neglects to tell Buffy during the ample time in which they are discussing her new haircut and the military's dental plan:

1:  Yo, I got married.
2:  Suvoltes eat people.  Lots of people.
3.  Don't kill it.

Which is another weird thing.  If Suvolte demons decimate entire towns, leaving nothing but body parts behind... how in the hell did it get from Central America to Sunnydale?  Is it the only creature on the planet that eats less when it's pregnant?

Anyway, ding-dong, the demon's dead, off we go back to the house with Mrs. Finn in tow.

And we have some interesting dialogue...

SAM: We think they're gonna be sold on the black market. There are some foreign military powers that would love to have their own Suvolte. You could never train it, but drop it on an urban population...
SAM: Lots of 'em. Money's been exchanged. There's a dealer in town, calls himself the, The Doctor. Willow, you think you can help with a little locating spell?

So we've established that "The Doctor" is a black-market dealer with ties to foreign military powers.  Wow, you'd have to be kind of powerful and well-connected to have ties to foreign military powers, wouldn't you?  Not to mention rich, since the money's already been exchanged, and you've just provided said foreign military powers with an Ultimate Weapon.

That sounds a lot like a guy who dumpster-dives for furniture, can't pay his kitten poker debts, has to steal Xander's change and is loathed by every demon in town who isn't Clem.  Yep.

Also a lot like a guy whose greatest personal failure and source of ultimate heartbreak and shame was visited upon him by a guy called "Doc".  Uh-huh.

And some more interesting dialogue.

RILEY: Two teams. No civilians. I'll, uh ... I'll go out and look for our Doctor. You two find that nest.
BUFFY: Me and Sam together?
RILEY: You come across a Suvolte nest, you're gonna want backup.
RILEY: I'll check out some bars. Willy's, some, uh, crypts that I know.

Willy's bar and some, uh, crypts that he knows, huh?

That's a pretty narrow search there, y'know, given that Buffy kills everything that lives in a crypt and isn't Spike.  And what the hell is the aforementioned powerful, well-connected, newly flush with foreign military power money Doctor doing living in a crypt? 

For that matter... Riley says later that the eggs are supposed to be kept frozen; he assumes that "The Doctor" would know enough to store them that way.

So why in the hell is he sending Sam and Buffy to look for them in the graveyard, which is (Spike's crypt aside) decidedly lacking in refrigeration facilities?

If Riley went straight out to search Sunnydale scenic crypts, how come it takes him hours to go visit Spike?  Wouldn't that be the first logical stop on your Sunnydale Crypt Tour?

Why did he call Xander and ask him to leave a houseful of guests and come over if the mission was "no civilians"?

So he could babysit?  Willow's right there.

Why would he team up Sam and Buffy?  Buffy's obviously not happy about it, and Sam doesn't think it's a good idea either.  Why would Buffy or Sam need backup to go shoot a bunch of (theoretically) frozen eggs?  Why doesn't he need backup to go confront a dangerous arms dealer?

Wouldn't it be a pretty safe assumption to think that "The Doctor" would want to keep an eye on his precious frozen eggs, especially if he'd already been paid for them and would face the wrath of foreign military powers if anything happened to them?  Wouldn't "The Doctor" be with the eggs?  Why couldn't the three of them go together?

Why isn't Sam with Riley when he shows up at the crypt?

In between Sam leaving Buffy to go find Riley and Riley showing up at the crypt, Buffy and Spike have time to have a chat, sex, and a nice nap.  This leads to a few possible scenarios:

1.  Despite being a badass commando tracker, Sam could not find Riley in Sunnydale, when they are both probably wearing walkie-talkies and he told her where he was going -- which leads to the conclusion that Riley was not where he said he was going to be.

2.  Sam found Riley and then went home without helping him, despite the "fact" that he'd learned the identity of "The Doctor" and was about to go confront not only him, but a Suvolte nest, which, in Riley's own words, requires backup.  Why wouldn't he have taken Sam, especially since they (theoretically) don't know where Buffy is?

But let's backtrack, to the moment when Buffy goes to seek cold comfort from Spike.

When he is alone, before Buffy walks in, Spike is sitting on a sarcophagus, calmly reading a book.

Let us think back to moments when Spike has been nervous or agitated.  Can he hide it?  Not very well.  He stammers, he paces, he chainsmokes, he punches walls, his hands flutter.

If Spike were waiting on a nestful of flesh-eating demons to hatch so that he could complete the final phase of his master plan to collude with his new friends the foreign military powers, would he be sitting around quietly enjoying some literature?

So, in walks Buffy, the love of Spike's unlife, right into his demon nest, and tells him she's looking for a guy called "The Doctor".  No reaction from Spike.  She does not, significantly, mention anything about demon eggs... just the name of the dealer.

So... you're Spike, you're the Doctor, and you've been mainlining Valium all day in order to achieve completely-out-of-character mellowness.  In walks your amour, and says she's looking for the Doctor.  Dammit -- and with your eggs in your basement, too.

Now, do you say "Right, then.  Suppose I might know a bloke who could give us some info.  Let's go, Slayer." and handily get Buffy the hell away from your prize?

Or do you encourage the girl who is looking for the very thing you have in your basement to hang out longer, maybe make a little whoopie? 

Hey, then you could both have a nice nap a few feet away from the flesh-eating demons that are about to hatch.

Another very interesting thing...

When Buffy arrives, she and Spike re-enact, almost verbatim, Warren's conversation with Katrina in Dead Things... yet another drop in the SPIKE IS KATRINA!!!!  KATRINA IS SPIKE!!!!  IT'S A METAPHOR, YO!!!! bucket that was dumped over our heads in the Katrina-keeps-turning-into-Spike dream sequence in Dead Things.

And then hey, there's Riley!  Bizarrely Samless!

Boy.  Does he not look surprised to find Buffy in bed with Spike or what?

Here would be a good point to mention some things that are not in this episode.  A really large example might be -- ANY proof that Spike is, in fact, the Doctor.

If the whole point of this episode is "Spike evil!  Riley good!  Buffy must get away from Spike!"... then why is there not the teeny weeniest scene showing Spike actually being up to anything besides what he says he's up to -- holding some eggs for a friend?

One shot of the edge of a duster swirling in a bad neighborhood.
A few frames of Spike taking money from someone.
One tiny dialogue snippet of Spike saying something like "Yeah, I got 'em."
Spike looking sinister in Willy's.
Spike looking anxious when Buffy shows up and trying to convince her to leave.

There is nothing.

Maybe they wanted it to be a surprise, right?  So why is there no confirmation afterwards

Moreover, ever since Season Five, Spike's been actively trying to do good to impress Buffy.  We never see him do any of the things he used to do, like scare people for money.  The worst he does is nick a little Burba Weed and gamble for kittens.  His moral compass might not point true north, but providing terrorists with the means to kill thousands of innocent people?

I think that would ping even Spike's wrong-dar.

So we're supposed to believe that Spike is an international arms dealer, who doesn't know enough to keep the eggs frozen, who doesn't realize that they'll kill him and Buffy if they hatch.  If he's negotiating with foreign military powers to provide them with these amazing weapons, shouldn't he know what the weapons do?

Spike is not stupid... especially not when written by Doug Petrie.  And when Spike does have a plot?  He's pretty damn good at it.  He found the pieces of the Judge from all around the world, he got everything he needed to cure Drusilla, he did a damn fine job of puttin' the Yoko Factor to the Scoobies.

Spike denies that he's the Doctor.  He says he's just holding the eggs for a friend, which would explain both why he's not worried about them and why he tried to protect them at first. 

Riley does not hesitate for a single second in believing that Spike is this international arms-dealing "Doctor", even in light of Spike's obvious lack of knowledge about how Suvolte eggs work.  When Spike says he was holding the eggs for a friend, Riley does not even consider the possibility that this friend might be the actual 'Doctor' and ask Spike about it. 

That's not very thorough, is it?  Can you imagine Mulder or Jack Bristow coming upon a guy who is obviously too small-time to be anything but a cog in a bigger wheel, and showing zero interest in who the higher-ups are?

So why isn't Riley interested, even a little bit?

Maybe because he's already found the Doctor, and killed him.

All of Spike's actions are completely consistent with Spike's claim.

Riley's actions, on the other hand, make no sense, and don't throughout the episode... unless.

Remember what Todd said about Machiavelli, okay?  And remember that Machiavelli is all about doing little bad things to ensure the greater good.

Riley comes to Sunnydale, tracking a Suvolte demon.  He thinks Buffy could help, or maybe he just wants to see her; he goes to the first logical place to look for her... her house.

There, he sees her boinking Spike on the front lawn, wearing a Doublemeat Palace uniform.

Riley figures that Spike finally got to her.  He is upset; he goes away.  He did, after all, threaten to kill Spike if he ever touched Buffy.  He can't tell Sam, 'cause, jealousy over the ex?  Not going over so well with the wifey.

Riley needs more information before he acts.  Is Buffy under a spell again?  Are she and Spike dating or in love?  The next day, he calls Xander and Willow for info.  He doesn't get them; he leaves messages for them, covering by saying he needs their help, even though he doesn't actually want civilians involved.  Since that didn't work, he sends Sam off, and goes to talk to Buffy in person.  He doesn't know what her situation is or how she'll react, so he picks somewhere she's unlikely to cause a scene:  her job.

Buffy is very nice to him.  They fight the demon, get in the car.  He quizzes her about her life; she very much fails to mention Spike, flirts with him, etc.  Sam appears before he wants her to, and Riley doesn't get a chance to continue asking Buffy questions.

Riley decides he's going to go talk to Spike instead, while they're looking for the Suvolte.  He carefully arranges the search team so that he can accomplish this.  He tells Xander and Willow to stay behind, to avoid being paired up with anyone.  He pairs Sam up with Buffy, both so he can be alone and to discourage a Sam-chaperoned Buffy from going to Spike for help.  He tells Sam and Buffy that he will check out Willy's and crypts... the two places Spike is likely to be... and they should check out other places, i.e. where Spike is not.

He goes to Willy's.  Spike's not there.  He asks about demon eggs.  Someone tells him who the Doctor is.  Riley finds the Doctor, kicks his ass, asks him where the demon eggs are (this explains the long time delay).  Riley finds out that some or all of the eggs have been given to a guy named Spike.


Now, Spike's not the Doctor... Riley knows it, and he knows that Sam would know it too.  So when Sam finds him, Riley sends her away.  Sam's told him that Buffy's gone to visit a 'twitchy informant' that she had to visit alone, and Riley puts two and two together.

So Buffy's with Spike, and there are eggs in his crypt.  Simply holding eggs for a friend wouldn't be enough of a transgression to convince Buffy to leave him... being the Doctor would.

So Riley makes an executive, Machiavellian decision, for what he perceives to be Buffy's greater good.

He tells a little lie.  And really, to Riley, it's not that big of a lie.  Spike's evil, after all.  Maybe he's not the Doctor, but he's certainly up to something shady... and Buffy needs to be woken up and shown how bad her judgement is... for her own good.

So he embarrasses her a little, and he rubs in how eeeevil Spike is, and Buffy does the predictable Buffy and punches Spike in the face.

All's well that ends well, and Agent Finn has done his good deed for the day, helping the helpless ex; he flies away on the helicopter, all vindicated and shite.

Now, Buffy goes to visit Spike, who's glumly kicking the remains of his bed.

Notice what Spike is not, but easily could have been, doing instead:

1.  Begging foreign military powers not to kick his ass.
2.  Raging over the foiling of his plan.
3.  Bitching to Clem about how much money he's just lost.

Nope, he's kicking his bed. 

Buffy gets her tight-lipped dump on, and here we have the soulless monster that is Spike... soft-spoken, teary-eyed and broken in a nice tight close-up so that we can see that he by-god does feel things and that Buffy's just ripped his heart out.

My personal fanwank?  The whole episode's a big fat metaphor, and the plot holes you can drive a truck through are there on purpose... that this episode, like Dead Things, is one you have to watch a few times before you start going "Wait a damned minute...!"

Riley, Sam, and their perfect marriage represent the standard Buffy is unable to quit holding herself to.  They come to town and literally destroy her relationship with Spike and Spike himself (via his stuff), showing how David Fury's Buffy's idea of who she ought to be is destroying her relationship with Spike and Spike himself.

Petrie's the one who wrote the "You're beneath me" alley scene with Spike clutching the money and sobbing, the oh-aren't-they-cute-when-she-gives-him-a-chance convo in "Flooded", the "Am I flesh to you?/Service the girl" major Buffy-behavior condemnation in "Beneath You", and Buffy's vicious comments to Spike in "Get It Done".  I have a really hard time believing he deliberately wrote a "Buffy good!  Spike eeevil!" episode.

Buffy doesn't notice Riley's weird-ass illogical behavior because she doesn't want to.  She's got him on a pedestal and is using him to flagellate herself with; she can no more admit to Good Boy Riley being wrong and Bad Boy Spike being right than she can apologize to Spike for beating the snot out of him.  She's the vampire slayer, she kills soulless vampires 'cause they're evil 'cause they don't have souls; falling in love with Spike violates every part of the black-and-white credo she is frantically attempting to cling to.

Season Six was supposedly the "grow up" year, right?  Part of growing up is learning to accept shades of grey, and this is what Buffy's going through.  Spike's the first step, and we see Buffy stumble and falter (ultimately symbolized with a big fat backslide in "Normal Again") as she tries to grasp the grayscale reality of him, paving the way for her ongoing efforts (continuing through Season Seven) to embrace herself and the other Scoobies as their halos fall off.

In the next episode, Xander will fall victim to his ultimate weakness.  In the episode after that, Buffy will.  Episode after that, Anya.  Episode after that, Willow.  By the end of the season, Anya's a demon, Willow's a killer, and Xander's... well... a jerk who saves the world anyway.

Buffy will have to learn to relate to all of them on a new level.

Well, it's 5 a.m. and I'm getting woozy, so I'm going to end here before I start talking about how circus clowns from Mars fit into all of this...

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Comments {64}

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(no subject)

from: doyle_sb4
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 02:29 am (UTC)

I love your brain. My one problem, though - why would The Doctor give the eggs to Spike? And why would he or she forget to tell him that they have to be kept frozen?

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(no subject)

from: speakr2customrs
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 04:13 am (UTC)

There are loads of possible answers: The Doctor gave the eggs to Spike so that Spike would take the fall if the authorities came looking (a middleman doing the asking, and then leaving town so there was no easy trail back to the real Doctor); The Doctor wanted to make sure that if the eggs hatched prematurely the larvae would eat Spike (and maybe Buffy) rather than The Doctor: the whole ideawas for the larvae to hatch prematurely and eat Spike and/or Buffy (note how the larvae resemble Xenomorph face-huggers rather than the adult Suvolte) as a necessary stage in their metamorphosis into adults; re Point 2, The Doctor might have made a slip and said "refrigerated" rather than "frozen" to Spike, Spike had no way of refrigerating them but reckoned that the lower level of the crypt was cool enough; and so on.

Taking the episode at face value is almost impossible. Nothing in the Spike-is-The-Doctor hypothesis makes any sense at all. He simply doesn't have the resources to be an international demons-of-mass-destruction dealer; he doesn't even have a phone (as I have Buffy point out to Riley in one of my stories). Conversely, there are easy explanations for any nitpicks with the "Spike's holding them for a friend" theory.

Riley may have genuinely believed that Spike was The Doctor; but more than likely he knew perfectly well he wasn't. Actually the clincher is in "The Killer In Me" when Riley gave the go-ahead for Buffy to have Spike's chip taken out. He'd never have done that if he really believed that Spike had been The Doctor.

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(no subject)

from: paynbow
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 02:30 am (UTC)

Wow...the episode makes sense now! I love this thoery and cling to it so that I can redeem Doug Petrie! AYW was this huge black mark on his record, but this explanaition makes total sense...because otherwise there would be a large and pissed off group of international weapons buyers raining down on Sunnydale and kicking Spike's ass...it also makes Riley way less of a Mary Sue in that ep...genius I tell you! *g*

And it's 2 am here, so time for me to toddle off to bed

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(no subject)

from: flurblewig
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 04:07 am (UTC)

I think I love you.

I hated this ep with a passion, for many reasons - not least of which because it DID NOT MAKE FREAKING SENSE. It also made me hate Doug Petrie and Riley, two guys I'd previous been rather fond of :-)

But this - this explains everything. This gives me a scenario I can believe, and live with.

::worships you::

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(no subject)

from: bogwitch
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 04:21 am (UTC)

I've never really hated AYW. Your essay just puts stuff I'd already believed to some extent, in a sane, logical form. Thank you - I'll keep this.

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(no subject)

from: db2305
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 04:51 am (UTC)

Other people have ironed As You Were's hilliness flat for me, but I think you've convinced me more. This essential plottiness, sneakily double layered - too bad Furie didn't do a goog enough job to make this abundantly clear to all the fans...Hey, maybe you're a better writer?

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(no subject)

from: ladycat713
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 05:51 am (UTC)

I think one of the things that makes people seethe about this episode is the fact that there is no follow through.

It's fairly obvious that Spike was set up (like Dawn in Ivytree's Samaritan said How can he be an international arms dealer , he doesn't have a phone?) but we get no follow through, no explanation.

There's also Buffy's simpering behavior to Riley ,her unquestioning acceptance that what he says is true and her flat out refusal to listen to Spike. Add to that her saying that thier relationship was Killing HER , when it's obvious that Spike is the one taking all the lumps and you've got a seethe making episode.

AYW was one of the things I was hoping they would fix in season 7. The biggest thing I wanted though was for Buffy to admit her behavior and to not put it off on Spike and say he was manipulating her behavior. In short , I wanted an apology. Spike did his apologizing by going off to get a soul that he knew would cause him misery and pain while Buffy did nothing. The closest we get is a rather pissy comment of You're just now getting that when Spike is tied tied a chair in her room. Also , there's the convo with Holden in CWDP. Except with Holden , she knows she's going to kill him and even though she says she behaved like a monster she also calls Spike's love twisted . Even with someone she's going to kill, she can't acknowledge his love as real.

Signing off . BTW, Ivytree's Samaritain(in progress WIP at allaboutspike.com) is a fic rec, it's the sequal to Grandpa.

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(no subject)

from: auroramama
date: Sep. 3rd, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)

Just a note: it wasn't "their relationship" that she said was killing her. It was her own behavior. The fact that she was using him. Did she complain that this was Spike's fault? I don't remember her saying anything like that.

I would have liked a clearer, more explicit discussion of S6 in S7, too. But I don't think Buffy "did nothing." She forgave Spike for trying to rape her; that's not nothing in my book.

The point of the conversation about "you're just now getting that?" is, to me, not that this hadn't occurred to Spike, but he didn't know what she was using him *for*. Neither did she, entirely, because it wasn't always the same thing. He wasn't wrong when he thought she was using him to feel alive, feel good, or as someone to take out her bad feelings on. But I don't think he realized how much she was using him to make her feel bad. How much she was acting out her self-hatred. Because until he had a soul, Spike didn't really understand self-hatred. That's one form of pain that Buffy, via the soul, introduced him to.

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(no subject)

from: sharelle
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 06:57 am (UTC)

You rock. Seriously. Lots of rocking.

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(no subject)

from: timeofchange
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 07:11 am (UTC)

Yes. I never hated this ep. I always assumed everyone saw that Spike couldn't be "The Doctor." I always assumed we were supposed to be very suspicious of Riley and Sam's sudden appearance and disappearance. So, it came as something of a shock to me to realize that there is Doug Petrie hate out there over this. In any case, your reasoning is excellent, your writing is wonderful, and I love your brain.

That is all.

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Glinda the Good: Officially!

(no subject)

from: priscellie
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 07:14 am (UTC)

Wow! Everything suddenly makes sense! Oh, this is excellent. Off to rewatch the episode with your explanations in mind! Mind if I link to this post in my blog?

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I bow before your brain

from: anonymous
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 08:13 am (UTC)

I was just surfing by and wanted first to offer sympathy in dealing with crazy relatives.

Secondly, this essay is fantastic. I never hated this ep the way many did, but I was irritated that there was no follow-up. You have made all plot weirdness crystal clear.

I really love Doug Petrie, despite his occasional missteps. However, minor correction: I believe it was Joss who wrote and directed the final scene in "Beneath Me" set in the church "Am I flesh to you?" etc.

Speaking of ME writers being ghost-written by Joss, I was all on board with the rabid fandom of Drew Goddard during season 7, until I found out that all the things that I adored in his episodes were actually ghostwritten by Joss (for example, the entire Buffy/Holden sequence, the OMWF flashback in Selfless). Consequently, I now view him as a writer of merely average skill.

Happy Holidays.


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Re: I bow before your brain

from: liliaeth
date: Dec. 22nd, 2004 07:58 am (UTC)

oh I never respected Goddard as much as most did. Hell, his Angel eps, where Joss wasn't ghostwriting, 'Lineage' and 'What we fight for', were two of the worst eps of S5 of Angel. (and yes, I know others love Lineage, but to me, it just made me lose what little liking I had for Wesley to begin with. It did worse than make me hate him, it made me utterly and completely indifferent about the char.)

In fact, the one Goddard ep that I really love is Never Leave Me and lots of that was written by other people as well.
(of course, I never thought CWDP was all that good an ep to begin with, but what do I know, I don't even like 'The body' all that much)

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(no subject)

from: fishsanwitt
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 08:52 am (UTC)

Thank you so much for writing this! I always hated AYW and this actually makes sense to me :) I like Riley being much sneakier and actually orchestrating all this stuff. I only wish we'd seen a bit of that on-screen - just *one* moment for us to go 'wtf'! and start disbelieving him.

Your essay will make it a *lot* easier for me to watch this episode and I'm putting it in my memories :)

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(no subject)

from: cindershadow
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 08:57 am (UTC)

THANK YOU! It was clear to me from Day One that Spike wasn't the Doctor, but you have provided a thorough, logical explanation for all of the rest of it, which I had not ever thought through. Someone should send this essay to Douglas Petrie, who would doubtless sigh a sigh of relief that someone finally got what he was doing.

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(no subject)

from: desoto_hia873
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 09:09 am (UTC)

Hey! I just watched this episode last night. Good timing. I don't hate it as much as some, but I like your plot better. Much more convincing.

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(no subject)

from: quinara
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 09:17 am (UTC)

At last! The episode makes sense!

I still don't think I could stand watching it, though.

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that damned elusive megaloo

(no subject)

from: megaloo13
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC)

Wow, good analysis. Now this episode really does make much more sense and I definately need to rewatch it. :) Wild.

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(no subject)

from: rahirah
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC)

There are times when I can almost convince myself that the plot holes in the episode are deliberate. OTOH, I feel compelled to point out that a number of the scenes in Petrie episodes which are especially commended by Spike fans are in fact sections which were written or re-written by Joss. The "I'm a bad poet, but a good man" scene in FFL and the church scene in "Beneath You," are the two most notable examples. The original Petrie version of the church scene is available; I've got a copy if anyone's terribly interested. It's not bad, but it doesn't approach the brilliance of Joss's version--it's a lot closer in tone to the rat-eating scene at the beginning of the episode. There's a vast amount of uncredited scene-writage in the Buffyverse which makes attribution extremely difficult at times.

I think Petrie's a competent but not fantastic writer, and anyone who's listened to his gushing DVD commentary knows that he loves Riley truly, madly, and deeply. (Stands to reason; Petrie created the Initiative.) I agree that the lack of any solid confirmation that Spike is the Doctor has to be deliberate, but I'm not sure that the rest of the huge gaping potholes inconsistencies in the plot are anything more than sloppy writing and a desire to make Riley look good. I really, really want to believe it was all deliberate...but if it was, I don't think it was executed very well, because subtext is one thing, but the audience shouldn't have to work quite this hard to pull the true meaning out of an episode. And as ladycat mentions above, there was no followthrough. (If someone wanted to write an epitaph for season 7, that would be it. There was no followthrough.)

It intrigues me that you mentioned you had to watch Dead Things a couple of times in order to appreciate it, though, because I loved that episode from the get-go, in all its subversive glory. Steve DeKnight, I submit, is the Jossverse writer who really, truly got evil-but-trying-so-damn-hard-to-be-good Spike. I think that episode marks the last time I really loved Show-Buffy. I could SO have forgiven her had the alley incident marked a true moment of catharsis. Unfortunately...

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Glinda the Good: Officially!

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from: priscellie
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 08:50 pm (UTC)

I'd be interested in seeing Petrie's version of the church scene, if you don't mind. My email address is priscellie(at)gmail(dot)com.

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from: frelling_tralk
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 10:19 am (UTC)

I hated AYW for how crude and stupid they made Spike, and what a cold bitch Buffy was written as. Your theory helps a lot, thanks :)

And BTW where did you find your icon? It's so beautiful!

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Julie Frost, writer

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from: agilebrit
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 10:33 am (UTC)

I love you.

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from: spikendru
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 12:39 pm (UTC)

I heart my brilliant friends! This makes perfect sense! paynbow and I have discussed this episode many times, but never as succinctly as you have just done. It really bothered me that Riley knew just where to find Buffy, and during the trip in the SUV while the changing and the demon-tracking and the chit-chatting was going on, Riley never thought to mention the he wanted the demon alive? And that Riley, who doesn't have a very high opinion of Spike's intelligence, wouldn't question him further about the eggs/Doctor?

And Spike calling himself The Doctor never made sense to me. The Big Bad, The Immortal, The Rebel. . . these are terms Spike would think are cool if pressed to come up with an alias--not The Doctor. Not only did Doc defeat him, causing him to fail to protect Dawn, leading to Buffy's suicide, but Joyce, with whom he had a real relationship, had died less than a year ago and all the "doctors" couldn't save her; for Spike "doctor" has only bad connotations.

Thank you so much for this deconstruction. It gave me a whole new way of thinking about this episode.

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from: synalott
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 12:40 pm (UTC)

You rock! I can't even look at that ep, along with a few choice others. I always thought Buffy broke up with Spike because she finally had the courage blah, blah, blah. Actually I never listened that close to the specs of the Doctor because Riley and Sam are like television valium for me.

Also, now I have this little scene in my head of LBJ staking Nixon with a plastic stake and LBJ saying "Nixon, you will never be president!" Hee

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from: diabola79
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 03:07 pm (UTC)

Came to the same conclusions myself, but I love how you pointed out the possible meaning of the conversations with Todd. I still haven't managed to watch S6 in english and those where some of the parts that got completely lost during translation...

Thanks for that!

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from: julia_here
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 05:57 pm (UTC)

I now appreciate the function of this epiisode in the seasonal story arc, but if it's all right with you I'm just going to keep skipping it when it comes around on Fx. Because my ability to appreciate things, intellectually, is dwarfed by my emotional reaction to the big tight-lipped blow off.

Pimped this to the S'cubie Board, btw, where people are applauding.

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from: beccaelizabeth
date: Dec. 18th, 2004 09:24 pm (UTC)

unlike the episode, this actually makes sense.

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from: wickedgillie
date: Dec. 19th, 2004 05:01 am (UTC)

postively brilliant. ultimate fanwank or not, i think you've got it. perhaps petrie's clues were a little too obtuse on the initial outing, but after reading your take on it, i know i will never see this the same way again. i completely missed making the machiavelli connection!

::snogs your madly::

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your friendly skidge

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from: lillianmorgan
date: Dec. 19th, 2004 09:08 am (UTC)

Wow. Thank you. I love this! Do you mind if I pimp?
Spike says he's holding the eggs for a friend, and as you point out, his only friend is Clem. Is Clem the Doctor? Or is he somehow involved?
I think most likely it was for the money, hence the lack of nervousness around Buffy, because he believed he was doing something good for her - so perhaps she was the 'friend' by extension?
Or maybe they're all bots in Warren's cunning master plan?
Thanks for debugging all the co-worker's references, which had added to the weird vibe of Buffy's workplace; even in the DMP episode, the whole place has this strange, ethereal, otherwordly feel - which is complicated as a fast food joint is so normal and slaying vamps is not.

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