Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 6 Episode 13

Dead Things

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Feb 05, 2002 on The WB

Episode Fan Reviews (16)

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  • "You always hurt the one you love" – Spike

    We start with a customary Buffy fight. No, she's having sex again. She's a lover not a fighter. And this isn't just an in-between shifts shag: for a few moments she even engages in post-coital conversation, until Spike ruins it by comparing her to an animal. As we know, Buffy is scared of not having real feelings, of being hard, being inhuman. Spike knows how to push the wrong, as well as the right, buttons. In this scene, he is the 'feminine' one, living only for her, asking if she likes him, does she trust him, and Buffy the hard hearted mannish one, wanting only sex and distraction from her dull job. As she turned to Spike, the outsider, with her coming-back-from-the-dead problems, she now turns to another person outside of the gang to help with the Spike problem: Tara, whom she wants to investigate Willow's resurrection spell. "I think I came back wrong," she tells her. Is her predilection for rough sex with Spike due to the Urn of Osiris being broken before the spell was complete?

    Meanwhile, the geeks have found a new lair – Andrew's house – and a new toy, a cerebral dampener. The name is important, it dampens down cerebral activity. It doesn't make the holder devilishly attractive to women as with Xander and Amy's spell in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, it takes away free will. This is the trio's revenge on women (Jonathan wishes he'd had one in high school). But while Jonathan and Andrew are interested in "bazumas" and short skirts, Warren is far more single-minded. He wants his ex-girlfriend, Katrina, but he doesn't just want her to be his girl again, he wants her passive, objectified and under control, much like April, his robot girlfriend. Spike was compared to April in I Was Made To Love You, here we see Buffy using Spike for sex without considering his feelings, just as the boys want to use Katrina for their sexual plaything; the difference being of course that Spike is a willing victim. The boys compare women to "candy" and dolls – Warren says: "You can play with her when I've finished with her". This, to the guys, is not gang rape, it's similar to teenage films such as Weird Science where boys want to make their own women for fun. Andrew wants to live in a fantasy, Jonathan wants to be someone other than himself, but Warren is turning out to be evil. When Katrina comes out of the spell and points out what they're doing: "A bunch of little boys, playing at being men. This is not a game, you bunch of freaks: it's rape!", Warren hits her over the head. It's not an accident as they tussle, it's quite plainly murder. Warren even wants to cerebrally dampen her again after he has attacked her. The boys want to go to the police, not because they have a moral compass, but because they're scared of what Buffy will do to them. However, Warren has other ideas: "We have to get rid of it," he says, denying that Katrina was even a person. "It's her problem now," he claims after Buffy is tricked into thinking that she killed Katrina – responsibility is abdicated absolutely. In framing Buffy, the three fail again to see her as a person with a life and people who rely on her, and in the end, although Jonathan seems unsure, we see Andrew too turning to the dark side as he realises that the troika literally got away with murder – they are super-villains after all - not a bunch of little boys.

    Buffy's reaction is quite different. Despite having "killed" Katrina accidentally, she is determined to confess her sins to the police. But is it more than a martyr complex making Buffy do this? Dawn, after understanding last week that Buffy will always have lowly jobs, has gone into in an adolescent strop once more: "I didn't think you'd care, you're never here", she tells Buffy and, in her solipsism, she believes that Buffy wants to turn herself in because she can't bear to be near Dawn. There is a grain of truth in her egotism, Buffy does want to relinquish responsibility, forget her job and her life and Spike by being taken into custody. Spike has other ideas though, he makes her leave the scene of the crime, hides the body and invokes the spirit of Faith when he asks what one accidental death is compared to all of those lives she's saved. But killing someone is the icing on Buffy's feeling-like-a-demon cake. Her determination to sacrifice herself is fuelled by her guilt over the way she treats Spike; he and Katrina become one person in her dream. When she beats up Spike, she is beating on herself: "There is nothing good or clean in you, you are dead inside. You can't feel anything real"; again this is similar to when Faith in Buffy's body hit "herself" in the face. Buffy can strike Spike until his vamp face is smacked off because he is a vampire, this kind of domestic violence with a human would be awful. She can sleep with him without treating him well because he is an "evil blood-sucking fiend." But this makes her feel guilty, not because she secretly loves Spike, but because of the person it makes her. This is why she is so resolved to determine that she has come back wrong.

    But Spike brings it on himself. Not content with sex, he wants Buffy to himself, wanting her to distance herself from her friends by telling her they'd think badly of her if they knew she was sleeping with him. On top of the sex is the murder – their shared secret (until, even in her distress, her slayer instincts kick in and Buffy realises that Warren is behind Katrina's death). He wants her alone, just as he wanted Dru to himself without the involvement of Angel or Darla. Like Warren, he too wants control. His insistence that she "belong[s] in the shadows" is an attempt to make her his partner, rather than his f*ck-buddy but he also trying to invoke the emotional connection they had in Afterlife when she confessed to him alone that she was in heaven and not hell. He doesn't realise that reminding her of a) her detachment from her friends and b) her shadowy side does not endear him to her, much less forge a connection. Just as Riley didn't understand Buffy's dark side, even visiting vamptitutes to try and get it, Spike does not comprehend her light, human side, because it conflicts with her desires for him. Tara, Buffy's spirit guide in Restless, tells Buffy that she didn't come back wrong and Spike's ability to hurt her is only due to a bit of mystical physics. Tara shows herself more forgiving of Buffy's dark addiction than Willow's as she tells Buffy it's ok to have sex with Spike. But Buffy doesn't want forgiveness: "Tell me that I'm wrong, please don't forgive me" – she can't accept herself and doesn't want Tara to do so, she doesn't want her feelings towards Spike to be normal: sex should be about love and flowers, not dark desires: "He's everything I hate, he's everything I'm supposed to be against." Like many twenty-somethings, she is having an identity crisis as she says: "This can't be me. It isn't me; why do I feel like this?"