Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 7 Episode 9

Never Leave Me

4
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Nov 26, 2002 on The WB
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (16)

8.4
out of 10
Average
446 votes
  • “A soul's not all about moonbeams and penny whistles. It's about self-loathing.â€� - Spike

    8.5
    For once, we see the house being fixed up after the fight. It's a fairly fruitless task though, how many days usually go by without a Summers residence smackdown? It's a good job Xander works for free.

    This episode confirms the Big Bad as The First Evil to both the viewers and the gang. It also brings Andrew into the fold and furthers the Buffy and Spike reconciliation. Just as Spike has been compared to other characters (we've seen similarities between his predicaments and Riley's, he and Anya, even Spike's relationship with Buffy and the gyndroid April's with Warren) and now it's Spike and Andrew who share affinities. This is even pointed out to us as Anya wonders if William the Bloody is back and we then cut to a mysterious figure in black boots and a long dark coat striding imperiously down the Sunnydale street, who turns out to be....Andrew.

    Meanwhile Buffy is tying Spike up in her bedroom. What S6 Spike would have done for this! But now he's going through murder withdrawal, Buffy feeding him his methadone pigs' blood and counselling him when he wants to give up. It's not just about the ensouled guilt; like Willow, Spike fears what he is capable of. He is prepared to die to save others from his unwitting actions, foreshadowing his Christ-like actions at the end of the season (his sacrificial blood at the end of the episode drips from a crucifix, hammering (pun intended) the point home). He taunts Buffy to force him to kill her, telling her that she needs men to hurt her â€" a Slayer needs hatred in order to be able to do her job, and he tells her about the things he used to do to “girls Dawn's ageâ€� (possibly lies; we know it was Angel who liked the torture and Spike who preferred a good fangs-out fight). But the two are starting to understand each other; Spike realises why Buffy had a love/hate relationship with him (it was all about the self-loathing) and Buffy comprehends why Spike had to get his soul back. “You faced the monster inside of you and you fought back. You risked everything to be a better man.“ She isn't prepared to let him sink into self-pity or to be a shadow of his former vampire: “You're alive because I saw you change. Because I saw your penance.â€� To top this off, she tells him that she believes in him and we see a glimpse of what their future relationship could be, one based on mutual trust and understanding.

    Andrew too is soon tied up. Just as the ghosts of Jonathan and Warren played good and bad cop with Andrew to persaude him to do TFE's bidding, here Xander and Anya play bad cop and worse cop as they bond over the interrogation of Andrew, even though Anya is still annoyed about Buffy trying to kill her (“Shouldn't we stab him through the chest? Isn't that what we do when these things happen?�) and Xander feels that, because of Anya, there is only darkness where his heart used to be. But unlike Spike, Andrew feels no remorse and the gang is not that concerned when Spike, under TFE's brainwashing, tries to eat him to stop his blabbing. Buffy even uses him as a weapon at one point. And Andrew only tells them anything because he is more scared of Willow and her she-witchery than he is of Warren-as-TFE.

    TFE failed with Spike and Andrew and so it has to send in the big guns in the physical form of the Harbingers. To be honest, if I were a supremely powerful but incorporeal form of evil, I wouldn't use blind monks. Sightlessness isn't usually much of an aid to Slayer-slaughter. But the monks get their vamp and they take Spike off to be blood-let (it turns out that Jonathan was anaemic) and to open the hellmouth, revealing, not the tentacley monster of previous times, but one of Spike's ancestors, an uber-vamp.

    What this episode doesn't tell us is what has happened to Giles, whether the council are dead after their CGI dynamiting, and we still don't know if Wood is good. On one hand, he accepts Dawn's lies about Buffy being too ill to come to work (neat mother substitute/child role reversal) and busts the myth of the permanent record; on the other he threatens the children in his care with the police and, just as Buffy says: “I need to know what we're dealing with,� we cut to Wood seemingly psychically discovering Jonathan's body still lying on the hellmouth opening. Determined to remain his true intentions ambiguous, the writers have him burying the body in a sort of trance. Is he bad? Under a spell? Working for the First? Time, as is often the case, will tell.
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