In the eleventh episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sunnydale High comes back to haunt the Scoobies. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
How can you escape the past if it keeps returning? How do you move on if things keep repeating themselves? I never expected to see Sunnydale High ever again, and I certainly never though the Hellmouth would ever appear beyond a reference within the show’s dialogue. Neither did the characters, either, and that’s the main point of “Doomed.” It’s sort of a cliche to say that the past can “haunt” anyone, but it’s something I’ll always have to struggle with myself. SO I LIKE THIS CLICHE. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT.
Picking up where “Hush” left out, Buffy and Riley try to talk about the revelation that neither of them are what they seemed to each other. When an earthquake interrupts their conversation, Buffy is triggered by the event. Yeah, she only died the last time there was an earthquake. Oh god, who else has experienced an earthquake before? I moved to Southern California just over a year before the big Northridge quake of 1994. That shit was fucked up. You could hear it coming before it actually hit. NO THANK YOU. This is not the point, though! The point is that Buffy becomes somewhat concerned that this earthquake has something to do with the supernatural. I say “somewhat” because she also acts concerned to try and distract Giles from pursuing the commandos any further. Like many moments in this episode, this scene immediately reminded me of the first time Buffy had to hide Angel from Giles. Would we have to go through this again, where Buffy keeps a possible relationship a secret from her closest friends?
I suppose this entire episode is about the threat of repeating history. Willow has an awful experiencing seeing Percy at a party, and she’s taken right back to the bullying she went through at Sunnydale High. Buffy rejects Riley because she fears that she’ll be repeating the Angel scenario all over again. Willow and Xander face Spike’s taunts about their uselessness (which reminded me of Spike’s appearance in “Lovers Walk”). But when Willow finds a dead body at that same party (HOLY FUCK CAN YOU IMAGINE LAYING DOWN NEXT TO THAT I WOULD BE TRAUMATIZED FOR LIFE), Giles is able to pinpoint that a ritual called the Sacrifice of Three is going to be performed, ending the world.
I love the exasperation in the Scoobies’ voices. Like, shit, we already did this once! Why the hell must we save the world again? Can’t these demons just leave Sunnydale alone? WHY MUST EVERYTHING BE SO ABNORMAL? It’s with all this in mind that Buffy rejects Riley completely and wholly. I can’t imagine the second conversation they had was easy to write because it’s so brutal and depressing. But who can blame Buffy? Despite that I feel that Riley is nothing like Angel, how could I argue with any single point that Buffy made? The truth is that Riley really doesn’t understand who Buffy is and what she’s been through. Being the Slayer hasn’t exactly been a fun adventure for her. Why shouldn’t she act out of self-preservation? I like that she’s basically saying that her own emotional health and well-being is far more important than the feelings she and Riley have for one another. BUFFY I SUPPORT YOU FOREVER.
Also, I just realized there’s another repetition in the episode: Giles getting his ass kicked by demons. Well, at least he’s consistent, right?
There’s really only one character here who doesn’t fall into this pattern: Spike. (Well, Anya too, but she seems to be absent this whole episode. MORE ANYA, PLEASE.) Spike has never been through an experience like this, and as his life becomes more absurd and pointless by the day, he even tries to stake himself. I assume he couldn’t do it with his own hand, then, right? Because that would be much easier than falling onto a stake on a table. Oh god, at least he didn’t travel to a fake Italian town and choose to expose himself to the sunlight so he could sparkle. SORRY I HAD TO I DON’T CARE.
So what’s Spike’s purpose? Buffy regularly features characters trying to figure out their identity, and the chip in Spike’s brain has stripped him of his meaning. If he’s a vampire only out of a technicality, and he can’t fight, and he can’t feed, what the hell is he supposed to do? Who is he supposed to be? Again, I can’t believe I’m at a point where I feel sorry for Spike, BUT THERE IT IS. I WILL PUT THIS FEELING OUT TO THE WORLD, AND I WILL SET IT FREE.
Given all that’s happened, I had a sense that the return to Sunnydale High was going to be a big deal. It’s basically an emotional battleground where all these characters spent years becoming who they are now. How could they not be weirded out about being there? I mean, Xander steps on the Mayor’s burned flesh at one point. But I honestly didn’t guess a single thing right about the way this wrapped up. I certainly didn’t expect that the demons themselves were the sacrifice. I didn’t think Riley would show up and then mistakenly out himself to Willow, Xander, and Spike. (HOW DID HE NOT RECOGNIZE SPIKE.) I didn’t think we’d ever see the Hellmouth or see the inside of it. (Can I just whine about how totally unbelievable it is that Buffy used Riley’s cable and hook to catch the demon and bring it back? That cable was as thick as a fucking shoelace, I swear.) And never in a billion years would I have guessed that SPIKE CAN HURT DEMONS. OH MY GOD. THIS DEVELOPMENT. LOOK HOLY SHIT. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? Wait, of course you do. All of you have seen this show. Okay, NOT THE POINT. This, couple with the last scene between Spike, Willow, and Xander, means that Spike can join the Scoobies. I mean, yes, it’s for his own fucked up reason, BUT IT’S STILL A REASON I CAN SUPPORT. Oh my god, he just looks so excited. There’s so much joy on his face! THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT THIS THAT ISN’T 100% FLAWLESS. HELP ME EVERYONE. Spike! Spike!!!
Oh, right, Buffy and Riley save the world and they kiss. Meh, who cares when SPIKE IS ONE OF THE SCOOBIES THIS IS THE DAY WHEN THE ANGELS SANG VICTORIOUS IN HEAVEN.
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