Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S05E18 – Intervention

In the eighteenth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, what the fuck?!?!?!?!?! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

Oh my lord, do we ever have a lot to talk about. I’m splitting this up by character:


There’s an element to “Intervention” that feels like a deliberate deconstruction of the “strong female character” trope that runs throughout fiction. That’s not to say that Whedon avoids this trope. Hell, I’d say most of Buffy and Firefly implicitly accepts this idea as a way to portray women. But after nearly five years of kicking ass and being the one everyone turns to, Buffy has a crisis of identity in terms of her own humanity. Why must she always be strong? Why does she always have to have the right answers, the right reactions, and the right amount of physical strength? If anything, the events of “Forever” have shown her that her pursuit of being a strong role model for her friends and family can leave her feeling cold and vacant. In Dawn’s case, Buffy nearly pushed her away, too, intentional or not. So I find it really impressive that Jane Espenson’s script openly acknowledges. She has Buffy stop and say, “Wait, what the fuck am I doing?”

I momentarily forgot that Joshua Tree can be freezing fucking cold, especially since Giles and Buffy roll up to the desert, and the sky is shimmering like it’s a billion degrees, and then Buffy gets out of the car wearing A TURTLENECK AND A HEAVY JACKET. Anyway, I knew the instant they arrived that they were heading to the exact site where Buffy met the First Slayer during “Restless.” Oh shit, this was going to be GREAT. She was going to consult the First Slayer on her purpose, and I couldn’t wait.

So that’s why I was, at first, kind of disappointed by what was happening. That’s because I was looking at the situation wrong. Until the huge reveal at the end of their conversation, I realized that the entire vision acted as a brilliant commentary on how ridiculous these scenes always are. I’m not sure that’s what Espenson intended, but that’s okay. I really liked the scene because it’s so rare that someone who talks like Buffy does interacts with a spirit messenger like that. Seriously, can we talk about that? One of the things that makes Buffy stand out as a show is that the heroine talks exactly like most young women in Southern California. She’s not prone to waxing poetically about her destiny. She doesn’t always have a good, zippy line to say. She’s a twenty-something girl who has her own life, and here she is, talking to the very first Slayer ever, and she is treating it like a therapy session. I half expected the First Slayer to just blurt out, “SHUT UP, BUFFY, I’M TRYING TO TELL YOU YOUR DESTINY.”

And now we need to talk about that. Buffy has a gift, and that gift is DEATH. What the fuck? Is the First Slayer referring to Buffy’s “gift” that she gives to the demons and vampires she slays? Holy shit, this could turn into something really creepy. Is there some power at work here that’s sort of… judging all the evil souls? Even more fascinating is the fact that Joyce just died, and Buffy’s concerned about bring more death into the world. Oh fuck, this seriously opens up so many goddamn story possibilities. WHAT DOES IT MEAN???


My god, what the hell did I just watch? I think that the Buffybot story with Spike in this episode might just be the most disturbing thing this show has ever, ever given us. To be honest, I thought that Spike would just appear at the beginning to set up that story line, and then the rest of the episode would focus on Buffy. I guess I expected that the Buffybot would be saved for a later episode. Instead, it takes all of fifteen minutes for “Intervention” to turn into a complete and utter disaster. See, Spike had Warren program his robot version of Buffy to be the Slayer. Meaning she still had the desire to go slay things.

Even then, I expected a slapstick treatment over having there be two Buffys. And while it was funny to watch the Buffybot try and integrate into the story so far, I was impressed that this all provided an interesting commentary on Spike’s behavior. His selfish behavior had helped create this thing that was now running amok around Sunnydale. HE HAD HER FOR LIKE A FEW HOURS AND IT WAS ALREADY A DISASTER.

But “Intervention” contains what I think might be the very first moment that is entirely pure on the part of Spike. When he’s kidnapped by Glory’s minions, I knew that one conflict that would arise would be whether or not Spike would reveal Dawn’s identity. The truth is that Spike knew, strung up in chains, that no matter what he did, he wouldn’t win Buffy over. That’s why he gave up and pursued the Buffybot. He knew that Buffy herself would never come around to him. Which… well, I kind of want to congratulate Spike for actually letting go, but then he makes a robot Buffy and that’s creepy?

Anyway, he had no reason to keep Dawn a secret except for an entirely unselfish reason: it would cause Buffy pain. But how can he feel that? How can he experience such a deeply human emotion as a soulless demon? It’s fascinating to me to think about this, especially coming off of “Disharmony.” What is the true nature of a demon like this? As this show progresses, the line between vampire and human continues to blur to the point that I don’t know that I can make definitive claims about either of them. While Spike may act human here, he’s not.

So why does he do it? Why accept that much pain and torture for someone? Is is seriously possible now that a demon without a soul can actually experience love? Oh my god, THIS IS SO FASCINATING TO TALK ABOUT. My god, I love this show. And I was just blown away by how things ended between Spike and Buffy. She tells him that the Buffybot wasn’t real, but what he did for her was. It’s such a huge moment for the relationship of these two characters. She knows that Spike made a genuine sacrifice for her and Dawn, and she thanks him just as seriously. I’m not ready to accept that Spike is perfect for Buffy, or that this is even a sign that they’re going to be together. Spike has a lot he needs to work on, and, like with Angel and Cordelia, Spike has to earn the trust of Buffy and the Scoobies. But I’m still intrigued by the fact that Spike does have the capacity to be quite human in him. WHERE WILL THIS GO.


I saw you take Anya’s earrings. Is she going to cast a spell or something? SHE IS, ISN’T SHE? Oh god, can you not???

Sarah Michelle Gellar

God, what a SPECTACULAR actress. She played that Buffybot SO WELL!!!! My god, how is she a real person?


I’m growing rather fond of him, I admit. The actor who plays him is so good at groveling, too.

Buffy (Again)

“You guys couldn’t tell me apart from a robot?”

Oh god, best line.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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2 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S05E18 – Intervention

  1. silverr says:

    To me Marsters gets buckets of love in that last scene – especially one he realizes that it’s Buffy and not the Buffybot – for being able to convey such nuanced wonder (and shame) under all the puffy-face makeup.

  2. Jeldaly says:

    Holy mother of milk literally what the hell. Also Dawn why do you do this thing. Also Willow and Tara jumped apart as soon as others entered. Also UGH. GLORY. JUST GET DEFEATED. THERE IS A MACGUFFIN TO KILL YOU, THERE MUST BE. CAN IT PLEASE GET HERE.

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