In the second episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anya, Willow, and Spike both must deal with the consequences of their actions. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
So, did that first girl who died remind anyone of Run Lola Run? No? Just me? Now I’m thinking about the unbelievable crush I had on Manni the first time I watched it when I was a WEE TEENAGER.
Anyway, wow, the awkwardness on this show never ends!!! They should change the title to “Buffy The Awkward Slayer”!!! Look at my jokes!!!
For real, though, I was at a bit of a loss for words after watching this episode. It wasn’t until I thought about how things got to this point that I saw a way to tie these events together: this is about consequences. The two stories that are the focal point of “Beneath You” concern what Anya, Willow, and Spike have done, and how those things affect themselves and the people around you. If you don’t mind, I’d like to split things up based on these three.
As you’ll see in the video below, I miss the days when Anya was happy. Since “Hell’s Bells,” the writers have just dealt her one heartbreak after another, and there’s no sense that anything will get better in the future. She doesn’t fit in anywhere. She can’t be a part of the Scoobies anymore, especially since Xander is around. Her vengeance demon colleagues aren’t exactly welcoming her with open arms, especially since she shows a reluctance to be as violent and cruel as she once was. When she finally enacts vengeance for Nancy, she does so in a way that totally backfires on her. So where is she supposed to be? What’s her purpose? I imagine that Anya is feeling unbearably listless at this point in her life. She can’t be good at being a demon, and she can’t be good at being human. I guess I worry about where this might lead her in the future.
And for what it’s worth, I was kind of irritated by Xander’s reaction to her on one level. His anger on behalf of Nancy was justified. The very thing Anya created to give Nancy her supposed “vengeance” was actually stalking her still. So I get that he feels Anya’s done wrong. But once he tries to throw the wedding back in her face, he loses me. Yes, she’s made certain choices that have gotten her to where she is, but dude, you left her on the worst possible day ever. I feel like a person should never develop a smarmy attitude about doing something like this, right? It felt a bit tactless coming from Xander. Plus, Anya’s life is a mess because of Xander, isn’t it? So it’s not like she’s wrong.
I do feel like this episode finally addresses the fucked up implications of what it is that Anya does. It’s sort of glossed over by the show? Like, generally, it’s a joke about how violent she once was. Now, we see that in action, and it’s kind of terrifying. How many times has this happened before? Has one of he creations gotten out of control quite like this? Well… wait, there was that troll in season five! Oh god, the troll. Mostly, I just wish things were nice for Anya because I like her a lot. 🙁
Oh god, SHE’S COMING BACK. Why is it that the writers are treating Willow’s storyline with far more tenderness than Spike’s? Willow did this horrible, terrible thing, and I was just so impressed with the fact that her scene was nuanced, calm, and reflective. I think that might be because of the characters’s different personalities, but then I got to thinking why so much of this episode was spent on Spike’s attempts at redemption versus Willow’s. I don’t know why Spike got so much screentime over her. It could be due to external factors, obviously, since I don’t know what those are. But why make this choice? Willow was the Big Bad from last season, and she’s one of the main characters from the show. Still, I think this is an opinion I’d rather let sit on the back burner to see how this season deals with her return to Sunnydale. I’m glad she demonstrates a reluctance to return because she’s not sure her friends want her to return. Spike, you could probably use a dose of that?
Oh god, Giles, you are the best. I’ll be sad if he doesn’t return with Willow. That seemed to be what this episode was hinting at. But I’m glad that Willow had someone familiar with her on her journey towards peace. Basically, I just want more of Willow.
This episode drew a direct parallel between Angel and Spike, especially with the moment that Buffy learned that each had a soul. But holy crap, this is all a mess before we get there. What I think the writers are trying to do here is demonstrate what an awful state Spike’s mind is in since he got back his soul. And I get that, and I’m very pleased to see this addressed. I think I would have called foul if this had been an easy process, especially since we’ve seen what it did to Darla.
But good lord, this is hard to watch at times. I have the same complain about this as I did about “Seeing Red.” The story spends more time focuses on the feelings and emotions of the attempted rapist than the person who was nearly raped. At the very least, Buffy does spell things out for Spike, but the dynamic just felt so off. I think that can be partially attributed to the fact that Spike is still trying to play games at this point of his life. He can’t just be honest with Buffy; he has to show up and pretend like nothing’s wrong. (Though I wonder if the writers had him show up at the Summers house just to get that BRILLIANT reaction from Nancy when she realized just how confusing this all was. Can I just say I’m Team Nancy throughout this whole episode? Her facial expressions are beautiful.) (Also, can I say that I’m glad Xander stands up to Spike, and then he accepts that Buffy can handle herself, and both of these are very wonderfully mature actions? I don’t want to deny that Xander can be a damn good friend to Buffy. OMG maybe he should just hug her and it’ll solve all their problems. JUST KIDDING.) Then Spike veers between being honest, then understanding, then he’s intentionally triggering Buffy in the Bronze about the attempted rape, then he’s…
Yeah, he’s confused and lost. It sucks to watch, especially because whether he wants to or not, he hurts Buffy. She’s bewildered by his presence. What’s she supposed to do with him? She’s got her new counselor job to deal with, and now Spike is back, and he has a soul! I think she cries because she’s so overwhelmed by what’s happening and what she’s witnessed from Spike over the course of this episode.
I think this episode was probably necessary in terms of the season’s arc, but it does feel like a single puzzle piece. It didn’t feel like a story in and of itself. That’s okay, and it might be one that I revisit later and appreciate a lot more than I did this first time around. I’m anxious to see Willow’s return, as well as how Buffy will do at her new job. Everything else? It’s okay. I don’t know where this is headed, and I don’t know what this thing is that’s coming to get everyone. And why are these young women being killed? I suppose I’ll just have to suffer in ignorance until I see the next episode. Damn it!
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