In the thirteenth episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, three separate characters are faced with the possibility that they’re not what they seem. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
Okay, I think that ultimately, I do like this episode. The title is a clever hint towards all three plots that are woven intricately in the story, and it addressed things that needed to be addressed by the show. I don’t think it’s perfect, and I still have a few questions about things that confused me. I’ll split this up by the three different narrative threads in “The Killer in Me.”
Okay, so, remember when I was kind of freaked out by the fact that the show never really showed us if Giles’s head was chopped off? Yeah, how did I forget that so easily? As soon as Xander brought this up, I just… no. PLEASE DON’T LET GILES BE DEAD. I COULDN’T DEAL WITH THIS. That being said, what a terrifying and unsettling plot. That’s what’s so scary about the First Evil, and I brought that up before. It not only can imitate someone, but once it does, then you have to accept that that person is dead, too. Fucked up.
I was relieved that Giles wasn’t dead. However, I was a little perturbed that the show STILL hasn’t told us how Giles survived an axe to the head. Like, that seems like a big thing to skip over??? HOW DID HE MAKE IT OUT OF ROBSON’S HOUSE?
Otherwise, GILES IS ALIVE. All is well! I did notice that Andrew is integrating more and more into the Scoobies. That’s… neat? I suppose he’s not getting much development beyond that.
I said it in the video for this episode, and I’ll state it again: it is just so nice to watch Buffy and Spike get along. What’s fascinating to me is how Spike has just dropped the idea of fighting Buffy at every step. To me, it shows that even though he wasn’t technically responsible for what he did when the First Evil controlled him, he’s still remorseful. He genuinely wants to do good. He is choosing to do good every step of the way. I can tell that he knows he’s in a precarious situation, too. Why else would he be so nonchalant about being chained to the wall? In this context, he is perfectly fine letting Buffy take the lead. He pretty much vocalizes it, stating that the Potentials won’t be safe unless he’s chained up or Buffy is by his side. Um, this is really cute okay. It’s a dynamic the show hasn’t really explored yet!
Spike’s chip begins to degrade in this episode, an event that isn’t actually connected to The First, and it sets Spike and Buffy off to go back into the Initiative’s base. YES. Though… wasn’t it all filled with concrete? I guess some of it wasn’t. Either way, I just love the way the scenes in the base’s hospital were filmed. Most of the time, we only see things in what little available light there is in the place, often from the flashlights that Spike and Buffy are carrying. It gives these sequences such an eerie atmosphere, and then when Buffy has to fight that demon thing, it’s so much scarier because of it. YES, GOOD. THIS IS VERY GOOD.
Riley doesn’t actually make an appearance in this episode, but I do like that he ultimately cedes control to Buffy. He lets her choose what she does with Spike. Does she let the scientists repair the chip, or does she have it removed? Oh god, why didn’t this episode tell me what she chose??? NOOOOO, THIS IS NOT FAIR. I mean, she’s going to have the chip taken out, right? RIGHT???
Okay, so I sort of get the story being told here? It’s a study in guilt from multiple angles. You have her guilt over what she did to Warren, the guilt that she’s “replaced” or forgotten Tara because she kissed Kennedy, and the fear that she’ll never be able to escape what she’s done. I think this is really important for character, and it Willow is ever going to be able to move on from the events at the end of season six, she has to acknowledge these things. And having her slowly turn into the man she despised enough to murder is kind of brilliant in one respect. In a sense, Warren is exactly what she fears most. Willow does not want to be defined by what she did, and Warren is certainly a character who (deservedly) is defined by his actions. It’s why we have such a visceral reaction to his character. He’s a misogynist murderer and an attempted rapist. It’s the horrible legacy that he left behind. Willow is terrified that she can’t ever be anything other than a murderer or a dark witch herself.
That being said, the execution of this story is just weird. What is it with Buffy and characters having horrible things happen to them after they kiss or have sex??? You know, after Tara was killed just after she had sex with Willow, you would think the writers wouldn’t have Willow’s next interaction with a woman be a total disaster, but NOPE. She kisses a girl onscreen – which is great!!! – and then she’s immediately punished by the narrative. OKAY, COME ON.
I do like Kennedy, even if her inclusion as the next love interest of Willow felt forced to accelerate the plot. I’m afraid to express anything more positive than that because we all know that everything I enjoy is killed off, but she plays a fascinating role in “The Killer of Me.” She enjoys Willow’s company and intellect, and it’s awesome to see a woman pursuing another woman on television like this. And even after learning about what happened to Willow and what Willow had done, after witnessing all of this, she still wants to be with Willow. Now that is some unconditional awesomeness if I’ve ever seen it. So “The Killer in Me” is a way for Kennedy to assert that she has no intention to take the place of Tara. No one can do that. Kennedy is someone else, and she should be viewed this way.
And then Amy. WHAT? I’m sorry, her inclusion in this episode is just fucking strange, y’all. So Amy hexed Willow out of jealousy? Didn’t we just see a bunch of Amy’s friends? So if Amy is so concerned about Willow’s acceptance, wouldn’t it make sense to have Amy be alone and friendless? What does Willow have to be jealous of? Plus, her story is just completely dropped. She doesn’t have to pay for what she did to Willow, Kennedy never tells Willow about the hex, and what.
This is a decent episode, though, despite that I think it has a few narrative problems. I loved Adam Busch’s portrayal of Willow. IT WAS SO GOOD. Plus, it was neat how the writers choose to represent Willow as Warren during certain moments where she was acting more like him. I didn’t initially understand that technique! So does this mean Kennedy/Willow is a thing now? I’m okay with that. It’s always hard to come off a pairing as wonderful as Tara/Willow, but it seems like Willow might be ready to truly move on. That being said, lord, did this episode make me miss Tara. 🙁
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