Here Endeth the Lesson: After four seasons of mutual loathing and disgust however, they were about to embark on a journey that was at many times both rewarding and unfortunate for both of them. For Buffy, having been in a relationship with the cursed vampire Angel and the good college boy Riley, no one would ever have dreamed that the follow-up, in what would become her third and final relationship of the series, would be Spike.
The definition of the relationship that develops between Buffy and Spike is a frequent topic of debate. Was it obsessive love? The list drags on, and many have argued one over the other. Milavec and Sharon M. Milavec and Kaye argue that Buffy and Riley have a utility friendship because they share a common goal in fighting evil and accomplish this together.
What undercuts a utility friendship it is built on rationality alone. For Milavec and Kaye, when Buffy desires to date a wholesome good guy like Riley, she does so for all the wrong reasons and fails to connect to her partner emotionally.
They benefit one another in utility and nothing more. Here, Milavec and Kaye argue that Buffy and Spike have the pleasure friendship because it is fueled solely by passion: It is rather a segment to a much larger picture, a note that will be expanded and elaborated upon further.
Milavec and Kaye argue that Buffy and Angel classify the complete friendship because they achieve the rarity of valuing each another for who they are. Any attempt to define them as primarily one thing or another is bound to fail, because just when they appear to qualify as one term, they transition into another. What is important to take away from this argument is that unlike Angel and Riley, the tendency for Buffy and Spike to be inconsistent in definition is precisely what made them compelling and authentic in its change over time.
In essence, the indefinable bond that is reached between Buffy and Spike is a model for a meaningful relationship that any individual would want to reach with another. By the beginning of the fifth season, Buffy and Spike are easily termed as enemies. Spike is still rendered harmless to humans due to a chip that has been implanted in his brain by the Initiative, and being that he is still a demon, one should wonder why Buffy does not dispatch him in his impaired state.
They may be enemies, but are not entirely useless to the other. At first, the plotline appears to be recycled because the audience has already seen this, even before the predicament of an implanted chip came into play — Spike has a plan, Buffy stops the plan, and Spike fumes until another plan for another episode is conceived.
During the retreat back to his crypt however, the flare and feist in his rage appears more elevated than usual: The scene is shot in a blue and gray tint that is ambiguous in that it is neither overtly light nor dark. According to Leigh Clemons, colors in clothing on the show are also far from insignificant.
Dream Spike wears all black as a symbol of his inherent evil, and Dream Buffy dons a pair of flaming red leather pants, a shade that attracts the eye and is a stimulant for eroticism. When Dream Spike tears off his shirt, he is also symbolically removing his evil front and reveals the vulnerability that is beneath it.
Dream Spike then grabs Dream Buffy roughly by both arms and submits her to a hungry kiss, though she willingly returns it. When the real Spike lunges upward in bed, he is panting and his limbs rise uncomfortably beneath the sheets, suggesting an erection. So how to classify Buffy and Spike now?
While they are no longer mutual in their opinion of one another, the inclusion of romantic feelings are unquestionably one-sided. Spike, on the other hand, has schemed, kidnapped, and tried to kill them. The rarity in this one-sided affection is significant because Spike falls in love with someone who is an adversary not just in principle like Angel but also in personal history. Spike does fit this qualification, for a while anyway. He regularly composed dreadful verses in an attempt to win over socialite Cecily, who declared him as beneath her.
While this behavior is at times wonderfully comedic, it is nonetheless undeniably creepy. He takes it to its most extreme form when he, the obsessed lover, threatens murder in the name of the beloved. In addition to obsessed lover however, the courtly lover in Spike is also still active.
The robot may be uncanny in appearance but is a simplified and degrading version of the real thing that Spike programs to talk dirty and pleasure him. Similarly, Buffy also steps back from her attitudes when she displays her first genuine regard for him. She acknowledges his loyalty with a soft kiss that is not driven by formality but by a gratitude held between friends.
She articulates this sentiment afterwards: What you did, for me and Dawn, that was real. The fifth year for Buffy and Spike began with a relationship based on mutual hatred to a relationship based on imbalance, with Spike becoming a courtly lover, an obsessed lover, and at times a hybrid of both.
When Buffy is determined not to sacrifice Dawn to save the world, she goes further to say that she will kill anyone who even goes near her, a pointed comment that gives insight to her apprehension, even for her friends. And yet, Spike is the one that Buffy personally counts on to protect Dawn because she instinctively knows that he will.
Buffy may not trust him, but she values him in a conditional manner. This concept is best demonstrated in the scene when Buffy and Spike return to the Summers home for supplies. When Buffy is on the staircase, he calls her and she stops halfway to listen: But you treat me like a man.
This is precisely why a utility friendship fits them in these circumstances. Spike loves Buffy, Buffy values Spike conditionally. The beginning of the sixth season finds Buffy gone and her friends and sister carrying on the fight against evil without her — and then there is Spike.
Having wept openly at the sight of her lifeless body, Spike fights alongside the Scoobies all summer and continues to look after Dawn. Spike believes that he has failed Buffy, and can only make up for it by protecting her sister in life where Buffy, having died, cannot. Gone is the notion of courtly love, obsessive love, and the perversity of the previous season — Spike has entered another league in his emotions towards Buffy, even without her in the picture anymore.
This is not to say that their sentiments have not changed however, for Buffy connects to Spike in ways that she cannot with anyone else — note that he is the only one that she allows to touch her without an initial flinch when he takes her bloodied hands in his.
Only Spike knows instinctively what Buffy went through, and it is in this shared trauma that a deeper bond is forged. Buffy then accepts Spike as her confidant by confessing only to him that she was torn out of heaven and not hell, a level that no longer qualifies their relationship as a utility friendship. Buffy, however, steps out of the dark and into the sunlight after swearing Spike to secrecy. They express the same desire in the other partner in wanting to feel, but it is grounded by lust.
Their kiss is not like any kiss that Buffy has shared with Angel and Riley — it is not a sensual, soft, close-lipped kiss that is framed in glorious close-up, but rather a hungry, open-mouthed, lunge that is framed wide in order to include their bodies, which are being heatedly pressed against one another.
They each recognize the ability to feel something through their partner, but the situation is hardly ideal. When Spike discovers that his chip no longer activates with Buffy, the two engage in foreplay in the form of a full-fledged fight that culminates when Buffy mounts him, pulls a zipper down, and begins to thrust erotically.
The fact that their first sexual encounter takes place after a knockdown fight that brings walls down is an easy metaphor and foreshadow of a literally destructive companionship.
Pressed against a yellow wall with a dumpster just a few feet away, they are hardly in an ideal location for romance. The fact that they go at it in this environment is a product of their erotic desires. Though their sex is not loving and romantic, it is the first instance where a confidant becomes a lover.
Confidants in the series, to a large extent, have been nonsexual and are people that are turned to when they want to talk about love relationships with other people. The fact that Buffy and Spike are the first to make the shift from confidants to lovers is not insignificant.
They have a history that progressed to this point rather than one that starts from it, an early indication to a more mature and messy adult relationship, even in light of being currently driven by lust and not love. When Buffy and Spike acknowledge the ability to feel something through their partner through sex, they both engage in mutual enjoyment. The problem with their pleasure friendship is that falling into lust under separate pretenses proves harmful to both of them.
They both desire the other partner to make them feel, but while Spike is in love with Buffy, Buffy is using Spike for sex. What is clear, however, is that Buffy is ashamed of herself. Spike, on the other hand, is and always has been the one more emotionally invested. While Spike enjoys sex with Buffy, he continues to push for something deeper with her despite her insistence that it will never happen. In a climactic moment, Buffy, in a manner that Wilcox notably points out is similar to when Faith beat on her own body, pummels Spike in the face mercilessly while insisting that he or substitute she cannot love or feel anything real because he she is dead.
The problem with Buffy and Spike is that lust cannot survive on its own. Through the lust, they are able to express the same desire to feel through the other partner, but they do not feel equally. Spike feels love, while Buffy feels shame.
Buffy is wise to end the relationship, but to have Spike go from an erotic pleasure partner back to the confidant that he was before their connection turned sexual, is simply not logical for them. I could never trust you enough for it to be love. The second she kicks him off, it is harder to say who is more horrified by his actions. Perhaps the reason that the imbalance between Buffy and Spike has existed all this time is not solely because their feelings for one another have never been mutually shared, but also because they have always been, at their core, two separate beings; one with a soul and one without.
Spike acknowledges this at last, and seeks the necessary change. Though Spike is already well on his way to Africa at that point, the fact that Buffy even agrees to the idea is something. It cannot simply be severed, but the elements that now comprise and define it are left intentionally ambiguous for their sake… and the sake of the seventh season.
The seventh season finds Buffy and Spike estranged and ambiguous to one another. Second, he wholeheartedly acknowledges to Buffy that his attempted assault on her was unforgivable and that he has changed, but prevents Anya from revealing his soul by starting a fight in the Bronze with his usual attitude and goads that negates the previous testament.
This conscious attempt to ignore who he is and what he has become fails him, and he later removes his shirt: The difference here is that Spike is no longer beneath Buffy; he is not an empty shell that a human once inhabited, for like her he has a soul — an asset that has proved so often in the past makes all the difference. Everyone believes that he is a liability and it is significant that the first person that asks Buffy to dispatch him is Spike himself. And Spike does ask for her help in a step towards his own redemption.
When he asks for her help now, it is not an exchange, but rather the notion of saving himself for the good of others. If Buffy and Spike no longer have a utility friendship, a pleasure friendship, or a concrete foundation for any other definition, what are they to one another? Spike is wise enough to know now that Buffy is not keeping him alive because of love, but is riveted by her admission of belief in him: You faced the monster inside of you and you fought back.
You may not see it, but I do. I believe in you, Spike.