Lover’s Walk
Written by: Dan Vebber
Directed by: David Semel
Air Date: Nov. 24, 1998

FINALLY! FUCKING FINALLY!! I’m back into the show. And what a long time its been. And, of further note, what a great episode to come back on. “Lover’s Walk” makes me regret stopping for over two weeks so that I could play that abysmal Buffy game for Xbox. Spike is back in town and looking to get back into the swing of things – romantically – with Drusilla, who had left him due to his pact with Buffy back in “Becoming: Part 2“, but in doing so creates a whole mess of troubles for our cast. I’d like to say its mostly one person or group of persons that suffer the most from Spike returning to Sunnydale, but in fact its every character, for the most part, with the notable exceptions being Giles and Joyce, the former having left town before any of the events could even go down. What this means is that the kids are all at play while the grownups are away, and its a painful episode filled with as many moments of anguish as there are laughs.

I want to start, though, by saying something that surprised me; the sound effects. For some reason, I kept noting how damned impressive the sound was during this episode, and finally said, aloud “Nice!” when Buffy staked two vamps with a mop handle and they added the sound of it hitting the floor with a wooden “thunk” in the middle of the dusting effects. It was something I noted, something that took only two seconds. Less, even. But still impacted me enough. Turns out? The show was nominated for an Emmy for this episode in the category of sound editing. Sweet enough. On the production side, yet again, is the fact that I’d never seen this writer do an episode for the show. I’m sure he’s a staff writer and thus worked on many episodes, but this is his first script and, to be honest, he nailed it. Dan Vebber, you won.

Spike interrupts everyone’s decent state of existence fairly well, causing the Xander/Willow entanglement to finally come to a head. As I’d said in my “Homecoming” review, I enjoyed this little arc Xander and Willow go on. I stand by my claim that it is true to their characters and interesting to watch. I had mentioned that the path they had been on was destructive, and boy was it ever! Trapped in Spike’s old abandoned, burned out factory, Willow and Xander are scared and alone. Of course they start with the smoochin’. Cue Oz and Cordelia, both worried sick over their loved ones’ well being, finding them on a dirty old bed, startin’ in on the nasty. This leads to one of my all time favorite jokes, but we’ll get there. On the other side of town, Angel and Buffy follow Spike around while he digs up supplies for a love spell, so that Willow can make Dru love him again (Spike makes mention of a Chaos Demon, one who is “all slime and antlers” – we’ll see this guy, later on). This leads Spike to discovering a truth about Buffy and Angel: they’re still in love. Its a nice observation, made all the more interesting because of who made it. Spike, having crashed into town in an identical fashion to his entrance in “School Hard” (back in season 2), is a drunk and evil, but his rationalization regarding love is true to the point, and speaks volumes about Buffy and Angel’s relationship.

This leads to two climaxes, one at a magic shop (both inside and outside), one at the factory. The brawl between Spike, Angel, and Buffy vs the Mayor’s vampire crew is inspired and well put-together. Spike on top of that car is thrilling and good fun, while Angel doesn’t really do much aside from get stuck under a door for a minute or two. The team throwing Holy Water vials at vampires as they come in through the windows is a nice touch, too, and further showcases how inventive the show can be under any circumstance. On the less action-packed side of things, back in the factory, Cordy runs away from the sight of Xander and Willow kissing and falls through some stairs, only to have a nasty piece of rebar pass through her torso. She passes out and can’t be woken up and then…! A funeral! Its a great moment in the show’s history, because you really stop and think “No way. No way!” and then Buffy and Willow cross the screen and say “so they think Cordelia is going to be OK?” and you know that “BtVS” got you again.

Spike vanishes again at the end of the episode, providing many of the seasons greatest laughs (his insistence that Buffy’s pals are not at the factory is pure gold, as is his admittance that they, of course, are actually at the factory) and having further time spent with Joyce, as pictured above. But in his wake he leaves three couples destroyed, for the lack of a better word. Cordelia kicks Xander out of her hospital room, hurt and betrayed. Willow and Oz aren’t talking, either. And Buffy realizes that she has to finally leave town after high school, having nothing but a problematic love affair with a vampire she can’t “shag” (Spike’s words, not mine). This episode is the start of Buffy finally coming to grips with having the chance of a possible future, what with her SAT scores being so high. She has her duties, but also has her life. She’s got her mom and Giles telling her its the right thing to do. Angel, too. And with Faith in town, it seems plausible. She’s got a path set ahead of her, but so many things at home that she wants, moving away might be too much. She’ll have to grow up.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a show about relationships. I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it again. And Joss Whedon loves to fuck with those relationships. This is a primary example of how to play triangles, quadrangles (squares?), and loss of faith and loyalty. I’ve badmouthed the “Twilight” books/movies before, but – again – this is another moment of pure fact: mindless teenage angst gets you nowhere. You have to have characters with character. Not just giant foreheads. Look at Angel: David Boreanaz has a huge forehead, but that doesn’t stop Angel from being ten-times the character Edward Cullen is. Its just an easy thing to muck up, I guess. But, then again, the writers for “BtVS” maybe just make it look all too easy with episodes as impressive as “Lover’s Walk” and, of course, the following episode, “The Wish”. Shame on them.

Episode Rating: 94

Additional Observations:
-Best line? Spike to Angel: “You’re a bad man.” His delivery is perfect. Again, Marsters is clearly the better actor
-Everyone almost literally tells Buffy to leave town, starting with the most blunt comment coming from, predictably enough, Cordelia
-Solid music during the fight sequence. Its a far cry from season one…
-Is Buffy driving by herself, yet? How did she get to Angel’s mansion at the end of the episode? Did she walk? With that stupid little purse?
-I love the Spike/Joyce relationship. Its touching, naive, and simple. Its well constructed
-Drunk Spike is hilarious
-Giles is gone for most of the episode, so of course things to to shit

 

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