and they call it spuffy love…
The following is from a posting I made to the ‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’ boards at Television Without Pity. In the “Season Six in Syndication” thread, we were talking about whether Spike really loved Buffy in Seasons 5 and 6, and whether Dru’s “Spike loved Buffy all along” comment in Season 5 was a retcon.
All in the name of avoiding that paper I have due tomorrow…
Re-watching some of S2-5, I think there was definite Spike/Buffy sparkage all along. And some of the early banter (i.e. in “Lover’s Walk“) between them reminded me a lot of the back-and-forth sniping between soon-to-be lovers in 1930s/1940s films. (As Dawn would say, “First you say Spike disgusts you but secretly you two are doing it like bunnies.”) At that point, I think it was sublimated lust, though, not love.
I think Spike’s dream at the end of “Out of My Mind” was sort of a wake-up call to him that the lust was there. I doubt it was love at that point. I’d wager the love developed sometime around/after “Fool for Love,” during the night when Buffy talked to him about her mom’s illness. I think that snap-change from murderous rage at being rejected to sweet-puppy, supportive William at seeing Buffy in tears was significant.
In terms of this discussion, it might be a good idea to define what “love” is. Because there are a number of different types, different degrees of love, and I’d say there’s a fine line between love, obsession and lust. A crush is probably more lust (with a little bit of obsession thrown in) than love. But is it love when it’s unrequited, especially when that “love” been declared and in-no-uncertain-terms rejected? Is it love when someone is willing to sacrifice himself for the object of his affections, or is it merely fulfilling a romantic ideal that has been packaged into his obsession? Is love of an ideal any less real than love of an attainable, responsive person? (The two are different, to be sure, but is the former any less real?)
Topic? I’d say that at the end of S5 and in S6, Spike [i]did[/i] love Buffy, but in different ways. In S5, Buffy was up on a pedestal. By S6’s “Bargaining,” Buffy was dead, completely unattainable. And Spike had this noble, never-to-be-requited, perfect love. Spike knew he could never have Buffy, but contented himself to be her noble knight, helping her cause and protecting her and her family. After she died, he could be her tormented noble knight, fulfilling his promise to protect Dawn, continuing her cause, and tormenting himself with all the ways he failed Buffy and how he could have saved her.
Buffy’s resurrection completely threw him for a loop, as he’d begun to settle into this new role. At this point, I think his love for her developed into a different kind of love. When, in early S6, she sought him out and treated him as a confidant, I think he began to have hope that she might one day return his love.
Of course, once actually having Buffy became a possibility, his obsessive tendencies kicked in (in a different way), and he started his whole divide-and-conquer strategy of isolating Buffy from her friends so he could have her all to himself. And thus perpetuated the clusterfuck that was Spuffy.
In S7, I’m pretty sure he still loves Buffy, but it’s shifted back over into “unattainable” mode. After what he’s done, his noble knight credo tells him, he’s not worthy of her help, much less her love. But I like that, post-souling, he’s a little more realistic about their relationship — that she used him knowing full well his feelings for her, that in his current state he’s more a liability than a help to her.
I think that the fact that he was in love (or in lust, however you take it) in the first place with Buffy, and later, the way he treated Buffy, completely threw Spike for a loop. He’s Spike, badass vampire and killer of Slayers. He and Buffy are supposed to be mortal enemies, yet, after having failed so many opportunities to kill her, he’s [i]helping[/i] her and her cause, and lusts after her. He’s becoming more William than Spike. And, as has been discussed ad nauseum, I think his attempted rape of her completely shocked him, that he would be capable of doing something like that to someone he ostensibly loved. Elements of William repulsed at the darker Spike impulses.
And all this intensifies his whole post-chip inner struggle about who Spike thinks he is versus who he actually is versus who he wants to be (which S6 could have done a much better job of showing). This leads to his decision to seek out his soul and his current struggle to maintain his sanity and cope with what he’s done in the past (and, apparently, what he’s still capable of doing).