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The Spike in Team (Non-Buffy Edition)

You ever have a meta that would NOT LEAVE YOU ALONE till you wrote it? That's what this is.

As I was working on the BCBW for Normal Again through Seeing Red, I found myself, as usual, intrigued by Spike's part in those episodes. I think that a lot of interesting stuff goes un-commented on because the Big Event of Seeing Red (SR) kinda overshadows...everything.

So I want to take the time to do up some meta on Spike's arc there, specifically looking at the non-Buffy parts.

Yeah, you heard me. stormwreath's meta, Spike's Soulquest is something I rec a lot with good reason. While recognizing The Buffy of Spike's decision to get his soul, it also explores the other reasons that played into that decision. I want to do the same thing in a more general way. Buffy/Spike gets a lot of airtime in meta, especially as regards Spike's soul. However, I want to look at the non-Buffy angle. This isn't to say that Buffy wasn't important. Of course she was. She was a huge factor in what Spike did. I just want to look at the other factors. :)

To do so, though, I'm gonna have to go back to S4.

It might be possible to extend this out further to S2 or Spike's William days, but I'm not really inclined to do so here. S4 is where this theme is pretty explicitly established.

S4 is largely about group dynamics, specifically as they relate to the Scoobies and the Initiative. However, Spike's new role as a regular also plays into this as he takes the part of a character who is involuntarily excised from his social group (vampires) via the chip.

Pangs illustrates this with a blanketed Spike staring wistfully at a family of vampires encouraging a fledgling to feed on a human (Awww!). Because of the chip, he's now on the outside looking in. However, Pangs also shows Spike turning to the Scoobies for help. In the forced absence of his own group, he's left with little recourse but to turn to the Scoobies. Why? He explains later in The I in Team: "Because you do that. You're the goody-good guys. You're the bloody freaking cavalry."

He's not appealing to them out of any sense of camaraderie or friendship (indeed, in Pangs he specifically says he came in "seething hatred"). However, he's pegged the Scoobies as people that will help, no matter what, and Spike's an opportunistic sort.

The revelation in S4 that Spike can hurt demons with the chip will further distance him from his old social group. In Goodbye, Iowa, Spike is beaten up whilst in a demon bar and is told:

Bad-ass Demon: What did you expect, Spike? A welcome party?

Quick shot of two more mean looking demons standing in the doorway.

Bad-ass Demon: Word's out: you've been making war on the demon world.

Spike: (dazed) War?

Bad-ass Demon: With the Slayer! You kill other demons and the rest of us don't hold with that.

The other two demons, growling, duck back inside where the jukebox can be heard playing loudly.

Bad-ass Demon: Still . . . if I see you around here again, *I'll* be inclined to break that code. Do you understand?

Spike has found himself not only cast out by his own kind, he's being associated with the Slayer, despite his not-really-allied with her state at the time. Indeed, in The I in Team, Spike explicitly tells Giles he's not interested in being part of the Scoobies.

Giles: Um, thinking about your affliction and, uh, your newfound discovery that you can fight only demons; it occurs to me that (chuckling) I realize this is completely against your nature but I-I-I-- Has it occurred to you that there may be a higher purpose--

Spike: Ugh! You made me lose count. (faces him) What are you still doing here?

Giles: Talking to myself, apparently.

Spike: Well piss off, then. (indicates the money in his hands) This bit of business wraps up any I got with you and your Slayerettes. From here on I want nothing to do with the lot of you.

Giles: Your choosing to remain in Sunnydale might make that a little difficult.

Spike: Well you and yours will just have to show a little restraint is all. Get out.

Giles doesn't say anything and heads for the door.

Spike: (following) And I don't want you crawling back here knocking on my door pleading for help the second Teen Witch's magic goes all wonky or little Xander cuts a new tooth. We're through. You got it?

The memo doesn't get out to the rest of the demons, obviously, as we'll see them repeatedly imply that Spike and Buffy are teamed up throughout the next couple seasons, regardless of whether Buffy and Spike actually are.

The end of the season sees Spike, in a typical opportunistic twist, fall in with Adam, who promises to remove the chip and allow Spike to become a true demon again. In doing so, this would restore Spike to his former position of glory within his social group.

That, as we know, doesn't happen. Adam's plan isn't a success, and Spike is left trading sides again. This time, with gusto.

The door breaks down and a demon comes inside.

Spike comes in and breaks the demon's neck.

The demon falls to the floor.

Spike: Nasty sort of fellow. Lucky for you blighters I was here, eh?

Giles: Yes, thank you.

Cut to Spike.

Giles: Although your heroism has been slightly muted by the fact that you were helping Adam to start a war that would kill us all.

Xander: You probably just saved us so we wouldn't stake you right here.

Spike: Did it work?

They all get up.

Spike: Well, then everything's all right. And we all get to be not staked through the heart. Good work, team.

Indeed, throughout S4, we see Spike make surface appeals to a Scooby teamwork at the same time he's often rejecting a part in it. In Doomed, after he discovers that he can hurt demons, he attempts to rouse Willow and Xander to go fighting with him.

Spike: “What’s this? Sitting around watching the telly while there’s evil still a foot. (Turns the TV off) That’s not very industrious of you. I say we go out there (Rubs his hands together) and kick a little demon ass! (Xander and Willow stare at him) What, can’t go without your Buffy, is that it? To chicken? Let’s find her! She is the Chosen One after all. – Come on! Vampires! Grrr! Nasty! Let’s annihilate them. For justice - and for - the safety of puppies – and Christmas, right? Let’s *fight* that evil! - Let’s *kill* something! (Fade to black) Oh, come *on*!”

Later, we see a similar rousing speech in Where the Wild Things Are, but this time he'll manage to talk himself out of it.

XANDER: Anya, look around! There's ghosts and shaking, and people are going all Felicity with their hair... We're fresh out of superpeople, and somebody's gotta go back in there. (Deep breath) Now who's with me?

(Willow and Tara hesitate.)

SPIKE: I am.

(Everyone looks at Spike in surprise.)

SPIKE: I know I'm not the first choice for heroics ... (drops his cigarette and grinds it out with his foot) and Buffy's tried to kill me more than once. And, I don't fancy a single one of you at all. But... (pauses) Actually, all that sounds pretty convincing. (Frowns, shakes his head and walks away.) I wonder if Danger Mouse is on.

S4 shows us a character who's been shoved out of his former group and who's made a few half-hearted, largely insincere attempts to join with the Scoobies. S5 will begin with this dynamic and develop it further.

S5 starts early with a reference to Spike's outcast status in Real Me.

HARMONY: How've you been?

SPIKE: (shrugs) Not bad. Just got a brand-new telly in my crypt, so...

MORT: (walking up behind Harmony) Why are you talking to him?

HARMONY: It's okay, we used to go steady. (sighs) Spike, Mort. Mort, this is-

MORT: I know who he is. He kills our kind.

HARMONY: Oh yeah! (to Spike)What's up with that?

SPIKE: (shrugs) Bloke's gotta have a hobby, don't he? Piss off, Mort.

Of course, the show then adds a twist in having Spike develop feelings for Buffy. This will invigorate his desire to join her group. We'll soon see Spike present for the Big Family Scene in Family and he'll play pool with Xander in Triangle.

In Blood Ties when Buffy angrily accuses Spike of trying to ruin her life by helping Dawn find out her true origins, Spike replies in an interesting fashion:

BUFFY: How could you let her find out like that? From books and papers? You hate me that much?

SPIKE: I was just along for the ride. Not like I knew she was mystical glowy key thing. Nobody keeps me in the bloody loop, do they?

Spike's complaint that nobody keeps him in the bloody loop implies that he feels as if he should be part of the Scoobies Loop. As opposed to S4, he's started associating himself with the Scoobies despite his own tenuous status as one. Indeed, in the previous episode, Checkpoint, Spike had described his relationship with Buffy to the Watchers.

WATCHER #2: (OS) But we understand that you *help* the Slayer.

We see that Spike is being interrogated by Watcher #2 while the other two nameless male Watchers stand between her and Spike. One of the men holds a cross, the other a crossbow.

SPIKE: I pitch in when she pays me.

WATCHER2: She pays you? She gives you money?

SPIKE: Money, a little nip of blood out of some stray victim, whatever.

He explains what he does as "pitching in", as if he's a go-to accomplice. He's settled himself into a peripheral Scooby state.

This gets shaken in Crush, when Spike's feelings for Buffy (and stalking of her) are revealed. Buffy de-invites him and cuts off all contact, business or otherwise. The very next episode has Spike rushing to the Scoobies to try to clear things up.

SPIKE: Hello, all. What's going on then?

GILES: Spike, you're not welcome here.

WILLOW: Yeah, and by the way, we're working on a way to de-invite you from here. (Spike looks surprised) Even if it is a public place.

XANDER: Nah, forget it. Letting him in is good, 'cause then we get to toss him out.

ANYA: Ooh, can we throw him out the window like the robot did? 'Cause that was neat.

SPIKE: Robot? That's what she was? (scoffs) Knew something wasn't right. (looks over at Dawn, who's standing behind Tara) Hey. Someone's glad to see me, aren't you, little bit?

DAWN: Stay away from me.

TARA: I think you better go. (steps in front of Dawn and folds her arms)

SPIKE: Okay, now, I was afraid of this. Misrepresentations, misunderstandings, slurs and allegations. I don't know what Buffy told you, but the thing is, the Slayer and I worked together, side by side, to get rid of Dru. Who was up to no good. And I don't mind telling you-

GILES: (takes off his glasses, moves closer to Spike) Spike ... listen to me.

SPIKE: It's just ... I'm trying to explain. She might have said some things that sounded like I expressed some kind of feeling-

Giles pegs Spike as trying to get into their good graces to get to Buffy. However, I think Spike's previous behavior - as well as his appeal to Dawn - show that there's a secondary concern of his, and that's of his disappearing liminal Scooby status. Once he's not welcome with the Scoobies, he's effectively cut off. It isn't until Intervention that things change. Spike earns Buffy's trust, and the escalating Glory situation necessitates his more tangible addition to the group.

GILES: (grimly) What's he doing here?

SPIKE: Just out for a jaunt. Thought I'd swing by and say howdy.


BUFFY: (looks up from the table) He's here because we need him.

XANDER: The hell we do.

BUFFY: If Glory finds us, he's the only one besides me that has any chance of protecting Dawn.

XANDER: Buffy, come on-

BUFFY: (jumps up angrily) Look, this isn't a discussion! He stays. Get over it.

With this Buffy-ordered imperative, Spike is situated within the group, a turn of events he's seemingly very pleased with. He banters with the other Scoobies, often in a good-natured way (Offering his flask to Willow in The Gift, he and Giles quoting the Saint Crispen's Day speech, his near-constant back and forth with Xander). He ends the season with Buffy dead, but with access to a social group that he'd previously not had access to.

This all brings us to S6 (finally). We're immediately shown that Spike is part of the team.

SPIKE: I'm never gonna get anything killed with you lot holding me back.

TARA: (panting) I thought the big ones were supposed to tire more easily.

SPIKE: No, that's over-the-hill shopkeepers.

GILES: (leaning against a gravestone, panting) I'm fine. I just need to ... to die for a minute.

SPIKE: (to Tara) It was that powder you blew at him made him rabbit off.

TARA: It's sorbis root, it was supposed to confuse him, but ... it just kinda made him peppy.

Spike rolls his eyes.

TARA: It's not supposed to mix with anything, you think he might be taking prescription medication?

SPIKE: (sarcastic) Yeah, that must be it.

GILES: Good god, I hope he doesn't try to operate heavy machinery.

Giles and Spike laugh.

SPIKE: Yeah, we could all be in real-

That's genuine camaraderie there that's presumably been present all summer. The Scoobies even assign him his own task: babysitting Dawn. What's more, Spike's placement in the group appears to be accepted by even Xander.

Spike grabs Xander and spins him around, slams him up against the tree and holds him there.

ANYA: Hey!

SPIKE: You didn't tell me. You brought her back and you didn't tell me.

XANDER: Well, now you know.

SPIKE: I worked beside you all summer.

XANDER: We didn't tell you. It was just ... we didn't, okay?

Spike references his position in the Scooby group in his anger at Xander. He "worked beside [them] all summer". Xander, for his part, appears apologetic. He doesn't make any refutation that Spike isn't part of the team or anything. No, Spike is integrated as a Scooby.

He's also still distanced from demons. Tabula Rasa and Life Serial, like Real Me in S5, had succintly established that Spike's still an outcast from the demon world.

In Life Serial:

GREEN DEMON: You know the game, Spike. You in?

MANY-EYED DEMON: He kills our kind. Don't let him in.

And from Tabula Rasa:

SHARK DEMON: You're an odd duck, Mister Spike. Fighting your own kind ... palling around with a Slayer. (Spike turns to face him) And whoa, that suit! Chutzpah must be your middle name. (chuckles weakly) Uh, hey, look, um ... about our little debt problem, it's okay, I don't need the kittens.

Spike's managed to finagle himself back into a minimal position within the demon world. However, in this position, he's constantly having to justify his presence whereas he'd previously been hailed at the Slayer of Slayers. His inability to harm humans leaves him a demon on par with Clem. For Spike, this only allows him access to a pale shadow of his former position.

However, at the beginning of S6, it seemingly doesn't matter as he's settled into his place with the Scoobies.

This all changes with Buffy's return. The dynamics shift. We don't see any interaction between Spike and the Scoobies until OMWF.

WILLOW: We're not just gonna stay here.

GILES: Yes we are. (looks intently at Buffy) Buffy's going alone.

SPIKE: (disgusted laugh) Gah! Don't be a stupid git. There is no-

GILES: If I want your opinion, Spike, I'll- (pauses to consider) I'll never want your opinion.

It appears as though the Scoobies have gone back to their S4 to mid-S5 patterns towards Spike now that Buffy's returned. Whereas he'd previously been an ally, he's now not needed. Instead, Spike begins to interact almost exclusively with Buffy.

It's hard to say exactly why this is. Part of it is that the Buffy/Spike dynamic isolates both of them. They pull each other under, and as Spike encourages Buffy to distance herself from her friends, he convinces himself to stay away from them, too. Buffy awakens the darkness in Spike, and he embraces it. Doing so requires casting off his other attachments.

This puts him in a new position with regards to group dynamics. Instead of attempting to be with "the demons" or "the Scoobies", Spike attempts to carve out his own place with Buffy. The two of them, alone together. Both of them enjoying their darkness apart from others. This appeals to Spike, and he spends much of the season indulging in this new niche with Buffy.

When Buffy calls things off in As You Were, though, the next episode, Hells Bells shows Spike returning to the Scooby group as a guest at Anya and Xander's wedding. However, his appearance is short-lived, as he leaves promptly so as to not upset Buffy further. Prior to his departure, Buffy tells him he has "every right to be here". His place in the group is still recognized, but it's a tenuous position now. As we see, despite the fact that Spike has every right to be there, he still leaves because he thinks it'll be easiest on Buffy. The fallout from the Buffy/Spike relationship will eventually completely oust Spike from his former place, as we'll soon see.

Whew! All that to set up what was supposed to be a fairly short meta on these next few episodes. Well, let me dig in here.

Normal Again is when Spike starts being a douchetastic ex-boyfriend. However, the douchiness comes later in the episode, after an interesting confrontation.

Buffy and Spike meet in the cemetery and have a friendly conversation about what had happened at Xander and Anya's wedding. Then we get this.

XANDER: (OS) Spike.

Willow and Xander walk up, holding stakes.

XANDER: I shoulda known you'd be tagging along.

BUFFY: (stands) Hey, guys. I, uh ... I found Spike and was, uh, trying to figure out what kind of dangerous contraband he had.

SPIKE: (looks disgusted, gets up) Tell you what, Slayer. (drops his cigarette and grinds it out with one foot) Let me get out of your way. (picks up grocery bag) I'll stop bothering you.

XANDER: Yeah, maybe you should do that, Spike, just run along.

From Xander's very first line, he's casting Spike as an outsider, a status he hadn't had since last year. Despite the fact that Spike's not been present in his role in the gang for much of the season, his appearance at Xander's wedding suggests he still feels he has a claim on it. Xander's cavalier dismissal of him as "tagging along" and then Buffy's decision to disassociate herself from him quickly turns Spike bitter, with good reason.

Buffy's breaking up officially drove the nail in the coffin to Spike's dream of him and Buffy as their own little social group. Now, Buffy's integrating back with her friends, and Spike's left with no one.

The scene between Xander and Spike escalates until Xander punches Spike. Xander's final comment before leaving with Buffy and Willow, "Spike, just go, okay? She's our friend. We'll take care of her." slams the door on Spike's former position as a Scooby.

Despite this, Spike's still called on to help track down and capture the demon. This adds further insult to injury that he's being used for the muscle without actually being granted access to the group anymore.

When he next sees Buffy, he gives her an ultimatum: "You either tell your friends about us...or I will."

Why does this become so important for Spike? He hadn't been insistent on this before. However, now it's important because he thinks it would restore his former status in the Scooby gang. Facing the possibility of being an outcast, he's grasping to try to get back in.

Spike reiterates the request at the beginning of Entropy. Buffy's not impressed.

SPIKE: Here, I could take care of this guy if you want.

BUFFY: Whatever.

Buffy kicks the first vamp off and flips to her feet.

BUFFY: Your call.

SPIKE: I mean, sure he don't look like much...

VAMP 2: Hey!

SPIKE: ...but I'd wager he could give you a bit o' nasty. (Buffy kicking Vamp 1) Save you the staking. (Buffy throwing Vamp 1 to the ground) All you gotta do is-

BUFFY: I am not telling my friends about us.

SPIKE: Right, I'll just be dropping him down to you then.

BUFFY: (still struggling with Vamp 1) You wanna tell them so badly? Go ahead.

She finally manages to get a hand free and stakes the first vamp. Buffy stands up and walks over to the gate, looks up at Spike and the still dangling Vamp 2.

BUFFY: You know why? I tried to kill my friends, my sister, last week ... and guess how much they hate me. Zero. Zero much. (shrugs) So I'm thinking, sleeping with you? (Spike looking annoyed) They'll deal.

She turns to go. Spike lets Vamp 2 go. He falls to the ground and rushes at Buffy from behind.

SPIKE: In that case, why won't you sleep with me again?

The ultimatum doesn't faze Buffy because she's gotten the scoop that her friends would likely be able to deal. Her framing puts Spike off, though. He was wanting her to tell them in order to restore his social position. The implication Buffy makes, however, is that he had wanted her to come clean in order to turn her friends against her. In reaction, Spike makes another appeal that Buffy sleep with him again - trying to grasp at that constructed social niche the two had formed in mid-S6. Buffy, of course, turns him down.

Later in Entropy, Spike commiserates with Anya. She's in much the same position as Spike. She'd managed to secure a place in the Scooby gang through her relationship with Xander. Now that that relationship is over, she's cast out. Both Buffy and Willow "side" with Xander, and Anya's left by herself.

We see Anya and Spike both attribute their problems to that which forced them to gravitate towards the Scooby gang in the first place:

ANYA: (angrily) Thing about it is, none of this was my idea. (disgusted) I didn't ask to be human. (pouring)

SPIKE: Right! And I didn't ask for this bloody chip in my head.

This isn't just about being jilted lovers. Anya is lamenting the fact that she became human. That was what allowed her to enter the social circle in the first place. Likewise with Spike and the chip.

In their bitterness, both of them start to complain about the group from which they've been expelled.

ANYA: I did everything for that man. Was it ever enough?

SPIKE: Never! (slurred) I was always going above and beyond. I saved the Scoobies how many times? And I can't stand the lot of you.

ANYA: Me either! I hate us! Everybody's so *nice.* Nobody says what's on their mind.

SPIKE: You do. That's why you're the only one of them I wouldn't bite if I had the chance.

ANYA: (giggles, pleased) Really?

SPIKE: Absolutely. I have nothing but respect for a woman who is forthright. Drusilla was always straightforward. Didn't have a single buggering clue about what was going on in front of her, (Anya giggling) but she was straight about it. That's a virtue.

ANYA: Mm. Xander didn't think so. He thought I was rude.

SPIKE: (like 'duh') That's because he's one of them. Uptight. Repressed. (makes "uptight" gesture with one finger)

ANYA: (frowning) You think?

SPIKE: Please. It's no wonder they couldn't deal with the likes of you and me, luv. We should have been dead hundreds of years ago ... and we're the only ones who are really alive.

While their coupling is invariably about their respective exes, it's also about the similar social positions they find themselves in as a result of their relationship failure. When they gripe about the Scooby gang, they're doing so with the air of the kids who aren't allowed in the clubhouse and then decide they never wanted to be in it anyway.

In Seeing Red, we're treated to the Scene That Overshadows Everything. After being reprimanded by Dawn, Spike attempts one last-ditch effort to get to Buffy. In doing so, he's also making one last attempt to regain his former position as a Scooby (or at least be alone in the darkness with Buffy).

That doesn't end well, and Spike later agonizes in his crypt about it. A lot of the agonizing is about Buffy, but there's one key line that is instrumental in Spike's decision to get a soul:

SPIKE: (angrily) It's the chip! Steel and wires and silicon. (sighs) It won't let me be a monster. (quietly) And I can't be a man. I'm nothing.

This is the struggle Spike's been in since S4. He can't be a monster, as we've seen time and time again when he's been rejected and berated by demons for his actions. He can't be a man and fit into Buffy's social circle. He's "nothing".

His seeking out his soul is as much about establishing his own identity as it is about atonement. Just as his relationship with Buffy had fallen apart and culminated in Seeing Red, his precarious social position had seen an upswing (in late S5 to the beginning of S6) only to have it all spectacularly go kablooey after Buffy broke up with him. He'd tried the "hanging with humans" thing and it hadn't worked out. Spike attributes this to his own lack of humanity and sees the solution as going to get a soul.

"The missing...the piece that fit."

That's from the Beneath You church scene for those who don't have it memorized.

I'm a geek. I find these group dynamics fascinating, especially as they apply to Spike's arc in the series as he so often shifts status within the group.


Nov. 12th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
Also, I didn't say anything at all about Joyce in the meta, so I'm not sure what you're responding to there.

I've read the comments before commenting so I guess I'm responding to the comments. My mistake.


The One Who Isn't Chosen

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