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Do Buffy and Spike have a future together?

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Marc Blucas, Sarah Michelle Gellar, ...
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Richard Cartwright/UPN

Do Buffy and Spike have a future together?

No doubt there are some ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans bemoaning the turn of events in the Feb. 26 episode ”As You Were,” in which the Slayer put a stake in her steamy relationship with Spike, the pasty-white, platinum-blond bloodsucker. Spike has long been a fan favorite (and for good reason, thanks to James Marsters smart, smoldering performance) and there’s no denying that Sarah Michelle Gellar and Marsters have palpable chemistry — more so, dare I say, than she had with Marc Blucas (the hunky, sunshiny Riley) or David Boreanaz (the hunky, moonshadowy Angel).

Nonetheless, I’ve never liked the Buffy/Spike romance — mostly because it never had any suspense to it. Its ultimate demise has been telegraphed for months. It’s been clear that one day, Buffy would realize her sexual obsession was born out of desperation and self-loathing and then break it off in a self-affirming huff. And lo, that’s exactly what happened.

But to be fair to the show, the ambition was to accurately chart the emotional trajectory of this kind of sexual usury, and the writers have done a fine job. I recognize that criticizing Buffy for not coming to her senses earlier misses the point: That’s exactly what happens in these kinds of relationships — you get caught up in behavior that’s obviously unhealthy, but you’re incapable of detaching, recognizing, and changing. Incapable — or unwilling. And ”Buffy” has painstakingly captured that phenomenon. Still, ”painstaking” can be the enemy of riveting drama, and I still argue that the storyline has suffered because the audience has been too far ahead of it.

The catalyst for the Slayer to finally detach, recognize and change was the return of Riley, who left Buffy last season for neglecting him. We learned in ”As You Were” that Riley is now merrily chasing demons for the government and happily married to a fellow super-soldier. Poor Riley often suffered in comparison to Angel, so I was happy to see the character get his due; the writing seemed steeped in respect for the character, showing Buffy: ”Look at what you turned your back on.”

Gellar’s early scenes with Blucas, in which she mooned over her studly ex-boyfriend, were funny and did justice to Riley; she fell short of soaking the him with drool. And in the end, Riley’s return was just the sort of jolt Buffy needed to end her relationship with Spike and start rebuilding the broken parts inside her.

Do Buffy and Spike have any shot at a future together? ”As You Were” offered reasons to think ”maybe yes” and ”definitely no.” When Buffy asked Spike to tell her that he loved her, to tell her that he needed her, Spike did so, and meant it — which makes me wonder that if Buffy could get to a healthy place in her life, and their natural chemistry remains… might they have a legit future together?

Then again, the only good in Spike is his love for Buffy; otherwise, he is evil — as dramatized in ”As You Were” with the revelation that Spike has been earning a living in the selling and trading of human-killing monsters (a revelation which, I thought, could have been handled much better). This simple fact of Spike’s naughty nature will no doubt forever keep them apart — and more immediately, may effect a hostile response to being dumped by the Slayer. Will we now see Spike return to full-time bad guy status?

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