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The Man Series: William The Bloody (Awful Poet)

I haven’t talked about it much on the site, but I was a big fan of a couple of Joss Whedon’s other shows namely Buffy and Angel.  I’ve got most all of it on DVD right now and have been known to pop a random episode in the DVD player from time to time.  In a typical Whedon fashion the characters on both these shows grew and evolved over time, but none as much as William the Bloody, aka Spike.  For those who aren’t familiar with the character, a little background information.

Though he was of upper class origins, once turned into a vampire, William became a rebel without a soul, wantonly killing for the rush of it, and joining up with his sire, Drusilla, and he evil family, consisting of Angelus and Darla, two of the most notorious vampires ever to come to Sunnydale.  This family was known as the Scourge of Europe.  Spike earned his name by killing those that mocked him when he was human.  His method was to shove railroad spikes through their heads.  During his younger years the vampire also became known as the Slayer of Slayers due to his murdering of two slayers.  After parting ways with his family Spike and Drusilla traveled to Prague, where Drusilla was injured severely by an angry mob.  Some time after this, they made their way to Sunnydale and began terrorizing Buffy Summers and her Scooby Gang.

The character was brought to Sunnydale to be one of the big bads, but overtime he went through a transformation.  To start with he was evil but decided to side with the Slayer to save the world for Angelus.  Siding with the Slayer was not for any altruistic reasons, but mainly for jealously over Angelus stealing Drusilla away and because Spike enjoyed a world with ‘little Happy Meals on legs.’  After helping to save the world Spike vanished with his sire temporarily.

Spike became a regular in season four, having returned to Sunnydale and been ambushed by a paramilitary group call the Initiative.  The Initiative captures him and implants a microchip in his skull preventing the vampire from harming humans.  Spike goes to Buffy and her group asking for help and they reluctantly take him.

Spike Captured by the Scoobies

It is during his time with the Scoobies that Spike realized he was capable of harming demons and begins killing demons so as to get his ‘spot of violence.’  Spike provides his assistance to the Scoobies for cash to buy blood and smokes.  But during this time he has no qualms about betraying them in an attempt to get the chip removed.

In Season Five, Spike becomes aware after some erotic dreams that, to his horror, he has fallen in love with Buffy.  He becomes a more active participant in the Scooby Gang, jumping into several of Buffy’s fights to provide assistance whether she wants it or not, and for no fee.  When Buffy rejects his advances , Spike attempts to prove his love by kidnapping her to witness him killing Drusilla, his sire, for her, to little avail.  Disgusted, particularly after witnessing the full extent of Spike’s obsession, Buffy rejects Spike numerous times, but reconciles after Spike refuses to reveal the identity of Dawn Summers to Glory, a hellgod, under intense torture, nearly laying down his life to protect her.  Buffy is moved by his unexpected sacrifice and kisses him.  In the days and hours leading up to the final showdown with Glory, Spike fights by Buffy’s side, earning her trust and possibly her friendship.  After Buffy dies in the showdown with Glory, Spike honors her memory by remaining loyal to the Scoobies, fighting at their side and serving in the role of baby-sitter, father figure, and protector to Dawn.

During the sixth season, Spike and Buffy become violent lovers following Buffy’s resurrection. Unable to confide in her friends, Buffy is increasingly drawn to Spike.  Their physical relationship starts after a demon’s spell makes them express their emotions in song, and Buffy sings, “I want the fire back.”, and is consummated two episodes later.  Buffy most often initiates both the violence and the sex between them, and threatens to kill Spike if he ever tells anyone about their relationship.  Both are unsatisfied with the relationship; Buffy is ashamed of her dark desires, while Spike obsessively craves the love, trust, and affection that she is unwilling to give.  In the episode “As You Were”, Buffy admits that she is using Spike and finally ends their relationship.  Believing he still has a chance with Buffy after seeing her reactions of jealousy and hurt when he has a drunk sexual encounter with Anya, Spike corners her and makes aggressive sexual advances.  When she refuses him, he grows desperate and unsuccessfully tries to rape her.  Horrified by his own actions and intentions, Spike heads to a remote area of Africa, where he seeks out a legendary demon shaman and undergoes the Demon Trials, a series of grueling physical challenges. Proving his worthiness by surviving the trials, Spike earns his soul back.

Spike Regains His Soul

In Season Seven, a re-ensouled Spike must cope with the guilt of his past actions and try to win back Buffy’s trust.  When Buffy asks him why he had fought for his soul, Spike explains that it was all in effort to find “the spark” for Buffy.  Under influence of the First Evil’s hypnotic trigger, Spike unknowingly starts killing again.  After he discovers what he has done, he begs Buffy to stake him, but she refuses and takes him into her house, telling him she has seen him change.  Buffy guards and cares for Spike throughout his recovery, telling Spike that she believes in him, a statement which later sustains him throughout his imprisonment and torture at the hands of the First.  When Spike’s chip begins to malfunction, causing him intense pain and threatening to kill him, Buffy trusts him enough to order the Initiative operatives to remove it from his head.  When former Slayer Nikki Wood’s son Robin tries to kill Spike, he unwittingly frees Spike from his hypnotic trigger: the song “Early One Morning” that Spike’s mother sang when he was human.  The song evokes Spike’s traumatic memories of his mother’s abusive behavior toward him after she turned; after Spike is able to address these issues, he realizes that his mother had always loved him, knowledge which frees him from the First’s control.

In the final battle inside the Hellmouth, Spike, wearing a mystical amulet, sacrifices himself to destroy the Turok-Han and close the Hellmouth.  He is slowly incinerated in the process, but not before Buffy tells him “I love you.”  He replies, “No, you don’t but thanks for saying it.”  Even as he burns and crumbles to dust, Spike laughs and revels in the destruction before him, glad to be able to see the fight to its end.  He finally dies at the Hellmouth and saves the world in the process, becoming a Champion.

The Death of Spike

Despite his apparent death at the end of Buffy’s final season, Spike returns in the fifth and final season of the spin-off series Angel. Resurrected by the amulet in the Los Angeles branch of supernatural law firm Wolfram & Hart, he spends the first seven episodes of the series as an incorporeal being akin to a ghost. As well as battling enemies such as “the Reaper” Matthias Pavayne and psychotic Slayer Dana, Spike also takes on Angel to prove which one of them is the Champion spoken of in the Shanshu Prophecy. Spike defeats Angel, but the prophecy remains ambiguous. Manipulated by Lindsey McDonald into “helping the helpless”, Spike becomes a sort of rival to Angel, resembling the heroic Champion Angel was in earlier seasons before becoming disillusioned and corrupted by the bureaucracy of Wolfram & Hart. Cordelia comments on this strange turn of events after coming out of her coma in “You’re Welcome”, exclaiming to Angel, “Okay, Spike’s a hero, and you’re CEO of Hell, Incorporated. What freaking bizarro world did I wake up in?”

When Fred is killed by Illyria, Spike mourns her death and decides to join Team Angel in her honour. Angel and Spike discover that Buffy is now dating the Immortal, and travel to Rome to find her, but fail to catch up with her. During the final episodes of Angel, Spike is the first to vote for Angel’s plan to wound the Senior Partners by taking out the Circle of the Black Thorn. He then spends his potentially-last day returning to his mortal roots as a frustrated poet, triumphantly knocking them dead (figuratively) in an open mic poetry slam at a bar. After single-handedly rescuing an infant and destroying the Fell Brethren, Spike joins Angel, Illyria, and a badly-wounded Charles Gunn in the alley behind the Hyperion as the series draws to an end, preparing to incur the apocalyptic wrath of the Senior Partners, as a way of going out in a blaze of glory. The question of whether Spike survived this battle was left unanswered by the show.

As you can see the backstory of this character is huge.  But also, he underwent a massive character change over time.  Spike started out as an evil vampire hellbent on destruction and ends up being an ensouled champion fighting to save lives.  I’m sure no one could have imagined how much this character would change when he made his first appearance in Buffy Season 2.  The massive character change combined with the humor makes Spike the newest addition in the Man Series.  We’ve included a couple of his memorable scenes in Buffy and Angel below.  Sorry for the low quality, but its some of the best YouTube had available.

Spike’s song in the Buffy musical Once More With Feeling.  Pretty cool piece and fairly dark at points.

Spike mocking Angel in Los Angeles.  This was the opening to an early Angel season 1 episode.

Biographical data courtesy of IMDB.


3 responses to “The Man Series: William The Bloody (Awful Poet)

  1. nmcil October 16, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Wonderful summary and tribute to the character – I simply adore this character – of all the Buffyverse and Angelverse characters, I believe that he most reflects the real world problems that humans live with.

    Of all the painful things that all the Buffy and Angel characters have expressed – none have expressed the quality of hidden pain than Spike’s confession to Buffy that he had not been close to any single person in his entire life, as a human or vampire. The only person whom he was close to with his mother and she was the only person who ever returned his love.

    I have a great respect for how your write Spike – he has earned the right to be respected.

    • Chris October 16, 2010 at 8:29 am

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Spike has long been one of my favorite characters to come out of Buffy. He hadn’t one of the longest story arcs if you think about how many seasons it took for him to change and become a hero. Its a great character and I wish was still on TV. The comics are good, just not quite the same.

  2. nmcil October 16, 2010 at 6:30 am

    When I refer to the writer in my comment, I was speaking of Brian Lynch –

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