Revisiting Buffy season 7 – episode 13

It's funny how much expectations shape your perception of things. Remembering The Killer In Me as a weak episode, Sarah finds herself pleasantly surprised...

Buffy killer in me

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the First wanted to kill the Potentials, Amy showed up (last season), Spike had a trigger in his head, Spike had a chip in his head, Warren killed Tara, Willow killed Warren, and Kennedy was a flirt. Phew.

In another ingenius getting-them-out-of-the-house manoeuvre, Giles is preparing to take the Potentials out into the middle of the desert for a “vision quest”, like the one Buffy went on in season 5. The fact that Giles isn’t touching anything has become ostentatious, now, like when he asks Dawn to take a notebook out to one of the Potentials in the car. Okay, guys, we get it. You can stop now.

As soon as they’ve left, Buffy goes to check on Spike, who’s chained himself up in the basement. Apparently he does this a lot, any time Buffy’s not around to keep an eye on him, just in case the First starts messing with his head again. Seems perfectly reasonable to me, actually. But because that’s all too easy, Spike suddenly starts screaming in inexplicable neurological pain…

Credits. Do, do do do… do, do do do…

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Okay, we’re back, and Willow is making tea for a poorly Kennedy, whose sniffly nose has apparently kept her from going on the Potentials’ roadtrip. Buffy needles Willow a bit about her relationship with Kennedy, but Willow maintains her innocence. And then promptly discovers Kennedy zipping up her boots, clearly getting ready to go out, not ill at all. Gasp! Kennedy says there’s a good reason she didn’t go with the others, though: she has a mission of her own, and it involves taking Willow to the Bronze. Well, that’s not suspicious at all…

Meanwhile, Buffy nurses Spike, whose behaviour modification chip is clearly misfiring, and there’s a nice Ghostbusters joke that’s enough to make me remember why I liked this show. (“Who you gonna call? … That phrase is never going to be useable again, is it?”) While Willow and Kennedy talk about gaydar and Tara, Buffy tries to call Riley, but reaches instead what seems to be an actual florist. Unless it’s a government cover up. Heh.

Back with Willow and Kennedy, they’ve tipsily managed to get home and share a rather steamy kiss… and then Willow turns into Warren! Understandably, Kennedy freaks out — as does everyone else, assuming “Warren” is a manifestation of the First. But when Buffy, nonsensically, expecting the First to be non-corporeal, takes a swing at him, her fist connects, and when Willow threatens Xander with embarrassing kindergarten stories, everyone accepts that it’s really her. Well, there’s been enough body-swapping in this series that that’s fair enough, I suppose.

Remembering the wacky adventures of Same Time, Same Place, Willow theorises that she probably did some guilt magic to herself, and says she’ll find a way to fix it. Stalking off by herself to find her old Wicca friends, she doesn’t get far before Kennedy’s tagging along at her heels — and Willow is uncharacteristically harsh with her. Uh oh…

Spike and Buffy set off together to find the Initiative’s headquarters, hoping that there’ll be something in the labs that’ll help them figure out what’s going wrong with Spike’s head. Everyone who isn’t trying to find witches, their spirit guide, or an underground bunker hangs around Buffy’s house, ready to receive a call from Robson, in England. He’s the guy who was bleeding on the floor when Giles was attacked by a Bringer with an axe, and though he was teetering on the edge of consciousness at the time, he remembers seeing enough to think that Giles’ head probably shouldn’t be attached to his body. Finally, thankfully, the end of all this daft “is Giles really the First?” malarkey! Dawn, Anya, Xander and Andrew pile into a car (and at this point I start wishing I’d been paying more close attention to how many cars there are, and who owns them, but I haven’t been, so I haven’t a clue whose car this is, though I’d guess Xander’s) and head off to the desert to check Giles is corporeal. Um, shouldn’t the desert be a bit big for that? Like, couldn’t this take days and days?

Bygones. Anyway, Willow/Warren (Willen? Warrow?) has tracked down her old university Wicca group, who seem to have moved on to actual magic nowadays. The reason for the change soon becomes clear as Amy Madison makes herself known. Yay, Amy! I’m not sure why, but I enjoy Amy. The group says they’ll try to help, but that doesn’t actually seem hugely likely.

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Meanwhile, Buffy and Spike are wandering around the inside of the Initiative (really, they didn’t leave it with some better security than that?) finding lots of dead demons. And one live one. Which really isn’t hugely scary, given that it’s Buffy and Spike! They can take out demons, easily! Another slightly nit-picky point, though: shouldn’t both Buffy and Spike have better night vision than to need torches? I suppose if they didn’t, I’d be sitting here complaining about characters walking around in the dark.

Moving swiftly on, before I knot myself up any further, Xander and co are halfway to the desert and only just realising that, even if they find Giles and the Potentials, they’re going to be mostly helpless if it turns out Giles is the First. Seems they could have thought about that before they set off…

Warrow, having left the Wiccans behind, has a bit of a cry on the street before getting up and striding purposely off to buy a gun. Oh dear.

In a series of short scenes, we see Spike’s chip misfiring again, Kennedy forcing Amy to admit she was behind Willow’s transformation, and the leftovers finding Giles and touching him. A little too enthusiastically. But hurrah, at least he’s still Giles! And then, in the Inititative, loads of army guys show up — florist, my arse. They soon establish that, yes, there’s something drastically wrong with the behaviour chip; it wasn’t supposed to last this long, it wasn’t supposed to coexist with a soul and a trigger, and it could be fatal if it’s allowed to remain. Buffy is given a choice: she can either get Spike’s chip removed entirely, or she can get it replaced.

This is going to turn into one of the many times when Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s hypocrisy towards murderers shows up, but I’m biting my tongue. Bite. Bite. Bite. I actually think, given that he’s got a soul now (with, presumably, no bliss-related get-out clause) she should get the chip removed, because he’s going to need to fight Bringers and so forth. But we’re not going to find out this episode anyway!

Speaking of hypocrisy (bite) it turns out that Amy cast this hex on Willow because she was angry that despite killing a man and trying to end the world, everyone still loves Willow, but no-one else gets quite as much love and understanding. Valid point, Amy, but she’s still a main character and you’re not, so, bye! After threatening Amy for a bit, Kennedy finds herself magicked into the scene from season 6 where Warren shot Tara. Warrow storms up to her, waving a gun around, ranting and raving, switching between a distraught Willow and a distraught Warren, but Kennedy solves everything by kissing her again. So. Um, yeah, that was fun, if mostly pointless.

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Actually, I’m being unfairly harsh there. I remembered this episode as being rather a lot weaker than it turned out to be; if you ignore all the failures of logic and blatant contradictions that mar pretty much every episode this season, this was a pretty good episode, with lots of nice character work and some particularly good jokes.

I still don’t like Kennedy, though.