Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

From Academic Kids

Spike is arguably the best example of Buffy's theme of redemption; he first appears as a thoroughly evil character, slowly reforming over a story arc lasting several years, to become a world-saving champion of good. This arc is popular amongst fans and is widely considered to contain good characterisation, particularly the complex love-hate relationship between him and Buffy herself.

Contents

Overview

Before there was Spike, there was William, a brown-haired ineffectual gentleman of approximately 30 years of age, who lived with his mother and wrote poetry in 1880. (William's surname is not revealed in the series, but it is widely accepted to be "Walthrop" in Buffy fandom.) He was called "William the Bloody" behind his back by his peers, not because of any bent for violence, but because his poetry was so "bloody awful". This nickname (with more deadly connotions) followed him as a vampire. After being rejected by the aristocratic Cecily, a despondent William accepted comfort in the arms of Drusilla—only to be killed and transformed into a vampire. Euphoric with his new-found vampiric abilities, and reacting to his treatment by his peers as a mortal, he abandoned the genteel hypocrisy of Victorian life (though not before turning his own mother into a vampire) and became a rebel, adopting a working-class accent and becoming prone to impulsiveness and mindless violence. He adopted the name "Spike" because of an affinity for torturing people with railroad spikes. He also adopted a working class Mockney accent that makes some British people cringe. Along with other vampires, including the infamous Angelus, he terrorized Britain, Europe and Asia for decades. In one of his proudest moments, he killed a Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion in China. During World War II, he was relocated to the United States via submarine from Europe by covert agents of the U.S. government, where he escaped. His mid 20th-century persona featured slicked black hair and had an affinity for leather jackets. His late 20th/early 21st-century look includes platinum blonde hair, Morley cigarettes, and a long black leather coat that is a trophy from another Slayer killed in 1977 while in New York City. He sometimes uses the moniker "The Doctor" in relation to his organized criminal activities; for example as a demon egg dealer in Episode 115, in season six. This moniker and his fondness for poetry and literature suggest he studied for an advanced degree in Arts and Letters prior to his transformation to a vampire. Though it's equally, if not more, likely that it was a homage to the long running (and recently resurrected) British TV series "Dr Who".

Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike first shows up in Sunnydale in Buffy's second season in the episode "School Hard" with his longtime love Drusilla, who was suffering from a mysterious ailment that could only be cured by the blood of Angel, her "sire" (the vampire who transforms a given human into a vampire by exchange of blood). (Early on, before his past is clearly revealed to viewers, Spike refers to Angel as his "sire", but in later episodes it is made it clear that Drusilla is the one that sired Spike. However, because Angelus is the one who sired Drusilla, it can be argued that he is also the sire, or at least the "grandsire", of Spike. It can also be said that, because of Drusilla's madness, Angelus was the one who had to act as Spike's sire by teaching him about the vampire world.)

For much of the series' second season, Spike and Drusilla are major enemies of Buffy. When Angel loses his soul after sleeping with Buffy, he joins the pair, and eventually plots to destroy all humanity. Drusilla, ecstatic to be reunited with her sire, becomes very affectionate with Angelus (as the soulless Angel is referred to), causing Spike to become jealous of Angelus. Feeling that Drusilla is lost as long as Angelus is around, Spike then forms a surprising alliance himself with Buffy against Angelus. At the end of Season 2, Spike and an unconscious Drusilla leave Sunnydale.

Spike appears in only one episode of season 3, during which it was revealed that he and Drusilla had split up due to her continuing infidelity and (as we learn later) because she suspects that his true love is Buffy.

He returns to Sunnydale in season 4, without Drusilla, and becomes a member of the regular cast for the remainder of the series. At the outset of the season he is involved, to some degree, with Harmony Kendall, a shallow young vampire. Despite her beauty and affection, Spike considers her little more than a nuisance, and nothing more than a sexual plaything. His (un)life takes a pivotal turn when The Initiative, a secret government demon-fighting army, captures him and implants a microchip in his head. This chip induces crippling electric shocks whenever he attacks, or merely intends to attack, a human being - though it allows him to cause harm to demons. The implanting of this chip marks the beginning of Spike's gradual turn away from evil.

In season 5, Spike and Harmony kidnap a surgeon and try to make him remove the chip. The surgeon however, warns him that its removal could cause brain damage. Spike will not accept this, and the surgeon only pretends to remove the chip, never actually performing the procedure. After some erotic dreams, Spike realizes that he has fallen in love with Buffy. These feelings are very troubling to Spike, and he only very reluctantly reveals them. Disgusted, Buffy does not return his feelings and repeatedly rejects him. Still, his love for the Slayer, his inability to harm humans, and his need to satisfy his blood lust by attacking demons lead him to fight alongside the Scooby Gang against the forces of evil.

During Season 6, Spike and Buffy became lovers of a sort, engaging in a physically gratifying but (seemingly) emotionally empty relationship. When they are not intimate, they often become violent, as Spike's chip does not prevent him from hurting Buffy since she was ressurected by Willow's spell. When Buffy finally decides to call it off, Spike attempts to force himself on her sexually in an effort to win her back - a move that steels Buffy's resolve to avoid him. Frustrated over his inability to win her over, he leaves town and vows to give her "what she deserves". He undergoes a series of grueling physical trials to prove his worthiness before a demon shaman, who promises to give him what he wants if he survives. At the close of the season finale, we learn that what he wanted - and is granted - is the restoration of his soul.

In the early episodes of Season 7, Spike resides in the basement of Sunnydale High School, close to the Hellmouth's opening. Tormented by the The First Evil, Spike appears to be going insane, and Buffy - after learning that he is ensouled - takes pity on him and has him live with Xander. But this arrangement backfires as Spike, triggered by a post-hypnotic mechanism by the First, behaves much like his old, evil self. Buffy nevertheless takes him into her house and believes that he can reform. To the dismay of Rupert Giles and most of her other friends, she trusts Spike enough to relieve his agony, by allowing Initiative agents to remove his now-deteriorated misfiring microchip. As the season progress, he and Buffy achieved an emotional closeness as he remained her only supporter when the other Scoobies abandoned her. She, in turn, takes his side when Principal Robin Wood, son of the Slayer Spike had murdered in 1977, attempts to kill him as retribution. (Ironically, by attempting to kill Spike when he is under the First's influence, Wood actually causes Spike to overcome the effects of the trigger.) Spike and Buffy spend a night together, though they do not resume their sexual intimacy, and the true nature of their feelings for each other remain ambiguous. In the final battle, Spike, wearing a mystical amulet, sacrifices himself to destroy the First's army of Turok-Hans (pure demon vampires aka ubervamps). The amulet radiates a mystical light that turns that Turok-Hans to dust and causes the ground (and eventually, the entire town of Sunnydale), to bury the Hellmouth opening under a mountain of debris. In the process, Spike is incinerated, but not before hearing from Buffy, "I love you." His final words mirrored her response when he had first admitted to loving her.

Spike in Angel

Despite his apparent death, Spike returns as a regular on Angel in its fifth and final season. For the first seven episodes of the season, Spike is an incorporeal being akin to a ghost, with a connection to the human world that is unstable, causing him to disappear at random (but increasingly frequent) intervals. Spike tells Fred that every time he disappears, he is being transported to a hell dimension. Spike seeks, at this stage, to leave Wolfram and Hart and find Buffy, but when he tries, he discovers that he is mystically bound to Los Angeles and unable to leave.

In "Hell Bound", Fred tries to make Spike corporeal again, but this plan is thrown by the appearance of another ghost, who threatens Fred's life; Spike throws away his opportunity to become corporeal (and, thus, stop being periodically sent to Hell) in order to save Fred, of whom he's become quite fond.

The episode "Destiny" finds a mysterious package in the mail, containing the amulet Spike had worn at the destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth. On opening the package there's a flash of light, and upon trying to walk through objects as he's become used to Spike discovers he's corporeal once more. One of his first acts is to again fornicate with Harmony, now a secretary with the firm.

We are told that the existence of two ensouled vampires in the world is affecting the fabric of reality. The two vampires learn from Eve that there is a prophecy detailing how to restore the balance, involving both vampires competing to reach the Cup of Perpetual Torment. Angel and Spike's relationship had always been strained due to competition over women, notably Drusilla and Buffy. Spike also tended to needle Angel with the fact that he had made love to Buffy on many occasions, whilst Angel had only had her once. Ego and personal hostility led to an extended battle between the two adversaries; Spike beats Angel to the Cup and drinks from it, believing it would bestow upon him great responsibilities and pain; making him the "greater" champion of the two. However, the prophecy turns out to be a sham (the liquid in the Cup was Mountain Dew), rendering the whole exercise useless.

Beginning in "Soul Purpose", Lindsey McDonald, pretending to be Doyle, with a connection to "The Powers That Be", persuades Spike — until the ex-Wolfram and Hart employee's duplicity is discovered — that he is destined to "help the helpless", in much the same way as the real Doyle persuaded Angel of the same thing at the start of Angel season one. Spike, after a bout of depression, is brought back to being an affirmed Champion of the Good and, by the end of the season, Spike is again a trusted member of the team, being entrusted to rescue an infant and destroy a demon cult in the final episode "Not Fade Away", in order to help defeat the Circle of the Black Thorn and wound the Senior Partners. Having succeeded, Spike joins Angel, Illyria, and a badly-wounded Gunn in the alley as the series draws to an end, preparing to suicidally incur the apocalyptic wrath of the Senior Partners for the ideal of going out spitting in evil's eye.

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