In case you’re wondering, yes, I am planning to make this a weekly column of sorts. And it’s been brought to my attention that maybe I should mark it as containing spoilers, seeing as how some people in some other places might not have seen the episode in question yet, or might have missed it. I understand this. Spoiler warnings will now be conveniently placed before the text of my rambling. Voilá.

I’m beginning to see a pattern here with the chased young things beginning episodes. And I and many others think they’re supposed to be potential Slayers–“Lola” here was a pretty good fighter, the other was in extremely good shape, and Lola actually managed to communicate something, dreamstyle. My first guess as to what was sufficiently beneath and devouring to fit the description was, simply, the Hellmouth. But that, however correct it may turn out to be, seems too easy–though not so much so as Sluggoth Ronnie. (Ronnie and Nancy? Ugh.) Spike fits, actually, being a vampire and living under the school. Or if we’re talking authority, any of the gang could go bad (there’s that Spike connection again). Or a mass rising from graves. Or some demon from the center of the earth. Or just everybody’s couches attacking them. (Maybe not.)

But prophecy aside, who are these robed men? They look like the monks who shaped Dawn, but I think we can assume those guys are extinct. That, and they weren’t great fighters. Another co-watcher tossed out a very creepy idea: these assassins are the Watchers’ Council, on a Slayer purge. They’d know where most of their targets were, and how to defeat them. No idea as to exactly which reason they’d choose for doing this, as the Faith escapade was quite a while ago and it wasn’t a Slayer who caused the fiasco at the end of last season. But it stands to reason that whoever is doing this doesn’t want a new Slayer cropping up when they take out Faith. Why they’re not going after Buffy right now, I don’t know, since they’d presumably have gotten wind of her dying (again) and not heard of any new Slayers being called. I’m currently imagining a large explosion at the prison, after which Faith goes to L.A. and subsequently to Sunnydale for protection. Of course, seeing how they so nicely trashed my first prediction, I’m hesitant to make any calls. The Watcher thing, though, comes from a guy who predicted just how Warren was going to bite it, so I’m giving it a good deal of thought.

I’m also kicking myself for not thinking that the third man in Spike’s head is William. Kelson gave me that one and another suggestion: this season is a lot about pairs and dualities already. We have lots of ex-couples, plus Buffy and Dawn, Spike and William, Spike and Angel (though we probably won’t see Angel on this show), and eventually, presumably, Buffy and Faith. If the Watchers are being nefarious bastards, there’s also Giles and Wesley, who aren’t (at least not in the same way). And with the pressure to pick a side, everybody has the potential to be involved in the good-evil debate. This could get interesting in a symbolic way, but I’ll try not to get too English-class on the collective ass of the world.

Speaking of good and evil, did you know Anya could see souls? I sure didn’t. But she sounds a bit like she wants hers back after all. If she keeps flurking up the wishes, she might not have a choice. I’d rather see an episode full of humorous yet grueling conflict that leads to the switch, but if she just gets kicked out, I’ll take that too. Pitiful characters aren’t my cup of tea.

And kudos to James and Sarah for that last scene. Very heavy stuff, done in a way that leaves no room for disbelief, either on Buffy’s part or ours. I could go on about embracing one’s own destruction, or trying to gain acceptance from someone or something who’s only going to offer rejection and pain, but I won’t. Because what I want to know is: if Spike keeps going downhill, what will Buffy do, now that she knows about the soul? And if it’s about power, how powerful is guilt?

4 thoughts on “What Lies “Beneath You”

  1. I had the same thought that the targeted women were potential slayers. I can think of a number of reasons to explain why they’re not going after Buffy just yet:

    1) They don’t know she died already, and they believe killing her would activate the next slayer’s power, making her a harder target.

    2) They may be able to identify potential slayers but lack the ability to distinguish between potential and actual.

    3) Buffy’s second death may have triggered a second lineage, they’re tracing it now, and they either don’t know she’s back from the dead, they simply haven’t gotten to her yet, or they’re not prepared to set off a third lineage.

    4) They need her.

    The next question is, assuming these are slayers or pre-slayers, what are they accomplishing? Possible theories:

    1) There are a finite number of potential slayers alive. If they can kill them all, there will be nobody to pass the power to, and it will evaporate, or go up for grabs.

    2) They’re collecting a massive supply of slayer blood. Who knows what they can do with it. Can slayer blood open portals? It’s the same as the key’s blood, which can. Speaking of that, if Dawn bleeds in the principal’s office, does the hellmouth open until she or Buffy dies?

  2. Hmmm… interesting points.

    1-1. Since the Willow *incident*, my guess is that even the inept old watchers, let alone the MIH, know that Buffy is alive. I’m guessing anything with magical powers knows that although Buffy defeated a god, she couldn’t kick her best friend’s butt.

    2-1. Maybe, but these girls seem to be pretty much little slayers in training. It would seem more like they were trying to cut support out from underneath the existing slayer before the big bad comes.

    3. Killing a slayer begets another slayer. It’s pointless to kill one, unless you have the ball in your court to pick the next one. Ideally, a very serious coven of warlocks could work on this for years, but why now?

    4. Maybe the MIH (men in hoods) need her, but the girls seem to have a connection with Buffy. Why are the girls trying to warn her that it devours from beneath when they very clearly are getting attacked from the front and side?

    1-2. Again, fininte number of slayers? The first slayer spirit suggests that as long as there are women, she can continue to fight vampires through them. Wreck their lives, endanger their friends…but fight evil all the same.

    2-2. Now here’s a theory. Slayer blood certainly brought old Angel back from the land of the poisoned semi-conscious. What could it do to restore a banished demon.

    I think that Dawn’s powers to open portals have pretty much gone the way of the dodo. If they hadn’t, training her to be a semi-slayer might get really sticky in the episodes to come.

    Now, time for my own little poser… how did Spike get out of the basement and how did he get a haircut? How much of what we saw was reality and how much the delusions of a vampire who really wants out of the basement. (Argue all you want, but Xander didn’t get the girl and no one set Spike on fire.)

    I think Katie’s right that both James and SMG really did well in that last scene. The whole Stoned Buffy act has finally come to an end and we’re getting to see her more in charge and happy. Did you see the smile on her face when she asked if she could give detention?

    Yay.

    Angel…double YAY!

    Whew, what a Sunday. Someone get that kid a haircut. Word to Fred who even shocked Gunn with her homeboy ways. Wes remains my favorite character of all time, having come so far from Mr. Giles Wannabe to just as messed up as any ex-Sunnydale resident around. Banging the girl from Wolfram and Heart and keeping Justine chained in the closet. Hell that’s even a long way from when Faith tortured him.

    What will bring Cordelia back? And who the #*($&#(*$& is Fluffy? Lorne, Lorne, Lorne… why such the mystery? I don’t think he hates Connor’s haircut as much as I do.

    Back to the whole Spike/Buffy guilt scenario, in the Jossverse, guilt criples generations of people. After all it was guilt that motivated Spike to get a soul. Guilt even gets Dawn some slayer training time. I can imagine this will only get more twisted.

  3. Good points. Just a few follow-up thoughts:

    1-1. There are undoubtedly many who don’t know Buffy Summers as the Slayer. Sure, there are some, but most things evil only refer to her by her title. That has to make for confusing paperwork.

    2-1. Possibly. Especially if they know something Buffy should learn.

    3. Perhaps they have been working on it for some time and the rules of succession are complex enough to have prevented it until now. Or maybe it could only be done with the planets in particular alignment and an olympic swimming pool full of potential Slayer blood.

    4. It devours Buffy from beneath. My money is on Spike drinking her blood, but it may be that, as prophecies tend to, there’s more than one meaning here.

    1-2. Even through Roseanne Barr? And the Olsen twins?

    2-2. Yay! One for six!

    It may well be that Dawn’s blood’s power is gone, or effectively useless. She may have only been designed for the one portal, or Buffy’s death could have permanently cancelled her effect, or the odds may be astronomically unreachable that she’ll coincidentally bleed in the right place at the right time (the other portal had to be opened at a particular time, after all).

    It would certainly make things sticky, though, and that’s one of Joss’ favorite textures. I for one wouldn’t mind half a season on the other side of the hell mouth, if it was done well.

  4. Re: Dawn’s blood-portal-power – location and time both seemed to be critical – at least that was my impression of why Glory had her minions building the tower – and wasn’t there some sort of minimal ceremony involved?

    I do wonder about the timeline, though. Through most of 5th season I had the impression that “The Beast” had been searching for the Key for centuries, and the monks had been guarding it for as long. Then we find out that Glory and Ben were bound together, and then that he aged normally, so she’d only been on Earth for a couple of decades – and the whole reason she wanted the Key was to get back to her own dimension.

    Anyway, I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Dawn is no longer the Key, but then over the past season she’s seemed to be completely human. I keep wondering how Spike sees her these days, although during that brief time in her living room, he was holding his thoughts together pretty well.

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