"Is pathological idiot an actual condition?"
In my experience, yes. But, most of you have read my comments regarding the people I work with. So, on with the show instead. :)
Before I get into my semi-coherent, deep thoughts, a few brief observations:
* Dana is River. The only other individual I've seen mention the striking similarity is ascien3. Dana had the same physical appearance, mannerisms, and speech patterns as River. I was half expecting to hear "Two by two - hands of blue.". River could have been Dana had she not been rescued by Simon and surrounded by people who cared about her. Rescued by her sister Slayers, could their be a gliimer of hope for Dana too?
* First episode this season in which Lorne had an actual purpose - a reason for being there. Let's hope the trend continues.
* "She's not a demon Wes. She's a Vampire Slayer." Damn cool revelation even if unspoiled folk probably saw it coming a mile away. One question though, wasn't Dana's ability to channel past Slayers a new development? Sure, Buffy had dreams of the Primitive, but beyond that, she didn't seem to have any memories of her predecessors.
* "I don't think so. I don't know. Does she?" I thought this brief exchange with Andrew summed up quite well the Spike's conflicting emotions regarding Buffy. Hope mingled with despair; curiosity mingled with panic. If Andrew had said yes it would have confirmed Spike's worst fears - she doesn't love him, doesn't care that he's back. It also reinforces his fear of letting her know he's back.
* BTW - "My therapist thought I was holding on to false hope..." So it was Spike and not Xander that Andrew was in love with? ;)
The Thing About Magic, There's Always Consequences
Angel to Spike: "Shouldn't you be out on the streets, you know, protecting the city from people - like you"
Gee, Angel, I thought that was your job. Has saving people become an afterthought? Has overseeing contract negotiations, budget concerns, and employee decapitations superseded why you agreed to the deal with the devil? We hear at the beginning of the episode Gunn dismissing Fred's concerns regarding joining W&H by reminding her of all the good they have done, people they have helped. Funny, I'm hard pressed to recall much of that lately.
And when did Angel lose sight of his purpose? When did the murky water he already seemed to be wading in get even more polluted. The mindwipe perhaps?. Still, I don't see the consequences we are encountering as a result of the magic used. Whether it's giving Conner a normal life, bringing Buffy back from the dead, or activating hundreds of Potentials, it's not the magic that has consequences, but the actions of the individual behind it that do.
I've seen many individuals comment that Buffy's poor decision in 'Chosen' has come back to haunt her, them, and us. I can't really agree with that. Maybe it wasn't the best decision, but when you are facing the end of the world in the next 24 hours or so, you do the best you can at the time. Did she think of the Dana's out there - the ones who wouldn't be able to handle their new found power? No. But on the flip side, I saw a dozen very strong women emerge form the shadows to stand strong behind Andrew. If Buffy can be blamed for Dana's predicament and the resulting bloodshed, give her credit for trying to clean up the mess she had a hand in creating.
Angel, on the other hand, had the time and resources to make an informed choice. He chose his son over everyone else. He chose to make one life more important than many and I think we are only beginning to see the ramifications of that. Gunn is the most obvious result of his actions. And while my concern is still for Wes, the Gunn we are seeing is not the Gunn we know. A Charles Gunn that most likely wouldn't exist without the choices Angel made.
"Andrew double crossed us? That's a good move."
Let me repeat, Andrew double crossed them. Andrew. The logical part of my brain knows that Tom Lenk was the Buffy cast member willing and available to make a guest appearance. It was also easy to assume that Angel & Co. would do most of the work in locating and capturing Dana. All Andrew had to do was monitor the situation amd swoop in with the girls to collect her. Yet, the scene in which Andrew confronts Angel with the harsh truth, would have been lessened had anyone else delivered it:
"Nobody in our camp trusts you anymore - nobody. You work for Wolfram & Hart, don't fool yourself, we don't work on the same side."
Angel has been rationalizing his decision, trying to convince himself he made the right choice. He's already felt isolated from Fred, Wes, and Gunn. He's had Spike call him out on the choices he's made. And now he finds out that the Scoobs, and more importantly Buffy, want nothing to do with him. He's apparently back among the bad guys (rather than the allies) in the Council files. This devastating blow is delivered by a third party he didn't even know a few hours before; a man that Buffy and the others trust more than him. (And while Andrew is still prone to falsehoods exemplified by stating that it was he and Spike who saved the world together, his final comments are spoken with too much sincerity to be dismissed.)
But, this revelation is just the final example of a much larger problem - the total breakdown of communication between Angel and Buffy. While I admit I'm a Spuffist all the way, I'll also concede they may never reconcile. However, as season 5 plays out, I fail to see how anyone can have any hope of Angel and Buffy reconciling either.
One of Buffy's biggest issues was trust, most of which can be tied to feeling of abandonment and betrayal, starting with her father, and continuing with every other man in her life. Now she doesn't trust Angel. While I can understand not sharing intimate, personal details involving their separate lives now, they are failing to share information that goes far beyond involving just the two of them. It would seem Buffy found out about Angel's alliance with W&H from some source other than Angel. Angel, in turn, found out from Andrew about the empowering of the Potentials. This was all information they each needed to know but refused to share. How they can get beyond this and form any sort of relationship in the future is beyond me.
One Good Day
I never believed for a second that Spike was Dana's abductor and torturer. Sure, I believed him capable of torturing his victims, perhaps even for days. But months? His attention span is far too short for something like that and his patience too thin. That's not the point though. The point is Spike isn't able to see hisvictims. They're all dead. And there was always some excuse not to dwell on the pain he inflicted. He's a vampire, it's what he does was his excuse pre-soul. Post-soul killings were the result of being manipulated by the first. Even now, he appears very non-chalant about his past kills and deeds absolving himself of responsibility by reiterating he didn't have a soul back then.
Spike's had two real epiphanies in his life. The first, his near rape of Buffy which compelled him to get his soul. The second is now. With the soul, without the distraction of supernatural forces or his attentions focused on Buffy, he sees before him what could have been one of his victims. The pain and damage that he did, if not to Dana, to others like her. In turn, he becomes the victim, seeing himself through Dana's eyes.
There's been a lot of debate as to why ME had Spike go in search of his soul. Many felt ME was telling us Spike couldn't be good without one. I never quite felt that way and I think ME is now trying to show us that.
"For a demon, I never did think much about the nature of evil, just threw myself in, thought it was a party....never did look back at the victims.
Spike is now looking and with clear eyes and a conscience. Spike doesn't need the soul to do good. He doesn't even need it to *be* good. But, Spike finally felt Dana's pain, he empathized with her suffering, he saw his past as being more than just the actions of a demon. And while I don't feel he'll opt to wallow in the guilt as Angel does, he, at last, seems to see himself and his actions as others have seen and has awareness he did not have before.