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Favorite episodes: #6 (tie)-- "What's My Line, Part 1" & "What's My Line, Part 2"

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  • Favorite episodes: #6 (tie)-- "What's My Line, Part 1" & "What's My Line, Part 2"

    As I noted when starting the list, the structure of two-parters threw a monkey wrench in my numbering. In a couple of cases, like this one, they essentially work as one story, but they still use double the time of a single episode, and they have their own official titles. I decided to treat two-parters as ties for the purposes of my top 10, which is why "What's My Line, Part 1" and "What's My Line, Part 2″ are sharing this post.

    Also going back to my first post in this series, I'm not claiming that my favorite episodes are always the best. "What's My Line" suffers from a lame explanation for Joyce's absence; a ludicrous fight scene between Buffy and Pat; and Dru's COINCIDENTALLY perfectly-decorated Tarot deck. I don't care. Tarot deck aside, Spike and Drusilla finally get a nice, coherent plot, complete with sidekick issues, domestic squabbles, sexual tension, background information, and a 180? change in their physical power dynamic. Oh, and they have a kinky scene with Angel involving bedposts and holy water. I'm here for this.

    This story is like Miracle-Gro for Sprusilla headcanons. To wit:

    Spike has a temper, and it affects his relationships. Not that I don't love adoring, devoted Spike, but I like that he isn't a completely different person with Dru. IMO, aggression should always be a part of vampires' makeup; while love and enlightened self-interest enable them to control it with a small number of associates (otherwise they'd wind up killing each other before they established long-term packs), I can't imagine that it'd ever be just gone. From that perspective, I think the level of tolerance Spike shows for Dru's idiosyncrasies demonstrates much more dedication than a similar degree of indulgence would in a human. At the episode's beginning, the opportunities to demonstrate dedication are pretty one-sided, so the reversal of their physical health status in the ending sets us up to wonder how well Dru will tend to him.

    As a story, the episode is bookended by lovely scenes showing the strength and affection in their affair. At the beginning, Spike indulges his weak partner's desire to dance by picking her up and swirling her around to dreamy music that, in-universe, presumably exist only in her mind? or is it how Spike perceives their dance? He can't have ALWAYS jammed to the Sex Pistols, and, as "Fool for Love" showed, Spike treats dancing as an important metaphor, both for violence and sex. I wonder if, with Drusilla's worsening health, him spinning her around in a "dance" is their replacement for sexual intimacy, much as Buffy and Angel will try to use the literal kind sleeping together in lieu of the euphemistic kind.

    But they don't stay stuck in the gender roles of a man sweeping a woman off her feet! I've always been annoyed by the trope that being passively carried around is romantic if you're a woman and totally beneath a guy. Like, I was grousing about this at 11 years old. By contrast, I think the fact that Spike and Dru share the trust to rely on each other's strength is incredibly romantic. So, when Dru gives an injured Spike the full bridal-carry treatment in the ending, the smol adolescent feminist inside me gives big cheer.

    ? Is this a threesome? Ordinarily, it wouldn't be that weird for a guy to exhibit jealousy when he walks into his bedroom and finds another guy tied half-naked to the bedposts with the first guy's girlfriend touching him. What makes it weird in this case is that Dru and Angel's sexual history took place when Angel was soulless, yet Spike still likes soulless!Angel. It's this Angel that he's mad at. Making the whole thing even more complicated, there are homoerotic overtones to the physical affection between Angel and Spike in "Innocence" and their fight in "Fool for Love"; I don't know if Angel/Spike sex ever actually happened, but I'm pretty sure they thought about it.

    I don't want to belabor the point too much, since I've discussed it at length before. The short version of my headcanon regarding Spike's jealousy is that Spike is willing to share Dru's physical favors with someone he respects as a good sire, to him or Drusilla or both (since he calls Angel his sire AGAIN in this episode, and why did Joss joss himself on that?), and unwilling to share anything at all with the guy who abandoned/betrayed their pack and is now taunting him. How much Spike was used to sharing Drusilla emotionally with Angel, back in the day, is a question we never get answered.

    "Oh, that's right. You killed my uncle." Drusilla's anger is, in a way, even stranger than Spike's jealousy. Not because what Angel did wouldn't inspire anger in most people, but because Drusilla doesn't seem to apply her rage to soulless!Angel, who'd no doubt kill her family again if he had the choice, yet is furious with souled!Angel, who would never have done it. As a seer, she would've had the advantage over Angelus on any number of occasions, but, far from taking advantage of them, she seems to want her "daddy" around.
    And, IMO, the fact that he's her sire ("daddy") is at the crux of the matter, for different reasons than it is for Spike, who probably never saw Angel turn his worst nature against the pack. Drusilla has been traumatized into a childlike sense of helplessness, which she deals with by turning to the biggest bad she can find. The guy who did all this to her, but left her still standing, can take care of anything that comes their way. He can even soothe her imagination. He makes her feel safe.

    Soulful!Angel, however, has been twisted into the worst of both worlds: Part of him destroyed her birth family, and the other part keeps him from being her vampire family. As a combined entity, he's both guilty and a failure, and she revels in punishing him on both counts.

    I love that Dru keeps holy water by the bed. That is all.

    Finally, finally, Spike gives up on the one-on-one confrontations that never seem to go well and calls in the professionals. THANK YOU, SPIKE. As a badass vampire gang leader, he needs to be at least a semi-competent manager of his various assets.

    Unfortunately, the Order of Taraka, which everyone is supposed to be terrified of, is? really inept. Patrice couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and she's not even the one who appears to be blind in one eye. Oh well, it sounded good.

    The Order of Taraka thing brings up a number of questions:
    • Where did Spike get the money to pay them?
    • Why doesn't he hire them in season 4 or early season 5?
    • Why don't frightened demons in general take out a hit on the Initiative's honchos?
    • Does Spike or Dru cancel the contract, and do they get their money back?

    After wearing the same dress since "School Hard," Drusilla gets two new dresses in this two-parter. However, she doesn't appear to keep them, since she switches to a corseted red number in "Innocence" and doesn't change out of it for the rest of season 2.

    The fact that Spike himself performs the spell to restore Dru is interesting and, combined with other comments, makes me think that Spike has significant prior experience with magic. I've seen a lot of people use this statement from "After Life" as proof that he dislikes magic:
    "There's always consequences with magic. Always!"

    However, I think it also indicates that he has worked magic, or at least seen it worked by others, many times, enough to draw conclusions on the inevitability of consequences. That he isn't a powerful sorcerer himself is suggested by his need for a witch to perform a love spell in "Lovers Walk"; nonetheless, he has a working knowledge of magic. Certainly, he succeeds at summoning Eligor to restore Dru's health. Season 6 will also show that he knows, and can find, the major players in Sunnyworld's dark-magic underworld: He barges into Warren's van to have his chip examined and, later, he immediately recognizes Rack's name.

    In fact, I think the restoration spell demonstrates the consequences that Spike knows are attached to magic. It was intended to exchange Angel's life for Dru's, but the Scoobies' interruption means that the ritual is incomplete when Spike has to separate them. While Dru recovers, Angel is left weakened, not dead: The price hasn't been paid. Is Buffy's crippling of Spike just the result of her combat skills, or is Eligor gunning for Spike after Spike fails to pay his debt in full? After all, Spike doesn't suffer paralysis when he's thrown through a wall by a hellgod, dropped off a hundred-foot tower by Doc, or stabbed through the chest by Riley. In this case, even his burns take over a month to heal. I find it plausible that the amount of vampiric health not stolen from the sacrifice is taken from the caster instead.

    "We were in Paris. You had a branding iron? and there were worms in my baguette." Honestly, just how did Angel/Drusilla manage to come up with kinkier foreplay than Spike/Drusilla? How??? What did they do???