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Spike's identity

Writing about Spike again:

Spike has two parts. The first Spike we meet is the Slayer of Slayers. In vamp face, the cool guy, telling the other vampires about the slayers he killed (“Who am I kidding? I love to brag!”). Then Dru shows up, and he drops his vamp face, we see the other side: Love’s Bitch. Doting on his sick girlfriend and giving her his coat. No one else in the room matters when she shows up.

And that’s Spike. Spike’s greatest moments are when he flips from one to the other. The end of “Fool For Love”, when he goes back and forth and back and forth from one to the other. First he’s the Slayer of Slayers, cocky, taunting Buffy, threatening her and hitting on her as if there was no difference between the two, then he switches to Love’s Bitch, crying after she rejects him. Then he pulls himself together and looks after Buffy with a homicidal glare and is the Slayer of Slayers again. And then he shows up at her house, and she’s crying. And in an instant, he’s Love’s Bitch again.

You often hear the monster-versus-man dichotomy used to explain Spike, with the Love’s Bitch side being the man, and the Slayer of Slayers side being the monster. This matches the visuals in “School Hard”, where Spike is in vamp face as the Slayer of Slayers, and goes into human face when he becomes Love’s Bitch. But it doesn’t entirely fit. I heard someone once say that Spike goes back to his William roots when he sees Buffy crying on her porch, but the thing is, he never really left William. What about Drusilla? For years, Spike was Love’s Bitch for Dru. Doting on her, caring for her. And he was as much a monster then as he ever was. The thing is, Spike is the Slayer of Slayers *because* he is Love’s Bitch.

“Darling, it's who you'll always be,” his mother tells him in disgust, after he turns her into a vampire, “A limp... sentimental fool.”

 “Oh, Spike, look at the wonderful mess you've made,” Drusilla says in delight, in China years later, “That's a Slayer you've done in. Naughty... wicked... Spike.”

“Kill her, Spike,” she pleads, years later, about another slayer, who will one day replace her in Spike’s heart. “Kill her for me?”

And even Buffy: “What I want is the Spike that's dangerous. The Spike that tried to kill me when we met.”

Spike will be what the women in his life want him to be, and what the women in his life seem to want is the Slayer of Slayers.

This is obvious even in S2. In “School Hard”, Spike considers tending to Drusilla more important than impressing the other vampires. He makes Dru jealous by obsessing over tapes of Buffy in “Halloween”, but in “Lie To Me”, he lets Buffy and his other victims go in order to save Dru’s life. The most telling moment, of course, is “Becoming, Part 2”. Spike teams up with a slayer against his own vampire kind in order to get Drusilla back. Spike would rather have a girlfriend who is faithful to him than the glory of killing another slayer.

There’s been some debate, in fandom, as to whether the attempted rape came from the monster or man side of Spike. And if it came from the man, would getting a soul actually help? When it comes to Slayer of Slayers and Love’s Bitch, “Seeing Red” is a perversion of both roles. The Slayer of Slayers does not try to rape a slayer on her bathroom floor because she would not admit that she loves him. Love’s Bitch does not make the woman he loves cry and plead. This is why it’s so upsetting for Spike. It doesn’t fit either identity.

In “Tabula Rasa”, the episode before Buffy and Spike have sex for the first time, the Scoobies lose their memories. Fortunately, they have driver’s licenses or other ways of identifying themselves on them. Every character calls themselves by their own name (if sometimes mispronounced) except for two: Buffy choose her own name: Joan. Teenage female hero…and martyr. Possibly crazy. Spike, tellingly, chooses his name from the jacket he was wearing: Randy. A jacket, like the black leather coat he took from Nikki Wood’s body, the same coat he left on the stair railing of the Summers house in “Seeing Red” the last time he was there soulless. His identity always comes from women, those he loves, and those he kills.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
Interesting meta! I agree: Spike is both the rebel and violent vampire and the fool for love. It's part of his appeal having these two sides that are always present on him. He never left his humanity and all his insicurities as human William - because he's *that* William - and at the same time he's also Spike, an identity he developed for himself that fits his needs to break free and live life at the best.

It's interesting what you say about the attempted rape. If it comes from the man, there's no hope that the soul will correct the mistake. It's something I never tought about in these terms. The soul changes everything if that attempted rape is part of his demonic impulses and vampiric urges to possess and being possessed - Because Spike always wants to belong. It's a basic need that fits both vampire and human personality.
May. 6th, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
If it comes from the man, there's no hope that the soul will correct the mistake. It's something I never tought about in these terms.

I always wonder about that, because if you think about, Angelus' obsession with virgins probably comes from his human side, not his demonic side. Does that mean the soul doesn't make a difference for him? It's a really complicated thing.
May. 6th, 2013 03:46 pm (UTC)
In fact I think that Angel needs to work out on his kinks even when he's soulful. I guess that, basically, the soul gives a chance to understand what's right and what's wrong, but ultimately the man needs to make a choice.
May. 5th, 2013 06:14 pm (UTC)
Ooh, nice. I especially like the observation that Spike gets his TR identity from his *jacket*.

I've never really thought that Spike's problem in the AR scene is his demon -- I mean, no vamp face or anything. And while he has lots of anger, it is more Love's Bitch desperation than anything else driving him. And I think that getting the soul back works for this because it helps make him whole and make him able to choose his identities more soberly, clearly and ethically. Getting a soul doesn't remove remove Spike's demon (which William didn't have) and which Buffy demands that Spike bring out, and so it wouldn't necessarily even matter if the AR was caused by Spike's demon.

Edited at 2013-05-05 06:19 pm (UTC)
May. 6th, 2013 03:22 pm (UTC)
I don't have a strong opinion on whether the attempted rape came from his demon or human side. Sometimes I think it was his human side, sometimes I think it was a bit of both. But both human and demon are there, with or without the soul. The soul changes him whether it was his human side or his demon side that caused the attempted rape.
May. 6th, 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
Lovely post; can we link at metanews?
May. 6th, 2013 08:38 pm (UTC)
Go ahead.
May. 9th, 2013 10:26 am (UTC)
The AR is not as clear a division of the man or the vampire - I think it was partly both. Yes, Spike could reach his inner William, still felt part of William, but he couldn't become William. His life and being was entwined with over 100 years of horrific violence. William wasn't separate from that - there was no Angel/Angelus divider. The violence of a century informed who he was and while the vampire Spike was harder and harder to access after the chip that didn't mean that he could reach and grasp the entirety of William.

While the AR was definitely an attempted rape, it was not motivated by a random need to overpower and control. It was, in fact, a need to bond, to force Buffy to love him again.

I think in fact that this need would belong to William but the only tools he had were demonic.
May. 9th, 2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
William wasn't separate from that - there was no Angel/Angelus divider.

Of course Angel doesn't run around calling himself Liam, either. IT seems a vampire can't entirely return to his human self.

I think in fact that this need would belong to William but the only tools he had were demonic.

I could see that interpretation.
May. 10th, 2013 08:09 pm (UTC)
Interesting meta. Thanks for posting!
May. 11th, 2013 02:54 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, and thanks for reading!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )