Spike is strong, intelligent, amazingly intuitive, a flashy
fighter, ballsy and yet vulnerable, and he has a sometimes surprising
sense of honor. Plus, he's the ultimate underdog. Take away the
'ship and the redemption, and you still have a potent character
who polarizes the audience because of the complexity -- and sometimes
contrariness -- of his nature.
But that's the fun of Spike. :) Controversy, daring, romance,
heroism, hope, failure, laughter, expectation, suspense...it's
what puts my butt on the couch in front of the TV every Tuesday
Spike has his journey to get to love and acceptance in
Fool For Love. He wants to belong, who wants the light when he
should want the dark, to be scene and accepted. The constant battle
of the man vs. the monster. Ulysses was a peaceful farmer who
was drafted in the Trojan War and went to various obstacles to
get back home. In the end he made to the sun and back to his home
in the end.
We have Spikes origins shown to us in Fool For Love. William
who was drafted by Dru to fight along the side of darkness now
Spike is on the opposing side but in the end he will get back
to enlightenment to himself again in the end. He won't be William
but he will be a balanced being of the monster and the men.
Joss said that Spike is what Giles never fully became (a juvenile
delinquent) and Spike tried to avoid what Giles became (a useful
member of society). But Giles found the balance between the Ripper
and the man
The writers know what they're doing. Every time they make
Spike the victim, every time they show us his pain and his loneliness,
while the Scoobies party on oblivious-
They're putting more viewers in Spike's shoes. They are DARING
you the viewer NOT to empathise with him. It's a bold move for
them to make, with regards to someone we have seen commit cold-blooded
murder with a smile. It's very daring. They gave us Big Bad Spike,
in all his ugliness. Then they proceeded to pick him apart and
show us all his flaws and weaknesses. But rather than brushing
all the bad stuff under the rug, they periodically remind us.
"This is who Spike is. This is what he is capable of. He's
not a Nice Man. He's not a man at all." Then they dare you
not to love him anyway....
ME isn't making this easy for Buffy, or for us in the audience.
Yet ironically, Buffy's doubts and reservations about their relationship
continue to paint Spike, longing for real love, as even more sympathetic.
But at the same time, as well as ME's strategy has worked to give
Spike depth, intensity and vulnerability to match his popularity
with a large part of the audience, there's another part of the
audience, perhaps equally large, who will never accept Spike as
anything more than a murderous vampire.Spike is a lightning rod
for the show, a figure of controversy that Angel, split into his
good Angel/evil Angelus sides, could never be, because Spike is
portrayed as one soulless, complete character, with no easy spells
or curses to resolve his fate.
As frustrating as it occasionally is to watch Spike forever walking
the narrow edge between right and wrong, I have to respect ME
for not taking any easy outs with him. I think he's capable of
change, and ME has shown that; but I don't know how much change
he can achieve. That's the hook, really, the suspense of his journey.
There's no real suspense with Angel; he's trying to be good, and
he fails occasionally, but he'll always eventually pick himself
up and carry on with the support of his crew. Spike has no one
and nothing to support his change, and often strong motives to
act otherwise; how long can he, or will he keep going? How often
will he backslide? How long can he stay on that narrow edge?
"I don't want Saint!Spike - he doesn't have to feel really really
bad about all the evil things he did - but he does have to decide
he won't be doing them anymore. And if he decides to do that by
*keeping* the chip (given an opportunity to have it out) then
I will be happy.
Someone suggested that Spike may be redeemed by redeeming Buffy.
I thought it sounded good at the time, as an extension of my belief
that Buffy will be integral to Spike's redemption. The decision
Spike makes must, I think, involve his recognising the sanctity
of life. I think Spike is 'getting' that now - "You have to go
on living/So one of us is living" and his references in Gone -
(paraphrasing) "The opposite of life is death".
As he works with Buffy to restore her joy in life, and her sense
of what it is to be alive, his understanding of what "living"
means will grow. More than that, the value he attributes to life
will grow. Who said that the best way to learn is to teach?
Whether he sees the Summers women and Scoobies in every potential
victim, whether he is revolted by the thought of drinking blood
or whether he craves it but keeps the chip as a safety override,
doesn't bother me. Have I just described reform? Probably, but
with one extra ingredient - he has to want it. Somewhere, there
has to be a choice. That's the magical redemption ingredient."
"To me, Spike is redeemed when he decides that his old lifestyle
is one he doesn't want to go back to.I think he's closer to that
place than he is willing to consciously admit, as evidenced by
his hesitancy in the alley in 'Smashed'.
Spike can help Buffy in a number of ways, but I think the main
way Buffy can help Spike is to finally get him to let go of the
Big Bad and become the person he could be (Randy, more or less).
I think by his nature, Spike isn't really capable of wallowing
in guilt like Angel, and in a sense he already understands what
Angel didn't get until 'Epiphany' - i.e. his comments in 'Pangs'
about the impossibility of making things right with the Chumash
He has everything he needs right now to embark on a life as a
decent person - motivation in the form of Buffy and maybe Dawn
and the ability to empathize with the suffering of others due
to his own pain. He just needs to put the pieces together and
convince himself that he can in fact be good."
"William was socially immature (probably because he was so sensitive)
so that lack was brought to the vampiric William. Add to that
the naturally sociopathy of a vampire and Spike, however willing,
cannot change his behaviour in a positive way without interacting
with human beings and getting 'feedback'.
Spike without people would be like a boy raised by wolves. His
behaviour has been inappropriate even when his intentions were
not. Finally, of course, without live people in whom he has a
vested emotional stake, Spike would have no motivation for a behavioural
Of course I've already made it clear that I believe a change
in behaviour is a necessary beginning to redemption. I don't think
the original motivation for the change is really as important
as the end result. Paraphrasing Spike, it's not where you begin,
it's where you end up that counts. Children don't behave well
because they aspire to some esoteric principal of goodness. They
behave well because they want to please their mothers/fathers.
They behave to receive love. Given all that, at some point everyone
has to make a conscious choice to be good. It needs to be a decision
to identify oneself as good.
To me, Spike will be redeemed when he looks in a mirror and sees
the wall behind him and says, "I don't want to be the Big Bad,
I want to be the Poofster Hero. Bugger me!" Actually when I think
about it, that moment may be less a decision and more an acceptance
of what he has already become. But there is still a line one crosses.
There is still a Free Will moment when one decides what side one
is on. Spike needs to freely make that decision. When he does,
I will consider him to be redeemed.
I'm a pretty devout Christian. Amongst my buds, I'm the one who
twists doctrine, but choosing goodness (Christ) is the only absolute
pre-requisite to salvation. Remorse, absolution, penance and stuff
are important. But if you accept grace, you are saved. Apocrypha
states that Satan himself could be saved if he accepted grace.
He remains unredeemed because he continuously rejects God"
"I just watched AtS "Sanctuary" the other day (the episode ends
where Faith finally turns herself in). Angel's take on Faith's
situation: Angel reminds Faith that she didn't have to go into
the darkness, but she chose it in the first place. He says no
matter how many things you do to make up for the past, you may
never be able to "balance out the cosmic scale." Personally I
don't think it's about balance. It's about doing good for goodness's
sake! He agrees with Faith that there are definitely things that
can't be taken back with an apology, but the thing that really
counts is whether you are sorry. He tells her it's supposed to
hurt. If she deals with those feelings, then maybe she can be
In the end, Faith is redeemed when she turns herself in and confesses
to the police. The Scoobies seem to agree that the police can't
effectively hold Faith, so the fact that she stays in jail may
be as much of her choice as going to the police in the first place.
I think Faith's redemption comes when she accepts responsibility
and accepts her punishment. Everything's not hunky dory, but the
point is she's on the right side. Of course Buffy doesn't agree
with this: "If you apologize to me, I'll beat you to death!" she
tells Faith. But that's not surprising.
I agree with Ann that penance and doing good things are definitely
important, but really it's all about the choice. Angel really
doesn't get this as much as he should. He really needs to give
himself a break, in my opinion. Working for the good guys counts
way more than he gives himself credit for. Yeah, I know, his mission,
and all that. The big thing that hit me about this episode was
the contrast between the approach to dealing with Faith's redemption
and the approach to dealing with Spike's. I'm sure this is not
an original thought, but it amazed me how Angel had to push and
push (through a 2 episode arc) to get Faith to accept she needed
help and ask for it. At the end of "Five By Five" (the first episode
in this arc), she exclaims, "I'm bad, I'm evil!" She doesn't want
forgiveness or redemption, she wants Angel to kill her - the quick
and easy way. She doesn't demonstrate a wish to reform until much
later. Spike, in contrast, says "I can be good," and shows he
is a man of his word (no need to rehash his good deeds of late),
yet the Scoobies refuse to believe him and make little to no effort
to help him.
I don't need to mention Buffy's lack of personal cheerleading
on this point, but there it is. The debate about the fact that
a soul doesn't equal good is old hat, but I am just appalled that
Faith, who has done some pretty bad things without showing any
remorse, would merit more help than Spike. Soul or none, why doesn't
one of the gang think, "Hey, Spike seems to be on a tentative
path towards being good. That is of the good. Why don't we help
him out and give him lots of affirmation?" I guess there is the
history and the personal differences, but still."
"Two things amaze me about Spike.
The first is that the vulnerable William did somehow find a way
to survive as Spike.
The second is that after 120+ years Spike still holds so much
of William's humanity within him.
The socially awkward William who longed to be accepted gave
way to Spike the rebel. William the bloody awful poet became Spike
with his sharp wit and incisive perceptions. William who had such
a capacity and need to be in love became Spike who stayed with
Drusilla for all those years, and has not once turned his back
on Buffy since he realized he loved her.
Spike has spent all these years fated to carry William's unresolved
anguishes around with him. He's disguised them with his big bad
persona, but those human hurts -rejection, shame, loneliness-
that belonged to William are now immortal too. Imagine having
your worst fears and insecurities with you for all eternity. We
know vampires have feelings.
Spike hasn't just shown an extraordinary ability to adapt and
survive in the world, he's shown unbelievable emotional resilience,
even courage. Time after time, he picks himself up, brushes himself
off and goes back for the next round without despair or too much
fuss. He still basically loves the world and wants to be in it.
Despite over 100 years of evidence to the contrary, he still has
reasons to hope. That's some leap of faith."