Redemption is happening now!

by Cissy

I've had an epiphany

The more I think about Entropy and Seeing Red in terms of what's happening with Spike, the more I think a whole mess of soul/redemption anvils were lobbed our way during the two episodes. We just need to recognize them. Please forgive me for the length of this post, but laying out some of Spike's dialogue over the two episodes painted such a clear picture for me that I wanted to share it.

One of Elsa's posts about what a huge thing Spike's remorse in SR is got me to thinking, and I believe she's right. What happens in Seeing Red is MAJOR. And I'm not talking about the attack. We're shown a vampire who's experiencing overwhelming remorse for an evil act. When have we ever seen that before? Only with Angel have we seen a vampire tortured by images of what he's done. We've seen Spike show plenty of emotion over the years, even regret and pain. But--someone correct me if I'm wrong--only this year have we seen him express guilt.

Several people commented on it at the time, but now I wonder if the scene in Hell's Bells wasn't foreshadowing, a hint of the changes taking place in Spike:
Buffy: It doesn't change anything, but if you're wildly curious. Yeah, it hurts.
Spike: (instinctive) I'm sorry. (catching himself) I mean, *good*

His knee-jerk, instinctive response on being told he'd hurt Buffy was regret (guilt?) -- I'm sorry. Since when does a soulless, conscienceless demon care if his actions hurt someone?

Spring forward to Entropy and Seeing Red. In nearly every scene in which he appears, the writers tell us over and over, through Spike's words, that something has changed inside of him.

To Buffy, when confronted with the cameras: "You think I was spying on you. You think I could do that?"
"Something happened to me. The way I feel. About you. It's different. And no matter how hard you try to convince yourself it isn't, it's real."

To Anya, when she laments that no one cares about her pain: "I care. What he done to you? I'd never stoop that low. And I'm an evil, soulless thing. According to some people."

When Dawn asks how he could hurt Buffy by sleeping with Anya: "Must still be a bit of the evil left in me after all." His voice is shaded with hurt and irony here. This comes shortly after his line "must be true then." As Laura noted, the implication here is that though he doesn't feel evil, everyone's saying it, so it must be true.

What's really interesting is what happens after Dawn says, "If you wanted to hurt Buffy, congratulations, it worked."

The next time we see Spike, he's walking into Buffy's bathroom. Why is he there? I do *not* believe it's because Dawn's words convinced him he still has a shot with Buffy. I think that when he goes to Buffy initially, he still believes that ship has sailed ("Not that it matters anymore..."). I doubt it's consciously on his part, but he goes to her because Dawn's words made him feel guilt, and he needs to assuage it.

"This isn't just about you, so much as you'd like it to be." This line is fascinating. I really doubt Spike understands intellectually what's happening to him, but his words reveal that his apology to Buffy isn't just to make her feel better. HE needs to do it, to make HIMSELF feel better. Giles could have explained it to him: "To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's not done because people deserve it. It's done because they need it."

"I'm sorry. Not that it matters anymore, but I needed you to know that.... Because I care about you." What a simple and very complex thing this is. Spike's apology isn't made to "fix" things, or to get Buffy back. It's made because he's hurting and feels it will help and because he knows now that Buffy's hurting and he needs her to know he's sorry.

Of course, the whole scene goes terribly wrong after that. The intense pain he's been battling ("I wanted something. Anything to make these feelings stop. I just wanted it to stop. ...You shoulda let him kill me.") overwhelms him and that, coupled with Buffy's admission that she cares about him, snaps him into a terrible, terrible place. We all know what he nearly does.

And afterwards the guilt. We've talked about how tortured he is in the scene with Clem. We recognize it as overpowering guilt, but does he?

"What have I done? ... Why *didn't* I do it? ...What has she done to me?"

Spike: "Why do I feel this way?"
Clem: (simply) "Love's a funny thing."
Spike: "Is that what this is?"

It's not love he's feeling here. Spike knows what love feels like. It's the guilt he doesn't recognize, can't put a name to. "I can feel it, squirming in my head. The chip. Gnawing bits and chunks." The chip isn't causing this pain, but it's understandable that Spike wouldn't recognize an emotion he's not supposed to have, one he hasn't felt in over a hundred years. So it must be the chip. "It isn't supposed to be this way. It's the chip. It won't let me be a monster and I can't be a man. I'm nothing."

At the risk of repeating myself, this is huge. Try to imagine Angelus or any other vampire in any of the scenes above. I don't know if the writers would label it a soul or a conscience or what, but they could hardly make it any clearer that a fundamental shift has happened inside of Spike. Seeing Red is one huge, honkin' anvil. Spike is not a remorseless demon. He's not a remorseless anything.

I'm positively giddy about where his story is going now. Even if the writers, for whatever reason, decide to ensoul Spike or make him human (please no), I realize now that I *did* get the story I wanted. Spike evolved from a conscienceless demon to a being who cannot bring himself to commit an evil act against someone he loves and who feel enormous guilt even over the attempt. We *are* getting the struggle of a soulless being to do good. This IS the Redemption arc. Redemption is happening now! We're watching it unfold right in front of us. Let's celebrate, people! And get ready for the next step.

As Clem said, "You never know what's just around the corner. Things change." I don't know what's coming up for Spike, but I'm very happy on this ride.


Cissy (3 May 2002)

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