But...what happened to Europe? Aren't you supposed to be slayer-chasing or something?
I was on my way. Had a boat ticket and all. Then I put a little thinking into it. A man can't go out in a bloody blaze of glory, savin' the world, and then show up 3 months later, tumbling off a cruise ship in the south of France. I mean, I'd love to, don't get me wrong, but, uh, it's hard to top an exit like that.
(rolls her eyes)
Come on. Girls don't care about stuff like that. Just one look at you, and she'll forget herself, and she'll get all tingly, and it won't matter how horribly you treated her in the past and how you took her for granted, and...
I never took her for gra-- Oh. I expect Buffy would be happy enough to see me. It's just, I gave up my life for her, the world, and if I show up now, flesh and bone, my grand finale won't hold much weight. All of it... won't matter.
It occurs to me, though, that the writers were trying to figure out what to do with Spike in AtS Season 5. And this reason Spike gives to Harmony, that's a writer's reason.
How do you top that ending? Where does Joss take the Buffy & Spike dynamic after Chosen? How do you top a glorious end like that? (And I realize that not every fan thinks it's glorious, but I think Joss intended it to be so.) Writers are the ones who worry about doing justice to an ending. And after you've closed that chapter just the way you wanted to, you ask yourself "where do we go from here"? And as a writer you sometimes think it's better to just leave it.
On a character level, it seems fitting for Spike to worry about the ending of his love affair since he's always been very aware "life's a show and we all play a part", only he wants his part to be epic and glorious (the end to his affair with Dru was more a whimper than a bang, maybe he thinks this is the best he can hope for with Buffy? To get out while the getting's good). He's an actor through and through and he wants to be the star. Whether he's the leading villain or the leading man, he'll keep vying for that position. Center stage. Of course, this doesn't stop him from standing aside when he feels another deserves the spotlight, someone whom he admires (he'll stand aside for Dru or Buffy with relative ease, not so for Angel "as long as it isn't you").
So Whedon waits to bring back Spike till the very last arc of Season 8. He gives him a grand entrance (hero to the bloody rescue) to mirror his grand exit. Whedon makes the story about the apocalypse and keeps Buffy & Spike's interaction up in the air. Does she care? Does he still care? Sure, they'll fight side by side and beat back the apocalypse, but is there love? Is it true that time is the only thing "stronger than love"? Did they miss their moment? Did their love yield to time or does it endure, fires banked, embers still hot and waiting to ignite?
There's questions about these two and I like questions. Whedon once said that film is for answers and television is for questions--while I don't think it's as clear-cut as that (and I doubt Whedon totally believes that), I like that there's questions about Spike and Buffy still because that means there's more story to tell. If everything were settled, then they'd be finished. Complete. Chapter closed. Instead, the misunderstandings and miscommunication feel like set-up for something more. (Sadly, that doesn't mean more will come. See: Faith & Giles interaction in NFFY.)
I'm looking forward to Spike being back on the BtVS side of the 'verse. I hope he'll interact with Xander, Dawn, Willow and Faith. I hope we'll get a Spike & Satsu scene. And I hope that the tension between Buffy and Spike keeps simmering until it boils over; I hope they keep needling each other and pushing each other off-center and ultimately helping each other be better.
I suspect it's a matter of personal taste. I've reached this point where I love uncertainty, ambiguity, tension. I love the foreplay and the banter. I love the distance and how it's hard to bridge that divide. Maybe I also love that the story is playing out so slowly because it reassures me somehow. Oh, we're taking it slow. All right, then. Long haul. It seems like Buffy and Spike have been circling each other for most of the series now. I guess I was never in a rush to feel them settled. Oh sure, I've always wanted it, but somehow the wanting's become what I enjoy. It's the space between them that creates such beautiful contour--when they reach across, when they find moments of silence.
Maybe I'm the only one looking forward to this hypothetical Season 9 scene: Buffy's hunting a vampire, she slays it and when she turns around there's Spike lighting a cigarette, eyes gleaming approval while his tongue smarts her for not minding her surroundings and cutting it close.
It feels like it's never gonna end. And maybe that's the problem for some folks (like 'dear God, it's never gonna end! Kill me now!'). For me, I look at it and think they'll never end. They'll keep circling each other, caught in each other's orbits, they'll keep colliding, they'll keep dancing. The music will never stop, not really, and even if it does, it'll be brief pauses where I hope to enjoy the blissful silence where looks speak louder than words, where hands cup cheeks, and shoulders bump as they settle into fighting stances.
I suppose in a roundabout way I'm saying I'm looking forward to Season 9.