8. Fool for Love (Season 5, Episode 7) — Words by Brianna Reeves
Fool for Love is another character defining episode. This time the focus is squarely on Spike. Aside from learning of his name coming from his terrible poetry and how he was sired by Dru, we also get a sneak peek into his psyche. At his core, Spike is a hopeless romantic, which is made apparent in both the flashbacks and the present-day storyline.
Flashbacks serve an interesting role in Fool for Love. The line “you are beneath me” is spoken to Spike by two women, in different time periods, that he’s deeply in love with yet want nothing to do with him. His reaction to hearing Buffy say them is heartbreaking… until he goes after her with a shotgun. Their scene at the end of the episode, following Buffy learning of her mother’s deteriorating health, is perfectly scripted and acted.
The back and forth also works to inform the titular character’s curiosity about Spike’s triumph over two Slayers. Their sparring scene is aligned with his 1970s battle versus a Slayer in New York. It’s also another clever way in which we see Buffy mature as a hero. Earlier in Season 5, she asks Giles to help her return to more vigorous training. This episode depicts her taking said training to another level, asking an enemy for help in learning to better herself in the field. Of course, this later becomes commonplace, but it’s a good first step and a wonderful tease into how between Buffy and Spike relationship eventually progresses.