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Discussion of 7.14 "First Date" - Aired 2/11/03 (UPN-US)

Priceless

Scooby
Joined
Jan 25, 2016
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There's definitely a "rites of passage", "transition" thing going on. I hadn't picked up on the whole clothes issue but you're right (I wish someone would take Spike shopping for new clothes - personally, I don't think he has a good look in that episode). It does feed into him renewing his acquaintance with the coat in Get it Done. Could be something to do with masquerade - Giles is lying to maintain face. Xander puts on an act for Lissa and lies about the coffee Lissa reverts back to a different form when she dies. Spike, as you say, is making a terrible job of putting up a front. Thing is - I remember reading the shooting script and it describes Spike/Buffy as "hurting each other" with their pretence (so - I'm having worry!). Cho-lin could be hurt by Giles' lies - Xander is also hurt. Just realised - the socks - could be to do with pairing based on sameness and pairings based on difference or randomness. Of things being put together or things being inevitable because of attraction. The remark about Clem and Xander - demon attraction regardless of gender. Buffy trying to persuade herself she's not attracted by demonic energy.

There's definitely an overlap with Crush - Buffy accuses Dawn of stealing her blue sweater - this ties into the top Dawn was going to borrow. I've decided it means this is Buffy/Spike's first date. Why IS Anya cleaning it? Anya can't get rid of a trace...a trace of her demonic past? Spike's demonic past?

LOL! I never noticed the rip and blood! I thought it was an odd pattern...serves me right for watching on the computer and not the TV! Ordinarily, I'd say there must be a significance but the editing is so bad I wonder whether it's a continuity error?
It seems odd that Giles is talking to Buffy in her very grown up bedroom and Anya is talking to Buffy in the bathroom, while cleaning her shirt, and Robin takes Buffy to a previously unknows French restaurant down some very dark alleys . . . but Spike manages to find them. Did he know where they'd be? You can drive yourself nuts thinking about these things :confused:
 

TriBel

Scooby
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Manchester
Did he know where they'd be?
I'm guessing it's scent - the text is playing about with senses in this series - touch and scent are much more reliable indicators of truth than sight. It's quite interesting (well - it is for me but that' possibly an indicator of what a sad person I really am:() that sight and touch are immediate in their impact. We see things with our eyes but that becomes a problem when you equate seeing with knowing - what we see isn't the same as what we "know" - or think we know.
Smells- I'm guessing the impact of scent isn't as immediate (Spike deliberately stands and sniffs the air in Touched) but it lingers - and we're back to the trace thing:). That aside Sight sets up a specific relationship between subject and object - touch works differently. God alone only knows how scent works - I haven't figured it out but I have bored myself:(. I'll go to work and bore other people. :DKeep away from the comic spoilers!

You can drive yourself nuts thinking about these things :confused:
Err...yes. :) And I now have this exchange in my head: "Buffy: Spike, have you completely lost your mind? Spike: Well, yes. Where've you been all night?" :eek:On that note - I'm DEFINITELY going to work!
 

emnemnemnem

Townie
Joined
Dec 18, 2017
Messages
27
Age
24
I LOVED THIS EPISODE SO MUCH. Its comedy scenes, paired up with the progression of the First plot, were great. I loved all the first dates that were happening, Giles's vexation over people maintaining their social lives even in the face of an apocalypse, Anya's intense vacillation between anger at Xander and worry for him, and the Chinese girl's language barrier from the rest of the Scoobies and Potentials.

My favorite scene was probably when Buffy and Spike awkwardly run into one another in the hall after Buffy talks to Anya about a shirt she wants to wear on her date with Principal Wood. When they first run into one another, Spike is clearly awkwardly looking away from Buffy, unsure whether he should be seeing her so...scandalous, and he laughs a little to try and clear the obvious discomfort between them. But when he finally meets her eye, he tells her she looks nice (AKDFJHDKS) and then he asks if she's going on a date (OH NO). Buffy tries to avoid the date discussion but is interrupted by him when he says that it's alright, that he's alright. And then he said he wasn't being noble, that he was really alright. In contrast though I found this absolutely SUPER NOBLE because at the end of S7, it's shown that he hasn't stopped loving her, but now for the sake of her happiness / ensuring that she won't worry about his feelings, he's putting on a facade of contentment, even though he's most likely probably hurting inside, as shown by the obviously hollow expression after she exits the hallway after their brief conversation. I thought this just spoke so much to Spike's character growth and Spuffy's relationship growth b/c S6 Spike would've definitely put his jealousy out there and not cared about her feelings, only about the fact that she was seeing someone that wasn't him.

8/10!!! Great ep.
 
fauxindigo
fauxindigo
I agree, I think this is an underrated S7 episode, even if Lissa could've been done better.

DeadlyDuo

Scooby
Joined
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8,987
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I think it was passable. It certainly wouldn't be up there with the best of the bunch but I wouldn't say it was any worse than some of the acting of the potentials.
 

thetopher

Member of the Church Of Faith
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
10,315
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The Moot, England
Sineya
So nice to see that the Scoobies have trigger-Spike on such a short leash this episode, given that's he's been mind-controlled into massacring lots of people not too recently...

Oh, but we have to have all the 'cute' awkwardness and Spike walking in on Buffy's date. Bleugh.
If Spike had killed anybody at the First's behest they would all have be culpable for it.

Overall this is a fairly disappointing episode; Wood's reveal in a subversion of expectations but ends up going nowhere and I'm not a fan of the celeb cameo.
 

thrasherpix

Scooby
Joined
Mar 13, 2016
Messages
3,412
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38
I'm okay with Ashanti's acting was passable for the short time she got. It might be that I don't listen to her music so that I don't have an image of her intruding in my mind making it hard for me to see her character in First Date. (I had that problem when someone got me Night of the Comet, because I kept seeing the 80s character Hector as Chakotay and kept expecting him to call up to Captain Janeway. :D)

Heh. "Short leash." If the First really wanted to destroy Giles, it could've through Spike at the very beginning rather than making it a comedic scene. Buffy is so stupid in this episode, though, saying that a chip didn't stop the First from triggering Spike, and yet Spike also had a soul but she says that's going to stop him. Still, I know it's not Buffy, just the lazy writing of season 7. Thankfully, that lazy writing came with a lot of free plot armor.
 

Bite-me

Scooby
Joined
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658
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Canada
Yes, I have no bias whatsoever in favor of Spike, if anything I am neutral which is more of a diss then not. Yet I do not exactly know how to feel about the privileging of his character in the last strech of the series. It occurs to me now that Spike going through the redemption phase of requiring his soul could be read as a back-to-the-beginning theme, with Buffy's involvement with Angel. We did see Angel's process through flashbacks but for Spike this is the very start. And I agree to a extent that Angel's arc felt more earned, which is partially undercutting what they are trying with Spike.

However, in the series, there is long precedent in how the b plot of other characters have always somehow related back to Buffy and mirrored where she is in life, so centering Spike ultimately has to be read as commentary on Buffy, I think the audience has a more difficult time reading what the metaphor is and that has to do with the writing. Having done the supplementary fan reading I can see clearly and am satisfied with the metaphorical narrative, with a few reservations of the particular, love of a good trope. But the casual viewer of a television show won't see it, they will come to varied conclusions about the message and therefor quality.
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
I've read a couple of essays on season 7 and found them completely unconvincing. And I didn't like s7 the first time, loathed it on the 2nd viewing, and won't watch it again.

Bite-me

Scooby
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658
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@thrasherpix , Oooh, curious have you read unpaidsophistry, it is the best I have read on the series, especially clarifying season seven. I wish Mark Field would write about Angel.
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
I just read through a couple (Empty Places and First Date) and it is an interesting take. No, I've never seen that site, at least not to remember it.

r2dh2

Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain
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Rewatching it. I love the scenes between Buffy and Spike, especially the one at the end:

SPIKE. It, uh, it talked to the little boy. Said it wasn't time for me yet. I should move out. Leave town before it is time for me.
BUFFY. No, you have to stay.
SPIKE. You've got another demon fighter now.
BUFFY. That's not why I need you here.
SPIKE. Is that right? Why's that then?
BUFFY. 'Cause I'm not ready for you to not be here.

Contrasts with S6 and their conversation in Wrecked:
BUFFY. That, that's it! I want you out of my life! Out of my work, out of my home-
SPIKE. Too late for that. You invited me in already. And as for your work, you need me. Like tonight.
BUFFY. I'll find Dawn myself.

By the way, how sweet is Spike referring to Andrew as the "little boy"?
 

vampmogs

Potential
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I must say that I'm not a fan of this episode and a lot of it has to do with how poorly plotted it was. There's some goofs and plot holes in this episode that, honestly, makes the entire plot fall apart once you've noticed them. It makes me irritated that people are being paid a considerable amount of money to write these things but are evidently being really half-assed about it. It ties back into what Drew Goddard said about Season 7 where he said the writers began jumping ship to other projects because they'd lost interest and/or knew the series was ending. It's kind of depressing.

To start with;

1) How does Spike know that Willow did a locator spell? When Spike leaves the Summers house Willow isn't even positive yet that Xander is in danger and she certainly hadn't done a spell to find him. Spike is shown walking out the door to find Buffy whilst the gang sits around the living room. And yet, when Spike is with Buffy and Wood Spike somehow knows that Xander is in the high school because "Willow did a locator spell." Huh?

2) How did Xander text Willow that he was in danger when he was tied up over the seal? In fact, there's a lot of missing information here. How did Ashanti and Xander even get to the school? Did she knock him out and take him there? Did she somehow convince Xander that a good way to end their date would be to go to Sunnydale High? And if she had knocked him out this means he couldn't have text Willow until he awoke over the seal? And if he text beforehand sensing that something was wrong why would he even follow Ashanti down into the basement in the first place? The script just skips over all of that completely and cuts straight to Xander dangling over the seal with absolutely no explanation for how this transpired. Evidently, they didn't feel this was important, but it just comes across as extreme laziness to me. Especially when the text message makes no sense.

3) Since when did Xander and Willow establish a messaging code a long time ago? Huh? We're never shown them using mobile phones ever in the series. If they'd had phones this entire time then it's ridiculous they didn't once use them in all the various life and death situations they've been in over the years. So how then did they once come up with this secret code? And what would even be the need for a secret code? Wouldn't it make far more sense for Xander to just message "HELP?"

4) Throughout the car ride with Buffy, Wood and Spike, Wood repeatedly looks back in the car mirror at Spike. As Spike has no reflection he should have known straight away that Spike was a vampire

5) This one is more of a Season 7 problem in general but trying to secretly record The First makes no sense. The First is meant to be everywhere at all times? It should know that Willow, Amanda, Kennedy and Dawn are down in the basement listening to it. Heck, it would've been watching Andrew the entire time when he went to the others and let them know what had happened in the first place. Again, this is a Season 7 problem in general as The First should've known about all of the gang's plans before they ever acted on them, but it makes no sense.

6) In "Storyteller" we're told that the Seal required Andrew's special ritualistic knife to open it. The First specifically made him hunt down that knife in Mexico. And yet in this episode Ashanti is able to open the Seal with another knife? Granted, this is technically more of a plot hole for "Storyteller" as it comes later and in both "Never Leave Me" and "First Date" the Seal is able to opened with regular blades, but it retrospectively makes this episode make no sense now either.

7) And then I guess my other main problem is that Buffy randomly decides to investigate Wood in this episode because he was down in the basement with a shovel... but that was way back in "Bring on the Night." What took her so long? Why not investigate him earlier throughout "Potential" or "The Killer In Me?" It's presumably been, at least weeks, and then all of a sudden without explanation she wants to investigate him? The pacing is just all off. If he'd done something else in this episode to make her more suspicious of him then that'd make sense but as it stands it's just comes across as random.

It's just sooooo poorly plotted. It's incredibly lazy how Espenson just moves from A-B without bothering to give any explanation at all or coming up with explanations that totally contradict what we're shown (like Spike knowing about Willow's Locator Spell). You could pick plot holes in most episodes but I'm struggling to come up with any other episode just as badly plotted as this one with the possible exception of "The Killer In Me" with all the Initiative stuff that makes no sense (ie The Initiative was supposed to be filled with concrete and Spike claims to remember getting experimented on and dosed up despite having no recollection of this in Season 4). It's two episodes in a row where the writers just didn't really seem to give a sh*t.
 

Stake fodder

Soulless
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With the chip and under the First's control, Spike was able to kill, so Giles's concern isn't based on facts. And Buffy said something very important since the war is against the ultimate Evil: "You can't beat evil by doing evil."
True, and if Buffy had chosen to replace the chip, then it would no longer be the Initiative's fault, but her own doing. Spike would have accepted that - he knows he's dangerous - but for Buffy, it would surely have felt like a terrible betrayal of him, especially after she said, "I believe in you." So there really was no choice, despite what she says.

Anyway, Giles should realize it's too late to argue now about the chip. And Spike having a chip is separate from whether Buffy relies on him, which she has done more or less for four seasons now.

Vampmogs above outlined several plot holes. It's hardly major, but notice how Spike has brain surgery several times in the show without ever losing a bleached hair off his head? Even a vampire would take a day or so to heal from that, I'd think.

Plus there is the ripped shirt and blood on Spikes shoulder when he leaves the house to go look for Buffy, ( how does he get that??) though I have no idea if that means anything or if I'm just goin to the nth degree
I thought that, too, but zoomed on the DVD, and it actually some kind of design on the shirt, maybe a broken heart? Or possibly an orange with ivy.

"Bidet of evil" - is it too late to change my username? :D

My nitpicky thing is that I think Robin's timeline is off. He says he was four when his mother died, which was in 1977, thus he was born in 1973. This is 2003, so he would be 30, but he talks of his "avenging son phase in my 20s" as if that wasn't just last year.

Once again, Spike calls Xander "the boy," though he uses his name to Buffy. It's another little thing, but it just seems weird to me, especially after he's roomed with "the boy." I feel there's some sub-text I'm missing.

I love Anya's expression as Giles complains about all the dating. And "Children, enough!" I feel like this is Giles releasing seven years of frustration right here.

Not a bad episode, though I agree with a lot of the complaints above about plot holes and such.
 
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