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Symbolism in Spuffy

Curious Pathos

"You're the one, Buffy."
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I want to explore all the symbolism that bring our favourite two heroes together.

Now there is the common, fire representing their love and passion, solidified as their symbol in the Chosen scene, but let's have some fun, I know the writers did not intend it, but I think the "Don't I get a cookie?" "No" scene that really epitomizes Spuffy. He asks for the freshly baked cookie [Buffy], which Buffy denies him. Now that could be any number of scenes, but I think his insistence to the taste of Buffy from his mouth, should reference one of the Spuffy kisses. A kiss that he struggled with after getting bluntly rejected sounds like the OMWF kiss to me because he asks her about it in Tabula Rasa, trying to either get closure on the subject or get her to confess that it meant something. Getting the taste out of his mouth would parallel getting her to come clean about her feelings toward him. Her "You're a pig, Spike" references her beloved Mr Gordo, symbolizing the comfort she takes in his *straight-forward personality*.Wind Beneath My Wings is a song about love and support that continues on after even death. I feel the song, being as ambiguous as it is, could represent either Season 6 or Season 7 Spuffy, but due to her embarrassed reaction, I favour Season 6 Spuffy for symbolism. [Perfect choice for Spike and Buffy's first dance together in OMWF, but we got Give Me Something to Sing About which is arguably better. He saves her from dancing to death with his love and support.] Willow shoves a cookie in his face symbolizing how he will get Buffy in the end. I like how it was a Willow guilt cookie that she felt she had to bake after a huge magical mishap.
I believe that Spike giving Buffy a skull ring as an engagement ring probably relates to the Slayer deathwish and how it would become largely decorative. Maybe it is supposed to the foil to Spike's Amulet.
What do you guys think? Any symbols you see? What do you think about my Something Blue analysis? Does the skull ring mean anything to you?
 

Fool for Buffy

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@Curious Pathos lots of great examples! I'll just write about one that I think is pretty cool.

The Chains
When used literally, they tend to hold people back, as they lunge or attack forward and are pulled back. This is such a huge theme for Spuffy. In Out of my Mind, the chip acts as a chain that stops Spike from being able to bite Buffy. In Fool for Love, just looking at her makes him pull back and put the gun down. In Crush, we obviously have the literal chains that keep Buffy from attacking Spike, but they also symbolize her obvious sympathy for him that has kept him alive for over a year when he probably shouldn't be. Later in that episode, the barrier sends Spike back instead. Spike is chained up in Intervention as well, and his refusal to give up the information proves that rejection has not stopped him from being in the Buffy love trap that influences all of his decisions.

Flash forward to season 6, and we have an undone pair of handcuffs in Dead Things. This one's pretty clear- their relationship has no limits. As soon as Buffy metaphorically broke the chains between their forbidden relationship in Smashed, they basically had unlimited sex as much as either wanted. Buffy puts the chains back on in As You Were, and Spike was unable to take it, eventually trying to break them with force.

Spike is in chains all the time in season 7. And he wants it that way, not only because he wants to keep everybody safe but because he wants to keep himself from Buffy specifically. Here, the chains represent Spike's insecurities and fear of himself since he got his soul back. The Never Leave Me scene with Spike begging Buffy to kill him has a lot to it as well. Spike wants them to stop him from being able to fight back when Buffy will stake him. But Buffy doesn't buy it. She sees the chains as Spike's self- hate, and she tells him what he needs to hear so he realizes he doesn't deserve them. And lastly in Lies the chains are obviously Spike's mother. In what can only be described as a Vampire prison, Wood ironically frees Spike from that.
 

Curious Pathos

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@Fool for Buffy Maybe it's pedestrian of me, but I interpreted the handcuffs as freedom for Spike and emotional vulnerability for Buffy. I like to think that conversation was Buffy and Spike talking at each other, not to each other. I would think they use the handcuffs off-screen a few times before she stops.

Also, another obvious one, music and dancing: Spike always tells Buffy to sing him another tune when she's threatening him, they meet at the Bronze, he refers to fighting as dancing constantly, and with Spike's trigger. Dancing symbolizes a kind of intimacy or closeness in the present, while I feel that music has to symbolize clouded perception., which is why old tunes don't work anymore. Just a vague thought, if anyone wants a crack at it.
 

Stoney

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The spaces they meet in always seem significant to me with Spuffy. Obviously there is the dark/light aspects and this continues through Spike's story when souled and so remains significant in the Spuffy interactions but the outside to in, basement to roof progression is marked I think. Not sure if you read the comic continuation @Curious Pathos, but where they are in their relationship directly is mirrored with where/how/when you see them spending time together. There are significant moments on stairs (S5-6), a symbol for transition and journeying, a link between outside and inside. The porch meet ups work with that too, the fire escape (S9) and then through to Spike's integration in the group in the comics fully, his relationship with Buffy leading them to share time/space with the group above it all in the roof scenes repeatedly. The roof as a pinnacle of achievement, coming together as a group, Buffy's innermost circle. No longer only meeting in the dark, openly together, not confining themselves to the basement/hidden spaces. Outside to inside, transition/journey. :)
 
Curious Pathos
Curious Pathos
Does the spaceship I have heard so much about have any place in you theory?

Priceless

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So much symbolism in Spuffy. I'll just mention Stairs.

In The Gift we see Buffy climbling up the stairs, with Spike 'beneath her' at the bottom, looking up and telling her he knows she'll never love him but she treats him like a man. The situation is partially reversed in S6 when we see Spike once again looking up the staircase, but this time Buffy is walking down to meet him on an equal level.

In Tabula Rasa they are shown kissing beneath the stairs in The Bronze, showing they are coming together on equal terms, no longer worried about status. In Smashed they destroy the stairs as part of their foreplay, showing the relationship has changed and they are equals in this, as they fall through the floor.
 

zoe

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The fire is another symbolism, the last scene between them on the show for many represents Spike giving back the fire to Buffy (“I want the fire back”), we could also say that on S6 their relationship was fire that burns and consume, it´s destructive but on S7 it´s a fire that warms and light you but it doesn´t hurt.

We´ve also have that red and black are Spuffy colors, red is related to passion/desire (fire), blood and the same time with love, on the other hand black is related with darkness, death, mystery. I liked that in the comics these colors still have symbolism, in the last scene Buffy´s wearing red and black and saying the ILY.

Time ago a read a post about a fan that mentioned the times that a heart appears in a Spuffy scene it was also very interesting.
 
Priceless
Priceless
I love that Buffy is wearing red and black for the ILY , plus that punk hair :-)

Stoney

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@Curious Pathos said: "Does the spaceship I have heard so much about have any place in you theory?"

Of course. :D The spaceship was an interesting (albeit v. weird) addition. Off the top of my head (so apologies if I'm muddling any facts included), it really underlined Spike's insecurity about where he belonged and his sense of being an outsider. At the end of S8 Spike goes off in the ship again, having dramatically arrived on it during the fallout of Twilight. Arguably only comfortable finally returning to Buffy when a situation arose that warranted his help and opened the possibility of a heroic entrance to follow the exit of S7. In the web comic JE penned which fell after S8, Buffy asks Spike if he is home when he returns and is gazing up at the sky where the bugs are waiting for him. In S9 Buffy escapes to Spike and sometimes they are using the ship, her joining him in his outsider status/space. She also had a brief spacation with him on it, again escaping issues for a time and joining him 'outside' effectively and removed from reality. When Spike leaves for his mini on the ship, it is after having declared that he didn't want to be on the outskirts and Buffy's dark place any longer. If I recall correctly, we hear during the mini that he had had a solarium created on the ship for Buffy. But he finally concludes that he doesn't want to wander any longer and he wants to belong. So it is an important shift for him in his mindset of where he sees his 'place', how he feels he can be a part of the group and them within his life too, not just being all/only about Buffy. The mini ends with the ship being destroyed, that outsider getaway and using a solarium to provide light in the dark of space not being a place to truly connect and 'live' with Buffy. Spike is then free/resolves to return to SF and play an active part in the lives of all those he cares for, changing how/where/when he will be interacting going forward and triggering the start of a really meaningful shift in how they live/work together.
 

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If I recall correctly, we hear during the mini that he had had a solarium created on the ship for Buffy

I could be confusing two things here, but I think that Spike was so depressed about Buffy and their relationship that the bugs tried to cheer him up by making him a vampire proof solarium. I have an image of him sat on a deck chair, wearing brightly coloured shorts, drinking beer and getting a 'tan' :D
 

Stoney

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I could be confusing two things here, but I think that Spike was so depressed about Buffy and their relationship that the bugs tried to cheer him up by making him a vampire proof solarium. I have an image of him sat on a deck chair, wearing brightly coloured shorts, drinking beer and getting a 'tan' :D

I think that they put necro tempered glass in for him, but the solarium had been for Buffy originally. I'll go and check. :)
 

Stoney

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Yep, it was stated as being for her early on in the first issue (I can't get the dratted image I took of it to load, sorry). He says on page 6 "The solarium was going to be her place. A place of light" but that it will "always be darkness for me". It is in response to seeing him morose there that the bugs plan to lift his spirits, leave the dark side of the moon, and carry him into the solarium because they have altered the glass. :)

EDIT: Yes, Spike sunbathing with his cocktail and bermuda shorts, ha.
 

flow

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Great thread !

I`d like to mention the hands. We have had a thread about that. I will go and try to find it. We see their hands in the Chosen scene but also in the graveyard, while they are training the potentials and when she comes back from the grave and the very next day, when she visits him in the crypt...

He asks for the freshly baked cookie [Buffy], which Buffy denies him
Willow shoves a cookie in his face symbolizing how he will get Buffy in the end.

And it fits so nicely with Buffys cookie dough speech....."And then, y'know, if I want someone to eat m -- or, enjoy warm delicious cookie-me, then that's fine. That'll be then. When I'm done."

flow
 
Curious Pathos
Curious Pathos
Exactly, and Angel had that double fudge cookie dough ice cream in IWRY. Comparing the two, it seems obvious who Buffy is going to end with.

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Time ago a read a post about a fan that mentioned the times that a heart appears in a Spuffy scene it was also very interesting.

I've never heard this before, or ever seen the hearts. I'll be looking for them from now on :)
 
Great thread !

I`d like to mention the hands. We have had a thread about that. I will go and try to find it. We see their hands in the Chosen scene but also in the graveyard, while they are training the potentials and when she comes back from the grave and the very next day, when she visits him in the crypt...




And it fits so nicely with Buffys cookie dough speech....."And then, y'know, if I want someone to eat m -- or, enjoy warm delicious cookie-me, then that's fine. That'll be then. When I'm done."

flow

This reminds me of the very end of POTN's Something Blue review, were he draws a line from Pangs to Smashed to the cookie dough speech (starts at 8.44 and only lasts a few seconds but it made me smile). It's very effective and a great review
 
Curious Pathos
Curious Pathos
I watch POTN, too. Yay!

TriBel

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Does the skull ring mean anything to you?

No - but then I've never been a member of the SS (@Priceless - I'll never read Fan-fic again!).

Seriously, I haven't watched Something Blue for 6 months so I'd need to rewatch to provide a true context for my answer. The following is based most on hindsight.

Because he once "ate a Nazi , I have to mention the Totenkopfring or "Death's Head Ring" which was awarded to members of the SS by Himmler during WWII. I've just accessed the script for WWF and the SS are connected with virgin blood (which is ominous but apt since women were supposed to be virgins on their wedding night). Jewellers in Germany made imitations that were bought by ordinary troops both for themselves and to give to wives and girlfriends as memento mori. The essential message of any memento mori is "remember you will die" - it's meant as a reminder of the immortality of the soul and the afterlife (Season 6). I think it's at the moment Mr Irony comes knocking, because in this case it's also a reminder of the giver who is both undead and has no soul. There's also the camera hidden in the skull in the magic shop. So ironically (again), while this skull seals their relationsip it's another skull that will bring it to an end. However, because Entropy is the catalyst for Seeing Red which is the catalyst for Grave etc. it's also the thing responsible for S7

We tend to associate skulls with death but simultaneously we're attracted to them. I'd argue that this is because death is a taboo subject and taboo subjects offer us an opportunity to transgress (being attracted to something taboo and abject figures Spuffy in S6). Irony returns with the fact
that he's asking her to remember him by way of something devoid of flesh and yet in BY he says "am I just flesh to you". And...I've just found this on Wiki. "Our present society predominantly associates skulls with death and evil. However, to some ancient societies it is believed to have had the opposite association, where objects like crystal skulls represent "life": the honoring of humanity in the flesh and the embodiment of consciousness". This is precisely what I've been arguing happens in S7 and I'm sure I've seen a crystal skull somewhere. Oh yes - he wears a skull ring when he kills Nikki!

Sorry this lacks coherence - I'm tired! It will I think - join up - eventually!

@Fool for Buffy (re - the Angel /Spike connections - am I that predictable? Don't bother to answer - I am. You're the second person today to point out a thread I'd be interested in!

Spike is in chains all the time in season 7

Good post! However, one chain you haven't mentioned is the linguistic chain (we talk about "chaining words together"). In both 5 and 6 he was tethered to and by language. Firstly it chained him to given concepts of what a vampire is (dirty, evil etc.). Then there was the chaos he caused by not fully understanding the implications of what he said "animal etc.". In 7 he creates his own (to quote William Blake) "mind-forged manacles" - carefully defining his speech and not picking up on her verbal clues "I'm showing him US". More significantly he either finishes her sentences or cuts them off (breaks the chain). This of course leads to the "I'm tired of mixed signals" in End of Days and the denial in Chosen.

That's it - I can't do justice to this thread! I'm rambling.

Buffys cookie dough speech

upload_2017-11-11_21-48-52.png
 

Curious Pathos

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@TriBel
Fascinating analysis of the skull ring! I have learned so much; although I find it weird that he doesn't have it during WWF, it would make a perfect backstory for it. I can't see him getting one from a Nazi before nor after the events of WWF, since he had to swim to American shores before the sun went up.
How could you tell he was wearing a skull ring in FFL? I rewatched it, recently and I still have no idea what kind of rings he was wearing.
I guess for next re-watch of season 7; I'll be hunting for a crystal skull in the background.
 

Stoney

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Great thread !

I`d like to mention the hands. We have had a thread about that. I will go and try to find it. We see their hands in the Chosen scene but also in the graveyard, while they are training the potentials and when she comes back from the grave and the very next day, when she visits him in the crypt...

Ah yes! hands and Spuffy, so many moments. :)

After Life and Chosen are obvious ones where its used as a focus and yes, stilling his hands when training the potentials in S7. With a transition from enemies, allies and lovers we have it in both the positive and negative physical confrontations throughout, but I also always think of him offering his hand to her in Listening to Fear, and then there are the injuries Spike takes to his hands in Spiral and the door scene in Dead Things too. I'm not sure I remember the thread about this, but you/we(?) probably thought of others. We have just had the clasped hands panel in the safe zone in S11 if I'm remembering rightly too.

Buffy's hands are given focus at specific points in her story. I'm thinking of Prophecy Girl in taking Collin's hand, catching the sword in Becoming pt2 and defeating Adam as 'manus' and with Dawn in Blood Ties. For Spike we have his writing in the party scene, Dru placing his hand on her in the flashback, Angel challenging him to put his hand in the sunlight in a flashback, his hand setting alight in Lovers Walk and probably plenty of other non Spuffy specific ones I'm forgetting right now too. As something used for communication in gestures and a sign of connection it is no surprise I suppose that it is a point of symbolism that is often used, but it definitely is on repeat in their stories individually and together. :D
 

TriBel

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@TriBel
Fascinating analysis of the skull ring! I have learned so much; although I find it weird that he doesn't have it during WWF, it would make a perfect backstory for it. I can't see him getting one from a Nazi before nor after the events of WWF, since he had to swim to American shores before the sun went up.
How could you tell he was wearing a skull ring in FFL? I rewatched it, recently and I still have no idea what kind of rings he was wearing.
I guess for next re-watch of season 7; I'll be hunting for a crystal skull in the background.

He doesn't have to have the ring for the symbolism to be there but what interests me more is the memento mori aspect. Wearing it when he kills Nikki - I picked up from the net. I haven't checked the episode but I've seen pictures and again I don't think it's the same ring. TBH, if I was to make an argument it would be based on the following - it's what I was rambling about at the end when I mentioned taboo - here it's the abject.

Abjection comes about because a baby/young child is incapable of seeing itself as separate from the mother. It has no sense of self. The abject marks the moment when we separated ourselves from the mother, when we began to recognize a boundary between "me" and other, between "me" and "(m)other." In effect, when we become thinking and talking subjects. We reject the mother (and everything connected with her) in favour of the father. Please note – all of this is unconscious. Mother and father refer to both real people and imagined states of nonbeing/being. The “father” here is the law, language, society - it's what allows us to say who we are. The mother becomes the thing we both desire and fear (a sense of completion - love) and death (the ultimate in non-being and a respite from living). Hence the significance of the Slayer death wish and what she says before her death and after her resurrection).

The abject is that which was once part of the self but jettisoned to bring about the subject with agency. It is in relation to the abject that we define ourselves as human, as ‘clean and proper’ – as different from animals (add demons and monsters for BtVS). In its material form, it’s bodily waste, blood, decay and ultimately the corpse. All these things remind us that we’re really biological (so no different than animals), that we don’t have the control we think we have. This – I think – is why Joyce’s death is so traumatic for Buffy. It’s less to do with looking after Dawn etc. and more to do with the fact it calls her very identity as Slayer into question. As Slayer she has control over life and death – she says who dies and who doesn’t. But that power is cultural – Joyce’s death is natural. Regardless of what Enlightenment thought tells us – we don’t have power over nature. It would have been easier for Buffy if Joyce had been killed by a demon. She could have killed it – revenge would have given her the illusion of power. She could have mourned Joyce and moved on. As it is, she’s stuck in an in-between place in a condition of melancholy.

In its more abstract form, the abject is “what disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite”. Vampires are abject because they are neither dead nor alive – they’re undead. Spike is the most abject vampire of all because he’s the closest to being human without having a definite other. Angel isn’t because he has Angelus – good/bad are separate. With Spike they come in the same package. For me, this is why he needs the soul. It doesn’t necessarily “add” anything spiritual to him but it does provide a dividing line between presoul/souled Spike. In S6 he must be constructed as "dirty, evil thing" - as wrong - in order for her to define herself as the opposite. In 7 she comes to the awareness that it's neither she nor Spike who is "wrong" but the system underpinning definitions of right/wrong. It's why I get so annoyed about "Buffy's depressed". As @flow noted in an earlier post, there's no formal diagnosis of depression made in the programme. She's not clinically depressed so why pathologize her condition? What we call depression can sometimes be a reasonable response to an unreasonable situation. It's not the person who's wrong - it's the system. In 7 she sets out to change the system - not Spike. She knows that - with her support - Spike has the inner strength to change himself - if the system will allow it. This is why she takes chances with him and this is why she ultimately forgives the AR (but - importantly doesn't forget it).

Okay – I’m embarrassed about putting this out there because I’ve vastly oversimplified. If I went into more detail it would encompass the memento mori and the killing of the mother/Nikki but that's an article in its own right. but this is where I'm coming from in general (hence the digression - "cough, cough") and with the ring specifically - it draws attention to the abject. Moreover - it bridges the gap. Usually we use rituals etc to defuse the abject by making it taboo. Here it's an abject thing that attests to a social compact (betrothal). I did rewatch Something Blue and what I took from it wasn't just the ring (or the cookies) but this.


  • Riley: The wedding. What wedding?
    Buffy: My wedding! I'm getting married — can you believe it?
    Riley: I don't think "no" is a strong enough word.
    Buffy: I know! It's crazy! I mean, we fought for all these years, and then.. Sometimes you just look at someone, and you know.. You know?
    Riley: No..
    Buffy: I think maybe we fought because we couldn't admit how we really felt about each other.
    Riley: (Confused) Can we start again?
    Buffy: You'll really like him. Well, nobody really likes him..
    Riley: I just need to clear a few things up..
    Buffy: I don't even really like him..
    Riley: Buffy..
    Buffy: But.. I love him. I do.
Some of this will feed into S7 (Touched; her explanation to Amanda in Potentialss) but I think "I love him" is right. She finds herself inexplicably attracted to him - there's a physical connection. What S5, 6 and 7 become is not a journey towards love but towards like and - as Giles points out - she relies on him and he relies on her (it's more complicated than this but the post is long enough for now!). In fact, much of Something Blue feeds into 7 - particularly Giles' lack of vision.
 
Curious Pathos
Curious Pathos
Of course, the symbolism can be there without it, but it would have been a cool backstory and make the two TV shows feel a bit more connected.

Spuffy freak

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I am very bad at finding symbolism but there is a question I want to ask that might fit under this topic. Similar to cookie scenario Spike said that best night(happiest moment) of his life was the night spent with Buffy in touched and he did mention regardless of having sex when they had mind-blowing sex in the past it was still the best night of his existence whilst Angel's was the first night he had sex with Buffy. So was it a deliberate jibe at Spuffy VS Bangel from the creators or these two situations did not have any connection what so ever? Or was it there just to show that Spike's soul is not breakable like Angel and he can have happy moments without losing his soul?
 

TriBel

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I am very bad at finding symbolism but there is a question I want to ask that might fit under this topic. Similar to cookie scenario Spike said that best night(happiest moment) of his life was the night spent with Buffy in touched and he did mention regardless of having sex when they had mind-blowing sex in the past it was still the best night of his existence whilst Angel's was the first night he had sex with Buffy. So was it a deliberate jibe at Spuffy VS Bangel from the creators or these two situations did not have any connection what so ever? Or was it there just to show that Spike's soul is not breakable like Angel and he can have happy moments without losing his soul?

"It was the best night of my life" is also the phrase he uses to describe the killing of his first Slayer so, IMO, I think the answer is more complicated. It is all of the things you say plus - it lays to rest (I think) the turning and slaying of his own mother. In my mind the guilt he felt over what happened to his mum led him to hate his mum (what she said killed/slayed the good boy that William was) AND hate himself (he was the Slayer who staked his mum). It's this - I think that caused the tension between him and Buffy. I think he (unconsciously) feel in love with Buffy when he first saw her because she reminded him of his mum (there's nothing odd about this and the actress they cast to play his mum was deliberately chosen because she looked like an older version of Buffy). It was the Slayer part of her that he couldn't reconcile with being a vampire. (I think it was the same for her - in AYW she says "Tell me you love me" and apologises to William later. She can't reconcile being the Slayer with loving a vampire but Buffy can love William). From Potentials onwards I think they both actively work towards this reconciliation and Touched is the moment all aspects of their identity come together. Does this make sense? It also refers us to that stupid "Shut your mouth Spike you bloody idiot!:eek:" moment in Wrecked "I knew the only thing better than killing a slayer would be f-". He/they can love without f------.

As an interesting aside - I've just accessed Fool for Love and she locates being a slayer in her physical attributes "I'm in the best physical shape of my life" - just as he locates his "love" in the physical. It's also interesting that there is a parallels between Touched and FFL I think Touched is the high point of the revolutionary message the text is sending and in FFL Angelus says "Let's get out of here. This rebellion's starting to bore me". Yay! He's as reactionary as I thought he was. :p

TBH, I think there's something in Angel's life he hasn't reconciled yet. It will be interesting to find out what happens when he does.

PS - I think we need a thread on parallels next!
 
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