Buffy angrily starts throwing clothes into drawers, but Giles isn't finished with the conversation. He stands next to her and confides, "Buffy, I want more for you." Oh, god, and I did too, but then she started seeing Marti and everything went downhill. Give up, Giles. Walk away. Dozy Buffy can have her platinum consort, and they can be mediocre, vapid, emotionally manipulative, and abusive freaks together, and you're best off washing your hands of both of them like I have. And I promise you, one day you'll wake up and not even care anymore. Not that I've gotten to that point yet, but I feel it right around the bend. Giles feels that Spike will bring Buffy a "future filled with pain" and that her feelings for him are "coloring [her] judgment." Buffy sighs and turns to him, exclaiming, "We haven't -- things have been different since he came back." Giles says the lack of rumpy-pumpy (well, not in those words) doesn't matter; it's the connection between them that's the problem. Buffy purses up her mean little mouth and snaps, "When Spike had that chip, it was like having him in a muzzle. It was wrong." Well, slap my ass and call me Sally! It was wrong? Was it wrong when it saved Willow's life, Buffy? Was it wrong when it saved that girl in the alley in Season Six? Was it wrong if it was the catalyst that led to all the changes in Spike? Oh, wait. I'd have to answer "yes" to that one. See, the problem with that line is that Buffy doesn't specify the time-frame in which it became wrong. I actually agree with her decision to have the chip removed, but if she means the chip has always been wrong, then she's an even more hateful assface than I ever realized. "You can't beat evil by doing evil. I know that." Well, you damn well should, what with all the time you spent doing evil last season, if you know what I mean. Buffy and her pissy ponytail stomp out of the room, and Giles ineffectually calls after her, "Yeah, well, so's your face!"
I can't even begin to articulate the contempt and anger that Xander's whole subplot and its humiliating ratings-grubbing stunt casting inspires in me, so I'm going to give these scenes the quickie treatment. Xander is watching a power-tool demonstration at a Home Depot-type place, and decides that he's inspired to become the biggest power tool in the joint. He spots a deformed girl -- I mean, "pop star Ashanti" over by a rope display, and decides to practice toolishness by walking over and offering up his rope-selecting services. Ashanti flirts. Xander acts like a freakin' moron. He finally asks her out for coffee. This scene is much shorter than I realized. The complete screaming pain it induced in me the first time around made me think it went on forever. And can I just complain about the direction and camera work in the past two scenes? In both of them, the majority of the conversation between the two characters was made up of spliced together close-ups of one person talking at a time. Close-up of Xander. Close-up of Pop Star Ashanti. Close-up of Xander. And so on. It really lends itself to the disturbing sensation that these people did not actually shoot the scene together, and are not, in fact, having a conversation at all. Some of SMG's close-ups were delivered right to the camera rather than to Giles. I can't understand why there are so few long shots of conversations on the show these days. Well, I understand in SMG's case, because I bet she thinks she's too good to actually act in the same room with the other actors on the show, but Nick Brendon and Ashanti? Was Ashanti pulling diva crap too?