It's easy to see why Spike got to me as hard as he did. And you know what's surprising? Just how much I empathize with Buffy this time around. I adore Willow, don't get me wrong, but her arrogance and hubris are oddly infuriating on this rewatch. Giles's speech about her getting lucky never rang as true as it did this time (which only has me hankering for his appearance at the end of the season, still my absolute favorite moment of his in the entire series).
Craig was reluctant to watch these episodes with me because he can't stand depressed Buffy, and I was kind of agreeing with him. But then we started and, seriously, my heart is breaking for her. What a truly awful place to be in.
The scene with Spike at the tree where he's confronting Xander about why Willow shut him out reminded me of one of the most haunting fics I ever read. It's called That Thing with Feathers by Fallowdoe. It's short and compelling, so if you haven't read it before, I highly recommend it. I mean, think about it. It's been thirteen years since I first read it. It's not even 2000 words long. And I *still* think about that short story from time to time.
I even went back and found my original review of it over at FFnet. This was what I said then, and I think it's still more than valid:
I had to read this through a couple times, because I finished it the first time in shock, my heart just on the floor.
This was absolutely rending, and painful, and so beautifully written. Thank you, even though I think my heart is still in tatters.