I have to admit I'm disappointed. Not rant and rave hated it by any stretch, just disappointed. The season so far may have set my expectations too high...
It was nice to see Buffy admit that she believes in him, but it was anti-climactic for me, to say the least. I felt preached at by this episode, and they didn't manage to really engage me on an emotional level. I heard their words, and applaud the sentiment, but I didn't buy it, and it didn't feel shippy. It felt endy. She believes in him. Take your bones, folks, while you can. And I'm sorry, but the notion that Spike believes that she was with him b/c she gets off on pain and still does just doesn't work for me. Buffy's lines and direction were much more believeable than his here. JM did fine with what he had, and I was glad to see the real Spike for a while tonight. But he's always known her better than to think she's some kind of closet masochist. They're contradicting themselves with that. K. tells me she thinks he was trying to piss her off and thereby get her to kill him, but JM didn't deliver it that way. (sorry, the more I think about this, the more ticked off I get) Because I admit I was in an evil bitchy mood and terribly distracted while watching the Buffy basement scene, I'll give it a neutral score (rather than negative) on shippiness/romance/emotional tenor in this ep.
The squick factor was majorly high, so I'll award bonus points for horror in the ending scenes. That kind of torture I find painful to watch, and not just b/c it was Spike. Reminiscent of the STSP Willow flayage, actually.
Big negative points for the storyline (or possibly just the way it's being told) Their sense of pacing has for the first time this season fallen off the radar, IMHO. I've loved every ep thus far, and I don't hate this one. But very little got explained in this episode, and I don't have high hopes for explanations to come being complex enough to surprise or delight, though it could happen.
Human blood causing Spike's demon to react this way? I don't think so...never did before, say after Crush? Maybe the baddies have contaminated the blood supply, and it was the animal stuff they were giving him that freaked him out, but who knows...felt forced altogether.
As did the whole Wood thing. Obviously he's under FE's control, just like Spike with the grave digging. But why now? Is it just that he's the next pawn?
Really loved seeing Xander and Anya behave like the old scoobs. I always liked them together before the snackfest of S6, and this is one return to the beginning I'm on board for, without a doubt.
And where the fucl was Giles? Don't tell me Morphy's got him too...
Woohoo, blow up Watcher's Council. Now that's my kind of cool.
So, who's for rewatching the Harvest and Graduation to see what's coming up next? I really expected something more original than this, dammit. Maybe they'll twist it again in January (freakin' January!) and get me back on board. Right now, I'm sorely disappointed that they chose to leave what I think was til now the best season ever on this note for sweeps ending. Very disappointing. My at this moment disillusioned and not expecting originality or creativity from ME in January prediction: Giles reappears, the scoobs gather together and research how to defeat the First, somebody shows up to tell them about Spike being held captive and they go off to rescue him. When they get there, he's almost dead and being used in yet another gruesome ceremony -- maybe something to turn him into a 'real' vamp. That's probably what they're doing with the idiot blood subplot. They're tainting the blood supply to soup up the vamps. Perhaps we'll get a What's My Line redux and Dru will show up to save him with sire's blood. Except he dusts her, and they have to find another way. Slayer's blood? Yeah.
Sigh. I guess this is better than the sacrificial lamb story I was most afraid we'd get, but I'm not happy at the moment. Give me a week or two to think about it, though. I'll change my mind.
And btw--grumble grumble. NLM has made Moondance 4 ridiculous in hindsight. Sigh. Rewriting again.