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October 23 2003

Steve DeKnight on 'Hellbound'. The writer and director of last night's episode wanted you to either love or hate it. So which camp do you belong to? Post your reviews and let us know what you thought of the Spike episode.

A quick glance at the usual places and most people seem to have really enjoyed it.

Overall, I must say that I enjoyed this episode. I have been entirely too impatient concerning Spike's lack of "solidity" but I feel as though things are going to develop rather well...I am still worried as to whether or not the new format is really going to bring in enough new viewers to appease the WB execs...But if the ratings hold at least through sweeps we might be lucky enough to see a season six...

Now, concerning the episode...

Some really good dialogue. Spike's dialogue continues to be sharp and witty but laden with English slang that still makes me wince at times...He doesn't ALWAYS have to say love when speaking to a girl, okay?

I am really looking forward to the middle of the seasonand ... By then, ME will be able to focus back on the core group (or what is left of them). I've been watching season 2 repeatedly over the last couple of weeks and I can truly say that I miss the group dynamic that Angel, Cordy, Wes, and Gunn displayed in the first couple of seasons...I feel that much of that has been lost in the last two seasons and especially through the first four episodes of season five.
Not in my usual place(s), Simon. Though the response there was more 'meh' than 'ugh'.

I started doing other stuff about halfway through - found it slow and rather tedious and not at all scary. Looking forward to an episode that's more about Angel. Or Wesley. Or Lorne.
I agree, prolific, with the "meh" reaction (sorry Steve). Wasn't scary just tediously grotesque. Not to mention it had "Ghost" written all over it..I was waiting for the Shadows to come drag Spike away or for Unchained Melody to chime in during the last Spike/Fred scene (which I thought was the saving grace of the ep...a nice, sincere scene).

Oh and since Big Sis is off the air, "Buffy" ,it seems, is no longer a 4-letter (err 5-letter) word, as this episode demonstrates..as well as the new Buffy/Angel block on WB Sunday.
Well I'll go against the crowd, I loved it! I thought it had a really great classic horror flick kind of feel. I thought the imagery was great, and I loved James Marsters. He did a great job with those 'trying to convince myself and you this isn't creepy' lines.
I also liked the episode, I never get tired of Spike, he's always got the funniest lines,"Done cuttin your feelers off in the basement?".....cracked me up. And the noise of the cutting off of the fingers was really freaky once you saw what the noise was. Not scary, but certainly creepy in parts. Those "wiggly head" shots reminded me of Jacobs Ladder, which was real freaky. I didn't much care for the serial killer guy, he was definately not scary. I would like to see Spike materialize, and start fighting with the gang. (If they ever start fighting again). All in all, I'm enjoying the new season, but I think it has lost something. They were always together, you know, sort of a unit. Now they all seem separated from one another. Feels kind of cold
All in all I thought the episode was really good, but I keep getting pulled out of the story by things like Spike's dialogue - no one seems to have his "voice" right yet. And his make-up was awful! Are they trying to make him "ghost" white or what? Hopefully, that will be corrected soon.

However, I loved that Fred is NOT falling for Spike or vice-versa, their friendship is good, sacrificing yourself to save the world because of your love for someone then having another crush 30 days later is just flipping WRONG!

And Fred's response to Wesley's "on one condition - dinner" statement. Priceless. I could feel Wesley's heart break a little more before he covered and told her to eat something. Clearly, she's not going to just move from Gunn to Wes easily. If at all.

I'm also not one with the idea that either Spike or Angel will "go to hell". The soul that goes to another place after death was not in the bodies of these two when they did the things that would send them there, so why would they burn? Besides, it's not "hell" in the Buffyverse, it's a "hell dimension".
I think the episode was okay, not great but not bad either. There was too much pseudo tech babble from Fred. Last season she became somewhat 'mature', but now she's just the crazy science nerd again. The scene with her and Spike at the end was very nice.
The most shocking thing for me was not the violence, but that Angel believes he's going back to hell.
if Angel starts going the way of latter Buffy with too much Spike & not enough of the other characters I will be quite torn about whether to keep watching... a little Spike goes a long way imho
I agree with Cris, as far as Angel and Spike's souls. The soul part of them was elsewhere during their respective evil big bad phases. According to Buffyverse mythology it wasn't them but a demon that was controlling their bodies, what do Angel and Spike's souls have to pay for in hell if they were elsewhere?
I also thought of Jacobs Ladder, actually I thought of it when I saw the preview last week...I enjoyed the ep. Did NOT think of GHOST at all. It was quite creepy, the sounds most of all I think. I thought it it was very intense. I don't think the entire season will be Spikecentric. They just have to get him back from dust without making his sacrifice seem silly (or so sais Joss). I thought the group came together as a unit fairly well. Even before they really believed Spike was more than crazy they seemed to be coming together without all the distrust they've had of each other in the past few eps. I also liked/was surprised by Angels confession that he's sure he's going to Hell. I think that helped Spike deal as well. I also like that Fred knows she's being played, what Spike is really like.

[ edited by tkent on 2003-10-23 15:40 ]
It may be "hell dimension," Cris, but just plain "hell" sounds better. More archaic, less camp. I can dig the truncation.
I liked it best of the aired eps so far.

I thought that girl spook with the stump arms was very scary. And I loved the little discussion between Spike and Angel. I think James Marsters is doing great with the "scared Spike" theme, and even though I know he won't be a ghost for long, I think he's doing a really good job with the limitations so far.

And hey, didja notice? They dimmed the lights!!
I enjoyed it thoroughly, although I've got to say I miss Wes and Lorne; we're seeing way too little of them. Good thing we've got a good Lorne ep coming up next week and (watch out for mini-spoiler)...

a Wes-centric ep after that.

At any rate, I found much to love with 5.4: The S/A conversation on the couch ("You like Barry Mannilow" Hee!); Fred brushing off Spike's charms and "dishiness," and yet finding him worthy of being saved; Gunn and the panther; some nice spooky bits (finger chopping! *twitch* ).

Good stuff. :)
I too liked this episode the best of the season so far.
My biggest reservations are also about the Spike/Angel going to hell thing. My reservations are not that they would think so, that's a character thing. I just hope the writers aren't trying to say that they think those two really would go to hell. I'm not sure where they would go, but I don't buy the idea that they can't be fully redeemed for, like has been mentioned by some of you above, things that they didn't even really do. Even if it had really been them...
(For that matter, I also believe that once you're forgiven for something you're forgiven, that's that, done deal. Which means I have issues with the whole premise of Angel. But that's another discussion that I don't want to go into any further right now ;))
But it's not totally clear to me whether that is what the writers are trying to say. That portal that was trying to suck Spike in? Well, it was the 'Reaper' guy who calls it hell, maybe it really is just a portal to a hell dimension, like Connor went through to get to Quartoth.
Also found Angel's belief that he's going to go to hell anyway quite a surprise. The revelation came in the same conversation where Spike brought up the Shanshu prophecy to Angel, and Angel dismissed the prophecy as bull. The realization that there is another vampire with a soul, and that the prophecy may not be meant for Angel after all, has almost certainly bummed Angel out. He's had that belief in his upcoming humanity for about 3 years or more. It's the one thing he's always looked forward to, and he always saw it as his redemption. Maybe that's why, now that that future is uncertain, Angel sees hell in it. Maybe Angel equated the idea of becoming human with the idea of being forgiven at last, it was his idea of being worth heaven.

Just a little bit more to add, and then I promise I'll stop. :)
I too, loved the last scene with Spike and Fred, but I'd like to add that I loved all of their interaction in this episode. It's nice to see somebody besides Buffy actually caring about Spike, and he was clearly moved when she said he was "worth saving."
I also liked the part where Spike asked Fred for a hug. Cute. :P
I vote somwhere between "meh" and "uneven". It certainly didn't merit all the pre-hoopla, IMHO. None of the tortured souls were that disturbing, IMO, at least not after the first time we saw them. The glass in the eye thing was about the creepiest, at least till the character started whining, "It hurts, it hurts..."

And the pacing was bizarre-it dragged and dragged for the first half hour, plodded, really, with a few jolts of life, then hit a good stride around the midpoint and for the most part, delivered a solid second half.

Though Pavayne was great (where have I seen that actor before?! It's bugging me!) and the premise re him staying out of hell was wonderful and he was creepy and what they finally did to him was truly creepy/chilling.

I think moving spike along to the point where is he now re his corporeality is a good thing - it's a good device for use in future eps.

I though the interaction between Fred and Spike was very good as well-those two have some decent chemistry . Not necessarily sexual but chemistry nonetheless.

the rest is the meh. just how much are we going to get of angel vs. spike nyahhh nyaah nyahh for the rest of the season? It's a one-note routine. Let them try to kill each other or let them come to a new understanding/respect but please no more of the "what, are you 12?-worthy" sniping back and forth. I cringe at the idea of this dragging on till sweeps...
The best one so far. I liked the horror elements, just enough gore to creep you out. I will probably complain all season about the special effects looking cheap and the same sets being used over and over(to save money no doubt). I know it was neccesary to cut the budget to keep the show on but it still bothers me, it's kinda like seeing "Star Wars" done on a "Land Of The Lost" budget.
I'm thankful all us hetero males only had to see a bit of James Marsters thigh and not his butt cheeks. More of Amy Acker and less steam would have been nice.
The dialogue was near perfect, I agree the british slang was a bit heavy. I liked the scene with Spike and Angel where they use each others christian names. More back story between those two would be great.
I want to address this idea of damnation and forgiveness. Fundamentalists say that if someone like Adolph Hitler apologized to god before he died he would go to heaven but since the Buddha didn't "know Christ" he's burning in hell. I don't want Angel to get too deep into theology(especially of the christian kind) but I like to think of it this way: If someone raped and murdered your sister but then spent the next 20 years washing the sores of lepers should he still burn in hell? This is what Angel and Spike were talking about.
Liked it with qualifications, all of them discussed by various folks above.

But we loved Spike and Angel as The Bickersons...hysterical...
In my opinion it was a great episode, this season, with slight exception of last week (good, not great), is getting better every week. The scenes with Spike walking around the building were very well done, the blinking lights, the chopping sounds were brilliant.
The scene with Spike and Angel 'hanging' was excellent, and a necessary light moment to an otherwise dark episode.
Also (spoilers maybe) Spike was finally introduced to the shanshu prophesy.
Still pissed about the advertising, "contains partial nudity" played over Fred in the shower, and all we bloody got was Spike. After season six of Buffy the warning should be "spike wears clothes"
Gotta go with Chris on Spike & Angel. Loved it when Angel admitted that he liked Spike's poetry.

Angel has a great loneliness this season. Without Connor, he seems cut loose from everything that could matter to him. Was shocked to hear him say he doesn't believe in the prophecy anymore but if I had lived through his last two year, I don't hink I would either.
The Angel/Spike conversation gave us a really good idea where Angel is at this point. It's going to be very interesting to see where Angel ends up by the end of the season. He's lost hope in the prophecy, he's running the fine line of defeating evil yet maintaining a balance and he has (yet again) given up something that mattered to him the most: Connor. No wonder why he doesn't believe in the prophecy. That scene also showed how Angel feels about fighting the good fight: do you do because there is a nice shiny prize at the end of the tunnel or do you do it because you want to? It's about choices, to quote a famous vampire slayer. What choice will Angel make? I've been reserved about where this season is going. I hope that ME will continue to do what they do best: deal with the internal conflicts of the characters...
I hate to say it, but Spike's arc should have ended on Buffy. He dies saving the world - voila! - one redeemed vampire. Whether or not he then heads to the happy place can be left up to your imagination. But to see him all scatterbrained and hallucinating as he was at the start of Buffy season 7 just feels forced. He's my favorite character and his journey is over. Let the boy die.
Good point todd, except that Spike isn't scatterbrained OR hallucinating. Did you even watch the episode last night?
Yeah I thought I might get crap for that comment. You are correct. I was more referring to him being taunted by spectors that no one else could see. My beef is more with the principle of seeing that sort of behavior repeated, if only for a moment. You get the gist.
Todd without Spike Angel would not have been renewed.
Two points Todd.
One, as Linda said, no Spike, no season 5.
Two, if he weren't going to crossover, I don't think he would have died in Buffy, his death, while on the one hand a noble one (spike thought it WAS the end), was also a device to get him to Los Angeles.
Lisi mentioned above that the gang no longer feels like a unit and Simpleba said he missed the group dynamic and I totally agree with both of you. Although, it seems like it could lead to a running theme for the season. Fred and Lorne passing each other in the hall without so much as a glance and the exchange between Fred and Wesley shortly after, and in earlier episodes Gunn being made into a completely new person, and Angel's isolation from the group- we are definitely meant to feel the separation. It seems a little reminiscent of Buffy S4, the gang thrown into a new and somewhat scary environment and forced to explore it each individually. They inevitably ended up resenting one another for not being there but then realized they needed to come together to defeat the Big Bad. Spike was the catalyst in Buffy S4 for the group's resentment and ultimately their reconciliation, maybe he will play a similar role with the Fang Gang.
Karen, great point. I hadn't thought about how much this is like BtVS season 4.
Loved the episode. Loved Spike. Even skinny-little-science-nerd Fred seemed to have more sex appeal in her scenes with Spike. But then James Marsters makes everyone with whom he has a scene look good. Kudos to Steven DeKnight.
I agree with the "meh" opinion of the episode. Some moments had me cringe.. the 'scary' element wasn't really there. But the quick shots of Spike in barbed wire was interesting.

After the .. darn whats the name.. the girl who was trying to contact Spike but got the other guy instead? Anyway, after that.. everyone thinking it was Spike, irritated me. But then Wes mentioned his theory that it wasn't Spike and I shouted at the tv ("thank gawd someone has a brain") of course other than Fred. It was just peevy that Fred was the only one believing in Spike. They guy saved the whole world, how many times will they have to say that so Angel gets it eh?

Two last points.. 1) I too enjoyed knowing that Angel liked Spike's poetry, that was a nice touch.

2) What was Wes doing when Fred came in with her list? Was he looking at something in his desk? Hmmmmmm. ;)
Meh-ish indeed. As for not getting Spike's 'voice' - I think that's something they've been incapable of doing since S5 on Buffy. I understand the whole redemption thing, but I think that Spike could have remained Spike (Rough, edgy, witty) and redeem himself at the same time. Instead we got someone who mopes around and says 'bloody' while vogueing for the camera. I bet the kids from 'Lie To Me' would've LOVED new-school Spike.

I appreciated the attempt at getting into the mythology of Wolfram and Hart - it's something that ME has always excelled at but for some reason failed to pursue for AtS. I guess the characters already had their own back stories to be developed. Even a mythology for the PtB or Shanshu would've been nice, but instead they were relegated to being plot devices.
I liked it, though if I was Clive Barker I might be looking for royalties.

Meanwhile Angel descends even further into the moral quagmire..

And if Mutant Enemy had more a budget, we'd seen the relevant flashbacks instead of the couch scene (amusing as it was).
I thought this ep was okay. I expected more, but I did like the "darkness" of the thing. Lighting was better. I too was surprised by Angel's talk of hell awaiting him and dissing the Shanshu Prophecy. I hope they are not setting up Spike as the fulfiller...(is that even a word?)...Could there be two??? :) Maybe when Wesley read the prophecy it was plural and not singular "vampires with souls".....lol...a girl can hope!!!
I found the episode boring and tedious. I kept looking at my clock and sighing cause it wasn't 10pm yet. Plus, I kept switching to the BAchelor and that my friends is a sign of boredom.

If I wanted to watch a show about Spike having a soooouuuul(FRed, say that one more time, and I'm gonna rip out your tongue), I can tune into FX and watch Buffy season 6 and 7. Matter-a-fact, If I wanted to see James Marsters nekkid for the umphteenth time, hey... I can tune into FX. Right about now, the OC is looking very much entertaining
*Snore* Spike Sucks. Sorry.
I gotta say I don't understand why people can apparently read 35 posts about "Angel" but can't actually watch all of "Angel". A little bit like enjoying the finger pointing at the moon but apparently hating the moon, if you follow my Zen proverb.

Anyhow, I was in the "meh" to "pretty good" camp. I'm a bit squeamish, so the glass in the eye and the finger chopping scene was good practice for "Kill Bill" (why is it so much worse to see a character do it to himself than to see someone else do it?)...btw, I think the sound effects was actually lettuce being sliced. Or maybe an onion. Otherwise, it suffered slightly from the neccessary slow-pace of a horror film without being super-duper scary, but otherwise was a decent, but not great, episode. Still, they get credit for trying something a bit differnt

Re: the whole soul business. Here I thought I was the only one who was bugged by this, but several people mentioned it here and Peter David has a problem with it, too.

My suspicion/hope is that the point here may be that that the Buffyverse -- which is decidely not a strictly Judeo-Christian one (one of the reasons the Christian fundamentalist right so despises these shows) -- is intended to be inherently unfair in some respects; perhaps a reflection of the Christian fundie belief that, say, all Jews, Muslims and even more so Hindus, Buddhists and especially pagans, etc., no matter how kind and virtuous are going to Hell which I find frankly deeply repulsive, evil actually. But what if it were, nevertheless, true? It's a fascinating idea that's been played with before (the movie, "The Rapture" comes to mind). We'll see what develops.

The ending, while again, more or less completely justified, may also be a continuation of the further "beiging" of Angel this year. In any case, there seems to be a trend developing where, at the end of every episode, Angel does something just a little bit extra hard or vengeful or even unneccessary. It's something to keep watching for.
I watched it again (surprisingly, I thought this was one I'd not touch again) and saw a few bits I apparently missed during first viewing (when boredom set in and I went to make tea, or surf, or something). Anyway, I enjoyed the part with the medium. Now there's a character I could get into - she was pretty cool. Um... did she die?

Still thought it dragged a bit, and I agree with the poster that talked about Spike's dialogue. Really, give him a wider vocab, please - dropping in words like blighter and bloody every other minute isn't going to make him sound British. And the whole 'Just wanted to... 's all' thing? Getting a bit old. I think I could get back into Spike if he were just... Spike. (And if he held back on the scenery chomping just a little) They way they used to write him. You know, like a real character. I don't know, was that ALL Whedon's influence on the earlier seasons?

If they're not going to give Tony Head a role, perhaps they can bring him in as British dialogue advisor. Or hey, just ask Denisof, he seems to have a handle on it what with having lived in England for 15 years.

That shot of Fred's behind and legs in the almost see through dress early on in the show was more disturbing than the glass-in-eye woman.

But hey, I really did like the medium.
I liked this episode. I am a bit slow off the mark as I just finished watching it now. I don't have a problem with the overuse of the British slang so much as the improper use ("drive him starkers"?? uh.. right).

I found the spooks to be very creepy but then I scare easily and am not a big horror fan. Hush totally freaked me out! Anyway, I thought the episode was great and I have to agree with the chemistry comment between Fred and Spike. But please! keep it platonic! :)
the episode was very good, lived up to my expectations so i'm neither dissapointed nor surprised. i think "hellbound" was more for the new ppl who have started following AtS, some kind of a warning, for the lack of a better word, of how dark this show can be, something others are familiar with since S2. good "setting up" epi.

i hope that the writers don't screw up the portrayel of the group's decaying dynamics like last year's BtVS S7, in which the character interaction sucked beyond my tolarence. i mean i hope wes doesn't become "invisible" giles...etc. and gunn better stop blurting out legal info out of the blue, it just seems fake and forced! however, i really admire fred's growth into the assertive memeber of the group, who actually still remembers why the gang got into all of this in the first place.

also, the fang gang better be cautious, w&h is not as powerful/secure as it was portrayed to be, the sweeps didn't detect the ghosts's presence, which i find very strange given all the resources/shamans/mystics in the bldg.

did anyone else notice the references (intentional?) to that movie marsters appeared in for like 5 min, house on haunted hill or whatever, w/ geoffery rush? i ABOHRED that movie, but the quick shots of spike with the blood and pavayne's confinment "chamber" are too reminicient of the movie, but worked nicely.

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