Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 5, Episode 7
Air date November 14, 2000
Written by Douglas Petrie
Directed by Nick Marck
Episode Guide
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Marc Blucas Riley
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
David Boreanaz Angelus
Mercedes McNab Harmony
Julie Benz Darla
Juliet Landau Drusilla
Kristine Sutherland Joyce Summers
Co Starring
Kali Rocha Cecily Addams
Edward Fletcher Male Partygoer
Katharine Leonard Female Partygoer
Matthew Lang 2nd Male Partygoer
Chris Daniels Stabbing Vampire
Ken Feinberg Chaos Demon
Steve Heinze Vampire #1
Ming Liu Chinese Slayer
April Wheedon-Washington Subway Slayer

"Fool for Love" is the seventh episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the eighty-fifth episode altogether. It was written by Douglas Petrie and directed by Nick Marck. It originally broadcast on November 14, 2000. It is also part of a crossover with the Angel episode "Darla".

After a common vampire nearly kills her with her own stake, Buffy, in an attempt to learn and prevent similar mistakes, turns to Spike to learn how other Slayers met their end.



In a routine patrol at the cemetery, Buffy fights with a vampire. Buffy has the upper hand, but when she attempts her killing blow, the vampire turns her stake around on her, and she is stabbed in the abdomen. She attempts to flee, but is cornered, and the vampire, wielding her stake, is about to finish her off, but Riley appears at that moment and fights him off before going to see to Buffy.

The next morning, Riley patches up Buffy's stab wound; the embarrassing circumstance of nearly being killed by a lesser vamp with her own stake is not lost on her, and leads Buffy to fear that she may be losing her edge despite Riley's reassurance. While Riley suggests she go to the hospital, Buffy feels it would only upset her mother, and her enhanced healing abilities will kick in soon enough. Dawn comes in to tell them Joyce is coming up, prompting Riley and Buffy to hide the gauze and medical supplies they were using. Joyce notices a bottle of rubbing alcohol and asks if they are disinfecting something, prompting Dawn to say it was hers. Buffy asks Riley to take the rest of the gang to sweep the cemetery that night.

Meanwhile, Buffy, wanting to learn and avoid future mistakes, does research with Giles to find out how previous Slayers died, but they are unable to find any useful information, mostly because past Watchers either found the subject too painful or were killed along with their Slayers.
File:Buffy Reading The Slayer Journals.jpg
Buffy remembers that Spike killed two, and confronts him in his crypt. Later, at The Bronze, she lays down ground rules: if he tells her what she wants to know, Spike gets a wad of money. Though initially resistant to giving her anything useful, Spike barters with her for a plate of spicy Buffalo wings, as he refuses to talk on an empty stomach. In doing so, Buffy inadvertently reveals her stab wound, leading Spike to annoy her further. Asked if he's always been this annoying, Spike says "I've always been bad."
File:507 FoolForLove2.jpg

London, 1880 - That assertion is belied, however, by the quiet, shy, rather foppish gentleman William used to be -- a young man who feels disconnected from others in British society. While at a society ball, he works on a love poem, looking for another word for "gleaming" ("a perfectly perfect word as many words go, but the bother is nothing rhymes, you see"), but his unfinished work is snatched from his hands and read out loud, to the rude amusement of the boorish crowd. William is dubbed "William the Bloody" because of his "bloody awful poetry". One listener declares that he would rather have a railroad spike through his head than hear more of William's poetry.

The poem reveals his feelings of love and adoration for a woman. He speaks with the object of his affection, Cecily, whom he has loved from afar. She does not care for him and, when he admits the poem is about her, she rejects him, telling him that she feels nothing for him, and that he is 'beneath' her. William, devastated, leaves the house in tears, bumping into a group of strangers (Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla) in the street. In a hay barn, he sits ripping up his love poems, when Drusilla appears before him. She asks what brought him to tears and comforts him by telling him that she sees his greatness and worth. She promises him a better future by her side, siring him after only minimal persuasion.

Back in the present, Riley and the gang find several vampires loudly and drunkenly reveling in a crypt, including the one who staked Buffy. They decide to return in the morning when all the vampires are asleep, rather than take on the entire nest awake. Spike plays pool while continuing his tale. After his siring, Spike was completely different. Tired of being left out by the world, he became empowered and destructive.

Yorkshire, 1880 - Angelus throttles William at the bottom of a coal mine, asking why they haven't killed him yet. William, now having adopted his distinctive accent and swagger, notes that he goes by the name 'Spike' now. Spike's strong tendency to incite mob riots simply for the joy of the fray is causing trouble for his new vampire family; his most recent hijinks resulted in their having to hide in an abandoned mineshaft. Angelus feels that Spike's uncouth behavior is putting them increasingly in danger from being hunted by angry mobs. Spike feels Angelus only engages in fights that he knows he will win, rather than fighting with zeal and veracity. Angelus prefers the artistry of killing, seeing it as separating them from being mere animals. Spike's insults finally cause Angelus to lash out viciously, and he very nearly stakes Spike before Spike notes that he has proved his point. The elder vampire notes that if he cannot teach Spike the error of his ways, someday an angry mob would; that, or the Slayer. Spike sits up, suddenly interested, and asks, "What's a Slayer?"

Spike explains to Buffy that thereafter, he became obsessed with finding and defeating the Slayer of that era. He notes, as the first lesson, that a Slayer must always reach for her weapon, but a vampire already has all the weapons he needs (he vamps out to demonstrate this). To illustrate this point further, he tells her of the first Slayer he killed.

China during the Boxer Rebellion, 1900 - Spike fights with the Chinese Slayer, and after a long battle, he kills her when she reaches for her stake that she had dropped during the fight. While Spike and Drusilla revel in the kill of the Slayer and the taste of her blood (which Spike declares to be a powerful aphrodisiac), Angelus seems distracted and suggests they leave soon, as the rebellion is boring him (only later, in the subsequent, corresponding episode of Angel, will we learn the real reason for his distraction: the recent return of his soul, a secret he had kept from all except Darla). Spike proudly claims that it was the best night of his life, "and I've had some sweet ones."


Buffy is disgusted at how he got off on it, but he counters that even if Buffy kills tens of thousands of vampires in her lifetime, all it takes to kill a Slayer is for one vampire to have "one good day", and that Buffy simply got complacent at the moment of truth. Meanwhile, Riley returns to the vampire nest alone, despite agreeing to wait. After staking the vampire that hurt Buffy, Riley blows up the rest of the vampires in the crypt with a grenade.

File:Spike Kills Nikki Wood.jpg
New York, 1977 - Spike tells Buffy how he killed the second Slayer (Nikki Wood). Spike and Buffy fight out a play-by-play of the battle, which took place on a subway train. Spike notes that this second Slayer was not all business like the first - she had an improvisational style more closely resembling Buffy's. After he snapped the Slayer's neck, he took her black leather coat for himself. Spike then explains that the key to his victories was not in the particular moves or blows; the key was that each Slayer has a death wish, a desire to experience death, after causing so much of it, additionally claiming that Buffy also has this wish, but has "ties to the world" that keep her anchored. They want to know what comes next, because they wish for a final peace after a lifetime of being solely responsible for protecting the world from demons. Spike explains that the second that that desire takes over, the Slayer will die, because there are countless vampires just waiting to take advantage of this, a conclusion that Buffy immediately rejects.

Spike and Buffy are standing almost nose to nose by this point, and Buffy quickly becomes shocked and confused when Spike comes on to her, trying to kiss her before grabbing her by the arms and challenging her to prove him wrong, claiming that he knows she wants to "dance". In response, a contemptuous Buffy pushes Spike to the ground and, echoing Cecily, says, "It wouldn't be you, Spike. It would never be you. You're beneath me." With this, Buffy throws the money at Spike and proceeds to simply walk off into the night.

Crying softly, Spike begins to gather up the scattered bills, but his feelings of sadness and humiliation are quickly overtaken by anger and hatred. Furious, Spike returns to his crypt and arms himself with a double-barreled shotgun, intent on killing Buffy for her final insult. Harmony begs him to reconsider his plan, because he has tried and failed so many times before. She reminds him that the chip in his head will not let him hurt a human, and the Slayer will only beat him up again, if not stake him outright. Spike retorts that his pain will last for a couple of hours, and Buffy will be dead much longer than that.


South America, 1998 - Drusilla turns away from Spike's devoted love because she cannot look at him without seeing and feeling the Slayer, after Spike and Buffy's original alliance against Angelus. In the background is a Chaos Demon, with huge slimy antlers, with whom Drusilla had been shamelessly flirting. She recognizes, long before Spike does, his feelings for Buffy, and rejects him because he is no longer the same creature that had satisfied her for so many years. He insists that he did it all for her, to protect her, because he loved her, but she cannot be convinced.

Buffy returns home, still shaken from the combined experiences of the last 24 hours, and finds her mother packing clothes and toiletries into a suitcase. She inquires where Joyce was going, and her mother explains that her health condition has worsened to the point that she is going to stay in the hospital for observation and a CAT scan. This final revelation is too much for Buffy, who retreats to her back porch in tears. At that moment, Spike approaches with his shotgun, full of resolve born of rejection and anger. However, he slows his pace when he sees that she is crying. Her pain stays his hand, his demeanor softens, and all his plans to shoot her are abandoned. He asks her what is wrong, and how he can help. She is surprised and confused at his reaction, and has no response, so he sets the gun down and takes a seat next to her on the porch. Spike, somewhat puzzled at his own behavior, hesitantly lays his hand on Buffy's back and gently comforts her; though visibly confused, Buffy makes no effort to stop him.


  • This is the second time Buffy is nearly killed by her own stake in her own hand. The first instance was in "Helpless".
  • The Boxer Rebellion scenes in China take place in 1900, two years after Angel regained his soul. While Angel's scenes with the rest of the group occur "off screen" in this episode, the crossover episode "Darla" of Angel - first aired later the same night - show the reason. The same exact dialog from Angel's point-of-view show that he isn't pleased when he finds out that Spike has killed a Slayer, even though from Spike's perspective Angel was praising him.
  • Spike says in "School Hard" that the last Slayer he killed (Nikki Wood) begged for her life. She is not shown begging here, which may indicate Spike was exaggerating, although the episode is structured as a flashback, with 1977 Spike addressing Buffy during the time she would have been begging. Given this blending of Spike's perception there is plenty of wiggle room for the supposed begging to have occurred in the actual timeline. In the Angel episode 'Damage' mentally ill Slayer Dana recalls the words of past Slayers and speaks with Nikki's voice, begging Spike to spare her and let her go home to her little boy.
  • Spike stated that Buffy would eventually want to die herself just like the other slayers he killed, to end the fear and uncertainty of every day possibly being her last. Spike's words would later prove correct about Buffy's "death wish" when she had fell into the early stages of her depression and part of her had wanted to die in "The Gift". She would also try to kill herself in "Once More, With Feeling".
  • As a vampire, William adopted the name Spike from his practice of torturing people with railroad spikes. This episode reveals the true origin of his these nicknames: one listener to William's poem in the flashback comments that he would rather have a railroad spike driven through his head than listen to any of William's poetry, and notes that William is referred to as "William the Bloody" because of his "bloody" awful poetry.
  • The poem snatched from William's hands and read out loud (to public ridicule) is a portion of the same poem ("effulgent") that Spike later reads (in its complete form) at the open-mike event in the series finale of Angel, "Not Fade Away". His reading of this poem was received with wild, enthusiastic applause from that audience. It also indicates a good memory on Spike's part, since he is seen tearing up the poem in 1880 and throwing it to the ground after being rejected by Cecily.
  • According to the non-canonical comic, Spike: Old Times, Cecily was actually Halfrek, a vengeance demon (and longtime friend of Anya), at the time of her meeting with William, and subsequently massacred the room of people who had laughed at his poetic efforts. Spike and Halfrek cross paths in "Older and Far Away", on which occasion she calls him William and he appears to recognize her -- and then both promptly act as if nothing had happened.
  • Spike takes the leather coat from Nikki Wood after he kills her. This is the jacket that Spike wears in almost every appearance from the start of Season Two until "The Girl in Question" when it gets destroyed in an explosion.
  • This episode shows Drusilla siring Spike, apparently contradicting the third episode of season two, "School Hard", in which Spike calls Angel his sire. Joss Whedon later verified that any vampire in a line can be referred to as a sire. Darla sired Angel, who sired Drusilla, who sired Spike – forming a "familial" line.
  • In "School Hard" Giles said that Spike was "barely 200", but in "The Initiative", Spike said that he was 126 years old. This episode definitively establishes that he was sired 120 years ago.
  • The second Slayer Spike kills, Nikki Wood, has a son named Robin, who later appears as Sunnydale High's new principal in the seventh season. In "Lies My Parents Told Me", we see him as a child witness an earlier fight between Spike and his mother, as well as try to get his revenge on Spike in the present day for his mother's death.
  • In this episode we see Spike killing Nikki Wood on a subway train, and in the episode "Lies My Parents Told Me," we see an earlier fight between them.
  • In Angel S.5 episode "Damage", Spike repeats the line "Sorry, love, I don't speak Chinese" when the escaped mental patient Slayer, Dana, begins channeling other slayers, including the one Spike killed in China.
  • It is revealed that Spike got the scar over his left eye (which actor James Marsters actually got when he was mugged in New York) in the sword-fight with the Chinese slayer. Why his vampire healing factor didn't repair the damage completely is not explained but it is suggested that the Chinese Slayer used some form of enchanted weapon which prevented this.
  • The scene in South America is in reference to "Lovers Walk". When Spike is drunkenly confiding in Willow, he mentions he caught Drusilla making out with a Chaos Demon. The Chaos Demon, matching Spike's description as "slime and antlers," is in the middle of the argument between Spike and Dru.
  • This episode marks the final appearance of Darla on the series.
  • In the graveyard scene Xander does not comprehend Riley's military hand signals suggesting that his knowledge from being transformed into a soldier in "Halloween" has completely faded.

Body Count

  • William (Spike), sired by Drusilla (in flashback)
  • Xin Rong, drained by Spike (in flashback)
  • Nikki Wood, neck snapped by Spike (in flashback)
  • One vampire, dusted by Riley
  • Vampire nest, killed in a grenade explosion by Riley



  • Sunnydale, California
  • London, UK (1880)
  • Yorkshire, UK (1880)
  • China, Boxer Rebellion (1900)
  • New York City (1977)
  • South America (1998)

Behind the Scenes

Pop Culture References

Fool for Love Behind Scenes

Filming/Behind the Scenes.

  • The episode is named after a play of the same title by Sam Shepard. The play's two protagonists, Eddie and May, struggle with an intense attraction to each other that disgusts them because they are brother and sister. They hate each other, yet cannot stay apart. As a result, they are doomed to be together, and therefore damned.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • Spike (or more accurately his stunt double) reflects off of the subway car's windows several times during his fight with the Nikki Wood.
  • At 8:19, as Giles says the "D-word," the glass front of the display case beyond his left shoulder reflects something moving off-camera, likely the boom operator maneuvering the boom microphone.
  • At 36:08, for several seconds the transmitter clipped to Spike's belt is visible.
  • As Act I opens and Buffy goes running off through the graveyard, the mast of the mobile lighting tower that is illuminating the scene is visible several times against the dark sky beyond the cemetery wall.
  • At 28:02, when the camera circles around Spike to pick up Buffy, you can see the tip of the boom microphone come into frame as well, bobbing above her head.



  • Ming Liu, the actress who plays the Chinese Slayer came back to Buffy in the final episode, playing one of the strong Slayers shown after Buffy stands back up after being stabbed. She is also credited as a stunt performer in Serenity.
  • This episode is Spike-centric.
  • The Boxer Rebellion flashback in this ep is a companion flashback to the one in the Angel episode Darla. While this half shows the portion with Spike and Dru, the other half shows Darla's interaction with Angel, just before the four vampires meet up.
  • On the DVD commentary, episode writer 'Doug Petrie' says that the scene in which Spike and Angelus are fighting and trying to stake each other while Darla and Drusilla look on with glee is a not-very-subtle allegory for female enjoyment of male homoeroticism.
  • The original title for this episode was going to be "Love's Bitch".
  • Writer Doug Petrie has just four days to deliver the script.
  • The denim jumpsuit Harmony is wearing in this episode would later be worn by Cordelia Chase in Angel episodes Belonging and Over the Rainbow.
  • The Boxer Rebellion scenes in this episode were directed by Tim Minear.
  • This episode is included in The Slayer Collection: Spike DVD.


Harmony - "The second you even point that thing at her you're gonna be all ... 'Ahhh!' and then you'll get bitch-slapped up and down Main Street."
Angel - "You can't keep this up forever. If I can't teach you, maybe someday an angry crowd will. That ... or the Slayer."
Spike - "What's a Slayer?"
Cecily - "Your poetry, it's...they're...not written about me, are they?"
Spike - "They're about how I feel."
Cecily - "Yes, but are they about me?"
Spike - "Every syllable."
Cecily - "Oh, God!"
Spike - "Oh, I know ... it's sudden and ... please, if they're no good, they're only words but ... the feeling behind them ... I love you, Cecily."
Cecily - "Please stop!"
Spike - "I know I'm a bad poet but I'm a good man and all I ask is that ... that you try to see me ..."
Cecily - "I do see you. That's the problem. You're nothing to me, William. You're beneath me."

Xander - "You know what he's like? He's like a cat. You know, a big jungle cat. How come I'm not like that? It's just so cool."
Willow - "I think you're cool."
Spike - The only thing about the dance is, you never get to stop. Everyday you wake up, it's the same bloody question that haunts you. Is today the day I die? Death is on your heels, baby, and sooner or later it's gonna catch you. And part of you wants it... not only to stop the fear and uncertainty, but because you're just a little bit in love with it. Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day. That final gasp. That look of peace. Part of you is desperate to know, what's it like? Where does it lead you? And now you see, that's the secret. Not the punch you didn't throw or the kicks you didn't land. She merely wanted it. Every Slayer... has a death wish. Even you. The only reason you've lasted as long as you have is you've got ties to the world. Your mum, brat kid sister, Scoobies. They all tie you here but you're just puttin' off the inevitable. Sooner or later, you're gonna want it. And the second - the second that happens, you know I'll be there. I'll slip in. Have myself a real good day. Here endeth the lesson. I just wonder if you'll like it as much as she did.
Buffy - Get out of my sight, Spike, now.
Spike - Oh... did I scare ya? You're the Slayer. Do somethin' about it. Hit me. Come on. One good swing. You know you want to.
Buffy - I mean it.
Spike - So do I. Give it me good, Buffy. Do it.{Spike tries to kiss Buffy}
Buffy - What the hell are you doing? {He grabs Buffy by the arms, his words coming in a breathless pant}
Spike - "Come on. I can feel it, Slayer. You know you want to dance."
Buffy - "Say it's true. Say I do want to. It wouldn't be you, Spike. It would never be you. You're beneath me."
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