The issue opens with Tumble and Anaheed deciding that they want Buffy to stay with them, then discovering she's already moving out. Buffy and Spike are conversing atop his spaceship, first about her staying with him, then about her impending abortion.
She asks if he called the doctor; he says her appointment is for tomorrow but he can change it. "No, I need to do this," she says. "It'll be one thing I don't mess up."
Dowling and his partner are in the car, answering a radio alert about "possible vampire involvement". She asks if he learned anything on his ride-along with Spike and he answers by revealing that he has stakes in the glove box. We see that Spike's ship is in the sky, following the car.
Back inside the ship, Buffy's moving her clothes into a tiny closet. Spike asks if she meant it when she said that she'd run away with him if she were going to have the baby. She replies, "We would have just ended up in some apartment just like this. Cramped. Dingy. Slightly less steampunk. And definitely sans the molting legs." Then, "If I was going to flout every Slayer instinct in my body, who better to do it with than you? But it never would have worked."
He counters by reminding her that he was good with Dawn when Buffy was down, and she touches his arm and says that if she were trying to have a normal life, he'd be exactly what she was running away from. Spike storms out, complaining that she only goes to him for help out of a jam, as Buffy facepalms. His mood isn't improved when his phone rings - it's Dowling, saying he found a nest.
Cut to Dowling and his partner (really wish I could remember her name). She wants to wait for backup, he picks up a bloody badge on the ground and says "This was our backup. But wait - where are the men..." He's attacked. The men have apparently been sired.
I'm not sure about the precise setting of this scene. There's a tower, and a statue of a man in a cape. Spike, directing his bugs, calls it "that bloody park with the fire nozzle sticking out of it." He returns to Buffy, who's stymied by the European sockets in her room, and tells her he's off to help Dowling. She wants to come, he demands she stay: "Until you don't go through with it [the abortion], you're persona non Slayer."
Dowling's zompires appear to have killed his partner. He flees to the tower. Spike's ship is now hovering over, and he leaps out and gets to work on the zompire mob (there are about twenty total). Dowling watches from a window near the top of the tower, terrified. The zompires are scaling it, and he's got a stake in his hand, rehearsing what he's learned: "Pointy end out. Aim for the heart."
Buffy, watching from the ship, asks a bug to get close to the tower. She's holding a stake, too. Spike's still on the ground fighting, but the zompires have made it up the tower and through the window, and one of them grabs Dowling. He looks like a goner until Buffy climbs in and grabs his leg. She holds onto him - or possibly swings him - so that he can whip his stake around and kill the one who's holding him. "That was my first slay," he says proudly, and Buffy replies, "Won't be your last." The zompires are closing in again.
The ship is right above them. Dowling asks when Buffy and her vampire boyfriend decided to play spaceship. She says, "Spike's not my boyfriend. Did he say that?" Dowling says it's obvious that the vampire's in love with her, and Buffy tells him to get on the ship.
She leaps down from the tower to help Spike. Between the two of them, the horde is soon dust, and Buffy immediately asks if it's true that he's still in love with her. He doesn't want her to make him say it when everyone else has already worked it out. She says, "You know I'm terrible at everything that doesn't end with slaying...why didn't you tell me?" He touches her belly and says, "'Cause you had bigger problems and you needed my help."
Then he turns from her and says he shouldn't have thought that things had changed between them, and he's leaving once he knows she's okay. He doesn't want to be "the dark place you run to when things aren't working." That's not why he fought for his soul, stood up for her, and is hanging around now. "You stayed here for me?" asks Buffy, and he confirms it.
Spike touches her chin, looks into her eyes, and says, "I can give you what you need. I want normal, too. And I want it with you."
There's a loud crunch. Buffy screams. A lone zompire has attacked and ripped off her arm - which, we see from the cables dangling from it and her socket, is robotic. Spike stakes the zompire and is left holding the arm, which is still grasping a stake. Buffy, stunned, asks if that's her arm; Spike says that's the least of their worries. She has, as he says, gone mechanical.
Dowling is safely with the bugs on the ship; they receive a request for a pickup from Spike. The ship descends.
Buffy's examining the arm. She doesn't understand; insisting that she's herself and not a robot. Spike says he knows his way around a Buffybot, and she definitely is one. Buffy contemplates that this means she's not pregnant, but she quickly returns to reacting to being a robot. The issue ends on her astonishment.
I do a lot of blogging in my head, usually about things that haven't happened yet. Just in case they do happen, I'll be ready. Before I read this issue, the reviews that my head was working on covered two possibilities: a) "I can't believe I was right! Angel's the father and Buffy's going to go through with having the baby and everything will be perfect forever!" and b) "This will be my last review, as the series has been handled so poorly that I can no longer support it in good conscience." Rationally I knew that these were severe extremes and neither would happen, but I still wasn't really prepared for the third possibility to be so utterly distant from both.
I can't come right out and say that I like it for the shock value alone. I do like that it shocked me, but I feel like these comics are picking up a little bit of Robert Jordan syndrome - we keep reading in hopes of resolution, but instead we get more threads that need resolution. It's jarring. Every issue I pick up is like the first issue of a new series.
Buffy's a robot. How did she not know? Unless we're dealing with a particularly sophisticated robot, she can't have bodily functions...wait. Ted did. But I just can't credit Andrew with being able to build a Ted. But it had to be him. But but but.
Anyway, my preferred explanation is that the switch came quite recently - and I'm saying switch because I believe this is Buffy's mind which has been transferred into a robot ("Only you could lose your own body" somewhat confirms this). I'll take a look through back issues, but I don't have a guess yet for when it could have been done, and certainly not for how or why. But her body is out there, missing, and most likely still pregnant. And Andrew has something to do with it. Blech.
Moving on. Buffy and Spike think that they're having a conversation. (Haha! I just remembered that when the
It's this conversation that, for many readers, most likely provides the payoff that I felt was missing. Understandably. I can imagine that some of the lines in it are eerily close to years-old Spuffy fanfiction. And now I have to go to work so I'm putting this entry up without finishing it. I'll come back for edits later.
You know what, I'm not even going to perform my usual trick of deconstructing the Spuffy scene until it's crystal clear that Spike's still an ass and Buffy still doesn't love him. The dialogue is there on the page for us to take what we want from it, and if this scratches someone's long-term itch, great. I'm just glad that their relationship is moving along. At this pace it might get its much-needed resolution before the season ends.
One complaint, though: Spike brings up something like looking after Dawn while Buffy was dead and it makes my skin crawl. You're a changed man, Spike, remember? Arguments about how awesome you were without a soul do not work in your favor. (On a related note, but not a particularly relevant one, I'm still figuring out how I feel about a certain shooting script that all but convinced me that Spike's deliberate acquisition of a soul was a retcon, and now he brags about fighting for his soul and all I can do is try to talk myself back into believing that it happened that way, because the alternative is just too awful.)
And one observation: Buffy knew that Spike was still in love with her. The bit about how she couldn't work it out herself because it didn't involve slaying was a cop-out, and everything else about that conversation was Spike monologuing: Buffy's only contributions were prompts for him to continue. It's easy to see why she would approach the problem like this, but she's been leaning pretty heavily on "I suck at everything but slaying!" since the first issue of the season, and if someone doesn't call her on it soon I'm going to start thinking that we're meant to believe it's true.
Get with the program, S9. Limits are for lesser people. Buffy can do whatever she wants.