Did nobody tell you that three's a crowd William? The last thing your new girlfriend wants as she prepares to take you on a lovey-dovey killing spree around Europe is mommy dearest cramping your style.
I just loved the sparkage between Wood and Spike. It's a shame that the Faith spin-off series never happened, as this would have apparently thrown D.B. Woodside and James Marsters together as the reformed Slayer's sidekicks. On the strength of their performances in this episode, this could have made for electrifying TV.
Lies is one of those rare things, a beautifully scripted and (on the whole) acted episodes that tells a tale that had to be told and tells it well. As soon as it was revealed that Principal Wood was a demon hunter and the son of a Slayer it became apparent that there was some deeper reason why he didn't like Spike and here we are told the reason why and much, much more.
The episode centres on two flashbacks, to the time when Spike killed Wood's mother and when Drusilla turned Spike into a vampire. The former is all rather Batman-esque – all dark shadows and dramatic music, while the latter owes a lot to Interview with the Vampire. The two contrast nicely and prepare us for a terrific showdown between Wood and Spike.
The spooky use of different renditions of the old folk tune Early One Morning is also effective, reminding this particular reviewer of the use of nursery rhymes in Sapphire and Steel. Unfortunately I suddenly remembered which show had used this tune before – Some Mother's Do 'Av 'Em, sung by Frank Spencer. Fortunately, it didn't detract from my enjoyment too much.
The final scene is one of the most powerful in the history of the show. Never has the simple shutting of a door said so much – Buffy has learnt all she can from Giles and she's ready for the big fight. The repetition of the line "the mission is what matters", this time by Buffy, strengthens the scene and prepares us for the show's finale.
Other bouquets go to Giles comments anti-Internet comments and the whole Spike/chip conversation, oh and Anya's hat – where do I get one?
Fleshing out a character's past is a minefield for writers. So many tempting, but tacky, paths to go down. Like sudden revelations of relationships - the old "I am your father, Luke" ploy - or just stuffing as much continuity in as possible, leading to a confused mess of red herrings and blind plot alleys.
Given this, it's to the huge credit of the Buffy writers the way Spike's character has developed. Through episodes like this, he's moved form a one-dimensional hard man to a rounded, intriguiging, sympathetic character, whose past makes sense of his present. Even more impressively, they've done it without any of those traps being sprung.
Lies is another triumph. Beautifully lush, it's packed with drama, shot through with great humour, and full of the most illuminating insights into Spike's character. Almost as stirring as William's poetry!