Shiny Shelf

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Lies My Parents Told Me

By Jim Smith on 14 April 2003

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

‘Lies My Parents Told Me’ is one of those episodes of ‘Buffy’ where all the separate plot strands pull in the same thematic direction. Although the guest cast is vast this week, very few of this season’s huge number of ersatz regulars have much to do, and instead play second, third or even fourth fiddle to a triumvirate of stories that deal with strained relations between parents and children. These three plots twist and turn about one another as the episode’s allotted 44 minutes pass by; thus Spike’s attempts to cope with the ‘trigger’ planted in his head by the First and the realization that its power over him is in someway connected to his Mother is linked with Robin’s attempts to avenge his own Mother’s death (at Spike’s hands, naturally) and both are subsumed to a Buffy and Giles discussion with a conclusion which is – unfortunately – perhaps not made as clear as it should be.

We’re back in flashback territory too, as we get what seem like missing scenes from Season Five’s ‘Fool For Love’ as we see Spike (then William) hanging out with his doddering Mum before being fanged-up by the lovely Drusilla (Juliet Landau, on form this week it must be said) and rampaging his way across Europe. The episode calls upon James Marsters to play multiple Spikes once more. The human one, the young vampire one, the experienced predatory monster of the 1970s, the re-souled, contemplative current variation and the entirely savage and incoherent pure demon required by the First for his machinations. Once again Marsters rises to the challenge with skill. The news/rumour (delete as to belief) that Marsters will hop over to ‘Angel’ when ‘Buffy’ finishes is to be applauded. That this series most interesting character, and reliable actor, should not disappear when the series does is of great relief to those of us here at Shiny Shelf. It’ll also give Marsters a few more opportunities to be inexplicably denied an Emmy nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.

One of the especially pleasing things about this episode is that, like ‘Storyteller’, it manages to maintain its own individual identity, something the middle episodes of this year have found hard, and something which the later episodes of last season achieved only to the detriment of the series quality. I mean, I can remember which one ‘Normal Again’ was but I’m sure not going to actually watch it again.

The central point of the episode seems to be that, for all Robin and Giles’ thoughts that Buffy is letting her sentimentality over Spike cloud her judgement about him, what they’re failing to acknowledge is that it is they, not she, who is failing to see the big picture. Buffy’s feelings for Spike are a part of her reasons for not killing him, but not as much of a part as Robin’s need for revenge is of his wish to kill our favourite vamp. Spike is, and will be, a useful ally in the war against the First. Everything else is secondary. When Giles fails to see, and continues to believe that he sees events more clearly, this Buffy know that she’s outgrown him. If the sixth season was about coping without parental figures, then the seventh (and I can’t quite believe we didn’t see this coming) is clearly about the realization that one is not merely coping, but prospering without them. While it’s a point I’ll concede I haven’t got close to myself, it’s a natural extension of the series central conceit – its metaphoric charting of the process of growing up.

‘Lies My Parents Told Me’ is a strong episode of a series which shows little sign of flagging, or abandoning its core concerns, as it nears its end.

Line Break

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.