Angel and Spike have – to put it lightly – a complicated relationship. From Spike's introduction in Season 2 of Buffy, the two have bickered back and forth over pretty much everything. And I just keep rolling my eyes and thinking, “Can’t the two of you just get along for more than three seconds?”
But no. Of course they can’t. Especially when it comes to Buffy.
That’s why I thought when Spike came to L.A., maybe (just maybe?) they would finally stop fighting over her, since she was literally not even there. I should have known better. Angel and Spike will always – always – find a way to fight over Buffy.
Long, exasperated sigh.
Unfortunately, their enemies know how to use this to their advantage, which is why I probably should have expected their Quest for the Magical Grail in “Destiny” to be a trick. Seriously, though – it was really exciting at the time. Is somebody finally going to Shanshu? Will it be Angel? Will it be Spike? (Sorry, Angel fans – I might as well take this time to reveal my bias. I’ve always been pulling for Spike.)
Anyway, moving on! This episode starts with a flashback to the year 1880. Drusilla has recently turned William into a vampire (It’s so weird to hear anyone call him William. I can’t handle it), and Angelus tells him, "You and me, we're gonna be the best of friends."
Yeah… that doesn’t last long. It takes them approximately 0.8 seconds to start fighting over Dru.
As the episode unfolds, I have to ask myself if their rivalry has ever been completely about the women in their lives. They’re a big part of it, sure, but whether Angel and Spike are bickering over Drusilla in 1880 or Buffy in 2003, the running theme seems to be one-upping one another. In 1880, it was, “Who’s the baddest Big Bad?” Flash forward and they’re squabbling over the more noble cause of saving the world.
Even though they both have souls now, there’s still a touch of selfishness mixed in. Whoever drinks from the cup gets the chance at a long, happy human life with Buffy. Convenient, eh? Spike’s more brazen about using it to get Buffy back, while Angel acts like his reasons are completely altruistic. For both of them, it’s probably a mix of legitimately caring about the state of the world AND winning the Slayer’s heart.
They insist they're nothing alike, but in many ways, their differences are skin-deep. Angel is more of a mopey, “world on my shoulders” type of guy. Spike refuses to take life seriously at all, but deep down he (Maybe? Probably? ) cares about saving humanity. Whatever their reasons, they've both sacrificed themselves on numerous occasions.
After fighting over the dumb, whiney crap that usually keeps them preoccupied, Spike manages to defeat Angel and get to the chalice first. But when he drinks from it, nothing happens. "It's... Mountain Dew,” he says.
What? That wasn’t the Goblet of Destiny? I’m shocked! SHOCKED! (Actually, I was kinda shocked at the time, considering all the shark jumping that happened in Season 4. Plus, the vamp I was pulling for won out! Shhh… I still love Angel – I promise.)
The cup may have been a fake, but it taught these two dummies an important lesson: that it’s super easy to pit them against one another. Both Angel and Spike have big egos, and the little Shanshu fiasco definitely knocked them down a peg. When Fred asks what happened, Angel replies, “I fell down some stairs. Big stairs.”
Spike and Angel will probably keep squabbling over, well, everything for the rest of their lives. Still, I can’t help but think they’ve at least learned something from their wild goose chase. While it’s 99.9% likely that they’ll never really get along, their embarrassment at the end of the episode shows that an important lesson may have actually gotten through to them: they’re stronger when they put aside their differences and work together.