Admittedly, I am one of the seeming few who never truly hated any of the characters the first time round watching the season. Flashes of disgust, sure. When Willow complains to rat!Amy that Tara left her 'for no good reason'? Yeah. But then she breaks down in Wrecked and confesses to Buffy that magic is the only thing she has going for her, because she couldn't possibly be worthy of anyone's good opinion without it - and suddenly I am truly, horribly sympathetic to her.
I never hated Xander for leaving Anya at the altar. I never hated Buffy for beating the living shit out of Spike in that alley. I never hated Spike for trying to force her consent on the bathroom floor. I never hated Willow for becoming a willing murderer by season's end. In fact, I'll go one further, and state that S6 is the season that made me truly love all the characters on a level other seasons can't touch. And probably that's a personal fault - maybe you're not supposed to love something when it's broken. Well, it is what it is.
... And I think I'll backtrack and explain my random sympathy for Warren. It was just this one casual moment in Seeing Red, when he's getting ready to kick the ass of some guy he went to school with: "It's Warren! Remember, Warren, gym class, fifth period? You and your jock buddies used to give me such a hard time. That thing with the underwear? God, I thought I'd never stop crying."
... It's about power.
It's about control and identity too. Not real original thoughts, I know. But I'm in a talky mood.
Willow goes to extremes to create the identity she envisions for herself, even if that means controlling the people she loves. The 'magic addiction' idea is crock. Merely abstaining from power doesn't fix the problem. Willow's sense of identity is entirely dependent on external things (magics, Tara). She finally snaps after she loses one of these because deep down, she feels hollow.
Anya's joy in the prospect of marrying Xander is wrapped up in her longing for identity. "Before I met you, I was, like, a different person. Not even a person, really." (Anya's wedding vows make me choked up, every time.) It's a no-brainer that her centric episode in season 7 is titled 'Selfless'.
Xander is incapable of separating himself from the identity of his abusive parents. He's certain that he won't be able to escape the person he's terrified of becoming.
Dawn is entirely annoying in Older and Far Away, because she has none. She's not even really a real person, after all. So she resorts to petty shoplifting, as though that can provide her with a semblance of power.
I don't think it's a coincidence that I start to really appreciate Tara as an individual only after she breaks up with Willow. She's only able to gain autonomy by checking out of the illusion.
All of the relationships this season fail because the people in them cease to see each other as individuals. Instead the other partner is just an extension of themselves, functions of the others' neediness.
And then there's Buffy and Spike, who probably encompass 'identity crisis' most strongly. I wince at those viewers who write the relationship off as too disturbing to make sense of, because... uh, yeah, really missing out on some damned fascinating psychology. Obviously I'm pretty fond of both characters, so I'm probably biased about not seeing it as some hateful, meaningless relationship based entirely on lust, where the two characters knowingly bring each other nothing but pain.
'Cause, er, I don't see that at all. This is probably a radical opinion in fandom, but I don't believe at any point that either Spike or Buffy deliberately set out to cause the other pain. (Well, Smashed might be an exception, but anything was fair game in that fight.) They beat each other up a lot. They say a lot of shitty things to each other. "You're just... convenient." "I might be dirt, but you're the one who likes to roll in it."
(Honestly, I kinda love that they do that. A lot. Which might be the key distinction between someone like myself and, say, a Willow/Tara shipper. A scene like the morning after in Wrecked, when Buffy and Spike are throwing cruel barbs at each other, revealing in the process just how screwed up they both are? Is certain to get me more invested in a pairing than any sweet/caring/romantic/declarations of love moments are. I guess I'm just ornery.)
.... But if you sat them down separately and questioned the two about whether they ever honestly mean to hurt each other? The answer would be no. See, I think Buffy has this idea about Spike, that he can't be hurt. (Which... most people around him do.) Or, 'I can hurt you, because I know you can take it.' Many times we see the two of them having rip-roaring fights that for any other relationship, would call for at least a week of awkward tension. But with these two, they can beat the crap out of each other and then carry on business as usual. In Smashed Buffy angrily snaps at Spike that he's an 'evil, disgusting thing', hits him a couple times, and storms off. Not too long after, Spike calls her at the Magic Box, and she reacts to his seeming offer of help as though nothing's changed. (And in Wrecked she's desperate to insist it hasn't.) It's awesomely dysfunctional, and not at all emotionally mature, but such is the nature of love-hate relationships. (Hence, I've never found their apparently easy interactions in Older and Far Away, following the alley beating of Dead Things, all that disconcerting. But YMMV.)
And I think that this is what people get perplexed about regarding whether Buffy 'trusts' Spike. Maybe she merely takes him for granted. But you know, in reality, the people I take for granted are not people I distrust. Quite the contrary. There is someone in my life I know I take for granted, because I know they'll never abandon me. And on bad days, I look down on them for it. Not that my personal RL example is supposed to be word of gospel, but I don't think I'm just bullshitting when I suggest that the people you choose to lash out at when you're miserable is revealing. Buffy certainly doesn't trust Xander or Willow, her closest friends, this season. You can tell because she never expresses genuine, unadulterated anger towards them. (Sure, she tries to kill them all in Normal Again, but she wasn't 'herself' then. Buffy doesn't identify herself as someone who subconsciously wants to kill her friends. Neither do her friends.) She *never lets them in on how really screwed up she is*. She fears they'll reject her, if they knew 'who she really was'. (She has good reason to.)
She has no such qualms about holding back with Spike.
The title of this entry? It's the defining statement for Buffy and Spike. (It has been since the back porch in Fool for Love.) And I really believe that how well a person is able to 'get' S/B is entirely dependent on whether they get that one line.
Gee, ramble on, why don't cha.