Even after an overwhelmingly positive reception from fans, Whedon was still very resistant to keeping Spike alive. Angel had already broken the core analogy of the series — that vampires were metaphors for teenage challenges, intended to be overcome. Without a soul to reform his demonic impulses, Spike completely threw a wrench into Whedon’s metaphors.

“I remember when after a couple episodes, the fan reaction was that I was a romantic character,” Marsters recounted to ComicBook.com. “Joss backed against the wall and said, ‘I don’t care how popular you are, kid. You are dead. You are dead, you hear me?'”

The writers never really knew what to do with Spike, but even Whedon couldn’t deny how much spunk and complexity that Spike brought to the show. He is an absolute joy to watch from the moment he bursts onscreen. The momentum behind this Hellmouth-shattering character is established in his very first episode, and for that, we have Kretchmer to thank.

It might have been the last episode of “Buffy” he directed, but it changed the shape of the series from that point on. Kretchmer answered a key question that every artist has when working with a big-budget studio — is it better to follow the rules and keep your head down in hopes of getting hired again, or to break boundaries and take risks in hopes of establishing a greater legacy? By choosing the latter, the director had a lasting impact on the series, and Spike got the grand entrance he deserved.

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