November 26, 2022

Buffy 4.11, Doomed: Aftershocks

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:09 pm by Jenn

What other picture would I use here?

Summary: We pick up right where “Hush” left off, with Buffy and Riley in her room, unsure how to address the fact that they ran into each other while fighting monsters. After a long silence, Riley asks, “What are you?” Buffy gives a sarcastic response about her zodiac sign. He tells her she’s amazing for being so strong and fast. She asks what he is. He can’t tell her, so she guesses that he’s part of a “military monster squad” that delivers their captives to a team who performs experiments on them. During the day, he pretends to be a normal guy from Iowa.

Riley promises that that’s his real name and he’s really from Iowa. He points out that he’s not the only one who’s been secretive. Buffy’s surprised that he hasn’t figured out that she’s the Slayer. He has no idea what that is. “Slayer. Chosen One. She who hangs out a lot in cemeteries,” she elaborates. Still no recognition. “Ask around. Look it up: Slayer comma the,” she says.

They both appreciate each other’s fighting skills, but Riley can’t figure out why Buffy looks like she didn’t battle a bunch of monsters last night. She doesn’t seem to have a scratch on her. She tells him he’s not looking hard enough, and he replies that he’s looking pretty hard. He asks what they should do now. Buffy’s disappointed that he’s not a normal guy, and she wants some time away from him to process everything. Riley agrees. He starts to leave, then pauses to ask Buffy not to tell anyone what she’s learned about him. She promises not to.

Amy suddenly starts squeaking in her cage. Moments later, there’s a big earthquake. Riley’s kind of excited, not being from Southern California and never having experienced an earthquake before. Buffy’s much less excited, since she knows that this could be an omen of something really bad.

The earthquake loosened some pipes in Xander’s room and soaked the chair Spike’s been sleeping in. Xander tells him to fix it since he has to go to work. He’s moved on from construction and is now delivering pizza. Spike looks down on him for that, but a) at least Xander has a job and b) Spike should really ease up on the guy who’s keeping him housed and fed. Xander tells Spike to be a better housekeeper while he’s gone. Behind him, Spike raises a wrench to hit him, but the Initiative’s implant kicks in and gives him a headache that stops him in his tracks.

That night, Willow tells Buffy that a dorm hit with a blackout from the earthquake is having an “aftershock party.” Apparently this dorm really likes to celebrate stuff, since Buffy says they’ve also had a “somebody sneezed” party and a “day that ends in Y” party. Willow suggests that Buffy invite Riley, but Buffy says he’s busy. She’s going to go see Giles, and then she’ll meet Willow at the party. Willow senses that something’s going on but Buffy pretends everything’s fine.

At Giles’, she opens up about her fears that this earthquake indicates disaster. After all, the last time they had one, she died. Giles gets why she’s anxious, but there haven’t been any signs that this was more than just a normal earthquake. There’s no reason to think they’re facing “imminent doom.” He’s working on figuring out more about the commandos, so Buffy steers him away from that subject by talking more about the earthquake. He assures her that if this one was important, there will be signs of something else coming. She needs to stop worrying about what could be and focus on what is.

Riley asks Forrest if he’s heard of the Slayer. Forrest is familiar with the band of the same name, but from what he knows of the person, he thinks she’s just a boogeyman for demons (“eat your vegetables and clean your slime pit or the Slayer will get you!”). There’s no way she’s real. Riley’s disappointed, so Forrest teases him for believing in things that don’t exist. Yeah, demons are real, but they’re just animals. The two pause their conversation to restrain a demon who’s fighting his handlers. Apparently the hostiles are going a little wild today. Forrest blames the earthquake.

Willow goes to the aftershock party, but without any friends there, she just stands around, looking awkward. She finally spots a familiar face: Percy. He goes to USC (on a football scholarship) but is there visiting his girlfriend, Laurie. She’s rude to Willow and pulls Percy away from her, because sometimes mean girls don’t stop being mean after high school. As some partygoers leave in a conga line, a demon hand opens a door. The demon it belongs to attacks a student, slashing him with its claws.

Willow overhears Laurie and Percy talking and learns that Laurie’s jealous – she thinks Percy was flirting with Willow. Percy says she’s just a nerd who tutored him in high school, and not nearly as hot as Laurie. Hurt, Willow goes looking for a room where she can be alone. Unfortunately, she’s chosen a room where the slashed partygoer’s body was stashed, and when the lights suddenly come in, she realizes she’s laid down next to him. A symbol has been carved into his chest.

Xander’s upset to come home and see that the leaks in his room have gotten worse. The good news is that Spike did laundry. The bad news is that he shrank his clothes and had to borrow some of Xander’s. Instead of his usual black shirt, Spike is wearing one with plants on it. Also, his pants are really short. He demands better clothes and more blood.

Xander’s sick of having him as a house guest. “You’re not the Big Bad anymore,” he tells Spike. “You’re not even the Kind of Naughty. You’re nothing but a waste of space – my space.” Xander has always enjoyed watching Buffy beat up Spike, and he knows even he could take on the vampire now that he’s been neutralized, but Spike isn’t worth it.

Buffy arrives at the party as the dead partygoer’s body is being taken away. She comforts Willow, who tells her about the symbol on the guy’s chest, as well as the fact that Percy called her a nerd. Buffy’s offended on her behalf. Riley’s hanging out with Forrest, still thinking about Buffy, when Graham comes by to report the death at the party. He’s not sure if the guy was killed by a hostile, since he couldn’t get close enough to find out. Riley tells him and Forrest to go to Walsh while he looks into the situation to see if it’s something they should worry about.

The Scoobies gather at Giles’, where Willow continues moping about Percy’s comments, like, Willow, someone was murdered. Maybe that can wait. She reports that the guy was propped up like whatever killed him wanted to drain his blood. Maybe the killer took it with him. She shows Giles a drawing of the symbol on the guy’s chest, which Buffy finds familiar. “It’s the end of the world,” Giles announces. “Again?” the others chorus.

Buffy’s annoyed that Giles blew off her concerns earlier and now accepts that the earthquake was an omen. “I’m so very sorry. My contrition completely dwarfs the impending apocalypse,” he replies. Willow says they’ve done this before and can’t be facing it again. Buffy thinks this is an easy thing to fix, though: She’ll stop the apocalypse.

She goes to a cemetery, where she’d previously seen the symbol on the side of a mausoleum (she calls them “big, freaky cereal boxes of death”). She hears a sound inside and goes in to find the demon from the party stealing some bones. She shoots him with a crossbow and fights him, but he’s huge and is able to overpower her. By the time she’s able to gather herself, he’s gone and Riley’s there instead.

She’s annoyed that he didn’t follow the demon, but Riley doesn’t (well, can’t) fight without weapons or backup. He calls in the demon sighting, using his call sign, Lilac. They’ll go looking for him in the morning. Buffy seems to appreciate the Initiative’s setup. Riley admits that he came there looking for her, since she told him she hangs out in cemeteries a lot.

She doesn’t want to stay and chat, since she needs to track down the demon. He tells her the Initiative will take care of it. Still, Buffy wants to leave – she can’t get into a relationship with someone like him. He doesn’t know what her life is like, and there’s too much risk involved. They’re doomed, and she can’t do doomed right now.

Riley’s confused, since they obviously like each other and have stuff in common. Buffy says that’s not enough. He tells her that he’s never felt this way about anyone else. He’s not going to walk away just because things might not work out. He acknowledges that he doesn’t know what’s happened in her past. “Pain. Death. Apocalypse. None of it fun,” she says.

She asks if he knows what a Hellmouth is. She went to high school on one, and that means they don’t have as much in common as he thinks. Being a commando is Riley’s job and he sees it as an adventure. For her, slaying is her destiny. She can’t change or escape it – she’s stuck. He tells her she doesn’t have to be, since she’s not in high school anymore. Buffy replies firmly that her answer is no.

The Scoobies do some research and find the demon they’re dealing with in a book. The Initiative has also figured out what he is, so the two groups are working on the same thing in different ways. Willow realizes that the demon is gathering things for something called the sacrifice of three. The result is the end of the world, but the book doesn’t say how it will come about. Buffy says they just need to find the third ingredient, the Word of Valios, and keep the demon from getting it. Of course, that’s assuming he hasn’t already, since they don’t know where he’s been.

The Initiative does, since the demon has a strong pheromone signature and they’ve traced it all over town. They’ll need patrol in civilian clothes until they can find him and take him down. The Scoobies split up to continue their search for the Word of Valios. Buffy warns her friends to be careful – she doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt.

Spike is no doubt an exception, so she might be happy to know that he’s about to stake himself at Xander’s. Willow and Xander come in just in time to see him falling off a chair onto a stake. He misses and breaks the coffee table instead. Xander’s upset that Spike was going to kill himself – first of all, he’s wearing Xander’s clothes, and second of all, he should have asked Xander to do the staking.

Willow doesn’t want to let Spike kill himself, but he doesn’t see the point in staying alive. He’s not scary anymore (the shirt isn’t helping), so why keep living? She thinks they should take him with them to the museum where they’re going to continue their work. Spike pretends he’s okay to stay behind, but Xander agrees with Willow. He cheers Spike by telling him that if they don’t succeed in their mission, they’re facing an apocalypse. “Really? You’re not just saying that?” Spike asks.

Buffy runs into Riley downtown, where he’s taking readings of the demon’s pheromones. She tries to avoid having a conversation, but he thinks she’s being stupid about the whole thing. Yeah, that’s the way to win her over! Riley says that Buffy has a doom-and-gloom mentality that’s going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. “There’s nothing more dangerous than a psych grad student,” she tells him.

He doesn’t get why it would be bad for them to be together. They’re a better match than they thought, considering their similar roles. There are people around, so Riley can’t use words like “Slayer” or “demon hunter.” Instead, he says they’re both fry cooks. Buffy notes that he’s an amateur fry cook and she’s from a lone line of fry cooks who don’t live past 25. He says that attitude is going to bring her down.

Riley loves being a “fry cook”; it’s fun and rewarding. Buffy tells him that the last person she knew who felt that way is now in a coma from having too much fun. She can’t enjoy a job that she never gets to stop doing. She tried having a normal life, but she always gets drawn back in to fighting evil. “Welcome to the story of the world!” Riley exclaims. “Things fall apart, Buffy. And evil – it comes and goes. But the way people manage is they don’t do it alone.” She’d get that if she weren’t so self-involved.

Buffy coolly says that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t know her well enough to judge her. Riley guesses that she had a bad relationship and now she wants to stay in a dark place because it’s safer there. They have an opportunity, and she’s just scared to give it a try. She says that’s her business and he needs to leave her alone. Riley finally agrees and walks away.

Xander, Willow, and Spike didn’t have any luck at the museum. Willow thinks Spike shouldn’t be so down about not being able to hurt people anymore. There are still fun things he can do. He just needs to adjust. He’s not interested if it means ending up like her and Xander. They should be happy that the world might end, since their lives are pretty pathetic. Xander lives in his parents’ basement and Willow couldn’t keep Oz around. She’s still a loser like she was in high school.

Willow catches on that Spike is just trying to make them mad enough to stake him. He says he just doesn’t want pity from people even more useless than he is. She argues that they help fight the forces of evil. “Buffy fights the forces of evil,” Spike corrects. “You’re her groupies.” She’d probably do better without them, since she wouldn’t have to save them all the time. They’re the same losers they’ve always been and Buffy’s too nice to ditch them.

Giles finally finds the Word of Valios in a book – it’s a talisman. “Oh, as usual, dear,” he says. He happens to have it in a box full of knickknacks. The demon shows up just then, along with a couple of friends, and they beat him up. When Buffy gets back later, Giles tells her and the others that he had the Word of Talios the whole time. He bought it at a sorcerer’s estate sale, thinking it was a knockoff. The demons have it now, and they’re going to use it in a ritual to open the Hellmouth. “Looks like we’re going back to high school,” Buffy announces.

Everyone but Giles heads over to the ruins of the school, letting Spike tag along. They think the demons may be keeping victims alive there for the sacrifice, so the Scoobies need to prioritize saving them. Xander steps in something he calls “mayor meat – extra-crispy.” Even though things are all burned and gutted, they still know their way around, and they’re able to find the library. The demons are there, chanting, but there are no intended sacrifices around. The Scoobies start grabbing ritual ingredients while Buffy fights the demons.

Spike ends up with the bones for the sacrifice while Willow and Xander join the fight. A demon jumps into a pit, causing another earthquake. Xander realizes that the demons are going to sacrifice themselves, not humans. Spike takes a punch from a demon, and when he instinctively hits back, he discovers that his implant doesn’t keep him from hurting demons. Suddenly things are looking up for him. Too bad he didn’t get the memo about the pit, so he throws a demon into it, thinking he’s helping.

Buffy’s still fighting the remaining demon, and she tells the others to get out before the ruins collapse. Riley arrives in time to help her. Buffy’s smart enough to let him know that they can’t let the demon jump into the pit. But he gets away from them and slides in himself. Buffy tells Riley she’s going in after him, so Riley attaches her to some sort of rappelling wire he carries with him so she’ll be able to get back out. He pulls her and the third demon up, and then…the demon dies? I think? Anyway, the earthquake stops, so the Scoobies have averted another apocalypse.

Buffy and Riley catch up with Willow and Xander, and Riley pretends he was just passing by and heard something going on in the ruins. Willow notes that he’s in his commando gear. Buffy tells Riley it makes him look pretty conspicuous. He says he was playing paintball, but Xander lets him know that they’re familiar with the commandos. Spike’s been trying to melt into the background, but Riley spots him and says he looks familiar. Spike puts on a horrible fake American accent and says he’s an old friend of Xander’s. Xander and Willow agree that it’s weird being back at the school. They head out, having survived it once again.

The next day, Buffy goes to Riley’s room, since she expected him to get in touch and he didn’t. He’s embarrassed by how unstealthy he was with her friends. He thinks that since they know about him, it’s the end of the world. She assures him it isn’t and kisses him. Over at Xander’s, Spike tries to rally Willow and Xander to go fight demons with him “for justice and the safety of puppies and Christmas.” They’d rather just watch TV.

Thoughts: Did Riley make any further effort to learn more about Slayers? I’d be doing Scooby-level amounts of research if I were in his position.

Spike wearing Xander’s clothes is pretty broad comedy, but it brings lightness to an episode that really needs it.

Who gave Riley the call sign Lilac? Should’ve gone with Nighthawk.

What an anticlimax. They just pull the demon out and that’s it, apocalypse averted?

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