January 28, 2023

Buffy 4.20, The Yoko Factor: Helter Skelter

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Summary: Colonel McNamara is on a call with some government official, telling him how things are at the Initiative. The commandos are struggling to keep control of the hostiles, and their morale is low in the wake of Walsh’s death and Adam’s escape. McNamara is there to try to maintain control while the government official decides what to do with the organization.

Government guy wants to talk about Riley. McNamara blames the Scoobies for his desertion, though he’s not sure Riley was ever the soldier the Initiative thought he was. He “thinks too much.” The government wants Riley back, and McNamara is confident that they’ll find him. He’ll probably stick close to Buffy. Government guy doesn’t know much about her, but McNamara says she’s “just a girl.”

“She’s a lot more than that,” Spike tells Adam in their underground lair. Adam thinks he can easily defeat her, but Spike disagrees. At the very least, she’ll screw up his plans like she always does. He needs to be ready for her to be right in the middle of whatever his big, bad endgame is. Adam says he’s counting on that.

Spike tells Adam how he killed two Slayers, which makes Adam curious about why he’s afraid of Buffy. Spike claims he’s not; he just knows who he’s dealing with. Adam asks why Spike hasn’t killed her yet. Spike blames bad luck and his chip. Adam knows that makes him feel smothered and trapped. He’s a beast too powerful to be contained, and he’ll eventually break free. Adam vows to make Spike whole and savage again. Spike is inspired, and he can see why demons want to follow Adam: “You’re like Tony Robbins, if he was a big, scary, Frankenstein-looking…you’re exactly like Tony Robbins.”

Adam promises to restore Spike to his factory settings when he has control of Buffy. Spike is still skeptical that he can accomplish that goal. She and the Scoobies are “crafty.” Her buddies will throw another wrench into Adam’s plans. Adam simply says that they need to take them away from Buffy. This has apparently never occurred to Spike. He tells Adam he’ll take care of the Scoobies. He won’t even have to do anything – they’ll do it for him.

Buffy has just returned to Sunnydale from a crossover episode trip to L.A. to deal with Faith. Willow’s out (…heh, no pun intended), so Buffy mopes by herself. Xander checks in on Riley, who’s still hiding out in the ruins of the high school. He brings him some clothes, though Riley would prefer if they weren’t Xander’s clothes, because Xander’s style is…okay, “style” is the wrong word. Xander’s clothes are bad. Anyway, Riley’s still off the Initiative’s radar.

Both guys are eager for Buffy to get back from L.A., and not just because they miss her – they don’t like the thought of her being around Angel. Xander claims not to hate Angel; “just, you know, the guts part of him.” Riley thinks he just hates the curse. Xander’s confused and asks what Buffy told Riley. Apparently she just said that she loved Angel, he turned evil and killed people, she “cured” him, and he left. LOL, she skipped over an entire season! Riley’s not familiar with how the curse was triggered, i.e., by having sex with Buffy.

Xander promises that that’s ancient history. Riley grumbles that Buffy ran to L.A. to “bone up” on that history. “No! I’m sure it’s boneless,” Xander replies. She just needed to make sure everything was okay. He thinks Riley will feel better when he sees her. Riley doesn’t seem so sure.

Giles is playing guitar and singing “Freebird” when Spike shows up at his place. He suggests that the former Watcher be a little better about watching his door. Spike is supposedly there to get a blood bag he left, but he’s really there to start creating a rift between the Scoobies. He tells Giles to give Buffy a message that he might have useful information for her. He may know the location of some classified Initiative files that could contain intel about Adam.

Giles is smart enough to know that it’s pretty convenient that Spike is offering what the Scoobies need exactly when they need it. Spike acknowledges that and adds that he wants a bigger payment than usual: a year’s supply of blood, lots of money, and a promise that he won’t be slain. Giles agrees, but Spike will only make his deal with Buffy. He doubts that she’ll listen to Giles if he presents the deal to her. It’s not like she listened to him when he was in charge of her. She treats him like what he is – a retired librarian.

Tara has followed through on her decision to get a kitten, and she’s now the happy owner of Miss Kitty Fantastico. Willow loves having something that’s theirs. Well, Tara’s. Just Tara’s. Tara says she can be theirs. She’s helping Willow pick classes for next year, and former shy girl Willow is considering taking a drama class. She mentions that she hasn’t decided on housing yet. She suggests off-campus housing with a group, but Tara thought that Willow and Buffy would live together again. Willow expected them to be roommates until they were old and gray. Now, though, they have such separate lives.

Riley goes to Buffy and Willow’s room, so impatient to see Buffy that he willingly wore Xander’s pants out in public (and also risked being spotted by the Initiative, though he’s patched into their frequency with a walkie-talkie and can stay a step ahead of them). Buffy isn’t very talkative, and all she says about her trip to L.A. is that Angel upset her. She wants to refocus on finding Adam. Riley jokes that she just doesn’t want to have a serious conversation while he’s wearing Xander’s crazy pants. He’s unable to hide how hurt he is, though.

Anya and Xander take Spike some camo for another stealthy trip into the Initiative. There’s a gun in with the clothes, and Spike learns that even pointing a weapon at a human activates his chip and causes him pain. Even worse, the gun is fake. Spike thinks he should have something he can use to defend himself. Xander doesn’t care. Spike warns that his attitude won’t get him very far in boot camp. He claims that Buffy and Willow were laughing about him joining the Army and sucking at being a soldier.

Xander insists that he’s not as useless as his friends seem to think he is. He has lots of skills and “strategems”! He can’t really think of anything specific, so he asks Anya for help. “He’s a Viking in the sack,” she tells Spike. Thank you, Anya. Xander complains that Buffy and Willow have been freezing him out because they’re so into college life. College isn’t so special – “it’s high school, only without the actual going to class. Well, high school was kinda like that, too.”

Xander’s out in the real world, working to support himself, and all his friends can do is laugh at him for getting fired from places like Starbucks and a phone-sex line. Anya says that Buffy and Willow look down on Xander. He replies that they hate her. “But they don’t look down on me,” she notes. Spike tells Xander not to get so worked up. Xander angrily asks if anyone was talking to him. “Sir, no, sir!” Spike replies.

Out on patrol, Buffy runs into Forrest, who would probably love nothing more than to hurt her, but who’s willing to just walk away if she is. They’re both planning to check out a cave, and Buffy’s surprised that Forrest is there without backup. He says the “family” is spread thin. She asks what kind of family they are – the Corleones? He thinks they were doing great before she got involved.

Buffy asks if they have a no-girls-allowed club. Forrest says that’s not the issue – the problem is that she got Riley to commit treason. He had a career and a future until he met Buffy. Buffy doesn’t think it was much of a future, since it included experiments, torture, and murder. Forrest tries to intimidate her into leaving, but she warns that if he touches her, he’ll get a demonstration of her Slayer strength. He eggs her on, wanting to see what she’s made of. Adam, who’s also in the cave, speaks up that he’d like to see that, too.

Buffy starts fighting Adam, trying to get Forrest to leave. Adam knocks her down and Forrest zaps Adam with a blaster, but it seems to give him a power boost instead of hurting him. He skewers Forrest, steals his blaster, and turns it on Buffy. She’s lost her weapon and knows she can’t beat Adam in hand-to-hand combat, so she runs. During her escape, she trips and falls down a hill, hitting her head on a rock and knocking herself out.

Spike goes back to Giles’, pretending he just ran away from some commandos after leaving the Initiative. He gives Willow some disks he allegedly stole. Giles, who started drinking when Spike left earlier and doesn’t appear to have stopped since, snarks that Spike didn’t put up much of a fight. He’ll get paid when Willow confirms that the information on the disks is useful.

Spike notices Tara playing with Willow’s hair, then undermines Giles some more by saying that he has to wait for Willow’s permission to finish their deal. The information on the disks is encrypted, so it’s going to take a while for Willow to get anything out of them. Spike pokes at her about not being as much of a computer whiz as she used to be. It’s probably because she’s been so busy with her “new thing,” according to her friends. He says it’s Wicca, but he’s hinting that it’s her sexuality. The Scoobies said this is a phase and Willow get over it.

Willow assures Tara that Buffy doesn’t feel that way. Spike says Buffy defended Willow; Xander’s the one who said she’s “being trendy.” Was lesbianism that popular in 2000? Wait, popular isn’t the right word. …Common? I don’t know. Anyway, Spike plays innocent, saying that if someone wants to be a witch, that’s their business. Willow thinks Buffy’s more freaked out about certain recent revelations than she’s led on.

A lieutenant tells McNamara that the Initiative’s cells are at capacity and they can’t take in any more hostiles. McNamara considers them animals and wants to pack in as many as they can. He’s not concerned with them killing each other. Uh, and if they kill your employees? Actually, they already are, just out in the field instead of in the facility. Riley hears a mayday call on his walkie-talkie and heads out to provide backup. He comes across a team of commandos who have been knocked out by Angel.

Riley doesn’t know Angel on sight, but Angel knows him from his last trip to Sunnydale, and he says they have a mutual friend. Riley figures out who he’s talking to. Angel thinks Riley sent a “welcoming committee” after him. Riley thought Angel was a good guy; if he’s killing people, does that mean he lost his soul again?

Angel warns Riley not to push, but Riley ignores him, asking what could have happened between him and Buffy to make him lose his soul. Angel says that’s between them. Oh, stop it. You didn’t sleep with her. Angel wants to go see Buffy, which of course Riley isn’t going to let happen without a fight. The guys get into it, throwing each other around in an alley until they hear an Initiative vehicle approaching and have to run away.

Buffy makes it back to her dorm room just before Angel shows up. He decides not to tell her that he had a run-in with Riley. She thinks he came to see her because he thought of something else hurtful to say and wanted to see her reaction in person. Angel says this is time-sensitive, but before he can elaborate, Riley bursts in with his gun out. Oh, put it away, soldier boy.

Buffy immediately thinks that Angel only came to town to confront Riley. Angel promises that their encounter wasn’t planned and tells Riley to put down his gun. Riley knows he’s outmatched and refuses to give up his one possible form of defense. He tells Buffy that Angel attacked a bunch of commandos, but Buffy insists that he won’t hurt Riley. Angel’s like, “Actually…”

The guys bicker, then start fighting again. Buffy threatens to take them both down if they show “one more display of testosterone poisoning.” Angel actually tries to say that Riley started it, like, dude, know when to quit. Buffy addresses Riley first, asking for a moment alone with Angel. Riley refuses to leave the room, so Buffy and Angel go into the hallway. “I’m not moving a muscle,” Riley says to himself, like he’s seven years old and still thinks he can have the higher ground here.

Buffy blasts Angel for treating her like just an ex when she came to help him. (Yeah, yeah, she is his ex. Shhh, Angel.) He ordered her to leave L.A., then came to Sunnydale and beat up her boyfriend. What is he trying to do? Angel says he wanted to make things better. Buffy starts laughing, which breaks the tension between them. He tells her he couldn’t leave things the way they were. He wanted to apologize for the way he talked to her in L.A. He only fought Riley because Riley thought he was evil again. Buffy thinks Angel can understand why Riley acted the way he did.

She admits that he wasn’t totally wrong about what he said in L.A. They don’t live in each other’s worlds anymore, so she shouldn’t have barged into his and made judgments. Angel apologizes again, promising that next time, he’ll just call. He notes that things are tense in Sunnydale. He’d like to help, but when Buffy hints that it’s better for him to leave, he agrees. Still, she appreciates that he came to see her. As Angel leaves, he pauses to say that he doesn’t like Riley. Buffy just smiles and thanks him.

Spike joins Adam in his cave, happy about all the cracks he’s put in the Scoobies’ relationships. It was even easier than he expected. He tells Adam it’s “the Yoko factor.” Adam looks confused, so Spike asks if he’s heard of the Beatles. “I have. I like ‘Helter Skelter,'” Adam replies. Spike says that they were a powerful group once. When they broke up, everyone blamed Yoko Ono, but the group really split itself apart. She was just there. Similarly, the Scoobies simply grew apart after high school. Adam is pleased, and Spike thinks it’s time for his big plan. Adam says there’s one more thing he needs before he can remove Spike’s chip.

Buffy returns to Riley to give him the news about Forrest’s death. Before she can, Riley guesses that she’s going to break up with him and go back to Angel. She’s offended that he suspects her of cheating on him. Riley blames Xander, who Buffy declares “the deadest man in Deadonia.” Riley admits that he went a little crazy after learning what triggers Angel losing his soul. He knows he should believe in their relationship, but he also knows how it can be with exes. Plus, when he saw that Angel was bad, he jumped to a reasonable assumption. Buffy says Angel isn’t bad. “Seriously? That’s a good day?” Riley asks.

He notes that Angel is probably popular with girls even when he’s good, since he’s “Mr. Billowy Coat King of Pain.” Buffy asks if she’s ever given Riley a reason to feel like he can’t trust her. He acknowledges that she hasn’t, but he’s so in love with her that he can’t think straight. Buffy feels the same. They hug, everything forgiven, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows – she still has to break the news about Forrest’s death. She promises to find Adam and destroy him. Riley just replies that he needs to go.

Willow hasn’t had any luck with the encrypted disks, and she thinks it could take weeks or even months to do. “Whatever happened to Latin?” an increasingly drunk Giles wonders. “At least when that made no sense, the church approved.” Buffy’s impatient, and Anya tells her they worked hard to get the disks. Xander even delivered clothes. Buffy apologizes, but they’re pressed for time.

She considers going back to the cave and tracking Adam. Willow tells her it’s a bad idea to go back alone. “You never train with me anymore,” Giles says. “He’s going to kick your a%$.” Buffy’s shocked, and he apologizes, asking, “Was that a bit honest?” Xander wants to rally the troops to go with Buffy, but she tells him he’s not going. He’ll just get hurt.

He thinks she and Willow are going to exclude him again. He’ll just stay behind at the Bat Cave with Alfred. Giles objects to being Alfred, since Alfred had a job. Buffy says Willow isn’t going, either – she’s going alone. Willow and Xander are annoyed that they’re not allowed to help. As the argument heats up, Tara and Anya both quietly slip out of the room.

Xander snarks that Buffy and Willow might have to ship him off to the Army to get him out of the way. He accuses them of talking behind his back. Buffy slams him for telling Riley about her relationship with Angel. Willow objects to herself and Buffy being considered the two edging out Xander: “You two are the two who are the two. I’m the other one.” Xander thinks that’ll change when he’s “doing sit-ups over at Fort Dix.” Giles cracks up at that and Buffy asks if he’s drunk. “Yes, quite a bit, actually,” he replies.

Buffy tries to end the argument, calling it stupid. Xander thinks she’s calling him stupid. She says she’s not; he just needs to stop being an idiot and let her fix this. She promises that she needs her friends all the time, just not this time. Willow asks how Buffy really needs her. Buffy says she’s good with computers and “witch stuff.” Willow asks her to clarify what she means by that. Buffy asks what’s happening. Things are crazy. Giles says it’s actually finally making sense. Then he falls out of his chair. Elsewhere, Tara and Anya wonder how long the fight will go on and admire the bathroom they’re hiding in.

Xander says he’d do great in the Army because he might get a job that couldn’t be done by a dog. Giles decides he’s done and heads upstairs to go to bed. Willow snarks that the umbilical cord between Xander and Anya might not stretch far enough for him to enlist in the military. Xander thinks this is confirmation of his theory that Willow hates Anya. Giles drops the sweater he’s just taken off down to the living room and it falls on Xander’s head.

Willow says she’s not being judgmental. Xander and Buffy can handle that themselves. Buffy thinks she’s been more than open-minded about the choices Xander and Willow have made. Xander blasts her for her attitude: “Just because you’re better than us doesn’t mean you can be all superior.” Buffy tries again to stop the argument, asking what happened to Willow and Xander today. Willow says it’s not just today – things have been wrong for a while.

Buffy doesn’t get it. She hasn’t noticed anything wrong. Willow thinks things changed when Buffy found out about Tara. She can’t handle Tara being Willow’s girlfriend. Xander says it started before that, when Buffy and Willow went off to college and abandoned him. Also, Tara is Willow’s girlfriend? “Blood hell!” Giles exclaims from upstairs.

Buffy reminds her friends that they want to help and be part of the team. They’re less enthusiastic about that now, but she calls them out. Why don’t they all go after Adam with Xander and Willow attacking Buffy and Giles drooling on things? Maybe that’s how they can kill Adam. “How can you possibly help?” Buffy asks angrily. Xander and Willow don’t reply.

“I guess I’m starting to understand why there’s no ancient prophecy about a Chosen One and her friends,” Buffy says. If she needs help, she’ll go to someone she can count on. But that one person she has left to count on is a step ahead of her: Riley is in Adam’s lair, where Adam has been patiently waiting for him. To be continued…

Thoughts: I love how overly dramatic Willow gets when she’s considering taking a drama class and she practices by telling Miss Kitty Fantastico, “You cannot have more catnip! You have a catnip problem!”

Speaking of Miss Kitty, for a character who only appears in two episodes, she has quite a fanbase.

I want to hear Xander working on a phone-six line so badly. Imagine all the awkward pauses and accidental double entendres.

I love so much the little smirk Angel gives Riley when he and Buffy leave her room because Riley refuses to go.

Drunk Giles is perfect. No notes.

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