February 4, 2023

Buffy 4.21, Primeval: By Our Powers Combined…

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:11 pm by Jenn

Hi. We’re here to invade you

Summary: Buffy goes looking for Riley in the ruins of the high school, but he’s not there – he’s with Adam. Adam calls him “brother” and reveals that Walsh implanted a behavior modifier in Riley’s chest. It’s the first phase of his “preparation.” It was dormant until Adam activated it. Riley objects to being called Adam’s “brother,” but as Adam demonstrates by making him sit simply by telling him to, Riley doesn’t have any power here. At least not yet. Adam expects Riley to forget his old life and embrace his destiny like Adam has. Riley should like it.

Adam blathers about demons clinging to old ways, then turning to humans, who were smart and adaptive but imperfect and weakened by emotions. Walsh was meant to be Adam and Riley’s “deliverer.” She saw that Riley was “necessary” and would serve a role alongside Adam. That’s why he sees them as brothers.

Spike pops in to remind Adam that he’s supposed to remove the chip from Spike’s head. He has some fun with Riley when he realizes that he’s under Adam’s control. “So it’s chips all around, is it?” Spike asks. “Someone must’ve bought the party pack.” Adam tells him that he’ll get his chip out when Buffy is where Adam wants her. Spike is confident that his plan to split up the Scoobies was successful, and Buffy’s alone. Adam needs her in the Initiative now so she can kill a bunch of demons and weaken herself.

Spike notes that the disks he gave the Scoobies are supposed to send Buffy to the Initiative. Adam’s like, “You mean the disks that Willow was decrypting? Buffy’s friend Willow? Her friend who she’s supposed to be estranged from right now? Those disks?” Spike realizes he overlooked something in his plan. But really, it’s Adam’s screw-up, because he let Spike make this plan, and obviously he shouldn’t have trusted him. Yeah, that’s not a great defense here, Spike.

Willow and Tara go back to Giles’ in the morning so Willow can get her laptop and the disks. It’s awkward, and not just because Giles is really hungover. Alone in her dorm room, Buffy looks at a picture of herself with Xander and Willow, sad about their big fight. She picks up the phone to make a call, then puts it back down. She gathers some weapons instead.

Anya goes to Xander’s and tries to cheer him up. He should be over the fight by now, since it happened hours ago. “So they all think you’re a lost, directionless loser with no plans for his future. Pfft!” she says. Xander admits that they might be right. Anya doesn’t think that matters. He’s a good person and boyfriend, and she’s in love with him.

Buffy goes to Adam’s lair as Adam takes Riley to a lab he’s prepared in a secret area of the Initiative. He’s set it up for the “new race” he’s going to create. Walsh is there, or at least some Frankenstein’s monster/zombie version of her. Adam’s carrying out the plans she made. Angelman is also a zombie, and Riley asks if he’s going to end up one, too. Adam says the zombies are “just workers,” and Riley’s destiny is greater. Another zombie suddenly sits up, and Riley is disturbed to recognize him as Forrest.

On her way out of the caves, Buffy runs into Spike and tells him Adam’s been hanging out down there. Spike pretends he had no idea and doesn’t want anything to do with Adam. He asks about the disks, and Buffy tells him that Willow has them. He urges her to find out what’s on the disks anyway; she can’t ignore would could be vital information just because she and her friend had a fight. Buffy catches on that Spike knows things he shouldn’t but doesn’t let him know he made her suspicious.

Willow’s in the process of typing in a new code (something about algorithms; I don’t know) when the disks suddenly decrypt themselves. She guesses that they were programmed to do that after a certain amount of time. She complains that it’s like someone calling out the answer to a riddle right when you were about to solve it. Then she realizes there’s no need to be annoyed, since she’ll get the information she wanted. Buffy calls just then.

Alone with the zombies, Riley tries to get through to Walsh. Forrest tells him that she’s dead; she can hear him, but she’s just a “walking corpse.” Forrest, however, is basically a second version of Adam. He’s eager to try fighting Buffy again. He’s free of weaknesses and doubts now, and he’s thrilled by what he sees as an upgrade. Adam will make Riley the same as him once he’s found the right parts.

Forrest and Riley will be fighting on the same side again and moving toward a new future. Riley says he won’t let that happen, but Forrest replies that he doesn’t have a choice – he no longer has free will. Riley protests, so Forrest tells him to stand up. He can’t, since Adam didn’t say Simon says he could. Walsh finally speaks, telling Riley to “be a good boy” before she injects him with something.

Buffy, Giles, Xander, and Willow meet up on the quad, and Buffy confirms her suspicions that Spike drove them all apart. They all quickly agree to move on from the things they said to each other. I’m sure it’ll be just that easy! Xander thinks Spike was just having fun with them, but Buffy suspects that it had to do with Adam. “Spike’s working for Adam?” Xander exclaims. “After all we’ve done – nah, I can’t even act surprised.”

Buffy mentions the disks, which Willow says she decrypted. Well, she was present when they were decrypted. They mostly contained information they already know about 314, but they also mentioned a final phase where Adam makes a bunch of “cyber-demonoids” in an Initiative lab. Buffy guesses that he wants her to know about his “evil-guy assembly line.” He’s luring her to the Initiative, which is full of demons that were surprisingly easy for the commandos to capture. Giles says it’s like a Trojan horse.

The Scoobies figure out that Adam wanted the facility full of demons so they can attack from the inside. After the demons and commandos slaughter each other, Adam will have plenty of body parts to choose from to build his own army. “Diabolical, yet…gross,” Willow says. Xander asks if anyone else misses the mayor, who just wanted to be a big snake.

Buffy wants to move now, since Adam is obviously about to start the final phase. Giles thinks they should warn the Initiative, but she knows they won’t listen to her or Riley. Xander asks why Adam wants Buffy in the middle of everything. She guesses that he wants her to kill demons and even out the demon/commando ratio of deaths. He’s not worried at all that the Slayer might kill him, too.

Back in the lab, Adam can feel that Buffy’s coming. Spike would like to get his chip removed now so he can get the heck out of there before the killing begins. Spike is, like, the 30th thing on Adam’s to-do list, and there are only 22 items on it. He won’t remove the chip until Buffy’s actually there.

The Scoobies head to Giles’, where Buffy tells them that Adam’s power source is a uranium core. She thinks it’s near his spine. Willow suggests finding a spell that could extract it. Giles knows of a paralyzing spell, but he can’t do the incantation. It’s not that he doesn’t speak the language it’s in, Sumerian; it’s that only an experienced witch can do it. Plus, they’d have to be in close proximity. Xander quips that they just need someone who has a combination of Buffy’s Slayer strength, Giles’ language skills, and Willow’s magic. That gives Giles an idea.

The Scoobies go to the Initiative’s frat house to use their entrance to the facility. Willow asks if Xander’s nervous. “No way. I’m full of that good old kamikaze spirit,” he replies. “Xander, just because this is never going to work, there’s no need to be negative,” Giles says. It’s not that the enjoining spell they’re going to use isn’t powerful enough to defeat Adam – it’s just that it’s really dangerous.

They rappel down the elevator shaft to sneak into the facility. On the way down, Buffy apologizes to Willow for how strained things have been among the friends. Willow says it’s not her fault, since Spike caused trouble, but Buffy thinks it was easy for him because the group has drifted so far apart this year. She blames herself for being a bad friend, since she’s been wrapped up in other stuff (mostly Riley).

Willow acknowledges that she’s been distant and kept secrets. Buffy understands, since she was going through something big. Willow says she wanted to tell Buffy, but she was scared. Buffy promises that Willow can tell her anything – they’re best friends. They try to hug each other but it’s hard when they’re harnessed and climbing down ropes a few feet away from each other. They wait till they’re on the ground to really embrace. When Xander joins them, they hug him, too. He thinks they’re reassuring him that they love him because they’re all going to die. He calls up to Giles to join them because he won’t want to miss all the hugging.

The guys pry open the elevator doors, where commandos are waiting for them with guns. Spike and Adam watch on surveillance monitors as Buffy is led down a hallway. “Slayer has landed,” so Spike would like his chip removed now. Adam protests, since the Scoobies are with her. Spike failed. Spike wisely decides to just run, but Forrest stops him. Adam acknowledges that Spike tried, which is worth something. He’ll remove Spike’s chip…by having Forrest remove his head. Spike fights him off by putting a lit cigarette in his eye. Adam lets him go, knowing he won’t get far.

The Scoobies are brought before Colonel McNamara, who’s really tired of them sneaking into a government facility, like, maybe the government should do something if civilians are able to keep getting in. He opens a bag they brought with them and is confused to find a big gourd inside. Giles explains that it’s a magic gourd. “What kind of freaks are you people?” McNamara asks. Uh, the freaks who are going to save your life, if you’re lucky.

Buffy tells him that Adam is in the facility and used the demons to pull a Trojan horse on it. McNamara denies that there’s any area in the facility that isn’t under surveillance. “Including the secret lab?” Willow asks. “Including everything!” McNamara replies. “What secret lab?” Oh, yeah, this is a guy who should be in charge. Buffy determines that he also doesn’t know about the 314 project. McNamara thinks they’re fully equipped to handle any threat, including Adam. Oh, sweetie. Oh, honey. You’re not.

Giles asks how McNamara plans to get close enough to Adam to remove his power source. Why, they’ll just surround him and use multiple blasters until they incapacitate him! Buffy tells McNamara that Adam feeds on the voltage from the blasters, so they’ll just be giving him “an all-you-can-eat buffet.” McNamara doesn’t appreciate this college student questioning his methods. She angrily tells him that they’re in over their heads and messing with “primeval forces” they don’t understand. McNamara is skeptical that Buffy knows more than he does. “I’m the Slayer. You’re playing on my turf,” she replies.

McNamara will accept that Buffy has the advantage above-ground, but in the Initiative, he’s in charge. Just then, the lights go out. The backup power grid doesn’t come up, and a tech guy tells McNamara they’re locked in. Adam takes over, opening all the doors to the demons’ cells. Let the massacre begin!

Buffy insists that McNamara get his people out of there and let the Scoobies take care of Adam. McNamara orders the Scoobies’ arrests instead. As soon as they’re alone with just two lower-level commandos, Buffy knocks them out and the Scoobies search the surveillance monitors for a place where they can do the enjoining spell. It’ll be tough, since there are demons and commandos and scientists everywhere. Spike is in the middle of things, too, taking down as many demons as he can while he tries to escape.

Willow finds what looks like a nonexistent space behind room 314, which Buffy guesses is Adam’s hideout. As the Scoobies figure out how to get there, Graham joins the fighting. The Scoobies run through the battle, kicking and blasting along the way. Also, Giles hits a demon with his bag. They find an empty lab for the Scoobies to do the spell while Buffy goes to face Adam. Xander doesn’t like that she’s going after him alone. “I won’t be,” she replies.

In the hideout, Buffy spots Riley first and is disturbed when he can’t talk to her. Adam enters and says he’s not programmed to. He’s part of the last phase, like Buffy was supposed to be. She tells Adam that she’s never been one to follow commands. Forrest is, though, so Adam tells him to kill Buffy. He holds her so Walsh can come cut her open, but she gets out of his grasp. While she fights Forrest, Riley tries to figure out how to free himself.

The Scoobies start the enjoining spell, calling on some ancient power to join their minds, hearts, and spirits. Riley’s finally able to speak, but Forrest tells him to shut up and watch Forrest kill his girlfriend. Riley manages to move his hand and grab some broken glass, which he uses to cut open his chest. The Scoobies add tarot cards to their spell: Willow is the spirit, Xander is the heart, Giles, is the mind, and Buffy is the hand.

As Riley reaches into his chest to pull out his chip, Forrest overpowers Buffy and lifts her above his head. She’s able to grab some power lines, which would be a helpful weapon right now if she had the chance to use them. Forrest, Walsh, and Angelman get her on an exam table, where she keeps trying to fight them. Forrest taunts, “Is that all you got?” Riley announces that she has him, too. He takes down Walsh and Angelman, then takes on Forrest, which allows Buffy to go after Adam.

McNamara leads a group of commandos through the facility, quickly realizing that, uh, actually, they’re not as prepared for a big battle as he thought. Buffy finally reaches Adam and starts fighting him. He goes after her with one of his skewers, which she just breaks off. Unfortunately, he’s upgraded the other with a gun. Okay, maybe Buffy isn’t as prepared for the big battle as she thought, either.

The Scoobies continue the spell, which kicks in just as Adam’s new weapon makes contact with Buffy. Her eyes are a yellowish-orange now, and she’s more or less channeling whatever Willow summoned. She speaks Sumerian and puts up some sort of force field that keeps Adam’s bullets from reaching her.

Riley fights Forrest, who’s having a little too much fun trying to kill his former best friend. Riley suddenly runs across the room and ducks behind an exam table. Forrest looks up in time to see that the tank of oxygen he grabbed after Riley beat him with it is dangerously close to the sparking overhead power lines – and it’s flammable. ‘Bye, Forrest!

Adam must not be a fast learner because he just keeps firing bullets at Buffy, who’s still protected by the force field. Eventually she turns a couple of them into birds. Then she makes his gun retract into his arm by just waving her hand. She goes back to hand-to-hand combat, this time way more powerful than Adam is. She gets him up against a wall, reaches into his chest, and pulls out his uranium power source. ‘Bye, Adam!

Riley runs in and finds her just staring at the power source. It levitates out of her hand and disappears in a flash of light. Her eyes are still yellowish-orange, and she collapses as Riley reaches her. The Scoobies all nod out, then regain consciousness. Spike bursts in, fighting a demon, and tells the Scoobies that they’re lucky he was there. Giles is like, “Yeah, thanks for putting all this in motion; we know you helped Adam start a war.” Xander thinks Spike only saved them to keep them from staking him right now. Spike asks if it worked.

Buffy and Riley join the others, and the Slayer gives out instructions so they can end the battle and protect all the humans. Despite all the effort she had to put forth with Adam, she’s still in tip-top fighting shape. As we see the rest of the battle play out, a committee meets to discuss the Initiative, which they consider a failed experiment. The commandos suffered a 40% casualty rate, and the number was only that low because of Riley and some “civilian insurrectionists.”

Walsh had a brilliant vision, but it was “insupportable.” They can’t harness or control demons. “They” include McNamara, who gets killed by a monster. (Graham survives, though, in case anyone cares about Graham.) The project will be terminated, the records will be destroyed, the commandos will be sworn to secrecy, the Scoobies will be monitored in case they decide to go public, and the building will be filled in with concrete. “Burn it down, gentlemen,” the head of the committee says. “Burn it down and salt the earth.”

Thoughts: When talking about Walsh, I accidentally typed “Frankenstein’s mother” instead of “Frankenstein’s monster,” which is the mother (heh) of all Freudian slips.

Sidelining Riley for most of the episode feels like a misstep.

I remember checking after this episode first aired to confirm that it wasn’t the season finale, because it definitely felt like it was. And then for the next week, everyone was all, “What are they going to do now?” Oh, silly, naïve is.


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