March 11, 2023

Buffy 5.4, Out of My Mind: Power Surge

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:03 pm by Jenn

Spike’s insurance provider is I Punch You in the Face and You Do What I Tell You

Summary: Buffy’s in a cemetery, watching for vampires from the top of a mausoleum. She takes off running, stops, then bends down to stake a vampire just as he’s coming out of his grave. Another vampire rises and she fights with him until Riley runs in and takes him down. He thought she was in another section of the cemetery and just wanted to help.

Another vampire emerges from a grave, and this time Spike jumps into the action. Buffy wonders why she even patrols anymore. She shoves Spike out of the way just as a fourth vampire starts to attack him. She tells him to stop getting in her way, and Riley backs her up. Spike notices that Buffy doesn’t seem excited to have Riley there, either.

Buffy and Riley leave together, and she tries to get through to him that she doesn’t like it when he patrols alone. He just doesn’t appreciate being left out. He wants to do more slaying, but it doesn’t look like there’s anything left to slay (other than Spike). As they head out, Spike vows to kill Buffy. Then he falls into an open grave. Womp womp.

The next day, I guess, Buffy and Willow have a debate about the French revolution. Willow’s thrilled that they’re having a school-related conversation, something she’s wanted with her best friend forever. Buffy’s trying harder in school, but she’s also doing more training and studying with Giles. She expected a movie-like montage, but instead she’s just working a lot and getting headaches.

Giles is also working hard, trying to spiff up the Magic Box with help from Xander, Anya, and Tara. Willow’s excited to get her witch supplies there. Tara thinks they should have a psychic read fortunes in the shop. Willow suggests that Tara do it, though Tara doesn’t think she’s good enough. Willow offers up her hand for some palm-reading, and the two of them flirt a little. Buffy, Giles, and Xander head into the new training area, where Riley tackles Buffy. She loves the room, which includes a punching bag, a pommel horse, and a dummy/scarecrow.

That night, Spike is watching Dawson’s Creek in his crypt when Harmony shows up. She thinks Buffy’s looking for her on patrol. Harmony had to go on the lam, since she’s Buffy’s new arch-nemesis. She begs to hide out with Spike, who’s clearly willing to take her in if it means their clothes will come off. She has no problem with that.

She steals one of his cigarettes, having taken up smoking since that’s what villains do and she sees herself as a villain now. Spike tells her that Buffy will hunt her down until she’s dead. Harmony should kill her first. “I tried! It was all hard and stuff!” Harmony whines. She thinks Spike should do it instead. He’d love to, but he can’t while he has the chip in his head. Harmony gives in and says she’ll do it, as long as Spike helps “with the thinking.” Elsewhere, Buffy has followed patrolling with sex, and Riley’s eager for another round.

Dawn nabs the prize from a cereal box the next morning, then requests eggs for breakfast. As Joyce is serving them, she suddenly stops in her tracks and asks, “Who are you?” before collapsing. Dawn quickly calls 911, and Buffy and Riley meet her at the hospital. Joyce’s doctor, Ben, tells them that Joyce is doing better, but they’re not sure why she collapsed. Dawn plays with his stethoscope, which lets her hear that Buffy and Ben’s heart rates are normal, but Riley’s is super-fast.

Riley gets examined but doesn’t listen to his doctor’s recommendation that he stay for observation. Buffy remains quiet, knowing she won’t be able to talk him out of leaving against medical advice. He thinks his heart just works differently now, after all the stuff the Initiative did to him. Joyce is also leaving, after undergoing a bunch of tests.

Buffy, Dawn, and Willow tend to her when she gets home, then discuss Riley’s situation. Buffy wants to do something, but she’s not sure what. Dawn just offers up facts about the CIA and Fidel Castro. Shh, Dawn. Willow suggests that Buffy call the Initiative – if they know what’s wrong with Riley, they’ll have to help.

Buffy notes that all traces of the group have been erased, so she doesn’t know how to reach them. She’s annoyed that, like Big Brother, the government can spy on you all the time, then ignore you when you actually have something to say. “Sounds more like big sister,” Dawn grumbles. She thinks that if the government really is spying on Buffy, all she has to do is say something they can hear. Riley isn’t at his place (wherever that is now) when Buffy goes looking for him there, so she picks up the phone and says, “Riley’s in trouble. He needs help.”

He doesn’t need help on the basketball court, though, as he’s single-handedly beating everyone he’s playing in a pickup game. Graham shows up with a couple of agents and tells him he needs medical treatment immediately. Riley has no interest in going anywhere the government can take advantage of him again.

Graham, who’s still working for them, promises that he wouldn’t let anything happen to his friend, but Riley can’t trust the orders Graham is following. Graham acknowledges that Walsh messed with them, Riley the worst. He needs to get fixed up ASAP, and Graham won’t give him a choice. Riley seems like he’s going to give in, but instead, he punches Graham out. He fights off the other agents and takes off.

Buffy’s understandably upset when she meets up with Graham to discuss Riley. He tells her that Riley has “hyper-adrenal overload,” which makes him stronger than he should be. His heart won’t be able to take it much longer. There’s a specialist waiting at the hospital. Buffy promises to get Riley there, threatening to beat Graham up if he tells her to hurry.

The Scoobies gather at the Magic Box to discuss how Riley’s gone AWOL. Xander thinks he just needs time alone. He had a friend once who liked a girl and was worried that she didn’t like him back, so it made him act like a jerk. Confused, Willow asks what he’s talking about. Xander replies that maybe Riley just wants attention. Anya assures him that she cares about him, and he shouldn’t be insecure. She has a friend who likes his friend, and…okay, that’s not important right now.

Buffy sends the Scoobies off to search places where Riley might be hanging out. Willow suggests the school ruins, since he stayed there for a while and might find them “homey.” That makes Buffy think that he went back to the Initiative’s caves. She just doesn’t know them well enough to search them. “We do have an associate who knows those caves like the back of his melanin-deprived hand,” Giles notes. Buffy doesn’t want to deal with Spike right now; he’s been making her want to kill him even more than usual. She’s sure he’s up to something nasty, hanging out in his crypt all day.

Not right now, he’s not – he and Harmony are playing 20 Questions. The thing she’s thinking of isn’t bigger or smaller than a breadbox; it’s an actual breadbox. She hides when they hear banging on the door just before Buffy bursts in. She offers him money to find Riley and take him to the hospital. “Oh, dear, is the enormous hall monitor sick?” Spike snarks. Buffy slaps him and tells him Riley isn’t the only person who can die. Spike asks for half his money up front, so Buffy rips the bills in half and throws them at him. After she leaves, Harmony emerges from her hiding place and asks what Buffy said about her.

Graham checks in with the doctor, Overheiser, who warns that it might already be too late for Riley. Spike and Harmony come in, knock out Graham, and tell Overheiser that he has a new patient. They take him to an operating room at UC Sunnydale’s med school and order him to remove the chip from Spike’s head. Overheiser says he can’t. It’s deeply embedded and removing it could cause permanent damage. Spike thinks that the crossbow Harmony is pointing at Overheiser is enough motivation for him to operate successfully.

Willow and Tara check out the school ruins, which are dark. Willow does a lighting spell she tweaked to be brighter. Buffy’s in the caves, where she finds Riley punching a wall. His hand is bleeding but he doesn’t feel any pain. She insists on taking him to Overheiser, but Riley doesn’t want treatment from a government doctor when the government made him the way he is. Buffy says that Overheiser is the only one who understands what’s wrong with him. Riley, however, doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with him. He’s more powerful than most people could even dream of being.

Buffy tells him that his body isn’t equipped to handle the stress this new power is putting on it. He thinks he can handle it, and he tells her to back off. She doesn’t understand why he’s acting the way he is. Riley admits that he’s afraid of going back to being normal. He doesn’t think he’d be enough for her. After all, her last boyfriend wasn’t a “civilian.”

Buffy is frustrated that Riley’s willing to endanger his life because he’s feeling competitive about Angel. Riley says it’s about them – Buffy’s getting stronger and more powerful every day, which puts her further and further from his reach. She tells him she’s not the one running away. She can’t believe that he thinks she’ll dump him because he’s “not in the super-club.” He says it’s human nature.

She tells him that no one has ever known her the way he does. He must not think much of her if he believes she’s only with him because he’s strong. If Buffy wanted someone with super-powers, she’d date Spike. She needs Riley, and that means he needs to be healthy. If he wants to throw it all away because he doesn’t trust her, fine, but she’ll still make him go to see Overheiser. Riley gives in, then tells her that loving her is the scariest thing he’s ever done. She replies that she doesn’t know why.

Overheiser digs around in Spike’s brain while Harmony observes. She’s intrigued by the fact that he’s still awake, since he was only given local anesthesia. She claims that since the chip keeps him from hurting living things, he can’t even pick flowers. Overheiser begs her to shut up. Buffy and Riley find Graham, who tells them that Spike and a blonde knocked him out. Buffy guesses the blonde is Harmony, and that they took Overheiser to make him remove Spike’s chip. Riley’s starting to power down, so they need to find Overheiser quickly.

Graham heads off to send people to check local clinics and animal hospitals. Riley wants to make up with him, but Graham says that can wait until later, assuming Riley survives all this. Buffy insists that he will. She starts brainstorming how she’ll kill Spike when this is over. Coincidentally, he’s brainstorming what he’ll do to her. Harmony, who’s smoking again, excitedly spots the chip in his brain. Overheiser declares the operation over, and Spike eagerly anticipates being stitched up so he can go kill Buffy.

Once Overheiser is done, Spike declares his intent to make him an appetizer. Buffy and Riley arrive just then and face off with the vampires. Spike announces that his “bug-zapper” is gone, which Buffy thinks makes him fair game for slaying now. Harmony accidentally shoots Riley with the crossbow, and he fights her while Buffy and Spike fight each other. Spike gets Buffy on the ground and moves to bite her, but pain in his head keeps him from doing it. Riley is similarly incapacitated and goes down.

As Buffy checks on him, Spike looks in the dish where Overheiser supposedly put the chip after he removed it. It contains a penny. Harmony’s back was turned when he pulled out the “chip,” so she and Spike only heard something hit the bottom of the dish and assumed it was the chip. Overheiser reminds Spike that he said he couldn’t remove it. Spike and Harmony flee as Overheiser goes over to help Riley. Spike complains that Buffy is everywhere he turns. She’s made it her personal project to torture him. He can’t get rid of her; she’s haunting him. He declares that it has to end.

Riley’s surgery was much more successful, and he tells Buffy he’s back to normal, whatever that is now. She makes it clear that she’s not going anywhere. Well, not long-term. Right now, she wants to go check on Joyce. Graham tells Riley that it’s a good thing Buffy found him when she did. She’s always impressed him. But he doesn’t think Riley belongs in Sunnydale: “You’re nothing here.” He used to have a mission, but now he’s just the Slayer’s boyfriend. He belongs in the military.

Buffy bursts into Spike’s crypt and complains about the mess he made. She’s done with him, and she should have killed him years ago. He tells her to do it already – it’ll end his torment. He’s sick of seeing her everywhere he goes. “Take me out of a world that has you in it,” he says. Buffy moves to stake him, but she stops. He grabs her and kisses her. She jumps back after a moment, then approaches him and kisses him some more. She whispers that she wants him, and he replies that he loves her.

Spike wakes from this dream with a gasp. Harmony’s the only blonde in his crypt. “Please, no,” he says.

Thoughts: This episode really overestimates how much the viewers care about Riley.

Giles suggesting that Buffy team up with Spike feels out of character.

There’s a funny moment when Overheiser tells Harmony to put out her cigarette, since smoking isn’t allowed. She resists until he points out a no-smoking sign. Then she gets really apologetic. And that’s why Harmony isn’t the new Big Bad.

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