January 21, 2023

Buffy 4.19, New Moon Rising: Oz the Great and Powerful

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:17 pm by Jenn

He’s back! And then he’s gone again

Summary: Willow and Tara are on a walk, discussing animals. Tara asks if Willow likes cats, and Willow says she’s more of a dog person. (Insert your own Oz joke here.) Tara’s thinking about getting a cat to secretly keep in her dorm room. They could name her Trixie or Miss Kitty Fantastico. Willow’s on board, which Tara is happy to hear, because she wants her room to be “Willow-friendly.”

They’re on their way to a Scooby meeting at Giles’, though it’s kind of a pointless one since nothing’s going on. Buffy reports that there haven’t been many vampires or demons out and about. Giles thinks it’s because of Adam. Riley says the Initiative has been busy, so demonic activity hasn’t completely stopped.

The meeting breaks up as Anya snarks that it was a waste of their time. Giles is annoyed, expecting everyone to respect him when he says there are important things to discuss. The door to his apartment opens and everyone stares. Tara’s confused, since she doesn’t know the person who’s just arrived after months away: Oz.

Buffy asks if he’s back for good or just passing through town. Giles thinks they should go easy on him. Oz tells Willow he wants to talk that night, and she agrees, shellshocked. After he leaves, Tara – who’s heard at least a little about Oz and knows his history with Willow – makes up an excuse to go so Willow can be alone with the Scoobies.

On patrol that night, Riley asks Buffy why things were so tense when Oz showed up. She explains that he and Willow had a difficult breakup. They pause to fight a demon, then go back to discussing that breakup. Buffy mentions that Oz is a werewolf, something Riley didn’t know. He’s surprised, since he didn’t think Willow would be into someone dangerous: “She seemed smarter than that.”

Buffy takes offense, and not just because Oz isn’t dangerous. She calls Riley a bigot, which he thinks is harsh. He just doesn’t think it’s wise to date someone who could eat you once a month. Buffy tells him that love isn’t logical and not everyone can be sensible about it all the time. She certainly hasn’t. Riley’s confused. You know, more than he usually is.

Oz goes to Buffy and Willow’s dorm room and asks Willow to come outside with him so he can show her something. She admits that it feels like this isn’t really happening – it’s too weird. He tells her to look up. The moon is full, but Oz hasn’t turned into a werewolf. He’s somehow found a way to control his turning. Willow hugs him, excited, then backs off awkwardly. He says he talked to Xander, who said that Willow doesn’t have a new guy. “No, no new guy,” she confirms. He tells her he’s a different person and can be what she needs now. That’s why he came back.

Graham and a couple of commandos encounter a werewolf while out on patrol, and it takes down one of the guys. In the morning, Oz and Willow are still hanging out, talking about his travels to Tibet and Romania. A Tibetan monk taught him meditation techniques to help him keep his “inner cool.” Willow teases that he wasn’t exactly out of control before. But it’s a big part of how he keeps from wolfing out (along with herbs, chanting, and charms).

Willow’s amazed that Oz traveled around the world and underwent a big transformation while she lived her normal life in Sunnydale. He doesn’t think she should discount anything she’s gone through. She tells him she’s improved her magic. They realize they talked all night and she suggests that they get breakfast. He thinks they should get some sleep, but she’d prefer waffles, since they’d be less confusing right now.

As she goes down the hall to brush her teeth, Tara comes by. She tries to leave when she realizes Oz is there, but he’s friendly to her and doesn’t want her to go on his account. She runs off anyway. Oz finds it unusual, and when Willow gets back, he mentions Tara’s visit to her. Willow looks worried.

Buffy spent the night with Riley, even though things are a little awkward between them. She snarks at him for being so regimented. He gets that she’s upset with him for what he said about Willow, but he just doesn’t want her to get hurt. Buffy thinks he’s too indoctrinated in the Initiative’s ways. Not all demons are evil. For example, some vampires aren’t evil at all. Forrest comes in to get Riley, telling him that one of the commandos was killed. Buffy asks what kind of demon got him, but Riley doesn’t think it matters.

She goes to her room, happy to hear that Oz and Willow were together all night. Willow tells her that he didn’t change with the full moon – he found a cure. Buffy thinks she should be more excited. Willow says she’s happy for Oz, but things are complicated…because of Tara. Buffy thinks she means that Tara has a crush on Oz. Then she realizes what Willow really means.

She’s thrown by the thought of her best friend liking women when she’s never hinted at it before, but she’s also supportive. Willow says that there’s something between her and Tara that’s powerful and totally different from what she had with Oz. Buffy encourages her to follow her heart as she scrambles to not freak out about this new realization. When Willow catches on, Buffy promises that she’s okay with it and is glad that Willow told her.

Willow was going to say something to Oz, but then they hung out and she felt the way she did before. “He’s Oz, you know?” she says. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but Buffy thinks it’s inevitable. She advises Willow to be honest or things will get really bad. Hmm, maybe someone should take her own advice and be honest with her boyfriend about things she hasn’t said about her ex?

Adam finds Spike’s crypt and asks him to come with him. Spike punches him in the stomach, which does nothing but hurt Spike’s hand. Adam announces that Spike is going to help him with his problem, and Adam is going to help Spike with his.

Willow goes to Tara’s room to let her know that nothing happened between her and Oz; they just talked. Tara promises that she’ll still be Willow’s friend, no matter what happens. Willow firmly says that that’s not even a question. Tara says she knows what Oz means to Willow, but Willow replies that she’s not sure what he means to her now. Things have changed since he left. She changed. Things were getting good again, partly because of Tara. Now Willow has the chance to have what she wanted most, and she doesn’t know what to do. Tara tells her to do what makes her happy. Crying, Willow hugs her.

Oz is hanging out in a hallway in a building on campus when Tara walks by. Oz thinks she’s Willow at first, since Tara smells like her. He’s decided to come back to school, which makes Tara think he and Willow will be getting back together. He’s preoccupied by her scent and says that Willow’s all over her. Tara gets flustered and says she can’t talk about it. Oz demands to know if they’re involved. Willow didn’t say anything about that.

Tara tries to leave but Oz grabs her. “Is she in love with you?” he exclaims. As he gets more agitated, he starts to wolf out. He tells Tara to run. She does, and he chases her into a classroom. She manages to throw a chair at him and seemingly knock him out. In reality, some commandos have arrived and shot him with a tranquilizer dart. Forrest tells her they’ll take things from there. Riley says they’ll find out if the werewolf is the same one who attacked Graham’s squad. If so, they’ll kill him. Tara tries to protests but Forrest just says they know what they’re doing.

Spike has heard Adam’s big plan and thinks it sounds great. Adam tells him that total human annihilation isn’t enough; some demons will have to die, too. Spike doesn’t get how Buffy fits into the plan. Adam wants her to be the humans’ leader, but Spike notes that she won’t exactly roll over and die because Adam wants her to. Spike confirms that if he cooperates, Adam will remove the chip from his head. “Scout’s honor,” Adam says. “You were a Boy Scout?” Spike asks. “Parts of me,” Adam replies.

Tara finds Willow in the library and tells her that Oz transformed while they were talking, even though it’s daytime. She adds that the Initiative took him and might hurt him. Willow rushes to gather the Scoobies so they can come up with a rescue plan. Buffy can’t reach Riley, so they can’t use him as an inside man.

A scientist studies Oz, who’s still in wolf form, but can’t confirm that he’s the one who attacked Graham’s squad. Riley wants to kill the wolf before they know, since he’s a killer either way. Oz turns back into his human form right then. They move him from a cage to an exam table and give him a sedative to keep him from hurting them. A scientist tells Riley that a higher-up, Colonel McNamara, has given them permission to proceed. Riley protests on Oz’s behalf, so the scientist has him removed. Oz gets tazed, which turns him back into a werewolf.

Buffy still hasn’t been able to reach Riley, which makes her think something’s wrong. She decides that she and Xander will go into the Initiative together, since they’ve done it before. Willow wants to go, too, but Buffy knows that’s a bad idea. She needs to help Giles hack into the electrical grid so they can power down the Initiative. Willow objects, so Buffy backs down.

Since Buffy doesn’t have clearance into the Initiative anymore, Xander suggests that they grab a commando and force him to get them in. Spike suddenly arrives and says they can use the back entrance. Giles asks how he got in. Spike tells him the door was unlocked, which is unwise since someone dangerous could get in. “Or someone formerly dangerous and currently annoying,” Buffy says.

Spike advises her to be nice or he won’t help them get “red’s mongrel” back. Giles figures he wants money in exchange for his help, but Spike also likes messing with the Initiative. He knows someone who can get the Scoobies inside. Buffy doesn’t want his help, but his offer is too good to pass up.

Poor Oz is now in a cell, naked and scared. Riley brings him some clothes and lets him out. Aww, Riley! Forrest, Graham, and some other commandos stop them before they can leave. Riley is sent to the brig and lectured by Colonel McNamara, who’s unhappy that his exemplary record stopped being so exemplary when he started seeing Buffy. Now he’s disloyal and abuses his command. Tonight he crossed the line by releasing a hostile.

Tomorrow he’ll be court-martialed and his involvement with “the Slayer and her band of freaks” will be investigated. Riley is an anarchist who’s “too backwards for the real world.” If he helps the Initiative take down the Scoobies, he could save his military career. If not, he’ll forever be known as a traitor, and “no woman is worth that.”

Spike leads Buffy, Xander, and Willow to his secret Initiative entrance; the women are wearing lab coats and the guys are in commando fatigues. Adam monitors them through surveillance tech. Giles and Anya work on shutting down the electrical grid, succeeding just as the other Scoobies enter the building. Anya asks Giles for a high five, something probably neither of them has done before.

Buffy and Xander confront McNamara in his bed and she orders him to take them to “him.” McNamara thinks they mean Riley and refuses to let him out of the brig. Buffy’s surprised that Riley tried to help Oz escape. Xander says they’ll just turn this into a double rescue mission. Buffy knocks out a commando and uses his access card to get to Riley, who notes that if he leaves now, he can never come back. Not that he’s hesitant – he just wanted to hear it out loud. He’s totally Team Scooby here.

The Scoobies take McNamara hostage to force him to free Oz. Some other commandos surround them, so Buffy threatens to “pull a William Burroughs” on McNamara. “You’ll bore him to death with free prose?” Xander asks. “Was I the only one awake in English that day?” Buffy says, annoyed that no one got her (admittedly obscure) reference. She clarifies that she’ll kill McNamara.

A commando releases Oz from his cell, and though Oz starts to wolf out, he’s able to control himself and reverse it. The Scoobies all head out, still holding on to McNamara. They leave him in the elevator, where he warns Riley that he’s a dead man. “No, sir – I’m an anarchist,” Riley replies before punching his superior unconscious.

Buffy takes him to the ruins of the high school so they can hide out from the Initiative. He figures the blackout on campus will slow them down for a while. He’s sorry his military career ended the way it did, but he’s glad it’s over. Now he finally knows where he stands. He admits that he was bigoted about Oz, but Buffy thinks he reacted fairly. He found out Willow was in an “unconventional relationship” and it took him a little while to accept it. Hmm, sounds familiar! Riley knows now that things aren’t all black and white, both with monsters and love. Buffy decides this is the right time to tell him about her own past relationship.

In Oz’s van, Oz tells Willow that he shouldn’t have come back. He hasn’t changed as much as he thought. Willow says he has, but he thinks she’s the one who brings the wolf out of him. She blames herself for upsetting him, which he notes means they can’t have a normal relationship. He confirms that she’s happy, though he doesn’t exactly want to discuss why she’s happy.

Willow says she missed him. She wrote him a bunch of letters but didn’t know where to send them. It was too hard to live like that. Oz thinks he was dumb to believe that she would keep waiting for him. She says she did wait, and part of her might always wait. If she goes to Istanbul some day decades from now and turns a corner and sees him, she won’t be surprised. He’s still with her. He agrees, but the timing isn’t right now.

Oz has decided to leave town again. They hug goodbye, both of them emotional but accepting that it’s for the best. Willow then goes to Tara’s room with a candle, since the dorm is still blacked out. Tara thinks she’s there to announce that she’s getting back together with Oz. “I understand – you have to be with the person you love,” she says. “I am,” Willow replies. She promises to make everything up to Tara, starting now. Tara agrees and blows out the candle.

Thoughts: Oh, Buffy, no, you can’t wear a green sweater with green pants in clashing shades unless it’s St. Patrick’s Day. And even then, it’s a horrible look.

For the most part, I like how Buffy handles Willow sort of, kind of coming out. She’s thrown, but she wants it clear that it won’t change their friendship.

The Scoobies really need cell phones.

I’m amazed that it takes Riley less than an episode to go from “all supernatural beings are evil” to “did I say ‘all’? I don’t remember saying ‘all.'”

January 14, 2023

Buffy 4.18, Where the Wild Things Are: Ghosts of Repression Past

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

These two save the episode

Summary: Buffy’s on patrol in some fun pants, getting assistance from Riley. They make a good team, and it doesn’t take them long to take out their attackers. They think it’s interesting that vampires and demons teamed up, and it’s something Giles should know. But they’ll wait until the morning to talk to him, since they want to have sex first. They fall asleep in Riley’s bed afterward, and when Riley slips out a little later, he hears some rustling and splashing noises. He follows them to the bathroom, but all he finds is a dripping faucet.

The next morning, Xander tries to convince Anya to go to a party at Riley’s frat house. He’s at his new job as an ice cream truck driver. Anya doesn’t feel comfortable hanging out with the commandos, since she’s a former demon. Xander doesn’t think they would care if they found out, which they won’t. Plus, there will be so many people there that they probably won’t even notice her. Anya interprets that as him saying she’s not “desirable” enough for college guys to flirt with her. He realizes he’s not going to win this argument.

He assures her that he still finds her beautiful. Anya asks why they didn’t have sex last night. This must mean that they’re breaking up. Xander tells her that there’s a lot more to their relationship than sex (or at least there should be). She asks why he won’t “take advantage” of her. Is there something wrong with his body? Does he need Viagra? Xander tells her that if she wants sex, they’ll have it right then and there. He realizes just then that a bunch of kids and their parents are outside the truck and heard everything said.

Buffy and Riley share the news about the vampire/demon partnership with Giles, Willow, and Tara. Giles finds it very strange. Riley thinks they’re all teaming up to work with Adam. Tara quips that he’s “bridging the gap between the races.” Willow compares him to Martin Luther King, Jr., then realizes that’s not appropriate.

Giles advises Buffy and Riley to keep patrolling in the same area for a few nights in case there’s more weirdness. Riley says he’ll tell the commandos, and a reserve unit will patrol during the party. Giles doesn’t appreciate the timing of the party, but Riley wants his guys to have the chance to relax. He invites Giles, who says he has other plans at the local coffee shop (the Espresso Pump). He won’t elaborate, just saying it’s “a meeting of grown-ups.” Riley and Buffy have some time before she has to go to class, so they run off to have sex.

That night, Forrest and Graham notice that the temperature in the commandos’ frat house has dropped. They also notice that Buffy and Riley are going at it again. (Don’t worry, they’re using protection.) A commando named Mason has been tending a fire in the fireplace, but it’s not helping heat the building. Graham jokes that they have two “heat generators” upstairs. As they continue…uh…generating heat, the fire flares out of the fireplace and toward Mason.

Anya is on her way to the Bronze when Spike jumps out and spooks her. He’s disappointed to see that it’s her, then cheers up when he realizes that he scared her. He demands money, which she thinks is ridiculous, because she’s not paying him for making her yell. He clarifies that he’s robbing her. She finds that even more ridiculous, since he can’t hurt her.

He tries to scare her again, but she notes that he’s not in vamp face anymore, so there’s nothing intimidating about him. Spike asks for a second chance, since this is a good way for him to make some quick cash from frightened humans. Anya comments that it’s easy to see why he doesn’t have any friends. He doesn’t think she has any, either, and he hits a nerve when he asks if Xander had better things to do tonight.

He did, actually, since he’s at the commandos’ party. Buffy and Riley are across the room from each other and can’t stop making eyes at each other. Forrest and Graham exposit that Mason wasn’t hurt and even asked to go on patrol tonight. Xander tells Buffy, Willow, and Tara about what happened in the ice cream truck and how upset Anya is. Willow notices that Buffy’s mind is on something (someone) else, and she decides it’s a good time to confess that she spilled something on a shirt she borrowed without asking.

At the Bronze, Anya laments to Spike that she’s lost her powers and can’t use them to hurt Xander. Spike can sympathize. He wishes he’d appreciated his ability to commit violence more when he had it. He can also relate to how complicated Anya thinks her life has become now that she’s in love. She’s seen a thousand relationships and knows they all end badly. Spike suggests that they team up to take out Xander and Drusilla. Anya declines, but she encourages Spike to go after Drusilla alone.

Some frat guy at the commandos’ party is trying to impress a woman (who’s very much not impressed) when he leans his hand against a wall. His reaction is…honestly, the only word I can think of is “orgasmic,” a word I have never used before and plan to never use again. Xander flirts with a woman named Julie who finds him funny and appealing. Buffy makes a dumb excuse for Riley to leave the party with her, and they head up to his room. Forrest and Graham aren’t fooled.

The frat guy by the wall tells another guy to put his hand on it. What a fun party this is! Willow and Tara talk about horseback riding, and things seem to be going well between them, but when Willow puts her hand on Tara’s knee, Tara jumps away and tells Willow she’s disgusting. When the moment passes, she’s not sure what happened.

Spike and Anya arrive, and he quickly realizes that all the guys at the party are familiar. She didn’t tell him that they were going to an Initiative party. He’s upset that she brought him there. Coincidentally, Xander is also upset that she brought him there, just for different reasons. He tells Anya that just because they had a fight doesn’t mean she needs to “rebound with the evil undead.” Spike’s amused by how possessive Xander’s become. Xander loudly greets him as hostile 17, but none of the commandos hear him.

Anya tells Xander that she and Spike didn’t have sex. Basically all she does now is not have sex. Xander says that they had one fight and it’s not the end of the world. It’s normal for a relationship. She thinks it’s normal for the end of a relationship. Vengeance usually follows next. They don’t have anything in common other than sex, so she gets to say when they’re done. Xander thinks he puts up with too much from her to not get to end things himself. Anya decides she’s staying and will show him how unbothered she is by him having fun.

Xander comes across a group of partygoers, including Julie, playing spin the bottle. He joins the game as a commando comments that Spike looks familiar. Spike says he gets that a lot. Xander spins the bottle and it lands on Julie. She’s looking forward to a kiss, but he chickens out and just pecks her on the cheek. She responds by grabbing him and kissing him passionately. When he puts a stop to it, she gets embarrassed and runs off.

He goes looking for her and sees the people at the wall, which has become a popular hang-out spot. He hears Julie crying in a locked room, cutting off her hair and repeating over and over, “I’m bad.” While looking for Tara, Willow ends up in the bathroom. She hears the same noises Riley heard there and finds a boy thrashing around in the bathtub, unable to surface. When she grabs at him, he disappears, then reappears behind her. Buffy and Riley hear her scream, but they’re not concerned enough to go check on her.

Xander returns to the spin the bottlers to try to find someone who can tend to Julie. They’re all too caught up in the game to listen. Willow tells him about the boy in the tub, guessing that he’s a ghost. Xander asks if every frat on campus is haunted, and why people keep coming to parties if that’s the case. It can’t be because of the snacks.

Tara joins them and says something’s off about the house. Just then, the bottle the spinners are using spins around really fast and explodes. Willow, Tara, and Xander rush off to find Buffy, but she and Riley don’t respond to them calling their names and pounding on the door. Vines suddenly shoot out from under the door. Buffy and Riley are in their own little world, oblivious to anything happening around them.

As the vines keep growing, Tara realizes that something’s going on downstairs at the party. The building starts shaking and everyone starts running for the door. Spike’s amused, since at least things are getting interesting, but straps shoot out of the chair he’s sitting in and restrain him. Forrest finds Graham standing in a hallway, practically frozen while people scream and run around him. He says something scripture-y. Forrest drags him to the elevator that will take them to the Initiative.

The shaking stops as everyone exits the house. Well, almost everyone – there’s a screaming woman running toward Anya. The woman passes right through her and disappears. The shaking starts again as Anya catches up to the other Scoobies. Spike manages to free himself from his restraints and run out with them. Julie comes out of the bathroom, almost completely bald.

The Initiative is scrambling to keep things under control. A scientist sends Forrest and Graham (who’s recovered from whatever was going on with him) to handle things. Everyone’s out of the frat house now, but Willow and Xander want to go back in for Buffy and Riley. Anya thinks they can take care of themselves. Xander points out that “there’s ghosts and shaking and people are going all Felicity with their hair.” Ha! They’re “fresh out of superpeople,” so they need Riley and the Slayer. Who’s in?

Surprisingly, Spike is. “I know I’m not the first choice for heroics,” he says. “And Buffy’s tried to kill me more than once. And I don’t fancy a single one of you at all. But…” He pauses. “Actually, all that sounds pretty convincing.” He heads off. Hee hee hee. Anya wants to leave, too, but Xander refuses to go without Buffy. (And Riley, too, I guess.) He starts to go back inside but something blows him back out. He and Willow decide it’s time to get Giles.

Tara remembers that he’s at the Espresso Pump, so the Scoobies go over there. They’re shocked to see him playing guitar and singing “Behind Blue Eyes.” Xander would like to go back to the frat house, since that was less scary. Giles notices that the Scoobies are there but keeps performing. Willow remembers why she used to have a crush on him. Anya and Tara are impressed, and Willow even says that Giles is kind of sexy. Xander asks her not to add any more fuel to the total mental breakdown he’s trying to fight off.

Buffy and Riley are supposedly the only people back at the frat house, but ghostly giggling and screams can be heard. The vines are taking over the door. Buffy’s worried that Riley is too far away and tells him to keep touching her. The Scoobies go to a library to figure out why everything at the party got so sexual. Willow discovers that before the frat house was a frat house, it was a home for troubled kids. If any of them died there, they could be haunting it.

Genevieve Holt, the woman who ran the home, is still alive, so Giles, Xander, and Anya go see her. She’s very religious and is proud of all she did to bring up the kids in a Christian way. Giles asks if she ever noticed disturbances in the house. Mrs. Holt says that sounds crazy. No one died in her care, since she was so good to them. She treated them like she would have treated her own children, praising them when they were good and punishing them when they were “dirty.” And she doesn’t mean literal dirt.

She knew when they were doing things that would have kept them from getting into Heaven. If the girls were being vain, she would “remove the temptation to admire themselves.” Xander connects that to Julie cutting off her hair. Mrs. Holt baptized the “most unclean” in the bathtub, holding them under so they could be reborn.

Giles blasts her for the abuse and trauma she inflicted on the children. He tells her that not only did she ruin their lives, but her actions led to the presence taking over the frat house. Mrs. Holt doesn’t want to listen since she can smell sin on all three of her visitors. “Let me tell you something, lady – she who smelt it dealt it,” Xander says. To Giles, he explains, “It’s like what you said but faster.”

On the way out, Anya wonders where the ghosts came from, since none of the kids died. Giles doesn’t think they’re ghosts after all. They’re dealing with poltergeists, apparitions borne out of the kids’ intense emotions and sexual energy. Xander determines that Buffy and Riley set something free. Giles says the poltergeists are now feeding off their energy. Xander asks what happens when their “battery” fueling the poltergeists is drained. “They die,” Giles replies.

Buffy and Riley are practically unstoppable sex machines now, which means the battery is just getting more and more drained. The Scoobies gather in Buffy and Willow’s dorm room, where Willow, Tara, and Giles will do a spell to bind the spirits so Xander and Anya can get Buffy and Riley out of the house. They have to go in the room where they’re having sex?? Xander and Anya grab weapons, even though Anya doesn’t think they’ll do much good.

They go back to the frat house, where Xander asks Anya how she feels. She says she’s sad, scared, and a little hungry. He meant what does she feel from the house. Oh. Still haunted. Tara, Willow, and Giles start their spell, which makes the kids’ spirits appear in the room. The door to the frat house opens on its own, and Xander can tell that it’s not haunted anymore. However, the vines have grown so much that he and Anya will have to hack their way through them to get upstairs. Turns out Xander’s decision to bring a big blade was a good one.

Tara, Giles, and Willow ask the kids’ spirits to release Buffy and Riley, leave their past behind, and, in Willow’s words, “get over it.” Xander and Anya reach Riley’s room, but the spirits must sense that they’re there, because a big wind kicks up both in the hallway and in Buffy and Willow’s dorm room. The spirits disappear from there, and Willow realizes they went back to the frat house.

The spirits lock Xander up in the bathroom and throw Anya off the second-floor balcony. Xander ends up being held underwater in the bathtub. It’s up to Anya to get to Buffy and Riley. She goes back upstairs, yelling, “Shut up, repressed crybabies!” She saves Xander from drowning and the two of them go back to what’s become a jungle of vines. The vines lash at them but they’re able to get to Riley’s door and shove it open. The energy fueling everything is released, and Buffy and Riley immediately snap out of it. “Don’t you knock?” Buffy exclaims, annoyed. He and Anya just look at each other and leave.

The next day, the Scoobies debrief, and Buffy and Riley are creeped out about what happened. Not about the marathon sex and weird haunting – about Giles singing. On the plus side, Xander and Anya have made up. Buffy and Riley feel bad about their part in what happened, but Willow notes that they were under the influence of powerful magic. Buffy says they were like zombies. She had no control over herself. Willow thinks it must have been horrible. Buffy and Riley lie unconvincingly that it was.

Thoughts: Mrs. Holt is played by the late Kathryn Joosten.

I would have loved to be in the writers’ room when this episode was pitched. “Everyone’s haunted by traumatized kids and Buffy and Riley keep doing what?”

No one should be buying that the commandos are just some normal frat. Their house is waaaaaay too clean.

Spike and Anya need more scenes together.

January 7, 2023

Buffy 4.17, Superstar: Too Perfect

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:15 pm by Jenn

You know, it’s not a bad look

Summary: It’s just another night in Sunnydale – Buffy’s fighting vampires with some assistance from the Scoobies. They chase one into a crypt and find more vampires feeding on a corpse. “I don’t care if it is an orgy of death – there’s still such a thing as a napkin,” Willow says after the Scoobies sneak back out. Buffy thinks she can take on the nest, but Anya convinces her that the Scoobies need backup. They go to a mansion to get help from a very unlikely source: Jonathan.

Instead of staying at the nice, big mansion, the Scoobies gather at Giles’ to get ready for the big fight ahead of them. Xander’s ready to show off his dexterity with a stake. But no, Anya, he can’t open that carton of milk without tearing it. Buffy thanks Jonathan for joining them, but he’s happy to help. Willow finds schematics for the crypt and discovers that there’s only one entrance. Jonathan finds another one and is sure Willow would have eventually come across it.

He starts to give instructions for battle, pausing to continue a chess game he and Giles have been playing for a while. After a little pep talk, Jonathan leads the Scoobies into battle, though he really could have handled all the vampires on his own. Buffy feels bad for letting one get by her, and Jonathan reminds her that the important thing is to do her best. She’s not sure she did.

As the Scoobies leave the crypt, paparazzi call out to Jonathan to pose for pictures. Once they’re gone, the Scoobies debrief, with Xander and Willow thinking they did pretty well. Anya says the vampires weren’t very well-organized. If they’d all come at Buffy at once, they could have easily killed her. “Thanks, Anya. That won’t keep me awake all night,” Buffy replies. Jonathan says that vampires only form nests because it makes hunting easier. They’d rather hang out alone in the shadows. You know, like Spike is right now.

Spike emerges to trade barbs with Jonathan like he usually does with Buffy. Spike calls the Scoobies “Wonder Jonathan and his fluffy battle kittens.” Buffy asks if he thought that up in all the spare time he has now that he can’t hurt people. Jonathan tells her that Spike is still dangerous, and Spike snarks at “Betty” to back off. “It’s Buffy, you big bleached…stupid guy,” Buffy replies. Uh, nice one? Jonathan calls Spike scum and warns that they’ll kill him as soon as he’s back to his old ways.

Willow goes to Tara’s and tells her about the battle while they make a collage. Tara thinks Willow enjoys being a Scooby, despite all the danger. Willow’s proud of how well Buffy did, especially after the Faith mess, and most especially now that she knows that Faith slept with Riley. Tara hopes he and Buffy will be okay. After a lot of taping, we see the finished collage – it’s all pictures of Jonathan.

Buffy goes to see Riley (who has a poster of Jonathan playing basketball under his mini-basketball hoop) and confirms that he’s not still eating the Initiative’s food. He says they claimed they stopped putting drugs in it, but he’s still not eating it, just to be on the safe side. He’s not sure if that will lead to him getting weaker or dumber or, possibly, smarter.

He’s frustrated that they haven’t told him any more about Adam, who’s still running around free. Riley knows he could find Adam if the Initiative would just trust him enough to give him intel. Buffy says she’s felt that way her whole life. Riley sits next to her on the bed, but she gets up to play basketball. She’s not very good, so he starts to coach her, but she accidentally elbows him in his recent injury. Everything’s awkward between them, so she leaves.

She meets up with Jonathan at a coffee shop (which is full of posters of him) and complains about how Faith ruined her relationship with Riley. She fixes up a cup of coffee, then hands it to Jonathan. He thinks she’s actually mad at Riley, not Faith. A woman comes over and asks Jonathan for an autograph. After she’s gone, he tells Buffy that her real problem is that Riley couldn’t tell that Faith wasn’t her. She needs to forgive him.

Another fan, Karen, comes by and gushes over Jonathan. She’s carrying a copy of his book, so he offers to sign it for her. Buffy admits that she may have been blaming Riley for what happened with Faith. She’s worried that now she’s ruined things, and he won’t want to be with her anymore. Jonathan assures her that what they have is special, and if they put in the work, things will be okay. It Buffy wants the relationship to work, she can make it happen, he says under a poster of himself advertising shoes.

The Initiative is under new management in the form of Colonel George Haviland. The facility is under review, but their mission remains the same: Capture Adam. Haviland has brought in a tactical consultant to help out with that. Of course, it’s Jonathan. Graham is happy they’re bringing in the “big guns.” Jonathan wants the commandos to understand Adam better before they can find him. He’s realized that Adam never eats, which led him to discover that Adam’s power source is uranium. It’ll last pretty much forever, so killing Adam will require completely annihilating him. And they still have to find him first.

Karen is outside Jonathan’s mansion, spying with binoculars, when a monster attacks her. Nice security at your huge compound, Jonathan. She’s able to get away from the monster and run off. Back at the Initiative, Riley worries that Buffy will never be able to get past his hookup with Faith. Jonathan says she’s scared of what Riley’s thinking about. Faith is more experienced than Buffy, so it makes sense that Buffy will think he’s comparing the two of them.

Riley swears that he cares about Buffy, not Faith, but Jonathan isn’t sure she can see that, even though it’s right in front of her. He then blindfolds himself and aims a gun at some commandos who are standing in a row with apples on their heads. Jonathan…what the frick, man?

A swing band is playing at the Bronze (kids, ask your parents about the swing revival of the ’90s! See what colors their faces turn when they remember!) and the Scoobies are in the audience. Xander’s mad that Anya moaned Jonathan’s name the night before. Buffy tells Riley that if they start throwing punches, she has $50 on Anya. Riley wonders if they’ll make it.

Jonathan takes the stage in a tux and everyone settles down to listen to him sing. He dedicates a song to Buffy and Riley. Riley invites Buffy to dance, and it looks like the song is just what they need to get past their awkwardness. In fact, when he tries to tell her that she’s the only one he wants, she assures him that she already knows, and they don’t need to talk about it. When the song is over, Jonathan starts playing a trumpet. Tara excitedly says he’s going to play something from his new album. Anya and Xander rush off to have sex.

Karen runs in and Jonathan promises that he can help her. He takes her back to his mansion, where a police officer has come to check out a reported disturbance. Jonathan says he has everything under control, so the officer leaves. Karen tells Jonathan, Buffy, and Riley about the monster, which had a symbol on its forehead. She draws it and Jonathan says he’s familiar with it. The monster is nothing to worry about. It usually stays in the woods and doesn’t go around people. He’ll patrol and take care of it by himself. Buffy starts getting suspicious but stays quiet.

Adam has set up a base of operations in a library and has taken on a new minion, Jape. There’s a fresh kill nearby, but Adam says Jape shouldn’t feed from the body; the human had a blood disease. They would have been dead within the year and didn’t even know it. Like most humans, they didn’t know what they were carrying around inside them. Jape tells Adam that there’s a new monster in town. Jonathan, who’s on a bunch of screens they’re watching, was there.

Adam isn’t familiar with Jonathan, which Jape thinks is crazy. Everyone knows Jonathan! Adam tells him that everything on the screens is a lie. “The world has been changed,” he says. “It’s intriguing, but it’s wrong.” Everyone’s under some kind of spell except Adam, who’s more awake and alive than anyone else has ever been. Jape asks what he’s going to do – kill Jonathan? Adam doesn’t see the need to do anything. The magic making these changes will collapse eventually, leading to chaos. And chaos is exactly what Adam wants.

Jonathan delays going to bed with his twin girlfriends (who are no doubt models), staring into a fire in the fireplace. He removes his robe, revealing that he has the same symbol on his shoulder that Karen saw on the monster. Dun dun dun! Buffy, Willow, and Tara walk home together, discussing Jonathan’s decision to go after the monster on his own. Buffy thought he was scared. Willow reminds her that Jonathan doesn’t get scared. Buffy even mentioned that when she gave him the Class Protector award at the prom.

After Tara heads off to her dorm, Willow tells Buffy that she saw how good things seemed with her and Riley. Buffy says she felt like it was just the two of them, with no Faith, for the first time since that whole mess. Tara encounters the monster on the way to her room and tries to fight it off. She’s able to conjure up some dust to cloud its vision, which allows her to run off and lock herself in a closet.

In the morning, Willow calls Buffy over to Tara’s room. Someone found Tara in the closet, where Willow thinks she spent the night. She’s really shaken up, but she’s able to tell Buffy about the monster, which Buffy quickly guesses is the same one Karen saw. Willow can’t believe that Jonathan could have been wrong when he promised that everyone was safe.

Buffy heads downtown, passing a bunch of ads for Jonathan’s website, which is, fittingly, jonathan.com. She goes to Xander’s but he’s not there. Anya wonders why Buffy doesn’t leave after hearing that news. Buffy asks to come in and look at some of Xander’s stuff. He’s decorated with all sorts of Jonathan-related things, and he has Jonathan trading cards. Anya’s reading Jonathan’s book.

Buffy asks if it ever seems strange to her that Jonathan is good at everything. “He’s Jonathan,” Anya replies dismissively. Buffy grabs the book from her and Anya complains, since she was just at the part where he invents the Internet. Buffy points out that Jonathan fights better than she does, and she’s the Slayer. Anya thinks she just wants a pep talk: “Buck up, you. You kill the best. Go you! Kill, kill.” Buffy thinks Jonathan seems too perfect.

She asks Anya about the wishes she granted when she was a vengeance demon. Could someone wish for an entirely different world? Anya says yes; they could create an alternate reality. For example, you could have a world without shrimp or a world with nothing but shrimp. You could even have a world where Jonathan’s not awesome. Anya wouldn’t want to live there, though.

Buffy gathers the Scoobies at Giles’ to continue discussing Jonathan. She doesn’t get how he could star in The Matrix without ever leaving town. And how did he graduate from med school when he’s only 18? “Effective time management?” Xander suggests. Giles doesn’t get what Buffy’s angling for. Anya asks when Jonathan is going to get there and start the meeting. Buffy tells her this is the meeting.

She asks if anyone else has been thinking that Jonathan is too perfect. Xander says he’s “just perfect enough.” He crushed the Master’s bones, blew up the mayor, and coached the U.S. women’s soccer team to a World Cup victory. They all saw him do those things. Buffy isn’t sure they did, though. She tells Anya to explain alternate universes. Anya starts in on shrimp, so Buffy shuts her down. She thinks Jonathan is manipulating the world and has made everyone his pawns. “Or prawns,” Anya quips. Ha!

Giles thinks Buffy’s out of her depth here. Riley agrees that Buffy’s not making sense, but he also knows her well enough to think that they should listen, since she sometimes sees things that others don’t. Everyone else gets on board, so Buffy announces that she thinks Jonathan ignored evidence, which led to Tara getting hurt. She’s pretty sure he knows something about the monster, since he was familiar with the mark on its forehead.

She remembers something else and asks Giles if he has Jonathan’s swimsuit calendar. Giles says no, then admits that he does. He claims it was a gift. Buffy finds a picture of Jonathan with the monster’s mark on his back. Jonathan comes in just them and Anya blurts that Buffy thinks he sent the monster after Tara. Thanks, Anya!

Buffy tells Jonathan she doesn’t understand how the monster turned out to be dangerous when he said it wasn’t. He announces to the Scoobies that Buffy’s right. Xander’s horrified, like his whole worldview has been turned upside-down. Jonathan says he has a history with the monster, but when he faces it, he gets confused because of some power it possesses. Xander compares it to kryptonite. Jonathan claims he had the monster’s mark tattooed on him to remind him not to underestimate it. Xander’s relieved that his hero is still heroic.

Buffy’s still skeptical, so she suggests that she and Jonathan go after the monster right now. Jonathan thinks it might have left town, which is what it usually does, but he agrees to go anyway. They run into Spike in a cemetery, and he teases that Buffy’s only feisty when she has Jonathan by her side. He’d love to take her on alone some day. Jonathan demands information out of Spike, who is as evasive and unhelpful as ever.

After Jonathan starts to walk away, Buffy starts to intimidate Spike, something he’s not used to her doing. She reminds him that he’s reliant on animal blood from butchers, and Jonathan could easily get them to stop providing it. Spike spills that he heard about vampires getting kicked out of their lair recently. Jonathan tries to pretend that he’s not annoyed that Buffy took charge for a little while.

Back at Giles’, the Scoobies look for a spell that might have been used to make Jonathan the way he is. Riley’s surprised that such powerful spells actually work. Willow tells him they require the spell-caster to be attuned with the universe. Xander agrees, saying you can’t just speak a few words and make magic. But that’s exactly what happens when he speaks a little Latin and the book he’s holding catches on fire. “Xander, don’t speak Latin in front of the books,” Giles admonishes.

Willow finds the monster’s mark, which is part of an augmentation spell. It changed Jonathan and how everyone sees him. It made him everyone’s ideal, the best of everything. The drawback is that the spell had to create an opposite force, the worst of everything. Xander clarifies that Jonathan did a spell just to make everyone thinks he’s cool. Xander finds that very cool in itself. Riley reminds Giles that Buffy and Jonathan are going after the monster. Giles says that if the monster dies, the spell will be broken and Jonathan will revert to whatever he was before. Anya notes that Jonathan won’t want Buffy to kill the monster.

Buffy and Jonathan come across a huge pit in the monster’s lair, and at first it looks like he’s going to push her in, but he refocuses on finding the monster. It finds them first. Willow tries to wrap her head around the realization that Buffy was right about something. Riley asks what the real world is like if this one is fake. Giles thinks it’s mostly the same, just with a different Jonathan. Xander doesn’t want a world like that. Riley notes that if Buffy doesn’t kill the monster, they could be stuck in this fake world forever. Xander’s like, “That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?”

Buffy fights the monster, asking Jonathan what she should do. He holds the monster for her and tells her she’ll need to take care of it on her own. She’ll know what to do, since she used to. He starts to tell her that the more she hurts the monster, the more Jonathan will lose his power, but he doesn’t get out the whole sentence before the monster breaks away. Jonathan hides while Buffy fights it, starting to remember what it was like to be the Slayer on her own. Jonathan jumps back into the battle and shoves the monster into the pit. Buffy grabs his ankle to keep him from falling in as well.

Everything goes back to normal, with all the Jonathan-related stuff turning back into what it used to be. The Scoobies meet for a picnic the next day, trying to adjust to their reality. Xander says he’ll always remember the way Jonathan made him feel about himself, like he was valued and respected. Now he feels empty. “I guess Jonathan hurt you most of all,” Buffy says. Tara raises her hand and Buffy acknowledges that Xander gets second place behind her.

As Riley asks if everyone else felt way too tall and Anya wonders who really did star in The Matrix, Buffy spots Jonathan across the quad. He tells her most people are forgetting the illusion, but some are angry. She asks why he did what he did, then decides she gets it and changes her question to how. He tells her that after his suicide near-attempt, he went to counseling and met a kid with a spell. The kid didn’t mention the monster.

Jonathan feels bad about what happened, swearing that no one was supposed to get hurt. Buffy tells him people aren’t just mad about the monster – they didn’t like being puppets in Jonathan’s theater. He says they weren’t; they were his friends. She replies that he can’t make a big gesture and hope things work out. Things are more complicated than that, and require time and work. Jonathan reminds her of the advice he gave her about Riley. He can’t really remember it, but he thinks he was right, and that it’s similar to what she just said. Things take work, but it’s worth it.

Buffy and Riley end up in his room, making out, which she thinks is a good solution to all of their problems…at least until she moans Jonathan’s name. Ruh-roh!

Thoughts: Jape is played by Rob Benedict, AKA Richard on Felicity. Jonathan’s singing voice is provided by Brad Kane, who played Tucker in “The Prom” (and was also the singing voice of Aladdin).

Fun fact I just learned: Danny Strong (Jonathan), George Hertzburg (Adam), and J. August Richards (Gunn on Angel) all went to the same college and did plays together.

Danny Strong is excellent in this episode. Good for them for taking a risk and giving him so much to do when he’d practically been just an extra before this.

Hee hee hee.

I like how the episode starts with the spell already going. It’s fun to try to figure out what’s happening.

The credits for the episode are slightly different.

So how did Jonathan find out that Adam’s power source is uranium?

December 24, 2022

Buffy 4.15, This Year’s Girl: Don’t You Forget About Me

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:02 pm by Jenn

It’s so weird seeing Faith in clothes like these

Summary: Buffy is making the bed in her old bedroom…with help from Faith. It’s obviously a dream, but whose? Buffy wishes she could stay, but Faith understands why she can’t: “Little sis coming. I know. So much to do before she gets here.” Blood starts dripping on the bed, and she asks Buffy, “Are you ever going to take this thing out?” Buffy’s gripping the knife she used to stab Faith, and she plunges it in further. In the hospital where she’s been comatose since graduation, Faith sleeps through what sounds like thunder and lightning.

The Scoobies are still using Xander’s basement as a hideout, this time to examine one of the Initiatives’ blasters. It’s broken, and Xander isn’t sure how to fix it. Willow suggests just pressing buttons to see what happens. No one seconds that, since something called a blaster probably isn’t a weapon you want to play around with. Xander says he’ll work on it anyway.

Buffy’s impatient and restless, knowing that Adam is out there possibly killing people. Giles suggests that she take a break and get some rest, but she’d rather have a working blaster. It’s the only thing she knows of that will give her a fighting chance against Adam. Willow asks if she’s gotten any updates on Riley. He’s still at an Initiative medical facility, and Buffy has no idea what they’re doing to him. As Xander’s experimentation with the blaster gets him shocked, Willow and Giles try to reassure Buffy that the Initiative won’t hurt Riley. Buffy worries that they’ll brainwash him.

Riley still has Buffy’s bandanna, so he hasn’t been completely turned against her, or at least not yet. He’s better physically, and he wants to go see her. Forrest tries to make him stay put, asking why he thinks leaving is a good idea. Riley says he doesn’t have to explain, since he outranks Forrest. Forrest tells him this is the time for them all to band together. Graham agrees. (Hi, Graham! Why are you here? I mean, like, in general – why are you on this show?) Forrest reminds Riley that when the Initiative has a problem, they deal with it. Right now, they need to keep that problem in the family. Riley scoffs at the idea that they’re a family. He orders Forrest to step aside and let him go.

The thunder and lightning are back, but they’re just in a dream Faith is having. She’s with Mayor Wilkins, having a picnic in a field. He assures her that there won’t be a storm, but she says it seems to always start raining about now. A snake slithers onto their blanket and the mayor says he doesn’t belong there and puts him on the grass. He promises Faith that nothing will spoil their time together. But suddenly Buffy’s there, and she stabs Wilkins and slashes his body. “I told you I had things to do,” she says to Faith. Faith tries to crawl away from her. In reality, her closed eyes are moving around a lot.

Buffy, Willow, and Xander go into the woods that night and find a demon strung up between some trees, opened up like it was autopsied. They return to Xander’s basement and discuss how Adam’s probably cutting demons and humans open to study their biology. Buffy vows to stop him. Xander asks if “hiding in a cabin with stockpiled chocolate goods” will be part of whatever plan she’s working on. Unfortunately, no. “Told you,” Xander says to Willow.

Buffy’s first priority is getting Riley away from the Initiative. She asks Willow to hack into the facility’s mainframe and shut down surveillance. If that doesn’t work, she should use magic. Xander is in charge of gear – equipment for force, not stealth, since that didn’t work last time. “Am I really worth all that?” Riley asks from behind Buffy. Well, that’s one plan the Scoobies can skip. He just walked out of the facility and came to see his girlfriend.

“You know, there’s no polite way to ask you this, but, uh…did they put a chip in your brain?” Xander asks. Uh, never mind. The Scoobies are happy to have Riley back, and they’re forgiving of his recent behavior. He’s up for joining in the mission to take down Adam, as difficult as it will be. Now that Riley’s back and safe, Buffy’s feeling more confident than ever that she can handle whatever Adam throws at them.

Faith is dreaming of Buffy again – she’s running through a cemetery as Buffy strides after her like a villain in a horror movie. Faith’s eyes are moving again, as if she’s on the verge of opening them. In the dream, she falls into an open grave. Buffy jumps in after her and it starts to rain. After a brief struggle, Faith climbs out of the grave and stands under the falling rain. In reality, she wakes up.

Despite being in a coma for months, Faith is able to get out of bed and walk down the hall without any help (probably thanks to her Slayer strength). She runs into a visitor who asks her for directions. Faith asks about graduation – she needs to get to Sunnydale High School right now. The visitor tells her the school isn’t there anymore. Also, it’s February. Faith demands to know what happened to the school. The visitor says it was a tragedy. A bunch of students died, as well as the principal and the mayor. Sometime later, Faith – now wearing the visitor’s clothes – walks out of the hospital.

Buffy and Riley get some alone time in her dorm room, and he tells her that having her bandanna helped him get through their separation. He appreciated knowing that she was out there and cared. He worries that they’re being watched. He doesn’t know what to do now that he’s not taking orders. He always gets the job done. Now, he’s not sure if it’s the right job. Buffy can relate, since she used to have to obey the Watchers’ Council. After she quit, she was scared, but now things are okay.

Riley isn’t used to operating in a gray area. Buffy tells him it’s a choice. He can go back in and make chances from the inside, or he can go off and fight demons in his own way. He’s not sure what his own way is, so Buffy says it’s a good time for him to find out. He wonders what’s left once you take away his identity as a soldier. “A good man,” Buffy replies. She starts kissing him, joking that she’s looking for chips in his head. She tells him he’s been strong long enough and now he’ll have her help. They’ll find Adam and kill him together. Until then, she orders him to stop torturing himself.

The hospital staff has discovered that Faith is missing. A detective chastises her doctor for not having security in the wing, since Faith is a murderer. The doctor insists that there was no possibility that Faith would wake up. An orderly comes in and tells the group that a woman was found unconscious, with her clothes gone. While the doctor and detective go with him, the nurse makes a phone call. “It’s happened,” she says. “Send the team.”

Faith goes to the school and sees for herself that it’s just ruins now. She goes downtown next, seeing a father and his daughter having fun together. She sneaks over to Giles’ place and listens at the door while the Scoobies talk about Adam. They think he’s off the grid because he’s powering up for a killing spree. Riley easily fixes the blaster, so at least the Scoobies will have that on their side.

They wonder if Walsh might have left anything helpful back at the Initiative – not that they would be able to get to it without a major attack on the facility. Riley notes that he can get in. He agrees to be an inside man; it’s the least he can do. Buffy gets a phone call just then from the hospital, letting her know that Faith has woken up and escaped. Great, now the Scoobies have two crises to handle at the same time!

Giles shifts everyone’s focus from Adam to Faith. “I’d hate to see the pursuit of a homicidal lunatic get in the way of pursuing a homicidal lunatic,” Xander quips. Buffy notes that Faith won’t keep a low profile, so she shouldn’t be hard to track. Willow suggests that when she finds Faith, she employs violence. Surprisingly, that’s not Buffy’s first instinct here.

They need to decide what to do when they capture Faith. The police wouldn’t know what to do with her, and the Council wasn’t successful at containing her last time. (To be fair, part of that was because of Wesley’s incompetence.) Giles notes that the Initiative would be able to hold her, though, of course, there’s that whole thing where they’re evil.

Buffy reluctantly accepts that Faith is her responsibility. “That was the funnest coma ever,” Willow says. Buffy notes that they don’t know where Faith is, or what she’s thinking or feeling. Or, as Xander adds, “who she’s doing.” Buffy thinks she could be scared or have no memory of what happened. Or maybe she’s sorry for everything she did. Giles says there could be a way to rehabilitate her. If not, Willow still suggests violence. Buffy won’t discount that, but first, she needs to find Faith. Riley speaks up for the first time since the phone call: “Who’s Faith?”

The next day, Buffy tells Willow that she explained to Riley that Faith is her identical cousin from England, and “wacky hijinks ensue” whenever she visits. No, not really – she told him the truth, mostly. She left out the parts about Angel, since they haven’t discussed him before and this isn’t a good time. I’m not sure there will ever be a good time for that whole story.

Buffy spent some time looking for Faith but didn’t find her. Willow guesses that the police are on the hunt, too. As they approach a campus notice board, Buffy says that if she were Faith, she’d get out of town ASAP. A woman at the board turns around – it’s Faith. “You’re not me,” she tells Buffy.

Buffy says that she’s been looking for Faith. Faith notes that she was in the same place for eight months, so Buffy must not have been looking very hard. Buffy asks if she’s okay. Faith’s five by five, as usual, and ready for revenge on the person who gutted her. Buffy thinks Faith would have done the same to her if she’d had the chance. Faith suggests that they fight again and see who wins this time.

They’re surrounded by people, so Buffy doesn’t want to fight there, but Faith doesn’t see an issue. She clearly hasn’t changed after her near-death experience. Faith notes that Buffy hasn’t changed, either – she still thinks she’s superior to Faith. She mentions the recurring dream she had about Buffy stabbing her. As Willow starts slowly moving to get behind Faith, Faith says it was because of a guy. Without turning around, she warns Willow not to try anything.

Faith continues that she woke up to discover that Buffy isn’t even with Angel anymore. She’s ditched the love of her life for the first college guy she could find and forgotten about the person she almost killed for him. She asks the “college girl” to interpret the dream for her. Buffy says it means that Faith is still talking about things she doesn’t understand.

They hear sirens in the distance and Buffy guesses that the police are coming for Faith. Faith decides this is a good time to start fighting. Willow gets in a smack with her bag, but she doesn’t do much damage. Faith warns that she’s going to pay Buffy back for taking her life. She fights off a couple of cops, then runs away. Buffy chases her but loses her.

Willow enlists Tara to help her search for Faith. It’s just recon, though. Tara’s kind of excited to be working with a “cool monster-fighter,” but she isn’t going to do anything violent, mostly because she’s not good at it. Willow says Buffy can handle Faith, and Tara will be safe with her.

That night, Xander and Giles do their own recon. Xander thinks Faith could come for him because of their “history.” They hear a noise in an alley downtown, but it’s just Spike. They tell him they’re looking for a rogue Slayer, whom Xander describes. Spike says he’ll help find her…then send her after the Scoobies and enjoy watching her kill them.

“Can’t any one of your damned little Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all?” he exclaims. He may not be able to hurt them himself anymore, but he can “aim a loose cannon” at them. His night is suddenly looking up! Xander notes that Spike doesn’t know what Faith looks like, having forgotten that he just described her. “We’re dumb,” Xander tells Giles. Hey, leave Giles out of it – that was all you.

The nurse who placed the phone call earlier goes out to greet a helicopter arriving in Sunnydale with three men wearing leather jackets and carrying briefcases. Faith is back downtown, checking out some knives in a store window (the same store she and Buffy once broke into). As a police car comes by, she hides in a group of college students and sneaks into an alley. There, a demon recognizes her and says a friend sent him with a remembrance. Faith kills the demon and takes his “remembrance,” a big envelope.

She evades the police again and goes to what I think is a TV studio to watch the tape she found in the envelope. It’s from the mayor, who recorded an “if you’re seeing this, it means I’m dead” video for her before the ascension. He acknowledges that they might have succeeded, and a bunch of kids are watching this message in a museum dedicated to him. (“Hi, kids.”) He doubts that, though.

Mayor Wilkins doesn’t believe the doctors’ claims that Faith might never wake up. He’s sure she will, but she’ll wake up in a changed world. He wishes he could make it better for her, but even his power to protect her has limits. Once he’s gone, Faith’s days will be numbered. The mayor knows she’s smart and capable, but there’s no place for her in the world anymore. Even if she feels alone, she isn’t. She’ll always have him. She’ll also have something inside a box that was in the envelope. It may be over for her, but she can still go out with a bang.

Buffy goes to Riley’s room to try to convince him that he’s not in good enough shape to help take down Faith. She doesn’t think he gets how dangerous Faith is. He wants to know more about what Faith did to Buffy, but she’s not ready to give him details. She’s eager to go back on the hunt. She makes it clear that this is a serious situation. Faith is basically a super-villain, and she thinks Buffy ruined her life. Faith is going to go after Buffy and her loved ones. And she’s starting right now, with Joyce.

Faith raids Joyce’s makeup, settling on a lipstick shade called Harlot. She kisses the mirror after she puts it on, then asks Joyce how she looks. “Psychotic,” Joyce replies. Faith guesses that Joyce is thinking that she’ll never get away with this. Joyce says she was actually thinking about how Buffy’s going to kill Faith. Faith has found a bunch of Buffy’s mail, which she hasn’t picked up from the house, and taunts that Buffy hasn’t come to visit her mother or called to warn her about Faith. She’s too into her new college life.

Joyce says that Faith doesn’t know anything about her or Buffy. Faith thinks she can relate to Joyce, since they both thought they were part of something, then got ditched. The rest of the world kept moving while they were stuck. Joyce is like, “Can you just kill me now so I don’t have to keep listening to you?” Faith tells her that she’s served her purpose – she raised her child, and now she might as well be dead. No one cares about or remembers her. “She was over us a long time ago, Joyce,” Faith insists. Buffy’s too busy with her new boyfriend to think about the people who matter.

Faith grabs a knife, ready to get violent, but Buffy bursts through a window right then. “Hi, Mom,” she greets Joyce casually. “Hi, honey,” Joyce replies, never having lost confidence that her daughter would come to her rescue. She calls 911 as the Slayers fight each other, ending up in the living room. Faith bets that Buffy expected her to go after Riley, who looks like he could use a trip to the bedroom with Faith. Buffy tells her she’s not his type: “He’s not big on sleaze.” Also, how “tired” of her to go after Buffy’s boyfriend again. Buffy says that everyone forgot about Faith because they wanted to.

Giles comes home to find the three guys from the helicopter in his apartment. Meanwhile, police are on their way to the Summerses’ house, so Faith tries to get in as many hits on Buffy as she can before they come in. Finally she puts on the device the mayor left her, a little contraption that fits on her hand. She grabs Buffy’s hand and something glows between them. They’re both a little stunned until Buffy punches Faith so hard she’s knocked out.

Joyce comes to check on things, and Buffy tells her that Faith’s weapon, whatever it was, didn’t work. She stomps on it and destroys it. The police pound on the door, and Buffy says Faith is their problem now. Joyce asks again if Buffy’s okay. “Five by five,” she replies. To be continued…

Thoughts: If I have to see Willow and Xander’s outfits from this episode, so do you.

Riley, re: the Council’s orders: “Ever obey them?” Buffy: “Sure. …The ones I was going to do anyway.” Heh. That’s our Buffy.

Speaking of the Council, I feel like they would have their own medical facilities to keep an eye on, say, injured potential Slayers and, in this case, killer ones.

Speaking of the Council again, wouldn’t it have been interesting if they’d been in on the Initiatives’ practices? Wouldn’t they want to monitor and experiment on demons, too?

Willow, imitating Faith: “Check me out. I’m wicked cool. I’m five by five.” Tara: “Five by five? Five what by five what?” Willow: “See, that’s the thing – no one knows.” Heh again.

December 17, 2022

Buffy 4.14, Goodbye, Iowa: “Maybe I’m the Bad Guy”

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

Yeah, yeah, Frankenstein’s monster, we get it

Summary: Buffy has just arrived at Giles’ after escaping the scenario Walsh set up to kill her. She tells the Scoobies about it, and Spike comments that she has horrible taste in men. Buffy doesn’t know what that has to do with her near-death experience. He thinks Riley was involved in the set-up. The Scoobies are willing to consider the possibility, but Buffy’s sure that Walsh sent Riley away to keep him out of it. Plus, as Willow notes, Riley doesn’t seem like the type to keep a big secret like a murder plot.

Whatever the details are, the Initiative clearly has it in for Buffy. Xander adds that they won’t be happy to learn that she survived and has most likely told the Scoobies what’s going on. That means they’re all in danger now. Giles wonders why Walsh would want to kill Buffy. Buffy and Anya guess that it’s because Buffy was asking a lot of questions and was getting too close to something. The question is, what was Walsh so desperate to hide that she would kill Buffy to keep it hidden? That’s Adam, of course, and he’s now fully alive.

Buffy passes around weapons for what Xander thinks is an attack on the Initiative. He’s all for it until Buffy says they’re actually going to hide. That’s much more up his alley. Buffy wants them to go underground until they can come up with a plan, but they’ll have to go somewhere the Initiative won’t think to look for them. They decide on Xander’s basement. Giles protests, wanting to stay at his place, since it’s unlikely that the Initiative will come looking for them there. That’s when Riley arrives.

He doesn’t know what all happened, so Buffy tells him that Walsh tried to kill her. “It didn’t work but they’re all upset anyway,” Anya says. Thanks, Anya. Riley wants all the details, thinking there was some sort of mistake. He doesn’t want people to jump to any conclusions. Just then he recognizes Spike as hostile 17. Spike tries to put on his American, friend-of-Xander’s persona again but he drops it pretty quickly and admits who he is. Buffy tells Riley that he’s not bad anymore. Spike takes offense to that.

Riley can’t believe that Buffy’s known where Spike was all this time. Spike decides to head out, and he leaves with a big, supportive pair of thumbs up for Riley in case he’s in on the plot to kill Buffy. Riley confronts Buffy for hiding a hostile, but Xander thinks Buffy gets to ask the questions here. Riley says he just knows what Walsh told him and what he saw on the monitors. He thinks someone or something was controlling Walsh.

Giles tells him that Buffy might have been getting too close to something. She asks Riley if it could have been 314. Riley, still in denial, says Walsh could have been trying to test Buffy. Buffy notes that she told Riley that Buffy was dead – that doesn’t sound like a test. Giles brings up what Ethan told him about the Initiative having a darker purpose, but Riley denies that they’re bad guys. He would know if they were. He vows to figure this all out on his own.

Adam comes across a boy who’s playing with an action figure that kind of looks like Adam. Adam asks what he is, and the boy tells him he’s a monster. “I thought so,” Adam says. He asks how the boy “works.” The boy doesn’t know; he just does. He asks about the skewer in Adam’s arm, and Adam smiles as if he’s going to offer the boy a demonstration. Run, kid, run! Riley takes a sad walk around campus, trying to decide if his mentor really tried to kill his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Dr. Angelman finds Walsh’s body in room 314.

The next morning, Giles wakes up in Xander’s basement, where Buffy, Willow, and Anya are watching a Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon. Buffy notes that something in the cartoon would never happen. Willow reminds her that it’s a cartoon, not a documentary. Giles isn’t happy about the arrangements, and Buffy has to tell him and Anya not to fight over all the noise they made during the night (he was sleeping on a beach ball and she snores).

Willow assures Buffy that everything will be okay and Riley will come around. Buffy’s worried about him, since his whole world has just blown up. Anya advises her to find a boring boyfriend. Like Xander. But not Xander; Buffy can’t have him. Buffy says Riley was supposed to be “Mr. Joe Guy.” Anya urges her to dump him. But she still can’t have Xander. Buffy says it’s too late – she’s already in deep with Riley. She’ll have to figure out how to make it work.

Xander brings down breakfast and tells the Scoobies to turn on the news. There’s a report about the boy Adam encountered, who was found stabbed with a skewer and mutilated. Buffy quickly puts together that the polgara demon the Initiative captured must have been involved. She feels horrible that they captured it alive. She announces that she’s going to the crime scene while the others try to track down the polgara demon. She’ll kill it in a way that will get justice for its young victim. She wishes her pajamas, which are decorated with pictures of sushi, made her seem a little more commanding.

Forrest runs into Riley, thinking Riley was out all night because he was with Buffy. Riley says he needed to be alone and think some things over. He now believes that Walsh did try to have Buffy killed. Forrest can buy that Buffy got on Walsh’s bad side; she’s nosy and annoying. Maybe Walsh found out that Buffy was up to something devious.

Riley asks why Forrest is so against him hanging out with Buffy. Maybe it’s because she’s a better soldier than Forrest is. Forrest thinks she’s using Riley to infiltrate the Initiative. Walsh isn’t stupid – if she tried to kill Buffy, maybe it’s because Buffy needed killing. Graham comes in just then and announces that Walsh is dead. Now Riley has more deep thoughts to think!

He and Forrest go down to the Initiative and sees Walsh’s body for themselves. Forrest thinks she was staked, which means Buffy’s the killer. Riley notes that it could have been a polgara. If Forrest is going to accuse Buffy of murder, he’d better be ready to back that up. Forrest tells him that the “supernatural freak” is blinding him. Angelman has to break the two up before they start hitting each other.

He tells them the government is sending in a team to investigate, so they’ll have to wait until they get orders. Riley doesn’t want to wait – if the polgara demon they captured killed Walsh, they need to find it. Angelman says the government called for a total lockdown until their team arrives. The commandos are to go to their rooms and wait. Riley pretends to agree, then tells the commandos that he’s in charge until the authorities arrive, and he wants them to find the polgara. This time, they’ll kill it.

They head to a cemetery and start searching crypts. They find Spike’s, but there’s no sign that he’s there. He’s actually hiding under the corpse housed in the crypt, and he’s not going to be happy that Forrest broke his TV. Riley meets up with Buffy at the spot where the boy’s body was found, and she apologizes for how tense things got with the Scoobies. He tells her that Walsh is dead and asks if Buffy’s happy to hear it. He won’t give her details, since they’re classified, but Buffy guesses that the polgara killed her. She promises to take care of that, and then Riley can stop asking if she’s happy about all this death.

Willow goes to Tara’s room and lets her know how much fun she’s been having doing spells with her. She wants it clear that she doesn’t just like hanging out with Tara because they do magic together – she likes the friendship they’re developing. Tara knows, but she guesses that Willow wants to do a spell. Willow thinks they have enough power together to conjure a goddess who will alert them to demonic energy in the area.

Buffy pays a visit to Willy the Snitch, who claims he’s getting away from his old image. He had a spiritual experience after almost getting killed by the apocalyptic demons in “The Zeppo.” He claims he doesn’t talk behind people’s backs anymore, and he’s working on improving his clientele. He can’t be seen talking to Buffy. “I’m gonna have to punch you, aren’t I?” she realizes. “Just once. And it don’t have to hurt; just make it look good,” he says. He yells in pain before she even touches him, then pretends she’s intimidated him into spilling that the polgara demons around recently were captured.

As Buffy’s asking about the Initiative and 314, Riley comes in. He tells her he was going to help her find the polgara, but now he can see that she’s socializing with demons (again) instead of hunting them. He asks Buffy who she is. Willy tries to get him to calm down, and Riley gets aggressive, threatening to take him in. Willy’s human, but since he “harbors demons,” Riley asks if that makes him a good guy like Buffy.

Buffy notices that Riley’s shaking. He’s also sweating a lot. He grabs her by the shoulders and demands to know the truth. She tells him he already knows it, but what happened to Walsh screwed him up so much that he can’t accept it. He spots a bar patron trying to leave and pulls his gun on her. Willy tells him there’s no killing in his bar, but Riley thinks that since other rules have been broken, there’s no point in following them. If he shot the patron, would she die, or is she a vampire? Who can he believe? Buffy tries to calm him, but he ultimately gets control of himself. He wonders what’s happening to him.

Buffy takes him to Xander’s and tries to take care of him, but he’s now scratching at his hand because he feels like something’s crawling inside him. She puts a bandanna from her hair over his hand and urges him to get some rest. He’s anxious about the fact that he doesn’t know what’s right and wrong anymore. “Maybe I’m the bad guy,” he says. “Maybe I’m the thing you should kill.” Buffy firmly says that he shouldn’t think that way. She gets him to lie down, assuring him that he’ll be okay.

She tells the Scoobies that something is physically affecting Riley and it’s getting worse. Anya guesses that Walsh did something to him. Buffy thinks she must have kept records, and there must be someone else who knows what she was up to. She tells Giles and Anya to keep researching while she and Xander go undercover. Anya objects to her enlisting Xander and his military knowledge, but he promises he’ll be careful. Giles asks how Buffy plans to get into the Initiative. She hopes that Walsh didn’t have time to revoke her clearance. He tells her that the polgara hasn’t been seen since it was captured.

Willow and Tara do their goddess-summoning, demon-locating spell…or at least Willow does. Tara only pretends to participate while Willow’s eyes are closed. She plays innocent when the spell doesn’t work. Buffy (who seems to think glasses and a doctor’s coat are a sufficient disguise) and Xander access the Initiative, and once he sees how big the facility is, he gets Buffy’s attraction to Riley. When he spots a couple of commandos, he tries to pull that ploy where two people who are trying to hide make out so the bad guys don’t see them. Buffy tells him that scientists and commandos don’t fraternize here. “Well, maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world,” he says.

Willow returns to Xander’s basement and laments that her and Tara’s spell didn’t work. Giles and Anya don’t think they’re looking for a polgara after all; they don’t normally mutilate their victims, and they have to eat every two hours, so they’d have trouble staying hidden this long. Riley’s up and about now, and he spooks Willow. He wants to go after Buffy, even though he’s visibly worse now. He’s upset to realize that Buffy went to the Initiative. Willow tries to stop him from leaving, but he shoves her aside and runs off.

Buffy and Xander eavesdrop as Angelman and another scientist discuss the commandos not getting their meds and being off their schedules because of Walsh’s death. They could cause a lot of damage while they’re in withdrawal. They don’t know that they’ve been getting meds through their food. The scientists have rounded up and stabilized most of the commandos, but not Finn. Angelman is concerned about him the most: “He’s too important to the work to lose now.”

Spike goes to Willy’s bar, since it’s not safe for him to go back to his crypt right now. A demon comes up to him and knocks him out. Back at the Initiative, Buffy and Xander see Angelman heading toward room 314 and follow him. He’s not surprised to see Buffy. She demands to know what’s going on with Riley and what’s in room 314. Angelman tells her that she’s probably already been spotted on the security monitors, so someone will be coming to get her soon.

Riley appears and says the monitors are all down. Buffy says she had nothing to do with that. Angelman orders Riley to take Buffy into custody, but she asks her boyfriend to wait, since they can get answers from Angelman. Angelman confirms that Walsh wanted Buffy dead, but not on the Initiative’s behalf – she had her own vendetta. It had something to do with 314, who escaped.

Riley doesn’t like Angelman talking about Walsh like she was a psychopath. She just wanted to help people. Buffy tells him that he was being given drugs. Riley gets paranoid and accuses Buffy of messing with him. After all, this all started when she came into his life. Buffy insists that she’s trying to get to the truth. Riley asks what she did to Walsh. She tells him she wasn’t involved, and they need to find out about 314 to get all the answers they’re looking for. A commando’s body suddenly drops from the ceiling, and they look up to see Adam on a catwalk above them.

He tells them he wanted to see the world and learn more about it. He looked inside the boy, but instead of teaching him anything, it made him feel. Now he wants to know why he feels and what he is. He came home to get a computer disk that holds some answers. He inserts it into a drive in his chest and reports that he’s basically a robot who contains some organic materials. Buffy realizes that he was pieced together from demons. Adam says he’s part human and part machine, too. But that still doesn’t tell him who he is.

Walsh wrote down both data and feelings, which means Adam has a job here, and he knows that Walsh loved him. Riley tells him that she didn’t, and she wasn’t Adam’s mother. She was just a scientist. Xander’s like, “Don’t anger the robot.” Adam inserts a disk about Riley and says that Walsh created him, too. She changed his “basic operating system,” taught him how to think and feel, and strengthened him with chemicals. Adam and Riley were her favorite children, “her art.” That means they’re brothers.

Riley denies that he’s like Adam. Adam recognizes that he’s feeling pain, either from the interruption in his feeding schedule or because he misses Walsh. Riley threatens to kill him, but Adam says he won’t do it. He hasn’t been programmed to. Riley says he’s human and can’t be programmed. Adam replies that Walsh had it all planned out, and it will happen. Does Riley want to hear how it ends?

As Riley pulls his gun on Adam, Buffy steps up to fight the robot. But Adam is way stronger than both her and Riley (and definitely Xander), so they barely have any effect on him. Angelman tries to run but gets skewered by Adam’s polgara arm. Commandos try to get into the lab to help as Adam thanks Buffy, Riley, and Xander for the “interesting” encounter, then leaves.

The commandos break in, and Forrest finds it suspicious that Buffy was there when a part-human, part-robot demon attacked. Riley backs her up and sends the commandos after Adam. He needs medical attention, and Forrest refuses to let Buffy accompany him. Xander gets her to back off.

Spike’s attacker is a demon upset that he’s been fighting demons with Buffy. If the demon sees Spike again, he’ll break the no-demon-on-demon-violence code again. Buffy laments to Willow that she’s not allowed to have contact with Riley, so she doesn’t know what’s going on with him. Willow’s sure she’ll find a way to reach him.

Buffy would like to take down the Initiative, but Adam is the bigger threat right now. He’s way too strong for Buffy to fight alone. Walsh made him into a superior warrior. Willow says Adam must have a flaw. “I think the part where he’s pure evil and kills randomly was an oversight,” Buffy replies. She regrets letting the commandos take Riley. Everything he believed in was taken away and he’s alone, with nothing to hold on to. But he does have one thing: The bandanna Buffy put around his hand, which will remind him that she cares about him.

Thoughts: As I’ve said before, Adam is the worst villain in the series, but he makeup and effects the crew used to put him together are really impressive.

Leaving aside people’s views on Riley, I think Marc Blucas is excellent in this episode.

No way would a by-the-book military guy like Riley ever refer to Walsh, his superior, by her first name, even when she’s not there.

In a cute detail, the shirt Anya wears to bed is one we’ve seen on Xander before.

I like how Xander still has his military knowledge. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

December 10, 2022

Buffy 4.13, The I in Team: Madam, I’m Adam

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:07 pm by Jenn

Look alive, Graham

Summary: Willow is imploring a goddess to send her the heart she desires. It’s not a love spell, though – she’s playing poker with Xander and Anya. Xander thinks using magic to get the card she wants is cheating. Anya asks for five cards, but she can’t produce an ace, so she only gets three. She doesn’t see the point of the game anyway, since there’s no money involved (they don’t have any). Xander says he’ll soon have money to gamble, since he’s getting into the exciting world of sales. Specifically, he’s selling Boost bars. If this turns out to be an MLM, I won’t be surprised.

Xander wishes Buffy could have made it to the game. Willow says she’s with Riley; they’re spending all their time together, as one does with a “spanking new boyfriend.” “Yes, we’ve enjoyed the spanking,” Anya says. Xander fumbles the deck of cards and they fly everywhere. He thinks Riley’s fine, if “oafish,” but he’s not sold on the Initiative. Willow’s optimistic about them, since they’re anti-demon. She assures Anya that they probably won’t have a problem with her, now that she’s not a demon anymore. “Maybe. I choose to feel threatened,” Anya replies. Xander wonders what the commandos are really up to.

Right now they’re fighting Buffy. Walsh wanted to see what she’s made of, and Buffy has shown that she’s made of pretty tough stuff. It took Riley’s patrol team 42 minutes to track her, and it took Buffy just 28 seconds to neutralize them. Buffy modestly says she was just lucky. Riley’s super-proud, and Walsh and Graham are impressed. Forrest is mad, because we’ve reached the part of the season where he turns into a jerk. Riley tells Buffy that everyone loves her, though Walsh’s face tells a different story.

At lunch the next day, Buffy tells Willow about the exercise. She got to taze a guy! Willow hopes that night isn’t a letdown after all the excitement – the Scoobies are going to hang out at the Bronze. Buffy’s looking forward to it. She spots Riley and just watches him while Willow tells her about the poker game. Buffy gets distracted when she sees that Riley’s only getting a Twinkie for lunch. She vows to punish him. “Everyone’s getting spanked but me,” Willow laments.

Giles goes to Spike’s new home, a crypt that Spike calls a “fixer-upper.” Giles is there to thank Spike and pay him for his help when Giles was a demon. Now that they know Spike can hurt demons, Giles thinks he might have a “higher purpose.” Spike ignores him and tells him he wants nothing to do with the “Slayerettes” from now on. Giles notes that since they live in the same town, it’s going to be tough for them to stay away from each other. Spike tells him not to come calling when “Teen Witch’s magic goes wonky or little Xander cuts a new tooth.”

Buffy and Riley are discussing something they’re about to do that he doesn’t want to pressure her into. It’s not sex – it’s her first trip to the Initiative. She’s impressed by how big it is, since Riley never gave her an idea of the full scope. “Don’t like to brag,” he says. As they’re about to start kissing, Walsh interrupts. She gives Buffy some classified reading material and jokes that she’ll have to eat the pages after she reads them (except Walsh has a pretty flimsy grasp on what humor is, so it doesn’t sound like a joke).

She gives Buffy a tour, showing her the pit where the hostiles undergo experiments. The science team is led by a doctor named Angelman, who’s an expert in behavior modification. They’ve had huge success in conditioning demons so they’re no longer a threat. Buffy’s familiar, thanks to Spike, but pretends she saw something about that on the Discovery Channel.

Next they go to the armory, though Buffy will have to wait until she’s cleared to use weapons. She spots a prototype for a combo camera and communications system (a com-cam, which is fun) that they hope to start using soon. It not only lets teams communicate while they’re in the field but also monitors their heart rates. The prototype costs $20,000, and Buffy learns a lesson about not just touching anything she wants in the building. The tour ends outside the research area, which is restricted and has to be accessed by a swipe card. Walsh gives Buffy a card and pager, warning her not to lose them. Buffy’s officially a commando.

Tara offers Willow a crystal she found that belonged to her grandmother. Willow’s been looking for one for months, but she doesn’t want to accept this one if it’s a family heirloom. She’ll use it for spells with Tara, though. Tara invites her to do so tonight, but Willow already has those plans with the Scoobies. Tara tries not to be too disappointed. Willow decides not to invite her along so Tara won’t feel out of place.

Walsh enters the restricted area and goes into room 314. Angelman warns her that Buffy is an “unnecessary risk.” Their subject in the room is doing well, and Walsh tells him it’s almost time for him to wake up. His name is Adam, and he looks part human, part demon, and part metal. “I know you’re gonna make me proud,” Walsh says.

At the Bronze that night, Willow is once again the fifth wheel to Xander and Anya. Anya’s upset that Xander hasn’t been paying her enough attention, since he’s been selling Boost bars. He points out that the more he sells, the more money he’ll have to take her on dates. And that’s how Anya learned to love capitalism. Buffy hasn’t shown up yet, but Willow’s sure she’ll be there soon. When she does arrive, she’s with Riley, Forrest, Graham, and some other commandos. Willow’s disappointed that it’s not an all-Scooby gathering.

Anya takes Xander away to dance, not wanting to be around the commandos. Buffy senses that Willow’s not thrilled that she brought the commandos, but the guys wanted to throw her a little celebration, so she felt obligated to invite them. Willow says she might have invited someone, too, if she’d known they were going outside the core Scoobies. Just hypothetically, of course. She didn’t have anyone specific in mind.

Buffy gushes about the Initiative to Willow, telling her that when she patrols, she’ll now have a lot of backup. Plus, she’ll get to work with Riley. Willow worries that she’s rushing things with the organization. The Scoobies still don’t know a lot about them. For example, what’s their goal with the demons they supposedly rehabilitate? And what about 314? Buffy doubts that’s important, since Ethan’s the one who brought it up. Willow just thinks Buffy should ask more questions.

Buffy and the commandos’ pagers suddenly go off, so they have to go meet up with Walsh. She sends them after a polgara demon, which can eject bone skewers from its arms. Angelman tells the commandos not to damage its arms when they capture it. Buffy asks why, and he explains that they want to study it. Next Buffy asks why the demon’s in the area. She can anticipate demons’ moves better if she knows their motives. Angelman says polgaras are just destructive.

Walsh tells Buffy that polgaras have great eyesight, so she should probably put on the tactical gear the other commandos are wearing. Buffy doesn’t want to “look all Private Benjamin,” and she’s patrolled before in the halter top she’s wearing. She has more questions but Walsh cuts her off. Riley gives orders, and Walsh reminds the commandos that they’re just capturing the polgara, not killing it. Any questions? Yes, Buffy has more.

Willow goes to Tara’s room while Buffy, Riley, and their team head out on patrol. Buffy worries that Walsh hates her, but Riley says she’s just not used to Buffy asking so many questions, since she never did in class. He’s sure that Walsh likes her. She liked Buffy before Riley did. Buffy considers getting her a present. Riley reminds her that they’re patrolling, and without Slayer instincts and reflexes, he needs to concentrate. Buffy quiets, then asks what Riley meant about Walsh liking her before he did.

On another team, Forrest complains to Graham that Riley chose Buffy as his second in command (even though Riley made Forrest leader of his team). He’s not thinking with his brain. Graham suggests that Riley’s giving Forrest a chance to get out of his shadow. Forrest denies that he’s in anyone’s shadow. Graham spots Spike, whom Forrest recognizes as hostile 17. The commandos rush him, but Spike’s able to throw his bag of groceries at them and escape. Graham shoots him with a tracer so they can track him.

He contacts Riley via walkie-talkie to tell him that his team is going after Spike. This distracts Riley, who doesn’t see the polgara heading toward him. Buffy does, and she and Riley take it on together. We go back and forth between their fight and what they do together afterward to celebrate their victory. Hint: It involves taking their clothes off, and it’s one of the things Faith liked to do after slaying. And EW, Walsh has surveillance cameras in Riley’s room and sees the whole thing! EW EW EW EW EW EW EWWWWWWWW!

Xander tries to sell Giles Boost bars the next day, but Giles only agrees to buy one. He immediately hates it and kicks Xander out of his apartment. Spike shows up under a tarp protecting him from the sun and tells the Scoobies that he spent the night running from commandos. Giles asks how that’s the Scoobies’ problem. Xander pretends to be hurt by the news that Spike said he didn’t want to have anything to do with them anymore.

Spike reluctantly asks for help, reminding the Scoobies that they’re good guys. Giles would like to know why, specifically, he should help. Spike points out that he helped Giles, but that’s not good enough – he did that for money. He gives back the money he hasn’t already spent on blood and cigarettes, and tells Xander and Anya to get to work helping him.

Buffy and Riley wake up together, and the first thing he does (other than kiss her) is take his vitamins. He says he’s how “they” trained him, “they” meaning the government. He was pulled out of special-ops training for the Initiative. Buffy wonders what they told him the Initiative was. He says they didn’t explain. In the military, you follow orders and don’t ask questions. Buffy can’t believe he isn’t curious about what the organization does. Riley says he knows everything he needs to. They’re on the right side and are protecting people.

Buffy asks what 314 is, but before Riley can answer (if he even has any answers), Walsh calls and tells him he’s needed for “a situation.” Of course, he jumps to it without asking questions, though he does peek into the restricted area on his way to see Walsh. She tells him to meet up with a team to go after Spike. “Make me proud,” she says.

She goes to room 314 and tells Angelman that the Slayer may be a liability. Walsh thinks she has too much influence over Riley. They need to employ their contingency scenario. Angelman’s disappointed, since Buffy could have been a powerful ally, and Riley won’t like this outcome. Walsh says the sooner they do this, the better. While they’ve been talking, Angelman has been cutting off one of the polgara’s arms.

Giles digs into Spike’s back to remove the tracer, which is blinking. Xander IDs it (he still has military memories from his brief time as a soldier) and warns that the commandos are probably on their way. Giles says they need to buy some time, since the tracer is in pretty deep and he doesn’t exactly have medical training.

Buffy goes to her room and sees that her bed wasn’t the only one that wasn’t slept in the night before. Willow arrives moments later but neither of them asks about the other’s activities. Buffy apologizes for ditching the Scoobies, but Willow tells her it’s okay. Buffy gets an Initiative page and heads back out. Willow then gets a call from Giles asking for her help.

Walsh assigns Buffy to do some recon on a low-level threat in the tunnels under the town. It might be a raccoon, not a demon, but they can’t take any risks. Buffy just needs to use the com-cam to show Walsh what the threat is, and Walsh will tell her how to handle it. Buffy says she has some more questions, and Walsh tells her they can talk when she gets back.

Spike has been drinking so he won’t feel the surgery Giles is performing, and he’s pretty out of it. Willow helps with a spell that should disrupt the tracer’s signal. It works, but it also makes the Scoobies’ hair stand up. While the commandos decide to change into civilian clothes and keep searching for Spike, Buffy goes into the tunnels. She comes across a couple of demons with scythes and recognizes one from the Initiative’s pit. She fires a blaster at them but it shocks her and she drops it. A grate falls, trapping her with the two demons.

Buffy switches to hand-to-hand combat as Walsh watches through the com-cam. After a while, Buffy falls to the ground and her heart monitor flatlines. Walsh looks unconcerned. Riley, Forrest, Graham, and their team pick up the tracer’s signal just as Giles removes it. He gives it to Xander, who runs off with it. The commandos are confused that their technology says the signal is heading straight toward them, since they don’t see anything. Riley notices a nearby sewer grate and realizes the tracer was flushed. Nice job, Scoobies!

In the tunnels, Buffy’s still fighting the demons – her com-cam only flatlined because it fell off. One of the demons accidentally hits the other with his scythe, which takes care of one of Buffy’s problems for her. She realizes she can use her malfunctioning blaster to her advantage, and she tosses it into the water the other demon is standing in, electrocuting him. Now that’s initiative!

Riley returns to Walsh to tell her that they couldn’t capture Spike. Walsh puts on a fake sad demeanor to tell him that two hostiles escaped, and Buffy went after them on her own and was killed. Walsh claims she did everything she could to stop Buffy. As Riley tries to process the lie, he sees on the monitors behind Walsh that Buffy is picking up her com-cam, alive and well. She knows that Walsh set her up, and she says that if Walsh thinks her scheme was enough to kill a Slayer, she doesn’t know what a Slayer is. Buffy vows to show her.

Riley storms off, ignoring Walsh when she orders him to stop, probably the first time in his career that he’s disobeyed orders. Giles advises Spike to leave town, but he’s not going anywhere until the Initiative fixes him. Giles tells him that as long as they know about him, it’s not safe for him to be there. Buffy arrives and says it’s not safe for any of them.

Walsh visits Adam, saying they’ll give Buffy a fight if that’s what she wants. Walsh has worked too long to let the Slayer threaten her or her project. She doesn’t know who she’s dealing with. Once Buffy’s gone, Walsh is sure that Riley will come around and understand that Walsh had to get rid of her for the greater good. Her first goal is to “remove the complication.” Then, when Buffy least expects it…Walsh doesn’t get to finish. Adam is awake, and he uses the polgara skewer in his new arm to kill Walsh. “Mommy,” he says.

Thoughts: Ugh, Adam. Easily the worst villain in the whole series. And like I said in the last episode, waiting until halfway through the season to introduce what’s supposed to be the Big Bad was a huge misstep.

For someone who might have to start kicking at any moment, Buffy sure wears a lot of long skirts.

I’m impressed that Forrest not only recognized Spike after not seeing him for months but also remembered his hostile number.

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?

November 5, 2022

Buffy 4.8, Pangs: Just Like Old Times

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

I love that there’s an arrow in the stuffed pilgrim

Summary: A guy in a very ’90s fleece vest is walking through the park at night when he hears noises behind him. He spins around and comes face to face with Buffy. Though he looks like a normal college student, he’s a vampire, and he’s very unhappy to see the Slayer. He tells her to go back where she came from, since things were great before she came. “And they say one person can’t make a difference,” she says as she stakes him. She seems to feel someone else’s presence, so she looks around a little, but she doesn’t see anyone. That’s because the person watching her is a master at lurking – it’s Angel.

UC Sunnydale is breaking ground on a new cultural center, and the dean, Guerrero, introduces an anthropology professor so she can give a speech before the construction begins. Buffy, Willow, and Anya are in the audience, and Xander is on the construction crew. Anya gushes over his masculinity (I will say that he has impressive biceps) and how much better this job is than his last one. Willow misses the free hot dogs on sticks, though. Anya says she’s imagining having sex with Xander right now. Considering those biceps, she’s probably not the only one.

The professor likes that they’re breaking ground on the cultural center right before Thanksgiving because living in a melting pot is about contributions from other cultures making ours stronger. Willow objects – Thanksgiving is about one culture killing another; we just don’t talk about it. Buffy thinks part of her anger comes from the way her mother raised her. Sheila doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Columbus Day, and Willow thinks her viewpoint is right.

Buffy decides she’s better off not celebrating Thanksgiving this year, since her mom is going out of town. Anya disagrees, since she enjoys ritual sacrifices. Buffy says that’s not what Thanksgiving is, but Anya points out that it involves killing and eating an animal to commemorate something that happened in the past: “It’s a ritual sacrifice with pie.”

The professor ends her speech and makes the ceremonial first dig. Anya’s unhappy, since she wanted to watch Xander dig. He gets his chance next, so Anya’s day is made. She imagines having sex with him again. “Imaginary Xander is quite the machine,” Buffy comments. Suddenly he falls through the ground into some ruins.

That night, Angel lurks around Buffy and Willow’s dorm, where they’re talking about the accidental discovery of an old mission everyone thought was lost. Well, Willow’s talking about it; Buffy’s at the window, still feeling like she’s being watched. She wonders how an entire mission could be lost. Willow explains that there was a huge earthquake in 1812 and everyone thought it was leveled. They built over it like they did with the church the Master was in. It makes Willow wonder what else is underground. In Buffy’s experience, it’s mostly sewers full of demons.

Midterms are over and everyone in the dorm is excited to go home for Thanksgiving. Not Buffy, though, since she doesn’t get to have a family holiday. She decides to host her own Thanksgiving for the Scoobies. Willow’s disappointed that she changed her mind about the holiday being a sham. Buffy says it is, but it’s “a sham with yams. It’s a yam sham.” She wants to recreate the memories she has of childhood Thanksgivings, since everything’s different now. “Well, I supposed there could be slight yams,” Willow allows. She suggests not inviting Anya, but Buffy wants to capture the spirit of everyone having a place to go.

Spike has been out in the cold (well, as cold as it gets in L.A.) since escaping the Initiative, and he’s still trying to stay a step ahead of them. Riley, Forrest, and Graham search for him while discussing their Thanksgiving plans. Riley only gets a short break since Spike is still at large. Forrest doesn’t see him as much of a threat, since he has that implant that keeps him from hurting people. He taunts Riley for being a Mama’s boy, since he obeys Walsh’s orders so closely.

Anya goes to Xander’s the next morning, wanting to accompany him to the worksite so she can watch him dig some more. But he’s sick, and she thinks it’s bad enough for him to stay home. She knows about illnesses since she gave a lot of them to horrible men when she was a vengeance demon. She decides to stay with him even if she might get sick, too, since it would be romantic for them to die together. Xander says she’s a strange girlfriend. She appreciates being given that label. (Maybe not the strange part, though.)

In the mission, green smoke drifts out of the hole Xander made when he fell. The anthropology professor is eager to take a look around down there, though she’s disappointed that the cultural center will have to be built somewhere else. The green smoke enters a display case in her office and surrounds a knife. It takes human form, and the human uses the knife to slit the professor’s throat.

Buffy and Willow search the office that night after hearing about the murder. Willow found out that the professor had an ear cut off, so they could be dealing with a witch, since there are some great spells that are improved with ears. Or maybe it’s an ear-harvesting demon that’s building another demon out of ears. Or maybe the professor cut off her own ear, like Van Gogh. Actually, Willow can’t make that theory work. Buffy realizes that something’s missing and IDs it as a Chumash knife from the early 1800s.

She goes to Giles’ place to both update him on the murder investigation and start cooking for Thanksgiving. He’s familiar with the Chumash, who were indigenous to the area. He thinks the knife was a convenient weapon for the killer, but Buffy says there was also a big pair of scissors nearby, so the killer purposely chose the knife. She’s annoyed that Giles doesn’t own a turkey pan. He asks why they’re not doing this at Buffy’s house. She says he’s the patriarch, and in American tradition, the patriarch hosts. Otherwise, it’s meaningless. He guesses she just wants him to have to clean everything up.

Buffy heads out to get more supplies, and as soon as she leaves, Angel emerges from another room in the apartment. He’s there because his buddy Doyle (from the spin-off) had a vision about Buffy, and Angel thinks she’s in danger. He wants to do more than just keep an eye on her. Giles reminds him that he doesn’t have to protect Buffy; she’s not his responsibility anymore. Angel points out that she’s not Giles’, either, but he’s obviously not going to ditch her to look after herself.

Giles wants to tell her that Angel’s around, but Angel doesn’t want to get in her way. Giles thinks there’s a connection between the vision and the mission. Obviously something in the ruins was disturbed and is angry. Angel says it could have been trapped but was released when Xander fell through. He suggests that Giles talk to a priest named Gabriel who has a long history with the town.

Angel wants to go follow Buffy again, and Giles says that she would object – it’s not fair that Angel gets to see Buffy but she doesn’t get to see him. Angel tells him that he’s not exactly enjoying this. He doesn’t like being on the outside looking in on his ex. He’d forgotten how bad it feels. Spike can relate, since he’s unable to join some other vampires as they feed on a human. Poor Little Match Girl Spike!

Buffy and Willow meet up downtown, discussing the importance of homemade whipped cream. Buffy promises this is the last thing she’ll be so old-fashioned about. Not that she has time for anything else, since she has to take a break from cooking to meet with Father Gabriel. Riley joins the two of them, having spotted them a few blocks away and run to catch up with them. Willow ducks out to give them some privacy.

She heads into a coffee shop, where Angel grabs her, putting a hand over her mouth so she can’t scream. She thinks he’s evil again, but he tells her he’s there to help Buffy. Willow urges him to tell her, but Angel thinks that would make it worse. She rants that leaving for someone’s own good is bull; you can’t just run away because there are problems. She apologizes, explaining that she’s dealing with personal stuff.

She gets that Angel wants to keep his distance. He laments that everything’s different now. Willow asks if it’s true that he’s working with Cordelia. (It is.) She’d love to talk more about that but Angel is focused on helping Buffy and doesn’t have time for the personal stuff. Well, maybe he has time for one question: Who’s the guy Buffy’s talking to?

Buffy’s telling Riley about the Thanksgiving she has planned for the Scoobies. She invites him to come if he doesn’t have plans, promising that she’s a great cook “in theory.” Riley says he’s leaving tonight; he got a last-minute flight home to Iowa. “That’s one of the ones in the middle, right?” Buffy asks. Heh. Like her, he has happy memories of childhood Thanksgivings. He always has fun back home. They paraphrase the Robert Frost quote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

…Unless you’re Spike, in which case, no, Harmony doesn’t have to take you in. She’s been doing some self-help reading and has taken control of her own power. She refuses to take him back. He tries to seduce her, but she remembers her reading at the last minute and won’t give in. She even has a stake ready for him. Spike doesn’t think she’d actually kill him, but she definitely looks angry enough. He asks for someone to eat before he goes, but she chases him off.

Buffy goes to meet Father Gabriel at his church but she’s moments too late – the man who killed the professor is there, and he’s strung up the priest to kill him as well. Buffy fights the man, who tells her, “I am vengeance. I am my people’s cry. They call for Hus, for the avenging spirit to carve out justice.” Buffy asks if they told him to start an ear collection. They fight some more, and just as it looks like Buffy’s going to be able to finish him off, something makes her stop. Hus says she slaughtered his people and is now killing their spirit. Then he turns into a bunch of birds that all fly away.

Buffy takes all this back to Giles, wondering why she didn’t take Hus out. “I like my evil like I like my men: evil,” she says. She thinks guilt stopped her. Giles reminds her that Hus killed innocent people. She pauses the conversation to give him instructions for cooking the potatoes. He doesn’t have a ricer! How could Giles not have a ricer? Also, what’s a ricer? He dryly says they’ll mash them with forks, which the Pilgrims must have done. Back to Hus: Buffy wants to stop him, but she’d prefer to do it without killing him.

Willow arrives with books and peas. Buffy objects to the peas being frozen. Willow didn’t have time to buy and shell fresh ones, since she was reading about the Chumash’s battles. Giles says they were peaceful, but Willow’s research says that changed after the white settlers came along. Buffy worries that the peas will be mushy. Giles announces that he likes mushy peas. “You’re the reason we had to have Pilgrims in the first place,” Buffy shoots back.

Willow continues that the white settlers enslaved and imprisoned the Chumash, hanging the ones who tried to rebel. They were sent to a mission, where they got sick. Another group was accused of stealing cattle, and after they were killed, the killers cut off their ears to bring back as proof. In other words, Hus’ desire for vengeance is pretty justified, and he’s carrying it out by doing all the things that were done to his people.

A wolf watches from outside as the three discuss when and how to handle the situation. Giles wants to stop Hus, Buffy wants to wait until after dinner, and Willow thinks they should actually be helping Hus in some way. They can at least bring the tragedies that happened to the Chumash to light. Maybe they can even give them back their land. Buffy tries to keep the peace, eventually heading back to the kitchen to tend to the turkey.

Giles quietly tells Willow that he thinks Buffy’s in danger. Willow tells him she saw Angel (he may have lost his edge when it comes to being stealthy). As they’re about to start bickering again, Xander and Anya arrive. Giles and Willow are concerned since Xander looks so sick, but Buffy just notices that he doesn’t have the rolls he was supposed to bring.

Hus gathers some more weapons from the anthropology department as Xander tells the Scoobies that the doctor he saw couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with him. Buffy thinks his illness is related to Hus – the Chumash in the mission got sick, so maybe Xander has what they had. And what did they have? Malaria, smallpox, and syphilis. Xander has all three? The Chumash are so generous! Willow assures Xander that since the illnesses are mystical, they should go away once this is all over.

The question now is how to make this all be over. Giles snarks that they should give Hus some land. “Sarcasm accomplishes nothing, Giles,” Buffy admonishes. “It’s sort of an end in itself,” he mutters. Xander wants to go back to the part where he has syphilis. Anya assures him that, while it’ll make him blind and insane, it won’t kill him. (The smallpox will, though.) Willow thinks she might be able to find a spell that can cure him. Anya unhelpfully offers Xander some pictures of what will happen to him.

Willow says that Hus is just doing what was done to him. Xander notes that he didn’t give anyone syphilis. Giles says that when Xander freed Hus’ spirit, he saw Xander as one of his oppressors and punished him accordingly. Giles wonders why he targeted the professor and Father Gabriel. Xander doesn’t care – Buffy just needs to slay Hus. She says there’s some debate about that. Willow adds that there are two sides to the situation. “Well, the representative from syphilis votes yea,” Xander says.

Willow argues that it’s not that simple. Xander doesn’t agree – Hus is a vengeance demon, so he needs to be killed. Anya’s taken aback by her boyfriend’s attitude toward something she used to be. Willow and Giles note that Hus is a spirit, not a demon, and they don’t know what will kill it. As the group starts to argue about the complexities of the situation, Buffy blurts out that the pie she’s been making needs more condensed milk. She’s going to focus on dinner right now so they can have a perfect Thanksgiving. Giles tells her that Hus won’t stop. His vengeance won’t be satisfied. “Hatred is a cycle,” and he’ll just keep killing.

There’s a knock at the door, and when Buffy opens it, she’s confused because no one’s there. Spike pops up and asks for help. He’s covered in a blanket to keep him safe from the sun, but when she shoves him back, he gets a little burned. He begs to be invited in, but Buffy and Giles both refuse. Spike tells them he can’t bite anyone, asking Willow to back him up. She reminds him that he vowed to kill her and Buffy, so she’s not really motivated to help him out here, but she confirms that he “had trouble performing.”

He says he’s been neutralized for good: “Spike had a little trip to the vet and now he doesn’t chase the other puppies anymore.” He can’t bite or hit anyone. Buffy doesn’t consider that enough of a reason to help him. He offers up information on the commandos. What does Buffy have to be afraid of? Well, Hus, who’s summoning more spirits to help him in his quest for vengeance.

Giles has invited Spike in but the Scoobies are taking all precautions by tying him to a chair. He complains that Buffy’s tying the ropes too tightly and cutting off his circulation. She reminds him that he doesn’t have any circulation. He says he came to her in friendship (“well, all right, seething hatred”) and she shouldn’t mistreat the person who’s offered her information. However, he won’t give up that information until he’s gotten something to eat.

While Anya takes over cooking and Spike asks for brandy, Giles realizes that other than Xander, Hus has gone after authority figures. Buffy thinks Dean Guerrero could be next. Willow hasn’t found a “nice, non-judgmental way” to kill Hus, and she says they’re not in a western. They’re dealing with one oppressed warrior. Buffy really feels bad about this (not bad enough not to keep giving Anya cooking instructions in the middle of the conversation) but they have to stop Hus. Apologizing won’t cut it.

“Oh, someone put a stake in me,” Spike says, annoyed. “You got a lot of volunteers in here,” Xander replies. Spike tells the Scoobies that the settlers won. They came in, killed the Chumash, and took their land. That’s what conquering nations do. Caesar did it, and his famous quote isn’t, “I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.” History is about defeating your opponents. They can’t fight Hus if they’re feeling apologetic.

Buffy and Willow say they don’t want to fight anyone. Willow would like to sit down and talk to Hus, but Spike doesn’t think he’d feel better after chatting with someone he sees as responsible for genocide. It’s kill or be killed here. “Maybe it’s the syphilis talking here but some of that made sense,” Xander says. Giles grumbles that he said a lot of that stuff earlier but no one listened to him.

Buffy decides that warning the dean should be the priority right now. Willow and Anya volunteer, and Xander apparently feels well enough to tag along. Spike would prefer if he stayed, since he thinks he can bite someone if they’re dead, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be long before Xander is. Buffy tells the Scoobies to hurry, not because they need to save the dean but because dinner is being served in an hour.

Spike requests food again, asking if Buffy and Giles knows what happens to vampires who don’t feed. Apparently they turn into living skeletons. Buffy offers him gravy, since that has blood in it. “Do you know what else has blood in it? Blood,” he replies. She considers gagging him so the Scoobies can have a peaceful dinner. She’s determined to make sure it’s quiet and civilized.

An arrow flies into the apartment and lodges into a wall. Hus has arrived. Buffy tells him that they really do feel terrible about what happened to the Chumash, and they’re trying to help. “You can have casinos now!” she exclaims. The other spirits join Hus and fire more arrows into the apartment. Still tied up, Spike can’t do anything to defend himself, and he almost takes an arrow to the heart.

Willow, Xander, and Anya leave the dean’s house, having confirmed that he’s safe. Willow thinks he got a crazy vibe from them. Xander says it’s probably because Anya started things off with, “Everybody got both ears?” On the plus side, the dean’s wife gave them a pie. They run into Angel, whom Anya, meeting him for the first time, describes as “large and glowery.” Xander suspects that he’s evil again, making Angel wonder why everyone thinks that. Willow says he’s there to protect Buffy. “I haven’t been evil for a long time,” Angel protests. Willow adds that Buffy doesn’t know he’s there.

He reports that all the weapons were taken and asks why the Scoobies went to see Dean Guerrero. Willow explains that they think Hus is going after leaders. Angel says that since Hus is a warrior, a leader to him is the strongest fighter. That means the Slayer. Angel says he’ll call her and warn her while the others head back to Giles’. He breaks the locks on some nearby bikes so they don’t have to walk.

Giles takes Angel’s call in the middle of the war zone, casually saying they’re fully aware of the situation and currently under siege. Since he’s British, he says thank you. Buffy asks who called and Giles just says, “Someone.” Spike, who’s full of arrows, would like to know what the plan is. Buffy goes for Giles’ weapons chest and takes an arrow in the arm. Spike announces that apologizing wouldn’t be such a bad strategy after all. He calls out to Hus that they’re sorry. Yeah, Hus doesn’t care.

As the other Scoobies bike across campus, Buffy and Giles start fighting back against the spirits. Xander arrives just as one is about to fire another arrow, and he hits the spirit over the head with a flowerpot. Anya and Willow team up, using gardening tools as weapons. The spirits start entering the apartment, which they soon discover was a mistake, since Buffy’s really good at hand-to-hand combat. Spike just stays put and keeps getting shot with arrows.

Buffy stabs a spirit but her knife doesn’t have any effect on him. Willow and Anya’s tools aren’t doing much, either. Angel arrives, takes in the scene, and jumps in to snap the neck of the spirit Willow and Anya are fighting. “What’s he like when he is evil?” Anya asks. Inside, Buffy fights a spirit while another sneaks up on her. Angel throws something into his chest from the courtyard without Buffy even noticing.

After some more fighting, Buffy discovers that Hus’ knife can hurt the spirits. But before she can start killing, Hus suddenly turns into a bear. “You made a bear!” Spike says in horror. “I didn’t mean to,” Buffy replies meekly. “Undo it! Undo it!” he yells. He tries to get away, scooting his chair around, but he tips over and ends up on his back.

Xander manages to save the day by distracting the Hus-bear. He calls him Gentle Ben and throws rolls at him for giving Xander syphilis. Buffy’s able to run up behind Hus and stab him with his knife. He turns back into his human form, then goes up in green smoke. The other spirits do the same, and the fight is over. Angel stays outside, never seen by Buffy. “What happened? Did we win?” Spike asks from the floor.

He’s allowed to sit at the table with the Scoobies while they eat dinner together. Despite all the complications, apparently the food turned out well. Willow feels bad for fighting the spirits, and Giles tells her that instincts take over when violence is involved. “Yeah, that’s the fun,” Spike says. He’s annoyed that after all the fighting, none of the Scoobies bled.

Giles compliments Buffy for her successes both with the meal and the battle. She’s disappointed that Thanksgiving wasn’t as perfect as she’d hoped. Xander thinks it was pretty traditional – there was a lot of anticipation, then a big fight, and now they’re all tired. Giles notes that everyone survived. Buffy cheers up, agreeing that her first Thanksgiving in charge was successful after all, since they all got through it.

Xander suggestively tells Anya that his syphilis seems to be clearing up. “And they say romance is dead,” Buffy comments. “Or maybe they just wish it.” Willow thinks they might have started a new tradition. Okay, maybe not, but with everyone working together, it was like old times. “Yeah, especially with Angel being here and everything,” Xander replies casually. Buffy looks up in surprise and everyone waits to see how she’ll react. Spike smirks at the blindsiding. “Oops,” Xander says.

Thoughts: This is the first Thanksgiving episode of a TV show I remember discussing the unsavory history of the holiday. And yet it still manages to give us scenes of togetherness and friendship without being sappy.

I was going to write something about Buffy, Willow, and Anya’s outfits at the groundbreaking ceremony, but nothing I could say would capture their essence. As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words, so here’s the picture.

Anya is blunt and self-centered and doesn’t get a lot of social cues, but if you watch her during the Scoobies’ scenes, she takes really good care of Xander. She definitely cares about him beyond just having sex with him.

October 29, 2022

Buffy 4.7, The Initiative: Peculiar

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:07 pm by Jenn

I would go insane in a space like this within two hours

Summary: Riley is in the cafeteria with his friend Forrest, who’s talking about how great it is to be surrounded by so many pretty women. He hopes a lot of them show up to the party they’re throwing. Riley’s not listening, since he’s trying to grade papers. “How you gonna learn anything if you keep doing schoolwork?” Forrest asks.

Someone new catches his attention and he tells Riley to check her out. It’s Buffy, and Forrest is impressed that Riley already knows her. Riley says he hasn’t thought much about her. There’s something about her that seems peculiar. As the guys talk about her, she first has trouble filling a soda cup without spilling, then getting some ice cream without the cup overflowing (maybe her Slayer strength broke the machine?).

The guys’ friend Graham joins them and Forrest asks for his opinion on Buffy. (He asks if she’s “mattressable.” Shut up, Forrest.) Riley says it feels like she’s never completely present when he talks to her. He prefers women he can “get a grip on.” There’s something off about Buffy. “Maybe she’s Canadian,” Graham offers up.

Forrest knows that Buffy was involved with Parker for a little while, which just makes Riley think she has bad taste. He can’t deny that she’s pretty, but he doesn’t see himself dating her. And that’s even before she trips and drops her soda and ice cream (the machine is still malfunctioning in the background). Forrest would clearly nail anything that moves, so he’s not turned off. He thinks a lot of guys would like to get their hands on Buffy.

That includes Spike, who’s talking in his sleep about how he wants to kill the Slayer. He’s not in any shape to do anything to her, though, as he’s locked up in a cell, having been captured by commandos. The cell’s glass door is electrified, so he can’t even touch it. He’s just one of at least a dozen prisoners in a hallway full of identical bare cells.

Giles is working on finding out more about the commandos, but all he has to go on is Buffy’s description of their uniforms, which Xander calls “the latest in fall fascism.” Giles thinks they’re human, so there’s no point in researching. Xander’s pleased by that. He’s less pleased that Giles doesn’t think they’re needed for this particular mystery at all. He suggests using a Ouija board to summon some evil and fight it themselves. It might be unethical but at least they’ll have fun!

Buffy comes by Giles’ place and tells him she’s taking the night off from patrolling so she can go to a party with her dormmates. She’s trying to cheer up Willow, who’s been struggling since Oz left. Giles and Xander will need to fill in for her on patrol. Hopefully Xander leaves the Ouija board at home.

Spike paces in his cell, frustrated that he can’t find a way out. A bag of blood drops from a little opening in the ceiling, but when Spike starts to open it, the prisoner in the next cell warns him that it’s drugged. The prisoner, Tom, was Sunday’s minion and he tells Spike they’re all lab rats. They’re going to be starved, drugged, and experimented on. He doesn’t know how he got there; the last thing he was doing was running from Buffy. Spike thinks she’s responsible for their imprisonment. “I always worried what would happen when that b%$@# got some funding,” he grumbles. He plans to kill her no matter how smart she is.

Exactly how smart is Buffy? Not smart enough not to get ink all over her class notes. I think Spike might still stand a chance against her. At the end of a psych class, Willow approaches Riley and notes that he left Oz’s name off of role call. For the very first time, we learn that Oz’s real name is Daniel Osborne. Riley says he heard that Oz dropped out. Willow says he only left temporarily.

Walsh butts in and says he won’t be allowed back into her class. She lectures Willow about exceptions and feeling like her “exception is exceptional.” Walsh isn’t a freshman or a narcissist, so she has to think about the whole class. If Oz can’t respect her schedule, he shouldn’t come back. Willow walks away sadly, and Buffy confronts Walsh for not having any sympathy. After she leaves as well, Walsh tells Riley that she likes Buffy. “You don’t think she’s a little peculiar?” he asks.

Xander has a bunch of military gear left over from his brief time as a soldier, so he and Giles have a lot of options for equipment in case they come up against the commandos. Not that Xander necessarily knows how to use it. Giles thinks he’ll be ready if there’s a face-off. Xander promises that he’s great at hand-to-hand combat. Just then, his mother calls down to his basement room to offer him and Giles some fruit punch. Xander’s not thrilled by the interruption, which doesn’t make him look very tough, but Giles wouldn’t say no if the punch is raspberry-flavored.

Riley tells Forrest and Graham about Walsh and Buffy’s exchange, which just makes Buffy more appealing to Forrest. Riley thinks she’s nuts for talking to Walsh the way she did. Parker passes by and Forrest asks for info on Buffy. Parker says she’s whiny and clingy. They had sex once and then she was all over him like they were engaged. Parker raves about her skills in bed, then compares her to a toilet seat. Riley punches him.

Forrest worries that Parker will report Riley and get him in trouble, but Graham thinks he’s too embarrassed to say anything. Riley’s shocked that he reacted the way he did. Forrest notes that Riley has heard him say a lot grosser things than what Parker said. “And most of those are about your own mother,” Riley replies. He just didn’t like hearing Parker say those things about Buffy. Maybe he kind of likes her. “You’re kind of like a moron,” Forrest tells him. Graham adds that everyone has already figured it out. “I guess I’m gonna go see a girl,” Riley says, heading off alone.

Two men in lab coats go to Spike’s cell, where he’s unconscious on the floor. They pull him out and strap him to a gurney. That’s when Spike reveals that he’s not really unconscious. “Sorry, can’t stay,” he announces, grabbing one of the men by the throat. “Got to go see a girl.”

He tries to fight his way out as an alarm blares. Tom asks Spike to free him, saying he knows how to get out. Spike gets one of the men to accidentally sedate the other, then knocks out the second. He frees Tom from his cell and the two of them run for the exit, sliding under a door just as it’s closing. Some men in gas masks find them and Spike shoves Tom at them so he can escape.

Willow’s moping in her room when Riley shows up looking for Buffy. He wants to ask Buffy out but doesn’t know a lot about her. Willow notices that a bag of weapons is poking out from under Buffy’s bed, and she slowly goes over to nudge it back under without Riley seeing. He’s such a gentleman that he leans over and helps her move it without noticing what’s in it.

He asks for advice on what to talk about with Buffy. Willow isn’t sure why he would bother, since any relationship they have will eventually end horribly when one of them leaves and the other is reduced to “a broken, hollow mockery of the human condition.” “Yep, that’s the plan!” Riley replies. He gets that Willow isn’t in the mood to discuss this sort of thing, but he doesn’t know how to approach someone like Buffy.

Willow asks why she should trust him as someone who would be good for Buffy. Riley says he hoped she’d think he has an honest face. “I’ve seen honest faces before. They usually come attached to liars,” she replies. He decides to give up on this angle, though he admires how protective Willow is. He thinks Buffy brings that out in people.

As he’s leaving, Willow offers up a few conversation topics: cheese, Mr. Gordo, and the Ice Capades. Also, they’re going to a party that night. It happens to be the one Riley and his friends are throwing. Willow warns him not to get “fresh” with Buffy. He asks if she ever talks about him. Nope, sorry. But he thinks that Willow’s been helpful. She just wants it clear that she’s not his accomplice.

Spike makes his way to his old lair, where Harmony is still living. She’s not happy to see him, which is reasonable, since he dumped her, staked her, and abandoned her. He says he also missed her, and she immediately takes him back. He’s just there for weapons so he can take on Buffy. Harmony seduces him to distract him from returning to his Slayer obsession. Giles and Xander are on patrol, though they’re just observing right now. Xander tries to make it more dramatic by saying how they’re waiting for an enemy without a face and any thought they have could be their last. Giles tells him to shut up.

Buffy and Willow arrive at the party, and though Willow isn’t really up for it, she gives Riley some guidance so Buffy might have a good time. She tells him to have a light conversation with her, then warns that if he hurts Buffy, Willow will kill him with a shovel. “A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend,” she says. “Have fun!” Riley approaches Buffy awkwardly, and everything Willow said flies out of his head. He asks her a school-related question, then offers him some cheese.

Giles and Xander split up and Xander comes across the first interesting thing he’s seen all night: Harmony is about to burn a bunch of Spike’s stuff. Each thinks the other can win in a fight, which Harmony starts with a slap. Xander kicks her, and then it’s on. And by “it,” I mean a slow-motion slap fight that ends in a draw. They agree to go their separate ways, but when she mentions that Spike’s back, Xander realizes there’s a problem.

Having struck out with Buffy, Riley goes to mope with Willow. He’s shaken because he’s usually good at everything. “Well, you failed extremely well,” she says encouragingly. He needs to relax. His goal right now is to get a reaction – any reaction. A Dingoes Ate My Baby song suddenly comes on and Willow’s mood drops. Without even knowing why, beyond Willow having a bad association with the song, Riley tells a friend to skip it. That definitely wins him some points with her, and she tells him to go give chatting with Buffy another try. Willow’s going to head home.

Riley approaches Buffy again, but before he can try to make less awkward conversation than before, Xander runs in. He tells Buffy they have “unfinished business” to deal with. She leaves with him, and Forrest and Graham pop up, both to tease Riley for getting rejected in favor of Xander and to take him downstairs for something. Forrest says it might be better this way, since now Riley won’t spend the next few months pining for a freshman.

The guys stand in front of a mirror, where green beams suddenly appear and a computerized voice accepts their retinal scan. Graham says he likes Buffy as the mirror slides aside, revealing an elevator. As it takes the guys underground, Forrest says he’s better at dating than Riley is because he knows girls. Riley replies that he’s just talking about one girl here. He repeats, “One girl,” into a panel, and a computerized voice says his vocal match is complete. He’s been confirmed to be Special Agent Riley Rinn.

The guys emerge in a basement facility as Riley wonders what kind of woman would want to date a guy who acts normal by day but is secretly a demon hunter at night. “Maybe a peculiar one,” Graham says. The facility is the one where Spike and Tom were prisoners, and Tom was right about the captives there undergoing experiments. The guys are there to respond to a code-red situation. “Hostile 17 has escaped,” according to their boss, Professor Walsh.

As the guys put on their commando uniforms, Walsh tells them that Hostile 17 escaped that afternoon, which means “it” has a big head start. It was captured locally, so they can assume that it knows the area, which gives it a big advantage. If they can’t recapture it, everything they’ve worked for – “the Initiative itself” – will be at risk. Riley promises that no one will fail on his watch. The guys grab weapons and meet up with some other commandos. Walsh announces that Finn is in charge. He gives orders and everyone heads above-ground to catch the escapee.

At Giles’, Buffy complains that not only is Spike back but he’s interrupting her night off. Xander snarks that he probably would have waited if he’d known that Buffy was “busy with Teutonic boy-toy.” She says Riley’s a doof, not Teutonic. She plans to kill Spike, and she’s going after him alone. Xander offers her a flare gun so she can signal for help if she needs it.

Spike breaks into an admin office and uses a computer to find Buffy’s dorm room. Riley, Graham, and Forrest search campus for him, coming across Buffy, who’s sitting out in the open, waiting for Spike to find her. Forrest notes that at least she’s not having sex with Xander. He contemplates using her as bait for Spike, but Riley shuts him down, pulling rank.

He decides to take off his commando uniform and find a way to talk Buffy into leaving. She wants the same from him, and neither will budge. Riley is in protective mode again, and when Buffy gets him to admit that he thinks guys need to take care of women, she calls him Teutonic. He tells her that as long as she’s out there, he’s staying. She says the same about him. But when they hear a scream, they head off in different directions.

Riley, Graham, and Forrest use a tracker implanted in Spike to find out that he’s at Buffy and Willow’s dorm. When he knocks on their door, Willow invites him in without realizing who she’s talking to. She thinks he’s there to make her do a spell, so she agrees to help, then tries to make a run for it. He stops her and tells her she has a choice: Die for good or die temporarily and come back as a vampire. She threatens to scream, which doesn’t deter him. He just turns up her music and wrestles her onto her bed.

Willow survives the encounter, thanks to some problem on Spike’s end. It’s something that’s never happened to him before. She suggests that he was nervous. He tries to bite her again but a sudden pain in his head makes him back off. She thinks this is something that happens to every vampire. Nope, not Spike. Willow worries that she’s the problem – Spike settled for her since Buffy wasn’t there. He didn’t really want to bite Willow.

Spike scoffs at that, but Willow knows she’s not the person vampires usually go for. They see her more as a friend or sister. He assures her that he’d bite her in a second if he could. He thought about it the last time they saw each other. Willow’s surprised, since he didn’t show any signs of having bloodlust for her. “I hate being obvious. All fangy and ‘rrrr.’ Takes the mystery out,” Spike replies. Willow promises that his failure here doesn’t make him any less scary. “Don’t patronize me!” he says.

The commandos lock in on Spike’s location, using a thermal scanner to pinpoint where he is, since he’s the only being in the building who’s at room temperature. Riley calls in a lockdown. Back in the room, Spike beats himself up for his failure to perform at such a young age (he’s only 126). Willow says he’s being too hard on himself. They can wait a while and try again. Then she realizes what she’s saying and smashes a lamp over his head.

She runs for the door but it’s locked and she can’t get it open before the lights in the dorm go out. The commandos storm the building wearing night-vision goggles. They break down Buffy and Willow’s door, finally letting Willow escape. One of the commandos mistakes her for their target, but Riley recognizes her and yells for him not to shoot her. Spike tries to attack a commando, but the pain returns and he gets recaptured.

Forrest doesn’t want to leave without Willow – she needs to be quarantined in case Spike turned her. Riley tells him to ignore that protocol. Spike is able to break free and grab a fire extinguisher, which he uses to hit a commando in the face. The spray clouds the hallway, making it even harder to see. As Forrest grabs Willow before she can crawl away, Buffy arrives and starts fighting the guys. They don’t recognize her because of the darkness and spray. They also don’t see Spike escaping until he’s already on his way into the woods. Buffy fights Riley, neither of them recognizing each other. He calls for a retreat and the commandos all leave.

Walsh isn’t happy with the way things turned out. The commandos think that Buffy helped Spike escape, and that she’ll be hard to capture or take down. On the plus side, the implant they put in Spike works – there’s something in his head that keeps him from hurting anyone without intense pain. Riley promises that they’ll recapture him.

The next day, Riley runs into Buffy and they make up, both playing innocent about why they insisted on being alone on campus. The official story about the commandos’ raid is that it was a frat prank. Riley mentions that he asked Willow to help him with a “project.” He’s not sure yet how it worked out. Buffy asks what he wanted to tell her at the party. Riley’s still awkward, so all he comes up with to say is, “Did Willow tell you I like cheese?” “You’re a little peculiar,” Buffy replies. He decides he can live with that.

Thoughts: The good news: This is the only episode where Forrest is this obnoxious. The bad news: After this, he’s just annoying in a regular way.

Apparently “maybe she’s Canadian” was an inside joke about someone who worked on the show. Shouldn’t inside jokes be funny?

I love, love, love Buffy standing up for Willow with Walsh. We all need a friend like that.

Riley uses the word “courted” when talking about trying to date Buffy. You know, like any normal 1990s college student.

Spike’s off-the-cuff pet names for Harmony: “my little foam latte,” “mon petite crème brûlée” (which she thinks is Italian), “my little mentholated pack of smokes.”

“Riley’s a doof” is 100 percent correct. Thank you for the perfect description, Buffy.