February 4, 2023

Buffy 4.21, Primeval: By Our Powers Combined…

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

Hi. We’re here to invade you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


January 28, 2023

Buffy 4.20, The Yoko Factor: Helter Skelter

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

Fight! Fight! Fight!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drunk Giles is perfect. No notes.

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 31, 2022

Buffy 4.16, Who Are You: Things Are No Longer Five by Five

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

Of course she went straight for the leather pants

Summary: The police have arrived at the Summerses’ house to handle Faith. A detective tells Joyce that after Faith is checked out by doctors, she’ll go to jail until her trial. Joyce just wants Faith to get help. The detective says their top priority is making sure she can’t hurt anyone else. As a semi-conscious Faith is wheeled off on a gurney, she sees Buffy taking Joyce’s hand. The detective appreciates the Summerses’ help in apprehending “the kid.” Buffy firmly says that she’s not a kid. She’s strong and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Inside the house, Buffy spins around, worried, when Joyce says Faith’s name. She just wants to know what makes her the way she is. Buffy says she’s crazy. Joyce doesn’t know what could drive a person to act the way Faith does. Buffy suggests that she’s always been that way. Joyce thinks that Faith is “horribly unhappy.” Buffy says the time in jail could rehabilitate her. Or maybe she’ll get abused. Buffy tells Joyce that the thought of Faith hurting her fills her with rage. Joyce hugs her and Buffy makes a face.

Joyce says she’s missed her daughter, and Buffy replies triumphantly that she knew it was because she hasn’t visited. Joyce understands that her life is busy now, but she’d like to spend time together. Buffy says they will. She goes upstairs to take a bath and examine her body. It’s become clear that this isn’t really Buffy – whatever device Faith had on her hand earlier caused them to swap bodies. This is Faith in Buffy’s body, or FIB.

After the bath, FIB makes faces at herself in the mirror and practices talking like Buffy. Mostly it’s telling people they can’t do things because they’re wrong. At the hospital, Buffy in Faith’s body – BIF – tries to fight off the medical staff keeping her there. She yells that she has to go home and protect her mother. They sedate her and think she’s talking crazy when she says that someone’s taken her body.

In Tara’s room, Willow wonders where Faith is. She wishes Faith would make a move already. She’s pretty sure Buffy can handle her, but that doesn’t mean Faith won’t hurt someone. Tara thinks Willow’s safe with her, since her friends don’t even know that Tara exists. Not that that’s a problem for Tara or anything! Willow promises that she’s not trying to hide Tara from her friends. She just likes having something that’s hers alone, not the Scoobies’. As Willow goes to check in with Giles, Tara tells her, “I am, you know.” Willow asks what she means. “Yours,” Tara replies.

FIB puts on some of Buffy’s clothes (gotta make the cleavage pop) and nabs her passport. She uses Joyce’s credit card to buy a plane ticket for the next morning and steals some of her cash. Joyce tells her that Giles called and wants her to meet up with the Scoobies. FIB decides she has time to kill and might as well show up. She takes one of Joyce’s lipsticks, which Joyce recognizes as Harlot, the same one Faith liked. In that case, FIB says she should burn it.

BIF wakes up from the sedative in the back of a police car. Moments later, the car crashes into an armored truck. The three guys from the helicopter pull her out of the car and tell her that she’s being taken into custody by the Watchers’ Council. BIF is too out of it from the sedative to fight them off.

FIB arrives at Giles’ and reports that she took care of Faith. She thinks it’s poetic justice that…well, Faith committed crimes and is going to be punished for them. Maybe that’s just regular justice. Giles tells her that Faith isn’t in police custody anymore – the Watchers’ Council had her captured by a special unit that handles tougher cases. She’ll be taken to England and won’t be their problem anymore. FIB is delighted.

Willow hopes they “throw the book” at Faith. Giles isn’t sure there’s a book that covers what she’s done. “They could throw other things,” Willow says. FIB is uncomfortable with Willow’s level of hatred for her and imagines herself stabbing Willow. Anya asks why Giles called them all over, since he could have just told them over the phone that everything’s fine. Willow notices that FIB has a weird look on her face and asks what’s up with her. “I’d never let her hurt you,” FIB promises.

Xander’s ready for the Scooby gathering to break up, since he and Anya had a romantic evening planned. Anya clarifies that they were going to light candles and have sex near them. “Well, we certainly don’t want to cut into that seven minutes,” FIB quips. She excuses her sarcasm by saying they’re out of danger and can lighten up. Giles mentions Adam, who of course FIB knows nothing about. They don’t have any new information on him, so there’s nothing to do on that front. FIB promises to patrol so the Scoobies can have the night off.

Instead, she goes to the Bronze and lives it up. She bumps into Spike, another person she’s unfamiliar with. He swears he’s only there to drink beer, not blood. He’s “as helpless as a kitten up a tree,” so she can leave him alone. But when she starts to walk away, he complains that she’s throwing it in his face that he can’t hurt people anymore.

FIB realizes who she’s talking to and is thrilled that Spike can’t hurt anyone. He asks if she knows why he really hates her. “‘Cause I’m a stuck-up tight-a%$ with no sense of fun?” she replies. “Well, yeah, that covers a lot of it,” he says. She adds that she can do anything she wants, but instead she chooses to “pout and whine and feel the burden of Slayerness.” She could be rich or famous and have anything or anyone, including him.

She cozies up to him and talks about how impressed he would be if she took him to bed. But she won’t do that, because it’s wrong. Spike warns that when he gets the chip removed, they’re going to “have a confrontation.” FIB replies that she’s counting on it. And then Spike probably has to go take a cold shower, because dang, that was hot.

Adam finds some vampires underground and asks what they’re afraid of. Their leader, Boone, tells a minion to kill Adam, who easily holds him off. He knows that vampires fear crosses, fire, the sun, and decapitation, which he demonstrates by pulling off the minion’s head. Boone quickly offers to let Adam take over their lair. Adam thinks that vampires fear death more than mortals do, even though it’s harder for them to die. They’re paradoxes – as demons in human bodies, they “walk in both worlds and belong to neither.” Adam can relate. He thinks he and the vampires have a lot to talk about.

BIF wakes up again and tries to convince the Council guys that she’s Buffy, and that Faith switched their bodies. Of course, they don’t believe her. She tells them to call Giles, but they remind her that Giles doesn’t work for the Council anymore. Actually, neither does Buffy. BIF is just a package they’re supposed to deliver. One of the guys is very loyal to the Council, and he thinks BIF is trash who “perverted it.” He spits on her and says they should have killed her in her sleep.

Willow takes Tara to the Bronze, where they find FIB cheering on a guy who’s chugging a beer. Willow decides to introduce Tara to her, but since this is Faith, she’s not very warm toward Willow’s friend. When Willow leaves them alone to get drinks, FIB reveals that she’s already guessed that they’re actually more than friends: “So Willow’s not driving stick anymore.” She didn’t expect that. “I guess you never really know someone until you’ve been inside their skin,” she says.

She clarifies that Oz is out of the picture, which surprises her, since he and Willow were so in love. Tara gets uncomfortable about that, which brings out a stutter. FIB taunts her for it, so Tara falls silent. Willow comes back and tells FIB that a guy across the room seems to be a vampire. FIB takes a few moments to realize that that means she needs to go do some slaying.

She goes outside with a pool cue and gets the vampire away from the girl he’s about to feed on. Once he’s dusted, she offers the girl some words of…whatever the opposite of comfort is: “You’ll live.” The girl is really grateful, something FIB isn’t used it. FIB goes back inside and tells Willow that she took care of things. Willow’s on her way out with Tara and asks if FIB will be home later or if she’s going to Riley’s. Suddenly FIB has a new plan for the night.

BIF’s causing trouble for the Council guys, so one of them grabs another sedative. When he gets close enough to inject her, she takes him hostage and forces the other guys to unchain her. The only problem is that these guys are fully willing to die on the job, so they’re not too eager to release someone they think is a psychotic killer in order to save a guy who went into this knowing he might not get back home. They’d rather focus on coming up with a new plan for getting BIF to the Council.

FIB shows up at Riley’s room in full-on seductive mode as Willow and Tara return to Tara’s room. Tara tells Willow that Buffy isn’t her friend. Somehow Tara, who’s never even met Buffy before, has figured out that she isn’t really Buffy. Her energy is “fragmented” and seems forced into a place where it doesn’t belong. Also, she was mean.

Willow wonders if Buffy’s been possessed. She hopes there aren’t any hyenas involved. Tara asks to use something of Buffy’s to figure things out. They can do a ritual to find Buffy in “the nether realm,” which is “beyond the physical world.” To access it, they’d have to do something similar to astral projection. Tara would serve as Willow’s anchor. Willow promises that she trusts Tara.

FIB tells Riley that Faith has been taken care of, so there’s nothing to worry about. Riley admits that he kind of wanted to meet Faith, but now he can’t think of anything but Buffy. FIB says he wouldn’t have liked Faith: “She’s not proper and joyless like a girl should be. She has a tendency to give in to her animal instincts.” Riley’s a little uncomfortable with his supposed girlfriend’s sudden assertiveness, but he just notes that his door is still open. She doesn’t care, but he doesn’t want the other commandos to get a free show.

He’s still in a little pain from his encounter with Adam, but FIB wants to take him “for a test drive.” She climbs onto his bed and asks what he wants to do with her body. Are there any desires he wants to act on? Is she a bad girl? Does he want to hurt her? Riley’s confused, since he’s not one for roleplay. He just wants regular intimacy with the woman he cares about.

Willow and Tara do their ritual, which might actually be more intimate than Riley and FIB’s romp in the sack is about to be. Let’s just say there’s touching and heavy breathing and some extended eye contact. Oh, and moaning. Back in Riley’s room, FIB gets agitated when he says he loves her. She orders him to get off of her, then asks who he is and what he wants from…well, Buffy. She tells him this is meaningless. Riley notices that she’s shaking and covers her up, trying to comfort her. It’s clearly the first time she’s been cared for like this, and she doesn’t know how to react.

Underground, Adam tells the vampires that, unlike other demons, he knows why he’s there: He was created to kill. He’s accepted that responsibility. The vampires have lived in fear because they don’t have that gift. It’s time for them to face their fear. Adam wants Boone to be his “first” and let “them” know he’s coming. He asks what Boone fears more than anything else.

FIB spent the night with Riley, but in the morning, she gets dressed to leave without waking him. Downstairs, she runs into Forrest, who chastises her for not letting Riley recover. He reminds her that they have a mission. FIB laughs at that, since she’s been fighting demons a lot longer than the commandos have. “Yeah, you’re a killer,” Forrest replies sarcastically. She takes offense to that, correcting that she’s the Slayer, and he doesn’t know anything about her. Forrest asks if she really cares what he thinks. FIB claims she doesn’t care at all.

The Council guys have heard that they won’t be able to get secure transport to England, now that BIF is so volatile, and they’ve been authorized to kill her. The guy she took hostage notes that she could have killed him but didn’t. BIF is ready and waiting when they come for her with a gun, and she knocks out one of the guys and grabs the weapon. She manages to get from the back of the armored truck to the front and drive off without them stopping her.

As FIB checks in for her flight at the airport, BIF shows up at Giles’. She tells him she’s Buffy, but since he obviously doesn’t believe her, he asks to tie her up until they find out the truth. She tells him she doesn’t have time “for bondage fun” while FIB is running around in her body. She suggests that he ask her something that will prove who she is. He asks who the president is, which she notes is a question better suited to someone who might have a concussion.

BIF thinks Giles should be able to tell who she is the way she knew who he was when he turned into a demon. He asks for details about that, which she gives. She also mentions Olivia and how he’s been unemployed since they blew up the school, “which is valid, lifestyle-wise.” Also, when she was psychic, she heard Joyce think that he was “like a stevedore during sex“. Giles has heard enough. “What’s a stevedore?” BIF wonders.

Giles is sold now, but BIF wants to hold off on explaining things until they’ve found FIB. Willow and Tara burst in just then, and BIF starts to tell them that she’s really Buffy. They already know, and they’ve even guessed the spell that was probably used. They’ve conjured a katra that will switch FIB and BIF back. Just then, Giles gets a call from Xander alerting him to a news report. Three men whose descriptions make them sound a lot like vampires have taken hostages at a church. FIB sees the same report at the airport.

The hostage-takers are Boone and two other minions, who are facing their fear of churches. Boone would like to know where God is. The vampires will just start killing people and see if He shows up. Outside, Riley pulls rank on the police, telling a cop that they’re not prepared to handle the hostage-takers. FIB arrives ready to go in and save the day. Riley advises her to wait for commandos to serve as backup. She asks how he responded so fast. He didn’t – he was just late for church.

FIB won’t wait for backup, and she won’t let Riley talk her out of going in alone: “I’m Buffy. I have to do this.” He wants to go with her, but he’s not fully recovered, so she tells him to stay outside and help any civilians who get out. She heads into the sanctuary, telling Boone that she’s just there to pray. She refuses to let the vampires kill their hostages, “because it’s wrong.” Boone realizes that he’s dealing with the Slayer. “The one and only,” FIB replies.

The Scoobies arrive (in the armored truck, because why not?) and Giles distracts a cop so BIF can slip away and get into the church. He rants that their mothers are inside, “and tiny, tiny babies!” Boone tells FIB that they’re not afraid of her, so she suggests that they let the hostages go and face her alone. She starts fighting the vampires, and the parishioners wisely head for the doors.

FIB stakes one vampire, and another heads outside, running into Riley, who tosses him into the sunlight and kills him. BIF has just found him, and she happily hugs her boyfriend, who thinks she’s just a grateful civilian. She asks how many vampires are inside. Confused, he asks who she is. Back inside, Boone smacks FIB around, saying that Adam has shown him the way. He suddenly turns to dust, thanks to a stake in the back courtesy of BIF.

The two Slayers fight each other, and during a brief pause, BIF says that FIB can’t win this. FIB yells that she’s not afraid of BIF. She gets BIF on the ground and pummels her, ranting that she’s nothing, just a “disgusting, murderous b%$@#.” BIF manages to grab FIB’s hand and activate the katra, returning them to their bodies. Buffy’s so shaken that she can’t chase after Faith, who gets away.

Later, in Riley’s room, Buffy tells Riley that there’s no trace of Faith. He thinks he should have been able to pick up on the fact that something was off. Buffy slowly realizes that he slept with Faith. Riley doesn’t see it that way, since he thought she was Buffy, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. They agree that Faith probably won’t be coming back – she’s had her fun. Faith definitely isn’t having fun now, though. She’s fleeing town in the back of a truck, thinking about all the damage she’s caused and the life she’s been leading up until now. What has it all been for?

Thoughts: It’s not surprising at all but Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku both do an excellent job of imitating each other’s characters, mostly in subtle ways. Gellar even throws in Dushku’s slight Boston accent.

Joyce’s credit card expires in May of 2001, for those of you collecting foreshadowing for “The Gift.”

Not only is FIB’s comment about Xander’s, uh, fast timing funny, but remember that Faith slept with him. It might be the truth.

Here’s the Spike/FIB scene, which I highly recommend watching.

I like that Tara caught on to Faith first, partly because she was mean. No doubt Willow has told her enough about Buffy for her to know that Buffy isn’t like that. Plus, I assume Tara knows that Willow wouldn’t be friends with a mean person.

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.

December 3, 2022

Buffy 4.12, A New Man: Out of the Loop

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

Careful there, Hulk

Summary: Buffy and Riley are making out on her bed, anticipating a night alone, since Willow’s out. Unfortunately, they’re wrong – Willow bursts in and reports that a fire-breathing creature came in through the rec-room window. Riley wants to call for backup but Buffy says they don’t have time to wait. She heads into the rec room, stake in hand, and is met not with a demon but a surprise birthday party. (Someone probably should have warned Riley so he didn’t sneak in with a weapon.)

Giles is the oldest person at the party by a mile, and Anya has no interest in hearing his stories of his own time at school. Buffy brings Riley over to introduce him to Giles, who didn’t know they were dating. She mentions that he was the librarian at her high school. “I’ve seen the library. It’s gone downhill since you left,” Riley says. He asks if Giles is retired now that there’s no library. Giles says he’s “between projects.”

Buffy’s happy to have everyone together for her birthday, though Giles isn’t sure a surprise party was the best idea, considering Buffy spends enough time having things jump out at her in the dark. Buffy quotes Walsh, who’s said before that adrenaline is like exercise without the gym fees. She thinks Giles should meet Walsh, the smartest person she’s ever met. Giles sarcastically comments that they should have invited her. Buffy replies that she’s old (“like 40”) and has better things to do than hang out with kids.

The next day, Xander oversees Spike as he packs up his things to move out. Spike steals Xander’s radio and wonders why he’s so surprised – Spike’s evil, after all. He’s thinking of moving into a crypt, which would be dark and dank, but not as dark and dank as Xander’s room. Xander hurries him along, and Anya gives Spike a housewarming gift for his new place. It’s Xander’s lamp, so he objects.

Spike notes that he won’t have electricity anyway. He also won’t have running water or a fridge for his blood. Anya thinks he should get a hotel room. Spike has no money and Xander refuses to give him any. Spike wonders why Buffy didn’t show up to say goodbye. Xander tells him that she had an appointment with someone who’s still scary.

That someone is Walsh, who now knows that Buffy is the Slayer. “We thought you were a myth,” she tells Buffy. “Well, you were myth-taken,” Buffy replies. Walsh says this explains why Buffy only got a B-minus in her class – she didn’t have the time to put in extra work. She and the Initiative have the same mission, just with different methods. The Initiative uses state-of-the-art technology and weapons against demons while Buffy pokes them with a stick. Yeah, but it gets the job done!

Walsh thinks they can learn a lot from each other. She’s trying to get Buffy clearance to visit the Initiative and see how they operate. She’s proud that Finn has killed or captured 17 vampires and demons. Buffy, who kills that many in a week, is reluctant to announce her own number.

While dusting, because he has nothing more interesting or important to do, Giles finds a book he forgot about and sees something inside that concerns him. He tries to call Buffy but instead leaves a message with Willow that a demon prince is going to rise that night. Buffy is still with Riley, who’s a little shocked about how many vampires and demons she’s taken out. She tries to downplay it, but Riley notes that when he saw her stop the world from ending, he thought that was a big week for her. Now he feels like he needs to know the plural of “apocalypse.”

Buffy points out that she’s been slaying since she was 15, so of course she’s going to have a lot of marks in her kill column. That just impresses Riley more. Her point is that they just have different amounts of experience. Plus, she has Slayer strength on her side. Riley doesn’t think he could take her on. Buffy flirtatiously says that depends on what he means by that.

Giles goes to Walsh’s office looking for Buffy. He tells her that Buffy has gotten a lot out of Walsh’s class. Walsh says she’s bright and just needs encouragement about her schoolwork. Giles prefers to let students find their own strengths. Plus, Buffy isn’t a typical student. He hopes Walsh won’t push her. Walsh says Buffy’s independent and self-reliant, but not necessarily in a good way. It’s not always healthy for children to take on adult responsibilities too young. Walsh thinks Buffy is suffering from the absence of a male role model. Giles is stunned into silence by that.

That night, he, Xander, and Willow go to a cemetery to try to take out this demon prince who’s supposed to rise in a crypt. They lost some time because Giles was looking for Buffy and then got lost on campus. The good news is that there’s no sign that the demon has risen. Willow and Xander guess that the Initiative already took him out. They’ve probably known about his rising for days. Giles has no idea what they’re talking about – Buffy didn’t tell him who the commandos were or that Riley’s one of them.

Giles is annoyed that he’s spent all this time looking into the commandos, and not only do the Scoobies know about them but Buffy’s dating one. Xander and Willow admit that Anya and Spike also know. Giles is even more irritated by that, and it only gets worse when he finds out that Walsh is the head of the Initiative. He tells Willow and Xander they can leave. He plans to stay for a while to make sure the demon doesn’t rise, but he quickly realizes nothing’s going to happen.

After he leaves the crypt, Ethan emerges from the shadows and monologues to himself that something very interesting is about to happen. Hearing his voice, Giles pokes his head back into the crypt. “Oh, bugger, I thought you’d gone!” Ethan exclaims.

The chance to beat up Ethan makes Giles feel better about his difficult day. Ethan claims to have information about something that’s going to be bad for both of them. Giles will need time to prepare. Ethan decides he should do that at a bar. “Now isn’t this more fun than kicking my a$#?” he asks. Giles says no. “Oh. It’s more fun for me,” Ethan replies. He chalks up Giles’ hatred toward him after a long friendship as “religious intolerance,” since Giles didn’t like that Ethan started to worship chaos.

Ethan says that there are stories circulating in the “dark world” that something other than the Slayer is hurting demons. They’re scared, especially of something called 314. Even though the guys aren’t friends anymore, Ethan wanted Giles to know that whatever’s developing is throwing things out of balance, which is worse than the chaos he loves. They’re in for a literal “hell of a fight.”

Buffy and Riley are spending their evening sparring in a workout room, though let’s be honest, it’s all foreplay. Well, maybe not after Buffy kicks Riley across the room. Back at the bar, the guys are a few drinks in, and Giles is complaining that demons seem to be terrified of Walsh, while they never even notice Giles. Oh, that’s not true, Giles! The ones who knocked you unconscious had to have noticed you! He’s also mad about what Walsh said about him not being a male role model for Buffy. “I’m twice the man she is,” he says.

Ethan hits on their waitress and gives her his phone number. She’s not interested. Giles says they’ve changed. Well, not completely, since Ethan is still self-centered and sadistic. But the world has passed them by and they’ve been replaced by has-beens. The Initiatives aren’t perfect but they’re accomplishing their goals. Giles is just an unemployed librarian who keeps getting knocked out.

Ethan tells him he won’t have to worry about that anymore: “When you went to the loo, I slipped a small pellet of poison in your drink. You’ll be dead in an hour.” After a dramatic pause, Ethan cracks up and admits that he was kidding. Giles predicts that he’ll feel horrible in the morning, but Ethan encourages him to keep enjoying himself for now. They’re sorcerers, and the night is still their time. It’s a time of magic.

Willow goes to Tara’s room so they can do a spell together. They’ll test their synchronicity by levitating a rose and plucking off its petals. They’ll have to be completely in tune with each other. They are, and the levitation part of the spell goes great. But instead of losing its petals one by one, the rose zooms around the room and lands between them.

Giles wakes up the next morning and is shocked to see a horned demon in his mirror. He’s turned into one overnight, and he has all the strength that comes with the transformation. He immediately guesses that Ethan is to blame, so he tries to get dressed to go confront him. His clothes are too small for his demon body, though, so he has to go out in just pants and a blanket.

Buffy’s in a great mood at breakfast with Willow, which Willow thinks is because of her new relationship. Willow lies that she was in the chem lab all night, by herself. She mentions her failed spell and says she thinks something’s out there. She felt the presence of some dark-magic energy. If someone else is doing magic, they’re powerful.

Buffy says she’ll tell Giles about it, or maybe Walsh. Willow advises her to talk to Giles, since he’s feeling hurt about being out of the loop. Buffy didn’t realize she hadn’t told him about the Initiative and Riley. She says she’ll talk to Giles tomorrow, since she already has plans to spend the day with Riley. She thinks things are going really well, though kicking him across the room might have ruined that. Willow’s sure that he’ll get over it, since he told Buffy not to hold back. She’s right not to pretend she’s less than she is. Buffy admits that she still held back a little.

Giles goes to Xander’s, annoyed that he’s still asleep at 10:30. Xander doesn’t respond well to being woken up by a big demon, even though Giles tries to warn him ahead of time. He doesn’t realize that when he speaks, people only hear a demon language in a voice that doesn’t sound like Giles’. Xander throws things at him until he runs away. He takes off down the street, apologizing for stomping through someone’s yard. “Bloody humans,” he complains.

That night, the Scoobies go to Giles’ to get his help identifying the demon Xander saw. He’s not home, and they find what they think are signs of an invasion, which are really just the aftermath of a clumsy demon trying to get through the morning. Buffy tries to stay optimistic that the demon just kidnapped him.

Giles ends up in a cemetery, where Spike is thrilled to see a creature he now knows he can hurt and kill. But when Giles grumbles at him, Spike understands him. He explains that Giles is speaking Fyarl, which Spike also happens to speak. Giles asks for his help finding Ethan so they can make him undo whatever he did, and then Giles can kill him. Spike asks what’s in it for him. Well, Giles will let him live. Spike isn’t motivated, so Giles offers him money. Fortunately, Spike’s price is low, only $200. He suggests going to get Buffy, but Giles would rather hunt down Ethan on his own and keep Buffy out of the loop.

The Scoobies look through Giles’ books to find the demon Xander saw. They’ll then have to figure out how to track it down. They hear a noise outside, and as Buffy goes to check it out, Riley lets himself in. The Initiative monitors 911 calls for possible non-human activity, and there were a bunch in the area. Yeah, in the morning! It’s night now! The Initiative is so slow!

The reports from Giles’ neighbors make the Scoobies think he was attacked. Riley promises that the Initiative will help the Scoobies find him. Buffy’s really worried and can’t stop thinking that they should ask Giles for help, then realizing that they can’t. “He’d find himself in a second,” Xander says. He can’t think of anyone who’s cooler in a crisis.

Cut to Giles snapping at Spike, who’s driving Giles’ car, that if he can’t find third gear, he shouldn’t try for it. Spike mentions that Fyarl demons are mostly killing machines, but they’re also good at opening jars. Giles asks if he has special powers now. Maybe he can set things on fire with his eye beams? No, but he can shoot paralyzing mucus out of his nose. That’s…helpful, I guess.

Giles feels like he’s changing, and he doesn’t like it. All he feels is anger and a need to destroy. “Good times,” Spike says. “Go with it.” He thinks Giles should get to do the destructive things Spike no longer can. Giles doesn’t want to become a monster just because he looks like one. He still has a soul and a conscience. He’s a human. He suddenly tells Spike to stop the car. He’s spotted Walsh downtown, and he gets out of the car to growl at her and chase her, just for fun.

Xander finally finds the demon he saw in a book. Buffy doesn’t look forward to battling something that can spray her with mucus. Willow reads that it can be killed by a weapon made of silver. Riley reports that Walsh was attacked by the demon, which got out of a gray Citroën. The Scoobies know that’s Giles’ car. “Why would a demon steal a car?” Xander wonders. “Why would a demon steal that car?” Anya adds.

Buffy thinks that means this demon has a purpose, which doesn’t fit what they’ve read about Fyarls. Maybe it’s doing someone’s bidding – the same someone who used the magic that disrupted Willow’s spell. Buffy tells Willow and Xander to stay at Giles’ in case the person controlling the demon calls for a ransom. She and Riley will go to the magic shop to see if anyone bought supplies. She grabs a silver letter opener in case they encounter the demon along the way.

Spike and Giles go to the bar where Giles and Ethan drank the night before. Spike questions their waitress, who knows the motel where Ethan was staying. Meanwhile, Buffy and Riley break into the magic shop (which was unnecessary, since he has a master key that opens every shop on Main Street) to look for sales receipts. Buffy quickly finds one for Ethan, so Riley calls in a search for motel registrations with his name.

He tells Buffy that Walsh gave him orders not to bring Buffy along when he finds the demon. Buffy refuses to sit out: “You’re not taking me with you. I am going and I am letting you come along.” Riley says it’s not her call, since this is now a military operation. She invites him to call in some troops to try to stop her. She’s not letting anyone else kill the demon that hurt Giles.

Giles is getting more and more Fyarl-like, and all he feels like doing is killing people. “Good for you,” Spike says. He notes that they’ve picked up a tail. “Yes, just a little one. Hurts when I sit,” Giles replies. He means you’re being followed, buddy. The Initiative has tracked them down, and the Citroën isn’t going to be able to stay out ahead of them for long. Giles suggests that he jump out so the commandos follow Spike, but Spike doesn’t like that idea. He gives in when Giles offers him another $100.

Ethan is packing to leave town when Giles bursts into his motel room. Ethan tries to get him to calm down, since he can’t undo what he did if Giles kills him. When Buffy and Riley arrive, Ethan tells them that the demon killed Giles. Buffy puts Riley on Ethan-watching duty while she fights the demon. Meanwhile, Spike leads the Initiative’s vehicles on a car chase, but he’s so proud of himself for losing them that he isn’t paying attention, and he crashes Giles’ car.

Buffy fights Giles while Riley fights Ethan. Giles is clearly so caught up in his new demon nature that he forgets that he’s beating up someone who’s like a daughter to him. She eventually gets him on his back on the ground, and she raises the letter opener to stab him in the chest. “This is for Giles,” she says. “For me?” he replies, confused. She plunges the letter opener into his chest, realizing just moments too late that she stabbed Giles. Fortunately, the letter opener doesn’t kill him. Buffy decides it must not be real silver.

Ethan laments sticking around town instead of just leaving after he’s done his damage: “It’s the stay-and-gloat that gets me every time.” He’s made Giles human again, and since Giles didn’t have a shirt with him, he’s had to put on one of Ethan’s, which is definitely not Giles’ style. He asks Buffy how she knew it was him. She says it was his eyes – he’s the only person who can look that annoyed with her.

Ethan thinks Buffy will let him go, since he’s human and a Slayer can’t do anything to him. No, but the Initiative can take him to a secret detention facility in the Nevada desert and try to rehabilitate him. Giles excitedly goes outside to watch him get shoved into a Humvee. Buffy appreciates Riley and the Initiative’s help, and Riley admires her strength and how she takes charge. Sounds like he doesn’t like having to take Walsh’s orders all the time. He thinks that with another week of training, he’ll be able to take Buffy on.

Giles gets himself a new phone, since he smashed his while he was a demon, and implies to Buffy that she needs to call him more often and tell him important things. She apologizes for not telling him about Riley and the Initiative and promises to keep him more informed in the future. Giles makes it clear that he doesn’t want her to spill any secrets, but he’s concerned about the Initiative after what Ethan said.

Buffy notes that she’s just dating Riley, not the whole organization, and he’s a good guy. Giles gets that, but he’s part of something they don’t understand. Buffy suspects that Giles sees the organization negatively because he doesn’t like Walsh. He advises her to keep her eyes open and be aware of what she’s getting into.

Walsh is annoyed that Riley broke protocol for Buffy. She warns him to be careful with his new girlfriend – she acts on instinct and her loyalties aren’t clear. Riley promises that Walsh won’t be disappointed in her. Buffy’s good at what she does and is the “truest soul” he’s ever met. “Lord, spare me college boys in love,” Walsh teases. She thinks he’s probably right and she’ll end up being impressed. After Riley leaves, she lets herself into a restricted area of the Initiative and opens a door marked 314.

Thoughts: I wish we’d gotten more Ethan episodes. His and Giles’ dynamic is so fun to watch. I would have loved to see him pretend to be rehabilitated, then go back to his evil ways.

“You were myth-taken” is brilliant.

I like this season for the most part but the fact that we’re halfway in and there’s no Big Bad is poor planning.

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