BuffyWatch: Season 4, Episodes 13-15

Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes. Warning: May contain spoilers for later episodes!

Season 4, Episode 13 “The I In Team”

Willow is lonely. You know this because she’s reduced to spending an evening playing poker with Xander and Anya. And if you’re wondering whether it’s awkward to third-wheel with Xander and Anya, Willow learns the answer when she says the word “spanking” in an innocent context, and Anya gives way too enthusiastic a response. Meanwhile, Buffy is in new-love glow, and Willow is trying not to be jealous once again. Of course, I am spoiled about this show just enough to know that Willow won’t be a Miss Lonelyhearts for very long. Willow and Tara are in the early stages of what we know, but Willow doesn’t know, is a courtship. Poor Tara abruptly offers Willow a special “doll’s eye” crystal (no idea what that is) that belonged to her grandmother as a gift, which makes Willow a little uncomfortable, which makes Tara kind of smile awkwardly and ask Willow to “do something” that night. But just as Buffy keeps snubbing  Willow, Willow snubs Tara. Aw, that’s sad.

And Buffy is busy being obsessed with Riley, for goodness knows what reason. It’s like being obsessed with a slice of bread. Or a slice of milquetoast, if you will. Riley takes Buffy to see the Initiative for the first time. She is very impressed that it’s not just “big” but “huge.” I see she’s learned some new words in college! Professor Walsh welcomes her to the team, while ham-handedly mentioning a “very restricted” research area. Gee, think something important is hiding back there? If so, you’re right–the professor is growing some kind of Frankenstein monster that looks sort of like a human was cut diagonally in half, one half was dyed green, and then they were glued back together.

So Buffy is immediately part of the Initiative, and she shows up at a prearranged hang with the Scoobs … with all of the Initiative guys in tow. Willow is pissed, but being Willow, she can’t admit it. She does, however, try to raise some questions about the Initiative, like why they do what they do, and whose side they’re actually on. But Buffy doesn’t even stay long, because the team gets a Big Important Alert and they all have to leave.

Back at the Initiative they find out that a demon with stabby bonespurs on its arms has escaped. Willow-inspired, Buffy tries to ask some questions, which nobody takes too kindly to. The teams split up, and Riley is leading the team that Buffy’s on. (Why Buffy would be second to any of the comparatively useless humans, I really don’t know. And she tries to chat with Riley only to be shushed because he can’t concentrate while jabbering like she can. So why isn’t she in command then?! Ugh.) The Buffy-Riley team captures the hostile with the arm-blades, and then the lovebirds go home and have sex… as Professor Walsh watches on a secret camera. Lovely. As for Forrest, his team spots Spike walking home with groceries and tries to capture him. All they manage to do is tag him with a tracer.

During the post-coital cuddling, Riley gets a call from Professor Walsh about a “situation” (meaning that they’re tracking Spike) and has to ditch Buffy. And later, just as Buffy is apologizing to Willow for ditching her (very awkward between them), she gets a page herself. Professor Walsh says it’s for reconnaissance, and sends Buffy to trace a single hostile through the sewer tunnels. But we know that Walsh has decided Buffy’s a liability since she asked all those questions, so it’s not surprising when Buffy realizes that there are actually multiple hostiles in the sewers… and that the gun Professor Walsh gave her is a dud.

Just then an iron gate thumps down, leaving her trapped. Professor Walsh evilly sips coffee and watches Buffy get beaten to a pulp… seemingly. The heart rate being transmitted by her Initiative-issued tracking device flatlines. But meanwhile, we see Buffy’s still totally holding her own. And she manages to use her faulty gun and a puddle of bilgewater to electrocute one of the hostiles. 

Spike goes to the Scoobs for help, and Xander knows from his Halloween night as a soldier (wow, they’ve really milked that) that Spike has a tracer in him. Giles brings Willow over to cast a spell to disrupt the signal, while Spike gets drunk so that Giles can try to get the tracer out. Willow’s magic mostly just manages to make everyone’s hair stand on end, but also thwarts Riley and his team briefly. Just as they get the tracer out of Spike, the spell wears off. Xander sprints away with it… and flushes it down the toilet. Giles tells Spike to leave town for his own safety. It’s so cute that the humans can’t help but care about anyone that they know, even Spike!

When Riley returns to the Initiative, Professor Walsh spins Riley a whole yarn about Buffy going down into the tunnels on her own and dying there, which makes things very awkward when Buffy shows up again… right on the monitor behind her. Riley strides away… and doesn’t even stop when he gets a direct order. Ooh, rebel rebel! Professor Walsh retreats to her secret area and tells her creepy science project that she’s ready to fight Buffy, calling her a “bitch.” Only then the thing wakes up and stabs her in the back with his forearm bone spurs. “Mommy,” he says as she collapses. Heh.

Nerdy Spice

Notes from a New Fan:

  • Just when you thought Xander couldn’t get any worse, he has apparently joined an MLM to sell energy bars. Seems about right.
  • Professor Walsh solemnly recaps that it took the patrol team 42 minutes to track Buffy and she “neutralized” them in 28 seconds. Buffy responds, “I was just lucky,” because she’s embarrassed to be, once again, one-upping her boyfriend. Oh, it hurts my heart. Buff! You are better than him! OWN IT! (The fact that she immediately admits to Riley that she was just being modest and he manages not to be a total tool about it doesn’t make me feel much better.)
  • Poor Willow. Not only is Buffy ignoring her to hang out with Riley and his team of commandoes, but Buffy gets distracted from her convo with Willow by Riley walking into the cafeteria. And like, it’s bad enough to be outshone by semi-exciting people, like a brooding vampire boyfriend. But to be outshone by someone as boring as Riley… that’s gotta hurt.
  • Buffy also does that thing where she pretends it’s cute and girlfriend-y and not inappropriate to control what her boyfriend eats and threatens to “punish” him for having a Twinkie for lunch. Um… good for you?Me: What is this skirt Buffy is wearing? Me one second later: Actually I like it.
  • “Xenomorphic behavioral modification” is how the Initiative terms what they did to Spike. Buffy continues to be TERRIBLE at lying by remarking that she’s “seen” the effects and then has to pretend she meant something completely different.
  • Buffy wants to touch a fancy piece of machinery that turns out to be a $20,000 “com-cam,” or communications camera that lets you do video chats in the field. I was about to make a joke about how it’s a very expensive iPhone when it turned out that the camera also measures the wearer’s heartrate. So it’s not a very expensive iPhone, it’s a very expensive Apple Watch!
  • “I’ve patrolled in this halter many times,” Buffy assures Professor Walsh. Hee! That made me laugh out loud.
  • Poor Riley. Buffy just wants to chat with her boyfriend while on patrol since she can knock out most demons with her eyes closed. And he’s trying to lead a Big Strong Alpha Team of Big Strong Commandoes and he can’t get his teenaged girlfriend to be quiet… and we all know she doesn’t even need them to kill the demon. It’s a rough position for Riley to be in.
  • Spike says his new cobweb-filled home needs a woman’s touch, like, speaking as a very stereotypical woman, I’m not going near any spiderwebs, thank you very much!
  • Apparently Spike can throw groceries at humans (that’s how he fights off Forrest’s team). That’s not against the rules?
  • Interspersing footage of Buffy and Riley taking down the hostile with footage of them having sex is probably supposed to up the intensity of the fight and the sexiness of the sex, but unfortunately, that trick only works if the fight has some intensity (and the sex has some sexiness) to begin with.
  • Xander fails to sell Giles his energy bars until Anya says that he needs money to buy her pretty things… and then Giles for some reason gives in. What a dummy. I guess he deserves to waste his money on Xander’s scam-bars.
  • Riley has a reminder to take “his vitamins.” Hmm, so he either has a secret terrible human illness (I would say not AIDS, probably… a heart disease of some kind that will eventually kill him at the end of the season?) or he’s secretly some kind of like, escaped subterrestrial himself and the pills are to keep him from dying of a lack of thiamine or whatever. I’m totally unspoiled, those are just my two guesses based on having watched a lot of TV in the past.
  • Ahhhhh there’s some kind of bloody surgery going on in the secret area. Please don’t show any more details. [Update five seconds later: OH NO THEY SHOWED DETAILS.]
  • Spike has to take off his shirt so that Giles can poke around in his wound. It’s all very Riverdale.
  • “Danger’s my birthright,” says Buffy. Much more impressive than saying it’s your middle name.
  • Professor Walsh’s little Frankenstein project is named Adam. Subtle.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • The previouslys tell us that Riley found out Buffy was the Slayer, then said, “You’re really strong… I like it.” That’s a flattering edit if I’ve ever seen one!
  • Um, Willow is really rude when she tells Tara not to come to the Bronze! “It’s a really specific crowd” and she “might feel out of place”? Why doesn’t she just say her high school friends wanted some quality time?
  • Buffy bringing Riley and the Initiative goons to the Scooby friend date is such a faux pas! Everyone knows you don’t bring SOs on friend dates without asking, let alone all of their bro-y friends.
  • This Buffy/Riley sex scene causes me pain. Why is she sucking the tip of his finger? And why is he making that confused-baby face? I hate it.
  • (Side note: do they even have a shipper name? I feel like the internet didn’t have enough Buffy/Riley shippers to come up with one. Briley?) [Ruffy? All the options stink.Nerdy Spice]
  • And then Buffy finds him still in bed when she wakes up–a callback to both Angel and Parker abandoning her–and she gets all gooey. Low bar, Buffy.
  • It totally looks like Buffy gets axed in the back during the fight with the two demons?
  • Nooo Maggie! I miss her already.
  • Ugh, okay, I’m not a season four hater, or an Initiative hater, but I’m definitely an Adam hater. It’s always interesting when the show places Buffy’s power in opposition to patriarchal, bureaucratic institutions, and it’s even more interesting that another woman is at the head. But then off-brand Frankenstein Adam comes and literally destroys everything interesting about this season.
  • Also, this is where the pacing for season four goes totally off the rails. In the span of one episode, Buffy quasi-joins the Initiative, Buffy becomes suspicious of the Initiative, Maggie tries to assassinate her, Adam is introduced, and Adam kills Maggie. That’s worth at least five episodes of B plot.
  • On the plus side, Buffy’s hair and makeup are on point this season. Just saying.

Season 4, Episode 14 “Goodbye, Iowa”

Picking up where we left off, Buffy reports back to the Scoobies that Maggie tried to kill her. They deduce that Maggie didn’t like that Buffy was asking questions, and connect that back to Ethan Rayne’s rumors about the Initiative and 314. They also question whether Riley might have known about Maggie’s plan, but Willow says Riley “doesn’t look like he could tell one white lie, let alone a whole bunch of big dirty ones.” Well, yeah, remember how spectacularly bad he was at keeping up his secret identity? AKA his only job?

When Riley comes looking for Buffy, things get tense quickly, especially when he sees that they’re harboring Spike. Riley insists that it must be a mistake, or that something is “making” Professor Walsh behave this way. When press him a little on 314 and the Initiative’s “darker purpose,” and he gets all upset and says, “Nothing like that happens there. I would know.” This, after he was just bragging about never asking questions in the previous episode. Not the brightest. Anyway, he storms off to clear the Initiative’s name, and the Scoobies take some weapons and hide out in Xander’s basement, where they assume the Initiative can’t find them.

Also, Adam is on the loose after killing Professor Walsh. He runs into a cute little boy on his travels, and they exchange scintillating dialogue like, “I’m a boy.” “A boy. How do you work?” It is CHEESY AS ALL HELL. It’s almost admirable how much they commit to the cheese. He kills and dissects the poor boy, of course, probably because Adam’s appearance is so profoundly un-scary, the writers needed to give this plotline stakes somehow.

When Riley gets back to the Initiative, he and Forrest get into a scuffle over Walsh trying to kill Buffy–Forrest is a company man, even more than Riley, and assumes that if Walsh tried to kill Buffy, then “maybe she needed killing.” Graham tells them that Professor Walsh is dead, and when they see that she was killed with a wooden weapon, Forrest accuses Buffy of staking her. Riley, who is suddenly acting agitated and hopped-up as well as grief-stricken, nearly comes to blows with him. Engelman tells him about the little boy Adam killed with his skewer-arm, and Riley, assuming it’s the demon they captured that was used to make Adam, goes against orders “from Washington” to investigate the scene. 

At the scene, he finds Buffy, who saw the reports about the boy on TV. When she tries to apologize for hiding Spike and make up, he just tells her that Professor Walsh is dead. Even though he was just defending her to Forrest, he asks her, “Happy now?” in a super passive-aggressive way. Or just aggressive. She’s rightfully offended, and takes off to Willy’s bar to get information on Professor Walsh’s killer. Riley follows her to offer his help, but when he finds her in a demon bar, he loudly accosts her, “I see you’re not hunting demons, you’re socializing with them–again,” and blows their cover. “That’s smooth, Officer Riley,” Buffy says. “They teach you those undercover moves in Special Forces?” Yeah, again, not the brightest. As Riley is yelling at poor Willy, Buffy sees that he’s sweaty and shaking as well as agitated. Then he pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot a poor old lady (who’s probably a demon, since she’s in Willy’s bar? But she’s crying and trembling, so it still feels unnecessary). He blathers on about how he doesn’t know what’s a lie and what’s the truth anymore, his whole belief system is breaking down, blah blah blah, but Buffy talks him down and he lowers the gun.

Back in Xander’s basement, Buffy cares for Riley while he shakes and sweats some more, and also scratches himself until he bleeds. She states the obvious to the Scoobies, that this isn’t just grief, and decides to break into the Initiative so they can find records on both Riley and 314. I mean, great, but shouldn’t they also take Riley to the hospital so he can be treated for withdrawal? Sure enough, when Riley wakes up and finds Buffy gone, he’s still sweaty and paranoid, and ends up pushing Willow aside and following Buffy on her risky mission.

Buffy and Xander go undercover as a scientist and soldier, sneak into the Initiative using Buffy’s clearance, and just so happen to hear Engelman saying expositional shit like “These guys don’t know that we’re drugging their food” and that Riley is “too important to the work to lose now.” It’s kind of hilarious. Then Buffy gets Engelman alone and threatens him into delivering yet more exposition, like that the Initiative “has no interest in eliminating the Slayer,” just Maggie, and that they were trying to protect “the project,” which escaped. Riley catches up to them, and Buffy tells him about the drugs, but he doesn’t believe her. Luckily Adam also broke into the Initiative–can anyone just walk in?–and decides to insert a floppy disk with his name on it into his chest so he can deliver another ten minutes of exposition. He explains that he’s part man, part demon, part machine–yes, we can see that–and that Maggie loved him and had him call her “Mother.” He says Maggie is Riley’s mother too, in the sense that she shaped his belief system and fed him drugs to change his body. He also says that Riley can’t kill him because he’s been “programmed not to.” 

After all this talking, they finally start fighting. Buffy barely makes a dent in Adam, and Adam skewers Engelman to death. He also stabs Riley non-fatally, and then peaces out. Riley’s military buddies finally catch up to them and take Riley away to a military hospital, over Buffy’s objections. Later, Buffy tells Willow that she doesn’t know how to get him out without “storming the place and getting us all shot,” and frets that Riley’s lost everything he believes in and “has nothing to hold onto.” Then we see a shot of Riley holding onto the scarf Buffy gave him for his bleeding hand. Okay.


Notes from a New Fan:

  • “You do have bleeding tragic taste in men,” Spike informs Buffy. REALLY, SPIKE. YOU DON’T SAY.
  • I can’t believe Nicholas Brendon gets to be in the credits before Alyson Hannigan! James Marsters should also be ahead of him too, but like… he’s ahead of Alyson Hannigan? That’s just crazy.
  • Also, this might be immature, but I laugh every time I see Mark Blucas’s name. Doesn’t it sound like a fake name a sitcom character would give in a pinch, like when their actual name is “Mark Lucas” and they were trying to come up with an alias but couldn’t think of anything?
  • “It didn’t work, but they’re all upset anyway,” Anya helpfully informs Riley about Professor Walsh’s attempt to murder Buffy.
  • Spike gives Riley two thumbs up for trying to kill Buffy. Heh.
  • Riley wants everyone to keep their heads and not assume that Professor Walsh was trying to kill Buffy. I feel like in the present day Riley would be the kind of person who’s like, “Are you sure that guy’s a racist? Maybe he just meant that you were very articulate for a doctor.”
  • Anya advises Buffy to get a boring boyfriend and Buffy flat-out says that was the idea with Riley. So she knows he’s dull!
  • I liked Buffy saying she was going to kill the monster in her sushi pajamas, but it lost its effect when she pointed it out explicitly. On the other hand, the pajamas are still great.
  • I love how the spell talk between Willow and Tara is so sexy. I mean I don’t really think Tara is sexy, but all the stuff they say about the spells sounds like they’re having a post-coital debrief. Huge contrast between how sexy their flirtation is versus how cold and dead the Buffy-Riley flirtation was.
  • Riley is all shaky and angry. I guess this is what happens when he forgets to take those “vitamins”?
  •  Wait… Tara hid Willow’s dust?! Is Tara secretly evil too?!
  • Heh, I like that Buffy just uses her clipboard instead of making out with Xander to keep herself incognito.
  • Very convenient that just as Buffy is listening in the doctor says “They don’t know they’ve been getting their meds through their food,” in that way that only happens on TV because in real life it would be weird to tell someone a long story that they already know.
  • Ahhhhh the scary monster has a floppy disk drive in his chest! I LOVE IT.
  • But wait, shouldn’t he eject the first disk before he puts in the Finn disk? How many disks does he have spinning around in his chest?
  • Damn, it seems like Riley isn’t leaving the show after this episode. The episode being called “Goodbye, Iowa” kind of got me hopeful.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • Riley says re: Spike, “We’ve been looking everywhere for this guy, and you’ve known where he’s been all along?” and Buffy says, “It’s not like that.” Um, far be it from me to be on Riley’s side, but it’s exactly like that? 
  • In case anyone’s wondering where they know that cute kid from, he’s the boy Eric tried to adopt on Boy Meets World. (And yes, I knew that without looking at IMDb, thank you.) [Eric tried to adopt someone? Damn it really has been a long time since I watched that show. All I remember about Eric is that one time he was a weatherman. –Nerdy Spice]
  • It’s so adorable when the Scoobies bunk together, especially the kids watching Roadrunner cartoons in their pajamas. They should always do this!
  • Anya says Buffy should get herself a nice boring boyfriend, “like Xander.” Buffy replies that “that was the idea” when she started dating Riley. I’m sorry, isn’t the whole point of getting a nice, boring boyfriend that the boyfriend is, um, nice?
  • How does withdrawal start affecting Riley so quickly? He couldn’t have missed more than one or two meals at the house, at most. Do these kids never go out to dinner?
  • Wow, I forgot just how explicit they get about the spells = lesbian sex metaphor. Tara flirts that she had been “thinking about that last spell we did all day,” and Willow quickly clarifies that she doesn’t hang out with Tara “just for the spells.” Which is all good and fine, but like… can we also just assume they’re having sex now?
  • “Hey, we’ve got new rules here. No killing!” Hee! I missed Willy.
  • Buffy takes Xander undercover because he’s “the only one with military experience,” because apparently that well never runs dry. I’m with Anya when she says, “It’s not like he was in Nam. He was GI Joe for one night!”
  • And then while they’re undercover as a soldier and scientist, Xander tries to find an excuse to make out with Buffy, for the sake of their “cover.” “This is the Initiative, Xander,” Buffy says crossly. “Scientists and doctors do not make out with each other.” He responds, “Well maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world, did you ever think of that?” Ew. No. He’s useless and gross. They should kick him off the island.
  • My partner walked in while Adam was putting in the floppy disk and said, “What’s his name again? Abel?” 
  • I love that the Initiative guys not only point their guns at Buffy, but they’re both looking through gigantic scopes. Why do they need scopes that big?? She’s right there!

Season 4, Episode 15 “This Year’s Girl”


So Faith is still in a coma, and she’s having disturbing dreams. One where she and Buffy are making a bed together, only for Faith’s blood to start dripping on the sheets, and yes it’s as erotic as it sounds. And then one where she’s having an awkwardly pastoral picnic with her creepy Mayor father figure-slash-boss. He’s even fondling a snake. Jeez, she’ll just have sexy dreams about anyone, eh? Finally, she has a dream where Buffy chases her straight into an open grave. Terrifying!

Then… she wakes up, still thinking she’s got to make it to Graduation Day. When a helpful young woman in the hallway of the hospital clarifies that no, in fact it’s February and Sunnydale High has burned down, Faith repays the favor by beating the young woman up and taking her clothes so she can go wander around town and stare at the rotten corpse of Sunnydale High. The doctors are all mad she escaped, but one of the nurses is a mole for… someone, and calls to tell that someone that Faith’s escaped.

As for Adam, while patrolling Buffy finds a body strung up between two trees looking… wrecked. Adam is essentially taking living things apart to see how they work. Buffy decides Riley, who’s still being taken care of after his stabbing, needs rescuing since the Initiative must be evil if they created Adam. She orders Willow to disable security at the Initiative by disabling the mainframe… and if she can’t do it by hacking, to use magic. Well, sure, sounds easy enough! Then Riley shows up. He didn’t need rescuing at all! No need for him to be further emasculated by Buffy!

Buffy urges him to quit the Initiative, Riley says that he’s been groomed to follow orders and that’s what he’s always done. Gee, what a catch! Buffy, ever the undeservedly supportive girlfriend, says she knows what he means because of her experience with the Council. Except when he asks if she actually followed orders she has to admit, “Sure… The ones I was going to do anyway.” Because as much as she tries to pretend it’s not true, she is and forever will be better and stronger and more independent than Riley in every possible way. Then she tells him he’s “been strong long enough” even though he JUST finished telling her he’s followed orders his whole life. And then she says they’re going to find this demon and kill it together, like, um, it would probably go faster if you just admitted you were going to kill it on your own, Buff.

Faith shows up to confront Buffy while she’s walking on the quad with Willow. Buffy tells Faith that she stabbed her because “she had it coming.” Faith, meanwhile, is mad that Buffy stabbed her for someone she’s not even with anymore. They fight right there on the quad, but it’s broken up when the police arrive. 

Willow goes Faith-hunting with Tara, and Giles with Xander. Meanwhile, Faith herself receives a videotape sent to her posthumously by the Mayor (and literally kills the messenger). The Mayor tells her her days are numbered once he’s gone, because she doesn’t fit in anywhere. This inspires an angry Faith to go back to Sunnydale to hold Mrs. Buffy hostage, because like her, Mrs. Buffy has no place in the world now that Buffy is gone to college. OK, I mean, she owns an art gallery or something so I don’t think she’s exactly without stuff to do? But I guess it’s true in a metafictional sense in the world of the show. But Mrs. Buffy has utter faith that Buffy will show up to rescue her, which she eventually does.

Buffy and Faith have an EPIC fight. Right as the police show up, Faith puts some kind of weapon on her hand and grabs Buffy’s hand–and both of them start to look a little dazed, until Buffy hauls off and punches Faith, knocking her out. In fact, Buffy is starting to act rather, dare I say it, Faith-like! Mrs. Buffy runs up to her and asks if she’s OK, and she smashes the weapon underfoot, saying that it didn’t work. But we can all tell it did! Seems like Faith has taken a place in the world after all–Buffy’s place, to be exact.

–Nerdy Spice

Notes from a New Fan:

  • I’ve been able to see in the Hulu screenshots that Faith was coming back and I have been so excited. Can’t wait to finally watch this episode!
  • In her dream about Buffy, Faith mentions that Buffy has a “little sis” coming, and I’m aware from general fandom osmosis that Buffy has a little sister (played by Michelle Trachtenberg, whom I’ve never forgiven for being in that awful Harriet the Spy movie. [Even if she was kind of fun on Gossip Girl–hey, Georgina was clearly a Dair shipper, so she’s all right by me!]). But we’re not supposed to actually know Buffy has a sister, right? So is this like a foreshadowing thing?
  • Is it just me, or do Buffy and Faith have more sexual chemistry than Willow and Tara? I’m just saying, this dream, with the blood on the sheets, and the intense eye contact… it’s sexier than most sex dreams.
  • Xander is supposed to be fixing some kind of blaster. Why do they have Xander doing it? Literally anyone would be more likely to be able to fix a broken machine than Xander.
  • Oh, Willow. I also went through a phase in college where I wasn’t sure if I should continue to wear my Statement Hats while indoors. Tried it a few times. Eventually thought better of it.
  • Over at the Initiative, Riley insists on getting up from his hospital bed even though Forrest calls him the “shish kebab that walks like a man.” Forrest also tries to keep Riley from leaving, but he insists. He’s acting all tough (he even tells a guard, “Stand down before I put you down”) but it just makes him seem silly.
  • Buffy is wearing a long leopard-print trench coat to go patrolling. I dig it. 
  • And in her LA girl couture, Buffy is still way more intimidating than Mr. “Stand down before I put you down” Riley.
  • “There’s no polite way to ask you this, but did they put a chip in your brain?” Xander asks when Riley shows up. LOL.
  • Buffy gives Riley the googley eyes and says, “You’re here. Whatever comes we can handle.” Is this supposed to be believable? He is SO BORING. How could she be THIS in love with him?
  • Faith dreams about running from Buffy (still wielding the blade she stabbed Faith with) and falling into a grave. Then Faith climbs out of the grave and stands in the rain and screams. AND THEN SHE WAKES UP. Oh hell yeah!!!
  • Do you think Faith has been having these horrible nightmares the whole time she was in a coma? Pretty dark.
  • Buffy tells Riley, “You know I never stopped thinking about you”–but the editing puts it as a voiceover over a shot of Faith. And a thousand fanfics were born, as they say.
  • While the Scoobs go over Adam’s current status, Riley decides that “a little firepower” would be a good idea and activates the blaster. Dude… your girlfriend is THE SLAYER. Put your cute little phallic symbol away and let her handle this.
  • Riley says that he’ll share information but he’s not sure he’d be called a double agent. Is it fake modesty or does he not know what words mean? With Riley, always hard to tell.
  • Xander, no one cares that you “did” Faith. Shut up.
  • Why is Willow so interested in beating Faith up? I kind of forget. Oh, Janes reminded me that Faith held Willow hostage that one time — but to be fair, Spike tried ot eat Willow a whole bunch of times and Willow seems to have forgiven him. As Tom Hanks would say, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” So… doesn’t make sense why Willow wants to beat Faith up so badly! Or, to be precise, wants Buffy to do it. [I’ve never understood this! At some point in season three, they decide that Willow hates Faith “sharing her people,” when up to that point, Buffy was the one threatened by Faith horning in on her territory. It makes no sense. –Janes]
  • So, if Buffy didn’t tell Riley all about Angel, does Riley still not even know that Buffy’s One True Love is a big ole vampire?
  • Buffy is weirdly slumped when she confronts Faith, showing she still feels guilty.
  • I love how Willow tries to bonk Faith in the back with her backpack. Good job, Willow.
  • Now Willow’s calling Faith a “slut-bomb”? And a “superbitch”? Jesus. Calm down, Willow!
  • Tara, with a shy smile: “So, um, we recon till nightfall?” Willow has no idea she’s being hit on.
  • Poor Giles has to listen to Xander yammer about his effect on women. Actually, the combination of “bored and pained” in Giles’s voice exactly reflects the effect Xander has on women.
  • I wish Faith could have stayed on the show. She makes it so fun!
  • I was extremely confused by the videotape Faith gets from the Mayor. The show is really dark (in a lighting sense) sometimes, and all I saw was someone saying they had a message for Faith and her beating them up. I assumed the “message” was killing Faith, and I was thinking to myself, “Just kill her and don’t alert her to you ahead of time!” Turns out the message was a videotape, but I completely missed it and had to have Janes explain it to me.
  • Wow, Mayor Wilkins saying “Hi, kids” is… terrifying.
  • Riley says, “If you’re in trouble, I wanna help.” Dude, get it through your head! If Buffy’s in trouble, YOU ARE OUTMATCHED.
  • Faith refers to herself as a “crazy chick with a wicked grudge” against Buffy. Oh no, is Faith’s fake Boston accent back? Ugh.
  • Mrs. Buffy’s relieved “Hi, honey” when Buffy shows up is so cute.
  • So, as you may recall from some of our earlier posts, I am a new viewer but had been involved enough in fandom in general to know some things about this show, specifically that Faith and Buffy switched bodies at some point and everyone lost their minds about it (in a good way). Then when Faith was finally defeated at the end of season 3, I kept asking Janes if I had just wildly misinterpreted a fanvideo at some point because clearly they never switched bodies! Janes, to her credit, refused to answer me, and I became semi-convinced that in fact I had made up this plot point in my head. While this would be a hilarious plot point to make up wholesale as a virgin viewer, it turns out that no, it really does happen! When I finished the episode I excitedly yelled to Janes on our video chat, “THEY DID SWITCH BODIES!” Heh.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • Yay, Faith!
  • I’m so glad Xander can’t fix the Initiative’s blaster. The “he was in the army for one night” catch-all only goes so far!
  • Again, I don’t understand the pacing this season. They have this big two-episode arc that ends with Riley injured and forcibly treated in the Initiative’s hospital, we begin this episode with the Scoobies all jazzed about breaking him out, and then he just… walks out? And then Faith comes back and we abandon the Initiative plotline for the foreseeable future? I mean, I like Faith better than the Initiative, but nothing about this plotting makes sense.
  • It’s so weird to see Faith wearing light colors.
  • Love when Riley asks if Buffy ever followed the Council’s orders, and she says, “Yeah! … The ones I was going to do anyway.” She’s way too cool for him.
  • What information is Riley supposed to be finding by playing double agent at the Initiative? Didn’t we already find out everything about Adam from his handy floppy disk drive?
  • So wait, are we supposed to think Buffy hasn’t told Riley anything about Angel? Aren’t they in a serious relationship?
  • No matter how many times I see this episode, it’s always so exciting when Faith pops up out of nowhere.
  • Faith says that post-Angel, Buffy “moved on to the first college beefstick she [met],” and like, there’s nothing fundamentally untrue about that?
  • Faith dreamed about killing Buffy, and then also about “cigars and a tunnel”? Whoever wrote this is way too into Freud. Or they were just trying to give the Buffy/Faith shippers more to talk about.
  • “5 by 5?” Tara asks, very confused about Faith’s catchphrase. “5 what by 5 what?” Willow responds, “That’s the thing, no one knows!” Hee!
  • So weird that Spike and Faith haven’t met at this point.
  • I always get so sad when Faith watches the Mayor’s video! It’s so weirdly tender and sweet. When he says, “Once I’m gone… there won’t be a place for you in the world anymore,” I almost wish he had won. 
  • “Normally I wouldn’t go with a color this dark, but I read in a magazine that 8 months in a coma will damage a girl’s natural skin tone.” I love Faith so much.
  • Buffy sent her mom letters? When she goes to college in the same town? I don’t care what Faith says, that’s some daughterly dedication!
  • Yes, another Buffy/Faith fight! This one’s almost as good as their last fight in Graduation pt 1.

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