Buffy 4×07: The Initiative

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Douglas Petrie | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 11/16/1999]

This is a solid episode which really manages to get the seasonal arc moving. We’re introduced to the Initiative, we discover Spike can’t harm any living creature anymore, we find out Riley and Walsh are both heavily involved with the initiative, and we see Riley making his first romantic moves on Buffy. The title, “The Initiative,” means two different things. There’s the obvious (the military group), but Riley is also taking the romantic ‘initiative’ with Buffy. Much of the episode is centered around introducing us to both of these threads. It’s also interesting to note that while Buffy does initiate contact with Riley, she really isn’t a large part of the episode. The focus is really on Riley and Spike’s attempts of connecting with Buffy, in their own unique ways.

There are a lot of abrupt scene changes that really work perfectly here. The first is when the Initiative boys are talking about how hot Buffy is. Forrest says, “I bet a lot of guys would like to get their hands on her.” The scene then quickly changes to Spike on the ground saying, “Slayer… I’ll kill you. Not so tough. I… Kill slayer.” Another instance is when Spike, trapped in the Initiative, overhears that the Slayer is likely somehow related to why he’s trapped there. He assumes that the Slayer is responsible and says “I always worried what would happen when that bitch got some funding. She’s wised up a bit. Fine! I’ll take her apart. I don’t care how brilliant she is.” Then the scene abruptly cuts to Buffy in class having a really hard time with her ballpoint pen. Yet another instance of this happening is when Riley admits his attraction to Buffy and tells his friends, “Well, I guess I’m gonna go see a girl.” The scene quickly changes back to Spike who, while trying to escape, tells the labcoats, “Sorry, can’t stay. Got to go see a girl.”

Riley and Spike are both after the same thing here: Buffy. Riley wants to establish a relationship with her while Spike, at least on the outside, wants to kill her (he is also subconciously in love with her, see Foreshadowing section). I’m going to focus on Riley and the Initiative first, though, which both come across as frequently hammy. Riley’s “I guess I like her” speech is an example of this. He really does rub off as so nice that there’s got to be something wrong with him. However, when he punches Parker out for saying that Buffy is too whiney (which is shamefully what a lot of the BtVS community thinks of her too), I can’t help but love the guy for it. His attempts at gaining information on Buffy are also very well-intended.

Riley and Spike both go looking for Buffy in her dorm and find Willow there instead. At first Riley doesn’t win Willow over in their very interesting conversation. She says, “Why should I trust you?” He replies, “Just sort of hoping you’d think I have an honest face.” She uses recent experiences (Parker, and to a lesser extent, Oz) to shoot him down: “I’ve seen honest faces before. They usually come attached to liars.” He is sympathetic and says, “I appreciate you wanting to protect your friend. I guess, uh, she kind of brings that out in people.” Riley, of course, observed Buffy stick up for Willow when Professor Walsh was overly cruel to her. Before he leaves the room Willow begins to feel like her pain is robbing Buffy a chance to meet someone new, and that that isn’t fair to her. So she opens up a bit and gives Riley a bone. She says, “She likes cheese … She has a stuffed piggy named Mr. Gordo, loves ice capades without the irony.” Cheese rules all.

Later on at the party Willow helps Riley approach Buffy, but all he can think of is to offer her some cheese. This doesn’t go over too well and ends with Buffy running off with a very poorly dressed Xander. At the end of the episode, when Riley gets another shot, he makes some progress by asking, “Did Willow tell you I like cheese?” Buffy calls him peculiar, which is what Riley called her earlier and he says “I can live with that.” I sure know that if a pretty girl walked up to me offering cheese that I’d be pretty happy. So I’m very pleased that cheese won the day in this situation.

The Initiative, what Riley is a part of, gets a solid introduction here, even if it comes off as very hammy for a secret military group. I love their big hanger bay and the Initiative theme song. It’s also fun to see that Professor Walsh is the one running the show. She’s actually a pretty fascinating character, which makes me wonder why she got killed off so quickly. More on that when the time comes though. The fight scene towards the end also worked for me. I enjoyed the complete chaos of it, what with Willow trying to crawl away, Riley saving her, Spike trying to escape, and Buffy firing a flare gun and laying the hurt on the military boys. The commandos should have been far more beaten up by Buffy than they were though. I only wish that this arc would have been developed sooner than six episodes from now.

A lot of stuff is going on with Spike here as well. He now has the chip in his head and begins the process of learning what that means for him. The chip comes off as pretty inconsistent in this episode though. He’s able to lay several blows on various people without his head exploding in pain. The only time we outright see him have problems is when he tries to bite people. This is changed in the following episodes. Anyway, this was a really smart move by the writers. This gives him an excuse to be a regular on the show and allows his character to be developed in new areas. A scene in particular which I adore is when he violently attacks Willow in her dorm (even though he is looking for Buffy). This is very brutal and feels very much like a rape scene. After the break, though, we see that Spike can’t bite her. A brutal scenes now turns into an impotence parody and the two of them pull it off hilariously. Spike even points out that back in “Lover’s Walk” [3×08] when Willow was wearing the pink lilac sweater he wanted to bite her. Willow tries to be kind and tells him, “You know, this doesn’t make you any less terrifying.” Spike amusingly replies, “Don’t patronize me.” The truth of the matter is that Spike isn’t terrifying anymore. It will be a little while (“Doomed” [4×11] ) until he finds out that he has other ways of inflicting damage.

Xander and Giles get some fun bonding time again. Boy these two are really at a really pathetic place right now. Early on we see them doing research alone together. Xander’s so bored that he, in jest, suggests they summon a demon and “kick its ass.” The writers also firmly establish that Xander’s military skill is completely gone. I’m personally happy about this, because there really needs to be someone in the group who has no special knowledge or skills. He claims he still has good hand-to-hand skills and then later has a slap fight with Harmony. This moment has to constitute a new low point for his character’s ego. Wow was that both pathetic and hilarious.

To finish up here I’ll say that this is a strong episode which covers a lot of important ground. Some of it came across as a bit hammy and lightweight for the main arc of the season, but fun was definitely had. When pitted against the arc-initiator episodes from other seasons we can see that this one definitely lacks the same intensity and punch (i.e. “Revelations” [3×07] and “No Place Like Home” [5×05] ). It’s certainly a solid start, though, which leaves me interested for more.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Riley ignoring his friends’ sexually aggressive attitudes.
+ Xander perking up when hearing Buffy’s comment about putting something ‘slutty’ on.
+ The re-use of the same vamp which got caught back in “The Freshman” [4×01] .
+ Spike throwing the other vamp into the commandos to be staked. “New plan, you go that way.”
+ Willow trying to conceal Buffy’s weapons from Riley, but he just bends down and pushes them under without looking.
+ Harmony putting up a unicorn poster in her cave.
+ Buffy and Riley’s fun outdoor night chat. They both hear a girl scream and run away.
+ Professor Walsh is the one who designed Spike’s chip.


* Harmony giving Spike a huge sigh when hearing him go off about killing the Slayer again. She says, “Spikey. Let’s leave the slayer alone. You know she’ll only slap you around, and I can do that.” The fact of the matter is, Spike is already obsessed with the Slayer. Like Drusilla says in a flashback during “Fool for Love” [5×07], “I can still see her floating all around you, laughing. Why? Why won’t you push her away? … You’re all covered with her. I look at you…all I see is the Slayer.” This flashback takes place sometime during the latter parts of S3, not too before what’s happening right now. His subconcious love for her is already starting to seep to the surface, but right now he’s interpreting it as a passion to kill her and won’t quite realise that it’s love until “Out of My Mind” [5×04]. His ‘obsession’ with her begins here though.




39 thoughts on “Buffy 4×07: The Initiative”

  1. [Note: Chebonne posted this comment on December 1, 2006.]

    WILLOW: Ok, say that I help, and you start a conversation. It goes great. You like Buffy, she likes you. You spend time together, feelings grow deeper, and one day, without even realizing it, you find you’re in love. Time stops, And it feels like the whole world’s made for you two, and you two alone, until the day one of you leaves and rips the still-beating heart from the other, who’s now a broken, hollow, mockery of the human condition.
    RILEY: Yep, that’s the plan.

    Isn’t that what happens later, sorta, but without the “hollow mockery of the human condition”-bit?


  2. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 26, 2007.]

    There are many, many things about this episode I like. MikeJer hit all of them but one – Willow’s reaction when Riley got shot down by Buffy. She gets way too much schadenfreude out of it – just laps up Riley’s humiliation like a big bowl of cream (though she also tries to help). Willow does have a passive-aggressive mean streak a mile wide, especially when she’s hurting, and this scene is one of the cuter and subtler displays of it.

    But I really do not like scenes in which the writers sacrifice things we already know about the central characters to get a laugh, and there are two huge instances in this episode. The first is Xander’s slap fight with Harmony. Now, if I’d never seen Xander or the series before and never planned to see it again, I’d say that scene was hilarious. But since I have seen Xander’s earlier episodes, it comes out phony, not funny.

    Xander can fight. We’ve seen him fight vampires. We’ve seen him fight female vampires. He ain’t the Slayer, but we’ve never seen him kick and pull hair like a third-grader, either. His military “training” (from Halloween) is gone? He could fight *before* that episode – we saw him do it many times. And again, maybe he wasn’t Bruce Lee, but he never utterly humiliated himself, not even in Welcome to the Hellmouth.

    The other one is Willow’s scene with Spike, the “that happens to lots of guys” scene. Now when exactly did Willow become a ditz who’s okay with being killed or turned into a vampire? She actually seems to feel a little bit bad about missing out on it (yes, she snaps out of it eventually, but look how long it takes). The scene itself is actually quite cute and clever if it had been played with Harmony or someone like that, but we know that Willow is smart and that she’s seen herself as a vampire and doesn’t like that color on her.

    I’ve heard comparisons drawn between this scene and other scenes in comic episodes where the characters seem to have become brain-dead, specifically the scene between Willow and the Buffybot in Intervention. But there’s a difference. In Intervention, the Buffybot scenes are comic throughout, and Willow’s little lapse comes on top of previous scenes with Xander and Anya making the same mistake with a bit more justification. Besides, the Buffybot looks exactly like Buffy, people tend to see what they’re looking for, and Willow has no particular reason to think that Buffy might not really be Buffy. It’s just a case of not noticing.

    But in The Initiative, Willow can’t have failed to notice that Spike just threw her down on a bed and tried to bite her neck. And yet she’s comforting him a minute later, and feeling disappointed that he couldn’t follow through and that he was looking for Buffy and not her in the first place. Is it better if we consider the scene metaphorically? Metaphorically, what preceded this dialog scene was an attempt at violent forcible rape. Shouldn’t Willow still be trying to get out of that room as fast as she can, any way she can?

    If I watch only Spike’s side of the scene and forget that it’s Willow he’s talking to, the scene is clever and funny. But it’s an outrageous slander on Willow’s character, and that continues to burn after the laughter dies away, just like the Xander/Harmony scene. Stuff like this can ruin an otherwise good episode for me. It’s like eating an ice cream sundae with just a little bit of turd mixed in.


  3. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 26, 2007.]

    Although I see your your viewpoint here LibMax, I can’t say I see things the same way.

    With the Xander/Harmony thing, I buy it. Firstly because Xander is in an extremely pathetic streak right now and secondly because Harmony was this ditzy girl from high school who is still ditzy as a vampire. Xander clearly wasn’t even trying to stake her (and Hamorny was also not even trying to bite Xander). When looking at it like that, it really works for me.

    As for Spike, I also disagree with your interpretation of the events. Think about it this way: when Spike initially gets in her room, Willow tries to run away and fails. When Spike then fails to bite her (and looks utterly pathetic for it), she uses this chance to lull him into feeling comfortable with her by turning on her trademark cuteness (and remember, the Scoobies have a remarkable ability to still be somewhat jovial when they’re in danger), just like she did to a lesser extent in “Lover’s Walk” when she patted him on the back as he wept. As soon as Spike is really wallowing in himself, Willow slowly gets up and smashes an object over his head, thereby giving her a real opportunity to escape, when if she tried before that, she clearly would have failed. I think the scene works every way you look at it: humor, characterization, and believability. But maybe that’s just me.

    So, in the end, I don’t agree with your complaints. However, I do agree wih you on your comment about the Riley rejection. ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 28, 2007.]

    Okay, MikeJer, fair enough. To me, the Xander/Harmony fight is like the Buffy/Sunday fight in The Freshman. No matter how poorly things are going for Xander, I don’t see him suddenly forgetting how to fight. And even if Harmony wasn’t really trying to bite him, I don’t see how Xander could have known that, and vice versa. I agree with you about Harmony and don’t have any problem with her being pathetic in a fight, just Xander.

    With Willow and Spike, all I can say is, watch the scene again. I’d love to think that she is just leading him on and looking for an opportunity to escape, but I don’t think AH’s performance justifies that interpretation. She seems quite genuinely disappointed, and only seems to come to her senses just before she picks up the lamp. If the theory is that Willow is just that good an actress, remember Dopplegangland. In Lover’s Walk, I think she just didn’t know what else to do, and escape in that instance appeared to be clearly out of the question. YMMV.


  5. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 29, 2007.]

    Anyone notice at the party when Riley changes the song ’cause willow doesn’t want to listen to the Dingoes, the song it changes to is the one Veruca sings?

    Or at least I think it is…


  6. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 4, 2007.]

    I´m a big fan of this episode. So many moments that I adore and I think your review really mentions all of them. The Willow/Spike scene is extremely funny and truly one of my favorites of the series.


  7. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on March 2, 2008.]

    I love that Riley’s old-fashioned view of women is introduced so early on in his development. It’s a big part of his character, and is ultimately why he destroys his relationship with Buffy.

    I think this episode’s quite good. It’s certainly my favourite season 4 arc episode, though that’s not saying much. (Actually, ‘The Yoko Factor’ is good competition.) The Xander/Harmony battle is probably one of the most hilarious scenes in the series. I just LOVE when the show self-parodies. The ‘fighting music’, the slow-mo… pure comedy. ๐Ÿ˜€


  8. [Note: Bill posted this comment on March 2, 2008.]

    I believe that Buffy treating Riley like a second rate person and constantly pushing him away had more to do with their relationship ending that did Riley’s views that were for the most part tempered down by the end of season 4.


  9. [Note: lee posted this comment on May 4, 2008.]

    excellent episode in an excellent season. i liked the initiative arc alot, this episode was a superbe start to the ‘initiative’ a few defining key moments too(rielly+co workin for initi, spikes chip)


  10. [Note: Tony posted this comment on July 2, 2008.]

    Okay Libmax, the whole not buying the Xander/Harmony fight is dumb. It’s meant to be funny. Xander has respect for girls and wasn’t really willing to kick her ass. She slapped him across the face. To him, it was just Harmony from high school slapping him in the face. He wasn’t going to punch her out and kick her when she was down. So he kicked her in the shins. Then he went along with her way of fighting. It was a hilarious scene and you’re taking it waay to seriously.
    And the Willow/Spike scene, I see it as her just growing a fondness towards him. She wasn’t depressed that she didn’t get killed, it was just her sorta feeling pitty for how Spike is basically pathetic. An evil vampire turning into a loser. It was her being nice to him so that he wouldn’t attack her anymore, that just made her get into the conversation and feel for Spike.


  11. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on August 31, 2008.]

    I actually liked the Willow/Spike scene, but while liking it I agree with LibMax- I can’t really justify Willow’s behaviour. But the scene was so good I can forgive it. I have a similar response to the Xander/Harmony fight.
    Spike’s chip being inconsistent bothers me rather more actually. He was able to seriously beat up the lab-coats who came to take him away, and then throw Willow (pretty hard, but the looks of things) against a table, and then finally do some more beating up of Riley and his mooks.
    One could, I suppose, rationalise it by saying that the chip took a while to take full effect, but this seems a bit of a dubious explanation, particularly as no one profers it.


  12. [Note: Paula posted this comment on September 9, 2008.]

    Re: the inconsistency of the chip, I know it’s probably due to the writers not having quite thought things through yet, but I wonder whether at least a partial explanation might not be Spike still having some chip-pain medication in his system at this point. In S7 (The Killer in Me) he reminisces, “Any time I got a little… rambunctious, the chip would kick in, I’d feel like my head was gonna explode, they’d dope me up, and everything would be all daffodils and teddy bears. For a couple hours, anyway.” Combined with the pain-reducing effects of a good ol’ adrenaline rush, that might somewhat plausibly explain why the chip doesn’t kick in as efficiently here as it soon will.

    Oh, and that Willow/Spike scene is silly but very fun. I remember really wondering whether the writers were going to go “Spillow” later on – that, too, might have made sense. Instead though, of course, we got “Spuffy”.


  13. [Note: Suzanne B posted this comment on February 4, 2009.]

    Was it foreshadowing when Spike says,” And, uh, they are? The government? Nazis? A major cosmetics company?” ?

    Because, as we find out in Angel, season 5, Spike was caught by the Nazis and was being shipped to Germany on a submarine. I always liked the thought that he was remembering that. Although, we, of course, don’t actually find that out until BtVS is over and Spike is on AtS. Just a thought.


  14. [Note: Emily posted this comment on April 29, 2009.]

    I know you mentioned the scenes where Riley and Spike both say that have to go see a girl, but you didn’t mention it in the foreshadowing section. I was wondering if it could possibly be seen as a foreshadowing to the “competition” between Riley and Spike over Buffy (and I put it in quotes because I don’t think they ever actually fight over her).


  15. [Note: Stilicho posted this comment on May 15, 2009.]

    I like that the writers didn’t pass over the fact that Willow has to invite Spike to her room so that he may come in. I overlooked that little thing at first, but when I watched “The Yoko Factor” where it is not enough Buffy saying “I guess” (=I guess you may come in) to enable Angel to enter the room, I thought back wether Spike was actually invited, if the writers sticked to the rule. Now I took a look at this scene again, and here it is: *knock knock* – “Come in!” It is really satisfying that these small details get the required attention as well.


  16. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 8, 2009.]

    Best line in the episode, Willow to Riley at the party: Then talk. Keep eye contact. Funny is good, but don’t be glib. And remember, if you hurt her, I will beat you to death with a shovel. A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend. Have fun!

    I thought the Willow/Spike scene hilarious and actually perfectly in character. Willow is a ‘comforter.’ She sees someone in pain and her first instinct is to comfort them. This is especially at the forefront of her personality now that she herself is in so much pain. So when Spike realises he can’t bite her and is upset about it, she tries to comfort him. We also see this at the party when she tries to comfort Riley after he ‘fails extremely well’ to attract Buffy’s attention.


  17. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on August 14, 2009.]

    It’s also fun to see that Professor Walsh is the one running the show. She’s actually a pretty fascinating character, which makes me wonder why she got killed off so quickly.

    I think she got a part in a film (the insider I think) and left abruptly. That’s why we ended up with the obviously-thought-up-at-the-last-minute Adam. Season 4 is such a shame. I like it, but it stinks of missed opportunity.


  18. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 2, 2010.]

    I agree with Lucy about the missed opportunity that is Season 4. I never re-watched this episode (“because I hate the Initiaitve”) until the series re-watch that I’m doing right now. In this episode I realized how interesting the Initiative could’ve been, and still was at this point. Sure, it’s a bit hokey from the start, but it also continues an interesting development in the Buffyverse. At the start of S1, things like magic, monsters, and vampires are an intrusion into the real world. It’s the job of the Slayer to stop this intrusion, and what’s more she must maintain the secret. As the series continues, we see the mystical more and more interwoven into the “real” world, to the point where, by Season 6, BtVS is clearly its own universe. In S3 we begin to see that government knows about mystical stuff, and the Initiative arc really expands that. If Linsday Crouse had stayed on the show, this could have gone in a very interesting direction, instead of turning into the annoyingness that is Adam.


  19. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on September 2, 2010.]


    Riley paunching out Parker for bad mouthing Buffy.

    A vague disclaimer is nobodies friend.

    Buffy and Xander leave Riley together holding hands.

    Spike and Willow together again.

    Buffy v Riley in the dorm hallway.


    Spike is on the bed, yet the goggles show Spike near Willow at the window just before he throws Will on the bed. The editing is off by a fair bit.

    Riley would have been able to see it was Buffy at the very end while fighting her.

    Trivia: Willow is listening to the same song when she invites Riley and Spike in.


  20. [Note: debisib posted this comment on December 23, 2010.]

    I just noticed spike says hes 126. But i also just watched ‘School Hard’ (s2e3) and giles mentions that spike is 200. thats a big gap. Whats the word on this?


  21. [Note: Jason posted this comment on December 23, 2010.]

    I didn’t really like the Willow and Spike scene at all.

    Yes, we’ve all come to love Spike over the years. But at the time, he was rightly considered an extremely dangerous villain, who should have been killed on sight, and certainly should not have been consoled. Willow’s consolation was out of character, for the sake of an obvious and, to this viewer at least, overdone erectile joke.


  22. [Note: Dan posted this comment on November 14, 2011.]

    On the subject of the Willow/Spike impotence metaphor:

    I think the interpretations I saw in the comments missed the point, mostly because I didn’t feel interpretation was appropriate. It strikes me as similar to someone telling a joke, then someone responding, “hey wait, that didn’t really happen. Buddha and the pope never actually went to a bar together!” Beside the point, right?

    Well, sometimes writers tell jokes. Remember, tv is just a long descendant of the ancient art of storytelling. For all the special effects and characters and screen hype, it’s just someone telling a story. And at this point, the writers pause in their typical roles (plot and character development) and momentarily take an opportunity to be funny.

    That becomes an issue when the viewers (listeners) don’t know the characters well enough to realize what’s happening. Then you think the joke you’re hearing I’d actually a commentary on the character, or, just as bad, a plot device. Just like hearing the joke about Buddha and the pope and trying to gain insight into the Buddha.

    But here’s the thing: a joke is only funny because of the things we ALREADY know. The subversion of assumptions is the basis of this mind of humor. So if our knowledge of the character is what makes the scene funny, then by definition we’re not able to draw new conclusions from the scene since the intentional subversion ensures that any new information is false.

    In other words, I think you’re thinking way too hard about that scene. ๐Ÿ™‚



  23. [Note: Alex posted this comment on November 14, 2011.]

    Totally agree, Dan, it’s a hilarious scene and although it doesn’t make complete sense, the writers obviously know that – hence Willow’s ‘wait, what?’ before she smacks Spike with the lamp. I do think it goes on for a little bit too long and would have been just as funny if it had been a slightly shorter scene, but it’s still great.


  24. [Note: Odon posted this comment on December 7, 2011.]

    I like the smile Buffy is giving as she listens to Riley at the end — it’s obvious that Willow tipped her off about Riley’s interest.


  25. [Note: Pineappler posted this comment on May 29, 2012.]

    One great thing about Buffy is that the writers don’t use pauses in the plot and character development to generate comedy. I understand that writing style in some shows, but Buffy is such a unique television show so I can’t see using that justification for why Willow consoled Spike.

    That being said, I don’t really mind that scene. I justified Willow’s response when watching the scene with some combination of the ideas already mentioned here. Willow knows she has no chance of besting Spike with him focused on her. She doesn’t know the full effect of the chip so she may believe that Spike will just snap her neck if she tries to run or fight. Willow is also a very compassionate person, so it makes sense that she starts to feel empathy for Spike. The insecurity makes a lot of sense too, for the obvious reasons.

    Anyways, I think I have way over-analyzed a comedic scene. I can just kind of see where Willow is coming from.


  26. [Note: johnc posted this comment on June 10, 2012.]

    No one mentioned this so I have to. When the Dingoes song comes on and Willow reacts they have this exchange:

    Riley: “Associations?”

    Willow: “Big.”

    Riley: “Bad.”

    Was anyone else waiting for Willow to say “Wolf”? As in “big bad wolf”. Clever writing.


  27. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on June 10, 2012.]

    GAAA now I will never be able to unhear that! Even though they will never say it! My brain is broken!

    (That’s sleep-deprived giddy for “Dude that was awesome! So Spike didn’t come up with Big Bad, Oz and Willow did, nice! Thank you”)

    In other news, CHEESE!! There will be cheese!

    Holy crap. Joss Whedon has made it very clear that the Cheese Man means nothing. Buffy and Riley first bonded over cheese. Their relationship means nothing and shall be nothing. iktyfi56rirftfyk

    Sorry guys, Ryan’s face just hit the keyboard. Maybe he had a funny aneurysm?


  28. [Note: keekey posted this comment on June 19, 2012.]

    I love the Harmony/Xander slap fight. It’s like a Bizarro World version of Buffy and Spike’s various battles. It’s fitting that Xander and Harmony run into each other while Xander is out patrolling for Buffy and Harmony is out burning Spike’s stuff–instead of the Buffy/Spike throw down I was anticipating we get, well, this.


  29. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on August 11, 2012.]

    debisib, 21, the explanation I read Joss give for this was, “I suck at math.” I think the writers and show runners are in general exceptionally good for BtVS, but occasionally screw up in really noticeable ways, like the one you’ve pointed out here. Related is the “You were my sire, mate!” in School Hard, when we see Dru turn Spike in Fool for Love. This got a similarly hand-wavy explanation.


  30. [Note: TheShanshuProphecy posted this comment on October 23, 2012.]

    re: the Xander/Harmony fightNone of the Scoobies took Harmony seriously as a vampire & Xander had a very juvenile relationship with her all through HS – as Harm the vamp is very much the same character in her behaviour, Xander treats her like he is fighting HS Harmony (seeing her perhaps reminds him of the ‘loser’ he was in HS & he is currently feeling very loser-ey) – so, he is able to slap and kick back but it would be overkill for him to punch Harmony (would have been a different story if Harm had displayed vamp fighting skills). It actually makes sense as a scene so it is surprising to see that people have problems with it.re: Willow/SpikeAdding to what others have already written – Willow is also suffering from an ego blow thanks to Veruka + Oz – the writers, in making the ‘bite’ (or lack thereof) a sexual metaphor allow Willow to take it personally when Spike can’t perform – her reaction is also based on the fact that Spike is not a random vamp – they have a history and she has survived him previously (amongst other monsters) and has recently dated a werewolf so this is not Willow from S1. The joke (if I may) is that she is so caught up in her own issues of being unattractive that she takes the situation too personally and reacts from a point of pride.


  31. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 24, 2012.]

    I love the Xander/Harmony slap fight. The way it’s set up is so hilarious. So I’ll take super pathetic Xander for the yuks. He’s pretty pathetic usually anyway. But he tries in his own Xander way. I didn’t really like the impotence scene for Willow/Spike just because the one before it was so violent and we know vampire bite = sex but that was the most overt rape kind of bite so afterward I wasn’t really in the mood for poor Spike can’t get it up!


  32. [Note: Nina posted this comment on December 29, 2012.]

    Spike is not subconsciously in love with Buffy at this point. He barely knows her! it’s 100% completely obsession. I don’t believe it really turns to real love till mid-end season 5.


  33. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 7, 2013.]

    replying many years later! I do think the comments of Riley and Spike foreshadow the rivalry – which we see come out plainly in the episode Into the Woods.


  34. [Note: ML posted this comment on January 31, 2014.]

    Actually, I kinda liked Adam in the beginning – when he had existence issues. I thought it was cool him being a monster created by men and just trying to figure out how everything works, which resulted in death for both humans and demons – I liked the whole “walking in both worlds, but belonging to neither”. I do think his later plans were pretty lame, though. I do agree that professor Walsh was killed way too early. I wanted to see more of her – she also seemed to be the boss around the Iniciative – no other scientist or militar leader was as respected as she was, so she could have been a great villain.


  35. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on June 9, 2014.]

    I agree with what everyone else has said in defense of the Xander/Harmony slap fight, and would like to add this: I feel like Xander is pretty consistently portrayed as tending to be, in general, a bit doofus-ish and unthreatening…except when it really matters. In the face of real danger with genuine stakes, he almost invariably finds his courage and faces up to it, and can even be reasonably competent as a fighter. This, it seems to me, is to a considerable extent what “The Zeppo” was all about, for instance. (As I’ve said elsewhere, I think the best-ever succinct summary of who Xander is came out of his own mouth in response to a taunt from Cordelia in “What’s My Line,” when he calls himself “the lameness who cares.”) So, yes, he can fight–when it’s actually important. But being goaded by a petulant and distinctly unintimidating Harmony? That hardly qualifies as the sort of circumstances that tend to bring out Xander’s tough side…

    As for the Spike/Willow scene…it may stretch credulity slightly, but it’s totally worth it. I wouldn’t so much argue that she was cleverly playing along the whole time in order to distract him as suggest that she started out responding the way she did simply because she didn’t know what else to do, then got a bit caught up in her own insecurities, then eventually sort of “came to her senses” and tried to take advantage of Spike’s distraction to make her escape. I think it’s a tad questionable whether she would really allow herself to get distracted by insecurities about her image and all that while still theoretically/potentially in mortal danger, but–as I said–I’m willing to go along with it because it’s such an entertaining scene. ๐Ÿ™‚


  36. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on June 9, 2014.]

    Oh–and although this is a response to a comment that’s, like, from seven years ago, I do have to take issue with the statement that Willow has “a passive-aggressive mean streak a mile wide.” Really? That seems like an awfully extreme reaction to a cute scene in which she light-heartedly pokes a bit of fun at, while also commiserating with, Riley, over his failed attempt to connect with Buffy. She struck me as neither passive-aggressive nor mean in this scene, and I can’t think of many (any?) others in which I’d describe her that way, either…


  37. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 13, 2014.]

    I gotta agree to FlyingPenguin, I think too many people on this site are obviously making a big deal out of scenes that are purely meant for comical purposes-Its a TV show for god’s sake, let there be a few inconsistencies! I couldn’t agree more to TheShanshuProphecy, I feel like it is in Willow’s nature to behave the way she did; especially at this point. Willow is comparing herself to Buffy, she just wants to feel sexier and bolder, she was just caught up in her own drama when Spike came along and that’s why she went with it until it struck her that he was a bad vampire who had just tried to kill her and then hit him with a lamp. Also, Spike’s personality kinda has that effect, he kinda went from aggressive to mopey in the matter of seconds. I know this is an old comment, but I couldn’t disagree more to Summer’s comment above. I mean, I do agree that the violent scene that had rape-ish overtones WAS hard to watch, especially considering Spike does try to rape Buffy later in Season 6, that is the only thing I can agree on. The scene is not about Spike, not really. Yeah, he can’t hit and its sad but only in a comical he-is-oh-so-pathetic-at-being-a-vamp sorta way. The scene is about Willow, she is the one we are supposed to sympathize with. Anyway, I, personally, feel like over-analyzing scenes such as the Xander/Harmony slap fight and the Willow/Spike scene here takes the fun out of watching it.

    I kinda wish Prof Walsh had been on the show for longer too, she’d make such a better big bad plot than the hardly-intimidating Adam. Oh well, I just realized that from this episode they’re spouting off three other really great ones. It’s like back-to-back awesomeness. Pangs, Something Blue and Hush! Woot!
    Also, James Masters is such a great addition to the cast!


  38. [Note: Flamepillar112 posted this comment on June 2, 2016.]

    I admit somewhat guiltily, the scene where Parker compares Buffy to a toilet seat was so crude and gross it made me laugh.


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