Buffy 4×13: The I in Team

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Fury | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 02/08/2000]

It’s been too long since the Initiative arc has been directly touched upon (6 episodes) and, while solid, this episode does not make up for the wait. Many of my major problems with this season begin to show themselves here, and even more so in “Goodbye Iowa” [4×14] . “The I in Team” is a turning point in the season, like “Innocence” [2×14] was for S2. The difference here is that this episode does not “change everything” in a good or exciting way. Professor Walsh gets killed off, which I feel was a dire mistake. Additionally, the entire idea of Commando Buffy just doesn’t work and looks ridiculous. Not only does the military not mesh with anything that is Buffy, but the fact a secret military group would show her their operation and send her out on missions that quickly is ridiculous. The Initiative rubs off as unprofessional and sloppy.

Putting aside the flaws for the time being, this episode is still pretty good. The characters continue to logically develop, which in this season involves separation from one another. An early conversation, while playing Poker, between Willow and Xander is telling. Willow says, “Guess she’s out with Riley. You know how it is with a spanking new boyfriend.” This statement says a lot. Willow is a little annoyed that Buffy’s spending more time with Riley than with her. We see this annoyance return later at the Bronze when Buffy shows up an hour late, and with a bunch of Initiative guys. Now this is interesting, because Willow’s been hiding her growing relationship with Tara from Buffy.

It is unfair of Willow to expect Buffy to be hanging out with her when she, herself, is busy with another person. Willow’s double standard is blatant when both Buffy and her walk into their dorm the following morning. Buffy wasn’t the only one out with someone all night, and at least Buffy’s not concealing what she’s doing. I can remember not too long ago, in “The Harsh Light of Day” [4×03] , when Willow was running up to Buffy with friendly curiousity about whether or not she had sex the previous night. The two of them have lost touch of their friendship because of new people in their lives.

Still during the Poker game Xander eventually poses a question I think the whole group, non-Buffy, is thinking: “am I the only one with a big floating question mark over his head about this Initiative thing? There’s still heaps we don’t know about these commandos. What exactly are they up to?” The truth of the matter is something that sounds more like it belongs in a Star Trek episode. The plot arc of the season has been said to be magic versus science. While that’s an interesting comparison, S4 falls flat on delivering much of anything in the way of interesting thought on the matter.

I think the writers should have left Professor Walsh alive until the end of the arc (or at least close to the end). She should have been the “big bad” with possibly Adam as the leader of her growing army of demonoids. I was very pleased to see that the Initiative was working on something insidius, but unfortunately all that opportunity is squandered the moment Walsh (and her co-scientist guy in “Goodbye Iowa” [4×14] ) dies. The season then just turns into Buffy versus Adam, which honestly isn’t all that interesting. Buffy versus Walsh, with Adam as a tough obsticle in her way would have been much more powerful. Buffy had an entire semester of Psychology with her — imagine the awesome topics that could have been debated! Instead Adam just wanders around all day asking questions about his existence, and that gets boring quickly. It doesn’t help that the Initiative completely falls apart as well, getting even more sloppy and ridiculous. This is the moment where the plot arc of S4 starts to fall apart.

Anyway, in this episode Buffy essentially ‘joins’ the Initiative after a worried Professor Walsh sees her demolish the commando team. Right before Buffy sees the Initiative base, Riley tells her “You don’t have to do this … I mean, if you’d rather wait.” This is a very clever bit of wording, because we think Riley’s talking about sex, when really he’s talking about entering the Initiative. Sex and the Initiative do have a lot in common here. Riley’s words are similar to Parker’s words to Buffy right before sex in “The Harsh Light of Day” [4×03] . Parker says, “Is this okay? It’s your choice.” Both men are giving Buffy a choice, and both times Buffy decides to move forward even at great risk and uncertainty. Parker betrays her expectations and the Initiative turns out to do the very same. This ties both Parker and the Initiative together as manipulative bastards who only have their own disturbing agenda in mind.

Later, in a really interesting scene, Buffy and Riley do have sex, so the sexual innuendo to the viewer earlier might not have been a mislead after all. This also makes me sure that the only reason Buffy is working with the Initiative is because of her relationship with Riley. The sex scene itself is very weird and original (as far as I know) — I like it a lot. It is blended together with the two of them fighting a Polgara demon (which looks incredibly hokey and hurts the scene a bit). The connection for Buffy between fighting and having sex is once again established.

After the fight, a flustered Buffy asks Riley what he wants to do now. Notice how Buffy didn’t kill the demon — she only helped capture it. Faith says in “The Zeppo” [3×13] that the demon she is fighting “got me really wound up. A fight like that, and no kill. I’m about ready to pop.” It’s obvious that here Buffy is too, which goes to show that Faith’s “hungry and horny” philosophy of Slaying might be a universal trait of Slayers after all. I’d also like to add that I am pleased the writers didn’t make a big deal out of Buffy’s sexual encounter here. I think by now we don’t need to treat it like a monumental deal each and every time. Although, I was very much amused by Buffy’s reaction the following morning. She wakes up, gets really worried, and quickly turns around to see if Riley’s actually there still. He’s awake and immediately tells her, “Weren’t expecting to see me?” Buffy replies, ” I never know what to expect.” Fun!

The rest of this episode is concerned with moving plot pieces forward. The best example of this is when Professor Walsh is very disturbingly watching video of Buffy and Riley having sex. That and the fact Buffy’s question to Riley about ‘314’ got him suspicious is enough for Professor Walsh to worry on a new level. Walsh undoubtedly thinks Buffy is using sex as a way to get information out of Riley. As a result of this, she attemps to kill Buffy before things get further out of hand. This development makes a lot of sense, and even sets up a big upcoming conflict between Buffy and Professor Walsh. Unfortunately, as described above, that conflict never happens because of Walsh’s death.

One final thing I’d like to point out is Giles’ attempt at taking advantage of Spike’s current chipped situation. He tries to pose the possibility of Spike helping out the group more frequently. Spike’s response to this is “piss off!” Also in retaliation he throws out some unkind words about the Scoobies. It’s interesting that he doesn’t insult either Anya or Buffy, once again showing that he likes Anya and has respect for Buffy as a Slayer even though he very badly wants to kill her. To sum it all up, this is a good episode which gets the Initiative arc moving again. Unfortunately, the direction it’s going in isn’t nearly as great as it could have been.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Willow chanting while playing Poker and Xander getting angry. “That wasn’t magic. I was praying.”
+ Xander with yet another crappy job.
+ Spike telling Giles his crypt “needs a woman’s touch.”
+ Buffy’s tour of the Initiative.
+ I really like Tara. She is shy, kind, and very sweet. She’s also a great contrast to who Willow is turning into.
+ Willow sharing her concerns about the Initiative to Buffy. Their conclusion: the Initiative may be conditioning demons to work at Walmart!
+ Buffy looking so out of place during the Initiative mission briefing.
+ Buffy being all girly when patrolling with Riley and the Initiative guys.
+ Commandos shoot a tracer into Spike. Poor Spike!
+ Giles’ reaction to eating Xander’s Boost Bars. “Please leave my home now.”
+ Spike turning to the Scoobies when he’s desparate.
+ Riley immediately walking out of the Initiative after Professor Walsh’s betrayal.
+ Professor Walsh’s speech to herself at the very end is really hokey.


Foreshadowing

* Giles says to Spike, “Um, thinking about your affliction and, uh, your newfound discovery that you can fight only demons; it occurs to me that (chuckling) I realize this is completely against your nature but has it occurred to you that there may be a higher purpose?” Spike’s too busy counting his money to care, but this is a fun little hint of where he’s headed.
* Forrest expressing his first serious concerns about Riley’s relationship with Buffy. This becomes more severe as the season moves on.


[Score]

80/100

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46 thoughts on “Buffy 4×13: The I in Team”

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

    I have to say that when Buffy shows up in the monitor menacing Professor Walsh is one of my favourite scenes of the episode. And I too agree that killing Walsh was a mistake.

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  2. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 10, 2007.]

    I definitely agree about the problems with this episode (and the season). Just wanted to add that I find it interesting that Giles gives Spike a speech about him using the chip to do good when later on we see Giles being very vocally against Spike when he actually DOES try to help. Either Giles changed his mind about Spike’s ability to change or Spike’s dismissal of him in this episode leaves a permanent strike against him.

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  3. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 31, 2008.]

    It’s interesting that despite his protestations to the contrary later on, Riley refers to Walsh as `mother’ in this ep (`That’s our cue: Mother wants us.’)

    Yes, it’s a metaphor…

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  4. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 31, 2008.]

    Note the going-to-town with metaphors in the sex scene’s combat segment. We have extensible truncheons, long spiky things in forearms, guns with thin things on the end shooting visible blue-white stuff… Freud could go to town interpreting all this 🙂

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  5. [Note: Steph posted this comment on July 13, 2008.]

    I’m not sure that I blame Willow for not telling Buffy about Tara. It seemed like their growing rift was equally both Willow and Buffy’s fault. The fact that Buffy doesn’t spend as much time/attention on Willow probably made her feel like they weren’t as close as they used to be. In turn, Willow hiding Tara from Buffy and not being in the dorm as much, doesn’t give Buffy a chance to talk to Willow as much. To me, it just seemed like a vicious cycle that wasn’t completely Willow or Buffy’s fault as much as it was both of theirs.

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  6. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 18, 2008.]

    Another piece of overanalysis: how come the Initiative uses the same names for demon species as the Scoobies do? The Scoobies get their names out of books, presumably derived from the demons’ own names for themselves: what do the Initiative do? Ask the demons?

    (Presumably they don’t have access to decent books or they’d be using them rather than ignoring minor questions like motive where they don’t deny demon sentience entirely.)

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  7. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on July 20, 2008.]

    well the scene where they have sex may be original but the end with walsh watching them isnt…has anyone seen “second double” season 2 in alias???

    Like

  8. [Note: Jvamp posted this comment on September 1, 2008.]

    You use the word “hokey” far too much…instead of falling back on it you could go into more detail. Other than that the reviews are decent.

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  9. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on June 8, 2009.]

    The difference here is that this episode does not “change everything” in a good or exciting way. Professor Walsh gets killed off, which I feel was a dire mistake.

    What is the point in calling this a mistake, when Whedon had no choice? Lindsay Crouse was leaving the show for another acting committment.

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  10. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on June 8, 2009.]

    “I definitely agree about the problems with this episode (and the season). Just wanted to add that I find it interesting that Giles gives Spike a speech about him using the chip to do good when later on we see Giles being very vocally against Spike when he actually DOES try to help. Either Giles changed his mind about Spike’s ability to change or Spike’s dismissal of him in this episode leaves a permanent strike against him.”

    Or perhaps Giles later harbored a resentment against Spike for rejecting his help around this time. I’ve suspected that for years.

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  11. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 9, 2009.]

    I’ve no problem whatsoever with Willow keeping Tara to herself. As she says, pretty much everything in her life ends up being geared towards Buffy. Even her best friend Xander tends to ignore her to follow after Buffy. Plus Buffy herself is a pretty crappy friend, too. Every time Buffy gets a new ‘toy” (i.e. Faith, Riley) she goes off and ignore Willow, yet expects Willow to be there for the inevitable crash and burn. Rather selfish, IMO. Why shouldn’t Willow try to find something (or someone) of her own?

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  12. [Note: Victoria posted this comment on May 31, 2010.]

    Selene, I disagree that Buffy is a bad friend. She’s self-centered, yes, but you have to admit that her life is kind of worth all the self-obsessing. Willow has done the same to Buffy when she finds new “toys” (Oz, Tara, Kennedy, MAGIC in general). Their friendship feels about on par with what real-life friendships feel like, especially considering that it’s the “Freshman Year and New Friends” scenario… As someone who lived with her best friend from high school for three years in college, I know the weird awkwardness of trying to incorporate the old and the new. It’s not all Gilmore-Girls-Smiles-and-Friendship-Bracelets. Considering that Buffy shouldn’t even technically have a social life to speak of, she does pretty well at holding things together, you just have to really look for it. For instance, it sucks that she didn’t think and brought her new Initiative friends to the Bronze, but at the same time, when Willow casually mentions that if she’d known it was open-invite she’d have felt free to invite more people, Buffy immediately jumps upon the information Willow omits.

    However, you are correct in noting that one should feel kind of slighted by Buffy and Willow’s interaction at this point. I wouldn’t say they are in “horrible friend” territory, but certainly there is a separation that didn’t exist before. It’s “normal” to for now… I mean Willow is going through her own break-up issues, plus she’s discovering magic and a newfound aspect of her sexuality while Buffy is trying to make her first REAL functional relationship with a human who is informed of her calling. It requires a lot of attention. Xander could be guilty of the same thing; he’s got his job and his VERY demanding ex-demon lover…. but in the context of things to come, it definitely signifies the potential for the falling out that happens later.

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  13. [Note: Aeryl posted this comment on July 9, 2010.]

    Buffy always said she went into the Initiative to learn more about them.

    Why is it stupid for the Initiative to do the same, invite the Slayer in, send her out on a few hunts, to determine what her goals and capabilities are? You know, research, which is what they are supposed to be all about. Better than tazing and drugging her, and far more likely to work.

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  14. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on September 3, 2010.]

    In an accidental way, Buffy gets back at Willow for the party in ‘Dead Man’s Party’.

    In that episode their was supposed to be a quite dinner with just the Scoobies and Will, Oz, Xander and Cordelia invited everyone. So here, Willow is upset about Buffy inviting the cammandos to the Bronze when she thought it was just to be the four friends. In the words of Cordelia: “Oooh, these grapes are sour.”

    The instrumental music as Buffy and Riley fight and have sex adds to the scene then it just goes wierd when Walsh is shown looking at them. And then of course the phone rings as soon as Buffy asks what 314 is.

    I enjoyed this episode more than the next one.

    On a side note: 3.14 is ‘Bad Girls’.

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  15. [Note: projectrunaway posted this comment on September 28, 2010.]

    Great review, Mike! Although I must admit you put a bit of a damper on my enjoyment of the episode by pointing out its weaknesses. I liked it a lot. So much stuff happens! And it’s not just plot-driven; the character arcs of Buffy, Riley, and Willow all move forward compellingly. After reading your review, I now see why so many have blasted season 4 as weak, at least in the “big bad” department. I liked the Adam concept (mostly for its clever reinvention of the Frankenstein myth), but now I see how much more interesting it would have been for Professor Walsh to have been the general and Adam her lieutenant. Still, I was glad to see Walsh go; I found her irredeemably annoying.

    By the way, speaking of The Big Bad, I’ve been wondering lately: who is The Big Bad of season 2? Not The Judge; he’s gone by mid-season. Dru and Spike? Unlikely, given Spike’s last-minute alliance with Buffy. Or is it really Angel? I think so. Is this the right forum to pose this question? If not, let me know.

    Thanks again to all for your lucid, entertaining insights. This is my go-to site for BtVS reviews and comments.

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  16. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 28, 2010.]

    [quote]By the way, speaking of The Big Bad, I’ve been wondering lately: who is The Big Bad of season 2?[/quote]

    I believe, yes, it’s Angelus.

    [quote]Thanks again to all for your lucid, entertaining insights. This is my go-to site for BtVS reviews and comments.[/quote]

    Thanks for the kind words! Happy to read them. 🙂

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  17. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 28, 2010.]

    I have a slightly different idea about Adam’s place in this season. (Maybe this comment is more appropriate elsewhere, but I’m just following the conversation.)

    I think some seasons (like 1, 3 (maybe), 5 and 7) are very Big-Bad-focused, while other seasons (2, 4, 6) just aren’t. S2 is about the complexities of Buffy-Angel-Angelus-Spike; S4 is really about the initiative; S6 is perhaps about “reality” in its various forms. Compare these to S5, where Glory establishes herself early on, or S7, where from the first episode it’s all about the First Evil.

    Since the overall conflict of S4 is more about the Initiative in general than Adam per se, his late entrance didn’t really bother me; he was a natural culmination to the whole season’s themes and conflicts, rather than being the source of those conflicts. My point is just that different seasons have different “shapes”, and Adam makes more sense if you don’t think of him as “the S4 Big Bad”.

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  18. [Note: Jermzy posted this comment on December 16, 2010.]

    While yes I would have liked Walsh to provide a deeper villain for the Season (because let’s face it- Adam rubs off ALLOT like the Master from Season 1, making grand statements about humans and demons) I can understand the writers making the mistake of immediately killing her off as I’m not really sure how Buffy (and Riley) could confront Walsh about that:

    “Hey you! You tried to kill me! Now Slayers can’t kill humans and your millitary drones would shoot me if I tried but I just wanna tell you how much I hate you for that.” Plus having Walsh as a villain would involve more effortless breaking into the Initiative which I take it you don’t like.

    Anyway the actress who plays Walsh apparently couldn’t stick around for the rest of the season so she was doomed nomatter what.

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  19. [Note: Paula posted this comment on December 16, 2010.]

    I can understand the writers making the mistake of immediately killing her off

    I wouldn’t call it a mistake but a necessity, since the actress left the show. Apparently the writers had a quite different half-season planned, but they were simply unable to pull it off for this very reason.

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  20. [Note: Dave posted this comment on August 13, 2011.]

    I despised the way that Buffy was so out of character in this episode. It didn’t feel like I was watching her at all.

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  21. [Note: Lunatic on a pogostick posted this comment on August 29, 2011.]

    Is it just me or does this series tend to have a contempt for authority? To me this episode really underscored the similarities between the Intiative and the watchers council. Specificly how they will both use and manipulate people to achieve what they define as the greater good. Just thought that was interesting 🙂 maybe that was only me.

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  22. [Note: snowflakesaway posted this comment on October 26, 2011.]

    They killed off Professor Walsh because the actress wanted to go do some movie. Originally, they had planned to make her the season villain (they sure set up for it) but when she decided to leave, that killed the character and invented Adam. It was a mistake, but sometimes circumstances just get in the way of your plans.

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  23. [Note: Jenny posted this comment on October 29, 2011.]

    Though I agree about this episode’s mistakes, you have to admit this episode has some charm. Plot aside, watching Buffy take out those Initiative guys at the very beginning is hilarious, and then watching her be briefed for the demon on the loose was even better. She seems so superficial next to these trained soldiers, until you realize, “Buffy can easily beat them DOWN.” I also love how Walsh tried to kill her with two demons, and begins her speech to Riley about Buffy’s death, then Buffy’s face just shows up on screen. 🙂 Gotta love the Buffster.

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  24. [Note: Dave posted this comment on March 24, 2012.]

    And here begins the over-shown Buffy/Riley sex scenes. Gets really old, really fast.

    Pros:

    – Willow’s hair standing on end.

    – Buffy’s threat to Walsh.

    Cons:

    – Overblown lusty montage.

    – Initiative.

    Yeah, not much of a Riley/Initiative fan, but I still feel my points are valid.

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  25. [Note: JustJenna posted this comment on March 31, 2012.]

    My favorite things about this episode:

    1.

    WILLOW: Hmm! Wha’cha got in the boxes, drugs? (then sternly) It’s not drugs, is it, Xander? — I’m fairly certain she was imitating Principal Snyder here, circa season 3. Remember the episode when he was grabbing lunch bags looking for drugs? Then he even grabbed the Box of Gavrok, certain that there were drugs in it. Willow’s inflection here even sounded like Snyder when she delivered that line. I loved it.

    2. Giles forcing Spike to pay him back the money that Spike extorted from him in the previous episode. I love little moments of continuity like this. Plus the look of annoyed fury on Spike’s face when he had to fork over the cash was priceless. It’s because of this show that I adopted “Bloody hell” into my vocabulary – complete with an annoyed British accent and all. =D

    ******************

    Also, just a comment on Prof Walsh’s premature death: From what I have read, it was not the writer’s original intention to kill her off so suddenly. The actress playing Maggie Walsh took a part in a movie and left the show, so they had to scramble to rewrite the arc. It was unfortunate because it really hurt the overall story and led to a truly horrible ending. I would love to know what was originally planned because based on what these writers are capable of (see seasons 2 and 3) I am sure season fours arc would have been much MUCH better than it ended up being.

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  26. [Note: Dave posted this comment on May 12, 2012.]

    The whole sex scene montage was so horrendously uncomfortable. You could see SMG fighting not to cringe. Think this is one of the episodes she was at her worst in, too.

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  27. [Note: David posted this comment on June 14, 2012.]

    [quote]well the scene where they have sex may be original but the end with walsh watching them isnt…has anyone seen “second double” season 2 in alias???[/quote]

    and have you noticed that ‘Second Double’ aired in 2003, three years after ‘Doomed’ aired?

    Like

  28. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 26, 2012.]

    Ahhhhhhhh boo. Well I like Buffy/Riley sex and I am looking forward to more. Bring on Wild Things hahahahaha!

    Like

  29. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 1, 2013.]

    I very much liked the characterization in season four, one of the best. It’s a shame we had to endure Adam and to a lesser extent, the Initiative. This episode is the perfect example of both statements.

    I understand that some can find Riley boring, but how can they hate him ? He’s got a lot of qualities a lover would look for (honor, faithful, kind, sweet and strong), he’s not a stalker, he’s not evil and he’s very human. I agree, it doesn’t make for a powerfull character, but he was, at that time, what Buffy needed; a bit of stability and confidence in a relationship. And it’s very understandable that he could have issues about being overpowered by a tiny girl: he is an old-fashioned chivalry man and he is a military amongst soldiers that are only men. And in reality, men are physically stronger than women, that’s a fact (and women are more intelligent… Sorry, I had to :P).

    What I found interesting is the contrast between Initiative/Slayer. The Initiative is run by a woman and the soldiers – even the doctors – are all males ! I don’t remember seeing another woman in the lot. Walsh is like a Queen, she’s in control and have the power. We’re shown here the limit and the conditioning of the soldiers: because the chain of command has to be respected, they’re not “breeded” to think for themselves or ask questions. The Slayer is a woman, guided by a watcher – in the case of Buffy, a man, or rather a father figure. We see the difference in the points of views between Giles and Walsh: giving lease to breathe and think for oneself vs total control and power (but there was some truth in Walsh’s speech nonetheless). So, Buffy has been educated to think, plan and act: the scene where she looks so tiny surrounded by big guys but is the one who asks pertinent questions is excellent.

    What was also good, albeit a little out of character (for Buffy), was the beginning of the estrangement between the scoobies. Buffy really seems to get into team Initiative a little too fast. I disagree with MikeJer about putting all the fault on Willow: it looks to me like everyone is at fault. Xander is left alone because he’s not in college but they have no remorse dumping Spike on him. He’s struggling with his life and is trying to get a job and a working relationship. (By the way, We don’t know what Anya does during the day or where she lives when she’s not at Xander’s). Willow is hiding a new friend and it’s not explained (yet) why she’s so secretive about it. Buffy is completely oblivious of anyone else who’s not Riley (her obsessive side). I understand her behavior towards Giles: he’s like a parent to whom you don’t say everything but you run to him when you’re in need.

    The most hurtful scene is in the Bronze. We see that Willow was looking forward to a true Scoobie reunion (if Anya hadn’t been there, all the better for her) and she didn’t invited Tara. Buffy is totally disrespectful and oblivious in this particular scene. She gives a shameless excuse with a big smile, comes with her new troop and hardly hears the very clear and heartfelt speech Willow gives her. And don’t forget that Willow chose Buffy and Xander over Tara; it’s only after Buffy bails that she goes to see Tara.

    So, I emphasize, the blame is – if blame there is – on everyone’s head, not only Willow’s. They are all taking different directions and/or interests and it helps understand why Spike will be able to split them up so easily later on.

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  30. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on March 3, 2013.]

    Wow, nice point about the gender-contrast between the Initiative and the Watchers. That was so opposite to the way some people pretend the world works!

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  31. [Note: Jen posted this comment on June 6, 2013.]

    Can anyone tell me the significance of the title of this episode? Either it is a wave to some American pop-culture reference which foreigners don’t get, or I am stupider than I would prefer to admit…

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  32. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on June 7, 2013.]

    You’re familiar with the the cliché call for unity and teamwork that goes “There is no I in team?” If not: it means the individual should do what is best for the team, not for herself. And it’s an inane language pun because there’s no letter “I” in the word “Team.”

    I admit I never gave it that much thought in the context of this episode, but I assume it refers to the way Buffy does not fit in with the Initiative and how her individualistic style of slaying clashes with the hierarchic, militarised approach the Initiative uses. And of course to the way Walsh tries to have Buffy killed because she does not want to adapt to her leadership.

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  33. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on December 17, 2013.]

    Regarding the “I” in team – I think there’s another way to look at it. The Initiative starts with the letter I, but functions like a hierarchy and not really like a team. The Scoobies are actually more like a team.

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  34. [Note: Spuffy4eva posted this comment on January 18, 2014.]

    I’m not sure if this point has been raised but I heard that Lindsay Crouse moved onto another show so the had to kill her off and also the music played in THAT scene(Professor Walsh is such a perv, looking unflinchingly)was cool but was ruined because it will always bear the stigma of being played while IT happened.

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  35. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 24, 2014.]

    This is an odd episode. I’ve always found the juxtaposition of the violence and the sex to be an interesting choice. The music was strangely nice, I agree the demon was stupid but they are at least 98% of the time on this show. Anyway, while I enjoyed this sex scene, the rest just bore and annoy me, I agree to everyone who feels like they really overdid the Riley/Buffy sex scenes throughout Season 4. Ehck!
    I agree to the people who think that the blame wasn’t all to be put on Willow. People keep asking why Willow hides Tara from the rest of the group, and I feel like I have an answer for that. I’m not sure if this is what the writers had in mind, but aside from the fact that the Scoobies are drifting apart, Willow is experimenting with her sexuality and I think she was starting to have unexplained feelings for Tara here. Understandably, Willow is having a hard time coming to terms with this; and telling her friends about it would probably make her feel uncomfortable and it would all be a little too overwhelming for her at the moment, so it makes sense she didn’t want to immediate spill her guts about Tara. Buffy, on the other hand, was completely on Planet Riley. I have to say a lot of her actions feel slightly dubious to me because she’s so quick to jump into bed with Riley and so easily ignores her friends without even realizing it. Yes, Buffy can be selfish sometimes, and while a lot of the times she has good reason to be this way, once in a while she can be mean without really knowing that she’s being mean.
    Anyway, as some people mentioned above, I feel like this forthcoming Scooby separation (especially Willow and Buffy’s friendship) is everyone’s fault and very natural at this stage of their lives. Anyway, Giles and Spike, can I get an amen? Their dynamic is a thing of beauty, one which became muddled as episodes passed. Someone raised a question about how Giles was asking Spike to join the Good guys here and became so rude and adamant with him when he really did help. I interpret its possibly because he took Spike’s comment hard, but I really don’t know. I wish we’d got them bonding more (Doesn’t Spike call Giles something like a Father twice when he was under a spell? Once in Tabula Rasa, and the other time in Something Blue (Father in Law)). I thought that would have been very interesting if it had played out correctly, albeit, it was not to be.
    I feel like the Spike and Giles pairing was a hit and miss, just like this episode. I so totally agree the Magic Vs Science idea is one with a lot of potential, I know that the actress who played Walsh had to leave, but I wish they’d cooked up something better than the operation running an insidious scheme where they hid their very own Frankenstein-like monster. Despite this, I don’t think it was all bad and had quite a few redeeming scenes.
    I absolutely love the scene where Buffy threatens Walsh on the recording, the look on Walsh’s face was priceless! All hail the Slayer, haha. Anyway, decent episode.

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  36. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on July 6, 2014.]

    You know, despite everything that gets said about season 4 and the Initiative being about a “magic vs. science” theme, I’ve always felt that it was at least as much about contrasting an authoritarian and institutional approach with an egalitarian and individualistic one. Certainly this episode’s title points in that direction, as well as the conversation between Buffy and Riley about asking questions vs. just following orders…and also the exchange in the previous episode between Giles and Maggie in which Giles advocates not leading young people by the hand too much. Even Spike’s moment of disgust a few episodes before this, when he observes “This is the crack team that foils all my evil plans?” plays into this theme; the show is suggesting that even though Buffy and co. lack the organization, discipline, and resources of the Initiative–and can even be quasi-dysfunctionally chaotic a times–there are nevertheless pluses to their approach as contrasted with that of the Initiative (and vice versa).

    This all strikes me as extremely rich and promising thematic material to explore (and sort of a next logical step after the things that season 3 had to say about authority)–which really just makes it too bad, as others (inlcuding Mike) have already said, that Maggie Walsh dies so prematurely, effectively derailing what the season seems clearly to have been set up to do.

    Other comments: I’ve always liked this episode (apart from the final scene, as noted), but I do sort of thing that even before the misstep of killing her off, it also made the mistake of pushing Prof. Walsh too far over the edge into crazy territory much too quickly. If there was to be a clash of philosophies and styles dramatized between the Scoobies and the Initiative as I was just suggesting…well, revealing the main representative of the “opposing side” to be this creepy, homicidal, and amoral this early on really undercuts any legitimacy that her side of the question would otherwise have. (On the other hand, I–like others–loved the scene at the end where Buffy comes on the monitor and confronts Walsh. Although her bit about how Walsh doesn’t know anything about what a Slayer is, but “Believe me when I say you’re going to find out” is completely undercut and rendered moot when Walsh dies two minutes later without ever interacting with Buffy again…)

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  37. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 21, 2014.]

    Lydia: Willow was starting to have feelings for Tara here? As I see it, they’ve been shagging for weeks by this point. She has feelings for Tara starting in Hush… at what point it moves from subtext to actual, well, ‘you know’ is a matter for conjecture, but it definitely happens before Who Are You? which is only a few episodes away at this point.

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  38. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on July 21, 2014.]

    I don’t think they had been “shagging for weeks.” This line series of dialogue seems to support my position:

    TARA
    There’s a way we can…
    (flips through book)
    … The passage to the nether-realm,
    there’s a ritual, if you find her
    there you should be able to see…

    She reads a moment. Willow comes up behind her, looks over her shoulder.

    WILLOW
    If it’ll help Buffy…

    Tara turns to her, concerned.

    WILLOW (cont’d)
    What?

    TARA
    The nether-realm exists beyond the
    physical world. Accessing it is,
    it’s kind of like astral projection,
    it’s very intense. I’d have to be
    your anchor, keep you on this plane.

    WILLOW
    I trust you.

    TARA
    It’s not like anything we’ve ever —

    WILLOW
    I trust you.

    This took place in “Who Are You?”. This is obviously a reference to sexual intercourse and Tara’s comment “It’s not like anything we’ve ever–“ suggests that they had never done this before. Most of what occurs between Willow and Tara before “Who Are You?” is build up to the (sexual) spell they performed to find out what happened to Buffy. Mostly, they just hung out together.

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  39. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 22, 2014.]

    Good point. It’s fairly clear that this was the point at which ‘messing around’ became something more serious. However, it’s also fairly clear from the dialogue that by the time of this episode, a few weeks earlier, they had fallen in love: they just hadn’t done much about it yet. (Just smaller, er, ‘spells’. Which are obviously not anything remotely sexual, nudge nudge…)

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  40. [Note: George posted this comment on October 24, 2014.]

    Kyle.. Another way to interpret the “I trust you” line is that it is a “deeper cut” or “next step” in sex that Willow & Tara haven’t taken. When it comes to gay sex (speaking from experience) this line along with its mindful feelings can be brought up when there is a move toward … “more involved” sexual intercourse beyond oral/masturbatory sex for instance.

    The beauty of the metaphor when mapped onto Willow & Tara’s experience is that (maybe they’ve had a sexual relationship by now) they are taking ‘it’ somewhere else, they are evolving the sexual dynamic.
    This is a nice riff off the episode title Who Are You as well. It is the “plus” side, maybe even the ‘literalized’ side, to Faith/Buffy’s problematic persona exchange.

    Especially upon such a (homo) sexual predisposition, the changes and contrasts of a couple’s dynamic and each person’s role drives home the episode’s notion Who Are You. For Willow & Tara, they allow their bodies (at play) to figure themselves as people, as a dynamic, a dynamic play. They even manage to elucidate Buffy & Faith’s surreal problem by figuring themselves as parts of a pair. The Buffy/Faith thing would not be achievable, or solvable, if Willow & Tara had not already been advancing in their relationship.

    This is a bit of a winded interpretation. But it says a lot about what Buffy can’t have that Willow already can, in fact what Buffy can never have, lest Willow does.

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  41. [Note: wade1055 posted this comment on December 16, 2014.]

    The one thing I have always had questions about this episode and the ones before it was that the Iniative has been working with vampires and demons that for the longest while were considered mythology. But, when Professor Walsh meets Buffy she states that she thought the Slayer was a myth. Does she mean that all the creatures they are working with have in her mind been reality? Every creature, except man, has a natural enemy. Would it make more sense to her that these mythical creatures had a naturl enemy as well?

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  42. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on July 9, 2015.]

    Ok, so I was just thinking about this episode. Well, not this episode because that would require me to remember what happens in this episode, but I remembered that in one of the Initiative episodes they flush a tracking device down the toilet to get rid of it.

    But the Initiative clearly HAD a read on where the device was sitting for a while! Couldn’t they have, like, noticed where it was flushed from? Or would that be too much effort? Come on– this was supposed to be a two-parter, so they could afford to put the Scoobies in danger for once…

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  43. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on July 10, 2015.]

    Maybe they weren’t close enough to get an exact reading, and they didn’t want to cause a ruckus by breaking into twenty different houses? I dunno.

    It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then again, I don’t think that anyone working on Buffy or Angel actually understood technology.

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