Buffy 4×20: The Yoko Factor

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Douglas Petrie | Director: David Grossman | Aired: 05/09/2000]

This is the successful payoff we’ve been waiting for all season. The Scoobies have been slowly separating from each other all season long, and now all these problems everyone’s had with each other explodes out into the open with just a nudge from good ol’ Spike, who’s been silently observing these conflicts all along. The big argument scene at the end is extremely well acted and I find it potent. The lameness of the Initiative isn’t even enough to pull this one down! In addition to more great characterization, the final pieces of the plot are being put in motion for the big battle to come in “Primeval” [4×21] . Lets not foget that Angel comes to town and beats up Riley, then whines to Buffy that “he [Riley] started” it. So, tastefully gentle reader, lets dive in!

These are quite the upbeat days for Spike, as he gets to prove to himself he is still dangerous. In the caves he gives Adam some advice on Buffy based on personal experience: “Little Miss Tiny’s got a habit of bollixing up the plans of every would-be, unstoppable bad-### who sets foot in this town. Just want you to know, when the big ugly goes down, the Slayer’s gonna be right in the thick of it.” Adam seems to be pretty perceptive as well when he analyzes Spike’s feelings on what it feels like to have the chip in his head. It’s when Adam suggests to separate the Slayer from her friends does Spike agree in excitement.

The thing that’s been keeping Spike from being able to defeat Buffy, since the moment he arrived in Sunnydale in “School Hard” [2×03] , are her friends and family. He says back then, “A Slayer with family and friends. That sure as hell wasn’t in the brochure.” Now he says, “There’s your — what do you call it — variable. The Slayer’s got pals. You want her evening the odds in a fight you don’t want the Slayerettes mucking about.” I also like how he draws a comparison between the Beatles’ separation and the Scoobies’ separation. He says that the Beatles “ruled the world. And when they broke up everyone blamed Yoko, but the fact is the group split itself apart, she just happened to be there. And you know how it is with kids. They go off to college, they grow apart. Way of the world.”

Using a combination of truth and fabrication Spike is able to pick the Scoobies apart and get them all angry at each other. He hits each one of the core 4, except Buffy, on their primary sensitive issues. First he goes to Giles, who has been feeling separated from the group and kind of useless. Spike offers to get sensitive files from the Initiative (which he conveniently gets from Adam) in exchange for blood, cash, protection, and immunity. Giles agrees, and here’s where Spike starts digging in. He says, “with a smile and a nod from you? Sorry. Not close to good enough. This deal’s with the Slayer.” He then reminds Giles that he’s not Buffy’s Watcher anymore and that she sees him “very much like a retired librarian.” Giles was drinking some alcohol before Spike came, and we’re going to see later that he’s going to continue all day long.

The next target of Spike’s verbal misleads is Xander who’s been constantly switching jobs, is lost, and is kind of lame right now. So Spike tries to put a wedge between him and Willow and Buffy using a bit of fabrication based on how they actually feel. He says, “Attitude. See how far that’ll take you in boot camp.” Xander replies, “Boot camp? Yeah. Like I’d go there.” When Xander asks who said he was joining the army, Spike replies, “Oh, your girlie-mates were talking. Something about, uh, being all you can be. Or all you can be. And having a laugh. Figured you were signing up.” Xander says, “This is so like them, lately. It’s all about them and the college life.” He has been feeling really left out this year. At least he has Anya to keep him frequent company.

Moving on, Spike pays a visit to Willow where he observantly notices, just by seeing Tara twirling Willow’s hair, that her ‘preference’ has changed. He then tweaks his approach to be more ambiguous and says, “No. I just heard you weren’t…Your mates said you weren’t playing with computers so much. (indicates Tara) Into the new thing … You know, you two. The whole wicca thing … Talking about, you know, it’s a phase. You’ll get over it.” Willow’s reply, “I knew Buffy was freaked,” tells us that she still thinks that Buffy is uncomfortable about her loving Tara. Also, Willow’s been very sensitive about her witchcraft, of which was highlighted in “Fear, Itself” [4×04] . Between these two issues, Willow’s not very happy with Xander and especially Buffy, and it is all because of Spike’s deadly mixture of truth and lies. While chatting with these three Scoobies he is very much acting like the business at hand is his reason for being around, and that these personal discussions are an annoying distraction. It’s of course, the complete opposite.

Another character to get a lot of attention is Riley. When the episode begins Riley and Xander are having a conversation at the new hangout (the ruined Sunnydale High). Riley knows that Buffy ran off to see Angel (“Sanctuary” [AtS 1×19]) and is aware of that relationship now, although we find out quickly he doesn’t have all the details. It’s amusing that, even though Xander gets jealous of all Buffy boyfriends, him and Riley bond a lot here over a mutual distaste of Angel. Very funny and well-written. It also plants a seed of friendship between the two of them that continues in S5 (“The Replacement” [5×03] comes to mind). Anyway, Xander ends up filling in the missing pieces of the story Buffy told Riley about Angel, and Riley isn’t very pleased. This makes Buffy’s recent departure to see Angel and her subsequent refusal to talk about what happened even more worrysome.

All of this built-up worry and tension over the situation comes to a head when Riley faces off against Angel, who tore apart some Initiative guys that jumped him. Because of the bodies lying on the ground, Riley just assumes Buffy had sex with Angel and he lost his soul again. He says, “Now what possibly could’ve happened with Buffy that would make you lose your soul?” Angel amusingly doesn’t even correct what Riley is saying and instead responds with, “That’d be between me and her.” The two of them then duke it out with fists and tasers in a incredibly delicious fight, and to no surprise Angel kicks Riley’s ### and then proceeds to Buffy’s dorm room.

This next scene is simply wonderful. Riley and Angel are exchanging harsh words to each other while Buffy is simply standing in middle with a “what the HELL…” expression on her face. Then, after Angel really goes over the line with “You actually sleep with this guy?,” Buffy has to pull the two of them apart and say “Okay, that’s enough! I see one more display of testosterone poisoning and I will personally put you both in the hospital! Anybody think I’m exaggerating?” Way to go Buffy! See, this is the point when a lot of reviewers will bring out their inner shipper and pick sides, nearly always Angel. Me? Well, personally I love all of Buffy’s boyfriends for what they brought out of her during different times in her life. I love what Buffy and Angel had, I love what Buffy and Riley have, and I while I don’t love what Buffy and Spike will have pre-S7 (because it’s depressing for Buffy), I very much love that it happened for reasons I’ll get to later in the series. I’m a shipper of all her relationships! So there!

After Buffy and Angel have a chat in the hallway (which I’ll talk about soon), her and Riley have a chat as well in which Riley shares that he thought the two of them had sex. She then explains Angel’s still good and Riley responds, “Even when he’s good he’s all Mister…Billowy Coat, King of Pain and girls really-.” What Riley was about to say is very interesting. In my experience Riley is completely correct. It feels to me that most girls would rather be with the risky bad boy than the kind and gentle guy, which is completely contrary to what they say they want. This phenomenon is very confusing to me and I won’t continue to dwell on it, except to say that I understand Riley’s worry.

Fortunately, Buffy responds well: “Have I ever given you any reason to feel that you can’t trust me?” Riley naturally responds “No” and goes on to say that “I’m so in love with you I can’t think straight.” While the depths of Buffy’s feelings for Riley are debatable, I think it’s pretty clear that Riley really loves Buffy as much as he says. Right after this, though, she breaks the news to him that Adam killed Forrest, which makes Riley get up and walk out of the room. Now, his response is very confusing to me. Did that news somehow trigger the chip in his chest, or did Adam just happen to trigger it right at the same time? This is never clearly answered.

In “New Moon Rising” [4×19] the Willow/Oz relationship reached a satisfying closure which resulted in the continuation of the Willow/Tara relationship. Here we see the same thing happen for Buffy and Riley. The ex-boyfriend comes back to town to “make things right,” but almost ends up accidentally messing everything up. After Buffy returns from Los Angeles in “Sanctuary” (AtS 1×19), in which Angel says to her “You don’t know me anymore, so don’t come down here with your great new life and expect me to do things your way. Go home!,” we see her lying on her bed looking very sad (and Willow not being there to talk to likely added to the sadness). Angel’s words were incredibly harsh but Buffy knows he’s not wrong, and I think that’s likely a large part of why she’s so sad.

After a quick rest, Buffy gets back in determination mode and goes hunting for Adam by herself — this time with a taser gun. Along with finding Adam himself, she also finds that he can absorb taser energy (why not bring a machine gun too?) and has to fight him hand-to-hand again, getting all beat up and tasered. While I didn’t feel Buffy was justified in freaking out about Adam before, I think she has more evidence to now. Where’d she put that rocket launcher? Anyway, after getting a big cut on her head and being knocked out she returns to her dorm and checks out the damage done to her. Something I found interesting was how her ‘wincing’ reaction to touching the cut on her head is very similar to the wincing she gave when mending her head wound in “Helpless” [3×12] . In both episodes she feels completely powerless and very much alone.

The Angel/Riley confrontration in her dorm soon happens and she takes Angel outside to ask a few interesting questions, like “Okay. I come to see you, to help you, and you treat me like I’m just…your ex … Shut up! And then you order me out of your city and then you come here and start pounding on my boyfriend!? I would really like to know what the HELL are you trying to do!?” Fortunately, though, instead of the conversation being another hurtful exchange of words, Angel’s response, “I was trying to make things better,” can instead only illicit laughs. This reminds me of Giles’ return in “Grave” [6×22] , and how he and Buffy simply laugh at all the ridiculous things she’s done since he left. It goes to show that Buffy has the capability to happily laugh at a ridiculous response from someone she loves, even when she’s angry or in pain. That’s a good trait to have.

After the “laugh track” and some clarification, Buffy is able to kindly respond, “It means a lot that you came.” This statement reinforces Buffy’s never-ending love of Angel, and the fact Angel did indeed come says the same in reverse. Additionally, when he shows up immediately after Joyce’s funeral in “Forever” [5×17] to give comfort to Buffy just goes to prove this even further. Anyway, here Angel leaves after saying, “oh, and Riley … I don’t like him. (smile),” and Buffy smiles in response saying, “thank you.” This is a wonderful way for these two to part.

As great as the characterization has been so far, nothing compares to the electrifying fight between the Scoobies at the end of the episode. The entire season has been building up to this specific scene. Giles is simply drunk and only manages to say “You never train with me anymore. He’s [Adam] gonna kick your ###” and “I am no Alfred, sir. No, you forget. Alfred had a job” before managing to drag himself into his bed upstairs. The argument manages to escalate into a three-way insult fest where they all vent their issues with one another.

It comes out that Willow doesn’t care for Anya (“Hey, do you think the umbilical cord between you and Anya can stretch that far?”). She also says, “Look, I’m not the one being judgmental here. I’ll leave that territory to you and Buffy.” Then Buffy snipes back with a statement which is frankly very true: “Judgmental? If I was anymore open-minded about the choices you two make my whole brain would fall out!” This validates the fact that Buffy has been very patient with the two of them and their recent radical changes: Willow with Tara and Xander with Anya along with his job problems. Eventually Buffy desparately yells “You guys, stop this! What happened to you today?” Willow responds with the truth, minus Spike’s fabrications, “It’s not today! Buffy, things have been wrong for a while! Don’t you see that? … We have to face it. You can’t handle Tara being my girlfriend.” Xander then chimes in with his complaints: “No! It was bad before that! Since you two went off to college and forgot about me! Just left me in the basement to — (turns on Willow in shock) Tara’s your girlfriend!?”

After all of this, Buffy brings the subject back to the core. She says, “Enough! All I know is you want to help, right? Be part of the team? … No! No, you said you wanted to go. So let’s go! All of us. We’ll walk into that cave with you two attacking me and the funny drunk drooling on my shoe! Hey! Hey, maybe that’s the secret way of killing Adam!? … Is that it? Is that how you can help? You’re not answering me! How can you possibly help? So, I guess I’m starting to understand why there’s no ancient prophecy about a chosen one…and her friends. If I need help, I’ll go to someone I can count on.” This entire scene is potent, sad, and a huge payoff, which traces back to more brilliant writing. On a whole, everything adds up to one fantastic episode!


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Giles plays the guitar and sings some more!
+ Miss Kitty Fantastico! Very cute, awesome name.
+ Willow and Tara’s discussion about rooming next year.
+ Spike getting all excited about the gun Xander gives to him, but the chip prevents him from even pointing it at a human. It turns out it’s a fake gun anyway, which is mighty sad for Spike.
+ Buffy and Forrest finally having a direct face-to-face argument.
+ Angel’s grin as he walks by Riley to talk with Buffy in the hallway.
+ Tara and Anya admiring the tiles in Giles’ bathroom while the big argument is going on.

– Encrypted files aren’t a graphical application which shows flying text across the screen — they’re just encrypted files.
– The Initiative continues to be incompetent. Why are they even bothering to capture demons anymore? They should be killing demons in their search for Adam.


Willow’s semi-hostile feelings toward Anya are not to be forgotten. In “Triangle” [5×11] they are directly addressed.




56 thoughts on “Buffy 4×20: The Yoko Factor”

  1. [Note: Stunn posted this comment on August 22, 2006.]

    “After Buffy returns from Los Angelus in “Sanctuary” (AtS 1×19), in which Angel says to her “You don’t know me anymore, so don’t come down here with your great new life and expect me to do things your way. Go home!,””

    You know you’ve had too much Buffy when you’re spelling city names wrong. 🙂


  2. [Note: Mareon posted this comment on March 20, 2007.]

    Maybe you should keep it; I have read articles where people use the name “Los Angelus” to differientciate the real LA from the monster-filled LA that the show takes place in.


  3. [Note: Nina posted this comment on June 22, 2007.]

    i simply love when angel passes riley on the way outa the room to talk with buffy he has that big GRIN on his face im like “TAKE THAT!” everytime i watch it! hahahaha. its hallarious! come one who agrees?

    ANGELizz wayy sexxyy fuck yeah. love this episode. its GREAT.(fan tastic.)

    with love. Ninaaarrrr.x


  4. [Note: Sunny posted this comment on July 11, 2007.]

    Ooh, Mrs. Kitty Fantastico! Though she sort of disappeared in later seasons 😦

    and for the ‘girls says they like good boys but go for bad boys’ is because bad boys are so hot and dangerous, and something we need to get out our systems, just to see what it’s like… good boys are the ones we fall in love with and marry.


  5. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 11, 2007.]

    Sunny, I completely understand the attraction to hotness, but I really have never understood the attraction to danger.


  6. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 8, 2007.]

    Really cool fight scene between the scoobies. Willow is very insecure about herself, so she was easy to manipulate. This is adressed in Restless in a more fascinating way.


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

    Gotta admit that I’ve never watched AtS…cause I didn’t like Angel on Buffy, so it never occurred to me to watch his series. But it seems from his appearances on Buffy in S4-S7 that he grows a personality when he goes to LA. I actually tend to like it when he shows up.

    I like the ep, solely for the Scooby fight scene at the end. Giles’ “bloody hell!” leaves me giggling every time.


  8. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 22, 2008.]

    Here again we see Willow’s astonishing debating talent: if she wants to win, nobody can beat her skill at turning attempted argument-defusing compliments around into unintentional insults and then attacking the originator.

    The three-way conflict would probably have sputtered out very fast without Willow. She was its engine. Buffy held her own, but whenever it looked like dying out Willow whipped it back up again.


  9. [Note: Tash posted this comment on December 23, 2008.]

    I loved it when they were all fighting at the end and willow mentions her relationship with Tara, and from out of nowhere you hear Giles say ‘Bloody Hell’. I loved drunk Giles.


  10. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 14, 2009.]

    As a Bangel lover, I get tingly feelings every time Angel kicks Riley’s ass and later gives him that hysterical smirk on the way out of the room. *Sighs*

    I also wanted to point out that Willow is talking about taking a drama class, and then in the dream in “Restless” she’s on stage.

    I love Xander’s and Giles’ reactions to the announcement that Tara is Willow’s girlfriend!! They couldn’t have done it better.

    I think that Angel’s visit, along with Buffy’s super-strength, puts Riley off in terms of his relationship with Buffy. Yes, he says here that he loves her, which I believe he does, but both Buffy’s Slayerness and her past with Angel directly contribute to Riley’s eventual abandonment in Season 5, IMO.


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

    RILEY: Sometimes things happen between exes and when I saw that he was bad-
    BUFFY: He’s not bad.
    RILEY: Seriously? That’s a good day? Well, there you go. Even when he’s good he’s all Mister…Billowy Coat, King of Pain.

    Riley certainly got Angel’s number. If this had been Spike, he would have called Angel a “Drama Queen”.


  12. [Note: Wulvaine posted this comment on November 20, 2009.]

    Trying not to fall prey to shipping instincts, but I must admit it gives me great joy to see Angel take Riley down. I could watch Angel putting the hurt on boring, 100% personality-free Private Plankwood for hours.


  13. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on January 31, 2010.]

    Spike is another person to confuse Frankenstein with the monster. Dr. Frankenstein created the monster known as Frankensteins Monster.

    Good to see Angel beat up Riley, although Ry got some good hits in also.

    The ending all in fight. “Fort Dix!” Anya and Tara in the bathroom.

    Xander:”Tara’s your girlfriend!?” Giles:”Bloody hell!”

    Note: Is it a coincidence that Forrest dies this episode and over on ‘AtS’ a similar looking, tough talking guy appears in ‘War Zone’. Of course I’m referring to Charles Gunn. (BtVS 4.20, AtS 1.20) 9 May.


  14. [Note: Yourdancerdoll posted this comment on February 7, 2010.]

    Loved this episode!

    The Angel and Riley fight scene and argument between the scoobies at the end were so well done!

    Giles was halarious in this episode!

    Oh, and we can’t forget Riley’s pants 😛


  15. [Note: noonoo posted this comment on April 12, 2010.]

    just finished watching a rerun on Logo and I had forgotten about Giles singing Free Bird! Blasphemy, I know.

    I just love how Giles stops singing and squeaks when he realizes that Spike is standing there. Classic


  16. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 23, 2010.]

    Didn’t love this one. It was good, but I didn’t buy that Spike was able to drive this big of a wedge just by making a few comments.


  17. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on May 24, 2010.]

    My impression was that the wedge was already there, and had been developing for quite some time; all Spike did was take a small hammer to that wedge in the form of a few well-placed and well-timed comments. As has been pointed out elsewhere, Spike is often astonishingly cognizant of the subtleties of human nature and behavior, of things other people miss, and after spending so much time with the Scoobies over the course of this season, he must be quite aware of the rifts that have appeared amongst them. When those kind of rifts already exist, it’s not difficult to make them worse, and I think that’s really all Spike did – pay attention and then tap the hammer.


  18. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    The fight at the end is so painful to watch, especially when Buffy storms out, cruelly saying, “I’m starting to understand why there’s no ancient prophecy about a chosen one…and her friends. If I need help, I’ll go to someone I can count on.” What the audience knows, of course, is that Buffy’s friends are precisely why she’s lived so much longer than most of the Slayers. The last line sounds so much like Buffy in S7, around the time of “Lies My Parents Told Me.” Great continuity.

    I think Buffy’s “If I was anymore open-minded about the choices you two make my whole brain would fall out!” is out of line (but appropriate for the scene). First of all, in the context of Willow’s sexuality, that’s straight up homophobia. As for Xander dating Anya, Buffy’s got NO room to judge.


  19. [Note: SasukeMan posted this comment on June 10, 2010.]

    I have to agree with fray-adjacent about Buffy’s line at the end of the fight – it makes sense for her to say it, but is completely out of line. I don’t understand what would lead Buffy to assume that the relationship choices of her friends has anything to do with her “patience,” especially considering her past – and continued – relationship with a known murderer who tortured her father figure.

    Overall, I find Buffy’s character in season 4 is bothering me in the same way Xander did in season 3: she just seems so self-righteous. A rather strange subtext in this season seems to be, on the one hand, the relative stability and joy in Buffy’s life – a sexually and emotionally fulfilling relationship, no one getting murdered, and almost weekly references to how fantastic and amazing she is (together with increased self-confidence) – and, on the other hand, the odd trend that she seems completely unaware of how good her situation is – she continues to mope and play the martyr.

    This trend is most visible in the Faith episodes – where Faith is often overwhelmed by the close friendships, loving relationship and constant recognition that frame Buffy’s life – and the Jonathan episode – where he essentially co-opts her existence. The Jonathan story is particularly sad because his very thinly veiled plea for help goes unheard; instead, he gets a nice lecturing from Buffy.

    It all comes together in this episode and I can’t help but sympathize with Xander and (especially) Willow, who go from trying to help, to being considered liabilities, to then being criticized for not being true friends – true friends that would help. Essentially, by the end of the season, I get a sense that Faith’s critique of Buffy is pretty spot-on – Buffy seems to be stuck in this self-pitying subject position (perhaps I hate it in her because I have a tendency to act the same way…)

    Overall, a very emotional fight, and a theme that seems to lead directly into the more sorrowful events of season 5 (which I have heard about, but never seen), when Buffy remembers that evil greater than the love of Helter Skelter still exists…


  20. [Note: Joe posted this comment on June 11, 2010.]

    I don’t know if Buffy’s comment can fairly be seen as open-minded. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation goes, but someone (maybe Willow?) claims that Buffy has been uncomfortable about things. Buffy is saying that she IS open-minded–that she’s been VERY open-minded, not that she actually has a problem with Willow’s sexual orientation. She’s trying to say, I think, that it doesn’t bother her (whether it actually does is another matter), and that she HAS been supportive.

    But maybe I’m misinterpreting because I haven’t watched the episode in a while


  21. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on June 28, 2010.]

    Okay – in terms of the choices that Willow and Xander make that Buffy is open minded about:

    1. Xander using a dangerous love spell on Cordelia

    2. Willow and Xander cheating on Oz and Cordelia

    3. Xander beating up (figuratively) on Buffy for dating Angel, who is a killer, when he goes ahead and dates Anya. Buffy never really brings this up on the show but it doesn’t mean that her character never thought it.

    4. Something Blue… Willow messing up and causing some chaos.

    And then a couple maybes:

    1. I can’t imagine that Buffy would be implying that Willow’s homosexuality was a choice, but it’s a possibility.

    2. There’s also the not-going-to-school choice that Xander makes that for some college-goers seems like a slack life.

    And she’s not saying that they’re bad choices, just that she’s open-minded to their choices.


  22. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on September 11, 2010.]

    The biggest problem I have with this episode is that Willow is considering taking drama (which she does) even though she has mentioned numerous times she suffers from stage fright. This is a pretty big character flip.

    Giles: “You’ll never train with me anymore. He’s going to kick your arse.”

    Buffy: “Giles!”

    Giles: “Sorry, was that a bit honest. Terribly sorry.”


  23. [Note: John posted this comment on January 5, 2011.]

    This episode was absolutely brilliant; drunk Giles was awesome. “He’s going to kick your ass…Fort Dix…heh”


  24. [Note: Neil posted this comment on January 10, 2011.]

    When Giles’ shirt landed on Xander’s head right in the middle of the big argument I gave a huge snort of laughter, brilliant timing.


  25. [Note: Al posted this comment on May 14, 2011.]

    In your review you say;

    “…Did that news somehow trigger the chip in his chest, or did Adam just happen to trigger it right at the same time? This is never clearly answered.”

    At the intro of “Primeval” Adam clearly states that he activated it(the chip).

    While an argument could be made for either case, it just seems to make more sense (to me) that the chip was activated by Adam as opposed to the emotional news he had just received activating it.




  26. [Note: Ryan O\\\’Neil posted this comment on May 14, 2012.]

    “Sunny, I completely understand the attraction to hotness, but I really have never understood the attraction to danger.”

    Well, one of my first ventures into Boysie, Bidaho ended in the hospital, so if I may venture my theory:

    It’s like the you think you’re bungie jumping; that even though he is really dangerous, you pretend that you’re only pretending he’s dangerous, like when jumping or watching horror movies, for the sake of the adrenaline under “controlled circumstances,” that you think [[you’re tricking your body into thinking it survived a life-or-death scenario when you really didn’t]] when you really did.

    Even when you realize that he is dangerous, that only fuels your narcissism that “well, I made it this far, my defenses must be better than his offenses.” And then you’re wearing a cast on your good arm for a week.

    On a funnier note, I noticed that, just like everybody else did the first time Angel came to the campus, Riley immediately assumed he was evil again 🙂

    P.S. Wait a minute, LA is spelled “os”? Since when????? lololol


  27. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 19, 2012.]

    Something else a friend told me yesterday: in most animal “cultures,” and primates are not very different, the females are supposed to submit to the more violent alpha males, so that the offspring are either alpha males or submissive to, so that the tribe has the best fighters to protect from other tribes.

    It just so happens that our alpha males are supposed to be less violent in civilized society, but apparently our hormones are still getting the message. I think I like that explanation better: chemical stupidity rather than psychological.


  28. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on June 4, 2012.]

    Take 3, LA is spelled “es,” I just googled it

    This is going on the “Signs you watch too much discussion”


  29. [Note: Craig posted this comment on August 2, 2012.]

    This is probably the episode on which I most disagree with your assessment, Mike. I really don’t think this is a good one at all. A lot of the humor is very forced (“just because you’re better than us doesn’t mean you get to be all superior”) and the arguments feel manufactured. The dialogue just doesn’t feel at all organic to me.

    Also, I really don’t like that Spike made up a lie about them enlisting Xander. It completely goes against his whole point that “everyone blamed Yoko, but the fact is the group split itself apart, she just happened to be there.” He takes direct intervention to manipulate people’s emotions; he’s hardly the passive observer he claims to be.


  30. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 2, 2013.]

    It was funny and interesting to read MikeJer and the comments:
    if anything, it shows the bias people have towards characters and I like it! It takes a really good show to make us feel for the characters like we do :-).

    The Riley haters (or Bangel lovers) seem to have had their kick. But to be honest, Angel is way out of line (smirk and all) because Riley is Buffy’s boyfriend, not him. Though his appearance here is excellent for Buffy’s closure and the interactions between Angel and Riley were fun.
    In the fight, some seem to take position in favour of Xander, Willow or Buffy. For me, there is no favour to take, they’re all wrong and they’re all right ! Spike had just to nudge them to fight each other, but they were already there and I believe they would have come to the fight without Spike, eventually. I think Spike did them a favour, because he was the catalyst and the one to blame: the mending was easier.

    MikeJer analyses the situation that happened throughout season four wonderfully.

    As said in a comment, Willow being the smartest can easily use words to debate and go on with it for a long time, thus bringing oil to the fire. I liked the comment about Faith with Buffy being self-righteous in this season. Buffy’s phrasing was terrible, though in accordance with the rest of the arguments and the heat of the fight (If I was anymore open-minded about the choices you two make my whole brain would fall out!). Why am I saying self-righteous ? Because Xander and Willow have made poor choices – some of them listed by Elbie – but some of her own choices follow the same poor line.

    I was glad that Anya was brought in the conflict by Willow, because she never liked her. But as opposite to Xander, she and Buffy never criticized Xander for being in love with an ex-demon who happens to be not very kind to the group when she speaks.

    And Craig, I respect your point of view, but the arguments sounded real to me because the built-up was created during the whole season 4. They really feel what they are saying:
    – Xander feels left alone (and I’m not sure it’s his choice not to go to college. As I understand the US system, if you don’t get your SAT’s and grades, you can’t go. But I don’t know what the alternative is. Here, we have apprenticeship, do you ?)because he’s not part of college –> true, he was somewhat forgotten by Buffy and Willow and, his problems with finding a job were never adressed, more laughed at.
    – Willow feels she hasn’t been supported enough with her grief and to a lesser extent, with Tara. –> true, Buffy was giving attention to her own relationship and Xander was busy with jobs and Anya. When Willow finally introduced Tara, they weren’t paying attention because they didn’t see the relation until Willow came out.
    Buffy feels that she’s not getting the support she needs with the fight. –> true, Giles, Xander and Willow were trying to make sense of their lives and put Buffy’s fight in second.

    Take the above statements for what they are, a little black and white. It was more subtle than that, but you get the idea. I made them to illustrate how they grew apart without even realizing it and come to blows because there is a crisis and they’re not close enough anymore to deal with it in harmony, until they resolve their issues.

    A truly good episode :).


  31. [Note: Jessica posted this comment on June 1, 2013.]

    Arachnea, you’re correct about how university admission works in the US. There are community colleges that probably would have been an option for Xander, but most likely not UC Sunnydale.

    I also agree with you about Willow’s not feeling supported in her relationship with Tara. While the show itself is very careful not to criticize Willow for being in a relationship with a girl, none of the characters seem terribly interested in Tara or the fairly huge changes that Willow is going through (although Buffy does deliver a great apology in the next episode for that).


  32. [Note: Paul posted this comment on June 17, 2013.]

    I’ve been re watching the entire series and have loved reading each of your reviews afterwards Mike! I couldn’t disagree with you more however in relation to your comments regarding the Willow-Tara relationship in this episode as well as the previous episode. Why would you feel threatened by your best friend if he came at you (as per your comment for the previous episode? Also, why do you think that it’s frankly true for Buffy to have felt very patient with the alleged choice of Willow being gay? Since when is being homosexual a choice? I’m sorry if im misinterprrting what you said or making a big deal out of something minor that you said but its been really bugging me since I first read your reviews snd I really need to say something…


  33. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 18, 2013.]

    Hi Paul,

    I think you’re interpreting my words in a way that I never intended, but that’s more on me for being unclear/using a poor choice of words. I wouldn’t feel “threatened” (your word) by any of this, although I can see how you inferred that from the whole stepping back thing. It’s not being threatened, but being ‘taken aback’ by the surprise (that is, if it turned out to be a surprise). Even then, it was me-over-7-years-ago who wrote that, while me-now has become more carefree about these things so it wouldn’t impact me much at all.

    The only thing that would be somewhat uncomfortable about the situation is if this male friend (in my case) professed some sort of romantic feelings for me, which would put the friendship in an uncomfortable place. That’s mostly what I was trying to get at in relating to Buffy’s initial reaction.

    One day I’ll eventually get back to all these reviews and polish them up one last time, which should iron out some of the weaknesses in especially my earlier reviews. I’m currently in early Season 2 with this process.


  34. [Note: Paul posted this comment on June 19, 2013.]

    Thanks a lot for your reply Mike! Sorry for writing a whole post about it. Like I said earlier, I’ve been re watching the series and reading old reviews on the show. Some of the reviews I’ve encountered have surprisngly been very homophobic towards the Willow-Tara relationship. But tjey are dated reviews/comments… The world has changed a lot since the year 2000. Joss Whedon even had difficulties showing Willow and Tara kiss in season 5!


  35. [Note: Paul posted this comment on June 19, 2013.]

    I should clarify that the reviewsI’ve been reading include many from around the web, not just yours, and that I do not think you are homophobic.


  36. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on September 14, 2013.]

    I don’t get why the initiative jumped Angel. They don’t know him, don’t know he’s a vampire. How did they decide to attack him? Pretty big screw up in my opinion. For me the initiative annoys me so much, it is hard to enjoy the latter episodes of this season.


  37. [Note: Waverley posted this comment on September 15, 2013.]

    The Initiative can spot any vampire with those body heat temperature reader thingies they used to ID Spike from distance when he was in Buffy and Willow’s dorm room. They use tech to spot ‘sub-Ts’ on each sweep, which is how they ID’d all the other vamps in the first place, and will have been how they spotted Angel – during one of their regular sweeps.


  38. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on February 6, 2014.]

    Mike asks the question about what made Riley leave Buffy when he did. I believe it was Adam activating the chip. Adam had said in an earlier scene that there was one more thing that he needed, and in the next episode he clearly states that it was he who activated the chip (although Walsh installed it). The fact that it happened just after Buffy told Riley about the death of Forrest was a coincidence, but one that made Buffy think that Riley needed to be alone (and was useful for the story – it kept her from going after him).


  39. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on July 3, 2014.]

    I absolutely positively love this episode. I think Spike simply added fuel to a fire that was also there. I was reading all the comments and couldn’t help but agree to someone who says he was indirectly doing the Scoobies a favour by spicing things up. This entire fight sequence was overdue and the tension that built up to it could be felt from the very first episode of the season. The end results were largely satisfying. I wanted to be serious during the fight sequence, but I couldn’t stop laughing, especially at Drunk Giles and certain retorts. Willow, “And besides, when is there any “us two?” You two are the two who are the two. I’m the other one.” And god how I wish there was a spin-off simply dedicated to a Drunk Giles. He’s absolutely hilarious and I love when he screams “Bloody Hell!” amidst the fight, and Xander’s face after he peels the t-shirt off his face. Anyway, I tend to agree with the people who don’t chip in with their character bias, I’ve always thought all of the Scoobies were equally right and wrong. But I will admit Buffy’s last line was a little rude.

    I am no Bangel fan and I STILL love it when Angel kicks Riley’s ass. I’m cheering for Angel all the way and I’m wondering why Riley would be stupid enough to get into a brawl with the ‘King of Pain’ (Great nickname, by the way. Very Angel appropriate. Although, I like Spike’s nicknames for Angel a little more, “Magnificent poof”, “tall, dark and forehead” there were more but I can’t remember them all right now. Oh, and “big, fluffy puppy with bad teeth!” How did I almost forget that one?) Anyway, it was very fun seeing Angel again and the smirk on his face as he follows Buffy out the door is just priceless. Nicely done. David Boreanaz was a hoot; I really loved the deliberately half-joking jealous touches, like “He started it,” “I don’t like him,” and best of all, “You actually sleep with this guy?” Riley held his own fairly well with Angel, too, all things considered. And he gets points for not listening at the door while Buffy and Angel were talking in the hall.

    The fact that Spike was able to determine and then use exactly what was bothering each of them is just another example of his ability to see beneath the surface. He’s more clever than the Scoobies give him credit for. Why doesn’t he rule the vampire world? Anyway, I also enjoyed the small touch when Anya and Tara are in the bathroom hiding as everyone else yells on. Poor girls. Lastly, I’m glad Angel and Buffy are able to move past the angst ridden nonsense and find themselves in the friendship zone. Well acted by both SMG and DB.

    I would give this episode an A+ if I ought to. Giles singing again and then squeaking as Spike walks in is just classic and I loved it. The stupid Initiative stuff shouldn’t bring this one down. It’s thoroughly satisfying and very helpful for a character study, too…What with everybody showing their true colours. Super entertaining and the reason why I love this show so ‘bloody’ much! 😀


  40. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on July 14, 2014.]

    Much of my reaction to this episode has ended up spilling out of me in a comment under the review for the next one, but I do just have to interject here that I am frankly flabberghasted by people’s reactions to the Angel/Riley stuff in this episode. I HATED it! I am both a fan of Angel and a defender of Riley, and I felt that this episode did both characters (but especially Angel) a huge disservice. With Angel, it brought a beloved and normally appealing character back to the show for a brief appearance in order to make him behave like a total jackass. (And incidentally, how did Angel know who Riley was when they met in the alley?) With Riley, it merely highlighted the least appealing side of his character (there are sort of two Rileys, in a way, and I personally rather prefer “psych grad student” Riley to “black-and-white-thinking military tough” Riley). Angel, though, was totally out of line and out of character, both in that initial confrontation in the second one in Buffy’s dorm room. If he had always been written that way, I never would have been able to stand the character!


  41. [Note: Courtney posted this comment on April 30, 2015.]

    Angel knew who Riley was from Pangs, when he came to save Buffy covertly and he asked Willow who the guy was (Riley).


  42. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 22, 2015.]

    You know between this and the Lie I think it’s safe to say that the Scoobies have a real knack for begin easily manipulated. Although oddly enough in this case they were able to figure out they were played by the next episode whereas Buffy never figured out the truth.


  43. [Note: Samm posted this comment on December 22, 2015.]

    The Scoobies never really questioned things that happens, which does make them more susceptible to being manipulated. But Spike was very clever and his knack to observe things got them to fight which was genius.

    But come to think of it, the reason they were easily manipulated, is there friendship wasn’t as strong from season 3 on wards.


  44. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 23, 2015.]

    Fair enough but this lack of questioning doesn’t really bode well for our heroes levels of intelligence. At least in this case they managed to figure it out after not too long, and in both cases the emotions were high. But apparently Buffy couldn’t figure out the truth of the Lie in 4 years.


  45. [Note: Samm posted this comment on December 23, 2015.]

    I have no idea how Buffy never figured out the lie, especially considering she had an entire summer isolated to think about what happened.


  46. [Note: Toove posted this comment on June 24, 2016.]

    Just a comment on the “women prefer bad boys”-thingy.
    Women in general prefer good-looking boys, strong and pretty. If you are ugly, being bad is absolutely no help.
    I have seen research showing that women living in more aggressive societies prefer more aggressive men. The speculation is that it is because they want protection. Women living in calmer societies with less crime, prefer other types of men.
    It also depends on the personality of the woman of course, and her time of the month. So there has been speculation that taking birth control pills seriously messes up the evolutionary choice of mates.
    I couldn t find the research I was looking for, as usual, but here are some interesting articles in the same vein:

    What men prefer in women:

    Womens personality and what kind of men they prefer: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/attraction-evolved/201602/fear-crime-and-the-allure-bad-boys (just a few women, but it is in line with other research)

    And a very funny article about courtship


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