Nov 12 2012 2:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: All Fun And Games until Somebody Loses an Arm Skewer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

In S2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy starts getting glimpses of a life where she’s not completely isolated in her role as a slayer. It begins when Kendra shows up. It’s the peculiar bonus that comes with death by drowning and resurrection at the lips of Xander. Suddenly Buffy’s not alone...

...but, as you all remember, that doesn’t last long.

The gift keeps on giving when Faith comes around. But Faith’s in a coma, now, here in S4. Upside: Faith death would be so sad! Downside: no peppy new variation on the Slayer line.

This is so crucial to the entire seven season arc. It’s Buffy’s tendency to reach out, to resist the lone wolf paradigm, that saves her life in S1. As a result, Xander puts a major crack in the rules of the Slayerverse when he brings her back from the dead. These are important steps on the path to the events of “Chosen.”

Buffy’s latest foray into monster-killing peership walks softly—sometimes. It carries a big zap-ray and a net, and comes in a promising number of hypothetically replaceable units, all dressed in tasteful matching fatigues. And, as usual, the getting-to-know-you process involves their all going out at night in search of dark scary things.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

There was a brief stretch, last year, when Faith crowded out the Scoobies, especially Willow. Now the Initiative is doing the same, devouring Buffy time and energy that might otherwise go to her best buds. So “The I in Team” opens with Willow, Xander and Anya futzing at poker without her, feeling the lack and worrying about all the things they don’t know about Buffy’s new play group.

These are reasonable concerns, in their way, but Buffy isn’t as reckless as they all fear. She’s learning about the big government operation, bit by bit. For starters, she’s learning that a bunch of them are no match for her. She’s out playing hide and seek with the Initiatrio and assorted extras, kicking their hineys bigtime. Riley thinks this is the sexiest thing he’s ever seen. Forest kind of thinks it sucks, but nobody’s paying attention to Forest. (He should really be off moping and playing poker with WillXanAnya.)

And Mad Scientist Maggie fails to take the results of this initial field test and plug them into some kind of realistic math on how difficult Buffy might be to kill.

(Hint, Maggie: way hard!)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The credits roll and a new day dawns, and we get Willow and Buffy at the Rocket Cafe, breakfasting. There are amusing jokes about spanking and Willow nudges Buffy about her obligations to the Scoobies. They have Bronze plans, despite the lack of Oz to lure them there with Dingo concerts. Buffy’s in agreement. She says she misses her friends.

And what about her librarian shaped friend? Giles is checking out the new tomb of Spike. It’s not a housewarming: he’s come to thank him for the assist, back when he was all transformed, by Ethan, into a Fiorl demon. Spike’s less interested in the debt of gratitude than the $300 U.S. he was promised in exchange for his pseudo-altruism. (If I were Giles, I’d have taken car repairs out of the total.)

This Brit versus Brit interaction is mostly in service of establishing that Spike thinks he’s done with the gang. “Don’t come running back to me,” he says. “The honeymoon is over!” Hmm. Is that foreshadowing we hear? Or just an empty boast?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

It turns out that while Buffy has been playing tackle tag with the boys in green, she’s also been waiting to get cleared to see the Initiative’s increasingly unsekrit base. She’s suitably impressed with its hugeness. “Do you have jet packs?” she asks. Riley is gratified.

(Imagine a Slayer with a jetpack. Imagine non-comatose Faith with a jetpack! Oh, the places she’d go!)

Okay, back to what actually happened: Tara has gotten up the courage to offer Willow a gift, a very pretty and kinda sexy doll’s eye crystal. Willow turns it down—it’s heirloomy—and then has to blow her off when Tara gets up even more nerve and asks her over. I hate seeing Tara so much as stung, but what’s cool about this scene is that Willow knows full well what she’s doing, and feels bad about it, and even tries to be as gentle as possible. She totally wants to play with Tara’s crystal, if you get my drift, but not if it’s going to cost her precious Buffy time.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

Sadly, it isn’t. Buffy’s late getting to the Bronze, and she’s got the whole burly boy team with her when she arrives. There’s barely enough time for Willow to hint that she could have brought Tara if she’d known it was going to be a free for all... and then to back down and lie about having someone specific to invite. She asks Buffy if she shouldn’t be taking things slower with the heavily armed back-up squad. . .  and then that’s it, fun’s over. All the monster-hunters get paged. Buffy is bailing and Willow is miffed.

But Xander’s wearing a Captain America t-shirt, and has some awfully cute interactions with Anya about his new protein-bar hawking job, so the evening isn’t a dead loss. And Willow makes the best of being ditched by the cool kids (as she sees it) by heading back to Tara. She apologizes both thoroughly and graciously.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

Speaking of Faith again, Buffy is basically channeling her at the Initiative briefing: asking questions, challenging authority, annoying the bosses, being the sexiest, and not quite fitting in with the group. Mad Maggie wants some Polgara bone skewers for her collage monster. Who wouldn’t? But why? Buffy wants to know. The unspoken answer seems to be Jeez, noisy girl, just shut up and obey.

Suited up, divvied into teams and marginally underbriefed, they all head off in search of creatures. Forest, who’s still feeling pretty Willowy, is bitter about being paired with Graham, right up until the minute they spot Spike. They shoot him up with a tracker and the chase is on.

At the exact same time, Buffy and Riley find the Polgara demon. There’s a big fight, artfully intercut with scenes of the what happens after. And what does happens after? The two of them, at last, have sex. Remember how Faith said slaying made her horny? Looks like Buffy’s not nearly as squicked by that idea as she used to claim to be.

But there is squick to be had! Maggie’s watching the action on her personal 24-hour Rileycam. We already knew we probably shouldn’t like Maggie Walsh: this, pretty much, is the clincher. Lindsay Crouse played this character beautifully. She starts out the crusty and challenging professor, gives us just a little bit of warmth in the middle—to draw us and Buffy in—and now it’s all ick, yuck, world of no, are you crazy, woman, what are you doing? Plus she obviously has inappropriate, maternal, possessive feelings about Riley. Maggie, you are dead to me.

Spike finds he’s unable to elude the soldier boys. He flees to Casa Giles and what follows is high on the list of great Giles scenes. “Why should I help you?” He drags it out, enjoys every minute, and gets his cash back. Go Giles!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

And things are coming up roses for Buffy, because she finally, finally, finally OMG gets to wakes up next to the guy she boinked. Things are all snuggly and nice, except for a quick super-vitamin break on Riley’s part. This leads to discussion about the wisdom of blindly following orders. Up to now, he’s basically figured he’s “removing the subterrestrial threat” and “Protecting the public!” so the details are no big deal.

I’m not sure this is a bad argument, really. If nothing else, it beats Faith’s “We were made to kill, B, damn the collateral damage!” perspective.

Okay, shutting up about Faith now. Buffy then asks about Ethan’s mysterious 314.

It’s a throwaway bit, but I’m a little impressed by this. She could be all starry-eyed and let Riley off the hook. She could decide to bask in the “Yay, sex!” for a few days before dealing with any of their thorny work issues. Instead, her asking this, now, seems like a bit of a test. Buffy’s all for Riley, but she’s also determined to find out if she can trust him. To that end, she’s already gathering data.

Maggie doesn’t love that Buffy’s on to her secret project. (Even secreter project? Secret sub-project?) And what with the sex and the fact that her favorite Initiator is suddenly taking a look around the base, peering through transparent windows, if you can believe it, and possibly having thoughts of his own, she decides it’s time to kill herself a Slayer. She sends Riley off on the Spike hunt and sets up an ambush for Buffy.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

Once again, though, the Initiative is out of their league. Xander’s pseudo-soldier memories reveal that Spike’s got a tracker in him. Willow does a spell to delay the posse until Giles can extract the thing. And though Maggie has promised to clear the air with Buffy any second now, she is instead hoping to autopsy her later and maybe add her spleen or earlobes to her 314 project.

Silly, silly Maggie.

The tracker gets the flush, Spike remains free, Buffy prevails against the demons and Maggie, foolishly, tells Riley that his girlfriend’s dead. He gets to be shocked and sad for about a second before Buffy turns up on InitiaTV with an important message for his sponsor, one that boils down to “Nyah Nyah, I’m not toast but you may be soon, and, thanks for showing your cards early, Mags!”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

Riley, whiplashed, walks away to ponder.

Back at Casa Britannia, Giles makes a serious attempt to convince Spike he should leave Sunnydale. “As long as the Initiative is here, it’s not safe for you.”

And Buffy walks in on that with: “It’s not safe for any of us.”

It’s a heartwarming Scooby togetherness moment. And we wrap it up with an echo of the scene where Spike was captured: Maggie is having a chitchat with still-unconscious Adam, talking up her expectations for the future. Then she gets staked, by him, more or less through the heart.

“Mommy,” Adam says. Alas, Maggie, now you are dead to us all.

And I say: Hi, real villain of the year! You may not be the darling of Buffy fandom, but you’ve got a working Polgara arm and an impressively deep voice.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The I in Team

Next: Trouble in the land of the cornfed

A.M. Dellamonica has two novelettes up here on Her ‘baby werewolf has two mommies,’ story, “The Cage,” made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. There’s also “Among the Silvering Herd,” the first of a series of stories called The Gales.

Now you can read her novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

Chris Nelly
1. Aeryl
Just me, or is that intercut fight/sex scene the hottest PG shit ever to be on TV?
Cassandra Cookson
2. cass
It's not just you. :-) Although I would put the season six tearing down the house scene with Spike in first place.

I always liked Adam as a villian. Especially the awesome fight at the end of the season where Buffy become Super Friend Buffy and kickes his ass.
Chris Nelly
4. Aeryl
I'd rate Season 6's Smashed as PG-13, if only for the zipper sound.
Chris Long
5. radynski
I don't know, I think the Halloween Haunted House sex scene is the hottest.
Jack Flynn
6. JackofMidworld
Mad Scientist Maggie? Librarian shaped friend? This was the high point of my day so far.
7. NullNix
Aeryl, no, this is nowhere *near* as hot as the scene between Tara and Willow in _Who Are You?_, the scene in which the subtext finally became text. This is mostly silly, because of the ridiculous degree of Freudianism jammed into the fight scene.

But it's good silly, not bad silly. They knew they were being silly and ran with it. :)
Alyx Dellamonica
8. AMDellamonica
You guys are all making me want an abbreviated rewatch of just the, ahem, love scenes...

That said, I found this one pretty smoking even if it was, as Null says, very overt with the Freudian.
Emma Rosloff
9. emmarosloff
Hm. Stands to reason by your "Faith in a coma so no shiny new Slayer" logic that the Forces of Evil could've put the Slayer du Jour in a coma ages ago, before Buffy's penchant for friendship broke the system. Problem solved.

But then there'd be no BtVS!

Have to agree that the love scene in Season 6's "Smashed" between Buffy and Spike is my fav, although that's probably because I'm way more into Spike as a character than Riley. Even though Buffy's round-the-clock sexing in "Where the Wild Things Are" with Riley is pretty intense, the events of "Smashed" feel far more revealing in terms of who Buffy really is.

It's equally disturbing and titilating that she can't get into Spike until he's no longer toothless. And when she does -- it's not surprising that she brings the battle to the bedroom (or abandoned house... Sunnydale has a lot of those). She lives and breathes the fight and so does Spike; they both have a high tolerance for pain and a lot of endurance to boot... pair that with pleasure and I can see how she got so tangled up in him. He's just so deliciously bad -- "I may be dirt Slayer, but you're the one who likes to roll around in it."

Way more captivating than Buffy/Riley vanilla love, although I liked that they intersplice it with the fighting in this episode. It felt like a natural progression for them and a nice tension release for sure.

I always thought it was noble how good the Scoobies were to Spike at this point, despite the fact that he's been a thorn in their side since he broke free. It speaks to their sense of fairness that they're not willing to turn him loose when he's incapable of defending himself. I think it's a metaphor, too -- they're able to see shades of gray when it comes to "Evil" and the things that motivate it, whereas the Initiative (so, the military) is not, and that ends up being their downfall.

The end of this episode was a big shocker and a great twist, although it also set the tone for the rest of the season, which just wasn't as much fun as the first half. This was something of a turning point in Buffy for me; although there's a lot of great stuff (some of the best stuff) to come, Adam wasn't my favorite villain and then the show grew a bit cumbersome when Dawn came along, not to mention darker and darker as the final seasons progressed.
10. Gardner Dozois
It's a good thing for Buffy that Professor Walsh isn't nearly as smart as she thinks she is. If she had been, she'd have waited and bided her time, observing her enemy, before making a hurried and poorly thought-out attempt to kill her, thus greatly increasing the chances of success. If she'd been really smart, she'd wouldn't have made any attempt to kill her at all, but rather kept her around (wasn't there anything she could learn from a superstrong human with great experience of the supernatural world?) while slowly subverting Buffy's bond with Riley and turning him against her. She could even have tried to convince Buffy to be on her side and under her control. You have to think there was something of the green-eyed monster in her sudden decision to get rid of Buffy--she was jealous, in an uneasily Freudian way, of Buffy hooking up with Riley.

Of course, the REAL reason why this episode makes the sudden twist that leads to Professor Walsh's death is that the actress abruptly had to leave the show to take a movie offer. It hurt the season. Maggie made a much better Big Bad than Adam (although Adam, or something like him, would have had to show up eventually, to provide a physical threat to battle)--she fed nicely into Buffy's issues with Authority and her parent issues, and the de facto love-triangle of sorts that was being set up with Buffy, Maggie, and Riley, with both of them vying for Riley's loyalties, had some nice possibilities. Adam's kind of a dull Big Bad, and his great scheme is so silly that it's obvious from the start that it has no chance of success, even if Buffy wasn't around to thwart it.

A great observation, Emmarosloff, that Buffy doesn't become sexually interested in Spike until he can hurt her again. Both of her big hook-ups post-Angel are very violent, scenes of a deadly fight mixed in with scenes of their lovemaking in the case of Riley, and Buffy and Spike beating the crap out of each other before they slid over an edge and find themselves screwing in the case of Spike. I'm afraid that there's little doubt that Buffy is into rough sex, and that, and the fact that he's too whitebread, especially after he lost his superstrength, is why she got bored with Riley. As Spike astutely observes, "The girl likes a little monster in her man."
11. thelastgoodkiss
Well, in the Thanksgiving episode earlier this season, Buffy did straight up say "I like my evil like I like my men: evil." ;)
(Or something to that effect...Not sure if that is the exact quote.)

My first time watching BtVS, I remember initially thinking that Riley was PERFECT for Buffy. After all, they had the potential to be a Super Couple fighting evil (without the Angel complications). But somehow Riley manages to make even a super cool super sexy super secret military gig seem boring. He's just too vanilla.

Of course, I never supported Spuffy either. A lot of Buffy's motivation for being with him was simply that she desired pain. She felt worthless, inhuman, and lonely, and Spike validated her feelings about herself. But all of that is yet to come.

As for Adam...Yeah, as Big Bads go, I found him to be pretty unimpressive. Also, all this talk about Faith is making me really excited for her return later this season!
Alyx Dellamonica
12. AMDellamonica
Faith essay soon, Goodkiss!

More Maggie would have helped this season enormously, I agree. I hadn't known that Lindsay Crouse got a time-crunching offer before you all told me: tht's got to be crazy-making for the writing team.
13. Dianthus
We're getting ahead of ourselves discussing s6, but I feel the need to defend my OTP.
It's always bothered me that Buffy complains about Spike "not getting any gentler." Because he was gentle with her after her return. Especially in the immediate aftermath, he is calm, quiet, and gentle - not the usual associations we make with him. It's the others who are crowding Buffy and upsetting her with questions and noise.
Buffy hates herself, and takes it out on Spike. Blaming the enabler was cool at the time,and Buffy is our hero (so can't be held responisble for her bad actions), but Spike was doing his admittedly limited best for her.
For instance, he saved her from herself (and Sweet) in OMWF. As the personification of her Slayerness, he gave her the strength and determination to survive a very difficult passage in her life. Buffy breaks it off with him for real in AYW because she finds a new respect for him. As The Doctor, he was trying to raise money, not for himself, but for her. His method was flawed (and ultimately doomed to failure), but his heart was in the right place.
Spuffy is messy, but it's real. Riley may have seemed like the perfect guy on paper, but only Spike could take what Buffy could dish out. What's more, he does ultimately prove his worth, but that's getting even further ahead of ourselves.
john mullen
14. johntheirishmongol
A couple of things to pick over here. I had already mentioned in a previous week that I thought Maggie had feelings for Riley that were inappropriate, but more because of her position as his boss than the age difference.

More Tara is just more yuck to me. If they had kept Tara to a fling and gotten rid of her I might have bought it, but I found the actress terribly annoying. I hope those tics were just her way of trying to be quirky but they just made her odd.

I have to say I never thought Riley would last either, but more because I didn't see him as competition for Angel in the long run. BTW, the actor is much better on his new series.

One last thing was I never understood the point of weaponizing a demon. That never made a bit of sense. Even our current administration isn't that stupid.
Emma Rosloff
15. emmarosloff
@Dianthus: Totally with you on the Spike front. Buffy needs to be the hero for everyone but him. Like you said, he can take whatever she dishes out. In her darkest moments, he's there, and he understands.

It's sort of interesting that Spike is compelled to do better because of her (the same could be said for Angel), but the inverse happens with Riley -- he ends up way worse.
16. Dianthus
Thank you, emmarosloff. s6 remains controversial to this day, and one of the big gest controversies is Spike's role in Buffy's struggle. It's a lot more complicated than some people make it out to be.
The Scoobies need her to be ok, to alleviate their guilt. Dawn needs her to be ok, because, hello, closest thing she's got to a mom. Imagine how draining that would be on Buffy's already overtaxed resources. She's not ok. Spike knows she's not ok, and he's ok with that.
Buffy didn't want pain. She was already in pain. She even tells him (in AYW) that being with him made things easier for a little while. Despite all the abuse, be it physical, verbal, or emotional, Buffy inspired Spike to reach for something more, to be more than anyone dreamed possible.
Alyx Dellamonica
17. AMDellamonica
@Dianthus, I like how passionately you defend the Spuffy relationship. We're going to have some interesting conversations as we rewatch it together!

Weaponizing a demon is dumb, John, I agree. But... are we really smarter? Surely if it were possible, someone would try it.
18. Gardner Dozois
Buffy had FAR more sex with Riley than she had with anyone else in her life--she has more sex with him in an upcoming episode alone than all the sex she had with Angel and Spike combined--but somehow, in spite of all the screwing, they never really seemed to engage on a deeper level the way she did with Angel and Spike--Riley obviously felt this, that she wasn't entirely his in spite of the bedroom athletics, and that's why he drifted off into flings with vampire whores (although that still seems like an unlikely choice for him).

I took a class at a Department of the Defense school in the mid-'60s, and the instructors used to refer sneeringly to atomic weapons as "boy's toys." If you REALLY want to kill the maximum number of people as quickly as possible, you go with biological weapons. It's the same thing with the weaponized demons--it sounds all oh scary, but how much damage are they really going to be able to do, maybe kill a dozen people apiece? The same thing is the flaw in Adam's ridiculous plan--he's going to make, what, a hundred hybred demon/human combos, and with those he's going to conquer the rest of the world and wipe out the human race? There's millions and millions of people in this country alone, let alone in the whole rest of the world. Even armed only with clubs (which they wouldn't be), they could eventually take down Adam's 100 by sheer weight of numbers. The same was true of the Master's plan--okay, you succeeded in taking over what about the REST of the world and the billions of people in it?
Constance Sublette
19. Zorra
@ 11. thelastgoodkiss

As for Adam...Yeah, as Big Bads go, I found him to be pretty unimpressive.
Indeed. Additionally Adam is too much like that episode from the high school seasons (can't remember whether 2 or 3), in which a Frankenstein brilliant scientist brother constructs a bride for his ruined football player brother.

They did several around that them during the seasons, too many, with the sex bots and the robotized girlfriends via drugs, and so on. Didn't like any of those eps as stories, though other things happened in them too, thank goodness.

Love, C.
Jack Flynn
20. JackofMidworld
Gardner - In the interest of a side conversation, I think the biggest benefit in designing a demon as a weapon would be how hard it would be to actually defeat it is. From a modern day standpoint, if you took a Bradley M2A2 (which is an APC and not a tank so it isn't even a major battlefield weapon all by its lonesome) back to the Middle Ages and it had effectively unlimited ammo & fuel (since Adam doesn't use ammo or anything either), you could mop up any army that came your way, just becuase they couldn't hurt you. Remember the Judge? He was prepped to wipe out a mall full of civilians without even having a weapoon at all. If you swing over to Angel, the Beast could only be killed by a weapon made of his own stone skin and took out a legion of troops when he and Angelus met on that battlefield; imagine if he'd decided that, instead of listening to the Voice in his head, he just went on a killing spree. The cops wouldn't have had a chance and I could see him taking an tank round to the chest and, sure, he might get knocked back a couple of meters, but he'd probably brush it off and make short work of the tank and the crew inside it in short order. Therein lies the crux - conventional weapons can't get the job done; hell, even the Slayer couldn't take out Adam on her own, right? And that's what she's pretty much been bred to do.
Chris Nelly
21. Aeryl
Yeah the fact that standard human tech CANT deal w the supernatural threat is pretty much the entire point if the show.

I guess because I played the RPG I just think about it this way, demonic skin gets gets an armor class bonus, plus Walsh and Adam dumped a lot of points into the Superscience skill for the high tech weapon upgrades.
22. Dianthus
Thanks to you as well, AMDellamonica. Sometimes it's not easy to be a Spike/Spuffy fan, but the flame burns brightly in my heart to this day. Given JW's love of metaphor and subverting conventions, the relationship between these two characters was just so fraught with all sorts of meaning and loaded with subtext.
It's by far the most interesting of Buffy's relationships (IMO). Ironically, of all her bed partners, she'd known Spike the longest prior to their getting physical.
It's an exploration of misogyny and codependency, and a crazy twist on the old Angel and the Bad Man theme of a bad man redeemed by the love of a good woman.
23. Gardner Dozois
I don't care how hardened the skin is or how physically strong something is, one creature--or even a hundred--can't defeat billions of people, unless it has some kind of overarcing supernatural power, like Jasmin had on ANGEL (and even she was defeated fairly easily once the glamour she cast on people was seen through); the best it can do is roam around committing random havoc on whoever's in arm's reach until somebody figures out a way to kill it or trap it.

And Adam should be even less formidiable than the Beast; the Beast is made out of some kind of supernatural living rock, but large sections of Adam are made from formerly living tissue, both human and demon, and so should be capable of being blown away or burned up, just like living tissue is. A flamethrower ought to burn away all the parts of Adam that aren't made of metal, and he'd probably have trouble being very effective without his arms or legs.

Just judging from the feats of physical strength that she performs, the strongest foe either Buffy or Angel faced would probably be Glory, so strong, in fact, that they had to keep coming up with unconvincing and rather silly reasons why she didn't just swat Buffy like a fly. It would be fun to set up steel-cage matches for these villains--Adam against the Beast, with Glory to take on the winner (probably the Beast). Then perhaps you could add the Incredible Hulk in to the action. The Hulk against Glory would be an interesting match.
Jason Parker
24. tarbis
I feel like there were a lot of characters this season that were poorly developed and never really worked out.

Riley was a good character for this season. He carried through Buffy's habit of the next boyfriend being overcompensation for the last one, see Scott from season three for another example. The problem is that Initative storyline ended and there was nothing for Riley to do. His character arc was over and all he did was hang around until the season five plot required that Buffy start losing everything.

Tara was more a collection of traits than a character at this point and never developed much. This season all she had to define her was shy lesbian witch. At the start of season five they grafted on Willow's season one personality so that Benson got a few lines. For six they added maternal to her list of traits and then kept her off screen. Just a weakly defined character that never got to do anything of her own.

Adam got it pretty bad too. He was a big bad that instead of mirror the hero, mirrored her love interest. He didn't even have a connection to Buffy and her crew beyond Riley. They layered on the superpowers until he was silly beyond words (invulnerable, able to reassemble, arm skewer, onboard weaponry, atomic battery, and possibly a mini-fridge). Then gave him a cheap stupid looking visual. With the make-up there was probably a lot of penny pinching since his number of appearances increased, but that doesn't mean it worked.

Maybe any of those characters could have worked with more time on screen and attention from the writer's room, but they never got it. It was probably hard to find things for the existing characters to do onscreen without adding more, but those three still came off as a waste of potential.
25. Gardner Dozois
"He was a big bad that instead of mirror the hero, mirrored her love interest" is an interesting observation, and seems to be true--there really wasn't any direct connection between Adam and Buffy, which may be why whole episodes could go by this season with Adam wandering around somewhere on the perifphery but not directly impacting the plot. And yes, Riley stayed around long after his plot arc was finished, with not much really to do--he really should have died heroically saving Buffy at the end of the Adam arc, thus giving her reason to Grieve and sulk gloomily for several episodes before meeting a new Love Interest.
26. Gardner Dozois
This is another reason why the sudden departure of the actress who played Professor Walsh had such a big effect on the season. The original story dynamic was a triangle between Buffy, Riley, and Professor Walsh, which worked well and had all kinds of Oedipal/parent/child implications. Once Professor Walsh was gone, you were left with a triangle between Buffy, Riley, and Adam, which didn't work nearly as well, since, as was pointed out above, all the connections were between Riley and Adam, pretty much cutting Buffy out of the triangle except for the fact that Riley was her boyfriend.
Jack Flynn
27. JackofMidworld
Gardner - Now it's time for somebody to come up with a bracket for all of the Buffy/Angel bad guys (I was gonna say Big Bads but it'd be a short list) to see who makes it to the the Evil Eight, the Fearsome Four, the Terrible Two, and the ultimate Big Bad.
Jack Byrne
30. jackbyrne
I’m new to the thread and enjoying the earlier episode postings.

Perhaps it’s a stretch, but I wonder if Adam’s relatively tepid badness quotient might not be a calculated end note to the overall Initiative story arc. Although they fought, captured and studied the demon elements of the world, they were essentially a nuts-and-bolts science-based common sense military organization; and a science/common sense mindset generally doesn’t fare well in the Buffy Universe when matched up against the magical and mystical (the nuts-and-bolts mode of the Judge’s destruction a rare exception). In the same way the Initiative members were physically no match for Buffy, the Initiative-generated Adam does not compare to some of the other “Big Bads” (Glory a prime example). Accepting Adam as a major figure in the ultimate villain category might have diluted the overall supernatural flavor of the series.
Then again, he may have simply been a less effective Big Bad because he was…um…er…a less effective Big Bad.

As to the Spike/Buffy relationship… I have a soft spot for him and his poet’s heart (beating or not). While some may see Angel as her ultimate soul mate, let’s remember that he had a soul “forced” on him and when his night of whoopee fun with Buffy excised it, Angelus happily took over (as he also did later in the “Angel” spin-off). Ensouled, he was a (mostly) admirable (mostly) heroic figure; soul-deprived, not so much. The soulless Spike, on the other hand, made multiple conscious choices to do the noble (or at least less ignoble) thing, culminating (and I’m getting ahead of the rewatch here; sorry) in his eventual quest to regain his own soul. Beyond that, Buffy’s relationship with Spike was more “fun” for the viewer (in my possibly twisted opinion).
Alyx Dellamonica
31. AMDellamonica
@jackbyrne, I will totally agree that Spuffy is so much funner than BuffAngel.
32. JMH
Aw... the conversation moved on from favourite sex scenes.
(FYI. Still Once More With Feeling's "You make me come... plete" oral sexxors. I remember staring at the tv going... no way, there's no way they got away with that, did they? (And I'm pretty sure that scene's been recut since, in the same way that rebroadcasts took the zipper sound out of Spuffy)

In terms of Spuffy, I'm a pretty passionate, though torn, shipper. The problem is, as I see it, Spike deserves better. Spike is some weird vampire anomaly, and rather than be at all curious about it, the Scoobies just end up treating him like a person. Which he is, but he SHOULDN'T be. Everyone brings up the rape, but for me what made that special was that 1) He stopped. And he did, before she started beating the shit out of him. As a soul-less vampire, he should've just gone for it, because he wanted it. I mean, that (rape) is pretty much what vampires are as a metaphor. 2) He felt like shit about it. He had real, legitimate angst. I tend to feel that the rape was the thing that made him look for his soul; not just to be good enough for her but so that (so he figured) it would never ever happen again, because he already was having trouble coping with living with himself over it.
He's a vampire. He shouldn't be guilting about rape. But he did. It made him special.
I always hoped Joss would get into that someday, what the hell was it about William that broke vampirism and left him capable of morals and guilt and love and self-sacrifice?

Anyway, I'm almost caught up, so my weird comments will feel less like shouting into the void! Yay! (Damn finding rewatch when they're already halfway done.)
33. Gillian Philip
I'm sorry, this is way past this thread's bedtime, but I just rewatched the episode last night and I just HAD to come on and say oh boy, I never before noticed how MUCH Riley looks like Professor Maggie. (Well, we were talking Freudian earlier.) I can't stop thinking about it now. I mean, look at your photo no. 6 above. He just does! Sorry. And sorry if someone's already pointed this out in another thread, but I can't go back through them all at the mo. Riley. Prof Walsh. Separated at birth, I say.

OK, I'll get me coat.
Alyx Dellamonica
34. AMDellamonica
They do look alike--I totally agree! Not an accident of casting, I am sure.

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