After flashbacks, the first scene of this episode is a continuation
of the last scene of the previous episode ... Buffy and Riley staring at
each other, trying to work out what to say. Buffy: One of us should say
something before one of us graduates.
Riley: What are you?
Buffy: Capricorn, on the cusp of Aquarius. (Which makes her birthday approx Jan 20/21. Which may contradict prior info. On the other hand, she could be making it all up)
Eventually, Riley admits that he is, indeed, involved in something ... but he can't say what, because it is secret. Buffy then proceeds to lay out what she knows ... or has guessed ... about the Initiative. Which would appear to be far more complete than Riley would like. Buffy then reveals that she is the Slayer. Riley appears to have never heard of the Slayer, which rather surprises her. Riley is impressed at Buffy... he's is a "walking bruise" after last nights combat, whereas Buffy barely has a scratch. Buffy is reluctant now to get too close to Riley ... she wants a little space, while she works out what to do next. The conversation is interrupted by a minor earthquake. Riley is rather elated ... it's the first earthquake he has been through. (Revealing, incidently, that Riley has not been living in Sunnydale all that long.) Buffy is spooked. After all, when the last significant earthquake happened, she died...(ok, she got better...)
After the quake, there are some pipes leaking in Xanders basement. Where Spike still appears to be staying. Xander has to go off to his job (Pizza delivery boy) and asks Spike to perhaps fix the pipe, or at any rate tidy up a bit. Spike gets annoyed at this, and goes to hit Xander with a wrench, but is hit by a blinding headache. (His implant.) Xander doesn't even notice.
Back at the dorm, Willow bounces in. The earthquake doesn't appear
to have done a great deal of damage, but:
Willow: Porter dorm is completely blacked out, so they are dealing with it the only way they know how.
Buffy: Throwing a party? (Willow nods) Mind you, this is from the dorm that gave us the "somebody sneezed" party, and the "Day that ends with a 'Y'" party.
Buffy still looks pretty spooked, and heads off to Giles (after assuring Willow (unconvincingly) that nothing is wrong.)
Giles is not really convinced that anything is wrong, and is more interested in showing Buffy what he has worked out about the "Army Guys" ... which Buffy is not interested in hearing (or doesn't want to have to talk about Riley) Buffy is convinced that the quake is an omen about something really bad happening.
Riley's offsider knows something about "The Slayer", but dismisses it as sheer superstition ... a bogeyman for the "subterraneans". As far as he's concerned, the Demons and so forth are just animals. Which implies that the Initiative is coming at the whole demon problem from a completely different angle, and know little or nothing about the traditional approach. It also implies that they have very little regard for the demons they are dealing with. (Unlike the developments in Angel ... which could be kind of interesting ...) While they are talking, a demon makes a break for it, but is taken down by Riley (with some difficulty)
At the party, Willow is standing around looking a little lost. She spots Percy, and goes over to chat. Percy is going to a different university (UCLA on a football scholarship) but appears to have a girlfriend here in Sunnydale U. Who turns out to be very possessive, and basically drags him away from Willow at the first opportunity. In the meantime, the random victim of the week (a guy mixing drinks) is grabbed and cut up by a demon...
Willow, still waiting for Buffy to show up, overhears Percy talking to his girlfriend, who is a bit jealous of Willow. Percy says that Willow is nice, but basically a nerd. This bothers Willow, who wanders off to find somewhere quiet. She lies down on a bed. Then the lights come up (the power is reconnected) and she finds she is lying next to a dead body with an "Eye in the pyramid" carved into his chest. (Illuminati?)
Xander returns from his work to find that Spike has totally failed to
either fix the drip or do any cleaning up. Spike speaks, telling
him not to look. Xander looks anyway, to find Spike wearing a hawiian
shirt. Apparently he has managed to shrink his own clothes in the
wash. Xander is pissed off with Spike, and lets him have it verbally.
He ends with the statement that:
Xander: "...while I know even I could kick your lilly-white butt at the moment, I'm not going to. You're not worth it."
This is pretty upsetting to Spike. Here he is, living only on the good will of his enemies, and his nose is rubbed in the fact that he can't hurt a fly.
Buffy finds Willow after the party. As she said, all she had to do was follow the ambulance... Willow is pretty upset ... as much at being called a nerd than the murder (I suppose she's getting pretty used to that, after all...)
Riley would appear to have not told anyone about Buffy's abilities. He's trying to decided what to do about it (while losing a game of inside basketball to his offsider) when someone comes up with a report of the murder. Riley decides to investigate before calling out the troops.
When confronted with the symbols on the guys chest, Giles says "it's the end of the world" To which everyone says "Again?" (I was amused.) Buffy is pretty determined that this ain't going to happen. It just so happens that she knows where she has seen the symbol before. On the side of a crypt. She discovers a demon harvesting bones, and attacks it, but it appears to be tougher than your average demon. It slams her over a gravestone, and makes off ... just as Riley appears. (I though Buffy was going to have a broken back, but Slayers are made of tough stuff...)
In a bit of a heart to heart, their difference in attitudes is highlighted. To Riley, this is a job, an exciting one at that. Buffy, on the other hand, views this as a destiny which she can't escape. Riley is now fascinated by Buffy. He was interested before, but now he knows about her ... Buffy really doesn't want to get involved any more. After all, previous relationships with Demon fighters had ended badly...
We get an interesting sequence then, cutting back and forth between the Initiative preparing for the hunt, with their high-tech approach, and Giles and co preparing for their hunt. Giles seems to know a damn sight more about what is going on, but Initiative seems to have some interesting toys... if they end up working together, they would be a formidable team. (Giles and the professor...?)
However, all the gang knows is that the demon is working towards the end of the world. It involves the "sacrifice of three" (possible the witches from Charmed... :->)... and they need another item for their ritual. Xander and Willow go off to look for the "Word of Valios" at the museum, but stop off at Xander's first to pick up some weapons, and change.
Only to find Spike trying to stake himself. He fails (possibly because he is distracted by their entrance.) Willow insists on Spike coming ... she can't leave him there to Spike himself!
Buffy and Riley meet again. Riley has a device to help track the demons. It is showing that the demons have been all over town. Riley again tries to persuade her to talk. (Again, there is a mention of Faith being still in a coma ... answers some questions) Riley is convinced that Buffy is being negative. (And self involved) Buffy doesn't want to know.
Willow, Xander and Spike are leaving the museum empty handed. Spike is still pretty down ... what use is he? He can't kill anything!
Spike: I should think you would be glad to greet the End of Days. I mean, Neither one of you is making much of a go of it.
End of Days? Wasn't that mentioned in Angel?
Spike: Buffy fights the forces of evil. You're
just her groupies.
Xander: We're part of a team! She needs us!
Spike: Or ... you're still the losers you always were. And she's just too much of a softy to cut you loose.
While this is demonstrably not true (re previous episodes) it certainly is Spike once cutting through to the heart of the matter. Even if it is only their own fears.
Giles, in the meantime, finds a picture of the "Words of Valios" ...
and realises belatedly that he owns it!
Giles: Oh... as usual ... dear.
He is just in time to be jumped on by no less that three demons.
The gang find him, rather the worse for wear. The demons have all the ingredients. They must be trying to open the Hellmouth ... situated, as we all know, under the Sunnydale High library...
The gang (+ Spike) end up in the burnt out remains of the High School. (No, they haven't rebuilt it... probably a good call.)
Xander: These walls ... if they were still walls ... what stories they could tell. Euugh! (steps back off something.) Mayor meat. Extra crispy.
They are still looking for the three sacrificial victims, when
they find the demons. Buffy launches into them, while Willow and
Xander snatch the ingredients away from them. Willow and Xander play
"piggy in the middle" with the items for a while, and then Spike ends up
holding them! A demon starts attacking a helpless Spike. Xander ends up
facing off against a demon, and is more or less holding his own, until
one of the items (the talisman, I think) ends up on the floor. The
demon attacking Xander breaks off, grabs it up, and jumps into a hole ...
(the hellmouth). The ground shakes, and Xander suddenly realises that the
"Sacrifices" are the demons themselves. Spike is being throughly smacked
up. He loses his temper, and hits back at the demon. Reflexively,
he grabs his head ... but there is no pain! He hits the demon again ...
and abruptly realises that he can hurt demons! Suddenly enlivened, he leaps
into the fray, thoroughly demolishing the demon, finishing by throwing
it into the hellmouth ... oops.
Spike: (defensively) I was trying to help!
Spike gets hit by a lump of falling timber, and Buffy is having trouble with the last demon. At a critical moment, Riley shows up, stops the demon from delivering a telling blow. The demon manages to leap into the hellmouth, and Buffy goes after it ... but not before Riley hooks a line to her belt. She dives after the demon, and the Riley hauls her back up again... towing a demon behind her. (I must say that Riley's utility belt was rather handy ... not to mention having lots and lots of line ... just a minor nitpick.)
Then Riley gets to meet the gang. (+ Spike) He comes up with a rather scattered explanation for his outfit ... "Paintball! That's it..."
Xander: So you're one of the commando guys,
Riley: No! ... er, have I met you before (to Spike)
Spike: (affecting a very broad accent of some kind) No, I'm just an old friend of Xanders...
Spike then fades off into the background.
The next day, Buffy comes to Rileys room. Riley is pretty down.
Riley: Look at me! I'm trained to be sneaky! And last night it was "Just passing! Paintball!" I should have just given my security code and rank.
Buffy: You have a security code and rank?
Riley: .... No.
Riley is convinced that everyone knowing about him is the "End of the World" ... and then Buffy kisses him, strongly. Fade out....
Back at Xanders basement. Spike ... back in his black clothing,
and looking very energetic ... is saying:
Spike: Sitting around watching telly while there is evil still about. I say, we go out there and kick a little demon arse! What, can't go without your Buffy? That it? Too chicken? Let's find her! She is the chosen one, after all. Come on! Vampires! Urr, nasty! Let's annihilate them! For ... justice and ...errr... for the safety of puppies! Christmas, right? Let's fight that evil! Let's kill something! (Credits roll)(pleading) Oh, come on!
End of Synopsis
I quite enjoyed that episode. While a little patchy in places, it had a fair few "Laugh out loud" moments.
I loved the image of "Spike the Vampire Slayer!" I can see Spike really getting into that role, if only because it gives him a chance to hit something every now and again.
Buffy and Riley's relationship was ... not so well handled, I think, but ended up well.
I couldn't see where the "nerd" subplot was about ... it seemed to be developing into a theme, and then vanished from sight. Although such things have a habit of reappearing unexpectly (Dea thinks that Willow is going to upgrade her image ... perhaps a new hairstyle and wardrobe next week. Only time will tell)
I'm intrigued by Spike's reference to the "End of Days" ... which seems to be the major arc theme running through Angel.
(A thought ... Spike seems to be assuming that he can hit demons. What if he can hit back when he is attacked? After all, he fought his way out of the Initiative HQ ... it was only when he initiated the attacks (or tried to feed) that the implant kicked in) (Can anyone remember Blake's Seven? *Implant!!*)
Robbie Rating: A solid 8.5
Stephanie Rating: Pretty much OK for kids. The throat cutting scene was pretty explicit, but that was probably the worst of it.
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