Buffy Ep 4.13 "The I in Team"

A ripsnorter of an episode.

Last week,  I thought the plot had just moved into second gear.  Well, it now seems to be in 3rd, and heading down the straight.

Willow, Anya and Xander are playing poker ... well, the others are teaching Anya.  Xander has somehow acquired the local distributorship for a health food bar.  Still trying to find his way, it appears.
Xander remarks that this would be more fun with another player, and it's a pity that Buffy couldn't make it.
Willow: She's probably out with Riley.  You know how it is with a spanking new boyfriend.
Anya: Yes, we've enjoyed spanking. (Xander's cards go flying. He has to get over that twitch!)

Buffy is actually out training with the Initiative.  She proceeds to take down the entire Initiative team in about 28 seconds.  Everyone is most impressed.  Riley makes a remark about everybody loving her ... but then the camera scans to a rather pensive looking Walsh...

Next day, Buffy is telling Willow all about it.  They've set up a date tonight, just the gang, at the Bronze.  Buffy remarks that they haven't had much time to just hang out together.

Giles enters Spikes new domicile.  A rather largish tomb/mausoleum.  It's "a bit of a fixer upper."  He's come to pay Spike the money he owes him  (from the previous episode).  Giles seems to be trying to talk Spike into joining the good guys, since he's found out that Spike can fight demons. Spike basically tells him to push off.
Giles seems very lonely, actually.  Spike, too, seems a bit lonely, now that I look at it.  After all, he's always had Dru ... and then Harmony after that. I suspect that he actually enjoyed staying at Giles' and Xander's ... in spite of the bickering.  After all,  vampires seem to be in a continual state of low level social warfare with each other.  It probably felt very homey and comfortable for him!

Riley and Buffy are standing outside the Initiative's entrance ... the mirror thing. There is more than a little innuendo in their conversation ... (which proceeds through the next few scenes)
They enter the Initiative base.

Buffy is impressed.  It's big ... (anyone have any ideas as to why the pit is lined with aluminium foil?)  ... lots and lots of hi-tech toys.  She is quite dazzled by it, as Prof Walsh shows her around. There is some discussion about behavior modification techniques (obviously what has been done to Spike)  and we are introduced to 'Doctor Engleman', the expert in xenomorphic behavior modification.  They've got some demons strapped to the tables.

Buffy: And what to you call those?
Riley: Tough.  It took eight of us to take the two of them down.

Buffy ends up with a security card and a pager, and is released back into the wild ...

Tara presents Willow with "a Dolls Eye Crystal (??)" which is apparently a powerful magical tool.  It was her grandmother's.  Willow is touched, but refuses the gift... although she says it would be nice to try some spells together sometime.  Tara suggests that that night would be good, but Willow begs off.  She's got the date at the Bronze with Buffy, Xander etc.  She specifically doesn't invite Tara, because she wants a night out with her old friends.  (It's obvious that she feels bad about this, though...)

In the meantime,  Walsh goes into room 314!!
Engleman: How did the tour go?
Walsh: I'm not sure. She's unpredictable.
Engleman: She's an unnecessary risk.
Walsh: Possibly.  How's our baby doing today?
Engleman: Adjusting nicely.  Reflexes, motor functions, all off the charts.
Walsh: That's what I like to hear.

Now, up until this point, I was expecting to find that they had Faith there ... there has been some speculation in the NG as to this possibility, and the more I heard of the conversation, the more likely the explanation.  Imagine my surprise when:
Walsh: Almost time to wake up, Adam, and take your first look at the world.  I know you're going to make me proud.

Then the camera pans, and we see a Frankenstien on the table! I thought at first it was Daryl (From "Some assembly required"). A closer look revealed that it isn't, but there is obviously a family resemblance.  Perhaps they picked up on his brother's techniques... it looks like the Initiative is trying to build their own ... Slayer? Soldier? What?

At the Bronze ... Willow, Xander, and Anya are there.  Buffy hasn't shown up yet.  Xander is just suggesting that it's time to go, when Buffy shows up.  She has most of the Initiative team in tow.  Willow is rather put out, especially when she could have invited someone.  Buffy apologizes, and asks who Willow would have brought. Interestingly, Willow ducks out of answering this.
Buffy seems pretty stoked about the Initiative at the moment.
Willow: You've joined them?
Buffy: Not exactly.  It just means that, when I patrol, I have a heavily armed team backing me up.  Besides ... working with boyfriend? Added bonus.

In her normal, somewhat self-centred Buffy way, she seems to entirely overlook that this means she has just cut out the rest of the gang ... I mean, if she has the heavily armed backup, what does she need Willow, Xander, and Giles for?  The implications don't escape Willow.  She does point out that Buffy still doesn't know what the Initiative intends to do with all these Vampires.
Willow: Are they going to reintegrate into society? Give them jobs as bag boys at Walmart?
Buffy: Walmart has bag boys?
Willow: And don't forget about that "314" that Ethan told Giles about.
Buffy: Well, a man that worships chaos and tries to kill you, is a man you can trust.

All good questions.
Just then, Buffy's pager goes off ... as does the rest of the Initiatives team.  (A bit of a give-away, if you ask me!) and they all head off into the night...

There is a big(ish) demon wandering Sunnydale.  It it armed with big skewers that pop out from it's arms as needed.  Engleman wants the demon brought in without damaging the fore-arms.

Buffy asks a lot of questions ... why do they want the forearms? What is it doing here? All the sorts of things that Giles would have told her in detail.  Walsh just sort of slides out of them. The team heads out...

Willow goes to Tara's room, to see if she still wants to do something ... Tara invites her in, smiling ...

On patrol, Forrest (Riley's offsider) is a little put out that Buffy is teamed with Riley, while he's been relegated to team B.  Admittedly, in charge of Team B.  It doesn't seem to be anything more than grumbling so far, though.  Team B spots Spike going back to his tomb (carrying a bag of groceries!) and try to catch him.  Spike breaks away ... it would appear that he can still push people out of the way, even if he can't actually deliberately hurt them (which gels with his original getaway.) but he is shot with some sort of tracer.

When they report this to Riley, he is distracted as he tries to understand what they are saying over a poor radio connection.  Naturally, just then, the demon they are hunting.  They take it out without enormous difficulty ... but they fight is inter cut with scenes of Buffy and Riley making love!  I'm not 100% sure WHY they did this, but it certainly seems that they were both pretty turned on after the fight, and they go back to Riley's place.  To make love.

A very dour looking Prof Walsh is watching them on surveillance cameras ... (what a voyeur!)  I think she has a bit of a thing for Riley.  (More of a Mother/Son thing that a jealous lover thing, I suspect, but I could be wrong...)

At Giles' place, Xander talks Giles into trying one of his food bars. (Which appears to be horrible!) when Spike barges in, with a tarpaulin over him.
Spike: Close the door!
Xander: Spike? You might want to give up on these morning jogs.

Spike wants their help.
Giles: Why should I help you?
Spike: I helped you! When you turned into that fioral demon.  I helped you then.
Giles: Out of the "evilness" of your heart?
Spike: Hell, no! I made you pay for it ... (it suddenly clicks what Giles is getting at.) You right bastard.

He hands back Giles what is left of his money.

Buffy wakes up.  For a wonder, Riley is still in bed with her.  They talk ... Buffy asks Riley if he knows anything about 314. Before Riley can answer, their morning-after small talk is interrupted by a phone call from Walsh, and Riley rushes off.

Walsh puts Riley in charge of the capture of Hostile 17 (Spike).  As soon as Riley is safely on his way, Walsh goes back into 314, and announces that Buffy has become a liability.
Engleman: Does she know about the project?
Walsh: She knows it exists.  And she already has too much influence over Riley ... Agent Finn.

Hmm... bit of a slip.  She certainly has personal feelings towards Riley.  She goes of to activate the "contingency plan".  (Oh, yes ... and Engleman has just finished cutting the forearms off the demon the captured last night ... who is still breathing...)

Back at Giles', Giles is trying to get at whatever is embedded in Spike's back.  It's in too deep to get out easily, but Xander recognizes it as a tracer. (From his soldier psuedo memories) (*I* wouldn't design a tracer that went "blink", but I'm not going to get TOO picky about it.  This is TV, after all.)  Giles realises that they need to buy some time.

Buffy arrives back at her room, to realise that Willows bed has not been slept in.  Willow arrives moments later (to realise that Buffy's bed has not been slept in.)  Willow seems awfully reticent ... although she could just be tired.  Buffy gets paged before they can say much of anything, and heads off.  Then the phone rings. It's Giles.  Fortunately, it's Willow he's after...

Walsh has an assignment for her.  She apologises for calling her in on something this trivial, but the rest of her teams are out on another assignment.  It's a class 3 trace.  Almost certainly a very minor, not particularly hostile demon (or possibly even a racoon!) but they have to check it out.  Walsh gives her a taser, and a monitoring device (so she can see what Buffy is seeing)  and sends her off.  Buffy goes willingly enough.  There are some things that Buffy wants to talk to Walsh about, and Walsh agrees to talk after she come back.

Giles has Willow cast a spell that should "Ionize the surrounding area", which should futz the tracer signal.  Willow chants, the spell goes off with some flashes (and some light bulbs blowing.)
Willow: Did it work?
Giles: (Hair standing on end) I venture yes.

(They all have their hair standing on end... I was was most amused!)

Buffy tracks the demons through the sewers.  Then it steps into sight. It's not a little demon at all ... it's the two tough demons that the Initiate was working on when Buffy took the tour.  Buffy fires her taser, but it shorts out.  Moments later, a portcullis drops behind her ... she is trapped!
As Buffy fights for her life, Walsh calmly monitors her.  Her heart rate is going up ... then the camera goes all askew, and the heart rate drops off to nothing.  Walsh looks ... satisfied.

As the commando team closes in (in Civvies, now they are in town) Giles gets the tracer out, and Xander rushes off with it.

Finally getting a clear trace, the Riley and co realise it's on the move ... and heading straight towards them.  There is a moment or two of tension, before they realise it has been flushed ...

In the meantime,  Buffy is still alive and fighting.  She takes one out, and then is knocked down by the other.  Who goes back to get it's weapon, and foolishly stands in a puddle.  Buffy grabs the still sparking taser, and throws  it into the puddle, with predictable results.

Riley returns to base, to report that they have lost hostile 17.  Walsh tells him that   Buffy has been killed ... that she went off on her own, and Walsh couldn't stop her.  Riley looks shocked ... and then, behind Walsh, on the monitors, we see Buffy pick up the monitoring device which had been knocked off her head earlier....

Buffy: Professor Walsh .. that simple little recon you sent me on?  It wasn't a racoon.  Turns out it was me trapped in the sewer with a faulty weapon and two of your pet demons. If you think that's enough to kill me ... you really don't know what a Slayer is.  Trust me when I say you're going to find out.

Then she crushes the device.

Riley turns and walks out.  Walsh orders him to stop, but she has just lost any authority she had over him ...

Buffy walks into Giles' just as Giles is advising Spike:
Giles: As long as the Initiative is in town, it just isn't safe for you.
Buffy:  You're wrong.  As long as they are in town, it's not safe for any of us....

A distraught Walsh is wandering around Room 314.  She's in soliloquy mode as she vows to fight Buffy, and once Buffy is gone, Riley will come back to her... she is stopped in mid-rant by a sharp thing coming through her chest ...
Behind her, "Adam" has just woken up ... and stabbed her with the long, boney spikes protruding from his forearms...
As she collapses, he says: "Mommy.."

End Synopsis

Okaayy....  quite a lot of plot development.  I was rivetted through most of this episode.  A fair laugh quotient, and some interesting character development.

Riley has walked away from the Initiative ... will he keep walking? Who will be in charge now Walsh is dead?  (Assuming she is dead ... if Adam missed the heart, and she gets medical help pretty quick ... but she looked pretty dead to me.) (Or perhaps they could rebuild her.... the mind boggles)

I was expecting conflict between the Initiative and Buffy sooner or later, but this was rather sooner than I expected to go to a full war footing.  Unless the Initiative goes quiet because they've lost Walsh ... and thus the personal jealousy/revenge motive ... who knows? I sure as hell don't.

This episode surprised me quite a few times.  I was expecting a few possibilities when we finally got to see 314, but I wasn't expecting a DIY demon...  I certainly wasn't expect conflict so soon.  I *really* didn't expect Walsh to get offed so early in the piece...

The Tara/Willow thing hots up ... we're assuming a lesbian relationship, but it's still not an absolute given ... it may just be what we are *expected* to think.  It'll be interesting to see how/when/if she comes out...

Can't wait to see what happens next.

Robbie Rating:   9.0, I think
Stephanie Rating: There is a very restrained sex scene with Buffy and Riley, and Walsh getting stabbed is a little gruesome.  On the other hand, there is nothing there that I would consider a major problem with kids.

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