Buffy is searching for Riley but cannot find him. He is with Adam who explains that Walsh implanted a chip in him, connected to his thoracic nerve. Adam has activated it and now Riley must obey his commands. Spike arrives, uninvited, asking to get his chip out. Adam says he'll get it out when the slayer is where he wants her. Spike says he's separated her from her friends as asked, but Adam says he needs her in the Initiative. Spike says the disks will achieve that when Willow decodes them. Then he realizes Willow isn't talking to Buffy because of his work. He leaves to patch things up.
Willow and Tara show up at Giles' door to pick up Willow's laptop and the disks which she left the night before. Giles is clearly very hung over. Buffy is alone in her dorm room. She looks at a photo, considers a phone call, and starts packing weapons. Anya arrives at Xander's. He's lying in bed, still undressed. He doesn't even want to go look for a job. Anya says he shouldn't be upset over fighting with his friends. He says maybe what they think of him is right. She tries to comfort him, saying he's a good person, a good boyfriend, and she loves him. That what they think shouldn't matter. He agrees with her, but his heart is clearly not in it.
Buffy is at Adam's cave, only he's gone. He's taken Riley into secret areas of the Initiative which he is now using as a lab. He reveals a reanimated Walsh and Angleman. Adam says they are mere workers, he will make something greater of Riley. They are reanimating Forrest. Buffy runs into Spike in the caves, he claims he is looking for a place to live. She says Adam has left the area and must be in the final stages of his plan. Spike says she should look into the disks and says just because she and Willow had a falling out is no reason to ignore evidence. Willow is at Tara's trying to decrypt the disks. She thinks she has the answer, but before she can code it in the disk self decrypts. Buffy calls to talk to Willow.
Riley tries to talk to Walsh, Forrest says she's reanimated but has only minor brain activity. He, on the other hand, is almost as powerful as Adam. He says he's looking forward to fighting Buffy. He says Riley will feel the same when they rebuild him, once they get some good parts.
Buffy, Xander, Giles, and Willow meet in the open on the university grounds. Buffy convinces them that Spike set them up, although none of them seems all that much happier for learning this. Willow reveals what was on the disks, that Adam will be creating more demons like himself in a secret lab in the Initiative. Buffy realizes the overcrowding of the Initiative cells is part of his plan. This will lead to maximum carnage. She realizes he wants her there to even the kill ratio. She also realizes Adam just isn't worried about her killing him.
Adam senses Buffy is coming. Spike wants his chip taken out, but Adam says not until Buffy arrives. Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander are trying to figure out how to defeat Adam. His power source is uranium embedded in his chest. Giles has a paralyzing spell, only it has to be spoken in Sumerian (which he knows) by an experienced witch (like Willow) within close range. Xander says they need a combo Buffy with her strength, Willow's witchiness, and Giles' multilingualism. Giles says that's a good idea. The gang goes to the Initiative. They are going to use an enjoining spell, powerful but very dangerous. Buffy breaks into the elevator shaft and they lower themselves down on ropes. Buffy and Willow are going down together and talk. Buffy apologizes, saying she realizes Spike was able to stir up trouble because of her, that she had become distant and a bad friend, wrapped up in Riley. Willow says she, too, kept secrets. They promise not to do so again. They hug and slide the rest of the way down. Xander reaches the bottom and they hug him. They pry open the doors at the bottom, only to find the Initiative soldiers waiting for them.
Adam is watching this on a monitor and Spike asks for his chip out now that Buffy is here. But Adam points out she is with her friends and Spike has failed him. He tries to run away, but Forrest grabs him. Adam says to take his head off. Forrest tries, but Spike burns him with his cigarette and flees. Adam lets him go, saying there is nowhere left to run.
The colonel is going through the package the gang brought down with them, finding a gourd (a magic one according to Giles). They tell him about the secret lab and 314, but he doesn't believe them. He thinks he can kill Adam hitting him with multiple taser blasts. Buffy says he just feeds on the energy. He tells her not to tell him his business. She says this is her business. Even as the colonel affirms he is in control, Adam shuts off the power and opens the cells freeing all the captive demons. The colonel still refuses to listen. He leads his men out and leaves Buffy and the others under arrest. Buffy takes out the guards. All hell is breaking loose in the Initiative with Spike stuck in it. Giles says they will need a quiet place near her to work the spell. Willow works out that the entrance to the secret lab is behind 314. They make a run for it, with Buffy leading, Xander next with a blaster, then Willow, and finally Giles carrying the gourd. They make it to room 314. Buffy finds the secret entrances and goes in while the others start work on the enjoining spell.
Buffy finds Riley, who can't move or talk. Walsh and Angleman are also there. Adam appears and orders her killed. Forrest grabs her as Walsh walks toward her with a saw. Buffy breaks free and fights with Forrest. Riley seems to regain some control. A flask was broken near him, and he tries to reach for a piece of broken glass. He gets it and makes an incision in his chest where the chip is. The gang are performing the spell with Willow as spirit, Xander as heart, Giles as mind, and Buffy as hand. Buffy tears down some power cables. She's trapped on a table by Forrest, Walsh, and Angleman. Riley pulls out his chip and comes to her rescue, destroying Walsh and Angleman. She tells him she needs to get to Adam and leaves him to fight Forrest.
She finds Adam and tries to fight him. She breaks the spike he has, but he reveals he has a machine gun like attachment on his other arm. He fires at her as she ducks behind a panel. The spell takes effect. A glowing eyed Buffy arises and begins reciting the Sumerian spell. Adam fires at her, but a magic field protects her from the bullets. Demons are trying to break into 314 where the gang are casting the spell. Forrest goes to through a flammable cannister at Riley, it touches the exposed wires and explodes, killing him. Adam fires a missile at Buffy, she turns it into birds. She turns off his gun hand. He tries to fight her, but he can't lay a hand on her. She punches into his chest and pulls out his power source, destroying him. Riley rushes in. Buffy floats the power source and disintegrates it. The spell ends, Buffy falls into Riley's arms.
A demon bursts into 314, with Spike behind who kills him. Giles points out they know Spike sided with Adam and that he probably only helped them so they wouldn't stake him. But it works. Riley and Buffy return. They go out to save the remaining soldiers. Cut to the civilian we saw at the beginning of The Yoko Factor recounting the failure of the Initiative to utilize demons. He calls the project a failure and says 40% of the soldiers were killed. They decide to close it down, destroy the records, and fill the building with concrete. The remaining soldiers will be debriefed and sworn to secrecy. The civilians will be monitored to make sure they don't go public, although he doesn't think they will.
There were only a few scenes in this episode which I really enjoyed. Most of it was workmanlike, good compared to most tv, but not the quality of the Buffy season ending episodes we've seen in years past. And, yes, this isn't the final episode of the season. But it isn't as good as the second to last episode of last season.
But let's focus on the good bits to start with. The first scene I liked was Xander depressed in bed being cheered up by Anya. This is the first time I can remember Anya being really nice to Xander. Which suggests she really felt he was seriously depressed. And Xander reveals that he is not so much upset at what the others said, or he believes they said, but at the fact that he believes what they said is true. Xander has moved very far from the confident character at the end of The Zeppo and the fellow who cheers up a depressed Buffy in The Freshman. The continual failure to hold a job and the realization that his friends are moving on with their lives while he is not have combined to wear him down.
The next scene on my list is the meeting of the four friends. This is the original gang who first began fighting demons four years ago. They come together, in bright daylight for a change, and try to reunite to fight evil. But They are still uneasy with one another. Although they all believe what Buffy says about Spike, they still suspect he was merely making obvious what they already secretly thought. Giles says they must move on, they all agree, yet the next shot shows them all standing stock still. Words alone are not enough to get them back to where they must be. This sunlight meeting is juxtaposed with the underground meeting of Riley, Adam, Forrest, and Walsh. Only Adam has brought the others there by force and controls them through technology. Buffy has gathered the others because for all that has happened they still love one another and especially her. And they follow her because they know it is the right thing to do.
In the elevator shaft, as they move from the bright light of the human world above into the darkness of the Initiative, the gang continue their reconciliation. Buffy and Willow apologize to each other, realizing they have both withdrawn. And they convince Xander they love him too, making him spontaneously happy again. Buffy reminds them that they can get through it if they stick together, emphasizing the importance of the team.
Next is the scene with the colonel, where Buffy lets him know that she is the true expert here not him. She tells him she is the slayer and he is fighting on her turf. This is reminiscent of her announcing her identity to the demons in Anne at the beginning of last season. She is reaffirming her identity. In Anne, she was running from her burden as slayer and had finally come to accept it. In this episode, she had broken with her friends and has now reunited with them (soon in a physical and metaphysical sense) and has become even more the slayer leading her followers to vanquish evil. The colonel maintains his stubborn stupidity throughout. He simply cannot believe that this girl (in The Yoko Factor he emphasizes that she's just a girl) can have anything to tell him. He's proven wrong almost immediately, as Adam seizes control of the facility. And Buffy further emphasizes her union with her friends when she enters the secret lab. She tells Xander, who worries about her going in alone, that she won't be. In The Yoko Factor, she angrily left Xander and Willow (and the drunken Giles) saying she would call on someone she could rely on. Now, she walks to what could be certain death, knowing that behind her are the people she can always count on to stand by her.
Finally, there is the scene with Adam where Buffy ultimately defeats him. This is very similar to the scene with the colonel. In both cases, she confronts a figure who believes himself superior to her in knowledge and power. In both cases, she reminds them that they battle on her turf where she is the master. She faced the colonel with her friends behind her - leading them into battle. She faces Adam with her friends within her, making her invincible. Adam knows more than the colonel, but both are victims of their own prejudices. The colonel cannot believe a girl can tell him how to fight an enemy. And Adam cannot believe that he can be defeated.
Some quick final thoughts. Was Spike spooked, unusually dense, or secretly giving Buffy a clue? It's pretty obvious that when he talks to her about talking to Willow he gives away the plan. She's immediately suspicious. And that lack of subtlety just isn't like Spike. Maybe he's finally figured out he's not getting that chip out. When Riley talks to Forrest, Forrest is posed so that the light behind him makes it look as if he has devilish horns. You've got to feel sorry for Willow who never gets to decrypt the disks. Helping Cordelia decrypt the disks in Blind Date must have been a great relief. The information about Adam's power source was revealed by Jonathan in Superstar. So obviously not everything that happened in that episode was forgotten. If Anya saying she loves him can't console Xander is there really hope for them? I just can't believe Riley can cut himself open, tear out a chip, and then fight with a cyberdemonoid like Forrest.
Lines of the week:
"You're a good person and a good boyfriend and I'm in love with you." - Anya really trying to cheer up Xander.
"God has nothing to do with it." - Forrest on the force behind his reanimation.
"Does anybody else miss the mayor? I just wanna be a big snake." - Xander echoing all our thoughts.
"I'm the slayer. You're playing on my turf." - Buffy reciting what has become her mantra.
"Buffy, I still don't like you going in alone."
"I won't be." - Xander and Buffy on teamwork.
"You could never hope to grasp the source of our power." - Buffy answering Adam's question of how.
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