Thursday, November 17, 2011

"The Initiative" (Buffy 4.7) is not nearly as dull as I remembered

Whenever a Riley-centric episode comes up on the rotation, I brace myself for televisual melatonin. But "The Initiative" is a fun lead-in to my all-time favorite three-episode arc in the series. Here's the Buffy guide to going to see about a girl.

DO show some, ahem, initiative.
In a thematic move with big season 5 & 6 implications, this episode rhymes Spike's obsession with killing Buffy with Riley's "romantic" pursuit of her. Whereas Riley hems and haws and asks Willow for help, Spike wakes up in an Initiative cell with, as the scene titles it, Buffy on the brain. He breaks his way out and even does some Willow-esque computer hacking to find his Slayer.
Do you think his username is WilliamtheBloody or Hostile17?

DON'T be a sweet talker. 
The birth of the Buffy/Riley relationship comes with him deeming her "peculiar," allowing he "doesn't dislike her," commenting "there's definitely something off about her," and agreeing she's hot but "Would you really want to go out with her?" Riley Finn: the last of the great romantics. Apparently Parker's comparison of Buffy to a toilet seat awakens Riley's ardor--he punches Parker and decides to "court" Buffy. Whatever.
And he wears these ridiculous gleaming white sneakers to do it.

DO triangulate.
Because apparently Riley is still in Junior High, he asks Willow for help in asking Buffy out. Yes. That's what he does. Spike also ends up having a pretty interesting encounter with Wills, who is still nursing a broken heart from Oz's abandonment. Though sexualizing Spike's failed attempt to bite Willow (due to the chip in his brain, courtesy of the Initiative) is disturbing considering the violence with which it begins (and with "Seeing Red" not far from my mind), this scene is still fairly hilarious.
I would also be flattered if Spike wanted to bite me.

DON'T underestimate the appeal of cheese.
Riley's finest moment.

Though it doesn't pay to think too hard about the Initiative (Where have they been for the past three years?), this episode earns is place in the Buffy canon for the Xander vs. Harmony slapfight alone.

1 comment:

  1. I've always liked Riley. Not as much as Spike, but a hell of a lot more than Angel.