Guest Starring: 
 Mercedes McNab: 
 Adam Kaufman: 
 (Parker Abrams) 
 Bailey Chase: 
 Leonard Roberts: 
 Lindsay Crouse: 
 (Maggie Walsh) 
 Mace Lombard: 
  7. The Initiative.  
  Spike's back again. The secretive military organisation 'The Initiative' capture him before he can do any damage, they implant a chip in his head that prevents him from attacking living creatures.  
  Great quotes:  
Maggie Walsh.
  • Forrest on spotting Buffy in the lunch queue: "She's so hot she's 'Buffy'." and "Mattressable nes-pas?"
  • Xander: "No study?! Damn, next you'll tell me I have to eat jelly doughnuts or sleep with a super model."
  • Willow's advice to Riley on courting Buffy: "Mostly dancing, light contact but don't push your luck ... if you hurt her I'll beat you to death with a shovel."
  • Spike on seeing the Initiative: "I wondered what would happen when that bitch got funding." He is certain Buffy is behind it all.
  • Xander: "Every man faces this moment, here, now. Watching and waiting for an unseen enemy that has no face. Nerve endings screaming in silence, never knowing which moment may be your last." Giles: "Oh shut up!"
  Fantastic moments:  
Spike is unable to 'perform' with Willow.
  • Xander's 'handbags' fight with Harmony is brilliant. There are lots of silly slow-motion sequences showing them slapping each other and pulling hair; the dramatic music just adds to the comedy.
  • Spike fails repeatedly to bite Willow (bring on the dialogue alluding to male impotence "Let's wait half an hour and try again" and "This has never happened to me before.") after a pretty violent scene in which he bursts into her room ready for a kill. Willow then thinks it's her who's done something wrong before taking comfort in the fact that Spike would want to bite her. The scene is a microcosm of why BtVS is so good in general, the ability to play several genres and types of storytelling at once within a single scene. The scene lurches from horror to comedy while all the time doing a great job of setting up Spike's character and the role he is going to play in relation to the Scoobies for the rest of the season.
  Duff Bits:  
  • Now did Spike hit anyone on his way out of the Initiative base? I think he attacks both of the scientists around him without flinching as a result of his chip. A slight inconsistency then, but Spike had to escape so we'll let them off the hook.
  • No one told James Masters how we English pronounce the word 'patronise'.
  • Did anyone else feel their heart sink when they first saw the big reveal about who Riley and his mates are and their relationship to the Initiative? I was disappointed to see BtVS go down the 'new season means more money which means bigger sets and eviler baddies' route of television. I was worried that a sudden over-reliance on new baddies and a need to introduce an even bigger evil for Buffy to fight would ruin the season (see below).
  • The ending, in which Buffy and Riley 'happen' to not see each other, is a little contrived.
  Dean's comments:  
Secret identities revealed.
This essentially continues on from the teaser in 'Wild at heart', and we get to take a look at what is really going on with the army guys going around campus. There are lots of good moments here, like Harmony and Xander's slow motion slap fight, Forrest and Graham acting as advisors on Riley's shoulder and Spike's Bond-style escape from the Initiative. Riley's revelation through Forrest and Graham that he has feelings for Buffy is nicely played, its good to see someone else hit Parker too. Then of course there is the revelation about Riley and the Initiative and all that; how much did that set cost them? On the emergence of the Initiative; as noted above I was worried that the series was talking a turn for the worse when this episode revealed whom Riley (Brainless soldier-boy?) and Professor Walsh (a hybrid of Cruella de Vil and most Bond villains?) really were. I suppose that the point of the forth season is to explore the freedom of living away from parents and the liberalism of modern university life, the Initiative fits that idea in that it forms a totally new enemy for the Scoobies. This still doesn't stop the episodes that revolve around the Initiative being some of the dullest ('Doomed', 'The I in team', 'Goodbye Iowa') while the best episodes are the ones that stay on that theme of
Graham, Riley and Forrest.
growing independence and freedom to experiment with one's life choices ('Hush', 'Who are you?', 'Restless'). James Masters is in the credits for this episode for the first time; this told us that he was going to become a regular character. Obviously we need to have the 'chip' contrivance to turn him from a vicious killer into an annoying neighbour.
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