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As You Were - why a wife?

Taake

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Jumping of this thread BBDiscusses : Into the Woods

In As you were, Riley not only returns but returns with a wife. Not a girlfriend, but a wife.

Why did the writers think this necessary, in your opinion?
It may be a difference in culture but for me it seems awfully hasty for Riley to have gone away and gotten into a relationhip serious enough for matrimony. For me that signifies either - a whirlwind romance or immaturity.

On the one hand it seems like the writers are trying to say “see Buffy, see what you’re missing”, but on the other hand it seems to say that if Riley was ready for marriage then he and Buffy certainly were not right for each other because she is still a young woman finding herself and did not seem anywhere near ready for marriage.

Was the purpose of Riley’s wife Sam to show that there was no way Buffy and Riley could get back together, and to flaunt a ”steady” and “healthy” relationship in her face (from the limits of our knowledge of it). Yet still, was it necessary for him to be married?
 

Faded90

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I think it definitely showed the different stages of their life they are at - and I don’t mean that as a negative against Buffy in the slightest. The maths of how long they’ve been together and married while Buffy was apparently still pining hurts my head though. Like the way she talks about the dates makes it sound like a rebound rather than this super duper healthy loving relationship we’re clearly supposed to view them as having

My theory is that Sam is a Sambot that Riley had made. She’s just so nauseatingly perfect Mary Sue throughout. Apparently she’s totally kickass but also ‘oh shucks Buffy I’m so humble’ enough that she doesn’t hate her. She has the perfect advice for everyone that blows their mind - are we really expecting none of Willow’s friends have told her how well she’s doing? Or when they lose their s*** at the disposable cameras suggestion? The shooting script is even worse. The thing is that she’s written so ‘perfect’ that what is supposed to be charming actually ends up looking smug (to me anyway) . Like for a show that is amazing at creating flawed characters that we love, for them to throw in a character whose entire existence is basically to make Buffy feel bad about herself because the new wife is so perfect and in a better place than her it just doesn’t land right.

Go and look at the face Willow pulls at the groundbreaking disposable cameras comment - this is my face throughout this entire episode 😂
 

Spanky

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I think there were reasons related to Buffy's psyche but also if Riley returned with a girlfriend she could have easily been dumped for Buffy. Riley returning with a wife was a subliminal way of saying 'no, they won't get back together'

I mean, sure they could, but no one wanted to think of Buffy as a marriage wrecker.
 

Btvs fan

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She's a Mary Sue nothing more. I doubt the writers thought much further beyond, than showing what Buffy (and by extension the fans missed). The timelines don't mesh that's for sure.
When Buffy apologises to Riley, it feels like metaphor for the fans suddenly realising what a great character he was. Or the writers thinking that anyway. What's funny is he's a double Agent in the comics and he's still boring 😂
 

Faded90

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She's a Mary Sue nothing more. I doubt the writers thought much further beyond, than showing what Buffy (and by extension the fans missed). The timelines don't mesh that's for sure.
When Buffy apologises to Riley, it feels like metaphor for the fans suddenly realising what a great character he was. Or the writers thinking that anyway. What's funny is he's a double Agent in the comics and he's still boring 😂
Yeah in the comics Riley does have a wierd level of importance I felt. Stop trying to make Riley happen, it’s not going to happen
 

thetopher

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Several reasons:
- Firstly, yes, the wife says to fans; they are not getting back together. Riley is now unavailable romantically. That's the subliminal baseline.
- Secondly it confirms to many that Riley didn't believe that Buffy ever really loved him, which is why he could move on so quickly. It's easier to move on if you feel that the previous relationship was not at all reciprocal in terms of romantic feeling. Maybe Riley really threw himself into his relationship with Sam when he discovered that she had little trouble telling him she loved him.

- Thirdly yes, it does highlight how low Buffy has fallen. She was with Riley, who, despite his flaws was an alright dude. And now Buffy is making time with Mr. Crypt. The contrast from less than a year ago is stark.

- Fourthly it shows a healthy, working partnership between Riley and Sam; they seem right for each other. I think it shows that Buffy and Riley perhaps weren't meant to be. Or maybe just that his experiences with Buffy didn't harm Riley's views of romance and relationships. Maybe she made him ready for 'Miss Right'?


People equate writer's intent with character intent in this episode. Riley is basically depicted 'peak-Riley' from his Initiative days; he's got cool gadgets and a dangerous mission and government oversight. He's not the Riley we saw in 'into The Woods' who was whiny and demanding, he's changed for the better. Buffy has not.
People can speculate as to what the writers wanted but that shouldn't bleed out into negativity for Riley; he doesn't seem to mind that Buffy's in a bad place and never deliberately makes her feel less then she is, because he knows it won't last for a woman like her, the woman he had loved; she's the slayer who still has great hair and cute cow-chicken hat-thing and can break demons in half with her bare hands. From Riley's pov she is still worthy of his warm regard and respect.

What's funny is he's a double Agent in the comics and he's still boring
To be fair to Riley a lot of previously interesting characters turn boring in the comics.
 
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AstridDante

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Well it definitely seemed like Riley went all in on the new relationship. I think the reason why Sam had to be the wife rather than a girlfriend is that marriage is traditionally held up as this aspiration or paradigm of romantic relationships, the ultimate commitment. It was there to be a stark contrast to where Buffy found herself in her relationship with Spike, which whilst passionate lacked trust and security.
 

The Bronze

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They were at different life stages when they were together, you just kinda forget. Buffy's just left home for her first year at uni, Riley is holding down two jobs. Not entirely surprising that he'd get married.

Still the point of it from the writers I feel was just to show the sharpest contrast with Buffy. Riley is living out a fantasy life, he's both Rambo and the Waltons. She's working fast food and sleeping with a monster.
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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I agree with the "To show Riley is completely over Buffy?" It's worth remembering, Riley was almost five years older than Buffy, and he was in a dangerous occupation where death was ever present, and he rescued Sam from a near death situation, right? That's a sufficient catalyst for getting married. I suppose there's an Adulthood theme about your ex getting married and having a better life than he had while he was with you, and getting over it, but who knows?
 

Stake fodder

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Thirdly yes, it does highlight how low Buffy has fallen. She was with Riley, who, despite his flaws was an alright dude. And now Buffy is making time with Mr. Crypt. The contrast from less than a year ago is stark.
I do think the main point of it was to rub the contrast in Buffy's face. She would not have wanted to be married (still cookie dough!), but seeing an ex move on so fast and have such a perfect marriage, with an apparently perfect person, just pushes her to rock bottom. Seeing how she must look to Riley (even if he doesn't judge her) shocks her enough to finally start pulling out of the hole she's gotten into.

I think the reason why Sam had to be the wife rather than a girlfriend is that marriage is traditionally held up as this aspiration or paradigm of romantic relationships, the ultimate commitment. It was there to be a stark contrast to where Buffy found herself in her relationship with Spike, which whilst passionate lacked trust and security.
Yes, he had to be married, with that representing the apex of a healthy, fulfilling romantic relationship. As an aside, Spike makes it all the worse by bragging when they're caught by Riley. Buffy sees the vast chasm between the two relationships, while Spike is oblivious to it and her reaction in the moment, which just highlights his inferiority (and lack of soul).
 

Professor Walsh

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Now I started writing: "As much as I love Riley and didn't mind Sam, not even I can deny that the timeline is so forced it ..." Then I started thinking, and remembered that someone who was once rather close to me had a timeline (relationshipwise, no army involved) quite like that. The rather fast marriage seems to be rock solid and happy, twenty years down the line.
 

Priceless

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I am not a Riley fan, so I see it as him showing Buffy that he could form real romantic attachments, that he is capable of being a good partner to a strong woman. Look, here's Sam to prove it. She's so like you Buffy, strong and in charge and not afraid to speak her mind, and she loves me. So our relationship failing, well that must have been all your fault Buffy, because look at you, having sex with an evil vampire on a tomb, and look at my near perfect life.
 

Antho

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I am not a Riley fan, so I see it as him showing Buffy that he could form real romantic attachments, that he is capable of being a good partner to a strong woman. Look, here's Sam to prove it. She's so like you Buffy, strong and in charge and not afraid to speak her mind, and she loves me. So our relationship failing, well that must have been all your fault Buffy, because look at you, having sex with an evil vampire on a tomb, and look at my near perfect life.
You really get the feeling that Riley was showing his « superiority » ? Reading your post, you describe him like he had behaved wrongly with Buffy, very condescending and kinda mean in that episode while I think he was mostly fair and nice. He compliments her a lot ( he says that she is a hell of a woman That he loved). He doesn’t judge her ( he doesn’t talk about her job or her bad odour or her relationship with spike). He is even supportive at the end of the episode, delivering to her a good message of hope, saying to her that she will go through all of it and that her life it’s gonna change for the better and that what happens now to her doesn’t define the person she is. I do wonder how is it possible that people have two opposite extremes opinion on an episode where the writers seem to deliver a clear message. It’s interesting how people can interpreted things so differently even when there is not so much room for different interpretations.
 

Cheese Slices

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You really get the feeling that Riley was showing his « superiority » ? Reading your post, you describe him like he had behaved wrongly with Buffy, very condescending and kinda mean in that episode while I think he was mostly fair and nice. He compliments her a lot ( he says that she is a hell of a woman That he loved). He doesn’t judge her ( he doesn’t talk about her job or her bad odour or her relationship with spike). He is even supportive at the end of the episode, delivering to her a good message of hope, saying to her that she will go through all of it and that her life it’s gonna change for the better and that what happens now to her doesn’t define the person she is. I do wonder how is it possible that people have two opposite extremes opinion on an episode where the writers seem to deliver a clear message. It’s interesting how people can interpreted things so differently even when there is not so much room for different interpretations.
He does actually :p
I think the problem is that we're meant to see him as you describe, but there are unacknoledged implications that lead to @Priceless interpretation. Some examples : he does the exact same thing Spike did in DMP (only kinda worse because Spike was trying to lift her up while Riley just doesn't give a damn that she's working and needs the job), but we're meant to see him as the knight in shining armor rescuing Buffy from her dreadful life, while Spike was supposed to be seen as a bad influence. He tells her she stinks (literally !), that she looks like crap, doesn't tell her that he's married and flirts with her in the meantime, and is generally incredibly incompetent re. the demon hunt. But none of those things are acknowledged in the text, and that's incredibly frustrating to most viewers.
 

Priceless

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For me it's these lines from Riley

RILEY: (laughs) This isn't about who's on top. I know how lucky I am right now. I love my work, and I love my wife.
RILEY: So you're not in the greatest place right now.

I'm probably reading too much into it, but the 'who's on top' line is a sexualised reference, about the sex Buffy is having with Spike. We never saw her on top with Riley did we? It takes Buffy's mind back to sex with Spike, which is meant to make her feel guilt and shame. Then he goes on with how much he loves his job, and his wife, and remind Buffy she's 'not in the greatest place right now', that place being on a tomb with Spike and at the Doublemeat Palace, trapped in Sunnydale forever while he can be whisked away to exciting places she'll never go.

He's meant to sound nice and caring, but to me he just sounds like he's trying to shame her and show he what she's lost in losing him. I can stand Riley up to this episode, then he loses any tiny bit of respect I had for him.
 

Antho

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while Riley just doesn't give a damn that she's working and needs the job),
I don’t think it’s true but honestly why should he give a damn that she has a job ? Most people have one. He came to her to ask her help and she decided to go help him. That was her decision.

we're meant to see him as the knight in shining armor
I see him as a reasonable dude seeing that Buffy isn’t really well and acting like a friend for her by giving her some advices and encouragement in order to push her to move on for the best.

Spike was supposed to be seen as a bad influence.
We probably disagree here but that’s what Spike is at that point for Buffy or in her life. He has a bad influence. Their relationship was destructive for both of them. It helped and destroyed them at the same time. I didn’t wait Riley and that episode to realise that.

He tells her she stinks (literally !), that she looks like crap,
He wasn’t serious. It wasn’t said to hurt her. Buffy didn’t even take it bad. It was maybe displayed but that’s it.


doesn't tell her that he's married and flirts with her in the meantime,
Buffy does the same. She has that special relationship with Spike and she flirts with him in the meantime. She isn’t better. They are both dishonest.

RILEY: (laughs) This isn't about who's on top. I know how lucky I am right now. I love my work, and I love my wife.
I read it as him saying that it’s not about who has the better life.. he knows that today he is lucky to be happy, to have the life he always wanted but things change fast and tomorrow he can loose everything.

RILEY: So you're not in the greatest place right now.
Again I read it as him saying to Buffy that her life might not be how she wanted it but it’s not gonna last. And he said that because he felt that she wasn’t happy or confortable with what was going on in her life at that moment.

I understand where you are coming from Pricey but indeed you are reading too much into it 😀
 

AstridDante

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Ya I never had an issue with Riley, he wasn’t going to bring up any of her current circumstances until Buffy said ‘don’t patronise me’. I think ultimately he acknowledged that while she may not be in the greatest place, which I think she herself would agree with, it doesn’t change the fact that she is an amazing woman, the first woman he fell in love with and still quite ‘the hottie’. I don’t think he was trying to shame her, quite the opposite. The only thing I didn’t like is how the writers had Buffy be all look what I missed out on and look what I could have had and there was no real acknowledgment from Riley of his mistakes.
 

Cheese Slices

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I see him as a reasonable dude seeing that Buffy isn’t really well and acting like a friend for her by giving her some advices and encouragement in order to push her to move on for the best.
The problem with me is the complete disconnect from the larger context and the doubling down on the dissonance that a large portion of the audience felt about Riley during his time on the show : not only are his flaws and bad actions completely forgotten and only brought up by the bad guy so it doesn't count, but they have Buffy apologizing to him without him even reciprocating. So the takeaway is : Riley was the one who got away, Buffy was completely wrong and is a mess, but now that she got the validation of role model Riley Finn (who totally didn't cheat on her and put the blame on her), she can get her shit together. If Riley had been flawless or had his flaws been acknowledged, I wouldn't have that many issues with it, but as it is I feel like the writers are telling that 2+2=5, but this ain't Oceania and 2+2=4.
We probably disagree here but that’s what Spike is at that point for Buffy or in her life. He has a bad influence. Their relationship was destructive for both of them. It helped and destroyed them at the same time. I didn’t wait Riley and that episode to realise that.
I meant in DMP specifically, and the highlighted contrast between the two. I'm not making an argument about Spike's relationship to Buffy in general.
He wasn’t serious. It wasn’t said to hurt her. Buffy didn’t even take it bad. It was maybe displayed but that’s it.
It wasn't to hurt her, but it was patronizing as hell, and she is humiliated by it.
Buffy does the same. She has that special relationship with Spike and she flirts with him in the meantime. She isn’t better. They are both dishonest.
Yes, but I'm talking about Riley here.
 
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