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BBDiscusses : Into the Woods

Priceless

Scooby
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I think Riley goes back to the military because that's the nature of Riley. He cannot change and grow, he is incapable of it and will always revert to what he knows.
 
TriBel
TriBel
Riley goes back to the Army because he has no initiative. Simple really.

GothicBuffy

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Yeah, I agree. Ultimately makes for a disappointing character, because I enjoyed watching him try to find his place outside of the rigid structure of the military and to start to question authority. Relatable for many people. Going back does prove that it didn't stick, which is kind of annoying, but I guess it was that whole point?
 

Cheese Slices

A Bidet of Evil
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Should this have been over 2 episodes? The Buffy finding out about him and the vampires, and the military asking him back and him leaving?
I think it might have been interesting to have things stew for a while. I think the weird limbo that occurs between the discovery of a betrayal and the decision to end or resume the relationship is always a fascinating space to explore.
Yeah, I agree. Ultimately makes for a disappointing character, because I enjoyed watching him try to find his place outside of the rigid structure of the military and to start to question authority. Relatable for many people. Going back does prove that it didn't stick, which is kind of annoying, but I guess it was that whole point?
I think the issue is that that particular arc wasn't a huge success for a number of reasons, and more importantly they didn't develop Riley enough outside his relationship with Buffy, so he never built anything else that he could fall back on.
 

Faded90

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I always hate that he went back to the military. Season 4 was about Riley finding his own identity, learning that the military does not equal "right" or "good" and he has to find his own place in the world after realizing the horror of the US military. He becomes his own person and starts thinking for himself. So why would he go back? Simply because he resents Buffy that much? That seems drastic and really regressive. Negates a lot of self realization he had.
I think ultimately Riley just wasn’t capable of doing his own thing and making his own life decisions. His ‘no sir I’m an anarchist’ in S4 was laughable anyway. Riley in S5 is basically sitting around sulking that Buffy isn’t giving him his own special job and devoting a lot of her attention to him. In Shadow he turns up at the Magic Box and rather than seeing if he can help with research or doing something useful we get a ‘poor Riley drowning his sorrows’ scene. He appears to have zero initiative (lol) in his own life and just seems to sulk that Buffy isn’t giving him a life purpose

Honestly it kind of sums him up that the military have to literally come to his home to ask him back. Like he doesn’t even approach them or make a move, they basically spoon Feed him a job offer. Even then he’s basically ‘I’m leaving Buffy, unless you don’t want me too? Up to you’. For god sake Riley make a decision! Take some ownership of your life. Even without the cheating stuff I don’t think Buffy would be able to tolerate this drip of a man for the long haul
 

Crossbow

Potential
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If Buffy had said “Yes, please stay” what would Riley do for work? It would probably be the same as before plus added resentment of Buffy’s growing strength.

Riley - In Season 4 he pressured Buffy to go out with him in “Doomed” on more than one occasion. She even told Willow in “Something Blue” that she liked him but “there was something missing”. Heck, near the end of season 4 she’s irritated by his morning routine.
The character is a stereotype - wholesome, cornfed, small-town Iowa boy (if such a thing exists) which was disappointing too. I guess the writers thought this meant a “normal” boyfriend for Buffy?
I was interested in Graham he was impressed with Buffy in “The I in Team” after she takes down the platoon in a training exercise, he says “Awesome Buffy!” Didn’t seem intimidated or resentful by her, like Forrest.

Buffy is surrounded by the brothel vamps. She even gives them an out, telling them to “just walk away” but they don’t and when she dusts them all (which is her calling as Vampire Slayer), here comes Xander “So how’d that work out for you? Make you feel better?” What was he expecting her to do? Then has to give her the big relationship lecture because he’s the expert😒. Nice.

Poor Buffy, all she ever wanted was a NORMAL boyfriend since season 1 (Owen!). By season 7, I think she realizes that such a thing doesn’t exist and it has nothing to do with demons and the supernatural.

I found the most interesting part was after Spike and Buffy leave the “brothel” and Spike stops and says “I thought you should know” and the look on Buffy’s face....and then his, when he realizes what he’s done was terribly wrong.
 

DeadlyDuo

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I found the most interesting part was after Spike and Buffy leave the “brothel” and Spike stops and says “I thought you should know” and the look on Buffy’s face....and then his, when he realizes what he’s done was terribly wrong.
I don't think what Spike did was terribly wrong. It was selfishly motivated for sure but Buffy had the right to know what Riley was up to, especially given their sexual relationship and the issues that can arise from bodily fluids. I think Spike even pointed out that Buffy would've never believed him if he'd just told her what Riley was up to, she had to see it with her own two eyes.
 

TriBel

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given their sexual relationship and the issues that can arise from bodily fluids.
Is this a problem? Can vampires carry STDs or worse? I only ask because I think the implications are far greater than this.
I don't think what Spike did was terribly wrong.
I found the most interesting part was after Spike and Buffy leave the “brothel” and Spike stops and says “I thought you should know” and the look on Buffy’s face....and then his, when he realizes what he’s done was terribly wrong.
I'm not necessarily disagreeing with either comment - but why is it wrong/not wrong? If he doesn't tell her he's letting her live a lie. If he tells her the truth her world collapses. It reminds me of The Emperor's New Clothes. The little boy who proclaims the Emperor naked is usually declared a hero for saying what others can see but refuse to say. But, what if the shared lie is infinitely better than the truth? What if it's the shared lie that holds society (or parts of society) together? The philosopher Zizek uses the tale on several occasions: "Today, it seems that appearances no longer have to be protected. We all know the innocent child from Andersen’s "The Emperors New Clothes" who publicly proclaims the fact that the emperor is naked – today, in our cynical era, such a strategy no longer works, it lost its disturbing power, since everyone is publicly saying all the time that the emperor is naked (that Western democracies are torturing terrorist suspects, that wars are fought for profit, etc. etc.), and nothing happens, nobody seems to mind, the system just goes on functioning as if the emperor has his clothes on...".

I could give better examples from current politics but it's too contentious and would look as though I'm scoring political points (I'm not). What if Buffy knows a relationship with Riley wouldn't work...but she perseveres with it anyway? She keeps up an appearance for appearances sake...because she wants to appear "normal" knowing full well she isn't? And other people...Xander for instance...persuade her down that path because it's that path he wants to believe in? In S6 we see her "protecting" the Scoobies by lying (or suppressing the truth). This isn't a dig at Buffy...it's a general comment (and actually, plays into the "Xander" or "Dawn" question in OMWF). Xander's intentions are good...but designed to maintain a lie or something he wants to be true...and inadvertently reveal the truth.
 

Priceless

Scooby
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This isn't a dig at Buffy...it's a general comment (and actually, plays into the "Xander" or "Dawn" question in OMWF). Xander's intentions are good...but designed to maintain a lie or something he wants to be true...and inadvertently reveal the truth.
Do you believe Xander or Dawn made that wish?
 

Faded90

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If Buffy had said “Yes, please stay” what would Riley do for work? It would probably be the same as before plus added resentment of Buffy’s growing strength.

Riley - In Season 4 he pressured Buffy to go out with him in “Doomed” on more than one occasion. She even told Willow in “Something Blue” that she liked him but “there was something missing”. Heck, near the end of season 4 she’s irritated by his morning routine.
The character is a stereotype - wholesome, cornfed, small-town Iowa boy (if such a thing exists) which was disappointing too. I guess the writers thought this meant a “normal” boyfriend for Buffy?
I was interested in Graham he was impressed with Buffy in “The I in Team” after she takes down the platoon in a training exercise, he says “Awesome Buffy!” Didn’t seem intimidated or resentful by her, like Forrest.

Buffy is surrounded by the brothel vamps. She even gives them an out, telling them to “just walk away” but they don’t and when she dusts them all (which is her calling as Vampire Slayer), here comes Xander “So how’d that work out for you? Make you feel better?” What was he expecting her to do? Then has to give her the big relationship lecture because he’s the expert😒. Nice.

Poor Buffy, all she ever wanted was a NORMAL boyfriend since season 1 (Owen!). By season 7, I think she realizes that such a thing doesn’t exist and it has nothing to do with demons and the supernatural.

I found the most interesting part was after Spike and Buffy leave the “brothel” and Spike stops and says “I thought you should know” and the look on Buffy’s face....and then his, when he realizes what he’s done was terribly wrong.
I always laugh at Xander’s ‘Buffy you’re acting like a crazy person’ after dusting the vamps. I’m sitting here like ‘really? I though she was f***ing awesome’ 😂
 

DeadlyDuo

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Is this a problem? Can vampires carry STDs or worse? I only ask because I think the implications are far greater than this.
I don't think vampires can get infected as such in that they can't get sick or get STDs etc. However, when they normally bite someone, it's a killing bite so the victims won't get sick because they're dead. However the brothel vampires weren't killing but were biting numerous punters. Assuming they're not brushing their fangs between clients, theoretically traces of the previous client's blood could still be in the vampires mouth. That means when they bite the next client and create an open wound, the remnants of the previous client's blood could be going into the wound. If the previous client had an infectious blood disease and some of that was going into Riley's blood when he gets bitten and he becomes infected, he could then be passing that on to Buffy via sexual contact eg oral sex.

Do you believe Xander or Dawn made that wish?
NB said on twitter ages ago that Xander was covering for Dawn. It would explain why he partook in the I've got a theory song rather than being forced to sing how he was to blame. "I've got a theory- I really screwed up!"
 
TriBel
TriBel
Okay...I can work with that. Makes sense. "Dirty" v "Clean". Ta!

TriBel

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Do you believe Xander or Dawn made that wish?
Off topic...but given the logic of the above...perhaps Xander (though I could probably accommodate him covering up for Dawn via good intentions)? IDK. When I wrote what I wrote I was feeling inspired (and had a functioning brain). Then I went back to Zizek and remembered how full of jargon his argument is...which is why I didn't post it in full (it makes me look a loser and - TBH - I wonder if I really understand it). Just as Hush dealt with what couldn't be said (but could be expressed in a different representational form), so OMWF deals with what shouldn't be said for the sake of social coherence. Song isn't too far removed from speech...though there are significant theoretical differences. What I find interesting in OMWF is they don't "burst into song" - they slip into it...as though there's only a slight difference between truth and lie.
I wrote...
Xander's intentions are good...but designed to maintain a lie or something he wants to be true...and inadvertently reveal the truth.
I suppose it's the old adage "The road to hell (and isn't Sweet from Hell?) is paved with good intentions"?

I've always thought something similar happens in S7 but my reference point is the anamorphic image: from one perspective something can't be seen (or understood) but change your viewing position slightly and a different picture - or the whole picture is revealed - hence Xander's remark in Empty Places: "I'm trying to see your point here, Buff... but I guess it must be a little bit to my left... (shakes his head) 'cause I just don't." Xander's using metaphor but the most famous example is this:


Viewed straight on the image in the middle is a blot (something we don't see/understand)...take a step to the side (the left?) and you see a skull...the point of the painting is revealed.

This Ted Talk brought to you courtesy of too much caffeine.






...
 

Btvs fan

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I don't think vampires can get infected as such in that they can't get sick or get STDs etc. However, when they normally bite someone, it's a killing bite so the victims won't get sick because they're dead. However the brothel vampires weren't killing but were biting numerous punters. Assuming they're not brushing their fangs between clients, theoretically traces of the previous client's blood could still be in the vampires mouth. That means when they bite the next client and create an open wound, the remnants of the previous client's blood could be going into the wound. If the previous client had an infectious blood disease and some of that was going into Riley's blood when he gets bitten and he becomes infected, he could then be passing that on to Buffy via sexual contact eg oral sex.



NB said on twitter ages ago that Xander was covering for Dawn. It would explain why he partook in the I've got a theory song rather than being forced to sing how he was to blame. "I've got a theory- I really screwed up!"
That's a good retcon but I really doubt Whedon had thought that deep into it. He obviously loved his be your queen line and wanted to tie things with Sweet up and move on, nothing else.

Back to the conversation. One of the most unintentionally hilarious things in the next episode is Xander and Anya discussing B/R breakup after sex 🤣. Seriously how many people discuss a friends breakup after you've had sex cause that's weird!

This is also the episode where Anya boasts how she made a guy combust and set his whole village on fire. And its played for laughs which is also creepy and weird
 

TriBel

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Seriously how many people discuss a friends breakup after you've had sex cause that's weird!
IDK. People who're comfortable with each other? People who lie back and think "the ceiling needs painting"? Buffy and Spike discuss The Backstreet Boys (or some other boy band that slipped under my radar) as a sign their relationship is changing.
 
Joined
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When it comes to Riley's reasons for going and how it is handled, how much do people actually think that was about Riley as a character and what they wanted to do with him and how much of it was to do with extratextual reasons?

I can think of two extratextual reasons Riley needed to be sent off 1) he was proving unpopular and they had to cut their losses and manage him out or 2) (and more likely in my opinion, because the ME writers were determined they were right about Riley)
they need to manoeuvre Buffy into a more isolated position for the second half of the season. Joyce's death and the sudden duty of being Dawn's guardian would feel very different if she had a steady, serious, loving and responsible boyfriend to lean on. I mean, obviously Joyce's death wouldn't hurt less but she wouldn't have that hyper-focused 'I have to do everything now, only I can sort things out, it's all on me' anxiety if she had a partner to form a family unit with.
Did they have to move Riley out of the picture in order to get her to The Gift? There's a bit in 'Tough Love' where she says to Willow 'I have a life - I have Dawn's life' - she's dropped out of college, and everything is focused on supporting Dawn, she is subsuming her needs to Dawn's and even living vicariously through her, it would seem. Following on from that, sacrificing herself in The Gift seems like a natural progression. But if she still had a boyfriend, a little slice of something that was completely her own, someone to lean on and another key, personal relationship - would she still sacrifice herself? I mean - probably, because Dawn jumping off at the end would have been a pretty lame ending and Buffy is a hero ... but it maybe wouldn't have felt as natural and as right, people might have argued the ending didn't feel as earned, because Buffy had too much to live for and wouldn't do that. Whereas as it is, I don't think anyone argues that the end of The Gift isn't exactly right and exactly right for where Buffy is.

I think there were bigger reasons Riley needed to go and go quickly and that maybe the backwards step in his character or the weirdness of it all is because they were more interested in writing him out than they were in why he would do these things. So the regression of his character, the hideous ultimatum, his ridiculous childishness about Buffy having concerns outside of him were all thrown in there as service to a more important plot that he wasn't a part of, and not because this was a story about him they were genuinely interested in telling. It was a disservice to his character on the part of the ME writers, which is ironic as the ME writers are the only people who liked him and would care about his character assassination.

But then that does make sense to me why they have Xander inform Buffy this is all her fault and have her throw her dignity to wind and chase after him. The writers know they are telling a story that doesn't serve Riley's interests and are regretfully letting him go. The least they can do is make sure everyone is aware just how awesome he was, how much the fans had him wrong and lay all the blame for all the stuff they wrote for extratextual reasons intratextually at Buffy's feet so no one notices that it was done for extratextual reasons. Buffy was to blame for Riley going - not plot devices.
 

Faded90

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When it comes to Riley's reasons for going and how it is handled, how much do people actually think that was about Riley as a character and what they wanted to do with him and how much of it was to do with extratextual reasons?

I can think of two extratextual reasons Riley needed to be sent off 1) he was proving unpopular and they had to cut their losses and manage him out or 2) (and more likely in my opinion, because the ME writers were determined they were right about Riley)
they need to manoeuvre Buffy into a more isolated position for the second half of the season. Joyce's death and the sudden duty of being Dawn's guardian would feel very different if she had a steady, serious, loving and responsible boyfriend to lean on. I mean, obviously Joyce's death wouldn't hurt less but she wouldn't have that hyper-focused 'I have to do everything now, only I can sort things out, it's all on me' anxiety if she had a partner to form a family unit with.
Did they have to move Riley out of the picture in order to get her to The Gift? There's a bit in 'Tough Love' where she says to Willow 'I have a life - I have Dawn's life' - she's dropped out of college, and everything is focused on supporting Dawn, she is subsuming her needs to Dawn's and even living vicariously through her, it would seem. Following on from that, sacrificing herself in The Gift seems like a natural progression. But if she still had a boyfriend, a little slice of something that was completely her own, someone to lean on and another key, personal relationship - would she still sacrifice herself? I mean - probably, because Dawn jumping off at the end would have been a pretty lame ending and Buffy is a hero ... but it maybe wouldn't have felt as natural and as right, people might have argued the ending didn't feel as earned, because Buffy had too much to live for and wouldn't do that. Whereas as it is, I don't think anyone argues that the end of The Gift isn't exactly right and exactly right for where Buffy is.

I think there were bigger reasons Riley needed to go and go quickly and that maybe the backwards step in his character or the weirdness of it all is because they were more interested in writing him out than they were in why he would do these things. So the regression of his character, the hideous ultimatum, his ridiculous childishness about Buffy having concerns outside of him were all thrown in there as service to a more important plot that he wasn't a part of, and not because this was a story about him they were genuinely interested in telling. It was a disservice to his character on the part of the ME writers, which is ironic as the ME writers are the only people who liked him and would care about his character assassination.

But then that does make sense to me why they have Xander inform Buffy this is all her fault and have her throw her dignity to wind and chase after him. The writers know they are telling a story that doesn't serve Riley's interests and are regretfully letting him go. The least they can do is make sure everyone is aware just how awesome he was, how much the fans had him wrong and lay all the blame for all the stuff they wrote for extratextual reasons intratextually at Buffy's feet so no one notices that it was done for extratextual reasons. Buffy was to blame for Riley going - not plot devices.
I think As You Were showed that they very much believed the fans were wrong about Riley and we just couldn’t see what was in front of us. The entire episode feels like ‘look at what you could have had Buffy *cough fans*’. You only have to hear Doug Petrie (who is actually my favourite writer usually) talk about this episode and how he saw it as a ‘super cool secret agent episode’ and they apparently had a bigger budget than a lot of other S6 episodes to see that their vision of Riley just didn’t translate. Actual result - fans still said ‘no’ and As You Were is regarded as one of the worst episodes in the entire show
 
B
Btvs fan
Listen to either This Years Girl or Fool For Love DVD Commentaries Petrie seems in love with the character.

Cheese Slices

A Bidet of Evil
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I don't think what Spike did was terribly wrong. It was selfishly motivated for sure but Buffy had the right to know what Riley was up to
I agree. It wasn't wrong, though it was for the wrong reason. I interpret his look when Buffy feels as him realizing he has caused Buffy a great deal of pain...maybe he imagined she would be immediately angry at Riley instead of hurt ?

As for the Riley of things, and the way the audience reacted vs how the writers saw the character, I think there are several factors :
  • Buffy, as the main character, is more interesting if she has flaws as opposed to being the victim in an abusive relationship ; besides, they'd already been there, done that with the Buffy/Angel relationship. So let's make it mostly her fault. However, the timing was all wrong, because they decided to have the Joyce illness storyline start at roughly the same time; and therefore they find themselves hoping that the audience will see Buffy's "neglect" of Riley as a flaw, even though she is simultaneously preoccupied with her sick mom.
  • Whedon & co really liked Marc Blucas, and tried (imo) too hard with him/his character. And the more they pushed for people to like him, the more people pushed back, because it just lacked subtlety. This is only my opinion based on interviews and commentaries I've seen, of course.
  • The writers just had a problem with writing characters who were designed to be love interests. They all come off douchey, again because I think they were trying too hard and we often ended up with an amalgation of "charming" and positive character traits with not much to keep the balance or connect those traits together; so we end up with a list of personality traits instead of an actual character.
 
Joined
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The writers just had a problem with writing characters who were designed to be love interests. They all come off douchey, again because I think they were trying too hard and we often ended up with an amalgamation of "charming" and positive character traits with not much to keep the balance or connect those traits together; so we end up with a list of personality traits instead of an actual character.
It's weird that it seems to be a specifically Buffy problem as well - they can't write her love interests and go with 'quirks' rather than actual people (Scott Hope and his Buster Keaton festival spring to mind).
And yet Oz is a character written as a love interest - he is very definitely his own thing, who just happens to be into Willow. Ditto Tara. Anya only gets a reoccurring slot when she becomes a love interest for Xander but she maintains her own personality. Jenny is essentially a love interest. Even Knox is first introduced as pretty much another spoke in the wheel of Fresley but is a fully realised person.

But when it comes to Buffy's love interests - Angel is plank of wood until he's either evil or on his own show, he is infinitely better away from Buffy than he is with her, Scott Hope is all charm and quirks and inappropriate gifts and utterly unbelievable as a human that could conceivably exist, Parker is puppy dog eyes and ziploc bags and Riley is literally termed 'captain cardboard'.

I wonder if it's because Willow, Xander and even Giles are nerdy, unhip outcasts to a certain extent and the writers can identify with that and therefore write love interest for them that reflect love interests they'd quite like for themselves - and so we end up with fully realised people for their romantic relationships. Whereas Buffy's otherness, for the writers, isn't that she is a superhero - it's that she's an ex Cordelia. She's cute and cool and has the potential to be popular - she's more mainstream than Willow and Xander and I wonder if the ME writers just seized up and had a total imagination fail on what a girl like that would look for in a boyfriend. They just panic and go for beautiful people just go out with other beautiful people - who knows what beautiful people are like? Send them to a Buster Keaton festival (it's also worth noting Cordelia has a pretty dismal track record when it comes to her love life).

They seem on surer ground with Spuffy because of course Spike was already so much more than a love interest but also this is more a relationship between Spike and Buffy's slayer half than her human half, and Buffy's slayer half makes her an outsider and that they can relate to.
 

Cheese Slices

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I think As You Were showed that they very much believed the fans were wrong about Riley and we just couldn’t see what was in front of us. The entire episode feels like ‘look at what you could have had Buffy *cough fans*’. You only have to hear Doug Petrie (who is actually my favourite writer usually) talk about this episode and how he saw it as a ‘super cool secret agent episode’ and they apparently had a bigger budget than a lot of other S6 episodes to see that their vision of Riley just didn’t translate. Actual result - fans still said ‘no’ and As You Were is regarded as one of the worst episodes in the entire show
I think this is often a problem with writers who write for their favorite. They don't seem to be able to check themselves and tend to go overboard with the "look how awesome X is". I've seen it argued that the weirdness of some of Willow's arc in S6 could be attributed to Whedon's (and probably others) love for the actress/character making him "chicken out" and write her as more sympathetic by making it an addiction problem rather than the more disturbing implications on the earlier episodes. I don't know if I agree 100%, but I can see it.
It's weird that it seems to be a specifically Buffy problem as well - they can't write her love interests and go with 'quirks' rather than actual people (Scott Hope and his Buster Keaton festival spring to mind).
Yep, this is definitely a Buffy problem.
I wonder if it's because Willow, Xander and even Giles are nerdy, unhip outcasts to a certain extent and the writers can identify with that and therefore write love interest for them that reflect love interests they'd quite like for themselves - and so we end up with fully realised people for their romantic relationships. Whereas Buffy's otherness, for the writers, isn't that she is a superhero - it's that she's an ex Cordelia. She's cute and cool and has the potential to be popular - she's more mainstream than Willow and Xander and I wonder if the ME writers just seized up and had a total imagination fail on what a girl like that would look for in a boyfriend. They just panic and go for beautiful people just go out with other beautiful people - who knows what beautiful people are like? Send them to a Buster Keaton festival (it's also worth noting Cordelia has a pretty dismal track record when it comes to her love life).
Mmm I can definitely see that. Although I think we have to consider the fact that the writers weren't exactly a monolith. For instance, MN doesn't strike me as the nerdy type, at least not compared to some other ME writers. In her case, I also feel like she wrote Buffy's love interests according to what was appealing to her, at least to some extent (i.e. dark, gothic romances for Angel/Buffy/Drusilla/Spike or Femme/Homme fatal in Veruca and Spike's case). And while Riley doesn't exactly fit the pattern, she seemed rather enamored with him and/or MB. But for the likes of Whedon, Fury or Petrie ? I think you definitely have a point.
They seem on surer ground with Spuffy because of course Spike was already so much more than a love interest but also this is more a relationship between Spike and Buffy's slayer half than her human half, and Buffy's slayer half makes her an outsider and that they can relate to.
You're giving me an opening I'm taking it :p I agree that the fact that Spike was developed as a character first and a love interest second is key. Also, Spuffy was never played as a straight romance : it was never the point of the relationship, which was always more about exploring two characters via their relationship than whether they were going to work out. Spike was a foil/mirror/dark side of Buffy's from the start. Justifying Spike's continued presence and the amazing chemistry between SMG and JM kind of pushed this exploration of characters towards a sexual/romantic relationship, but it wasn't an end in itself.

Incidentally, and to circle back to the point made about the writers not identifying with Buffy, I feel like there is a schism between the HS years and the adult years in that regard. Maybe (probably) I'm projecting, but it seems that it became easier for the writers to identify with Buffy as she got older, and that's why she started becoming (imho) less "generic" for lack of a better term and gained more defined traits. Not that she was badly written or anything before, but it felt like the writers invested less emotionally in her character ? Whereas as times went by she gained more of the writers and SMG's traits and became more palpable (at least to me). It's not as simple as that, because there are overlaps between those two eras, but I don't know...just throwing this and seeing what sticks.
 

Stake fodder

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I'm always late to these "BB discusses" parties, but I thought I'd have a go at some of the questions.

Buffy lets her go at first but turns around and stakes her from the back. What is your take on this scene ? Justified or disturbing ?
It's both. It seemed nuts that Buffy would let this group, or any one of them, walk away, just because they weren't killing humans before. But it's disturbing because Buffy is acting out of revenge, not duty. Staking the last in the back looks bad, but then I have to remind myself it's justified, because this vamp prostitute can easily go back to killing.

What is your reaction to Buffy "caving in" and running after Riley at the end of the episode ?
I never understood what Riley's ultimatum even was: that Buffy need him more? How is she supposed to do that? I never loved Riley, but he was okay in S4. The thing is, in that season, Buffy (for a while) was working her way into his life, rather than the other way around. She even briefly joined the Initiative. He wasn't willing to work his way into her life, and all Riley's S5 feelings seem to be from his own sense of lack of purpose, and having to be the 'secondary' member of the couple. Extratextually, it seemed like the writers forgot this was not Riley's show.

Has Buffy been indeed "holding back/cutting herself off" as Riley suggests ?
Not really. If anything, she's been distracted by her mom's health. But she's always done her own thing, had her own life and "job". And Riley was fine with that until he had no life of his own.

Xander acts and is presented as the "arbitror" of the relationship in this episode, the one who sees and understands. Is this portrayal accurate ?
I feel like Xander is speaking for the writers here. "The guy would do anything for you." No, he wouldn't, as this entire episode proves. Riley wants Buffy to be the one who does anything for him.

Having given all my hate on Riley, though, I do think he was one boyfriend I could see her spending her life with, and if he could have found another purpose (was he even still a grad student, if he ever really was?), they could have found their footing again. So in that sense, Xander was right.

How do you feel about the choice of making [Spike] "the messenger" ?
He was really the only choice, because he is the only character who has ulterior motives. Anyone else would have talked to Riley about it, and probably not told Buffy. (Maybe that would have been the right thing to do, but then not "being a messenger.") And Spike gets the usual thanks of a friend who gets in the middle of others' relationship, no gratitude from one and turned on by the other.

I agree with others here about Spike's staking, that it was Riley's best moment. It was petty and impulsive, an overreaction, and Riley has no right to tell Spike to stay away from Buffy. But I think it works, because Riley becomes more like his S4 self again, making his own decisions, independently, not needing to consult Buffy. Buffy is not Spike's keeper, and Riley has the right to confront him himself.
 

thrasherpix

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I'm currently rewatching s5, and though not up to Into the Woods yet, thought I could say a few things.

So far she's not so callous, not compared to some earlier seasons, but I'm still in the first part. I know it will change and may come back about that. But for now, what I don't like is her sugar coating things too much, rather than the Buffy who'd rather face the ugly truth (telling Giles to lie to her not withstanding).

I also don't like that she chases Riley.

As for the vampire...there was no real point in killing it, and it was done out of jealousy and anger, not to defend the world or justice (she had more reason to stake Spike, and certainly Harmony). Don't care, though. I'm bigoted against vampires (at least as they're explained in the Buffyverse).

I think it's true that Buffy isn't as open about her inner-space as she was with Angel. But then perhaps the world has made her a bit colder there. She's also more coddling of those who are human, even coddling Riley more than she ever did Xander (though I laughed over her trying to make him feel relevant by "pouring spooky, spooky sand"). In any case, season 6 would certainly make it appear Riley's observations were spot on, though in this season he's being more insecure, as Xander called it.

Speaking of which, Xander sees himself in Riley too much. Hence the speech he shouldn't have given. He's right that Riley shares a similar insecurity, but he's also too involved to make a good arbitrator from the outside.

But I don't see him as taking advantage of Anya. If anything, it's the reverse. When Xander tries to rub Anya's shoulders, he's not doing it for HIS pleasure, he's trying to be a good boyfriend as he sees Riley.

Spike being the messenger is just good storytelling.

The prostitution angle makes perfect sense...it may also help explain why so many vampires keep rising despite Buffy and the rest ending them, in which case it would mean that sometimes the prostitutes go too far (and let's be honest, there's be more women customers than men, if it were vampires). Maybe if a human drinks a bit of vampire blood then they'll rise when they die later (that is doesn't have to be killed by a vampire in that case), at least within a certain time. (Now that I think about it, Darla trying to be turned should've sought out such a brothel and made a special deal.)
 
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