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Discussion of 5.10 "Into The Woods" - Aired 12/19/00 (WB-US)

Joined
Apr 24, 2015
Messages
22
Age
43
The older I get the less and less time I have for Riley's insecurities and ultimatum. What a plonker.
In retrospect, Buffy and Riley have very different models for a good relationship, Buffy's giving as much as she's comfortable with and Riley thinks there should be more dependency.
What annoys me is Xander's presumption that she's in the wrong and taking him for granted. Buffy's relationship-as-part-of-your-life-not-all-encompassing is a perfectly good model, as long as both parties are ok with that.
But problems or not, who was to 'blame' etc, Riley was the one who had the Buffyverse analogy for a seedy affair and Buffy was the one going through big trauma. Bad Riley.
 
bespangeled
bespangeled
Oh, so much yes!

bespangeled

Scooby
Joined
May 26, 2014
Messages
3,389
Location
Tucson
Black Thorn
The older I get the less and less time I have for Riley's insecurities and ultimatum. What a plonker.
In retrospect, Buffy and Riley have very different models for a good relationship, Buffy's giving as much as she's comfortable with and Riley thinks there should be more dependency.
What annoys me is Xander's presumption that she's in the wrong and taking him for granted. Buffy's relationship-as-part-of-your-life-not-all-encompassing is a perfectly good model, as long as both parties are ok with that.
But problems or not, who was to 'blame' etc, Riley was the one who had the Buffyverse analogy for a seedy affair and Buffy was the one going through big trauma. Bad Riley.
I have so much loathing for Riley - mostly as he dissolved into such fierce man pain because Buffy had other things to worry about/was now much stronger than him/wasn't willing to wait for his ideas before taking action - and most of all, blamed all his bad decisions on the fact that Buffy didn't love him the correct way and unless she started doing it right now he was gonna bail.

As for Xander - he should have run to the helicopter and flown off with his bromace.
 
Mr Trick
Mr Trick
Bravo!

Cocogurl

Townie
Joined
Jun 27, 2014
Messages
25
As I Riley fan myself, it broke my heart to see him go. He was a great guy and he and Buffy had such a sweet relationship. But the way he ended it was just messed up. I understand why he felt the way that he did because at some point Buffy did start to shut him out. But getting bit by vamps and basically telling Buffy to get over it or he was gone? So freaking wrong. I was very disappointed in him there. He kept feeling like he wasn't the long haul guy, but ultimately he could've been had he handled things with Buffy differently.
 

Give Us A Kiss

Fuffy Apologist
Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
2,560
Sineya
Riley, with Buffy and all alone at the same time...

How thoughtful of you, Giles :)

Buffy, it's OK to be nervous.

The tumor has been taken out :D

Dawn's stories are entertaining :)

Anya :rolleyes:

Dawn, I don't like to see them boinking either.

Briley :mad:

Spike's watching again, and he has a cigarette...

Riley, please don't...

Joyce, I beg to differ about Riley.

Spike :eek:

At least he isn't there to hit on Buffy again :)

Buffy, I'm just as creeped out as you are...

Buffy, it's better that you know the truth about your boy toy...

Riley, join them :)

Anya, the chicken foot is creeping me out...

Anya, no one talks this way.

Anya can't play nice...

Willow did not need to know that :eek:

Giles let vampires feed on him during his ripper days ??? o_O

Riley, don't kill the messenger :mad:

For once, Spike is actually right...

Riley, don't bother Buffy...

Riley, stop, it's over.

Riley is kind of right, Buffy didn't need him...

Riley, admit it and leave :mad:

Yes Buffy, this is goodbye...

Buffy, I would run...

Buffy, what did Xander do to you ???o_O

Xander, it was not an ultimatum :mad:

Riley, get on the helicopter...

Buffy, you just missed him...

Xanya is now official...

Next time: a more Anya centric episode.
 

DeadlyDuo

Scooby
Joined
Jul 29, 2016
Messages
8,682
Age
30
Buffy, what did Xander do to you ???o_O

Xander, it was not an ultimatum :mad:
I think Buffy had every right to be angry at Riley's ultimatum. She'd just found out he was visiting vampire whores, and was angry at the betrayal, and Riley basically told her "get over it or I'm gone". However, I think Xander did make some good points about Buffy treating Riley as convenient and that she's trying to hide from her problems rather than face them head on. Overall though, I think if Buffy was allowed time to cool down, then she and Riley could've discussed their issues and worked out where they went from there. It's Riley's fault that they fund themselves in the situation they were in.
 

nina98

Did I get it?
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
34
Age
45
I really like this episode. Well written and some very satisfying conversations, especially between Spike and Riley, Buffy and Riley, and even infuriating Xander.

I've been griping in previous episode threads about my issues with how the Riley sub-plot has been handled and the lost opportunities. Putting that aside now and just focusing on how things stand, and not how they could have been, I think this was as good as ending as we could have had for Riley.

My one big complaint is the very end. If you're Riley, and you're staring into the woods looking for Buffy, you would KEEP LOOKING as you fly away until you're out of sight. You just would. Human nature.
But more importantly, I hate how Buffy runs after Riley. I think the emotion of Xander's speech could have carried her to the edge of the woods. But she needed to STOP and consciously let Riley fly away. Her own decision. That would have been a much better moment, watching her tear up as she silently let him leave.

But Marti and I don't see eye to eye on these big moments.
 

jls

a big cat
Joined
Oct 9, 2017
Messages
109
Location
Australia
I am completely on Buffy's side when she says "whose fault is that" in response to Riley being all 'I can't feel that you have given your heart, body and soul over to me, they're just words' (I'm paraphrasing). That is, it's Riley's fault he doesn't feel it.

Also, just because she's the slayer doesn't make it okay for him to be grabbing her and pulling her around! The physical strength of the person being manhandled doesn't mean anything in this situation. She is very emotionally vulnerable, she is his partner, and he is just grabbing her and imposing on her physically. NOT okay.

Also, Xander makes me really mad in his speech to Buffy. It comes across to me like he is getting his own past resentments off his chest in some twisted way. Like, if she stays with Riley, then the reason she never chose Xander is because they weren't right together. If she goes out with a vampire, then Xander feels as though he simply wasn't good enough, or something to that effect. It grates on him. Her being with Riley assuages some past grievance he never felt he fully expressed, so has stayed with him unresolved.

I don't blame Riley for wanting to be needed, I think that's a natural desire for people in love, and it's important to remember that Buffy is really Riley's first love, though he isn't hers. If he could get past that, then the relationship would've worked. She did love him, and she committed herself to him. Despite all of this, I think that she was too strong for him in all ways: mental, emotional, physical. He was not her match, and he knew it (of course, he wanted to be).

As for not being needed while she was going through her mother's illness, I understand his desire to want to support the one he loves and being hurt by not being allowed to do so. But, my god, Riley! Some perspective! People handle trauma in different ways! Accept that this is how she does it, and be there for her in every way that you can. If, once the traumatic times have passed, and no recognition of your support has been shown, I can understand being upset at this point. But this is hardly the time. Also, Buffy is quite right, she is the slayer, and not only this, the person who has been shouldering most of the burden throughout her mum's illness. She has to do what she has to do to get through it - you don't get to be mad about that (unless she's like, murdering people).

End rant!

*Edit: not end rant! I also don't like the implication that occurs after the Riley and Buffy separation, where Xander goes and tells Anya that he loves her and that she makes him feel like a man. As if, what a proper woman ought to do to keep a relationship and satisfy a man, is to *make* him feel like a man. I really feel that they're juxtaposing Xanya and Briley at this point, and saying look! Briley is wrong, but look! Xanya is right. And a key part of this right-ness is Anya making Xander feel like a man (congrats by the way Anya, you had your work cut out for you there :rolleyes: ). Yes, upon reflection, I do feel quite annoyed about this!
 
Last edited:

Sharky

Townie
Joined
Oct 27, 2017
Messages
39
Age
26
This may be an unpopular opinion but I actually don't like the Xander/Anya scene at the end at all.

After watching Xander verbally slap Buffy as if she's to blame for the downfall of her awful unhealthy relationship with Riley, because she doesn't make him feel "needed" enough (while her mom was near death).. Xander then returns to Anya and gives her some monologue about how he loves her because he makes him feel like a "man" as Anya would, seeing as her entire existence revolves around Xander and having sex with Xander. It seems like Xander saw Buffy was being defiant of Riley, made him realize how good he had it with Anya. :confused:

This whole episode rubs me the wrong way. The narrative is saying Buffy is in the wrong because she wasn't emotionally needy enough to prop up Riley's masculinity (and let's be real this was Riley's issue), and Anya gets rewarded at the end by her boyfriend because she is just that.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but really didn't like how this episode went. It'd be 10x better if it just ended with Buffy confiding peacefully with Willow (who would have had Buffy's side unlike Xander), and no desperate-run-after-Riley scene from Buffy. #BuffyDeservedBetter
 
K
katmobile
I did at the time but I guess knowing what we know now.

EarthLogic

Scooby
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,350
Location
London, UK
Black Thorn
This may be an unpopular opinion but I actually don't like the Xander/Anya scene at the end at all.

After watching Xander verbally slap Buffy as if she's to blame for the downfall of her awful unhealthy relationship with Riley, because she doesn't make him feel "needed" enough (while her mom was near death).. Xander then returns to Anya and gives her some monologue about how he loves her because he makes him feel like a "man" as Anya would, seeing as her entire existence revolves around Xander and having sex with Xander. It seems like Xander saw Buffy was being defiant of Riley, made him realize how good he had it with Anya. :confused:

This whole episode rubs me the wrong way. The narrative is saying Buffy is in the wrong because she wasn't emotionally needy enough to prop up Riley's masculinity (and let's be real this was Riley's issue), and Anya gets rewarded at the end by her boyfriend because she is just that.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but really didn't like how this episode went. It'd be 10x better if it just ended with Buffy confiding peacefully with Willow (who would have had Buffy's side unlike Xander), and no desperate-run-after-Riley scene from Buffy. #BuffyDeservedBetter
No, you're right. I didn't like it either, and I don't think it's an unpopular opinion, actually.
 

DeadlyDuo

Scooby
Joined
Jul 29, 2016
Messages
8,682
Age
30
My opinion has done a complete 180 since I last posted on this thread. Xander was so wrong and Buffy never should've run after Riley. Briley was not a good relationship. Riley showed so much controlling behaviour towards Buffy in Season 5, her dumping him after he tries to give her an ultimatum should've been a crowning moment, not have Xander blaming her for Riley leaving. For a show that's supposedly "feminist", that wasn't a very good message of feminism. See the "Is Briley abusive?" thread for examples of Riley's controlling behaviour.
 

Out for a walk

5 Words Or Less...
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
206
Bye Riley! I don't feel sorry for him at all. He couldn't handle the fact that Buffy was the slayer in so many different ways. They never would have worked out anyway. His insecurities get in the way of their relationship. Like stated above...he was also very controlling and too needy.
 

Mr Trick

Scooby
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Messages
14,532
Age
40
Location
London, UK
This one was much better than I remember. For about 90% the drama was really compelling. Great acting from SMG, Brandon and Masters. Love Spike's gutted look as he regrets seeing Buffy hurt at finding out about Riley's secret.

The ending is well excuated. I like too that it leads to Xander professing his love to Anya. But the ending with Buffy and Riley is total misfire. Buffy has every right to be upset with him. She's in the right and he's in the wrong. Yet the writing turns it back around and suggests she should go back to him on her hands and knees. Plus Xander acts like an ass. Sorry just wrong!:mad:
 

Btvs fan

Scooby
Joined
Feb 11, 2019
Messages
1,169
Age
39
This one was much better than I remember. For about 90% the drama was really compelling. Great acting from SMG, Brandon and Masters. Love Spike's gutted look as he regrets seeing Buffy hurt at finding out about Riley's secret.

The ending is well excuated. I like too that it leads to Xander professing his love to Anya. But the ending with Buffy and Riley is total misfire. Buffy has every right to be upset with him. She's in the right and he's in the wrong. Yet the writing turns it back around and suggests she should go back to him on her hands and knees. Plus Xander acts like an ass. Sorry just wrong!:mad:
Agreed about the writing turning things around with Buffy. Riley was pretty much gas lighting her and the writers seemed to have Buffy accept it. Both at the time and now, it feels more like frustration from the writers at the fans not getting this awesome character they created.
Backstory is that the Network forced Joss to Ax him as they felt he was bringing down ratings.

Another thing was the Fake staking. I'm a Spike fan but that was so ridiculous and done by Marti just for an act break 🤦‍♂️
 

Mr Trick

Scooby
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Messages
14,532
Age
40
Location
London, UK
Agreed about the writing turning things around with Buffy. Riley was pretty much gas lighting her and the writers seemed to have Buffy accept it. Both at the time and now, it feels more like frustration from the writers at the fans not getting this awesome character they created.
Backstory is that the Network forced Joss to Ax him as they felt he was bringing down ratings.

Another thing was the Fake staking. I'm a Spike fan but that was so ridiculous and done by Marti just for an act break 🤦‍♂️
Since the Riley experiment didn't work out then I for one am on the side of the network over Joss on this one;) Not sure he damaged the ratings too much though. At this point I think they were the best they'd been since the show started.

Yeah the fake staking was a bit cheap. Guess they wanted an excuse for Riley and Spike to have that honest discussion. Outside of the fake staking its a decent scene.
 

thrasherpix

Scooby
Joined
Mar 13, 2016
Messages
3,268
Age
38
I want to know what vampire prank shop Riley got the plastic stake from (one that can actually pierce a vampire, though given so can a pencil I suppose it doesn't take much). :p
 

Faded90

Potential
Joined
Apr 2, 2020
Messages
291
Age
62
I absolutely despise the end message of this episode. We’ve seen Riley act badly and astonishingly self centred for a few episodes now and watched Buffy becoming more and more emotionally worn down by the extreme events of her life and yet this episode seems to tell us that Buffy should have made Riley feel like a big strong man like Anya does for Xander - Anya who has no family and is barely friends with the scoobies themselves so of course she doesn’t have the responsibilities and distractions that Buffy has


The thing that bothers me is that Xander actually barely knows what’s even happened at this point and just goes straight into ‘well you should have loved him better then he wouldn’t have had to act badly’ because apparently Buffy’s emotional boundaries mean nothing, she should have it all figured out by 19 and she’s just a bad girlfriend. Made even worse in that conversation with Anya in the next episode where they talk about it basically all being her fault and ‘relationship debris piling up on the Buffy highway’ yep all 2 relationships. They even Talk about how she couldn’t make it work with Angel when Angel had left basically BECAUSE he loved her so much and wanted her to live her best life

the way Riley (and Xander) justifies his actions in S5 hasn’t aged well at all. They basically put all responsibility for the relationship onto Buffy, how Riley acts is totally irrelevant apparently because Buffy should have loved him right to stop him having to act badly
 

Oromous

Socially Awkward
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
647
Age
30
Location
Singapore
Sineya
In Riley's defense, Buffy has rarely come forth to him for emotional release so far this season; it's just been sex, sex, and more sex in this relationship. I could understand that Riley wanted more out of it, to have Buffy open up to him and trust him enough to lean on him as someone who could listen to her problems (more than just being a sex doll). Maybe that's a little harsh on Buffy, but other than that volleyball scene in the first episode, I don't think the relationship gets any deeper than just "let's have sex." Like I said in the previous episode discussion threads, there's really no compelling reason why Buffy would love Riley other than him being Joe Normal. What has Riley done for her that makes him "the one"? Look at Sparmony for instance: Spike got bored quickly as well because there's nothing in Harmony's personality to connect Spike with other than sex, unlike with Drucilla (or even Buffy for that matter).

Don't get me wrong on this: Riley is definitely wrong here for cheating on Buffy. I'm definitely not justifying his behavior. But as LadyLavinia said on the first page of this thread, there's blame to go around for both sides when it comes to why the relationship broke down; more so for Riley for being self-centered and his poor way of handling it, but even before learning about Joyce's illness, Riley feels more like an outsider than Tara even. Everyone almost serves a significant purpose in the Scoobies, but Riley is merely Buffy's sexual fodder this season. There's really no real reason why this stale relationship would work out (see Xander and Cordelia). There's no emotional connection between the two and there's no "after sex bliss" like the ones we see for Bangel. I don't know what Buffy sees in Riley to ever hook up with him or stay as long as she did; did she become his girlfriend just because he's an average guy who spits out creepy and passive-aggressive lines? What's the play here? And as for Riley, he should've broken up with Buffy instead of cheating on her. But instead, he's too busy feeling sorry for himself to consider Buffy's feelings on this. As her boyfriend, it's his responsibility to break up if he truly thinks that the relationship isn't working out even after numerous attempts, not cheat. Cheating is never the answer.

In fact, seeing how Xandelia worked out, it seems like another attempt of Whedon's to justify cheating. You know, even sitcoms like "Friends" had healthy break-ups where two people just confess to each other that it isn't working out and that there's no connection, and they would break up without cheating on each other (Roschel notwithstanding). It's as if TV writers believe that relationships need to end with a dramatic bang instead of being more mundane.

And good lord, this whole "goodbye" conversation between Riley and Buffy is just cringeworthy, the way he repeatedly grabs her and forces her to listen to his justification of cheating would've made me think Whedon wrote this if I didn't look it up (Marti Noxon scripted this episode). The lazy expository way of telling the audience something we've known from the beginning: that there is no emotional connection between the two. It's such a horrid scene that belongs to some trashy soap opera, not primetime television.

3/10

This episode was so poorly handled right down to Xander's eye-rolling speech siding with Riley and that horribly cheesy Buffy running sequence in the last few minutes. What is this, Days of Our Slayer's Life? In a rush to write off a character that overstayed his welcome, Marti Noxon leaves a stain on an otherwise consistently quality season. It's far worse than the likes of episodes like "Beer Bad" because it consciously justifies an appalling behavior (as opposed to merely being comedically bad). For a show that inspires empowerment in young women, this episode feels like the antithesis to that and teaches them that they should blame themselves for their spouse's cheating.
 

Faded90

Potential
Joined
Apr 2, 2020
Messages
291
Age
62
In Riley's defense, Buffy has rarely come forth to him for emotional release so far this season; it's just been sex, sex, and more sex in this relationship. I could understand that Riley wanted more out of it, to have Buffy open up to him and trust him enough to lean on him as someone who could listen to her problems (more than just being a sex doll). Maybe that's a little harsh on Buffy, but other than that volleyball scene in the first episode, I don't think the relationship gets any deeper than just "let's have sex." Like I said in the previous episode discussion threads, there's really no compelling reason why Buffy would love Riley other than him being Joe Normal. What has Riley done for her that makes him "the one"? Look at Sparmony for instance: Spike got bored quickly as well because there's nothing in Harmony's personality to connect Spike with other than sex, unlike with Drucilla (or even Buffy for that matter).

Don't get me wrong on this: Riley is definitely wrong here for cheating on Buffy. I'm definitely not justifying his behavior. But as LadyLavinia said on the first page of this thread, there's blame to go around for both sides when it comes to why the relationship broke down; more so for Riley for being self-centered and his poor way of handling it, but even before learning about Joyce's illness, Riley feels more like an outsider than Tara even. Everyone almost serves a significant purpose in the Scoobies, but Riley is merely Buffy's sexual fodder this season. There's really no real reason why this stale relationship would work out (see Xander and Cordelia). There's no emotional connection between the two and there's no "after sex bliss" like the ones we see for Bangel. I don't know what Buffy sees in Riley to ever hook up with him or stay as long as she did; did she become his girlfriend just because he's an average guy who spits out creepy and passive-aggressive lines? What's the play here? And as for Riley, he should've broken up with Buffy instead of cheating on her. But instead, he's too busy feeling sorry for himself to consider Buffy's feelings on this. As her boyfriend, it's his responsibility to break up if he truly thinks that the relationship isn't working out even after numerous attempts, not cheat. Cheating is never the answer.

In fact, seeing how Xandelia worked out, it seems like another attempt of Whedon's to justify cheating. You know, even sitcoms like "Friends" had healthy break-ups where two people just confess to each other that it isn't working out and that there's no connection, and they would break up without cheating on each other (Roschel notwithstanding). It's as if TV writers believe that relationships need to end with a dramatic bang instead of being more mundane.

And good lord, this whole "goodbye" conversation between Riley and Buffy is just cringeworthy, the way he repeatedly grabs her and forces her to listen to his justification of cheating would've made me think Whedon wrote this if I didn't look it up (Marti Noxon scripted this episode). The lazy expository way of telling the audience something we've known from the beginning: that there is no emotional connection between the two. It's such a horrid scene that belongs to some trashy soap opera, not primetime television.

3/10

This episode was so poorly handled right down to Xander's eye-rolling speech siding with Riley and that horribly cheesy Buffy running sequence in the last few minutes. What is this, Days of Our Slayer's Life? In a rush to write off a character that overstayed his welcome, Marti Noxon leaves a stain on an otherwise consistently quality season. It's far worse than the likes of episodes like "Beer Bad" because it consciously justifies an appalling behavior (as opposed to merely being comedically bad). For a show that inspires empowerment in young women, this episode feels like the antithesis to that and teaches them that they should blame themselves for their spouse's cheating.
For me I think the biggest issue is that Buffy is 19 and Riley is expecting her to be ‘cookies’ when she’s still ‘cookie dough’. She’s working herself out, she’s in an intensely traumatising time of her life and is just trying to drag herself through it all while taking over as the head of her family. I don’t think Buffy ever just sees Riley as a ‘sex doll’, she’s incredibly supportive in S4 even through Riley’s boss trying to kill her, him accusing her of cheating on him and acting like a major douche when he’s going through withdrawal (ok I should let him off on that one). He doesn’t ever once talk to her about how he’s feeling, he just expects her to read his mind. She is completely prioritising her sick Mother at this point and is trying to balance her life and at 19 maybes isn’t managing it perfectly. I think Riley and Xander are shockingly unfair to her in this episode, they place basically all responsibility for the relationship onto Buffy’s shoulders - she is the one that needs to adapt to him and any time he does something wrong is because of something she didn’t do right

This episode really should have ended with that scene of her refusing to allow him to gaslight her and refusing to enter a codependant relationship that she wasn’t comfortable with because apparently to Riley and Xander Buffy’s emotional boundaries mean nothing
 
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