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

DeadlyDuo

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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
Agreed. The show turned what could've been an empowering moment (Buffy refusing to give in to Riley's ultimatum) into one where she's basically told she should tolerate Riley's bad behaviour because she'd be stupid to let him go, after all he's "the one that comes along once in a lifetime".

Buffy missing the helicopter was the best thing that could've happened to her, even if it didn't feel like it at the time. If she had stopped Riley from leaving, she would've been trapped in that relationship no matter how unhappy she was, because she would feel like she owed it to Riley to try and make the relationship work since she would've cost him his chance to re-join the military.
 

Oromous

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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.
Somewhat true for season 4, but I was referring to season 5. Buffy didn't know Joyce was sick immediately from the start of the season; this didn't happen until a few episodes down the line ("Out of My Mind"). Maybe it's because of my fixation on Bangel, but I just never really felt Buffy saw Riley as someone whom she could open up to. She cared about him whenever he's hurt or under withdrawal, yes, but that's the kind of thing you'd do for a friend as well, not necessarily a boyfriend. The most obvious trait that ties them together as a couple is the sex, not the kind of intimate conversations you'd see between Willow and Oz or Buffy and Angel, or even Buffy and Spike. Look at how Spike intelligently consoles Buffy with the truth in "Blood Ties" even though they're not even a thing yet. Their relationship was deeper than Briley even before Spuffy happened!

And I think I should rephrase myself regarding the "sex doll" comment. It's not like Buffy is abusing him or anything, I'm not saying that at all. But rather, there's nothing deeper than sex between Briley, which is why I think either Riley or Buffy should've broken up if either of them felt inadequate as a partner in the relationship. I don't know about Buffy because she's understandably more focused on her mother to really voice out about her problems with the relationship, but if Riley felt so bad about it, he should've taken the responsibility to say, "Hey, this isn't really working out." Honestly, communication in relationships goes a long way, and this episode, where Joyce temporarily got better after the surgery, couldn't have been a better moment for Riley and Buffy to sit down and talk about their relationship. It's not about mind-reading; it's about talking to someone whom you're going to spend the rest of your life with, your partner. The problem is, every scene that came along whenever they tried to talk, as early as "Buffy vs. Dracula", they would talk about sex.
 

Faded90

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Agreed. The show turned what could've been an empowering moment (Buffy refusing to give in to Riley's ultimatum) into one where she's basically told she should tolerate Riley's bad behaviour because she'd be stupid to let him go, after all he's "the one that comes along once in a lifetime".

Buffy missing the helicopter was the best thing that could've happened to her, even if it didn't feel like it at the time. If she had stopped Riley from leaving, she would've been trapped in that relationship no matter how unhappy she was, because she would feel like she owed it to Riley to try and make the relationship work since she would've cost him his chance to re-join the military.
Agreed, Xanders speech is nearly as infuriating as Riley’s behaviour in this episode

‘the one that comes along once in a lifetime’ really? Even ignoring S5 Riley I wouldn’t say that at all
also the ‘he’s gave up everything for you’ like what working for a government facility that ultimately had plans of evil for him. Come on now, it’s not Buffy’s fault Riley seemingly has no life outside of being Mr Buffy
 

Oromous

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Agreed, Xanders speech is nearly as infuriating as Riley’s behaviour in this episode

‘the one that comes along once in a lifetime’ really? Even ignoring S5 Riley I wouldn’t say that at all
also the ‘he’s gave up everything for you’ like what working for a government facility that ultimately had plans of evil for him. Come on now, it’s not Buffy’s fault Riley seemingly has no life outside of being Mr Buffy
It's just Xander being Toxic Xander again. I'm surprised at how much regression there is for his character in this episode, reducing him to the passive-aggressive self back in season 1 through 3. Just stand around and make jokes, Xander; seems like you'll be less infuriating that way.
 

Faded90

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It's just Xander being Toxic Xander again. I'm surprised at how much regression there is for his character in this episode, reducing him to the passive-aggressive self back in season 1 through 3. Just stand around and make jokes, Xander; seems like you'll be less infuriating that way.
Haha agreed. I can never decide what the purpose of the speech was supposed to be for the audience. Are we supposed to agree with him and that Buffy should have simply loved Riley more then he wouldn’t have had to act badly or are we supposed to think it’s a dick move from Xander?
 

Ethan Reigns

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I don't think Xander knows the whole story. He had been told by Riley that she didn't seem to connect with him and he had no reason to know whose fault it was. Did he really see all the passive-aggressive behaviour on Riley's part? He might have thought Buffy would end up pining away for the one that got away. He didn't know all the facts and this is why I would never suggest that some person should hook up with another person and he was wrong to do so but I don't see this as an informed decision on his part to recommend that she try to keep Riley and he even says, "If he's the one...", showing that he does not know. He sees her getting lost in all her troubles and possibly missing out son something good. He does not exhibit the malice that he did in "Dead Man's party".
 
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Fair enough, but even as Xander's advocate this is one scene that even I wanted to yell at him to shut up every time I saw it.

Faded90

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I don't think Xander knows the whole story. He had been told by Riley that she didn't seem to connect with him and he had no reason to know whose fault it was. Did he really see all the passive-aggressive behaviour on Riley's part? He might have thought Buffy would end up pining away for the one that got away. He didn't know all the facts and this is why I would never suggest that some person should hook up with another person and he was wrong to do so but I don't see this as an informed decision on his part to recommend that she try to keep Riley and he even says, "If he's the one...", showing that he does not know. He sees her getting lost in all her troubles and possibly missing out son something good. He does not exhibit the malice that he did in "Dead Man's party".
But he still pretty much assumes that it’s because Buffy didn’t love him enough. Like he doesn’t know the full story but assumes the worst of one of his best friends ‘I just don’t know how you didn’t see it earlier’ . Almost like Xander is excusing Riley’s behaviour regardless of what he’s done - which makes it worse for me. He even talks about ‘let him go and break his heart’ ok so what about any pain Buffy is in?
 

Btvs fan

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But he still pretty much assumes that it’s because Buffy didn’t love him enough. Like he doesn’t know the full story but assumes the worst of one of his best friends ‘I just don’t know how you didn’t see it earlier’ . Almost like Xander is excusing Riley’s behaviour regardless of what he’s done - which makes it worse for me. He even talks about ‘let him go and break his heart’ ok so what about any pain Buffy is in?
Agreed and I'm still annoyed by this :

When asked why they chose to have Riley leave Sunnydale, Joss Whedon says he tried to give Buffy a healthy relationship, but "people didn't want it. They did some great work together. But at the same time, when they were happy, it made people crazy."[2] Marti Noxon adds, "Sunnydale romance just rarely goes well. Buffy with a boyfriend is not as interesting as Buffy in some kind of romantic strife. Riley, by his nature, was such a good and constant character that we were at risk of things getting a little dull."[3]
 

Faded90

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Agreed and I'm still annoyed by this :

When asked why they chose to have Riley leave Sunnydale, Joss Whedon says he tried to give Buffy a healthy relationship, but "people didn't want it. They did some great work together. But at the same time, when they were happy, it made people crazy."[2] Marti Noxon adds, "Sunnydale romance just rarely goes well. Buffy with a boyfriend is not as interesting as Buffy in some kind of romantic strife. Riley, by his nature, was such a good and constant character that we were at risk of things getting a little dull."[3]
Yeah I’ve never got the Riley love within production. They almost try too hard to make us like him so his saccharine sweet eulogies to Buffy actually don’t mean anything at all even his S4 behaviour looks bad in retrospect when you pair it with his S5 character
 

Priceless

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Yeah I’ve never got the Riley love within production. They almost try too hard to make us like him so his saccharine sweet eulogies to Buffy actually don’t mean anything at all even his S4 behaviour looks bad in retrospect when you pair it with his S5 character
I feel the opposite, that he was so dull from moment one that the writers had no intention of making Riley the forever guy. His 'saccharine eulogies' were designed to make us dislike him. Everything about him was wrong. A soldier following orders, definitely not Buffy's type. Farm bred Iowa boy, Buffy was raised in LA, he loves to drive for pleasure, she is the worlds worst driver . . . the list of their differences is endless. If the writers were going for an attraction of opposites vibe, they missed the mark by a mile. I honestly believe Riley was written to be disliked.
 

Faded90

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I feel the opposite, that he was so dull from moment one that the writers had no intention of making Riley the forever guy. His 'saccharine eulogies' were designed to make us dislike him. Everything about him was wrong. A soldier following orders, definitely not Buffy's type. Farm bred Iowa boy, Buffy was raised in LA, he loves to drive for pleasure, she is the worlds worst driver . . . the list of their differences is endless. If the writers were going for an attraction of opposites vibe, they missed the mark by a mile. I honestly believe Riley was written to be disliked.
I would absolutely agree if it wasn’t for the way Joss waxes lyrical about the character and thinks the only reason fans didn’t warm to him is because we apparently just love to see Buffy miserable - which isn’t the case at all obviously
 

Priceless

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I would absolutely agree if it wasn’t for the way Joss waxes lyrical about the character and thinks the only reason fans didn’t warm to him is because we apparently just love to see Buffy miserable - which isn’t the case at all obviously
What he means is that he likes to write Buffy as miserable.
 

Btvs fan

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I feel the opposite, that he was so dull from moment one that the writers had no intention of making Riley the forever guy. His 'saccharine eulogies' were designed to make us dislike him. Everything about him was wrong. A soldier following orders, definitely not Buffy's type. Farm bred Iowa boy, Buffy was raised in LA, he loves to drive for pleasure, she is the worlds worst driver . . . the list of their differences is endless. If the writers were going for an attraction of opposites vibe, they missed the mark by a mile. I honestly believe Riley was written to be disliked.
You only have to listen to a DVD commentary to know how much they loved the Riley character. He was there idea of Clark Kent/Superman imo.

That whole Guy who comes along once in a lifetime wasn't Xander talking to Riley but the writers talking to the fans. The whole helicopter run was meant to be the fans realising how great the character is way to late.
 

Faded90

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You only have to listen to a DVD commentary to know how much they loved the Riley character. He was there idea of Clark Kent/Superman imo.

That whole Guy who comes along once in a lifetime wasn't Xander talking to Riley but the writers talking to the fans. The whole helicopter run was meant to be the fans realising how great the character is way to late.
Yeah and As You Were a bit of a ‘look at what you could have had Buffy (audience)’
 

katmobile

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You only have to listen to a DVD commentary to know how much they loved the Riley character. He was there idea of Clark Kent/Superman imo.

That whole Guy who comes along once in a lifetime wasn't Xander talking to Riley but the writers talking to the fans. The whole helicopter run was meant to be the fans realising how great the character is way to late.
Ironically the next time I encountered this was also on a show David Fury wrote for Lost - I hated Jack and I think a lot of other fans did too because they both changed him for the better after having Sawyer beat the crap out of him and acknowledged he'd been a dick in the past. Guys sometimes you've just gotta accept fetch ain't gonna happen.
 

Priceless

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Didn't Joss once say he didn't know how to write Angel because he was such a hero type and Joss didn't identify with such characters? Well to me Riley is cut from the same cloth, so I will never believe Joss loved that character. Virtually every word out of Riley's mouth says different, every action is a negative one. These writers wrote some of the most interesting and empathetic characters, and yet they offer us Riley Finn as Buffy's love interest? They make big bads and one hit motw compelling and then drop the ball so badly with Riley.
 

DeadlyDuo

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These writers wrote some of the most interesting and empathetic characters, and yet they offer us Riley Finn as Buffy's love interest? They make big bads and one hit motw compelling and then drop the ball so badly with Riley.
These writers also thought Kennedy was a good idea as a love interest for Willow in Season 7 so I wouldn't put it beyond them to be more in love with a character than the audience are.
 

Priceless

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These writers also thought Kennedy was a good idea as a love interest for Willow in Season 7 so I wouldn't put it beyond them to be more in love with a character than the audience are.
I like Kennedy. She's got more personality in her little finger than Riley has in his whole body.
 

DeadlyDuo

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I like Kennedy. She's got more personality in her little finger than Riley has in his whole body.
Not exactly a high bar. Also, given Kennedy's personality, I wouldn't call Kennedy an improvement.
 
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