Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | May 21, 2012

Robin’s Review: S4, E11 – Doomed

Synopsis: An Earthquake interrupts Buffy and Riley’s tell-all chat. The Initiative think that the Slayer is a myth while Buffy doesn’t want Giles figuring out who the commandos are. Willow goes to a party and is upset when she hears Percy call her a nerd. She tries to take a quick nap but runs into a dead guy. Apparently the earthquake was the start of another Apocalypse as a group of Vahrall demons try to open the Hellmouth. Buffy tells Riley that they can’t be together. Spike tries to kill himself and so Willow insists on bringing him along to Sunnydale High.

The Good: This was a necessary episode as it allowed Riley to become Buffy’s boyfriend and let Spike off his leash. It achieved neither with much grace though.

Riley and Buffy essentially have four conversations about their relationship. She tells him who she is, she says they can’t be together, he says they can, she agrees. Now of course they were more interesting than that but it was pretty basic writing which got us from A to D. Both Buffy and Riley made good points during these discussions. She notes that he doesn’t take demon fighting as seriously as she does but he clearly does understand the moral worth of what they do. I really liked the call back to Faith as someone who didn’t treat their profession with due seriousness. He makes the winning argument when he says that no one can survive alone. She is too concerned with memories of Angel to agree with him but comes round when he arrived in the nick of time to help her avert the Apocalypse.

I did like the contrast drawn between the Initiative and the Scoobies. The Initiative has no interest in the motivations of demons. Forest rationalises them as merely animals (I guess many in Sunnydale have had similar thoughts) which is an understandable but foolish error. I liked that they assumed the Slayer was a myth as much of the demon literature must read as if it is.

The Bad: The choice of demons opening the Hellmouth felt a bit lazy. The writers were aware of that and had Willow comment “We’ve done this already.” It was fun to see the remains of Sunnydale High (and the “Mayor meat”) but of all the Apocalypse stories this was the least interesting. Riley’s arrival was of course very convenient, just as Spike had been taken out of the fight. The final defeat of the demons was a very ropey bit of physics as somehow Buffy is able to catch up with the falling demon and Riley’s belt cable is long enough and strong enough to hold them both. Riley is then somehow so strong that he can pull both of them back up to safety. It was all about as convincing as Riley’s paint ball story.

The Xander-Willow minor subplot was pretty half-hearted. We get no follow up on Willow’s new magic discovery and instead she is pushed down to Xander’s level in fretting about whether she has grown since high school. It didn’t really fit where she is and not much was made of it once they were walking through the old school corridors again.

It was very convenient that the Vahrall demons didn’t kill Giles wasn’t it? A new character looking after the talisman would clearly have been torn to pieces.

The Unknown: The transformation of Spike from evil bad guy to funny good guy seems more shameless on Rewatch than it did the first time. I didn’t buy Willow saying that because she’s now spent time with it would be wrong to kill him. Spike himself points out that nothing about his nature deserves their forgiveness. Conveniently though he can now fight demons and is therefore going to become a part of the gang. I did enjoy seeing him wind up Willow and Xander so hopefully I will get used to it soon.

It was slightly unconvincing that Buffy would try to hide the truth about the Initiative from Giles. I guess she just wanted to figure out how she felt about it all before telling him.

Best Moment: I did laugh at Spike dressed in Xander’s worst old party gear. Willow doesn’t want Spike killing himself so they take him with them to the archives. Xander points out that the world might be ending soon to which Spike responds “Really? You’re not just saying that?”

The Bottom Line: The dynamics of this were far from convincing but I understand where the story is going.

55/100

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