Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | November 26, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S5, E10 – Into the Woods

Into The Woods
Season 5, Episode 10
Original airing: 12/19/2000

My Rating: 62

The Good: I think almost any review of this episode is likely to start with celebrating the “loss” of Riley. I’m so glad he’s been removed from the show. I really tried to give him a shot during this Rewatch, but he’s been consistently presented as over bearing and silly. He just didn’t work with Buffy and I’m thrilled to see the back of him.

That being said, these last few episodes have definitely brought us the best Riley storyline he ever had. And I rather liked this wrap up to it, as well. Riley and Buffy’s implosion felt real because both of their sides felt logical. Riley has turned to vampires to feel needed, something which is very important to him. We’ve had many instances of seeing Riley try to take care of and protect Buffy. But that’s not what she needs or wants. By allowing vampires to feed on him, he feels useful. It leads neatly into the cheating analogy, which gives us Buffy’s side of things. She’s been exploring her own darkness this season, but she still knows vampires are basically evil and they are using Riley.

I also liked Xander and Buffy’s conversation. While it was certainly convenient to have Xander pop into the alley just after the big vampire slaughter, his lecture to her made a lot of sense. We’ve seen Xander grow quieter and calmer since The Replacement. And he also has the unique position of knowing how Riley really feels about his relationship with Buffy. I think having Xander lay it all out there makes a lot of sense.

Xander also has an excellent scene with Anya. After Buffy lashes out at him, Xander makes sure to go to Anya and explicit spell out his feelings for her. As he’s just told Buffy, if you find something real, grab it and hold it with both hands. It also fits nicely with Anya’s literal nature.

Finally, I really enjoyed Spike and Riley’s scene. Spike gets some really good shots in and sums things up in my opinion – covering why Buffy will eventually leave Riley and why Riley couldn’t really stake him – Riley’s just a good guy. “Buffy needs a little monster in her man” is so true. I also liked that the wine sharing allowed Spike to finally voice his feelings about Buffy. That kind of thing can’t stay bottled up inside.

The Bad: The little scene I didn’t like was Anya snapping at Willow. It came out of nowhere and seemed particularly harsh. She just keeps going with line after line and even turns on Xander. Was she just in a bad mood? What was up with that?

But the kicker is the show’s standpoint that Riley is the guy for Buffy. I really didn’t like Xander pushing Buffy to run after Riley. And I really didn’t like that she did it. Unfortunately, we don’t know what the conversation would have been between Buffy and Riley, but it seemed to me like the show was setting it up for Buffy to beg Riley to stay. I really dislike this idea because Riley has never felt right for Buffy. They’ve had an awkward relationship since the beginning. In fact, I think Xander nails it on the head when he calls Riley “State Farm” and asks if Buffy is with him just because he’s safe. Ummm…. Yes! Having Buffy give into Riley’s ultimatum was a rash decision that did not fit with the Buffy presented on the show. When has she ever settled for less?

Favorite Moment: As I mentioned, I really liked the Riley and Spike scene. The second half of it really grabbed me as Spike monologues about Buffy and then commiserates with Riley.

The Bottom Line: I think this could have been a great episode with a different ending. Having Buffy run after Riley with the apparent intent of throwing herself in his arms and forgiving him for everything just felt very NOT Buffy.

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