FEATURE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Primeval
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A secret government organisation known as The Initiative have been operating literally underground at UC Sunnydale. Buffy's dating one of their rejects and fighting their Big Bad, Adam, a patchwork monster of human and demon. Meanwhile, the Scooby Gang's feeling the pressure of living apart; Xander and Anya feel excluded, Willow's dating Tara and only just told people, Giles remains unemployed and Buffy's got her hands full. Spike, helpfully, has been pulling their strings.
After the big bust-up at the end of The Yoko Factor, Buffy goes off to find Riley, but of course finds him gone. He's with Adam, finding out that he was a part of the super-soldier program that Maggie Walsh was putting together and that he also has a chip in his nervous system that Adam can use to control him. The Scoobies all set about recovering from their fight, each as upset as the other at what has been said. However, a little bit of communication soon sets them right and they come up with a plan to stop Adam, magically joining themselves into one body. Buffy's.
The fourth season stands as the only that openly flouts convention by not featuring a two-parter finale as the last two episodes. It's a bold move to wrap up everything major in the season in the penultimate episode, but it's probably for the best given the lukewarm reception to the Initiative plotline. Restless ends up embodying a far better season finale than anyone expected, but I'll save my enthusiasm for that one until next week.
The Initiative stuff is still ridiculously blah. I really couldn't care less about Adam's super-race plan because, although it's clear that there is something thematic link between Adam's composite soldiers and the Scooby Gang united in one goal, it's executed so badly. It's not an inherently bad idea by any stretch, but the quality difference between the two thematic plot strands is vast simply because of who is involved. We don't really know (or like) Riley enough to care too much that he might become part of Adam's composite demon army.
The real meat of the episode is the Scooby Gang themselves, the characters we know and properly care about. As I said last week, seeing the Scoobies fight is never fun and the problems between them all have been building all season. The best moments come as a result of the gang rediscovering their friendship. The lift sequence, in which Buffy and Willow have a heart to heart, is adorable, culminating in a hug that brings the gang back together again.
It may make the joining spell a little on-the-nose metaphorically speaking, but it's a neat way to wrap up their combined plotline for the season. I love that it's a natural (albeit magical) way of combining their respective skills and functions within the group versus Adam's biological and scientific way of doing things. Like Buffy says, the Initiative is messing with primeval forces it doesn't understand the final battle between Scooby-Buffy and Adam is that clash made manifest. Let's just ignore the really dodgy sound effects as the spirits combine within Buffy. The voice effect of having them all speak at the same time is very cool though. That moment also points out a key difference between Buffy and the Slayers that came before her; she's never on her own.
After a nice Dr Strangelove board meeting, the Initiative is abandoned and the case closed in a move that feels a little more Mulder and Scully. Let's just be grateful that we got Cabin in the Woods eh? A much better take on the shady government installation type deal.
Quote of the Week:
Xander: No way. I'm full of that good old kamikaze spirit.
Giles: Xander, just because this is never going to work, there's no need to be negative.
Inventive Kill: Scooby-Buffy rips out Adam's core glowy thingy. Perfect.
Let's Get Trivial: After Nicholas Brendon remembered the established continuity from earlier in the show, the line "see what you get for taking French instead of Sumerian?!" was changed from "see what you get for taking Spanish instead of Sumerian?!"
You can read Becky's look at previous episode, The Yoko Factor, here.