"The Initiative"
Written by Doug Petrie; directed by James A. Contner

Riley grades papers in the cafeteria while his friend Forrest Gates (Leonard Roberts) checks out girls and talks about a party their frat is having that night. Forrest spots Buffy, who is having a period of clumsiness. He’s impressed that Riley knows her, but is surprised that Riley doesn’t seem to have feelings for her - he thinks she’s “peculiar.” Their friend Graham Miller (Bailey Chase) arrives and Forrest tells him that Riley doesn’t like Buffy. Riley denies this, saying that he just feels like she’s not “really there” when he talks to her and that there’s something off about her. Forrest says he bets that “a lot of guys would like to get their hands on her.” In a white cage surrounded by electrically-charged glass, a half-conscious Spike vows to kill Buffy. Unfortunately, he’s trapped, along with a number of other vampires.

In his apartment, Giles sketches the commando Buffy saw in the woods (see “Wild at Heart”) and shows his drawing to Xander. Giles says that he thinks the commandos are human, so he and Xander won’t have to do any research on them. Bored, Xander suggests summoning evil and fighting it, just for the heck of it. Buffy arrives and tells Giles that instead of patrolling, she’s taking Willow to a frat party to help her deal with her break-up. (Again, see “Wild at Heart.” Actually...don’t.) She tells Giles and Xander to take over patrolling for the night. Back in his cell, Spike receives a packet of blood but is informed by his neighbor, one of Sunday’s minions (see “The Freshman”), not to drink it because it’s drugged. He says that once a vamp is drugged, “they” will do experiments on him. Spike asks who is behind the experiments (“the government? Nazis? A major cosmetics company?” See the Angel episode “Why We Fight” for more info) and the minion says that he doesn’t know. He mentions that the last thing he remembers is running from Buffy, and Spike grows angry, thinking she’s behind his capture.

After a Psych class, Willow tells Riley that he left Oz’s name (which is Daniel Osbourne) off of the roll call, and he replies that he heard Oz dropped out. Willow tries to convince him (and herself) that Oz will be back, but Professor Walsh says that he won’t be welcome back in her class. Hurt, Willow leaves and Buffy confronts Professor Walsh, saying, “For someone who teaches human behavior, you might try showing some.” Walsh replies that it’s not her responsibility to “coddle,” and Buffy shoots back, “You're right. A human being in pain has nothing to do with your job.” Impressed with Buffy’s courage, Walsh tells Riley that she likes her. “You don’t think she’s a little peculiar?” Riley asks.

Xander messes with a pistol in his basement, thinking that it will help him and Giles if they come in contact with the commandos. Xander at first brags that he still remembers all of the skills he had when he was a soldier (see “Halloween”), but Giles soon proves him wrong. “Right now, I don’t have the technical skills to join the Swiss army,” Xander laments. “And all those guys ask you to do is uncork a couple of sassy cabernets.” The guys’ patrol preparations are interrupted when Xander’s mother asks if they want any fruit punch. “Is it, uh, raspberry fruit punch?” Giles asks. In the lounge of their dorm, Riley and Forrest toss a Frisbee while Riley relays Walsh and Buffy’s conversation. Parker enters and Forrest asks him about Buffy. Parker calls her “kind of whiny” and clingy, stating that after their one night together, she obviously wanted more. He brags that the sex was great, then says, “You know the difference between a freshman girl and a toilet seat? A toilet seat doesn't follow you around after you use it.” Riley immediately decks him.

Outside, Riley says he can’t believe he hit Parker, and Forrest is worried that he’ll report Riley. Riley says that he didn’t like Parker talking about Buffy that way, then admits that he has a crush on her. “You’re kind of like a moron,” Forrest replies. Riley is surprised that everyone seemed to know he had a crush, and wonders why he’s always the last to know. Forrest asks what he’s going to do, and Riley says he’s “gonna go see a girl.” Back in his cell, Spike plays dead until two lab guys get him out of the cell and onto a gurney. He grabs one of the guys and says, “Sorry, can’t stay. Gotta go see a girl.”

Spike starts to escape, avoiding orderlies, and frees Sunday’s minion, who claims to know the way out. Spike decides that the minion is a liability and shoves him at some commandos, saving himself. Willow is moping in her and Buffy’s dorm room when Riley arrives and tells her he’s thinking about asking Buffy out. Willow spots a bag of weapons near Buffy’s bed and tries to shove them underneath without him noticing. He sees that she’s struggling and pushes the bag under the bed without looking to see what’s inside it. He asks her what Buffy likes, trying to figure out how to connect with her. Willow is reluctant to help, thinking that Riley will hurt Buffy and disbelieving that she can trust him. She finally offers the Buffy likes cheese, has a stuffed pig named Mr. Gordo, and likes “ice capades without the irony.” Riley is excited to hear that they’re going to the party as his frat house that night. He’s glad to have Willow as an accomplice, but she rejects that label.

Harmony (last seen in “The Harsh Light of Day”) is decorating her underground lair when Spike arrives. She slaps him and blasts him for staking her and leaving her. He tells her he missed her and she forgives him. He calls her is “little foam latte” and “mon petit crème brulée.” He tells her he’s home to stay and that they can do whatever and kill whoever she wants, starting with Buffy. She says that they should leave Buffy alone, since she’ll just slap him around, which Harmony herself can do. They start to make out, Spike complaining that his head hurts. In the woods, Giles and Xander are on a stakeout, waiting for vampires without any success.

Buffy and Willow arrive at the frat party and Willow heads off to secretly talk to Riley. She tells him that Buffy is in the mood for light dancing and warns him not to attempt any heavy conversation. She gives him a harsh warning, then wishes him good luck. He goes over to Buffy, first trying to talk about school work. At a loss for conversation topics, he offers her cheese. Xander comes across Harmony in the woods; she’s about to light a pile of things on fire. They begin to fight, but each is about as skilled as a twelve-year-old girl. They start out with slapping and kicking and progress to hair-pulling. They finally call a truce and separate on the count of three, Xander feeling embarrassed. She reveals that she’s burning Spike’s things, and that the vamp is on his way to kill Buffy. Xander runs off, leaving her talking to herself.

At the frat party, Riley laments his failure and Willow tells him that at least he “failed extremely well.” A song by Dingoes Ate My Baby starts to play and, noticing Willow’s negative reaction, Riley gets it turned off. Willow decides to go home and tells Riley to go tell Buffy. Just as Riley is about to ask Buffy out, Xander arrives and tells her that they have “unfinished business” to take care of. Riley is dejected to see Buffy take off with him. Forrest and Graham tell Riley that he’s needed downstairs, and the three head to a mirror, which scans them with a green light. A computer tells them that their retinal scans have been accepted and the wall opens, revealing an elevator. As the guys continue talking about Buffy, they enter the elevator and Riley speaks into a microphone. He is informed that his “Initiative vocal code” matches and is identified as special agent Riley Finn. The guys leave the elevator and enter an underground facility. Riley worries that Buffy won’t want to date a guy who acts normal but is actually a demon hunter. They come across Professor Walsh, who informs them that “Hostile 17 has escaped.”

Walsh fills the guys in on the escape as they suit up in camouflage gear. She says that the escapee could spill info about the Initiative and ruin their whole organization. She puts Riley in charge and he sends teams out to find Hostile 17. Buffy, Xander, and Giles convene in Giles’ apartment, where Xander insults Riley by calling him Buffy’s “Teutonic boy-toy.” Buffy vows to kill Spike, and decides that she has to go after him alone. Xander gives her a flare gun in case she gets into trouble, and she takes off. Somewhere on campus, Spike has broken into an office and is looking up Buffy’s dorm room on a computer. Riley, Forrest, and Graham patrol the woods, coming across Buffy, who is waiting for Spike to show his face. Forrest suggests using her as bait but Riley refuses.

Riley approaches Buffy and each tries to get the other to leave, to no avail. The only leave when they hear a scream, and each takes off in a different direction. Willow is back to moping in her room, but her session of sadness is interrupted by Spike. He tells her he’s going to kill her and asks if she wants to be sired. He attacks her, turning up her music so that no one can hear them. Later, he sits on her bed, confused as to why he was unable to bite her. “Maybe you were nervous,” she suggests. He tries to bite her again but is seized by a headache. “Doesn’t this happen to every vampire?” Willow asks. She wonders if he’s having trouble because he “came looking for Buffy, then settled.” Spike assures her that he’d bite her if he could. She tells him that his inability to attack doesn’t make him any less frightening.

Outside, Riley, Forrest, and Graham track Spike to Buffy and Willow’s room and prepare to head in to get him. Willow realizes that, instead of comforting Spike, she should be escaping. She hits him over the head with a lamp but is unable to get out of the room. Suddenly, the lights go out and the commandos enter the dorm. They burst into Buffy and Willow’s room and Spike tries to attack Graham, but, again, can’t. A fire extinguisher is accidentally shot and the room and hallway fill with CO2. Buffy arrives, shooting off the flare gun, which temporarily blinds the commandos and ensuring that Riley and Buffy don’t recognize each other. Spike escapes as Buffy fights Riley. He finally decides that they need to abort the mission.

Later, Walsh lectures Riley, believing that Spike now has an accomplice. She is only comforted by the fact that Spike’s “implant” works - he can’t hurt anyone without feeling pain. The next day, Riley and Buffy run into each other on campus and Riley asks after Willow. Buffy mentions the “prank” played on their dorm the night before and he plays dumb. She asks him what he wanted to ask her about at the party and he says that he doesn’t remember. “Did Willow tell you I like cheese?” he says. “You’re a little peculiar,” Buffy replies. He can live with that.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Everyone has a secret identity. Maybe even you!

GRADE: A So many great scenes, I can’t begin to name them all.

WELCOME TO THE HELLMOUTH: Forrest, Graham, the Initiative

MEMORABLE QUOTES - “How are you gonna learn anything if you keep doing schoolwork?” - Forrest to Riley

Riley: “She’s Buffy.”
Forrest: “Buffy? I like that. That girl’s so hot, she’s buffy.”

“The latest in fall fascism.” - Xander, upon seeing a sketch of a commando

“No studying? D@%#! Next thing they’ll tell me is I’ll have to eat jelly donuts or sleep with a supermodel to get things done around here. I ask you, how much can one man give?” - Xander

Xander: “Well, how about this? We whip out the ouija board, light a few candles, summon some ancient, unstoppable evil. Mayhem, mayhem, mayhem. We show up and kick its a$&.”
Giles: “Wee bit unethical.”

“I always worried what would happen when that b$%@# got some funding.” - Spike, thinking Buffy captured him

Willow: “Okay, say that I help, and you start a conversation. It goes great. You like Buffy, she likes you. You spend time together, feelings grow deeper, and one day, without even realizing it, you find you’re in love. Time stops. And it feels like the whole world’s made for you two, and you two alone, until the day one of you leaves and rips the still-beating heart from the other, who’s now a broken, hollow, mockery of the human condition.”
Riley: “Yep, that’s the plan.”

Willow: “Why should I trust you?”
Riley: “Just sort of hoping you’d think I have an honest face.”
Willow: “I’ve seen honest faces before. They usually come attached to liars.”

Xander: “Every man faces this moment. Here. Now. Watching. Waiting. For an unseen enemy that has no face. Nerve endings screaming in silence. Never knowing which thought might be your last.”
Giles: “Oh, shut up.”

“And remember, if you hurt her, I will beat you to death with a shovel. A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend. Have fun.” - Willow to Riley

Xander: “That’s close enough. I’m warning you - I’ve been highly trained to put this through your heart. No mercy, no warning.”
Harmony: “I can kill you where you stand.”
Xander: “Bring it on, then.” (Harmony slaps him) “Ow!” (he kicks her in the shin)
Harmony: “Ow! You sissy kicker.”

Buffy: “You think I need help? Believe me, I don’t. You know, if you were a real gentleman, then you would just leave. You would go far, far away, now! Shoo!”
Riley: “Are you drunk?”
Buffy: “Yes! Go and report me.”

Willow: “You know, this doesn’t make you any less terrifying.”
Spike: “Don’t patronize me.”

Spike: “I’m only 126.”
Willow: “You’re being too hard on yourself. Why don’t we wait a half an hour and try again? Or….” (she hits him with a lamp)


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