"The I in Team"
Written by David Fury; directed by James A. Contner

Willow prays for the goddess Neisa to send her the heart she desires. We see that she’s holding cards and playing poker with Xander and Anya in Xander’s basement. Xander tells her that using magic is cheating, but she claims that she was only praying. Anya asks for five cards and Xander reminds her that the most she can have is four, and only if she has an ace. She asks for three instead and complains that they’re only playing for plastic chips. Xander mentions that he’s selling “merchandise” and Willow wants to know if it’s drugs. He shows her that he’s selling Boost Bars, some sort of energy bar. “Come on, somebody bet already,” Anya says impatiently. “I got three K cards.” Smartly, Willow and Xander both fold. Xander wishes that Buffy had come to play with them, but Willow says she’s too busy enjoying having a boyfriend again. Xander wonders what the Initiative is really about and is curious to know what they’re up to.

Currently, they’re out in the woods, getting beaten up by Buffy. Walsh has organized an experiment and Buffy has demonstrated that she was tracked down in 42 minutes and got the better of the commandos in 28 seconds. Walsh calls her efforts impressive and Graham agrees, but Forrest isn’t as positive. However, as Buffy and the commandos head out, Walsh looks concerned. The next day, Buffy and Willow hang out in the cafeteria and Buffy tells Willow about the previous night. Willow reminds her about going to the Bronze with the Scoobies that night and Buffy promises to be there. Riley enters and pretends to listen to Willow’s recount of the previous night while she watches him. She is outraged to see that Riley is only eating a Twinkie for lunch and Willow seems jealous that everyone else is in happy relationships while she’s single.

Giles goes to Spike’s new crypt to pay him for his help in “A New Man.” While Spike counts the money, Giles tells him that his ability to fight demons might mean that he’s meant to be a good guy. Spike isn’t listening, but he tells Giles that he will no longer be working with the Scoobies. Elsewhere, Riley tells Buffy, “You don’t have to do this” and she replies that she wants to. Turns out they’re in front of the mirror in Riley’s dorm, preparing to enter the Initiative. They head into the elevator and downstairs, where Buffy is impressed by the size of the facilities and I refuse to mention the sexual reference that Riley makes. Walsh approaches, giving Buffy a visitor’s pass and giving her some material about the Initiative. Buffy meets Dr. Angleman, the head of the science team and one of the forerunners of the Initiative’s behavior modification program. (In other words, he probably put the chip in Spike’s head.)

Buffy, Riley, and Walsh head for the armory and Buffy plays around with a communications camera that allows commandos in the field to communicate with people back at the facility. It also monitors a person’s heart rate. (Remember that - it’ll be important later.) Walsh gives Buffy a security card and pager and welcomes her to the “team.” In a student lounge, Tara gives Willow a doll’s eye crystal that belonged to her grandmother, but Willow thinks that the crystal is too sentimental for her to take. She invites Tara over to do some spells with it some time, and Tara suggests that night. She is hurt when Willow tells her she already has plans. In the Initiative, Walsh heads back to room 314 (see “A New Man”) and shares her concerns with Angleman that Buffy is an “unnecessary risk.” She asks Angleman how their “baby” is doing, and we see a part man, part demon, part machine creature lying on a table. “Almost time to wake up,” Walsh tells the creature, calling him Adam (George Hertzberg).

Willow and Anya sit at a table in the Bronze while Xander tries to sell Boost Bars to their fellow clubgoers. Anya complains that he’s spending too much time trying to sell them, but she perks up when he reminds her that money means he can buy her nice things. (And thus marks the origins of Anya’s love of capitalism.) Xander notes that it’s late and suggests that they call it a night, but Willow protests, since Buffy hasn’t shown up yet (she’s over an hour late). As if on cue, Buffy arrives, trailed by Riley, Forrest, Graham, and a couple other commandos. Anya drags Xander to the dance floor, not wanting to spend time with the demon-hunters, and Willow gently tells Buffy that she had hoped it would be a just-Scoobies evening. She hints that, if she had known Buffy was bringing guests, she would have brought her own guest. Buffy tells Willow that she’s officially a part of the Initiative, and that when she patrols, she’ll have commandos backing her up. Willow replies that they’re still wary about the Initiative. Buffy’s pager goes off, as do the other commandos’ pagers, and they all head off to the Initiative.

Walsh and Angleman tell Buffy and the commandos that they’re looking for a Polgara demon with bone skewers that they are not to damage. Buffy announces that she has a question, an uncommon occurrence in the Initiative. She asks why they can’t damage the demon’s arms, and Angleman replies that they want to study its natural defenses. She then asks what the demon wants, and Angleman says that they don’t know. Walsh suggests that Buffy change into more Initiative-friendly clothing, but Buffy assures her that she’s fine in the clothes she’s wearing. Riley organizes the teams and they prepare to leave, but not before Buffy wants to ask more questions. Willow heads over to Tara’s dorm room, explaining that her plans changed and asking if she still wants to do some spells. Tara gladly welcomes her in.

Buffy patrols with a team of commandos and tells Riley that she thinks Walsh hates her now because she asked so many questions. He tells her that Walsh liked her before he did, and she’s surprised to hear that there was a time he didn’t like her. Forrest and Graham’s team patrols and Forrest complains that Riley picked Buffy instead of him for dodge ball…um, patrolling. They spot Spike and try to capture him, but Spike gets the better of them and is able to escape. As they are trying to alert Riley’s team to “Hostile 17”’s location, the Polgara demon attacks and Buffy starts to fight it. We cut back and forth between the Polgara-fighting and Buffy and Riley’s first time in the sack. Unbeknownst to him, Walsh has a hidden camera in his room, as well as the other commandos’ room, and watches them the whole time.

The next morning, Xander tries to sell Giles Boost Bars in his apartment, but Giles isn’t thrilled with the possible investment. Giles finally gives in and tries a bar, then orders Xander to get out of his apartment. Spike arrives, having run around all night to try to lose the commandos. He reveals that he was shot with something and asks for help. Giles asks why they should help him, and Spike points out that he helped Giles. He gives back the money he hasn’t already spent and tells the Scoobies to help him. Buffy and Riley wake up in his dorm room and Riley takes his vitamins like a good little commando. He mentions that, when he was recruited, he didn’t know exactly what he was supposed to do, and she asks if he ever wonders about the things he hasn’t been told. He tells her that it doesn’t matter, since they’re working for the good. She asks him what 314 is, but before he can respond, he is summoned by Walsh.

Downstairs, Riley curiously glances at room 314 and is reprimanded by Walsh. She tells him to go out and meet Forrest and Graham’s team, who are to stop looking for Spike. She heads back to room 314 and tells Angleman that Buffy is “becoming a liability.” She knows that something is going on in room 314 and now has Riley suspicious - she has too much control over him for Walsh’s tastes. Angleman confirms that she wants to move to “the contingency scenario.” While he’s talking, Angleman removes the Polgara demon’s skewer arm and seems to be preparing to attach it to Adam. Giles studies the object in Spike’s back and asks Anya to get him a bottle of Cognac for anesthesia. Xander thinks that the object is a tracer, and that the commandos are probably following it to the house as they speak. Giles announces that they need to buy some time before he can remove it.

Buffy returns to her dorm room and notes that Willow didn’t seem to spend the night there, either. Shortly after, Willow returns, doll’s eye crystal in hand. Buffy is paged back to the Initiative and leaves as Willow receives a phone call from Giles. In the Initiative, Walsh tells Buffy that she’s sending her on a reconnaissance mission in the sewers - she’s either going after a not-too-threatening demon or a raccoon. Walsh gives her a communications camera and tells her to get a visual of whatever’s there. Willow does a spell at Giles’ apartment to disrupt the tracer’s signal so that they can remove it before the commandos find them. The spell works, but the atmosphere is ionized and everyone winds up with humorous hair. Riley meets up with Forrest and Graham’s team and learns that something is interfering with Spike’s tracer. Buffy heads into the sewer and encounters two demons which she remembers seeing as they were worked on in the Initiative. Her weapon short-circuits and she notes that it’s useless as a gate falls, trapping her in the sewer with the demons.

Even though one of the demons has an axe, Buffy starts in on hand-to-hand combat as Walsh watches on a monitor. After a few moments, Buffy’s communications camera breaks and her heart rate is read as flat-lining. Riley, Forrest, and Graham try to track the tracer as Giles attempts to remove it from Spike. Just as the spell is wearing off, Giles gets the tracer out. Forrest sees that the signal is clearing and they head for the apartment. Giles gives the tracer to Xander, who runs down the hall with it. The commandos see that the tracer is actually heading towards them, but are confused when they realize that it’s passed them. Irritated, Riley says that someone flushed it.

Buffy continues fighting the demons and is able to kill one with the axe. When she sees that the other is standing in water, she tosses her weapon at it and electrocutes it. Riley returns to the Initiative with the bad news about Hostile 17’s disappearance, but she has worse news for him - Buffy’s dead. He reacts with horror and sadness as Walsh tries to convince him how sorry she is. Behind Walsh, the image on the monitors from the communications camera begins to shift. Buffy appears on the screens and Riley sees her. Buffy announces that she knows that Walsh set her up. “…You really don’t know what a Slayer is,” she says. “Trust me when I say you’re gonna find out.” Furious with Walsh, Riley leaves.

Giles warns Spike that he’s not safe as long as the Initiative is around. Buffy enters and says that it’s not safe for any of them to be in Sunnydale. Back in room 314, Walsh tells Adam that if Buffy wants a fight, they’ll give her one. She’s worked too long to let Buffy ruin her “project,” and says that she doesn’t know what she’s dealing with. Walsh seems convinced that she’ll be able to win Riley back over to her side. “Remove the complication, and when she least expects it--,” she begins. Suddenly, she screams, having been speared by Adam, who she didn’t see standing behind her. She falls to the ground, dead, and Adam says, “Mommy.”

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Don’t build your own monster and expect him to be friendly.

R.I.P.: Professor Walsh


GRADE: B- Initiative stuff. Wonderful. Is it over yet?

MEMORABLE QUOTES - “Those things usually taste…kind of tasteless. And then leave a bad after-tastelessness.” - Willow, re: energy bars

Willow: (re: the Initiative) “Well, they do seem to fall into the good guy camp. I mean, they are anti-demon.” (seeing that Anya doesn’t look happy) “Probably pro ex-demon.”
Anya: “Maybe. I choose to feel threatened.”

“A funny thing happened with my prior social engagement. Pretty much ended when a friend of mine went off to do something with another crowd she hangs out with. Irony is kind of ironic that way.” - Willow to Tara

Giles: “And...how is this our concern? Seeing as how you've expressed the desire to have nothing more to do with us.”
Xander: “Spike said that?”
Giles: “Mm-hmm.”
Xander: “That hurts.”

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