Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 10

Into the Woods

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Dec 19, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
493 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

At the hospital, the Scooby Gang awaits news from the doctor about Joyce's surgery and they are all relieved when the surgery is a success. Dawn spends the night with Xander and Anya. With the house to themselves, Buffy and Riley spend a romantic evening together. In the middle of the night, Riley sneaks out and Spike follows him into an old building.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • "Into the Woods" is an excellent episode which provides some well needed commentary on Buffy as an individual up to this point.

    It accomplishes this task by focusing completely on her relationship with Riley, which of course ends here. We can see that both people in this relationship are at fault to some extent and that there are no easy answers for Buffy. In the end, Riley puts her in an incredibly unfair and difficult position, yet it accomplishes what it needed to, with the timely assistance of Xander, by forcing Buffy to make a choice with her heart, now: let Riley go or get over there and tell him you're willing to really take this relationship to a whole new place. Alas, it's too late and Buffy enters the beginning of a really rough period of her life.

    The beginning of the end of Buffy's Slayer-like happy years gets into gear here. The theme of all this is touched on very early in the episode when Riley hears that Buffy did actually cry over the situation with her mom's illness, yet alone. It's obvious here that there is a lot Riley really just doesn't 'get' about Buffy. The way she shows her emotions is an example of something that eludes him. Even so, soon after this Buffy and Riley share their most genuinely romantic scene in their entire relationship, which is very pleasant to watch.

    It's obvious Buffy enjoyed her evening with Riley, in all ways, but her whole demeanor with him is that of a casual nature--that this is just a casual relationship for her. Riley wants it to be more, but for some reason won't ever tell her that's what he wants out of it--to take it to the next step that he's been assuming for so long she's been at. I believe that he can see that she's not ready for something more serious at this time and I think he's acting out as a way to deny this truth to himself. Of course, he had it right when he talked to Xander in "The Replacement". The simple fact is that Buffy is not in love with him. Buffy does treat him like a convenience rather than an equal partner, even later saying, "I can see him [Riley] any

    The thing is, I just don't blame Buffy for not being ready for a deeper relationship at her age. It's Riley's fault it took him so long to realize he wants more than Buffy's ready to give. This is what has lead Riley to run off and do some genuinely dumb things like, oh, willingly getting suck jobs from vampire girls. I've always understood Riley's behavior, but that doesn't excuse him when he goes too far in expressing his denial. Buffy's reaction to seeing Riley like this later is spot on: unable to utter a word, just When she gets home we see some wonderful expressions: pain, sickness, and hurt.

    With Riley's secret now exposed, no thanks to Spike, he charges off to Spike's crypt to vent his anger at him. This leads to a great, great chat between the two of them that really sets up the whole Spike/Buffy relationship to come. I particularly love it when Riley asks Spike "You actually think you've got a shot with her?" and he immediately replies, "No, I don't. Fella's gotta try, though. Gotta do what he Spike goes on to tell Riley that he's not the "long haul However, I think Spike is wrong here. All Riley seems to want is to be the long haul guy. Regardless of my knowledge of future episodes, I always got the feeling off Riley that he wants to be married, have kids, and barbeque on the back porch. It's the fact that Buffy can't have this life at this time that ruins the relationship from Riley's perspective. Although Spike is somewhat correct when he says Buffy needs some monster in her man, I don't think it's that simple. She doesn't need it but rather she's just attracted to it. Spike is dead on in pointing out that that's not in Riley's nature. Spike says maybe he got the better deal when he tells Riley, "to be that close to her, and not have But then he understandably quickly reconsiders that position.

    Later on Riley confronts Buffy in the training room over everything that's happened. He claims that when this vamp 'thing' started it was an immature game, and that he wanted to even the score with the Dracula issue. He asks the question, "why do Dracula and Angel have so much power over you?" While I feel Riley overstates their alleged powerful aura, he does have a good reason to ask why those creatures excite her. I'm sure some of it has to do with her nature as a slayer, but some of it is just that she still has a bit of a thing for the darker parts of those characters' personalities. Although, most of the Dracula thing was pure mind control, so I think Riley's placing too much emphasis on that encounter.

    At least Riley admits all of this vamp mess is his fault, because it is. Buffy poses the important question, "what could those whores give you that I couldn't" and Riley replies, "they needed Interesting. Riley desperately wants to be needed, and the fact of the matter is that he's not in Buffy's world. He really should have gotten a job. Imagine how "needed" he'd have been with a steady income after Buffy's mom had died. I like how Riley also admits to Buffy that it's hard having a girlfriend that's much stronger than him. Buffy essentially says that this is who she is, somewhat out of necessity because of the slayer issue, but she seems pretty unwilling to admit that her slayer complex makes it difficult to have a really mutual, deep relationship. This is the moment Riley realizes that it's over, and he announces the military deal to her. The ultimatum he gives her is extremely unfair, but I get at what he's trying to do here. Riley then wants Buffy to hit him as a sign that she has any kind of strong emotions over him, but she just walks out. This is a pretty immature response from Riley though. The only time Buffy ever hit Angel when they were together was when he was either evil or dying.

    After an extremely cool fight sequence outside where Buffy just tears apart a big group of vamps, Xander confronts Buffy on the touchy subject at hand as she tries to flee from him, wanting to deal with her emotions alone again. After he sees Buffy's expression and pause earlier on after mentioning getting Riley, we know that he knows exactly what's going in that relationship. He says, "it's right in front of my Buffy says she thought Riley was "dependable"--the normal guy. Xander replies with fitting amusement, "what is he, State Farm?" Xander nails it when he says, "You got burned with Angel ... and you shut down. And you've been treating Riley like the rebound There's just no way she can deny this truth and she doesn't try to.

    While I think Xander overstates Riley's virtues when he says, "he's the one that comes once in a lifetime," Riley does have positive qualities and is a really nice man. What Xander says from this point on says it all: "if you really think you can love this guy ... I'm talking scary, messy, no-emotions-barred need ... if you're ready for that ... then think about what you're about to As I've pointed out before, Buffy thinks of Riley just as a boyfriend and not a really serious relationship. Riley's always wanted a serious relationship with her and was incorrect in assuming she was on the same page as him all this time. But Xander here essentially asks, do you want a serious relationship with this guy? Can you open yourself up emotionally again like you did with Angel? Buffy's response is that yes, she does want to give this a real try. But, alas, it's just too late and there endeth Buffy and Riley. :(

    To tie up some loose ends I'm going to briefly touch on Spike and Xander. First off, I really enjoyed seeing Spike's selfish attempt to 'help' Buffy out by giving away Riley's little secret. He is so happy that he got Riley caught but comes to quickly reconsider that feeling when he sees its effect on Buffy. I noticed Spike showing an expression of surprise when he sees Riley first leave Buffy's house in the middle of the night. I know what Spike must be thinking: "why in the world would he be leaving Buffy's bed for anything!?" I also want to point out Xander's, quite frankly, stunning speech to Anya after he gives advice to Buffy on her relationship with Riley. It is just... amazing beyond words. Great character development doesn't even begin to describe it! I'm reminded of how expertly this was done in "New Moon Rising", where one character's experience effects the views of another in a profound way. Excellent.

    Well, that's about it for this one. "Into the Woods" proves to be a captivating episode about relationships, love, and committment. A lot of important development came from the lessons learned here. I thouroghly enjoyed this one from both the analytical and fun factor standpoints. Great stuff!moreless
  • Byebye Riley

    The Good; Buffy killing the 7 vamps is awesome, Xander's speech to Anya at the end is wonderful. Love Buffy's run to the chopper but do we really want her to make it?

    The Bad;

    Who's right and wrong in the Riley/Buffy argument? Riley cheats on Buffy but through no fault of her own she's been driving him away for a long time. In the end Riley's departure has a sense of relief about it.

    Best line;

    Anya (in a perfect impression of Willow) "I dislike that Anya. She's newly human and strangely literal"

    Women good/men bad;

    Who wins the gender war here?

    Kinky dinky;

    Dawn refers to Buffy and Riley 'boinking'. Apparently Giles used to frequent vamp brothels in his Ripper days (hence the Draccy babes?). Xander and Anya have apparently used the vaulting horse in Buffy's training room for sexual adventures. Buffy suggests giving Joyce a wig that would make her look like a French Maid? Sure Xander would like that! Spike asks Buffy if she's naked under the sheet. Anya bathes Xander in a 'Penthousey' sort of way.

    Captain Subtext;

    Psychologists say that new mothers tend to lose interest in sex partly because of the exhaustion and trauma of giving birth but also because they get much of the physical and emotional affection they crave from their babies. When you look at Buffy at the hospital with Dawn in her lap and Riley sitting to one side you wonder if something similar was an aggravating factor in their breakup, that Buffy didn't need Riley so much anymore because she had Dawn? The army captain says to Riley that his organisation 'always need bodies'. Riley catches on to Spike's obsession a long time before anyone else.

    Xander and Giles seem reluctant to hug at the hospital. Even now Spike realises that he doesn't have a shot with Buffy, foreshadowing Angel season 5.

    Apocalypses; 5,

    Scoobies in bondage:

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 1

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Xander; 1

    Dawn; 1

    Scoobies knocked out:

    Buffy: 15

    Giles: 10

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 8

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 3

    Wes: 1


    Kills: Buffy effortlessly kills 7 vamps, you realise how far she's come as a Slayer.

    Buffy: 93 vamps, 32 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 6 vamps

    Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human

    Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie

    Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans

    Xander: 5 vamps, 2 zombies, a demon, a demon

    Anya: a demon

    Riley; 18 vamps + 7 demons

    Scoobies go evil:

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 3

    Alternate scoobies:

    Buffy: 6

    Giles: 3

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 2

    Joyce: 2

    Xander: 3

    Recurring characters killed: 9

    Jesse, Flutie, Jenny, Kendra, Larry, Snyder, Professor Walsh, Forrest, McNamara

    Sunnydale deaths;


    Total number of scoobies: 7

    Giles, Xander, Willow, Buffy, Anya, Tara, Riley

    Xander demon magnet: 5(6?)

    Preying Mantis Lady, Inca Mummy Girl, Drusilla, VampWillow, Anya (arguably Buffy & Faith with their demon essences?), Dracula?

    Scoobies shot:

    Giles: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 4

    Riley; 1

    Notches on Scooby bedpost:

    Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny and 3xDraccy babes?

    Cordy: 1?

    Buffy: 3 confirmed; Angel, Parker,Riley, 1 possible, Dracula(?)

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Joyce: 1;Giles, 2 possible, Ted and Dracula(?)

    Oz: 3; Groupie, Willow & Verucca

    Faith:2 ;Xander, Riley

    Xander: 2; Faith, Anya

    Willow: 2;Oz and Tara

    Riley; 3; Buffy, Sandy and unknown vampwhore

    Questions and observations;

    If we're to believe Dawn's chopstick story then she always knew about Buffy being the Slayer which is confirmed in the comics. Spuffers must have been choking on their cornflakes at the fake staking Spike scene.

    So Buffy and Riley? Could it ever have worked? Well, maybe post-Chosen but not then I think, Riley makes the right decision.

    Marks out of 10; 8/10

  • An average episode but one that thankfully gets rid of the dullest character to ever appear on the show and his boring storyline.

    Into The Woods is an episode that has very average writing, acting and some truly uninspired storytelling and if it were not for the wonderful Anya, I'm positive the episode would have been a complete snorefest. However it thankfully gets rid of Riley and his awful storyline, so I'm thankful for it for doing that.

    As I have said in previous reviews, I am not a fan of Riley or his storyline. At best I see him as a waste of space and at worst as a lifeless soul-sucking parasite. That may be a bit harsh but the character honestly adds nothing to the show for me and I just find him very tiresome. That said, the Buffy/Riley relationship is at least better than the Buffy/Angel one (sorry but Bangel are the most annoying, whingy couple ever created).

    Marc Blucas tries his best here but it just comes off utterly cringeworthy watching him act. I don't know if it is his acting or more the role he has to play but he is pretty awful as Riley. He may be good in other roles but here I just found those scenes between him and Buffy to be devoid of any chemistry whatsoever. I didn't care for his explanations on why he feels so detached from Buffy and I was truly hoping he would leave at the end (I got my wish!).

    Another thing I didn't like was the Joyce storyline being rushed and pushed to the side here to make way for the Enormous Hall Monitor's whinging. It's so much more entertaining.

    Buffy chasing after Riley at the end was just really unbelievable for me, I just didn't buy it. It's so obvious that Buffy does not love Riley and really, asking him to stay would have been selfish of her. I think the writers were hoping we'd be wanting Buffy to make it to Riley but really, I think most of us were willing for him to not look down. It was relief when he was gone.

    Anya kept this episode from being completely bad though. Her scenes were hilarious and I just loved her comment to Willow - "Thank you for taking time out of your busy life to come in and get in the way of mine". Just classic Anya, I love her. Spike's scenes were quite good also.

    Into The Woods is a bit of a lifeless episode and one that I don't watch a lot. It's decent enough I guess but just not my favourite.moreless
  • Riley Needs To Cry A River!

    Into The Woods-At the hospital, the Scooby Gang awaits news from the doctor about Joyce's surgery and they are all relieved when the surgery is a success. Dawn spends the night with Xander and Anya. With the house to themselves, Buffy and Riley spend a romantic evening together. In the middle of the night, Riley sneaks out and Spike follows him into an old building.

    I feel bad for Marc Blucas, it's not that his not a good actor, it's the fact that he was given msotly forgettable material playing Riley Finn. During the 4th season, Riley was pretty likeable and his relationship with Buffy was cute, but after the 5th season is was so obivous the writers ran out of ideas for Riley. Besides a few kisses from Buffy and staking some vampires, Riley was pretty useless. Then the whole depression storyline came about with Riley feeling that Buffy doesn't love him or need him, so he plays vampire s!uts to...uhhh...suck his blood...yeah! "Into The Woods" sees Riley's exit from the series and it's more like "thank god his gone!" rather than "Ohh no, Riley's gone!"

    I can't believe that the writers would actually think that we should sorry for Riley, that his situation is so sympathetic. Seriously, I never understood how Riley, not to mention Xander, would think that Buffy has been pretty self involved and has been using Riley for the most part. I was on Buffy's side the whole episode, she was right when she said she had more important things to worry about like her mother's illness and protecting Dawn. Then there was Riley giving Buffy an ultimatium about either she forgives him or he leaves..uhh...what!?! I'm sorry but I this point, we didn't need the over-dramatic sequence of Buffy running toward Riley to tell him how much she loves him, because it's obvious Riley didn't love her enough either!

    Despite my annoyance of this storyline, Marc Blucas does give a good performance and Nicholas Brendon is great throughout, especially during the scene where he confesses his undying love for Anya in a beautiful scene. Sarah Michelle Gellar, of course, carries this episode with another wonderful performance as Buffy goes through a range of emotions when dealing with Riley's revelation. I also love the fight scene where Buffy dusts a bunch of vampires in an alley. It's the first time we see Buffy dusts multiple vampires all at once and it's obvious her fighting skill have developed from her intense training. Also it's great to see Joyce's surgery went well at this point and it's a relief that she's fine...at least for a few episodes. "Into The Woods" has some pathetic melodrama, but has enough good performances and developments to make it a wactchable episode. Also, Riley's gone, which is a big plus!moreless
  • Into the Woods

    Into the Woods was a very good episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This episode had lots of dramatic suspense and character development. We got to see that Joyce's surgery was a success and that her recovery looks promising. We also saw more of Riley's dark curiousity and I like how Buffy found out. This episode definitely sets up future episodes, and I think that the writers do a great job of revealing information at a perfect pace. After Buffy finds out about Riley's late night activities they argue, he gives her an automatem, and she is not happy. She tries to salvage her relationship in the end after talking with Zander, the heart of the group, only to be too late. I can't wait to see what happens!!!moreless
Randy Thompson

Randy Thompson

Doctor Kriegel

Guest Star

Nick Chinlund

Nick Chinlund

Major Ellis

Guest Star

Rainy Jo Stout

Rainy Jo Stout

Junkie Vampire Girl

Guest Star

Bailey Chase

Bailey Chase

Graham Miller

Recurring Role

Kristine Sutherland

Kristine Sutherland

Joyce Summers

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Goof: When Buffy and Riley are making love in her bedroom the camera pans to the window and the blinds are down, yet when Spike is outside looking up at Buffy's window the blinds can't be seen.

    • Goof: When Buffy runs back to her house after seeing Riley getting sucked on, her bedroom light is off. But in the outside shot of her house, the light is on.

    • Goof: When Spike is looking into Buffy's window when she and Riley are doin' it, the light is on. But Buffy and Riley don't actually have the lights on.

    • Goof: In the episode "Shadow" we see Riley getting bitten by a vampire on his neck. It's supposed to leave a mark like Buffy had when Angel had a taste, but in this episode we clearly see that he doesn't have a scratch or a mark on his neck on either side.

    • Goof: After Riley stakes Spike, you can clearly see that there is no hole in his shirt.

    • Goof: In the last shot of Buffy and the punching bag, after Riley walks in, the tape around Buffy's right hand disappears.

    • Nitpick: Buffy tells Xander that Riley is leaving at midnight; but Riley never told Buffy what time he was leaving, he only said "tonight". Also, Buffy seemed to know exactly how and from where Riley was leaving without being told.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • (Buffy urges Spike to turn around so she can get dressed)
      Spike (Stand-offish): Yeah, like I'd care? (turns around and obviously resists temptation to look)

    • Spike: (about Buffy) The girl needs some monster in her man... and that's not in your nature... no matter how low you try to go.

    • Willow: She (Anya) bathes you?
      Xander: Only in an erotic, Penthousey way, not in a sponge-bathy geriatric sort of...
      Giles: Please! Stop, I beg of you.

    • Anya: Who ordered more chickens' feet? The ones we have aren't moving at all.
      Xander: That's generally what happens when you cut them off the chicken.
      Anya: I'm serious. Maybe we could do a... holiday promotion. One free with every purchase!
      Giles: Oh, yes. Dear holiday memories. Merry tykes by the fire, enjoying their new Christmas chicken feet.
      Willow: Holding them tight as they fall asleep. Painting their little toenails.

    • Anya: That's disturbing. You're emotionally scarred and will turn out badly.

    • Spike: I wouldn't be here if I didn't have a good reason. As usual, I'm here to help and… are you naked under there?
      Buffy: Get out.
      Spike: I'm serious! I'm mean, not about the naked part, I mean –
      Buffy: Get out, or I will drop you out, head first!

    • Xander: (to Anya) I've gotta say something, 'cause I don't think I've made it clear. I'm in love with you. Powerfully, painfully in love. The things you do, the way you think, the way you move... I get excited every time I'm about to see you. You make me feel like I've never felt before in my life. Like a man. I just thought you might wanna know.

    • Dawn: It's okay. You guys don't have to make a big deal for me. I'm only sleeping over here so Buffy and Riley can boink.
      Xander: No, no, that's not it at all, they just need time to, um, be tender. Relax.
      Anya: He's not very convincing is he?

    • Anya: I'm sorry, Willow. Thank you for making time in your busy life to come in here and get in the way of mine.

    • Spike: Sometimes I envy you so much it chokes me. And sometimes I think I got the better deal. To be that close to her and not have her. To be all alone even when you're holding her. Feeling her, feeling her beneath you. Surrounding you. The scent... No, you got the better deal.

    • Buffy: Yeah I'm sure he'll come over later looking for a little.... Bible Study.
      Joyce: Well as long as you two are spending some quality time with the Lord.

  • NOTES (3)

    • This is Bailey Chase's (Graham Miller's) last appearance on the show.

    • This is Marc Blucas's last appearance on Buffy as a regular cast member.

    • Dedication: In memory of D.C. Gustafson.
      According to Soap Opera Weekly, Gustafson was a Leadman on the first two seasons of the show and was apparently a close friend of Sarah Michelle Gellar's. He died in November after fighting cancer and AIDS.

  • ALLUSIONS (10)

    • Xander: Only in an erotic, Penthousey way, not in a sponge-bathy geriatric sort of...

      Penthouse magazine is a sister magazine to the adult Playboy by the same company, which depicts letters from readers of an erotic nature.

    • Xander: Dependable? What is he, State Farm?

      State Farm is an insurance agency started in 1922. State Farm markets reliability as its main selling point, its slogan is, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." It orignially specialized in auto insurance for farmers, but now offers other popular types of insurance, such as homeowners, life insurance, financial services and banking.

    • Major Ellis: We have a Code One in Belize.

      Belize is a country in Central America located on the Caribbean Sea. It is a former British Colony that became independent in 1981.

    • Anya: Strawberry schnapps tastes just like real ice cream.

      Schnapps is a generic name for a flavorful, usually clear alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain and flavored with various herbs or fruits. Schnapps can come in a variety of flavors including strawberry, peppermint, orange, butterscotch, and many others.

    • Anya: Well, we could play that game again - Life? That was fun.

      The Game of Life is a classic board game now owned by Hasbro. It consists of between 2 and 10 players each getting a plastic car in which they can collect their "family" throughout the game, as they progress they collect cards with life events on them. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.

    • Xander: So, what do you wanna do now, Dawnster? Keeping in mind that I won't chase you because I'm old and I'm stuffed full of moo goo gai starch.

      This is a reference to Moo Goo Gai Pan, a Cantonese dish of chicken, mushrooms, vegetables, and spices sautéed together.

    • Title: Into the Woods
      "Into the Woods" is a musical by Stephen Sondheim that brings together several popular fairy tale characters and plots.

    • Xander: (about Buffy) Yeah, when we went to deal with that vampire nest, she got all Rambo and torched the place.
      Starring Sylvester Stallone as the eponymous Rambo, a mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran, this was a famously violent action movie trilogy consisting of 1982's First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II in 1985, and Rambo III in 1988.

    • Visual: Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Gurnenthar's Ascendance
      Many religions have a celebration around the time of the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, which falls between 20-23 of December). The few mentioned on Giles' banner in the Magic Box were:

      Christmas: A Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, on December 25th.

      Hanukkah: An 8-day Jewish celebration commemorating the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus, the king of Syria, in the 2nd century BC. It begins on the 25th day of Kislev. This fell on December 22nd in 2000.

      Kwanzaa: Created in 1966 by African-Americans to promote their needs, in response to Christmas, which they felt did not represent them. It is celebrated between December 26th and January 1st.

      Gurnenthar's Ascendance is apparently made up.

    • Buffy: Are you planning to seduce me, Mr. Finn?
      Likely allusion to The Graduate, a 1967 movie starring Anne Bancroft as an older woman and Dustin Hoffman as a college-aged guy. The most famous line from the movie is "Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?"