Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 10

Into the Woods

5
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Dec 19, 2000 on The WB
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (13)

8.4
out of 10
Average
488 votes
  • "Into the Woods" is an excellent episode which provides some well needed commentary on Buffy as an individual up to this point.

    9.5
    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!
  • Byebye Riley

    8.0
    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

    Anya;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;

    89;



    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.

    7.5
    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.
  • Riley Needs To Cry A River!

    7.9
    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!
  • Into the Woods

    9.0
    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!!!
  • Season 5, Episode 10.

    9.5
    The Scooby Gang awaits news from the doctors about Joyce's surgery. After it turns out that the surgery was a success, Dawn spends the night with Xander and Anya so Buffy and Riley can have some alone time. However, Riley sneaks out in the middle of the night to get bitten by vampires, and Spike tells Buffy. He then gives her an ultimatum: either she gives him a reason to stay, or he will be going on a military mission in a jungle.

    I loved this episode soooo much! It was so emotional and powerful. The acting was amazing. I couldn't remember ever watching this episode. My ending was probably my favorite part, but I enjoyed the whole episode, including the Buffy/Xander scenes. Great ending. :)
  • I am really happy that Riley has gone. I felt that Riley wasn't as good a boyfriend to Buffy than Angel..... and he was always moody.

    10
    From time to time I had to scream at the television because i saw Riley in some episodes that i thought were going to be good... he spoiled them. I felt that Riley lacked the confidence of the show, and lacked confidenc ein the life of Buffy. He could never give Buffy what she wanted... he even figured out himself that Buffy didn't love him (thank you writers!) whenever a character mentioned Angel or an old flame of Buffy's Riley would immediately become moody which I foun very aggrivating. so I am praising the episode with my 10/10 rating, basically for the writers for the writing out this character which I found annoying and moody.... also aggrivating...
  • "Mum’s out of the woods, I’m here with you; that’s all that matters" - Buffy

    9.1
    The Joyce/Riley mini-arc comes to a mini-finale as Joyce is given the all clear and Riley clears off. We start off in the hospital as Riley and Buffy sit together, but apart, waiting for the result of Joyce’s op. When the doctor gives then the good news, Buffy hugs Dawn first and then Riley. We know where Buffy’s priorities lie, but there’s nothing untoward about that. Throughout the series we’ve seen Buffy obsessing over one thing to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. Season 1 it was being the Slayer, Season 2: Angel, Season 3: Angel again (and Faith). Season 4: Riley. Now it’s Joyce and Dawn. With good reason. But at this point in the episode, everything looks good: Buffy can relax, send Dawn over to watch chimps on ice with Xander and Anya, and have a romantic evening with her boyfriend. She can even get a bit of hubris in “(I can see him anytime” she tells Joyce). But there’s the slight matter of Riley’s obsession with being bitten and Spike’s obsession with Buffy. As he smokes and stalks simultaneously outside of her house, he is rewarded for his diligence by spotting not a nude Buffy, but a clothed Riley off to the brothel after his obviously unrewarding night of passion with the Slayer. Maybe her legendary stamina has been declined with her recent family problems. Unfortunately for Spike, his leading Buffy to where Riley is having his, erm, blood sucked does not endear himself to Buffy, a fact that seems to surprise him. The scene in which Riley doesn’t kill Spike is lovely in its honesty as the lads no longer have to lie. Riley tells Spike that he knows that the vamp is after Buffy, Spike finally admits it to someone other than a Girl’s World head and, after telling the other how much they want to kill them, they level with each other. They share whisky and home truths - Spike is brutally honest as he shows how much he desires Buffy and how he realises that he doesn’t have a chance with her, but that he has to try. He envies but at the same time despises Riley for being so close to Buffy and not really having her. For once he doesn’t seem to be riling Riley but telling him what he believes to be true: “You’re not the long-haul guy and you know it. Otherwise you won’t be getting suck-jobs from two-bit vampire trolls”. Riley and Spike are shown as two sides of the same Buffy-loving coin: Riley looks like a clean-livin’ Levi advert in white t-shirt and denims, Spike in his trademark black top and jeans.

    There is some light relief as Anya bickers with Giles, Willow and Xander, forecasting the conflict in the next episode. Fortunately, Buffy provides a welcome distraction by entering the Magic Box and being self-righteous about vamps who bite for money. Anya tells her “that’s been going on for centuries”, inviting comparisons with prostitution, but what Riley is doing could be analogous to drug-taking, S&M sex and self-harm in the way it is described as rush-inducing, but also in the manner it can cause the death of the “willing victims”. Giles thinks that vampires that don’t kill don’t deserve to be killed, which of course includes Spike. Buffy, in her anger, ignores the moral grey ground for the high ground, setting the brothel on fire when she discovers it’s empty - an overly literal symbol of her relationship going up in smoke? Riley also wants to see things in black and white since he has been consorting with, rather than killing, vamps, and Graham’s offer to re-join the army seems tempting. Says the CO: “None of us gives a damn what makes monsters tick, we just stop ‘em”. Riley would have a part to play, which he doesn’t in Sunnydale. He’s not the Slayer and yet he can’t be part of the gang sitting around with research books and donuts. He’s a can-do kinda guy and for too long Buffy has tried to protect him - as seen in the scene when she says she has had priorities other than taking care of him. He points out to her that it’s not about that; it’s about him taking care of her. Despite the fact she and Angel had regular tussles, Buffy refuses to hit him because he’s a human - a strong man, but not a super-man. He resents this. In their confrontation, we soon learn that Riley visiting vamptitutes is not really the issue, despite Buffy acting like Riley has been cheating on her (“what can they give you that I can’t?”) and Riley more or less confirming this (“It wasn’t real, it was just physical”), but is more about Riley’s perception of Buffy’s attitude towards him and vice versa. He talks about the passion of the vampires (the sex/biting thing is once again explored) and how he doesn’t feel that Buffy feels that way about him. It’s an interesting scene and much more real than the Buffy/Angel psycho-dramas, with the viewer seeing both sides of the argument. Riley is a big old mopey dope with insecurity issues, but it’s true that Buffy hasn’t confided in him about Joyce or Dawn and that she was happy to cry on Spike’s shoulder but not on his. It could be argued that she is correct when she says: “I’ve given you everything”, but she has changed since she first got together with Riley and her problems with her mother have made Riley less of a priority for her. She feels that she is giving her all, he doesn’t and that’s what it boils down to. Like the argument as to whether the vamp-whores should be staked or not, it’s just a matter of perception. But I’d still say it’s seven of Riley and less than half a dozen of Buffy. For one thing, he’s been brooding on the Drac-bite for 9 episode. But when Riley tells her that he is leaving, we can still see both viewpoints – to her, he’s issuing an ultimatum; to him, he’s offering her a choice. We see Buffy’s vindictiveness and stubbornness as, after having despatched eight vamps in about as many seconds (she is at the top of her game physically but at the bottom of it emotionally), she has some sympathy for the whimpering emaciated vamp-whore which allows Buffy to let her go, but this turns to vengeance as she then throws a stake, hitting the vampire in the heart. She’s not prepared to forgive. Until New Xander, the wise one, tells her what’s what. What it has to do with him, unless he feels responsibility for Riley confiding in him, is negligible but he persuades Buffy to chase after Riley. It doesn’t matter what Riley has done if Buffy loves him enough, he advises, and accuses her of treating Riley like the rebound guy (um, no that was Parker): “Think what you’re about to lose”, he counsels, and it seems that Buffy, who thought she was going to lose everything through Joyce’s death, doesn’t realise, until this minute, that she might lose as much through Riley’s departure.

    We assume that Buffy will get to Riley’s departure point in time and that even if Riley leaves, she and he will share a tender farewell, with a promise to return, but no, Buffy is running in a long coat, and that never ends well. Just as she couldn’t figuratively hear him earlier on, the noise of the helicopter literally drowns her out as a coldly lit Riley sets his jaw and sets off into the woods, and Buffy is bathed in the harsh orange light of reality. Girl shoulda taken a taxi. The coda is that Xander finally tells Anya he loves her, she’s not just a sexual convenience. It’s a nice scene and explains Xander’s diktat to Buffy that she should forgive Riley - he loves Anya despite all of her ex-demony faults. And the scene is thus set for a different type of troll in the next episode.
  • Exit Riley and Joyce has surgery for her tumor.

    6.5
    When Buffy discovers Riley's extracurricular activities she is understandably angry. We find out that not all vampires kill; some become prostitutes and bite willing humans. This marks the exit of Riley from the series when he gives Buffy an ultimatum that only pushes her into new territory of anger. She finally realizes what she's about to lose after a pep-talk with Xander, but unfortunately for her, Riley is gone before she can talk to him.

    I feel sort of bad for Marc because his character just didn't have anywhere to go in this season due to poor planning and uninspiring writing.

    On a more positive note, Buffy's mom comes through her surgery with flying colors. She also realizes that Dawn isn't just a typical teen/daughter but she takes it in stride. I loved Joyce even though she was only a recurring character.
  • Here we go...

    9.0
    I didn't really like Riley right from the beginning, I found him annoying very soon. Anyway, I was sad when he left. But I found it pretty weird that Buffy realizes her "mistake" after a one-minute-Xander-pep-talk...
    Much more did I like the Xander-Anya-ending of that episode. For the first time he just seemed so manly and sweet and I had a tear in my eye... Also, I find it pretty amusing how in season 5, for example this episode, there are like so many hints to what's gonna happen until the end of the series. I've never really thought of it that much, but Joss Whedon must have thought it all through very early..
  • Xander's manhood

    9.0
    This episode was very good. From the coclusion of Buffy's moms' surgury, to Spike's revenge, to Buffy's kick-ass fight scene with 7-8 vamps and the first triple-kill, to the dramatic confrontation between Riley and Buffy, and Xander's monologue this episode is filled with juicy development.

    I have to say that Xander has been in no-mans land for quite some time. Although there were several episodes about him, these episodes never revealed Xander's character. He does seem like the only one without anything going for him internally. In this episode, Xander's character is revealed, his confidence is gained and his manhood is obtained. His confrontation of Buffy is couragous, insightful, loyal and honest. I very much enjoyed the Riley and Buffy issues and Xanders involvment.

    Good stuff.
  • A beautiful heartbraking episode. I really liked Riley and Buffy's relationship. the last 10 minutes are heartbraking, the music. Buffy running. and Xander and Anya make this episode even better.

    10
    Into The Woods

    Another perfect episode. it's just a beautiful Romeo & Juliet story, only without the dying and family fight. The last minutes of film are painful! when the music starts and poor Buffy runs for her man. what I dislike about this episode is SPIKE. he was so annoying! and some parts seemed rush and unnatural. like when Buffy gets to hear that her mom is okay, she hugs the doctor. also, Xander and Anya were two awesome characters in this episode.

    cut to the hospital, the gang has been waiting for hours, then finally a doctor comes over to tell Buffy the news.

    the credits start

    go on to the hospital, he tells the gang that it succeeded and everybody starts hugging eachother. cut to Dawn at Anya and Xander's. They want to do something with her but she says they don't have to. she knows Buffy and Riley are boinking and Anya asks if she and Xander can't now(this scene is hilarious, specially Anya). cut to Buffy and Riley, she tells him that she cried but what matters is that her mom is out of the woods and here with him. they have sex and Spike is watching from outside. Riley can't stay and he goes away, Spike sees him go to a place and follows him.

    cut to the hospital, Joyce tells Buffy she should have her life back but she wants to be with her. Buffy says she could see Riley anytime but she gave him the day off. cut to some agents, they need to go to a place but Graham tells the agent that they need Riley Finn but that might take a little convincing. cut to Buffy's bedroom. Spike is in it and he tells her he wants to show her something(I can't stand Spike here).

    He takes her to that place into a room where a vampire is feeding off Riley, Buffy nods and then she goes away, annoying Spike says she had to know. Riley comes running after her. cut to Riley coming to his place, some military men are waiting for him. they tell him that they are going away but they want to take him. he's a military just like them, they say midnight tomorrow. it's up to him.

    cut to the store, Giles and Willow are making fun of Anya(hilarious) and she makes fun of them back. then comes Buffy and tells them about the vampires that feed. people pay for the rush. Buffy wants to kill them but Giles says it's not necessary but they follow her anyway. cut to the gang ariving but nobody is there. Buffy is really pissed and burns the place down.

    cut to Riley going to Spike's nest. he stakes him with a plastic stake and he hurts Spike a lot. Spike says that Riley isn't the guy for Buffy because she needs monster in her man. Spike says that Riley is alone when he's holding her but still, he has it better. Riley is the lucky guy.

    cut to Anya and Xander, Buffy is training in the back. Riley comes and he tells them to go away, Xander isn't doing that nice to Anya. cut to Riley and Buffy. He wants to talk to her. he says that she keeps him in distance. Buffy says that she has been giving him her life, body and soul. but he doesn't feel it. she didn't call when her mom was in the hospital. he wanted to take care of her. he tells her that he is leaving tonight. unless she gives him a reason to stay. Buffy goes very upset away(beautiful scene but Buffy was right).

    cut to Buffy in an alley, the vampires of the club are waiting to kill her but she kills them all first. then Xander appears. he tells her that she's acting like a crazy person. she doesn't want to talk about it. he says that she is treating Riley like rebound guy. she starts about Anya but he says it's not about him. he tells her that if the guy isn't something she's looking for let him leave. but if she thinks she can love the guy then go for him. she realised she loves him more than she thought and starts running.

    She runs and runs while Riley waits in the helicopter. it starts to move so he gets in and she runs. when she's finally there the helicopter started to fly, she screams for him but he doesn't hear her. then she sees it disappear(beautiful music and all). cut to Xander going to Anya. he tells her how inlove he is with her. and they kiss. cut to poor Buffy coming to her house and then cut to Riley leaving.

    black out

    ----------
    Best episode quotes:

    Dawn: When I was younger, I used to put my chopsticks in my mouth like this, and then Buffy would chase me around the house yelling, "I'm the Slayer, I'm going to get you!"
    Anya: That's disturbing. You're emotionally scarred and will end up badly.
    Dawn: No, it was great. I mean, she didn't actually stake me in the heart, you know.
    Xander: Buffy's pretty cool like that. 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.
    Anya: Well, we could play that game again, Life. That was fun.
    Dawn: For you. You always win.
    Anya: Well ... we can make a wager this time. You can give me real money. That would be different.
    Xander: And after we teach her to gamble, maybe we can all get drunk!
    Anya: I don't think the bar would serve her, but we could bring something in. Strawberry schnapps taste just like real ice cream.
    Xander: Okay, how's about a movie? They're showing them in theaters now. I hear it's like watching a video with a bunch of strangers and a sticky floor.
    Dawn: That one looks sad.
    Xander: The chimp playing hockey? Is that based on the Chekhov?
    Anya: There's a chimp playing hockey?
    Dawn: Um, no, the other one. I don't wanna see a sad movie.
    Anya: We have to see the chimp playing hockey! That's hilarious! The ice is so slippery, and, and monkeys are all irrational. We have to see this.
    Xander: You pick, Dawn. This is your night. We are celebrating your mom's good news.
    Anya: Go monkey. Choose monkey.
    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, that's not, that's not it at all, they just need time to, uh... be tender. Relax.
    Anya: He's not very convincing, is he?
    Dawn: 'Alone time' always translates into 'get Dawn out of the house so we can have loud obnoxious sex.'
    Anya: Oh, does that mean we can't?

    Buffy: It's like all the tension's just left my body.
    Riley: Already? 'Cause I had that scheduled for a little later on.
    Buffy: Scheduled? Are you planning on seducing me, Mr. Finn?

    Riley: Get out.
    Ellis: I need to talk to you.
    Riley: I'm not in a talkin' mood.
    Ellis: Then listen.
    Graham: Riley, just give the man a chance. You don't like what you hear, we'll be on our way.
    Riley: Talk fast.
    Ellis: We have a Code One in Belize. A demon tribe is taking apart missionaries in the rain forest down there.
    Riley: And you're telling me this because?
    Ellis: We're going down to terminate their operation. We want you to join us.
    Riley: I'm a civilian.
    Ellis: You're a soldier.
    Riley: I quit the government a long way back.
    Ellis: We're not government. We're army.
    Graham: Just like you.
    Ellis: It's not the Initiative, Finn. We don't do experiments. None of us give a damn what makes monsters tick. We just stop 'em.
    Riley: What do you need me for?
    Ellis: I think you can handle yourself. And I always need bodies. I'm not gonna lie to you. It's the real deal. High risk, low pay, and seriously messy. We ship out for Central America tomorrow midnight. Now maybe civilian life is working out for you... and maybe not. Midnight. Tomorrow. The decision's yours.

    Buffy: Wigs are fun. We could get you a whole bunch of different ones. You know, you could be like 60's mom, Action mom, French-maid mom.
    Joyce: I must be getting better, 'cause you're making fun of me.
    Buffy: Well, you know. Got a lot of time to make up for.
    Joyce: You have more important things to make up. I know you've been missing a lot of school.
    Buffy: I may have to take a few incompletes, but I will make it through the semester.
    Joyce: Well, what about slaying and your friends? I want you to have your life back.
    Buffy: Right now I'd rather be here, styling your beautiful new plastic dream hair.
    Joyce: Fair enough, but you don't have to keep me company all night. Go out, have fun, get, get Riley to take you to a movie or something.
    Buffy: I gave Riley the day off.
    Joyce: I don't think he thinks of you as a chore, Buffy.
    Buffy: I know that. Look, I told him to make plans with his friends because I wanted to have you all to myself, okay? Besides, I can see him any time. And I'm sure he'll come over later looking for a little... bible study.
    Joyce: Well, good. I mean, just as long as the two of you are spending some quality time with ... the lord.
    Buffy: We are. Absolutely.

    Anya: Oh, who ordered more chicken's feet? The ones we have aren't moving at all.
    Xander: That's generally what happens when you cut them off the chicken.
    Anya: Maybe we could do a holiday promotion -- one free with every purchase.
    Giles: Oh, yeah... dear holiday memories. Merry tykes by the fire enjoying their new Christmas... chicken feet.
    Willow: Aw, holding them tight as they fall asleep, painting their little toenails.
    Anya: Oh, that's very humorous. Make fun of the ex-demon. I can just hear you in private: "I dislike that Anya. She's newly human and strangely literal."
    Willow: Anya, I don't say that. No one says that. No one talks that way.
    Anya: There's nothing wrong with my idea anyway. I've been very good for this store. If it wasn't for me, Giles would be a terrified old man, staring at a quarterly tax statement and wetting himself.
    Giles: I say, that's an exaggeration.
    Willow: Anya, you've helped out a lot, but I have too.
    Anya: Yes, I forgot about all the vigorous sitting around.
    Xander: Anya, you can back off a little. You get paid. Willow's doing this on her own time.
    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.
    Xander: Anya, play nice.
    Anya: You know, fine. Take her side instead of mine, even though I'm the one who sleeps with you, and feeds you, and bathes you.
    Willow: She bathes you?
    Xander: Only in an erotic, Penthouse-y way. Not in a sponge-bathy, geriatric sort--
    Giles: Please! Stop. I beg of you.

    Anya: Have a nice day. Don't get killed.

    Xander: I guess everybody jumped ship once the word got out that the Slayer found their crib. I just want to apologize for the use of the word "crib."

    Spike: Let's be reasonable about this.
    Riley: You may have noticed, Spike... I left reasonable about three exits back.

    Spike: Oh, man. You are really under it, aren't you?
    Riley: What?
    Spike: Look at you. All afraid I'm hot for your honey.
    Riley: Because you are.
    Spike: Well ... yeah. But that's not your problem. Even if I wasn't in the picture, you're never gonna be able to hold onto her. [Riley hurts him more] Ow, bloody hell!
    Riley: Maybe I didn't almost kill you enough.
    Spike: Come on. You're not the long haul guy and you know it.
    Riley: Shut up.
    Spike: You know it. Or else you wouldn't be getting suck jobs from two-bit vampire trulls. The girl needs some monster in her man ... and that's not in your nature...no matter how low you try to go.
    Riley: You actually think you've got a shot with her?
    Spike: No, I don't. Fella's gotta try, though. Gotta do what he can.
    Riley: If you touched her... you know I'd kill you for real.
    Spike: I had this chip outta my head, I'da killed you long ago. Ain't love grand? 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.
    Riley: I'm the lucky guy. Yeah. I'm the guy.

    Anya: A little after-hours hanky-panky in the training room, huh? Boy, Xander and I could tell you some stories.
    Xander: Not now. Let's go, Anya.
    Anya: There's a funny thing with the vaulting horse that you can tr--
    Xander: Anya!
    Anya: What? He started it.
    Xander: In your world, maybe. But where the people are, this isn't time for "Tales of Anya and Xander's Sexcapades."

    Riley: We need to talk.
    Buffy: I'm not ready to talk to you yet.
    Riley: Too bad.
    Buffy: I'm serious. Unless you wanna fight.
    Riley: So let's fight. We need to have this out, Buffy. Right now.
    Buffy: And say what, Riley? 'What were you thinking? How long have you been lying to me?' Nothing you say right now is gonna make this better.
    Riley: I realize that. I don't expect... I just need you to hear me out.
    Buffy: Fine. Get your hand off of me.
    Riley: I think, when this thing started, it was just some stupid, immature game. I wanted to even the score after you let Dracula bite you.
    Buffy: I did not let Dracula-
    Riley: I know. On some level I know that. But I was still spun. I don't know, I - I wanted to know what you felt. I wanted to know why Dracula and Angel have so much power over you.
    Buffy: You so don't get it.
    Riley: I wanted to get it, Buffy. I wanted to get you.
    Buffy: So this is my fault? Hey, gee, Buffy's so mysterious, I think I'll go out and almost die. I think I'll go and let some other w...
    Riley: This isn't your fault. It's mine. I feel like hell for what I've put you through. It's just... these girls-
    Buffy: Vampires. Killers.
    Riley: They made me feel something, Buffy. Something I didn't even know I was missing until-
    Buffy: I can't. I can't hear this.
    Riley: You need to hear this.
    Buffy: Fine. Fine! Tell me about your whores! Tell me what on earth they were giving you that I can't.
    Riley: They needed me.
    Buffy: They needed your money. It wasn't about you.
    Riley: No. On some basic level it was about me. My blood, my body. When they bit me ... it was beyond passion. They wanted to devour me, all of me.
    Buffy: Why are you telling me this?
    Riley: It wasn't real. I know, it was just physical. But the fact that I craved it ... that, that I kept going back ... even if it was fleeting, they made me feel like they had such... hunger for me.
    Buffy: And I don't ... make you feel that way? How on earth can you compare me to that? How can you tell me you understand what those vampires are feeling? You aren't a passion to them, you are a snack! A willing, idiotic snack.
    Riley: No, I know exactly what they feel when they bite me, because I feel it every time we're together. It's like the whole world falls away. And all there is is you.
    Buffy: And you think that I don't feel the same way about you? How dare you tell me what I feel?
    Riley: You keep me at a distance, Buffy. You didn't even call me when your mom went into the hospital.
    Buffy: Oh, I'm sorry. You know, um, I'm sorry that I couldn't take care of you when I thought that my mother was dying.
    Riley: It's about me taking care of you! It's about letting me in. So you don't have to be on top of everything all the time.
    Buffy: But I do. That's part of what being a slayer is. And that's what this is really about, isn't it? You can't handle the fact that I'm stronger than you.
    Riley: It's hard sometimes, yeah. But that's not it.
    Buffy: Then what? What else do you want from me, Riley? I've given you everything that I have, I've given you my heart, my body and soul!
    Riley: You say that, but I don't feel it. I just don't feel it.
    Buffy: Well, whose fault its that? Because I'm telling you, this is it, this is me. This is the package. And if it's so deficient that you need to get your kicks elsewhere ... then we really have a problem.
    Riley: They want me back, Buffy ... the military. It's deep undercover, no contact with civilians. Transport's leaving tonight.
    Buffy: Tonight? When were you gonna tell me about this?
    Riley: I'm telling you now.
    Buffy: Are you going?
    Riley: I don't know. If we can't work this out...
    Buffy: Then what? This is goodbye? You are unbelievable. You're giving me an ultimatum?
    Riley: No, I'm not.
    Buffy: Yes you are! You expect me to get over it now or you're gone!
    Riley: I don't, Buffy, that's not what I meant.
    Buffy: Well, I have heard enough. I will not take the blame for this.
    Riley: I'm not asking you to.
    Buffy: Let go of me!
    Riley: Or what? You'll hit me? Go ahead. Come on, do it.
    Buffy: Get out of my way.
    Riley: I'm serious, Buffy, hit me. Hit me. I'm leaving, Buffy. Unless you give me a reason to stay ... I'm leaving tonight.

    Xander: So, how'd that work out for ya? Make you feel better?
    Buffy: What are you doing here?
    Xander: I thought you might need to talk. Then I saw the skirmish happen. I was gonna lend a hand, but I noticed you grew a few extra ones.
    Buffy: Go home, Xander.
    Xander: Buffy.
    Buffy: I'm serious!
    Xander: So am I. Something's up. You're acting like a crazy person. Take this, for instance. You don't wanna deal, so you hide? It's not very slayer-like.
    Buffy: Just leave me alone, Xander. You have no idea what's going on.
    Xander: No? Good, so you and Riley aren't imploding? It doesn't take a genius. What I can't figure out is how you never saw it coming.
    Buffy: What? Who told you?
    Xander: Nobody told me anything, Buffy. It was right in front of my Xander face. The guy would do anything for you.
    Buffy: The guy got himself bit by a vampire! He lied to me. He ran around behind my back and almost got himself killed! And now he tells me that he's leaving with some covert military operation at midnight unless I convince him not to. Now tell me that you understand. Because I sure as hell don't.
    Xander: You gonna let him go?
    Buffy: It's not my decision to make.
    Xander: Of course it is.
    Buffy: Well, it's not fair.
    Xander: Who cares if it's fair? In about twenty minutes, Riley's gonna disappear, maybe forever, unless you do something to stop him.
    Buffy: What am I supposed to do? Beg him to stay?
    Xander: Why wouldn't you? To keep Riley here-
    Buffy: I don't even know who he is any more. I mean, I thought he was ... dependable.
    Xander: Dependable? What is he, State Farm?
    Buffy: You know what I mean.
    Xander: Yeah. I think you mean convenient. I think you took it for granted that he was gonna show up when you wanted him to, and take off when you didn't.
    Buffy: Look who's talking. Look who has Anya following him around like a lovesick puppy.
    Xander: Oh boy, is this not about me.
    Buffy: Is she more than a convenience? 'Cause that would kinda be a surprise.
    Xander: If you don't wanna hear what I have to say, I'll shut up right now.
    Buffy: Good, 'cause I don't.
    Xander: I lied. See, what I think, you got burned with Angel, then Riley shows up.
    Buffy: I know the story, Xander.
    Xander: But you miss the point. You shut down, Buffy. And you've been treating Riley like the rebound guy. When he's the one that comes along once in a lifetime. He's never held back with you. He's risked everything. And you're about to let him fly because you don't like ultimatums? If he's not the guy, if what he needs from you just isn't there, let him go. Break his heart, and make it a clean break. But 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 lose.
    Buffy: Xander...
    Xander: Run.

    Xander: 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.

    ----------
    Story: 10
    Acting: 10
    Writing: 10
    Picture: 10
    Gripping: 10
    My Rank: 10
    ----------
    Total: 10
  • While Joyce seems on the way to recovery, it's the end of the road for Buffy and Riley, with interesting repercussions for Spike and Xanya. The writers celebrate by pulling the cast out out of its collective walking coma.

    6.1
    The producers have set the stage for the Big Breakup so artlessly that nothing that occurs in "Into the Woods" comes as any sort of surprise. Well, that's not quite fair, I didn't foresee Riley and Spike drinking their sorrows away together. The major plot points in this episode, from the offer Riley receives to rejoin the military to Buffy's violent reprisal against the local vampire brothel, we have seen coming from a mile away. Although it strains credibility that some of these developments come as a surprise to the characters, Buffy in particular, having them out in the open gives "Woods" better dialogue and crisper action than "Shadow" or "Listening To Fear."

    A lot of the elements here don't add up. What was the point of Riley stabbing Spike with a plastic stake, and what was he doing with a plastic stake anyway? In a town like Sunnydale, wouldn't it be a bad idea to carry around a useless weapon that looks just like a deadly one? Giles' tacit tolerance of vampire prostitution seems out of character and chosen just to further polarize Buffy's extreme reaction. And what's the deal with the helicopter flight directly from Southern California to the Amazon? Couldn't Riley and the commandos leave from the airport like regular people?

    The fight scene where Buffy takes out the town's entire undead hooker population in a matter of instants is one of the most dramatic demonstrations ever of the Slayer's strength and dexterity (not so much wisdom, charisma, intelligence and constitution). Buffy says she's at the height of her powers a few shows later in "Checkpoint" and she sure isn't kidding. The stock ensemble scenes in the Magic Box have a little more pop than those from the last handful of episodes. Buffy's parting argument with Riley shows that she treats her boyfriend with hardly more consideration than she gives Spike these days.

    The best parts of "Into the Woods" are Xander's confrontation of Buffy as Riley prepares to leave and his plaintive declaration of love to Anya afterwards. In the former scene Buffy's arrogant dismissal of one of her best friends shows just how shut off she is becoming. Xander's persistence with Buffy, and the simple elegance of his speech to Anya, illustrate Nick Brendon's often overlooked necessity to the show. Xander doesn't view the world by what obligations it imposes upon him or what he might do to change it. He sees things as they are. Season Seven took this theme and ran with it.

    While it's easy to write off Xander and Anya's ongoing love affair as a shallow one, it's much harder after what Xander has to say here. Xander feels for Anya what Buffy never did for Riley, and he's become enough of a grown-up to confront his feelings and their consequences. Xander loves the "whole package," including Anya's demony past, while Riley and Buffy could never quite grow to embrace their differences as much as what they had in common. It doesn't hurt the final scene at all that Emma Caulfield looks just adorable in her old-fashioned pajamas.
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