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.