Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 21

Primeval (2)

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 16, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
537 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Adam reveals that Riley has a behavior modification chip located just over his heart and wired into his central nervous system. Buffy realizes what Spike is doing and tries to pull the gang back together in time for a final showdown with Adam inside the Initiative itself.moreless

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  • The Initiative arc thankfully ends and, while not a great episode, two incredibly entertaining things happen.

    One, there's a huge fight that culminates in an Uber Buffy which is very fun to watch and two, Zombie Forrest gets all blow'd up! What more could an attentive viewer ask for? All the problems that plague the Initiative are exposed here and it's not nearly as pretty as seeing it all exploding and ending. This episode is all about explosions, special effects, and quick resolutions. Much of it is fun to watch, but it's doesn't have the depth of the usual episode.

    Towards the beginning, Buffy is seen feeling even more alone than she felt when she returned from her visit to .. She even picks up that trademark photo of her, Willow, and Xander all happy in the S1 and S2 days, which always serves as a reminder of who they used to be and how far they've come. This photo makes appearances in a number of episodes including "Dead Man's Party" and "Empty Places". Xander, on the other hand, doesn't feel alone as much as terrible about the fight, "'Cause I think maybe they're right" about him being a "lost, directionless loser with no plans for his

    For the first time I can remember, Anya shows some actual love to Xander that extends beyond his penis. She says, "So what if they are? You're a good person, and a good boyfriend, I'm in love with you. Whatever they think of you, it shouldn't I think this moment is a bit of a turning point for Xander, because in "Buffy vs. Dracula" he refuses to be the "butt monkey" anymore and in "The Replacement" we see him working in construction again.

    Fortunately for the group, Spike slips up when revealing he knows about the fight the Scoobies had the previous day. This tips off Buffy to the idea that maybe he masterminded their entire conflict. This leads to the scene where the core Scoobies gather outside and Buffy finds out that Spike manipulated all of them. Even with this news, nobody seems quite convinced to simply 'drop' all the things said. Discussion about Adam keeps their minds off of it though. Because of the discs Spike gave Willow the group now knows Adams' plan, and Buffy figures out why he wanted her to know it.

    They meet up at Giles' place and come up with a plan to defeat Adam. On the way down the elevator shaft of the Initiative Buffy and Willow have an opportunity to work out their remaining issues. Buffy says, "I sorry. I hate that things have been so strained between all of us ... I think we've all sort of drifted apart this year, don't you?" Willow replies, "Maybe a little. But, you know, first year of college, it's hard to keep the old high school gang Buffy says, "But I want it together. Will, I miss you. And Giles, and Xander. And it is my fault. I've been wrapped up in my own stuff, I've been a bad I'm pleased that Willow finally admitted to Buffy, and herself, that "I haven't been Miss Available either. I kept secrets. I hid things from Then they hug, Xander falls into it, and apparently all's okay again?

    While I like the dialogue, I feel that this scene is a cheap resolution to the issues at hand. "The Yoko Factor" really set the stage and showed us what a season's worth of growing issues can do to a group of friends. This episode, though, takes the easy way out favoring plot over naturally addressing said issues. Fortunately, these issues aren't forgotten about in subsequent seasons. It does, though, feel like the Scoobies are beginning to make the transition from friends to family, which is a big theme in S5.

    The rest of this episode is all about the plot, so I'll be brief. First of all, Zombie Forrest is ridiculously dumb. The acting is terrible and he has some of the worst lines the series has ever had. Examples include "your will belongs to us now" and "look who's come off the bench!" There are a few pieces of the plot I enjoyed, though, including watching Buffy talk down a colonel, the thrilling scene where Buffy battles through the chaos to reach room 314, the ultra cool joining spell, and the ridiculously satisfying fight between Uber Buffy and Adam. I particularly enjoyed Adam's increasingly worried reactions. After Buffy stops all his bullets with an invisible shield he says, " very Their quick hand-to-hand fight, where Buffy wails on him, is extremely fun to watch as well.

    The very end of the episode is a speech by the . government declaring the Initiative as a complete failure. I think that statement speaks to it being a failure as the arc of the season as well. So while there's a few good character moments, they take a back seat to finishing up the plot arc of the season. This episode is fun to watch, but it lacks the kind of depth I've come to expect from this series. In that respect, it is a disappointment. Fortunately, it's not the season finale. The intensely complex "Restless" is.moreless
  • ...can come together again

    The Good;

    The Scoobies get back together and have a stonking great battle. What's not to love?

    The Bad;

    Adam's mingun arm looks pretty stupid.

    Best line;

    Adam; 'You can't last much longer'

    Possessed Buffy 'We can. We are FOREVER'

    Women good/men bad;

    The female power of the Slayer overcomes the male power of Adam.


    Spike stubbing his cigarette in Forrest's eye. Riley cuts the chip out of his own chest.

    Kinky dinky;

    Xander sleeps naked, Anya doesn't think that the unemployment office will accept him nude (really depends what job he's going for? the fabulous ladies nightclub?)

    Calling Captain Subtext;

    Buffy and Willow have great big girly hug and tell one another they love them, awww! The writer/director also comment on the Willow/Xander/Buffy sandwich. Oddly Xander wants

    Giles to join in.

    Guantanamo Bay;

    The Initiative ends (at least in it's familar form and the cover-up begins).

    Scoobies to the ER;

    Riley seems to recover from his wounds fast although he does have Walsh's drugs in him.

    Apocalypses; 5,

    Is this really an apocalypse? A couple of hundred Adams running around would be a bad thing but not the end of the world?

    Scoobies in bondage:

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 1

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Scoobies knocked out:

    Buffy: 16

    Giles: 10

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 8

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 2

    Wes: 1

    Kills: Buffy kills Adam and Riley kills demon-Forrest

    Buffy: 79 vamps, 28 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 4 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; 12 vamps + 7 demons

    The end of Adam (thanks Christ!) but he crops up again in the comics

    Scoobies go evil:

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 2

    Alternate scoobies: Buffy as the uber-Slayer

    Buffy: 7

    Giles: 3

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 2

    Joyce: 2

    Xander: 3

    Recurring characters killed: 10-bye-bye Colonel McNamara and Forrest

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

    Total killed;

    I figure about 80 dead in the series so far?

    Total number of scoobies: 7

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

    Xander demon magnet: 5

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

    Scoobies shot: Adam has a Predator style minigun but it's no match for Buffy's magic. The Colonel orders his men to get to the armoury which seems sensible. Xander zaps at least one demon with his taser.

    Giles: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 4

    Notches on Scooby bedpost:

    Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny?

    Buffy: 3; Angel, Parker, Riley

    Joyce: 1;Giles, possibly Ted

    Oz: 3; Groupie, Willow & Verucca

    Faith:2 ;Xander, Riley

    Xander: 2; Faith, Anya

    Willow: 2;Oz and Tara

    Fanfic; read an interesting one where Buffy dies but the Initiative (or what replaces them) clone her as a supersoldier. But when the project is destroyed the clone survives and finds herself drawn irresistably back to Revello Drive

    Questions and observations;

    The end of the Initiative and it's a great battle, rather reminds me of The Spy Who Love Me. I don't think the season 4 storyline was all that good, the show still finding it's feet outside High School and having lost CC and Angel but still the best thing on TV.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10, good enough ep but glad this wasn't the season finale

  • Primeval (2)

    Primeval (2) was a perfectly classic episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. Adam is one of the worst enemies Buffy has faced yet. For me this episode showcases and proves that Buffy is one of the toughest female hero's ever on television. It was so great how every thing worked out and their plan to defeat Adam. I really enjoyed watching this episode. It is full of action, drama, and keeps you in suspense. I think its great how each original member of "The Gang" contributed to defeating Adam. This episode was a perfect closing to some major story lines!!!!!moreless
  • Season 4, Episode 21.

    Adam reveals that Riley has a behavior modification chip that is wired into his central nervous system. Meanwhile, Buffy finally realizes what Spike is doing and tries to pull the gang back together in time to take Adam down once and for all... Inside the Initiative.

    I liked this episode. It was a great conclusion to the whole Initiative storyline. However, this episode should have been the season finale. I liked when Buffy saw Spike in the cave. I kinda hate when they have big episodes before the finale, because it makes the season finale seem less important. However, "Restless" is supposed to be a really good episode, so whatever. Not a bad episode, and a great conclusion to the storyline.moreless
  • An action packed and stunning end to the average Initiative arc.

    Primeval was a really fantastic episode and a brilliant end to The Initiative. I am not a fan of this arc but the writers seemed to know it wasn't strong and didn't make this episode the season finale and didn't have a lot of confrontation, keeping it to big explosions and lots of action.

    It was good to see the Scoobies reunite after their season long enstrangement- I missed the moments of friendship between them this season and it was all very fun when they got back together. Xander, Willow and Buffy have a great moment where they both hug him and he's all happy to get the female attention.

    The Initiative scenes were good here; not drawn out and very action packed. The explosions going off in the main area with the human vs. demon war were very impressive and exciting. I actually wish we could have seen more as I really enjoyed them- Buffy does action like no other!

    The final fight between the Uber Buffy and Adam was really great (albeit a blatant ripoff of the Matrix). The spell idea was really fantastic; getting back into mystical storylines after the relatively scientific Season 4 and I realise that is what S4 lacks for me- I am huge fan of mystical storylines and anything with prophecy I love (the main reason Season 5 is my favourite).

    The fight between Adam and Uber Buffy was really well done- the whole bullents into birds thing was a nice touch and it was fun to see Buffy kick his ass. It wasn't a really satisfying moment when she killed him as I generally don't care for Adam but it was an epic fight.

    The Riley scenes I don't care about. He's not my favourite character and I don't care about his torn loyalties or whatever- the whole storyline falls flat for me. Zombie Walsh was creepy and I was so happy he killed Forrest- I hate him!

    Primeval is a really tense, fast paced episode. Overall it was a satisfying end to the arc but I'm glad it's not the finale. I definitely enjoyed it but don't have a lot to say on it as it's not really deep or anything- just wait for the next episode though!moreless
Jack Stehlin

Jack Stehlin

Doctor Angleman

Guest Star

Conor O'Farrell

Conor O'Farrell

Colonel McNamara

Guest Star

Bob Fimiani

Bob Fimiani

Mr. Ward

Guest Star

Amber Benson

Amber Benson


Recurring Role

Leonard Roberts

Leonard Roberts

Forrest Gates

Recurring Role

Bailey Chase

Bailey Chase

Graham Miller

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • Goof: During the establishing shot of Lowell house before Buffy and the gang break into the Initiative, there is an obstruction to the camera which appears as a black mark on the far left of the screen. This mark remains on the screen even as the camera moves.

    • Every time Buffy is connected with magic or not completely herself this season her hair is wavy. For example, Cave Buffy in "Beer Bad" (4x05), "Something Blue" (4x09) the spell from Willow that causes her to love Spike, "Who Are You?" (4x16) when Faith commandeers her body, and "Primeval" (4x21) during the joining spell with Willow, Giles, and Xander.

    • Goof: Buffy kicks in the mirror to reveal the elevator shaft, with the car itself apparently at the bottom. But when they get to the bottom, they are standing at the bottom of the shaft, about 3 feet below the door they are prying open with a crowbar. What happened to the elevator car in the shaft?

    • Nitpick: All the demons and vampires in the Initiative are set free in this episode and are attacking the soldiers. It seems, though, that at least some of them would have chips implanted in their heads like Spike has, which would make it impossible for them to attack humans.

    • Goof: Buffy's cut on her forehead disappears and reappears exactly as it was during this episode.

    • Nitpick: The device that Maggie threatens Buffy with is a vibrating saw known as a Stryker saw. It is very loud and impressive. However, it is designed to cut through hard objects such as casts and bone but it doesn't cut through soft tissue such as skin very well at all. (This is so you don't cut the skin under a cast when removing it.) It may have tickled Buffy but it wouldn't have hurt her.

    • Nitpick: When Forrest is holding Spike against the control panel to pull his head off he is leaning him up against a DJ Audio mixing board. Why oh why does the Initiative secret lab need a DJ Scratch capable audio board?

    • Goof: When Xander is in bed, the sheets are below his chest and in the next shot it's above his chest under his chin. They continue to fluctuate throughout the entire scene, both before and after Anya lies down with him.

    • Goof: When Buffy pulls out Adam's uranium core she holds it horizontally. When Riley runs in she is holding it vertically, then when the shot cuts back to her, she is holding it horizontally again.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Giles: (to Spike) Although your heroism has been slightly muted by the fact that you were helping Adam to start a war that would kill us all.
      Xander: You probably just saved us so we wouldn't stake you right here.
      Spike: Did it work?
      (Willow, Giles and Xander get up and ignore Spike)
      Spike: Well, then everything's alright. And we all get to be not staked through the heart. Good work, team!

    • Xander: Spike's working for Adam?! After all we've done-- Nah, I can't even act surprised.

    • Colonel: Incapacitate him with as much voltage as we can muster.
      Xander: Great plan. That's right up there with "duck and cover."
      Buffy: I've seen Adam hit with taser blasts. He feeds on it. And now, you're going to provide him with an all-you-can-eat buffet?

    • Xander: See what you get for taking French instead of Sumerian?
      Buffy: What was I thinking?

    • Willow: Must be programmed to self-decrypt to a certain point. That is so annoying. It's like someone blurting out the answer to a riddle just when you've -- I mean Yippee! We have the information.

    • Anya: You said you wanted to check the board at the unemployment office this morning. You can't go like that. They won't even interview you if you're naked.
      Xander: I'm not going. There's never anything good. Maybe I should join the Army.
      Anya: Don't they make you get up really early in the morning?
      Xander: Oh, yeah. Never mind.

    • Giles: Pardon the robe, it's a bit of a late start.
      Willow: Right.
      Tara: Hope you're feeling all right, Mr. Giles.
      Giles: Oh, yes, quite well, thank you. Yes, I'll probably have a brisk jog later on.
      (long silence)

    • Spike: Slightly stiffer than usual. Subtle, but I like it. What's with him?
      Adam: I activated his chip.
      Spike: Oh, so it's chips all around, is it? Someone must have bought the party-pack.

    • Willow: Nervous?
      Xander: No way, I'm full of that good old Kamikaze spirit.
      Giles: Xander just because this is never going to work, there is no need to be negative.

    • Adam: How... can you...
      UberBuffy: You could never hope to grasp the source of our power. (Punches into Adam's chest and rips out his uranium power core) But yours is right here.

    • Buffy: Xander!
      Willow: Oh, wonderful Xander!
      Buffy: (giving a group hug) You know we love you, right?
      Willow: We totally do.
      Xander: Oh God, we're gonna die, aren't we?
      Willow: No we just missed you.
      Xander: Oh. (looks up at Giles who is climbing down) Giles get down here quick! You don't wanna miss this.

    • Xander: Does anyone miss the mayor 'I just want to be a giant snake'?

  • NOTES (5)


    • Willow describes the encryption on the disks as using a hexagonal key pattern. This could be a reference to the Michael Crichton novel Sphere in in which the characters make contact with the unknown entity via transcribing numbers onto a hexagonal keyboard layout.

    • Mr. Ward: Burn it down, gentleman. Burn it down and salt the earth.
      This is a reference to the actions taken by the Roman Empire when they finally defeated the Carthaginian Empire at the end of the Third Punic War, 146 BCE. The city of Carthage was burned to the ground, the navy destroyed in the harbor, and thousands of Carthaginians were sold into slavery. It is a popular legend that salt was worked into the fields so that nothing would ever grow there again, however there is no historical source to support the claim.

    • Giles: The Trojan Horse
      The Trojan Horse is a famous military maneuver from Greek Mythology. It was a large hollow wooden horse used to win the war against the city of Troy. The Greeks declared a truce and delivered the horse to the Trojans as a peace offering, but the Greeks had hidden thirty of their best men inside of it. After being brought into the city and waiting for nightfall the warriors came out of the horse and led a surprise attack against Troy.

    • Spike: (to Buffy) Look at little Nancy Drew.
      Nancy Drew is the title character in a series of books called The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories beginning with The Secret of the Old Clock in 1930, but has spun off into other series. The famous books, aimed at a young teenage audience, are about a girl who "could solve any mystery in 180 pages, with pluck, determination, and sharp wits", as quoted by the official Nancy Drew website.

    • Spike: (about Willow and Buffy) The little witch gives her the info and pop - Alice heads back down the rabbit hole.
      A reference to the 1865 Lewis Carroll book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, where a day-dreaming Alice spots a hasty rabbit in a waist-coat and follows him down a large rabbit hole into Wonderland.

    • Buffy: I've never really been one to toe the line.
      The expression "toe the line" means to follow the rules or to conform. It calls to mind a row of people the toes of whose shoes are all perfectly lined up, as military personnel at attention or runners preparing to begin a race.

    • Xander: That's right up there with duck and cover.
      In the very early days of the Cold War, "duck and cover" was advice that was given to the general public in case of a nuclear explosion. The government gave this advice (including such ideas as hiding under school desks) strictly as a way to keep people from panicking, because it would have no practical effect whatsoever.

    • Spike: So it's chips all around. Someone must have bought the party bag.
      Spike makes a word play on the computer chips implanted by the Initiative and potato chips which can be purchased in a large quantity in the party bag.