Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 13

The I In Team

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Feb 08, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
501 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

When Riley tells his superiors about Buffy, they invite her to join the Initiative. It soon becomes apparent, however, that her independent attitude and need to question orders may not be what the Initiative is looking for.

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  • It's been too long since the Initiative arc has been directly touched upon and, while solid, this episode does not make up for the wait.

    Many of my major problems with this season begin to show themselves here, and even more so in "Goodbye Iowa". "The I in Team" is a turning point in the season, like "Innocence" was for S2. The difference here is that this episode does not "change everything" in a good or exciting way. Professor Walsh gets killed off, which I feel was a dire mistake. Additionally, the entire idea of Commando Buffy just doesn't work and looks ridiculous. Not only does the military not mesh with anything that is Buffy, but the fact a secret military group would show her their operation and send her out on missions that quickly is ridiculous. The Initiative rubs off as unprofessional and sloppy.

    Putting aside the flaws for the time being, this episode is still pretty good. The characters continue to logically develop, which in this season involves separation from one another. An early conversation, while playing Poker, between Willow and Xander is telling. Willow says, "Guess she's out with Riley. You know how it is with a spanking new This statement says a lot. Willow is a little annoyed that Buffy's spending more time with Riley than with her. We see this annoyance return later at the Bronze when Buffy shows up an hour late, and with a bunch of Initiative guys. Now this is interesting, because Willow's been hiding her growing relationship with Tara from Buffy.

    It is unfair of Willow to expect Buffy to be hanging out with her when she, herself, is busy with another person. Willow's double standard is blatant when both Buffy and her walk into their dorm the following morning. Buffy wasn't the only one out with someone all night, and at least Buffy's not concealing what she's doing. I can remember not too long ago, in "The Harsh Light of Day", when Willow was running up to Buffy with friendly curiousity about whether or not she had sex the previous night. The two of them have lost touch of their friendship because of new people in their lives.

    Still during the Poker game Xander eventually poses a question I think the whole group, non-Buffy, is thinking: "am I the only one with a big floating question mark over his head about this Initiative thing? There's still heaps we don't know about these commandos. What exactly are they up to?" The truth of the matter is something that sounds more like it belongs in a Star Trek episode. The plot arc of the season has been said to be magic versus science. While that's an interesting comparison, S4 falls flat on delivering much of anything in the way of interesting thought on the matter.

    I think the writers should have left Professor Walsh alive until the end of the arc. She should have been the "big bad" with possibly Adam as the leader of her growing army of demonoids. I was very pleased to see that the Initiative was working on something insidius, but unfortunately all that opportunity is squandered the moment Walsh dies. The season then just turns into Buffy versus Adam, which honestly isn't all that interesting. Buffy versus Walsh, with Adam as a tough obsticle in her way would have been much more powerful. Buffy had an entire semester of Psychology with her -- imagine the awesome topics that could have been debated! Instead Adam just wanders around all day asking questions about his existence, and that gets boring quickly. It doesn't help that the Initiative completely falls apart as well, getting even more sloppy and ridiculous. This is the moment where the plot arc of S4 starts to fall apart.

    Anyway, in this episode Buffy essentially 'joins' the Initiative after a worried Professor Walsh sees her demolish the commando team. Right before Buffy sees the Initiative base, Riley tells her "You don't have to do this ... I mean, if you'd rather This is a very clever bit of wording, because we think Riley's talking about sex, when really he's talking about entering the Initiative. Sex and the Initiative do have a lot in common here. Riley's words are similar to Parker's words to Buffy right before sex in "The Harsh Light of Day". Parker says, "Is this okay? It's your Both men are giving Buffy a choice, and both times Buffy decides to move forward even at great risk and uncertainty. Parker betrays her expectations and the Initiative turns out to do the very same. This ties both Parker and the Initiative together as manipulative bastards who only have their own disturbing agenda in mind.

    Later, in a really interesting scene, Buffy and Riley do have sex, so the sexual innuendo to the viewer earlier might not have been a mislead after all. This also makes me sure that the only reason Buffy is working with the Initiative is because of her relationship with Riley. The sex scene itself is very weird and original -- I like it a lot. It is blended together with the two of them fighting a Polgara demon. The connection for Buffy between fighting and having sex is once again established.

    After the fight, a flustered Buffy asks Riley what he wants to do now. Notice how Buffy didn't kill the demon -- she only helped capture it. Faith says in "The Zeppo" that the demon she is fighting "got me really wound up. A fight like that, and no kill. I'm about ready to It's obvious that here Buffy is too, which goes to show that Faith's "hungry and horny" philosophy of Slaying might be a universal trait of Slayers after all. I'd also like to add that I am pleased the writers didn't make a big deal out of Buffy's sexual encounter here. I think by now we don't need to treat it like a monumental deal each and every time. Although, I was very much amused by Buffy's reaction the following morning. She wakes up, gets really worried, and quickly turns around to see if Riley's actually there still. He's awake and immediately tells her, "Weren't expecting to see me?" Buffy replies, " I never know what to Fun!

    The rest of this episode is concerned with moving plot pieces forward. The best example of this is when Professor Walsh is very disturbingly watching video of Buffy and Riley having sex. That and the fact Buffy's question to Riley about '314' got him suspicious is enough for Professor Walsh to worry on a new level. Walsh undoubtedly thinks Buffy is using sex as a way to get information out of Riley. As a result of this, she attemps to kill Buffy before things get further out of hand. This development makes a lot of sense, and even sets up a big upcoming conflict between Buffy and Professor Walsh. Unfortunately, as described above, that conflict never happens because of Walsh's death.

    One final thing I'd like to point out is Giles' attempt at taking advantage of Spike's current chipped situation. He tries to pose the possibility of Spike helping out the group more frequently. Spike's response to this is "piss off!" Also in retaliation he throws out some unkind words about the Scoobies. It's interesting that he doesn't insult either Anya or Buffy, once again showing that he likes Anya and has respect for Buffy as a Slayer even though he very badly wants to kill her. To sum it all up, this is a good episode which gets the Initiative arc moving again. Unfortunately, the direction it's going in isn't nearly as great as it could have been.moreless
  • Buffy and Riley are finally a couple

    The Good;

    Prof Walsh gets her just desserts, Riley and Buffy are finally a couple, some nice comedy, Willow especially looks like a troll doll with the ionisation spell. Anya and Spike becoming more and more Scoobyish. Love the Buffy in the briefing scene.

    The Bad;

    Weak demons and the first appearance of Adam, worst big bad ever.

    Best line;

    Buffy; Don't worry, I've patrolled in this halter top many times

    Character death; Byebye Prof Walsh you psycho!

    Shot; Buffy uses the blaster but it doesn't work

    Women good/men bad;

    No, female villain, Walsh the mother gone bad


    Quite a shock when she gets stuck, still!

    Kinky dinky;

    Anya notes that she and Xander have 'enjoyed spanking'. Buffy intends to punish Riley for having a twinkie for lunch. Willow is upset that she's not being spanked too which puts her remarks about her and Oz playing 'mistress of pain' into a new context. For Buffy and Riley fighting seems to be akin to foreplay, maybe Buffy is more like Faith than she likes to admit? (see 'Get It Done)' Meanwhile Prof Walsh plays the voyeur, spying on her boys in their bedrooms. At least Buffy doesn't wake to find her lover gone as she did on the 2 previous occasions.

    Calling Captain Subtext;

    Willow's yellow t-shirt has the word 'fairy' on it. Check out Forrest's jealous attitude about Buffy and Riley, you'd almost think there was something a little 'don't ask, don't tell' between them. Spike remarks that Giles is womanly. Giles wonders if there is a higher purpose in Spike's neutering which indeed there turns out to be.

    Where's Dawn?

    Does Buffy get her and Joyce out of town if she belives the Initiative might be hunting for them?

    Apocalypses; 5,

    Questions and observations;

    Buffy asks if the Initiative have jetpacks? Well, the Nerds will have them by season 6. Didn't Buffy have a pager in 'Never kill a boy on a first date'? (What exactly was her excuse for that? You'd assume she was either a doctor, a drug dealer or prostitute, she certainly doesn't look like the former 2).Xander's fruit bars introduce Anya to capitalism. Poor Will feels a little left out but at least now has Tara to go to. Buffy is keener on the Initiative than the others but it not only means she gets to see more of Riley but that she might live a lot longer and not be dead by 25 like all the other slayers? Why does Graham hit Spike with a tracker rather than a tranquiliser? Buffy kills two more demons, demons that it took 8 armed to the teeth commandos to subdue. The tracker scene has a very Aliens/Predator2 feel to it.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10

  • The I In Team

    The I In Team was such an intense episode yet light and character driven. This episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer combined so many different elements and this is one of my favorites of the season and series. Buffy has been hanging out more with Riley and his crew while Willow is feeling like she is losing Buffy, though she has a new secret friend in Tara. It was interesting to see a change in Buffy's character as she is caught up with the commandos. It was really an awesome intense scene when they were fighting the Polgara, and flashing to them making love. The music really made the scene too. It was also interesting to see the plot twists as Maggie prepares to stop Buffy's questioning ways for good. This episode showed many sides and aspects to the different characters, and was very entertaining! There was lots of action, passion, and drama!!!!!moreless
  • Season 4, Episode 13.

    After Riley mentions Buffy to his superiors, she is invited to join The Initiative. However, after they witness her independent attitude, they decide she may not be right for a position in the Initiative.

    I really liked this episode. It felt different than a regular Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode, but in a good way. I liked that Buffy joined the Initiative. Plus, we finally find out about what's in Room 314. I liked when Maggie send Buffy on the mission so she would die and she survived. I liked that she told Riley she died and then she appeared on the television screen. Great episode, and I liked the ending where Adam wakes up and kills Maggie. :)moreless
  • A very good episode.

    This episode does just enough to earn it an 8. I still feel bad for Willow, because she is obviously still reeling over Oz. She is starting to feel like an outsider in the group because she is all alone, and everyone else are in relationships. She has met Tara in a previous episode, but their relationship hasn't really taken off as of yet.

    There is a lot of great material for Buffy in this episode as well. One of the great lines is "Don't worry, I've patrolled in this halter top many times". In fact, the whole scene with her at the meeting when the commandos are getting ready to patrol is funny.

    I was kinda glad the way things happened at the end, because I dislike Maggie. But then were stuck with Adam the rest of the season, and I don't really like him either.moreless
Neil Daly

Neil Daly


Guest Star

Jack Stehlin

Jack Stehlin

Dr. Angleman

Guest Star

Amber Benson

Amber Benson


Recurring Role

George Hertzberg

George Hertzberg


Recurring Role

Leonard Roberts

Leonard Roberts

Forrest Gates

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • Nitpick: When Spike gets shot by the Initiative soldiers with the tracer, he's wearing his coat, but when he goes to Giles and the gang for help, there's no hole or damage to his coat.
      In fact, he has to partially remove his coat to show them the tracer (which did leave a hole in his shirt).

    • Nitpick: Somehow, near the end of the episode Buffy gets into Giles' apartment without anyone noticing her until she speaks up. Even if she did so as quietly as possible it's bright sunshine outside, the room should have lit up when Buffy opened the door.

    • Nitpick: When Anya is seen in closeup while playing poker a small round clock can be seen on a table next to the phone. Although the scene lasts about two minutes, the time on the clock stays at 8:40.

    • Goof: In the poker scene the amount of potato chips in the blue bowl keeps changing, even though no one eats any of them.

    • Goof: Xander and Anya are trying to sell Giles some Boost Bars. When all three are seen together Anya is sitting with her legs tucked under her. When just Xander and Anya are shown Anya hasn't moved, yet her skirt has moved and her right arm is resting on a pillow that isn't in the other shot.

    • Goof: When Professor Walsh introduces Dr. Angleman there is a technician on his right lowering his arms to his side. In the very next shot the technician has his arms crossed and is twirling a pen in his right hand.

    • In "Witch", Willow called herself, Xander and Giles the 'Slayerettes'. This term wasn't used again until the episode "The I in Team".

    • Nitpicks: At the end of the early crypt scene where Giles repays Spike, Giles opens the door to leave and Spike moves to the side to avoid the sunlight. However, throughout the scene Spike does not seem to mind the large amount of direct sunlight coming through the window. And if we say that the sunlight coming through the window isn't direct enough, then it follows that the sunlight coming through the door wouldn't be either, unless it's early morning or late evening and the door just happens to face directly east or west, as appropriate. It seems unlikely a vampire would choose a place with that kind of vulnerability.

    • Goof: There is a guy on the ground in the teaser who disappears in later shots.

    • Goof: When Maggie enters the 314 door you first see it close from the outside, but when the shot changes you can see her finish closing the door, when it already finished closing in the previous shot.

    • Nitpick: When the Initiative boys attack Spike, he shoves one down and throws another one into a tree, hard, but the chip obviously doesn't respond, possibly because no significant harm was being done, but this needed to be highlighted or explained better.

  • QUOTES (22)

    • Forrest: I've always been Riley's second-in-command. Instead he picks a girl.
      Graham: His girl.
      Forrest: Whatever. Three guesses on what that boy's thinking with.

    • Buffy: Anya seems a bit edgy.
      Willow: She's a little antsy around commando-types. Ex-demon issues.

    • Riley: Hope you don't mind us tagging along.
      Willow: No, no, of course not. The more, the... more.

    • Anya: Xander, you haven't been paying any attention to me tonight. Just peddling those processed food bricks. I don't know why.
      Xander: Well, let me put it in a way you'll understand. Sell bars, make money, take Anya nice places, buy pretty things.
      Anya: That does make sense. All right, I support you. Go sell more.

    • Willow: I've been trying to find a dolcite crystal my entire life. Well, since June, anyway.

    • Maggie: I've assembled some reading material to bring you up to speed.
      Buffy: Oh. And I thought I was never going to get homework from you again.
      Maggie: You can't take that home. That's classified material. Highly sensitive. When you're through reading those pages you'll have to eat them.
      Riley: She's joking.
      Maggie: Don't worry - doesn't happen very often.

    • Buffy: Tell me about your night.
      Willow: Well, spent most of it at Xander's, teaching Anya to play poker.
      Buffy: That sounds like fun.
      Willow: Yeah. Except the Anya part, and the poker part.

    • Walsh: So. All right. Fine. If she wants a fight, we'll give her one. Won't we, Adam? I've worked too long. Too long...to let some little bitch threaten this project. Threaten me. She has no idea who she's dealing with. Once she's gone, Riley will come around. He'll understand.

    • Buffy: Professor Walsh. That simple little recon you sent me on... wasn't a raccoon. Turns out it was me trapped in the sewers with a faulty weapon and two of your pet demons. If you think that's enough to kill me, you really don't know what a Slayer is. Trust me when I say you're gonna find out.

    • Giles: It doesn't appear to be a bullet. It's too deeply embedded to be a tranquilizer dart.
      Spike: Also not tranquil.
      Giles: Some sort of...illumination emanating from it. It's blinking.
      Spike: I don't care if it's playing "Rockin' the Casbah" on the bloody Jew's harp, just get it out of me!

    • Spike: Look! The buggers shot me. In the back.
      Giles: Remind me. Why should I help you?
      Spike: Because you do that. You're the goody-good guys. You're the bloody freaking cavalry.

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

    • Giles: Very well. Hmm, maple walnut.
      Xander: An excellent choice.
      Giles: Please leave my home now.
      Xander: It's the, uh, the gritty texture, isn't it? Maybe you're more
      a cherry-berry fellow.

    • Xander: W-- try one! Check these flavors. Cherry-berry. Maple
      walnut. Ooo, almond licorice.
      Anya: Ew.
      Xander: Anya, we don't say 'ew' in front of potential customers.
      Anya: Just skip this part and tell him you want money to buy me pretty
      things. He'll understand.

    • Walsh: We've made significant advances in reconditioning the sub-terrestrials. Bringing them to a point where they no longer pose a threat.
      Buffy: So I've seen... on the Discovery Channel. With gorillas and sharks. They-they made them all nice. You haven't seen it?

    • Riley: I don't like to brag.
      Buffy: I had no idea. This is incredible. But not that I thought it was some fly-by-night operation. Unless it is! I mean, can you guys fly? At night. With those jet-pack things, do you have those?

    • Spike: Hey! Wipe your feet when you enter a person's home.
      Giles: Oh, yes. Careless of me. Tracking mud all over your, uh...mud.

    • Walsh: It took the patrol team 42 minutes to track you and you neutralized them in 28 seconds.
      Buffy: I was just lucky.
      Walsh: I see. Well...still. Very impressive.
      Buffy: I was just being modest with the whole 'lucky' thing. You got that, right?

    • Willow: Everyone is getting spanked but me.

    • Willow: I implore you, Neisa, blessed goddess of chance and fortune, heed my call. Send to me the heart I desire.
      Xander: You know, magic at the poker table qualifies as cheating.
      Willow: That wasn't magic. I was praying. Two please.

    • Willow: Guess she's out with Riley. You know how it is with a spanking new boyfriend.
      Anya: Yes, we've enjoyed spanking.

    • Xander: You are looking at the new local distributor for Boost Bars. 'The natural food bar that provides a nutritional energy boost for active, health-conscience people.' Want one?
      Willow: No. Thanks. Those things usually taste . . kind of tasteless. And then leave a bad after-tastelessness.

  • NOTES (7)


    • Visual
      After Buffy and Riley capture the Polgara demon, they have sex. In "Faith, Hope and Trick" (3x03), Faith said that slaying makes her horny and hungry. Buffy awkwardly responds saying yes to the hungry part. Apparently slaying does make her horny.

    • Title: The I in Team
      The title of the episode comes from the expression "There's no I in team" - meaning that in a team sport there's no room an individual who wants to do everything by themselves. This is perhaps how Professor Walsh feels about Buffy being part of the Initiative.

    • Spike: I don't care if it's playing "Rock the Casbah" on the bloody Jew's harp just get it out of me.
      Spike refers to the song "Rock the Casbah" by the British band The Clash.

    • Buffy: You mean the cammo and stuff? I thought about it but, I mean, it's gonna look all Private Benjamin.
      Buffy talks about a woman in camouflage with reference to the movie (and later television show) Private Benjamin. The movie (and TV show) was about a woman in the Army.

    • Willow: I mean, okay, yeah, they neuter vampires and demons. But then what? Get them jobs as bag-boys at Wal-Mart?
      Wal-Mart is the huge discount retailer that as far as I know does not have bag-boys.

    • Buffy: So I've seen... on the Discovery Channel. With gorillas and sharks.
      Buffy tries to recover from letting slip that she's seen the Initiative behavior modification at work by saying she's seen it on the Discovery Channel. The Discovery Channel is big on nature shows and other educational TV.

    • Buffy: Will, I think you better get used to... a Twinkie? That's his lunch?
      Twinkies are a snack food made of sponge cake with a cream filling. They are far from health food.