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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 7

The Initiative

4
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Nov 16, 1999 on The WB
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (26)

8.6
out of 10
Average
543 votes
  • The initiative

    8.5
    This is a solid episode which really manages to get the seasonal arc moving. We're introduced to the Initiative, we discover Spike can't harm any living creature anymore, we find out Riley and Walsh are both heavily involved with the initiative, and we see Riley making his first romantic moves on Buffy. The title, "The Initiative," means two different things. There's the obvious (the military group), but Riley is also taking the romantic 'initiative' with Buffy. Much of the episode is centered around introducing us to both of these threads. It's also interesting to note that while Buffy does initiate contact with Riley, she really isn't a large part of the episode. The focus is really on Riley and Spike's attempts of connecting with Buffy, in their own unique ways.



    There are a lot of abrupt scene changes that really work perfectly here. The first is when the Initiative boys are talking about how hot Buffy is. Forrest says, "I bet a lot of guys would like to get their hands on The scene then quickly changes to Spike on the ground saying, "Slayer... I'll kill you. Not so tough. I... Kill Another instance is when Spike, trapped in the Initiative, overhears that the Slayer is likely somehow related to why he's trapped there. He assumes that the Slayer is responsible and says "I always worried what would happen when that bitch got some funding. She's wised up a bit. Fine! I'll take her apart. I don't care how brilliant she Then the scene abruptly cuts to Buffy in class having a really hard time with her ballpoint pen. Yet another instance of this happening is when Riley admits his attraction to Buffy and tells his friends, "Well, I guess I'm gonna go see a The scene quickly changes back to Spike who, while trying to escape, tells the labcoats, "Sorry, can't stay. Got to go see a



    Riley and Spike are both after the same thing here: Buffy. Riley wants to establish a relationship with her while Spike, at least on the outside, wants to kill her (he is also subconciously in love with her, see Foreshadowing section). I'm going to focus on Riley and the Initiative first, though, which both come across as frequently hammy. Riley's "I guess I like her" speech is an example of this. He really does rub off as so nice that there's got to be something wrong with him. However, when he punches Parker out for saying that Buffy is too whiney (which is shamefully what a lot of the BtVS community thinks of her too), I can't help but love the guy for it. His attempts at gaining information on Buffy are also very well-intended.



    Riley and Spike both go looking for Buffy in her dorm and find Willow there instead. At first Riley doesn't win Willow over in their very interesting conversation. She says, "Why should I trust you?" He replies, "Just sort of hoping you'd think I have an honest She uses recent experiences (Parker, and to a lesser extent, Oz) to shoot him down: "I've seen honest faces before. They usually come attached to He is sympathetic and says, "I appreciate you wanting to protect your friend. I guess, uh, she kind of brings that out in Riley, of course, observed Buffy stick up for Willow when Professor Walsh was overly cruel to her. Before he leaves the room Willow begins to feel like her pain is robbing Buffy a chance to meet someone new, and that that isn't fair to her. So she opens up a bit and gives Riley a bone. She says, "She likes cheese ... She has a stuffed piggy named Mr. Gordo, loves ice capades without the Cheese rules all.



    Later on at the party Willow helps Riley approach Buffy, but all he can think of is to offer her some cheese. This doesn't go over too well and ends with Buffy running off with a very poorly dressed Xander. At the end of the episode, when Riley gets another shot, he makes some progress by asking, "Did Willow tell you I like cheese?" Buffy calls him peculiar, which is what Riley called her earlier and he says "I can live with I sure know that if a pretty girl walked up to me offering cheese that I'd be pretty happy. So I'm very pleased that cheese won the day in this situation.



    The Initiative, what Riley is a part of, gets a solid introduction here, even if it comes off as very hammy for a secret military group. I love their big hanger bay and the Initiative theme song. It's also fun to see that Professor Walsh is the one running the show. She's actually a pretty fascinating character, which makes me wonder why she got killed off so quickly. More on that when the time comes though. The fight scene towards the end also worked for me. I enjoyed the complete chaos of it, what with Willow trying to crawl away, Riley saving her, Spike trying to escape, and Buffy firing a flare gun and laying the hurt on the military boys. The commandos should have been far more beaten up by Buffy than they were though. I only wish that this arc would have been developed sooner than six episodes from now.



    A lot of stuff is going on with Spike here as well. He now has the chip in his head and begins the process of learning what that means for him. The chip comes off as pretty inconsistent in this episode though. He's able to lay several blows on various people without his head exploding in pain. The only time we outright see him have problems is when he tries to bite people. This is changed in the following episodes. Anyway, this was a really smart move by the writers. This gives him an excuse to be a regular on the show and allows his character to be developed in new areas. A scene in particular which I adore is when he violently attacks Willow in her dorm (even though he is looking for Buffy). This is very brutal and feels very much like a rape scene. After the break, though, we see that Spike can't bite her. A brutal scenes now turns into an impotence parody and the two of them pull it off hilariously. Spike even points out that back in "Lover's Walk" (3x08) when Willow was wearing the pink lilac sweater he wanted to bite her. Willow tries to be kind and tells him, "You know, this doesn't make you any less Spike amusingly replies, "Don't patronize The truth of the matter is that Spike isn't terrifying anymore. It will be a little while ("Doomed" [4x11]) until he finds out that he has other ways of inflicting damage.



    Xander and Giles get some fun bonding time again. Boy these two are really at a really pathetic place right now. Early on we see them doing research alone together. Xander's so bored that he, in jest, suggests they summon a demon and "kick its The writers also firmly establish that Xander's military skill is completely gone. I'm personally happy about this, because there really needs to be someone in the group who has no special knowledge or skills. He claims he still has good hand-to-hand skills and then later has a slap fight with Harmony. This moment has to constitute a new low point for his character's ego. Wow was that both pathetic and hilarious.



    To finish up here I'll say that this is a strong episode which covers a lot of important ground. Some of it came across as a bit hammy and lightweight for the main arc of the season, but fun was definitely had. When pitted against the arc-initiator episodes from other seasons we can see that this one definitely lacks the same intensity and punch . "Revelations" [3x07] and "No Place Like Home" [5x05]). It's certainly a solid start, though, which leaves me interested for more.

  • This is a solid episode which really manages to get the seasonal arc moving.

    8.5
    We're introduced to the Initiative, we discover Spike can't harm any living creature anymore, we find out Riley and Walsh are both heavily involved with the initiative, and we see Riley making his first romantic moves on Buffy. The title, "The Initiative," means two different things. There's the obvious, but Riley is also taking the romantic 'initiative' with Buffy. Much of the episode is centered around introducing us to both of these threads. It's also interesting to note that while Buffy does initiate contact with Riley, she really isn't a large part of the episode. The focus is really on Riley and Spike's attempts of connecting with Buffy, in their own unique ways.



    There are a lot of abrupt scene changes that really work perfectly here. The first is when the Initiative boys are talking about how hot Buffy is. Forrest says, "I bet a lot of guys would like to get their hands on The scene then quickly changes to Spike on the ground saying, "Slayer... I'll kill you. Not so tough. I... Kill Another instance is when Spike, trapped in the Initiative, overhears that the Slayer is likely somehow related to why he's trapped there. He assumes that the Slayer is responsible and says "I always worried what would happen when that bitch got some funding. She's wised up a bit. Fine! I'll take her apart. I don't care how brilliant she Then the scene abruptly cuts to Buffy in class having a really hard time with her ballpoint pen. Yet another instance of this happening is when Riley admits his attraction to Buffy and tells his friends, "Well, I guess I'm gonna go see a The scene quickly changes back to Spike who, while trying to escape, tells the labcoats, "Sorry, can't stay. Got to go see a



    Riley and Spike are both after the same thing here: Buffy. Riley wants to establish a relationship with her while Spike, at least on the outside, wants to kill her. I'm going to focus on Riley and the Initiative first, though, which both come across as frequently hammy. Riley's "I guess I like her" speech is an example of this. He really does rub off as so nice that there's got to be something wrong with him. However, when he punches Parker out for saying that Buffy is too whiney, I can't help but love the guy for it. His attempts at gaining information on Buffy are also very well-intended.



    Riley and Spike both go looking for Buffy in her dorm and find Willow there instead. At first Riley doesn't win Willow over in their very interesting conversation. She says, "Why should I trust you?" He replies, "Just sort of hoping you'd think I have an honest She uses recent experiences to shoot him down: "I've seen honest faces before. They usually come attached to He is sympathetic and says, "I appreciate you wanting to protect your friend. I guess, uh, she kind of brings that out in Riley, of course, observed Buffy stick up for Willow when Professor Walsh was overly cruel to her. Before he leaves the room Willow begins to feel like her pain is robbing Buffy a chance to meet someone new, and that that isn't fair to her. So she opens up a bit and gives Riley a bone. She says, "She likes cheese ... She has a stuffed piggy named Mr. Gordo, loves ice capades without the Cheese rules all.



    Later on at the party Willow helps Riley approach Buffy, but all he can think of is to offer her some cheese. This doesn't go over too well and ends with Buffy running off with a very poorly dressed Xander. At the end of the episode, when Riley gets another shot, he makes some progress by asking, "Did Willow tell you I like cheese?" Buffy calls him peculiar, which is what Riley called her earlier and he says "I can live with I sure know that if a pretty girl walked up to me offering cheese that I'd be pretty happy. So I'm very pleased that cheese won the day in this situation.



    The Initiative, what Riley is a part of, gets a solid introduction here, even if it comes off as very hammy for a secret military group. I love their big hanger bay and the Initiative theme song. It's also fun to see that Professor Walsh is the one running the show. She's actually a pretty fascinating character, which makes me wonder why she got killed off so quickly. More on that when the time comes though. The fight scene towards the end also worked for me. I enjoyed the complete chaos of it, what with Willow trying to crawl away, Riley saving her, Spike trying to escape, and Buffy firing a flare gun and laying the hurt on the military boys. The commandos should have been far more beaten up by Buffy than they were though. I only wish that this arc would have been developed sooner than six episodes from now.



    A lot of stuff is going on with Spike here as well. He now has the chip in his head and begins the process of learning what that means for him. The chip comes off as pretty inconsistent in this episode though. He's able to lay several blows on various people without his head exploding in pain. The only time we outright see him have problems is when he tries to bite people. This is changed in the following episodes. Anyway, this was a really smart move by the writers. This gives him an excuse to be a regular on the show and allows his character to be developed in new areas. A scene in particular which I adore is when he violently attacks Willow in her dorm. This is very brutal and feels very much like a rape scene. After the break, though, we see that Spike can't bite her. A brutal scenes now turns into an impotence parody and the two of them pull it off hilariously. Spike even points out that back in "Lover's Walk" when Willow was wearing the pink lilac sweater he wanted to bite her. Willow tries to be kind and tells him, "You know, this doesn't make you any less Spike amusingly replies, "Don't patronize The truth of the matter is that Spike isn't terrifying anymore. It will be a little while until he finds out that he has other ways of inflicting damage.



    Xander and Giles get some fun bonding time again. Boy these two are really at a really pathetic place right now. Early on we see them doing research alone together. Xander's so bored that he, in jest, suggests they summon a demon and "kick its The writers also firmly establish that Xander's military skill is completely gone. I'm personally happy about this, because there really needs to be someone in the group who has no special knowledge or skills. He claims he still has good hand-to-hand skills and then later has a slap fight with Harmony. This moment has to constitute a new low point for his character's ego. Wow was that both pathetic and hilarious.



    To finish up here I'll say that this is a strong episode which covers a lot of important ground. Some of it came across as a bit hammy and lightweight for the main arc of the season, but fun was definitely had. When pitted against the arc-initiator episodes from other seasons we can see that this one definitely lacks the same intensity and punch. It's certainly a solid start, though, which leaves me interested for more.
  • "Ever think I'm gunna take you home?"

    9.0
    Great way to reveal the Initiative! I love that RIley and Maggie Walsh are both high up in the commando

    s league; it's a good way to introduce new characters into the scoobie gang. Although, I'm not a fan of Walsh, I do love Riley. All in all, good plot, and fun scenes with Riley/Buffy and Spike/Willow.
  • The War on Demons

    8.0
    The Good;

    So at last the truth! The Initiative set is indeed impressive and Spike's escape is daring, he's almost like Jaws in the Bond films, the audience starts rooting for him even when he's the bad guy. The fights also good and the Harmony/Spike scenes and Harmony/Xander scene is wonderful



    The Bad;

    Not a great deal, strong ep



    Best line;

    Buffy (to Walsh); "For someone who teaches human behaviour you might try showing some"



    Shot;

    Buff uses a flare gun, odd to see her using a firearm of any kind. The Initiative seem to have more guns than NATO.



    Tied up;

    Spike tied up but escapes.



    Knocked out;

    Willow in the struggle with Riley and co.



    Women good/men bad;

    The horrible scene where we think Spike is killing Willow. Of course, she then fights back, You go girl! Contrast that to Harmony who takes Spike back AGAIN after all he's done to her. She asks Xander why men just leave but of course by that stage Xander already has. Buffy is outraged at Riley's seeming chauvanism towards her. Parker's remark about Buffy is unforgiveable although maybe he has a right to be bitter, he did try to apologise to her only for her to bash him over the head with a branch.



    Jeez!;

    Walsh's remark to Willow about Oz is very harsh. For a moment your heart is in your mouth when you think Willow is lying dead behind Spike on the bed.



    Kinky dinky;

    Buffy describes her top as 'slutty' but I don't think it is particularly. Unlike her top on the cafeteria which you can blatantly see down when she trips. Forrest eyes up the women in the cafeteria, the first blonde girl in the floral number in particular is undeniably HOT! Parker describes Buffy as 'Bunny in the sack'. You figure she must have gone easy on him? Forrest figures that Buffy and Xander are on their way to have 'Crazy naked sex'. Harmony comments that she can 'slap Spike around' a little if he likes it. Buffy dancing is also good although she's better with Faith.



    Calling Captain Subtext;

    Doug Petrie describes the Initiative boys as a 'gay calender pin-up' and he's not wrong, you can imagine Jack from Will&Grace having it on his wall. Petrie seems very keen on Marc Blucas in his commentary although he was equally as keen on the Faith/Buffy sapphic subtext.

    The whole Spike/Willow scene is one big impotence gag. Once again a vamp feeding is compared to a sexual act. Harmony comments that Buffy is just going to slap Spike around and that she can do that. Is that why Spike falls in love with the Slayer? When Spike finds Buffy on the computer he says 'Hello gorgeous". Hmmmmm. Will still has some insecurity left over from her wallflower days.



    Guantanamo Bay;

    The whole idea of the Initiative is very 'War on Terror', it resembles Camp X-ray to a T. Of course this all takes place BEFORE 9/11



    Scoobies to the ER;

    Thankfully not this week



    Questions and observations;

    Spike likes the Sex Pistols, big suprise. Buffy likes cheese, a leftover from her day as a rat? Here we have Spike in the opening credits hinting that he's a regular from now on (by contrast it took poor old Tara 3 seasons to get there and she only lasted 1 ep). Giles comments that he should lock his door. Spike refers to the Nazis conducting experiments on vamps which we'll see in 'Why we Fight'. Xander refers to the mobile infantry from Starship Troopers, Riley not unlike Johnny Rico in many ways. Spike is 126 which means he was born in 1873, making him a late Victorian (Angel is over 200 making him a Georgian). Note Doug Petrie named Grahme Miller after a Canadian friend of his and that it's Grahme who suggests that Buffy might be a little off because she's Canadian. Spike seems to use significant violence during his escape but maybe the chip hasn't really kicked in yet? Riley' shirt makes him look like he's from Star Trek.

    Marks out of 10; 8/10

  • Sexist writing, unbelievable plot and a wasted opportunity to kill one of the deadliest vampires in Sunnydale.

    3.5
    The writer of this episode is so sexist. From the camera work in the first scene to the conversation between the College boys and especially what Parker says about Buffy and freshman girls on campus. I would have thought that Parker would have been more careful how he spoke about Buffy after getting knocked out by her twice or possibly had a bit more respect after she saved his life in the last episode. I found it so unrealistic for someone (like Riley) to go to Willows room and close the door behind him and start talking to Willow to find out about Buffy and to ask if she also liked him. Maybe if they were 12 years old you could believe it. Season 4 has really had the sexual references and scenes increased this is probably the first episode from the season that didn't have a sex scene in it so the writer had to replace it with crass humour. Over all the acting and dialog was really bad and I wonder if the actors just didn't really feel like trying after reading the poor script. I know it was just supposed to be funny but I found it stupid how Willow was talking to Spike after he tried to kill her and saying things like ,"maybe try again in half an hour". (another implied sexual reference) she should have picked up a pencil with her magic skills and dusted him. She hates Spike because he has hurt Buffy many times, he has helped torture Giles helped torture Angel he is to blame for Cordelia almost dieing when he kept her prisoner in the old factory. He is a murdering vampire and he was sitting on the bed with his back to her very vulnerable. After all Willow said the reason she was not going to Harvard , Yale or Oxford Uni was to stay in Sunnydale and fight evil.
    There were some good plot developments like explaining the initiative and the chip in Spike's head.
  • Maybe the best episode that involves The Initiative.

    8.6
    The Initiative is my least favorite "Big Bad". I'm sure most people probably feel the same. This seasons only real fault if you ask me. Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike the the idea of the The Initiative, just the execution. Willows continues to grieve over Oz leaving. Meanwhile, the Buffy and Riley relationship starts to develop. Riley seeks Willows help in courting Buffy, but because of what has just happened to her, Willow is reluctant. Spike, who was captured by The Initiative earlier in the season escapes. He needs a place to stay, so he looks towards Harmony. He wants revenge on Buffy, so he heads over to her dorm and finds Willow instead. In an attempt to feed on her he discovers that something has been done to him in The Initiative that keeps him from being able to harm people.

    Let's also not forget one of the most Epic battles in the history of the show happens in this episode... Xander vs. Harmony...lol.
  • The Initiative

    9.5
    The Initiative was a superb episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We were introduced to The Initiative and its members who lead double lives, similar to Buffy. It was really cool how every thing was connected. Spike who just escaped The Initiative is now being hunted by them, as he attempts to eat Willow. There was a lot of action, good story flow, and character development. Riley has a thing for Buffy and is trying to get to know her, but Buffy being the Slayer, always seems to be preoccupied when talking with Riley. There was a lot of good things that made this episode so great!
  • Season 4, Episode 7.

    8.0
    Spike is captured by The Initiative. However, he later escapes and hunts for Buffy, but instead only finds Willow. However, things go awry when Spike gets a major headache while trying to feed off Willow. Riley realizes he has feelings for Buffy.

    Not a bad episode, compared to what else we have been given so far this season. I'm not liking the way season 4 is shaping out so far. I like the whole Riley and Professor Walsh in The Initiative thing, though. I like how Spike betrayed the other vampire while escaping too. Riley and Buffy like each other! Woohoo! Decent episode, but Buffy isn't doing well this season so far. Hopefully it improves.
  • I admit right now The Initiative is the reason Season 4 is my least favorite.

    7.5
    The idea this year was Magic vs Science. We've had Magic on Buffy as the main concept, but in an attempt to shake things up and try something new, science is brought in- in the form of the Initiative, a commando unit headed by the seemingly normal Riley (no one can ever really be normal on this show) and the professor. It wasn't a bad idea. But I was never convinced by the actor in the role as a squad leader (geeky TA, sure), and I never thought he was good enough for Buffy. Besides, the applied "science" wedged into the show was really just basic gadget and gizmo stuff, that never really fit into the show. Some real deal scientific explainations implemented into the mythology would have been welcome.

    But I liked Riley befriending Willow to try to get closer to Buffy and I LOVE the scene where a now neutered Spike can't "perform" when advancing on Willow. A+ scene!
  • An absolutely excellent episode- so underrated. Really brilliant.

    9.5
    The Initiative is an overlooked and underrated episode that is actually pretty outstanding. It is just absolutely fantastic. It had so many hilarious scenes, some nice sad ones, good action and the best fight in Buffy history- Xander vs. Harmony of course!

    Most people don't think much of this episode because it starts off the Initiative arc- one that isn't great but not bad either. The Initiative arc was actually very good here- interesting and definitely leaving you for more. Spike getting trapped there was a great idea to bring him back for and it really did have some nice action sequences- and a flare gun!

    However, the underground military isn't why I love this episode- it's the rest of it. I'm not a Riley fan but he was so great here, really funny and interesting. A shame they stripped him of his good qualities. He had really funny scenes with Willow and Buffy and the "I choked" scene was great. I also loved the bit where him and Buffy are both trying to get each other to leave for the same thing- to catch Spike. It's ironic and just very, very funny.

    The Xander vs. Harmony fight... I have no words. It is so unbelieavably hysterical. Ridiculous, pathetic and hilarious. The slow motion made it all the funnier and the hair pulling was just... awesome. A moment to be cherished.

    Willow was great here; still clearly broken up over Oz's departure yet still funny. I loved her threatening Riley with axe murder if he hurt Buffy and I liked that they made it funny rather than whiney. Spike getting a chip was a masterstroke. People often complain "Ooh Spike is annoying after S2". What they really mean is "I'm a Bangel fan and can't get over the fact that Buffy loved Spike". Spike is still as funny, witty and brilliantly acted here and in other seasons as he was in Season 2. I was ecstatic that he was added to the opening credits as he only enhances the show.

    The Initiative is a really excellent episode; hilarious, sad and action packed. It is very underrated but not to be missed. An episode that will leave you smiling.
  • Spike Gets Neutered

    8.6
    The Initiative-Having been captured by the commandos who have been lurking around campus, Spike is being held hostage in a hi-tech prison-like facility. He manages to escape and heads to find Buffy, whom he assumes is responsible. Instead he finds the helpless Willow.

    Not only finally revealing the big mystery of the soldier boys, but providing some of the funniest scenes of the series, "The Initiative" makes for an immensely entertaining episode. The most entertaining factor is Riley realizing he has feelings for Buffy. Just the way he kept calling her peculier and was completely incompetent around was hilarious. Not to mention, I loved it when he punched Parker for comparing Buffy to a toliet seat. Marc Blucas is just priceless throughout playing Riley as a lovesick stud pinning over Buffy. I also loved Willow helping him to ask her out and her blunt, sarcastic advice was also well played by Alyson. Also, watching Willow still dealing with losing Oz is sad and Alyson is so convincing with conveying Willow's pain once again.

    The big reveal of the Initiative is a real treat and it's refreshing to see such an enormous set on the series. The sci-fi angle never sat well with fans with this season, but the introduction of the Initiative is done with a gret epic feel and it's done quie well. Of course, it's no real surprise that Riley and his fellow frat boys like Forrest and Gram turn out to be the soldier boys as well as Proffessor Walsh being their leader but finally seeing how they operate and go about their missions is written very well. I especially love the scene of Buffy and Riley running into each other when they both are tracking Spike. Both Marc and Sarah play off each other really well but the real highlight is the Spike and Willow scene. After Spike escapes from the Initiative, he goes after Willow, only to find he get bite anymore thanks to the chip those scientists shuved up his brain. It's an excellent scene and both Alyson Hannigan and James Masters couldn't be more hilarious when playing the metaphor of "can't get it up for sex". I also like the clever fight between Riley and Buffy when they don't realize they're fighting each other which was also pretty funny. All and All, "The Initative" provides a good dose of hilarious scenes and impressive reveals to make for an overall great hour from Buffy.
  • "You're a little peculiar!"

    9.9
    So, this was one of my favourite episodes. It was funny and interesting, we got to discover many new things that are significant for the serie. My favourite scene was definetely the one where Spike came to the dorm and wanted to bite Willow. Extremly well written scenery. Really. I laughed so hard! He wanted to bite her but couldn't and then they sat on the bed, discussing his problem. Like they were having sex and he couldn't finish. Willow even felt sad because she thought the problem was in her.

    Harmony really is blonde and enormously stupid. I like her! She makes me laugh, and she gives the show a little freshness. Riley finally realised he liked Buffy. After everyone else were already familiar with his feelings towards Buffy. They make a cute couple. I really enjoyed this episode, because it was cleverly plotted and well written. As always.
  • Spike + Sunnydale = CHAOS !!!!!!!

    9.6
    Riley finally figures out he likes Buffy but he dosen't know what to say to her so he goes to get help from Willow who's depressed because of Oz. Willow dosen't trust Riley but then she tells him some things to help him get close to Buffy like the fact that Buffy likes cheese and that Buffy was going to be at a party in Riley's house. Spike wakes up in a cell with doctors so he in a very exciting scene , beats up the doctors in the cell, frees another vampire who knows a way out of there, escapes closing doors, gets rid of the vampire to save himself and runs away. After that we find out that Riley is in some sort of secret organisation and that professor Walsh is also a part of it. That was very surprising. I just thought Riley was going to be a normal guy who's going to make Buffy happy but turns out theres more to him than meets the eye. Xander and Giles go patrolling and Xander runs into Harmony. Oh my god ! The scene with Xander and Harmony fighting was so hilarious. Me and my sisters were watching and we couldn't stop laughing for one second. Harmony tells Xander that Spike has returned and Xander breaks the news to Buffy. Buffy goes out to find him but Riley is on a mission to find him aswelll so Buffy and Riley in a very funny scene try to get rid of each other. Riley then gets information from his tracking devices that Spike is in Willow's room. Spike comes into Willow's room and attacks her but everytime he comes to bite her, he gets this really bad headache so Willow starts to doubt her bitability LOL so Spike tries to make her feel better by telling her that he would bite her in a heartbeat. This was also really funny. So many funny stuff in so many scenes. Then the lights are off and Riley and his buddies are fighting Spike outside Willow's dorm and when they capture him, they appraoch Willow and try to take her because they think that she's turned so Buffy shows up and shoots the flare gun and starts fighitng all of them. Seeing all this Spike escapes and Buffy and Willow run into their dorm. Proffeser Walsh is disappointed with the results the army bros ( nickname I gave them ) have given her. Excellent episode. Deffinatley goes in my top twenty. Excitement,action, comedy !!!!! EVERYTHING ! Favorite scene : The Willow and Spike one . Favorite character from this episode : Willow again. Hottest character from this episode : Buffy. She looked terrific when she was dancing in that party. Favorite quotes : Riley : " I like cheese " . Buffy : " Your'e a little peculiar ". Riley " I can live with that ". I didn't like that Riley came into the show because he seemed pointless. Great stuff !!
  • Spike can't perform :[

    9.0
    Well Spike can't bite anymore. Not since the initiative stuck a chip in his head... but he doesn't know that yet. He tries to go kill buffy at the dorm but finds Willow. He then attempts to bite Willow. Everytime he tries he gets this headache. They then have a talk about how Spike has always wanted to bite Willow and how last year when she had that pink boa or something he thought about biting her. Pretty funny conversation. This episode was pretty good. Not the best. But it was def. funny to watch. Future episodes get much better.
  • Buffy. I like that. (Dramatically) The girl's so hot, she's Buffy.

    9.4
    More on the little green men – well little green army men. The underground military men fighting evil – basically doing Buffy’s job because they think that the Slayer doesn’t exist. Well Spike knows they exist and that they take the fangy out him. The scene where he tries to bite Willow and can’t and then Will thinks it is her fault. That is sooo funny.

    Favorite Quote of the Episode:
    Buffy: You know for someone who teaches human behavior, you might try showing some.
    Prof. Walsh: It's not my job to coddle my students.
    Buffy: You're right. A human being in pain has nothing to do with your job. (walks away)
    Prof. Walsh (to Riley): I like her.
  • Spike has performance issues and we see the secret side of Riley

    9.0
    This is a truly underrated episode. Many people did not care much for it because it starts the whole Initiative arc in Season 4. However, there is so much more to it, that it deserves to be loved.

    Spike wakes up in a lab where we discover someone is conducting experiments on demons. Giles and Xander try to discover who the commando guys are while Buffy and Willow go to a frat party at Riley's house. Riley unsuccessfully to chat up Buffy and Spike attempts to attack Willow. We learn who and what the Initiative is and about the chip they've put into Spike, and Riley's role.

    Highlights of this episode include: Spike heroically leading a break out from the Initiative; Buffy telling Maggie Walsh that she doesn't act human; Riley punching Parker after he says some nasty things about Buffy; Xander and Giles going on patrol and Xander spouting some ridiculous speech from Apocalypse Now until Giles tells him to just shut up; two adorable scenes between Willow and Riley as she coaches him in getting to know Buffy ("She likes cheese."); Xander's sissy fight with Harmony.

    The absolute best scene has to be when Spike tries to bite Willow and finds he can't. This just makes Willow feel even more unwanted in the wake of Oz's departure. Spike tries his best to assure her that she really is biteable. This is clas-sic Buffy comedy and possbily one of the funniest scenes in the whole season.

    Spike: I don't understand. This sort of thing's never happened to me before.
    Willow: Maybe you were nervous.
    Spike: I felt all right when I started. Let's try again.
    (He tries, but he can't do it.)
    Spike: Damn it!
    Willow: Maybe you're trying too hard. Doesn't this happen to every vampire?
    Spike: Not to me, it doesn't!
    Willow: It's me, isn't it?
    Spike: What are you talking about?
    Willow: Well, you came looking for Buffy, then settled. You didn't want to bite me, I just happened to be around.
    Spike: Piffle.
    Willow: I know I'm not the kind of girl vamps like to sink their teeth into. It's always like, 'Oh, you're like a sister to me,' or, 'Oh, you're such a good friend.'
    Spike: Don't be ridiculous. I'd bite you in a heartbeat.
    Willow: Really?

    Overall, this is a great episode with lots of comedy plus a great deal of plot advancement for the main arc of the season.
  • Willow's still dealing with Oz and Spike returns

    7.9
    This was a pretty good episode with a lot of things happening and it might have been a little too much.

    Willow was dealing with Oz and that was an interesting story. I loved Buffy telling Professor Walsh off for Willow. Willow was listening to way too much depressing music though and it made it really sad.

    Riley punching Parker in the face was the best. I loved that punch. I can't believe it took Riley so long to realize he had a crush on Buffy. Forrest trying to make him get over it was funny though. I loved how Forrest tried to tell Riley that Buffy was going to make crazy naked sex with Xander.

    The whole thing with the Initiative was only some what interesting. I think it was just too science driven to be interesting for Buffy. I loved that they were capturing demons though because it was fun to see Spike locked in a cell.

    Giles and Xander feeling neglected was a huge issue for the entire season and this is where we really get to see them feeling that way. I loved how Xander was trying to start chaos so he and Giles could rush in and save the day because it was so cute and so Xander.

    Spike and Willow were brilliant. I can't believe that Willow was stupid enough to invite him in though. I loved Spike not being able to bite because of the chip in his head. I loved how he was trying to convince Willow that he would bite her if he could because it was so cute.

    This was a really good episode but too much important stuff was going on here.
  • More to Riley than meets the eye.

    8.2
    Favorite Quotes:
    Forrest: "Check her out. Is she hot, or is she HOT?"
    Riley: "She's Buffy."
    Forrest: "Buffy? I like that. The girl's so hot, she's Buffy."
    Riley: "It's her name, Forrest."

    I had to quote Forrest, because after this ep he pretty much has NOTHING nice to say about Buffy. We find out in this ep that Maggie Walsh is the head of the commandos that the gang has seen out and about at night. Spike ends up escaping from said commandos and tries to make a meal out of Willow. The good news is that Spike can't bite Willow, literally. The commandos show up to capture Spike and Buffy ends up fighting them in order to keep them from getting Willow and Spike gets away. Yeehaw, Buffy has a new love interest but neither of them have learned the others identity yet.
  • Spike is no longer able to attack or bite people anymore, thanks to the Initiative.

    9.4
    This episode isn't my favorite, but I thought it was pretty good. I don't care for the Initiative or their purpose and work with monsters and vampires. I do like the fact that Spike is no longer able to bite or attack people anymore. This certainly made the rest of the series interesting. My favorite scene was the scene towards the end when Spike had Willow trapped in her own dorm room when he went there looking for Buffy. It was funny seeing him try to bite and kill Willow, but it always ended in pain for him, because of the chip in his head. It was also funny seeing him pace about the room talking to Willow about his problems.
  • yawn

    1.1
    a pretty awful episode. the initative is introduced blah blah. spike has a ship blah blach harmony fights xander blah blah anything interesting happens? no it is not horrible but it is very close to. this episode is easily to skip and quickly to forget thank god! I don't know even what to say about it? i do like riley here becuase he hits monkey face parker.
  • The episode that really starts the Initiative subplot. Really though...watch it for Spike and Willow together.

    7.8
    We find out that there's a new demon fighting group in town. The Initiative is a high-tech government organization (showing that demons are known to government's at least) who are involved in attempting to neutralize demon threats. Riley is a member and is also attracted to Buffy.

    Really though, the episode belongs to Willow and Spike. She's alternately heart-breaking and funny throughout. And her and Spike have an absolutely hysterical conversation about his inability to bite her, equating it to impotence. That is until Willow remembers she should probably be trying to escape.

    This also starts Spike's years-long path down the road of redemption in his grand-sire's footsteps. Finally, Spike and Harmony together are always good fun.


    Willow: It's me, isn't it?
    Spike: What are you talking about?
    Willow: Well, you came looking for Buffy, then settled. You didn't want to bite me, I just happened to be around.
    Spike: Piffle.
    Willow: I know I'm not the kind of girl vamps like to sink their teeth into. It's always like, 'Oh, you're like a sister to me,' or, 'Oh, you're such a good friend.'
    Spike: Don't be ridiculous. I'd bite you in a heartbeat.
    Willow: Really?
    Spike: Thought about it.
    Willow: When?
    Spike: Remember last year? You had on that fuzzy pink number with the lilac underneath. (Gives her a sexy look.)
    Willow: I never would have guessed. You played the bloodlust kinda cool.
    Spike: Mmmm. I hate being obvious. Being all fangy and 'Rrrr.' Takes the mystery out.
  • \"What kind of girl is going to want to go out with a guy who’s acting all Joe Regular by day and turns demon-hunter by night?\" - Riley

    9.2
    So what we all want to know is: what happened to Spike? Well, he’s now a lab-rat in a strange underground testing facility that captures vampires and demons to neutralise and experiment on them. Looks like the WB had money to burn as we have a whole new massive tin foil covered Initiative set, complete with big sweaty men and scientists. However, it’s not excellent enough to hold Spike, an experienced, tenacious vampire, for very long. Spike’s hatred of Buffy has brought him back to Sunnydale (and he was thus captured) and his hatred of her motivates him into escape - with the help of one of Sunday’s henchvamps, who soon learns his place in Spike’s scheme of things.

    Of course, the really unbelievable thing in this episode is that Riley has some friends. It takes Forest and Graham’s teasing, Prof Walsh’s approval, Parker’s dissing and Willow’s help to make Riley realise that he likes the Buffster and once against the roles are reversed – Buffy’s not been much more than a peculiar klutz to him, now his pursuing of her makes him a “doof” to her. Still, at least Parker’s last scene is the Poophead being punched out once again. Adieu, sweet Parker, we shan’t miss ya. Buffy’s chewing out of Prof. Walsh impresses Riley and it’s nice to see Buffy, who has put up with some crap from Walsh previously, standing up to her on behalf of Willow, regarding her fantasy about Oz coming back. Willow repays Buffy’s support by helping Riley chat her up and warning him that if he hurts her, she’ll beat him to death with a shovel. Riley however is old-fashioned, he talks of courting, he gets rid of upsetting music for Willow, he doesn’t like dirty talk. His attraction to Buffy and vice-versa is not instant like Buffy\'s to Parker but more slow-growing. Although I’ve never seen Buffy eating cheese.

    In the last episode, the gang they realised that their first glimpse of the commandoes in Fear Itself were not folk dressed up in Hallowe’en costumes. So this ep they go after them. Well, the two unemployed people do, Buffy is too busy trying to cheer up Willow and paying no attention to Riley. Giles and Buffy’s roles are reversed - Giles now needs Buffy for some danger and action rather than the other way around. Their pursuing of the “fall fascists” leads Xander straight to unicorn loving Harmony who is busy burning Spike’s stuff, but not too busy to slo-mo **** Xander around. At least they’ve dropped the pretence of Xander being a proto-soldier. Good job, as the Commandoes do it a little better. Xander is still jealous of Buffy’s beaux – calling Riley a “Teutonic boy-toy”. The scene in which Riley and Buffy, both trying to get rid of and protect each other whilst keeping their secrets shows us that they are suited to each other, that they are both superheroes in their way, although Buffy can fight off a highly skilled vamp with her fists whereas the Initiative need high tech equipment, guns and hierarchical leadership to attempt to do the same, but the point is made that Riley and Buffy both stop being klutzy when they become professional as they take on their night jobs.

    The three stories come together as the two hunt Spike, whilst “Blondie bear” goes after Buffy and gets Willow. The old vampire bite-as-sex metaphor raises its head in an extremely ugly way as Spike flings Willow around and clambers on top of her in what looks like a rape-attempt, and then in a hilarious manner as chipped Spike can’t perform and Willow, in her self-loathing depression, thinks it’s because of her, she’s not biteable enough. “Doesn’t this happen to every vampire?” “Not to me” “Why don’t we try again in half an hour?”, until Spike’s reassurance that he’d “bite her in a heartbeat” gives her the confidence to hit him over the head with a lampshade and make her getaway into an action packed fight in the corridor with smoke and flares which also allows Spike to escape. Foiled again!
  • 'You're just making contact. Getting a reaction. Any reaction is okay. Except projectile vomiting, but what are the chances of that?'

    8.4
    ‘The Initiative’ isn’t exactly a good or bad way to continue the fourth season.
    The problem with this episode is mostly Oz being gone and the way they continue the characters and how the writers try to make the audience forget Oz by adding Spike to the show, which is to me a double mistake.

    The fun part of this episode was Riley crushing over Buffy without even knowing, he was kinda like a moron. He continues finding Buffy very peculiar even though her friends like her, even Walsh.

    Anyway, Spike is also back. He wakes up in some thing where some investigators investigate them, Spike thinks it was Buffy who set him up and uses another vampire to escape. I really didn’t see a purpose to bring him back, he mostly annoyed him except with thinking Buffy is a mastermind which she obviously isn’t.

    My love in this episode goes out to Riley, especially for hitting stinky-Parker. Also when he goes to Willow for help to get Buffy, Willow was hilarious and both had a great chemistry together. Poor Riley really sucked at asking Buffy out to dance and when he finally dares she’s taken away by Xander who heard from Harmony that Spike was back.

    While Buffy goes to kill Spike, Riley is taken by his friends to a strange place. Turns out that Riley and his friends are one of those soldiers that captured Spike and Maggie is their boss.

    The funniest part is where both Riley and Buffy want to capture/kill Spike but they have to make the other one leave, they try to but both say that they are not gonna leave until a girl screams and they both leave. While that happens Spike visits and wants to bite her and tries but he can’t perform, he can’t bite her or else his head begins to hurt. Soon the light goes off and those guys come after Spike but Buffy thinks that they are bad guys and she beats them up including Riley without even knowing. Spike flees the other way but he can’t hurt or hit people anymore, those men put a ship in his brain that disable his possibility of hurting a living creature.

    ‘The Initiative’ is a fun episode with some great humor like Xander’s girly fight with Harmony and Willow telling Riley he’s gonna leave eventually which he does. Also Riley calling Buffy peculiar and she ends up calling him peculiar after he begins to talk about cheese. The episode wasn’t quite superb or anything, but still had the Buffy power and turned out to be another enjoyable episode despise the lack of Oz and overuse of Spike.
  • Worst Subplot Ever

    5.0
    Buffy is my favourite show of all time, but the whole "Initiative" story arch was tired, and boring. It introduced Buffy’s lamest character – Riley and… Well it just goes on from there. Season 4 have some great stand alone shows, I just try to forget the major story arch, especially this episode.
  • Amazing

    8.6
    It was just an amazing episode, I mean, the whole Spike/Willow scene, with the dialogue realy close to the impotence scenes, "Willow - Is it me?", and "Spike - It never happened to me before" It's just amazing. Amazing episode, with a 5 stars cast. Also, Riley is turning in to an amazing character that realy likes Buffy.
  • This one's good fun...

    10
    This episode is really fun. Zander and Giles together really cracked me up, well written dialogue between those two in this episode. The "sissy fight" between Zander and Harmony was hysterical, Riley, although not one of my favorite characters, was actually quite charming here, Willow was terribly sweet and vulnerable looking, and Spike was at his best, fighting his way out of the Initiative and dealing with Harmony to get what he needed, of course.

    Spike's great value is that he sees things so clearly and isn't afraid to tell everyone and anyone the reality of the situation they're in. He has the uncanny knack of being able to cut thru the BS and get straight to the truth of the matter, whatever it is. Here, he sees Willow's pain while those closest to her don't want to, as usual he has the ability to see what's really going on, it's a great gift to give a vampire that's (always trying to be) so vile in most other ways.

    This series is so well done that even more minor episodes such as this are stellar, compared to just about everything else on tv, even today, and I'm sure into the future. It's why BtVS has had such a devoted following, and this episode proves it handily. Even with the Initiative being a "not so popular" storyline, this episode was excellent entertainment. I only wish there were more like it on tv today.

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