Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 7

The Initiative

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



  • Trivia

    • The Initiative beginning when Spike mentions the Nazis is more than likely because in the episode "Why We Fight" on season 5 of Angel during WW2 he was drugged by the SS.

    • Goof: After Harmony and Xander have their cat-fight, Harmony lights a match to throw onto Spike's things. While she is talking to Xander the match burns out, but in the next shot the match is still lit, as she throws it onto Spike's things.

    • The vampire that warns Spike about the drugged blood is the vampire that was captured at the end of the episode "The Freshman".

    • Nitpick: When the Initiative scientists are taking Spike out of his cell the empty blood packet can be seen. Spike didn't drink the blood as he's only faking being unconscious. The cell has no toilet or sink, and there isn't a drain in the floor. It's not clear what Spike did with the blood.

    • Nitpick: When Graham is scanning the various body temperatures, they're ALL 98.6°, except for Spike. While 98.6° is roughly average, peoples' temperatures will vary by a degree or two as a matter of course; the chances of finding three people all at exactly 98.6° is pretty slim. Then, when he gets to Spike, Spike reads 62.3°, which Graham announces is "exactly room temperature". First, there's no such thing as "exactly room temperature", as different standards put it at different temperatures, typically varying from 68 to 77° Fahrenheit. Second, a temperature of 62.3° would be noticeably cool, and would not be considered a normal room temperature, much less "exactly room temperature".

    • Goof: Spike and the other vampire cast reflections in the glass of the Initiative's holding cells.

    • Goof: Spike states that he is 126, yet in the season 2 episode "School Hard" Giles says that he is "barely 200." Also in the upcoming episode "Fool for Love" we learn that Spike was sired in 1880. If he were 126 in the year 2000 it would mean that he was 6 years old when he was sired, yet he appears to be between the ages of 25-30.

    • Goof: At the beginning of the episode when Spike is in his cell and the camera pans to show a never ending row of cells, you can see the mirror used to make this effect possible.

    • Nitpick: Giles' drawing of the commando guy was pretty good, but a few weeks later, in "Hush", his drawings of the Gentlemen are a little less as artistic. It's the same thing with the drawingss he made for Chao-Ahn in season seven's "First Date". How'd he go from so good... to not-so-good?

    • Nitpicks: Maggie Walsh calls a Code Red and reports that Hostile 17 (Spike) escaped at 2:47 pm, yet she did not call Riley's team until many hours later. Also, she uses regular time rather than the military 24 hour clock.

    • Nitpick: If Spike has had a chip in his head since before he woke up, a chip that prevents him from harming humans, how was he able to fight his way out of the Initiative? Throughout the episode, Spike actually does a good deal of fighting without the chip going off, not just when he escapes the lab, but also when the soldier boys try to bag him in the dorm and he tosses them around. It only really goes off when he tries to bite people. A possible, albeit weak, explanation is offered near the end of the episode, when Riley is reporting in. He says that "Hostile 17 can't harm any living creature...". The key word there being "harm". The possibility of at least hurting someone seems to be confirmed as expected behaviour, when Riley continues with "...can't hardly even hit any more." If he couldn't hurt any living creature, then hitting would be unexpected; but if the limitation is harm, then hitting would still be possible.

    • Goof: When Spike has Willow against the wall in her dorm room, he vamps his face out. At this point, when Spike has his back to the camera, his coat collar is up, but down when it's facing him, and so on as the camera cuts back and forth a couple of times.

  • Quotes

    • Riley: You know... I wanted to ask you something.
      Buffy: Ask away.
      (Xander runs in, interrupting them.)
      Xander: Buffy! I've been looking all over for you. We need... Need to talk, uh, not here. It's sort of... Unfinished business.
      Buffy: Business? Right. Um, excuse us?
      Riley: No problem.
      (Forrest walks up)
      Forrest: Denied.
      Riley: It's not like she blew me off. She just left with another guy, that's all.
      Forrest: We need you downstairs, anyway. You know, I hate to say it, but they're probably on their way to make crazy naked sex.

    • 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?

    • Riley: Did Willow tell you I like cheese?
      Buffy: You're a little peculiar.
      Riley: I can live with that.

    • Riley: The problem is, what kind of girl is going to go out with a guy who's acting all Joe-regular by day, and then turns all demon-hunter by night?
      Graham: Maybe a peculiar one.

    • Willow: Okay, she's wearing the halter-top with the sensible shoes, that means mostly dancing, light contact, but don't push your luck. Heavy conversation's out of the question.
      Riley: So what do I do?
      Willow: Ask her to dance.
      Riley: Right, dance. Wait, no.
      Willow: What's the matter?
      Riley: I can't dance.
      Willow: Then, talk. Keep eye contact. Funny is good, but don't be glib. And remember, if you hurt her, I will beat you to death with a shovel. A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend. Have fun!

    • Riley: (about Buffy) Well, I guess I like her.
      Forrest: You're kind of like a moron.
      Riley: So, you... you knew that I had feelings for her?
      Graham: Everybody knows, man.
      Forrest: Oh, she's peculiar? Dead giveaway, buddy.
      Riley: I'm always the last to know.

    • Spike: Forever and ever, mon petite creme brulee.
      Harmony: Ooh, Italian!

    • Buffy: Stupid pen. (she ruins her notes) My notes!
      Willow: Ballpoints can be tricky.

    • Spike: (about Buffy) I always worried what would happen when that bitch got some funding.

    • Riley: There's definitely something off about her.
      Graham: Maybe she's Canadian.

    • 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.

    • Willow: Any reaction is okay... except projectile vomiting...but what are the chances of tha...(stops and listens to the 'Dingoes' song that is playing)

    • Riley: I was just hoping you thought I had an honest face.
      Willow: I've seen honest faces - they usually come attached to liars.

    • Riley: I'm thinking 'how 'bout them Broncos?' won't really cut it.
      Willow: Okay, say that I help and you start a conversation. It goes great. You like Buffy. She likes you. You spend time together. Feelings grow deeper and one day, without even realizing it, you find you're in love. Time stops, and it feels like the world is made for you two and you two alone. Until the day one of you rips the still-beating heart from the other, who's now a mockery of the human condition.
      Riley: (looks stupid for a second) Yep, that's the plan.
      Willow: I figured it was.

    • Xander: No studying? Damn! next thing you'll tell me I have to eat jelly doughnuts or sleep with a supermodel to get things done around here. I ask you how much can one man give?!

    • Buffy: You know, for someone who teaches human behavior, you might try showing some.
      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. (Buffy walks away)
      Walsh: I like her.

    • Xander: I'm warning you, I've been highly trained to put this through your heart. No mercy, no warning.
      Harmony: I can kill you where you stand.
      Xander: Bring it on, then.

    • Harmony: I am so gonna bite you!

    • Xander: Every man faces that moment, here, now, watching, waiting for an unseen enemy that has no face, nerve endings, screaming and silence, never knowing which thought might be your last...
      Giles: Oh... shut up!

    • Xander: Take this.
      Buffy: A flare gun? Xander, if I find Spike I'm staking him not signaling ships at sea.

  • Notes

    • It is confirmed that vampires do not generate body heat (the Initiative's heat sensor clocked Spike in at 62.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

    • It seems that all of the names in the list of Stevenson Hall residents which Spike looks at are real — most of them have listings at IMDb, and some of them work for Buffy, including Jeff Pruitt (Stunt Coordinator), David Solomon (Co-Producer), and Lisa Rosenberg (Hair Stylist).

    • The Initiative Headquarters is under Lowell House, which is the house where Riley lives (and probably at least some of the other commando guys); the house is presumably on campus.

    • It looks like Buffy and Willow kept Kathy's CD player (shown prominently in "Living Conditions").

    • We hear the voice of Xander's mother for the first time, calling down to him from upstairs, though we still do not see her until the "Hell's Bells" episode in season 6.

    • In the U.K., Seth Green's name still remains in the opening credits until the next episode, James Marsters isn't credited at all in this episode.

    • In this episode we learn Oz's full name: Daniel Osborne. Willow lets it slip when she asks Riley about Oz not being called during role call.

    • From this episode James Marsters replaces Seth Green in the opening titles cast line-up.

    • We learn Buffy and Willow do live on the second floor, as their room number implies.

  • Allusions

    • Spike's treatment is very similar to the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess. The story follows a young man who ruthlessly rapes and assaults strangers until he is given "the Ludovico treatment" which renders him unable to harm anyone without feeling physically ill, just like Spike feeling pain whenever he tries to hurt others.

    • Buffy: Who died and made you John Wayne?
      John Wayne was the stage name of Marion Michael Morrison (1907-1979), who is a genuine icon of 20th century American film. Famed as a star of westerns, he also played cops and soldiers with regularity. Wayne nearly always played the same character: a big, tough but sensitive hero who talked straight and met the bad guys head on.

    • Willow: Loves Ice Capades, without the irony.

      The Ice Capades were a traveling entertainment show featuring theatrical performances involving ice skating. Ice Capades shows were extremely popular for several decades, virtually a household name, although criticized by some as kitsch. Shows would often feature former Olympic figure skaters that had retired from amateur competition.

    • Xander: Might as well face it. Right now I don't have the technical skills to join the Swiss Army. And all those guys ask you to do is uncork a couple of sassy cabernets.

      A Swiss Army knife is a multifunction hand tool. Generally, a Swiss Army knife sports a blade as well as various tools, such as screwdrivers, wine screws, and can openers.
      Xander jokes that all the Swiss Army does is to use their knives to uncork bottles of wine because of Switzerland's position of neutrality.

    • Xander: How about this? We whip out the Ouija board...
      A Ouija board is a board marked with letters, numbers and a few words. People rest their fingers on the planchette, ask the board a question, and the planchette will move around indicating the answer. This is how people try to communicate with spirits.

    • Harmony: Like I'd listen to the Sex Pistols, ew.
      The Sex Pistols is a British punk rock band, led by Johnny Rotten and originated in the 1970s (though they're still putting out albums). Spike was listening to one of their songs (sung by Gary Oldman from the soundtrack of Sid & Nancy) in "Lover's Walk".

    • Xander: I put the Semper in Semper Fi.
      Semper Fi is an abbreviation for the Latin semper fidelis, which is the motto for the U.S. Marine Corps meaning "always faithful".