Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4E14 "Goodbye, Iowa"

"Got to hand it to you, Goldilocks, you have bleedin' tragic taste in men. I have a cousin, married a Regurgitating Frovlax Demon, has better instincts than you."
"Everything he's ever believed in has been taken away or... He's alone. He has nothing to hold on to."

Buffy fills the gang in on everything that's gone on since she started to work with The Initiative, and they question whether Riley was involved in the trap Professor Walsh set for Buffy. Buffy arms the group with weapons and makes plans to hide out in Xander's basement. Riley shows up at Giles' place asking Buffy for information, and becomes upset when he recognizes Spike as "Hostile 17." Riley does not want to accept what the rest of them are saying about Professor Walsh and The Initiative.

Leaving Professor Walsh's lifeless body, Adam escapes The Initiative through a vent. He approaches a young boy playing alone and questions him about his nature. Dr. Angleman slips in a pool of blood as he enters Room 314 and finds Professor Walsh stabbed to death. When Riley and Forrest see Walsh's body, Forrest accuses Buffy of staking Maggie.

Giles is grumpy when he wakes up in Xander's basement the next morning. The girls are watching cartoons when a news story comes on about a young boy who has been killed and mutilated. Believing it to be the recently captured Polgara Demon, Buffy goes after it. Riley - against Dr. Angleman's orders - also instructs the commandos to search for the Polgara. He and Buffy both end up at the park where the boy was killed. While Buffy tries to apologize to Riley, Riley informs her that Walsh is dead and asks if Buffy is happy about that.

Willow goes to Tara's dorm room, planning to find the Polgara by calling on Thespia in a spell that shows nearby demonic activity. However, Tara secretly sabotages the spell and it fails to work. Meanwhile at Willy's Bar, Spike is badly beaten by demons for associating with the Slayer and hunting their kind. They tell him if he is seen around again, they will kill him.

Buffy searches for information at Willy's but Riley also shows up, very angry. He is shaking and sweating and scratching his hand so badly that it bleeds, as he questions Buffy's intentions and pulls a gun on an innocent woman. Buffy consoles Riley as she sees that he is sick and only getting sicker, leaving him at Xander's to rest. When Riley wakes up, Willow tries to stop him from going after Buffy but he pushes her to the ground and runs.

Disguised as a scientist, Buffy gets herself and Xander - dressed in fatigues - into The Initiative. They overhear Dr. Angleman talking to another scientist about their commandos having withdrawals from the drugs they had been secretly putting in their meals.

Buffy grabs Dr. Angleman, demanding information about 314. Riley arrives to help Buffy, but is still unwilling to accept Professor Walsh's sinister motives. Adam drops a dead body to the floor, revealing his presence.

Adam is searching for answers about the world, and has returned to The Initiative so he can get answers about himself and who he is. He has a disk drive in his chest and when he inserts a disk labeled "Adam" he offers information that reveals that he is part human, demon, and machine. He explains that even though Riley had a real mother, Maggie was also his mother as she shaped and built him into a human machine for The Initiative. Adam kills Dr. Angleman and injures Riley before escaping again. The other commandos enter and take Riley away.

The next day, Buffy talks to Willow about how Adam is out there and very dangerous. At the hospital, Riley lays in bed holding a scarf Buffy gave him earlier. Even though Buffy cannot see him, he has part of her to hold on to.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Air Vent Escape: Adam escapes the Initiative by leaping into a ceiling duct.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot
    Angleman: Adam, Maggie would want you to stand down.
    Adam: Yes. But I seem to have a design flaw.
  • Answer Cut: Giles wonders what Prof. Walsh was so desperate to hide that she'd kill Buffy over it. Cue Adam walking out into the open air.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Spike gets beaten up by the demons at Willy's bar for allying with the Slayer.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Spike gives Riley the thumbs-up for apparently trying to kill Buffy.
  • Badass Boast: Adam going on about his specs.
    Adam: I'm a kinematically redundant, biomechanical demonoid. In addition to organic material, I'm equipped with GP-2/D-11 Infrared Detectors, a Harmonic Decelerator, plus DC Servo.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Willy's Place. He claims to be rehabilitating the place's image to attract a higher class of clientele (he's got a deep-frier now!), which is belied by the obvious demons and vampires standing around in Game Face.
  • Basement-Dweller: To Giles's distaste, the Scoobies have to hide out in Xander's basement.
  • Broken Pedestal: Riley re. Professor Walsh and the Initiative in general.
  • Bullethole Door: The soldiers shoot out the lock of room 314.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Spike tries putting on his fake US accent again when Riley sees him... then gives up.
  • Call-Back: To "Innocence", with Riley looking like he's going to turn evil like Angel did.
    Riley: Maybe I'm the bad guy. Maybe I'm the thing you should kill.
  • Clark Kenting: A Prim and Proper Bun, Nerd Glasses and a Labcoat of Science and Medicine are all that's needed to turn Buffy into an Initiative scientist. Yet as an attractive female teenager working in an all-male military unit, Buffy must have gotten a lot of covert checking out—it's surprising that none of the Initiative guards recognize her.
  • Clipboard of Authority: To complete Buffy's scientist outfit. It actually comes in handy when Buffy uses it to stop a door closing.
  • Comically Missing the Point
    Buffy: I'm the only one that can pass the retinal scan.
    Xander: The— Eww! I don't wanna see that!
    Buffy: Retinal scan, Xander.
  • Covert Pervert: Xander trying to Fake-Out Make-Out with Buffy.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Averted; the television has been turned off, then Xander enters tell them to turn it on again.
  • Contemplate Our Navels
    Adam: I've been thinking about the world. I wanted to see it. Learn it. I saw the inside of that boy and it was beautiful. But it didn't tell me about the world. It just made me feel. So now... I want to learn about me. Why I feel? What I am?
  • Cramming the Coffin: Forrest and Graham search Spike's crypt, ready to kill any undead person on sight. Realising from the still-warm television that someone has been there recently, they lift the lid off a stone sarcophagus, only to find a skeleton covered by a burial shroud. After they leave, Spike appears from beneath the corpse.
  • Does Not Know Her Own Strength: Xander yelps as Buffy shoves him out of the way of the retinal scanner and into a wall.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Riley drawing his pistol on the old lady, and the soldiers making it clear to Buffy that Riley is going to hospital and Buffy isn't invited.
  • Dramatic Shattering: After drawing a Beretta 9mm on an Innocent Bystander in Willy's, Riley suddenly uses it to smash some glasses on the bar.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Xander in his army greens and Buffy as a lab-coated scientist.
  • Evil Plan: Walsh left hers on a Magic Floppy Disk. Unfortunately it's now in Adam's possession. He offers to reveal it to Riley, who attacks him in fury.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Played unabashedly straight when Buffy and Xander infiltrate the Initiative to determine what is wrong with Riley, only for two scientists to walk around the corner discussing it.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama
    Buffy: I'm going to the crime scene to see what I can find out. You guys research the Polgara demon. I want to know where it is. When I find it, I'm going to make it pay for taking that kid's life. I'll make him die in ways he can't even imagine. [looks down at herself] That probably would've sounded more commanding if I wasn't wearing my yummy sushi pajamas.
  • Fight Scene Failure (In-Universe): Willy tells Buffy to hit him so no one will realize he's The Informant. Buffy clenches her fist—and Willy cries out in pain before she has a chance to throw the punch.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Subverted. Xander sees two soldiers walking towards them, grabs Buffy, and tells her to pretend to make out with him. Buffy stops him by pointing out that little is more suspicious than a scientist and a soldier making out in a secret military base.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Forrest is ready to kill any demon he finds, regardless of whether or not it's the Polgara. He then breaks Spike's TV while talking about what animals they are.
    • Riley's prejudice against demons comes out in Willy's Bar. This turns to Rage Against the Reflection when he meets Adam.
  • Fatal Attractor: Lampshaded by Spike re. Buffy.
    Spike: Got to hand it to you, Goldilocks—you do have bleeding tragic taste in men. I've got a cousin married to a regurgitating Frovlax demon got better instincts than you.
  • Final Boss Preview: Adam tosses Buffy, Riley, and the soldiers around a bit, then makes his escape with little fuss.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Buffy is surprised that the security monitors are down when she infiltrates the Initiative. It's a sign that Adam has returned, and of the Hollywood Hacking skills he'll use in later episodes.
    • Tara sabotages Willow's demon location spell; the reason is revealed in Season 5's "Family".
    • Riley threatens to kill Adam, who replies, "You won't. You haven't been programmed to."
    • Spike is ostracized from the demon world, and Riley becomes disillusioned toward the military. Both will be drawn into the Scooby Gang as a result.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: Adam comes across a boy playing in the woods behind his house, who looks upon him without fear, smiling.
    Adam: What am I?
    Child: You're a monster.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Another magic = lesbian love discussion. Then they conjure the Goddess Thespia.
    Willow: I had so much fun the other night, with the spells...
    Tara: Yeah, that was nice.
    Willow: I hope you don't think I just come over for the spells and everything, I mean, I really like just talking and hanging out with you and stuff.
    Tara: I know that. But you wanna do a spell, right?
    Willow: Yeah, but...
    Tara: Oh, you don't have to explain. I've been thinking about that last spell we did all day.
  • Ghost Memory: Buffy takes Xander to infiltrate the Initiative because of the knowledge he gained after being turned into a soldier in "Halloween".
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Lampshaded by Riley.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Prof. Walsh's actions shake Riley's unquestioning loyalty to his superiors.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: An awed Xander says, "Can I sleep with Riley too?" after seeing the Elaborate Underground Base.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Buffy tells everyone to grab a weapon from the chest.
    Xander: And storm the Initiative? Yeah, let's take on those suckers!
    Buffy: I was thinking more that we'd hide.
    Xander: [relieved] Oh, thank God.
  • Implied Death Threat: Buffy to Angelman. "Now, I don't generally like to kill humans, but I've learned it pays to be flexible in life."
  • Infant Immortality: Averted.
  • The Informant: Willy returns from Season 3. He insists Buffy hit him to make it look good.
  • It's a Long Story: Played straight for once with Buffy, on why "Hostile 17" is in Giles's house. Riley is not happy with the brush-off, given that they've been searching for Spike since "The Initiative".
  • It's Personal: The Initiative commandos disobey orders and go searching for the Polgara demon they think killed Walsh.
  • The Lady's Favour: Buffy wraps her headscarf around Riley's injured hand. At the end of the episode she's talking about how she needs to be with Riley as he has "nothing to hold on to" any more. Description Cut to Riley in hospital, looking at Buffy's scarf in his hand.
  • Like an Old Married Couple
    Willow: Well look who's cranky bear in the morning!
    Giles: [having slept on Xander's inflatable chair] Yes, I can't imagine why I didn't sleep well in my beach ball.
    Anya: Every time you moved it made squeaky noises. It was irritating.
    Giles: Really? I'm surprised you could hear it over your Wagnerian snoring.
    Buffy: OK you guys, could we not, please? Everything's screwed up enough without you two doing scenes from my parents' marriage.
  • Mad Scientist: This episode makes it clear that Maggie was one.
    Riley: That's enough! You're making her sound like some psychopath. She wasn't like that! She was a brilliant woman!
  • Magic Floppy Disk: Adam has a disk drive in his chest, which kinda detracts from his Badass cyborg look.
  • Nerd Glasses: Buffy wears these while posing as a Hot Scientist. The Glasses Come Off when she starts Perp Sweating Dr. Angleman.
  • Not So Different: Adam, to Riley.
    Riley: Maggie is not my mother! [to Buffy] I have a mother! A real—
    Adam: A birth mother. Yes. But after you met Maggie, she was the one who shaped your basic operating system. She taught you how to think. How to feel. She fed you chemicals to make you stronger. Your mind and body. She said that you and I were her favorite children. Her art. That makes us brothers. Family.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Buffy realizes that Riley's behavior isn't just grief over Walsh's death.
  • Parental Substitute: Adam makes the case that Walsh was Riley's.
  • Psycho Serum: Riley is unaware that Walsh was covertly drugging the commandos' food (presumably via the "vitamins" he took in the last episode). He starts to suffer withdrawal symptoms including aggression and paranoia.
  • Pun
    Buffy: So Maggie sends me down into the sewers with one of those Blasto-guns. And the next thing I know, it's raining monsters.
    Xander: Hallelujah.
  • Punched Across the Room: Adam knocks Riley across the room with a single blow.
  • Red Shirt: Dr. Angleman
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud
    Buffy: And then this gate slams down behind me and I try to use the gun but it goes phitt!
  • Scare Chord: Willow opens the curtain to find a crazed Riley, awake and looking back at her from about five inches away.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: A vampire drinking at Willy's makes a rapid exit when the Slayer walks in.
  • Shout-Out: Adam is an obvious reference to Frankenstein.
  • Super Soldier: Riley and Adam.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Forrest smashes Spike's television in a gratuitous act of violence after failing to find anyone in his crypt.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Giles says it's unlikely the Initiative will come looking for them at his place—cue Riley walking in the door.
    • The boy asks what the Polgara skewer in Adam's arm is for. Adam gives an evil grin.
    • Riley chews out Buffy for "socializing" with demons at Willy's Bad-Guy Bar. In Season 5, dissatisfied with how Buffy is treating him, he does just that.
  • Thinks Like a Romance Novel
    Buffy: Riley was supposed to be Mr. Joe Guy. We were gonna do dumb things like hold hands through the daisies going tra-la-la!
  • This Is the Part Where...: Buffy apologizes for her argument with Riley. When he maintains a cold silence, she says, "This is the part where you throw me a bone." Riley informs her of Walsh's death and curtly asks if she's happy now.
  • Two-Part Episode: With "The 'I' in 'Team'", concerning the fallout from Adam's awakening and murder of Walsh.
  • Walk-In Chime-In / Dynamic Entry
    Buffy: Everything that we need to know is here! We just need to find out what was in 314!
    [Dead commando drops to the floor; everyone looks up to see Adam standing on a catwalk.]
    Adam: Me.
  • The Worf Effect: Buffy kicks and punches Adam to no effect.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Averted by Riley, a sign he's Not Himself. He is ready to shoot an old lady at Willy's Bar, and knocks Willow down when she tries to stop him from going after Buffy.
    • Riley knocking down Willow means that all of Buffy's boyfriends have at one point attacked her; the others being Angel in "Innocence" and Spike in "Lovers Walk" and "The Initiative"
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    Xander: Quick; pretend to make out with me.
    Buffy: [pushing him away] Wait, what are you talking about?
    Xander: Well, I, uh, you know. In the movies, the guy and the girl have to hide...
    Buffy: Please, could you possibly draw more attention to us? This is the Initiative, Xander. Military guys and scientists do not make out with each other.
    Xander: Well maybe that's wrong with the world. Ever think about that?