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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4E13 "The 'I' in 'Team'"

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"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."

"Everyone's getting spanked but me."
Willow Rosenberg

Directed by James A Contner

Written by David Fury & Douglas Petrie

Willow, Anya, and Xander play poker and discuss Xander's plans to start selling Boost bars. They question the intentions of Riley and The Initiative. Buffy impresses Professor Walsh as she quickly passes a test of her strengths and fighting talents. Buffy talks about her night but Willow's quiet evening spent with friends doesn't seem to compare. The Scooby Gang has plans that night to meet at The Bronze.

Giles visits Spike at his new crypt and gives Spike his money. Spike tries to make it clear that he has no interest in helping them anymore. Riley takes Buffy into The Initiative, which she is incredibly impressed to see. Led by Professor Walsh, Buffy is given the tour of the facility, and then is basically made a member of their team. Tara tries to give a Doll's Eye Crystal to Willow, but Willow doesn't want to accept, because it is Tara's family heirloom. Professor Walsh enters the secure labs and Room 314. After exchanging words with her colleague, Dr. Angleman, Professor Walsh checks up on her special project, a part-demon, part human creature named Adam.

Buffy is an hour late meeting her friends, and when she does show, she brings Riley and other Initiative members. Willow and Buffy talk about things, and Buffy reveals that she's now working with The Initiative. Willow questions how much trust Buffy should put in with them, and then Buffy rushes off with Riley and friends when all of their pagers go off. After being abandoned by Buffy, Willow goes to Tara's dorm room. Buffy and the commandos go out in teams to find and bring back a Polgara Demon. Forrest is head of his own team, but is still upset because Buffy took his spot on Riley's team.

Forrest spots "Hostile 17" (Spike) and sends his team after the vampire. As Spike is running away, they shoot him with a tracer so that'll they'll be able to keep track of his location. The demon attacks; Buffy and Riley team up and fight it together. Afterward, they go to Riley's dorm room and have sex. Professor Walsh watches from a secret camera hidden in Riley's room.

Desperate, Spike goes to Giles for help and is forced to give up the last of Giles's money in exchange for that help. The next morning, Buffy is surprised to see Riley is still in bed by her side when she wakes. They talk, but when Buffy asks about 314, Riley gets a call from Professor Walsh, requesting his help. Walsh talks with Dr. Angleman and they decide it's time to go ahead with their plan to get rid of Buffy.

Giles tries to remove the tracer from Spike's shoulder, but it's difficult and they don't have much time. Buffy gets back to her dorm room just as Willow is also returning from her night out, now carrying the crystal she had previously refused to accept from Tara.

Buffy is beeped by the Initiative and is sent on a new mission—to find a class 3 (not very dangerous) creature and transmit a picture of it to Maggie Walsh. She is told it will be an easy mission. Wearing a microphone and camera, complete with a heart monitor, Buffy goes on the mission alone, but it turns out to be a trap set by Professor Walsh. Instead of being a small and non-dangerous demon, it turns out to be two very large demons who are both armed, and who Buffy had previously seen imprisoned at the Initiative. Steel doors slam shut, trapping Buffy in a small area of the sewers with the demons. She attempts to use the Initiative weapon that Professor Walsh gave her, but it is defective and doesn't work. Meanwhile, Riley is kept out of the way by being sent out with a team to find and recover Hostile 17.

With Willow doing a spell to mask the tracer's signal from the Initiative to buy them time, and Spike passed out from drinking, Giles continues his attempts to get the tracer out of the vampire's shoulder. It is finally removed and flushed down the toilet just in time to save Spike from Riley and his team.

Buffy fights with the two demons, while Professor Walsh watches a screen at the Initiative that is hooked up to the feeds from Buffy's monitor and camera. Buffy fights and the heart monitor loses her heartbeat when she drops it to the ground. When Riley returns from his mission, Professor Walsh informs him that Buffy is dead, and makes up a story about Buffy going out on her own to attack some demons, despite protests from Maggie. At that point, having killed the two demons, Buffy comes on to the camera feed and informs Walsh that her attempts to kill the Slayer failed. Riley sees this, and then walks out on Walsh, while she's pleading with him to come back.

Buffy returns to Giles's place, now very upset that The Initiative cannot be trusted and that it probably has it in for all of the Scoobies in addition to herself. An agitated Walsh goes into room 314, where there is the Frankenstein-like creature, Adam. She unleashes him and starts talking about what she is going to do with Buffy. An arm from the Polgara demon Buffy and Riley were sent out to capture has been attached to him. The Initiative has not only been running tests, but using various body parts from demons to build Adam. When Adam wakes, he spears Professor Walsh with a skewer from the Polgara arm, speaking one word, "Mommy."

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Action Fashionista: Buffy turns down the Initiative's "Private Benjamin" look.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Buffy strokes Riley's hair post-coitus.
  • Almost Kiss: Buffy and Riley after Buffy sees how big it is (the Initiative base, of course!). Walsh interrupts.
  • And Then What?: Willow raises the question of what the government intends to do with the chipped demons and vampires; give them jobs at Walmart?
  • Answer Cut: Willow wonders what the Initiative is really up to. Cut to them tracking part of a training exercise.
  • Badass Boast: Done via Ominous Multiple Screens no less.
    Buffy: That simple little recon you sent me on wasn't a recon. 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.
  • Bat Phone: Buffy gets a pager like all the other Initiative soldiers.
  • Battle Couple: Riley and Buffy take down a Polgara demon together, then have Victory Sex.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: The Big Bad of this season appears to be Walsh, but it's revealed to be Adam.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Polgara demon's retractable bone skewers. Also a Chekhov's Gun when it's implanted on Adam who uses it to kill Walsh.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Buffy is quite proud of the taser variant of this move.
  • Call-Back:
  • Casual Kink: When Willow makes reference to Buffy's "spanking new boyfriend," Anya casually agrees that the spanking part is fun. Xander's poker cards go flying. Later:
    Buffy: [about Riley's lunch selection] A Twinkie! That's his lunch? Oh, he is so gonna be punished.
    Willow: [pouting about currently being single] Everyone's getting spanked but me.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The "vitamins" Riley is taking become relevant in the next episode.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The tentacled-jaw demons are first seen on Initiative operating tables. Buffy recognizes them when they attack her later.
  • Close Up On Head: Willow is apparently casting a love spell with the words "Send me the heart I desire." A Reveal Shot shows she's actually playing a poker game.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: Spike's crypt. He tells Giles it needs a woman's touch. "Care to have a crack at it?"
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Spike gripes about his Restraining Bolt, Xander sarcastically suggests he tell the Initiative that he really misses torturing and killing innocent people. Spike asks in perfect seriousness, "Do you think that would work?"
  • Conflict Killer: Maggie Walsh (Knight Templar and Manipulative Bitch) is replaced as the Big Bad by Frankenstein's Monster-wannabe Adam, who is an extremely dangerous opponent but lacks her presence, and it also removes most of the "ends justify the means" quandary of the Initiative.
  • Conspiracy Redemption: Only Professor Walsh and Dr. Angleman are involved in shady dealings; the Initiative's rank-and-file are on the up-and-up.
  • Constantly Curious: Buffy, as opposed to Riley's unquestioning obedience to orders. This has fatal consequences when Buffy starts asking about 314.
  • Danger Room Cold Open: The Initiative commandos are practicing tracking and fighting Buffy. No one seems to realise that Walsh might have an agenda other than honing her team's skills.
  • Description Cut: "No time for layabouts!" Cut to post-boffed Buffy in bed with Riley.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Buffy returns to her dorm the morning after she's slept with Riley for the first time, to find the dorm empty and Willow's bed still made. Willow then enters, having spent the night casting spells with Tara. The following episode has one of the more famous spellcasting = lesbian love conversations when Willow and Tara are talking about what happened the previous night.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Buffy is let into the Initiative's base for the first time it's played as if Riley and she are going to have sex, followed by this dialogue once the Elaborate Underground Base is revealed.
    Buffy: You said it was big. You told me, but you never said it was huge.
    Riley: I don't like to brag.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Buffy checking out Riley at the cafeteria.
  • Einstein Hair: Spike has a tracer planted (read: shot) into his shoulder by the Initiative. Giles calls Willow in to use a spell to disrupt its beacon. The spell that Willow chooses has the effect of ionizing the air around them. After the spell is finished, all the lights in the house burst, and when the camera pulls back to the Scoobies, their hair looks like they all got struck by lightning. Or, to put it another way, like they raided Angel's hair-styling gel stash and used it. All of it. At once. Willow's hair is truly spectacular. Its defiance of gravity rivals any Final Fantasy character.
    Willow: Did it work? Is the atmosphere ionized?
    Giles: I'd venture "yes."
  • Electrified Bathtub: Buffy is given a faulty Static Stun Gun in The Uriah Gambit set up by Prof. Walsh—she throws it into a pool of water in which a demon is standing.
  • Entitled Bastard: Right after Spike gets done declaring that he'll have nothing more to do with the Scoobies, he gets attacked by the Initiative and comes crawling back to Giles's place for help.
    Giles: Remind me—why should I help you?
    Spike: Because. You're the goody-good guys. You're the freaking cavalry.
  • Flatline: Buffy's heartrate monitor. Turns out her headset had just been torn off in the struggle.
  • For Science!: Dr. Angleman claims he wants the Polgara demon's arms undamaged for research purposes. Turns out he's building a Mix-and-Match Man.
  • Foreshadowing: Giles pays Spike a visit and thanks him for coming through for him in his hour of need. He asks whether Spike had considered that there might be a higher purpose behind his peculiar affliction – floating the idea of Spike fighting for good – but he's having none of it... for now, anyway.
    • Willow's question about what the Initiative plans to do with all the demons they're chipping will become relevant towards the end of the season.
  • For the Greater Good: Prof. Walsh's justification for attempting to kill Buffy to cover up her Mix-and-Match Man project.
    Walsh: It's for the greater good. He'll see that.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Both Willow and Forrest are jealous over the Buffy/Riley relationship, as their friends are being drawn away from them.
  • Get Out!: The possibly worst example comes when Xander sells Giles some, apparently, really disgusting power bars.
    Giles: Please leave my home now.
  • Heal It with Booze: Spike drinks from a bottle of cognac while Giles does some impromptu surgery.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Embarrassed over Walsh's praise after the training exercise, Buffy says she was just lucky.
    Walsh: I see. Well . . . still. Very impressive.
    [She walks off. Buffy looks aghast; turns to Riley]
    Buffy: I was just being modest with the whole "lucky" thing. You got that, right?
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Tara and Willow's lesbian relationship is shown by implication — Willow refusing a gift from Tara, only to turn up with it the next day after a night casting spells. Buffy having sex with Riley for the first time, then returning home to find that Willow hasn't slept in her own bed that night. If that's not enough for you, the following episode has Willow and Tara talking about what happened last night in one of their more famous lesbian sex = spellcasting conversations.
  • Hope Spot: Buffy has hopes she can share the burden of Slayerdom with a large organization, not to mention her new boyfriend. It's too good to last.
  • Idiot Ball: Walsh plans to kill Buffy in such a way that would give her an alibi for her Initiative subordinates. And yet she installs the tracking monitors in the main area where anyone (including Riley) can see what’s happening. She also chooses a legend which could’ve been proven wrong even if Buffy’s elimination did go according to plan.
  • Improvised Weapon: Spike knocks down a soldier with his bag of groceries.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: The Initiative shoot Spike with a Tracking Device, which Xander recognises because it blinks (presumably to help track the target in the dark).
  • Inescapable Net: Escaped from by Spike, but used successfully against the Polgara demon.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Riley and Buffy appear to be getting ready to have sex for the first time, but he's actually taking her down to the Initiative base.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The most blatant example to date—a sexually excited Buffy asks Riley, "What do you wanna do now?" after taking down the Polgara demon, and the fight itself is intercut with Flash Forward scenes of them making love.
  • Ironic Echo: Walsh tells Buffy she needs to be qualified on each of the Initiative's weapons, "but I'm sure in time you'll pick that up." Then she sees Buffy fiddling with a $20,000 headset camera. "Don't pick that up."
  • It Was a Gift: Tara offers Willow a dolls-eye crystal that belonged to her grandmother, but Willow refuses on the grounds that it's a valuable family heirloom. But after they spend the night "casting spells," Willow turns up at her dorm the following morning holding the crystal, implying that she accepted it as a love token.
  • I've Come Too Far: Walsh says, "I've come too far to let some little bitch stop me. She has no idea who she's dealing with."
  • I Want My Jet Pack
    Buffy: [about the Initiative's Elaborate Underground Base] I had no idea. This is incredible. But not that I thought it was some fly-by-night operation. [turns to Riley, excited] Unless it is! I mean, can you guys fly? At night. With those jet-pack things, do you have those?
    Riley: [playing coy] I can't really talk about it.
  • Lured into a Trap: Buffy starts to twig when she recognizes the "harmless" object of her recon mission as a badass monster from earlier. Firing her sabotaged weapon actually triggers the gate to close—rather ingenious.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Professor Walsh.
    Walsh: It's For the Greater Good. He'll see that. And if he doesn't . . . Well, first things first. Remove the complication and when she least expects it—ARGHH! [skewer sticks through her chest] Adam?
    Adam: Mommy.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Giles tries to thank Spike for his help in the previous episode, and suggests there may be a higher purpose involved. Spike responds by insulting the Scoobies and demanding the money Giles promised, saying it was the only reason he helped. Later when Spike demands protection from the Scoobies on general principles, Giles refuses until Spike hands back all the money he made.
      Giles: And [helping me] was out of the, um, evilness of your heart?
      Spike: Oh, hell no. I made you pay me— You right bastard. [hands back the money]
    • It's Walsh who gets disposed of "when she least expects it." By one of her own creations, no less.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Angleman is the scientist in cahoots with Prof. Walsh, doing the actual stitching-together of their Mix-and-Match Man.
  • Meaningful Name: "Angleman" is Pig Latin for Mengele.
  • Mission Briefing: Which Buffy keeps interrupting to ask questions.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: Adam is composed of human, demon, and cybernetic parts.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Buffy and Riley make use of one in the morning after (and, at one point, during their sex). They both have the sheet up to their shoulders, and the camera stays above Riley's waist when he gets out of bed.
  • Mood Dissonance: The Contrast Montage between Buffy and Riley fighting the demon and making love afterwards.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Xander is now trying to hawk food bars.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Buffy wakes up the night after sex as she did with Angel and Parker (same red sheets), rolls over with an alarmed look on her face . . . and finds Riley still in bed, smiling at her.
    Riley: Hey. What's the matter? Weren't expecting to see me?
    Buffy: [relaxing again] I never know what to expect.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Professor Walsh realizes how thoroughly screwed she is when Buffy reveals that she's survived the little assassination attempt. Not to mention the fact that Riley also sees it after she blatantly lied to him.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: A scene of Buffy and Riley making love moves to one of Professor Walsh watching them on a bank of screens. At the end of the episode, Buffy uses those same screens to threaten Walsh after The Uriah Gambit fails to kill her.
  • Plot Hole: Some GPS tracking system would’ve been available to a secret military project like the Initiative and would’ve allowed to pinpoint Spike’s location before Willow’s ionization spell had any chance of concealing it.
  • Reaction Shot: Riley tells Buffy that everyone [at the Initiative] loves her. Cut to Walsh looking pensive.
  • Right Behind Me: Buffy appears on the screens behind Walsh just as she is sadly telling Riley that Buffy is dead.
  • Redshirt Army: In training, the Initiative soldiers take a little under an hour to catch up to the Slayer, and it takes her 17 seconds to disable the lot of them.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Buffy says that danger is her birthright—while inadvertently letting the muzzle of her taser blaster point at Walsh.
  • Rule of Three: After two unsuccessful tries, Buffy finally gets a boyfriend who isn't a jerk the morning after.
  • Saying Too Much: Buffy lets slip that she already knows about the Initiative's behavior modification program (from Spike), then makes a poor attempt at covering it up, which doesn't ease Professor Walsh's concerns about her.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    • "Those things usually taste kind of tasteless. And then leave a bad after-tastelessness."
    • "Irony is kind of ironic that way."
  • Sinister Surveillance: Riley and Buffy are making love, then the scene pulls back to reveal Prof. Walsh watching them on Ominous Multiple Screens. When Buffy asks about 314 the next day, the phone immediately rings before Riley has a chance to answer, and Walsh calls Riley away for a mission.
  • Shout-Out: Xander wears a Captain America t-shirt in the Bronze.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Spike vs. Giles.
    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.
    Spike: I admit, it's a bit of a fixer-upper. Needs a woman's touch. Care to have a crack at it?
    Giles: While I'd love to go on trading jabs with you, Spike, perhaps I'll come to the point.
  • Sublime Rhyme: "This is a zap-n-trap."
  • Spit Take: Xander fumbles his playing cards when Anya makes a Casual Kink reference to their sex life being spiced up with Kinky Spanking.
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: Walsh hands Buffy her briefing material on the Initiative, informing her that she's going to have to eat the pages after reading them. Riley assures Buffy that Walsh is joking.
  • That's an Order!: Riley silently walks out on Walsh after discovering she tried to kill Buffy.
    Walsh: Agent Finn, I order you to stop! Agent Finn! RILEY!!!
  • Token Good Teammate: Graham never resents Buffy's superior ability or influence on Riley.
  • Two-Part Episode: With "Goodbye, Iowa". Professor Walsh's death kicks off Adam's stint as the Big Bad.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Walsh sends out Buffy on a "simple recon mission," then sends two axe-wielding demons after her.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Adam activates and the first thing he does is murder his creator, even calling her, "Mommy" as he does.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Despite having seen Buffy in action, Walsh thoroughly fails to understand how much ass she can kick.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Literally. The Initiative tags Spike while he is heading back to his crypt with a bag of groceries.
  • Walk-In Chime-In: Giles advises Spike to get out of Sunnydale because he's not safe while the Initiative is looking for him. Enter Buffy. "No. It's not safe for any of us."
  • Wall of Weapons: In the Initiative armory.
  • Warrior Therapist: Buffy wants to know what motivates the Polgara demon, as that makes it easier to predict its movements. The concept seems strange to the Initiative, as they're used to regarding demons as animals.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!: Spike is shot with a tracer, apparently deeply embedded, and it has to be removed quickly by the team. Justified because a tracer isn't a proper bullet and Spike is a vampire, without the same medical concerns as a human.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Walsh says, "Riley, make me proud", before sending him after Hostile 17.
  • With Catlike Tread: Riley tells off Buffy for yakking during her patrol, as he doesn't have her Slayer reflexes and therefore needs to focus. She doesn't listen.
  • Wham Episode: Professor Walsh turns on Buffy, is found out, and is quickly offed by Adam.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Prof. Walsh calling "Agent Finn" by his first name when talking to her colleague, then switching back when she realises what she's done, implies she's taking personally Buffy drawing her "boy" away from her. It happens again when Riley walks out on her.
  • You Owe Me: Subverted by Giles.
    Giles: Why should I help you?
    Spike: Because I helped you! [smugly] When you turned into that Fyarl demon, I helped you, didn't I?
    Giles: And that was out of the, um, evilness of your heart?
    Spike: Oh, hell no. I made you pay me— [stops grinning] You right bastard. [hands back the money]