This Week's Barks

The Initiative

"...the votes are in, and it's time for my concession speech." -- So said Xander himself.

This past week, we saw The Initiative, and man, can you say the most dingo action players ever?! Cool! Thanks for playing, you nifty people! (er, good dingoes?)..Now, here's what y'all said:

cemetery When I saw Spike in the facility/cell, I was most reminded of:

   "A Clockwork Orange."
   The line, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
   The song "Don't Fence Me In."
   A really sterile petting zoo.

The Winner: A really sterile petting zoo.

Which probably means the zebras aren't mating. (Heh.)

The most interesting continuity had to be:

   Xander's references to Halloween, Innocence, etc.
   Buffy's use of the word "stormtrooper."
   Riley's friend's use of the word 'nubile' -- Sid, anyone?
   Mr. Gordo on Ice.
   The Willow/Spike reminiscing of Lovers Walk.

The Winner: The Willow/Spike reminiscing of Lovers Walk.

Gotta love Spike's eye for, uh, detail.

I always knew:

   That Spike had a thing for fuzzy sweaters.
   That Oz's first name was Daniel.
   That Buffy had a thing for cheese.
   That one day the X-Files franchise would hit Sunnydale, and hard.

The Winner: That one day the X-Files franchise would hit Sunnydale, and hard.

At least it wasn't the David E. Kelley franchise..?

For a minute I thought:

   That Harmony would go up in flames.
   That Willow had a death wish.
   That Xander's mom didn't match what we've heard about her thus far.
   That Buffy never has fun at parties.
   That UC Sunnydale has no normal students or faculty.
   That somehow, somewhere, Angel might be playing darts.

The Winner: That somehow, somewhere, Angel might be playing darts.

But of course...(btw, this only narrowly beat the Willow and UC options, and no I didn't "help" it win. Heh.)

The whole facility initiative thing says to me:

   Chris Carter.
   Cooperative forces end Sunnydale's terror; Buffy survives the series instead of being killed off.
   Clever way to incorporate Spike's character and let us see the anti-Angel, sort of.

The Winner: Clever way to incorporate Spike's character and let us see the anti-Angel, sort of.

Crafty, too.

NEW EPISODE BONUS -- the title just breaks it up a little.

I felt kinda bad:

   For all the incarcerated evil things.
   For the guy in line behind Buffy to use the yogurty machine thing.
   For Spike.
   For Riley's hand, after he hit Parker.

The Winner: For the guy in line behind Buffy to use the yogurty machine thing.

A nagging question I'll ponder is:

   Did there seem to be less scoring in this ep.?
   Just how the heck old is Riley anyway?
   Wouldn't the agents perhaps know about the Slayer's existence?
   How often does Mrs. Harris make fruity drinks for Xander and his friends?

The Winner: Wouldn't the agents perhaps know about the Slayer's existence?

The person not in this ep. that I thought most about was:

   The Judge.

The Winner: Oz.

What Did You Think of This Episode?

Then finally, your non-dingo-guided opinion about the episode. Well, a lot of folks deemed this the best of the season so far. (Hm. Seems everyone says that every week...) The military operation thing intrigued most of you -- even though a lot of you couldn't believe how expansive it was -- and a bunch of you were flabbergasted to learn Oz's real name. (Me too.) A few of you are starting to board the "Yeah, Riley!" camp (I am...and anyway he's no Scott Hope!). And lastly, the Harmony/Xander "fight" went over big with most of you, too.

So...let's see what we've got this week, byte-wise.

But first -- Standard disclaimer: Can't post 'em all, but this week I'm posting another mongo amount. Hope the authors don't mind being put up here, and some may be abridged. And again, no name, no bark byte recognition (even though I still like reading what you thought; make it easy on me and put a name on there, please! Thanks!)

Kristin said:

Willow needs to join the UC Sunnydale football team. Three big guys, well trained in self defense, & she gets right through them. Girl can plow.

From Colleen:

Oh boy, was this great or what? I loved it, loved it, loved it. Riley is really starting to grow on me. Normally I can't stand Buffy being with anyone but Angel, but this could be interesting. Still lovin the Willster as always. Two scenes especially: where she acts as Riley's accomplice and, of course the one with Spike. They were great in Lovers Walk and even better when they talked about it. Who knew Spike knew so much about fashion? Fuzzy pink sweater with the lilac underneath! I'm very excited to see what direction the show will go from here now that we know about the initiative. It was the best so far this season.

From Kyra Sorcere:

....I wonder if this project was funded by the Mayor before he turned into Snake-Demon and died.

DuneWitch said:

Buffy will never stand for torturing and slicing up demons. The whole main objective to the slayer is to SLAY and get it over with.

Riley and the Bitch Monster don't stand a chance.

Dodge said:

Slap fight in slo mo! Pure genius! Slap fight aside, Xander would make a brilliant Initiative dude, but sadly, I don't think we'll see it happen.

Do we need to start a "Please let Giles and Xander get lives" club?

I think I know some folks who'd be happy to join that club...

Deb said:

Oh man! I knew that Professor had to be involved in the whole stormtrooper thing! And it cracked me up that Willow had more empathy for Spike than she did for poophead Parker.

Cistine said:

A whole entire underworld of high-tech demon-fighters exists beneath Sunnydale, and Giles doesn't know? And said group of demon-fighters doesn't know about the Slayer? Ummmm.... I don't think so!

BTW : Cancellation has 2 l's.

Check your Webster's...cancelation of the one 'L' variety is a perfectly acceptable spelling. (I also prefer one "l" in my name (hilary). Go one-el, go! Heh.)

SuperG said:

Being one who rarely reads any spoilers, I was completely taken by surprise. I should have been suspicious, though, when Riley and his friends got all that air time. I thought this episode was GREAT, I love Riley and it will make it a lot easier for Buffy to get together with him because he already knows she's the slayer. However, if she and Angel do it and he loses his soul, I will never watch either show again.

I dunno if he knows she's the slayer or not, but I wouldn't mind seeing them try to date. Although that usually spells "character death" so I don't know...

From Mileen:

Oz isn't Oz's first name? Weird.

Cara said:

Spike Spike Spike Spike...'kay I'm done. My sister and I had this really great idea for a hot guy petting zoo and the Buffy people stole it...

From Cathren:

Have you noticed that whenever laboratories are big, expansive and well-funded they are instantly "Evil" but the rag-tag grimy laboratories are instantly "good"? Even BTVS does not escape this cliche.

From princesscloud:

um.. I think that was a revamped bat cave ^_^

drugal97 said:

Riley has suprised me. I initially hated him, with him not being Angel and all that. However, once he punched Parker, I hopped the Riley bus. I just hope we're not going to have to endure yet another tortured romance.

From Xcaly:

I was kinda waiting for some outside help for Buffy, but this wasn't done very well. It turned out pretty cheesy looking.

The Black Agate said:

I really wanted those night commandos to be recruiting vamps for a master wanna be, or even a neo-nazi styled organization with grandiose plans to take over the world. I don't care how much Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) loves the show, I don't want him part of it this way.

Somebody explain to me why Willow was comforting Spike and not chewing him out the way she told off Parker? Death wish taking out her common sense? Willow????

.... The Harmony/Xander thing freaked me. Xander is just too nice to have not dusted Harmony when he had the chance - what is giving here?

Willow should just do that Gypsy spell on Harmony, Spike, and any other vamp she used to know and let them go to LA and help Angel.

Bring back Dru before the series starts to fail!

ozlover said:

Don't they realize that Canadians watch this show, too? (I'm referring to the 'Maybe she's Canadian' line.) I may be overreacting, but still, I'm writing an angry letter!

Jen said:

Hey, any episode that mentions Canada ranks high in my books. Oh, and to JtVS, I found an ad that you might enjoy: Who on earth had the nerve to call during Buffy?!? Now, if I could just figure out how to use my scanner . . .

Heh. Sounds like a nifty ad to me...if you ever get it scanned, could you e-mail it to me?

belle said:

... DitzVamp is by far one of my favorite demonic creations. I want to see her hit the she *really* has a way to intimidate uppity salesgirls...

Oh, and PARKER! Iiihhh! Gawwd, where's a Wish-bringing Anya when you need her, huh? Forget punching him out, I vote for boils! And then Tourette's Syndrome, and halitosis, and...other...really bad things. Yeah.

I think she's busy doing Xander's laundry...

Paul said:

Nuttering nabobs of negativity aside, eps like this prove that S4 Buffy is just as good as seasons past. My only worry is that the Initiative will turn out to be evil for some stupid reason (as of tonight, they've done nothing but good, IMO).

Also, anybody else think that Willow and Riley are kinda cute together? They definitely have warm fuzzy chemistry.

Fnord said:

Really big underground facility: military funding. Spike = #17: they haven't been at this long. {Now that's entirely pointy!}

If they listened to their prisoners then they would know about the slayer. Sloppy.

The Evil Bitch Monster of Death is going to be really pissed when she finds out how much more Giles knows about vampires (and other demons) than she does.

The commandos thought Buffy was really big. Reminded me of Jenny Calendar's quote from Prophecy Girl, "She's so little." {Jeepers. This whole byte was entirely pointy and thought-provoking. And I dug the first-season reference, too. Cool!

Queen Vamp said:

Didn't know that vamps had "living" neurons to make pain with. {Interesting point there! Hmm..) All too cool that Spike couldn't suck the life out of Willow - ow, ow,ow....Oz, Oz, Oz, was Dr. Evil's son just a flash in the pan for the wild wicca?

If Riley and Prof Walsh are such big govt. group, how come they had no clue who or what the Bufster was? Hmmm..... sounds like the government - not all that bright!

From Connan:

Finally, government bureaucracy has decided to react to the demon problem at the Hellmouth - can you believe it? Not to mention the kicks I got out of Willow flirting with Spike (boy, is she on the rebound or what?) and counselling him on performance anxiety! Heehee. I must admit I quite enjoyed this episode - Parker even got hit again! And no more depressed Buffy (thank God). But one thing I can't figure out is how the military group doesn't know about the slayer with all the reconnaissance and patrols they must have done?

Fangirl said:

My Friend Tom, like, totally called the whole Riley-is-stormtrooper thing, although he was being facetious at the time. We have now dubbed him "TA SWAT Guy". (Riley, not Tom.) He's neato. (Well, Riley and Tom are both pretty neato, there.)

FurryRabbits said:

Though the underground whiteness did concern me at first (X Files), I choose to keep my faith in BtVS and am sure that this will all be more interesting than government interference. I mean, hello? Ring, ring: clue phone. We all know that vampires and demons are way more interesting than alien takeover. I'm sure Whedon & Co know it too. (God I hope so -- or... Pretty Girls Make Graves.) {Clueless=dingochick..I didn't get the reference. So I looked it up. And made a link should any of you not get it, either.)

ZeBlob said:

Here comes the Men in Black ;-)

Nice to know who these commandoes are, although I'm still in the dark about their purposes... I mean, what does a Psych teacher want to do with vampires that can't bite? {I don't think I want to know...}

Will Freak said:

Liked that Riley and Prof Walsh were in on everything. This will make a great story arc. I am afraid that the BtVS writers will take this story line out to far and have Riley and Buffy keep working next to each other but never figure out who they are until the end. I think in 2 eps they should figure it out and join forces. Willow was great in the episode. Cheese, accomplish, lamb, 'nuff said.

Doc said:

Well, plot is good. Thus far, we've only had basically self-contained eps that each took a normal college issue (fitting in, roommates, beer, sex) and Jossed them up. Surprisingly unsatisfying. Now, we get a plot involving all of these new people. Do we like them? Are any of them funny? Where does Xander fit into all of this? Next bat-time, next bat-channel, I guess.

Jonathan M. said:

Ever since "the masked gunmen" appeared during The Freshman, I suspected they were agents of The Watchers Council. Remember Helpless, the Vamp-in-a-box, the whole methodical-study-not-slay approach.

What if the Watchers were capturing vampires for some nasty plan to kill-off "the scooby gang"......

Instead, we have Professors and their assistants as secret-government-types. Surprising, yes! Rip-roaring action and adventure,yes! Change of pace and adversary from The Mayor, yes! As brilliant as Spike going after Willow and not getting-it-up, No!!

A fine, fun episode, and as different as any other tale told this season...UC Sunnydale isn't boring! I was afraid the show would turn into 90210 if not careful...but the surprises and "what-the-hell?" plot twists just keep happening!!

Wyatt said:

Spike defanged?! Oh what horror is this Joss, say it isn't so. Spike as a Scooby gang member, it just isn't right. OK so he had temporary alliances before but there was always the possibility that he would turn on them, but now he can be taunted with impunity. Spike as a "care bear" vamp is unacceptable, gives us back a truely evil, if incompetent, villan Joss. Is there a fang viagra that works on vamps?

Jeff said:

Here we go with the whole "fighting evil and each other" thing. Why did Joss do this to us? Now Riley and Buffy will dance around each other all season playing games and in the mean time Giles & Xander show up on screen for about 5 minutes. I just can't take it anymore, did someone forget that these two individuals are great characters? My world is spinning out of control Oz gone, Xander might as well be and Giles where have you gone? Other than that I kinda liked it.

kristin said:

....My favorite throwaway had to be Giles' reaction to Doritos in Xander's basement. Did you see the face he made? I'm waiting for the Frito-Lay lawsuit.

mlejane said:

I thought it was great. I'm so glad there was no sappiness. Everyone else thought the whole lab thing with Professor Walsh there was kind of silly, but I like the idea--it makes me hopeful that a bunch of interesting stuff is still to come, notably when they figure out that Buffy is in charge of the vampire situation.

Queen C said:

I actually didn't get to see all of this what with my being in the hospital with an iv in my arm...which SUCKED might I add. O i'm just gonna gripe about how I got 2 holes punched into my arms, and how they still hurt, and that it sucks to be dehydrated, and how does that even happen when your blood test is normal and you don't even have a fever so technically there's nothing wrong with you. Oh but I must say...SPIKE!!!!! I just love Spike.

Hope you're out of the hospital now, Queen C, and that you're feeling better and are completely hydrated. :-) (Drink lots of water! Mm.) Also hope you got to see the show in its entirety...maybe a friend taped it? Take care!

baronessp said:

Okay, so Prof. Walsh runs this whole underground stealth, fight the evil, implant anti-bad devices in their heads, drop 'em drugged blood baggies, all with cute commando outfits, operation but still thought she was being attacked by two wild dogs the other week? Perhaps she's the one who needs to be in the nifty little sterile room for awhile? {Heh.}

But we got to learn that Giles likes raspberry fruit punch (guess it goes with the jelly doughnuts), and everyone stopped having wild and crazy sex for minute, although I guess Buff's just resting up for next week's crossover, sex with Angel on the kitchen table ep, or so the preview leads me to believe....

prof#1 said:

The FACILITY is a little too elaborate to be plausible even in the Buffyverse-but it does give Giles a chance to get a new life by hooking on with it. Anyone else looking forward to seeing Ripper thaw out the psych prof? it's a natural match. Willow/Spike exchange a Joss classic, even if it went a bit too long. Vamp impotence is now definitively defined. And Riley gets credit for the best punch of the year--straight-up, traveling not much over a foot, and with enough behind it to nearly knock Parker out of his shoes.

Witchy Vamp said:

What's with Buffy and the cheap slut look - and those clunky boots - geeeshhh. Willow is looking more and more like a druggie with the bad hair and brooding looks. I thought I was going to pee my pants watching the Harmony/Xander fight - fight - "girls fight better than those two" as my grandpa would say. Now Riley, he's CUTE and rather cuddly. I cheered when he decked Parker - Riley, Riley he's our man, if he can't do it no-one can!! Hey, how come the gov types didn't know Buf's the slayer - what too British for them???

Grub said:

....The only thing that disappoints me is the whole Initiative thing. Not the group itself, because I think their going to make an interesting, season-long villian, but after last season, I was REALLY hoping that this year's villian would be the Watcher's Council.

Ophelia the Fruitfly Slayer said:

Did anybody else cry when the Austin Powers commercial came on and it showed Seth and reminded us (like we could ever really forget) that Oz was jacking off in a cave somewhere? But if they get rid of him for good, I think Willow and Spike should get together...and maybe Xander and Harmony. The scenes with the characters I just mentioned were definately my favorites; I loved seeing Willow and Spike console each other. I think Buffy and Riley's love of cheese is symbolic because cheese comes from milk which comes from cows which are holy in India.

Jua the vampire slayer said:

ARRRRRRGH! The facility thing is just bumming me out because people have been speculating about Riley and Dr. Walsh being part of it for weeks and I hate it when any part of the show comes close to guesses. {Same here. I try to avoid spoilers & speculations like the plague, but it ain't easy.)

So are we supposed to like them or hate them? Riley is far and away the best guy that's ever liked Buffy (Angel included . And does anyone else notice that Riley has that protruding forehead thingy going on too?)and you've gotta groove on his friendship with Willow ,

BUT The whole facility setup is not screaming good guys to me. It screams evil pharmecutical company, Watcher's Council or an overly tidy way to wind up the series.

Nope I'm not too happy about them at all.

Jane, the Frog on the Wall said:

Jeez. This episode was almost original *and* borderline good. What more could you ask from somebody who's running out of plotlines? (That was hypothetical).

Anyhow, I liked the episode...somewhat. And major good - now we know Oz's name! Woo! The whole military setup just had me in stiches. Although, I'd like to know what they're doing with the vampires. Is it like 'Alien Autopsy' with a bunch of demons? Or do they just put the implants in the demons' heads because they're really neurosurgeons in training, only they failed the field test on the plastic they work on dead ones. Hmm? Plausible, no?

Or maybe I'm just *really* whacked out.

And what was with Spike calling Harmony all kinds of foods? She doesn't look that delectible to me...guys.

Ari said:

It's kind of a shame that there is always one big lightbulb moment in the season where I go "omigod, Joss does have some sort of overarching vision this season. Look! It all ties in." Or at least, that's the way I felt when Faith crossed over to the dark side last season and the way I feel tonight. It's a shame because I get real tempted to write-off the beginning part of the season when I'm watching it. Yep, me of litle faith. And then I'm reminded why I've been a loyal Buffy fan since the first ep. For the creativity that keeps me interested and moves beyond the "let's fight the demon/adversity of the week" in such totally unexpected ways.

Two concerns:
1. Could someone please make use of the Giles character? This is insane.

2. Who's going to be portrayed as the vigilante here? Buffy or the paramilitary forces of Dr. Walsh?

Hi, Ari! Been wonderin' where you disappeared to...glad you're back and barking. ;-) Er, you know what I mean. Btw, is Giles supposed to be independently wealthy? Hm...The guy doesn't "work" and yet, manages to pay Xander, I think? This would go on the episode page but alas, alack, I haven't done it, so I'm saying it here.

From Nirak:

I thought the preposterous-nus of having this HUGE facility underground & unknown to most of the town - including last season's demon Mayor (H. Groener) - just think of the possibilities for him! was a little too unbelievable, in a mindless way. With Buffy and Mr. Trick in the sewers and the swimming club down there is another episode, etc., there's been a LOT of underground action. How could someone in the Scooby Gang not get somewhere close to a nice, well lit underground lab? Used for evil and looking that pristine would be a great compare/contrast op & served the purposes of the Master or Angelus or the First Evil, or any number of villians - even preying mantis lady/teacher.

skatie said:

This ep leaves me with lots of questions. When will Riley and Buffy realize they're on the same (sorta) side? Wouldn't the facility know about the slayer and watcher? Will Harmony EVER get staked by ANYBODY? Why did Xander's mom offer fruit punch? Did the yogurt thingy run out of stuff before anything was said to the staff? And did anyone remember it was Buffy who broke it? Is Willow gonna hate herself in the morning for being so needy with Spike? Will Spike hate himself in the morning for letting Willow hit over the head? I've got many more questions, but I believe I've made my point.

MadHatter said:

....Okay, this whole vigilante group...I saw that coming from about a billion miles away. This is not the X Files, children. Scully could never look that good in a backless shirt, and if I want conspiracies, underground labs and evil (?) scientists, I'll tune in to Fox. Which I don't. And I won't. This storyline makes me cringe, and helloooo, Riley may have made points with me by sucker-punching Parker, but he's still a drip, and I'm still not interested in him, his ninja outfit or his smoke bombs. Blaaaaaah.

Again, Aly continues to break my heart. Excellent writing, ("is it raspberry?") but I dread the continuation of this storyline.

aly said:

This episode was witty and funny. But there were some incredibly "cheesy" moments. For example, Riley saying that he likes her, but didn't realize it before. It was good to see someone deck Parker, though. I'll never tire of that.

The initiative scene was pretty cool when Spike woke up; I actually felt sorry for him. I don't like Spike unable to kill because he's coolest when he's being evil. Also, Dru!!! Harmony needs to be killed already; it disgusts me that Spike is with her...No self-respecting vampire would be caught dead or rather undead with her. The scene where Spike attacks Willow was terrifyingly similar to a rape scene. The writers kept the whole would you really bite me thing going on way too just wasn't believable. Also, has Willow become stupid and Buffy smart? No offense to Buffy, but she couldn't do better on a psych paper than her friend who was accepted to Harvard, etc.

I can't wait until Riley and Buffy find out about each other! I wonder how many times they'll beat the crap out of each other before they find out. Overall a good episode, but definitely not in the top ten.

Cordystoy said:

....What was Willow thinking -- "come on in" without even checking, please did she learn nothing in high school.

jessica said:

Ahh I think Angel went to a Dart playing party to spite you for the mean "Angel good bye page."

What can I say? Karma sucks.

Mean? was a loving gesture...*sob*..I'm so misunderstood...*sniffle*...Heh.

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