Friday, 16 December 2011
BUFFY: 4.14 ‘GOODBYE IOWA’
Short episode promo
WRITER: Marti Noxon
DIRECTOR: David Solomon
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Professor Walsh is dead and her monstrous creation Adam is on the loose. Riley’s Initiative pals think that Buffy killed Prof. Walsh but they soon discover the truth when Adam finds, kills, and dissects a young child in the woods, curious about what makes the little boy work. Buffy and the Initiative separately investigate. They search everywhere for what they think is an escaped Polgara demon. Meanwhile Riley is acting strange: paranoid, angry, violent. With Xander’s help, Buffy sneaks in to the Initiative to find out what has been going on with Riley as well as the mysterious ‘314’. It soon becomes clear that Riley is suffering withdrawal from a secret drugs cocktail Maggie Walsh had been feeding him and her other soldier boys with. As paranoid Riley starts accusing Buffy of betrayal (especially after seeing Spike hiding at Giles’s and then Buffy in a demon bar) things seem ready to explode. And then things get even worse: Adam suddenly turns up, having returned to the Initiative, looking for answers too. The horrible secret of ‘314’ is finally revealed to all.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
The twisted parental/family theme continues as Adam reveals to Riley that they are ‘brothers’ - If not genetically then by the fact that they were both created and nurtured in their current forms by ‘Mommy’ Maggie Walsh. She saw them both as her creations, her children. So now we are going to have two warring brothers – one of whom is desperate to have the other with him, by his side, and will do anything to make that happen. There’s also the continuing theme that life is not black and white. It is not straightforward. Riley sees things very simply and rigidly whereas Buffy has learned to manoeuvre her way through the confusing, oft contradictory maze of life. This is all gonna be a big wake up call for Agent Finn.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
Adam and a withdrawal-ridden Riley
WHY IT ROCKS
Continuation. This episode continues directly on from where the last episode ‘The I in Team’ finished, from the very same scene in fact. That’s the second time Buffy has done that this year, the previous one being from Hush to Doomed.
The mystery of Tara. Amber Benson is sweet as mousy Tara. She secretly and deliberately sabotages Willow’s demon locating spell - a character point that will pay off in episode 6 of season 5 entitled ‘Family’. Talk about planning ahead.
Life of Riley. This episode is a showcase for Marc Blucas. Riley is gradually becoming unhinged as he suffers major drugs withdrawal. And Blucas is excellent. Seeing nice, affable, wholesome Riley slowly degenerate in to a violent, paranoid, abusive psycho is kinda cool and scary. The scene in Willy’s Bar where he threatens to shoot dead a terrified woman is pretty intense. So stuff the haters cuz I like Riley. And I like Marc Blucas as Riley.
Buffy and the gang hiding out in Xander’s basement. The three girls sharing the bed and watching cartoons is cute, as is Giles’s annoyance at his uncomfortable night spent in a beachball chair. Then, dressed in her stylish Yummy Sushi pyjamas, Buffy goes and gives a commanding speech to the gang about what she’s gonna do next, which she quickly concedes isn’t really commanding at all while dressed in PJ’s with fish on them.
Evil Adam. What Adam does to the little boy (all off screen thankfully) is ghastly. The scene where they meet is reminiscent of the one in Frankenstein where the monster meets a little girl by the lake, then throws her in, drowning her. George Hertzberg is rather good in this scene and later when confronting Riley and Buffy at the Initiative. His cool, dispassionate manner is disconcerting and at odds with his deeds and his appearance.
WHY IT SUCKS
Disjointed. This is a season plotting episode. Its main function is to link story points together across various episodes and advance the main season arc. As such, it feels more like a series of incidents and events than a cohesive story in its own right.
Continuity errors. The Polgara demon was captured the night before this episode starts. But two days into the episode, Riley says that "the Polgara demon [we] captured last week" must have killed Walsh. And later, Willy says that he heard a Polgara demon was in town and taken off the streets "a week or two ago."
A 90’s Demonoid. I like the design and look of Adam if not being totally sold on the way the character is used as the big bad. However for a state of the art human/demon/cyborg, why the heck would he have an old fashioned floppy disc drive in his chest and use that to load up info? C’mon, this was made in the year 2000! The internet was in full flow. Couldn’t he have had some better way of accessing info? Wireless hacking in to networks maybe? It just looks really silly.
Riley freaking out at Willy’s Bar.
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Buffy: “This is Spike. He's um... it's a really long story. But he's not bad anymore!”
Spike: “Hey! What am I, a bleeding broken record? I'm bad! It's just... I can't bite anymore, thanks to you wankers.”
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.”
Xander (amazed, seeing the Initiative base): “I totally get it now. Can I have sex with Riley, too?”
Spike: “Double shot of O-Neg, keep. Make it the good stuff. I don't want no freakin' Orangutan.”
Buffy: “I feel an attack of dumb blonde coming on.”
AND ANOTHER THING
Buffy's "yummy sushi pyjamas" are real. They are made by the same company (The Cat's Pyjamas) that made the butterfly pyjamas she wore in "Beer Bad."
Joss is very definite about how Tara’s name is pronounced. It is Tear-ah, not Tah-ra as we Brits would say. He apparently tells people off for saying it wrong.
HOW MANY STAKES?
Riley loses it. 3.5 (out of 5)