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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 4, Episodes 9 & 11

January 19, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4-09 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Munching Away At Rug Field, a BTVS Retrospective: S4, E9 and 11

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Episode 9

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Okay, after Episode 10 skipped the queue, we are taking the time machine back to Episode 9. Come back with me as we open up with Willow looking at pictures of Oz and being mopey.

It’s so refreshing to see ANOTHER character moping besides Buffy.

Wait, no. That’s not it.

What’s the opposite of “refreshing”?

Elsewhere on campus, Buffy and her weird-ass wavy hair sees Riley predicting the aforementioned Willow’s fate, as he is hanging up a sign for the campus’ Lesbian Alliance. She teases him, they talk a bit, and while fraternizing under that sign, Riley asks “Do you ever hang out at Rug Field?”

That’s wildly inappropriate, Riley! You’d get sensitivity training for that in 2023.

Later on at night, Buffy and Willow are out and about. Buffy wants to get away from the Bad Boy trope; maybe it’s time to find herself a good guy! She apparently just got back from seeing Angel in Los Angeles after the whole Thanksgiving thing. She casually stakes a vampire, and hey! Remember season one where a solo vamp could occasionally provide her a challenge? Good times. What is she, Goku?

(I mean, yes, but we already knew that)

At Giles’ place, Spike is tied up in the bathtub. He’s trying to prove his usefulness, but he can’t ID the army guys because they, you know, WEAR MASKS. Willow mentions using a truth spell to get him to talk, so she heads out to get supplies. Giles and Buffy remark that she is coping well with Oz’ absence, but Spike recognizes that she is barely hanging on.

Willow checks in on Oz’ dorm room, and all of his stuff is gone. She realizes he returned to get it all, even if briefly, without telling her.

Buffy and Riley are having a picnic at, I guess, Rug Field, and Buffy brings up she STILL can’t drive. Riley talks up driving, using as many euphemisms to make it sound hot and sexy as he can. Willow comes along to do her best Eeyore impression, and she just ruins the whole sexy driving mood! No wait, tell me more about pulling the gear shift, Riley!

Later still, Buffy, Xander, and Anya are all at The Bronze, and they see Willow dancing up a storm and having a good time. They figure out she has been drinking, and Buffy shames her with a whole “Don’t you remember our anti-drinking episode, Willow? DON’T YOU? I WAS A CAVEPERSON, WILLOW” spiel. Willow, renewed in her sadness, says she just wants the pain to go away.

In the middle of the night, Willow sneaks out of her bed and into the bathroom, which is dead silent because I guess in an entire dormitory of college kids, not a single one is up or having to use the restroom at 3am. She lays out a whole spell with candles and shit. She wants to make her will law or something. Basically wants to grant herself god-tier powers. Is it that easy? Why don’t witches run this world?

SOMEONE has to have walked in on all that, right? No? Oh, okay. It’s not a private bathroom! She had time to light, like, 20 candles? Come on.

In the morning, she is still working on spellcraft when Giles shows up. He admonishes her for leaving him hanging with Spike and failing to come back for the truth spell. He says she should not do magic while she is so depressed, and she rightfully is like “Bitch, YOU want me to do magic now, too!”. She tells him he can’t see anything going on, and her eyes flicker. OH NO, TIME FOR WHACKY HI-JINX!

At home, Giles tries to do the spell on Spike himself, but he can’t quite read the book. He ends up dropping the keys to Spike’s shackles, so the vamp escapes.

Buffy and Willow get a call from Giles that Spike has escaped. Willow demands Buffy’s attention, but she instead goes off to find her erstwhile prisoner. Willow makes Buffy find Spike immediately outside.

Oh, she also accidentally turns Amy human, then right back into a rat. BECAUSE HI-JINX, YOU GUYS.

Willow and Xander are chatting, and Willow, still unaware that her midnight potty spell actually worked, says Buffy should marry Spike if she spends so much time with him, so we cut to Spike proposing, which Buffy happily accepts. Back to Willow and Xander, she off-handedly refers to Xander as a demon-magnet, causing her eyes to flash again.

At Giles’, we see Buffy and Spike canoodling while Giles leaves Willow a voicemail. Buffy asks Giles to walk her down the aisle, aww! I love that for him! But during all of this, Giles finally goes fully blind.

The immediacy of the effects of Willow’ spells are all over the damn place here.

Spike agrees to help Buffy try to cure his future father-in-law! What a stand-up mind-controlled vampire he is.

Buffy goes to the magic shop, but Spike can’t be with her because it is daytime AND because it would be devastating to the upcoming subplot. Because Buffy runs into Riley! He sees her entranced by a wedding dress, and Buffy tells him she is getting married. She even tells him it is to Spike, and I guess Riley doesn’t know Spike’s name? Even though he captured and imprisoned the vamp? Weird, but I’ll allow it, I guess.

Mostly because I just don’t care at this point.

Xander and Anya are about to get it on in his basement when two demons break in to attack him… because he is a demon magnet, you know? Not as fast as Buffy and Spike were getting engaged, but faster than Giles went blind. For reasons.

At Giles’, Xander and Anya rush in with the demons hot on their tail. They see a blind Giles and a betrothed Buffy, and Xander realizes this is all Willow’s doing.

Willow gets a visit from a demon called Tahofren who has been monitoring her chaos. He drags her off to his realm. He wants to maximize her power and make her a new vengeance/wish/whatever demon.

Demons attack the rest of the gang in a cemetery, and they flee into a mausoleum to barricade it up, but it’s not long before the beasties break in.

Tahofren shows Willow what she has wrought, and she is aghast. She does not want to be a vengeance demon! For refusing his offer, Tahofren… gives her a talisman to summon him and basically says “Call me if you change your mind”, and BOY is this season overdoing it with the Threats That Aren’t Actually Threats. I dug it earlier on with Cathy’s kin and the Halloween demon, but now it feels like they just keep trying on the same pair of pants and asking if I like them.

Willow apparates into the mausoleum and calls off her spell, which makes the magnetized demons… vanish? What? What sense does that make?! They were already there! They just shouldn’t be attracted to Xander anymore. What the hell, BTVS?

This irrationally infuriated me, and I have no idea why. This show gives me exactly what I should expect at all times.

To atone for her accidental crimes, Willow… makes everyone cookies. And Buffy rushes off to tell Riley she was just dicking with him about being engaged.

Episode 11

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

For maybe the first time ever, BTVS picks up immediately where the previous episode left off, which is JUST DANDY since I gave Episode 10 its own article, and this doesn’t really jive with Episode 9 up there. Nuts to you, show!

Anyway, Riley and Buffy finally start to talk, but Riley won’t tell her who he is. She tells him she pretty much knows about the Army Guy stuff, though. She tells him she is The Slayer, and Riley is hilariously confused as to what she is even talking about, which I love because it makes Buffy look so full of herself. Like “Oh yeah, I’m The Slayer, you’ve heard of me, I’m sure”. She’s kind of a big deal.

Buffy is upset that Riley isn’t a normal guy. They both agree they need time to process everything, but then… an earthquake hits!

Post-quake, we cut to Xander and Spike and a leaking water pipe. Xander lambastes Spike for being worthless, and he tells the vamp to pick up the slack and do some work. Then the former heads off to his pizza delivery gig.

Buffy is talking to Giles about the earthquake, and she is extremely on edge because the last time SunnyDale had an earthquake, she died that day. Oh shit, that’s right, huh? I totally forgot about that! Look at this show, caring about continuity and stuff! I’m so proud! Giles totally pish-poshes her and says sometimes and earthquake is just an earthquake. He would rather talk about the Army Guys, but now Buffy doesn’t want him poking into that! So they basically just keep talking over each other.

Riley is back with Shelton Benjamin and asking him if he knows what The Slayer is. Shelton says it is a myth that monsters use to scare other monsters. As they walk through their complex, a demon thing tries to break loose, but they subdue it. Then, all the captives start freaking out!

There is a party that Willow is attending solo, and she runs into a guy from high school named Percy, and I SWEAR TO GOD we knew a Percy before, AND NEVERMIND, I’M AN IDIOT, WE DID. I was searching for articles I haven’t published yet as of writing this. YES! Percy is the guy she tutored who Evil Willow intimidated the hell out of.

I’m so happy I was right about that because it was driving me CRAZY.

Percy’s date pulls him away, and Willow eventually overhears them talking about her. Percy basically says she is a non-threatening nerd. Which… isn’t true to HIM, at least. Well, there went that continuity, I guess.

Elsewhere at the party, a demon slashes a guy’s throat. Then Willow goes into a dark room, lies in bed, and turns the lights on… she is right next to his body! And there is a symbol carved into his chest.

Xander arrives back home to see the pipe is still filling the basement with water. Where are his parents? Don’t they care about this? He definitely said earlier that he pays them rent; they should be fixing this damage like good landlords. Or just good homeowners, really. Spike is wearing Xander’s clothes. He tried to do laundry and ruined his own.

The Charlie Haas guy shows up to Team Riley and reports in on the dead body at the party, so Riley heads out to investigate.

Willow, meanwhile, is filling in the team on her experience at the party with the body, and because this show is oh-so-charming and funny, she can’t help but throw in the Percy info that he called her a nerd or whatever.

Moments like this REALLY take me out of this show, guys. They shouldn’t. And if they felt more natural, they wouldn’t. But it always causes me to picture the Harvard grad screenwriter who got a job on this show who thinks what they are doing is SO CLEVER.

Giles recognizes the symbol, and it means THE END OF THE WORLD! But Buffy says she will stop it.

Since this is an end-of-the-world, Hellmouth-opening threat, I assume this story will at least be a two-parter. We can’t just save the day when the stakes are THIS big in 40+ minutes, right?

RIGHT?

Buffy heads to the cemetery, because when the writers on this show get stuck, they just send everyone to the cemetery. More specifically, to a mausoleum in the cemetery. And what do you know? There’s a demon inside the mausoleum. She and the demon get into a fight, and it’s actually a pretty rad brawl that culminates in the demon fucking BANE-ING her onto a headstone! Jesus!

She’s fine, though.

Riley shows up as the demon runs off, and he helps Buffy up so that they can have some really unrealistic dialogue about whether or not they can date or whatever. I zoned out, not gonna lie. I was still wondering how Buffy didn’t shatter her spine on the headstone.

We get a montage of the Scoobies studying and Team Riley doing Team Riley things. The Scoobies figure out the plan: the demons needs a few things to open the Hellmouth: Blood Of Man (they got that at the party), Bones Of Child (they got that at the cemetery where Buffy thought darkness was her ally), The Word Of Vallios (they don’t know what this is), and three sacrifices.

Willow and Xander accidentally stop Spike from killing himself in a VERY convoluted fashion. They take him with them to keep an eye on him.

Riley and Buffy run into each other in town for MORE gripping Will / They Won’t excitement! Riley thinks his job is fun! That makes Buffy even angrier; it reminds her of Faith. Hey, how’s Faith doing? I miss Faith.

Giles is studying and figures out the Word Of Vallios is a knick-knack… that he owns! The demons bust in, kick his ass, and take it.

After talking with the-inexplicably-left-alive-by-demons-who-want-to-end-the-world Giles, the team–now with more Spike!–heads to the burnt ruins of the school, and honestly? It’s basically just a burned-out building. It looks much more like it just caught fire than exploded. But hey… how else are they going to get to the library and the Hellmouth opening?

They find the three demons chanting with their objects, but no sacrifices. A fight breaks out, and shortly into it, the demon with the blood just hurls himself into a hole, causing another mini-quake; it turns out the demons ARE the sacrifice! And I guess the chanting our heroes interrupted wasn’t that important, but it was nice of the baddies to sing a little song while they waited for the good guys to arrive.

During the fracas, Spike learns that he can attack evil people without getting the pain feedback, and that is… wow. This is more subjective than a Green Lantern being weak to “the color yellow”. I mean… Willow is a witch, right? Wouldn’t that count towards what Riley’s group would consider “undesirable”? But he could not hurt her!

So can he just not hurt any human? Or just not hurt people he thinks are good? Or can he–

Nope.

You know what?

Not gonna play this game.

The rules are “he can’t hurt anything the writers actively want him to be unable to hurt a the moment”.

Got it.

Anyway, what does he do with his newfound ability to fight? Immediately huck the second bad guy and his bag of bones into the sacrifice hole. Oops!

Riley just shows up out of the blue, and he and Buffy stop the last demon from getting sacrificed. Riley tries to play off being outed to Willow and Xander, but he does so poorly. And he just does not recognize Spike at all. So he didn’t know Spike’s name. Doesn’t recognize Spike. What in the hell?

The episode ends with Buffy heading to Riley’s room to kiss him, and then we cut to an invigorated Spike telling the team he is happy to get to kill things, and he will use his power to save puppies and Christmas.

******************

These two don’t play well without Episode 10 between them, but hey… what can be done?

We are halfway through the season, and no Big Bad is in sight… unless it’s Riley? I guess it could be. Professor Walsh is probably more likely, though. But I legitimately have no idea what this season is building towards other than “Why are Riley’s people collecting these monsters and neutering them?”.

Is that it?

Ugh, probably.