Written by David Fury
Directed by James A. Contner

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Whoa. More than a little anticlimactic, for the final fight against the season's villain, but with the Slayerettes reunited, who gives a damn?!?

Let's face it, Buffy has just had a sucky day, and finding Riley's hideout empty doesn't help. It'd be even worse if she knew he was in Adam's lair, getting the recruitment speech. Adam informs him that Professor Walsh -- Mother -- impanted a chip in Riley's chest, above the thoracic nerve. It allows Adam to control Riley's body, if not his mind. And Adam's got plans for his "brother"....

See, humans and demons both have weaknesses, imperfections. Adam and his mother had better plans -- a hybrid race, with Riley as one of the next prototypes. Spike is fascinated, really. Not. He wants the chip out of his head and himself the hell out of Adam's mess, But Adam's not going to let him out until Buffy is both alone and where he wants her, in bowels of the Initiative. The information on the disks Spike gave the Slayerettes is supposed to lead her there, once Willow decrypts them. It's Adam who notices that, now that Spike has succeeded in alienating them, there's no way Willow will pass that information on. Spike is sent scuttling on his way to rectify the error.

And, thanks to Spike, it's depression day for the Slayerettes. A hungover Giles responds to the pounding n his door (and in his head) to find Willow and Tara; seems Willow left her laptop the night before. She awkwardly collects it and retreats. Buffy sits on the floor of her empty dorm room, alone. She gazes for a moment at the old picture of her with Willow and Xander, picks up the phone, then resolutely puts it back down, and begins to assemble her weapons. And Xander is woken by Anya's arrival, nagging him to go to the unemployment office to look for a job. Xander is too massively depressed to care. Even Anya's snuggling and confession of unconditional love isn't enough to snap him out of his funk.

On her own, Buffy heads into Adam's now abandoned cave, as he escorts Riley into the new digs, a secret lab hidden deep under the Initiative. Riley stares in shock as Adam's workers wander by. One of them is, horribly, Professor Walsh, now a zombie, along with the other doctor Adam killed. Even more horribly, Adam has other plans for Riley -- the same plans he had for Forrest, who sits up from an operating table, a terrible hybrid of soldier and demon.

Unaware of her boyfriend's angst, Buffy stride through Adam's cave, "coincidentally" running into Spike. Spike gleefully lies his bleached blonde head off, trying to subtly direct Buffy back to the disks. Unfortunately for Adam, he lets one thing too much slip -- he knows about the fight between the Slayerettes, even though he wasn't there. Something in Buffy's brain goes 'click'. Willow and Tara, meanwhile, are still laboring over the laptop, trying to decrypt the disks. Willow's on the right trail and smug about it, when the disks suddenly decrypt themselves as Buffy calls. Good news, bad news...

Below campus, Forrest taunts Riley with Professor Walsh's condition -- "She's just a walking corpse." "So are you," Riley points out, but Forrest is jamming on the new power of his demon body, having far too much fun in a deeply evil, demonic kind of way. "Your will belongs to us now," Forrest informs him, but Riley knows better. Even when the injections start.

Neutral territory, the middle of the quad. In the sunlight, the four original Slayerettes face each other. It's awkward and uncomfortable, but Buffy knows what she's doing. A few questions, and it becomes glaring obvious that Spike set them up. And that he's working for Adam. "Nah, I can't even act surprised." Xander says in disgust. It doesn't actually help much with the awkwardness, but it does give them a new target. The disks, Willow tells the others, have records of a Final Phase of Adam's project, set up in a secret lab in the Initiative. "He waned me to know about it," Buffy concludes. It's the last piece of the puzzle she needed. The overcrowding of demons Riley was complaining about is a Trojan Horse, to be let loose any moment. Demons kill soldiers, and "Adam has a neat pile of body parts to start assembling his army," Willow grimaces. With Riley MIA, it's up to the Slayerettes to stop it.

They retreat in the traditional way -- research party at Giles'. They need to get Adam's power source, obviously, but Buffy has to get close enough. A spell, Willow suggests, and Giles has just the ticket, a Sumerian paralysis spell. But a witch has to say it and Willow can't speak it. "All we need is combo-Buffy," Xander pops out, and Giles gets that wonderful "ah-hah" look. There's a plan. There's equipment. There's Slayerettes heading out to break into the Initiative. Again.

Rappelling down the elevator shaft, Willow and Buffy take a few minutes to bond again, regretting how far they drifted apart, giving Spike so many targets. A tearful hugs proves to be a bad idea in that particular situation, but they make it to the ground, then group hug a delighted Xander when he joins them. Reunited, the gang pries open the elevator doors -- and find the collective guns of the Initiative pointing at them.

Spike watches smugly on the security monitors as the soldiers escort Buffy through the halls, demanding his chip out. But Adam says no deal -- Buffy's not alone. Spike wavers, weasels, then runs like a girl, only to be grabbed by Forrest. The ensuing attempted decapitation ends with judicious application of a cigarette and Spike continues the aforementioned running like a girl. The Colonel is no happier to be listening to the Slayerettes than Adam was to hear Spike. Seems the colonel doesn't believe in magic, or that Adam can be in the Initiative, or that he doesn't have control of the Initiative. Even news of the secret lab doesn't convince him -- until the lights go out. And the locks on the demons cages spring free as the ones on the exits slam shut. And the war begins. So does the dying.

The soldiers, completely disregarding the Slayer's warnings, head out for the big fight scene; Buffy disposes of the two left to guard them, and Willow hits the computers. It takes only a few minutes to track down the location of the secret lab, but getting there is another trick. They also need a quiet place to cast the spell that is The Plan, and quiet places are hard to come by, what with rampaging demons and automatic weapons and explosions throughout the facility. Oddly, Spike is in the middle of it, punching out demons for all he's worth. The Slayerettes race through the carnage, Buffy clearing the road and Xander and Giles laying down cover fire. The demons and soldiers are evenly matched, killing each other in equal numbers.

Room 314 provides both the entrance to the secret lab, and a quiet place for spellcasting. With one last round of smiles, bravado and reassurances, Buffy slips into the lab. Zombies don't phase her much, but finding Riley strapped, completely unresponsive, to a chair does the job. He's not programmed to respond, Adam informs her cooling, wandering over. "Kill her", he orders Forrest, who grabs Buffy from behind as zombies move forward with nasties. Riley watches helplessly, but Buffy is far from helpless. She breaks loose and the fighting really begins.

And so does the spell. Willow's quiet voice calls on the first Slayer, and all the primeval powers that Slayers carry.

Riley's not as helpless as they think; as Forrest and Buffy grapple, with all of that will, he forces his hand to move, to grab a broken bottle -- and make a cut over his chest.

The spell continues, kicks into gear. Willow: spirit. Xander: heart. Giles: mind. And Buffy: hand.

Riley forces his hand into the wound, groping for the chip. Buffy is coming out on the losing end; she manages to rip apart an electric cable, but Forrest throws her away before she can use it.

"We join that we may inhabit the vessel, the hand, daughter of Sineya, first of the Ones," Willow intones. The cable sparks over Buffy and Forrest and the zombies hold her down, ready for the final stroke. "That all you got?" Forrest taunts.

"No. She's got me." Forrest turns to see the dechipped and thoroughly pissed Riley. They square off, and Buffy heads for her true prey. Adam, watching as the soldiers fight a losing action against the demons. With only a few words, the fighting begins again. Buffy is hopelessly outmatched, as is Riley against Forrest, and both opponents are quite smug about it. Buffy breaks Adam's skewer, only to watch open-mouthed as his other arm suddenly morphs in a machine gun cannon. "I've been upgrading," he informs her. And fires.

-- Buffy ducks and covers

--"We implore, you take us now!" Willow calls

--Adam's projectile explodes, trashing Buffy's corner of the lab

--and the Slayer rises from the wreckage, eyes glowing, face triumphant.

"You can't last much longer," Adam tells her. "We can. We are forever," Buffy responds. But it's not her voice alone; Xander and Willow and Giles' voices are there, too. And so are their powers, it seems. Buffy begins chanting, Willow's witchcraft with Giles' knowledge and Xander's will; Adam fires... and the bullets dissolve into nothing before they touch her. "Very.. interesting," Adam says, nonplused.

In the lab outside, Riley and Forrest continue to fight. Riley's losing, until he baits Forrest into picking up a canister. He raises it high over his head and Riley ducks for cover. Forrest has only time to se the "flammable" label before canister meets electricity. Forrest's death is real this time.

Adam's getting desperate; he fires another grenade, but Buffy/the Slayerettes simply raise a hand, and doves fly away. His weapons having failed him, Adam resorts to hand-to-hand, but the Slayerettes meet every move before he makes it, easily. "How can you...?" he gasps in confusion. "You can never hope to grasp the source of our power," the Slayerettes tell him. "But yours is right here." With one swift move, their hand plunges straight into Adam's body, to his spine, and emerges with his power source. Gaping, Adam slumps to the ground, not nearly as dead as he deserves to be. But dead enough.

Riley stumbles in, bleeding and battered, to find Buffy standing over Adam's body. He watches in shock as the power source levitates from Buffy's hand, into the air. The Slayerettes chant again, and the power source collapses, then blinks out of existence in a brilliant flash of light. He's just in time to catch Buffy when the light in her eyes equally abruptly blinks out, and she collapses. In room 314, Giles, Willow and Xander are also released. As they blink, trying to recover, the door slams open and a hairy demon rushes them. But right behind it is Spike, who jumps on the thing's back and breaks it's neck, saving their lives. The Slayerettes are deeply unimpressed by Spike's convenient heroics, but let him live. Buffy and Riley emerge to hugs and congratulations, and everyone heads out to end the fight for good.

Later, a government council decides that the Initiative has failed. Over a montage of the fighting (Buffy kicking demon ass, Graham emerging from the wreckage alive, the Initiative soldiers following Buffy and Riley to safety, the Colonel fighting off demons that his guns can't kill, and dying), we learn that there was a 40% casualty rate in the final battle. "And it seems it was only through the actions of a deserter, and a group of civilian insurrectionists, that our losses were not total. I trust the irony of that is not lost on any of us."

"The demons cannot be controlled," the Council concludes. The project will be ended, the soldiers debriefed, the records lost. "The Initiative itself will be filled in with concrete. Burn it down, gentlemen."

"Burn it down, and salt the earth."

Adam is dead and so is the Initiative. Unfortunately, so is Forrest. The government remains aware of things like demons and the Slayer, but has no immediate plans to do anything with either.

Graham survived the final fight, along with about 60% of the Initiative soldiers. What that means is anyone's guess.

Riley was programmed with a chip to obey orders, but isn't anymore, bless his stubborn little heart.

The wounds between the four Slayerettes have been, if not eliminated, at least throughly cleaned and well on the way to healing.

Anya has admitted she loves Xander, whatever that means to her.

Spike has wormed his way back into the Slayerette's good graces, for now. But no one's going to turn their back on him any time soon.

Oh dear. Where to begin? Where it all began, I suppose -- with the Slayerettes. I found myself writing that word more in this review than I have in months. It's been such a long time since we saw the four of them working together as a true team, like the old days. With all of the drifting apart of this season, how much did I adore them coming together, both in the literal -- that melding of powers was just too cool! -- and figuratively; it took all four of them to defeat Adam, truly stronger than the sum of their parts. Warning: sentimental babbling follows.

As painful as the fights in the last few episodes have been, Buffy really needed the kick in her reality. Seeing how terribly far apart she and Angel have grown made it all the harder for her to realize how much she's also drifted away from Giles and Willow and Xander. She gets major points for picking up on Spike's slip and putting all of the pieces together; she gets even more points for sucking it up and facing the other three, and taking the first step to bring them all together again. She's the Slayer, the hand that's always gripped the four of them, held the them together, and when she drifts off, so do they. A hard lesson to learn, but I think she's got the idea now.

Giles yummy. Sorry, the sweater, the jeans, the resolution... yummy. < g> Seriously, if this episode was for reminding Buffy why she loves her friends, it was also for reminding us why we love them. Giles was assigned mind for reasons other than the vast store of Watcher knowledge. Only Giles can attempt to defend himself, then simply sum it up with a disgusted "I'm very stupid." He admits his mistakes, then works like hell to fix them. He is the mind, the one with the 25+ more years of living and dealing that gives him the perspective and the experience that the kids too often lack. He takes things in stride, deals with them without being drawn in by associated social dramas, and we love him for that.

Xander has always been Reality Check Boy, the one who reins the other three in when they fall in love with the hard choices, and points out, "Hey. Why don't we just do this?" Straightforward, practical, boiling it all down to the simple stuff, to the lowest common denominator. As Chris puts it, eight times out of ten that's merely entertaining. That ninth and tenth time, though, it's what saves everyone's collective butts. He was assigned heart in the spell not because there was nothing else to assign him, not because he's the Zeppo, the weak link. In many ways, he's always been the strongest, because he'll never give up. No matter how unequipped he is -- no powers, no superabilities, no books and spells -- even when he's just frightened guy with a rock, he goes in and kicks butt as necessary. And he walks away right beside his heavily armed friends.

Willow is spirit, of course, and that's not entirely about the magic, and useful as her witch skills often are. It's about trying to hug your best friend while rappelling down an elevator shaft, about giving a vampire the benefit of a doubt because said best friend is in love with him, about remembering to say hi to Giles even when crisis strikes, about loving regardless of age, race or gender. She's proven to have remarkable taste in friends and lovers (Oz's quality speaks for itself, and Tara is a sweetheart, if nothing else) and the ability to cut through the crap with Xander's tenaciousness, if not his tactlessness, when necessary. She's been at least as guilty as Buffy of losing herself in her own personal dramas, of not quite trusting anyone else to get it, but she's raring to make up for it all.

It'll be interesting to see how the renewed force of the Slayerettes affects the hangers-on -- Riley, Anya and Tara. Tara seems to be responding well, determined to involve herself in Willow's life and friends rather than trying to cut her out of them. While some of that is certainly because she doesn't seem to have many friends of her own, or much of anything deeply important in her life, she would still have every right to run screaming from the realities of Sunnydale, even without the awkwardness of her relationship with Willow to make interacting with her friends really interesting. But she's not running. You have to respect that.

Riley might have a bit of adjusting to do; without the Initiative, and with Buffy determined not to shut herself away from her friends, he's going to have to suck it up and be part of the Scooby Gang. I don't think he'll fight it too much; he was already willingly working with them, and he's the type who always functions best in a team, with a support group. He's going to have fun not being in charge, though.... And killing Forrest is going to have repercussions even if, like Xander, he didn't destroy his friend, but the thing that killed him. Hard thing to do, even harder than digging a chip out of your chest to save your girlfriend. < shudder > Talk about willpower... Riley may be the most stubborn man on Earth. Good; he's gonna need it!

As for Anya... If Xander manages to pull himself back into the Scooby Gang full time, her life is going to change. She hasn't really developed much in the whole 'trying to be human' thing, largely because Xander hasn't been doing much of a teaching job. He's taught her the girlfriend stuff, oh yes, because he needed her to know that. With his friends growing steadily farther away, Anya was his constant, the things that was his and his alone. He's never had that before, he's always had to share. Is it any wonder he might have subconsciously kept Anya limited, so he wouldn't lose her, too? But more time with the gang, and with the girls, is going to force both of them to start re-evaluating. Xander adores competent women, independent women who can hold their own and tell him where to get off. Buffy, Cordelia... heck, he didn't even really fall for Willow until she started growing that lovely new spine around the middle of second season. Anya can argue with him, but she clings to him as much as he's clung to her and, with Buffy and Willow around for comparison, that's going to start being less and less appealing to him, I'm betting. And she's going to hate coming out on the short end of any comparisons. It'll either be the best thing that ever happened to their relationship, or the end of it, depending on how strong Anya really is.

Damn, I'm going to miss Forrest. He deserved such a better death.

Best Moments:
Spike figuring out his little mistake. ROTFL. James is just awesome during all of his scenes, particularly as Spike tries to defend himself, then bolts on command.

Tara and Giles. < giggle > Tara too happy to really be awkward, Giles too hung over to remember quite why things are awkward. Too cute.

That long shot of Anya and Xander as she cuddles up to him, and he doesn't cuddle back. < sigh > Like I said, some things are going to have to change there.

Riley's first sight of the lab. Deeply wigsome, between the Walsh zombie and poor Forrest. Nice continuity, good details.

Willow's reaction to the disks decrypting. Funny on its own, even funnier after you hear her coaching Cordelia on Angel.

"Nah, I can't even act surprised." Xander's reaction to Spike's betrayal is priceless, and the quick reactions hot, of Giles smiling despite himself, is a wonderful little bit of business.

Research party! Just like the old days... < happy sigh >

The entire fourth act. Sorry, can't be more specific, it was just masterfully done. The fight sequences, Spike's escape and subsequent switch to the good guys, the awesome spell, the knock-downs between Forrest and Riley and Adam and Buffy... It all melded together perfectly.

Any time Buffy was under the spell. The meld of voices was incredible, and effects yes, reminiscent of The Matrix but not too any extent that I actually cared in the slightest. The whole Slayerette gestalt was just the coolest thing ever.

The end montage and voiceover. An excellent way to wrap everything up without a lot of boring exposition. We got to see the results of the fight, got to see Graham surviving and the Colonel buying it and the Initiative destroyed even as the Senator's words confirmed it. And the last line, about salting the earth, sent shivers down my spine.

Questions and Comments:
Okay, was there a single practicing Wiccan in the audience who didn't watch that spell and think something alone the lines of, "Ooo. Cool spell. And wow, is threefold rule is gonna kick in in fun ways after *that * one." Which seems like it will be amply proven in next week's episode. < g >

I'm pleasantly surprised by the government (if that was the government)'s reaction to the debacle below the Initiative. They're smart enough to realize Buffy saved their asses -- unexpected -- and even smarter to write it off as a loss. Truly unexpected. I wish some of this practicality would rub off on some other military types (*cough*Maybourne*cough*) on some other shows. Salting the earth, if taken literally, would be a particularly nice touch. Salt keeps zombies from rising...

Well hallelujah, they're figuring out how to dress Amber! Was it just me, or did she look gorgeous outside Giles' apartment -- nice top, good hair, bright smile and NO SLOUCH! Cool.

Ooo. Adam apparently also got some parts from Inspector Gadget. < rolling eyes > Wow, I'm glad he's dead.

Oddly enough, Ethan was right about the balance being upset. He meant, I think, the balance between humans and demons. Humans, as Adam pointed out, are faster, smarter, more imaginative but more fragile; they can't wipe out the demons. But the demons are older, slower, less numerous, with no Slayer equivalent; they can't wipe out the humans. It's a balancing act, with neither side able to come out on top. Until Maggie came along and created Adam, and upset the balance, creating something that could destroy both sides. So both sides retaliated, one war or another, by wiping it out. Adam gone, the Initiative (and stupid people messing with Mother Nature) gone, that balance should swing back.

Rating: 4.5 out of five. Given a better build up -- i.e., if we actually gave a damn about seeing Adam die -- this would have been a perfect score. But we didn't, and it was all a little anticlimactic. Still, the episode moved, and the bonds between the Slayerettes were established in the best of ways, leaving us truly psyched both for the finale, and for next season.


"I'm absolutely amazed and floored by the use of the Scoobies. First of all, I love that they stripped away everything and just had the four of them against the badness. I loved the post-confrontation scene, where they realized Spike had done them in. The coldness, the body posture, the distance between them. It was uncomfortable to see. I felt it. I didn't like it." -- Mary Beth

"Yes! (Plus, my mantra of "I *believe* in Joss. It really *won't* be as stupid and AU as the promos make it look! I *believe* in Joss...." was once again reinforced. All Hail The Evil God! :)" -- Dianne, replying to the above

"But most of all, that they combined all of their souls, their essence into one lean, mean, fighting machine . . . . well, that just ROCKED. It was the ultimate proof that Buffy *needs* her friends to survive. There is no prophecy for a chosen one and her friends . . . but that's why Buffy survives. Because there is no prophecy. They get to make it up as they go along . . . and depend on each other while doing it." -- Mary Beth

"As for the Initiative/Adam plot. Well . . . that was just plain freaky. And it was fascinating, mostly, to see them show just how far afield science went when messing with the powers it didn't understand. But . . . . still, something about it left me cold. As I said, I need to watch again to compile my thoughts. Ultimately, I'm glad it's over." -- Mary Beth

"And eewwww. Riley ripped that implant out like it was nothing! Is he just really good at self-mutilation without permanent damage, or is there still more to him that we didn't hear about? Enquiring minds are grossed out. (A character on Farscape did something like this a few weeks ago, so I didn't have as high an ewww factor, but stil....)"
"I think it was along the lines of him being so intent on helping Buffy. Remember, this is the same guy who finally told her how in love with her he was and all. I think we can pretty much safely say that the boy would rip out his still-beating heart for her. (I know -- ewww.) It was for her he was actually able to fight the chip enough to get it out, when for himself, he was completely mute and immobile. Ah...true love. :) [Okay--brain is having a Princess Bride moment, bear with me. ("Wuv...twue wuv...") Thanks.] I did a lot of meeping for Riley, especially with the needle stuff and having no control over himself and all. ::shiver:: I think he's gonna have a lot of bad mental stuff coming up next season. No matter how you slice it, he fought & killed (okay-caused him to die...again) his best friend. Lots & lots of angst on the horizon for him. ::meep::" -- Chris and Julie

"Spike rocks. I *still* don't know what his ultimate motivation was in breaking up the Scooby Gang, and playing along with Adam: self-preservation (sure), preservation of his potential Happy Meals (maybe), mild affection for his favorite prey (also maybe), just being totally fed up and wanting the chip out (most likely), wanting to skip town (sure). James Marsters is a genius, and that goofy little bit of him saving Will & Giles & Xander near the end was lovely. Giles would *so* have liked to stake him, but none of them had the heart for it. That, plus the bit where he burned Forrest with the cig (he's never unarmed, you just have to remember that) were my faves." -- Chris

"The big confrontation did feel a little anti-climactic, but that was Adam's fault for being a big loser, no one else's."
"Agreed. Looking over the quote list, his lines were's just the pity he wasn't. (Creepiest line: "Mommy can hear you, but she still a walking corpse.") I just don't know why I didn't find him scary, unless my brain was likening him to the Dark Shadows' Frankenstein take-off who was also called Adam. ::shrug:: But I *did* love her almost matter-of-factly taking out his power source. Gross, but cool." -- Chris and Julie

"When the canister exploded over Forrest. . . . I said "Awww. . . . . Forrest Fire!" Hee!! I make my own fun. *g*" -- Mary Beth

"Only in Buffy do you get bonding while repelling." -- Julie

" was a mirror to Adam--he was more than the sum of his parts, which is why he got loose, wreaked havoc and would have succeeded in taking over; first the Initiative, then the world (eeek! I think there's a Lurker-type 'Pinky & the Brain' story there somewhere). While he was upgrading himself, he was still learning how it worked and all. The 'Super-Slayer' was also greater than the sum of it's parts, but unlike Adam, they've been together for the better part of four years and know their strengths and weaknesses, and are...well...more cohesive, in a manner of speaking, than and part of Adam. His bits don't belong together, and are roughly assembled, much like his appearance. Their sum *does* belong together, not usually this closely, but they fit together and complement one another into, at times, an almost seamless whole. Which is why they were able to win. (I knew I was going somewhere with this. For a few minutes, I lost the path." -- Julie

"Plus, Spike has *no* immediate hopes of being de-chipped now. I don't doubt he'll keep looking, but for now he's forced onto the side of the good guys for the indefinite future. :) (Did I mention I *adore* Spike? He is *such* the Merc... )" -- Dianne

"Has anyone pointed out that in the tense Scooby scene outside on campus. . . Giles is wearing an earring? A small hoop. But I don't remember it on him earlier or later. "
"I just thought it was part of his new Guitar Man image."
"I'm with Betz... I think Giles is loosening up... and since he's already been "outed" by the Scooby Gang as a part-time coffeebar singer, I think he's less concerned about maintaining the librarian persona. (Which I suspect he did overly in the first place to counter memories of Ripper... now he may be finding a more natural balance.)" -- Mary Beth, Betsy K, Dianne

"Yup, I was right... meshing all their brains like that *was* going to have consequences. Not only after being as apart as they've ever gotten all season, then all mentally mushed right together into a SuperSlayer -- methinks that will make the "getting to really know each other again" a much faster thing -- but in terms of instant over- sharing. [That was *too* a sentence! }:op] (Plus, repercussions also have the nice side effect of ensuring that they don't just pull this trick out on a regular basis to conveniently *pulverize* your average daily baddies!)" -- Dianne on the promo

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