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Into the Woods


This episode picks up exactly where the last left off: Joyce is rolled into surgery. The whole Scooby gang waits with Buffy and Dawn, the latter falling asleep on Riley's lap. Someone walking up to the group turns out to be only Giles, who offers to do a snack machine run, but no one wants anything. Willow asks Xander the time, and he points out the clock right behind them. She points out the watch he's wearing. Xander shows her the watch, and when Willow can't believe it's right, she confirms with the clock behind her. Finally the doctor comes out, looking very tired. Buffy and the gang await his words.

The doctor was able to find and remove the entire tumor. Barring any complications during recovery, Joyce is going to be fine. The gang celebrates with many hugs, except Giles and Xander, who decide to shake hands instead. Buffy bear hugs the doctor and nearly squishes his innards.

Dawn is spending the night at Xander's apartment. Although Xander tries to say otherwise, Dawn knows she's there so that Buffy and Riley can be alone to have sex.

At the Summers home, Riley and Buffy are slow dancing. Buffy can't believe how relaxed she feels. Riley says it's her night. He's impressed with how strong she's been, and comments that she didn't even cry. She did cry, she admits, which makes Riley sad. Later the two make love. Spike is watching outside the house. While Buffy sleeps, Riley gets up and leaves. He doesn't notice Spike following him to a dilapidated old building.

The next day at the hospital, Buffy is trying to convince Joyce to wear a wig, but mom'll settle for a scarf. Joyce tells Buffy she should go out and have fun. Buffy wants to spend the day alone with her mom to make up for lost time.

Elsewhere, Graham and other military types confirm that a nest of demons is present and breeding in Belize. Graham suggests to Major Ellis that they take Riley (Agent Finn), though it might be difficult to convince him to go. Ellis wonders what reason Riley has to stay in Sunnydale.

Spike appears in Buffy's room, insisting that he has a good reason. He says he's there to help her... but is she naked under her covers? Despite her threats to throw him out the window, Spike persists that it's something she needs to see. After she gets dressed, he takes her to the dilapidated building he followed Riley to. There are lots of vampires are there, but Spike warns Buffy not to slay. Buffy notices that a lot of humans are also in the building. Spike takes her to a room on the second floor where a vampire is sucking blood out of Riley's arm, as he orders her to suck harder.


Buffy and Riley are stunned to see each other. Spike is pleased with himself. When Buffy runs out of the room, Spike taunts Riley, "We're only here because we care about you, friend." Spike goes after Buffy, but then he sees her expression. Despite his protestation, "I thought you should know." Spike realizes what pain he has caused. Riley runs after them, but is stopped by one of the vampires who berates him for leading the Slayer to their place. Riley breaks from him, but doesn't catch up to Buffy and Spike.

A stunned Buffy slowly walks into her room and shuts the door. She cannot believe what she has seen.

Although Riley is disturbed when he enters his apartment, he notices Graham and Major Ellis are there. He greets them with a cheerful, "Get out." Riley's not in the mood to talk, so Ellis orders him to listen. They tell him about the demon nest in Belize — they want him along. They're going to kill demons, not do experiments on them like the Initiative. It's the real deal: high risk, low pay, and the transport leaves tomorrow night at midnight.

Giles is proudly posting a banner in the Magic Box: "Don't forget: the holidays are coming!" and the banner lists several holidays. No longer a victim of crass holiday commercialization, he's now a purveyor of it. As the group talks, Buffy bursts in and demands information on a vampire nest downtown where humans pay to have their blood sucked. Giles and Anya have both heard of such setups, although Giles hasn't seen any since his Ripper days. Humans hire vampires to bite them because it can be a rush. The vampires don't kill the humans because they get cash, hot and cold running blood, and no bodies means no risk of being caught. Giles didn't know about the setup here in Sunnydale, but if he did, he wouldn't have brought it to her attention. Her time is better spent fighting Glory, and the people going to this nest are willing victims. Buffy persists that, "Vampires are vampires, and my job description is pretty clear." Xander suggests waiting for Riley to develop a strategy, but she's going with or without backup.

The building is empty of vampires despite the daylight. Buffy is determined to find them and torches the building in her frustration. Giles and the crew are stunned at her extreme behavior.

Spike is in his crypt drinking straight from the bottle when Riley rushes in and stakes him.

Spike is in pain, but not dust — the stake was plastic. Riley informs Spike that he's knows what's going on with the vampire and his feelings for Buffy, and he warns Spike to stay away, or next time the stake will be real. Spike laughs at Riley's jealousy. Spike tells Riley that even if he weren't in the picture, Riley won't be able to hold on to Buffy. Spike even goes so far as to say the girl needs a little monster in her man, and that's not in Riley's nature. Spike is so aware of what's going on that he even realizes he doesn't have a shot at Buffy, though he figures a guy's gotta try. He tosses Riley the bottle he was drinking from before Riley's entrance. As Riley drinks, Spike speaks of his envy of Riley because Riley actually gets to touch Buffy, to hold her in his arms, feel her beneath him — even though Riley knows he doesn't really have her. "I'm the lucky guy." Riley says with full sarcasm. He tosses the bottle back to Spike.

Buffy is beating the crap out of the punching bag in the training room at the Magic Box after business hours. Xander expresses his concern about her to Anya. "Something seriously bad is going on with her."


Riley interrupts Buffy's training saying they need to talk. Buffy doesn't want to talk unless he wants to fight. "So let's fight." Riley says. He knows they need to have this out, but he doesn't expect her to understand why he let the vampires bite him. He wanted to even the score after Dracula bit Buffy. He wanted to know why Dracula and Angel have such power over her. He wanted to understand her more because she's so mysterious. Buffy can't believe he's putting the blame on her. Riley knows it's his fault. However, the vampires made him feel needed, even if only on a physical level. He knows it wasn't real, but he craved that feeling of being needed. Buffy realizes that she doesn't make Riley feel needed. For Riley, whenever he is around Buffy, the whole world falls away until only she exists. Riley believes that Buffy doesn't feel the same. Buffy keeps him at a distance; she didn't even call him when her mother went into the hospital. She thinks it's about her taking care of him, but this is about Riley taking care of Buffy, so she doesn't have to be on top of everything all of the time. According to Buffy, that's part of what being a Slayer is, but then she thinks that Riley still has issues with her being stronger than him. While he admits that's hard sometimes, that's not what this is all about. Buffy says she gives him her heart and her body and her soul, and she doesn't know what else she can give. He just doesn't feel it. Buffy asks, "Whose fault is that?" Riley announces that the military wants him back, deep undercover, no contact with civilians, and the transport is leaving tonight. He doesn't know if he's going. If they can't work this out... Buffy can't believe he's giving her an ultimatum and becomes angry. Riley challenges her to hit him. When she doesn't, he says that he's leaving. Unless she gives him a reason to stay, he's leaving tonight. Buffy leaves the training room.

Buffy is walking along an alley when the vampires from the nest approach her. Their leader announces that she's not going to shut him down, and she's not going to make it through the night. Then vampires surround Buffy.

Buffy warns the vampires to walk away. When they don't, she fights them all, and handily takes care of all eight of them. The last one is the woman who was biting Riley. Buffy offers lets her go, but as the vampire runs away, Buffy javelins her. Xander arrives and asks her if she needs help. She orders him to go away, but he won't. He says that she's been acting like a crazy person. She stalks into an empty warehouse. Buffy again tells him to go away, because he doesn't know what's going on. When Xander asks, "So you and Riley aren't imploding?" Buffy is surprised and asks who told him. Xander figured it out. Buffy tells Xander about the covert operation and Riley's ultimatum. Xander asks Buffy if she's going to let him go. She says it's not fair, and Xander says who cares about fair; Riley is going to leave. When Buffy asks if she should just beg him to stay, Xander asks why wouldn't she? She says she doesn't know who he is anymore. Xander points out that Buffy has been treating Riley like the rebound guy, but he's the kind that comes around once in a lifetime. Riley has never held back with Buffy, he's risked everything for her, and she's about to let him go because she doesn't like ultimatums? If he's not the one, Xander advises, let him go. Break his heart, and make it a clean break. But if she really thinks she can love this guy, "I'm talking scary, messy, no emotions barred need" — if she's ready for that, she should think about what she's about to lose. From the emotions shown on Buffy's face, it's clear that the message was received. Xander advises her to run.


Riley waits outside a helicopter as its propellers start to rotate. Buffy runs to reach him. Riley keeps looking around, obviously hoping she'll show up, but she doesn't. Riley boards the helicopter. Buffy arrives, at last, just as the helicopter takes off. Riley, resolved, doesn't look down; doesn't know she's there. She shouts to make herself heard over the noise, but to no avail. Riley leaves, and Buffy numbly walks home.

Xander arrives at Anya's apartment, and he tells her in very many words just how much he loves her because, among a myriad of other reasons, she makes him feel like a man. She passionately kisses him.

Buffy tries to walk up the stairs to her bedroom, but can only make it halfway. She sits, forlorn, and thinks of Riley, who is flying away in the night.

Synopsis written by Lori Ann Curley.

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