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Join Comixology Unlimited to read BtVS comics — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Into The Woods
December 19, 2000


Marti Noxon

Marti Noxon

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce
Bailey Chase as Graham Miller
Nick Chinlund as Major Ellis
Randy Thompson as Doctor Kriegel
Rainy Jo Stout as Junkie Vampire Girl
Emmanuel Xuereb as Vamp
Adam G. as Tough Vamp


After Joyce gets through surgery successfully, Buffy and Riley go home for celebratory sex. When Riley sneaks out in the middle of the night, a lurking Spike follows him to a vampire brothel, where Riley pays to have his blood sucked. Spike wakes Buffy up and takes her to the brothel to see for herself. While Buffy takes this in, Riley is approached by the military to go on a demon-hunting mission in Belize. Riley then tries to explain his actions to an unsympathetic Buffy, and tells her that he's leaving for Belize tonight if she doesn't give him a reason to stay. A lecture from Xander makes Buffy realize what Riley means to her, but she's too late, and can only watch as Riley's helicopter disappears into the sky.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Body Count

Five Anonymous Vampires
Staked by Buffy in an alley.
Vampire Pimp
Staked by Buffy in an alley.
Riley's Vampire Whore
Staked by Buffy in an alley.
Total: Seven
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Dialogue to Die For

Anya: "Maybe we could do a... holiday promotion. One free with every purchase!"
Giles: "Oh, yeah. Dear holiday memories. Merry tykes by the fire, enjoying their new Christmas... chicken feet. "
Willow: "Aw, holding them tight as they fall asleep. Painting their little toenails."
Anya: "That's very humorous. Make fun of the ex-demon! I can just hear you in private. 'I dislike that Anya. She's newly human and strangely literal.'"

Anya: "I'm sorry, Willow. Thank you for making time in your busy life to come in here and get in the way of mine."

Spike: "Sometimes I envy you so much it chokes me. And sometimes I think I got the better deal. To be that close to her and not have her. To be all alone even when you're holding her. Feeling her, feeling her beneath you. Surrounding you. The scent... No, you got the better deal."

Buffy: "Then what? What else do you want from me, Riley? I've given you everything that I have, I've given you my heart, my body and soul!"
Riley: "You say that, but I don't feel it. I just don't feel it."
Buffy: "Well, whose fault is that? Because I'm telling you, this is it. This is me. This is the package. And if it's so deficient that you need to get your kicks elsewhere... then we really have a problem."

Xander (to Anya): "I've gotta say something, 'cause I don't think I've made it clear. I'm in love with you. Powerfully, painfully in love. The things you do, the way you think, the way you move... I get excited every time I'm about to see you. You make me feel like I've never felt before in my life. Like a man. I just thought you might wanna know."

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Riley: "I left reasonable about three exits back."

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  • Xander: "So, what do you wanna do now, Dawnster? Keeping in mind that I won't chase you because I'm old and I'm stuffed full of moo goo gai starch."
  • Xander must have eaten Moo Goo Gai Pan, a Cantonese dish of chicken, mushrooms, vegetables, and spices sautéed together.

  • Anya: "Well, we could play that game again - Life? That was fun."
  • The Game of Life is a classic board game now owned by Hasbro.

  • Anya: "Strawberry schnapps tastes just like real ice cream."
  • Schnapps is a generic name for a flavorful alcoholic beverage made from grain or potato spirits, and flavored with various herbs or fruits. The major American commercial brands differ from true German schnapps in that they are usually heavily sweetened, and have added glycerine as well. Schnapps can be found in a variety of yummy flavors including strawberry, peppermint, orange, butterscotch, and many others.

  • Xander (looking at movie listings): "The chimp playing hockey? Is that based on the Chekhov?"
  • The "chimp playing hockey" bit is probably a reference to the October 2000 movie, MVP (Most Valuable Primate). Kevin Zegers plays a teen hockey player newly moved to British Columbia and discouraged because he ends up on a team of goofs and a chimp which had just escaped from being sold to a Californian medical lab. Apparently a sequel is being made. Yay.


    Anton Chekhov was born in Taganrog, Russia, in 1860. Chekhov practiced medicine all his life, but is most famous for his plays. By 1887, Chekhov was a literary success with his first play, Ivanov. He also wrote, among others, Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, and The Cherry Orchard, which was his last play. He died from a heart attack in Germany in 1904.

  • Buffy: "Are you planning to seduce me, Mr. Finn?"
  • Likely allusion to The Graduate, a 1967 movie starring Anne Bancroft as an older woman and Dustin Hoffman as a college-aged guy. The most famous line from the movie is "Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?"

  • Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Gurnenthar's Ascendance
  • Many religions have a celebration around the time of the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, which falls between 20-23 of December). The few mentioned on Giles' banner in the Magic Box were:

    • Christmas: A Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, on December 25th.
    • Hanukkah: An 8-day Jewish celebration commemorating the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus, the king of Syria, in the 2nd century BC. It begins on the 25th day of Kislev. This fell on December 22nd in 2000.
    • Kwanzaa: Created in 1966 by African-Americans to promote their needs, in response to Christmas, which they felt did not represent them. It is celebrated between December 26th and January 1st.
    • Gurnenthar's Ascendance is made up. Sorry 'bout that folks.

  • Xander (about Anya bathing him): Only in an erotic, Penthouse-y way, not in a sponge-bath-y geriatric sort of—
  • Penthouse is a pornographic magazine published by Bob Guccione.

  • Major Ellis: "We have a Code One in Belize."
  • Belize is a nation located on the Caribbean coast of northern Central America, about the size of Massachusetts. More info can be found here.

  • Xander (about Buffy): "Yeah, when we went to deal with that vampire nest, she got all Rambo and torched the place."
  • Starring Sylvester Stallone as the eponymous Rambo, a mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran, this was a famously violent action movie trilogy consisting of First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Rambo III.

  • Xander: "Dependable? What is he, State Farm?"
  • State Farm is an insurance agency which pushes reliability as its main selling point. Their slogan is, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there."

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  • Listening to Fear

    This episode picks up shortly after the last one left off, with Joyce having gone into surgery for her brain tumor.

  • Real Me

    Anya and Dawn refer to the fact that they've played the Game of Life together, which they did in "Real Me." (Dawn's "you always win" implies that they've played offscreen since then as well.)

  • Shadow and Listening to Fear

    Riley first let a vampire feed off of him in "Shadow," and was seen at what was presumably the vamp whorehouse in the last episode, "Listening to Fear."

  • Season Four

    Riley used to be in the military working for the Initiative. Key episodes: "The Initiative," "The I in Team," "Goodbye Iowa," "New Moon Rising," and "Primeval."

  • The Dark Age

    Giles says he hasn't seen a vampire brothel since his Ripper days, referring to his rebellious younger years, which we learned about in "The Dark Age."

  • Buffy vs. Dracula

    Riley refers to Dracula having bitten Buffy, which occurred in the Season Five premiere.

  • Seasons One through Three

    Riley alludes to Buffy's previous relationship with Angel, who's now in Los Angeles. If you're new to the show, you'll want to read up on much of the previous seasons to get the full scoop on the Buffy / Angel relationship. You may also want to rent or buy The Buffy and Angel Chronicles video set.

  • The Replacement

    Much of Xander's insight into Buffy and Riley's relationship probably stems from his conversation with Riley at the end of "The Replacement," when Riley told Xander that Buffy didn't love him.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • After Spike is staked by Riley, we can see whenever he removes his hand from his chest that there's no hole in his shirt.
          Spotted by Jo.

  • At one point in his scene with Riley, Spike reaches for his wine bottle and starts to open it. Cut away. Cut back, and he's again got his hand on his chest; he then starts to open the bottle again.
          Spotted by Matthew.

  • When we first see Buffy with the punching bag, both her hands are taped. When Riley gets there, her left hand is taped but her right hand is not. There would be no reason for her to untape one in that little bit of time.
          Spotted by Anonymous.

  • Riley didn't tell Buffy what time he'd be leaving (he just said "tonight"), yet she somehow knew it would be at midnight. Has she developed psychic powers? (She also knew that he'd by leaving by helicopter, but there's at least a little bit of logic behind that guess.)

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  • Spike admits (to Riley) that he's got a thing for Buffy.

  • We learn that "vamp brothels" have been in existence for centuries, in which humans pay vampires to suck some of their blood because they find it arousing and/or like the thrill.

  • Though the Initiative is dead, there's still a branch of the army that hunts and kills demons, but doesn't study them. They apparently make their services available all over the world.

  • According to Soap Opera Weekly, the "In Memory of D.C. Gustafson" at the end of the episode referred to Gustav Gustafson, who was the Leadman for the show during Seasons One and Two. During Season Three and half of Season Four, D.C. Gustafson Jr. was credited as the Leadman. I admit to being slightly confused, and can only surmise that Gustav was D.C. Jr.'s father, but went by Gustav for some reason. At any rate, Gustav was apparently a close friend of Sarah Michelle Gellar, and died in November at age 41 after fighting cancer and AIDS.

  • This episode is Marc Blucas' last (for now at least; I have no idea if he'll ever appear again), and he is no longer in the opening credits after this point.

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I'm happy Riley's gone, but I'm not happy about how he left. I am also not happy with Buffy and Riley having sex. (Ew. Riley gyrating. Ew.) I must be the biggest bitch in the world, because I didn't buy Buffy's "I do love, Riley!" epiphany and the race to catch him. Buffy has never accepted ultimatums or rushed decisions and that's exactly what Riley and Xander were proposing. Buffy's turn around was so quick that it took me a minute to catch up. Riley cheated on Buffy, cut himself off emotionally and then accused her of doing the things of which he himself was guilty. I had some problem with the plot development and writing in this episode, and while I am pleased with the ramifications, the execution and resolution of the Riley situation annoyed me to no end. (7/10)
My first review - better make it good. This episode had good parts, like Spike and Anya's scenes, and that fight of Buffy's; and bad parts, like most of Riley's scenes, although he did get some good lines for once. Can't say I entirely disagree with his reasons for leaving, Buffy was taking him for granted, although he was still being a selfish prick (and couldn't he have found a prettier vamp to cheat on Buffy with?). And I wanted to see more of the vampire pimp! Maybe in his own spinoff series or something. I think this episode ultimately ended up feeling hollow because the pathos concerned a character I'm glad to see the back of. (And speaking of Riley's exit, am I the only one who feels Buffy should stop training at that punch bag, and get on a treadmill? She always seems to be too late whenever she starts running for something.) Combine that with the general lack of humour, and you get an episode which I probably won't watch again soon. (6/10)
Jamie Marie:
So, I dig the metaphor for both drug addiction and cheating on a girl/boyfriend. And I have to give credit to Marti Noxon for doing her job — even though it was obvious recently that they were leading up to a Riley departure, and even though I was looking forward to it, Noxon still had me rooting for Buffy to get to Riley in time, and still had me crying when she didn't make it. (Kudos also to Thomas Wanker, badly named though he may be, for the score as Buffy runs to catch Riley.) But, all the same, I'm not losing any sleep over the loss of Riley's character; it had simply gone stale (some would argue that it was always stale, but I liked him at first). Loved the Spike/Riley scene (and Spike's laugh as Riley starts to leave; something about it just makes me grin). Loved Buffy kicking vampire ass. Xander's speech to Buffy — I don't know. I just don't know. After all, Riley's still a selfish little wanker, if you ask me. Buffy's got flaws, but Riley's got bad timing beyond words. Xander's speech to Anya, however, made me melt. But please, Xander, can't you buy Anya some nicer sleepwear? (7.5/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
December 19, 2000 3.2 81 of 123
April 03, 2001 1.8 94 of 133 (tie)

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