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PRIMEVAL (ep #4.21)

(a.k.a. Magic 1, Science 0)

Written by: David Fury
Directed by: James A. Contner
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Leonard Roberts as Forrest Gates
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Bailey Chase as Graham Miller
Jack Stehlin as Dr. Angleman
Conor O'Farrell as Col. McNamara
George Hertzberg as Adam
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Lindsay Crouse as Maggie Walsh
Co-Starring: Bob Fimiani as Mr. Ward
Jordi Vilasuso as Dixon

Plot Summary

Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles cast a spell to merge their strengths in order to defeat Adam.

Plot Details

At the ruins of Sunnydale High, Buffy went looking for Riley. Riley, however, was with Adam and Spike. Adam explained that Riley had a chip, but in his chest, not his head. However, it still controlled his actions and Adam was in charge. This was not what Riley wanted to hear. Adam lectured about how both demons and humans have weaknesses. To him, Prof. Walsh was the visionary that understood this. She created Adam and molded Riley to merge the strengths of both without the weaknesses. Spike was not impressed. He wanted his chip out now as a reward for splitting Buffy from her friends. Adam noted out that it might not have been a good idea to split Buffy from the one decoding the disks. Spike went off to rectify the situation.

Willow and Tara showed up at Giles's to get the laptop she accidentally left after the fight in "The Yoko Factor." Meanwhile, Anya went to drag Xander out of bed. He was too depressed from the fight and did not want to even get out of bed. Anya thought he should get over it and told him that she loved him.

Buffy went to explore the cave where Forrest was killed. She found computers and realized that Adam was using them. Meanwhile, Adam took Riley to his lab, where zombie versions of Prof. Walsh and Dr. Angleman helped to create a Frankenstein monster version of Forrest.

On her way out, Buffy ran into Spike. He pretended to be surprised that Adam had been there. Spike let slip that he knew that Buffy and her friends had a fight. Buffy got suspicious and left. Meanwhile, Willow was repeating technobabble worthy of Star Trek when the disks decrypted themselves.

Buffy, Xander, Giles, and Willow met on campus. For some reason, neither Anya nor Tara felt comfortable at the meeting. Buffy said that Spike wanted them to fight in order to split them up and that Spike was working with Adam. The others seemed to accept that. Willow mentioned that the disks said that Adam wanted many human and demon body parts to create more like him. The demons that the Initiative had captured so easily were there to fight the soldiers. Adam wanted Buffy there to fight the demons. This would ensure many body parts for Adam to use. Giles, Buffy, Xander, and Willow discussed how to fight Adam. They had ideas that did not seem to work because no one of them had all of the needed skills. Xander suggested that all they needed to do was combine their powers. To everyone's surprise, especially Xander's, it was a good idea.

Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles marched into Lowell House and rappelled down to the Initiative base. On their way down, Buffy and Willow talked about how they regretted letting other things get in the way of their relationship. At the bottom, they hugged each other and both gave Xander a big hug.

Giles and Xander pried open the elevator doors only to find a bunch of taser guns pointed at them. Using monitors, Adam and Spike watch the four of them being marched to Col. McNamara. Adam was not happy to see Buffy's friends with her. Spike tried to flee, but Forrest caught him. Adam agreed to remove Spike's chip, by telling Forrest to remove Spike's head. Forrest was no match for Spike.

Col. McNamara was not happy to see Buffy and her friends. He had no knowledge of Adam's secret labs and did not realize that taser blasts do nothing to Adam. He also did not believe that anything could happen without his knowledge. Right then, Adam turned off the power and opened the containment cells.

The immediate report confirmed nearly everything that Buffy said. Rather than listen to her, Col. McNamara insisted that Buffy, Willow, Giles, and Xander still be held in custody. Fortunately, he left only two men to do so, which was not enough to stop Buffy.

Willow discovered air ducts and electrical conduits leading nowhere. This nowhere must be the secret lab. The four of them ran through the very chaotic battle before finding a safe and reasonably quiet place near the secret lab. Buffy left to find Adam while the other three blocked the doors with the typical useless items that this group uses to block doors, at least when Tara is not around.

Buffy found Riley sitting and wondered why he did not talk or even move anything other than his eyes. It took a little while for her to notice that Zombie Walsh and Zombie Angleman were in the room. Adam entered and ordered Forrest to kill her. Forrest was pleased.

While Forrest and Buffy beat up on each other, Riley reached for a piece of broken glass and started to cut into his chest. He pulled out the chip just as Forrest, Walsh, and Angleman pinned Buffy. Riley quickly took out the two zombies and started fighting Forrest while Buffy went after Adam.

Buffy found Adam, who enjoyed watching the carnage. She tried to take him on, but she had little more success than before. She did break the arm skewer that killed Angleman and Forrest. Adam, however, had been upgrading and his other arm turned into a machine gun.

Meanwhile, Willow, Giles, and Xander finished their spell. Buffy now spoke with their voices as well as hers. Adam continued to fire at her, but the bullets disappeared Matrix style.

Forrest and Riley were still fighting. Eventually, Riley opened a canister of flammable gas and started beating on Forrest. When Forrest took it from him, Riley ducked behind very light cover as Forrest lifted the canister. A broken electrical wire ignited the gas and blew Forrest to pieces.

Adam either ran out of bullets or realized that they were ineffectual. Instead, he fired a grenade, but Combo Buffy turned it into three doves. Adam started to get worried. Buffy closed to hand-to-hand fighting and beat him up as if he were a lowly vampire. She eventually reached into his chest and removed his uranium core. Adam fell over dead.

Riley caught up to combo Buffy just as she levitated the power core and dissolved it into a point of light. The spell then ended and she collapsed into his arms.

Willow, Giles, and Xander were exhausted from the spell just as a demon broke into the room despite a light table blocking the door. Fortunately, Spike followed it and killed it. Xander realized that Spike did so just to keep them from staking him for working with Adam. Spike did not deny it.

Buffy and Riley made it back to the room. They decided to get one of the exits open and evacuate as many people as possible. Riley led some commandos, including Graham, out of the complex. Col. McNamara tried to do something in the control room, where a demon killed him.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ward made a final report. He concluded that the Initiative was a failure. The idea was good but it did not work. He recognized that lives were saved only because of Buffy and her friends. They would be watched to see if they spilled too many embarrassing secrets, but Mr. Ward did not think that it would ever be necessary to do anything to them. The Initiative complex itself was to be sealed and abandoned.

The Good

The enjoining spell may be my favorite spell in the entire show, and Adam's death is one of my two favorite kills along with the death of the Judge in "Innocence." See Random Commentary below for more on the latter.

The action scenes were very well done.

The Bad

If Buffy's boyfriend can be heroic, then Willow's and Xander's girlfriends should also allowed to be heroic, or at least, make an important contribution. Again, there is more in Random Commentary.

Overall Rank: 11

Action: 9

There was a large battle in the Initiative headquarters.

Buffy and Riley took on Forrest and Zombies Walsh and Angleman.

Buffy, and later Combo Buffy, took on Adam.

Comedy: 1

Anya explained that Xander would not get an interview (un)dressed as he was.

Drama: 6

The characters had to deal with the aftermath of the fight in "The Yoko Factor."

Romance: 2

Judging by the look on Tara's face at Giles's apartment, it looked like Willow built up a lot of tension from the fight in "The Yoko Factor" that she released with Tara in a way that would greatly boost this score if it occurred on screen.

Anya showed herself to be a loving girlfriend rather than simply one with a mutual love of one of Xander's organs.

Character Development: 4

Anya loves Xander and does not merely view him as a sex partner.

Riley had a chip in his chest that, when activated, allowed Adam to control his actions.

Xander believed that he actually was a loser.

Importance: 9

Adam has been defeated.

The initiative is no more.

The characters used a powerful spell, so there will be consequences.

Most Valuable Player: Combo Buffy

The only question about this award is whether Combo Buffy was a single character or if one of the four needed to be chosen. I decided that it was a single character and gave it the clear MVP.

Riley deserves a lot of credit for pulling the chip out of him so he could take out Zombies Angleman and Walsh and keep Forrest occupied. Spike also deserves credit for escaping from Adam and for not getting staked.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Buffy

There are two main competitors for this award. Buffy figured out that the fight in "The Yoko Factor" came about due to Spike's manipulations and the fact that the demons in the Initiative allowed themselves to be captured in order to be part of the demon army in the battle. Xander came up with the idea of combining the powers and abilities of Buffy, Giles, and Willow. Buffy gets the award for actually realizing that her ideas were good. Willow gets credit for finding the secret lab, and Adam gets credit for seeing the flaw in Spike's plan.

Goat of the Week: Col. McNamara

I cannot fault Adam. Like many before him, he was up against a superior opponent. He had no chance against Combo Buffy. I can blame Col. McNamara. He was clearly not up to the job to which he was assigned and would not listen to reason. He let Adam take over under his nose. Most of all, he opposed the one group that could save him—Buffy and her friends. He is a very deserving Goat.

Random Commentary

I do not believe that Buffy would have been the one to figure out that Spike was behind the fight. It is usually far too hard for people in the middle of something to see what is going on. An outsider's perspective is usually necessary. The people who should have figured out what was going on were Anya and Tara.

The way I see it, instead of hiding in the bathroom, they should have left Giles's apartment. While walking home, they would try to talk about anything except the fight until Anya could no longer hold it in and ask why Willow wanted Xander to join the army. Tara would know nothing about that and hesitantly ask Anya if Xander objected to her relationship with Willow. Anya would deny any knowledge of that. Each would then ask the other where they got those ideas. Once they both realized that the ideas came from Spike, they would work to reconcile the group. This would give them something important to contribute even if they were deemed not ready to go into combat.

I understand that, dramatically, the four core characters needed to be the ones who cast the spell. However, they were not the obvious four. Giles and Buffy were essential. However, the paralyzing spell they wanted to cast required an experienced witch. This describes Tara much better than it describes Willow. Furthermore, Anya's demon knowledge would have been more useful than anything that Xander had to contribute.

In many ways, the deaths of the Judge in "Innocence" and Adam in this episode are two sides of the same coin. The Judge understood the supernatural but did not understand technology. A single shot from a rocket launcher blew him into too many bits to ever be put together. Adam understood technology, but he did not understand the supernatural. A very powerful spell defeated him. In various extras, Doug Petrie liked to say that the theme of the fourth season was science vs. magic with magic always winning. These two kills show that neither is necessarily better than the other. Instead, an understanding of both is better than ignorance of one.

I suppose that it is a sign of how tiny Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan are that they could both hug Nicholas Brendon with room to spare.


Adam is as much human as he is demon. Why would he be any more persuasive to demons than he is to humans? I assume that he lied about what his final plans were. After all, what demon wants to die so its body parts could be used to create a Frankenstein monster?

If the whole plan was to cast a spell that would make Buffy nearly invincible, I think that it would have been a good idea for Buffy to wait until the spell kicked in before going into danger rather than going into danger and waiting for the spell.


Adam was a bit of a disappointment. In the second season, with Spike, Drusilla, and Angel; and the third season, with Mayor Wilkins and Faith; we had very interesting villains who were fully developed and complex characters. Adam was neither. He looked tough and was a danger to the other characters, but I was much less interested in him than I was in the previous villains. As I mentioned above, I do believe that he had a good death. Adam leaves the show with one MVP, one Sherlock Holmes, and zero Goats.

DVD Extras

Commentary by Writer David Fury and Director James A. Contner suffers from spending too much time explaining what viewers would figure out from watching the episode and the previous episode without the commentary, but it was still interesting. There are spoilers into the fifth season. Insights include:

Memorable Dialogue

"Demons cling to old ways and ancient feuds, and they're hopeless with technology. Unworthy." Adam
"Not really wanting a lecture right now." Riley
"Disappointed by demon-kind, we turned to humans, smart, adaptive, but emotional and weak. Blind, there's imperfection everywhere. Something must be done. Who will deliver us? Mother." Adam

"You can't go like that. They won't even interview you if you're naked." Anya

"You're a good person and a good boyfriend, and I'm in love with you. Whatever they think of you, it shouldn't matter." Anya

"Spike's working for Adam! After all we've done... Nah, I can't even act surprised." Xander

"Now, if you'll just get this chip out of my cranium, I'll be out of your way, and mind the hairline. I don't fancy fussing with a comb-over once I resume my killing ways." Spike

"All we need is combo Buffy: her with slayer strength, Giles's multilingual know-how, and Willow's witchy power. Yeah, don't tell me. I'm just full of helpful suggestions." Xander
"As a matter of fact, you are." Giles

"I'm full of that good old kamikaze spirit." Xander
"Xander, just because this is never gonna work is no need to be negative." Giles

"Xander!" Buffy
"Oh, wonderful Xander!" Willow
"You know we love you, right!" Buffy
"We totally do!" Willow
"Oh, God, we're gonna die, aren't we?" Xander

"Great plan. That's right up there with duck and cover." Xander

"Buffy, I still don't like you going in alone." Xander
"I won't be." Buffy

"That it? That all you got?" Forrest
"No, she's got me!" Riley

"Broke your arm." Buffy
"Got another." Adam

"You could never hope to grasp the source of our power, [Much kicking, ending in the removal of the power core] but yours is right here." Combo Buffy

"Your heroism is slightly muted by the fact that you were helping Adam to start a war that would kill us all." Giles
"You probably just saved us so we wouldn't stake you right here." Xander
"Well, yeah, did it work? Well, then everything's all right, and we all get to be not staked through the heart. Good work, team." Spike

"It was an experiment. The Initiative represented the government's interest in not only controlling the otherworldly menace, but in harnessing its power for our own military purposes. The considered opinion of this council is that the experiment has failed. Once the prototype took control of the complex, our soldiers suffered a 40% casualty rate, and it seems that 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.

"Maggie Walsh's vision was brilliant but ultimately insupportable. The demons cannot be harnessed, cannot be controlled. It is therefore our recommendation that this project be terminated and all records concerning it be expunged. Our soldiers will be debriefed, standard confidentiality clause. We will monitor the civilians and the usual measures prepared should they try to go public. I don't think they will. The Initiative itself will be filled in with concrete. Burn it down, gentlemen. Burn it down and salt the earth." Mr. Ward

Characters in Peril


The list below contains only on screen kills. It is near certain that the carnage greatly exceeded what we could see. Furthermore, it looked like the same footage of the Initiative floor was repeated several times, so the bodies seen were counted only once.

Departed Characters Remembered

Police and Guns

Buffy and the Law

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on November 26, 2012