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INTO The WOODS (ep #5.10)

(a.k.a. Bye-Bye Riley)

Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: Marti Noxon
Starring: 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 Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Bailey Chase as Graham Miller
Nick Chinlund as Major Ellis
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Co-Starring: Randy Thompson as Doctor Kriegel
Rainy Jo Stout as Junkie Vampire Girl
Emmanuel Xuereb as Whip
Adam G. as Tough Vamp

Plot Summary

Riley left Sunnydale because he felt that Buffy did not need him anymore.

Plot Details

Of the eight people in the waiting room, at the end of the last episode, six still remained. Tara mysteriously vanished, probably so the episode could save some money, and Anya was probably watching the Magic Box. Everyone else was very tense. The doctor eventually came out, but the opening credits started before he could tell us whether he had news.

He had good news, and there were hugs all around. That night, Dawn stayed at Xander's apartment so Buffy and Riley could share some tender time, or boink, depending on whom one spoke to. Xander suggested seeing a movie, and Anya eagerly lobbied to see a film about a chimpanzee who played hockey.

It appeared that Anya was the most correct about what Buffy and Riley were doing. Their activities were not G-rated, but they were not loud or obnoxious either. They were enough to upset Spike, who was standing outside the house. After Buffy was asleep, Riley wandered outside. Spike decided to follow him.

The next day, Buffy suggested that Joyce get a variety of wigs to cover the bandage covering her surgery incision. Joyce was feeling better and suggested that Buffy spend time with her friends or with Riley. Buffy preferred to spend the day with her mother.

Major Ellis found a "hot spot" in Belize and wanted to move out. Graham suggested that they bring Riley on the team. Ellis was willing and did not understand what would keep Riley in Sunnydale.

Spike entered Buffy's bedroom that night. Buffy did not want to see him. He claimed that he wanted to show her something. He must have been convincing, because she agreed to go with him to a place that appeared to be halfway between a brothel and a crack house. In it, vampires were feeding on willing humans, including Riley. Buffy stormed out with Spike following.

Riley returned home to find Graham and Major Ellis standing in the dark. Major Ellis told him about the emergency in Belize and wanted him to go along. Riley was reluctant to join anything that remotely resembled the Initiative, but Ellis denied that they even remotely resembled the Initiative.

Giles has started a holiday promotion at the Magic Box. Anya complained about a new shipment of chicken feet when they were unable to sell the ones they had. She suggested a promotion of one free chicken foot with every purpose. Giles and, especially, Willow responded sarcastically, which hurt Anya's feelings.

Buffy burst in discussing what she saw the previous night, only neglecting to mention whom she found there. Anya and Giles both knew about such places. Giles did not think that it was such a big deal, but Buffy was determined to take it out. Xander wanted to wait for Riley, but Buffy did not want that.

The place was empty when they arrived except for some furniture and a lit gas stove. Lacking anyone to stake, Buffy tossed the stove, setting the place on fire. Meanwhile, Riley burst into Spike's crypt and plunged what looked like a stake into Spike's heart. It turned out to be plastic. They exchanged some more words before sharing a bottle of booze.

While Buffy was busy training, Riley entered the Magic Box. Anya guessed, incorrectly, what he was planning to do with Buffy back there. Xander tried to herd Anya out. Anya had an idea of something they could do, but Xander had some business to take care of.

Riley tried to explain his actions. He felt that he needed to do this as a response to when Dracula bit Buffy. He also felt that Buffy did not need him and that the vampires sucking on him did. He told her that the military wanted him back and that he would go if she did not want him to stay. She walked out.

In the alley, Buffy found herself surrounded by eight vampires from the brothel / crack house who wanted revenge for her burning their place. They seemed to believe that their numbers gave them an advantage, but she had far too many aggressions to work out. She staked six of them and found herself face-to-face with the woman who was biting Riley. Buffy let her run before Buffy tossed a spear into her back.

Xander approached Buffy immediately after the fight. He said that he could tell that her relationship with Riley was in serious trouble. She did not want to do anything, but Xander thought that Riley was worth fighting for. It took a little convincing, but she eventually agreed and ran to find Riley.

Buffy made to the helipad. Unfortunately, she arrived too late. His helicopter already took off and he did not even look down to see her calling to him. Meanwhile, Xander went to see Anya and told her how much she meant to him. She appreciated hearing that.

The Good

The easy way out would have been for Buffy to catch up with Riley just in time. I have to give the show credit for letting Riley go.

The Bad

Dark Riley does not work that well.

Overall Rank: 100

Action: 5

Riley and a vampire exchanged one blow each in the brothel / crack house.

Buffy staked eight vampires in an alley.

Comedy: 6

Xander tried to convince Dawn that Buffy was not boinking Riley.

Anya lobbied for a chimpanzee hockey movie, while Xander and Dawn debated what Buffy and Riley were doing.

Anya and Willow got into an immature sarcasm contest.

Anya started to describe what she and Xander had done in the training room.

Drama: 8

Buffy and Riley's relationship crumbled.

Romance: 8

Buffy and Riley's relationship crumbled.

Xander told Anya how much he loved her.

Character Development: 7

Anya gets very hurt when people mock her ideas.

Willow is one of the ones who mock Anya and does not care that she gets hurt.

Xander was not as supportive of his girlfriend as he could or should be. However, watching Buffy and Riley's relationship end made him realize how much he loved Anya.

Riley felt that Buffy did not need him. He resented the fact that she did not let him help her when she needed it. He also had lingering jealousies over Dracula biting her.

Buffy figured out that Riley was worth it, but too late.

Importance: 7

Riley has left town.

There are growing tensions between Anya and Willow.

Most Valuable Player: Graham

This is a tough one. Xander tried valiantly and might have received the MVP had Buffy reached Riley in time, but Xander was a minute or two too late. Spike managed to get Riley out of the way, but it is not clear if he has much of a chance with Buffy even with Riley gone. Graham gets the MVP for getting Riley back into the military. Dr. Kriegel would have received the award, but he did his work between episodes rather than during this episode.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Xander

Despite everyone's amusement, Anya was the only person to have an idea about what to do with all the chicken feet. Riley figured out that Spike loved Buffy. I am going to give this award to Xander in part as a consolation for not getting MVP, but mostly for figuring out what Riley meant to Buffy and what Anya meant to him.

Goat of the Week: Buffy

There are two candidates. Buffy lost Riley, and Whip lost his brothel / crack house. I am going to give the Goat to Buffy because it was only a matter of time until Buffy found out about Whip's house of ill repute.


Once again, a group of people decided to make a dramatic appearance by waiting in the dark in a character's apartment. The Buffy Trivia Site wondered what would have happened if someone had to urinate and stepped out of the bathroom just as Riley arrived home. My guess is that person would simply hold it.

It is much harder to stick a stake into flesh than it looks on the show. Admittedly, Buffy has super strength, but we have seen others like Giles, Xander, Willow, Oz, and Cordelia stake vampires. The only logical explanation is that there is something about wood that allows it to be easily shoved into vampires. This would not explain how Riley was able to shove a plastic stake into Spike. Nor does this explain where one might find a plastic stake disguised as a wooden stake.


The Buffy/Riley Relationship will always be compared to Buffy's relationship with Angel. Angel was Buffy's first serious love and, in the minds of some people who are not me, her only love. This relationship was supposed to be different. Buffy wanted to see what it would be like to be with a different type of person, one who could go out in daylight and be seen in a mirror. However, this relationship did not work either. Buffy is still young, and she probably has a bit more exploring to do before she finds out what she truly wants in a partner.

This relationship was probably better for Buffy than her relationship with Angel. She did not have to worry about Riley losing his soul or turning evil. Riley could do more for her than Angel could. The only problem was that Buffy's relationship with Riley was less interesting than her relationship with Angel was, both to Buffy and to the audience.


Riley never really left Angel's shadow. Riley was created to be the Anti-Angel. He could have sex with Buffy and remain a nice guy. He could go out in sunlight. He was reasonably cheerful and confident. However, by not having an edge, he was a bit less interesting than Angel. Furthermore, he was tied to the Initiative arc, which was not as good as it could have been. Riley leaves the show with two MVPs, one Sherlock Holmes, and two Goats.

Marc Blucas falls in the category of being a good actor who is overshadowed by the even better actors on the show. He did a good job playing the clean-cut character in the fourth season, but I never bought the darker Riley that we saw in the fifth season.

DVD Extras

Original Script was useful in confirming that Whip was in charge of the brothel / crack house. Otherwise, I do not understand why we have original scripts for mediocre episodes.

Memorable Dialogue

"When I was younger, I used to put my chopsticks in my mouth, like this, and then Buffy would chase me around the house yelling 'I am the slayer! I'm going to get you!'" Dawn
"That's disturbing. You're emotionally scarred and will end up badly." Anya
"No, it was great. She didn't actually stake me in the heart, you know." Dawn
"Buffy's pretty cool like that." Xander

"We have to see the chimp playing hockey. That's hilarious. The ice is so slippery, and monkeys are all irrational. We have to see this." Anya

"I'm only sleeping over here so Buffy and Riley can boink." Dawn
"No, that's not it at all. They just need time to be tender, relax." Xander
"He's not very convincing, is he?" Anya
"Alone time always translates into 'get Dawn out of the house, so we can have loud, obnoxious sex.'" Dawn
"Oh, does that mean we can't?" Anya

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't have a good reason. As usual, I'm here to help you, and I... Are you naked under there?" Spike
"Get out." Buffy
"No, I'm serious. I mean, not about the naked part." Spike

"No longer a victim of crass holiday commercialization, I'm a purveyor of it." Giles

"Maybe we could do a holiday promotion: one free [chicken foot] with every purchase." Anya
"Oh, yeah, dear holiday memories, merry tykes by the fire enjoying their new Christmas chicken feet." Giles
"Aw, holding them tight as they fall asleep, painting their little toenails." Willow
"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." Anya
"Anya, play nice." Xander
"You know, fine, take her side instead of mine, even though I'm the one who sleeps with you and feeds you, bathes you." Anya
"She bathes you?" Willow
"Only in an erotic, Penthousey way, not in a sponge-bathy, geriatric sort..." Xander
"Please, stop. I beg of you." Giles

"You may have noticed, Spike. I left reasonable about three exits back." Riley

"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." Spike

"A little after-hours hanky-panky in the training room, huh? Xander and I could tell you some stories." Anya
"Not now, let's go, Anya." Xander
"There's a funny thing with the vaulting horse that you could..." Anya
"Anya!" Xander
"What? He started it." Anya

"If you don't wanna hear what I have to say, I'll shut up right now." Xander
"Good, because I don't." Buffy
"I lied." Xander

"You've been treating Riley like the rebound guy when he's the one that comes along once in a lifetime. He's never held back with you. He's risked everything, and you're about to let him fly because you don't like ultimatums? If he's not the guy, if what he needs from you just isn't there, let him go. Break his heart, and make it a clean break. But if you really think you can love this guy—I'm talking scary, messy, no emotions barred need—if you're ready for that, think about what you're about to lose." Xander

"I 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. They way you think. They 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." Xander

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

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 29, 2012