You are viewing gabrielleabelle

Previous Entry | Next Entry

vamp willow 3
I'm using this icon because it has Sandy. See what I did there?

I've been rewatching S5 and just finished Into the Woods. Predictably, I have some disconnected Buffy/Riley thoughts for you guys. :)

- I think Riley's issues are less about Buffy and her supposed emotional shut-downedness and more about his insecurity as compared to Angel. It goes back to his behavior in The Yoko Factor, which was over-the-top and horribly irrational (assuming that Buffy had had sex with Angel while visiting him in LA). Buffy vs Dracula adds to this with the vampire bite-y thing. Then Out of My Mind manages to cement things as Riley becomes Completely Normal Dude, which he's convinced is not good enough for Buffy.

What's more, Riley's acting out begins before Joyce's illness really kicks into full gear. As early as Family, we're shown Riley at Willy's Bar. The bartender comments that he's been going there "night after night". Riley's seeking out vampires is more related to his own sense of inadequacy than his perception of Buffy being shut down.



- Speaking of that, I'm kinda thinking that we're supposed to think Riley is being unreasonable to some degree. In Into the Woods, he looks hurt because Buffy turns away from him in her sleep. No, really. The woman shifts position while snoozing and Riley takes it as a sign she doesn't want him. That's...silly.

But as Riley tells Spike, he "left reasonable about three exits back".

- Tied into Riley's insecurity as compared to Angel is Riley's desire for his relationship with Buffy to be more...histrionic? Insane? Upset-making? Dawn comments that Buffy doesn't cry about him everyday (as she did with Angel), and Riley takes this as a bad thing. He doesn't recognize that...that isn't a good type of relationship to have.

- As Riley is self-destructing, he's also completely overlooking that Buffy does need him. While her mom's sick, she makes several comments about depending on Riley to help her friends patrol. We see that Riley ditches them in favor of suck-jobs from vamps (beginning of Listening to Fear). She also depends on him - in Shadow - to watch Dawn while she does Slayer stuff. And immediately after her mom's successful surgery, she sends Dawn away to have a night with Riley. During that night, she emotionally confides to him about how upset she'd been during the ordeal. Riley hears about how she didn't cry in front of him and completely overlooks the fact that she's...opening up to him at that very moment.

- Riley tells Buffy, in Into the Woods, that being Joe Normal isn't enough for her. I disagree. Buffy seems perfectly content with their relationship - and with Riley. It's Riley who can't handle being Joe Normal. He's also convinced himself - since as early as The Yoko Factor - that Buffy won't be happy with him unless he's fang-y. He's been given little actual reason to believe this, but the conviction makes him lose all sense of reason and he ends up going off the deep end because of it.

- Riley's story in S5 is ultimately about the effect that the Slaying world can have on a Joe Normal guy. He's a fairly average person thrown into a world of superpowered beings and magic. He feels inadequate compared to everything, despite numerous reassurances from his superpowered girlfriend that it doesn't matter to her. This inadequacy eventually drives him to bail.

- In joining the military again, Riley allows himself to still enjoy the danger of the supernatural world (The major in ITW describes it as: "High risk, low pay, and seriously messy") while also being among a group of non-superpowered humans. In other words, he won't be "the normal guy". He'll be the competent soldier, along with everybody else.

- It's no wonder, then, that Xander - the other Joe Normal guy of the group - sympathizes with Riley.

- I'll say this for Riley. In Into the Woods, he didn't initially bring up the military wanting him back as an ultimatum. It seems that he was letting Buffy know of the situation they were in. Buffy took it as an ultimatum and railed against it. That's when Riley followed her lead and actually made it an ultimatum.

Let me quote the transcript so you all can have that on hand when you disagree with me. :)

*

RILEY: They want me back, Buffy ... the military. (Buffy looks up in shock) It's deep undercover, no contact with civilians. Transport's leaving tonight.
BUFFY: Tonight? When were you gonna tell me about this?
RILEY: I'm telling you now.
BUFFY: Are you going?
RILEY: I don't know. If we can't work this out...
BUFFY: Then what? This is goodbye? (Riley shrugs. Buffy gets mad.) You are unbelievable. You're giving me an ultimatum?
RILEY: No, I'm not.
BUFFY: Yes you are! You expect me to get over it now or you're gone!
RILEY: I don't, Buffy, that's not what I meant.
BUFFY: Well, I have heard enough. (angrily) I will not take the blame for this. (Starts to walk away.)
RILEY: I'm not asking you to. (Grabs her arm yet again)
BUFFY: Let go of me! (pulls her arm away)
[...]
RILEY: I'm leaving, Buffy.
She stops walking but doesn't turn to face him. He turns to speak to her back.
RILEY: Unless you give me a reason to stay ... I'm leaving tonight.

*

Riley sounds genuine when he says, "That's not what I meant." I think he realized that they'd hit an impasse in their argument and was giving her the head's up as to what was going on.

- Xander's lecture to Buffy was still completely out of line. I don't think it's a stretch to say that before Riley's Douche Move, Buffy would have been the first to beg Riley to stay. She pretty much begged him to see the Initiative doctor in Out of My Mind. She adores the guy. However, the Douche Move makes her unsure. As she says in ITW, "I don't even know who he is anymore."

Follow my logic here, peeps: The major obstacle keeping Buffy from asking Riley to stay in ITW is her discovery of his Douche Behavior. Her attitude towards Riley - whatever Xander's assessment of it may be - is only relevant if it mitigates what Riley did. That is, by bringing up Buffy's "shutting down" to convince her to go after him, Xander is implicitly saying that she drove Riley to his Douche Behavior. And that's fucked up.

No cookies for Xander from me on that one. He missed the boat and Buffy ends up shouldering the blame for everything...again.

- I end with the conclusion that the Buffy/Riley break-up was just inevitable. They were doomed from the start. Riley was looking for a feverishly crazed, out of control romance, and Buffy had moved past that need after Angel. I always come back to Buffy's words in Into the Woods:

"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."

They're not compatible. Yep.

Comments

gabrielleabelle
Dec. 12th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
I like your thoughts. I pretty much agree with you. I have such an odd mixture of responses to ITW, I come out not sure what to think. It's such a strange ending to everything that had been going on with Riley up to that point. And you're right in that Xander and Riley successfully manage to shift the narrative such that it completely doesn't match what we're actually shown. Yet it's what we're left believing.

AYW reiterates this by having Buffy apologize to Riley. And then Riley graciously excusing her. Ugh. That's irksome.
mikeda
Dec. 12th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
I saw the "apology" in AYW not so much as a real apology as Buffy being about to say something really stupid, realizing in mid-speech that it's a bad idea, and shifting gears to something safe.
gabrielleabelle
Dec. 12th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
...what?

From the transcript:

RILEY: Wheel never stops turning, Buffy. You're up, you're down ... it doesn't change what you are. And you are a hell of a woman.
BUFFY: (deep breath) Riley, that night... (Riley just looking at her) I never got the chance ... to tell you ... how sorry I was. About what happened between us.
RILEY: And you never have to.
mikeda
Dec. 12th, 2010 08:24 pm (UTC)
I think that she's starting to say something along the lines of "to tell you how much I wanted you to stay". Then she realizes that isn't a good idea and when she pauses after "to tell you" she shifts to a generic apology.
gabrielleabelle
Dec. 12th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
That really doesn't make any difference in my assessment and dislike of the apology.

Profile

will57
gabrielleabelle
The One Who Isn't Chosen

Latest Month

July 2012
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Pretentious Quote

"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."
- the Buddha
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner