Riley looks down pensively


Title: Buffy S5.E09 “Listening To Fear” + S5.E10 “Into The Woods”
Released: 2000

Drinks Taken: 22
Vamps Dusted: 10


Follow the whole rewatch here!

I don’t want to just dive in without acknowledging the state of the world right now. While we here at FYA believe in taking frequent breaks to talk about books and TV and movies, we also believe passionately in justice and that Black lives matter, always. We hope you’ll join us in all of it.

Last week, we got a fun flashback episode as we learned how Spike managed to kill two past slayers (and write some really terrible poetry), but we also received some distressing health news about Joyce. Meanwhile, Riley made some questionable choices – or, you know, committed gross betrayals, in his spiraling insecurities over Buffy.

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Season Five Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Willow and/or Tara get witchy with it
Riley’s a drag
Things get uncomfortable between Anya and Xander
Dawn is annoying
Anya loves money
Spike has zero chill around Buffy
The Magic Box has customers

Drink twice every time:

Giles drinks tea
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a callback to previous season shenanigans
Someone uses a payphone
Glory sucks someone’s brain

It’s a rollercoaster of emotions this week as Joyce’s brain tumor gets worse and Riley finally gets exposed for being a wanker.

Dawn cuddles up next to Joyce in her hospital bed, while Buffy holds Joyce's hand

5.09 “Listening To Fear”

Buffy and Dawn are hanging out with Joyce in her hospital room when the doctor comes in to tell them that the surgery to remove her brain tumor has been scheduled for the day after tomorrow. Joyce urges Buffy to go ahead and do her patrolling, but she says that Riley and the others have it covered. Which, of course, means they’re getting their asses handed to them in the cemetery. (Drink!) Willow manages to dust two vamps and saves Giles and Xander, but apparently, Riley was a no-show, because he was too busy letting a vampire feed on him in some disgusting abandoned place that looks like it doubles as a crack house. How does he hide those bite marks from Buffy? Kinda makes you wonder about the current state of their sex life.

Willow arrives at the hospital with a bag full of surprises, including a beer helmet, which is so very Joyce. While talking over Buffy’s missed college tests, Joyce blurts out something odd and out of character, due to the tumor pressing on her brain. As they walk through the hospital hallway, a mentally ill man walks right up to Dawn, muttering gibberish. Ben comes over and shares that the mental ward is overflowing and that the patients who have family are being released, which he thinks is crazy since they need to be watched 24/7. As usual, Sunnydale seems like a super chill place to live.

Willow and Tara are sharing a sweet moment laying on the roof of their dorm, stargazing, when they happen to see a meteor coming down. What was I just saying about Sunnydale? The mentally ill man from the hospital is walking through the forest near the crash site when a worm monster (again with the worm/snake stuff?) with multiple rows of teeth jumps on him and starts strangling him. Did I mention it has arms? The next thing we know, the creature is crawling on the ceiling in the hospital while Joyce has an out-of-character fit about her nurse call button not working. When the doctor comes in, Buffy explains that they want to take Joyce home until the operation. The doctor agrees, with the caveat that Buffy will have to administer meds and check vitals and basically stick with Joyce around the clock.

Riley finally joins the Scoobies as they track down the meteor crash site. It takes them all of 30 seconds to establish that something evil crashed to earth and slithered away to do badness. They investigate the area and find the dead mental patient. They find something really disgusting in the guy’s mouth, that apparently smells really terrible. They agree to head off to do research and Riley says he’s going to stay and examine the body more. Except, he was lying, and he calls Initiative Graham for reinforcements. A short time later, he and three other soldiers arrive by helicopter and Riley shows them the victim and the protein he got from the guy’s mouth. They decide to try to track the creature’s radiation signature with their gadgets.

A mental patient in the hospital plaintively yells at a nurse as she tucks him and turns the lights off for the night so that when the monster slithers him and attacks him, she doesn’t think anything of further yelling. The monster spits slime all over his face and it’s super gross. Buffy checks Joyce out of the hospital and seems a little overwhelmed by all the instructions but claims she can handle it. The slithering monster is hanging out on the ceiling watching them and follows them out. When they get home, they shut off all the lights, because they hurt Joyce’s eyes. Later in the night, they find Joyce in the kitchen trying to cook and not behaving like herself at all, including calling Buffy fat. As they tuck her back into bed, Joyce looks at Dawn and doesn’t seem to recognize her, calling her a thing, a shadow. An upset Dawn runs out of the room and Buffy goes to comfort her. But Dawn has put together that multiple people have now told her that she isn’t real and doesn’t belong.

The gang goes to the university library to look up info on their snot monster from outer space, which I guess isn’t something to be found in the Magic Box collection. Willow finds most of the info they need online, a series of incidents of madmen being “quelled” after meteor crashes. They come to the conclusion that someone (probably Glory) must have summoned the Queller demon. When Willow calls to update Riley, he’s already onto it, since they’ve tracked the radiation to find five corpses in the Sunnydale Hospital mental ward. Willow is worried about Joyce, since she’d been acting kind of insane, but Riley assures her that Joyce is safe at home, while conveniently leaving out that he has some help demon tracking on his end.

At the Summers house, Joyce is alone in her room talking nonsense, interspersed with talking about the eyes staring down at her from the Queller demon on the ceiling, but Dawn has put a pillow over her ears to drown out the noise and Buffy has turned up the radio while she washes dishes and cries.

At the hospital, they discover the radiation signature ends in the parking lot and the demon must have hitched a ride out. When the Major assumes it must have gone home with a mental patient, Riley decides he knows where it must be. Dawn goes into check on Joyce just as the demon has slimed her. Dawn knocks it off Joyce with a coat rack and locks them in the room with it outside before yelling for Buffy. It was honestly kind of badass, especially for Dawn. As Buffy searches the house for the demon, she runs into Spike coming out of her basement where he claims to have been stealing junk. Which, I guess is better than admitting to being her creepy lovesick stalker. She notices he has photos of her right before the Queller demon jumps on her. They wrestle around before Spike tosses her a knife and she kills it, just as Riley and the soldiers arrive.

At the hospital, Ben gets into his car to find one of Glory’s henchmen in the backseat asking him what exactly he thinks he’s doing, and warns him that he’s drawing unnecessary attention where it ought not to be. Ben orders him out of the car and as he leaves, the henchman asks why he summoned the Queller, and Ben says he did it to clean up Glory’s mess, just as he’s done his whole damn life. Plot twist!

The next day, Buffy is sitting with Joyce before she goes in for her surgery and Joyce said she needs to ask her something that might seem crazy. She had this realization that Dawn isn’t hers. Buffy confirms it and also that Dawn does still belong to them and is important and precious. Joyce makes Buffy promise that if anything happens to her, that Buffy will take care of Dawn, and love her, and keep her safe. Buffy and Dawn stand together, with the whole gang behind them as Joyce is wheeled off to surgery.

How many times do I have to take a drink?


Vamps Dusted


Performer Of The Week

It got really dusty in here for a minute. We know SMG always brings it, but shoutout to Kristine Sutherland, who really killed it in this episode, switching back-and-forth from loving mother to batshit rambler, plus having to interact with that terrifying monster.

Monster Of The Week

This thing. Why, God, why?

Riley flies off in a helicopter, staring straight ahead

5.10 “Into The Woods”

The gang’s all together at the hospital, anxiously awaiting news on Joyce’s surgery. When the surgeon comes out, he tells Buffy that they were able to completely remove the tumor, and barring complications in recovery, Joyce will be fine. Overall, he considers the procedure a complete success. Buffy is so happy, she injures the doctor in one of her bone-crushing hugs.

Xander and Anya babysit Dawn at his apartment, filling her full of Chinese food and thinking of ways to entertain her. Dawn shoots down Anya’s Life suggestion since Anya always wins. They consider a movie, with Xander insisting that Dawn get to pick since they’re celebrating her mom’s good news, but Dawn knows the only reason she’s over there is so that Buffy and Riley can boink. Blech.

She’s not wrong, as Buffy and Riley are dancing in a candlelit room, and Riley says he wants to make the night perfect for her, after everything she’s been through. He marvels that she was so strong through her mom’s ordeal that she didn’t even cry. Buffy corrects him that she did cry, a lot, and I’m assuming he’s a little miffed that she didn’t cry with him. Not everything is about you, Riley! But she’s glad to be there with him and they move on to the boinking. But Buffy should really consider closing the curtains or something because Spike is out on her lawn smoking and staring disapprovingly up at the window. While Buffy sleeps, Riley gets up and sneaks out. Spike follows him to the vampire den of iniquity.

The next morning at the hospital, Buffy tries to talk Joyce into rocking a wig to cover up her head bandage, but she prefers a scarf. She worries that Buffy is missing too much school and slaying, and time with her friends to keep her company. Joyce urges Buffy to go out with Riley, but she says she told him to go out with his friends for the night. Riley has friends? I thought they all got killed by Adam or deployed elsewhere.

That night, Spike sneaks into Buffy’s room while she’s sleeping. She makes the usual death threats, but he claims that he needs to show her something before he gets distracted by the fact that she’s naked under the covers. She gets dressed (in some baggy sweatpants that I find reminiscent of the Overalls of Vulnerability) and Spike takes her to the gross vampire den so he can show her what Riley has been up to. She walks in on him shirtless and ordering a vampire to feed on him harder. As one would imagine, Buffy is horrified. As Buffy runs out, Spike seems surprised that she isn’t more grateful. Boys are all kinds of dumb in this episode.

Graham confers with his new commander about a demon breeding hot spot and Graham convinces the Major that they want Riley brought in on this, but that it may take some convincing. When Riley gets home, they’re waiting for him in the dark to make him a job offer to join them in their mission to Belize. They’re part of an army division that’s different from the Initiative in that they don’t do experiments on monsters, they just track them and kill them. The Major tells Riley that if civilian life isn’t working out for him, he should meet them at midnight the next day to ship out.

The gang is helping Giles get the Magic Box ready for Christmas shoppers, and joking about chicken feet, as they do. Anya and Willow get into a little spat that will lead to fun hijinks in a later episode. Buffy rushes in, announcing that she needs to know more about a vamp nest downtown where humans are paying vampires to bite them. Willow is surprised that’s a thing, but Anya says that’s been going on for centuries, that humans get off on the rush. Giles confirms that it can be an addictive thrill and Buffy is angry that he knew such things existed and didn’t tell her. She’s ready to go into the nest, crossbows blazing, despite the fact that Giles thinks there are people who deserve her help more. Xander thinks they should wait for Riley, which is the exact wrong thing to say. When they arrive at the nest, it’s deserted but Buffy sets it on fire anyway.

Spike is drinking in his crypt when Riley barges in to start beating on him. Despite already expecting this to happen, Spike still ends up begging him not to kill the messenger. Riley plunges a stake into his chest that turns out to be plastic woodgrain but promises next time, it will be the real thing if Spike doesn’t stay away from Buffy. Spike tells Riley that he’s not the long-haul guy, and he knows it, or else he wouldn’t be letting vamp trollops bite him. “The girl needs some monster in her man,” says the monster who wishes it was him. Spike goes back to his bottle, admitting that he doesn’t think he has a shot with Buffy, but a fellow has to try. He tosses Riley the bottle and they drink together over being that close to Buffy and still not having her.

Riley goes to the Magic Box where Buffy is taking her frustration out on a punching bag. He wants to have it out, whether she’s ready to listen to him or not. He claims this whole thing started with him wanting to even the score after she let Dracula bite him. They quibble about semantics there. But he wanted to know what Dracula and Angel have over her. The vampire bites made him feel something he didn’t know he was missing. He thinks the vampires needed him, and she doesn’t. Everything he tells her makes her feel worse, about how she doesn’t let him in and doesn’t let him take care of her. They’re not able to come to any understanding when Riley springs it on her that the military wants him back, and he’d be leaving that night if they can’t work this out. Buffy resents being given an ultimatum. She won’t hit him like he wants her to (you are a mess, Riley Finn) and he’s leaving town if she won’t give him a reason to stay. As Buffy leaves, she’s surrounded by the vampires from the nest. She grabs a convenient long pointy stick nearby and takes them all down, including the woman that fed off Riley. Xander shows up, knowing something is wrong with her and insisting she talk to him. She’s uncharacteristically harsh to him, although he doesn’t back off the multiple times she asks him to leave her alone. She even lashes out about his relationship of convenience with Anya. Buffy finally spills to him, and Xander tries to convince her that Riley is her once-in-a-lifetime guy (really, though?) and she’s been holding herself back. He tells her that if she loves and needs Riley, she’s about to lose him and should go after him, so she does.

Riley is waiting at the airfield in a really stupid turtleneck sweater, while she runs to get there in time. He tearfully boards the helicopter just before she gets there. She screams his name as he takes off, but he can’t hear her over the chopper and he never looks down to see her devastated face. Meanwhile, Xander goes to Anya’s and confesses that he’s powerfully in love with her, and she makes him feel like a man, and he just thought she might want to know.

How many times do I have to take a drink?


Vamps Dusted


The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week

Anya: Well, we could play that game again – Life? That was fun.
Dawn: For you. You always win.
Anya: Well… we can make a wager this time. You can give me real money. That would be different.
Xander: And after we teach her to gamble, maybe we can all get drunk!
Anya: I don’t think the bar would serve her, but we could bring something in. Strawberry Schnapps tastes just like real ice cream.

Riley: You actually think you’ve got a shot with her?
Spike: No, I don’t. Fella’s gotta try, though. Gotta do what he can.
Riley: If you touched her… you know I’d kill you for real.
Spike: If I had this chip outta my head, I’d have killed you long ago. Ain’t love grand?

I can’t help it, unrequited love Spike is my favorite. Although, he’s definitely getting a bit creepy with the swiping stuff from Buffy’s house. (But I can’t really be mad, since that pays off hilariously later.) I guess we have to talk about the Riley of it all, too? Like Riley, I never really bought that Buffy actually loved him, so it’s hard to feel much here – other than rage over all the awful things he said in an effort to blame her for his terrible choices. Whatever, BYE RILEY.

Feel free to come disagree with me in the comments, and meet us back here next week, when Meredith will be covering “Triangle” (Anya-centric episodes never disappoint) and “Checkpoint”.

Kandis (she/her) is a proud member of the Austin FYA book club chapter who loves vampires, romance novels, live tweeting CW shows, and Jonah Griggs. She’s not like a regular mom. She’s a cool mom.