Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S04E21 – Primeval

In the twenty-first episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, WHAT?!?!?!!?! If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

Just when I think I get it, I’m a millions miles off the mark.

I thought I felt pretty certain that this entire season’s arc would ultimately be about the identity of the Scoobies as a group itself. I don’t think I’m wrong about that, but I think the events of this episode have left me feeling utterly helpless. None of this should have happened in the penultimate episode. Well, some of it, I suppose, but –

Okay, I’m getting way ahead of myself. But I was shocked at how rapidly “Primeval” moved along, answering questions I’ve had for a while, and taking this story to a very specific point, one which the writers can’t back down from. We learn the Riley was always a part of Professor Walsh’s plan, that she wanted to bring about a new world of powerful demon/human hybrids, and that this meant he, too, had a behavioral modification chip inside of him. That first scene where Adam demonstrates just how much control he has over Riley is unsettling. Riley didn’t come because he was upset with Buffy or messed up because of Forrest’s death. He was forced to. It’s such a fucked up thing for his character because he’s already been dealing with the ramifications of what Professor Walsh had done to him in the past. And now he finds out he had no choice in the matter? OH MY GOD CAN HE SERIOUSLY CATCH A BREAK FOR ONCE.

Given this opening, I sort of expected things to go terribly from here on out. The Scoobies would fall for Spike’s manipulation, Buffy would show up at the Initiative, and she’d go right into the trap set by Adam. I tried to prepare myself. I honestly did! And then Spike ruined everything. Actually, it’s not surprising that Spike arrogantly revealed the whole plan to Buffy, since there shouldn’t be a way for him to know that the group had a falling out. You know, since he’s always off skulking. But before Buffy confronted the whole group with her theory about how they came to fight, Anya was the best? Like, can we talk about her telling Xander she loves him and how happy this made me and how sweet the scene was and it was kind of neat that even before everything was solved, Xander already had someone to help him through this time? For real, I just adore Anya. SHE’S SO GOOD FOR XANDER MY GOD.

I mean, it’s actually fascinating to me how well some things go? I don’t want to ignore how unbelievably ridiculous and disturbing a great deal of “Primeval” is. Like, yeah, reanimated versions of Professor Walsh and Dr. Angleman? Forrest’s reconstructed face? The pure chaos of hundreds of demons let loose in the Initiative? Riley removing his chip with his hand??? HOW IS THIS ALL HAPPENING IN ONE EPISODE, BY THE WAY???

So, given how fucked up this all is, I was actually surprised by some of the lighter and happier moments. I must acknowledge that it’s clear that issues building up over the season are what contributed to Spike’s ease in manipulating them all, but I seriously did not think the Scoobies would get back together until at least the end of the season finale. I think it’s the only plot left hanging in all of season four, but –

Wait, getting ahead of myself again. What’s so great about “Primeval” aside from that thing is the fact that it’s this moment of pure danger and chaos that brings the Scoobies together. Again, it hasn’t solved the longstanding issues from the last year, but it reunites them in a way to highlight just how beautifully they work together. The use of the enjoining spell is a method for Willow, Xander, and Giles to use their individual talents and join them with Buffy’s. I just can’t get over how powerful of a statement that is. One person might be good at one particular thing, but the sheer strength of all four Scoobies at once? It is just so beautiful to me. And while I deeply love Anya and Tara being a big part of this season, I think this needed to happen between the four original Scoobies. It held so much more meaning to me.

And then every expectation I had for this episode is promptly thrown out the window like Russell Winters. What I ended up witnessing with the siege on the Initiative was cinematic in quality, and it was absolutely everything I anticipated for the final fucking episode. The Scoobies apologize to one another at the most inopportune time because when else would they do it? Spike learns that Adam really has no interest in removing his chip, and then Forrest gets a cigarette put out in his eye and OUCH HOLY GOD WHY. I expected the Scoobies to get confronted by the Initiative. I expected them not to believe any of them. I expected Adam to then set loose the hundreds of demons whose body parts he needs, and then I expected complete mayhem. And I got it, beautifully so, and I was so satisfied watching all of this happen. Even if it wasn’t all that surprising, it had this cathartic feel to it all.

It wasn’t until Buffy went into Adam’s lab, leaving her three friends behind to begin the spell, that I knew I was in unprepared territory. Firstly, I was shocked that this confrontation was happening so soon. This is season finale material. What is it doing here? How is Buffy going to defeat Adam and the legion of undead hybrids he has with him? What the hell is that spell going to do? Is – is Riley cutting the chip out of his chest? What is he OH GOD PROFESSOR WALSH HAS A BONE SAW. Why do those creep me out so much??? Oh shit, Riley just ripped out those tubes from Professor Walsh and Dr. Angleman. WHAT A BADASS. Oh damn, it’s time for Buffy and Adam to fight! How is she going to – DID HIS ARM JUST TURN INTO A GATLING GUN WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.

I must say that I think it’ll be easy to look back on Buffy and name the point where Buffy is “enjoined” with her three Scooby friends as the coolest thing this show has ever done. Like, I just stood up and cheered when it happened, and then Riley blows up Forrest and there’s a force field around Buffy and then she can telepathically control Adam and this is the most amazing thing ever and I am just so happy and HOLY SHIT SHE JUST RIPPED THE URANIUM POWER SUPPLY OUT OF HIS FUCKING BODY HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!

They did it. They defeated Adam by literally banding together to form some sort of Super Buffy, and Riley survives, and Spike does, too, and they’re sort of not mad at him? I suppose they might also be so exhausted by the fight that dealing with Spike is like the last thing on their minds. Either way, they did it. And while I am normally not that into summarizing monologues/montages, I actually adore the ending scene with the military and government personnel discussing the failure of what Professor Walsh tried to do. It’s a reminder of the enormous scope of the Initiative, to this season’s examination of harnessing demon energy and potential for government use.

But here’s the thing. It wraps up the plot. Um, I’m pretty sure every plot is wrapped up. HOW THE FUCK IS THERE ANOTHER EPISODE? How is this even possible? I don’t get it, and that makes me incredibly nervous. Did I miss something along the way? Have I been utterly wrong about what this season’s endgame is? Oh, I am so uncomfortable just thinking about this. This might be the most unprepared I have ever been, and I’m straight up embarrassed at the thought of how wrong I am going to be.


Mark Links Stuff

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– Mark Watches The Return of the King will happen most likely on Sunday at 1pm PDT, which is the same as this past weekend. Y’all better break the comment record again.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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4 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S04E21 – Primeval

  1. VicarPants On Holiday says:

    Dude, so unprepared. Hearts forever. Relax and let it wash over you. Resistance being futile and all.

  2. Scarlett says:

    The fact that there is another episode in this season is one of the reasons Buffy is one of my favourite shows of all time.

  3. Sophie says:

    See, what you’re not taking into account here… Is Joss. Of COURSE there’s another episode.

  4. Silverr says:

    And … setting aside that this is penultimate and all …

    This episode is quite possibly my favorite Buffy episode ever. The enjoining spell AND SHE TURNS HIS BULLETS INTO DOVES how that’s for metaphor? and the “Oh, I do speak Sumerian” and Riley saying, “No, she’s got ME!” and that army guy saying “Who ARE you freaks?” at the sight of Giles’ gourd. And Spike’s jaunty badassery. It’s an episode I will always sit down to watch in reruns, even though we have DVDs, because, damn, it packs more into 43 minutes than some “action” movies do with twice the running time.

    Plus – Buffy’s outfit? Her best look ever. :p

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