Episode Title: The I In Team
Original Air Date: February 8, 2000
“Professor Walsh. That simple little recon you sent me on…wasn’t a raccoon. Turns out it was me trapped in the sewers with a faulty weapon and two of your pet demons. If you think that’s enough to kill me, you really don’t know what a slayer is. Trust me when I say you’re gonna find out.” – Buffy
This week we have another of those episodes which make it so hard to defend this season as Buffy and Riley continue to grow ever more closer, she starts to work more with “The Initiative” as she assists them on their patrols as they set out to capture a Polgara Demon unaware of the plans which Professor Walsh has put in motion. Elsewhere without Buffy the Scoobies find themselves at something of a lost as Xander sets out to support himself selling Boost bars and Willow well its another episode of her generally moping around so there’s that to look forward to.
Buffy’s involvement however doesn’t just effect her old group as we soon see the effect it has on members of “The Initiative” with Riley’s second in command and best friend Forest soon becoming jealous of her, especially as he believes she is taking his place despite being given command of his own unit. Professor Walsh in this episode also gets to show her true colours as she gives one of the quickest villainous turns ever with no real motivation other than perhaps being slightly irritated by the amount of questions which Buffy asks.
While Professor Walsh could easily have been setup as the big evil for the season, it would seem that the writers had other plans for her, as she is in this episode reduced down to the villain of the week status as we are introduced to her Frankenstein creation “Adam” which she is making out of parts of different demons that “The Initiative” have been capturing during their operations. The reasons for this creation are at this point still unclear though we do get a better insight into the unit’s operation aswell as confirming their government funding as Riley reveals that he was recruited out of Special Forces training to join them. Why Professor Walsh is so fearful of Buffy is unclear let alone why she feels that she could be taken out by a pair of regular demons who she attempts to kill her with. Sadly the answers to these questions are left unanswered as she is killed by Adam suddenly skewering her from behind at the end of the episode.
Outside of the Professor Walsh villain turn the rest of the episode is kind of a mish mash of ideas, with Spike finding his new crypt isn’t as secure as he would have liked as he is once more tracked down by “The Initiative” forcing him to seek sanctuary once more at Giles apartment despite the fact he’d rather be trying to get the chip out of his skull so he can return to his evil ways. His plotline in this episode essentially serving to give the Scoobies something to do in this episode as they are essentially pushed to the sidelines, while Buffy goes off an adventure with “The Initiative” aswell as giving us a random sex scene with Riley intercut with scenes of her battling a Polgara demon.
By the end of the episode everything has pretty much gone back to normal, meaning that the only purpose this episode services is to setup the real big bad of the season, aswell as providing a way to push Buffy and Riley onto the next level of their relationship, calling back Faith’s comments about slaying makes you “hungry and horny”, while seeing her wake up the next morning and realising that Riley hasn’t lost his soul or turned into a psycho killer is also nice nod to her first time with Angel which memorably turned him into Angelous.
A forgettable episode at best with Buffy’s betrayal being the only moment of note here, other than Xander’s failed attempts to sell boost bars and Anya’s love of money making its presence known for the first time. As I mentioned earlier though its episodes like this which really make it hard to defend this season.
Next Episode: Goodbye Iowa