Episode Title: Primeval
Original Air Date: May 16, 2000
“Xander, just because this is never going to work, there’s no need to be negative.” – Giles
So after a season of up and downs we finally reach the final climatic showdown with Adam…well it would be had the show runners not had the bright idea of randomly making this the penultimate episode instead of the finale. Still after spending most of the season since he was introduced hiding in his lair hidden within the Initiative facility its kind of a relief to know he actually had a plan, as it turns out all those extra demons being captured by the Initiative were infact him pulling his own version of a Trojan horse making for a fantastic climax to the episode.
So last week we ended with Riley meeting Adam in his lair, while the Scoobies where at odds with each other following Spike manipulating them and blowing their already shaky bonds wide open. Bizarrely it takes little time for the group to get over the issues which seemed so terminal for them at the end of the previous episode and waste little time coming up a plan to use an enjoining spell to give Buffy the power she needs to defeat Adam once and for all.
Adam while for the best part of the series has been seen as this invincible presence in the series here finally gets a chance to come into his own, as not only has be now resurrected Forest who we saw being skewered by Adam in the previous episode and not returns as a human demon hybrid, but it seems he has also reanimated both Maggie Walsh and Francis Anglement. This of course gives us a great spin on the Frankenstein mythos as here we get the monster making his own monsters while he also gets to show off a few of his own upgrades as he turns his arm into a machine gun / cannon.
I actually love the idea of the group combining their powers to defeat Adam especially seeing how much of the season has been spent focusing on the group drifting apart, so to have them join as one to essentially give us the Buffyverse version of the Matrix’s Neo as we get the super powered Buffy who can not only turn Adam’s bullets into steam, but his missiles into doves before swiftly beating him down and essentially pulling out his heart with her bare hands.
While the final showdown between Buffy and Adam is happening we also get the equally fantastic showdown between the Initiative and their demon captives whose cells all get suddenly unlocked in a scene which now feels like a test run for the finale of “Cabin in the Woods”. Still these chaotic scenes of fighting provide a great backdrop to the main fight, while also giving us an excuse to see Spike throwing some impressive kicks in super slow motion. While Spike might still be in the grey where his loyalties lie at the end of the episode his part in this final showdown only helps with his progression to joining the Scoobies in a less evil form.
While on the subject of shifting loyalties Riley is also forced to face up to his own origins as another of Maggie Walsh’s experiments, it takes him clawing out his own control chip to really break free of the Initiative and while the writers continue to play up the brotherly relationship between Riley and Adam it still remains an angle which feels under baked and ultimately never pays off the way I think they expected it to do. Riley being forced to battle his former best friend Forest is a lot more impactful, especially when Riley sees how corrupted his mind has become at the hands of Adam and their fight is another highlight of the episode.
It’s strange to think that this isn’t the final episode of the season, especially when everything is wrapped up by the end as Adam is defeated, the Initiative is scrapped (or is it) and the group once more united against the forces of darkness. Still considering the ups and downs of this season I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to see one last curveball from the writers even if it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.
Next Episode: Restless