Doomed
Written by: Marti Noxon, David Fury, AND Jane Espensen
Directed by: James A. Contner
Air Date: Jan. 18, 2000

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Coming hot of the heels of “Hush”, the start of “Doomed” covers, immediately, the conversation Buffy and Riley start to have at the end of the previous episode. Its strained and no one knows what to say. Kudos, again, for the writing staff for letting us see this conversation. Other shows might have moved right past it and then merely hinted at the things that were said, but it was pretty cool to see it in its entirety. Riley belittles Buffy a bit and Buffy gets everything right about Riley, right out the gate. Its a great conversation and the first time – out of three – in this episode that Riley doesn’t seem like the huge doof he really, REALLY is.

Later, after tracking a demon in a graveyard, Buffy and Riley come against each other at first in a near scuffle and then in a verbal throw down. Riley is now more sure than ever that he and Buffy would make a good couple, but she isn’t having any of it. All of this meeting at night amongst tombstones and punching monsters reminds her of Angel and all the times that she made out with that guy, but it also reminds her of how she gave herself to him and how that whole thing ended. She views a potential relationship with Commando guy as “doomed”, like the title of the episode. Riley, however, does his second non-doofy thing by suggesting that worrying that a relationship might not work is stupid. Buffy doesn’t like hearing her ideas are stupid, ever, so this does not immediately work for her as an argument.

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While all of this Buffy+Riley stuff is “interesting” the fact remains that the main plot of the episode is a horrendous mess of garbage. Some green demons are collecting absolutely nothing of interest (blood, bones, and a talisman) to destroy the world. There are some cute lines about it, like when Giles utters “its the end of the world” and the collected Scoobies stammer out a frustrated “again?!” – its nice that the show is so self aware but, lets be honest here, this is the third time the Hellmouth has been used as a means of destroying the world… the first when The Master wanted to use it back in S1 and then again during “The Zeppo”. Its a tired device. But look at the differences in its use: The Master works his way up to dealing with it all season long the first time. And “The Zeppo” uses the device as a comical backdrop to bring out some of “BtVS” tropes and memes in a tongue-in-cheek way of poking fun at itself. “Doomed” makes it very sloppy. The demons just need to jump into a hole to end the world. How? How does it work? Don’t ask because you ain’t gettin’ told, son.

During all of this, Buffy and Riley bump into each other one more time before the finale in which Riley flat-out tells Buffy that she’s self-centered and pigheaded about things, pushing him away because she has a belief and is unwilling to budge from it. This is something we’ve seen from here in many forms, whether it be about Angel being good in his heart or Faith being a bad guy, even when other characters are trying to find something to redeem in her. Once she makes up her mind, as Riley now knows, she makes it up for good. This exclamation ruffles her feathers and pisses her off instantly, telling him he doesn’t know anything and then shrugging him off, ticked that he got through and saw one of her many flaws. Its a great scene because its the first time someone has really told Buffy off about somethings he is wrong about in a long time and also because we finally get to see a part of Riley that makes him a human character, more than simply a dude with a doofy grin. But that’s the last of that, this episode.

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The other areas of the episode are kinda OK from here to there. Willow laments not having anyone in her life and goes to a party where she tries to flirt with a randomly-showing-up Percy, the jock she was tutoring back in Season 3. He says, behind her back, that she’s still just an unattractive nerd to him and this riles her up more than coming across a dead body which, in true “BtVS” fashion, is a great mix of comedy and drama. Xander, on the other hand, is now dealing with the 85th job he’s had all season and gets told what for, along with Willow, by Spike, a now “neutered” vampire that can’t punch people with his fists, but can still cut with his words. Claiming that the two of them are worthless and only allowed to tag along because the Slayer doesn’t have it in her heart to disappoint them and crush their spirits. Spike, as always, is being a prick, but its all from a place of truth.

Marsters gets to steal a few scenes this episode, particularly when, as pictured above, he says goodbye to Dru and attempts to stake himself in a comically awkward fashion. Speaking of comically awkward fashion, the shirts he has to wear are two parts ugly, three parts hilarious. But its the realization that he can hurt demons that really gets the best of Spike out there, as he punches, kicks, and beats the shit out of the stupid green monsters from the episode. His utterance of “I’M AN ANIMAL!” is pure and true and for a guy that was trying to re-kill himself earlier that day, its a very impressive change. The grand stupidity of the episode ends when Riley has to come clean about who he is after trying to lie about going to a paintball gathering of some kind in the middle of the night. Its funny and doofy. Told ya. Too bad the comedy doesn’t save the stale as hell background plot. Oh well, not a completely worthless episode, I guess.

Episode Rating: 84

Additional Notes:
-Riley asks if he knows Spike and Spike, in the best “American Accent” he has, says that is just a friend of “Xanderrrr’s”
-The demons have no problem killing and draining blood and desecrating bodies but they leave Giles alive. Duh
-Being back at the high school, by the way, is neat. I think we go back there once more before it gets rebuilt in Season 7
-Riley and Buffy, like Angel and Buffy before, have a theme. Its not as good a theme…
-That coffee shop is in EVERY episode. Period. If the characters are ever walking the streets at night, that’s where they go. Even as far back as “Lover’s Walk”
-Everyone in the Initiative think the Slayer is a myth. Buffy proves they are “myth-taken” —- shit, forgot that joke is used next episode!
-Why does Giles even HAVE the talisman?! Duh

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