Primeval
Written by: David Fury
Directed by: James A. Contner
Air Date: May 16, 2000

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This is the best finale episode this season could have hoped for, and before you jump down my throat: I know it isn’t the finale. It just feels like one. So, while this will be an episode I praise quite a bit, go into this one knowing that the following episode – the REAL finale – is actually a better episode in every way possible. In fact, it might earn a rare “Perfect Score” – more to follow. As for this episode, however, it more or less does everything right: it sets a stage; it reintroduces all the players; it presents a grand battle between good and evil; and it has a thrilling conclusion worthy of all the season-long setup. The only kicker is that the season long setup was sparse, full of missed opportunities, and lacking in punch in many places. So what we get here is a wet fart of an ending because the weight of it all is lost before we even get to the climax. Oh well, what we DO get is still a jolly good time.

First we deal with the aftermath of the big fight everyone had over at Giles’ place last episode. Buffy is alone in her dorm, staring at an old photo of the gang, Xander is with Anya lamenting that he may be a loser afterall (despite Anya sharing the news that she loves him), and Willow and Tara continue to dig away at the computer after visiting a hung-over Giles for a brief moment. Its all very sad and culminates in the realization that all of our heroes have been segregated all season, but they are just now bringing that issue to the forefront for the finale, which provides these characters an opportunity to grow and learn and come back together. And who better to bring everyone together than the guy that tore them apart: Spike.

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While hunting Adam, Buffy comes across an all-too-conveniently placed Spike who is constantly taking one step forward and two steps back; he got everyone to fight but that was before Willow could decode the discs he “stole” – so he tries to get Buffy back on track and flubs it up by saying he knows about their verbal brawling the night before, which is impossible. She lets it go and contacts everyone to meet up in an awesome fashion; likened to he shot of them coming together back in Season 1. A plan is formed to join all their abilities and battle Adam, who likely has monsters showing up in the Initiative to make more of himself to take over the world. Soldier parts + monster parts = who cares. Zombie/monster Forrest? If the army is going to be a bunch of dumb jocks that can blow to bits easily, just let Adam try out his plan.

And that’s where the episode falls apart. Between the fight with Buffy/Riley and Forrest and the long decent down that elevator shaft, this episode tries to make grandiose moments happen in the span of a few minutes. Buffy and Willow (and then Xander) have a touching conversation as they repel, but its all resolved so quickly. Both make a point to share that they’ve been so wrapped up in their own things that they lost track of each other, but saying they love one another and hugging it out resolves it immediately. Likewise, Forrest becoming a monster hybrid and evil just wraps up his whole “I’m the best Riley, please make out with me” so quickly, and the ham-fisted acting is bad and cheesy, and not in a good way. His presence is only there to give emotional weight to Riley’s dilemma of being confused about his purpose, but his emotional connection to this dude has been questionable since the start, seeing as they’ve never seen eye-to-eye all season. Its all dumb and indicative of the whole season – a lot of good ideas with poor follow-through.

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Thankfully the fights are all pretty damned good, starting with the verbal throw down between Buffy and the General (“What is this?” “A Magic Gourd”) to the dash across a battlefield of military men and monsters in slow motion, and the eventual beat down of Adam. Its all very fun. Aside from the lame fight between Riley and Forrest, anyhow. But none of us came for that. We came to see Buffy go full Matrix on Adam. The increasing worry on his face and in his voice as his fight stops being an assured victory is fantastic, as is the bizarre magic Buffy exhibits, like turning a missile into some birds. Tapping into this power will have repercussions for seasons to come, but here, it shows how far the group has come since the early days. And as Buffy pulls Adam’s heart out of his chest, we say goodbye to the lamest “Big Bad” the show will ever have.

It all ends so spectacularly against a voice-over from some head dude in Washington as he states the Initiative was a failure (both as a military group and a season-long arc, if you ask me) with slow-motion brawling, people getting killed, and that General dude meeting his end. If this were the finale, it would be fine. You’ll see I’m going to give it a 75 here in a second. But it would be lacking in the way that makes sense if you’d be paying attention: the arc was never about Adam. It was about growing up. Whedon has said that Season 6’s “Big Bad” is “Life” itself, but I think it started being a bad guy this season, just not in as grim a fashion. Thankfully, we have an actual finale episode coming up that cements that idea into place.

Episode Rating: 75

Additional Notes:
-Stupid tubed-up Walsh. Come on, guys. Come on.
-Riley digging that chip out of his chest was badass:
-But how did he fight Forrest all weak and opened up? Especially since he was wiping the floor with Buffy? Come on, guys.
-Come on.
-Why wouldn’t they just kill Spike?
-Most of the effects are great, aside from the floating Adam-heart
-They are going to fill that place with concrete? I think not!
-Cheesy ass tentacle monster in the tin-foil pit worked for me for some reason!

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