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'Buffy' nostalgia recap: Farewell, Riley Finn

Season 5 | Episode 10 | “Into the Woods” | Aired Dec 19, 2000

Farewell, Riley Finn. It’s been nice knowing you, because “nice” is the blandest word and you are the blandest person. Going into “Into the Woods,” I remembered one scene very clearly: Riley, looking all kinds of stoic as he rode a helicopter out of Sunnydale—and Buffy running after him, just a little too late. In honor of his exit, this recap is dedicated to all of his final moments as a member of the Scooby Gang.

  • All the turtlenecks. Riley’s first scene is sitting at the hospital with the rest of the Scoobies, waiting for Joyce’s surgery to end. He’s wearing a hideous green turtleneck, presumably to cover up his shame scars from letting vampires feed on him. I know this episode aired in December, but it’s still Southern California. Doesn’t anyone question why his entire wardrobe is suddenly turtlenecks? Where is he even buying that many? Was Amazon selling clothes already by 2000? Very important questions are being raised by the turtlenecks.
  • Sexy time with Buffy. Before Riley leaves Sunnydale for good, he gets one last night of lusty romance with Buffy. It’s the slow, sensual kind. Sweet, but kind of predictable—so, you know, a perfect sendoff for Riley.
  • Bloody booty calls. Then he leaves sexy time with Buffy in the middle of the night to let vampires feed on him literally right after sexy time. I thought the vampire feeding was a way to cope with Buffy’s lack of emotional connection with him. She was emotionally connecting. Why, Riley, why … oh, who am I kidding? I don’t really care. Do you, Finn? Do you?
  • Hey! A way out. The Initiative are still in town after stopping the gray snot-monster alien. They have a really top-secret, crazy important mission in Belize. Wait, it’s not the Initiative. It’s just the Army, says the scary Army man. And it’s the Real Deal. It’s very dangerous and he won’t get paid much. Wait, wait, wait: Low pay and low chance of survival? HOW COULD RILEY PASS UP A SWEET GIG LIKE THAT?
  • CAUGHT! Buffy catches Riley in the vampire-sucking act, thanks to Spike, who discovered Riley’s dirty little secret while stalking Buffy. He looks pretty shaken up when she walks in on him commanding a vampire to bite him harder, but not, like, that shaken up. Not as shaken up as you’d think someone would be. But then, I’ve never had a lover catch me letting the undead drink my blood for fun, so what do I know?
  • Bad Boy Riley. Okay, Bad Boy Riley is just kind of cute. Like when a little kid pretends to be all grown-up. He marches into Spike’s crypt and threatens to kill him. He says he knows that Spike is in love with Buffy and stakes him with a plastic stake that’s made to look like real wood (he actually explains that’s what it was in his “gotcha” moment with Spike). Spike is all, “Yeah, but even if I weren’t, you’d never be able to keep her anyway.” And then Riley is like (internally), “Brood, brood, he’s probably right.” Externally he threatens Spike some more and Spike plays some world-class mind games with him, explaining that Riley got the better deal because at least he gets to touch Buffy, even if she’s not really there when he’s holding her and will never really love him. And in that moment, Riley decides to leave Sunnydale for good.
  • Confrontation. In a totally un-Riley move, Riley goes to the Magic Box to talk to Buffy about the whole situation honestly and like adults. He explains that he was driven, immaturely, to try to spite Buffy after the whole Dracula thing. To his credit, I think he’s trying to be honest, a little, when he says that he’s trying to see what about vampires allured her so much. He apologizes. He explains that he kept going back because the vampire girls made him feel needed, and we all know Riley is desperate to feel needed. Buffy is having none of it. Buffy gets it. She realizes that he can’t take her being the stronger one in the relationship. She says she’s given him everything and Riley says he doesn’t think that’s true, and I’m inclined to agree with him. They still need to break up and he still needs to go, but I don’t think he’s wrong about Buffy’s lack of feelings for him.
  • The Finn Ultimatum. Riley lets Buffy know that the military wants him back and he’s going unless she gives him a reason not to.
  • Ugh, Xander. In non-Riley news this week, Xander follows Buffy and gives her a big, annoying Xander speech to convince her to try to get Riley to stay. Xander just wants Buffy to end up with Riley because it means that, theoretically, she could end up with him. Riley is the only other “normal” person in the Scooby Gang and Xander is wildly insecure and … ugh. This could be a whole post on its own. Moving on.
  • The memorable goodbye. And that brings us back to the beginning, to Riley in the helicopter, leaving Sunnydale as Buffy runs to get him to stay. I’m just glad for her sake that he never knew she came after him, so in his mind, at least, she still won the breakup.

And with that, farewell, Riley Finn and your closet full of turtlenecks. It’s been real.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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