Buffy and Riley start right in the middle of last episode's conversation...which is to say sitting in awkward silence. Eventually, Buffy correctly guesses that Riley is a commando, much to his surprise. On the other hand, when Buffy comes out as a Slayer, Riley has no idea what that is. The would-be couple both agree to take some time and process things. Then an earthquake hits. Everyone is okay, and Riley is super-stoked to pop his natural disaster cherry, but Buffy is major wigged.
She goes to Giles in a panic about the earthquake, but he believes it's a result of living in southern California, not the Hellmouth. And if it's the end of the world, we might as well party. Willow relays to Buffy that there's a power-outage party going on at a nearby dorm. The redhead goes alone and runs into Percy, who is too preoccupied with his new gal-pal to give her the time of day. Since the lights are out, nobody notices a demon party crasher. One poor drunk kid arranges glow sticks and pours drinks, not knowing it's the last thing he'll ever do. The demon slits his throat.
Willow quickly realizes she's out of place at the party, and feels even more so when she overhears Percy calling her a nerd and 'not hot'. Sad, Willow finds an empty bedroom and curls up on the bed. That's when the lights come back on and Willow discovers she's not alone after all. Lying next to her is the dead co-ed, with an eye symbol carved into his chest.
Bunking with a dead guy can be pretty traumatic, as Xander learns. He arrives home from his job as a pizza delivery boy to find his new roomie Spike... in a Hawaiian shirt. Dryer mishap. The two bicker, with Xander angrily telling Spike that he's not even worth an ass-kicking anymore.
The Scoobies meet at Giles's where Willow relays the night's events. She draws the symbol and Giles recognizes it, citing it as the end of the world. 'AGAIN?!' the Scoobies react. Buffy recognizes the symbol from her patrolling at the mausoleum. She does some recon there and finds the party demon stealing the bones of a child. The two rumble, with the demon getting the better of Buffy and running off with the bones. Riley, also on a recon mission, shows up. Riley says that he wants to be with Buffy, but Buffy can't deal with the pain of a Hellmouthy boyfriend again and says no.
Giles's research identifies the demons as Vahrall demons, an apocalyptic breed. To complete their mission they need the blood of a man (check), the bones of a child (check), and the Word of Valios (no check). The gang splits up to try and find the Word. Xander and Willow stop at the basement so Xander can change out of his stinky clothes, and the friends walk in on Spike trying to stake himself. Spike can't deal with being 'pathetic' anymore. Willow takes pity on him and insists that he tag along.
Buffy runs into Riley again and the two have another spat, with Buffy firmly standing by her answer of 'no'. The other Scoobies' research is a bust, but Spike makes cruel merriment of dismissing Willow and Xander as Buffy's underlings. Things go even worse for Giles when he discovers the Word of Valios isn't a book but a talisman...and it's in his possession. The Vahrall demons show up and knock out Giles, stealing the talisman.
When Giles comes to, he tells the gang the Vahrall demons plan to reopen the Hellmouth which means the gang has to go back to high school. They arrive at the charged remains of their alma mater, and find the demons chanting over a hole in the ground that leads directly to the Hellmouth. Buffy and company break up the party and an all-out rumble ensues. Spike gets cornered by a demon and instinctively fights back. Only this time, his head doesn't hurt. With glee, Spike discovers he can hurt a demon.
The reinvigorated vamp makes quick work of throwing the demon in the hole. The ground rumbles and rubble falls around them. The gang realizes...the demons are the sacrifice. With a good chance the building will collapse, Buffy clears out the gang, prepared to fight the last demon solo. Too late, as the demon dives into the Hellmouth. That's when Riley shows up in the nick of time and attaches Buffy to a rope. Buffy dives into the Hellmouth, after the demon and nabs it. The world is saved. Again.
Buffy and Riley meet up with the gang and Riley has no excuse for his commando gear. He's outed. Riley takes this really hard and broods over it well into the next day. Buffy visits him and assures him it's not the end of the world, and seals that sentiment with a kiss. Score one for Iowa!
Meanwhile, Spike tries to rouse couch potatoes Xander and Willow into going out and fighting demons, for the sake of puppies and Christmas. Oh yeah, baby, he's back.
* 'Doomed' was a fun episode that served to really propel the story forward. Though I thought the whole 'going back to high school' theme was a tad underdeveloped, it was super-cool to see the charred remains of the high school. I could take or leave the grunting Vahrall demons themselves, but I dug their MO. True, we've seen grave-robbing before, nothing special there, but the death of the drunk co-ed was awesome. Such a great ICK factor, with Willow waking up next to the corpse. It was a neat little twist that the Vahrall demons themselves were the ritual sacrifice. But I do have to ding the ep for Buffy's' cheesy-ass Superman swan dive into the Hellmouth.
* Looks like our Slayer is officially Team Iowa. Though Buffy was way to hard on Riley at the top of the ep for lying about his identity -- you did it too, Miss Hypocrite 1999! -- I completely understood Buffy's reticence to enter into a relationship with Riley. Girl ain't exactly been Lady Luck when it comes to romances. A big appeal to Riley was his good ole Iowa boy humanness, and when it's revealed Joe Regular does have a connection to the Hellmouth, all painful memories of Angel come flooding back to Buffy. But at the end of the day, Riley has no inner demons, no soul-in-peril curse, and he proved that his knowledge of the Hellmouth was an asset. While Buffy may not want another Angel, she certainly doesn't want a dopey, danger-loving Owen. Anyone remember him? Anyone?
* How 'bout that Riley Finn, nutting up and fighting for his woman? I like me some ballsy Riley. The moment when he called Buffy on her bullshit and called her stupid was fantastic. While I appreciate Riley's chivalrousness, I prefer this new strong Riley as opposed to doofy Riley. But I guess all of Riley's focus on his newfound courage made him drop the ball on stealthiness. Going paintballing? Sure, Riley, and I'm -- insert hokey American accent -- 'just a friend of Xander's here.'
* Another huge development -- Spike ain't so neutered after all. Thank god, I say. While new, impotent Spike has provided some comedic fodder, I haven't been a big fan of Spike being relegated to annoying roommate status. I threw my head up and moaned to the heavens at the whole 'Odd Couple' Xander and Spike dynamic. And that Hawaiian shirt? I've seen Xander in plain tees before, it didn't make sense for Spike to pick the goofiest outfit. So, I was more thrilled than Spike himself when he was able to punch out that demon. It was a great character moment because it shows that even more than evil, Spike craves violence. Demon or human, it doesn't matter, so long as Spike can wail on something.
* While Spike may not be able to physically hurt a human, he certainly can emotionally. How about that cruel speech he delivered to Xander and Willow? I'm guessing it stung Xander the most, given his new career in the world of pizza delivery. What happened to that construction gig? Did plans on building the new cultural centre die with Professor Gerhardt? Apparently. God, Xander looked terrible in that uniform. Without Anya in this ep to play off Xander, it served to remind me that he really isn't in a good place in life.
* Grrrr, Percy made me so livid. He was such a compelling character last season, with his arc from total douchebag to scared straight diligent student, courtesy of Domme Vampire Willow. But the asshole's barely been out of high school six months, and he's already reverted back to calling Willow a nerd. I really wish he was the dead dude on the bed. The CBS logo carved into his dickwad chest would have looked so good...
* What pissed me off so much about Percy was how hurt Willow was by his comments. The poor girl wakes up next to a corpse and she's more upset about being called a nerd. That's so real to me. No matter where someone is in life or what's going on, if someone says something mean, it sticks. Man, I wanted Willow to bust out the BDSM gear and teach Percy a lesson.
* You know who could afford to be more of a nerd? Freaking Giles! How could Giles, of all people, not know he was the owner of the Word of Valios? Did Olivia literally bang his brains out?
* Can someone please explain the purpose of Forrest to me? Other than giving Riley a confidante, why is he there? He's just a dick, ribbing Riley every chance he gets, and laughing when Graham takes the plush ball to the face -- wink, wink. Forrest is like the kid in 'Adventureland' who keeps punching Jesse Eisenberg in the balls. Forrest officially joins Percy on my wish list hit list.
* It's time for this week's Fashion Slayer award and the winner is...the nerd herself, Willow Rosenberg, for her 'bunny dog walking' tee. I would have given it to Percy's girlfriend Laurie, but what can I say, I like my women hot. Call me old-fashioned.
That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Excited to see new couple on the block, Buffy and Riley? Badass or lameass apocalypse attempt? Psyched that Spike can hurt a demon? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.