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  • A different ending for season 4?

    I like all seasons of BtVS but I am not immune to the fact that each of them has its flaws and issues.

    Season 4 is sort of a bridge between the early seasons and the later seasons. It doesn't fit with the others and therefore has to stand alone. It doesn't get the hate other seasons sometimes get but it also doesn't get the love that other seasons often get. Season 4 is like the middle child.

    One of the issues of season 4 is its Big Bad. After Show Reaction used to refer to Adam in her YouTube reactions as the floppy disc monster and although his floppy disc drive might not yet have been totally dated in the year 2000 I don't think it was very scary either.

    I have often heard that Maggie Walsh was supposed to be the Big Bad of season 4 and only because she left unexpectedly they had to come up with a new Big Bad and picked Adam for lack of a better alternative. However, I have never seen that being confirmed by any of the writers, producers, or directors. On the contrary, Doug Petrie stated they planned right from the start for her to be killed by Adam. I also looked up Lindsay Crouse's filmography and can't see anything in the year 2000 that would have prevented her from continuing filming on the set of Buffy. There is one movie listed but it seems she has only got a minor role in it. She even appears in Primeval which also does refute the tale she was unavailable or wanted out of her contract.

    This leads me to question if Maggie Walsh would have been a wiser choice as the Big Bad for season 4. Who could, after all, be creepier than Frankenstein's monster? Only Frankenstein himself (herself in this case).

    But how would this different ending have played out? Or, if you think she would not have been a better Big Bad, who would have been in your opinion? What is your vision for a different (better) ending of season 4?

    flow


  • #2
    I think you bring up a really good point. As far as Big Bads go Adam was more grotesque to me than scary, and keeping Maggie as the antagonist would have made for better story-telling.

    She was very manipulative and had no moral qualms, so she could have used her undercover work and the resources at her disposal to build the kind of hybrid army that Adam was after. It could have been a shadow government agency gone rogue similar to the many X-Files plots to create super-soldiers. Eventually the experiment could have got out of control even with her in charge and left a nail-biting apocalypse scenario in place, but without the weird costume and the speechifying that we got from Adam.

    She already had Riley under her control, which could have put an interesting dynamic into the Buffy/ Riley pairing since he might have been forced into betraying her, and Maggie could have used the chip to somehow manipulate Spike’s behavior, so that would have made for a lot of paranoia and sleeper-agent plotlines. She could have also be interested in tapping into Buffy’s slayer powers to co-opt those for her super-soldiers which would have brought her in conflict with Giles and perhaps even the Council. Even if they wanted the usual Buffy against the Big Bad finale they could have pulled this off by eventually turning Maggie into a more demonic than human entity, perhaps as the victim of one of her own experiments gone wrong.

    Maybe at that point in the series the writers weren’t ready to have merely human Big Bads, which they only got to in Season 6 with the Trio and I guess later on with Willow. That season showed us that having a human Big Bad on a show like Buffy has its own challenges, because she can’t really go up against people. Even the Major had to become a giant snake before she could fully engage, and having Maggie would have tied her hands just as her hands seem to have been tied with the Trio. I think this made some plots in Season 6 so difficult to watch, because they required quite a bit of suspension of disbelief that Buffy could be so off-hand about the threat coming from Warren and his pals.

    Still, it’s a nice thought experiment and it may have improved on the reliance on a somewhat lame character like Adam to carry the story forward.
    Smile, listen, agree - and then do whatever the f**k you wanted to do anyway... (Robert Downey jr.)

    Comment


    • #3
      I'd always understood that Lindsay Crouse had withdrawn and that had made them change their plans, but I have no idea what would have been different about it if she hadn't. It is interesting to hear that one of the writers said she was always destined to have been killed by Adam.

      I've always felt that I like Adam more than most and it might be that Clavus' suggestion they weren't ready to go all out with a human big bad was at the heart of his creation. If they had have been I think the appeal of trying to harness Buffy's strength and power within Maggie's experiments seems a likely possible route. Obviously her interest in Buffy and that desire to control and contain her was used in what we had. To have actually captured her and tried to run some tests to extract her gifts would have been incredibly tense, but very dark. I always thought the moment when Adam comes out and has the encounter with the boy in the woods was when he was at his most sinister and that sense of clinical detachment/experimenting, not seeing the person as being valuable other than for your own purpose is chilling.

      If Buffy had been captured and separated from the others there would have needed to be an infiltration or an escape before the group regathered to then take Maggie down. Perhaps then having to destroy a creation that was a warping of what she felt she had learnt from Buffy but wouldn't have been stable or viable because it wasn't 'real', as well as Maggie herself. The focus on the group as having natural strengths coming together could still have been the contrast to Maggie's butchering of the natural mystical world with science. I'm just not sure they would have been willing to go deeply into a sinister plot that continued the exploration of the genius and madness of human endeavours like that.

      It could have even had some elements of what they did in S11 to it. Even if it had all been under the radar rather than with wider societal awareness.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think S3 where the big bad was human and his little helper a human kinda says the opposite. A fairly significant portion of the bad guys on the show are human.

        Adam was always going to be the Big Bad. Maggie was going to play a larger role, but it was always going to be Adam.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
          I think S3 where the big bad was human and his little helper a human kinda says the opposite. A fairly significant portion of the bad guys on the show are human.

          Adam was always going to be the Big Bad. Maggie was going to play a larger role, but it was always going to be Adam.
          True. It's easy to forget the Mayor was human, him being in politics and all that.

          Comment


          • #6
            But in Season Three, were they actually human like the Trio? I thought by that point, the Mayor was a kind of half the way to a demon already with his impossibly long life. And Faith was a Slayer, which puts her in a different category than Xander.

            From what I understood reading writers at the time and later interviews, Maggie Walsh would have lasted all the way up to the last few episodes - and then Adam would have killed her in a shock twist episode ending. But LC left early due to issues with her experience on the set and unhappiness with the way things were going - and so they gave her the rather undramatic out of an early Adam exit that had zero tension or excitement.

            So much of Season 4 was stitched together in a hurry - the original narrative from the bits and pieces we’ve heard from the writers sounds much more interesting - Xander as a part of the Initiative who puts his military Halloween training to good use while buddying around with Riley, the Oz-Veruca arc lasting throughout the season that would have ended in Dark Willow taking down the Initiative and the death of Oz through Veruca’s hands, and Maggie Walsh guiding Adam’s hand to almost the finale. Adam was always intended to be the Big Bad - but one who was controlled through Maggie. I’ve even read that their final fight would have come from his attempt to be independent and more Frankenstein-like towards his creator, blaming her for his condition. Which would have been much more terrifying.

            But the Xander plot line was cancelled (rumor says due to NB’s various addictions, which were really problematic at that point, but who knows?), SG decided to bail out early, forcing the Veruca season-long plot line into one episode, and LC made the decision to leave the show halfway through the season, creating an empty hole where a Mayor-like controlling force would have been, guiding Adam’s hand. It’s also pretty obvious that several episodes were suddenly bumped up to fill the gap like Faith’s wonderful arc - which almost completely ignores what’s happening with Adam because it was probably intended to be earlier in the season before they knew about Adam. It’s like the First going into “remission” so that they can do unrelated arcs that dissipate the tension of what’s happening. This is one of the slight flaws of Buffy - every season has obvious outlier episodes pitched outside of the season arc that feel more like placeholders and they drain tension from the main season plot line.

            Instead, new plot lines for Season Four had to be devised, like explaining why new cast member Spike could so easily fit into the SG - Clockwork Oranging him did the trick - which was probably grafted from Xander’s original storyline where Walsh is trying to make an army of chemical cyborgs, half-human and half machine. Xander is really the one who was shortchanged in Season Four because his Initiative plot line was cut. I think it would have been really great and I imagine a lot of his reactions, supportive and divisive, was then divided between Riley’s teammates. Not nearly as effective.

            I also imagine that Giles’ rather pathetic arc would have had a much more satisfying resolution if Walsh had stayed since they were setting the two up as major antagonists to each other. Giles could have been pulled out of his shell as her actions became more monstrous. With her death, suddenly Giles had nothing to personally defeat and his character just slowly wound down instead, being more of a reactor than otherwise.

            Comment


            • Stoney
              Stoney commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, you're right. The Mayor certainly had already stepped outside of the human realm in the deals he'd clearly been making for some time.

            • Skippcomet
              Skippcomet commented
              Editing a comment
              I thought "Xander joins the Initiative" was just old fan talk about how he could have been integrated into the season better, not an actual planned plotline. If NB's problems were so bad even then, why wasn't he fired like Glenn Quinn?

          • #7
            Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
            But in Season Three, were they actually human like the Trio? I thought by that point, the Mayor was a kind of half the way to a demon already with his impossibly long life. And Faith was a Slayer, which puts her in a different category than Xander.

            From what I understood reading writers at the time and later interviews, Maggie Walsh would have lasted all the way up to the last few episodes - and then Adam would have killed her in a shock twist episode ending. But LC left early due to issues with her experience on the set and unhappiness with the way things were going - and so they gave her the rather undramatic out of an early Adam exit that had zero tension or excitement.

            So much of Season 4 was stitched together in a hurry - the original narrative from the bits and pieces we’ve heard from the writers sounds much more interesting - Xander as a part of the Initiative who puts his military Halloween training to good use while buddying around with Riley, the Oz-Veruca arc lasting throughout the season that would have ended in Dark Willow taking down the Initiative and the death of Oz through Veruca’s hands, and Maggie Walsh guiding Adam’s hand to almost the finale. Adam was always intended to be the Big Bad - but one who was controlled through Maggie. I’ve even read that their final fight would have come from his attempt to be independent and more Frankenstein-like towards his creator, blaming her for his condition. Which would have been much more terrifying.

            But the Xander plot line was cancelled (rumor says due to NB’s various addictions, which were really problematic at that point, but who knows?), SG decided to bail out early, forcing the Veruca season-long plot line into one episode, and LC made the decision to leave the show halfway through the season, creating an empty hole where a Mayor-like controlling force would have been, guiding Adam’s hand. It’s also pretty obvious that several episodes were suddenly bumped up to fill the gap like Faith’s wonderful arc - which almost completely ignores what’s happening with Adam because it was probably intended to be earlier in the season before they knew about Adam. It’s like the First going into “remission” so that they can do unrelated arcs that dissipate the tension of what’s happening. This is one of the slight flaws of Buffy - every season has obvious outlier episodes pitched outside of the season arc that feel more like placeholders and they drain tension from the main season plot line.

            Instead, new plot lines for Season Four had to be devised, like explaining why new cast member Spike could so easily fit into the SG - Clockwork Oranging him did the trick - which was probably grafted from Xander’s original storyline where Walsh is trying to make an army of chemical cyborgs, half-human and half machine. Xander is really the one who was shortchanged in Season Four because his Initiative plot line was cut. I think it would have been really great and I imagine a lot of his reactions, supportive and divisive, was then divided between Riley’s teammates. Not nearly as effective.

            I also imagine that Giles’ rather pathetic arc would have had a much more satisfying resolution if Walsh had stayed since they were setting the two up as major antagonists to each other. Giles could have been pulled out of his shell as her actions became more monstrous. With her death, suddenly Giles had nothing to personally defeat and his character just slowly wound down instead, being more of a reactor than otherwise.
            Buffy still tried to murder her and it was played as ok. Hell Buffy even made jokes about it and it was portrayed as fine. Whedon said he he didn't have Faith die because he didn't want to make Buffy a murderer but then I guess attempted murder is OK in his book ?

            In the Buffering interview with LC she says the opposite. That killing her off so soon was surprise and Joss pretty much just told her out the blue that was what they were doing.
            Regardless it definitely hurt the show.
            Last edited by BtVS fan; 25-03-21, 11:07 AM.

            Comment


            • American Aurora
              American Aurora commented
              Editing a comment
              It may have been a surprise to her, but not to those working on the show who wanted her gone because of her unhappiness and friction with others. At least that’s what the rumor was at the time of filming.

          • #8
            Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
            But in Season Three, were they actually human like the Trio? I thought by that point, the Mayor was a kind of half the way to a demon already with his impossibly long life. And Faith was a Slayer, which puts her in a different category than Xander.

            From what I understood reading writers at the time and later interviews, Maggie Walsh would have lasted all the way up to the last few episodes - and then Adam would have killed her in a shock twist episode ending. But LC left early due to issues with her experience on the set and unhappiness with the way things were going - and so they gave her the rather undramatic out of an early Adam exit that had zero tension or excitement.

            So much of Season 4 was stitched together in a hurry - the original narrative from the bits and pieces we’ve heard from the writers sounds much more interesting - Xander as a part of the Initiative who puts his military Halloween training to good use while buddying around with Riley, the Oz-Veruca arc lasting throughout the season that would have ended in Dark Willow taking down the Initiative and the death of Oz through Veruca’s hands, and Maggie Walsh guiding Adam’s hand to almost the finale. Adam was always intended to be the Big Bad - but one who was controlled through Maggie. I’ve even read that their final fight would have come from his attempt to be independent and more Frankenstein-like towards his creator, blaming her for his condition. Which would have been much more terrifying.

            But the Xander plot line was cancelled (rumor says due to NB’s various addictions, which were really problematic at that point, but who knows?), SG decided to bail out early, forcing the Veruca season-long plot line into one episode, and LC made the decision to leave the show halfway through the season, creating an empty hole where a Mayor-like controlling force would have been, guiding Adam’s hand. It’s also pretty obvious that several episodes were suddenly bumped up to fill the gap like Faith’s wonderful arc - which almost completely ignores what’s happening with Adam because it was probably intended to be earlier in the season before they knew about Adam. It’s like the First going into “remission” so that they can do unrelated arcs that dissipate the tension of what’s happening. This is one of the slight flaws of Buffy - every season has obvious outlier episodes pitched outside of the season arc that feel more like placeholders and they drain tension from the main season plot line.

            Instead, new plot lines for Season Four had to be devised, like explaining why new cast member Spike could so easily fit into the SG - Clockwork Oranging him did the trick - which was probably grafted from Xander’s original storyline where Walsh is trying to make an army of chemical cyborgs, half-human and half machine. Xander is really the one who was shortchanged in Season Four because his Initiative plot line was cut. I think it would have been really great and I imagine a lot of his reactions, supportive and divisive, was then divided between Riley’s teammates. Not nearly as effective.

            I also imagine that Giles’ rather pathetic arc would have had a much more satisfying resolution if Walsh had stayed since they were setting the two up as major antagonists to each other. Giles could have been pulled out of his shell as her actions became more monstrous. With her death, suddenly Giles had nothing to personally defeat and his character just slowly wound down instead, being more of a reactor than otherwise.
            They are still human. The arguments you make are the same arguments you can make for Dark Willow. "Humans" don't have world-ending power. But the Mayor was 100% human until he became a snake. Same with Gwen Post or the members of the kill squad they send after Buffy and various others.

            I don't read too much into the 'supposed-to's when it comes to all that. We can never really know what was cooked up to fill gaps in all the seasons and what was moved around.

            Comment


            • bespangeled
              bespangeled commented
              Editing a comment
              The mayor's head was cut in half, and instantly healed. I'd say he was definitely not just human before he became a snake.

          • #9
            Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post

            They are still human. The arguments you make are the same arguments you can make for Dark Willow. "Humans" don't have world-ending power. But the Mayor was 100% human until he became a snake. Same with Gwen Post or the members of the kill squad they send after Buffy and various others.
            That's true. But human with some enhanced powers, I guess, like sorcery and the lack of a soul - the Mayor lived far past a normal lifespan even before chewing on bugs . Although the same could be said for the Trio, who also had magical abilities. There was never a season Big Bad on BtVS who was just a normal bad guy human - not even in the comics. I guess that would have been too mundane. Or over-obviously clever.

            Was Holtz from Angel the only human Big Bad who didn't seem to have any enhanced powers at all?
            Last edited by American Aurora; 25-03-21, 01:11 PM.

            Comment


            • #10
              Originally posted by American Aurora View Post

              That's true. But human with some enhanced powers, I guess, like sorcery and the lack of a soul - the Mayor lived far past a normal lifespan even before chewing on bugs . Although the same could be said for the Trio, who also had magical abilities. There was never a season Big Bad on BtVS who was just a normal bad guy human - not even in the comics. I guess that would have been too mundane. Or over-obviously clever.

              Was Holtz from Angel the only human Big Bad who didn't seem to have any enhanced powers at all?
              They need to have power bumps because humans don't have Thanos-snap level danger capabilities. Realistically, there's not a whole lot a straight human can do to be a Big Bad (a world-ending threat). They're going to have to turn into a snake or suck up some Dark Mojo or have the First invade their body or something along those lines. Or in the case of Maggie or the Mayor, they have puppets, but they're the bad people all the same.

              Comment


              • #11
                American Aurora
                Xander as a part of the Initiative who puts his military Halloween training to good use while buddying around with Riley,
                I am not sure if they could have sold that well. The Initiative was a top-secret organization within the military. I doubt you could just join it. I rather assume everyone who was working for The Initiative got handpicked from their previous jobs for the military. Xander just knocking on Walsh's door and applying for a job seems not very plausible. I am aware that they did something similar with Buffy but that was part of Walsh's scheme to kill her.

                BtVS fan
                In the Buffering interview with LC she says the opposite. That killing her off so soon was surprise and Joss pretty much just told her out the blue that was what they were doing.
                It certainly fits with how her death feels on screen. Totally unexpected, coming out of the blue and sadly leaving a gap they never filled. I would not be surprised if it was an on-the-spur-of-a-moment decision by JW that he went through with without having a plan B for the season 4 arc. The fact that LC appears in Primeval (even if it is a minor role) seems to contradict the notion that she was too busy to continue filming on the set of BtVS or that she wanted out for some other reason. She was actually fine to come back for Primeval.

                BtVS fan
                Buffy still tried to murder her and it was played as ok. Hell Buffy even made jokes about it and it was portrayed as fine. Whedon said he he didn't have Faith die because he didn't want to make Buffy a murderer but then I guess attempted murder is OK in his book ?
                A part of fandom considers this not as attempted murder but as a preemptive strike. I do not share the view that Buffy trying to kill Faith was okay but the view certainly exists.

                Apart from that - attempted murder is certainly not more okay than murder but in fiction, it is easier for a character to come back from it. Imagine the AR in Seeing Red would have been not an attempt but an actual complete rape. It was difficult for Spike as a character to come back from the AR as it was and in the eyes of many fans he never did but an actual completed rape would have been the end for him as a character. There would have been no redemption possible.

                Clavus
                As far as Big Bads go Adam was more grotesque to me than scary, and keeping Maggie as the antagonist would have made for better story-telling.
                I agree that Maggie Walsh would have been the most plausible Big Bad of season 4. I don't think you would have to demonize her or to change a lot of the season 4 arc. Just skip Adam killing her and he could alternatively escape and kill the little boy and maybe also Forrest. Following this Maggie would try to cover her ass and maybe to regain control of Adam. She could try to control Riley through his chip or maybe simply through their emotional bond. That would have made for a more interesting internal struggle for Riley. The fight between Buffy and Adam in Primeval could have played out very similarly. In addition, they would have to defeat Maggie first but - since she is human - without killing her. The "Salt the Earth" scene in Primeval could have stayed exactly the same, only with Maggie sitting at the table, scribbling in a notepad and grinning evilly. And that would also explain, why the Initiative hasn't been filled up with concrete. Maggie intervened behind the scenes because she was planning on resuming her experiments someday in the future.

                flow

                Comment


                • #12
                  This is the best season.Who's with me?

                  Comment


                  • Priceless
                    Priceless commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I do love Season 4, it's got some of the best episodes, only let down by The Initiative and Adam.

                  • flow
                    flow commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Welcome to the forum! I do like season 4 a lot. However, it is a tough competition because the other ones are also very good :-)

                  • SpuffyGlitz
                    SpuffyGlitz commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I enjoyed Season Four, I didn't even mind Adam! I didn't realise S4 had detractors until I joined fandom—so I'm with you! And big welcome

                • #13
                  Welcome.

                  I always feel a bit bad saying S4 is one of my least favourites because I think it has some real strengths and I'm one of the rare ones who really likes Adam. But I would put S4 6th out of the 7 seasons. It has some of my favourite episodes in it though and I really do enjoy it. I think really it just goes to show the strength of the series overall. I do have season preferences, but the hierarchy is a pretty flat structure because, for me, no season is bad, they all have gems and strengths.

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Question(s): If Seth Green hadn't left the show early, would (or could) Oz have been part of the enjoining spell used by Buffy and the Scoobies to ultimately defeat Adam? Would/could Oz have been the fourth member of the spell casting, or would he have replaced one of the other three? If so, who? And what "part" of Buffy/The Slayer could he have played? Mind, Heart, Spirit, or something else?

                    Comment


                    • #15
                      Somehow I doubt it. I think it was core four material only.

                      Comment


                      • #16
                        Originally posted by Skippcomet View Post
                        Question(s): If Seth Green hadn't left the show early, would (or could) Oz have been part of the enjoining spell used by Buffy and the Scoobies to ultimately defeat Adam? Would/could Oz have been the fourth member of the spell casting, or would he have replaced one of the other three? If so, who? And what "part" of Buffy/The Slayer could he have played? Mind, Heart, Spirit, or something else?
                        It would have been fab if he had been 'voice'! You could argue that he only spoke when he had something to say, so it could have worked that he'd present as that for the group when in battle.

                        Comment


                        • #17
                          I don't see him replacing any of the other characters. They all make a contribution that is pretty much tied to their individuality and no one else could have fulfilled the same role, imho. However, I do like the idea of an additional "part" and that being the voice. Another option might have been "loyalty" or perseverance".

                          In hindsight, I think it was a better choice to only include those four who have been there throughout the whole seven seasons though. If Oz had stayed for season 4 but still left in season 5 the group aspect of the spell would have been lessened.

                          flow

                          Comment


                          • #18
                            I agree flow that even if he had stayed, Oz probably wouldn't have been part of the spell as a 'part', though it's fun to speculate what the part might have been if he was. If he'd been around he might have been given some role guarding them, securing the area where the spell was being conducted perhaps.

                            Comment


                            • #19
                              I suspect that if Oz hadn't left the show early or been killed to trigger Dark Willow, then I think he'd have been trapped in the Initiative until the finale -- possibly converted in the way that Forrest was.

                              Comment


                              • #20
                                Originally posted by PuckRobin View Post
                                I suspect that if Oz hadn't left the show early or been killed to trigger Dark Willow, then I think he'd have been trapped in the Initiative until the finale -- possibly converted in the way that Forrest was.
                                Oh that would have been a tragic ending for Oz, to have his fears of not controlling himself as a 'monster' realised that way.

                                Comment

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