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  • Whose fault was it?

    I've been rewatching season five and thinking more and more about Buffy and Riley's relationship. I'm still no riley fan, but I've found myself routing for them during the series of episodes where they start to fall apart. And I've really started to wonder - whose fault was their breakup?

    I think in a lot of ways, the show presents it as if it was Buffy's fault - for not opening up, not letting Riley in enough. And obviously he did bad stuff too, but that was because he was responding to the fact that he loved her and didn't think she loved him back. Pretty much Xander's speech gives that impression the most...but so does the scene between buffy and riley in the practice gym.

    Originally I think I bought into that...Riley was always getting hit over the head with how Buffy didn't love him as much as Angel (per multiple scenes with Spike), how she needed darkness and drama (Dawn's comments near the carosel in Shadow), how she didn't think he was strong enough (Dawn's comment in There's no place like home, and Buffy's reactions in that episode, in Fool for Love, and in Out of my Mind, among others). And buffy obviously doesn't open up to him about Dawn (Family? I think? the scene where kids are experimenting with shortness), doesn't open up to him about how she feels when her mother is in the hospital (Shadow)

    But actually, on this most recent rewatch, I've found myself thinking that Riley is a gigantic idiot! He listens to Spike, of all people, about what buffy wants. He takes dawn's comments, which are actually very innocuous and in the case of the carousel scene, extremely well-meant, and twists them to support his perception that Buffy doesn't love him because he's not dark enough. In that carousel scene, Dawn actually says that Buffy's happier with him, that she's better with him, that dawn is glad Riley's there for Buffy - and he takes it to mean Buffy doesn't love him as much.

    And the thing that I hate most of all is Riley's reaction to Buffy at the end of Shadow. He comes to the hospital to support her, but he doesn't really want to give her what she needs - he wants her to break down and need him. Which is the most selfish thing I think Riley does the entire series, including the weird vamp biting. Because...it is SO not fair to try to make someone's grief be what you want it to be. Buffy had just found out her mom had brain cancer, and she did have to be strong for her mother and sister. For Riley to take that as a sign that she didn't need him is just - ugh!

    So I'm wondering - what do you guys think? I know Riley is very few people's favorite character, but objectively - was the breakup as much his fault as I'm making it out to be? (not that I'm saying it was completely his fault...just mostly!) Or was Buffy pushing-away girl, driving him to it? Or was it no one's fault? Or both?
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  • #2
    I think that it was a 50/50 thing; Riley wanted more and a different Buffy ... and Buffy didn't work very hard for the relation, besides it was the start of her 'normal people don't understand me' period.

    I think that season 4 had two big differences; 1) Riley was somebody ... he was strong, important ... he was more than Buffy's man. 2) Buffy was a normal girl in that season, she was close with the normal people and wanted to be one ... and felt like one.

    When those two things changed, it became harder and Buffy had no time/intention to work harder .... while Riley had nothing else on his mind. He became more insecure with the day, while Buffy distanced herself from him.

    Both were wrong and both screwed up.


    edit:
    But I do blame the writers for what they did to Riley, some of his actions didn't make sense ... listening to Spike, becoming really pushy and going to the vampires ... they wanted him out and did it on a pretty nasty way. Reminds me of Logan in GG, when the end was coming they wanted Rory single ... so Logan proposed out of nowhere, she said no and he didn't want to see her anymore. I love Logan and I like Riley, and those things were both cheap and a big let down ... that wasn't fair to the character (and their fans).
    Last edited by Nina; 15-09-08, 01:08 PM.

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    • #3
      I'm not a Riley hater - and I think that Xander's comments about him being the one that comes along once in a lifetime are very true at that moment in Buffy's life. I do think that Buffy did hold him at a distance, but not intentionally so and Riley did jump the gun at his perceptions of whether she loved him or not. So basically I think they were equal in the blame stakes.

      Riley had that man thing of wanting to protect his woman, and have her rely on him completely - which in most situations is perfectly fine for a relationship, but the problem was that he was dating a woman who could completely stand on her own two feet and it's a bit stupid to expect a woman like Buffy to be "needy"

      And the thing that I hate most of all is Riley's reaction to Buffy at the end of Shadow. He comes to the hospital to support her, but he doesn't really want to give her what she needs - he wants her to break down and need him. Which is the most selfish thing I think Riley does the entire series, including the weird vamp biting. Because...it is SO not fair to try to make someone's grief be what you want it to be. Buffy had just found out her mom had brain cancer, and she did have to be strong for her mother and sister. For Riley to take that as a sign that she didn't need him is just - ugh!
      I agree somewhat to this. Riley is being an idiot, but also just being a man like I said above. He wants her to trust him and break down on him, but he can't see that there is too much else going on in her head for her to do that. She doesn't need him to be the shoulder to cry on, because she has to be strong but she does need him to be there when she relaxes - like when Joyce is given the all clear. She is holding everything inside and the last thing she wants to do is let it all out - she herself says that she feels like all the tension has left her body once Joyce has been operated on, that's when she relaxes. When Riley takes that as rejection he's not being the supportive guy everyone thinks he is.

      He listens to Spike, of all people, about what buffy wants. He takes dawn's comments, which are actually very innocuous and in the case of the carousel scene, extremely well-meant, and twists them to support his perception that Buffy doesn't love him because he's not dark enough. In that carousel scene, Dawn actually says that Buffy's happier with him, that she's better with him, that dawn is glad Riley's there for Buffy - and he takes it to mean Buffy doesn't love him as much.
      I wouldn't think he's being stupid, just confused - this to him is confirmation of what he already suspects, that the passion he feels for her isn't reflected in her for him. It's as if, in his head, everyone around him knows that she doesn't love him, and they're trying to tell him without actually telling him. And he's right in a way, except the part where she doesn't love him. She does, but just not in the way he wants her to. Also, to be fair Spike is right - he can see through Buffy's denial about what she thinks a relationship should be.

      Buffy needed someone completely different to her cradle-robbing-creature-of-the-night boyfriend that she had in Angel, but it was her head telling her that - her heart wanted what Angel (and later Spike) provided - a bit of monster in her man. She herself didn't come to terms with that until much later (season 6/7). I think the events of the Angelus situation in Season 2 affected her so deeply that she couldn't give herself as much as she wanted to. She just can't see it. When she tells him in "Out of my Mind" that she's opened up to him, she's not lying at all but it's only what she believes on a surface level. She's deluding herself about their relationship. Even back then there's a part of her that wants him to be the super strong, dangerous guy and her head is telling her not to think that way - she's suppressing those feelings, so she genuinely thinks that she's become the perfect girlfriend to Riley. If Buffy had met Riley before Angel and never had experienced everything with Angelus - having to send her lover to hell and all that, then I don't doubt that Riley would be the one and only for her. She is at fault because she can't allow herself to get as close to Riley as she did with Angel.

      So, yeah, I think they're both to blame. Buffy for not allowing him to be "the one", and Riley for not realising there was more to it and not giving her time to work through her feelings. Probably Buffy more so though...
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      • #4
        I'm still in episode five with my S5 rewatch and here what I've noticed so far:

        Buffy vs. Dracula

        Riley's confusion about Buffy's obsession with vampires and easily falling under their thrall is the first step in this season to his storyline of insecurity and inferiority.

        Real Me

        Buffy and Riley were totally cute in this episode. Everything is fine and dandy here.

        The Replacement

        BUFFY: Riley, do you wish-
        RILEY: No.
        BUFFY: No? You don't even know what I was gonna say.
        RILEY: Yes, I do. You wanted to know if I wished you got hit by the ferula-gemina, got split in two.
        BUFFY: Well, you have been kind of rankly about the whole slayer gig. Instead of having slayer Buffy, you could have Buffy Buffy.
        RILEY: Hey. I *have* Buffy Buffy. Being the slayer's part of who you are. You keep thinking I don't get that, but...
        BUFFY: It's just ... I know how ... un-fun it can be. The bad hours, frequent bruising, cranky monsters...
        RILEY: Buffy... if you led a perfectly normal life, you wouldn't be half as crazy as you are. I gotta have that. I gotta have it all. I'm talkin' toes, elbows, the whole bad-ice-skating-movie obsession, everything. There's no part of you I'm not in love with.



        RILEY: (grinning) Hey, I'm well aware of how lucky I am. Like, lottery lucky. Buffy's like nobody else in the world. When I'm with her it's like ... it's like I'm split in two. Half of me is just ... on fire, going crazy if I'm not touching her. The other half ... is so still and peaceful ... just perfectly content. Just knows: this is the one. (Smiles a little, continues packing for a moment, then looks up at Xander again.) But she doesn't love me.



        Out of My Mind

        Buffy doesn't want Riley or Spike patrolling with her. Why? Is she more comfortable doing it alone? Both of them are strong and willing to help, way more than Xander and Willow back in high school, so what's the problem? Her "alone" patrols started from S5, from the season Buffy made an interest in learning more about her slayer essence.

        Riley's weird behavior in the training room is the result of the comment Spike made the earlier night about Buffy not needing Riley and Buffy's less enthusiastic features when she saw him at patrol. Both had gotten into him.

        The Buffy/Riley sex scene… Riley really wants to show her that he could keep up with her.

        The Buffy/Riley conversation shows me that he really wants to be strong for her. Not for him. He's doing this to be equal with her because he thinks that's what she wants. And I believe that Buffy really doesn't care about that. Her interests in love and choices in men are not that predictable. I love this conversation. Buffy and Riley opened up to each other and, look, they're still together and they're doing the right thing. Which brings me to the reason of their break up: lack of communication. I can't wait for the next episodes to see how it's gonna go wrong, because now, they're tight again.

        Graham's speech to Riley about being nothing right now. He's the mission's boyfriend, but not the mission. He has no purpose but being Buffy's boyfriend. Love isn't enough and I can't really blame Riley for that. I mean, who wants to be defined solely as someone's lover? You have to have an identity for yourself, not just as a support to some other person. And I think in Buffy's case, she never tried to encourage that in Riley. Buffy, in fact, actually takes away the one thing Riley's good at, by not letting him patrol and take part in the slayage. It seems pretty obvious to me now that he would eventually go back to the military - like Graham says, who wants to be the mission's boyfriend?

        No Place Like Home

        "You can't patrol, Buffy said. She also said you look cuter when you're all weak and kitteny and she'd better go solo or you'll get hurt." Okay, that's not something a man or a woman wants to hear, it's like Dawn saying as clear as the sun at noon: You're useless.

        Buffy's attempt later to make Riley feel useful is adorable, though. But then Riley says this: "Instead of you taking care of me, why don't we take care of each other?"

        This is what I got so far because this is the last ep I rewatched. But I don't believe what some said about Riley needing to be the man who takes care of his woman. So far he did not come off like that, as I presented, he came off as a guy who wanted an equal relationship, not a guy who wanted to be stronger than his girlfriend.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sosa lola View Post
          This is what I got so far because this is the last ep I rewatched. But I don't believe what some said about Riley needing to be the man who takes care of his woman. So far he did not come off like that, as I presented, he came off as a guy who wanted an equal relationship, not a guy who wanted to be stronger than his girlfriend.
          This is also evident by the woman he ended up marrying. Equal relationship, right there.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Nina View Post
            I think that season 4 had two big differences; 1) Riley was somebody ... he was strong, important ... he was more than Buffy's man. 2) Buffy was a normal girl in that season, she was close with the normal people and wanted to be one ... and felt like one.
            Especially in the beginning of season five, I don't get the 'I'm not normal/I'm better than normal' vibe from Buffy any more than I do in season 4 (ie yoko factor). I think the difference between the seasons is that in Season 5, buffy distances herself from her friends/riley because she's overwhelmed by what's going on with her mother and her family in general...which, maybe similar result, but the latter motivation makes me more sympathetic to Buffy in this situation.

            Originally posted by ciderdrinker View Post
            Riley had that man thing of wanting to protect his woman, and have her rely on him completely - which in most situations is perfectly fine for a relationship, but the problem was that he was dating a woman who could completely stand on her own two feet and it's a bit stupid to expect a woman like Buffy to be "needy"
            I don't think that is fine for most relationships! I mean...I'm sure some relationships are like that, but I think there are plenty of non-superpowered women who want a level of equality from their partner.

            I wouldn't think he's being stupid, just confused - this to him is confirmation of what he already suspects, that the passion he feels for her isn't reflected in her for him. It's as if, in his head, everyone around him knows that she doesn't love him, and they're trying to tell him without actually telling him. And he's right in a way, except the part where she doesn't love him. She does, but just not in the way he wants her to. Also, to be fair Spike is right - he can see through Buffy's denial about what she thinks a relationship should be.
            I'm mostly with you there..

            Buffy needed someone completely different to her cradle-robbing-creature-of-the-night boyfriend that she had in Angel, but it was her head telling her that - her heart wanted what Angel (and later Spike) provided - a bit of monster in her man. She herself didn't come to terms with that until much later (season 6/7). I think the events of the Angelus situation in Season 2 affected her so deeply that she couldn't give herself as much as she wanted to. She just can't see it. When she tells him in "Out of my Mind" that she's opened up to him, she's not lying at all but it's only what she believes on a surface level. She's deluding herself about their relationship. Even back then there's a part of her that wants him to be the super strong, dangerous guy and her head is telling her not to think that way - she's suppressing those feelings, so she genuinely thinks that she's become the perfect girlfriend to Riley. If Buffy had met Riley before Angel and never had experienced everything with Angelus - having to send her lover to hell and all that, then I don't doubt that Riley would be the one and only for her. She is at fault because she can't allow herself to get as close to Riley as she did with Angel.

            So, yeah, I think they're both to blame. Buffy for not allowing him to be "the one", and Riley for not realising there was more to it and not giving her time to work through her feelings. Probably Buffy more so though...
            I do see your points here, and I do think they were both at least partly to blame...but I guess I feel like Buffy has a way better excuse? Not only the Angelus stuff, which I think you're probably right about but also is the kind of baggage that in a subsequent relationship shouldn't get excused but should be worked through...but also the stuff with her mother/dawn. And I think Riley should get more of the blame for failing to really talk to her about it...he basically tries a bit in Family when Buffy won't tell him about Dawn, and he tries a bit in Out of My Mind - but they never actually talk about it. He never starts a conversation with I statements or tells her how he's feeling...he basically just gets on the offensive and accuses her of not opening up to him.

            ETA:

            Originally posted by Sosa lola View Post
            Graham's speech to Riley about being nothing right now. He's the mission's boyfriend, but not the mission. He has no purpose but being Buffy's boyfriend. Love isn't enough and I can't really blame Riley for that. I mean, who wants to be defined solely as someone's lover? You have to have an identity for yourself, not just as a support to some other person. And I think in Buffy's case, she never tried to encourage that in Riley. Buffy, in fact, actually takes away the one thing Riley's good at, by not letting him patrol and take part in the slayage. It seems pretty obvious to me now that he would eventually go back to the military - like Graham says, who wants to be the mission's boyfriend?
            This is an interesting point, that Buffy never encouraged Riley to develop his own life - in fact she never really seemed to notice. But it is another moment of a failure to communicate in that Riley never talks about that with her - never tells her that he feels purposeless in Sunnydale, that he feels like she's his only reason for being there.
            Last edited by litzie; 15-09-08, 03:05 PM.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by ciderdrinker View Post
              If Buffy had met Riley before Angel and never had experienced everything with Angelus - having to send her lover to hell and all that, then I don't doubt that Riley would be the one and only for her. She is at fault because she can't allow herself to get as close to Riley as she did with Angel.
              I have to disagree. I am a Riley Hater, but I can still acknowledge the fact that he IS the perfect man, the guy you don't stumble upon so very often. However, I don't believe he was the perfect man for Buffy. Buffy is the slayer, and she doesn't need someone who will sacrfice everything he got in life for her. She doesn't need someone to cry on when her life sucks. Or at least, it's not the main thing she needs in a man. I think Buffy needs a bit of a monster in a man because she's Buffy and because she's the slayer, not because of what she had gotten through with Angelus. I don't know, maybe she even needs to love - to sleep with - her arch-nemesises... ses because they're just that, her arch-nemesises. Maybe it's because it is her way to defeat them. There are million possible answers to WHY she does is. Her attrcation to bad boys can be simply explaind by the fact that Buffy is complicated and twisted like all people are, and a person with superpowers must be supr complicated and twised. Back to Riley - I don't think he was the right guy for her, and I don't think he would have been the right guy for her if she whould have met him earlier in her life, becuase Buffy doesn't need the percfect guy. I think her relationship with Riley was mostly her trying to be a normal girl, to date a nice, normal guy (well, she thought he was a normal guy!), and that's why it was doomed from the very beginning.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sosa lola View Post
                But I don't believe what some said about Riley needing to be the man who takes care of his woman. So far he did not come off like that, as I presented, he came off as a guy who wanted an equal relationship, not a guy who wanted to be stronger than his girlfriend.
                Originally posted by Enisy View Post
                This is also evident by the woman he ended up marrying. Equal relationship, right there.
                I don't think that Riley wanted to be "stronger" than Buffy. He accepted that she was a strong (physically and mentally) woman, but the fact that she was a woman and he's an old fashioned guy and in that respect feels that a woman should turn to a man when she is in pain. I'm over simplifying it here though. I don't mean that she should be subservient to him, very much the opposite. I think partly why Riley found Buffy so fascinating was because she wasn't your usual "girl", but there's the rub. IMO he was brought up in the mentality of respect women and look after them but found it too old fashioned and when he met Buffy he could see that it wouldn't be that kind of relationship. It's hard for him to follow through though. When it comes down to it, his upbringing comes out when he's unsure of himself and this is why he found it hard to understand that Buffy didn't need him when she was going through a difficult time - he kinda reverted back to his factory settings. He wanted to break free of his traditions, but found the chains binding him were too strong.

                By the time he meets Sam though, the experience of breaking up with Buffy and the reasons behind it have cleared his mind a bit and he's ready to accept a relationship that is much more equal. However, Sam is not as independantly strong as Buffy, and doesn't have the emotional baggage, so it stands to reason that it would be easier to fall for her - she's an artist's impression of Buffy. On the outside she's very similar - strong-minded and willful, but inside she's a little girl who wants a man to protect her. Buffy doesn't have that anymore because the last time she trusted a man to protect her he turned into a homicidal maniac who had to be put down like a dog, then when he came back left her anyway!

                Originally posted by litzie View Post
                I do see your points here, and I do think they were both at least partly to blame...but I guess I feel like Buffy has a way better excuse? Not only the Angelus stuff, which I think you're probably right about but also is the kind of baggage that in a subsequent relationship shouldn't get excused but should be worked through...but also the stuff with her mother/dawn. And I think Riley should get more of the blame for failing to really talk to her about it...he basically tries a bit in Family when Buffy won't tell him about Dawn, and he tries a bit in Out of My Mind - but they never actually talk about it. He never starts a conversation with I statements or tells her how he's feeling...he basically just gets on the offensive and accuses her of not opening up to him.
                True, lack of communication is a problem in their relationship.

                Originally posted by litzie View Post
                Originally Posted by Sosa lola
                Graham's speech to Riley about being nothing right now. He's the mission's boyfriend, but not the mission. He has no purpose but being Buffy's boyfriend. Love isn't enough and I can't really blame Riley for that. I mean, who wants to be defined solely as someone's lover? You have to have an identity for yourself, not just as a support to some other person. And I think in Buffy's case, she never tried to encourage that in Riley. Buffy, in fact, actually takes away the one thing Riley's good at, by not letting him patrol and take part in the slayage. It seems pretty obvious to me now that he would eventually go back to the military - like Graham says, who wants to be the mission's boyfriend?
                This is an interesting point, that Buffy never encouraged Riley to develop his own life - in fact she never really seemed to notice. But it is another moment of a failure to communicate in that Riley never talks about that with her - never tells her that he feels purposeless in Sunnydale, that he feels like she's his only reason for being there.
                I hadn't really thought about this, and I agree that Buffy never encouraging him to be anything more than her boyfriend is a serious failing on her part. Riley has his own brain though. Did he want to do something else, or was he just content being the mission's boyfriend? I don't think he had really thought about it until it was pointed out to him, and it was just another nail in the coffin of their relationship that was residing in his head. I'm not certain but that quote from Graham is from Out Of My Mind? It's several weeks later that he decides to go off with the military, so it took him that long to decide that things with Buffy weren't going to work out and he'd better find something else to do (again I'm simplifying), so I think that's indicative that Riley was content to be by Buffy's side without any thought for himself, so maybe Buffy's not all to blame?

                Originally posted by NancyBoy View Post
                I have to disagree. I am a Riley Hater, but I can still acknowledge the fact that he IS the perfect man, the guy you don't stumble upon so very often. However, I don't believe he was the perfect man for Buffy. Buffy is the slayer, and she doesn't need someone who will sacrfice everything he got in life for her. She doesn't need someone to cry on when her life sucks. Or at least, it's not the main thing she needs in a man. I think Buffy needs a bit of a monster in a man because she's Buffy and because she's the slayer, not because of what she had gotten through with Angelus. I don't know, maybe she even needs to love - to sleep with - her arch-nemesises... ses because they're just that, her arch-nemesises. Maybe it's because it is her way to defeat them. There are million possible answers to WHY she does is. Her attrcation to bad boys can be simply explaind by the fact that Buffy is complicated and twisted like all people are, and a person with superpowers must be supr complicated and twised. Back to Riley - I don't think he was the right guy for her, and I don't think he would have been the right guy for her if she whould have met him earlier in her life, becuase Buffy doesn't need the percfect guy. I think her relationship with Riley was mostly her trying to be a normal girl, to date a nice, normal guy (well, she thought he was a normal guy!), and that's why it was doomed from the very beginning.
                Maybe if Buffy had never been the slayer she may have been the type to go for "bad boys" and that was one of the reasons she was attracted to Angel in the first place (or at least after she'd found out he was a vampire). So maybe you're right that Riley wouldn't have been the perfect guy for her if she hadn't been "burned with Angel", but I do think the relationship would've stood more chance if those things hadn't happened in her past. I'm not sure I buy the theory that as a slayer she needs to be surrounded with the dark in order to be good at her job (at least I think that's what you're implying). There's a certain amount of darkness that comes with the territory, sure, but I think that, if anything, the series shows that Buffy chose that with her own free will. The constant comparison with Faith in S3 IMO makes that quite clear. Faith can see that Buffy wants to be dark, but is repressing it and hates to see Faith embrace it so easily. In the later seasons, as Buffy matures, she accepts that she's attracted to the dark and the consequences of those choices are clear in her relationship with Spike
                (season 8 stuff)
                Spoiler:
                and further on into S8 and the greyness with which she's handling things

                So yes, Riley is too wholesome and clean cut and "good" for Buffy, and we know that now, but at the point we're discussing it wasn't as clear, and definately not for Buffy as she hadn't acknowledged it to herself.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ciderdrinker View Post
                  I'm not sure I buy the theory that as a slayer she needs to be surrounded with the dark in order to be good at her job (at least I think that's what you're implying). There's a certain amount of darkness that comes with the territory, sure, but I think that, if anything, the series shows that Buffy chose that with her own free will. The constant comparison with Faith in S3 IMO makes that quite clear. Faith can see that Buffy wants to be dark, but is repressing it and hates to see Faith embrace it so easily. In the later seasons, as Buffy matures, she accepts that she's attracted to the dark and the consequences of those choices are clear in her relationship with Spike.
                  I didn't say anything about her job. I don't think she needs to be surrounded with the dark in order to be good at slaying, I think the slayerness in her makes her want and need the darkness mentally. Yes, she's repressing her want to be dark, and IMO that's what made her start dating with Riley - he wasn't dark, he wasn't supernatural or bad - as well as what 'killed' their relatioship. Buffy repressed her need for the darkness, but it doesn't mean the need wasn't there anymore. Riley couldn't provide her what she needed. I don't think it's Buffy's fault or Riley. Both of them were jerks on occasions, but, and I'm being repet-o girl here, I think they're relationship wasn't meant to work anyways.
                  (Oh, and by darkness I don't necesserily mean Season Six Darkness or Angelus Darkness. Yes, there's that, but there's also the more subtle darkness in knowing that Angel IS bad, that Angel fights himself every second in order to keep himself balanced and safe, and that someday he can slip. Or, if we're talking about the ensouled Spike, the darkness is having a relationship with a vampire who can switch sides if he fall in love with someone like Dru again, or having a relationship with the guy who tried to rape you.)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by NancyBoy View Post
                    I didn't say anything about her job. I don't think she needs to be surrounded with the dark in order to be good at slaying, I think the slayerness in her makes her want and need the darkness mentally. Yes, she's repressing her want to be dark, and IMO that's what made her start dating with Riley - he wasn't dark, he wasn't supernatural or bad - as well as what 'killed' their relatioship. Buffy repressed her need for the darkness, but it doesn't mean the need wasn't there anymore. Riley couldn't provide her what she needed. I don't think it's Buffy's fault or Riley. Both of them were jerks on occasions, but, and I'm being repet-o girl here, I think they're relationship wasn't meant to work anyways.
                    (Oh, and by darkness I don't necesserily mean Season Six Darkness or Angelus Darkness. Yes, there's that, but there's also the more subtle darkness in knowing that Angel IS bad, that Angel fights himself every second in order to keep himself balanced and safe, and that someday he can slip. Or, if we're talking about the ensouled Spike, the darkness is having a relationship with a vampire who can switch sides if he fall in love with someone like Dru again, or having a relationship with the guy who tried to rape you.)

                    Interesting. Spike came up with a similar theory in Season 7 but Buffy denied it. While Faith showed her her a primal side to Slaying and while Spike fed her need for self-hatred in Season 6, I agree with Buffy. She doesn't need that darkness, not anymore.

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                    • #11
                      I don't believe Buffy needs some darkness or some monster in her man because she's the slayer at all, it was something only ever raised by Spike and of course he'd say it at the time, he was a monster. But even Spike undercut's what he claims later on in the episode, he admits to Riley he doesn't really believe he has a shot with her. Buffy's demonstrated on numerous occasions that she's able to be romantically interested in normal men, we've seen it with Owen, with Scott, with Riley, with Parker. She was attracted to Angel's humanity, she never knew he was a vampire until after she'd already become interested in him and she didn't really start getting close to Spike until he got his soul, his humanity.

                      The closest Buffy has ever got to even admitting something like this is admitting in season four that she’s attracted to the ‘bad boy’ thing. Which in itself is an entirely different area, many women find the bad boy thing appealing, it’s a big stretch to jump from that to saying Buffy also needs some monster in her man and it’s because she’s a slayer- she’s also a human girl to, and was one first. Her comments that she was attracted to bad boys wasn't just referring to Angel, but also her brief relationship with Parker. But by the end of 'Something Blue' in Buffy's own words, "I'm so over the bad boy thing."

                      And hey, even Buffy's pondering at the beginning of 'Something Blue' that real relationships can only come from pain and misery is misguided. She states "I know.. I have to get away from that bad boy thing. There's no good there. Seeing Angel in LA.. even for five minutes.. hello to the pain." And then later states, "But I can't help thinking ? isn't that where the fire comes from? Can a nice, safe relationship be that intense? I know it's nuts, but.. part of me believes that real love and passion have to go hand in hand with pain and fighting." What Buffy doesn't know is that Angel became human and Buffy was immensely satisfied, and the happiest and most fulfilled Buffy we've ever seen in any of her relationships. Buffy doesn't remember that, but we do. We know for a fact that Buffy can be swept up and completed by a normal relationship, because once again it wasn't the fact that Angel was a vampire that attracted her, she was attracted to his humanity, the person, not the monster. It's ultimately unfortunate Buffy doesn't remember that, in her memory that meeting with Angel was all about the pain, it wasn't about the immense happiness she actually did experience with him as they shared that time together.

                      I don't think Buffy needs the darkness at all. She needs the light, we saw it in 'The Wish' when her friends, her "ties to the world" her "reason she made it this far" were shown to be instrumental to her survival, her sanity and hope to be a good well-rounded person. Any time Buffy rushes towards the light she becomes better for it, any foray into the darkness is destructive to her. It's portrayed as inspirational, a positive and significant point in her character's life when she tells Spike it's over in 'As You Were' and both literally and metaphorically steps back into the light as she leaves his lair. And Riley, a normal human man is the one who gives her this strength.

                      In my opinion believing Buffy needs some monster in her man comes hand in hand with stating that Buffy belongs in the dark and not with her friends. Spike states both in season six, as in such episodes as 'Dead Things' and it comes part in parcel. I could never support that line of thinking, Buffy's always at best when she defies and subverts what people think she should be, it's the whole original idea behind the creation of her character. Supporting the claims she needs some monster in her man and that she is a creature of the darkness and belongs in that dark, is supporting the First Slayer's own claims that she's meant to be alone and goes against Buffy's most adamant declaration in 'Restless' that she's *not* alone. Episodes such as 'The Wish' 'Prophecy Girl' 'Primeval' even 'Chosen' have all proven that Buffy is not alone and is better off because of it.

                      Interestingly, Buffy also clearly is still interested in Riley during 'As You Were.' There's clearly disappointment on her face when she learns of Sam, she can't bring herself to even lie when Sam asks her if she wishes she'd caught up to him that night he left and she's flirting her way throughout the episode. In my eyes that proves that after her relationship ended, Buffy herself didn't believe it was because Riley was too normal but because of all the other, normal reasons relationships ends, reasons she regretted and hoped to change, she says so in 'Triangle.' In fact, Buffy herself finds the idea that she needs someone bigger than human preposterous in ‘Out of My Mind’ when she snidely makes comments about "macho pissing contests" and how if she wanted to date super powers she'd have just dated Spike, but "I need you."

                      As for why their relationship ended, I think they're both to blame but if I honestly had to pick, I'd pick Buffy as more at fault than Riley. She shut him out, even if she didn't realise it, he did, as well as others. Buffy states it herself, that it was apparently obvious to everyone but her that it was heading to the way it got, and we saw with people such as Xander and even Joyce, that they were quite surprised about Buffy's treatment of Riley throughout the latter part of their relationship. So this wasn't just Riley imagining things, it was a real problem that other people all became aware of even if Buffy was unaware of how she was treating him.

                      Riley didn't want Buffy to be dependant on him, he's stated quite a few times that he enjoys the fact she makes the decisions. He states this in 'A New Man' when he says "I like it" and it's clear by whom he marries, he wants to be with someone who can hold their own, who doesn't take his orders, "He wishes" and who is his equal. Buffy began, as Wood so rightfully put it, her "isolationist slayer crap" when she thought she was alone and lost that healthy balance she once shared with those around her, including Riley. She distanced herself, she wouldn't tell him things and would snap at him because he unwarily would touch a nerve, which wasn't his fault, as depicted in 'Family.'

                      It takes two to tango, but in this case I think if I had to honestly put more blame on one rather than the other, my pick would be Buffy.
                      Last edited by vampmogs; 16-09-08, 07:37 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ciderdrinker View Post
                        I don't think that Riley wanted to be "stronger" than Buffy. He accepted that she was a strong (physically and mentally) woman, but the fact that she was a woman and he's an old fashioned guy and in that respect feels that a woman should turn to a man when she is in pain. I'm over simplifying it here though. I don't mean that she should be subservient to him, very much the opposite. I think partly why Riley found Buffy so fascinating was because she wasn't your usual "girl", but there's the rub. IMO he was brought up in the mentality of respect women and look after them but found it too old fashioned and when he met Buffy he could see that it wouldn't be that kind of relationship. It's hard for him to follow through though. When it comes down to it, his upbringing comes out when he's unsure of himself and this is why he found it hard to understand that Buffy didn't need him when she was going through a difficult time - he kinda reverted back to his factory settings. He wanted to break free of his traditions, but found the chains binding him were too strong.
                        I don't know. So far I haven't got this vibe from Riley. Whatever his upbringing was, he seemed to really love Buffy's strength and admire her for that. As he once said, instead of taking care of me, why don't we take care of each other. I'm mostly leaning toward him wanting an equal relationship.


                        Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                        I don't believe Buffy needs some darkness or some monster in her man because she's the slayer at all, it was something only ever raised by Spike and of course he'd say it at the time, he was a monster. But even Spike undercut's what he claims later on in the episode, he admits to Riley he doesn't really believe he has a shot with her. Buffy's demonstrated on numerous occasions that she's able to be romantically interested in normal men, we've seen it with Owen, with Scott, with Riley, with Parker. She was attracted to Angel's humanity, she never knew he was a vampire until after she'd already become interested in him and she didn't really start getting close to Spike until he got his soul, his humanity.

                        The closest Buffy has ever got to even admitting something like this is admitting in season four that she's attracted to the ?bad boy' thing. Which in itself is an entirely different area, many women find the bad boy thing appealing, it's a big stretch to jump from that to saying Buffy also needs some monster in her man and it's because she's a slayer- she's also a human girl to, and was one first. Her comments that she was attracted to bad boys wasn't just referring to Angel, but also her brief relationship with Parker. But by the end of 'Something Blue' in Buffy's own words, "I'm so over the bad boy thing."

                        And hey, even Buffy's pondering at the beginning of 'Something Blue' that real relationships can only come from pain and misery is misguided. She states "I know.. I have to get away from that bad boy thing. There's no good there. Seeing Angel in LA.. even for five minutes.. hello to the pain." And then later states, "But I can't help thinking ? isn't that where the fire comes from? Can a nice, safe relationship be that intense? I know it's nuts, but.. part of me believes that real love and passion have to go hand in hand with pain and fighting." What Buffy doesn't know is that Angel became human and Buffy was immensely satisfied, and the happiest and most fulfilled Buffy we've ever seen in any of her relationships. Buffy doesn't remember that, but we do. We know for a fact that Buffy can be swept up and completed by a normal relationship, because once again it wasn't the fact that Angel was a vampire that attracted her, she was attracted to his humanity, the person, not the monster. It's ultimately unfortunate Buffy doesn't remember that, in her memory that meeting with Angel was all about the pain, it wasn't about the immense happiness she actually did experience with him as they shared that time together.

                        I don't think Buffy needs the darkness at all. She needs the light, we saw it in 'The Wish' when her friends, her "ties to the world" her "reason she made it this far" were shown to be instrumental to her survival, her sanity and hope to be a good well-rounded person. Any time Buffy rushes towards the light she becomes better for it, any foray into the darkness is destructive to her. It's portrayed as inspirational, a positive and significant point in her character's life when she tells Spike it's over in 'As You Were' and both literally and metaphorically steps back into the light as she leaves his lair. And Riley, a normal human man is the one who gives her this strength.

                        In my opinion believing Buffy needs some monster in her man comes hand in hand with stating that Buffy belongs in the dark and not with her friends. Spike states both in season six, as in such episodes as 'Dead Things' and it comes part in parcel. I could never support that line of thinking, Buffy's always at best when she defies and subverts what people think she should be, it's the whole original idea behind the creation of her character. Supporting the claims she needs some monster in her man and that she is a creature of the darkness and belongs in that dark, is supporting the First Slayer's own claims that she's meant to be alone and goes against Buffy's most adamant declaration in 'Restless' that she's *not* alone. Episodes such as 'The Wish' 'Prophecy Girl' 'Primeval' even 'Chosen' have all proven that Buffy is not alone and is better off because of it.

                        Interestingly, Buffy also clearly is still interested in Riley during 'As You Were.' There's clearly disappointment on her face when she learns of Sam, she can't bring herself to even lie when Sam asks her if she wishes she'd caught up to him that night he left and she's flirting her way throughout the episode. In my eyes that proves that after her relationship ended, Buffy herself didn't believe it was because Riley was too normal but because of all the other, normal reasons relationships ends, reasons she regretted and hoped to change, she says so in 'Triangle.' In fact, Buffy herself finds the idea that she needs someone bigger than human preposterous in ?Out of My Mind' when she snidely makes comments about "macho pissing contests" and how if she wanted to date super powers she'd have just dated Spike, but "I need you."

                        As for why their relationship ended, I think they're both to blame but if I honestly had to pick, I'd pick Buffy as more at fault than Riley. She shut him out, even if she didn't realise it, he did, as well as others. Buffy states it herself, that it was apparently obvious to everyone but her that it was heading to the way it got, and we saw with people such as Xander and even Joyce, that they were quite surprised about Buffy's treatment of Riley throughout the latter part of their relationship. So this wasn't just Riley imagining things, it was a real problem that other people all became aware of even if Buffy was unaware of how she was treating him.

                        Riley didn't want Buffy to be dependant on him, he's stated quite a few times that he enjoys the fact she makes the decisions. He states this in 'A New Man' when he says "I like it" and it's clear by whom he marries, he wants to be with someone who can hold their own, who doesn't take his orders, "He wishes" and who is his equal. Buffy began, as Wood so rightfully put it, her "isolationist slayer crap" when she thought she was alone and lost that healthy balance she once shared with those around her, including Riley. She distanced herself, she wouldn't tell him things and would snap at him because he unwarily would touch a nerve, which wasn't his fault, as depicted in 'Family.'

                        It takes two to tango, but in this case I think if I had to honestly put more blame on one rather than the other, my pick would be Buffy.
                        I agree with all you said.
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                        • #13
                          I think Buffy didn’t handle the stuff with Angel very well in season 4 – asking Riley to leave the room so she could talk to Angel in The Yoko Factor was harsh! You do not say to your bf, “Please let me be alone with my ex who has just been beating you up”, at least not without explanation.

                          Riley’s reaction in Shadow is understandable – it hurts to be shut out and unable to help when your partner is in pain – but at the same time, he should think of it from Buffy’s point of view. She can’t think about him just then, and she has to deal with it however works for her.

                          Going to vampire hookers because you’re feeling neglected…well, that’s not ok on any level. Not that it would be better if it was some other kind of paid sex scenario (or unpaid! Though….Riley as rentboy, I’m betting there’s a lot of fics out there?)

                          On the whole, poor communication is probably at fault more than one or other of the characters – their scene at the end of Hush, where they both sit there being silent… the seeds of the end right there?

                          As to whether Riley wanted Buffy to be cute and weak and kittenish… I think his choice of wife says a strong “no” to that. But perhaps where they differ too much is Buffy’s anarchist side which, even though Riley calls himself one, when it comes down to it, he’s a guy who likes order more than he likes an improve approach to life. Sam is a....I want to say company man, though obv not a man...you know what I mean? She's a bit institutionalised, she's ARMY with a capital a and everything else.

                          Then again, perhaps his staid nature would’ve provided a good foil for Buffy over time? Though it might just have ended up with her sneaking off for illicit vampire sex and bank robberies, going crazy from all the vanilla

                          Anyway, I’d go with “fault on both sides”, though Buffy probably has more of the early “faults” (sounds like tennis) and Riley’s the one who handles things worse in season 5. Though that’s simplistic of course. But if I can’t make crass sweeping statements on the internets…


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                            As for why their relationship ended, I think they're both to blame but if I honestly had to pick, I'd pick Buffy as more at fault than Riley. She shut him out, even if she didn't realise it, he did, as well as others. Buffy states it herself, that it was apparently obvious to everyone but her that it was heading to the way it got, and we saw with people such as Xander and even Joyce, that they were quite surprised about Buffy's treatment of Riley throughout the latter part of their relationship. So this wasn't just Riley imagining things, it was a real problem that other people all became aware of even if Buffy was unaware of how she was treating him.
                            To be fair, though, Xander KNEW that Riley was uncertain and insecure in the relationship - Riley told him. He didn't just randomly pick up on it. And when he gives his speech to Buffy, he doesn't know about Riley's vamp addiction, nor does he really know anything about what's going on in their relationship except what he's seen from Riley's perspective.

                            Riley didn't want Buffy to be dependant on him, he's stated quite a few times that he enjoys the fact she makes the decisions. He states this in 'A New Man' when he says "I like it" and it's clear by whom he marries, he wants to be with someone who can hold their own, who doesn't take his orders, "He wishes" and who is his equal. Buffy began, as Wood so rightfully put it, her "isolationist slayer crap" when she thought she was alone and lost that healthy balance she once shared with those around her, including Riley. She distanced herself, she wouldn't tell him things and would snap at him because he unwarily would touch a nerve, which wasn't his fault, as depicted in 'Family.'

                            It takes two to tango, but in this case I think if I had to honestly put more blame on one rather than the other, my pick would be Buffy.
                            And I don't just think that it was Riley imagining things - yes, Buffy was shutting him out, and she snapped at him sometimes because he was touching a nerve he didn't know was there, like in Family. But she was snapping at Dawn in that same episode. She was shutting out all of her other friends, and for good reason really - when they all find out what Dawn is, they DO act different around her, it DOES put them in danger and put Dawn in danger. Whether she should have trusted Riley beyond her friends, as much as she trusted Giles...I don't know. But I don't think it's fair to simply condemn her for shutting Riley out of that specific part of her life.

                            Nor do I think it's fair to blame her for her reaction to Joyce's illness, as Riley does (though unintentionally- I think he knows that he can't really blame her) in Shadow. When she tells spike what's going on but doesn't call Riley, I think that's an echo of what's to come later, in that telling spike her mother might have a brain tumor doesn't make it real in the way telling Riley would. And at the end of the episode, when Riley wants her to break down, she obviously did need to be strong for her mother and her sister. It's just not fair to blame someone for their reaction to grief and illness.

                            And I also don't think it's true that Buffy began the 'isolationist slayer crap' in the beginning of season 5. Yes, by the end, she had, though it's very understandable in the wake of her mother's death - i think it's clear that as much as she loves her friends, her mother was one of the, if not the, most important things that held her to this world. But at the beginning of the season, she is still struggling to be a part of the world. But she is dealing with a sister who's not a sister and who's constantly in a world of danger, and a mother with brain cancer. It's not just a slayer who might distance herself from others in that situation - it's anyone.
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                            • #15
                              Firstly I have to say I am a Riley fan, always have been really, despite my unease at his 'Mary Sue' type intro in season 4.

                              As to whether Riley wanted Buffy to be cute and weak and kittenish… I think his choice of wife says a strong “no” to that. But perhaps where they differ too much is Buffy’s anarchist side which, even though Riley calls himself one, when it comes down to it, he’s a guy who likes order more than he likes an improve approach to life. Sam is a....I want to say company man, though obv not a man...you know what I mean? She's a bit institutionalised, she's ARMY with a capital a and everything else.
                              Yes, I sort of agree there, although whats to say that Riley's attitude as to what he wanted from a partner didn't change over time. I mean in season 4 he was very much painted as the straight up army guy who just saw things around him in terms of black and white.

                              It was Buffy that introduced all 'grey' into the proceedings and mudded up how he perceived his role in things.

                              I believe that it was during that time that he observed how strong she could be and that reflected in what he wanted from her and in fact any other relationship. So yes, I agree he wanted an equal, not some '1950's housewife'.

                              I do agree with your comments about his final choice of a wife. She did indeed seem to be the perfect mate. Strong, but extremely straight up. A real army gal as you point out.

                              I think Riley would have been very good for Buffy, but if they hadn't split up back then, would he still be with her now. Hmmm, not so sure on that one myself.

                              As to touches of darkness being in Buffy and finding that element attractive in others. Yes, I'm I agree with that. Too much of what we saw from season 5 onwards pointed in that direction, and I think she just learnt to accept that part of herself and not let in overwhelm her.

                              She herself is a decedent of women merged with the essence of a demon, and so I think all Slayers have an 'echo' of the darkside inside them. But whether they want to access it seems to totally be up to the personality involved.

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                              • #16
                                I think if we want to determine whose "fault" it is then I'd say it was their both fault. But I don't very much even think about the relationship in the terms of fault, because I'm very sure it couldn't have ended differently, they never had chance to stay together. For me, Riley was Buffy's try for "normality" or "ordinary" (after quite a bit of non-normality and, well, extraordinary, experienced with Angel). So, generally speaking, he is the rebound guy. One qualification for rebound guy is that you love him a big deal less than he loves you, so that you can just warm yourself in his love and there's not a big chance of you getting hurt. I think she meant to have this rebound thing with Parker first, but it didn't happen, Parker being a jerk and all, so Riley was just next eligible rebound guy who came along. They both did make mistakes during their relationship, but you cannot fix a relationship if one half of it doesn't really bother to make the effort. And it's clear she didn't want to make the effort, she just wanted Riley to be nice and normal and happy and loving and she certainly didn't want any problems in their relationship. The moment the problems started I think Buffy actually already knew this is going to end. She wasn't really interested in solving the problems, working them out. If Riley would have been okay with just being the "mission's boyfriend" they would have been together longer. (Probably would have broken up after Buffy's resurrection).
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                                • #17
                                  It's Buffy's fault.
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                                  • #18
                                    Just watched Family

                                    - Buffy telling Giles about Dawn felt to me more like a Slayer/Watcher deal. It wasn't about not trusting her mom or her friends or Riley, it was that the fewer in the know the better. Giles is the watcher and he's the only one qualified to know. Now if we're talking romantic relationships, that's Willow's territory because she's Buffy's best friend.

                                    - Riley senses that Buffy is hiding something from him. He was quite sensitive to her extreme reaction when he mentioned the government. Perhaps he thought that she didn't trust who he was, who he still really is? I don't really fault Buffy for her actions in this scene. She didn't want the government involved because they'd be also a danger to Dawn, since Dawn isn't really human… by some sort of standards that is. Riley, though, doesn't know that, so I understand his reaction. Maybe Buffy should have told him about Dawn?

                                    - Why isn't Riley invited to research in the Magic Box? Buffy should have invited him, especially knowing how he feels about her hiding stuff from him. Maybe she couldn't find him?

                                    - How many bars does Sunnydale have? Riley goes to Willy's night after night, I assume since Out of My Mind, just for the atmosphere. I'm wondering what the real reason is though. Was Riley drowning in self-loathing? He hates the guy he become, a guy with no purpose. He wants to have an identity of his own, and now he's just Buffy's boyfriend. It makes understand why Spike stayed in LA in S5, he wants to make something of himself and not just be Buffy's follower.

                                    - Riley came to Tara's birthday with a gift. Did he let Sandy bite him at this point? They didn't show us that.
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                                    • #19
                                      well firstly the relationship started out badl with lies on both sides, and it seemed to me they both wanted to be with the ordinary college boy college girl type so when that was false and they found out they were both fighting against the same thing it all turned into a competiton somewhat, riley wanted to protect buffy, she pretty much didnt want him involved in anything, i agree buffy pushed riley away a lot but in the end they were both to blame it wasnt meant to be and its clear the type of person they needed in each others lives wasnt each other
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                                      • #20
                                        Having just got to Into the Woods in my rewatch, I'm now basically going to say that Riley invested meaning in all this stuff that has no intrinsic meaning, because he was already thinking buffy didn't love him. Specifically, in Into the Woods, he gets this hurt look on his face when she rolls away from him while she's sleeping. Dude! some people move in their sleep! And he obviously took away from that just one more bit of evidence that she didn't love him, but seriously - rolling away while sleeping does not actually mean that! (phew, ok, that was way rantier than I meant to be!)
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