blackfrancine: (BtVS: The trio loves free porn)
[personal profile] blackfrancine
 So, I’m still slowly rewatching BtVS and AtS, and right now I’m at the beginning of seasons 5 and 2. Before I get too much further along, I wanted to address a couple of things. Primarily, Riley.

First, let’s talk about “The I in Team.” I think this is when Buffy and Riley first sleep together, no? Okay, this may not be a popular opinion, but whatever: the Buffy/Riley sex scenes (especially that first one) are hot. Sorry, fandom, but search your hearts. You know it’s true.  I don’t think Marc Blucas is much of an actor in any other capacity, but when his face is plastered against SMG’s, those two kids have the fireworks.

I was paying special attention to that first sex scene (and the music to which it is set) because when I did my 30 Days of Buffy sexiest scene entry on “Smashed,” I decided to compare the atmosphere and music to that in “Surprise.” It’s interesting that the music in “Surprise” is the syrupy Bangel love anthem (I think)—or something very similar--but the music in “Smashed” is almost hymn-like. Powerful. Different from anything we’ve ever heard on the show.

Well, the music in “The I in Team” is an aberration as well—not at all the typical score that we’re used to. But instead of there being the spiritual overtone we get in “Smashed,” the mood is distinctly sexual—hungry in a corporeal way. The interlacing of the scenes of slaying and foreplay is really effective at expressing the building desire and anticipation between them—and the foreplay is fairly explicit: there’s finger nibbling, shirt unlacing, chest kissing.

My point in all this is fairly simple: Riley wasn’t nearly the bore that fandom makes him out to be. I don’t know that I can say whether I think Buffy was or wasn’t really in love with him, but I certainly don’t think she was unhappy with him. At least not at first.

Which brings me to my second issue: Riley’s insecurity about Buffy’s love is based wholly on two things: 1) Her reluctance to verbalize her feelings for him; and 2) The fact that she develops a more full, well-rounded life in season 5 than she had in season 4.

In regards to item number 1, Riley has a somewhat fair point. I get it. It’s hard when you believe someone cares about you, but they don’t put their feelings into words. And, in support of Riley, I have to say that I do like that he doesn’t force an “I love you” out of Buffy the way that Angel does. However… I’d argue that before you go around blabbing to your girlfriend’s BFF that she doesn’t love you, waaaaah, perhaps you should talk to her about it. Perhaps you should tell her that you feel like you’re putting yourself out there so much and she just isn’t, and that it scares you. Or hurts you. Maybe she just doesn’t know that it’s something you need from her. Just sayin’.

In regards to item number 2, Riley really fails big time. During season 4, Buffy’s entire universe revolved around Riley. She withdrew from her friends, from her mother, from Giles, even to some extent from her calling (trying to slay as part of the Initiative instead of as a free agent) all for Riley. But in season 5, she’s getting it back together. She’s taking a more active role with her family; she’s taking a more active role in training spiritually and physically for her calling; and, perhaps most interestingly, she’s taking a real interest in her education.

Riley claims to support all of these interests: He tries to be friends with her friends; he says that he knows that her training is important. But ultimately, when she wants to study instead of give him her full, undivided attention, he’s bothered. When she cancels plans to train, he’s hurt. I think he wants to support Buffy unquestioningly. I think intellectually he does, but emotionally he just can’t.

The death blow for that relationship is dealt in Xander’s basement, when Riley tells Xander that Buffy doesn’t love him despite his burning love for her. That’s the end, folks. Because if you watch Buffy come in and affectionately kiss Riley, if you watch her accept—nay, request—a massage from Riley earlier, if you watch them makeout while Xander’s viewing apartments, I think it’s clear that Riley has absolutely NO reason to feel that Buffy doesn’t love him other than the two issues above—which, HEY! Maybe if he’d mentioned those issues to BUFFY and not Xander—and hadn't lied to Buffy about how comfortable he was with her reshaping her priorities, then maybe things wouldn’t have gone to shit.
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July 2011

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