Primeval (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"Primeval"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy4x21.jpg
The composite Buffy-Willow-Xander-Giles turns Adam's missile into a dove
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 21
Directed by James A. Contner
Written by David Fury
Production code 4ABB21
Original air date May 16, 2000
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Yoko Factor"
Next →
"Restless"
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Primeval" is the 21st episode of season 4 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Following Spike's interference in the previous episode, Buffy and the Scoobies are not talking to each other, consistent with Adam's plans. However, since he wants Buffy in the Initiative, Adam is displeased to discover that Willow still has possession of the encrypted disks from the previous episode which would have led her back. He refused to remove Spike's behaviour modification chip unless he rectifies this situation. Meanwhile, Riley is unsure why he is in Adam's lair, and Adam reveals that the government implanted a chip near Riley's heart, giving Adam complete control over Riley's motor functions.

In the aftermath of the Scoobies' fights, Xander dejectedly ponders his life direction, and is consoled by Anya, who tells him that she loves him. Tara and Willow work at decrypting the information disks, only to find that they suddenly decrypted themselves. Giles suffers through a hangover. Buffy returns to Adam's cave seeking more information, annoyed when she finds Spike there, and suspicious when he lets slip that he's aware of the Scoobies' falling out. Buffy realises that Spike has deceived them and reunites with the original gang.

Willow reveals the information on the disks: that Adam is hiding at one of the Initiative's secret labs, and plans to build more cyborg demonoids like himself. Buffy realises that the overcrowded holding cells at the Initiative are a form of Trojan horse warfare; Adam will release the demons and the resulting battle will leave lots of demon and human body parts. Furthermore, he is particularly keen for Buffy to be present to even the demon-human kill ratio. The gang brainstorms how to kill Adam, and a difficult paralysis spell (which only Willow can cast) which must be incanted in Sumerian (which only Giles can speak) within striking distance of the victim (which only Buffy can survive) is suggested. Xander jokingly suggests merging the whole gang into one body to allow the spell to be cast — an idea to which Giles is surprisingly receptive.

Buffy, Xander, Giles, and Willow break into the Initiative through the elevator shaft, but are captured by the Colonel. The gang attempt to explain the situation to the Colonel, but the presence of a "magic gourd" in their bag convinces the Colonel that they are crazy. Adam, watching this on surveillance, sees that Spike has succeeded in getting Buffy to the Initiative, but failed in keeping the gang apart; he orders Spike to be killed, but Spike escapes into the Initiative.

Suddenly, Adam cuts the power in the main part of the Initiative, locking the perimeter while releasing all the demons in the holding cells. The Colonel and soldiers go to engage with the demons, leaving two to guard the Scoobies. Buffy knocks both of them out. Willow finds air ducts leading to an area behind 314 that doesn't exist on the map; this is where Adam plans to build and release an army of hybrid cyborg monsters. Buffy leaves through a secret door while the rest prepare a spell.

Buffy finds Riley sitting unbound in a chair and unable to speak, still under Adam's control. Adam enters and, upon discovering that Buffy will not be balancing the demon-human kill ratio as he envisioned, orders Forrest, now turned into a killer cyborg demonoid, to kill her. As they battle, Riley uses a shard of glass to take out the chip embedded in his chest, freeing himself to attack his former best friend; they fight as Buffy escapes to take on Adam, and Riley uses a bottle of flammable gas to blow Forrest to pieces.

Buffy then engages with Adam. She rushes clumsily at him, but is knocked away with a punch to the gut. Rebounding quickly, Buffy and Adam exchange a high volume of blows: Buffy breaks the Polgara demon spike on Adam's left arm, but he reveals his right arm has been "upgraded" to a giant machine gun. Bombarded with gunfire, the Slayer runs behind a computer console for cover. Much like their previous encounters, Adam is clearly the superior, until the enjoining spell kicks in: Giles, Willow and Xander, by invoking the powers of the Slayer lineage ("from Last to ancient First"), merge their psyches in Buffy's body to form a fighter with Buffy's physical strength (Manus), Willow's magic power (Spiritus), Xander's bravery (Animus) and Giles's knowledge (Sophus). This composite being rises from the ashes, repelling Adams missiles with a shield, and shutting his weapons arm down with a wave of the hand. Closing in, she easily evades every punch thrown by Adam, before countering with a devastating chain of strikes herself, and ripping out his uranium-powered "heart." Riley arrives in time to catch Buffy as she collapses. Giving all of their strength and power to Buffy leaves the rest of the gang totally exhausted and vulnerable as a demon breaks into their room, but Spike kills it. Though unhappy that he tried to help Adam, Willow, Giles, and Xander decide to spare Spike out of fatigue and the fact that he just saved them.

In a largely unseen battle, Buffy, Riley, Xander, Giles, Willow and Spike then join with the Initiative's soldiers to stop the demon attacks, saving most of them with only 40% casualties amongst the Initiative. Graham survives, and the Colonel is killed.

In an internal debriefing, the government decides to shut down the Initiative for good, and remove any paper trail of its existence. They praise Maggie Walsh's vision of harnessing demons as a powerful military weapon, but conclude that demonkind cannot be controlled.

Continuity[edit]

Arc significance[edit]

  • The invocation of the First Slayer has serious consequences in the next episode and in subsequent seasons.
  • Despite the orders given, the Initiative's base is not filled with concrete following the season finale; it is featured in the season seven episode "The Killer in Me".
  • In a variation unique to season four, the season's "Big Bad" is defeated in the penultimate episode and not the season finale.
  • The Buffy-composite displays magic abilities that surpass Willow's – probably drawing on Giles's superior knowledge – but also foreshadows the power Willow has inside of her.
  • Adam's power-source was identified by Jonathan Levinson in "Superstar".
  • The Angel episode "Blind Date" occurs during the events of this episode. Cordelia, while decrypting files with the help of Willow on the phone, mentions to Wesley that the Scoobies have been decrypting files all day as well. This event falls right after the crossover events of "Sanctuary" and "The Yoko Factor".

Cultural references[edit]

  • While explaining his plan to Adam, Spike says: "The little witch gives her the info and pop - Alice heads back down the rabbit hole." This is a reference to the novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, in which the curious protagonist follows the White Rabbit into unknown danger.
  • After Adam points out the flaw in Spike's plan, Spike replies "let's not quibble about who failed who," a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where a lord, after his hoped-for son-in-law kills multiple people remarks: "let's not bicker and argue about who killed who."
  • Spike refers to Buffy as "Nancy Drew," a fictional literary adolescent female detective who was known for her wit and resolve.
  • While casting the spell, Giles flips over a card featuring the illustration from the inside cover (The Hermit) of Led Zeppelin IV.
  • Adam's use of distraction leads Giles to call his final plan "the Trojan Horse." A military tactic employed during the Trojan War, it involved Greek soldiers hiding inside of a hollow wooden horse that had been disguised as a peace offering to their enemies.

External links[edit]