The Yoko Factor

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"The Yoko Factor"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
The Yoko Factor.jpg
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 20
Directed by David Grossman
Written by Doug Petrie
Production code 4ABB20
Original air date May 9, 2000
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"New Moon Rising"
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"Primeval"
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"The Yoko Factor" is the 20th episode of season 4 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Colonel McNamara talks with a superior about plans for the Initiative, about getting Riley back under his command and about dealing with Buffy.

Spike tells Adam that Buffy is going to be a difficult challenge to defeat and he shouldn't underestimate her. Spike talks about having already killed two Slayers (Xin Rong and Nikki Wood), yet having been unable to kill Buffy, especially because of the chip now in his head. The two plan to separate Buffy from her Slayerette friends.[1]

Still upset about what happened between her and Angel during her visit to Los Angeles (in the Angel crossover episode "Sanctuary"), Buffy returns from L.A. to her empty dorm room. Xander brings Riley some clothes, and they talk about their mutual distaste for Angel, Riley having been told by Buffy about her previous relationship with him. However, it emerges that she has not told him the whole truth; while Riley was aware that Angel lost his soul and became Angelus, Xander tells Riley that having sex with Buffy was the trigger that set Angelus free.

Giles is at home singing and playing guitar when Spike surprises him by walking right in. Spike talks with Giles about files inside the Initiative that he might be able to get for a very large price. Spike tells Giles that Buffy doesn't respect her former Watcher anymore, which upsets Giles. Willow and Tara play with their new kitten, Miss Kitty Fantastico, while planning their class schedule for next year. They also talk about future housing plans, but Willow hasn't talked with Buffy yet and isn't sure what she wants to do now that things have changed so much.

Riley visits Buffy; using a radio, he's tapped into the Initiative and is aware of their actions. She mentions that Angel upset her, but she is focusing on seeking Adam, and Riley leaves. Xander and Anya bring Spike fatigues to wear and a gun. Spike can't believe his luck that he would be given a weapon and points it at Xander intending to shoot, only for the chip to go off in his head. Turns out the chip doesn't allow Spike to point weapons at people... and the gun was fake anyway. Spike makes Xander feel unwanted by convincing him that the rest of the gang doesn't feel he's useful.

Buffy goes patrolling and runs into Forrest, who is also looking for Adam. They argue as they go into a cave and find Adam, who launches a surprise attack. Buffy and Adam exchange a few punches and kicks: Forrest tries to step in and help, but he is pushed away by Buffy. Adam hurls the Slayer against the cave wall, and Forrest uses the opening to shoot Adam with his stun rifle. Instead of harming him, however, the voltage merely seems to refresh Adam, who then disarms and fatally stabs Forrest with his bone skewer. Her will to fight gone, Buffy flees from the cave, with Adam taking pot shots at her. Running for her life, Buffy trips and tumbles down the side of a hill; she strikes her head on a rock, knocking her unconscious.

Meanwhile, pretending to have sneaked into the Initiative and retrieved some disks with information, Spike charges into Giles's place. Giles continues to get drunk while Willow tries to decrypt the disks. Spike talks to Willow and Tara about their Wicca interest and how her friends don't seem to support it. Willow thinks he means that their friends aren't accepting their romantic relationship.

Riley hears of trouble on the streets through his radio. He finds Angel fighting the commandos, and Riley refuses to let Angel go see Buffy. The two have a brutal fight, of which Angel is clearly the victor. Both run off when a military truck arrives.

Buffy returns to her dorm room and Angel shows up. As Angel speaks with Buffy, Riley barges in and raises a gun to Angel. Angel taunts Riley and the two come to blows again. Buffy separates them and wants to talk to Angel alone. Buffy scolds Angel, yet they laugh when Angel confesses he came to make up. Buffy also apologizes for being bossy. The two part on friendly terms, although Angel stops to state that he doesn't like Riley.

Spike reports back to Adam, happy to have split up the Scooby Gang. Riley is worried that Buffy has reunited with Angel and confesses he has learned how Angel can become Angelus. They profess their love to each other, but Buffy must give him the bad news that Forrest is dead. Riley is distraught and leaves.

The damage that Spike has done to the gang becomes clear when their meeting at Giles's home turns into a fight. While Tara and Anya hide in the bathroom, Buffy scolds Xander for telling Riley details about her and Angel's relationship and argues that she is going to take on Adam alone. Giles is drunk and makes funny comments in the background. Xander complains that his friends don't need him and Willow complains that Buffy doesn't accept Tara, revealing their relationship, for the first time, to Xander and Giles. While Giles goes to sleep the alcohol off, Buffy leaves, telling her friends that she doesn't need them as she has someone else she can depend on... little realizing that Riley has gone to Adam's lair.

Production[edit]

Themes and allusions[edit]

  • Spike explains to Adam (and provides the explanation for the episode title) when he calls his strategy "the Yoko Factor. Don't tell me you've never heard of the Beatles?" Adam replies, "I have. I like Helter Skelter." Spike says, "What a surprise. The point is, they were once a real powerful group. It's not a stretch to say they ruled the world. And when they broke up everyone blamed Yoko, but the fact is the group split itself apart; she just happened to be there. And you know how it is with kids. They go off to college, they grow apart. Way of the world."
  • The song L.A. Woman - Xander says of Buffy, "L.A. Woman? Haven't heard from her. She'll probably come here first thing, though."
  • The Godfather - Buffy says to Forrest, about the Initiative, "What kind of family are you, the Corleones?"
  • The Wizard of Oz - Willow says testily to Spike, "I am a whiz." Tara agrees, "She is a whiz." Willow says, "If ever a whiz there was."[2]
  • Batman - Xander says, "I'll stay behind and putt around the Batcave with crusty old Alfred here."

Critical reception[edit]

A commenter for Critically Touched Reviews praised "the successful payoff we've been waiting for all season," an "extremely well acted" and "potent" argument scene at the end, and "great characterization"; he describes some scenes as "Very funny and well-written" and "simply wonderful."[3]

Noel Murray of The A.V. Club, whose "Community Grade" gave the episode an A-, wrote, "The first fifteen minutes of The Yoko Factor is like the Inglourious Basterds of Buffy episodes, offering six long, winding, evenly paced conversations, punctuated by a quiet interlude and a kitschy-but-oddly-moving musical number... [T]he episode is always at its strongest when people are just talking to each other, either because they're enjoying each other's company or trying to figure out each other out. It's nice, for example, that... writer Doug Petrie found time to show Willow and Tara talking about their plans for sophomore year, while playing with the cutest kitten ever born." While he thought "this crossover seemed a little forced," he also "felt like all the extended chatter in The Yoko Factor rang essentially true."[4]


Two reviewers for the BBC Buffy review pages said, "This [is] what we've been waiting for. No, not the culmination of the Initiative plot. Riley vs Angel: mano a vampo. The five star celebrity un-death match... It's all great fun" and "A very cunning and different episode from Doug Petrie. Yes, Adam may still be a bit pants as a villain, but it's great seeing him and Spike plan to destroy Buffy by making her friends fight. Suddenly, all the little quirks of this season - Xander's jobs, Giles's drinking, Tara and Willow - all come together in a big, messy splat of a squabble. Magnificent stuff. It's also really great seeing Angel back in Buffy - even if it is just to see him pummelling and smirking at Riley."[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Petrie, Doug (May 9, 2000). "Buffy Episode #76: The Yoko Factor Transcript". BuffyWorld. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Yoko Factor". www.buffyguide.com. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ Marinaro, Mikelangelo (March 27, 2006). "4x20: The Yoko Factor". Critically Touched Reviews. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ Murray, Noel (September 4, 2009). "The Yoko Factor etc.". The AV Club. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  5. ^ Stephen and James (September 2005). "The Yoko Factor". www.bbc.co.uk/cult/buffy. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 

External links[edit]