The Initiative (Buffy the Vampire Slayer organization)
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|Type||Military, Paranormal investigation|
|Founded||Prior to World War II|
|Key people||Riley Finn|
To research demons
Known technology includes:
|Powers||Access to high-tech gadgets which can be used to slay demons and control their actions|
|Affiliations||Federal government of the United States|
|Subsidiaries||Unnamed demonic resistance group|
The Initiative program seems to be established during or before the 1940s, when it employed Angel's talents to liberate a sunken captured German submarine during World War II. It was originally known as the "Demon Research Initiative." The Angel episode "Why We Fight" explained that the Third Reich had a similar program and investigated the possible use of vampires in the war effort with three vampire captives – Spike, Nostroyev and the so-called Prince of Lies. The Nazis had lured the trio to a supposed virgin-blood party in Madrid. This revelation seems to cast the Initiative in the same light as other World War II era projects, such as the nuclear weapons of the Manhattan Project.
In 1999, the research center of 'the Initiative' is located underground, beneath the University of California campus in Sunnydale. It is commanded by Maggie Walsh, also a psychology professor at the school. Under her direction, military commandos captured vampires, demons and other supernatural creatures to be studied by scientists for the covert U.S. government operation. The Initiative experiments on the creatures, a primary goal of this being to negate the threat that "hostile sub-terrestrials", demonic entities, pose to human beings. However, a more sinister and ultra-classified goal is to hybridize demons and humans to create super-soldiers. The Initiative's captives have (at various points) included the werewolf Oz and the vampire Spike, the latter of whom was implanted with a chip that caused him to experience extreme pain whenever he attacked (or intended to attack) a human being.
Buffy's boyfriend Riley Finn is initially a member of the Initiative, as are other soldiers posing as UC Sunnydale students, including Forrest and Graham. Riley is unaware that Professor Walsh has also been experimenting on him and the other soldiers, enhancing their performance through methods that threaten their lives. In "New Moon Rising", Riley discovered the extent of the Initiative's corruption and chose to leave it.
Professor Walsh's secret project eventually results in the creation of Adam, a humanoid creature consisting of machinery, human and demon parts. The project goes horribly awry when Adam kills members of the Initiative (who are later re-animated as zombies) and escapes. Adam possesses a strong capacity for strategy, as well as physical strength that is far superior to Buffy's, and only through a spell cast by Willow, Xander and Giles was she able to defeat him. His plan was to create a master race of demon/human hybrids.
After Adam, his zombified Initiative members and plans for an army of cyber-demonoids are destroyed, the Initiative's operations are deemed a failure by a panel of government overseers and are officially closed down.
Other appearances by the US government
In Buffy, the Government first appears in the season one episode Out of Mind, Out of Sight, where FBI agents arrive and capture the mystically invisible Marcie Ross while Buffy is fighting her. Marcie and other invisible people are then trained to be assassins and spies. The Government's modus operandi here is the same here as it was in the Initiative: seeking to control and exploit supernatural beings, rather than eliminate or rehabilitate them.
Following the Initiative's closure, the Army maintains operations in hunting demons, incorporating many of the trained Initiative soldiers, including Riley Finn. They hunt down demon nests in the United States, as well as foreign countries. The goals of the Army now align closely with those of the Slayer: protecting people from demons and preventing demon threats from spreading. The Government is not seen to engage in any future Initiative-like attempts to control or exploit demons.
The "Twilight Group" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight is often compared to the Initiative by the Scooby Gang.
During the Season 7 episode, "The Killer in Me", Buffy and Spike break into the Initiative to find medicine to dampen the slowly fatal effect of his degenerating chip. While in the abandoned complex, they are attacked by a demon who has managed to survive for over three years. After defeating the demon, they run across operatives sent by Riley Finn who remove Spike's chip.
In the penultimate episode of Season 4, the government overseers rule that the former Initiative base would be filled with cement to hide evidence of its existence, but in "The Killer in Me", Buffy and Spike are able to access the abandoned and gutted facility.