a Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan is asked who has been
their favorite of Buffy's boyfriends, one of two answers
pop up. Inevitably, the answer is either Angel or Spike.
Some fans identify with the torturously forbidden love
between Buffy and Angel, sharing stolen kisses before
Buffy had to return to her home. Who can forget Buffy
telling Angel that "it's getting harder" to
separate at night? Then, Angel lost his soul and Buffy
was forced to send him to Hell. It was tragic and brilliant.
Finally, however, Angel was sent to Los Angeles and
the relationship was done.
other half of the fan base would answer that their favorite
of Buffy's boyfriends would have to be Spike. Buffy's
relationship with Spike is the direct opposite of Buffy's
relationship with Angel. There isn't a great deal of
love involved and their need for one another is painted
in various shades of gray. They want each other, they
need each other, and they may or may not love each other.
One thing's for sure though. The fans loved having Buffy
in her second deeply brooding relationship with a vampire.
Something that distresses me deeply and, the knowledge
of which, was the genesis of this article, is that I
have never met a Buffy fan that, when asked who her
favorite Buffy Boyfriend is, would close their eyes,
think for a moment, and reply "Riley Finn".
Riley was the successor to Angel. He was introduced
in the season four premiere, "The Freshman",
yet another Joss Whedon masterwork. He won me over in
this, his first appearance, in the charming scene where
Buffy and Willow drop a book on his head.
Riley Finn, I thought, fit seamlessly into the Buffyverse
and Marc Blucas seemed to play the part precisely as
Mr. Whedon had written it. He was the Boy Wonder; the
white bred Captain America of the Scooby Gang.
However, I soon found out that many of the hardcore
fans weren't having any of it. They missed the bleak
tragedy of Buffy's relationship with Angel. Also, as
Riley was being initiated (pun intended) into the cast,
there was something wrong. Oz (my all-time favorite
Joss Whedon character) was written off of the show and,
at the same time, Giles and Xander were getting far
less screen time than in previous seasons.
Suddenly, newcomer Riley Finn, the Wonder Bread suburban
commando, was the male lead. I think the fans really
turned on him when, in "Who Are You?" vampires
took hostages in a church and Riley Finn was on the
scene - in his Sunday best. This guy was TOO good. There
weren't many shades of gray about him, only shades of
"the good old red, white, and blue".
Riley finished the season by quite heroically ripping
a chip out of his chest with his bare hands. I ate this
up but, still, Angel residue remained on the show and
the fans were all skeptics.
Joss and company made their best attempt to rectify
this by turning Riley dark in season five. I thought
all involved did a spectacular job but Riley could never
be fully accepted by the hardcore fans.
The moment for me that should have gained Riley some
love and respect came at the end of the Xander-centric
"The Replacement". Riley, talking to Xander
in confidence about Buffy, with a deeply brooding, clenched
jaw look on his face, almost resembling Angel in his
physical appearance, tells him that Buffy doesn't love
fascinating moment of pure clarity was followed by the
familiar Joss Whedon credit screen and the episode was
over. This moment got me pondering Riley's relationship
with our favorite slayer. The answer I came up with
was no, perhaps she didn't love him.
The next half season was filled from end to end with
this new Dark Riley. He was almost more Batman than
Captain America. He began to regularly attend a vampire
hostel where he would let a vampire that he met in a
bar feed on him. He craved the pain, something to get
his mind off of his unrequited love. I even recall him
staking a vamp after he let her taste him.
This Riley was something else! Marc Blucas was playing
him with such an intricate intensity that the character
was changing for the better. And I was a season four
I don't understand why fans never took to Riley Finn.
He was a character who I sided with when he fought Buffy
verbally. This rarely occurs. Riley Finn was constantly
Finally, "Into The Woods", one of the top
five episodes of season five. It was dreadfully painful
to watch. Riley contemplates leaving Buffy and decides
to give her an ultimatum: Come tell me you love me or
I'm leaving. Then came the perfect scene in which Xander
convinces her that Riley could be the love of her life.
Buffy runs her heart out only to find Riley in a helicopter,
already in the air heading into the woods. Riley was
The following episode (Triangle), not Buffy's finest
hour, Marc Blucas was out of the opening credits and
forgotten by the fans who rejoiced at his exit.
The fans never got a chance to love Riley Finn. However,
I found him to be an incredibly well-developed character
all the way through, from his Captain America Goes To
Church look to his Batman Cavorting With Vampire Hookers
Finally, a full year after "Into The Woods"
aired, Riley returned to Sunnydale in Doug Petrie's
"As You Were" sporting a new scar and a new
wife. In this episode, he was very much a mixture of
his season four and season five selves. He was finally
a completely fleshed out character giving fans the best
of both worlds. When he hopped into that helicopter
at the close of the episode, in a scene stylishly reminiscent
of "Into The Woods", I felt a twinge in heart.
This was Riley Finn as he was always meant to be. But,
I thought sadly, he's gone now.
|Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking
house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees
and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery
that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned
articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of
websites for free). Currently, he's writing his
first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since
Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room
and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence.
He lives a fairly happy life alone and hankers constantly
for the hour of eight P.M. to nine P.M. on Tuesday
nights. You can contact Daniel on firstname.lastname@example.org.