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August 06 2010

(SPOILER) Preview of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley. This Jane Espenson penned Season 8 one shot will be out on the 18th.

The b/w preview (sans dialogue) was seen back in June.

I've always liked Moline's art, but there is something in this that takes it to another level. I wasn't looking forward to this book (Riley Finn == urgh for me) but now I kinda am.
I never realised the one-shots were 50 cents more expensive.
Simon perhaps this issue runs longer than a regular one?
Interesting that it seems it's Riley who is the one who wants to retire and Sam is the one pushing him to help Buffy.
Sam's a level-headed sort, and I appreciate her point. You can't farm if there isn't a planet to farm on. Sometimes you have to step up to the plate and save the world before you can plant roots.
No, Allycat, all the one-shots have been the same length as the regular monthly title----they're just 50 cents more because they're "special".
Ooh I liked how I could actually 'hea' the actors voices in this one. It was just kinda right. can't wait to get this, it's been too long since we got to read one of these!
Riley! And Sam! And Espenson!

So... does this mean that Sam is about to buy the farm?
As much as I liked Buffy/Riley, I hope not. I like Sam muchly.
I'm supposed to pay MORE for Riley? ;)
Uh huh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jane Espenson is totally worth the extra two bits.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-08-07 02:19 ]
Can I just say that I would buy a Sam comic every month for the rest of my life?
Jane Espenson is writing. All is well.
Aww, what's wrong with Riley? I'd pay extra for him. Poor guy. *hugs him*
Jane Espeson really has a wonderfull way of writing.
I always liked the Season 7 episode where Buffy and Spike explored The Initiative's cavern searching for a solution to Spike's problem, and were met by the military who had orders from Riley to give them full cooperation -- and he called Spike a derogatory name. That's when Riley acquired my measure of cool!

And yes, I liked Sam and Riley's monster bug-hunt and wouldn't mind seeing a mini-series based on their adventures.

[ edited by Riverine on 2010-08-07 14:24 ]
After Riley got married he kinda developed a coolness about him. No longer the insecure and bland love interest, but a man in his own right. It was nice, hence why I'll always have a soft spot for Sam(in the words of Willow; bitch!) she brought him out of it and still knew where she stood when held next to Buffy. She was an excellent choice of character.
He may have been insecure but Riley was not bland. He was a nice guy.
I'm looking forward to the one-shot.

At the same time, Riley was indeed a bland character, so much so that they made fun of this fact in the show itself (Spike called him "Captain Cardboard" a number of times). He felt like a plot device for the Initiative and the best thing he did in the show was leave and get married to Sam, which worked wonders for his character. Which is another reason why I'm excited for the one-shot.
Riley wasn't bland, he was no-win. He appeared after Angel. When he was nice, he was bland. When he deferred to Buffy, he was bland. When he got tired of being Buffy's appliance, he was a jerk.

I don't really see a difference in who Riley (the person) was before or after marriage. The only major difference I saw was that Sam was actually in a relatinship with him and wanted it. Riley's relationship with Buffy was very one sided and he was trying desperately to fit in with her "gang", something Spike never had to do. I might also add that he essentially lost his gang in the process.

What I'm suggesting, is that Riley DIDN'T change. His circumstances did, and as a result the behaviours he started displaying were those of an old friend, not someone who just felt lucky to be there. Essentially, at this point I think ME started getting a lot more three dimensional with his charecter. Because up to that point, he was either intrigued with Buffy, enamoured with Buffy, or mad at Buffy.

Actually, it would have been interesting to have this thread right after the Bad Boy Myth thread just becuase I think it touches on two sides of the same issue. That is, what kind of man works in a drama vs. what works in real life.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-08-07 19:22 ]
Is there a Boy Next Door myth that goes along with the Bad Boy Myth? Cause if there's not, there should be. I mean, there must be some reason good guys or guys without any special supernatural powers get the short end of the stick every freaking time.

You know what? I never saw Riley as being bland. I saw him as simply being a nice, normal guy, which does not translate as no-win for me.

Or, take Charmed for instance. Piper was seeing the guy next door, Dan. A nice, normal guy. Yet who did she end up with? Leo, who was also a nice guy. But Leo was supernatural. Guess the writers thought his character made for a better story, so poof! Bye-bye Dan.
ll always recall the attacks on UPN's Threaded Bronze, from people otherwise my cyberfriends. Spuffy 'shippers mostly coming up with hideous torture and death dieas for Riley. He was off the show and amrried to another character. Wahtw as the point? (Well in the 21st Century hate is its own justification, I guess.)
Aw, I love Sam. Espenson made me love her. Especially this line:

"What--don't push their husbands at their exes? That's good, baby. It means I'm secure. I know you're mine."

I'm also enjoying Sam's emphatic encouragement based on the very practical reason that it's easier living their settled down life if there's "a planet under us."

I think Sam is going to be another character who benefits from the comics just like Kennedy. Especially with Espenson writing her. Her practicality and subtle humor are already apparent, but without the actress undermining the writing, Sam is appearing to be a very genuine, goodhearted individual.

One thing I'm beginning to get worried about is how this setup works. I'm assuming Riley was approached by the General for recruitment, but was that under Twilight's direction? Was Angel then setting up Riley to be a double agent, somehow knowing that Buffy would be asking him to spy for her? See, the problem with the usefulness of this issue is that the setup of the double agent mystery is not the complaint with Riley's character arc for Season 8. The complaint is that his being a double agent apparently helped zip, nada, nunca. And that's only going to be fixed by showing how Riley actually helped (or failed) Buffy as a double agent.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-08-07 22:22 ]
Is there a Boy Next Door myth that goes along with the Bad Boy Myth? Cause if there's not, there should be. I mean, there must be some reason good guys or guys without any special supernatural powers get the short end of the stick every freaking time.

You know what? I never saw Riley as being bland. I saw him as simply being a nice, normal guy, which does not translate as no-win for me.

Sorry, when I said no-win... wasn't actually referring to what I think of him. I was referring to how his charecter seemed to pan out for a lot of people. Riley was the rebound guy for the fanbase. He took all the brunt of all the Bangel angst and I daresay it probably made Spuffy more feasible.

And I actually totally agree. The nice guy can't be with a more powerful woman trope (and I'm saying trope instead of cliche because it appears people respond to it) is one that needs to get subverted quickly. Buffy, Xena (sexual-orientation politics aside), Charmed, True Blood, Angel (with both Darla and later Ilyria), and the lot seem to have an affinity for the idea that men must come equipped with equal super-powers to have a relationship or not be involved at all.

Which is an interesting concept since the reverse seems OK (Superman, Spider-Man, etc.) and the people making many of these series are for the most part literate in gender politics. For the record, I think both dynamics are OK to explore. The idea of superheroes shacking up together to me always smacked of a lazy shortcut to how would a superhero date and form healthy relationships.

One of the reasons I always held out hope for Xander and Buffy (after Riley)was that I thought Joss might try to subvert that trope.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-08-07 23:50 ]
azzer-That was very well-said. You and I are in pretty much total agreement. This is something that's bothered me for awhile. :)
Well I didn't quite take it as "un-super Riley vs the supermen", I mean Buffy was interested in Ben, Parker, Owen and Scott. In fairness, Parker was the one who cruelly thrust her to the side, the others are arguable in the pre/post Angel phase and Ben being half God, but Riley was very different. It wasn't (at least not to me) that he was intimidated by her strength on the physical scale, it was more of her responsibilities. Buffy did at some point suggest that her duty was something that Riley found fun to part take in. I figured the big issue for Riley was when Buffy had to take care of Dawn and their mother. He was reacting in a needy way because she wasn't. He was displaying her weaknesses.
Riley was bland through s4, but when he went to challenge Spike, he gained some autonomy. They brought in a character who was in the army, young and willing to take orders. That's all he was through s4, just a soldier(not diminishing the status of soldiers, he was pretty heroic in the end when fighting Forest.). But as he pushed harder for Buffy to express vulnerability he only developed more of that. Angel NEEDED Buffy, he was weak, but tried to hide it. Riley needed Buffy to need him. Buffy was the one who took care of people, his persistence would obviously drive her away further into her self reliance. Spike was a horse of a different colour. But at that time Buffy too was very different, so I don't really understand the ways in which fans of Spike could hate Riley. I don't really understand the Riley hate, i mean yeah he did get quite bold with vamps, and had a terrible excuse and everytime he gives Buffy the ultimatum I want her to punch him, but he was redeemed. Although I don't think he should have needed redemption. Those last few episodes where her mom was sick was just so wrong. But that's where they used him as a device for Spike.
I've had Buffy/Riley on the brain recently so pardon the long comment here.

There's also a trope that the Nice Guy gets the girl. That's the one that was being subverted when Buffy and Xander don't get together back in Season 1 and 2.

As for Riley dating superhero Buffy, I think it worked in Season 4 because Riley wasn't dependent upon his relationship with Buffy for his sense of self-worth. By Season 5 he's no longer a TA, no longer in school (presumably), and most importantly he's no longer the Initiative's head boy--it all means that the only thing Riley had left was Buffy. And when she wasn't giving him all that he felt he needed, when he wasn't the most important thing in her world the way he'd made Buffy the most important (only) thing in his, Riley began acting out. Ditching the gang to play kamikaze soldier with a nest of vamps and a bag of explosives, then getting bitten by vampires. Buffy and Riley's relationship imploded in Season 5, but it coincided with Riley self-imploding and Buffy not being able to fix him (though she tried damned hard to be there for him in Out of My Mind while he's running around acting self-destructive).

In the case of Riley, it wasn't the story of a nice, normal guy who couldn't get the superhero girlfriend. He had the superhero girlfriend. He got the girl, but because that became all he had, because his life felt like a crapshoot game he just lost, he flailed about in his own insecurities and self-imploded, taking his relationship with him.

When Riley returns in Season 6, he has his sense of self-worth back completely and now it's Buffy who's suffering an identity crisis. Riley not only has the mission back with all the supercool gadgets attached, but he has a wife who is fully his partner. With Buffy, she was always going to be the leader, the one who was stronger, the one in charge. Some people are okay with being beta to the alpha, but Riley? He wanted to be in charge or at least equally in charge (and he can be with Sam). In season 4 he and Buffy were equally in charge, having different spheres of influence that they each led and then they got together to work in tandem. But the demise of the Initiative upsets the power balance they'd established for their relationship.

I don't feel there's a trope that needs subverting because of how Buffy and Riley's relationship went down. The normal guy got the superhero girl--check that trope off the list. But then the normal guy (who isn't so normal after all since he was secret agent guy) had his life destroyed and this decimated his self-worth--he lost his own mission and couldn't stand being "the mission's boyfriend." Buffy was perfectly happy dating a normal guy; the normal guy wasn't happy with being just normal.

Riley tells Buffy his problem is that she doesn't need him enough, not the way those vampires needed him. But really his problem is that he doesn't feel needed by the world at large. So because he doesn't have a job or a mission but he does have a girlfriend, he puts all his eggs in one basket to determine how happy he'll be: Buffy doesn't love him enough, Buffy doesn't need him enough, Buffy doesn't do enough for Riley to feel good about himself. Is anyone shocked this didn't work out?

If Riley had more going on in his life in Season 5 besides just dating Buffy, sure he might have still broken up with her because he felt she was emotionally unavailable (but that would be his issue, not hers, Buffy's emotional self-reliance is a character trait she needs to survive as the Slayer), but I don't think he would've gotten suckjobs from vampires. In fact, he probably would've just straight-up told Buffy what he felt was missing to begin with and maybe they'd have talked and maybe Buffy would've tried to open up, maybe not. Maybe Riley would've admired how Buffy stood strong for her family and just been there to support her in whatever way she needed, instead of expecting her to need him in the way he felt he should be needed.

I think Sam is the better partner for Riley. Riley needs someone who's his equal and can share everything with him. But most of all, someone who can quit the life and go tend crops on a farm and have a family. Besides the having a family part, I have trouble seeing Buffy in that role which is no doubt Riley's dream of a happy future.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-08-08 02:31 ]

[ edited by azzers on 2010-08-08 03:57 ]
I always liked Riley. I think heís always been pretty underappreciated considering just how much he gave up after S4 and I donít think heís ever got enough credit for how much he evolved, either. Iíve never understood why heís so unpopular *shrugs*

And can I say I loved what they did in S5? Whether you're a man or a woman I'd say most people feel pretty unfulfilled if their life revolves solely around their partner. I loved that Riley had conflict about that considering he ditched his career, his friends and his studies all for Buffy. It was a very interesting role reversal and I've always stood behind the character for having issues with that, as I would any woman who didn't want to be defined by a man. I agree with most of what Emmie has said except for Buffy's emotional distance not being her problem. It becomes her problem when it effects her relationships with others, regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Buffy's my favourite character and I sympathise with her greatly but the breakdown of their relationship was partially her fault too.

I'm looking forward to this story a lot and more back-story on Angel is just an added bonus. I've always been pretty indifferent to Sam but I hope this story makes me more passionate about the character.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2010-08-08 04:06 ]
I've been rewatching Season 4 and Riley's fun in a dorksome way. I always liked his line in Season 5 also: "People say they're recycling. They're not recycling." He's so heartbroken and disappointed.

Buffy's emotional distance not being her problem. It becomes her problem when it effects her relationships with others, regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Buffy's my favorite character and I sympathize with her greatly but the breakdown of their relationship was partially her fault too.

Now, never said it wasn't also her fault that their relationship fell apart, but I do believe it's Riley's fault for how it crashed and burned so violently--Buffy was just being Buffy, Riley was having an existential crisis that led to a betrayal of trust in their relationship. I think that Buffy's emotional self-reliance ("No friends, no weapons, no hope, take all that away and what's left?"/"Me.") is necessary for Buffy's survival. Riley was upset that Buffy wasn't crying on his shoulder and leaning on him for support--Buffy was trying to stand tall on her own because that's how she has to stand tall a lot of the time. She didn't seek anyone else out to cry, but was mostly alone (Spike found her upset and offered comfort). Her strength in standing on her own, in being strong for others, is part of who she is. So it's her responsibility in as much as it's who she is, but I don't think that's the same as saying it's her fault. Is it someone's fault to be who they are?

Flip Buffy's gender and show a man crying alone over his mother's illness and his girlfriend probably wouldn't be having an existential crisis about her boyfriend not needing her enough--why? Because it's expected that a man cry alone to be a man, but that a woman must cry on her man's shoulder or else she's being emotionally unavailable. Why wasn't it enough for Riley to love Buffy for who she is? It wasn't though, especially not when Riley's life was in a state of flux. Riley later on said Buffy was "the strongest woman [he'd] ever known"--that strength he's admiring is not physical, but emotional. The very same emotional self-reliance he wished she'd let go of so she would lean on him. It's only in Season 6 when Riley no longer needs Buffy to share with him her emotional weakness that he's able to admire her strength. And if it's something to admire, then I wonder if by Season 6 he felt he was wrong to demand she change herself for him back when they were together.

There's certainly a balance to be struck between emotional self-reliance and emotional dependence, but I have trouble with Riley's assessment that "[Buffy] doesn't love [him]" in The Replacement coming off the end of Season 4 when Buffy's been incredibly emotionally there for him up to this point. I think his diagnosis of the situation is dictated by his own issues. If ever Riley was in a depressed state and unable to feel loved even when someone was loving him (which is how depression can manifest--you feel so unworthy that you can't possibly be loved), then I'd say the early part of Season 5 was it.

Finally, maybe Buffy didn't love Riley enough for him to be happy. You can't force love to be the right amount. I think Buffy clearly did love Riley, but apparently it wasn't enough. "This is the package" wasn't enough for Riley, so it's good that he went off and found fulfillment elsewhere.

I feel the greater responsibility for their relationship falling apart lies on Riley's shoulders because he was the one who had a problem but refused to talk about it with Buffy. Note, he was committing the very thing he accused Buffy of doing wrong--he wasn't sharing his pain and struggles with her. That's why I find it hypocritical for him to judge her for not leaning on him. He's been refusing to lean on her, even going so far as running away from her to hide in the Initiative caves and sneaking from their bed in the middle of the night to visit vampire dens.

Riley as a man can be emotionally secretive and work overtime to hide his emotional weakness and keep it private, but Buffy as a woman who works hard to be emotionally self-reliant (not for herself, but for others who need her to be strong) is then found at fault by her boyfriend. That's another distinction between the two. I think Riley kept his emotional weakness to himself because he wanted to be seen as strong by others (it's about what Riley needs), but Buffy built up emotional self-reliance because others needed her to be strong (it's about what others need). The needs of the many who needed Buffy to be strong outweighed the needs of her boyfriend who wanted her to be weak with him. Does anyone think Buffy wouldn't want to break down and cry on someone's shoulder, let herself be weak and let someone else be strong? How heartbreaking is that scene when Buffy turns up the Mexican music really loud so no one can hear her sobs as she's doing the dishes? And she went to the backporch to cry alone so that her mother and Dawn wouldn't hear her (Spike always finds her when she's in pain because "that's when [she's] alone"). I think Buffy's struggle has always been that she doesn't know how to let herself find strength by being weak, but then who does that isn't a philosopher? And with her own struggle to find strength in weakness, she also can't allow herself to cry in front of others because showing weakness (even emotionally) as a leader upsets the confidence in her strength (remember how everyone doubted her after the beatdown in Bring on the Night).

It makes Buffy and Riley's relationship a tragic end because who they both are became incompatible. Riley was desperately in need of reassurance, he needed to be needed, while Buffy needed to be self-reliant in order to be who she needed to be. That's the tragedy. But I have more sympathy for Buffy than Riley because I feel Riley was misguided in seeking affirmation through his girlfriend needing him when his problems were so much bigger than that (and seeking personal affirmation solely through a significant other is unhealthy and unfair to one's partner). Likewise, his going to vampire dens was a betrayal of trust, and his giving Buffy an ultimatum instead of actually talking out their problems and giving her time... these were all jerk moves. Buffy is at fault for who she must be, while Riley is at fault for not knowing who he is anymore then acting out his pain by endangering himself and hurting another.
Emmie,I keep seeing small statements that completely throw me off, althought to be honest I'm enjoying the posts.

Flip Buffy's gender and show a man crying alone over his mother's illness and his girlfriend probably wouldn't be having an existential crisis about her boyfriend not needing her enough--why?

I suppose that has never been my experience in real life. I agree there is a cliche that exists about men, but it has not been my experience that women are just "fine" with that... or more accurately that some are and some are not. But long term, most people aren't for the simple reason that it isn't intimacy. I had a friend tell me this one time (and it's probably the best advice I ever got about relationships), "you can be alone or you can be together but you can't be both."

And if women don't care about it... just a cursory google search for the phrase "emotionally unavailable men" on google brings back 3.2 million hits. I just don't see that s being a true statement. Change one word to women and the hits go down to 10K. I'd suggest that the Riley/Buffy was an intentional reversal of that cliche (as many things in Buffy are) and the point wasn't supposed to be, "just be yourself and everything works out." It's a nice sentiment, but there are times when everyone is incompatible unless you are a freak of statistics.

It makes Buffy and Riley's relationship a tragic end because who they both are became incompatible. Riley was desperately in need of reassurance, he needed to be needed, while Buffy needed to be self-reliant in order to be who she needed to be.

Agreed but with a huge "but". Any relationship existing is bound to have moments like this. Moments where one person is fine and the other person simply is not are not only common, but tend to sink a lot of relationships. My grandmother used to say, "every seven years", but this is a drama so we can shorten that to every other season.

I feel like I'm defending Riley (and in some ways I am) but to be honest I don't like Riley's actions any more than you do. What I think is happening is that we're underestimating the size of the charecter trap Riley has fallen into, overestimating Buffy a bit, and completely ignoring the complete lack of emotional intelligence BOTH of them display here.

Riley has (after season 4) found himself in a situation where he has lost all his friends by choosing to help Buffy (forget the relationship), lost his job for the same reason, watched his mother figure (family) die in the process, and finds himself only friends with the scoobies. They might be nice people, but they are Buffy's people. He can't vent on her with regularity with them. In other words (psychologically speaking), most non-destructive social coping mechanisms are out the window for him if Buffy isn't there. He should have probably taken up a hobby, he didn't. That he is inflating Buffy's importance is uncontested, that he had the tools or support system to do anything about it quickly is where I have serious doubts.

Meanwhile, in Buffy we find a charecter who is never without her friends and family. For all the platitudes of self-reliance, Buffy has always been able to "come home". Not always without fights, but she is certainly not shunned for any length of time longer than a few episodes. And when she is, she has coping mechanisms at hand... Spike in S7 for example. She may not act like she "needs" it, but she's never been without it when in need.. And since most other Slayers die early, I think we can infer that the message we're taking away that her friends and family have a large part to do with both her survival and her performance.

Think about one episode after Bring On The Night, Showtime where Xander and Willow help orchestrate a death match with the Turk-Han. I'd suggest their confidence wasn't shaken at all. And that's just it, friends don't need friends (even leaders) to show them that they're made of stone. I loved the Saul Tigh/Adama dynamic for that reason. That Buffy chooses to behave this way I think is one major weakness that Whedon has given her, and until she can figure out when she needs to "project" and when she needs to "be herself" she will continue to have problems.

And that was the thing about the Riley/Buffy relationship, can we really suggest that it was a healthy relationship anyway? With Spike AND Angel, Buffy certainly didn't feel the need to "project strength" but for some reason with Riley she did. In a sense, she felt the need to lie in her relationship and create distance. And that's why I just can't get on board with "Riley's Fault Express."

That to me was always Xander's point to Buffy in Into the Woods. I don't think it's too small a point to note that right after that speech, Buffy tries to stop Riley either.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-08-08 20:29 ]
Wow, thanks thoughtful fellow Whedonesquers, this has been a very interesting read, I love that fictional characters can elicit such detailed and interesting analysis. I first watched Buffy a few years ago, and I haven't re-watched it since, but reading threads like this makes me think I should!
Honestly Bluey, Whedon does such a good job with his shows I find half my fun is in watching charecters I previously didn't like. Both Riley and Dawn really grew on me in rewatch when I wasn't actively trying to hate them both. So watch away!

I've done it with every series and there are charecters I've come away with a lot of respect or at least less anger for.

A fun thing I like to do is change the protaganist when I'm watching and just think of what they must be thinking. Dawn, Agent Ballard, Lilah Morgan, and Riley were four that when I did this the series completely changes.

And I think what they all have in common, is that they are well developed charecters who don't see things the same way as the actual protaganist group, where the more commonly well liked ones like Wesley, Xander, Boyd (pre-crazy), Willow, and Adelle are easier to identify with. Or in some cases are made so harmless and cute that you can't hate them like Anya/Andrew/early Wesley.
That's a really interesting approach azzers (note to self, need to look up synonym for 'interesting'!) - I think I shall try it :-)

I'm also looking forward to picking up hints/foreshadowing now that I know what happens.
I know this is off the front now but I needed to point something out. Buffy's need to Be the Strong One has (not unexpectedly) run over into areas of ehr life where it doesn't have to be true. Specifically Joyce's illness; it was a serious lapse on her part to try to avoid letting him support her on that. Helped precipitate the problems.

And ultimately, like with, err, one or two other cliches the show subverted, what occurred on screen supported it.

As a sidenote, Buffy's inability to settle with a man who'd just be there for her, be waiting after patrol with a turkey sandwich and a cup of hot chocolate then massage out her super-strong back muscles might stem from her conventional, upper-middle-class background, having been raised to expect certain specific things from a man. Regardless of / because of how she's grown into her hero's role, that has stayed with her and mutated into a need to have a boyfriend who can fight alongside her.

Faith, on the other hand, she ever tries monogamy (ha!) might find a man like that just what she needs.

One reason why, in my futurefics,I have buffy partially disabled; the only way I knew to slow her down into a wife and workign mom.
I have buffy partially disabled; the only way I knew to slow her down into a wife and workign mom.

I don't know how to say this but just to say it. I find that very offensive and more than a little sexist.
Wait, now I don't want to get into an argument on people's personal desires for how a character should turn out, but for a second allow me to disagree with what you want. Sorry, I know it's a stupid thing to say that your opinion is destructive, but it is. It's destroying a character and may lead one (memnogirl and myself) to think that maybe you require a woman to be less than a man in many respects. Now I don't know how disabled you're making her, or in what regards, but either way you're taking away the qualities that create the character. By disabling her, you're denying her of her agency simply to fit into the realms of what a housewife should be. I don't read fanfic, but if I did, I hope the rest wouldn't be like this.
Wow... and yeah, that's all I have re: partially disabling Buffy because it's the only way you know how to "slow her down into a wife and working mom". It does come off as more than a little sexist, and pretty antithetical to some of the show's central tenets.
I like Riley lots. Basically I agree with azzers and Emmie that Riley's in an emotional trap in season five: he has to stay and be with Buffy, because she needs support when she needs support, but he also can't give her that support because the support he wants to give is not what Buffy wants. He ends up giving Dawn ice cream she doesn't want as a way of trying to express himself, and it's basically all he's got left. I am willing to give Buffy a hard time for not being aware of how damaged Riley is, of how little there is in his life without her; but she does, ultimately, try to talk to him on several occasions, and Riley just can't get through to her the way in which he's hurting (c.f. OOMM). And I think it's very important to mention that as much as Riley's life was falling apart in early season five, the way Buffy dealt with her mother's illness was not Buffy's fault--as long as she wasn't being actively cruel to anyone, she has the right to deal in her own way. I do think that Buffy didn't really think much about Riley, and did (c.f. Into the Woods) see him as someone to have around whenever it was convenient for her and not around whenever it wasn't convenient; he was the anti-Angel and he lacked all those qualities that made Angel an obsession for Buffy. It's very, very hard for the person left in the hallway as Riley was, and I love dearly that BtVS showed that; I've been in that position (the position of a friend or lover who doesn't know how to, and in fact can't, offer comfort to someone hurting) more often in my life than in Buffy's position of experiencing that pain. But it also doesn't mean that Buffy should have done anything differently through the illness itself. Or, for that matter, that Riley should have gotten suckjobs from vamps. (Hello, drugs & adultery & self-harm metaphors! How we've missed you!) Not cool, Riley. But good drama.
Wow this is some very thoughtful analysis. All I have to add is: He showed up early so he got to be cowboy guy :)

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