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"I was Rasputin's lover!"
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August 30 2010

"In Defense of Riley" by Jane Espenson. Jane Espenson tells us why she thinks that Riley Finn deserved his own one-shot story.

This is great. I heard Xander uses a stunt double sometimes in the trickier action panels, but I don't think it detracts from his performance at all.
I loved the Riley one-shot. It made perfect sense for the season and I didn't realize how much I would enjoy reading all about Riley.
I heard rumors that the Buffster doesn't do all her own flying, either.
I'm glad Riley got a One-Shot.I really enjoyed it.I especially liked how Sam was fleshed out.
Jane really can be quite adorable.

Now I have to go make sure Xander's eyepatch is always drawn on the correct eye. Which is something I'm kidding about. Possibly.
I haven't actually read the comics - still looking for a good deal on eBay xD - but I hate the people that hate Riley; I honestly do. Because they can't give legit arguments as to why they hate Riley. They don't like him for the same reason Buffy didn't stay with him: they liked Angel and Spike better. I can't stand it when people dislike him because of the other characters. Yeah, I love Spike, but honestly? I'll always like Riley better than Angel.
Jane Espenson, marry me. (And here I was thinking I was going to read an article trying to justify an issue that needed no justification!)
I think she's got it wrong. It's the shadow under Spike's right cheek bone that deserves it's own issue. And I think its got the fan base to back up that statement. Waaaay more than Angel's hair anyways.

Well personally I've been waiting for years for Parker to get the attention he deserves, everyone knows that Riley was just rebound guy after Buffy lost her true love, Parker.
It's not that Buffy doesn't do her own flying, they can't afford the insurance to have her do it. So it's not really her problem.

Angel can for some reason, but this is mainly due to vampire life insurance being dirt cheap.
Yes, vampires can no longer be turned down for affordable health care due to pre-existing conditions, but it's the tax payer who ultimately ends up footing the payouts.
I totally lost interest in the comics long long ago, but I do love Jane and always enjoy her take on things. I am facinated by how things actually work in almost any field. In this case I had no idea that the decision of who to give a comic one shot took into account the character's own commitment. Now that I think of it, of course it makes sense. Thanks Jane.

BTW, I have never really understood the Riley hate. I mean the poor guy was designed as the opposite of everything that the Buffy audience identified with, but ... hmmmmm ... I guess that could do it. Anyway, I just felt like he was a guy way out of his league who did not know how to deal with it. No reason to hate the guy.
It was pretty necessary given how randomly he turned up though it was vaguely disappointing that he had to share the limelight. (Also as charming as the characters came across, they both pretty much had the same position in every scene and reiterated it.)

Also I picked it up late and I couldn't find the discussion page, but did anyone catch if they ever explained why he doesn't have that facial scar anymore? Or am I thinking of a totally different character/show?
orangewaxlion, you're not wrong; he had a scar. The evidence.

I'm not reading the comics, so someone else will have to answer that part of your question.
I do hate Riley.

(The following represents only my views, and I only write it to try to answer those who wonder how someone who dislikes him might have a legitimate argument. Others may disagree and that's fine. I'm not trying to convince anyone of my position, only to provide it. )

I also am disappointed how it's so often assumed that anyone who dislikes him must be rooting for Angel or Spike. I wanted to see a strong and confident Buffy outside of any relationships. Imo she was by far more interesting in those Episodes when she could be herself and think as little as possible about romantic partners.

That being said, I did buy this One-Shot, but haven't yet worked up the will to read it. At my store, I seem to be alone in that, or nearly so. I went by the comic store last week and noticed that they still have the well over a dozen copies left that they did at it's release. It looks like they might not have sold any to anyone else, but I didn't ask. Perhaps people were unaware of it and will pick it up when they see the next issue of S8?
I love Janes work, and we definitely needed a Rylie story. Was i the only person that loved that Rylie got married and had an awesome wife.

I agree Riley was dull. I also agree with your contention that disliking Riley automatically means that Buffy should be with Spike or Angel. Personally, I think Riley was best suited to Buffy of the three, but I also think that she should not have been with any of them.

Let's think about real life: If I had a best friend in all the world (Buffy), would I want her to date any of the following: 1) A man who cannot see her in daylight and who will kill her and her friends if they become intimate; 2) A man who has repeatedly tried to kill her and her friends, has stalked her, and has attempted to rape her; or 3) A man about whom Buffy is luke-warm, and who, though decent, doesn't interest her?

I think Buffy hasn't met her man yet. Poor girl needs to branch out.
It's Into The Woods trying so hard to put the blame on Buffy for the end of their relationship that makes me livid about the guy. He's just boring most of the times, not really hate material. Just yawn. But then Xander has his stupid speech making Buffy into the bad guy and Buffy runs to stop the helicopter and I.Just.Lose.It.

That said, I got the one-shot for collection reasons and Jane Espenson BUT it was a nice issue and a nice read.
Awww, I love Riley, Jane. I do love Xander more, but yes, I love Riley.
I've always liked Riley as a character, just not for Buffy. He played such a major part in illustrating Buffy's development, and was at heart, decent and well meaning.
Heh. Jane is great!

I never understood the Riley hate either. I thought he was a good guy. I didn't find him dull or dumb and I think he tried to understand Buffy and to fit himself into her life. In the end they may not have been right for each other, but that doesn't make either of them the bad guy(or gal). Nor do I think either of them was 100% at fault. It just didn't work out.
Lousy couple, no chemistry, and the helicopter run made me livid.

But a fanfic writer made me love Riley retroactively. Fun article, Jane makes me laugh.
Shey: That's close to my take. As an unreconstructed Cold War conservative, I liked Riley himself (except insofar as he was played as a stereotype but that's media politics) but as an old-fashioned Roamntic, I couldn't see him with Buffy.

I agree about his self-absorption, but hey, this is the Buffyverse, that's how people here are (except my much-adored Tara.)
I liked Riley a lot and he delivered one of the best lines of the show "but she doesn't love me". Fantastic scene.
I loved, loved, loved the Riley one-shot, and I missed the original post so I'm glad it was brought up again.

He was either the perfect character for one, or Jane Espenson made it perfect for him-- or, more likely, both. I love her writing and her love for characters, and it shows, it really does. Every panel, his voice was perfect, true Riley (and Sam too). No one can do that except for the big J himself. Loved the issue so much, I can't use the word love enough in this paragraph.
Very clever, funny article. Jane is awesome as we all know. I've always liked Riley. He's always been a great character and the hate for him has never made any sense to me, much like how I don't understand the unreasonable hate fans have for season 4 and 5, which produced two of Buffy's best episodes of all time(Hush and Once More with Feeling).

Great one shot. I hope to see more of these in season 9
I couldn't hate Riley because I never cared that much about him either way. He aroused no passion in me, positive or negative.

However, Espenson is one of the few non-Joss writers who I trust to write these characters. She gets the voices down pat.
Received my copy yesterday and liked the opening pages of Riley and Sam in Iowa the best. Some of the artwork in the issue was questionable, but the writing was spot on. Thank you, Jane!
Riley did deserve a one-shot given his role in the comic and his run on the tv show, but I think he actually deserved something better than being jerked around by Twilight, all just to set up a second meeting between the two. The missile silo, the plane, the parachuting, the boat, the missile exploding, the island - all that was just filler. None of it was at all necessary. It didn't tell us anything about Riley, all it did was provide a background for Riley and Sam's extended conversation. And in that conversation we learned more about Sam than Riley. There was no great revelation about why Riley did what he did.

When you're dealing with a double agent situation there's a lot of questions that need answering. Why does Twilight want Riley, why does Riley think Twilight wants him, why does Riley want to work with Twilight, why does Twilight think Riley wants to work with him, etc. With Angel at this point seemingly still a good guy, most of these questions are quite easy - he wants Riley to pass info to Buffy, that's why Riley will join and Angel knows it. The tricky one is why does Riley think Twilight wants him.

The comic tries to address it through Sam, but the answer doesn't convince. Why would an evil (from their point of view) Twilight specifically want Riley? Because he's so useful and he hates magic so much that he'd fight against Buffy? No. No way should they be thinking that. Obviously, they should be thinking that Twilight wants Riley so he can, in some way, get to Buffy. And that should make them very cautious. But they just go ahead with that never occurring to them.

My other issue in this area is Angel's reply to Whistler's question about Riley because it wrecks one of the bits I just said was "quite easy".

Whistler: Is he gonna sign up?
Angel: Riley Finn? Maybe. He's no fan of magic. Very "humans first."

This, for me, is so annoying. Angel can be completely honest with Whistler, so this is what he really thinks. He believes that Riley will actually join up because he genuinely agrees with Twilight's stated aims. A) That's ridiculous and B) Why is he hiring Riley then? The whole point should be that Angel wants Riley because he knows he'll betray him and pass info to Buffy. That's why you hire Riley and that's why he'll join. Otherwise it makes no sense.

(Oops, that was a bit long. You can tell I read the issue after the thread for it had died. ;)
Heck, I'm so fuzzy on what's gone before I didn't even relaize that conversation was illogical.

I've never re-read the mags.
Angel: Riley Finn? Maybe. He's no fan of magic. Very "humans first."

See, this is where I have the problem. I have seen every Riley episode a countless number of times and NOT ONCE does he ever say anything of the sort.

And more to the point, Angel himself had very little contact with Riley. How the heck would he even know that?
I don't know how Angel knows anything about Riley, but I can see how someone would think of Riley as being anti-magic [and] very "humans first" because of his time in the Initiative. Riley did take the governments position that delineated all demons into savage monsters compared to humans. Riley did begin to come around to more of the Scoobies thoughts on the matter (like with Oz) but I can't see any problem with somebody describing Riley the way Angel did. Especially for someone with only a peripheral understanding of Riley, which is at most what Angel could have, unless there's something there not showing us about the level of the two characters involvement with each other.
I wasn't talking about the "humans first" part of the quote, I was talking about the part I bolded. The Initiative itself had nothing to do with magic. Riley himself never showed any dislike of magic.
Well reading it as a complete quote, I thought that the way Angel added: Very "humans first", suggested that he see's magic/demons/slayers as the same thing, coming from the same place. One begets the other begets the other. That's how I read it. So it didn't seem strange to me that he thought Riley, who was very anti-demon, especially before he meet Buffy, (and has since devoted his time to hunting down demons all over the world), wouldn't be a fan of magic either.
But the point is Angel should be hiring Riley because he's loyal to Buffy and disagrees with Twilight. The idea that Riley would really sign up for killing slayers is nonsense and Angel must know that. No thought has gone into that piece of dialogue.
The idea that Riley would really sign up for killing slayers is nonsense and Angel must know that. No thought has gone into that piece of dialogue.

Disagree completely. I read that piece of dialogue and thought it was completely natural, coming from someone outside the Scoobies. Angel doesn't know Riley like Buffy does.

The one time Angel and Riley met, they fought. Riley wouldn't accept Angel because he was a vampire. There was the Buffy-ex aspect of it too (which Riley wouldn't quite admit, even to himself, in that episode), but Riley made no bones about it: Angel was a vampire, he was not ok, he would never be ok. It is 100% believable that Angel would think Riley, of all characters in the verse, would be up for the Twilight gig.
Why would Angel think that Riley would genuinely fight against Buffy? If there's one thing that Angel knows about Riley, it's that he's loyal to Buffy. And if Angel isn't recruiting him because he knows Riley will betray him and pass info to Buffy, then why is he recruiting him?

To have him work as a double agent against Buffy? The only way that was ever believable was because we were assuming, if it was shown to be true, that something terrible had happened to Riley, such as a rogue slayer killing Sam. As nothing like that happened, the only way I can read it was that Angel sending Riley to Buffy was to give him the chance to betray Twilight and pass info to Buffy.

Angel recruiting Riley to allow him to help Buffy fits the story. Angel became Twilight reluctantly, he wanted to tell Buffy and he's supposed to be minimizing causalities. Through Riley he can help Buffy and give her info without breaking his cover to either of them.

What is the alternative? Angel specifically wanted Riley because he's so awesome? Because he'll definitely be loyal to some magical guy called Twilight who Riley's met once before as opposed to Buffy? I don't see it.
Angel also doesn't necessarily know that Riley and Buffy are on good terms. The last anyone saw of Riley, except for one episode, he was riding off in a helicopter angrily. It was a pretty bad breakup. And he's married now. To an outside observer, it would look like they're on bad terms. Combine that with the rest (the Initiative, humans first, etc), and again, it seems more than plausible to me.
I don't agree, but let's not go round in circles. Why do you think Angel wants Riley if not for the reasons I've described?

(If you or anyone else wants to refer to points from #36, could you please give a warning first as it's not out in the UK until tomorrow or possibly Friday. Thanks.)
Why Angel wanted Riley in particular? Honestly, because they're both major characters from the Buffyverse, no other reason. Angel could have picked any military guy that was as good or better than Riley. And someone with less strings (someone with a 0% chance of betraying him and being a double agent for Buffy, for example). But, hey, it is what it is, the writers find ways to involve characters even if in the real world, it wouldn't be all that plausible.

Why did random vampires pick on Dawn so much more than the other girls from Sunnydale High?
That's a completely fair answer. Having read #36, I'm increasingly worried that things aren't going to be answered in a way I find remotely sensible. I've been holding out, hoping for character motivations that are complex and clever, but I now think that looking for the type of logic in their actions that I have been, is not worthwhile.

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