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The fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer originally aired on The WB television network from October 5, 1999 to May 23, 2000, concurrently with the first season of Angel series.

SynopsisEdit

Buffy begins college feeling completely overwhelmed. But once the monsters show up, it's just like old times. Then she starts dating Riley, a handsome commando battling the same monsters. He's part of a secret organization called Initiative, and Buffy is all too happy to join the team. But she soon suspects the Initiative may be more dangerous than the monsters they are supposed to be battling…

SummaryEdit

Season Four begins with Buffy and Willow enrolling at UC Sunnydale, while Xander begins his working life. While the first three seasons dealt metaphorically with adolescent struggles, their post-high school life now deals with issues of leaving home, redefining relationships, and adapting to more responsibilities and social pressures. UC Sunnydale sits not on a Hellmouth, but a top-secret military installation called Initiative. Special-ops soldiers pose as teachers, students, and fraternity brothers. The Initiative is headed by Maggie Walsh, Buffy and Willow’s Psychology professor. Riley Finn, with whom Buffy eventually finds a loving relationship, is Walsh’s teaching assistant by day and her protégé in the Initiative at night. Buffy and Riley strive to protect their secret identities from each other.

Though the Initiative appeared at first to be a well-meaning anti-demon operation, it is soon revealed that tests and operations are performed on supernatural beings. Among other things, the Initiative has combined demons, humans, and cybernetics into a prototype super-creature, Adam. An unwitting Buffy tried to integrate her work with that of the Initiative before finding herself in traps set by Walsh. Adam kills Maggie before escaping the Initiative. He masterminded a plan to create a third race, bio-mechanical demonoid creatures like him who would replace humans and demons. Riley discovers that the authority figures he had unquestioningly accepted are not so trustworthy after all.

Season four saw the return of the vampire Spike as a regular character, neutered by the Initiative with a microchip in his brain that prevented him from harming human beings. Spike was now one of the most morally ambiguous characters on the show.

Meanwhile, Oz departs as Willow develops a romantic relationship with fellow Wiccan Tara. Faith wakes up from her coma, and eventually escapes to Angel series. As Buffy and her friends grow apart, they eventually must reunite to defeat Adam through a spell that combines all of their powers into Buffy’s body. The Initiative is destroyed by the demons during the battle.

The main antagonist of this season was Adam.

CastEdit

Main castEdit

In order of character appearances:

Recurring castEdit

In order of character appearances:

EpisodesEdit

No. Image Title Air date
01 B4x01 Buffy Willow 01 "The Freshman" October 5, 1999
Writer: Joss Whedon Director: Joss Whedon
Trying to adjust to the rigors of college life proves to be harder than Buffy imagined. She moves into a dorm, must contend with a less-than-stable roommate and the complexities of dating college men. On campus, Willow is overly enthused about college life and her ongoing romance with Oz, and Xander unexpectedly returns from his self-discovery adventure. Elsewhere, Giles seems to be enjoying his life away from being a librarian and a Watcher.
02 S4stills012 "Living Conditions" October 12, 1999
Writer: Marti Noxon Director: David Grossman
Dorm life proves to be quite an adjustment for Buffy when her roommate drives her crazy with her idiosyncrasies even invading Buffy's dreams and the gang must come together to find away to get her to move out. Away from the dorm, Buffy meets Parker Abrams, a handsome older classman who is the first guy Buffy has been attracted to since her break-up with Angel.
03 S4stills013 "The Harsh Light of Day" October 19, 1999
Writer: Jane Espenson Director: James A. Contner
The underworld version of Sid Vicious, Spike, returns to Sunnydale in search of the vampire version of the Holy Grail, a mythical relic that supposedly engenders the wearer with unimaginable powers, and it's up to Buffy to stop him. Meanwhile, Buffy is distracted by dating issues as she deals with her feelings for a new boy who happens to not be a blood-sucking vampire, but is equally as difficult to understand. Xander has romance issues of his own when his prom date from last spring, Anya, can't get the X-man out of her mind.
04 B4x04 Oz Xander Willow "Fear, Itself" October 26, 1999
Writer: David Fury Director: Tucker Gates
Buffy reluctantly agrees to join Willow, Oz and Xander at a Halloween party where they stumble into a real-life house of horrors masquerading as an innocuous fraternity. Meanwhile, Giles is called upon to help out the college crowd when all he wants is to get into the spirit of the holiday.
05 Buffy Summers beer bad 2 "Beer Bad" November 2, 1999
Writer: Tracey Forbes Director: David Solomon
When Buffy is befriended by a group of upperclassmen who convince her to drown her sorrows with them, bartender Xander becomes suspicious when Buffy and her new friends return to their primordial roots. Back at The Bronze, Willow is aware of Oz's attention being turned to a new performer, the sexual and charismatic Veruca.
06 406 WildAtHeart "Wild at Heart" November 9, 1999
Writer: Marti Noxon Director: David Grossman
Buffy does her best to console Willow when Oz is undeniably drawn to another woman, Veruca. Even after it is discovered that his attraction stems from the fact that she is also a werewolf, his powerful primitive instincts may be too innate to ignore.
07 Initiative Spike Willow 01 "The Initiative" November 16, 1999
Writer: Douglas Petrie Director: James A. Contner
Unbeknownst to Buffy and the gang, Spike is captured by a commando squad for The Initiative, a mysterious underground laboratory beneath the streets of U.C. Sunnydale. Meanwhile, Buffy's Psych T.A., Riley, has a major slayer crush and turns to Willow for advice on ways to woo.
08 408 Pangs "Pangs" November 23, 1999
Writer: Jane Espenson Director: Michael Lange
Unbeknownst to Buffy, Angel lurks in the shadows of Sunnydale trying to protect her and keep her safe, while her perfect Thanksgiving feast is disrupted by an army of Chumash Indians, the original inhabitants of Sunnydale, whose spirits have come alive to recreate the wrongs that were done to their people.
09 409 SomethingBlue "Something Blue" November 30, 1999
Writer: Tracey Forbes Director: Nick Marck
Buffy is only one of many who must bear the repercussions of a spell gone awry when Willow, pining over the disappearance of Oz, tries to imbue herself with the power to have her will done. The fallout includes Buffy falling in love with Spike and planning to marry him, Giles going blind and Xander becoming even more of a demon magnet.
10 Gentlemen "Hush" December 14, 1999
Writers: Joss Whedon Director: Joss Whedon
A silence falls over Sunnydale when otherwordly beings come to town and steal the power of speech from all the residents. Meanwhile, Riley gets his first clue to Buffy's slayerside when they have a fight with the outside visitor, and Willow attends a Wicca group that's not all she had hoped.
11 411 Doomed4 "Doomed" January 18, 2000
Writers: Marti Noxon, David Fury, Jane Espenson Director: James A. Contner
While Buffy and Riley grapple to come to terms with what they now know about each other, the reopening of the Sunnydale Hellmouth sends Buffy and the gang back to high school to prevent impending apocalypse. Meanwhile, Spike has lost all will to live without the ability to kill, but he grows heartened by the approaching end of the world.
12 Giles-Xander 4x12 "A New Man" January 25, 2000
Writer: Jane Espenson Director: Michael Gershman
Buffy and Riley explore the extent of each other's powers as they become more romantically entwined. Feeling left out these days, Giles turns to his old buddy Ethan Rayne for camaraderie, but Giles must rely on an unlikely source when he is transformed into a demon and mistakenly hunted down by an unknowing Buffy.
13 413 InTeam "The I in Team" February 8, 2000
Writer: David Fury Director: James A. Contner
Buffy's friends become hurt and concerned when her involvement with Riley and the Initiative becomes more intense. Meanwhile, Professor Walsh sends the slayer on a mission that brings her close to revealing a dangerous secret.
14 414 GoodbyeIowa "Goodbye Iowa" February 15, 2000
Writer: Marti Noxon Director: David Solomon
Buffy and Riley's relationship is put to the test when she investigates Professor Walsh's death and comes up against the Initiative's secret weapon. While Buffy is trying to find a way to save Sunnydale from rogue warrior demon on the loose, Riley becomes paranoid and delusional and challenges Buffy when he discovers that his mentor has been killed. Elsewhere in town, Spike has become the outcast among demons since he has taken up with the Scooby-Doo Gang.
15 S4stills040 "This Year's Girl" February 22, 2000
Writer: Douglas Petrie Director: Michael Gershman
Buffy is preoccupied with catching the creature that attacked Riley, but her problems are just beginning when she learns that Faith has awakened from her coma and has gone seeking revenge to the only home in which Faith remembers Buffy living. Meanwhile, once she is set free, Faith receives a mysterious gift left behind from the Mayor.
16 Who Are You "Who Are You?" February 29, 2000
Writer: Joss Whedon Director: Joss Whedon
Buffy battles to escape the clutches of the Watcher's Council special operations team who plan to send her to England, while Faith continues to wreak havoc in the lives of Buffy's family and friends. Meanwhile, it's Willow and Tara who figure out Buffy's whereabouts, but not before Faith has done some serious damage to Buffy's relationship with Riley.
17 417 Superstar1 "Superstar" April 4, 2000
Writer: Jane Espenson Director: David Grossman
Buffy, still reeling from the discovery that Riley was intimate with Faith, must put aside her personal emotions and summon the strength to uncover why the entire town thinks that former high school nerd, Jonathan, is Sunnydale's newest version of a superhero.
18 418 WildThings "Where the Wild Things Are" April 25, 2000
Writer: Tracey Forbes Director: David Solomon
Buffy and Riley unleash a powerful supernatural force that awakens during a Lowell House fraternity party and causes everyone's hormones to kick into overdrive, threatening the very lives of Buffy and Riley. In order to free them, the gang must battle the spirits of children from the 1950s who have come back to avenge past abuses.
19 Tara oz new moon1 "New Moon Rising" May 2, 2000
Writer: Marti Noxon Director: James A. Contner
Willow and her friends are stunned when Oz returns to Sunnydale claiming he still loves Willow and has his full moon frolics under control. Meanwhile, Willow tries to sort out her feelings for Oz and finally tells Buffy about her new relationship with Tara. But when the moon sets, a transformed Oz is captured by The Initiative and an unlikely source breaks his alliance to come to the rescue
20 B4x20 Angel Buffy Riley 01 "The Yoko Factor" May 9, 2000
Writer: Doug Petrie Director: David Grossman
Buffy is even more certain of her love for Riley when Angel's surprise visit to Sunnydale brings Riley and Angel to blows. Meanwhile, Spike joins forces with Adam and devises a plan to tear the Slayer apart from her gang, leaving her wide open for her enemies to attack.
21 421 Primeval "Primeval" May 16, 2000
Writer: David Fury Director: James A. Contner
Buffy's estrangement from her friends and Giles threatens to keep the group from stopping Adam's plan to design a master race of human/demon hybrids. Elsewhere, Riley is captured by Adam and learns that before Professor Walsh death, she had implanted Riley with a chip that could destroy his power and bond him to Adam forever.
22 Restless Sineya Buffy "Restless" May 23, 2000
Writer: Joss Whedon Director: Joss Whedon
A primal animal force stalks Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles in their nightmares as they each come face to face with their worst fears.

Behind the scenesEdit

  • This season had the most crossover episodes with Angel series.
  • Season Four earned the series an Emmy Award "cinematography for a single camera" nomination for the critically acclaimed episode "Hush", as well as a "hairstyling" nomination for episode "Beer Bad".
  • Joss Whedon has stated about season four: "the loss of Angel actually made things easier, because it meant new places to go. What had become tough was wringing new changes out of that relationship. By season four we were into mission statements. What we said was this is the first year of college. The first year of college is about being able to do whatever the hell you want and completely losing yourself, trying on new identities and changing. Exploring sexuality, exploring freedom to screw your boyfriend all day long, which Buffy did do for a while."[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Ed Gross, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Turns 20: Joss Whedon Looks Back". Empire, March 9, 2017.
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