"The I in Team" is the thirteenth episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the sixty-ninth episode in the series. Written by David Fury and directed by James A. Contner, it originally broadcast on February 8, 2000 on The WB network.
FRIEND OR FOE — 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.
Willow, Anya, and Xander play poker and discuss Xander's plans to start selling Boost bars. They question the intentions of Riley and the Initiative. Buffy impresses Professor Walsh as she quickly passes a test of her strengths and fighting talents. Buffy talks about her night but Willow's quiet evening spent with friends doesn't seem to compare. The Scooby Gang has plans that night to meet at the Bronze.
Giles visits Spike at his new crypt and gives Spike the money he's owed for helping him when he was transformed into a Fyarl demon. Spike tries to make it clear that he has no interest in helping them anymore. Riley takes Buffy into the Initiative, which she is incredibly impressed to see. Led by Professor Walsh, Buffy is given the tour of the facility, and then is basically made a member of their team. Tara tries to give a doll's eye crystal to Willow, but Willow doesn't want to accept, because it is Tara's family heirloom. Tara asks if they can perform some spells that night, but Willow has to turn her down due to her plans with the others at the Bronze and also declines to take Tara worried that she might feel out of place. Trying to hide her hurt, Tara hurries away to class. Professor Walsh enters the secure labs and the room 314. After exchanging words with her colleague, Dr. Angleman, Professor Walsh checks up on her special project, a part-demon, part human creature named Adam.
Buffy is an hour late meeting her friends, and when she does show, she brings Riley and other Initiative members. Willow is upset saying that she could have invited someone to come as well if she'd known it was an open gathering, but when Buffy asks who she wanted to invite Willow pretends it was hypothetical and doesn't mention Tara. Willow then questions how much trust Buffy should put in the Initiative, reminding her of 314 and that they don't know the organization's ultimate agenda, only for Buffy to rush off with Riley and friends when all of their pagers go off. After being abandoned by Buffy, Willow goes to Tara's dorm room. At a briefing, Professor Walsh and Dr. Angleman explain that they're tracking a Polgara demon and want it bringing in with its arms undamaged. Walsh is annoyed when Buffy asks questions during the briefing and refuses to wear camouflage. Forrest also finds himself developing a dislike of Buffy's presence in the Initiative, as she takes his spot on Riley's team despite him being placed in charge of his own squad.
Forrest spots "Hostile 17" — Spike — and sends his team after the vampire. As Spike is running away, they shoot him with a tracer so that they'll be able to keep track of his location. The demon attacks; Buffy and Riley team up and fight it together. Afterward, they go to Riley's dorm room and have sex. Professor Walsh watches from a secret camera hidden in Riley's room.
Desperate, Spike goes to Giles for help and is forced to give up the last of Giles's money in exchange for that help. The next morning, Buffy is surprised to see Riley is still in bed by her side when she wakes. They talk, but when Buffy asks about 314, Riley gets a call from Professor Walsh, requesting his help. Walsh talks with Dr. Angleman and they decide that Buffy is becoming a liability to the Initiative and a distraction for Riley. They decide to eliminate her immediately.
Giles tries to remove the tracer from Spike's shoulder, but it's difficult and they don't have much time. Buffy gets back to her dorm room to find that Willow also stayed out all night. A few seconds later Willow returns, now carrying the crystal she had previously refused to accept from Tara.
Buffy is beeped by the Initiative and is sent on a new mission — to find a class 3 (not very dangerous) creature and transmit a picture of it to Maggie Walsh. She is told it will be an easy mission. Wearing a microphone and camera, complete with a heart monitor, Buffy goes on the mission alone, but it turns out to be a trap set by Professor Walsh. Instead of being a small and non-dangerous demon, it turns out to be two very large demons who are both armed, and who Buffy had previously seen imprisoned at the Initiative. Steel doors slam shut, trapping Buffy in a small area of the sewers with the demons. She attempts to use the Initiative weapon that Professor Walsh gave her, but it is defective and doesn't work. Meanwhile, Riley is kept out of the way by being sent out with a team to find and recover Hostile 17.
With Willow doing a spell to mask the tracer's signal from the Initiative to buy them time, and Spike passed out from drinking, Giles continues his attempts to get the tracer out of the vampire's shoulder. It is finally removed and flushed down the toilet just in time to save Spike from Riley and his team.
Buffy fights with the two demons, while Professor Walsh watches a screen at the Initiative that is hooked up to the feeds from Buffy's monitor and camera. Buffy fights and the heart monitor loses her heartbeat when she drops it to the ground. When Riley returns from his mission, Professor Walsh informs him that Buffy is dead, and makes up a story about Buffy going out on her own to attack some demons, despite protests from Maggie. At that point, having killed the two demons, Buffy comes on to the camera feed and informs Walsh that her attempts to kill her failed, promising to show her how powerful a Slayer really is. Riley sees this, and then walks out on Walsh, while she's pleading with him to come back.
Buffy returns to Giles's place, now very upset that the Initiative cannot be trusted and that it probably has it in for all of the Scoobies in addition to herself. An agitated Walsh goes into room 314, where there is the Frankenstein-like creature, Adam. She unleashes him and starts talking about what she is going to do with Buffy. An arm from the Polgara demon Buffy and Riley were sent out to capture has been attached to him. The Initiative has not only been running tests, but using various body parts from demons to build Adam. When Adam wakes, he spears Professor Walsh with a skewer from the Polgara arm, speaking one word: "Mommy."
- As promised, Giles pays Spike for his help in "A New Man." Later, when Spike asks for his help, Giles points out that Spike didn't help him "out of the evilness of his heart," which is exactly what Spike said when Giles asked for his help.
- Buffy says about the pager Professor Walsh gives her: "I've been thinking about getting one of these"; she had one in "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date."
- Willow recalls Ethan Rayne's warning about the number 314 ("A New Man").
- One of the arc themes of Season Four, Buffy's friends feeling alienated from her role as the Slayer, is portrayed when Willow feels left out and hesitant about Buffy joining the Initiative. In the previous episode, it was Giles who felt left out of Buffy's life and duties. This theme culminates in and is resolved by "Primeval."
- It is in this episode that Willow and Tara's relationship takes a romantic turn; although no romantic affection is explicitly shown, it can be inferred from the quality of their interactions. This will be first mentioned in "New Moon Rising."
- Riley tells Buffy, "I know she [Professor Walsh] likes you. In fact she liked you before I did... Told me so herself." After Buffy stood up to Professor Walsh in "The Initiative," Walsh told Riley that she liked Buffy before he figured out that he had feelings for her.
- The fact that Buffy immediately has sex after a tense fight with the Polgara demon seems to prove Faith's theory that slaying makes one "hungry and horny," as stated in "Faith, Hope & Trick." However, Buffy didn't actually kill the demon, but this notion does seem to have some substance since Faith did have sex with Xander in "The Zeppo" after he saved her from a demon.
- The scene in which Buffy wakes up in Riley's bed after sleeping with him is a parallel or contrast to the episodes in which Buffy sleeps with Angel ("Innocence") and with Parker ("The Harsh Light of Day"). Each scene is similar in its portrayal of Buffy awakening, but this one is the only one in which Buffy wakes up and the man is still next to her; Buffy appears moderately surprised that this is the case.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Adam, who will become the season's Big Bad, to be defeated in "Primeval."
- Professor Walsh becomes one more of Buffy's teachers to be killed, after Stephen Gregory, the She-Mantis ("Teacher's Pet"), and Jennifer Calendar ("Passion").
- Francis Angleman
- Riley Finn
- Forrest Gates
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Anya Jenkins
- Tara Maclay
- Graham Miller
- Neisa (Only mentioned)
- Ethan Rayne (Only mentioned)
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Maggie Walsh
Organizations and titles
- Bio-mechanical demonoid
- Higher being (Only mentioned)
Rituals and spells
- One Polgara demon, dissected by Maggie Walsh and Francis Angleman.
- Two unidentified demons, killed by Buffy Summers.
- Maggie Walsh, impaled by Adam.
Behind the scenes
- The brand of energy bars, Boost, is the name of an actual bar in real life, though it does not include the features Xander describes for the product seen in the episode.
- About Maggie Walsh's departure and the reveal of this season's Big Bad, producer Doug Petrie has said: "It's very much a Frankenstein story wherein someone creates a monster and then the monster is out of their control. That's what this was. We knew from the beginning that Maggie Walsh was going to be killed by her own creation. Then we got Lindsay Crouse, the great Lindsay Crouse. This is the episode where sadly she shines the most and this is her best episode. As often happens, just when things really start cooking, they've got to go. She's one of the bigger names that we've gotten on the show and we know that we had her for a limited time, so there was a practical consideration as well. It's very much in the vein of Frankenstein's monster and we felt it essential that the first thing the monster do is kill its creator — to hand over the baton as it were and give someone else the villain's mantle for season four."
- David Fury named two characters in this episode after regular posters at the Buffy.com posting board, The Bronze — specifically the Polgara demon and Dr. Angleman. "Polgara" is also the name of a character in the David Eddings book series The Belgariad and The Mallorean. She's also the main character in his novel Polgara the Sorceress.
- An exchange in the elevator cut due to length:
- Riley: "That panel — say something into it."
- Buffy: "My mind's a blank."
- Buffy goes off:
- Buffy: "Slick trap you set for me. Sorry to disappoint you, but I killed your two pets. There's a couple of research grants down the drain. Oh, and about you trying to kill me? I'd say that's an issue you and I need to discuss. So get ready. I'll be paying you a visit. Real soon."
Pop culture references
- Spike refers to Willow as Teen Witch.
- Xander wears a shirt with the fictional superhero Captain America's shield.
- When Buffy says, "Oh, you mean the camo and stuff. I thought about it, but on me it's gonna look all Private Benjamin," she references the 1980 Goldie Hawn movie of the same name.
- Buffy compares the Initiative headquarters to the Grand Canyon.
- Buffy catches Riley eating a Twinkie snack cake for lunch.
- Willow mentions demons and vampires working as bag boys at Walmart.
- Buffy talks about seeing behavior modifications on animal shows on the Discovery Channel.
- While getting the tracker removed from his back, Spike refers to the song Rock the Casbah and the Jew's harp.
- Spike's chip seems to not work temporarily, as he is able to toss one commando into a tree and throw a bag of groceries at another without reeling in pain.
- Black Lab — "Keep Myself Awake"
- Delerium — "Window To Your Soul"
- Lavish — "Trashed"
- Christophe Beck — original score
- Armenian: "Ես խմբում եմ" (I Am Group)
- Czech: "Týmová práce" (Teamwork)
- Finnish: "Huippuyksilö" (Top Individual)
- French: "Piégée" (Trapped)
- German: "Schein und Sein" (Appearance and Reality)
- Hungarian: "Az 1. a csapatban" (The 1st in the Team)
- Italian: "Il Tranello" (The Trap)
- Japanese: "チームの中のバフィー" (Buffy in the Team)
- Polish: "Ja tu dowodzę" (I'm in Charge Here)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Meu Papel na Equipe" (My Role in the Team)
- Romanian: "Eu-ul din echipă" (I'm in the Team)
- Russian: "Я в команде" (I'm in Team)
- Spanish (Latin America and Spain): "Trabajo en Equipo" (Teamwork)
|Willow: "I mean, OK, yeah, they neuter vampires and demons. But then what? Are they gonna reintegrate them into society? Get them jobs as bag boys at Wal-Mart?"|
|Buffy: "Does Wal-Mart have bag boys?"|
|Willow: "Guess she's out with Riley. You know how it is with a spanking new boyfriend."|
|Anya: "Yes, we've enjoyed spanking."|
|Buffy: "Will, I think you better get used to— A Twinkie?! That's his lunch? Oh, he is so gonna be punished."|
|Willow: "Everyone's getting spanked but me."|
|Willow: "A funny thing happened with my prior social engagement. Pretty much ended when a friend of mine went off to do something with another crowd she hangs out with. Irony is kind of ironic that way."|
|Buffy: "Professor Walsh. That simple little recon you sent me on… Wasn't a raccoon. Turns out it was me trapped in the sewers with a faulty weapon and two of your pet demons. If you think that's enough to kill me, you really don't know what a Slayer is. Trust me when I say you're gonna find out."|
- "The Mortuary." Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Archived from the original on May 10, 2000.
- "Doug Petrie, Buffy Producer's guide to season four - The I in Team." BBC - Cult - Buffy. Retrieved on January 30, 2018.