Buffy the Vampire Slayer/The Initiative

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The Initiative
Season 4, Episode 7
Airdate November 16, 1999
Production Number 4ABB07
Writer(s) Douglas Petrie
Director(s) James A. Contner
← 4x06
Wild at Heart
4x08 →
Buffy the Vampire SlayerSeason Four
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The Initiative is the seventh episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the sixty-third episode overall.

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), James Marsters (Spike)

And: Anthony Stewart Head (Giles)

Guest Starring: Marc Blucas (Riley Finn), Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall), Adam Kaufman (Parker Abrams), Bailey Chase (Graham Miller), Leonard Roberts (Forrest Gates)

And: Lindsay Crouse (Maggie Walsh)

Co-Starring: Mace Lombard (Tom), Scott Becker (Lost Freshman)


Plot Overview


Monster of the Week

Though not actually monsters, The Initiative makes its first in-depth appearance and appears to be a military organization dedicated to killing demons.

Body Count

# Whom By Whom How Where
1 Tom Initiative Soldier Staked Initiative Prison


  • "Bodyrock" by Moby: When Buffy and Willow come to the party, the song playing in the background is "Bodyrock" by Moby. The song is the third single from his 1999 electronica album Play, which was notable for being the first album to have all its songs licensed for movies, commercials or television.

Arc Advancement


  • The Initiative: Not only is The Initiative revealed in all its grandeur, but Maggie Walsh appears to be the leader of the organization. Also involved in "Special Agent" Riley Finn and his two friends, who are at a lower rank. Finn, when explaining his predicament regarding Buffy to his friends, describes himself as a demon hunter, although the full extent of the group's purpose is not known. It is also shown that they have been keeping demons (particularly vampires) captive to use as guinea pigs in their experiments.


  • Spike: Spike's fate following his tasering and capture in the previous episode is revealed when he wakes up in an electrified prison cell under watch by the Initiative. He's designated "Hostile 17" and although he escapes from their custody, the full effects of the Initiative are felt later on. Spike is no long able to harm humans and suffers a psychological episode whenever he tries due to an implant. Spike also mentions that he's 126 years old.


  • 4x01 - The Freshman: Tom, one of Spike's cellmates, was part of Sunday's vampire crew. Buffy staked most of them, but the one who escaped was captured by the Initiative before he could get away for good.
  • 2x06 - Halloween: Xander has had several brief flirtations with the military, all stemming from a Halloween when most of Sunnydale was transformed into the costumes they bought from Ethan Rayne. Xander has kept much of that acquired knowledge stashed away, but his inability to check his handgun proves that the army know-how has faded over time.
Xander: Requisitioned it, back when I was military guy.
  • 3x12 - Helpless: Buffy admitted to Willow and Xander that she figure skated as a little girl and has traditionally gone to see the Icecapades with her father annually on her birthday.
Willow: Loves Icecapades without the irony.
  • 3x08 - Lover's Walk: The last time Willow saw Spike, he held her captive so that she would be forced to cast a love spell on Drusilla. He directly references the encounter after he "fails to perform" in Willow's dorm room.
Willow: Spike! What do you want, a spell? I can do that!


The Show

  • Credits: Due to Oz's sudden departure in the previous episode and Seth Green leaving the show for a film career, his place in the opening credits has been taken by James Marsters.
  • Hall Residents: Spike uses a computer to figure out which room Buffy lives in at Stevenson Hall and, consequently, also pulls up room numbers and names of other residents. Many of the names are real people who work on the show including co-producer David Solomon, hair stylist Lisa Rosenberg and stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt. The full list is:
Peralta, JD (509)
Parker, Eric (399)
Pruitt, Jeff (111)
Robinson, Judy (311)
Ruskin, Victoria (208)
Rosenthal, Cindy (213)
Rosenberg, Willow (214)
Rosenberg, Lisa (519)
Solomon, David (216)
Starkey, Mike (312)
Speed, Tim (416)
Solis, Leo (520)
Summers, Buffy (214)
Suta, Bryan (319)
Theriault, Paul (511)
Thomson, Kelly (613)
Tomb, Brooks (905)
  • Full Name: The one and only time that Oz's full name is said aloud is in this episode when Willow, fully in denial over his leaving, tells Riley that he left "Daniel 'Oz' Osbourne" off his role call.

Behind the Scenes

  • International: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been dubbed into many different languages and the title translated for each different international version. Some international translations of this episode's title are:
    • French: "Intrigues en Sous-Sol" ("Intrigue in the Basement")
    • Italian: "Le pattuglie della notte" ("The Night Patrols")
    • German: "Die Initiative" ("The Initiative")
    • Spanish: "La Iniciativa" ("The Initiative")

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments