Not good that the guy felt that messed up in the first place. He got messed with biochemically, got depressed (see moping, drinking alone, sitting in the dark, and being convinced nobody loves him and he's useless now), went looking for extreme experiences to feel something through the grey, especially adrenalin rush stuff, and ended up really screwed up.
But he blamed Buffy for how he was feeling. Instead of saying 'I feel disconnected' he's all 'she's distant'. And I get the sinking feeling the source text meant to agree. Like, the writers actually think Buffy did something wrong. Xander's little speech as writer ventriloquism.
Problem though? It's utterly baseless. Saying Buffy treated Riley like rebound guy? In what world? Buffy had other stuff to deal with. Real life stuff. She delegated the Slayer stuff. She delegated parts of the real life stuff. The job she stuck with was being primary carer for her mom, which on occasion meant speaking for her, dealing with the doctors, being the one with a functioning brain who could understand both her incoherent elder and the medical data she was meant to make decisions around and follow. She couldn't delegate any of that, so she stuck with it, and it was really, really hard. And not made easier by the thing where the person she delegated to? Didn't show up. Riley, when given essential tasks, bailed. And then blamed Buffy for not, what, leaning on him more? Relying on him more? She did rely on him, and he just acted like it was beneath him. Because he wasn't missing her trust. The only thing he didn't get from her was desperation. 'Need', he says. She needed him. She told him how she needed him. But that wasn't what he wanted. He felt slighted that she hadn't cried on him? Why? If that's not what she needed? He only makes sense if what he wanted was her pain, her fear, her suffering. Wanted to watch her cry so he could feel like the big man and take care of her. But she took care of herself and didn't need that from him. So, what, he leaves?
That confrontation in the training gym behind the magic shop, he keeps grabbing her by the upper arm. That's not something guys do to each other much, it's something more done by guys to women, it's a control move. And she doesn't physically shove him away, though she could. She tells him to get his hands off her. Three separate times he does that and three times she tells him to let go, and the third he's all "Or you'll what? Hit me? Come on, hit me."
That's just plain messed up. He's fishing for reactions, and the ones she's having aren't enough, and it's not because she doesn't love him enough. It's because she's not losing control. She isn't in enough pain or fear to resort to violence. He keeps pushing her, he's actually trying to get her to lose control.
That isn't love.
That isn't a lack of love he's feeling.
He's got serious problems, he's refused to share, he's not admitted he needs help or feels less than fine, all the feedback he's given her is that things are okay, except that one time they kept putting in the previouslys where he tells her to share what's going on with her and as far as I can tell after that she did. He kept hiding things from her, not the other way around. But he, Xander, and as far as I can tell the story acts like she's somehow been holding back.
So very wrong.
And, okay, the evidence I'm using to call it wrong is also in the story, Xander is far from without error, and maybe the writers knew Buffy was reasonable. That would be much less annoying.
But right now I'm so annoyed at Xander and his mansplaining of her feelings. Buffy has every right to feel whatever she feels, to feel that an out of the blue ultimatum from a guy who is not acting consistent with the guy she fell for is actually a problem. And what was that crap about 'reliable' really meaning 'convenient'? That's moving the argument sideways when the real answer is Riley hasn't been reliable, and the ways he's unreliable have risked all their lives. Convenient is bullshit.
So Xander says 'run' and she runs, and I'm left super pissed off at Xander.
But the further it gets from the moment of production the more prominent the last problem gets:
Riley has a phone.
Riley has a mobile phone, in his pocket, which he used to phone the army guys in the previous episode. And which Willow then used to phone him. So Riley has a perfectly ordinary phone with a phone number the Scoobies know.
Buffy is in the alley behind the magic shop, which has a phone.
And Buffy has 20 minutes to get a message to Riley.
... the more we get used to everyone having a phone, the more egregiously stupid missing each other by seconds looks.
But okay, the writers wanted rid of reliable Riley, so they demolished him and sent him away.
Spike is fun, but a story that gets rid of the solid guy to make room for super drama is less fun this time around.
Also, I cannot understand why Riley didn't stake him. I mean, that's an ongoing problem, but Riley fake staking him just makes no sense no way up. Intervention of writer.
The story we actually saw, where Buffy is right and Riley couldn't cope with her being strong and in charge so he stopped doing what she told him and just pissed around trying to get a reaction, that's an interesting story about masculinity and the flaws thereof.
The story Riley and Xander tell us we saw? Ugh.
Just blame Buffy for her boyfriend being a dick while she was dealing with life and death stuff elsewhere. Why not. Ugh.
I think sometimes the liking Whedon stories is based on reading it one way up and the epic dislike is reading it the other way up but it's usually duckrabbit and both is there. Only sometimes he'll do something where it's all ducked up and then you just look at all the other times you thought it was rabbit and start to doubt it ever was.
Xander is so wrong. And if he's wrong, the story is interesting.
I just am making such yuck face at the idea the writers think he's right.
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