Anyway, whatever. Xander continues that Riley "would do anything" for Buffy, which I think is a little inaccurate, since we've seen he couldn't even bring himself to help her non-superpowered, non-military-trained friends patrol for evil while Buffy was at the hospital with her sick mother. Buffy responds by snapping that Riley "got himself bit by a vampire," which doesn't even to begin to give Xander an impression of what actually happened. She continues to rant about Riley's sneaking around and his informing her he's going to leave town unless she convinces him not to. Xander asks if Buffy is "going to let" Riley go, and Buffy and I protest that it's not really her decision. I mean, Riley is the one with the problems, he's the one who betrayed Buffy, so why should the onus of his leaving be on her? Well, in Xander's defense, maybe he's merely trying to get Buffy to think rather than pushing the situation away in anger, as she seems prone to doing. Xander wants to know why Buffy wouldn't do anything to keep Riley with her, and then criticizes her for calling Riley "dependable"; he thinks she really means Riley was convenient, and she took him for granted. On the defensive, Buffy attacks Xander's relationship with Anya. I admire him for not letting himself get sidetracked -- he tells Buffy he'll shut up if she doesn't want to hear him out, but when she starts to walk away, he interjects, "I lied." Xander's words start to have some effect on Buffy, as he tells her she "shut down" after Angel left and has treated Riley as "rebound guy," when he's actually "the one that comes along once in a lifetime." Xander's voice starts to break a little as he explains that Riley has "never held back" from Buffy, and I wonder if he's thinking more of his feelings for Buffy, or Anya's feelings for him, or his own feelings for Riley, because I just don't see Riley as a once-in-a-lifetime guy. I love Xander for caring enough to confront Buffy and even for sticking up for Riley, but he really seems to be projecting many of his own feelings onto Buffy and Riley's relationship. Xander finally tells Buffy to let Riley go if she doesn't love him, but to think about what she'll lose if she really does love him and allows him to leave. Buffy is speechless with realization and stares at Xander. "Run," he tells her, and she does.
Buffy runs. Riley waits at the INot!tiative helicopter. Buffy runs. The blades on the chopper begin to slowly warm up. Riley checks his watch. Buffy runs. Riley surveys the woods but doesn't see Buffy. Buffy runs and runs. The helicopter takes off, and Buffy finally arrives as it lifts high into the air. Buffy shouts for Riley, but doesn't get his attention. If she really wanted him back, I'm surprised she didn't throw her shoe or something into the cockpit. Riley can't hear her and doesn't look back as the chopper, powered by his clenched jaw, whisks him away to his new life with the INot!tiative. Sayonara, Señor Spud. Buffy mopes home, but she looks contemplative, not devastated, and her eyes are dry.