Tonight's Buffy the Vampire Slayer promises to resolve some unsettled issues in its title heroine's increasingly complicated love life. And as those up on the latest Slayer scuttlebutt know, that doesn't bode well for The Chosen One's chosen one, Riley Finn (Marc Blucas).

For months, rumors have run rampant that the end was near for Buffy's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) boring beau — a fact that is not lost on co-executive producer Marti Noxon, who makes her directorial debut with this pivotal episode. "We have been hearing the rumors, and as you would suspect, I can't deny or confirm them," she tells TV Guide Online. "But we are definitely aware of [the gossip] and we are sort of having some fun with it."

Well, if the buzz holds up, fans of Riley (hello? anyone out there?) may not be in on the joke. One talked-about scenario has Riley being literally rendered lifeless after accidentally going all the way with his vampire mistress. "What I can tell you — being as vague as humanly possible — is that it's an extremely dark episode and it's a fairly momentous one," teases Noxon, who also penned the script. "Things are going to change."

Count on Buffy's blood-sucking-foe-cum-secret-admirer, Spike (James Marsters), to figure prominently in this evening's turn of events. Could we actually see the day when the archenemies go at it... in the sack? "Spike's feeling's for Buffy are very real, very sincere," Noxon acknowledges. "It's not just meant to be played for comedy, and so eventually, it will be played for something other than comedy. It's not a subplot without any destination."

As Noxon explains, the undeniable chemistry between Gellar and Marsters led creator Joss Whedon to flirt with the unrequited love story — which critics and fans are calling one of the most awesome developments in the show's four-year history. "The whole notion that, because Buffy can kind of beat him up like nobody else, he's madly in love with her, just sort of fit Spike's character," she says. "He needs this kind of abuse from a woman. And after Drusilla (Juliet Landau) left, he couldn't get it from anybody but Buffy."