Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes.
Season 1, Episode 7: “Angel”
So as we know from some previous episode, the Anointed is a little boy named Colin. The Master, that super wrinkly dude with janky nostrils, is going to use him as a weapon against the Slayer. He decides to send a group of vampires cleverly called The Three to get Buffy just as, depressed at being single and lusting after the distant Angel, she slumps home from the Bronze alone. The three of them nearly overpower her, but Angel comes to save her. That’s kind of annoying, isn’t it? Like, Buffy is the Slayer, why does she need Angel to save her?
Angel’s wounded in the fight, so Buffy takes him home and tells him to take off his shirt, having finally found an excuse. He says he likes her, but they don’t end up kissing–they just have a chaste little sleepover with Angel on the floor, because of the three vampires that are still waiting outside. (Apparently vampires can’t come into houses unless they’re invited.) To fight whatever the Master sends next, Giles teaches Buffy to use some fancy weaponry; meanwhile, the Three get turned into dust by a gleeful Darla because they failed.
Buffy and Angel kiss that night while Angel’s still crashing at Buffy’s place, even though Angel warns Buffy that he’s a lot older than her. Like, a lot. Then, as soon as they kiss, he makes his big vampire face and she finally figures out that he’s a vampire. Giles and Xander try to convince her that all vampires are evil. But when Darla visits Angel to try to seduce him back to the fold, we see that he lives alone with a fridge full of packets of hospital blood. Unfortunately, he’s still pretty hot for human blood, so when he interrupts Darla about to eat Buffy’s mom, he is tempted into going for it–and just then, Buffy walks in. Needless to say, this isn’t good for their relationship.
Darla tries to convince Angel to go back to the dark side, and by “convince” I mean “seduce,” complete with much heavy breathing. Buffy sets out to kill Angel while Giles sits with her mom, who reveals that it was Darla who came over and bit her first. Buffy and Angel spar a bit, but then Angel puts his human face back on and tells Buffy that he has a soul, which was restored to him as a curse after he’d killed his whole family and a bunch of other people. When Darla shows up, ready to shoot Buffy with a gun (I guess they don’t want to get too close to Buffy now that she’s taken down so many of them), Angel kills Darla instead and saves Buffy’s life. Later, at the Bronze, Buffy and Angel announce they should stay away from each other, but then they smooch again.
Notes from a New Fan:
- Thanks for giving away the game, Hulu. That screenshot of Buffy and Angel kissing should really have had a little spoiler bar over it! Boo.
- Hilariously Nasal Voiceover Dude says “Previously on Buffy” in an even more amusingly nasal way.
- Ew, there’s a cockroach infestation at the Bronze! Please, please, PLEASE, PLEEEEEEEEEASEEEEEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE tell me that there is not going to be an episode with a giant cockroach because honestly I do not think I can take it.
- Willow gives Xander the goofy eyes while he dances horribly, like, HORRIBLY. Also he calls Cordelia a hooker. Shut up, Xander.
- Angel’s standing behind a dark staircase watching Buffy. Somehow this is still less creepy than Xander.
- Poor Mrs. Buffy. She catches Buffy downstairs with a guy who’s clearly way older than her (“first-year community college,” Buffy claims) and is like, “OK, send him away,” and then LEAVES before she can see whether Buffy’s done it. And you just know as she slumps upstairs in her mid-calf skirt she’s thinking, “Welp, they’re gonna have sex right now, but there’s pretty much nothing I can do about it.”
- When Giles offers to teach Buffy the use of fighting weapons, I got really excited there would be a training montage. Sadly there wasn’t but there is something even better: sticking it to The Man! Buffy is excited about a crossbow, but Giles condescendingly says that she has to show progress with some kind of big stick before she can use the crossbow. She proceeds to use the big stick to flatten him on the ground in about two seconds, and poor Giles says from the floor that she can try the crossbow. Hee!! You show ‘im, Buffy!
- Cordelia hates free-trade agreements. Gee, I have a president she’d love to vote for.
- It’s weird to me that Buffy tells Willow and Xander and Giles that she made out with Angel right before he made the vampire face.
- Willow’s a huge Angel/Buffy shipper, but she does realize eventually that this could get weird: “You’ll still get wrinkly and die, and oh, what about the children?”
- It’s kind of interesting that the vampires can’t come in unless invited. It turns the home into a safe place, which is sort of the opposite of most horror movies. Except, you know, if you’re Buffy’s dumb mom and you invite the vampire in.
- Angel is truly the Dawson of this show: he expresses anger by breathing heavily and flaring his nostrils.
- These vampires are all so horny! Darla practically has an orgasm when Angel throws her against the wall. I guess that’s fitting for creatures who were more or less invented to give Victorians an outlet for their frustrated sexuality.
- I laughed out loud at one of Angel’s face transformations. The special effects are so low-rent! It hurts my heart!
- Oh, Mrs. Buffy. YOU ARE SO CLUELESS. When Giles shows up to take care of her at the hospital, all she’s worried about is whether Buffy is bad at history. And they tell her she must have fallen onto a barbecue fork, but her response is to say, “I don’t have a barbecue fork,” and then… forget all about it. Look alive, Mrs. Buffy.
- Whoa! Angel killed Darla! I thought she’d be around for way longer too! There’s a lot of fairly awesome guest stars getting offed in this early string of episodes, wow. Very bold.
- Eeewww, that cross burn on Angel’s neck from kissing Buffy while she wore her necklace, is yucky.
- The first assistant director’s name is David D’Ovidio, which seems like a great name for someone who’s in the filmmaking business.
Notes from a True Stan:
- That woman in the weird shaggy shawl picked up a cockroach with her bare hands! That’s not normal!!
- Ew, Xander touches Cordelia’s stomach! And calls her a “hooker”! Why is he allowed to exist??
- This fight with the Three is–nonsensical. They all grab her, she immediately punches and kicks them until she escapes their grasp, they grab her again, and then she just–goes limp. Then Angel sucker punches one of them, and she easily escapes the other two again. Um, why didn’t she just do that before?? What kind of Slayer is she?
- So we’re supposed to think the Three have never failed in their mission before? They didn’t seem that hard to beat.
- I love the scene where Buffy immediately beats up Giles with a crossbow, especially her little smirk when he suggests wearing pads.
- “So that whole fantasy part had nothing to do with you at all!” Cringe.
- SMG is a great actress, but for some reason she cannot pull off calling Willow “girl.” It’s awkward and cringey every time she tries.
- Darla has a great vamp face. One of the best.
- This whole episode makes it glaringly obvious that Buffy should tell her mother about the Slayer thing. She should know not to invite strangers into the house!
- Buffy disliking history seems like a throwaway detail, an opportunity to make her seem like a “ditzy blonde.” But not only does it recur throughout the series, it becomes a motif that serves the rewriting-history themes of the show. As Giles says, “Buffy lives very much in the now, while history is about the ‘then.’”
- Put “magical vengeful gypsies” on the list of “Buffy tropes that do not age well.”
- Twelve-year-old me totally squeed over Buffy offering her neck to Angel. Now I’m like, “Kid, please don’t trust this older man who has admitted to wanting to both sleep with you and kill you.”
- Oh, who am I kidding. They’re adorable.
- Darla takes out a pair of guns!! Season one is so weird sometimes.
- I remember being so surprised/disappointed that Darla died so quickly! Regardless of what happens on Angel, Buffy really should have kept her around longer.
- The song that plays during Buffy and Angel’s second kiss, “I’ll Remember You” by Sophie Zelmani, is a WB favorite, which also played during Joey Potter’s first kiss on Dawson’s Creek. 🙂 [I still have it on my main Google music playlist. I got it from some fanmix sometime in the aughts. Crazy. -Nerdy Spice]
Season 1, Episode 8 “I Robot, You Jane”
In which Buffy took on technology. We start off with the monster-of-the-week, a big Italian demon named Moloch who looks like a green, horned Voldemort (except much cheaper-looking). Back in the 15th century, he is the leader of some kind of cult, where he gets kids to admit they love him, then breaks their necks (What? What’s the point of getting their devotion if you’re just going to kill them?) Then, a bunch of monks (?) read some sort of spell, and then the demon’s essence gets sucked into the book.
Back in the 90s, Buffy and her pigtails open the very same box that the monks put the book in and takes out the book. A gorgeous computer science teacher, Ms. Calendar, is hounding Giles to scan all of his books into the library computers, to his chagrin, while Willow and two geeky guys named Dave and Fritz help out. Fritz is creepy and pale and says hilarious things like “If you’re not jacked in, you’re not alive.” Willow scans in the demon book, and letters immediately start typing on the screen: “Where am I?” Hee!
A week later, Willow is talking to some mysterious boy on the internet named “Malcolm,” and Buffy gives her the stranger danger talk. “What if he’s a circus freak? What if he has back hair?” etc. Meanwhile, technology is going haywire all over campus, at first in the most random and tamest of ways–Molloch writes a whole new paper for a student about loving Nazi Germany–but then in more dangerous (but still random) ways, like changing students’ medical records. He also makes Fritz cut his name into his arm with a scalpel while repeating “I’m jacked in,” for some reason. (Was “jacked-in” ever a thing? I’m convinced that no one ever said this.)
Willow starts skipping class, which gets Buffy and Willow into their first fight and sets off Buffy’s spidey senses. She follows Dave to a closed research lab where people are up to something shady, and Moloch tells Dave and Fritz to kill her. Dave tries to lure her into a (very elaborate) trap in the locker room, where he’s left a live wire next to running water, but then warns her at the last minute, so she only gets a little electrocuted. He tells Molloch that he can’t kill her, and Molloch types out a suicide note for him while Fritz waits in the shadows. Later, Buffy finds him hanging in the classroom. Poor Dave!
Giles finds the empty Moloch book, and they figure out that Moloch is in the school computer (and “every computer connected to it by a modem”–hee!). They try to delete the file, but a pixelated version of Moloch yells at them that Willow is “none of their business.” Giles enlists Ms. Calendar to help, and luckily she’s a “technopagan” who is not surprised to hear that “there’s a demon in the internet.” They try to cast him out by like–typing a spell into the computer somewhere?–while Buffy and Xander go to warn Willow. Before they get there, Willow gets kidnapped by Fritz and brought to the research center, where Moloch has gotten his followers to build him a robot body, horns and all. He wants Willow to be his robot queen, but she refuses. He’s about to kill her, but then Giles and Ms. Calendar do their spell and get him out of the internet. Unfortunately, now that he has a body, he just sort of stays in his kaiju. (But isn’t the information controlling the robot from the internet? Whatever.) Buffy fights him a little, but he’s metal, so she eventually just gives up and tricks him into punching an electrical circuit, and he straight-up explodes. Don’t think that’s how that works, but that’s in keeping with this episode’s theme.
Notes from a New Fan:
- Oh boy. Hulu’s summary of this episode is that Willow releases a demon “onto the internet.” Could I be more excited? Forget Cordelia’s crimped hair, this is peak 90s.
- The Italian demons are chewing the scenery like it’s kale.
- Some white kid announces that the printed page is obsolete, escalates to declaring that “the only reality is virtual,” and concludes with something creepy about being “jacked in.” Oh man. Remember when you had to use a jack to get on the internet? Anyway, the white kid’s name is Fritz. Of course it is. You just know in ten years or so he’s going to found a Reddit board devoted to not having sex.
- Giles hates the internet and computers, so… is he the worst librarian ever?
- Wow, so the demon… is sucked up into the internet by an OCR machine? This is the most glorious technophobic fever dream.
- Hahaha, Buffy can’t call Willow because Willow is on the internet! This is a scene that people born after the age of dialup will literally not even understand.
- “On line for what?” says poor, dear, innocent Buffy when Willow reveals where she met her demon internet boyfriend. [Nope. Not even in the 90s. -Janes]
- The computer demon scans Buffy’s face and immediately pulls up all her personal information. Actually, is this a technophobic fever dream or just a thing that happens on Facebook every day?
- “I’m gonna be witty, I’m planning to make fun of all the people who won’t talk to me,” Xander says. Was that an actual self-aware joke from Xander? Did I just laugh? Shut up, no I didn’t, YOU did!
- Buffy asks a computer geek where an “e-letter” came from. I can’t even!
- Buffy’s detective outfit! It kills me!
- All of their IMs are IN QUOTATIONS. That also kills me.
- This might be my favorite episode yet. It’s just so… Clueless meets what I imagine the movie The Net starring Sandra Bullock (that is actually its title in my head) is like. There’s just so many quotable lines. “How am I going to convince her there’s a demon in the internet?” “Techno-pagan.” So quaint.
- Gee, couldn’t the demon get Dave’s help getting a higher-resolution rendering of himself?
- I love that Buffy just goes for it and jump-kicks the big robot even though it’s not a vampire and is made of, ummm, metal. She’s not gonna let a little thing like physics stop her from saving Willow!
- Did Giles just say the word “anon” in the middle of a conversation?
Notes from a True Stan:
- I love that every supernatural TV show does that thing where superpowered beings can break your neck just by turning it ever-so-slightly in a perfectly comfortable direction.
- Fritz is totally a future 8-channer.
- Buffy says she “has a free,” and that might be the only instance of accurate teen-talk in this episode.
- LOVE when Willow won’t pay attention to Xander. Serves him right.
- Everything about technology in this episode is amazing. Buffy calls emails “e-letters,” Xander calls the internet “the net,” and Buffy is proud of herself for knowing that people write their online profiles themselves.
- Also, the computers are crazy:
- I never thought I would say this, but Buffy’s leopard-print coat is totally back in style.
- Why are Willow’s IMs talking to her? Is this a 90s thing that I don’t remember?
- Willow gets weirded out that Moloch knows Buffy got kicked out of school, and he straight-up says, “It’s in her permanent record,” then corrects himself, “You must have mentioned it.” Ha! He’s almost as bad at hiding his secret identity as Buffy is.
- Ms. Calendar says that the internet democratizes learning and Giles wants information to be somewhere “only white guys can get it,” and it’s so real. The only people I know who still hate the internet are white, bitter Fritzes.
- And really, Giles should love the internet. It took him six hours to find basic info on The Three–that could have been done in a five-minute Google search! (Or–Ask Jeeves search?)
- Similar to Luke, maybe Moloch would have more luck killing people if he just pummelled them instead of slowly reaching out to delicately break their necks.
- Why is Ms. Calendar, a beautiful twenty-something, aggressively hitting on Giles? I mean he’s kind of cute, but he’s like twice her age!
- It’s so funny to me that fans get down on episodes like “Go Fish” and “Beer Bad” for being “movie-of-the-week”-esque, but they hardly ever mention this one. I kind of love it, but exchange “demon” for “stranger rape,” and this would actually be a Lifetime movie.
Season 1, Episode 9 “The Puppet Show”
Every high school show needs a(t least one) performance episode, and Buffy gets right down to it in season 1 with a talent show! Giles has been conscripted to produce it, and when the Scoobs mock his misery they get sentenced to participate themselves by Principal Snyder, poor Flutie’s replacement (RIP Flutie).
A nerdy kid named Morgan does a fairly amusing fake-out act where he seems to do a terrible job at ventriloquism until the puppet, Sid, finally speaks up and makes fun of him. Of course, the title of the episode makes it clear that this is going to be the Baddie of the Week the minute he appears, even before Sid starts sexually harassing Willow and Buffy. Shortly after, a young ballet dancer is attacked in the locker room by an unseen baddie who growls loudly, “I … WILL … BE … FLESH!” and is later found with her heart removed. Gee, who could that be?
Investigations all point to Morgan: he was seen talking to the now-heartless dancer, and also he keeps rubbing his head and moaning. The Scoobs are investigating Morgan with no clue that it’s really the puppet, but meanwhile, Sid has a plan. Next thing you know, he’s breaking into Buffy’s bedroom to try to eat her face, but she wakes up and he skitters away like a cockroach. Giles finally figures out that there’s a kind of demon who needs human hearts and brains every seven years to stay human. But even then, NONE OF THEM FIGURE OUT THE PUPPET IS THE DEMON and they all just think Buffy is having nightmares, like, what?! How do you not see what’s going on?
Xander kidnaps Sid from Morgan like a big dummy (sorry, had to), and only after like hours of research do Willow and Giles figure out that toys can be magic, but by then Sid has run away. He magically causes a chandelier to fall on Buffy and almost squish her, then tries to eat her brain. But, twist! It turns out he thinks Buffy is a demon and that’s why he wanted to eat her, and he wants to get free of his dummy body–but only so that he can finally die, since his human body is already dead.
OK, so, I got a little bored/confused near the end here and this summary may not be 100% accurate. But basically what happens is they somehow figure out that someone else in the talent show is a demon, so Sid still has a shot. When he finds out Buffy’s the Slayer, he’s very impressed, and they bond over his search for mortality. Unfortunately, as soon as Buffy turns her back, Sid disappears… and next thing you know, there’s a disembodied brain falling from the ceiling. GROSS.
Finally, one kid is demonstrating his weird guillotine and then mentions his assistant is sick, and EVEN THOUGH GILES KNOWS THAT THERE’S A DEMON TRYING TO EAT PEOPLE’S BRAINS, he agrees to get himself locked in the crazy guillotine, because Giles is also a big dummy. Naturally, he almost gets his brain chopped out, but Buffy figures everything out in the nick of time and comes to save him. (Xander also gets to grab the rope that’s holding up the blade, and Willow gets to chop off the padlock with a big axe, but really, Buffy saves him.) The boss demon jumps out of a hidden compartment in the guillotine, but the gang manage to chop his head off with the conveniently supplied weapon, and then Sid chops out his heart so that Sid can finally be at rest, i.e. dead.
Then the Scoobies perform a tepid rendition of Oedipus. Principal Snyder thinks it’s avant-garde.
Notes from a New Fan:
- Buffy’s excuse for cutting class when the new principal calls her on it is, “Yeah, but we were fighting a demo—” and Xander and Willow have to save her from outing herself. Like, what? HOW IS SHE SO BAD AT THIS? YOU HAVE ONE JOB, BUFFY. I mean OK, she has two jobs, and one of them is to slay vampires, but literally her only other job is to keep it a secret and she is mind-bogglingly bad at it!
- The new principal, Snyder, doesn’t go in for touchy-feely nonsense. Principal Flutie may have done that, “but he was eaten,” Principal Snyder concludes superbly. Yeah, that’ll teach him!
- Do you feel like Buffy, knowing that she’s living on a hellmouth, should kind of catch on faster to the fact that this puppet is obviously alive, evil, and in search of human hearts?
- Buffy’s mom shows up for thirty seconds to cluelessly try to support Buffy by coming to her talent show, and then to ask gently if there’s “something bothering” Buffy. Oh, Mrs. Buffy. You are NOT equipped for this. Then, later, Buffy has a “nightmare” (caused by the puppet legit breaking into her room) and wakes up her mom from the world’s most depressing dream: a dream about bills. Mrs. Buffy is the true tragedy of this show.
- Ooh, I was so scared when the puppet showed up at the window when Buffy turned off the light and went to sleep!
- Xander has a trick for getting rid of Cordelia: implying that there’s something wrong with her hair. This seems sexist but also funny. I’m torn.
- Xander bangs Sid’s head on the desk and jerks his neck up and down and honestly? I know I have an irrational hatred for Xander but I totally feel like Xander is going to be one of those people who like, asks Alexa what she looks like naked. Like one of those mysterious people who abuse robots for kicks, and it seems like there’s nothing wrong with it because the robot doesn’t know what’s happening, but it’s still SO WRONG. You know? He’s totally one of those guys.
- OK, this is genuinely frightening. When Sid disappears while Xander the idiot is gnawing on his pencil? My heart is GOING. And I don’t even care about Xander, except to wish that he was going to get eaten by a puppet.
- Guys, um, did you know Giles was British? In case you forgot, he brews tea while Sid explains himself and sexually harasses Buffy a little more.
- Sid once knew a Slayer who was a “Korean chick.” Ugh, this puppet SUCKS. I hate him.
- Then he GROPES BUFFY IN THE CROTCH, WHAT?!?!?! Ok, I HATE him. On the other hand, maybe he should run for president.
Notes from a True Stan:
- I never understood why Buffy has trouble coming up with a talent. She’s the Slayer! Can’t she do some crazy gymnastics or something?
- “There are three things I do not tolerate. Students loitering after school. Horrible murders with hearts ripped out. And also smoking.” Hee!
- I miss Principal Flutie, but Principal Snyder fits into the whole “high school is hell” metaphor a little better. That being said, why is he grabbing Buffy’s arm like that? Why do all these men think they can touch their female students without permission??
- I always think of “gives me the wig/wiggins” as normal 90s slang, but Buffy actually coined the term!
- Joyce is kind of a terrible parent? I love her, but this is the second time in three episodes that her 16-year-old daughter has screamed bloody murder about some sort of monster in her room, and all she does is ask vaguely, “Is something bothering you?”
- Xander–you had one job. ONE JOB.
- How heavy is this chandelier thing? Why can’t Buffy just lift it?
- I love the subversion of the “evil puppet” trope. This whole episode is just as campy as “I Robot, You Jane,” but so much more aware of it.
- You’d think the talent show would be cancelled when not one, but two students have had organs ripped out, but we can’t start nitpicking about that kind of thing now.
- My partner, after Xander dramatically says that Giles is “smart” and we cut straight to Giles being locked into a decapitation chamber when he knows a killer’s on the loose: “He doesn’t seem that smart.”
- The demon very dramatically punches through the wooden box when Buffy just said it wasn’t locked. Hee.
- The little Oedipus coda at the end is adorable.