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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E11, “Ted” TW: child abuse

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In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will spend way too much money ona  sexy lady Giles cosplay costume. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it. 

This is probably one of the more disturbing episodes of the series. If you’ve ever experience abuse of any kind from a step parent or a parent’s partner, this recap might be triggering. Just a heads up going in.

So, Willow and Xander and Buffy are strolling down the Sunnydale sidewalk, deep in debate over who was steering the ship, metaphorically speaking, The Captain or Tennille. Now, you might think this is one of those times where I’m going to go, “How would 90’s high schoolers even know about The Captain and Tennille,” but ha ha, I remember the 90’s and there was a huge nostalgia boom for the 1970’s going on at the time. I think the release of Dazed and Confused in 1993 sparked the whole thing, because we were wearing overalls, bellbottoms, and platform shoes in high school.

Anyway, Xander points out how unusually quiet Sunnydale has been lately, and then in doing so realizes that he’s at the beginning of an episode and has thus doomed them to participation in plot. Sure enough, when Buffy gets home, the front door is unlocked. Something is wrong. She warily makes her way through the house, all the way to the kitchen, where she finds this horrible scene:

It's parental aged people making out! It's horrible!
It’s parental aged people making out! It’s horrible!

Now, before we go any further, there is something about this scene I’ve never really thought about before. When Buffy comes into the house, she hears a glass breaking and her mom saying “No!” and then she runs into the kitchen to this. The explanation is that she broke a wine glass, and I’m sure the viewer is supposed to go, “Oh, because they were making out so hard she broke the wineglass and was like, ‘No!’ about it before she just thought, fuck it, I’ll keep getting some more of this sweet, sweet John Ritter tongue.” But this time, knowing what I know about what’s going to happen in the rest of the episode– that John Ritter is actually an evil robot abusive husband who kidnaps and murders his wives– I have to wonder… how long has Joyce been in an abusive relationship with this guy? She just shouted “no!” and a glass broke, and then when Buffy comes in she has this unconvincing excuse… again, I’m sure that’s supposed to be parental awkwardness we’re meant to see, but if you think about it from that angle, it’s quite dark, isn’t it? It makes it seem like dude attacked her to get that make-out on.

Joyce– is that the only dress Joyce owns? I’m pretty sure she wears that exact dress to a date in season 5– introduces Buffy to John Ritter (the titular “Ted”) and Buffy makes the exact same face I made in the presence of my mother’s long term boyfriend every single time we were in the same room:

The only thing I like about you is your dog, Mark!
The only thing I like about you is your dog, Mark!

After the main credits, Buffy is grilling her mom about Ted. She mentions that her mom has been working “late nights.” So, Joyce has been with this guy a while, then? Is that why we’re never seeing her in season two? Is that why season two is exactly like my junior year of high school?

Ted is a computers guy, and in the kitchen he and Willow are having a very, very 1990’s conversation:

Willow: “I like my new nine gig hard drive.”

Ted: “But you don’t love it, ’cause without the DMA upgrade, your computer’s only half a rocket ship.”

No, you dummy, it’s a computer. But seriously, nine gig hard drive? That was the kind of cutting edge technology most of us could only dream about in 1997.

Here’s another red flag, you guys: Ted has just met Buffy, has just met her friends, but he offers to give Willow those upgrades for free. He’s also made a pizza, which is the way to Xander’s heart. So he’s weaseled his way in good with Buffy’s friends. I find that kind of behavior so unbelievably creepy.

He also immediately tries to tell Buffy how important she is to him, because she’s important to her mother. Like, who does this right after they just meet you? Oh, manipulating abusers.

Joyce tells Buffy she wants her to be okay with the new relationship situation. Which is really unfair, because it’s like, “Buffy, I want you to decide to be cool with this immediately. No pressure, just, you know. Make your feelings convenient for me.” Buffy insists she’s okay with everything, but then we cut to a fight with a vampire in a cemetery in which Giles has to tell her to take it easy on the vamp. He eventually just sits on a bench and looks on in discomfort as Buffy uses the vampire as a punching bag, before ultimately staking him.

Buffy: “Any others?”

Giles: “Well, for their sakes I certainly hope not.”

Buffy: “What? Kill vampires, that’s my job.”

Giles: “True, true. Although you don’t usually beat them into quite such a bloody pulp beforehand. Everything all right?”

Hey, buddy. You seem like you’re feeling down. LOL

Even though Buffy starts ranting about vampires and mini-pizzas, she ultimately decides not to tell Giles what’s wrong.

The next day at school, Xander is still talking about the damn mini-pizza. Both he and Willow love Buffy, and though she has a bad feeling about Ted, her friends try to pass it off as some Freudian mommy-issue. This is one aspect of the gang that annoys me. In season four, when Buffy’s roommate is a demon and only she can see it, they do the same thing. Oh, it couldn’t be that there is really something off about this person. It’s that there’s something wrong with Buffy. It’s one thing to go, “hey, buddy, you’re misreading the situation,” and another to actively pressure that buddy into thinking there’s something wrong with their own emotions.

But their conversation is cut short when Ted shows up. At their school. He’s there to update the computer system, but come on. Still creepy. He invites all three of them to go mini-golfing, putting Buffy on the spot so she has to accept, because her friends want to go. Well, actually, Willow tries to cover for Buffy when Buffy says she’s busy, but Xander, always thinking about Xander, chooses promises of pizza and cookies over his friend’s needs.

Meanwhile, in the computer lab, Giles has to tell Jenny that some text books meant for her class were delivered to the library. Full disclosure, when I was rewatching this episode, I had my headphones on and I was drawing, so when Giles walked into the classroom and said, “Hello, Jenny,” I looked up and was like, “Hello…?” in my office. It was a bit disconcerting.

Jenny calls him out on the real reason he’s there:

Jenny: “Rupert, I know you’re concerned. But having you constantly poking around, making little puppy dog eyes at me, wondering if I’m okay… you make me feel bad that I don’t feel better. I don’t want that responsibility.”

TRUTH. It is so fucking refreshing to hear someone saying this in a piece of popular media. Sometimes, concern can overwhelm the person you’re trying to be concerned for. And Giles, in a rare moment of just straight fucking up, doesn’t get it. He’s wounded by the fact that Jenny doesn’t want him to smother her with worry to make himself feel better, and he doesn’t hide it. Which isn’t fair to Ms. Calendar. This is such an important, quietly powerful scene, guys.

At Angel’s place, Buffy is tending her vampire boyfriend’s wounds from the incident with Spike and Drusilla. And maybe Buffy needs to get a little perspective on life, because she’s bandaging up someone’s wounds while complaining about her mom’s boyfriend. Though Angel doesn’t outright tell Buffy she’s wrong, he does note that she’s a little obsessive, and that her mom is probably lonely– something Angel understands. He also points out that Buffy would probably not like anyone her mother dated, and Buffy knows that’s true; she would rather her parents have stayed together. And then, for some reason, that situation gets Angel hot and he’s all, “Kiss me,” and Buffy’s all, “Yay!” and then we get to watch an underaged teen make out with her centuries old boyfriend. We’ve been Twilighted, y’all.

At mini-golf the next day, Ted asks Buffy if boys are lining up to date her. Willow almost spills the secret about Angel, but instead she says that Buffy is too worried about school to bother with guys. Which leads Ted to make a remark about how he hopes Buffy’s grades will come up. Excuse me, Ted?! Excuse me, Joyce?! I’m not a fan of “blame the mother” in cases like this, but on this one point? Joyce shouldn’t be telling Ted about Buffy’s grades. Buffy isn’t a second-grader, she’s a high schooler. Why isn’t she entitled to some privacy?

Oh, because Joyce thinks it’s okay to tell Ted private stuff about Buffy because he’s concerned about her. Okay. Speaking as a mother, if a guy  I had just started dating was that interested in my kid, that would be an issue for me. Granted, I’ve never been a single mother. I don’t know how hard it is. And I’m not blaming mothers who have abusive partners deceive them. But in our culture, which still upholds a two parent family as the pinnacle of functionality, we need to stress that too dad, too fast is a warning of potential danger. This happens in real life, for real reasons though, so our #3 doesn’t apply here.

It gets worse when Buffy beefs her shot– I guess I’d never thought of it before, but it probably is really hard for a Slayer to mini-golf, due to difficult to gauge super-strength– and

Joyce: “Oh, we won’t count it.”

Ted: “We won’t?”

Joyce: “No, it’s just miniature golf.”

Ted: “It is, but the rules are the rules. And what we teach her is what she takes out into the world when we’re not there. Whether it’s at school or an unchaperoned party.”

Do not criticize Joyce’s parenting, Ted. That’s my job.

Xander and Willow are even kind of… ehhhhhhh maybe Ted is not as cool as we thought:

Feeling pretty foolish now, aren't you, guys?
Feeling pretty foolish now, aren’t you, guys?

Joyce is clearly a little put off by Ted’s parental intensity, but in an effort to keep the peace, she sides with him. Of course you do, mom.

Buffy is not having this mini-golf crap, so she goes and picks up her ball and drops it in the hole, thinking nobody can see her. But Ted sees her, and he gets real serious, real fast, going on a rant about right and wrong and how nobody appreciates the difference anymore. He’s pounding on his leg with the putter, and Buffy is pretty freaked out. When he says he doesn’t stand for cheating in his house, Buffy tells him it’s a good thing they’re not in his house, and he threatens to slap her. Just then, Xander, Willow, and Joyce come up, and Ted does a personality one-eighty, offering them all cookies.

This show is a little too real sometimes.

The next morning, Buffy tells her mom what happened and how Ted threatened her, but her mom doesn’t believe her, stating explicitly to Buffy that what she thought happened did not happen.

This show is a little too real sometimes.

At school, Buffy asks Willow to investigate Ted. But Willow and Xander both still think Buffy is overreacting. The conversation is cut off when Cordelia walks by and Xander gives her a compliment she storms off and he follows her. She’s pissed because he was nice to her in front of people, because she thinks it might blow the lid off their secret kissing times. But all the altercation accomplishes is more kissing times, so the viewer is given the distinct impression that this is something that’s been happening a lot.

Buffy asks Willow to find out where Ted works, and Willow must have helped her out, because we cut to Buffy at Ted’s work. This is Ted at work:

He even looks like he's enjoying phone sales. This is the face of true evil.
He even looks like he’s enjoying phone sales. This is the face of true evil.

Okay, so later we find out that Ted is a  robot, right? So… why wouldn’t a robot pick a better job than selling computer software over the phone?

Remember in the ’90’s where they sold computer stuff over the phone instead of on the internet? What a time that was.

Buffy finds out that Ted is like, the leading sales guy at the place where he works, and they call him “The Machine.” So, you know. Foreshadowing.

Ew, I wonder if Joyce calls him “The Machine.” You know what I’m insinuating.

The coworker Buffy speaks to is “counting the days” until Ted takes time off for his wedding in two months. And Buffy is all, WTF. She goes to Ted’s desk and sees a photo of her mother there. She finds it suspicious and when she takes it out of the frame she finds that it’s a picture of her and her mother together, but Ted has folded Buffy under, effectively cutting her out.

And the creep just keeps on a comin'.
And the creep just keeps on a comin’.

At dinner that night, Ted is saying grace:

Ted: “We thank you for what we are about to receive, and we ask that you bless this house and help the people in it to be more productive, more considerate, and more honest.”

And then he looks right at Buffy. And Joyce just sits there, her hands folded in prayer, even though we’ve never once seen any evidence of religion in the Summer’s house.

Buffy is about 300% done with Ted’s shit. She asks point blank if Joyce and Ted are engaged, and Joyce is surprised by the question because they’re not engaged at all, despite what Buffy heard at Ted’s work that day. But Ted gets all “let me handle this,” about the situation, and steamrolls right over Joyce to play daddy to Buffy. When he asks her how she would feel if he asked her mom to marry him, Buffy says she’d feel like killing herself, and Joyce gets angry. She sends Buffy to her room, and apologizes to Ted, saying she doesn’t know what’s up with Buffy’s behavior.

You know why you don’t know what’s going on with your daughter, Joyce? Because you never do, because #3. Now, to be clear, I’m not blaming Joyce for what happens later in the episode, because that’s not her fault that she doesn’t know Ted is an evil abusive robot boyfriend. But it is her fault that she won’t ever talk to her daughter, even when she’s not being manipulated by an abusive boyfriend. Parents have to talk to their children. Even if she thinks Buffy is being irrational. Even if she thinks Buffy is overreacting. Joyce can’t be bothered to talk to her daughter about important shit most of the time, which is why Buffy is constantly consulting her friends for help. “Oh, she feels like she can’t go to her mother because she’s a teenager.” Yeah, and because her mother doesn’t listen to her when she does try to go to her.

Maybe I’m just biased against Joyce because I know what it’s like to have a parent get into a serious relationship with someone you don’t like (yeah, Mark) or suddenly find religion when they start dating someone new. But Joyce hasn’t bothered to ask Buffy how she feels about all this aside from asking for approval, which isn’t fair. Even if Buffy’s issues won’t affect Joyce’s choice in a romantic partner, she should at least still ask how Buffy feels about this new addition to her life, and she should intercede on Buffy’s behalf when Ted oversteps his bounds. Which is like, always and constantly.

When Buffy is stressed, she needs a good slay. Unfortunately, there are no vampires in need of slaying at the moment, so she’s hooped. She goes back home, climbs through her window, and finds this:

He's multi-tasking guard duty while appearing as an anonymous witness on Unsolved Mysteries.
He’s multi-tasking guard duty while appearing as an anonymous witness on Unsolved Mysteries.

Buffy is outraged that Ted is in her bedroom, and even more outraged when she sees that he’s been going through her things, which he equates to Buffy sneaking into his work. He even read her diary, and asks her what a vampire slayer is, and threatens to have her thrown into a mental institution for her delusions.

Hey, remember in season six, where Buffy thought she was in a mental institution? Okay, just checking.

When Ted tries to take the diary as evidence, Buffy puts her hand on his arm to stop him, and he full out punches her in the jaw. Then Buffy really opens up and gives him a beating in front of her horrified mother. Someone who is clearly not John Ritter falls down the stairs and dies. Like, for real. He fucking dies.

When the police respond, Joyce gets questioned:

Detective: “Ma’am, I’m detective Stein. I’m sorry, but I need to ask you a few questions. Your relationship with the deceased?”

Joyce: “We were, um, seeing each other.”

Detective: “Can you tell me what happened?”

Joyce: “He fell. Down the stairs. He fell.”

Detective: “I see. Uh, did he slip? Do you know what made him fall?”

Buffy: “I hit him.”

Buffy is torn up. Seriously torn up. This sets the tone for an incident in season three. Buffy doesn’t know that Ted is an evil robot right now, so she thinks she just killed a man.

At the police station, Joyce seems more worried about her daughter than her dead boyfriend, which I can get down with. I’m sure Joyce is pretty freaked that her daughter knows martial arts and how to beat someone to death and the subject never came up.

In the interrogation room, Buffy tells Detective Stein that Ted had threatened to slap her before, and that he hit her, causing the fight. Since she has that pesky slayer thing going on, she doesn’t have a bruise, so the screw doesn’t believe her.

The car ride home is tense. And at school the next morning, everyone in the halls are openly talking about Buffy. Even a pair of teachers. But her friends are there to support her:

Xander: “What was he? A demon, a giant bug, or some kinda dark god with the secrets of nouvelle cuisine? I mean, we are talking creature feature here, right?”

God damnit, Xander.

fuckyeahsmg
Do not try to argue with me that Sarah Michelle Gellar isn’t a good actress because this is a fight you will lose. I got a whole folder of these screencaps that prove you wrong.

Though Xander and Willow try to make her feel better about the situation, there’s really no good way for Buffy to justify killing a person, even in self defense. She knows that in the strength department, a human is outmatched against her, and she lost control. She can’t handle being around her friends anymore, because they want to make her feel better and she doesn’t want to feel better. Giles spots her in the hallway, urgently calls her name and actually runs toward her to make sure she’s okay. “Hey, there’s that librarian who is always creepily hanging out with her,” the many, many students and faculty members who are viewing Buffy with interest today think. “It’s very strange that he is touching her.” Ha ha, just kidding. They don’t think it’s strange at all. (8) When Buffy realizes that Giles has been talking to Detective Stein, she can’t deal with him, either, and takes off.

In the library, Giles is packing up his medieval weaponry as fast as you probably would if the cops were swarming the place. Willow is digging for dirt about Ted online while Xander paces and raves about how there had to be something evil about Ted. (15) Before you dismiss that as Xander having Nice Guy goggles on for Buffy, remember that Xander is often the Ron Weasley of this show, and he’ll say shit that totally comes true later. This is one of those cases. Giles tells the teens that whatever the law could do to Buffy won’t be as bad as what she’ll do to herself, because taking a human life is terrible and the emotional consequences, etc. Which Giles knows about, since he feels responsible for the deaths of his friends. Which Cordelia helpfully points out:

Cordelia: “I guess you should know, since you helped raise that demon that killed that guy that time.”

Giles: “Yes. Do let’s bring that up as often as possible.”

Xander finds cookies in a backpack, and while he eats them Giles announces that he’s going to go out vampire hunting since Buffy can’t. When he leaves, Xander has done a personality flip. In fact… he sounds an awful lot like Ted. And Willow is like, “Let me snatch that cookie from you,” because she’s Willow and she’s made the connection.

Cut to Joyce sadly packing away cooking stuff. When Buffy comes in and tries to talk to her, Joyce tells her she’s not ready to talk about the Ted thing, and sends Buffy to her room. Meanwhile, at the science lab, Willow has somehow been able to analyze the cookies and discover drugs in them. Sunnydale must get some staggering fucking grants, if they’ve got a CSI lab in their school. The drug Willow found is a mood-altering tranquilizer, which explains why Joyce was so goddamn chill about Ted barging in and parenting her child. Cordelia shows up with a folder full of information on Ted, including marriage licenses (plural) and his address. The kids decide to go over there to get to the bottom of things.

Giles is out, looking to fight vampires while also looking like the last thing he wants to do is be around a vampire, when someone comes up behind him and scares him. Don’t worry, it’s only Ms. Calendar. She apologizes to him for being harsh earlier, because she knows he feels bad about putting her danger. And Giles is like, yeah, I do, because there’s a vampire right behind her.

I don’t like that Jenny apologizes. First of all, she was right. It wasn’t her responsibility to make sure he doesn’t feel bad about something he should legitimately feel bad about. And she did deserve her space. But whatever, because we need to go check in with Buffy. Important shit going down over there. Like, her window is nailed shut.

Buffy: “Well, it’s official. Today can’t get any worse.”

Ted: “Beg to differ.”

WTF! TED! We thought you were DEAD! It rhymes, so it must be true!

Ted throws Buffy across the room, and Giles takes on the vampire. Giles, as always, does a surprisingly good job of not getting instantly killed. I may have said this before, but it’s my head canon that Watchers are trained in the same fighting style as their Slayers, even if they’re not as good at it, and that’s why they can train the Slayers. It only makes sense.

Ted tells Buffy that he had to “shut down” so she’d lower her defenses, and he gets her at a disadvantage and chokes her. Back at the Giles fight, Jenny accidentally shoots him with a crossbow, and like a total fucking badass he pulls the bolt out of his back and dusts the vamp with it. Let’s file this one under our running tally of times Giles has displayed inexplicable badassery.

Before Buffy loses consciousness, she manages to grab a nail file off her dresser, and she stabs Ted in the arm with it, exposing all kinds of wires and sparks:

That nail file was bigger than it looked.
That nail file was bigger than it looked.

Ted starts to short circuit. He hears Joyce downstairs and he kicks Buffy in the face, knocking her out or at least down, and tells her not to worry about her mother, because they’re going to be very happy. Yeah. That sounds legit.

Xander, Cordelia, and Willow arrive at the address they found for Ted. It’s just an abandoned wood shop. That’s not the only thing that’s not adding up. Ted has four marriage certificates and no divorce records– and his earliest marriage was in 1957, which would mean he was probably still in diapers or something. Cordelia notices that the rug on the floor doesn’t match the interior design theme of the house,  and that clues them in that it’s hiding something.

At the Summers’s house, Joyce is shocked to find that Ted is alive. He describes an impossible scenario in which he was dead for six minutes, then came back to life and was found alive in the morgue. But… okay, Ted? Even if that had happened, it really hasn’t been long enough for a guy who was clinically dead to recover and get discharged from the hospital, right? And doesn’t that shit generally end up on the news? Joyce totally buys the story and tells Ted that Buffy didn’t mean to hurt him, and he tells her she doesn’t have to worry about Buffy. Which should be pretty ominous, don’t you think, Joyce?

Back in the haunted wood shop, the Scoobies find themselves in a little 1950’s style bungalow bomb shelter, just like that movie with Brendan Fraser and Christopher Walken. I think that’s who was in that. Alicia Silverstone, too.

Okay, yeah, so anyway, Xander opens one of the closets and finds Ted’s four dead wives, blue beard style. And here’s how you can tell that our ragtag little band of heroes is becoming jaded about death and violent crime: when they go back up the stairs, Xander turns off the lights. Imagine, dear readers, that you’re in a small, subterranean space with four dead bodies. When you go up the narrow little ladder to escape… do you turn off the lights and leave only the yawning darkness behind you?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Xander does not fear death.

Joyce tells Ted that she wants to talk to Buffy about his return, and Ted gets super pissed off. He yells about how he’s the one who died, so they should be more worried about him, and as he promises to take Joyce away where no one can bother her ever again, he shorts out and blurts something about gravy. He tells her he doesn’t take orders from women. He’s not wired that way. If Joyce isn’t tipped off that he’s an evil robot yet, whatever, but she knows something is dangerously wrong with Ted.

Back at the park, Giles is trying to be very tough and manly about his crossbow wound:

Giles: “I think I’m all right.”

Jenny: “No, you’re just in shock.”

Giles: “No, no, really, I don’t think it went in too deep. The advantages of layers of tweed. It’s better than Kevlar.”

Oh, Giles. I love you so much it hurts. But Jenny is a smart lady and she decides to cut the bullshit and get him to a hospital.

Buffy wakes up on her floor and chokes a little, presumably on some teeth because she got kicked in the damn face. Downstairs, Joyce tells Ted she’d like to get a drink, but he says they have to leave, and that she’ll love the house. She tries to escape again by saying she should pack, but he tells her he already has all of her clothes. Oh, and that she left him once, but he keeps bringing her back. When Joyce isn’t enthusiastic about leaving, Ted pushes her into the wall, knocking her out. He intends to carry her off to his murder bunker, but something distracts him. It’s Buffy, and she’s got a frying pan attack.

ted0904
It’s super effective.

Ted the evil robot is out of commission.

Some time after the above happens, Buffy and her mom are sitting on the porch eating candy. Joyce says she’s afraid Ted will come back– she doesn’t know he’s a nightmare robot, she thinks he’s just a regular serial killer.

Somehow, I feel like “robot” is more comforting than “serial killer.”

At school, Xander hashes out the bits of the storyline that weren’t shown. This could be clumsy and generally stupid, but Buffy is there, and we don’t know if she’s heard the story yet, so we can give it a pass. But look, if you’re writing something, and you’ve got a character going, “As you know, last week you and I went looking for a new car…” that’s not acceptable at all. You know better than that. You are better than that.

The deal with Ted was that he was dying, and his wife left him. He built a robot Ted so that he might live on, kidnapped his ex-wife, kept her prisoner until she died, then did the same thing three times with four different wives. I assume they didn’t die from natural causes, then. Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Cordelia all resolve to return to life as normal. But then they try to go into the library and see this:

Having trouble in your relationship? Get back on track by shooting him in the back with a crossbow!
Having trouble in your relationship? Get your man on track by shooting him in the back with a crossbow!

I really like this episode, because it’s playing up a fantasy that most children of single parents have: finding out something really horrible that will turn their parent away from their romantic interest. God knows I had those fantasies when my mom was dating. I was always just waiting, just aching to see her boyfriend’s face pop up on America’s Most Wanted (I’m still watching, Mark).

I would have liked to see a scene where Joyce tells Buffy she’s sorry she didn’t believe her about Ted threatening her, though. Instead, we get a scene where Buffy listens to her mother’s fears, without any reassurance. Joyce is a pretty selfish parent. When she’s not under the influence of robot cookies, she still can’t be there for her daughter, hence my #3 on my list.

This episode is also a great example of what can often, sadly, happen when a new man comes into mom’s life. I’ve known far too many kids who were physically, sexually, or emotionally abused by a mom’s boyfriend because she believed “he would never do that.” While I’m sure it happens if a partner of another gender comes into the picture, as well, I feel like we hear overwhelmingly about the stepfather or the mom’s boyfriend hurting her kids. Again, I’m sure it happens with dad’s boyfriend or mom’s girlfriend,  and non-binary variations thereupon, but we hear about it all the time about men and women in heterosexual relationships. I think this is because heterosexual men can sometimes see a woman’s children as her weakness, and they can use them to exploit and trap her.

And we place the blame on the mother every time, because “she should have known! How could she not know?” Which is a huge component of the “circle the wagons” attitude when mothers discover that their partner is abusing their child. Because we so often hear, “How could she not have known? Why didn’t she protect her child?” the first thought the mother probably has is, “How could I not have known? Why didn’t I protect my own child?” That’s something pretty heavy to have in your head. No wonder denial is such a popular option. In this episode, the denial is pharmaceutical; Ted has been drugging Joyce, therefore she is blind to his flaws.

By the way, and this is totally anecdotal, but I’ve never heard anyone say about a father whose female partner abused his children, “Why didn’t he know?” In those cases, I think you’re more likely to hear, “She tricked him! He couldn’t have known!” We hold the woman responsible for the abuse, no matter whether she was or not.

When we see Joyce, Xander and Willow denying Buffy’s gut instinct that this guy is a danger to her and her mother, despite all the red flags, we’re seeing a situation that actually happens to far too many kids. Sans evil robots.

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59 Comments

  1. Samantha
    Samantha

    One of the things that gets under my skin in this show is how many times the gang ignores Buffy. Like, she has these instincts, whether they’re mystical or just honed, and the gang is always dismissing her. Even Giles does, some times. I think this folds into that thing that happens in season seven (spoilers, ahoy) where they all give her the big speech about how she hasn’t earned her skills or her position- even though she’s saved the world, and all of them, many many times by that point- and kick her out. (okay, spoilers over) It drives me off the deep end, I can tell you that.

    July 21, 2014
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  2. I have heard plenty of people criticize fathers for how their new SOs treated their children. I have a good friend whose stepmother was horribly abusive to her. The stepmother was fine until she had her own kids. It was almost exactly like Cinderella, right down to my friend being responsible for cleaning the house all the time (even when her sisters were old enough to do some of it they didn’t have to).

    I didn’t know growing up about some of the physical abuse (I saw some things, but she later told me about others). Everyone who knew the family was very bothered that her father never stepped in. It was awful and wrong.

    There are situations where the abuse occurs and the bio parent doesn’t know anything for one reason or another. But in situations where the child TELLS or the bio parent witnesses something and the parent denies it or takes the SO’s side over the child, I blame the parent and I don’t care what gender the parent is.

    I have been with my fiance for nine years and knowing him as I do, it would shock me beyond belief to find out he’d ever abused my daughter. But if she had ever come to me and told me something was going on, he would be out of the house first and then we’d figure out what happened. And that is why I may judge other parents — the ones whose children told them and they ignored it or dismissed it.

    And I know sometimes people (kids included) make things up, but it’s not a chance anyone should ever take right off the bat.

    July 21, 2014
    |Reply
    • Ashley
      Ashley

      I had a similar step mom as your friend. For me, I had a hard time blaming my dad for not doing anything for the longest time. I was abandoned by my real mom when I was 2 and the woman I considered a mother hated me. He was the one person who I knew loved me for most of my life. It’s definitely awful and I know how that he is to blame for letting it continue, but it’s emotionally confusing for the children.

      That said, while people question why he never did anything, they usually just talked about how she was a “crazy b*tch”, which I feel takes some of the blame from the people who should have protected me.

      September 13, 2016
      |Reply
  3. Lieke
    Lieke

    I think Ted is quite possibly the creepiest thing on BtVS. He seriously creeps me out.

    About Sarah Michelle Gellar’s acting skills: no argument here. There’s this scene at the end of season five where (SPOILER!) Buffy tells Giles that after the fight with Glory – whatever the outcome – she’s done with slaying. (SPOILER OVER) That scene killed. Sarah Michelle Gellar killed it and it killed me. It just all-around killed. I still get choked up whenever I watch it. I feel like she should have gotten an Emmy for that scene alone. Then again, I feel like several episodes and actors on this show deserve awards.

    July 21, 2014
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    • SMG is fantastic when she has good material. She was amazing in Buffy and in Ringer (which was far too short-lived — amazing show!). She’s unfortunately worked on some projects that were a little less than good and I think that hurts her as an actress. I don’t think even a great actress can do great things with crappy material.

      July 21, 2014
      |Reply
      • Lieke
        Lieke

        I couldn’t agree more. Recently I watched a bit of The Crazy Ones (series with Robin Williams) and the humour was so incredibly bland and forced that not even Meryl Streep could have made it work. It was painful to watch Sarah Michelle Gellar try to work with the lamest jokes known to mankind.

        I really liked Ringer too. Because that show was completely ridiculous, right? Soapier than The Bold and the Beautiful, but in an awesome way.

        July 21, 2014
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        • It was, but it was a good story. I mean, yeah, the premise was a little far-fetched (just a little! lol), but I thought it was well-done on all levels.

          The Crazy ones is AWFUL. I love SMG and Robin so much that I really wanted to love it and I watched it a few times just hoping before I gave up.

          July 21, 2014
          |Reply
          • Lieke
            Lieke

            Yeah, the premise of Ringer was really out there, but it was also so much fun. Plus, Ioan Gruffud every week on my TV: yes, please!

            I think The Crazy Ones suffers a bit from having Robin Williams unleashed. That’s always hit or miss and this time it’s (sadly) a miss.

            July 21, 2014
      • Ilex
        Ilex

        I watched Ringer, too! It’s a shame that it had that two-month break in the middle of the season (December through January, IIRC), because I lost my sense of urgency about the story line then, and I suspect a lot of the audience never came back after that. But I thought SMG was terrific in that, as she was in Buffy, too.

        July 23, 2014
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  4. Sara
    Sara

    And I always adored Oz! James Marsters rules, and while it’s true Angel is a dick, David Boreanaz has a great ass (still!)

    July 21, 2014
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  5. Candy Apple
    Candy Apple

    >> “We’ve been Twilighted, y’all.”

    Ahem. Twilight was Buffied, y’all. Chicken, egg. I happen to think Meyer totes stole from Buffy, myself. At least, the broody, tortured vampire leering in the window parts.

    So glad you’re back with these. I’ve missed them far too much. There’s not enough Buffy Rewatch going on in my life.

    July 21, 2014
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  6. Holly W
    Holly W

    I usually don’t comment, but I love your recaps and since today is my birthday, I choose to take this as a birthday present, so thanks!

    I remember being so creeped out by this episode and John Ritter in particular. I think he was an excellent casting choice for the man no one would believe is abusive.

    July 21, 2014
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Hey, happy birthday! And yeah, he was a great choice.

      July 21, 2014
      |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      My real name is Holly W! Happy birthday to you!

      July 23, 2014
      |Reply
  7. Laina
    Laina

    The “this house is mine” after the frying pan is literally one of my favourite lines from buffy, ever *nods*

    I love this episode because, storytelling-wise, it’s awesome, but also it’s so… much. Yeah. Wording!

    Don’t they also not believe Buffy in DoubleMeat Palace?

    July 21, 2014
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  8. Amber
    Amber

    I think the worst part is, realistically, she’d be second guessing herself. I really hated my dad’s girlfriend, but I stressed about whether she was really unlikeable or if I was clouded by the fact that dad started dating her less than a year after mom died.

    So to have friends just add on to that whole, is it me kind of doubt, that just sucks.

    July 21, 2014
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    • Ilex
      Ilex

      What is it with dads in these situations? My dad started dating just four months after my mother died, and married his girlfriend. And he was totally callous as to how upsetting this was for us kids, especially me as a daughter. I’ve never forgiven him for that, or his girlfriend, who was just as callous and clueless.

      July 23, 2014
      |Reply
      • I don’t think it’s just dads. My stepmother was on OKCupid no more than a month after my father died. It’s been a year since he died, and she’s been in a new relationship 7 months already.

        July 23, 2014
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        • Ilex
          Ilex

          A month! Wow. This sounds rough for you. Hugs, for what it’s worth.

          July 24, 2014
          |Reply
  9. Cat
    Cat

    These recaps were the reason I started rewatching Buffy, this time forcing boyfriend to watch because let’s be honest, otherwise I would have had to break up with him. Anyway, we’ve moved ahead of the current recaps and I was in shock when in S4E1, BUFFY used a computer to do actual research. I was so confused because #15! But it also gave me a little more faith that the rest of the gang is slowly moving in to the 21st century.

    July 21, 2014
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  10. BB
    BB

    But oh man did that episode make me all sorts of uncomfortable.

    ‘Since she has that pesky slayer thing going on, she doesn’t have a bruise, so the screw doesn’t believe her.’

    When I watched that scene the way the cop worded it bugged me. He basically made it seem that the only way someone would know if they bruise easily or not is if they are often hit. Which is total bs. You don’t need to frequently be hit to know how well you do or don’t bruise.
    Take for example me and my little sister. She bruises like an over ripe apple, I barely bruise. And it doesn’t take us being hit often to know this. All she has to do is sit wrong and bump a knee against something even lightly and she’ll bruise. Half the time she doesn’t even know where they come from(we’ll point one out and she’ll be clueless to where it comes from). This however is due in part to her Noonan Syndrome, it makes her bruise easier than most people.

    I however take a lot to bruise. Like, bashing an arm or leg really, really hard on something. I can go through a karate class, and I won’t get a single bruise yet other people do(and when you’re partnered with lower levelled students who lack control and just slam into your arm/leg or use the wrong part(i.e the write) when blocking bruises are quite common). I think I gave them out more than I got them.
    It takes like, me bashing into something(the edge of a deck, the corner of the a table, the floor) before a bruise is left. Heck, I’ve done those and just been left with a sore spot but no mark.
    So like no, you don’t need to be beaten on all the time to know if you bruise easily or not. Regular old life experience will tell you that.
    😐

    July 22, 2014
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    • BB
      BB

      *wrist not write OTL

      July 22, 2014
      |Reply
    • I’m like your sister. I’ve got bruises all the time that I have no idea where they came from. I bump into stuff and never notice. I quite literally walked face-first into a door once, and of course that sounds like an excuse, right?

      Anyway, she wouldn’t necessarily have a bruise 20 minutes after one single punch even if she weren’t the Slayer. Your jaw is pretty tough.

      July 23, 2014
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  11. J
    J

    Do you think that the trigger warning should also include partner abuse here? I agree that the main focus of the episode is the child abuse that Ted dishes out, but his behaviour towards Joyce is definitely abusive too. It certainly falls under the heading of emotional abuse/gaslighting at the very least.

    Great recap btw!

    July 22, 2014
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  12. Bella
    Bella

    There are few things on Buffy that creep me out the way Ted does, and I think a large part of that is relating it back to my own experiences. Joyce telling Buffy she’s wrong about Ted threatening to slap her hits way to close to home.

    On another note, I remember the first time I watched this episode, I really struggled to process it. I think I was really looking for it to be a case of Buffy learning to accept her mum’s new partner, but obviously, that’s not the story being told, even it plays off some of those tropes.
    I thought something similar when Buffy didn’t like her new roommate in season 4 (that is season 4 right?). I was so sure the episode was going to lead to Buffy learning that just because people don’t like her, doesn’t mean the supernatural is at play that I completely missed that both episodes had a completely different point.
    In the case of Ted, no matter how gross and uncomfortable the episode makes me feel, I love the story that was told. But I do wish the roommate episode had been a bit more about Buffy learning to adapt to being around people she doesn’t like.

    July 22, 2014
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  13. Jemmy
    Jemmy

    I’m a little confused by your last paragraph. You seem to be ignoring the ‘evil stepmother’ as a thing. Fairytales tend to be all about the evil stepmother rather than an abusive step father. Maybe it is a cultural shift over the centuries.

    I thought this was a good episode, more realistically creepy up until the robot part. I can relate to the ‘mother starts a relationship, new guy tries to run the kid’s life’, but fortunately I was older and more than willing to tell the guy to sod off and mind his own business. My mother was more inclined to listen to me than Joyce was to Buffy, although there was nothing untoward in my situation. Just a guy who thought he had the right to tell me how to live my life and was shocked when I didn’t go along with it.

    I can imagine it is hard for single parents trying to have a new relationship and navigate the issues with their children. I hope I never have to deal with it.

    July 22, 2014
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    • Nanani
      Nanani

      I’m pretty sure a lot of the “wicked stepmothers” from fairy tales were originally abusive MOTHERS, but over the years this got edited to stepmothers in service of the whole “motherhood is the MOST IMPORTANT SACRED THING” patriarchical meme.

      Doesn’t address fathers/stepfathers at all.

      July 22, 2014
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      • The Grimm versions are all stepmothers. I don’t think the stories go much further back than that. And since Cinderella’s mother’s spirit plays a huge part in the story, it had to be a stepmother. Not to mention that until very recently, children were far more likely to have stepmotherd than stepfatherd because so many women died yoing in childbirth snd men almost always remarried. Regardless, the OP made a very good point.

        July 22, 2014
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        • Laina
          Laina

          …dude. They totally do. You think the Grimm Brothers came up with all those things? They’re collected folk tales, not original stories.

          And Hansel and Gretal, actually, the woodcutter’s wife was also the childrens’ biological mother, even in the Grimm retelling.

          July 22, 2014
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          • Jemmy
            Jemmy

            Yeah, i always catch myself thinking it is a step mother in Hansel and Gretel but it wasn’t. It makes it a whole lot worse somehow.

            Folk tales date back a long time, and as Renee mentions, mothers often died in childbirth and fathers would remarry. Over time the stories have shifted around cultural change, but I think the most significant shift would be the ‘Disneyfication’ of stories. I refuse to watch ‘The Little Mermaid’ on the grounds that one did not have a happy ending and I’m not going to go along with a remake that says it did. Cinderella had a lot more gore as well.

            July 22, 2014
          • ScarlettP
            ScarlettP

            This is actually in response to Jemmy, but the reply buttons don’t embed down that far.

            If you read the original Danish version of The Little Mermaid, it most definitely *does* have a happy ending. Her original goal was not TWOO WUV – it was to gain a soul so she could get to heaven, because (so the fairy tale goes) mermaids don’t have souls and she didn’t want to just cease to exist when she died. By having a priest marry her to a human in a church, his soul would become connected to her – kind of taking on her husband’s nationality, if you will – and therefore she would be allowed to go to heaven. The prince was *purely* a means to an end in the story.

            And she DIDN’T die in the original story. She refused to kill the prince and his bride, because she couldn’t bear to destroy their happiness, so she dove into the sea, fully expecting to turn into sea foam. But then the air spirits lifted her up and told her that because of her self-sacrifice, she had been allowed to turn into one of them, and air spirits are able to EARN THEIR OWN SOULS through good deeds, and then they go to heaven. H.C. Andersen didn’t even know what a feminist story he was writing. Female empowerment for the win, yo.

            It’s all the English translations and bowdlerizations for kids that make her goal be all about marrying the prince and have her dying in the end. Cause, you know, women are nothing without a man.

            July 23, 2014
          • Raging Brainer
            Raging Brainer

            What is interesting is that the Hansel and Gretel story comes from the famines in Russia where families were starving to death and the parents thought that their children had a better chance being left in the woods (the belief in crazy supernatural stuff probably helped) than staying in the home.

            December 29, 2014
          • Refa
            Refa

            @ScarlettP: Yes and no.
            That ending you are talking about was written by HC Andersen – after the original ending got a lot of negative reactions from readers and church alike. (The church was all very lutheran about not promoting things in which god would punish people who did good deeds, since that is not a good god, and we all know that god is in fact good.)
            The first ending is the one in which she turns into sea foam, the second the one about the air spirits is the same sort of re-write as the variant ending of My Fair Lady. Both are canonical and real.

            March 6, 2015
        • Actually, the many of the stepmothers were famously mothers (as in, for example, Snow White) in the oral tradition until the Grimms decided that the “natural” mother had to be a paragon of virtue and the evil actions needed to be attributed to a new, evil character.

          As for the stories not going back farther than that, fairy tales have been been in the oral tradition for basically as long as humans have been around. The Chinese were collecting folk songs and tales well before 2,000 years ago. Even in the case of what we typically call fairy tales (the European magical tales which have been written down by a collector), Giovanni Francesco Straparola was working in Italy 300 years before the Grimms in Germany.

          July 22, 2014
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          • Jemmy
            Jemmy

            @ScarlettP I’m not sure I’d like the ‘gain a soul, go to heaven’ version, it sounds like a religious story. I will have to see if I can find a version that is closer to the original and see how it reads.

            I never saw the story as a ‘nothing without a man’ story. I probably have an odd take on fairy tales though, because I stopped believing in happy endings at a young age, and honestly thought Prince Charming was the same person in all the stories. I thought he got married a lot. The ‘Into the Woods’ Prince Charmings are more my thinking.

            The way I see the ending of The Little Mermaid is that she makes a deal, doesn’t succeed and has to live with the consequences of her deal. Much like the Monkey Paw (?I think) had the wishes which worked out badly. The mermaid made a deal and lost, so she becaome sea foam. It also says that no matter how much you sacrifice, you cannot make someone else love you if they don’t want to.

            /shrug that’s just my personal take on things. I was never one for romantic prince stories, so the sea foam ending suits my personal tastes.

            July 23, 2014
          • ScarlettP
            ScarlettP

            @Jemmy Well, yeah, you’re right, it’s totally religious. H.C. Andersen took his Christianity really seriously (he was Lutheran, if anyone;s curious) and he put a pretty heavy-handed moral in all his fairy tales.

            But she *didn’t* become sea foam in the original version. That’s the whole point. Religious imagery again, I know, but she was saved because of her kind heart and self-sacrifice.

            I’m not saying I share Andersen’s morality, I’m just saying that anyone who has only read The Little Mermaid in English translation has in all likelihood not read the story as it was written. It *isn’t* a romantic prince story.

            But I agree that the princes in Into the Woods are delightful!

            July 23, 2014
        • Siobhan
          Siobhan

          The Grimm lifted almost entire from Charles Perrault, and sanitized and Christianized the tales. They are significantly older than the Grimms.

          July 25, 2014
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    • Kelly
      Kelly

      Apparently the Grimm brothers changed the original folk stories they were collecting and switched ‘wicked mothers’ to ‘wicked stepmothers’ – because they really loved their mother and so didn’t want to have stories with mother-evil. [Just listened to an interview with someone who has done their PhD on folk tales and fairy stories and how they’ve changed over time.]

      Just came across this Buffy recap section and shall now pull out my DVDs for a Buffy-Fest so I can watch along – hooray!!

      July 22, 2014
      |Reply
    • I think what Jenny’s getting at in the final paragraph is actually how the stepmother gets blamed.

      In a case where a stepmother is abusing her (step)children, the husband is usually viewed as another one of her victims. When it’s a stepfather, though, people ask why the mother didn’t do more to prevent it. Blame gets placed on the woman in either case, and that’s what Jenny’s pointing out as problematic.

      July 22, 2014
      |Reply
      • Jemmy
        Jemmy

        @ Elspeth – “I think what Jenny’s getting at in the final paragraph is actually how the stepmother gets blamed.

        In a case where a stepmother is abusing her (step)children, the husband is usually viewed as another one of her victims. When it’s a stepfather, though, people ask why the mother didn’t do more to prevent it. Blame gets placed on the woman in either case, and that’s what Jenny’s pointing out as problematic.”

        I couldn’t quite work the paragraph out, I’m sick and foggy headed. That would make sense, and is a definite issue in these types of stories.

        July 23, 2014
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  14. Betty
    Betty

    I am so looking forward to when you get to season six, where Buffy thought she was in a mental institution. One of my favourite episodes and I’ll be interested on your take.

    July 22, 2014
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  15. The mini-golf confrontation between Buffy and Ted is easily my “most disturbing scene” on this show.

    July 22, 2014
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  16. Kim H
    Kim H

    Ah, this episode always stands out as one of the creepiest to me. Totally agree about John Ritter being perfect casting.

    Also, is it just me, or is that image of Jenny and Giles kissing as seen through the round window VERY similar to the shot of Jenny and Angel in “Passion” later this season? Haven’t rewatched “Passion” in a while so I could be wrong, but I feel like that scene/episode was burned in to my adolescent brain.

    July 22, 2014
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      I’d never thought of that, but now you mention it, I think it may be similar imagery.

      July 23, 2014
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  17. I can’t help it, I HATED this episode because it was so triggering for me. It made me rage at the tv! And I hate too that Jenny apologises to Giles. It makes her very good and fair statement about the puppy dog eyes fall flat.

    July 24, 2014
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  18. Jon
    Jon

    I have wondered about Xander as being similar character trope to Ron Weasley before. Indeed my, probably superficial, glance detected so many similarities between Ron and Xander and Willow and Hermione that I used to have serious doubts about Harry Potter and Buffy developing independently.

    July 24, 2014
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  19. Sarah
    Sarah

    “Hey, remember in season six, where Buffy thought she was in a mental institution? Okay, just checking.”

    Hey, remember in season six where they revealed that Buffy WAS in a mental institution the first time she dealt with vampires and told people about it? And that eventually she told them all what they wanted to hear and they collectively pretended it never happened?

    I’m all for saying fuck the ret-con of season six because I hated a lot of things about it. But if you’re not going to do that, a lot of things in earlier seasons are a lot darker. This threat in particular had to be very scary for Buffy.

    July 24, 2014
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    • Jilliterate
      Jilliterate

      <blockquote cite="Hey, remember in season six where they revealed that Buffy WAS in a mental institution the first time she dealt with vampires and told people about it?"

      Yeah, I was disappointed when Ted threatened to have Buffy put in an institution and there wasn’t really any strong reaction from her (beyond the general seething ‘I hate you Ted’ look she wears the entire episode). Seems like the idea that Buffy’s parents had her spend some time in a hospital was something they came up with later, rather than a long-term idea that the writers had for the character.

      September 19, 2014
      |Reply
  20. Siobhan
    Siobhan

    This episode has one of my favorite lines EVER:

    Giles: Buffy, I-I-I believe the subtext here is rapidly becoming, um, text

    We used to run around saying that a LOT.

    July 25, 2014
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  21. pam
    pam

    I know this is tiny tiny and nitpicky but in s2 e2 xander says we can go to mini golf and willow says there isent one in town. I guss the mini golf could be new or they left town?

    July 26, 2014
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  22. Jilliterate
    Jilliterate

    I know I’m an outlier here, but I really don’t enjoy this episode. Admittedly, it could be because I find the episode to be extremely upsetting — I agree with everyone else that Ted threatening to slap Buffy at the golf course is one of the most unsettling things the show’s ever done.

    I could be totally off on this (And I totally invite people to prove me wrong, because I’m definitely more of a casual watcher who isn’t particularly familiar with every Buffy episode), but the problem in “Ted” is just fixed too easily. I usually enjoy Buffy‘s take-a-regular-teen-problem-and-put-a-supernatural-twist-on-it formula. Usually the stakes are exacerbated. Your parents divorced and it feels like your fault? Your new secret life as the Slayer like contributed to that! Sleep with a guy and now he feels like a different person? He’s lost his soul and essentially is a different person! The local bullies feel like a pack of wild animals? They get possessed by animal spirits, and eat the principal! Peers ignoring you making you feel like you’re invisible? You’re actually invisible! Things are tougher in the Buffy universe, and the number of student deaths at Sunnydale High reflects that.

    In “Ted” though, things are easier. The supernatural twist of Ted being a robot removes any of the guilt or potential legal problems involving his death. Most kids don’t have Slayer strength to deal with this ordinary problem, and the new partner in the scene is a real human being who can’t be just shut down. Even Joyce’s obliviousness was passed off as an easy-to-excuse drugging, when they could have written it as a real problem and given Joyce and Buffy a moment to have a serious conversation. Watching this episode only made me angry, because it felt like it would be hard for any viewers who had shared the experience to get much from it, because they don’t have the easy fix that’s offered.

    Scary John Ritter had a big effect on me. 🙁

    September 19, 2014
    |Reply
    • Yeah, I don’t like the easy fix part either. Tbh, I don’t even like the “put a supernatural spin on a real life problem” part because – that leads to the easy fix, which makes the whole topic feel very removed from reality. I particularly didn’t like the drug cookies because that makes it seem like in real life, people would totally be on your side and … no, that’s unfortunately not true.

      December 10, 2014
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  23. Indie Terminate
    Indie Terminate

    “In season four, when Buffy’s roommate is a demon and only she can see it, they do the same thing. Oh, it couldn’t be that there is really something off about this person. It’s that there’s something wrong with Buffy. It’s one thing to go, ‘hey, buddy, you’re misreading the situation,’ and another to actively pressure that buddy into thinking there’s something wrong with their own emotions.”

    Hi, Jenny. Huge fan of your 50 Shades reading, so I started re-watching Buffy and reading your recaps. So it pains me to say this, but as far as that season 4 thing goes, having just watched that episode, that’s not actually what happens. See, in that case, there WAS actually something wrong with Buffy. Namely, she was having her soul sucked out, and slowly growing more and more psychotic. Her friends were perfectly right to be concerned about her actions. Further, Buffy didn’t actually KNOW that her roommate was a demon until she ripped her face-flesh-mask-thing off. The whole demon thing was really just an excuse to try to murder her roommate, while being mostly lacking in a soul – and therefore evil – at the time.

    Anyway, love the reviews, but I’m an anal nitpicker. I’m sorry.

    November 18, 2014
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  24. Raging Brainer
    Raging Brainer

    This is even crazier, they actually sold computer parts through catalogue. As a super nerd I got it monthly and lusted over every page. I built my first computer through parts I ordered from it. Granted my computer was better than 9 gigs but when you built your own you have more control over the specs.

    December 29, 2014
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  25. Holly
    Holly

    “We’ve been Twilighted, ya’ll” Hey now, Buffy and her undead stalker boyfriends predate Twilight and you know it.

    February 12, 2015
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  26. Crystal
    Crystal

    I think the reason they didn’t listen to Buffy was because Ted was drugging them. Buffy wasn’t eating his food and they were. And in season 4 her roommate was sucking out Buffy’s soul. So that was why she was supposed to be paranoid and bonkers and why no one believed her.

    Another great acting moment for Sarah (really for everyone) was ‘the body.’ I have to skip that episode a lot because Sarah is so spot on that I hysterically cry. And any episode with Buffy and her bad father, it helps because Sarah’s dad abandoned her. She’s actually where I got the sperm donor label for my biological father from.

    Also, and this is so not an excuse, but probably what happened in the writer’s room, but Whedon didn’t want the kids to have parents. But he realized how unrealistic it would be, at least for Buffy, and that’s why her parents were divorced. So there’d only be one. Might be why she goes to the back burner a lot. And why you only see Willow’s mom for a kind of Willow centric episode and any you only see xander’s parents for his wedding.

    Other Buffy facts that might fit in somewhere for the recaps are Sarah and Nicky wanted Buffy and xander to date in the seventh season, but writers said no (might fit for the nice guy plot). When Buffy and angel have sex, the sounds are Joss and Marti because they felt awkward asking Sarah and David, but Buffy constantly sounds like she’s having sex during fights. And Buffy’s breasts get smaller every season. And while this is probably more because Sarah became more comfortable with her body and didn’t pad as much, I also feel like as a character, Buffy gets weaker every season, and smaller breasts makes her look more defeated (not as feminist as it seems reason. Smaller boobs=less confident and therefore weaker and needs saving).

    February 22, 2015
    |Reply
    • Crystal
      Crystal

      The Buffy sounds like she’s having sex during fight scenes goes for sex is evil. I forgot to put that in there.

      February 22, 2015
      |Reply
  27. Anon123
    Anon123

    “[W]e were wearing overalls, bellbottoms, and platform shoes in high school.”

    So, I spent like 10 years saying half-jokingly, “Well, we’re reliving the 70s now, so what’s next in fashion–we relive the 80s?” THEN THAT HAPPENED, and OMG, it’s been more amazing than I ever could have imagined, not only because I get to be right, but also because 80s fashion is stupid only in the most amazing, awesomest ways. There’s neon rainbow freaking everything, and shiny/glittery bits attached to all sorts of implausible items, and most importantly, ALL THE PUNK HAIR, ALL OF IT! What’s not to love? (Disclaimer: I was born in 1986, so this could all be warped nostalgia for an era I only sort of lived through part of.)

    That’s what my comment is, because everything after you wrote the line about 70s fashion is horrible and dark and creepy and OMG why are Willow and Xander gaslighting the shit out of Buffy so Ted doesn’t even have to do his own dirty work to manipulate her?

    (TBH concerning the children-of-single-parents-dating thing, though, I was pretty eager for my mom to start dating–all the guys were nicer than she was, even the not-nice ones, and I thought they’d mellow her out a bit. But thanks for saying “most children” and not hyperbolizing to “all children”; I was glad not to be excluded. 🙂 )

    April 25, 2015
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