harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Review - "I Robot, You Jane" ... FINALLY!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 1, Episode 8

"I Robot, You Jane"

Written by: Ashley Gable & Thomas A. Swyden
Directed by: Stephen Posey

Blurb: Willow unwittingly unleashes a powerful demon named Moloch onto the Internet where he turns Sunnydale's computer crowd into his helpless pawns.

Scene 01: We open on a shot of an Italian castle in 1418. Within, a voice calls out to a man who looks very happy. The voice off screen calls him 'my dear one'. A large, green, clawed hand pats his head tenderly as our POV glides upward to see the demon's face. He is looking on the young man with joy.

He asks the young man if he has his love - that he provide him with all that he desires, if he will only give him love. The young man says yes, he does love him.

The demon's response is to jerk the young man's head and snap his neck with a huge grin.

Commentary: So ends our strongest scene involving the demon....

Scene 02: Elsewhere, in an abbot, the presumptive head of the order of monks tells his brethren that it is Moloch, the Corruptor who operates nearby. He warns that the demon's influence is spreading to more and more people. The monks form a circle, with the abbot head at its center where he opens a large book. The pages of the book, we see in an overhead shot, are blank. The monks begin to chant calling on something called the Circle of Kayless (second cousin to Kahless, I'm sure).

Scene 03: Back at his castle, Moloch is savering the death of his 'love' as the body falls to the floor. But his expression falls... he worries over something in the atmosphere? Is someone two timing him with a disembowler or heart-ripper? No, no - it's because he senses the spell involving Kayless being recited.

The monks at their abbot call upon Moloch to come to them, as he yells out his defiance.

Yelling out now in anger, or perhaps pain, Moloch's body flies apart into confetti.

Scene 04: With Moloch's yell echoing over the scene, his confetti bits, glowing in a rain of light particles, falls into the book the abbot head is holding open on a blank page. The page fills up with mystic symbology.

The abbot shuts the book once it's been filled with the Moloch-symbols and then seals this in a heavy box. He prays that no one ever reads the book again, holding Moloch for eternity within its pages.

Commentary: This, again, is a nicely done scene - if a bit sparsely decorated and filmed in too much dark space. I'm not sure why I'm enamored with the concept, but I like the idea of trapping demons in old books as mystic symbols. I just wish that this good opening didn't so quickly fall apart once we reach Sunnydale High. But still, this opening is nicely done.

Scene 05: We get an inside POV within the box and the lid is removed and see The Slayer looking down curiously down at us. She pulls out the book with the demon face on it gingerly, unhappy that it is so dusty.

We very quickly get indications that there is a library project underway to scan books into electronic format, as there are two kids that Buffy speaks to as if she knows them, but we've never seen them before - she assigns the book to the 'Willow-pile'.

Giles says he'll glance through it and then they can 'skim it'. A brunette corrects him on the nomenclature. (Ms. Calender! We love you!)

It is immediately obvious that Jenny and Rupert don't much like one another. He is obviously very unhappy to have more computer equipment taking up space in his library. But I'm sure he's being struck in the wrong way by Jenny's mildly sarcastic attitude, as well.

One of the boys pipes up with his attitude that everything is virtual now and if you're a luddite not 'jacked in', you're not alive. Jenny thanks Fritz for making them all sound like crazy people.

Commentary: Here is really the central problem with this episode: Everything is set up for this to be a Willow episode - she's got the demon-infected book, she's doing the scanning and as we'll see Moloch will be released by her and obsess upon her - but we don't care. Our attention is wholly on Rupert/Jenny the whole time because Anthony and Robia have instant chemistry together that jumps off of the screen and pushes out Willow's silly tale of lovelorn attraction to a disembodied demon. The entire episode has turned out to be focusing on the wrong person.

Scene 06: It is later that evening and Jenny and the other students have left, but Wills wants to finish up the few books in her scanning pile. She's using a far too small handheld scanner to wave down a book page, so should only be receiving an incomplete scan. It is also being reproduced in a very cheap, little program, that I find it difficult to believe has any sort of editing suite that would be of any use.

As Willow is saving the file (with a lot of clicking at the keyboard), the lettering on the page of the book begins to fade away rapidly.

She closes the book to put away - not seeing that the pages she just scanned are blank. In addition, apparently she only needed to scan two pages in the whole thing because she doesn't even turn the page and she's in the middle of the book. Finally, as she is doing this, computer text comes across the screen - unnoticed by her - that asks "Where am I?".

Commentary: Once again, this scene is dismally lit - even though Rupert is in the stacks putting scanned books away, he's apparently doing so in the dark to practice those Watcher skills... or something. This scene, as you can see by its description is just awfully executed... and boring... spending a lot of time watching somebody typing away on a computer is never interesting - never - don't do it. It takes some serious director-incompetence to create a scene with Aly and have the audience's eyes start to wander off of the screen - but it is done here.

Scene 07: Following credits/kick-ass rock theme - Buffy calls out to a dazed Willow, who is smiling to herself, in Sunnydale's hallway. Buffy mentions she tried to call Willow several times at home the night before, but the line was always busy (you see kids, there used to be this thing called "dial up" that was the only option for getting online and it meant you couldn't use the phone while you were on the computer, unless you had more than one phone line installed in your home - gods, things have changed SO much in such a short amount of time). She quickly intuits that Willow is keeping a secret and she wants in on it.

Willow spills that she met a boy named Malcolm and they talked all night. She's known him for a week - but doesn't have any idea what he looks like because so far, it's been an online relationship.

Scene 08: In the computer lab, Fritz and Dave are working and Dave is rather uselessly responding verbally to his computer monitor. He has apparently made a promise to someone online.

Buffy and Willow stroll in where Willow explains to Buffy how she met some guy without knowing what he looks like. A harried and running late Jenny soon joins them, too. It is 'free lab period', explaining why the room isn't filled with students and Buffy also explains she has a free period - so she can sit with Willow for a bit.

Willow excitedly tells Buffy she's received an email. Buffy is a little wigged out that Willow is obviously getting ahead of herself on this whole penpal boyfriend-potential thing and reminds her that she really doesn't know anything about who is he behind the computer screen. In the meanwhile, the camera on the desktop is scanning Buffy's face.

Scene 09: In another room, a computer comes to life and we see it scanning the school records for Buffy....

Commentary: And you're right - the computer coming to life to run this scan is needless since there isn't anyone sitting in front of it to display the information to and computers do just fine with communicating with each other without us getting visual representations of everything they're doing. Which is part of the problem in making a 'computer based thriller' - you have to keep giving the audience something to look at even though it makes zero sense for them to actually be seeing the computer working if there isn't a person to interact with it in the scene. Also, we're not even going to talk about the completely botched job of Buffy's school records which everyone else always brings up - let's just say that things are completely wrong, so don't bother noting anything on the screen and let's move on....

Scene 10: In the computer lab, twitchy-Fritz sees Buffy's cheap-jack looking bio notepad page pull up on his screen. He gets a message to "watch her".

In the meanwhile, Buffy is trying to point out to Willow that she doesn't know anything about this guy or what he looks like - he could have a "hairy back". Willow gets a brief look of panic, but tells Buffy that Malcolm isn't writing like a man who would have a hairy back.

While this is all going on, Jenny comes around to Fritz and points out that he and Dave have been logging a "scary amount of computer time" at the school lab, but Fritz gives her a vague excuse about a 'special project'. Jenny is excited and asks if she'll like it, to which Fritz replies in the most unambiguously creepy way possible, "You'll die". Jenny doesn't notice that Fritz is even creepier than he was in the "if you're not jacked in" confrontation in the library.

Commentary: I like the actor that plays Dave as a pretty regular guy, but 'Fritz' is overacted ridiculously.

Scene 11: Around the high school, students are noticing that their files have been altered. Willow is walking around in her love-fog when Xander asks her if she's going to the Bronze that night. He doesn't see very supportive when she reports she's spending it at home online with Malcolm.

Buffy joins Xander watching Willow's pep as she walks off. Xan complains about desertion and Buffy razzes him for being jealous that he's no longer Willow's "belle of the ball". Xander tells Buffy that just because Malcolm says he's a high school student doesn't mean that he is. He winds her up about him being an axe murderer, until she laughs and tells him he's just yanking her chain, now, which he agrees he was doing.

Scene 12: Back in the school, a computer is working crazily. Fritz is being extra creepy by sitting in front of the monitor and repeatedly saying "I'm jacked in". The POV glides downward and we see that he is carving an "M" into his forearm.

Commentary: And, again, Sunnydale is obviously having a funding problem because the lights aren't effing on and the scene is too damned dark!

Scene 13: Sometime later (I think it's the next day), Buffy is in the girl's locker, when Willow comes rushing in - obviously late. Buffy points out that Willow is very late (it's 5th period) and asks if she was up all night talking to Malcolm, which she confirms with a smile before she notices Buffy's "uh-huh, thought so" expression.

Buffy denies having an expression of any sort when Willow confronts her, but she also says that if she were having an expression, it would be saying something like "this isn't like you". Willow immediately thinks Buffy means not like her to have a boyfriend, and can't understand why Buffy doesn't want her to have this.

Willow tells her that boys don't spend a lot of time chasing her around and doesn't understand why Buffy is so doubtful about this growing relationship - she says it doesn't matter if she blows off a few classes once in a while (which - Willow? Blowing off classes? It is a big deal) but Buffy calls her on it, saying she thought Will said she overslept - not that she had been skipping to chat.

Will complains that Malcolm told her that Buffy wouldn't understand, to which Buffy agrees - she doesn't. She also wishes Willow would arrange to meet him in a public place with her friends around so they can check him out.

Commentary: There is an inconsistency I want to talk about here, because I can almost justify it story wise, but it still bugs me. We've seen that Fritz and Dave are clearly already under the demon's sway by this point, but Willow herself - the main focus of Moloch, remains in control of herself throughout the episode. I can't tell if this is a deliberate story choice (I could see that since she released him, she'd be immune to his mystic influence, or he just wants her to come to him of her own free will) or if it is just a clumsy script conceit. There is also the very large problem (storywise) about Moloch's actions now that he's been released onto the internet and his rather silly, small goal being worked toward behind the scenes - but we'll get to that. But right now, the other problem I want to mention is again script related - these scenes of Aly and Sarah acting against one another are well acted and dramatic and all of that, but there are too many scenes doing this. Nothing is actually HAPPENING and nothing has happened since we saw Moloch scanned into the computer... the story itself is meandering and in need of a beefy B-Plot to break up the computer-focused A-story, but the script hasn't provided one. Finally, getting back to Willow/Malcolm - if Willow (for whatever vague reason) isn't being directly mind controlled to worship Moloch, then her completely blowing off Buffy's concern in the wake of Xander's near decapitation by She-Mantis in the guise of a substitute teacher just doesn't make sense to me. Maybe if she told Buffy that her being the Slayer is making her paranoid, or stressing that Malcolm isn't even near the Hellmouth (as far as she believes) would have allowed us to glide by this - but it isn't even mentioned, as if everyone has just forgotten that monsters can pretend to be people and that it is much more likely in Sunnydale... the lack of mention at all about the very logical concern that someone may be pretending to be something they aren't in relation to Xander's experience bugs (heh) me.

Scene 14: Buffy looks up Dave, who is in the computer lab engrossed in whatever he's doing. She startles him and he's short with her but agrees to listen to the favor she wants. Buffy wants to know if there is a way to trace the physical location of a computer that sent an email, which Dave says would be a challenge, but he smiles - obviously looking forward to it.

That is, until Buffy mentions that Willow has this guy emailing her - at which point, Dave's attitude does a 180-spin. He tells Buffy to leave Willow alone and to mind her own business. At first she's surprised, but then she smiles and asks if Dave is Malcolm. Buffy notices that Dave seems nervous suddenly and she asks him worriedly about what is going on - her Slayer sense apparently finding something off in his behavior.

He's not forthcoming, of course. As she leaves the computer lab, we see that Fritz was also present (though silent throughout this exchange) and he glares menacingly at her back.

Scene 15: In the library, Buffy tries to convince Giles that there is something hinky going on involving Dave and Willow's new boyfriend. Giles is little help, as whatever she thinks is happening deeply involves computers, which he has little use for. He suggests she follow Dave after school to see where he goes.

She scoffs - as if she is going to tail Dave like some cheap spy in dark glasses and a trenchcoat....

Scene 16: (Komedy Moment)

Buffy trails Dave to CRD, a company of some sort with lots of activity (despite the fact he was driving, and she was on foot - we have to take it on faith that Slayers have some sort of inate speed, or she just did a lot of cutting through people's yards between blocks to keep up with him).

Commentary: There is a background guy here that immediately draws my interest: First - he's handsome and he's wearing a uniform, so of course he draws my eye. But, also, he does a horribly stiff job of being a security guard standing on guard. Seriously, it's obvious he's very self-conscious of the camera and looks like he's pretending to be a mannequin. His arms are unnaturally hanging slightly forward - I don't know why I find this so distracting, but it immediately stands out as an unnatural stance.

While Buffy thinks she is sneakily spying, a camera swings in her direction and focuses on her. The video feed is being viewed from the school by Fritz who observes she is too close to the truth. He's instructed via a computer pop up screen to kill Buffy.

"Party," he replies in the overly creepy way he delivers all of his dialog.

Scene 17: Back in the library, Buffy is telling Giles about the activity at CRD. Xander shares that the site is a computer research place, but it closed down a year before. We find out that he had an uncle who worked at the site as a janitor until they left.

Buffy, Giles, and Xander's discussion of what to do next to investigate CRD is interrupted by the arrival of Jenny into the library. She's checking on his database to make sure it isn't glitching, but he complains that she and her students left chaos in their wake. Buffy takes the opportunity to avoid an argument with Giles about breaking and entering into CRD later by rushing out.

Scene 18: Meanwhile, Willow is chatting with Malcolm, again. This time with a cheesy voice synthesizer repeating the words we're reading on screen (I blame 'War Games' for this). Willow tells Malcolm that Buffy doesn't understand how comfortable he makes her feel and he makes a serious misstep.

He tells Willow that Buffy is a trouble maker and that is why she was kicked out of her old school (Hemery High in L.A. Remember? Burned down a gym because it was filled with vam... uh, asbestos). But Willow is wigged suddenly because she hadn't mentioned anything like that to him, so how would he know Buffy's history?

Willow signs off with Malcolm, disturbed that he knows such a detail about Buffy's school career....

Scene 19: In the meantime, Jenny is confronting Giles in the library over his aversion to electronic data keeping. She accuses him of being an elite snob wanting to control information. He tells her that his books have more to say than any of the webpages she's so fond of - he also states that there is a tactile sensation to information from a book, whereas information on the computer is there and then gone - it has no permanence.

Jenny points out that not all books have a lot to say... like the one she's glancing through right now, which is blank inside (the Moloch book, of course). Giles glances at its cover, and something about the demon face on it disturbs him. He dismisses Jenny by going off to his office, clearly distracted - leaving Ms. Calendar non-plussed.

Commentary: Sadly, this is the best scene in the episode because of the chemistry between Anthony and Robia. I also like the truths both speak about the gathering and retention of knowledge. It's just pathetic that this is the scene that sticks out, rather than anything involving Willow (whom the episode supposedly revolves around) or Moloch, the villain of the piece.

Scene 20: Outside, Dave comes up to Buffy, apologizing for his short temper the day before. He tells her that he saw Willow who wanted to see her in the girl's locker room. For some reason, Buffy isn't at all suspicious that Willow would send Dave to fetch Buffy to meet her in the locker room, instead of just - you know - meeting up with her to talk.

Scene 21: Buffy heads into the locker room, but doesn't notice anyone inside. Fritz turns on the water in the shower and then sneaks out.

Buffy peeks into the shower to find the water running, but no Willow. As she steps inside to turn off the faucet, we get a shot of two exposed wires lying on the shower tiled floor.

Just before the water on the floor reaches the exposed wires, Dave yells at her to get out of the room and looks down at the wires sparking. Buffy reacts, leaping - but still gets shocked and thrown out of the shower room and across a locker bench.

Dave runs off, while Buffy gathers her wits. The bottom of her shoes are smoking from her close encounter.

Commentary: Light, people! Light! What is up with Sunnydale High being largely in darkness?

Scene 22: In the computer lab, Dave is yelling at a computer to Moloch that he can't do it (set up Buffy to be killed, presumably). Moloch is severely disappointed and opens up a notepad program. He starts typing out a "suicide note" to Dave's growing horror.

As Dave backs away from the note typing out on the screen, we see Fritz lingering in the background.

Commentary: The fact that Fritz is there is supposed to explain why the computer lab has no lights on so Dave won't notice him but it's ridiculous. One, no one enters a room without turning on a flipping light. And, two, it's dark, but not pitch black - Fritz clearly would have been seen by Dave easily, creepily standing there. While the scene itself is good with Dave's reaction to seeing a suicide note being composed for him - the mechanics of the scene is so stupid that it undercuts the chill that the scene should generate.

Scene 23: Buffy is back in the library with Giles and Xander, recovering from her shock (heh), disbelieving that Dave could have set her up. She's also worried about her hair, but Giles and Xander reassure her that she looks fine. Giles tells the other two that he thinks he knows why Dave acted so strangely and what may be happening around the school.

He gets out the blank paged book and mentions that in the Middle Ages, sometimes souls of demons were locked away in a book to entrap them.

As they try to work out how Moloch could be free and have no one noticing that a large, horned demon is walking around, Giles mentions the book was in a pile to be scanned. Everyone looks with dawning suspicion at the computer on the library table.

Buffy figures that Moloch must be in Willow's scan file and goes to delete it, but that only draws up Moloch's face, which warns Buffy to stay away from Willow. The file pops back onto the desktop.

Scene 24: Coming back from break, Xander wonders if they're overreacting since the demon has no real form. Buffy points out he could cause a lot of trouble by interfacing with things like America's nuclear missle access codes.

Commentary: Which, ironically, spotlights the major problem with this whole episode.... Moloch's threat could be turning off life support, launching missles, seducing lonely kids across the world to kill their parents, etc. Instead, he interferes with kids' schoolwork, some medical files at Sunnydale High and tries to have Buffy electrocuted. Worldwide threat potential, reduced to small-fry actual plots.

Scene 25: The gang split to try to locate Willow since that is who Moloch seems to be focusing on. Buffy checks the computer lab (with no lights on) for her, somehow impossibly missing Dave so we can have a jump scare.

She bumps into Dave's body hanging from the computer room rafters.

Commentary: This set is such a stupid place for this sequence of events. 1) Buffy wanders around the room in the dark. 2) She, somehow, fails to notice a body hanging from the ceiling. 3) Fritz somehow managed to kill Dave without any signs of a struggle, while leaving injuries consistent with a suicide. 4) Fritz somehow managed to get Dave hanging from the ceiling, all without anyone happening to walk by or into the room in the middle of the day. 5) Buffy stands right next to a hanging body without any notice until she happens to bump into it.... This script is brainless.

Scene 26: Back in the library, Xander is dialing up Willow's number but she doesn't answer. Buffy comes in to tell the others about Dave's hanging. She (correctly) guesses it was with help from Fritz. She grabs Xander and heads for Willow's house, while instructing Giles to come up with a way to get the demon out of the internet. When he is clearly at a loss, she suggests drafting Ms. Calender to help.

Scene 27: Sunset has happened VERY quickly - as some indeterminate amount of time later (but simply can't be that long if Buffy and Xander are on their way), Willow comes home to an empty house.

In her bedroom, her computer tells her she has a mail message waiting. It is from Malcolm who informs her he's ready to see her. She turns off her monitor. Her monitor turns itself back on and reports she has a new message. She's a bit freaked by this, but the doorbell rings distracting her.

Willow's house is also severely underlit.

She answers the doorbell, but no one is there. Puzzled, she turns her back on the open door (as you do, I'm sure) allowing Fritz to grab her with a chlorformed rag over her face.

Scene 28: In the library office, Giles is reviewing the ritual once used to bind Moloch. On the radio, there is a news report of financial irregularities at the Catholic church, where a bishop is insisting it was some sort of computer error. Jenny knocks on his door and joins him.

He stumbles with trying to explain why he needs her help, finally giving up and blurting out that a demon is in the internet. But, Jenny shocks him by replying, "I know".

Scene 29: At Willow's house, Xander and Buffy arrive to find the front door open. When Buffy and Xander make it up to her room, they see Moloch's open email to her telling her he wants to see her. Xan guesses she may have been taken already to CRD. They head out, with Buffy hoping that Giles is going to be ready to back them up.

Scene 30: Back in Giles' office, he's trying to deal with this new wrinkle regarding the computer lab teacher. She tells him she's seen portents for days and when he tells her it is Moloch, she easily recognizes the name. Jenny reveals she is a "techno-pagan" (and that isn't all she is, but that is a tale for next season). She denies having any witchcraft powers, but she is very aware of mysticism and informs Giles that technology didn't make the supernatural suddenly go away - it just added another place, cyberspace, for it to inhabit.

Giles is relieved that he won't have to argue with her over a demon existing. He tells her about the binding ritual, but since Moloch isn't a physical being anymore, he's unable to figure out a way to cast the Circle of Kayless.

Jenny tells him they can form a virtual circle using other on-line technopagans via electronic chat forums.

Buffy calls Giles from a payphone outside of CRD reporting her status and that she believes Willow may be being held within. He reports that he and Ms. Calender are working to get Moloch offline.

Scene 31: Inside CRD, Willow comes to from her chloroform. A computer monitor lights up and an electronic voice tells Willow he's happy to see her. A robotic hand suddenly appears in frame with a musical sting and reveals that Moloch has taken himself out of the internet and into a robot body.

Naturally, the room is severely under-lit, except for bizarrely colored gel lights.

Willow is horrified.

Scene 32: A labcoat and Fritz grab Willow by the arms and drag her to 'Malcolm'. He extols the virtues he's finding of the current world. He excitedly tells Willow that through the internet he knows everyone's secrets, but he's been missing having form. He reaches out a robotic, clawed hand and rests it on Fritz' head, who responds with a look approaching ecstasy, before twisting his head, snapping Fritz' neck.

Commentary: Despite the problem with this scene, Aly really sells her fear and horror when Fritz has his neck snapped right in front of her. But, there is no reason for how dark everything is lit - it's driving me crazy.

Scene 33: Outside, Buffy and Xander hop the fence. They break into a loading door, but Moloch senses their arrival.

Scene 34: In the meanwhile, Jenny and Rupert begin to set up for the ritual to excise Moloch....

Scene 35: In the robotics lab, Willow asks what Moloch wants with her. He informs her that he loves her for releasing him from the book he was bound in. As we've seen plenty of evidence of, however, his definition of love is different from most people's.

Scene 36: Buffy and Xander cross through an office area, meeting one of Moloch's thralls, but she punches him out easily. Xander notices Willow on a closed circuit security feed of "Lab 02" where Moloch is speaking to her - they have no audio.

Buffy and Xander rush off toward the lab areas.

Scene 37: Back with Willow, Moloch is trying to convince Willow that he can give her everything.

Scene 38: Buffy and Xander head through some doors into a hallway. They find the lab door, but it's heavy steel - far too strong for Buffy to break through. An alarm sounds suddenly, and Xander finds that the doors out of the hallway have been electronically locked, trapping them. The fire suppression system activates, flooding the hallway with chemical and beginning to smother the invaders.

Commentary: Actually, it just strikes me that I've seen this tale of a computer trying to kill someone before - way back in the 70s on an episode of The Bionic Woman - when Jaime Summers battles the Alex6000 in "Doomsday is Tomorrow". It was far more entertaining, then.

Scene 39: Back in the library, Giles asks if Jenny might not just be able to release a virus (which is actually a sly insult to 'computer thrillers' of the time, in which some virus is always the answer for the hero to stop the dastardly bad guy plot - right up through the alien attack blockbuster, Independence Day) but she tells him he's seen too many movies (heh - this is funny for both the reason mentioned, and the notion of Giles seeing too many movies is funny in and of itself).

With Jenny's cybercoven responding, Giles reads out the ritual, while Jenny types the words online.

Scene 40: In the meanwhile, Buffy isn't able to break through the doors and she and Xander are succumbing to the toxic fumes in the hallway. Willow begs Moloch to be let go, and when he tells her that she is his, she disagrees. He's disappointed and informs her so. His answer is really the same as it is if she had "loved" him - breaking her neck.

While Moloch is trying to convince Willow to love him, Xan collapses in the hallway and Buffy is close behind him and Giles/Jenny are casting the spell.

Scene 41: Just as Willow appears about to get herself deaded, Moloch senses the ritual being cast and cries out in pain.

With him so distracted, the electronic locks on the lab door releases, allowing Xander and Buffy to get out of the hallway o' fumes. Buffy takes a flying kick at robo-Moloch, but falls flat on her back. White coated lab guy, who's been in the background the whole time grabs and wrestles Xander away.

Xander is able to punch out thrall-guy, and the three of them take off from the lab, leaving Moloch crying out in defiance and trying to resist the ritual.

In the library, Jenny's computer throws our sparks as Giles shouts for the demon to come to him.

Scene 42: With the lightworks over, Jenny reports the demon has been bound successfully - but when Giles checks the Moloch-book, its pages remain blank.

Scene 43: Back in the lab, robot Moloch gains his feet while the gang try to make their escape. They're cut off by a group of two labcoats and a security guard. The gang retreat back into the hallway, even though Buffy could have kicked their collective asses without much trouble.

In the hallway, Moloch breaks through the wall, knocking Xander out. Buffy tries to forearm him, but gets knocked into the wall and slumps to the floor. Moloch rages that he was everything, but now finds himself trapped in his robot body. He reaches for Buffy to do the head twist of love/hate, but Willow interrupts by hitting him with a fire extinguisher. She tells him she thinks it's time they broke up, but as she bashes him, facetiously says maybe they can still be friends.

He knocks the extinguisher from her hands and flings her away, right into Xander who was just getting up. They both slam to the floor. Buffy gets up and Moloch tells her that his body is all he has left, but it is more than enough to crush her. In the meanwhile, Buffy is looking around for something she can use.

She smiles at him confidently and tells him to take his best shot....

When he swings at her, she dodges, and he sends his fist into a power box - sending lethal current into his electronic innards. This further causes him to blow apart - killing him.

Scene 44: The following day, back at school, Jenny and Giles have another conversation about the smell of knowledge. Giles reports to her that the sense of smell can have a powerful effect on memory and books smell - computers don't, adding to the ephemeral nature of the knowledge they may contain.

Jenny seems immediately smitten and Giles' interest is returned, despite himself, I get the feeling. She flirts mildly with him.

Scene 45: Outside is the best Scooby Scene (at the end of the episode?!) and the third strongest of the episode overall (not even the Scooby Gang being cute can overcome the Rupert/Jenny effect). Willow is obviously feeling the blues over her utter lack of love life and the prospect that she may never find love. But Buffy points out that her own idea of a relationship involves a vampire and Xander finally brings up the She-Mantis that should have been brought up before now. They share a laugh over how their love lives are all doomed... before the laugh sort of dies away as they all consider that their love lives may actually be doomed.

The Good: I liked the opening scene, up until Buffy opens the book box.

The introduction of Jenny and the immediate chemistry with Giles is the high point of this episode.

I like the actor that played Dave.

Moloch didn't really look as cheesy as I had remembered and the episode wasn't quite as boring as I remembered, either (that would be damning with faint praise).

I liked Willow standing up to Moloch.

The Bad: It was boring.

The 'dangers of internet dating' metaphor wasn't nearly enough metaphor-y.

The utter refusal to have any adequate lighting in every indoor scene really got to be actively irritating.

The blocking on some scenes was clumsy and defied rational logic (i.e. Dave's fate and Buffy's finding of the body).

The horrible computer graphics and the riveting scenes (note: scenes not at all riveting) of people typing and looking at monitors.

Moloch's full body robotics looked a little too Power-Rangers-Monster-Costuming to be bought as being metallic.

Buffy's inability to escape the hallway o' fumes back the way she came - alas, we'll see this plot-specific variable strength again on multiple occasions and not just with Buffy.

The severely cheesy lightshow from the library computer monitor during the binding ritual.

Other Thoughts: It's interesting that the comic moment at the end of the scene, in retrospect, actually foreshadows heavily on the Scooby Gang's romantic misadventures. Moloch also foreshadows Adam, where again, we'll see metal chestplates that don't really look like more than what they are - costuming. We also have another instance of "friends" of the Scooby Gang being completely forgotten the moment they are no longer relevent to the plot (Dave) and no one mentioning them again or seeming all that broken up about it (see the never-mentioned again, Jesse from WttH/The Harvest). I find this insistence on elevating these characters to "friends", only to then completely blow them off after they're killed distasteful, and Buffy does it again and again. I didn't really miss the lack of Angel in this episode, but surprisingly, I actually missed Cordelia's snarkiness - a little commentary on the geek-computer culture could have been useful to give some energy to the endless people typing in dark rooms scenes.

The Score: I don't think this is as bad an episode as everyone discusses online. It's not great, and it gets a bit bogged down in scenes in which not much is happening, but I find the plot and special effects to be better than the She-Mantis in "Teacher's Pet" at any rate. I wouldn't say the episode is a keeper, but I don't actively hate it, either. It's... mediocre... without being actively painful and gets a bump from the Giles/Jenny interactions: 3.0 out of 5 (it would definitely be below average if it wasn't for Rupert/Jenny's snark and arguments).

Tags: buffy season 1 reviews

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