harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

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BTVS Episode Review: "Ted"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season Two's "Ted"

Written by: David Greenwalt & Joss Whedon

DIR: Bruce Seth Green

Blurb: When Buffy's mother is romanced by a computer software salesman named Ted, Buffy's uneasy feelings cause her to launch a background investigation.

Spoiler warning, 'natch, applies

Scene 01: We open on Xander and Willow walking down the street at night. Behind them walks Buffy. Xan and Willow are in a discussion over somebody they're familiar with possibly being used and apparently have a disagreement. Xan asks for Buffy's opinion on who had the power in the relationship, The Captain or Tennille?

Buffy is somewhat distracted, however. Worse, Buffy has no clue who the pop duo are. Xan is appalled by her lack of cultural upbringing (I'm on Xan's side on this one - for shame, Buffy, for shame). Buffy apologizes for her lack of critical knowledge, but the gang move on to discussing how nice and quiet it has been since Drusilla and Spike were killed [which, we know isn't true, but our gang does not]. We also quickly wrap up the Tarakan Assassins Who Never Stop Until Their Target Is Dead with a quick "Angel's sources said so".

Commentary: Yet once again, we had a super-scary Buffy's-in-it-deep threat that turns out to be a load of crap: see Fork-Hand Guy, The Three, The Annointed One, etc.

Xander asks Buffy how Angel is recovering, reminding her that he is only faking caring. But it's okay, since Buffy isn't offended by his clear lack of enthusiasm for the vampire's welfare and he even manages to joke with her about it, rather than being bitter-dick guy.

They arrive at Buffy's house and she goes to let herself in with her key, only to find the door wasn't latched tightly.

Slayer senses are immediately on high alert...!

Scene 02: Buffy tells her friends to stay put a minute and goes in alone. As she creeps through the dining room, she hears Joyce giving a plaintive 'no' and the sound of a broken glass.

Buffy rushes into the kitchen with her stake, only to be stopped stunned by the power of seeing Joyce having smoochies with some middle-aged dude!

Joyce makes introductions with Buffy having discombobulation face.

Insert Credits/Theme  [And, what a weirdly low key pre-credits scene, huh? Things really are quiet in the wake of Dru & Spike's defeat.]

Scene 03: When we come back from credits, Ted is putting snacks in the oven for Xan and Willow. Joyce has taken out the remains of the dropped wine glass that alerted Buffy to the kitchen. She's giving her mom a less than pleased glare. Joyce is trying to keep from bursting out in a huge in-love grin.

Buffy has a talk with her mom, while Ted is wowing Willow with promises of a free computer upgrade (he sells software, Joyce met him at the gallery) and Xander with mini-pizzas.

Scene 04: Buffy and Joyce return to the Summers' kitchen. Ted brings her a plate of his mini-pizzas, but she says she isn't hungry. He apologizes to Buffy for them meeting under these particular circumstances. Joyce overhears and steps back into the conversation, telling Buffy that she'd really like it if she could be okay with their dating. Ted gives us his signature, "Beg to differ", and tells Buffy that they'd both like her to be okay with this.

Buffy says she is.

Scene 05: But later, Buffy has gone out to the park to hunt down a random vampire. Under Giles' watch, she beats the hell outta vamp with a trash can lid. Giles gets 'amused-horror' looks and tries to mention that it is staking time, but Buffy isn't hearing him as she goes on punching and kicking the tar outta her foe.

He sits down on the park bench, resigned.

Commentary: I have to say that despite the light tone taken during this very one sided fight, it was a bit uncomfortable watching Buffy continue to whollop the vampire. But, this is a good scene also, as it has more significance as the episode moves forward.

Scene 06: Finally staking the vampire, she turns to Giles to ask if there are any others. Rupert can't help but notice that Buffy seems unusually aggressive and asks her if everything is alright, which she again states all is well, when clearly not.

He and Buffy conversate and their talk about vampires quickly becomes obviously about Ted.

Scene 07: The following day, Buffy is talking to Willow and Xander. Xan is still speaking of the wonder that is Ted's mini-pizza. Both Will and Xan really like Ted, and even Buffy can't really list anything apparently wrong with him. Except, none of them really know him and he seems too good to be true. Xander suggests Freudian things going on over monster-plot stuff in this case.

During their talk, Buffy is dismayed (and a little rude about it) to find Ted at the school. He's upgrading the Guidance Counciller's computer. He also has on hand, the free upgrades for Willow. Ted tells Buffy that he and Joyce had talked and they've decided to have a Saturday Miniature-Golf Outing to help Buffy and he get to know one another.

Buffy tries to beg off, but Xander is so into Ted's pizzas and the promise of freshly baked cookies, that he overrides Buffy and tells Ted they're all on for Saturday.

Scene 08: Elsewhere, Giles approaches through a doorway in trepidation. The reason is that he's come to see Jenny, ostensibly about some text books being delivered to the library for her, but this is definitely not about the books. Jenny is very professional and stand-offish after the whole Eyghon-possession thing. (I make wounded heart noises on behalf of Rupert, which has little to do with this scene and everything to do with later... oh, Jenny.)

As Rupert is leaving, Jenny calls him back by pointing out his rather flimsy excuse for coming by to see her.

This allows him to ask after how she is. She tells him that she's doing okay, except for having trouble sleeping. Rupert tells her she just needs a bit of time, but she points out that she needs space. He's been crowding her with his forelonging looks and puppy-dog eyes and it is making her feel badly about not feeling better.

Commentary: I really love Robia's line reading here, because as much as I think Jenny doesn't want to, you can still hear an angry undertone over Rupert's involvement in the events of 'The Dark Age'. Everything about Robia's performance also suggests that she has given Jenny the self-realization that she doesn't want to be as angry as she is, but isn't ready to get over her disappointment and the trauma that Rupert brought into her life.

Giles apologizes for bothering her and quickly leaves. Jenny sighs in frustration over the situation between them.

Scene 09: Buffy is later with Angel, where she has been tending to his mystical wounds and the stabbed hand caused by Spike and Dru's plot from 'What's My Line, Part II'.

She is rambling on and on and on about her mother and Ted, Ted, Ted. Buffy complains that her mother just doesn't get that she doesn't want to talk about Ted all the time, and Angel asks her if that means she'll be talking about something else, soon (hah!).

Buffy realizes she was on a bit of a rant, but says she has a lot going on and doesn't need a new guy in her life right now. Angel wisely points out to her that Joyce is lonely. Buffy admits feeling territorial on her dad's behalf, even though she knows that her parents getting back together isn't going to happen. She decides to put on a happy face and play along with Ted, as long as she doesn't have to like him.

Angel grins at her and tells her to kiss him, which makes her much happier that their conversation.

Commentary: Ack! Why are we so close to their faces?! This close-up is way too close, unless the impression was that we were supposed to be joining them in a group make-out session!

Scene 10: That Saturday, our trio has joined Joyce and Ted at the miniature golf range as promised. Ted makes a crack about Buffy's suffering grades and Joyce is all smiles about how interested Ted is in Buffy's life. Buffy is very much less pleased with this.

Commentary: And, it is here that you start to get the impression that Ted isn't all he seems. That patronising tone and looks in Buffy's direction as he mentions her schoolwork chafes. And it bugged me that Joyce was just all wide grinning over it, too [but there is an explanation other than mom-in-love syndrome, so I forgive her].

Scene 11: Buffy is up and she hits the ball too hard. Ted calls her "little lady" and coming on the heels of the previous scene, irritates me.

Buffy's ball has gone off the courseway, and Joyce smilingly says that they won't count it this time. Ted intervenes though, telling Joyce that "the rules are the rules" and that "what we teach her is what she'll take out into the world".

Commentary: Wait, what "we" teach her?! You barely know them. Is it really your concern to play step-parent at this point in your involvement? It's here that Ted starts giving me a creep vibe, and I think it is Ritter's performance... he's too peppy and smiley as he steps all over Joyce to start 'parenting' Buffy. It's even worse when he says he doesn't mean to overstep his bounds, but continues to blithely do just that.

Joyce agrees with Ted. Buffy is all "whatever" and says she'll hit her ball from the rough.

Commentary: I'm pretty sure the standard rule is that you just take your ball back to the start point. Otherwise, you've got everyone hitting balls all over the courseway.

But Buffy instead picks up her ball and drops it in the cup, clearly cheating. Oh, but Ted saw that and he has extreme pissy look. Ted tells Buffy that "right is right and wrong is wrong", but he's tapping his club against his leg in a way that is creepy. Buffy tries the whole "well, it's just a game, add penalties to my score so we can move on", but Ted isn't having any of that. Buffy notes Ted's agitation and the club hitting his own shin in a bit of a hard manner as he lectures her about how he doesn't tolerate rule breaking.

Ted tells Buffy that he doesn't stand for this sort of melarkey in his house, and Buffy points out that they're not in his house (the implication is pretty clear that Ted is including Joyce's house and his household and Buffy is telling him the opposite -- and yes, the creep factor does rise by a factor of 5 in seconds).

Now Ted really blows it for the audience: He asks Buffy she'd like him to slap that smartass mouth of hers.

Buffy is too stunned to point out that she could break him in half. The moment passes though as Xan, Willow and Joyce make their appearance (yeah, where the hell were they?!) and Ted instantly turns into sunny-dude again as he offers up the cookies mentioned.

Scene 12: A few mornings later, Buffy and Joyce discuss Ted where Joyce first brings up the *L* word in regards to Ted. Joyce semi-back tracks a moment later, but not really.

Buffy tells Joyce about the "I'll slap you" moment, which she completely disbelieves outright. She tells Buffy that Ted told her all about it and it was really decent of him not to point out her cheating in front of everybody.

As Buffy marches away, Joyce continues eating sticky buns Ted had made.

Commentary: This scene. Wow, Joyce, really? [Again, extenuating circumstances will explain this away, later, but watching this just fills you with a mad at Buffy's mother!]

Scene 13: At school, Buffy tells Willow and Xander that they need to dig into Ted's life a bit. She warns them about his threat over the mini-golf cheat. Xan and Wills both wonder if she's just looking for reasons to make him a bad guy. Xan tells her that she really seems like she's overreacting [please note, Ted-snacks are again being eaten by Buffy's friends... his snacks are absolutely everywhere].

Xander gets distracted by Cordy and compliments her outfit, which Cordy responds to with pissiness. He leaves Will and Buffy.

Scene 14: On a walkway, surrounded by their classmates passing by, Cordelia and Xander discuss the impromptu kissing they've been engaging in... you know, that horrible secret they don't want anyone to know about? Yeah, that secretly-secret thingie they're engaging in that they then talk about within earshot of everyone walking by. Because the student body would never latch onto gossip about someone of Cordelia's social standing even talking to someone of Xander's, let alone, discussing kissing.

Xander suggests they hit the utility closet for a make-out session, which Cordelia agrees to after a moment to be appalled. And then they leave together. To go to the utility closet together. Standing very closely to one another. During the secretly-secret that they're trying to keep from everyone.

Commentary: Yes. I do hate the clumsy mechanics of this scene.

Scene 15: Back with Buffy, she recruits Willow to find out where Ted works so she can check out his workplace. She complains to Willow also that her mom has become Stepford since he showed up, although Willow has to wonder if maybe Joyce just isn't happy.

Scene 16: Later, at Ted's workplace, Buffy sees Ted making a sale with his sales-shmoozey ways. She has to quickly duck behind the coffee station (which has more Ted snacks lined up by the way -- no one bakes this much without something wonky going on) to avoid getting caught.

Scene 17: Fortunately for Buffy, Ted leaves for lunch so she can pose as temp-for-the-day, Belinda and grill an office worker of Ted.

Commentary: A fellow salesman who has diarrhea of the mouth and knows all of the pertinent things about Ted's current personal life and blabs on and on to "Belinda's" weird interest in sales-Ted's life. I hate you, too, clumsy exposition scene. You're crappily scripted and ring oh-so-false.

Buffy discovers that Ted has a girlfriend, whom he is intending to marry, which comes as extreme-unwelcome news to Buffy [and to me... and isn't that what is really important?].

Blabby-co worker spots the boss and complains it's back to work... and then heads off in a direction not remotely near his desk. This leaves Buffy free and clear to not-at-all-stealthily investigate Ted's desk, which is barren compared to everyone else's cubicle.

The only thing she finds is a single, framed picture. It is of Joyce, but Buffy recognizes it. She pulls it out to find it is actually a photo of Joyce with her, but had been folded over, so only Joyce remains in the picture.

Scene 18: That evening, Buffy is having dinner with Joyce and Ted and pointedly not eating as she stares holes through Ted's face. He is saying grace in which he pointed asks the Lord to help Buffy be more considerate and honest with pointed looks at her.

Buffy is being sullen and Joyce asks her what is wrong. Buffy blurts out a question about their being engaged, which takes Joyce off guard.

Ted, again, steps in over Joyce.

Ted admits that if things go very well, he may ask Joyce to marry him and asks after her feelings about that [but as we learned from over-sharing co-worker, Ted already has a wedding date planned two months out, so this "one step at a time, maybe some day" thing he's pulling is crap and Buffy knows it's crap].

Buffy tells them that the thought of their tying the knot makes her want to kill herself.

Commentary: WHOA! Isn't that just a bit of a harsh thing to say? No wonder everyone is taking Ted's side, here [well that and the other thing]. Buffy really undermines her entire case that something Sunnydale-ish is going on every step of the way.

Joyce is naturally embarrassed and appalled. She dismisses Buffy to her room. Ted tells Joyce that Buffy will come around.

Scene 19: Buffy has left the house and is sitting in the park on the swing. She calls out for any vampires, but the park is quite empty. There will be no working off her feelings.

She leaves with a huge sigh of disappointment.

Scene 20: When she climbs back into her window, she finds Ted waiting for her. But things get even more unpleasant as Buffy finds that Ted has been going through all of her things, including her Diary of Slayer Happenings.

Buffy is outraged, but Ted points out that it isn't all that different from her nosing around his office, earlier.

Commentary: That was a pretty awesome line, I have to say.

Ted asks Buffy about being a "vampire Slayer". She tells him none of his business, but he pulls out that creepy "beg to differ, little lady" line again. He issues an ultimatum to Buffy that she's to get in line or he'll go to Joyce with her "delusions" and have her put away in an institution [a threat that takes on much more weight in retrospect when we discover years from now that Joyce and Hank did put Buffy in a hospital following her attempt the first time to tell them about her Slayerhood in L.A.].

Commentary: This scene is really well done, primarily because of John Ritter. He really went all out in this role and his moments of menace really are. The dark shadowing of his face is way too blatant, so there is clumsy directing choices and the script has a bit too much data-dumping, but you can't fault his performance or his and Sarah's work together.

Ted goes to leave Buffy's room, but she tells him he isn't leaving with her diary in his hands. He warns her to take her hand off of his arm, but she tells him no. And that promised slap to the face? It comes here. Not only has he slapped her though, but he really belts her hard, which is another subtle clue that he's not just a nutburger invading Buffy's life, though she doesn't note this.

Instead, she goes into full-on Slayer "I was really hoping you'd do that" mode. They trade blows (and again, for being a middle aged man, Ted really delivers some major hittage to Buffy).

Joyce comes in the noise, but she arrives too late to see Ted punching her daughter with a closed fist. Instead, she's just in time to see Buffy whollop the crap out of her boyfriend. She yells at Buffy to stop, but she doesn't. Ted gets beaten down the hallway and Buffy kicks him down the Summers' staircase!

Joyce rushes to Ted, only to look up at Buffy with growing shock as she reports that Buffy has killed him!?!

Scene 21: The authorities are called and we see Ted zipped up in a body bag and taken away by the coroner's department. Buffy sits on the stoop, devastated by what she has done.

Joyce is questioned by Detective Stein. She claims Ted fell. He asks if she knows what caused him to go down the stairs and Joyce is left speechless. Buffy steps in with the truth, however, reporting that she hit him -- still stunned by what she caused.

Scene 22: A scared Joyce sits in the police department, as Buffy has been taken in for questioning.

Scene 23: Buffy is in an interrogation room and she reports what led up to Ted's header down the stairs. Naturally, her reports of being hit by Ted meet with some skepticism as she shows no signs of having been struck, thanks to the Slayer thing. Stein informs Joyce they need to investigate further, but if Ted had struck her daughter first and with him being a big guy, there may not be criminal charges.

Scene 24: That is little comfort in the silent car ride home.

Scene 25: The following day, Buffy goes to school. She's wearing the dumpy-overalls-of-despair. As she walks down the hallway, everyone is gossiping about her.

Scene 26: In the lounge, Willow and Xander join her and Xan's first concern is for her. As they talk, Xander just assumes that there was some sort of monsterhood involved, Buffy twigged to it, and she slayed the bad guy.

When they realize that Ted was just a guy, Willow immediately defends Buffy as his having started the fight. But, Buffy rightly points out that she has superpowers and she had no right to strike him as hard as she had. She leaves.

Commentary: First, let me say that when I said that Buffy rightly points out she shouldn't have used her Slayer strength, I'm speaking of Buffy's viewpoint here. It is right that the script calls on her to feel badly for using her super strength. I personally think Buffy shouldn't have to not use her Slayer strength to defend herself, though she did really whale on him more than was necessary, under the belief that he's just a creep, but a regular strength-ed guy.

This scene is so short, and I wish it had taken place in the library with Giles looking on to really twist the guilt-knife here. It strikes me as just the wrong place for this conversation to be happening about such a weighty topic being brought up here. Buffy can really hurt people around her if she lashes out in anger and she has now killed a person... accidentally, and clearly Ted was an authoritarian creep trying to take over her household, but still she killed a person because he pissed her off. The way it was set up, this was about far more than Ted's raising his hand to her or coming across as a huge a-hole. I like that Buffy recognizes that fact and I like that the script is bringing up a moral line about how bad a person has to be before Buffy should be considered justified in using her powers against a human being.

Unfortunately, it isn't going to go anywhere because the script is going to let Buffy off the hook, as we'll see. But at this point in the story, I like the questions that it is asking.

ALSO, I want to make it clear here that I don't think Buffy was wrong. He hit her. He was proving to be abusive and Buffy had, in my opinion, every right to stand up to him physically and put him in his place. I just don't like the way the whole moral dilemma is hand-waved away.

Scene 27: In the hallway, Giles meets Buffy and expresses more concern for her. She finds that Detective Stein is in a room at the school and the staff is sharing her school records with him, which is naturally going to reflect really badly on her, what with all of the fights and school skipping and her burning down buildings. Giles tries to put a spin on things, but isn't convincing.

She rushes out as her future looks really bleak.

Commentary: This is where I feel the script comes undone. And, it leads back to the basic problem of bringing up such a weighty topic as Buffy's responsibility for killing someone using her Slayer powers who isn't supernatural and what circumstances may justify her using her superior strength and combat abilities against human beings: They don't want to deal with that. The moral implications, the complications, Buffy's emotional devastation and the effects on everyone around her with this knowledge of what she has done... it is too massive a topic for this one monster-of-the-week episode (Yeah, Ted isn't human after all ... big, disappointing spoiler).

The problem for me with this specific scene, is that Giles - while being concerned for Buffy - should also have some ambiguity in his interaction with her following such an event. He's had a Slayer beat her mother's boyfriend and accidentally killing him... surely this would immediately strike him as having far reaching implications for Buffy's role as the Slayer and what the Watchers Council will do in the aftermath of this event? Even if this isn't the time or place to bring it up, we should see in Giles' face his struggling with how to approach this momentous event.

And again, I can't help but think that Buffy seeing Rupert, Xander and Willow should have taken place in the library with much more ambivalence on display in their support of her and lots of long, uncomfortable silences between them. As much as I liked the build up of Ted from hammy-cheesy happy guy, to creepy, to violent, I'd have given up some of that development and the scene between Xander and Cordelia and between Rupert and Jenny, for a more dramatic scene in the aftermath of Ted going down the stairs.

Scene 28: In the library, the gang has gathered (with Cordy, for some reason -- I like Cordelia being pulled into the gang as much as the next fan, but she feels out of place). Xander and Willow are now both convinced that Ted was bad news, or Buffy wouldn't have broken out the Slayer-Fu on him and they're going to prove it.

Commentary: Which, though I'm repeating myself, is a problem to me from the script's apparent opinion on this matter. It seems to be implying that if only they can prove that Ted was a shit, it would completely justify Buffy using her Slayer powers to beat the hell out of him and accidentally killing him. See, it isn't that I don't buy Xander and Willow's desire to find a reason that Buffy wasn't in the wrong for what happened, it's that the script is taking the viewpoint that Buffy wasn't in the wrong for what happened and that she's taking on too much guilt for the accident.

Now, obviously Ted isn't human, but right now nobody knows that - including Buffy herself. It's like the script writers knew that Buffy was going to be okay, so they're not inhabiting this moment in the story through the characters. Everyone (except Buffy) is too sure that her action was just, if only they can prove that Ted slapped her and was a creep. I don't buy that argument without the big discussion on when and who Buffy should feel justified in using her meta-physical powers against. And, it just doesn't feel right that the Council's views on Slayer-on-Human deadly force isn't brought into this discussion nearly immediately, even if only in an aside from Giles worrying over how they'll react when they find out about this.

I do find Cordelia, trying to be supportive of Buffy, suggesting that there should be a more fascist-like society giving Buffy special rights that the rest of them don't have pretty funny, completely missing Willow's sarcasm on the subject.

So, under the guise of finding a pen that Willow suddenly needs to have in his bag, Xander comes across more of Ted's cookies and begins eating one.

Commentary: Really? Not even a brief moment of recognizing they're still talking about Buffy killing the baker of those cookies. There is a man dead here, however accidentally, at Buffy's hand....

Giles, very briefly, brings up Buffy's feelings of guilt - but only as a set up for Cordelia bringing up the aftermath of The Dark Age comedically. In the meantime, Giles has been packing weapons in a gym bag for patrolling, realizing that Buffy isn't in any shape to take that duty on at the moment [it always makes me laugh, too, that Giles is always packing enough weapons for 5 people and he never actually uses any except the one he'll already have in his hands].

After Giles leaves [yeah, this scene is really, really long], Willow is frustrated that Ted didn't have a criminal record to show he was a bad guy. Xan is suddenly all mellow about Buffy's looking at possible jail time and Willow realizes that there is something deeply wrong with the Ted-cookie he's eating.

Commentary: Ack. Clumsy, clumsy scripting. Xander was drugged before this and didn't suddenly act like he was high, but now that it is convenient for Willow to spot the clue, he's suddenly acting whacked out.

Scene 29: That night, Buffy tries to approach her mother, but Joyce isn't ready to deal. She's been packing away old dishes and sends Buffy back to her room with a plea.

Scene 30: Back at the high school lab, Willow has been running chemistry experiments on the remains of the cookie. She finds traces of happy-drug. Xan is happy they have evidence of nefariousness against Ted, clearing Buffy.

Commentary: Although, how this exactly clears Buffy, I'm not sure. I mean sure, she'll probably get off now without criminal charges, but once again we're completely side-stepping the issue of Slayer vs. Regular Human. Also, this explanation really  needed to be expanded just a little bit to justify Joyce's behavior -- I wish that Willow had explicated more clearly that there was a suggestibility factor about the drug combination as well, to make it more clear that Joyce wasn't just blissed out, but that Ted's constant feeding her his goods was stripping her of her will power at the same time.

Cordelia comes in reporting the results of Willow's automated search on the computer. She reports that Ted has a previous marriage certificate and that they have an address to check out.

Scene 31: In the park, Giles is walking around with his bag-o'-weapons, but otherwise unarmed with anything but a cross. That doesn't seem very vampire-huntery of him. Jenny startles him. She's there to apologize for the harsh toward him before. This is interrupted by a vampire being menacing.

Scene 32: In her room, the walls are closing in on Buffy. She goes to leave the house via window, again, but finds that Joyce has had enough of that. Buffy finds the window nailed shut. Buffy snarks that the day can't get any worse -- which is naturally the cue for Ted to be in her room behind her suddenly.

Not only that, but she set him up for the creepy "beg to differ" line, too [although, they really should have included 'little lady' this time].

Scene 33: Buffy points out that Ted died, and he agrees [and now he calls her 'little lady', but I maintain it should have come before the commercial break] and asks her if she has something to say about killing him.

Ted informs Buffy that you can't keep a good salesman down before tossing her across her room.

Commentary: And I'm not going to get wordy again about my objections to how everything involving Buffy vs. Human is now swept aside since inhuman Ted is back. I'm not. Except, I object.

Scene 34: Meanwhile, the vampire is rushing Giles and Jenny.

Giles wrestles with his foe [see what happens when you don't have a weapon in your hand while your patrolling] while Jenny wrestles with getting a huge crossbow out of that gym bag.

Scene 35: Over at Buffy's, she's wrestling with Ted in her bedroom. Ted tells her that he had to shutdown for a while to make repairs, making his robotic nature apparent. He begins to choke her out.

Scene 36: In the park, Jenny quips as she lines up her crossbow shot. But that only works for main characters, so Giles gets spun around at the last moment and she shoots him, instead!

Because Rupert is occasionally awesome, he yanks the bolt out of his back and jams it into the smart-mouthed vampire, dusting him. Yay!

Scene 37: Back in Buffy's room, she's doing even less well as we get a much-too-close close-up of John Ritter's face (what was it with Bruce Seth Green's extreme closeups?) as he continues to throttle Buffy.

She's able to make him back off briefly by stabbing down his arm with a nail file. His arm reveals sparking wires, letting Buffy know it is okay to kick ass again.

Commentary: Nope, not going to mention... AGAIN... my objection to this script direction.

For some reason, sparking arm wires causes Ted to completely begin mouthing malfunctioning dialogue. For some reason, Buffy is still on the floor looking shocked, rather than getting to that ass-kicking thing.

Scene 38: In the kitchen, Joyce has returned from the basement, where she took the box-o'-old-dishes. Ted hears the door click from downstairs and is distracted from fighting Buffy more. He kicks her in the face, knocking her unconscious.

Scene 39: The Scooby Gang, meanwhile, practice a little breaking and entering at Ted's address which weirdly isn't a house after all, but a storefront of some sort. They look around, while Willow is... still... flipping through the papers from her computer search. She mentions that she found four marriage certificates going all the way back to the 1950's, but no divorce papers.

Cordelia points out that the shop doesn't look like anyone has worked there in a long while, let alone been used as a living space. Her Cordelia-sense picks up the wrong carpeting for the decor of the room and they discover a hidden trapdoor.

Scene 40: At the house, Joyce is packing up another box of old bowls. She hears footsteps and assuming it is Buffy, starts to apologize to her, but stops when she sees it is the now not-dead Ted in her house.

Ted spins a tale about how he managed to get back.

Scene 41: Through the trap door, the gang find a hidden room decked out in 1950's home furnishings. Xander also finds the remains of Ted's first four wives stashed in a closet.

Scene 42: In the kitchen, Ted is telling Joyce how he couldn't go into the light without her. He had to come back to be with her. Joyce is overwhelmed, naturally enough. She's also worried about Buffy and the shock of seeing Ted alive and the aftermath of what almost happened.

This pisses Ted off. Joyce tries to be calming, but he has one of those goofy malfunctions and she's concerned that he is suffering some sort of shock over his recent brush with being dead for 6 minutes (in his tale). She tells him that he should rest.

He replies with anger, telling her to stop telling him what to do. He also mentions "not being wired that way" when it comes to taking orders from women.

Commentary: And, it is at this point, you can go back to a lot of Ted's earlier idioms and see that the script has been telling us the entire time that he was a robot, including his talkative co-worker telling us outright that he was a machine. It really is quite clever how they were telling us from the start that Ted was a robot. I'll give the script that.

Scene 43: In the park, Jenny helps Giles to his feet so they can get him to a hospital. He assures her that he'll be fine, thanks to the impact absorbing tweed he's wearing. She suddenly breaks into laughter over the evening and jokes that he really knows how to woo a woman back (awwwww... oh, Jenny... sigh).

Scene 44: Back in Buffy's bedroom, she comes around to consciousness....

Scene 45: ... while downstairs, Joyce says she needs a drink. Ted tells Joyce that they need to hit the road to get Joyce back to the house, which is furnished just the way she likes it... oh, poor Joyce.

She finally found someone to replace Hank, and he turns out to be a psychotic robot creation who is malfunctioning and is also apparently a serial killer.

Anyway, Ted has more spastic moments. Joyce tries to get away from him by offering to run upstairs and pack, but Robo-Ted tells her he already has all of her clothes ready for her.

Joyce tries to pull away, so he pushes her into a wall and knocks her out.

In the meantime, Buffy breaks out of her room [Apparently, he locked her in? Buffy's door can be locked from the outside in a way that doesn't allow it to open from the inside? What?!]

Scene 46: He goes to lift Joyce to carry her away, but then hears the floors creaking. Suspecting Buffy, he wanders the first floor.

He's correct. Buffy nails him with a frying pan, which is cool.

Scene 47: In wrap up scene #1, Joyce and Buffy discuss Ted's psycho-ness and it is clear that Buffy go rid of the robot before her mother learned he was a robot.

Commentary: I don't get why. It's robotics, not demon-stuff. Why not turn it over to the police and come out with everything regarding this one incident, especially as it would not only clear Buffy completely, but also it wouldn't actually expose any of her secret Slayer activities. Clearly, the Gang led the police to Ted's weird shack which just leaves open how the police are going to explain the bodies of missing women who have been there far too long to actually be Ted's doing... a psycho father, maybe, passing on his sickness to his son? They just kind of ignore the logic of the plot, here.

Scene 48: In wrap up scene #2, Xander basically reiterates the entire deal with the original Ted and his robot creation. This is apparently another day as Buffy is now with the gang, rather than on her porch with her mother.

Everyone is disturbed to find that Willow kept some of the Ted-parts to study robotics. Cordy begs to just stop talking about the whole thing.

They go to walk into the library, and Buffy quickly turns around complaining that all of the adults have gone loco.

Scene 49: With a POV-close in on the library window, we see Giles and Jenny making out in an echo of the Ted/Joyce scene that kicked off the plot at the beginning (except, much more yay-worthy).

Commentary: Oh, so Yay!-Worthy. *Sigh, Jenny*

I cannot watch any scenes with Jenny/Giles without heartache. I hate that.

The Good: I like the script telling us straight up what Ted is, without actually stating it, just through the dialog.

I like the idea broached at the midway point about Buffy's using her Slayer powers against people and the accidents that can occur when she does.

I love John Ritter's acting job as Ted.

I like SMG's acting in that much-too-short scene when she is telling Xander and Willow that she had no right to use her Slayer strength on a regular person. Before the script undid everything, it was a nice vulnerable moment that Sarah plays very well.

The Bad: I am not at all happy with the way that the script broaches Buffy's moral line when it comes to fighting regular people, only for it to completely blow that off without any real discussion about it. This is especially true in the aftermath of Ted's defeat, when the entire subject is just plain forgotten (at least until S3 and Faith's accidental killing of an actual person).

I also found the pacing a real issue after Ted's flight down the stairs, but really a problem after his mysteries are revealed and then the multiple 'wrap up the plot' scenes at the end.

Other Thoughts: Finally, though not badly done and in fact welcomed, I think that the Jenny/Giles reconciliation scenes were misplaced here. Perhaps at the end of 'Bad Eggs' would have been a better place. Also, that scene with Angel was completely superfluous. Buffy could have easily mentioned how she wants her dad back with her mom to Willow.

The Score: So, I liked the episode, but it doesn't take seriously the questions that it asks about Buffy's Slayerhood and how that impacts what she should or shouldn't be 'allowed' to do with her powers when it comes to dealing with Regular People. John Ritter raises the script through his acting and he really did a good job at making Ted both creepy and threatening. But, somehow, at the end of it I'm just left with a general "meh" at the end of it, and it is directly having to do with how the second half of the episode is handled; not just the alternate plot to what seemed more important, but the general pacing and script convenience as well.

I can't give it more than a 3.0, even though I do give John Ritter high marks for his work.

Tags: buffy season 2 reviews

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