2.11: Science Is Drugs
Looking ahead to Season 3, the character of Ted is essentially a preview of the Mayor, and others of their ilk will keep popping up in the Whedonverse for as long as there's something known as the Whedonverse. The formula isn't just "He seems friendly but he's actually evil;" it's a man who's traditional to the point of old-fashioned in all the worst ways. He's usually Christian, and there's some kind of trauma behind him. Most of all, he's sexist. "I think you might want to stop
telling me what to do," says Ted. "I don't take orders from women. I'm not wired that way."
As far as I can tell, this kind of villain appeals to Joss because it's so obvious. Dangerous men will broadcast their misogyny and use conservative values as their front. Beware of that type, but pay no attention to the man who will cheat on you for years, publicly humiliate you, and threaten your career - he's a feminist, after all.
Separated from the personal context, the straw misogynist falls apart in storytelling terms because his motives never make sense. In Ted's case, we learn that his wife left him when he was dying, so he...built a robot modeled after himself which kidnaps women to turn them into his wife? Even if the robot succeeds (which I suppose it did, to some extent), Ted never benefits from this. He's dead. Xander calls it "creepy on a level I hardly knew existed," which is really just lampshading the fact that it doesn't exist. Ted was insane, okay. That's still a cop-out. The idea of a man with traditional values who wanted to build something that outlives him, i.e., for someone else's sake, just doesn't exist in the playbook Joss uses.
With that out of the way, the other thing that annoys me about this episode is the way nobody but Buffy notices how creepy Ted is, or believes her when she talks about his threatening behavior. Fortunately, there's a handy in-universe fix for this. Here's what Willow says about the drug that the robot puts in the cookies, and presumably all the other food he's been making: "I'm not positive, but I think it's Dematorin. It's like a tranquilizer, keeps you all mellow and compliant. And it shares a few components with ecstasy." Since this isn't a real drug, the comparisons to tranquilizers and ecstasy are irrelevant. Anything in the Buffyvese might have its roots in magic, whether or not the original Ted was aware of it. This also goes for his robotics, because, science? Yeah right. Anyway, I couldn't think of anything else to write a drabble about for this episode.
And now I guess I'll be talking about pop culture. I kept noticing moments that reminded me of other TV shows so I decided to roll with it.
Three's Company wasn't one of the other shows, because I've never seen it. I had to look up John Ritter’s filmography, because I remember everyone mentioning him in reference to this episode, in an “and he’s played by John Ritter. Isn’t that great?” kind of way. All I got from IMDb suggested that Three’s Company is the big deal, as I couldn’t find a more famous role for him, even though I didn’t think Buffy fans were much into ‘70s sitcoms. While we’re on the subject, though, Ritter was also a voice in The Flight of Dragons, and that is great.
Buffy Is the Title: Buffy's struggle over seeing her mom dating made me think of Cobra Kai. The POV characters in that are the potential stepdad and the teenage son, and you're ultimately hoping for them to become a family, so it's the contrast that interests me. Could Buffy have managed an arc wherein a new father figure is a good thing, or is that just beyond its scope?
Completely unrelated, at the beginning of the episode Buffy admits that she loves playing nursemaid to Angel. Call it a throwaway line if you wish, but an early issue of Season 8 had her fantasizing about a threesome with Angel and Spike, and I apologize and will accept whatever consequences come of this, but I'm going to share the image below.
Of course, a lot of heartache could have been saved if Angel had actually met Ted, since you know he would have realized instantly that something was very wrong, but failing that, at least he got Buffy to think about it from another angle.
My Willow Tree: I got nothin'. She's the loyal adorkable brain she always is.
Xander and Cordelia: After the way they began, I found their interactions in this episode strangely soft. Xander all trying to give her a sincere compliment and Cordy reacting with suspicion - she's prepared to hold her own in a conflict but can't face a candid offer of friendship. I'm not done thinking of her as the bully yet, but it's getting easier to feel for her, and I like seeing her accepted into the Scooby circle to help with their adventures.
One of Xander's lines made me think of Seinfeld, although if I hadn't recently rewatched the entire series, I would have just thought that it sounds like quintessential Buffyspeak: "Hey, we can do that thing anytime. I'm tired of that thing. We're on!"
Giles and Objects: Not only was I still having fuzzy screenshot problems, but every scene where he was holding something was dark with a lot of movement, so please enjoy this progression of me giving up.
Buffy sees JOYCE, wrapped in a deep romantic kiss with TED BUCHANAN, handsome and athletic, a born salesman. On the counter near them, a wine bottle and one half full wine glass.
For the below, I just kind of got a kick out of it because that office set looks so out of place:
Avid fans of the show may note the remarkable similarity between this telemarketing office and our own production offices.]
- I also had to look up The Captain and Tennille. They were a musical duo, apparently? Seems odd that I not only had never heard of them, but had never heard anyone mention them in reference to this episode. Are they any good?
- Recently my man and I decided on a whim to play some winter minigolf together and it was WAY fun. Adults need to rediscover this game.
- Another thing that "Avid fans" of the show "may note," according to the script, is "the absence of the framed photo of Buffy and Joyce" in the scene where they argue in the kitchen about Ted. I did not note. Did you note?