Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | May 9, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S2, E11 – Ted

Ted
Season 2, Episode 11
Original airing: 12/8/97
My Rating: 58

The Good: This episode suffers upon immediate viewing due to being the next episode after the two-part What’s My Line? (S2E9-10). What’s My Line? is so strong and pivotal and such a part of the show’s overall lore, that going back to a Monster of the Week feels like a huge letdown. But given some space between episodes, it becomes apparent that this is actually a very important episode. For the first time, the writers touch on a very important aspect of being the Slayer: what does it mean if Buffy takes a regular human’s life? It turns out in the end of course, that Ted is not just a regular human (see The Bad), but the episode still deals a bit with the issue.

The character’s reactions to Ted’s apparent death are very telling. Buffy immediately owns up and blames herself, even though Ted instigated the situation. As she says, she’s the Slayer and she had no right to use her full strength against him. Giles also points out that Buffy is punishing herself so much that it doesn’t really matter if the police decide to convict her or not.

Willow and Xander immediately assume that Ted must have actually been some kind of creature or demon. Their faith in Buffy also drives them to find some kind of dirt on Ted to justify his violent death. They turn out to be right, of course, but it’s still a blind devotion to Buffy’s innocence and goodness.

Giles’ also takes it upon himself to help Buffy by patrolling for her. He’s a bit out of his element when Jenny distracts him with a crossbow bolt to the back, but he still pulls through a dusts the vampire he was after. All of these moments are perfectly in line with our characters and very well done.

The episode also deals with a very common theme for a child of divorced parents: how does one deal when a new parent figure is introduced. Buffy’s side of this was very well handled. Buffy is hostile and distrustful from the start and she has good reason to be. Even though Ted seems like a nice guy, he’s not her dad and she had no idea Joyce was dating him. She’s surprised and shocked and Sarah Michelle Gellar plays it perfectly. Angel helps Buffy find her maturity when she realizes her mom is probably lonely. But, the relationship only worsens as Ted attempts to worm his way into Joyce’s life quickly by tranquilizing her with food and pretending an exaggerated concern for Buffy. It’s no surprise that Ted and Buffy come to blows, not once but twice. The fights are short, but brutal. The whole arc of the story happens quickly in just one episode, but it’s extremely well done and very believable.

The episode also brings Jenny back into the group. It’s hinted at that Giles has been hovering around her and trying to make sure she’s okay. This feels like it would be proper Giles’ behavior and is a good way to reintroduce Jenny to the show. Bringing Giles and Jenny back together is nice, especially with how painful their pseudo-breakup was at the end of The Dark Age (S2E8). It’s nice that Jenny finally opens herself up to Giles after putting him in danger and shooting him in the back, literally. Their kiss at the end was a really nice way to wrap up the episode.

Finally, we had a bit of continuing development between Cordelia and Xander. Cordelia doesn’t want anyone, her friends or Xander’s, to know they kissed. She acts repulsed, but then agrees to go make out in the utility closet. So the setup is there for them to have a secret relationship, which Xander also seems fine with. It’s nice that the show is continuing with this story line and not just sweeping it under the rug as a temporary freak out.

The Bad: The show falls back to a Monster of the Week, again. It appears to be a habit to do this after an amazing mythology-based episode, aka Angel (S1E7) being followed by I, Robot… You, Jane (S1E8). It begs the question of who’s responsible for this, Joss Whedon and the show writers, or the network the show was on. It was rare for show’s to have large over-arcing story lines in the late 90’s. So this isn’t unprecedented. But it is still disappointing.

Especially when the show dares to touch on such topics as divorced parents dating and Buffy killing a human. In the end, it’s all wiped away by the fact that Ted was a robot and a serial-killing robot at that. It felt like a cop-out in much the same way as Drusilla and Angel both surviving at the end of What’s My Line? – Part 2 (S2E10). The show setup something amazing, but was unable to follow through on it in the end.

Favorite Moment: Giles again reminds us that he can be quite the badass when he pulls a crossbow bolt out of his back and uses it to kill a vampire. Well done.

The Bottom Line: This episode touched on some very powerful issues. It explored them to a certain degree, but abandoned it all in the end by having Ted be a robot. The Monster of the Week mentality roared it’s ugly head and brought the episode down from what it could have been. But the characterization was, as always, very strong and well done.

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