Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | May 9, 2011

Robin’s Review: S2, E11 – Ted

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 211 – Ted

Synopsis: Joyce is dating a new man Ted. He is a software salesman and amazing cook. Buffy is not happy about having a new father figure in her home particularly when he threatens to slap her. No one else sees what she sees and it frustrates her. When he reads her diary and hits her she beats him up and knocks him down the stairs apparently killing him. As the police investigate her her guilt grows. Xander, Willow and Cordelia try to prove that Ted was up to no good while Giles patrols for vampires. Buffy is shocked when Ted returns and Xander finds a strange 50s style apartment underground. Jenny comes to help Giles kill a vampire and they makeup.

The Good: The sense of consequence from previous episodes was good. We get it confirmed that the Order of Taraka have no bounty to collect anymore and see Angel getting his hand bandaged. From even further back we also get the Giles and Jenny relationship addressed (see Best Moment). Their scenes together were very good and it feels like enough time has passed for her to get past her possession (208).

Xander and Cordelia keep their secret smooching secret which was fun. The two of them supplied a bit of light relief too. Xander had a great line where he taunted Buffy by saying “You’re having parental issues!” and justified the taunt by claiming “Freud would have said the exact same thing.” Then later Cordelia tactlessly brings up the man Giles helped to kill to which he responds “Yes do let’s bring that up as often as possible.”

The main story was problematic though it touched on several interesting issues. We haven’t seen Buffy hurt a human before but it could easily happen. Cordelia raised sensible issues surrounding Buffy’s role as a super-hero. Joyce dating other men is also a relatable life issue that it was good to see Buffy face. The loyalty of her friends was touching too. They are so convinced that Buffy would do the right thing that they put aside their own affection for Ted and begin to assume that there must have been something wrong with him.

The Bad: However the story never seemed to click. There were overlapping problems with the structure of the story and the presentation of Ted.

His presentation is what most people will remember so let’s start there. He was too instantly judgmental and interfering to remain below our radar of suspicion. When he threatened to slap Buffy it pretty much confirmed that he wouldn’t survive the episode and almost certainly wasn’t normal. In a show with many “monsters of the week” I think it was too early in the story to give away that fact. It meant that the sombre tone of the divorced daughter suffering and then the manslaughter charge didn’t sit right. Throughout the tone felt like it was trying to be grave and serious but Ted wasn’t living up to that billing.

Instead when he returned from the “grave” it became obvious that all the guilt and worry were irrelevant. Worse than that though Ted turned out to be a robot. Somehow seeing Ted pretend to malfunction and spit out the wrong sentences seemed more cheesy than any of the bad makeup jobs and costumes we have had to endure. It also presented too many practical problems. How could a man in the 1950s or 60s have built artificial intelligence that is beyond the scope of anyone in 2011 let alone 1997?

The Unknown: So I assume Buffy got rid of the body and told the police that Ted ran away.

Best Moment: The initial conversation between Jenny and Giles was beautifully written. Instead of blaming Giles for putting her in danger or saying that she didn’t feel safe around him anymore, Jenny had a more nuanced reason for being annoyed with him. She explained that his look of guilt every time he saw her made her feel guilty that she hadn’t snapped back to normal yet. It seemed like a very real reaction. Of course we don’t know how someone would feel after demon possession but being annoyed by someone else’s reaction to you is something we can all relate to. Their delivery was of course excellent as ever.

The Bottom Line: A tricky episode. In some ways I applaud the attempt to do something more serious and in-depth with a one-off character but in the end Ted just wasn’t the right fit for the show.



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