Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 26, 2011

Robin’s Review: S2, E18 – Killed By Death

Synopsis: Buffy catches the flu and after fighting Angel she is rushed to hospital. While running a fever she sees a creepy demon following children around. The children claim he is death but no adult can see him. Xander stands guard in case Angel returns while the other research. Buffy recovers but decides to stay to help fight the demon who we learn is Der Kindestod or child death. Buffy realises that this same demon killed her cousin when she was young doubling her determination to kill it.

The Good: After practically every momentous (usually Angel related) episode of these first two seasons the episode which has followed has felt like a letdown. For once though I think this episode served a very necessary purpose. The emotions surrounding Jenny’s death were so heavy that it felt like a wise change of pace to put Buffy in a new setting where that story could take a breather.

It’s not as if Angel is entirely absent either. It is his attack on the fevered Buffy that forces her into hospital. I liked the fact that reference was made to how quickly her bruises and swelling disappeared. You would imagine a Slayer would need to be able to heal quickly. Angel also returned for one of the best moments of the episode when Xander bravely stood up to him and talked him out of trying to get into Buffy’s room. I really had forgotten how clear the writers were about Xander’s love for Buffy. He and Cordelia once more bicker over his obvious affection for Buffy and yet still manage to get past it and make their own relationship work (see Best Moment).

The Der Kindestod story was interesting enough to pass an episode. His Freddy Krueger inspired look and invisibility made him suitably creepy which was intensified once you realised he was feeding off children. The plot had a little humour and a little misdirection and gave everyone something to do. There were some nice moments of humour with the Scoobies including their lazy final scene treating Joyce like a slave and Willow distracting the hospital security guards with her Frog-fear.

The Bad: To some extent though this was always going to be come-down after “Passion.” The Angel-Spike-Drusilla story has really made monsters-of-the-week seem obsolete. There was never a moment of doubt that Buffy would save the day and how she got there wasn’t really interesting enough to make this a good episode. The way she snapped Der Kindestod’s neck was a particularly anti-climactic finish to their fight. The use of Buffy’s cousin Celia in the story felt superfluous. The fact that the actress playing young Buffy looked nothing like her didn’t help either.

The writers lent almost entirely on Cordelia for humour throughout the episode and it became a little much. I think there is a tendency to have her frown at or misunderstand everything that is going on and there comes a point when it happens too many times to be believable.

The Unknown: Perhaps more people than Joyce could have made reference to Jenny’s death. I wonder how her death was explained?

Best Moment: About half way through the episode we cut to loyal Xander struggling to stay awake as he keeps watch for Angel. Despite their earlier argument Cordelia then appears with coffee and doughnuts and sits beside him. He says nothing but gives her look of genuine gratitude. She says nothing either but has brought several magazines to keep her occupied while she supports him. It was a lovely little moment and unlike so much that the writers do with these two it was understated.

The Bottom Line: As monster-of-the-week episodes go this was average. However I do understand the desire to have the emotions lie low for an episode after Jenny’s death.

56/100

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