Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 18, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S4, E02 – Living Conditions

Cordia’s Second Look
Living Conditions
Season 4, Episode 2
Original airing: 10/12/1999

My Rating: 68

The Good: This was a very fun and funny episode. Kathy and Buffy are a blast to watch as they annoy the complete crap out of each other. I think what really made this episode work was that it didn’t take itself at all seriously. Of course, this is another classic metaphor, “The Roommate From Hell”, but giving it a relaxed feeling kept it from being overly campy.

The whole episode they play off each other extremely well. The unique sounds and camera angles over emphasize the little annoyances, like Buffy tapping her pencil and Kathy clipping her toe nails. Their fighting is completely believable and the escalation makes perfect sense as well.  The stress of super creepy nightmares added just that much more weight to the situation.

The moment when Buffy tells Willow she’s going to kill Kathy is excellent as well, especially with how it works on multiple levels. During the first viewing, it really comes off as Buffy being insane and overly sensitive. There’s also an excellent shading that indicates she might be about to go really overboard and use her slayer powers to kill an innocent human being. But upon rewatch, it’s easy to see that she’s actually very calm and reasonable. She’s really worked out that there is something not human and not right about Kathy. Which also leads to the excellent moment after she rips Kathy’s face off where she pauses and exclaims, “I knew it!” And despite all the lead up, I can still remember being surprised and having my jaw drop the first time I saw Buffy pull off Kathy’s human mask. Yick.

I also enjoyed how this whole situation affected the rest of the Scoobies. Xander is ready and rearing to go on fighting a demon, though not so on board with taking down the human-seeming Kathy. Willow and Oz are concerned about Buffy and caught in the middle. And Giles thinks Buffy’s been possessed. The moment where the boys decide to capture Buffy with a net and tie her up is particularly amusing. Especially the fear Xander shows when Buffy promises to hurt him in return.

I also enjoyed Xander just hanging around the school. It’s a realistic way to keep him involved when he’s not going to college. If he’s living in his parents’ basement and being forced to pay for food, of course he would go mooch off his best friends.

The episode also had fun touching on Willow’s roommate situation. Apparently, she’s stuck with a perpetual partier, which is just about as opposite to Willow as Kathy is to Buffy. And in the end, we finally get Buffy and Willow rooming together, which is what they should have done in the first place. And it leads to a great final moment when Willow bites into Buffy’s sandwich, causing Buffy to suddenly view her in a Kathy-esque light, if just for a moment.

As always, Buffy and Giles’ scenes are excellent. I love Giles excitement when Buffy asks him about his day, then his realization that it’s probably some kind of ploy. And it leads to classic Giles advice about the Kathy situation.

Finally, we meet a new character, Parker. Buffy does seem to catch the eyes of the shaggy-haired boys. It was a cute moment when he says he’ll watch her back, then he not so subtly checks out her booty. His big grin and flirty nature fight well with Buffy’s awkwardness. The scene in the dorm room with Parker, Kathy, and Buffy was very good. Parker and Kathy are flirty and goofy, leading to Buffy being irritated, then trying to get back in Parker’s good graces as he heads out the door. I especially appreciate all this after Buffy’s terrible attempts to talk to Riley in the last episode. She’s not completely inept with boys.

The Bad: Unfortunately, this episode did go a bit too over the top a few times. It pushed well past the line of believability when Buffy started “sharing” Kathy’s milk by pouring it down her face. Just absurd and completely out of character.

But the worst was the dialogue at the end of the episode. Kathy’s comments to Buffy during the fight about tracking her phone calls and sharing were just way too cheesy. And the subtitled conversation with the other demon made her seem extremely petulant for a 900 year old demon.

Favorite Moment: I love the conversation between Buffy and Willow when Buffy states, “Kathy is evil. I’m an evil fighter.  It’s simple. I’m gonna have to kill her.” As I mentioned in The Good, it’s just wonderful how that scene plays so differently when you know the twist in the episode. Buffy may be sleep-deprived and a little crazy, but she knows how to spot a demon.

The Bottom Line: Overall, I really enjoy this episode. When the show decides to really jump into a comedy episode, they often do a fabulous job. This was no exception. I laughed out loud numerous times, even after multiple viewings. The characterizations are goofy and play with the boundaries of their established personalities without going too over the top. The dialogue is mostly funny and on point and the different sound effects and camera angles played well with the content. Excellently done.

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Responses

  1. This episode was one of the most realistic from my experiences. I had never had to share a bedroom with my sister growing up, so having a roommate in college was a big adjustment. The little things like wanting a window open/shut, different opinions on music, keeping track of phone calls, adjusting to someone else’s sleeping schedule, etc. are all major changes most college student have to adjust to when being away from home the first time. I had a sweet roommate, thankfully, but, man, they really got it right in this episode of how annoying that other person can be.


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