Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | January 5, 2013

Robin’s Review: S5, E15 – I Was Made to Love You

Synopsis: A robot called April wanders around Sunnydale looking for her boyfriend Warren. She comes to the Scoobies’ attention when she throws Spike through a window. As they hunt down Warren, he is trying to run away with his new human girlfriend. Meanwhile Joyce prepares to go on a date.

The Good: The April-Warren story was pretty interesting and at times moving. I think Shonda Farr (April) gave a good performance as the perfect girlfriend and I liked the way her strange behaviour slowly got the attention of the gang. Warren was well characterised too as being sleazy and pathetic but also just being a believable guy. He is self aware enough to have questioned his own mind when he got bored of the ‘perfect’ woman and is perfectly capable of loving a real woman when he found one. But his cowardice and lies catch up with him and in a move Buffy seldom makes he ends up being asked to come back for another episode at least.

The April story played out in sensible fashion with her power running out after a fight with Buffy. But the way she reflected back on Buffy herself was more interesting than it might have been. At first it seemed too literal an analogy with Buffy taking Spike’s interest in her as a sign that she is destined to repel nice guys (Riley) and attract only creeps. So April appears as the ultimate in co-dependent women who can’t exist without her man. However instead of Buffy chirpily concluding that she is far too self reliant to end up like that she reaches a similar conclusion in a more sombre mood. She is outraged that Warren abandoned April, the same way the men in her life do, but instead of lecturing April she coddles her. The scene by the swings was wonderfully poignant as the innocent machine questions its existence while slowly dying. Buffy, at her sweetest, reassures April that everything will be ok. Inside Buffy realises that she doesn’t want to meet another Riley until she is sure who she is, again a continuation of the season-long quest for identity.

The Spike side of the story was handled brilliantly. I really liked that Buffy’s disgust at their encounter had led to her questioning herself while Spike had learnt nothing. His obsession led him to more childish tactics like making her jealous (by hitting on April) and then trying to cosy up to the Scoobies. Giles then stepped in with entirely convincing steely determination and told him to back off. In a nice bit of misdirection Spike dismantles his shrine to Buffy but instead of moving on he collars Warren and asks for a Buffy robot to be constructed. Somehow his obsession just got way creepier and with potentially amazing results.

Xander had a good episode too as he spent more intimate time with Buffy than we’ve seen in a long time. His maturity was repeatedly demonstrated as he had eyes only for Anya, affectionate support for his friend and was then able to show his DIY skills in authoritative fashion.

Of course the final moments of the episode were utterly heartbreaking. Joyce’s first date in a while was seemingly an excuse for some gentle comedy but instead was used as a brutal reminder of the happy Summers home that is about to be shattered. The shot of Joyce still on the couch was chilling and as usual Sarah Michelle Gellar nailed the final line (“mommy?”).

The Bad: There were some small false moments in April and Warren’s story but none derailed it. Although it made perfect sense, the big punchline when Warren revealed that April was a robot to an unimpressed Buffy fell flat. The story was actually played with impressive seriousness (considering a robot was involved) and that line along with the Terminator-style vision from April’s point of view were misplaced attempts to add laughs. It made little sense that April would have a “Combat Mode” either. I don’t think we needed to see that and could happily have accepted her attacking Buffy once Warren instigated the conflict.

The Unknown: I wasn’t a huge fan of Ben standing in Glory’s dress to take a phone call from Buffy. Again the joke was logical but I was too busy thinking about why Ben would date Buffy when he knows what he turns into half of the day. Ben’s acting wasn’t the best throughout as he awkwardly flirted with Buffy. Perhaps he was trying to portray the conflict he should have been feeling but even if that is the case it wasn’t a convincing performance. The Glory story has certainly been pushed to the back burner in the face of Dawn, Spike and Joyce’s stories in a way which does make her seem less threatening than she should be.

I still don’t think Anya is well characterised. I had real trouble believing that she actually played the stock market. She talked about it so flippantly that it made it hard to imagine her actually doing it. Frankly I think both Warren and April were better characterised than Anya in one episode. I guess I just have trouble believing that she can be so chirpy and oddly literal twenty four hours a day.

Best Moment: It’s hard to look beyond the final scene but as we will doubtless have a lot more to see about that next episode I will go with Giles who showed what a great actor can do to shift gears and show his resoluteness in kicking Spike out of the shop.

The Bottom Line: I don’t think the Warren-April story was as strong as it could have been. There was certainly something missing as an attempt to reflect back on Buffy the thoughts she was having about Riley and Spike. Yet this is one of those rare occasions when the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Warren and April played their roles so well and her story was so sad that it overcame the flaws in its execution. The Scooby stuff around it was excellent and Buffy was as likable as she’s ever been. With two terrific developments leading into the next episode this achieved everything it set out to and more.



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