Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | July 3, 2013

Robin’s Review: S6, E12 – Doublemeat Palace

Synopsis: Buffy gets a job at a local fast food restaurant: The Doublemeat Palace. The employees are dead eyed and her boss Manny is a humourless ‘lifer.’ She is suspicious of the whole place and particularly the ‘special ingredient.’ Meanwhile Anya gets a visit from a vengeance demon friend Halfrek and Amy pops by to give Willow a gift.

The Good: Amy’s gift of magic was a very effective bit of storytelling. Amy doesn’t understand why Willow is so determined to rid herself of magic and thinks she is doing her a favour. It’s a cruel burden for Willow to bear though. Not only does it remind her of how good magic felt but it also makes everyday life seem even harder (the reiteration of how long everything takes made perfect sense). She also has to hide her ‘gift’ from the Scoobies who would assume she had slipped up. The fact that she shares what happened with Buffy also feels like a major step forward for Willow. A positive step which she conveyed with inner strength when she tells Amy to leave her alone.

I like the way the Buffy-Spike story bubbled away in the background. Rather like Amy tempting Willow, Spike’s offer of money must have seemed like a lifeline to Buffy. But doubtless it would have involved theft or extortion and just spending more time with him in the darkness. She gives in to the sexual relief he offers but won’t leave the honest path of hard work because she knows it’s better for her.

The reunion of Anya with her friend Halfrek put an interesting wrinkle into the Anya-Xander wedding plans. Anything that further characterises Anya is fine by me and so to see her questioning the way he ‘corrects’ her all the time was interesting. I also really enjoyed her blasé comment about how she had expected Willow to click her fingers and help with the wedding plans after she provided for the engagement party (606).

The Bad: I remain confused about the purpose of the whole Doublemeat Palace story. After the satire aimed at politicians (The Mayor) and the army (The Initiative) it feels appropriate to see McDonalds or just corporate employment in general given similar treatment. But there was no demon analogy here. All the dead eyed employees and unpleasant working conditions were just what they seemed to be. Perhaps it was all to demonstrate the life Buffy will now have to life to remain in honest employment. I hope so because otherwise the use of music and constant suggestion that humans were being used for meat would just have been misdirection so that the Wig Lady would surprise us when she turned out to be a demon. She was creepy in an Alien-inspired kind of way but hardly justified the amount of time spent in the restaurant.  

The Unknown: I feel the sheer amount of time spent at the Palace lands it in The Bad. But I didn’t hate it. It seemed heavy handed as satire goes but it was interesting and at times funny. If it becomes part of Buffy’s depression story then it may also serve a purpose.

I was very pleased to hear that Buffy did go to the Trio’s basement.

Best Moment: Willow telling Amy to go away showed the inner strength which is the best side of her.

The Bottom Line: This episode strikes an unusual tone from its first moment. In a way I appreciate the attempt to do something different. But that tone was like an episode of The Simpsons with forced comic mockery of the Doublemeat world. It left little room for you to see the satire or feel the comedy. To then finish with a dull misdirection and demon caper was a flat ending. Fortunately the ongoing Scooby characterisation was very good.

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