Buffy 1×08: I Robot, You Jane

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Ashley Gable and Thomas A. Swyden | Director: Stephen Posey | Aired: 04/28/1997]

Oh my. Here we have an episode that tries to be about something substantive, but fails oh so miserably at it. It’s an episode that was outdated before it was outdated (I’ll elaborate on this later)! I’ll concede that this can be one of those episodes that is fun to laugh at, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for this kind of evaluation. How is it that “I Robot, You Jane” got it so spectacularly wrong?

Just about the only positive aspect to talk about is Jenny Calendar’s introduction and subsequent arguments with Giles over the virtues and pitfalls of technology. You can throw in a handful of good quotes and the final scene too. I genuinely enjoyed Jenny and Giles’ spirited banter, and can sympathize with both positions. While I’m definitely into modern technology, I’m also quite a bit old-fashioned in certain ways as well. Jenny having a bit of flirty fun with Giles in the background adds a nice layer to this banter.

Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing there is to say about “I Robot, You Jane.” Beyond simply being incredibly outdated, most of the episode has abysmal dialogue, execution, and pacing. The dialogue – usually one of the positives of the show – is so boring outside of a small handful of quotes that it actually surprised me a little. Most of it is entirely plot-centric and seems there only to help the viewer and the characters from plot point A to plot point B to plot point C — perfunctory is the word I’m looking for.

Then there’s the problem of the demon of the week, Moloch. This is an ancient demon that is apparently smart enough to understand and control computers to the point of spreading itself across the internet. This strikes me as both entirely unbelievable and completely ridiculous. Somehow the episode goes to a lower low with the big climax involving ROBO MOLOCH. There is no tension, no real stakes, a poor setup, and absolutely no subtext or subtlety to the entire proceedings. It’s all laughable at best and blehhh at worst.

At this point one might ask what the episode was trying to do? Well, I think that’s explained early on, but is followed up with heavy-handed silliness. In the Italy flashback, the demon Moloch asks, “Do you love me? I can give you everything. All I want is your love.” Once he has their love, he snaps their necks (even though it looks more like a gentle neck massage to me). “I Robot, You Jane” is pretty transparently about the dangers of the internet or, more specifically, the dangers of getting emotionally invested with people who you haven’t met in person before. Online dating is heavily implicated even though chat rooms appear to be the episode’s focus. The concept behind how love can be used to manipulate others, made particularly easy with modern tools of communication, is a concept worthy of exploration. As a fellow geek who is all-too familiar with the quirks of online dating, this is a theme that was ripe to resonate with me. This theme, however, is woefully under-developed, lacks any and all subtlety, and is just horribly cliché in its presentation.

Regardless of reality, online dating was something to be terrified of back in the day. There was a perception that only completely anti-social lunatics participated in it. Times have changed a lot though. Online dating is now much more modern, much more accepted, and much less scary. With that said, the dangers of naïve young girls (or anyone, really) searching for love in a chat room and getting tangled up in a mess of a situation with a molester or abductor is certainly all-too real. Although Willow can be somewhat easily influenced by others – how quickly she takes Buffy’s advice to “seize the moment” in “Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1×01] comes to mind – I can’t help but feel Willow’s still smarter than what she displays here. I think I’ll just blame that inconsistency on the fact that Moloch is influencing her. But then that gets us right back to the episode lacking lasting character relevance.

Another problem I have is with the portrayal of the computer science guys. I should disclose that I’m a professional software developer, and that I know my reaction will be stronger than others, but my God did those guys grate on me. They weren’t just displayed as stereotypical geeks; they were displayed as complete lunatics who spoke in a way that’s totally foreign to me. I grew up in the thick of that era of technology and nobody talked like that. If anything, there should have been less talk about being “jacked in” and more talk about who would win in a fight between a couple Borg Cubes and the Death Star (easy answer, by the way: one cube left standing due to adaption technology). These Season 1 techies make the Trio in Season 6 look like high class geeks. What makes this all the more baffling is the fabulous portrayal of the tech world through Jenny Calendar. Jenny is a wonderful representation of a computer geek: smart, passionate, and friendly. Plus, even though it’s not as bad today as it was back in ’97, it’s always awesome to see an example of a confidant, attractive woman that loves computers and programming.

What we have here is a complete mess of an episode. “I Robot, You Jane” is a pain and a bore to sit through in every phase, with only brief reprieves from Jenny and Giles. The underlying concept behind the episode – manipulation through love tangled with the dangerous side of the internet — is worth a careful, lasting, and relevant discussion but, alas, all of those attributes are absent here. Its portrayal of computer geeks (demon’s thrall or not, it’s painful), general lack of ability to hold my interest for most of its running time, long-term irrelevance, and shoddy production values all add up to my personal pick for Worst Episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “Teacher’s Pet” [1×04] might actually be a smidgen worse, but “I Robot, You Jane” hits all the wrong buttons for me. To quote Xander: “Shoot me. Stuff me. Mount me.”

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Is Moloch a Fyarl demon (“A New Man” [4×12])!?
+ Jenny Calendar!
+ Giles’ final speech on the smell of books.
+ Not a Buffy-centric episode, but it’s worth considering Willow’s experience getting too emotionally involved with someone she doesn’t know well as a warning for Buffy about the dangers that lie ahead.

– Fritz is a one-off crazy stereotype, and that’s putting it mildly.
– The full black screen instant messenger (or is that supposed to be a chat room? Ha!). Ridiculous at best in its presentation, plus why wouldn’t Willow be using something the likes of AIM (AOL Instant Messenger, which was released around that time)?
– The sudden appearance of computers and laptops all over the school. They’re everywhere. They also come with a bunch of insane nerds that all conveniently get killed by episode’s end.
– “I’m jacked in! I’m jacked in! I’m jacked in!” Yeah? Well here’s your -5 points.
– Why is Willow repeating what she’s typing out loud, word for word? Is she having a voice chat with Blogger Extraordinaire Moloch while simultaneously typing the same words? What is going on here!?
– Buffy trying to delete the “Willow” folder on the desktop, causing Moloch to literally growl the words “stay away from Willow” while suddenly rendering his pixelated face on the screen. Oh my.
– Buffy not having the courtesy to look inside Willow’s folder before deleting it. Come on, Buffy! Where’s your computer etiquette!?
– Apparently Willow has a broadband connection and a computer that can detect when she comes into her room (all in ’97), because her computer kindly notified her she had mail despite not actually connecting to the internet (a noisy endeavor back then for those of us with old school modems… oh wait, that was everyone).
– The music is especially bad.
– The flashing multi-colored screen with wind blowing around the school library. For some reason I felt like I’d been transported back to the ‘80s, which is rarely ever a good thing.


Foreshadowing

* Buffy: “Let’s face it: none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship.“ Yup, that about sums it up.


[Score]

40/100

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76 thoughts on “Buffy 1×08: I Robot, You Jane”

  1. [Note: Grounded posted this comment on August 4, 2006.]

    This episode has the priceless scene at the end where Buffy, Xander and Willow lament the fact that they’re all doomed to date monsters. Besides that, I also thought the Dave ‘suicide’ scene was pretty well done.

    Like

  2. [Note: AaronJer posted this comment on September 15, 2006.]

    So… the demon thought to make the programmer say something that only someone who didn’t actually know how computer programmers talk would say?

    Seems iffy.

    I still think the “I’m jacked in” thing was really stupid. The psychoness was fitting, but nobody under ANY circumstances save maybe someone being forced at gunpoint would ever say “I’m jacked in” unless it was on a TV show.

    Do you think they forced that actor to say that at gunpoint? We should look into this.

    Like

  3. [Note: Rick posted this comment on December 17, 2006.]

    Worst. episode. ever. in. Buffyverse. Hands down. Not only is it boring and pointless, but its theme rings hollow; it overdoes the risks of online dating to transform an already weak metaphor into an embellished farce. It also portrays Willow as more meek than she really is. There were a couple of good scenes like Jenny asking if Giles had ever left the middle ages, as well as the scene at the end. But all in all, well, um…yuck. I would be embarrassed to show this ep. to anyone.

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  4. [Note: MrB posted this comment on April 9, 2007.]

    It’s interesting to note that the writers only wrote one more episode. That was the mediocre Out of Mind, Out of Sight.

    The director was never heard from again.

    Like

  5. [Note: Latoya posted this comment on May 3, 2007.]

    I did like some parts of this episode. Mainly Buffy herself.

    “Tell me the truth. How’s my hair?” after she was electrocuted. Its all frizzy. Xander and Giles try to reassure her that its her best hair ever.

    “I met him online.” “Online for what?” Buffy not hip to computer lingo.

    The last seen is a BTVS classic. It is Joss’s favorite too. “Lets face it. None of us are going to have a healthy, lasting relationship.” “We’re doomed.” They all smile and then get a God-we-are-pathetic look.

    Like

  6. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 23, 2007.]

    I dunno. I didn’t hate I Robot You Jane as much as some of y’all. I think the premise (demon downloaded into the Internet through a scanned magical text) is quite good, for Season One. Of course, scanning a whole book without turning the pages . . . And if I were a computer person (I’m a librarian, close but not), I might be more sensitive to the plentiful techno-gaffes, but come on – after the She-Mantis in Teacher’s Pet, I think we can stop looking for sharp visuals and techno-scientific realism in Buffy Season One. I can’t help wondering if the better-looking and more current IM screens were copyrighted and out of reach financially for reproduction on the show. Yes, they could have had something better custom-designed, but time and budget were always in short supply in S1.

    I do agree that the pace of a lot of the episode is slow, and Dave and Fritz (especially Fritz) are execrably written and performed. Fritz may be the worst job of acting in BTVS, although as a non-recurring character he can never take that worst recurring character prize away from Andrew J. Ferchland. And after they have some pretty good fun with Demon On The Internet and Demon Lover Cyberstalking Willow, they just seem to run out of ideas. And the robot is lame (also how it dies – too Wile E. Coyote).

    But I like Jenny Calendar and an episode which raises books vs. net arguments is practically necessary to kick-start her romance with Giles (romances start with arguments and/or sex, and this is TV). Also, it’s a good character development ep for Willow. It’s the first time we get an extended look at a Willow who wants anything more than to bask in the reflected glory of Buffy and to mope after an unavailable Xander. She’s trying something new, even if it blows up in her face all hellmouth-style. And I don’t think she looks like an utter fool – high school kids often do fall for the blandishments of Internet creeps, plus Moloch is a demon with specific powers to charm and inspire love.

    I like the moment where Willow attacks the robot Moloch (“Rememeber ME? Your actual GIRLFRIEND?”), almost jealous that he is more interested in killing Buffy than in killing her. Also, anytime Willow swings something heavy (fire extinguisher, bat, battleaxe) is a good time. And others have already mentioned the great “We’re doomed” scene at the end, where the laughter fades forlornly as the reality sinks in.

    As for the after-school-specialness of an episode about cyberdating and cyberstalking, I can think of three more heavy-handed examples off the top of my head – Teacher’s Pet (listen to the teacher, you’ll learn something), Beauty and the Beasts (abusive relationships), and Go Fish (steroids). Again, YMMV.

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  7. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on July 28, 2007.]

    “There’s actually a few eps in Angel that can give “I, Robot…” a run for its very cheap money.”

    Especially Double for Nothing. 😉 And Gone. Oh, sorry, that was in BTVS.

    Like

  8. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on July 28, 2007.]

    “It’s interesting to note that the writers only wrote one more episode. That was the mediocre Out of Mind, Out of Sight.”

    Mediocre?

    Like

  9. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on July 28, 2007.]

    “Provider” was, for my money, the worst Buffyverse episode. Every other episode at least had SOME redeeming qualities, including IRYJ (re: the ending scene).

    Like

  10. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 28, 2007.]

    Bad Angel episodes? How about In the Dark (except for Spike’s monologue at the beginning), I Fall to Pieces, Bachelor Party, Somnambulist, I’ve Got You Under My Skin (except for Wesley), The Ring, War Zone, Judgement, Heartthrob, and That Old Gang of Mine? Oh, and Double or Nothing and Provider also sucked.

    But I agree, WorldWithoutShrimp, that they all have redeeming qualities if you look hard enough (and I admit that I’m blanking on a redeeming quality in Provider, but I didn’t find the badness in it so offensive as, say, Him or The Puppet Show). This is the Jossverse, after all.

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  11. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on August 19, 2007.]

    “”Provider” was, for my money, the worst Buffyverse episode. Every other episode at least had SOME redeeming qualities, including IRYJ (re: the ending scene).”

    I think “Provider” does have some redeeming qualities, mainly in the fact that some of the comedy is genuinely funny. “Couplet”, on the other hand, has no such defence, a pointless episode with little of note, with a reliance upon so-called comedy which simply isn’t funny.

    Double or Nothing beats both in terms of sheer awfulness, though.

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  12. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 20, 2007.]

    In reference to he “I invited him in” line, I think what she is saying is that even after they kissed, she didn’t do anything to prevent him from coming in again, like hunting him or uninviting him, which she does later in the episode. Anyways thats my take on it based on the context.

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  13. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 22, 2007.]

    Dingdongalistic: “I think “Provider” does have some redeeming qualities, mainly in the fact that some of the comedy is genuinely funny. “Couplet”, on the other hand, has no such defence, a pointless episode with little of note, with a reliance upon so-called comedy which simply isn’t funny.”

    [Smacking head] How could I have forgotten Couplet in my litany of bad Angel episodes?! What was it that TWOP said about it? “An evil force devours the characters’ energy, turning them into lifeless hulks who can’t take care of themselves. And there’s also a demonic tree.”

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  14. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on August 30, 2007.]

    Yeah, this episode is really poor for me. Although I say that no Buffy episodes is bad, this one actually is pretty bad. I don´t have the urge to see it very much. For me, the only good thing is Jenny Calendar and the dialogue

    Like

  15. [Note: Tamora posted this comment on September 9, 2007.]

    I personally quite liked this episode. Wasn’t the best ever by any standards, but I would hardly give it an F.

    First of all, as someone else already mentioned, there was that pitch-perfect, spot-on, absolutly lovely ending. “Let’s face it: none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship.”
    “We’re doomed!”
    They all laugh at the joke… until they realize that they’ve only said the truth. Hah. Teenage life, how it sucks. Espcially when one happens to live on a Hellmouth.

    I also especially liked the Books vs. Computers debates between Giles and Jenny, clearly leading up to their relationship though not quite there yet. Loved his speech about smells and textures… how a computer has no personality or feeligng like a book does. “If it’s to last, the getting of knowledge should be tangible, it should be… smelly…”

    Me at my geekiest: I agree. Love computers, but books own any computer’s non-existant ass.

    And finally, there was the classic metaphor du jour, this one being about romantic relationships, the lack thereof, the desperation for affection and what that can lead to. So many people – especially teenagers, who are all quite emotionally vulnerable (which sucks) – are just about strving for love. Not just in a familial or platonic way, but in a romanitc sense. We can’t help it: we’re humans. And in many of these cases, people will jump at the first sign of affection, following the person/demon/computer blindly into whatever may come.

    Willow, of course, is the easiest and simplest character for this to be expressed through. She is extremely vulnerable, especially in season 1, and when she is offered love (which, hey, she barely gets from her parents anyway), she is willing to do almost anything to secure that. Even if it means being a slave to an evil computerized demon with a funny name.

    This episode could have been executed much better, but all in all, I think it was pretty good. If anything, I must give credit to the fact that this sort of situation HAD to be addressed somehow. It’s all too common in life, especially in high school.

    And ultimately, BtVS is a high-school nightmare story.

    …except in seasons 4-7, when it’s not. 🙂

    Ta.

    Like

  16. [Note: Bill posted this comment on February 9, 2008.]

    I personally liked the opening Moloch in Italy sequence, but I’m a sucker for demon stories from that time period.

    As for a point that I believe Latoya brought up earlier,

    “I met him online.” “Online for what?” Buffy not hip to computer lingo.

    That is actually not computer lingo at all, it’s actually an East Coast dialect reference. Let’s say you are at Best Buy, in most parts of America you would say, “I’m in line at Best Buy”. But, on the East Coast, and especially New York, you would say “Im online at Best Buy.” Why Buffy who as far as we know has spent her entire life in California would be saying this I don’t know, but that was a dialect issue.

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  17. [Note: MrB posted this comment on February 9, 2008.]

    The funniest part in this episode is in the credits. The name of the monk who does that awful speech that Giles has to repeat to bind the demon is listed as “Thelonious”.

    Other than that, a waste

    Like

  18. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on June 11, 2008.]

    call me insane but i dont think this is the worst ep in the series. the worst ep is probably where the wild things are as well…it has a SUCH a lame plot. this has a mediocre plot which wasn’t presented very well but still had a mediocre climax and characters where wtwta had lame everything. this definately comes in the top 5 worst but not quite the worst.

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  19. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 14, 2008.]

    I agree, Jaden, I’d say Where The Wild Things Are is the worst. It leaves me more embarrassed than I Robot You Jane, which leaves me suitably red-faced if I watch with someone. It’s a shame these awful episodes are a part of the Buffyverse.

    Like

  20. [Note: AnonDK posted this comment on July 22, 2008.]

    Gotta say, though, his death is CLASSIC Buffy!

    With how cheesy he looked, and how she managed to outsmart him, and all that.

    Flipping hilarious :L

    Besides that, the ending, and all things Ms. Calender, yeah, this episodes blows.

    Like

  21. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 26, 2008.]

    Actually, from a technical standpoint, the worst episode ever might be Killed by Death. That one really scraped the bottom of the barrel. Everyone was acting way out of character, and the dialogue–with the exception of the Angel-Xander face-off–was dreadful. Also, the opening fight scene was poorly choreographed, even worse than most of the fights in S1.

    Like

  22. [Note: Dakota posted this comment on December 30, 2008.]

    I’m not going to lie…I realy liked this episode.

    Okay, it’s not the most exciting episode, and I didn’t like the robot body (or the fact that *that* was what he got trapped in). But overall, with the exception of “Jacked In” (which you’re overplaying) I thought it was a clever episode.

    The end scene, we’ve been over, is great. The “reading” done by the computer? That was pretty cool. I think more than anything, you’re all forgetting how little we knew about computers in 97 and how much more believable it was back then. Which is why there was the black screen for IMs. Not everyone knew what an IM was, so it was simpler to just create something that at the time would take less away from the episode.

    In the end, it’s a very dated episode, but not necessarily bad.

    Buffy: I think I kinda capped it off with the whole nuclear war thing.
    Giles: You’re right, yours was better…

    Like

  23. [Note: Nix posted this comment on February 18, 2009.]

    Now I know that looking for mistakes in this episode is like looking for fireflies in a supernova explosion, but this one nagged at me:

    The demon finds info on Buffy by searching a completely implausible visual database at ludicrously low speeds (perhaps two records a second, come on, my ZX81 could do better than that) — but then when it finds the record it spontaneously changes between frames. On one frame, her birthdate is 10/24/80 with a GPA of 3.4; a window expands to show the ‘same’ record, only the GPA seems to have magically changed to 2.8; then it is redisplayed for no obvious reason with a birthdate of 05-06-79! Talk about *shoddy* SFX work.

    (None of these birthdates seem to be in February, either, but I can understand nobody else wanting to rewatch this episode to establish consistency with it, not least since it can’t keep such obscure facts as birthdate consistent between one frame and the next.)

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  24. [Note: Nix posted this comment on February 18, 2009.]

    And two eps later we have *another* birthdate, in 1981! Sheesh, how many births can one girl have? (Two birthdates I can understand, I’m in that situation. But three?!)

    Like

  25. [Note: Guido posted this comment on March 31, 2009.]

    This is the episode that convinced me that techno-science-fiction and mystical-demonic fantasy don’t mix well on Buffy. The entire Buffy series had way too much high-tech, and way too many people doing things that no one should be able to do in the Buffyverse (IMO). Ridiculously lifelike robots, high school kids resurrecting the dead by sewing body parts together, ray guns, unexplained PHd-level knowledge (Willow, the Trio).

    I loved the series, and because I am more than happy to be in the presence of the Scoobies, I forgive even the worst episodes, but I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer could have been just as amazing without co-mingling science fiction with fantasy. This episode at least connects the two, but they don’t connect very well.

    The series premise offers an explanation for the demons and witches—the Hellmouth—but no backstory (that I can recall) explains how any of the ridiculously high-tech knowledge (and the resulting gadgets) in the series just crop up out of nowhere. This stuff is incongruous in the Buffyverse, and Joss should have saved it for Firefly.

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  26. [Note: Nix posted this comment on September 10, 2009.]

    I place the ridiculously high-tech knowledge as being, well, hell, it’s a fantasy. It’s just a fantasy with implausible tech. Note that this implausible tech is produced only by psycho loners. Fans of _Girl Genius_ already know what I’m driving at: these mad scientist types, they’re Sparks!

    And that is surely fantasy, or at least the fantastic side of SF. It surely isn’t realism.

    (The Canonical Birthdate, btw, appears to be the 1981 one. At least that’s the year we see on her gravestone in _The Gift_, and anything that appears in *that* is as canonical as anything gets.)

    Like

  27. [Note: Randy posted this comment on December 30, 2009.]

    I think this episode is almost redeemed by the fact that it’s so bad it’s funny. I got a friend hooked on the show (starting with some season 2 goodness) and then we started watching from the beginning. I found this episode pretty hilarious the second time around, and given the disclaimer: “brace yourself for the worst episode EVER” she had a pretty good time with it, too. 🙂

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  28. [Note: Mr. Valentine posted this comment on February 5, 2010.]

    I liked this episode, even though it was boring, hehe.

    I didn’t like the ”I’m jacked in” thing too. It was said too many times indeed. Were the creators trying to create some new slang word or something?

    It was nice, seeing Willow in love.

    Do you know where I can find the plot? I really want to see it, I wonder why people call it the Fat Willow episode >.>

    Like

  29. [Note: Pippa Hall posted this comment on March 5, 2010.]

    This was actually the first episode of BTVS that I ever saw, flicked into the middle of it when it was on TV [years ago] and I didn’t know who any of the characters were. Still I watched it to find out who the creepy Internet guy was and cos I had missed the beginning, I was surprised when it was a demon but I enjoyed it!

    Anyhow I carried on watching the show after seeing this ep, so it didn’t put me off, lol!

    Like

  30. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on March 5, 2010.]

    I cannot believe you gave this episode a 31.

    No episode of ‘BtVS’ deserves a score under 50.

    There are so many other shows with worse episodes, ie: almost every episode of ‘Seinfeld’, ‘Frasier’ and every single episode of reality shows like “—- Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars”.

    Okay, the “I’m jacked in” line was really, really, really bad, but we got the great ending with the gang realising their love life will always be doomed. And hot Buffy.

    Now my mind goes back to Sarah just after she was nearly electrocuted, lying on the floor still looking hot.

    Like

  31. [Note: Jason posted this comment on May 19, 2010.]

    The episode’s not great, but for me it’s not as terrible as everyone says. I liked the opening sequence (even if it was a little cheesy). I liked the idea of a demon existing “in the net”, sort of a modern equivalent of the Astral plane.

    And I liked how the ritual at the end mimicks the ritual at the beginning. It would have been much better though if the ritual had trapped the demon in a (floppy) disk, the modern equivalent of trapping him in an old book.

    I like the image of a disk with a demon trapped in it like a computer virus.

    Like

  32. [Note: Latoya posted this comment on May 19, 2010.]

    We got to see another example of Compassionate Buffy. Already this season we see her forgive Amy *turns out to be Catherine* for giving her only 2-3 hours to live, not holding it against Xander at all for nearly raping her while he was partially possessed, etc. Someone nearly kills her by lying to her and leading her into a trap to get electrocuted and she defends him! Her shoes were actually smoking and she isn’t mad at him at all. If he was late warning her she would have died. She turned out to be right in having faith that he was a good person since he stood up against Moloch and defended Buffy’s right to live but ended up getting murdered himself.

    This was possibly the first time we saw Willow get defensive, angry, and blindsided when she finds something/someone that makes her feel less like the loser she feels she is and a loved one tries to warn her she might get hurt. She always got defensive and felt “betrayed” whenever someone warned her to be careful with magicks.

    I think the “I’m jacked in” line was more about that guy having issues than it was about your average computer hacker/gamer/expert saying things like that. It is one of the reasons why he gladly killed for Moloch while the other guy (I need to rewatch S1 soon to remember the minor character’s names!) couldn’t do it.

    OOh, this was yet another episode that I am sure had Buffy thinking, “And it was JUST like my dream!” That prophetic dream she had in WTTH gave her a sneek peak at a lot of future events. Including what Moloch looked like.

    I can see Buffy knowing some New York speak. She may have been born and raised in one city (and it was Los Angeles, hardly a shelterd place) but she still knew a lot about the world. She has referenced Godot, Spinal Tap, the French Foreign Legion, DeBarge, GQ, Vanity Fair, Star Trek, James Bond, the Nuremberg Rallies, New Kids on the Block, Gandhi, Farah Fawcett, Sesame Street, Neiman Marcus, Gavin Rossdale, Lestat, Molly Ringwald, Robert Frost, etc.

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  33. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on September 9, 2010.]

    Pffft. This episode was a balloon, all bouncy and full of promise at the beginning, then pffft nothing but limp plastic at the end. Literally plastic.

    Cool flashback, the medieval bit added gravitas. Jenny was an excellent newcomer. Verve and charm and a wicked sense of humor; she was delightful in baiting Giles, and in teasing him at about the body part to which her corkscrew jewelry had been attached. (Great line delivery.)

    But … come on. Willow came across as the dumbest bulb alive. And that’s BAD, because the whole danged point of Buffy is that this isn’t like teen slasher shows where the fun comes from watching the kids be stupid. (“Let’s explore this empty house.”) These are smart, thoughtful youths who are coping very well with a crap situation. Yes their hormones cause brain damage at times, but not to THIS extent. If Willow is to be that stupid, might as well kill her off.

    And the baddie was straight from Dr. Who. Only somehow not even fun in a campy way. Just lame. Lame lame lame.

    I don’t get the show title, either. Tarzan? Asimov? Clever cultural reference titles are good … if they are actually clever.

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  34. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on September 16, 2010.]

    I was going to write something meaningful, but I forgot what it was when someone whistled behind my head. I have some mental hearing thing where whistles stick inside my brain and make me tense up and think violent thoughts. So don’t whistle behind strangers heads’ – you just might get a pencil in the neck.

    Like

  35. [Note: Guido posted this comment on September 16, 2010.]

    (We need a clean up on Aisle 4)

    @John Roberts, Willow’s gullibility certainly contrasts with her resistance to Parker’s bullshit (and her awesome smack down of him) in “Beer Bad.” I think the writers over-emphasized her need to fit in and to be loved, while not doing as much to explain how and from where she later obtained her insights into the motivations of others.

    Like

  36. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    ADMIN NOTE: This episode review has been completely rewritten. In light of this, references to the old review have been edited out of the the above comments.

    Like

  37. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    Bad episode, very bad.

    Although there are no bad Buffy episodes for me, this is actually really bad and I always skip it.

    Keep up the great job, mike.

    Like

  38. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    I don’t like this episode one bit, but I wouldn’t call it even close to the worst “Buffy” episode ever. “Teacher’s Pet”, “Reptile Boy”, “Inca Mummy Girl”, and “Nightmares (I realize I’m in the minority on that last one) are all just as awful. And then of course there’s “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”. You want to talk boring…

    Still, I agree it’s terrible.

    Like

  39. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    Yeah, I liked this episode more than “Teacher’s Pet”, mostly because of the introduction of Jenny Calendar. But still, the new review is more entertaining than the episode itself. 🙂 Especially this line, which made me laugh out loud: “If anything, there should have been less talk about being “jacked in” and more talk about who would win in a fight between a couple Borg Cubes and the Death Star (easy answer, by the way: one cube left standing due to adaption technology). These S1 techies make the Trio in S6 look like high class geeks.”

    Like

  40. [Note: Leo posted this comment on December 27, 2010.]

    Worst episode “The girl in question”. This one was silly, but it had it´s moments. The hole deamon in the internet controling everything had potential, until they tuned him into a giant Power Ranger.

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  41. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on February 5, 2011.]

    Ok — I’ve been a staunch defender of S1, but even I agree that this episode is terrible. I don’t even have much to say about it. It does have a few redeeming qualities: The fact that it is Willow-centric and her desperation for a romantic relationship (a lot of which is brought on by Xander’s rejection of her) is heartbreaking. The introduction of Ms. Calendar. The ending scene where they all realize they are never going to have a normal relationship. I think that sums up the good. Oh, I do like what I think is the moral of the episode: Internet dating can be dangerous. LOL

    Like

  42. [Note: Conor posted this comment on February 25, 2011.]

    I’m currently watching Season 1 and agree that this is the worst episode so far. I pretty much loved all the others. Good opening scene though. And the final scene is class too.

    Like

  43. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on April 18, 2011.]

    for me this episode has some great cheesy ‘so bad it’s good’ charm. i find it a lot more watchable than teacher’s pet. i liked the scene in italy at the beginning in the cheesy camp way which made me find the master funny too. it’s a silly episode but still can be entertaining to watch (apart from the ‘i’m jacked in’ bit), whereas teacher’s pet just made me cringe. i can cope with the silly, OTT and camp in IRYJ, but not the terrible acting and paper mache monsters of TP.

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  44. [Note: Conor posted this comment on June 28, 2011.]

    Hey Mike, we have fairly divergent attitudes towards S1 in general. I’m actually rather fond of it, while you seem to be less favorably disposed, but I completely agree with your review of this episode – easily the worst of the entire series, and surely the only mind-numblingly boring one.

    Like

  45. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 7, 2011.]

    This episode for me is the worst of the season although it doesn’t deserve the stick it receives from a lot of Buffy fans. Season one receives a divergent number of reviews on a whole and i can understand the reason behind it. For me this season is one of my favourites, as i mentioned in the comment i left on the overall season 1 review page.

    The fact that its Willow who is targeted by Moloch is somewhat believable. Take Welcome to the Hellmouth for instance in this episode WIllow confesses to Buffy that she isn’t much with the dating, she doesn’t know what to say to boys. So for her to receive attention from Moloch and thus being sucked in by him is understandable. If it had been any other of the characters it would have felt much more contrived and deficient then the episode is.

    The interconnectivity and character fluency between the gang is done very well once again. Willow is sweet and innocent, Buffy is fierce and looking out for her friend. Xander and Buffy both show their concern for WIllow in the early scenes of the episode and then they dismiss their concerns as young people do if there isn’t anything wrong at the time. The scene was one of my favourites particularly because of the interaction between the two. This is one of the elements that make this episode for me, the strong bonds that are shown between them. This is seen again at the end of the episode when Buffy and Xander step up and ease Willows concerns at the end about how they have all dated demons. This is not merely a lovely moment of escalating friendship it also foreshadows the future, Xander’s relationship with Anya, then a demon is season 7. Willow and her relationship with OZ (He is a werewolf after all) Buffy and Angel, then Spike and Ben who is actually Glory.

    This episode is a one contrary to episode 7 Angel, in that episode Angel shows demons as strong, that the dark side is attractive which is something they deal with again through the character Faith whereas in this episode the writers show that demons are ugly and not such an attractive thing. As Giles says less than divine.

    The plot doesn’t escalate and that means it is a little slow paced but on the plus side there isn’t a volley of plot devices dropped into the mix like in season seven’s final two episodes.

    There is a reason why however the writers weren’t seen again though. I think it has something to do with the final half of the episode, when it became all about the demon. A demon who lacked suspense and fear and to be honest was a little cheesy. Also the supporting characters, the computer geeks were 2 dimensional a little like owen’s character from episode five.

    Its a good thing the main characters were good especially Giles dislike for the internet and his flirting/sparing with Jenny!

    Oh on a final note Xander saying ‘hey i kinda hit someone’ was a nice touch to his character and his desire to be more of a man for Buffy.

    Like

  46. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on June 10, 2012.]

    Though I did think this episode was pretty bad, I didn’t think it was as bad as you made it out to be Mike. It introduced Miss Calendar very well, and even though Willow’s first episode is weak, I think her character development gets a little too downgraded. I actually thought they brought Willow’s problems with intimacy up quite well, even though the plot surrounding it was terrible. I would definitely put this episode’s score at an F, however it should be higher than the score you gave “Teacher’s Pet,” which, in my opinion, is the worst episode of this entire series. I’m also not quite so sure why the fact that the outdated technology brings down the quality even more. Buffy was made in the 90s where computers weren’t very advanced, nobody could have done anything about the outdated technology because that’s what technology was like back then. I don’t think it’s fair to downgrade this episode because of something that could not possibly be changed.

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  47. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 10, 2012.]

    Kyle, I used computers extensively when this episode aired. It’s extremely dated and cliched even for its time — that’s the issue here. It’s an episode that’s written by people who had no clue what using computers was actually like, and instead used the running Hollywood tropes about them at the time. It’s a very sloppy episode altogether, but being a software developer and someone who grew up with computers from 1990 on, I won’t hide the fact that this episode grates on me that little bit extra.

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  48. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 11, 2012.]

    One thing we can all agree on is that the episode introduces Jenny Calendar, which is a good thing. Jenny is the highlight of this episode (along with Giles). 🙂

    Like

  49. [Note: Alex posted this comment on June 13, 2012.]

    I also work in the software industry and have always been pretty computer-savvy (and I’m around the same age as Mike) and I also find the techie aspects of this episode a little grating. But the dated-ness of the technology definitely bothers me far less than the awful portrayal of the computer geeks. It’s so disappointingly cliched and sinks to levels of stereotyping which are normally far beneath this show.

    And yet, I don’t quite get it, because we also get to meet Jenny Calendar, a computer geek who’s attractive, down-to-earth, capable of social interraction with others and – gasp – a woman! Even in 2012, you would not believe how often people look at me with suspicion or disbelief when I tell them what I do, or assume that I’m the receptionist, or (as happened on one particularly memorable occasion) completely ignore me and ask the receptionist if I’m her assistant. It seems that, sadly, a lot of people still can’t wrap their heads around the thought of a woman working with computers.

    So, I find it pretty awesome that all the way back in 1997 Buffy was capable of showing us a nice, normal woman who knew her way around a computer program (the same of course can be said of Willow). But then that just makes it all the more frustrating that they resorting to such lazy characterisation for the rest of the computer scientists. I mean, do you think anyone anywhere has actually come out with a statement like “The only reality is virtual. If you’re not jacked in, you’re not alive”? Really?

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  50. [Note: Anne posted this comment on September 22, 2012.]

    Count me among the many who *don’t* think this episode is really so bad. Cheesy? Sure! But the same can be said about a lot of other monster-of-the-week scenarios. I’m willing to look past some crummy effects and poor bit characters to what I see as several positives: Jenny Calendar being a smart, pretty, tech-savvy woman — plus, this is her introduction, of course. Our first episode that actually focuses on Willow (I would have liked it to give us a bit *more* about her, but hey, new show, first attempt at fleshing out her character). Buffy, Willow, Giles, Jenny, and Xander having good interactive dialogue, even if the bit parts’ lines are lame. I love Buffy and Willow’s argument about back hair! It’s just so *effective!* Rather than “what if he’s a creepy stalker or a rapist?,” it’s way more down-to-earth to just be like, “what if he’s totally gross?” Buffy, sensible in her silly way. The final-scene revelation of the teens, who have definitely done some bonding over the course of this episode.And, Giles’ speech about smelly books is just one of my favorite quotes in the entire series, hands-down. I sometimes think that, looking back on this episode, we forget that it forges a tighter bond between the teens, because we already *know* how close they end up. But from the perspective of watching the show as a first-timer straight through in order, spoiler-free, I think it’s actually a valuable bit of character development and bond-forming: Jenny is introduced, Cordelia becomes more involved with the gang, Willow and Buffy talk boys and build trust, we see how hurt Willow after Xander rejects her, Willow has her turn at a crappy romance (Xander has Mantis-teacher and Buffy has thrill-seeker, among many others to come), a lot of Giles’ character is revealed in his attitudes towards teaching and towards books vs. computers, we see Willow get defensive and stubborn when she gets in over her head (a pattern which she is doomed to repeat), and Buffy has prophetic dreams. I definitely think that while the final fights are corny and over-long, and the tech is too outdated, it’s just not that bad, when you weigh the pros and cons. I definitely think Teacher’s Pet and Inca Mummy Girl are worse — I still can’t bring myself to sit through the whole stupid Mummy one a second time! Neither of those episodes seems to contain as many tasty nuggets of character development and foreshadowing as this one does, despite its cheesy exterior.

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  51. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 22, 2012.]

    One thing to keep in perspective when reading these reviews is that first-time viewers are not my primary audience. My goal here is to look at how each episode fits in the season — and even series — as a whole. What lasting relevance does it have? Does is develop the characters in any meaningful, tangible way? Does is impact me emotionally?I agree that “I Robot” gets a few points thanks to Jenny, Giles, and that final scene, but it’s just not enough to say the episode didn’t completely fail at what it was trying to do. There’s minimal character relevance, and its attempt at a theme is abysmally executed (as is elaborated on in the review).This one goes beyond cheesy for me: the core of what it tries to do is really poor. Now, the same can be said for “Teacher’s Pet” (which I also gave an F). We’ll see about “Inca Mummy Girl” when I get there again, but at least that episode has some reasonably executed thematic relevance to lean on.So, I’ve still gotta disagree with you on this one. 🙂

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  52. [Note: Anne posted this comment on September 25, 2012.]

    You are definitely right on with the thematic relevance (or lack thereof)… all in all, I think I would have scored the episode several points higher than you chose to, but I *still* don’t know that I would have raised it out of the F range; certainly no higher than a D! I guess I feel like the B plot of Jenny’s introduction and the tech vs. text argument — which then extends beyond mundane learning to magic — was perfectly fine, though the A plot had *some* (not all, maybe 80%) bad dialogue, all bad effects, and *mostly* failed its theme. So part of me feels like it has to be at least a 50, because the secondary 50% of it was good? But it *does* make sense to put more weight on the episode’s primary plot, and it’s pretty sad that the theme gets picked up and then dropped on its head repeatedly.Thanks for your spirited reviews, and your comments! I’m very happy to have discovered this site — it’s *exactly* the kind of thoughtful commentary I always want to run and read after a Buffy or Angel re-watch!

    Like

  53. [Note: Anne posted this comment on September 29, 2012.]

    Aw, it got a point-lift! 😀 (Methinks all the other characters have Jenny and Giles to thank for this one…)

    Like

  54. [Note: Monica posted this comment on October 8, 2013.]

    I’ve discovered this to be my least favorite episode of either Buffy or Angel, surpassing “Go Fish,” “Teacher’s Pet”, “The Killer in Me,” WtWTA, “Provider,” “Life of the Party,” and “The Girl in Question.”

    Upon rewatch I realized just how abysmal this episode is. There are clichés abound, particularly with the nerds and Moloch himself. Nothing about the plot itself is redeemable, and it unfortunately doesn’t forward Willow in the slightest. Buffy is a character driven show but this episode seemed almost completely plot driven. It’s why episodes like “Teachers Pet” are better regarded in my mind, there’s campy fun to be had and some (even if a miniscule amount of) insight on Xander.

    Jenny Calendar, a character I love, and Giles, are actually the only positives I could think of.

    Oh, I want to specifically draw attention to the pacing. Never have I been so horribly bored with an episode of Buffy, just counting the seconds until it ends.

    Like

  55. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on March 7, 2014.]

    CONFESSION: Dave’s death affected me more than any other character’s up until Passion. I think it’s because it was so surprisingly subtle, especially for this point in the series. We only realize just what Moloch is typing when Dave does– then the camera tastefully cuts away, leaving us with a sense of impending doom. Show, don’t tell. Real nice of them to do that.

    Also, I feel like an idiot for not getting the joke behind Dave’s name.

    Like

  56. [Note: Spuffiness posted this comment on April 29, 2014.]

    I’d rather watch I Robot, You Jane a hundred times than watch most of the ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE Angel Season 4 episodes good lord. So yeah, plenty episodes to give this one a run for it’s money. Also, another of my least favorite Buffy episodes, Ted. Ugh. That one was downright cringe-worthy.

    Like

  57. [Note: david posted this comment on June 28, 2014.]

    ” Buffy trying to delete the “Willow” folder on the desktop, causing Moloch to literally growl the words “stay away from Willow” while suddenly rendering his pixelated face on the screen. Oh my.”

    I cackled out loud reading this. I completely forgot.

    Like

  58. [Note: noise posted this comment on August 30, 2014.]

    Hello all,
    This is my first comment ever (as I discovered this site only recently after finally watching the end of the series and being dismayed by the end of “End of days” and looking convulsively for other people’s opinions! After that, this site encouraged me to start re-watching Buffy since the start and reading these reviews and comments along) – Thanks for existing!!!

    First comment because I think the general feeling against ‘I Robot, You Jane’ is disproportionate. For me, it is in the average of season 1: not great but fun to watch. I mean if you were/are a cheerleader, a hyena lover or a circus freak, you might have hated the other episodes before/ after this one. They don’t necessarily always get the facts right in any of the episodes, so why take it so strongly when it is about computers? For one example, hyenas are mostly scavengers… I figured that Willow and the other geeks react in that way because even if Moloch is in the net, he still retains his seduction powers to get people idolizing him. Someone asked in one of the comments above: “but why do they have to picture these boys like that, when Jenny or Willow are depicted in a nicer way as geeks?” – well exactly! Not all computer lovers are represented badly. While we can’t say that about the cheer leading stuff: in the show, not one cheerleader redeems the others (not that I mind)!

    What I find interesting in the episode is that Moloch is the first demon of the whole series – before him, Buffy and cie fought vampires and witchcraft only (right?) – and Moloch is all about love.

    Like

  59. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on May 22, 2015.]

    [url=http://www.criticallytouched.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2306]I wrote a lot about this super underrated episode on the forum,[/url] but I’d just like to show how influential this episode really is.

    Mike mentioned that the black screen chat window is totally anachronistic, but I think there are two reasons for it. First, and most obviously, AIM and the like are copyrighted, and it’s pretty clear that Buffy S1 had no budget. But more relevantly– put your computer into sleep mode, and what do you see? Your own reflection. […] Moloch is no different– his trance is really a reflection.

    […]note that when Moloch begins typing the suicide note, the screen turns white, the only time Moloch’s words aren’t white-on-black in the entire episode. Fittingly, it’s the one time where his words aren’t reflections of the reader’s personality.

    So, the omnipresent dark screens in this episode represent the allure of technology, and technology as a reflection of ourselves? Interesting.

    Charlie Brooker, explaining the rationale behind the name of his critically acclaimed anthology series Black Mirror:

    The “black mirror” of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.

    “I Robot You Jane” influenced some of the greatest television of the current decade. No debating this.

    😉

    Like

  60. [Note: watcherangel666 posted this comment on July 8, 2015.]

    Not sure if someone has already said this or not but has anyone ever noticed that when moloch looks up buffy on the school records. on the desktop there is a file named ‘Buffy…. I Robot’ did they use someone who worked on the episodes PC to shoot this scene?

    Like

  61. [Note: Jewel posted this comment on September 7, 2015.]

    Eh, maybe I do dislike this one more than ‘Teacher’s Pet’ after all. Both episodes contain only a handful of redeeming moments, but I think TP had more.

    One weird thing I noticed this time that I’d never noticed before: Willow has a picture of herself with Giles hanging in her locker. Odd.

    Like

  62. [Note: Jewel posted this comment on September 8, 2015.]

    I possibly remember that… vaguely. But even so, I still think it’s weird Willow should have a picture of herself and the school librarian featured so heavily, yet none of her friends, especially given her crush on Xander.

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