Buffy 2×11: Ted

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Greenwalt and Joss Whedon | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 12/08/1997]

“Ted” is an odd episode. It’s thematically a bit scattered, but is structurally quite rigid; it covers some tough topics, but then abruptly recoils from them. The dreaded Reset Button is utilized here, which saps the life out the story’s big emotional beat. This means that all we’re left with is some admittedly solid Buffy character insight along with some thematic and functional setup for the future. It’s a bit of a jumble, but I’m going to try to sort it all out.

There are three clearly defined segments to explore here: (1) Buffy’s struggle to accept Ted’s intrusion into her home, (2) her overwhelming guilt over thinking she killed him, and (3) the reveal of Ted as a maniacal robot. Segments 1 and 2 are pretty compelling television, albeit a bit rushed considering their emotional gravity. Segment 3 doesn’t quite entirely negate the prior segments, but it does curb the episode’s emotional resonance and immediate relevance, taking the whole thing down a couple pegs. The earlier segments do at least leave some lasting echoes into the future, particularly into Season 3 (think “Bad Girls” [3×14] and “Consequences” [3×15]).

The best take-away from the first segment of “Ted” is being able grow even closer to Buffy and getting to know the character better. The insight we gain from her reaction to Ted’s forceful presence will become useful in the later seasons when Buffy begins to analyze why her relationships don’t seem to be working out the way she wants them to, and to test just how much jurisdiction the Slayer should have over human matters. It also helps inform her interaction with Giles, who will increasingly become a father figure to her.

If we go back to “Nightmares” [1×10] for a moment, recall that scene when her nightmare dad said all those nasty things about her. He said it was Buffy’s fault that her parents got divorced and added that “you’re sullen and… rude and… you’re not nearly as bright as I thought you were going to be.” This was all, of course, how Buffy felt about herself at the time in regard to the divorce and was what she had always worried was the reason for it all. None of that is particularly true, but it’s an honest sentiment from a girl who had recently lost her dad as an important figure in her life.

Divorce is often incredibly hurtful and destructive to children, and it statistically as well as intuitively doesn’t give them favorable odds for the success of their future relationships (among other things). With her dad gone, it’s all up to Joyce to both be a strong role model and help surround Buffy with them. Unfortunately for Buffy, Joyce often seems more thrilled with her gallery than she is with her daughter, and is often not even home. I’ve seen far worse mothers than Joyce, but it doesn’t change the fact that she rarely takes an active interest in really getting to know and raise her daughter. She can’t just be a parent after something’s gone wrong — it’s a full-time joy and sacrifice.

It’s with this background that Ted enters the picture at the beginning of the episode. The manner in which Buffy first meets Ted — kissing her mom within her own home, in what is an excellently executed and acted teaser — is utterly devastating. Buffy looks surprised, suspicious, and intimately hurt by seeing this, as she should. Bringing a man who is not Buffy’s father into her life needed to be something Joyce had some important talks with Buffy about well before it happened. Being a good parent involves a lot of sacrifice, not just financially but personally. Children have to come first because they are incredibly impressionable and absorb the example their parents set for them, whether consciously or subconsciously.

So for Joyce to say, “Buffy, I really want you to be okay with this,” is crushing. That statement is the very definition of selfish, putting an incredible burden on Buffy — her child — to be okay with something that is not okay. No wonder the scene cuts to Buffy taking out her pain by wailing on an unsuspecting vampire. I mean, Buffy’s secretly in the midst of her own struggle between mind and body regarding Angel, and here we have her mother essentially saying her own romantic desires trumps her daughter’s well being. No wonder Buffy essentially says ‘screw it’ and jumps into bed with Angel soon.

My instinct here is to rip into Joyce, but I really wonder just how responsible she is for her actions in “Ted”. After all, she was drugged! This is actually a major issue I have with the episode. Just how much agency do Joyce, Willow, and Xander have throughout this episode? Willow and Xander are fairly ancillary to the core story, so it’s not as big a deal, but it plays an important role in how we look at Joyce. I don’t think there’s a clear answer here, but I do think Joyce is still at least partially responsible for her behavior.

The lack of strong role models and parenting in Buffy’s life thus far is vital to understanding some of the struggles she will have in her relationships, and contributes to why she’s not able to say no an unsuitable boyfriend (especially at this age), like Angel. Xander even says, “I sometimes like things that are not good for me,” which is both true and a reflection of Buffy’s feelings for Angel. Unfortunately, the parental issues of neglect and guilt are only going to grow as Buffy learns the extent of her father’s indifference to having a daughter — a situation, like divorce itself, that’s far, far too common and normalized in American society today.

To Buffy’s credit, she shows far more restraint and selflessness than her mom in all of this. Buffy reasons that maybe she’s not being fair to Ted due to an understandable desire to have her dad return home. When Willow asks, “you don’t like him?”, Buffy fairly answers, “I don’t know him.” It takes some maturity to recognize this, even if it turns out Buffy was absolutely right about Ted. The scene where Buffy is venting about vampires and mini pizzas to Giles outside is a classic: “Uh, Buffy! I believe the subtext here is rapidly becoming text.” Feeling like an outsider in her own home, Buffy’s calling as the Slayer is suddenly a comfort in comparison. Thanks to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s rock solid performance, I really feel for Buffy throughout “Ted”.

That whole miniature golf scene is incredibly uncomfortable. John Ritter plays Ted in such a realistically disconcerting manner. Actually, both Ritter and Gellar turn in excellent performances throughout the episode. To see how quickly Ted can switch tone and demeanor is incredible. Some people can really change on a dime like that, and it’s super disconcerting. It’s why, shocking though it is, it didn’t surprise me when Buffy said she’d feel like killing herself if her mom married Ted. If all of those moments were uncomfortable, then the scene where Ted assaults Buffy in her room is even more freaky. Domestic abuse like this sadly really happens in some marriages, which marks one of the rare times the use of divorce should be encouraged. Buffy ends up wailing on Ted in retaliation but loses control of her anger and kicks him down the stairs to his apparent death. This is when “Ted” transitions into the second segment of the episode: Buffy’s guilt.

Within the scope of “Ted” itself, Buffy’s powerful reaction to thinking she killed Ted ends up being unimportant. Not only is Ted still “alive”, but he’s revealed to be a robot! It’s unfortunate how, in retrospect, this reveal takes the wind out of the powerful emotions and moving performance from Gellar. Moving beyond this notable flaw, though, there is fortunately still a bit of value to pull from how Buffy handles this situation. This comes in the form of setup for similar situations down the road that don’t end up getting retracted.

When the police investigator comes to Buffy’s house and questions Joyce about Ted’s “death”, a key thing happens: Buffy takes full responsibility for the event, despite Joyce trying to cover for her daughter by claiming it was an accident (one of the only nice things Joyce does in “Ted”). Buffy doesn’t shy away from the weight and the consequences of her actions, but rather faces it all head on. There’s no question that Buffy has grown tremendously as a person thanks to both Giles’ fatherly guidance and the inherent selflessness required to excel as the Slayer. The moral compass Buffy has is one of her best qualities. This will come to really pay off down the road when Faith comes to town and accidentally kills the deputy mayor.

“Ted” is the first episode to raise the question of just how much authority the Slayer should have. Does the role and its associated superpowers make slayers above human law, thus implying they’re better than regular humans? These are definitely questions that will surface again in Season 3. Here in “Ted”, there’s no debating that Buffy had every right to defend herself from Ted’s physical assault, but she went beyond that and unleashed the full brunt of slayer strength on him. Buffy ‘gets it’ when she tells her friends, “I’m the Slayer. I had no right to hit him like that.”

In having these superpowers Buffy must be held to a higher standard, which brings us back to the season’s thematic undercurrent of individual restraint, personal responsibility, and consequences — all important things to learn about and embrace during adolescence. We’ll see these themes reiterated in “Bad Eggs” [2×12], but in the very different context of sexual relations. The latter part of Season 2 will bring these underlying themes into the light as well, particularly the consequences of not showing responsibility and restraint.

The wisdom Buffy gains through experiences like these will form the basis of what kind of person she is and what her moral center will always be. It’s why she’ll become known for refusing to kill humans unless she’s truly left with no alterative to defend her family and friends. This will become very relevant not only with Faith in Season 3, but also with Ben in Season 5, Warren in Season 6, and even in leading the Potentials in Season 7, among other individual moments such as dealing with killing “Katrina” in “Dead Things” [6×13] and how to handle Anya in “Selfless” [7×05]. The ground explored by “Ted” does provide some solid character insight about Buffy. It’s just unfortunate that this information doesn’t really pay off much in the short term.

This brings us to the letdown of a reveal that Ted was just a robot. On one hand, it’s nice that this fits right into the idea introduced through Janus in “Halloween” [2×06] of people sometimes having two faces — one they show on the surface, and a scarier one that lurks in dark corners. I also fully get that this season isn’t and shouldn’t be about Buffy having to deal with killing a human being and its associated fallout. On the other hand, if Whedon’s going to go there, he’s got to offer follow-through. I appreciate the long-term insight we gain through this whole ordeal, but the lack of emotional resonance will never feel anything but unsatisfactory.

“Ted” is constructed in that annoying way most procedurals are: build up an emotional situation that gets you invested in the story, then hit the Reset Button before things get too hairy so we can forget about everything in the next episode. The entire end of the episode comprises a rote fight sequence that ties everything in a neat little bow. It’s frustrating! I expect more from Buffy, particularly from Whedon himself, who co-wrote “Ted” with David Greenwalt.

The one non-Buffy thread in “Ted” involves Giles and Jenny reconnecting. It’s pretty much shoved into the background of the episode and also comes together a little too neatly, but it’s a nice development overall. It showcases two adults that are maturely working through their reservations and developing their relationship at a more nuanced pace, which continues to provide a nice contrast to the kids’ relationships. It’s also great to see the fallout from Jenny’s traumatic experience in “The Dark Age” [2×08] continue to linger.

It’s excruciating to summarize my feelings about “Ted”. There are aspects of it that really succeed, such as the performances, bits of thematic relevance, and long-term character insight, but it’s equally frustrating in its inability to offer an emotionally satisfying conclusion, instead only amounting to a huge cop out. The insight “Ted” offers doesn’t propel any character arcs forward, and is mostly interesting only when considering later seasons. By mixing the pros and cons together, it’s clear that “Ted” is an overall mediocre episode, but an unusual and colorful one at that.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ I’m guessing the Captain and Tennille discussion might have something to do with the power shift between Spike and Drusilla, but that’s pure speculation.
+ Buffy, Willow, and Xander all casually referencing the events of “What’s My Line? Pt. 2” [2×10]: Spike and Drusilla seemingly finished off, and the assassins’ contract on Buffy being scrapped. I love this kind of continuity!
+ Buffy enjoying a moment of happy non-thoughts. Non-thoughts can be quite nice, rare as they might be.
+ Xander learning from his jinx in “School Hard” [2×03] by at least admitting he might have just done it again. Such fun, casual continuity.
+ Willow squealing over Ted hooking her up with a free computer upgrade.
+ All the early subtle references to Ted being a robot, like “we call him The Machine” and “I think every house should have one of you.”
+ Ted having folded Buffy out of a photo of her and Joyce is nice and creepy.
+ Ted threatens to put Buffy in a mental institution for her diary writings about slaying. “Normal Again” [6×17], anyone?
+ The Overalls of Shame make an appearance!
+ Willow being such a friend and helping Buffy find out more about Ted. Xander, on the other hand, is too busy making out with Cordelia in utility rooms.
+ Giles sticking a cross in Jenny’s face, to which she responds, “yeah, I get the response from men all that time.”
+ Great make-up for Ted when Buffy whacks him in the head.

– It was totally douchey of Xander to force Buffy into going to the miniature golf event with Ted. I’m just not sure how much he was being influenced by Ted’s drugs.
– Oh, Joyce. Ted’s all faux religious and now suddenly you’re all into praying at the table. Must be the drugs.
– Buffy getting knocked out way too easily again.


Foreshadowing

* Willow keeping some of Ted’s parts briefly ties her to into the episode’s themes. She claims, “I just wanna learn stuff!” Oh, Willow. Just wait until you start thinking that way with magic. Self-control, self-control!


[Score]

77/100

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70 thoughts on “Buffy 2×11: Ted”

  1. [Note: Latoya posted this comment on May 1, 2007.]

    “He’s a clean clown.” I don’t know why but I was laughing just as much as Willow when she said that. I’m smiling while I write. 🙂

    Knowing that Buffy’s parents put her in a mental institution for 3 weeks against her will simply for being a vampire slayer makes that bedroom scene with Buffy and Ted so much more believable and sad for Buffy. He threatened to tell her mom that she was writing about being a slayer in her diary and basically telling her that her mom will think she is crazy and put her away. That must have terrified her so much. The thought that she might go back or that she would have to relive the memory of what her parents, her mom, did to her.

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  2. [Note: MrB posted this comment on May 13, 2007.]

    I agree with you on the cheat. It felt like that in first run. They killed a “guy” , then the basically said “only kidding.”

    It seemed like they weren’t *quite* ready to do the dark stuff completely yet. Like with “Lie to Me” and “Dark Ages”, they were still playing around the edges with this, and not dealing with it head on. That would change, though, wouldn’t it?

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  3. [Note: Barbara posted this comment on July 9, 2007.]

    I remember watching this for the first time and crying along with Buffy because she thought she had killed a man. It was during the police interrogation and also the scene with her, Xander and Willow in school. Also the one when Joyce didn’t want to talk about it.

    Anyway, even though Ted was a machine, I don’t see how it doesn’t creat an even bigger gap in the mom and daughter relationship. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but if my mom was going out with someone and he threatened to hit me and I told my mom and she didn’t believe me that would put a serious dent in our relationship. Maybe it was because Buffy knew she was being drugged, I don’t know.

    Also, I think the reason he was able to knock her out is either one of two reasons…or it could be both. If you watch closely Buffy hadn’t been eating anything because she didn’t want to eat anything Ted had cooked. And if you remember when she finds her mom dead and then at the hospital with Dawn and the vampire, she had a hard time fighting, because she was tired and had been grieving. Buffy was definitly grieving in this episode.

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  4. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 10, 2007.]

    Re: Buffy getting knocked out by Ted. Ted’s a robot. It’s not necessarily valid to assume that he’s no stronger than a human man of the same size. He hadn’t demonstrated any extraordinary strength previously, but he hadn’t needed to. Both April (I Was Made To Love You) and the Buffybot were as strong as or stronger than Buffy herself.

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  5. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 10, 2007.]

    Re: that cheating plot. There’s no getting around the fact that the revelation that Ted is a robot, and therefore Buffy didn’t really kill anybody, feels like a copout. But it’s a tricky situation. I think they were right to raise the issue of how dangerous a Slayer can be and how bad things can get if she lets her temper get the better of her. But, as others have pointed out, it would practically have had to be the season arc (and a real bummer of a season arc) if they had gone through with it and let real human Ted be really dead.

    There’s no way they could have handled a story twist like that in a single episode, or even a two-parter. Frankly, I’m not sure it could ever have been redeemed at all. Faith ultimately had to go to jail for a couple of years, although she did kill an additional person (two, if you count the Box of Gavrok courier). Wouldn’t the rest of BTVS have been about Buffy’s atonement – kind of like Angel (the series)? Is that what we wanted?

    So then, should they have done it at all? Should they have raised the issue? I think it was important that they did. The problem I have with When She Was Bad is that they hinted around at how bad a reckless, selfish, self-indulgent slayer might be without really showing us what they meant. Ted showed us what they meant. And it gave Buffy something important to think about, another reason to behave herself besides staying in the good graces of Giles and her mother and keeping her student record clean (increasingly hopeless under the reign of Snyder).

    Of course they addressed all these issues in Season Three with Faith. But I think that would have been an awful cop-out too, if Buffy had never got her hands dirty at all. If it had been as simple as good-Slayer, bad-Slayer. I was constantly reminded of Ted throughout the Season Three Faith arc.

    Some have complained that Buffy should have told Faith about Ted, and she should have, but I don’t think it’s a writing gaffe that she didn’t. I think Buffy was never quite willing to lower herself that much in her relationship with Faith. She held that back, for reasons that changed as her relationship with Faith changed. I always felt that that omission in particular was a big part of the sense she had and we had that she had failed Faith, that she had let her go bad when she might have done more to stop it. Of course, that’s all subtext, but I think it’s there nevertheless. YMMV.

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

    I am unsure of how they would have handled it if Ted had really been killed. Giles seems ready to forgive Buffy on account that the slayer does so much fighting that there is sure to be an accident sooner or later, and the council would no doubt have been void of any objections. The rest of the characters confound me, I find it interesting that Joyce is ready to defend Buffy from that law, evern after she killed her boyfriend.

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  7. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 13, 2007.]

    What realy gets me in this episode is the fact that Joyce doesn´t believe Buffy (her own daughter). Sure she was being drugged but still, that hurts Buffy a lot. Believing in Ted and not her daughter is really sad and a little unnerving.

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  8. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 6, 2007.]

    Likewise, when I first watched this episode I felt gypped by the 4th act (when it’s revealed that Ted’s a robot). It felt like (and was) a copout for the drama that was going on.

    But, LibMax brings up very good reasons why it had to be done that way. This was supposed to be a one-off episode. They obviously wanted to tiptoe in and explore some of these deeper issues without having to deal with the aftermath throughout the rest of the season (probably for the best).

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

    The main reason this episode falls flat for me, and the entire Faith season 3 storyline never really pulls me in is the writers inability to follow their own rules. They make all these speeches in commentaries and interviews about how their heroes never kill humans without facing consequences. Yet in episodes before this Buffy has killed a human, she will kill humans later on, Willow kills a human, as does Giles, and so does Angel (while still with a soul). They all kill humans and face little to no consequences for their actions, yet all of a sudden here and in season 3 with Faith we are supposed to completely forget about all of those instances and buy that this is such a serious transgression. The writers are usually great, but in regards to this issue they dropped the ball completely, in many instances.

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

    Buffy killed the zoo keeper in The Pack, and this was just glossed over. Whether he was possessed by an animal spirit or not is inconsequential, because he was still a human and Buffy threw him into the hyena cage where he was killed. Yes, the Hyena’s may have killed him, but it was Buffy’s actions that led to his death. There were further instances post-Ted, and I will revisit this topic when I get to those because I can’t remember the specifics of those cases, but as I am currently mid-season 2 I will talk about them when I get to them.

    Whether or not the actions of the characters fits their characters is not the point. The writers early on established the thematic that the heroes don’t take human life without their being some sort of serious consequence. Consequences are the key, they crafted an entire storyline about one character needing to face the consequences for killing a human, yet in all other instances they gloss over and the hero characters face zero consequences whatsoever. Willow would be the perfect example, because trying to stop her from committing the act has nothing to do with her facing consequences for when she actually finishes the act.

    I agree about the writers opinions not being the end all and be all, I am very much of the “interpretation of the art is all that matters” mindset. But, in this case I believe the writers comments combined with the very clear thematic they put forth during the show are inconsistent with what we actually see on screen.

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  11. [Note: kitty posted this comment on July 24, 2008.]

    I agree with Bill that Buffy did throw the zookeeper to hyena cage, there was no way he could have survived and Buffy knew it when she was throwing him to that direction. The zookeeper was a bad guy (and possessed) but still a guy. He shouldn’t have been thrown to the hyena cage, he should have been knocked unconcious. Buffy didn’t even contemplate on that afterwards, don’t you think she should have?
    On regards of Ted – I agree with those who think it would have been “overkill” to make him human. Buffy would have had to deal with this the rest of S2 (and onwards). But what I think is that this period where she thought she really had killed a human with her slayer force would have had to make her contemplate on the issue and maybe have some impact on how she treated Faith.
    And when we compare The Pack with Ted there there is certain inconsistency here. She shouldn’t have thrown the zookeeper to the hyena cage or she should have addressed the issue afterwards.

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  12. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on February 12, 2009.]

    @Latoya:

    I don’t think, at this point, that Buffy HAD been in an asylum. That is something I believe only happened after Dawn. All of her memories after Dawn were either tweaked to include Dawn, or made up completely. And, personally, I think the asylum thing was one that was one of the latter…

    (seeing how long ago Latoya made that comment, she probably won’t ever read this, but meh. I wanted to say it. haha)

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  13. [Note: Emily posted this comment on February 17, 2009.]

    Leelu, I think that even though the memory was tweaked (not necessarily because of Dawn, but just because the writers stuck it in), it still fits this plot where Buffy freaks out when Ted threatens to tell Joyce about the diary. There’s continuity even without the writers realizing it, which is kinda cool.

    I think it’s a little odd that Joyce didn’t believe Buffy about Ted’s threat. Also, no policeman would ever say, “It doesn’t look like he hit you very hard,” would they? Once a kid cries abuse, then how could he question that? Sometimes there is no physical evidence, so I find that this line was unrealistic and only further annoyed me in terms of no one believing Buffy. (And the cop didn’t even have the drugged cookies to blame it on!)

    I just wanted to point out how well they did the part where Buffy hit him with the skillet- it’s like killing a warrior with his own sword lol. Meaning she didn’t hit him with a lamp or a chair, but specifically with a skillet, which is his tool.

    There’s a foreshadow here, where Buffy tells Willow, “Please tell me you didn’t keep any parts.” Willow ends up doing the same thing with the BuffyBot, and it ends up saving them all.

    All in all, I’m not a fan of this episode, except for the parts without Ted, like Giles and Jenny patrolling, the gang looking for clues on their own, stuff like that. (And of course, the part with Angel, but that’s a given.)

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  14. [Note: durun posted this comment on February 19, 2009.]

    For what it’s worth, there is a Buffy comic (included in the first Omnibus) showing her (pre-Dawn) time in an asylum. The issue is set between the events in the movie and the start of Season 1.

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  15. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    Frankly, I love this episode. It’s a brilliant, witty riff on children’s fears of their single parent finding someone new in their life to make them happy. Kids sometimes feel like either they are getting replaced or their other parent is, and it makes them unhappy. Rightfully so, too. They don’t necessarily feel so welcoming of this stranger as suddenly being part of the family. So the revelation that Ted is actually a robot ends up being hilarious. It’s just another ingenious way Joss Whedon comments on kids’ inability to understand complicated adult relationships.

    Oh, and considering how much Buffy suffers over the course of the series, I don’t mind the fact that she occasionally gets let off the hook–in fact, it’s kind of a relief–and in this case it turned out not to be a mistake at all.

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  16. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    I’ve got that Omnibus, and I thought they mentioned Dawn in the asylum story, but I could be confusing it with bits of “Normal Again.” I’ll have to re-read it.

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  17. [Note: Nix posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    One question. Ted refers to a perfect way of making pizza: ‘… after you bake it you fry it in herbs and olive oil’. *Fry* it? Frying a *pizza*? Is this appalling idea just because he’s an evil robot, or are US pizzas really fried?

    (If so, wow, no wonder there’s an epidemic of obesity. Not even in the UK, renowned for crimes against cookery the world over, do we do that.)

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  18. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    I gotta say, I’ve lived in the US for my whole life, and I’ve never seen a fried pizza. Probably for the best… 😀

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  19. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 6, 2009.]

    This episode in about the only time I didn’t like Joyce. I know she was hurting because her boyfriend got killed by her daughter (though exactly how long had they been dating? It couldn’t have been too very long or Buffy would have noticed something so just how attached could she have been to him?) but her daughter, the one who accidentally killed him was suffering, too, and she had no time to comfort her. That was just more selfish than I could believe of Joyce.

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  20. [Note: Tash posted this comment on August 4, 2009.]

    I think this was the best way to end this episode. Season 2 of Buffy was nowhere near ready for the various issues she would have had to deal with if Ted had been real. For starters – Buffy killing her mother’s boyfriend? We would never have had ‘The Gift’ episode – because the mother/daugther dynamic would have been radically changed.

    Also for a guy – you do extremely well in these reviews about a female heroine.

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  21. [Note: faith’sboytoy posted this comment on April 25, 2010.]

    Although I’m extremely late to the party I feel a need to defend Joyce against some of the above comments.

    From the outside looking in Buffy is a hardcore juvenile delinquent . She is always getting into fights, always skipping class, always sneaking out her room to hangout all hours of the night and she set her previous school on fire. It is hardly a stretch to think that a girl like this would lie to break up her mother and her new boyfriend.

    And I would need some time to process if had to deal with a seriously violence prone daughter who had just accidently killed my boyfriend.

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  22. [Note: Lauren posted this comment on April 29, 2010.]

    It can be INCREDIBLY frustrating to listen to Joyce complain about Buffy as a daughter because she doesn’t understand. However, Joyce handles Buffy’s secret the complete wrong way (first the insane asylum and then kicking her out). Up until this point though, you cannot blame her for being wary of the junvenile deliquent violence prone duaghter.

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  23. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 14, 2010.]

    “Suprise/Innocence” had better be worth it. This is my first time watching the show, and while there have been a few solid to good episodes (“Angel”, “School Hard”, “Lie to Me”, etc..), there have been even more dreadful ones (“Inca Mummy Girl”, “Teacher’s Pet”, “The Pack”, and so on). Keeping my fingers crossed!

    As for this one, what a dreadful ending after such a great build-up.

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  24. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 13, 2010.]

    R.I.P John Ritter.

    The Good:

    John Ritter playing against character as a violent, yet chirpy robot.

    Mini-Golf. Buffy in that cleavage-y leopard top. Ted a little upset with Buffy cheating.

    Xander, Willow and Cordelia working together.

    Buffy fighting Tedbot because he slapped her.

    Tedbot’s own form of hash cookies.

    The Bad:

    During ‘When She Was Bad’ it is mentioned there is no miniature golf course.

    Everyone in the school looking at Buffy as if she is a killer. How do they know anything?

    Tedbot is so, so, so far advanced from the future Buffybot. It can do everything.

    The copout of Tedbot being a robot is similar to the extreme copout of having Wesley kill his father in ‘Linage’ and not be real.

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

    I really don’t agree Ted being revealed as an evil robot at the end to be a cop-out. Buffy didn’t know this when she “killed” him, no one did, and she suffered the same guilt and isolation she would have had she really killed a human being. While it was definitely a relief to find out Ted was a robot, she still experienced what it would be like to kill a human and the experience remained with her.

    I also agree with many of the posters here that the show just wasn’t ready to delve into the consequences of Buffy killing a human for real yet, and that it would take more than one episode to do so.

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  26. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on September 21, 2010.]

    77? Wow. Count me in the Nope camp.

    The good –

    Willow-Oz (that Ozzie is so sweet and cute)

    Giles – Jenny

    Buffy – Joyce, sorta

    The bad –

    Buffy – Joyce wasn’t terribly deep or interesting, more of the usual really

    Cordelia – Xander, not credible

    Ted wasn’t very compelling

    The plot holes were too large for even me, Mr. Tolerant, to accept

    On the latter. Ted builds his own Terminator. This is Hellmouth, not “Enchanted Technology Land.” Then Ted beats Buffy senseless, But can’t spend 5 seconds while in a locked room to break her neck and finish the job. Instead, he lets her wake up and kill him. Holy Batman, that’s stupid Ted. Oh and of course he wanders around the house waiting to get brained. Not that he he has any brains, apparently.

    Then there’s the cops. That’s the worst of all. Faux realistic. So … what? Buffy hauls off the Ted body, says “hey see it’s a robot I’m innocent” to the police, then the whole matter is all squared away? Meanwhile Joyce sleeps through everything and wakes up, the cops don’t even need to talk with her? So that she never figures out that Ted was not a man? Yeah. Sure.

    I won’t even go into the school thing. The Sad Overalls was so over the top it was kinda fun, though.

    Blech. I’d rather watch Ms. French.

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  27. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on September 21, 2010.]

    I really liked this episode. Like you say, mikejer, it could’ve had the potential to be a lot better (like one of the best eps of the season), but my reasoning is different to your own. I actually don’t have any problem with Ted being a robot. It’s foreshadowed by his OTT-nice behaviour. And I still found the Buffy-killed-a-human aspect of the episode effective despite the robot subplot. It’s good that the writers delved into this idea early in the series. I can see why they wouldn’t want Buffy to have *actually* killed a human given the stage in her life she was at.

    What I didn’t like is how Xander explains the entire plot in a matter of five seconds .. it was lazy writing, and didn’t really make sense. And Ted was sooo easily defeated. With a friggin pan? Lame! I heard the scene was supposed to be longer originally but Sarah was sick or something.

    I agree with the 80 rating. Find this episode underrated for the most part.

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  28. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on February 19, 2011.]

    The first thing that I thought about when Buffy was beating up the vampire rather than trying to stake him was Faith as well. It’s a great parallel. It could have been great to see even more parallels if Buffy had actually killed a person. The way Buffy dealt with it could have been directly compared to Faith. I would suspect that Buffy would embrace the notion that she did something wrong and her friends, Giles, mother, and Angel would all have helped her through it. While Faith acted like it wasn’t her fault and shunned responsibility. She had no one to support her so she turned to evil. It would have been a great comparison — if only.

    It’s funny because Buffy has always been a show about taking risks, some that work and some that might not, but it seems like they were hesitant in this episode and didn’t want to “go there” at this point in time with a heroine that killed a human. I’m glad that they went to much darker places later in the seasons.

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  29. [Note: Lead posted this comment on June 12, 2011.]

    It’s pretty forgivable here to reveal Ted as a robot, in my opinion, because the show simply had not reached that level of seriousness yet. As someone else said, there was no foundation for it. It was enough that Buffy *thought* she had committed a murder (however justified). Also, it was a stand-alone episode with no precedent for expecting something seriously life-changing.

    *Mild spoilers for Angel Season Five*

    Contrast this to AtS Season Five, in “Lineage,” when they pull the same stunt AGAIN. This was much more of a cop-out. The show’s writers had been gradually building up the awful father/son relationship between Wesley and his dad for several seasons. By the time you hear that Wesley’s dad has come to Wolfram and Hart you know something big is going to go down. Also, considering how important a character moment it was, making Wesley’s dad a machine was way less forgivable.

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  30. [Note: Dana posted this comment on June 12, 2011.]

    @Lead

    I agree with you… this series was slightly less adult at this time, and killing a human would have been a little over the top for the beginning of season 2. However you were right about Angle, that moment between Wes and his father was huge and all of a sudden depressing. At least they could have created some arch to go with those lame ninja robots!

    *Season 3 Buffy spoiler*

    On a side note, I believe that later on in Buffy, when Faith killed the mayors confident, Buffy should have been WAY more sypatheic to Faith after having dealt with this whole Ted thing.

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  31. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 14, 2011.]

    Looking retrospectively, this episode was always one of my naughty hidden favourites of the season. What strikes me about this episode is the realness of it, the circumstance of a father figure is a common trope. The show goes so far as to suggest that Ted could be a violent and forceful man to begin with. The truth of what he is comes towards the end of the episode but not before Buffy believes that she has killed him. Attacking a human for Buffy is a big no no at least not at full slayer strength as its notable in other episodes that she uses force sometimes to defend weaker students or people.

    What we get from this incident is some great character depth and growth from Buffy, admitting what she has done sums up Buffy’s view and what Ted says ‘whats right is right’ foreshadows this. During her questioning at the police station we see Buffy’s response to death for the first time, she caused it. At this point Buffy isn’t the slayer, this is one of the rare moments we see Buffy get what she wants, a separate life from the Slayer only it isn’t exactly what she wanted. We see a scared vulnerable girl who acted out of bad judgment in self defence. This produced for an amazing stand alone episode. It is my opinion that Buffy’s true grief is the miss use of her powers instead of the death of Ted.

    This foreshadows events regarding Faith in Bad Girls, she acted on instinct. The situation made it clear that it wasn’t her fault. Giles confirms this when he says that allowances are made; a slayer in battle vampires encroaching, things happen. We don’t see Faith following Buffy’s footsteps until she heads to LA.

    Buffy was suspicious of Ted from the start, following the incident at mini golf, these are shown to founded when Ted returns. This doesn’t come to light until we have seen some amazing acting from SMG; her belief that she killed a man, the effect and strain it has on her relationship with her mother and the whispers and looks she gets from school. Even her friends believe at first that Ted was a demon, Xander asks ‘so what was he?’

    They rally together to show Buffy isn’t a murderer, which luckily with some investigation via the computer (one machine trumps another haha!) proves that Ted himself had a few skeletons in the closet.

    Once Ted resurfaces the show takes a leaf out of the Buffy blue print and it becomes monster of week.

    Bottom Line; Great episode with some nice moments between Giles and Jenny too.

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  32. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 14, 2011.]

    I forgot to mention the foreshadowing in this episode; Robo Ted is the seed for Buffy bot and Amber in IWMTLY.

    Buffy helping Angel Graduation Day pt 1.

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  33. [Note: JustJenna posted this comment on March 14, 2012.]

    @John Roberts

    In regards to your comments about the cops and the stupidity of how things ended, I figured that when Xander, Willow, and Cordelia showed the police the lair they found, with the dead bodies of Ted’s ex-wives, that Buffy was off-the-hook in terms of the murder charge. She had no need to drag the robot to the cops to prove her innocence because they already believed her self defense claim and closed the case. I figured she and the Scoobies disposed of the robot before Joyce woke up. I’m sure the police wondered about the missing “body” but there was nothing to link Buffy to it’s disappearance. I assume any further questioning from the police happened off screen.

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  34. [Note: Alex posted this comment on March 15, 2012.]

    I assumed the police/doctors had seen Ted get up from the morgue table and walk away (I figured Ted was actually telling the truth there), so although they would have been very confused I don’t think they would have had to question Buffy any further. But in general, I always felt like we had to suspend our disbelief a little bit when it came to the Scooby Gang’s dealing with the law. I felt the same way about “Passion” – I couldn’t really believe Giles would get off so lightly when Jenny showed up dead in his bed. But I’m sure nobody would have wanted to see him getting questioned for hours and hours so I didn’t really mind that they skipped over that detail.

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  35. [Note: Ben posted this comment on August 23, 2012.]

    I agree that it is disappointing they make him some sort of psycho robot. But saying that, this would indeed have had to span part of the seasons arc, and it just wouldn’t have fit.

    Picture squeezing in Buffy’s atonement, her distrust of her own powers, her mum never looking at her the same again, her dealing with being a full on murderer, hell even the Council probably getting involved… with Angel loosing his soul. It just wouldn’t have worked.

    Had this episode come later in the series, with the Angelus arc not literally about to start, I can imagine them tackling the gruesome reality of her killing a human being, albeit an evil one. This is an issue that did seem to annoy me both in Buffy and Angel… there is severe Demon Racism! With humans, no matter how bad they are, Buffy cannot touch them. With demons, they have to really prove that they are good, otherwise they are first for the chop. Does seem to be really black and white in the world of a slayer.

    A good episode by itself, but yeah nothing special. The arc stemming from it really couldn’t have worked in any Buffy season. You get to season 3 and we already have an unstable slayer. Get to 4 and 5 and Buffy is a grown woman and not dependent on her mother. Past 5, obviously, Joyce is no longer around.

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  36. [Note: Alex posted this comment on August 23, 2012.]

    Ben, that’s true on BtVS, but I think that AtS takes a much less black-and-white approach when it comes to demons vs. humans. There are plenty of good demons (e.g. Lorne, Doyle) and plenty of evil humans (e.g. a good number of Wolfram & Hart’s lawyers and clients), and plenty of shades of grey in between on both sides. Indeed, that’s the whole theme of the episode ‘That Old Gang of Mine’, even though it’s done in a kind of ham-fisted way.

    In the later seasons of Buffy we do get characters like Clem, a ‘good’ demon, but on the whole I think Buffy is much more simplistic about this theme than Angel. I think it’s approached in a much more interesting, mature and thought-provoking way in Angel, even though I generally prefer Buffy over Angel.

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  37. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on August 23, 2012.]

    Not so sure i agree with regards to the statement/opinion above on the subject of the simplistic black and white world of good and evil in Buffy.

    While i agree that the first few seasons of BtVS don;t explore the concept of grey areas and focus primarily on good v bad but later on it does begin to dissolve these straight boarders consider Faith? Spike himself begins to delve into grey waters; forced to be good through having a government implanted chip in his brain and then his love for Buffy. Even Dawn, she is mortal and not evil but energy that could be used for evil…grey area to me. In season 7, episode Showtime we see Anya and Giles seek out a demon who opens a portal, he owns a business and doesn’t seem to be outwardly evil. Shoot back to season 3 and enemies, the demon who wants to sell the books of accession he just wanted cash.

    I guess everyone has an opinion and Angel as a show does go into more detail because the show had a different message than BtVS i merely wanted to put across my point of view

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  38. [Note: Alex posted this comment on August 24, 2012.]

    Gemma, I’m not saying that Buffy doesn’t have shades of grey when it comes to good and evil (it wouldn’t be the amazing show it is, otherwise), but I still think the ‘demon racism’ thing that Ben mentioned is much more prevalent on Buffy than on Angel.

    That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions, of course, but generally Buffy’s rule seems to be that most demons are fair game (if she sees a demon, she doesn’t usually stop to interrogate it and make sure it’s definitely a really evil demon before she fights it). Humans, on the other hand are usually (but not absolutely always) off limits, even if they’re evil scumbags. That rule doesn’t seem to apply in Angel, which has plenty of harmless demons who are free to go about their business, and several cases of humans getting killed who quite frankly had it coming.

    But my main point, which I’m not sure I made very well, was just to counter what Ben said about ‘demon racism’ being a problem in both Buffy and Angel. I’m saying that while I can see how you could think that about Buffy, I really don’t think you can say the same about Angel.

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  39. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on August 24, 2012.]

    Alex, i understand your point and which i think i did misunderstand originally, i agree with you that you could say there is a possibility of demon racism in Buffy, as faith pointed out a demons a demon. In angel though, i agree you can’t say the same. Look at the episode Hero with Doyle saving those other halfbreed demons. Also Lorne!

    I apologise for not understanding before 🙂

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  40. [Note: Ann posted this comment on October 24, 2012.]

    I think that Buffy is just as thought-provoking as Angel when it comes to the treatment of demons. If anything I think Angel takes it too far (they acted as if Gunn was racist for thinking it was okay to kill a demon that eats babies). Buffy quit the WC when they wouldn’t help Angel simply because he was a vampire, she slept with two vampires, one of which was soulless. She was the bridesmaid of an ex demon at a wedding in which half the guest list were demons, she never raided Willy’s place, she tried to get Riley to understand that every demon was different and that there were varying degrees of evil, she spent 8 hours talking to soulless Holden and even said “you’re not a stranger” (she staked him out of shock of finding out souled Spike was siring), she delayed going after Anya for many months after finding out she was a vengeance demon again, she was polite to the loan shark, she defended werewolves to Cain and completely accepted Oz, she was okay with Clem and even let him babysit her sister, she fought alongside soulless vampires (the Gorch brothers, Spike), etc. If she kills a demon it is usually because said demon just tried to kill her or killed someone else. Buffy has never been close to black and white and has always asked questions and wanted to know the whole story about something (which The Initiative & the Watchers Council definitely frowned on). Yes, Buffy didn’t want to be a vampire (Nightmares), have an aspect of the demon (Earshot), or possibly be less human (Smashed) but that was from the fact that she already is less human. She already has the essence of a demon in her from being the Slayer. Even before she knew exactly how the Slayer line was created (GID) she still felt all of the demonic aspects of it. Some might even say that Slayers have more demon in them than vampires or that a Slayer is like a souled vampire but with stronger abilities. She felt like it was a struggle to hold onto the human part of her, as if the Slayer part was taking over. If she added in yet another demon part than she feared the human part really would disappear. She already had bloodlust, precognition, slight clairvoyance, violent memories of women throughout history, and all of the superpowers like eccelerated healing, reflexes, speed, endurance, strength, and durability. Buffy did show a lot of sympathy for Faith when she accidentally killed Finch. However, Faith did NOT want Buffy’s sympathy because she saw it as pity. She didn’t want to seem even more inferior to Buffy. Nobody blamed Faith for Finch’s death. It was Faith’s lack of outward remorse, lying to Giles and blaming it on Buffy, strangling Xander nearly to death, etc, that they started to lose sympathy for Faith. Buffy yelled at Wesley for getting the WC men involved, told Angel she wasn’t giving up on Faith, and wanted to see it as a pro-Faith sign that Faith didn’t just run and leave Trick to killing Buffy (even though the reason he was almost able to was that Buffy pushed Faith out of the way of the falling crates and got crushed by them instead).

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  41. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 16, 2012.]

    I think this episode also highlights how eager Xander is to have a normal family. He’s usually very suspicious of the males in Buffy’s life but was very accepting of father Ted who wanted to make him pizza and cookies. Of course, he turns the corner into suspicious Xander mode after the killing but he didn’t like playing surrogate brother role for a “perfect” family for a little while there.I call those Buffy’s “feeling-sorry-for-herself” overalls. She loves to shuffle around in them, sadly.Also, how did they explain Ted’s disappearance? I guess Joyce was happy just to have him leave after he got creepy.The end of cute.

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  42. [Note: JessP posted this comment on January 23, 2013.]

    I realize I’m about four years too late, but I have to chime in that I think BtVS is much more consistent about the killing of humans than Bill’s comment recognizes. It’s not because Faith killed a human that she was labeled “bad” and rejected by the Scoobies — it was the fact that she was unable to acknowledge her culpability. This is the true difference between Faith and Buffy. Faith felt that she was above the law — literally better than others — and therefore rejected any responsibility for her crimes. Without responsibility, there can be no true remorse (Faith literally says “I don’t care.”) Buffy, in contrast, embraced her responsibility with no hesitation (she admits to the police IMMEDIATELY that she pushed Ted down the stairs). Buffy is devastated and remorseful because she accepts responsibility for her power and her actions.Giles is a slightly different case, with the killing of Ben, but I also think that was completely in character. Giles never drew the moral line that Buffy drew, and he was always willing to do the practical, necessary dirty work. He even says this in “The Gift” (forgive me if the quote is not exact) before killing Ben, something like, “Buffy’s a hero, she’s not like us.” Giles is acknowledging that Buffy holds herself to a higher standard, and in fact, she should — as someone with slayer powers, she has an obligation to regular people to not exploit those powers — essentially, to use them only to fight demons and keep them out of normal human affairs, where they have no place. Faith, of course, rejects that idea as well.As for Willow and Anya, who both killed humans, they both also accepted responsibility for what they did and accepted the consequences of that responsibility. Willow goes to England and she says to Giles “When you brought me here… I thought it was to kill me. Or lock me in some mystical dungeon for all eternity, or with the torture…” And Anya offers herself to D’Hoffryn in exchange for the lives of the boys she killed. They both felt real remorse and accepted responsibility COMPLETELY for what they did, just as Buffy did in Ted. And it wasn’t until Faith helped Angel, went to jail, and otherwise strove to atone for her crimes was she able to redeem herself, and join Buffy at the end of season 7. This is a very long-winded way of saying I think the writers have been very consistent on this issue. The characters are imperfect, they make mistakes, they hurt people — but what’s important is that they know the value of every single human life (even Warren’s) and accept the consequences for ending that life. (As a side note, does anyone wonder whatever happened to the worm guy in Beneath You after he gets stabbed? I always felt bad for him).I will just conclude by saying LibMax’s point is spot on and beautifully expressed.

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  43. [Note: Gon posted this comment on March 5, 2013.]

    I agree with MikeJer: this is a great episode until Ted came back. I also agree it would have been impossible to handle decently the theme of Buffy murdering a human in this season. I see no solution. But certainly the whole 50’s story and the phony reactions to that only made it worse. Oh, and how come isn’t Joyce amazed by Buffy’s strenght when she’s kicking Ted?

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  44. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on May 27, 2013.]

    Good post, JessP.

    Just wanted to add a couple points as food for thought. Buffy and Cordy are the only primary characters who have not committed some terrible act. Even Zander left Anya at the office, and lies to Buffy about the spell to restore Angel’s soul.

    Cordy is snippy and self-centered, but she Is also mostly just funny. Buffy has also been mean at times, but no casualties. 😉

    I treat those two characters as the twin poles around which the buffyverse spins. And Buffy and Cordy meet first, right?

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  45. [Note: Gon posted this comment on May 28, 2013.]

    Buffy and Cordy are the only primary characters who have not committed some terrible act.

    It’s true but Buffy was decided to kill Faith in order to restore Angel’s soul…

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  46. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 11, 2013.]

    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.

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  47. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on December 11, 2013.]

    Joyce is interesting. She is really loveable and kind to buffy but when it comes to being there for Buffy, that’s her biggest fault. I don’t think Joyce means to do that. Joyce divorced Buffy’s dad when Buffy was 15(or 16) Joyce probably had deep in her mind that “Buffy can take care of herself” mentality. I can’t help but think that a lot of it has to do with buffy being cut off from her mom and shutting her mom out of her life. I think on some level that her mom just gave up on trying to understand Buffy. Buffy is the slayer. There is no way that Joyce could possibly understand what buffy goes through. I think sense buffy shut Joyce out of her life, Joyce thought it was ok to date Ted without telling buffy, sense it sort of became a routine.

    As for buffy almost killing ted, I can’t help but wonder that if ted wasn’t some corny robot and was actually a dirtbag, would she be anything like faith? would she be almost completely cut off just like faith? I don’t think so. but I do think that it is a possibility. Just alittle one, but a possibility none-the-less.

    Just a side note, I really wanted to punch xander throughout season 2, it would have been very amusing if someone gave him a good punch in the mouth…. any way I love this review, you have definatly grown as a writer, I hope to grow as a writer one day too. chow!

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  48. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on December 11, 2013.]

    Wow. Four reviews within a single week? You are on a roll, Mike. Looks like 2013’s going out on a high note!

    And something tells me your next review will be a surprise.

    (Get it?)

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  49. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on December 12, 2013.]

    Nice review Mike, where do I sign? 🙂
    I always thought that Ted would be an interesting character for season 3. I had this idea in my had that both Buffy and Faith would accidentially kill a human being but handle the consequences of it totally different. They could´ve done a little arc where Joyce dates a new man (Ted) who treats Buffy very poorly in her absence. I am not sure about the details here but things get intense between the two of them and Buffy accidentially kills him with her slayer-strength. Roughly at the same time Faith kills the deputy mayor.
    I think it would be just…neat to explore how these two would react to their situation. Buffy would´ve no moral high ground over Faith but would eventually come to terms with what she did (after a long struggle) while Faith of course would get seduced by the dark side. I would treat that storyline for the repetitive and inconsequential Bangel-drama any day. 😀

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  50. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on December 13, 2013.]

    This episode makes me really uncomfortable, especially the dinner table scene. It just infuriates how much Joyce doesn´t believe in Buffy, drugs or no drugs.

    I agree with the Reset button being a major flaw on the episode but wouldn´t it be too early in the season to have Buffy suffer from accidentaly killing Ted and subsequent guilt?

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  51. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 13, 2013.]

    I also fully get that this season isn’t and shouldn’t be about Buffy having to deal with killing a human being and its associated fallout. On the other hand, if Whedon’s going to go there, he’s got to offer follow-through. I appreciate the long-term insight we gain through this whole ordeal, but the lack of emotional resonance will never feel anything less than unsatisfactory.

    🙂

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  52. [Note: danny posted this comment on December 14, 2013.]

    I have to admit I am really fond of this episode, everything up until the point we find out that ted is a robot is brilliant. But I have to agree with previous posters in that I don’t think Buffy as a character or the show overall was mature enough at this stage to deal with the fallout of buffy killing a human being. So even though ted being a robot kind of cheapens the episode I still find ted to be a really good entertaining little episode which I find to be a bit underrated.

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  53. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 15, 2013.]

    I can see that. With how up and down it is I had a difficult time picking a score. So I went with high mediocre/low good, a.k.a. B-.

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  54. [Note: EdwardH posted this comment on January 20, 2014.]

    About the police not pursuing the case: I really doubt the police would have pursued a case against Buffy, Mayor or not. The idea of trying to prosecute a 5’3″ young girl for murdering a 5’11” grown man who probably weighs 3 times what Buffy weighs would be a near impossible task.

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  55. [Note: slayerfemme posted this comment on October 13, 2014.]

    This situation basically happened with my family when I was 15 (I was the only daughter of a single mom, she was dating a guy I loathed). I begged her not to go forward with it, but obviously her feelings were more important than mine. She married him and they fought daily and got divorced two years later. After they married I mainly lived out on the streets. My life really went downhill. It’s been 12 years since.

    I can relate to this episode so much. The worst part: Joyce (and more surprisingly, Willow and Xander) telling Buffy she was *lying* when she said Ted had physically THREATENED her (“he said he was going to slap my face”) was traumatizing. Joyce acted like a real b**** in this episode. Scary.

    Sorry. I guess I never really talked about that before. I wish that jerk had just been a M.O.t.W. I could vanquish.

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  56. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on October 14, 2014.]

    And that’s what may well be the show’s greatest strength: to tell true stories about plastic vampires and bad-CGI robots.

    On the show, at least, the characters were drugged, which explains Xander’s and Willow’s attitude perhaps. Otherwise I expect her friends would have stood with Buffy. Joyce… well, as your story illustrates, her reaction is far too realistic for comfort.

    Great comment to have here.

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  57. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on March 22, 2015.]

    I actually enjoyed this episode more then most of them prior to “Surprise”. Why? It doesn’t beat you over the head, then proceed to kick you in the ribs, before rolling you into a river with the intention of drowning you because you can’t swim with a broken rib cage, by constantly force feeding unsubtle nuances towards the “romantic” theme of the season. I feel like most episodes give you the same exact message over, and over, and over again without attempting to bring some kind of additional or deeper insight into the theme it’s tackling. Basically, many feel like the same episode with slight uninteresting plot variations compared to this one and a couple of others.

    The first 2/3 are brilliant. The last 1/3 is a cop out. It’s in a weird place as Mike says. As an individual episode imo, it mostly works. However, no matter how much I disagree with how unsubtle the rest of the episodes prior were, it doesn’t fit the theme and thus is a jarring addition.

    I agree, the series is highly inconsistent in regards to consequences when it comes to murder. Buffy is directly responsible for multiple deaths, both before and after this one. Between the Hyena episode, then the “fake” Watcher in season 3 who’s arm she cuts off and is immediately then incinerated (Buffy knew she was conjuring a bolt at that moment, what did she think would happen as a stream of electricity shot straight towards her?) as well as others it seems it only wants to take these actions seriously when it conveniences them.

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  58. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on April 6, 2015.]

    I get the impression that this episode would have been improved if Buffy had maybe reflected on her feeling about her actions despite Ted being a robot. It would have helped to but things in perspective.

    It is also interesting comparing this one to Lineage though. Someone from a long while ago in the comments said that that was more of a cop-out and maybe they could be right but I like how that one shows that even despite the memory wipe Wesley was still capable of doing such a morally questionable action. The episode’s follow-up to this point also works a lot better since it emphasizes that he probably would have done the same thing under similar circumstances whereas Ted doesn’t seem to definitively want to make that point. Overall the structure of Lineage was much more effective in getting across what it was trying to say about Wesley.

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  59. [Note: Random posted this comment on April 15, 2015.]

    I agree, the series is highly inconsistent in regards to consequences when it comes to murder. Buffy is directly responsible for multiple deaths, both before and after this one. Between the Hyena episode, then the “fake” Watcher in season 3 who’s arm she cuts off and is immediately then incinerated (Buffy knew she was conjuring a bolt at that moment, what did she think would happen as a stream of electricity shot straight towards her?) as well as others it seems it only wants to take these actions seriously when it conveniences them.

    Maybe we should break down all the instances where Buffy ran up against that particular dilemma. My initial impression, without going over the episodes one by one to make sure I’m not missing anything, is that, with the exception of Faith, she never killed, or at least tried to kill, anyone who wasn’t presenting a direct and deadly threat to her or her people. I think the “tried” is especially important in this episode…she was quite correct that she had no right to use her enhanced abilities against an ordinary person, but it’s hard to argue that she was actually trying to kill Ted. The outcome shocked her as much as it did Joyce. So if we’re measuring intent — and the legal system does — it’s entirely possible to argue that Buffy would never intentionally kill a human unless the alternative was likely being killed (or watching her friends being killed.) Since we don’t consider self-defense murder in any sense, it’s hard to place the onus of killing a human on Buffy in these cases.

    Faith, of course, is the wild-card. One could argue Buffy was acting in “defense” of her friend’s life and doing so with the person who was the cause of his situation, and even assert that it was no different, on a moral level, from killing her to prevent her from staking Angel. It was such a ludicrously specific set of circumstance that one would be hardpressed to find outside of a supernatural TV show. But the element of premeditation does give one pause. Granted, Faith, while human, is hardly a civilian, but she’s still human. Well, human with lots of demony badness in her, anyway. So I’m ambivalent about that situation. It seems to be the very definition of a moral quandary that one can’t really make absolute statements about unless one has been in that situation. A hypothetical: a killer poisons one of your friends. The only way to get the antidote that will save your poisoned friend’s life is to take it from the poisoner, who absolutely will not give it up while still alive. So you have the choice — let your friend die, or kill the person who poisoned your friend in the first place. Most normal people, I think, would probably argue that the moral calculus is clear on a strictly intellectual level. Faith was murdering someone. Her death was, short of Buffy risking her own death, the only means of preventing said murder. She would clearly bear significant responsibility for the consequences of her actions had Buffy succeeded in killing her and bringing her to Angel. But…most normal people would also feel considerable misgivings about planning and executing the murder of a person in cold blood regardless of the moral calculus. So the primary unpredictable element is what exactly a given person could bring him or herself to do rather than what a given person would consider just.

    What it comes down to, I think, is how much of a pedestal we put Buffy on, or how we choose to judge her choices. If we’re arguing that Buffy would never kill a human because it’s absolutely wrong, then we don’t have much of a leg to stand on. For all her virtues, Buffy isn’t Gandhi, not even a really pissed-off Gandhi. She obviously will kill humans. Personally, I think Giles was making the distinction in “The Gift” that Buffy would never kill a human in cold blood, not that she wouldn’t kill at all. Killing Ben at that moment would have been in cold blood, a pre-emptive murder rather than a reactive killing. Clearly, though, even if Giles meant that, he was wrong — she tried to kill Faith with premeditation. The question is, do we hold her accountable for that on a moral level, given the extenuating (and highly specific) circumstances? Personally, I go back and forth on the issue.

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  60. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 15, 2015.]

    The problem I have is how they treat Buffy’s accidental or necessary “murders” as opposed to Faith’s accidental murder in season 3. The series at that point, for the sake of Faith’s arc, tries to make accidental slayings of humans seem somehow reprehensible. Again, Buffy unintentionally kills that fake watcher earlier in the season, yet there are no consequences or moral dilemmas that spring up because of it.

    Then suddenly, Faith does it in the heat of a hunt (purely accidental) and it becomes this huge issue. Buffy suddenly feels guilty despite never touching him (she actually cut that woman’s arm off just before she was filleted, put that into perspective). You can’t even point to the villain card, because Buffy finds out relatively early he was tied to the mayor. Admittedly, she doesn’t stay feeling guilty for long, however that’s not the biggest issue.

    Everyone treats Faith differently following the revelation. Wesley is not withstanding, obviously, because he’s loyal to the council first. But not one of the Scoobies comes up to her and reassures her that “well, Buffy has done it a couple times, but it was necessary so don’t feel bad.” Nope. Even Buffy herself tries to give Faith a pep talk about having murdered someone, which comes across very hypocritical. The series doesn’t make note of this and expects the viewer to let it pass for the convenience of Faith’s eventual downfall. She’s a victim of the season recurring guest role trope where consequences that arise from actions normally taken by cast members only apply to her.

    I’d even say accidental is not as bad as necessary. Necessary implies a predisposition to murder if it feels justified. Faith’s murder is more justifiable then Buffy’s. She would have never intentionally killed someone (as far as we know) under any circumstances prior to it, unlike Buffy who would have (and has) in extreme cases.

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  61. [Note: Random posted this comment on April 16, 2015.]

    I’ve actually seen (though not participated) in this particular debate, and I’m dubious about that perspective. While it can be argued that everyone treats Faith “differently” afterwards, it can also be argued that Faith brings that entirely on herself. She disposes of the body, refuses to admit she killed the guy, and tells Buffy — who is making a sincere effort to help Faith confront the guilt, as far as I can tell, and channeling her own guilt from “Ted”, which would be the closest analogue to Faith killing a civilian — that she simply doesn’t care. Other than that, I personally thought they all made a good faith effort to help morally-ambigious Faith (yeah, I’m not above cheap puns.) Giles is quite clear that he has no intention of involving the Council, which means he has no intention of serving her any sort of ‘justice’. He makes the point that as long as she refuses to acknowledge what happened, there is no way to help her…but he’s still not going to serve her up for the Council to punish even if that makes life more difficult for the Scoobies. As far as the others go, Xander tries to reach her. Buffy and Angel try to reach her. Wesley is the only one that seems to be treating her like a criminal. The actions of the others, imho, are entirely logical by-products of the fact that Faith won’t even acknowledge what she did even to the point of trying to frame Buffy (Buffy certainly acknowledged her own culpability in “Ted” and wore the Jean Overalls of Crushing Guilt to boot, so I don’t see the hypocrisy)and then tries to straight up murder Xander. I think it would help me understand where you’re coming from if you suggested a better way they could have handled the entire situation, with specifics so I can grok your argument better. My own attempts to come up with a better path tend to rely excessively on Faith being much more pliable, so none of my thoughts on the matter are exactly marvels of plotting. Faith is notoriously (and awesomely, cause I love me some Faith) difficult to get through to.

    I’d argue that “necessary” doesn’t really have a moral level, frankly. If something is “necessary”, that implies that a philosophical debate about it will ultimately be extraneous. Fun, to be sure, but still immaterial because the alternative is to not do something necessary, which means something is very wrong with your choices. So I wouldn’t compare “accidental” to “necessary” because neither seem to require a placement on a moral continuum. Both can be immoral — you can have a twisted idea of ‘necessity’ or you can do something accidental by being lazy or careless, but the basic concepts would seemt to exist outside of such judgments in themselves.

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  62. [Note: Random posted this comment on April 16, 2015.]

    Oh, and we went ahead and watched “Go Fish” to (we’ll do the Becomings tomorrow). Not exactly the best episode, though the entire scene where the girls drool over Xander coming in wearing Speedos, and Xander’s horrified reaction, was pure comic gold. I mention this episode, however, because Buffy accidentally killed the swim coach. Indirectly, anyway. She tried to save him by grabbing at his foot, but in a very weird editing, it looks like she just gave up and dropped him after a couple seconds rather than putting much effort into pulling him out again. I sincerely hope Joss and co. weren’t trying to convey that Buffy just decided he needed to die. If they were, my entire argument goes out the window.

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  63. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on August 10, 2015.]

    Just watched this episode as part of my Buffyverse rewatch and this is actually quite a good episode. The performances are spot on (especially John Ritter’s) and Buffy genuinely believes she’s killed someone.

    There is little worth comparing this to S3’s ‘Revelations’. The situations couldn’t be more different. In that episode, Gwen Post is trying to kill several of Buffy’s friends via a mystical artifact – she can’t run over and pull it off her arm (it’s actually attached to her) and doing so might get her electrocuted. So she cuts off her arm with the broken glass rather than anyone else getting killed. Post dies because she was using a powerful artifact – Buffy didn’t know what would happen. Why would she feel remorse for killing someone intent on murdering her and everyone else?

    In ‘Ted’, Buffy is desperate for there to be something ‘wrong’ about Ted. When he finally does what she’s been hoping he’ll do (hit her), she is able to strike back, but goes over the top and accidentally ‘kills’ him. She’s wracked with guilt because she genuinely believes she just killed someone in the heat of the moment with no real justification for it – he wasn’t evil, he wasn’t a monster and he couldn’t really hurt her permanently. That’s why she feels so damn guilty. Comparing it to Faith’s killing of the Deputy Mayor is also more troublesome than people realise. In ‘Bad Girls’ she accidentally kills someone (what would be the lesser crime of manslaughter in the UK), but feels absolutely no guilt about it. Buffy’s response is entirely in character, she’s guilty at even being complicit in the death! Faith decides to cover it up, which runs counter to Buffy’s heroic morals of Slayers not being above the law.

    The reveal that Ted is in fact a robot is not a cop out. This is BtVS – not a police procedural. There was always going to be a reveal at the end of this episode that Ted wasn’t what he appeared to be – just like the dual nature introduced with Janus in ‘Halloween’ suggested in nearly every Season 2 review.
    Buffy’s early seasons were all about exploring a real-world metaphor (in this ep, domestic abuse) via a monstrous, often B-movie analogue in a high-school setting while also staying true to the in-universe implications of said monster. B-movie monsters referenced this and last season (outside of vampires) include Frankenstein’s monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Werewolves, Mummies, giant insects, Witches, Body Snatcher aliens…and now evil robots with this episode. So it’s really not worth marking down just for this. We’re watching a particular type of show, which has great characters and character development but also has interesting, original (at the time) plots that gets a lot out of these characters. I feel the overall package/score suffers in these reviews if the plot in any way affects the characters in (in your view) a negative way. Buffy felt very guilty about killing a human and the episode gets a chance to raise the questions about whether Slayers are above the law. We already know from ‘When She Was Bad’ that Buffy already considers herself separate and partly superior to ‘normal’ people, though that only comes out when she’s got serious issues. It’s interesting to see that while she does have a superiority complex that we’ll see in later seasons, she doesn’t see herself as above the law yet. Faith, when she goes dark, is a full exploration of what happens when a Slayer just doesn’t care.

    I’d also like to point out that Joyce’s parenting is particularly bad in both ‘Ted’ and ‘Bad Eggs’, and possibly pushes Buffy further down the rebellious path to the point where she finally gives in to passion with Angel. Being mellow from drugs just isn’t a good enough excuse for Joyce’s selfishness in ‘Ted’. Yes, she wants to be happy, but she’s already seeing someone (for some time, as she’s been waiting to tell Buffy) without even thinking of her daughter’s feelings. Then, after only just introducing them, Ted is in their house and in their lives with a strong almost parent-like presence. Joyce just doesn’t understand why Buffy wouldn’t be thrilled with her dating or even marrying someone else, and is constantly reacting to Buffy’s moods without trying to talk to her. I also particularly hated Joyce’s acceptance of Ted getting them to say grace before meals – Mike got this spot on.

    Joyce isn’t the worst parent by a long shot, but she is a bad one in all of the subtle ways you just can’t be if you want your kids to be balanced, successful and have the right approach to relationships. Later on, Angelus captilises on his knowledge of Joyce when he reveals he slept with Buffy, acting like an obsessed boy. He knows that Buffy didn’t tell Joyce and that Joyce will just overreact like she always does and that it will hurt Buffy psychologically to have her find out like that. This is exactly what happens. Joyce has a right to know if her daughter is dating, but probably hasn’t sat her down for The Talk about sex – that would be proactive and she just doesn’t do that. It’s fear of her mother’s reaction (more than Angel being a vampire) that drives Buffy to keep things from her.

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