Buffy 3×11: Gingerbread

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson and Thania St. John | Director: James Whitmore, Jr. | Aired: 01/12/1999]

This is not a great episode, but as is Buffy tradition the dialog and occasional character insights keep it from floundering. It’s still very entertaining and, as a bonus, Amy turns herself into a rat and stays that way until “Smashed” [6×09] (6×09, aside from that brief moment in “Something Blue” [4×09] ). Buffy says, “Maybe we should get her one of those wheel thingies.” Kind of like “Go Fish” [2×20] , this is a lot of fun if you’re in the mood for it.

The episode begins with Joyce finally going out with Buffy to see what she’s been doing every night for the last three years. It’s sweet that Joyce brings food and drinks for her. While she gets distracted by a vampire, Joyce wanders off and finds some dead kids in the playground. This brings up something that’s always annoyed me. People somehow rationalize that a child’s death is so much worse than any other person’s death. If the person is innocent then it’s only slightly more tragic when a child dies (because of age). It should still be extremely tragic when innocent older people die as well. Buffy points this out when talking with Angel.

Later on, after tons of people begin acting strange, Joyce and Buffy have an important conversation about the work Buffy does. Yes, Joyce is under the influence of a demon, but some of her points are still interesting to consider. She tells Buffy that her work is fruitless. On a certain level it can appear fruitless because of the nature of evil — it will always exist. The fact that she stopped the world from being overrun by demons in “Prophecy Girl” [1×12] and prevented the world from being sucked into hell in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] , proves otherwise though. As Buffy said to Angel in “Amends” [3×10] (3×10, and he reminds her of here), it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about fighting.

The ending battle scene is hilarious. The way Buffy breaks the wooden pole, bends over, and puts it through the demon’s neck, even though she can’t see it, is wildly fun. She asks, “Did I get it!?” I also loved how Oz and Xander crash through the vent after all the action is already over. Oz says, “we’re here to save you.”

There’s unfortunately a handful of problems that need to be addressed. The entire episode is simply too inconsequential and irrelevant to the main arc of the season. The fact that the town is just “under a spell” takes the punch out of the story. I would have really enjoyed seeing an episode that really dealt with the way the town’s populace looked at Sunnydale, and for some of them to make a genuine attempt at exposing the supernatural threat. Yes, a lot of people turn a blind eye to things they don’t understand (or don’t want to understand), but not everyone is like this. Some people would be open to and search for the truth.

Overall, though, this is a pretty solid stand-alone which ends up with Amy being stuck as a rat. Combine that with a good number of great lines along with some interesting themes and you have a respectable, but very unnecessary episode in the same arena of “Go Fish” [2×20] . Yet another thing I love about BtVS is how only a few of these type of episodes are in each season. That fact makes me able to enjoy them as a one-shot break from the season’s primary arc.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ The awkward tension between Oz and Xander in the lunchroom.
+ The continuing awkward tension between Joyce and Giles.
+ The mislead to make us think Willow’s somehow involved with the group that killed the children.
+ Giles yelling at the lone computer in the library because all his books got taken away.

– How would the stupid old creature, who only makes appearances every 50 years, know how to use chloroform?


[Score]

70/100

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92 thoughts on “Buffy 3×11: Gingerbread”

  1. [Note: Tobias Drake posted this comment on January 11, 2007.]

    I thought Willow’s sarcastic line about “Do you see any goats around? No! Because I sacrificed them!” during her angry rant was an interesting piece of foreshadowing, because she does, in fact, sacrifice a baby deer in the first episode of season six, “Bargaining”, as part of her spell to bring Buffy back.

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  2. [Note: da magicman posted this comment on February 24, 2007.]

    i thought this episode was a stroke of genius as it brote in stories of many eras and stories such as the fairytale ‘Hansel and Gretal’ and the phase ‘Never again’ used by the MOO (Mothers Object to Occult) was used to talk about the burning of witches in the late 1700 and the early 1800 which is a great contrast as they try to burn who they belive are witches

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  3. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 23, 2007.]

    Chlorophorm has been around since at least the 1800s, plenty of time for the demon to hear about it. Plus while the demon may have been controlling Joyce, he way have left it to her own problem solving abilities to figure out how to subdue buffy, she knew that she couldn’t take her by force like they did Willow, so he had her come up with an alternate plan.

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  4. [Note: Nix posted this comment on October 21, 2007.]

    I find the big burning scene almost too upsetting to watch. Not because of people being staked or anything, no, because they’re burning *books*. *Irreplaceable* books. Do these people have no humanity in them?

    (Burning people, OK, it’s unpleasant but there are always more around. There won’t be more of those books; once they’re burnt, they’re *gone*.)

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  5. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 23, 2007.]

    Good episode with very good dialogue and character interaction. But I find the episode a little unnerving.

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  6. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on November 29, 2007.]

    @Nix: Well, I won’t go so far as to claim that burning books is worse than burning people, but they should have dealt with this and I don’t think they ever did, did they? There should have been at least one episode where the Scooby gang can’t solve the mystery in time because the relevant books were burned.

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  7. [Note: jkalderash posted this comment on January 29, 2008.]

    I would argue that Earshot is the least important, seeing as it didn’t even air until well after Graduation Day Part II and at the time we didn’t really notice the difference (except for the lack of resolution to Giles/Joyce in Band Candy). Whereas this episode sets up Rat!Amy, at least.

    Anyway, I think this episode is just awesome, because I completely fell for the red herring of Willow’s spell. OK, perhaps I was not so quick on the uptake, but I was very worried that Willow had somehow killed those kids! And then the Hansel and Gretel twist was brilliant and fit perfectly. It could have been a generic “oh, a bad demon cast a spell” twist, but instead it was an interesting solution that tied into well-known folklore. We also get some great Buffy/Joyce interaction, Giles yelling at a computer, Snyder being a jerk, Willow’s mom…

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  8. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 29, 2008.]

    Don’t forget the relevance on Jonathan giving Buffy the Class Protector award. “Earshot” gives that moment a much bigger emotional pull.

    Additionally, I simply feel that “Earshot” sports more bits of continuity-based character development than “Gingerbread.” Plus, “Earshot” is, quite simply, the better episode of the two — in terms of execution, theme, and relevance.

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  9. [Note: Suzanne posted this comment on February 28, 2008.]

    I enjoy how the Buffy writers inject Europy things in the all-American atmosphere of Buffy. (OK, to be honest, I suppose they use other cultures as well – the Inca Mummy Girl, Native Americans, Jamaican (or where the hell Kendra was from…) but I recognise the Europy things better, being European (half Dutch, half German, to be precise.) I also like the fact that in this episode, European didn’t automatically translate as ‘British’- (honestly, wouldn’t they have French or Czech Watchers at the Council? Or Romanian? Or do english Watchers primarily deal with english-speaking Slayers? Why do watchers always go punting at their retreats -couldn’t they go skiing in the Alps? Or is it primarily the German/Swiss/Austrian/French/Italian Watchers that do this? Funny, I could so imagine Scandinavian and Dutch Watchers going ice skating together – but I digress…)
    As has been pointed out, the written German seen on the computer screen is faulty, (Apart from grammar issues,I think that Hänsel and Gretels full names would more likely have been Johannes/Hans and Margarethe.) but Giles’ spoken German was correct and understandable. (yay!) So far no Dutch things in Buffy yet, but I’m not blaming Joss & co for not having studied every bit of folklore in the history of mankind. At least my German fangirl side has had the opportunity for a bit of a squee, which is always nice.

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  10. [Note: Nix posted this comment on February 28, 2008.]

    One might speculate (without *any* basis, but that’s what comment threads are for!) that the English Watchers staged an internal takeover when the British Empire was at its height, and being such conservative people are still running the place a century after the Empire ended.

    (Given the *degree* of their traditionalism they should probably be sited in Rome and speaking Republic-era Latin, but that might be hard for most viewers to comprehend!)

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  11. [Note: this year\’s girl posted this comment on February 29, 2008.]

    -Nix, I feel the same way about the books! I like to think Giles protected them from harm early on with a “magical scotch guard”, but we’ll never know for sure 😉

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  12. [Note: Serena posted this comment on March 10, 2008.]

    The reason why a child’s death is more tragic than an adults is not just because they’re more innocent, its because they haven’t had a chance to live like an adult has.

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  13. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 9, 2008.]

    You said ‘people somehow rationalize that a child’s death is so much worse than any other person’s death’ but this is exactly backwards. It’s not rationality at all: it’s raw emotion, and you can see the same behaviour in e.g. female chimps (a really nasty aggressive species) and male and female bonobos and gorillas (much less nasty sorts with males that aren’t utter swine): to some extent the whole community mourns dead children and works to protect them, although the parents are obviously most affected.

    I’ve noticed this as I’ve passed into my thirties: in a year or so children have gone, emotionally, from ‘bleah, not very interesting’ to being emotionally red-flagged as critically important and automatically cute no matter what they’re doing or how annoying they are. (My understanding is that if you actually have children, especially if you’re female, this effect becomes much stronger.)

    It makes sense, when you think about it: K-selectors like humans and other primates *must* consider individual offspring critically important, because we have so few of them and they cost so much to raise. (Actually in current industrial societies it really only matters that we consider our *own* offspring critically important, but when you consider the environments we evolved in, all visible children were likely to be in our own tribe and thus valuable, because a tribe that shrinks too far is dead: so valuing all children we know about makes a lot of sense).

    If we were frogs your point might be more valid, but we’re not.

    btw, very nice theme changes (plus your captcha is actually readable now).

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  14. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 10, 2008.]

    The security code thing at the bottom is called a ‘captcha’, a backronym of ‘completely automated process to tell computers and humans apart’. As the torrent of spam from hotmail and gmail makes clear, it doesn’t always do that.

    (It used to be very hard to differentiate between e.g. P and D and 7 and F in your captchas. It’s not quite as hard now.)

    (As luck would have it I got the damn thing wrong this time.)

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  15. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 10, 2008.]

    Haha. Ok, cool. For some reason I wasn’t aware of that term. Additionally, if you ever have any comments or suggestions with things like that in the future, please feel free to shoot me off an e-mail detailing it. I might make a change. 🙂

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  16. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 13, 2008.]

    To get back on topic: A nice touch in Joyce’s nicely-done speech (all of which is true, even though demon-triggered): she says `… plagued by unnatural evils…’ at the exact moment that the camera just *happens* to focus on the Mayor.

    That demon really did pick the wrong town. It’s amazing that it was able to penetrate the choking clouds of Sunnydale Syndrome to whip up any hysteria at all.

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  17. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on June 13, 2008.]

    I do think there is a perfectly good reason to rationalize that a child’s death is more tragic than an adult’s. You write off age as only slightly mattering, but the bottom line is that when an eighty-year-old dies, that person got to live eight times longer than a ten-year-old who dies. Eight TIMES. There’s also something significant about a person dying before he or she reaches adulthood. When a child dies, every single life experience that person might’ve been able to have after maturing is gone as a possibility, forever; but when an adult dies, we can always console ourselves by knowing that he or she at least got to spend SOME time messing up in the adult world. All deaths are tragic, but when someone dies extremely young, it is worse because that person was denied the opportunities which even those who die in their forties and fifties managed to have, opportunities which most people take for granted.

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  18. [Note: Tony posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    Off topic here, but I am so glad someone else aggrees with the hilarity of Buffy killing that demon. “DID I GET IT! … DID I GET IT?” Awsome.
    Also, I found Cordelia really funny this episode too. I’d wish you’d mention her more. She’s way to underated. Like when she keeps slapping Giles in the face while unconscience, and still continues when he wakes up.

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  19. [Note: Tony posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    Oh can’t forget this one line.

    Cordelia: One of these days Giles, you’re going to wake up in a coma.
    Giles: Wake up in a… nevermind.

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  20. [Note: Rekidk posted this comment on November 21, 2008.]

    I thought this episode was a very funny, mildly creepy, and much-needed break from the emotionally heavy arc that preceded it. No, it wasn’t the greatest episode of all time, but it was a lot of fun.

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  21. [Note: Dale posted this comment on December 26, 2008.]

    I quite like this episode. There’s heaps of great dialogue, the bit where Joyce mothers all over Buffy’s patrol is amazing, and I enjoyed the theme of parental oppression based on paranoia because they’re buy into stereotypes and think themselves informed on the matter. And then they end up doing more harm than good in their actions to “protect the children,” and they simply can’t be convinced that they’re wrong.

    Okay, so it’s not being very nice to parents, but it happens. I can say first-hand that there are parents who are like that, and the only reason they’re all behaving like this in the episode is because of the demon.

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

    Heey 😀
    Just wanted to point out something about the child death thing. I think it is more tragic for a child’s death in a way because they’ve had less time in the world whereas an adult has had some kind of life….
    But it’s still tragic when innocent people die whatever age they are.

    Awesome reviews 😀
    Keep it up 😛

    x

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  23. [Note: Liylrna posted this comment on February 22, 2009.]

    In my opinion, child’s death leaves more devasating impression because first of all it means adults’ failure. Adults have obligation to protect their chilsren, so their incompetence in this matter makes them feel very bad.

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  24. [Note: Emily posted this comment on March 19, 2009.]

    So was it really a possession or a spell that the people of the town were under? Or were they just over reacting? Because this episode was another one of my reasons that I don’t like Joyce this season at all, but if she was under a spell…..well, that’s something totally different.
    The funniest part was when Cordy said, “One day, you’re gonna wake up in a coma.” I agree with Tony- Cordy is very underrated. No one pays attention to her after the break up with Xander until she’s in AtS.

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  25. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 21, 2009.]

    Emily: Well, I thought it was rather obvious that everyone was under a spell/possession of some sort. Their reaction to the dead children was sort of realistic at first, but things then go rapidly very much over the top, not to mention that the people see and hear these “dead” children talking to them.

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  26. [Note: Nix posted this comment on April 4, 2009.]

    As further evidence of unnatural influence, once the demon’s disguise is lifted, everyone snaps out of it at once.

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  27. [Note: Christian posted this comment on June 15, 2009.]

    This was a good ep. It had some funny parts to it as well as some boring ones. One thing I didn’s like was Xander’s reaction to the locker opening. So what if he had Playboys… he’s a teenager… how could he think thats more important than Willow getting caught with magic related things… not a good friend Xander!

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  28. [Note: Raskolnikov posted this comment on August 9, 2009.]

    Just re-watched this one. Pretty nice, I think a 70 is far too low. The whole episode was a nice turning around of a familiar fairy tale, as well as a creepy illustration of how fascism can work in the very cautious, very respectable middle class community. Buffy’s exaggeration of the issue allowed it to be relevant without being preachy, and the overall momentum was good. Plus, Amy and Shelia Rosenberg made good additions to the show and the setting, fitting believably into the wider background.

    Plus some great lines and little moments. I like most episodes where Snyder and Cordelia are relatively prominent, the insults here were rather delicious.

    In terms of continuity, in addition to continuing the Joyce-Giles tension and launching the Amy Rat saga, this episode also saw a continuance of the Xander-Willow fallout, both in Xander and Oz’s interactions and his tension with the larger group. Not a major part of the episode, and someone skipping this wouldn’t feel lost, but it’s a broader connection.

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  29. [Note: Nix posted this comment on November 2, 2009.]

    This episode is actually unusual in that it marks one of the few occasions when Buffy is *not* affected by a spell that affects others. Normally she seems to be like flypaper to them… probably she’s ‘defended’ by being one of the spell’s *targets*.

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  30. [Note: Victoria posted this comment on November 8, 2009.]

    Does anyone else think irony behind Cordelia’s “wake up in a coma” comment to be sad and hilarious all at once. Technically, in AtS she does wake up in a coma. She’s awake, but technically still IN a coma. Oh Cordy… ❤

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  31. [Note: Katie J posted this comment on December 1, 2009.]

    Not a huge fan of this one. There seems to be a bit too much to explain- the symbol, the fairy tale reference and the community action and goth prejudice. The overriding theme of mob mentally that feeds fear offers a solid homage to the Twilight Zone’s “The Monsters are Due at Maple Street.” I appreciate Joss’s intelligent humility regarding ways his topics have already been successfully executed. Dialogue, as usual, saves the day:

    Willow:…mom the last time we had a conversation over three minutes, it was about the patriarchal bias of the Mr. Rodgers show!

    Willow’s Mom: Well, with King Friday lording it over all the lesser puppets.

    nice.

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  32. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on March 15, 2010.]

    @ Suzanne, well there was a very small Dutch reverence. When Buffy says: “like that story with the boy stucking his finger in a duck”.

    Angel: “You mean dijk, that’s another word for dam”.

    Buffy: “Oh, that makes a hole lot of sense more”.

    (I am Dutch)

    And isn’t it cool that Angel knows all these foreign languages. He travelled a lot I guess.

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  33. [Note: Jennifer posted this comment on May 10, 2010.]

    I agree this is a pretty funny episode, but it had the potential to be highly disturbing. After all, Willow and Buffy’s mothers try to publicly burn them at the stake! Spell or no spell, that’s not something you easily come back from, even by Sunnydale standards. One of the many reasons I love this show is that they demonstrate the effects of the trauma that the Scoobies face as the show progresses, but the only apparent after effect from this episode is that Amy is now a rat.

    On a slight side note, it’s interesting that in the early parts of the episode there is some parental role reversal, when Buffy has to comfort her mother after seeing the dead children. This reversal happens again in the very next episode, when Buffy, having no super powers, risks her life to save her mother (even though Joyce had just tried to kill her the week before!).

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  34. [Note: Merry posted this comment on May 26, 2010.]

    70…hmmm, methinks this score is a little low!

    This episode is my go-to Buffy episode when I’m in the mood for Buffy. It’s got some of the funniest dialogue all season, and it actually feels very 90s Halloween-ish…maybe that’s because it kind of reminds me of Hocus Pocus and I love anything that feels 90s fantasy, but I digress.

    I this episode gets underrated because it’s kind of campy (which I love when done well, which I think this episode is). It deals with something very relevent in Buffyverse, the occult, and how a society could potentially react to the truth. Of course this is an exaggerated case because it’s a spell, but it’s still interesting.

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  35. [Note: Lizzie posted this comment on June 30, 2010.]

    Mike, I enjoyed your review very much. I agree with everything, except the part where you said that there wasn’t a difference between an innocent child dying (well, two children) and an innocent old person. Think there is. I did some community service time at the morgue for my high school requirement and when I saw an adult’s case it wasn’t the same as a child’s. It think it’s got something to do with the fact that you wonder what their lives would’ve been like and how they are never going to live them.

    I don’t know, there’s just a difference there. Can’t exactly say what it is, but a child’s death is always taken more seriously.

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  36. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 20, 2010.]

    The Good:

    Giles and Joyce meet again. “There’s a rumour going around.” “About us!”

    The no-neck footballers are afraid of Buffy.

    Willow’s mum is more shocked at her saying she is dating a musician.

    Giles yelling at the computer.”You stupid fad! Yes I said fad and I’ll say it again!”

    The intelligent plot of censorship and how fairy tales are really violent.

    “Did I get it!? Did I get it!?”

    The Bad:

    All the fuss for two children. Hundreds die and no one cares.

    Joyce suggesting that students can get ideas from books. I hate how people throw out personal responsibility for actions.

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  37. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 20, 2010.]

    Foreshadowing: Cordelia tells Giles one day he might wake up in a coma. In “AtS” episode ‘You’re Welcome’, Cordelia does in fact wake up while in a coma.

    Victoria #32, you are correct.

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  38. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on October 7, 2010.]

    I’m in the 70 camp. This one slid into Star Trek mode for me, as I was beaten about the head with the notion that mob rule inciting violence against unpopular minorities is bad. (You don’t say.) Done with a lighter touch and more humor than a bad Star Trek episode, mind you, but winceworthy nonetheless.

    The demon story didn’t work for me, either. I liked the initial notion of subtle demons who plant the seeds of destruction and watch the humans blow themselves up. But no, it turns out that these are superpower demons who can mind-control Moms into burning their only children. Silly demons. Should have mindcontrolled everybody into suicide, that would be a lot easier.

    But I did say 70, not zero. The mob scenes were done with a wink and a smile, which helped a lot. Good dialogue as usual. The end was quite well done, nice to see Cordy as the heroine with Oz & Xander as the Keystone Kops, and Cordy/Giles is a great comic pairing. Now that Cordy came through for her lame loser nonfriends, will she once again start to be a Scoobie? You people know … but I don’t. 🙂 Joss has me wondering.

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  39. [Note: LovingMeIsntHard posted this comment on April 16, 2011.]

    The matter at hand is the essence of death and who is it more pitiful to loose.It is a grievance to loose a child and a senior citizen.Both the child and the senior citizen are the natures of the world.A child’s life is perceived more upsetting because the time that they’ve lived is short and so differently viewed.There is an innocence that a young child posses because unless its been abused or mistreated or something of that nature they see it all so simple.One thing that comes to mind is how children can notice the color difference in skin but it doesnt limit the way they feel about someone else as it might be a child who is taught that they,whoever it might be,wether its religious or racial,is corrupt in nature or unethical,only then,it changes how they view the world.As opposed to a 85 year old man or woman

    The older people have come to see the way the world is corrupt and how humanity in man is questionable because they’ve lived it or seen it happen.They may think with the child’s innocence of why does there have to be a difference in the way we treat each other.There are things we cant prevent and death is one of them but as i see it we should be remorseful in any lose of ,innocent and maybe even guilty, life.

    I,personally,have experienced mistreatment because of things like race and the stereotypes of what i am suppose to be or behave like,because i am a African-American teenage girl who grew up in the “wrong side of town”.I am considered a traitor to my community and race because i supposedly act “white” but its a matter of educating yourself.I wont go anymore off topic but its sorrowful for anyone to loose their life.

    Take it from me,an 14 year old girl from miami florida, that lose of life is a sadness that is to be dealt with and treated with the same respect for the lose of anyone,old or young.

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  40. [Note: LovingMeIsntHard posted this comment on April 16, 2011.]

    I took a nap,more like sleep,and the witches sign shown above and another witches sign a more commonly known one both appeared in my dream.I started to question what it meant.Some people say dreams are the things that are on our minds that come out in pictures but in this dream my younger brother and sister who i haven’t seen since i was 6 came to me but they weren’t the children i once loved they were older.

    something bout this dream creeped me out and until a moment ago i didn’t know what it was.”My children”,as it is i raised them from infancy up til they were toddlers, had so much hate and aggression but so much compassion and as i came face to face with my sister i realized the girl i was seeing was me. how strange is that after only my shortly lived life i could have aggression and hate but being tormented by your own mother does it to you.I realized that seeing this episode bought up something i had never began to question.What if all this time ive spent on trying to hate and do away with the people who hurt me or others its really been hurting me instead of trying to deal with the way life is and how i cant go back and change it and look for a new bettere day in this time.

    You may be wondering how this comes together with this episode but what i mean is ive tried to prevent and change and reshape something that cant ever be reshaped.Trying to do away with the problems only hurt me as opposed to helping me. I cant change what happened nd i wont ever be the same again but i need to face the reality of it,it happens and we cant destroy ourselves trying to destroy and change the unthinkable,life itself.This episode shows that we will go too far to try and change the way things happen but we should deal with it and be sensible about it.

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  41. [Note: Dan posted this comment on November 11, 2011.]

    I thought Joyce was the most compelling part of this episode. I thought her attempt to wrest some kind of control from this situation felt very natural–I almost wish there hadn’t been anything supernatural involved. This has happened a couple times in BtVS; it seems like normal human reactions are unnecessarily excused by demons/spells. The girlfriend-beating episode comes to mind.

    I think this would have been better if this had been a real story arc rather than just a single-episode. I would have loved to see Joyce in particular acknowledge the necessity of Buffy’s work and really come to peace with what she discovered in Becoming.

    Oh well. Still love the show, and I still liked this episode.

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  42. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 11, 2011.]

    I agree with you Dan, at least when it comes to this episode. I think a more serious arc that covered this topic could have been really compelling, and would have fit in with what Season 3 was trying to do with identity and authority quite nicely.

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  43. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 7, 2012.]

    This episode reminds me a little of the episode structure established in season one, which is ok in my book i loved the inaugural season!!

    I enjoyed this episode in particular Joyce’s pivotal role, endeavouring to find a cohesive place in Buffy’s world, going with her to slay was a nice subtle touch to the theme of this episode, Joyce wanting to help? I agree with you Dan and your good self Mike regarding the somewhat contempt for the whimsical theme of a wish rather than the episode addressing the ‘adult’ and rest of the town’s behaviour to the evil out there.

    You mentioned Joyce and Buffy’s exchange of her ‘job’ being fruitless, i thought this exchange was compelling. It can sometimes be apparent that what Buffy does make a lot of difference with all the evil, even at the end of season 7 there is still evil because evil is in everyone of us but i agree with your review, she saved the world a lot, and Amends as you said addressed her stance on fighting the good fight.

    I enjoyed the fluency between Xander and Oz and the fact that Willow’s mum remembers that she is dating a musician!

    I loved the scene with Giles on the computer, it was a little of the essence between him and Jenny again …sort of!

    Mike, i was wondering are you or are any Buffy fans watching Ringer?

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  44. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on September 3, 2012.]

    “I would have really enjoyed seeing an episode that really dealt with the way the town’s populace looked at Sunnydale, and for some of them to make a genuine attempt at exposing the supernatural threat.”Great point, it does seem like throughout the series that people forget or repress the supernatural events they’ve witnessed a little too conveniently. There’s an occasional acknowledgment like the one here, or at the Prom, and then once again it’s forgotten. I suppose it would complicate things greatly were it not so.Gotta say though that Joyce saying “the monsters and the witches and the slayers” is one of the most chilling moments in the whole series. I love the look on Giles’s face in particular.

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  45. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on September 3, 2012.]

    I also find it interesting that the Mayor is no less thrilled about Joyce’s speech. It doesn’t have the betrayal aspect that it does for Buffy, but it suggests that the demon-aligned and the Slayer-aligned forces both want to suppress information about what’s really going on so that it doesn’t reach the general public.

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  46. [Note: R Martin posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    Man this episode was so much fun i forget about eps like tehse some time but Buffy really forgot how to make good stand alone stories. The high school setting was so important i feel.

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  47. [Note: Latecomer posted this comment on November 30, 2012.]

    I’m somewhat confused about precisely which characters actually were under the demon’s spell/influence/thrall and which were just weak-willed/weak-minded enough to get sucked in to the mob mentality. We know Joyce was under the demon’s influence because she was the one who found Hansel and Gretel, she was the one who kept conversing with Hansel and Gretel, and (perhaps most importantly) her actions in this episode would have been completely unforgivable had she not been under the demon’s influence. We also know, however, that the “targets” of the demon’s spell were not the only ones immune to it, since Cordelia of all people managed to remain rational. What, then, do we make of Willow’s mother? Under the demon’s spell, or just weak-willed/weak-minded enough to get sucked in to the mob mentality? I’d like to reach the former conclusion, but I’m not sure I see much evidence for it.

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  48. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on November 30, 2012.]

    Personally, I liked the ambiguity for reminding us that we don’t always need demons to be evil for us.

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  49. [Note: Alex posted this comment on November 30, 2012.]

    Oh, as I was writing this I saw that Ryan had beaten me to it, but nevertheless…I think it’s deliberately left quite vague. It’s terrifying to think that people could have been so eager to burn teenage girls at the stake without being under the demon’s thrall, but that’s exactly what a mob mentality is, and it feels like something that really could happen if people got emotional and excited enough.I don’t think it needs to be spelled out one way or another, and indeed I’d like to think that Willow’s mother wouldn’t actually want to kill her daughter purely because she got swept up in the excitement… but I think it’s great that we’re left to wonder about what exactly happened there.

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  50. [Note: Brad G. posted this comment on January 15, 2013.]

    If anyone is still around, it is frightening and prophetic to me how this episode seems to be depicting real life in today’s American political show. The Sandy Hook shooting, while tragic and evil, has created an over-reactive uproar by those in power and the press to ban guns and ammo for law abiding citizens, all but ignoring the 2nd amendment. I can’t help but think of this episode of Buffy where a senseless and tragic murder of children (or so they think) creates a riot against the very tools that can, has, and does save lives and even the world. Scary when life imitates art (or cool if looking from the artist point of view).

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  51. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 15, 2013.]

    Good observation!And don’t worry, I always have a watchful eye on what’s happening around here. There are some regulars as well. 🙂

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  52. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 16, 2013.]

    To me this episode is one of the few under-rated ones. Its about censorship, Joyce and the other parents removing books from the school library and i can imagine other such places. It has the going back to the times of Luther and Calvin when some books and ideas or realities were opposed. One of the superior moments for me is Giles on the computer! Has anyone noticed that the title Gingerbread contains the word Danger? I would if it is suppose to be a subtle message?

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  53. [Note: Seele posted this comment on January 30, 2013.]

    Gingerbread: WILLOW: Prince of Night, I summon you. Come fill me with your black, naughty evil!

    … it worked

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  54. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on April 10, 2013.]

    Great moment with Buffy showing up to defend eyeliner kid in the school hallway. Love how the jocks back off.

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  55. [Note: Vishal posted this comment on May 20, 2013.]

    One thing I do not get about The Buffyverse is, now that nearly everyone in town has seen vampires/demons, why the need to keep her identity a secret? Isn’t it better to forewarn them, so that the could protect themselves better? Sorry for being nitpicking, but since BtVS is such a great show, these plot contrivances rankle.

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  56. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 21, 2013.]

    The popular theory on the forums is that:

    Before Buffy showed up, the police were responsible for covering up the existence of the monsters, and the people who saw through the masquerade were too afraid and untrained to do anything about it. Granted, the Magic Shops like the one Giles buys still had enough customers to stay in business, so clearly some people were trying to defend themselves, but not very many.

    But once Buffy showed up, the death rates started plummeting, so people felt more comfortable talking about the things that had been scaring them (but that they had previously tried to ignore out of helplessness), which culminated in the Class Protector Award.

    There is also a more specific theory that the Mayor cast a memory spell on the town so that people would pay less attention to the demons feeding off of them, and that the Class Protector Award came about because the Mayor was turning the spell off. After all, he couldn’t very well rule as a giant snake monster if people are brainwashed to forget about him too, so when it came close to the eclipse, he undid the spell for when the ritual was completed, and people started making connections that they hadn’t been able to before.

    This would also work with the Magic Shops I mentioned above: we see a lot more customers at any given time in season 5-6 than we did in 2-3, even given how little we initially saw the shop in general.

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  57. [Note: WCRobinson posted this comment on June 28, 2013.]

    I just rewatched this, and it has to have on of the most hilarious lines in Buffy:

    Cordy: “I swear, one of these times, you’re gonna wake up in a coma.”
    Giles: “Wake up in a… Oh, never mind.”

    Also, I love the scene where Joyce mentions slayers etc. to the gathered people. Buffy and Giles’ faces are priceless.

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  58. [Note: Logan posted this comment on July 20, 2013.]

    I’m awful late to the party, but watching this episode reminded me of an event in Lover’s Walk. Why does Oz need to hear Willow’s screams to know where she is? Can’t he smell her?

    (ew)

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  59. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 6, 2013.]

    I am rewatching this and am impressed by what Joyce Summers said: that we should stop just having moments of silence and instead take action against gun violence.

    Couldn’t disagree more with BradG. About 90% of the US population is OK with universal background gun checks. The other 10% is owned by the gun lobby, however, and they have an outsized influence on politics.

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  60. [Note: Joy posted this comment on November 25, 2013.]

    I’m in my seventh or eighth watching of the series, but last night was only the second time I’ve watched Gingerbread because it freaked me out so badly the first time. Book burnings, parents cooly attempting to burn their children to death, really creepy corpse child ghosts… in many ways I find this to be the most disturbing episode of the whole series! The only other Buffy episodes that really unnerve me like Gingerbread are Helpless, Listening to Fear and CWDP.

    Because I’ve seen it before, this time I was able to better appreciate the thought that went into it. I think it was brilliant how they showed the Hansel and Gretel tale as part of the pattern of witch burnings that repeated over the centuries. The uniformed police ransacking the library, carrying away books to be burned was so very Nazi-like, I wanted to scream. Although I wonder how Giles justified having demonology books on open shelves where students could get to them. Perhaps the joke of the library is that students hardly ever use it? Willow did say in the pilot episode that the library gave students the wiggins.

    My favorite Cordelia moment is when Giles tells Cordy that the toad stone comes from *inside* the toad, and she replies, “I hate you.” Charisma Carpenter’s delivery is priceless!

    This episode deserves much more credit than I originally gave it, and far more credit than Go Fish, IMO. Go Fish was a heavy-handed “message” episode with distractingly hokey monster suits. I rank Go Fish down with Beauty and the Beasts and Beer Bad for heavy-handedness, although at least with Beer Bad we get to see Willow messing with Parker, SMG doing physical comedy, and have the satisfaction of seeing Buffy club Parker on the head.

    Gingerbread, OTOH, manages to tie together such historical atrocities as witch burnings, book burning censorship, and religious persecution by the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazis. It shows the similarity of those persecutions to modern hate groups that claim to be working for the good of society. Gingerbread shows that in all these activities average people, susceptible to propaganda, are possessed by an evil that could rightfully be called demonic. The subtle escalation of the parents’ insanity, their calm self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, and the persistant creep factor of the dead children raise this episode above the typical pedestrian “message” episode.

    Combine all that with some great character moments and hilarious one liners, and I’ve now changed my opinion of Gingerbread. From one of my least favorite episodes, it’s now one of my favorites.

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  61. [Note: telephoto1 posted this comment on December 10, 2013.]

    I have to agree with most of Joy’s comments. There is a clear parallel being made here with Nazi Germany and things like the Inquisition and to a lesser degree the Salem witch burnings. The C rating for this ep is probably a tad low; on its own merits I’d say B. It gives us a break from the ongoing story arc but still holds interest and is well acted for the most part. I normally don’t care much for episodes that get preachy and though this one had the potential to, I think it conveys the point without doing so.

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  62. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on December 11, 2013.]

    I would give this episode a B+, or maybe an A-. I think MikeJer is a tad too harsh on it.

    The humour is excellent, including one of my favourite Cordyisms of BtVS – ‘I swear, one day you’re going to wake up in a coma’ – and it has more relevance and depth than you give it credit for. Personally, I’m one to believe that the ‘Demons Thrall’ manifested itself slowly, so all the stuff that Joyce said before the final scenes were actually her, or her under some kind of influence but not full control. I really like their discussion about the futility of Buffy’s job.

    I also take issue with two things you say in the review. Firstly, and I quote, you said ‘There’s unfortunately a handful of problems that need to be addressed.’ However, you go on to name just one complaint. Secondly, you compare it to ‘Go Fish’ which in my opinion it is vastly better than. The plot of Go Fish is so stupid and hokey that I don’t see how the two episodes are even remotely comparable in terms of quality. ‘Gingerbread’ has a nice premise, a pretty clever plot twist, some excellent humour and some interesting conversations, mainly between Buffy and Joyce. I don’t see how this is rated lower than ‘Witch,’ a similar but far less interesting episode imho.

    Personally, and if this is an unfair accusation please tell me, I think you don’t like S3 very much because it’s not as dark and heavy as the second half of S2, most of S5 and all of S6. On the other hand, I appreciate it for its lighter tone and humour. Other S3 episodes I think you underrate include Homecoming, Amends, the Zeppo and Doppelgangland.

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

    I like this episode, but Mikejer did not underrate it. The only reason why Joyce questioned buffy’s slayer effectiveness is because she is under a spell of some sorts. While I agree that the scene between joyce & buffy where joyce offends her is very fascinating, it doesn’t change the fact that the only reason she did and said those things is because of a spell. Joyce could have thought those things before hand, but I seriously doubt it. If she did think that buffy’s job was pointless, why didn’t she use that in an argument in Faith, Hope, and Trick? I have a serious problem with willow’s mom just forgetting that she tried to kill her own daughter. I know that people shrug supernatural stuff off in this show. but it feels totally unrealistic to me that she would shrug something like that off. If my mother all the sudden wanted to kill me, and then suddenly snapped out of it, She would commit herself, anything to keep me, and the people around her safe. So not only is the plot pointless, it doesn’t make much sense, and doesn’t have very good follow through.

    I like this episode because of the humor, but if it wasn’t as funny as it was, I would never watch it again, And in mikejer’s defense, he didn’t say he didn’t like season three, just that it was a little bit overrated. If you notice in his season 3 review, he called it a “fantastic season” I do respect your opinion FaithFanatic, and I do really enjoy this episode, but mikejer in no way underrated it. If anything I think he was generous towards it.

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

    You make some good points. You’re right that I mention multiple issues, but then only really talk a bunch about one of them — that could have been written better.

    I think I also agree that this is better than “Go Fish” — I was likely far, far too kind on “Go Fish” when I initially reviewed it. You’ll be seeing that review look quite a bit different when I rewrite it soon.

    As for “Gingerbread”, I do think there is more thematic depth present in this episode than I originally thought, but it’s still flawed in ways that T.G. just pointed out quite well. It is pretty funny in places though, which I pointed out in the review.

    T.G. also nailed it in regard to my thoughts on Season 3 overall. I don’t think I’ve even said it’s anything less than a great season. I just think it’s a bit overrated by fans, and find more merit in Season 5. I think Season 3 is probably the third best season, behind 5 and 2, but it’s quite close to 2, maybe even a toss-up. It’s just not one of my favorite seasons, coming in behind 5, 2, and 6 in my list of personal preferences.

    Also note that I am in the process of updating or rewriting all of my earlier reviews (S1-S3/S4), so you’ll likely be seeing huge improvements in review quality for these early season episodes. You can tell if I’ve finished my updates on an episode by whether there’s a large screencap at the very top of the review or not. (Although I’ve put those images already on all the season reviews, updates or not.) I’m at mid-Season 2 in that process right now.

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  65. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on December 14, 2013.]

    Note that Buffy predicts that some of the mob will be turned into fish – works well, given Go Fish in the near future.

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  66. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on December 31, 2013.]

    You can choose to interpret what Joyce says in any way you like. Personally, I think that the spell manifested itself slowly and only took full effect at the end of the episode just prior to the burning scene. So in that sense I consider everything Joyce said to be out of her own mouth and not from the Demon’s Thrall. However, even if it WAS from the demon, that does not render it invalid. For example, in the episode ‘Choices’ MikeJer notes that although the Mayor is evil it doesn’t mean that everything he says is untrue. I consider it the same deal in this episode and it’s actually quite interesting to think about what she says.
    I also don’t think you can dock a full 30 points from an episode just because it isn’t particularly relevant to the arc of the season. Neither is the episode ‘Band Candy’ and yet that scored, if I remember correctly, an A- 90, a full 20 points higher.

    Also, the forgetting of important events by the parents of Sunnydale is hardly exclusive to this episode. In the aforementioned ‘Band Candy’ the parents forget about what they did under a spell – likewise with ‘Once More with Feeling’ and that’s widely regarded as one of the best episodes in the series. I’m sure there are many others but I can’t remember them off the top of my head – how about ‘Graduation Day Pt.2?’ This sort of thing is common in the Buffyverse.

    You’re right, MikeJer never claimed to dislike S3 – but I do get the sense that he favours darker, more emotionally heavy seasons. However, I don’t think every single season has to be like this – this and four make a welcome break between the near operatic Angelus arc and the Glory story.

    Also, I just want to clarify that my only quibble is with the score, which I feel is far too low. I just want to say that I feel it is better than ‘Witch’ ‘Never Kill a Boy on the First Date’ ‘Nightmares’ Out of Mind, Out of Sight’ ‘The Dark Age’ ‘Go Fish’ ‘Homecoming’ ‘Bad Girls’ ‘Enemies’ ‘Living Conditions’ ‘Primeval’ ‘Family’ ‘Triangle’ ‘All the Way’ ‘Doublemeat Palace’ ‘Older and Far Away’ ‘As You Were’ ‘Him’ and ‘End of Days’ – and all of those episodes scored equal or higher than this episode.

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  67. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on December 31, 2013.]

    Im sorry I just don’t agree, the only reason joyce said that being the slayer was fruitless was because she was under a spell. Do you think that joyce would even say that otherwise? no. she would not. even if she was thinking that, it still doesn’t change the fact that the only reason Joyce even said that, was because of a “demons thrall”
    I would have liked to see joyce actually say this because buffy almost got killed in front of her or something, It would have been far more interesting than some corny little demon that hates witchcraft telling joyce to kill her own daughter.

    As for willows mom forgetting about the whole ordeal, You have a good point. This is a problem that ALOT of the buffyverse episodes have, You’d think that the whole world would figure out something was up after all that supernatural shizz. But my main problem with it here is that willow is an ACTUAL character, she is not some extra device person that is just there for a few seconds, She is there to be apart of the story, and what about buffy’s mom? you’d think buffy’s mom would be more upset about the whole event. Missed opportunities are never good. why even go there if your not gonna follow through with it?

    All of those episodes you listed are flawed, but some of them are way better than this. Good comedy unfortunately does not make a good episode. “where the wild things are” is a terrible little episode, but it is funny in different spots. And the episode “beer bad” everyone hates is hilarious to me, But I can admit that it is extremely flawed.

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  68. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on January 1, 2014.]

    As I said, you can choose to think that Joyce said it only under the spell. I do not think she was being controlled by the spell at that point, only influenced by it. Thus even if she may not have voiced that opinion she probably would have been thinking it. Besides, I think you miss the point. It’s not about whether it was Joyce or the demon. A statement can be true even coming from an evil character (see my comparison to the Mayor.)

    I think that for the Buffyverse we should use a Percy Jackson Mist-esque explanation and say people just forget supernatural occurrences.

    Which episodes that I listed do you feel are better?

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  69. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on January 1, 2014.]

    never kill a boy on a first date
    out of mind, out of sight
    homecoming
    bad girls
    Enemies
    living conditions(guilty pleasure of mine)
    family
    doublemeat palace

    that’s about the it. Living conditions is one of my guilty pleasures, but I do admit that it is somewhat mediocre, This episode isn’t awful. it certainly is fun, but it does have a lack of relevance, but that is just my opinion. buffy is a complicated show, opinions tend to be different for everyone.

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  70. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on January 2, 2014.]

    I don’t like Never Kill a Boy on the First Date because Owen is so wooden, while Out of Mind, Out of Sight suffers from poor plotting at the end and all the mediocre production of the first series. Homecoming is about on par with this in my opinion although sometimes it tries too hard to be entertaining, while Enemies has value but I can’t forgive it for the flimsy plot. Living Conditions is not very good, to put it bluntly, although it can be entertaining. I will concede Family – maybe that one is better. Doublemeat Palace … what do you see in that one? It makes me physically ill to watch it and I’m not even exaggerating. It’s one of my bottom 5 episodes of Buffy.

    But you’re right that Buffy is complicated and in most cases there is no one right answer so let’s agree to disagree. Unless there is anything I said that you feel compelled to answer to.

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  71. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on January 8, 2014.]

    I love the title of this episode (I love the title of many episodes). Not only does it recall the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, it refers to the temptation in that story. The house was made of gingerbread, and so the hungry children wandering in the forest were tempted to go to it to eat. Just as the worried adults of Sunnydale, clueless, are tempted by the first explanation for their troubles. But the gingerbread leads to something far worse: they are about to burn their children (just as Hansel and Gretel were nearly burned by the withc).

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  72. [Note: NJ88 posted this comment on January 30, 2014.]

    I actually really like the episode. Sure it’s not a main part of the season storyline arc but it’s fun to watch for sure.

    Willow is great in this episode, some of her lines are fantastic. The ‘sudden whim I had…in August’ is one of my favourites. In fact there are a ton of great one liners from all of the characters. Buffy’s ‘Did I get it?? Did I get it??’, Cordelia’s line about Giles ‘waking up in a coma’ and Giles’s quote which is honestly one of my favourite of the show whilst trying to work the computer .’You stupid fad! Yes I said fad and I’ll say it again!”

    It works really well as a stand alone for me.

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  73. [Note: HippoDignity posted this comment on January 30, 2014.]

    I agree. This is and always will be one of my favorite episodes. It has some of the best quotes in the entire series. Willow’s “a doodle. I do doodle. You too. You do doodle too”, the “one of these times you’re going to wake up in a coma” along with Giles’ facial expression, the conversation between Buffy and Angel about the “boy that stuck his finger in the duck”, and when she’s talking about how her mother said that skating is fruitless. Buffy is adorable when she says “no fruit for Buffy” 🙂 I could go on and on. This is just such an entertaining, stand-alone episode, IMO.

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  74. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on March 13, 2014.]

    This is honestly one of my favorite episodes in the series, and it bothers me that the only thing people take away from it is that Amy turns into a rat at the end!

    Part of this is because this episode deals with an idea that none of the other episodes do: What happens when the populace of Sunnydale tries to deal with the supernatural? Buffy says that the cops wouldn’t help, but this is the only episode where we actually see what happens when the muggles get involved.

    It’s also the only episode that uses the idea of a witch hunt, which is sort of surprising for a supernatural themed show about female empowerment. That’s what Salem was all about when you get right down to it, really– punishing girls for being assertive.

    Lots of solid quippage here, but the most memorable line from this episode is Joyce’s speech at the vigil.

    Mr. Mayor, you’re wrong. This is not a good town.

    How many of us have lost someone who just… disappeared, or got skinned, or suffered “neck rupture”?! And how many of us have been too afraid to speak out? I was supposed to lead us in a moment of silence. But silence is this town’s disease. For too long, it’s been plagued by unnatural evils. It’s not our town anymore. It belongs to the monsters, to the witches and Slayers. I say – it’s time for the grown ups to take Sunnydale back. I say – we start by finding the people who did this and making them pay.

    The other very, very good thing about this episode, and the part that really ratchets up the horror level is how invasive it is. Like Buffy puts it:

    No, it’s just… this hall is about school. You’re about home. Mix them and my world dissolves.

    The library is a safe place for the kids to research. The only time anyone outside of the Scoobies comes to the library is as a joke, like Jonathan does during Passion. Other characters never step foot in the library, let alone come in there and confiscate all of Giles’s books. Willow’s room is where she makes phone calls, not where she gets carried away kicking and screaming by her parents. The episode as a whole gives this terrifying sense of intrusiveness, like none of the safe places are safe anymore.

    And I fail to see how the demonic thrall makes Joyce and Sheila’s actions any less indicative of their real feelings.

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  75. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 25, 2014.]

    I completely agree to most of the people who are in favor of this episode. /
    Gingerbread must be one of Buffy’s most underrated stand alone episodes imho.

    It is absolutely hilarious at the end and it gives me that creepy 90’s vibe. I love the Hansel-Gretal story arc, this is one of the times Buffy gets the plotting right. There are some excellent scenes. Some exceptional dialogue. And some truly disturbing occurrences. I do wish that Joyce almost burning her daughter alive was addressed again in one of the episodes, I mean, that’s not just something you get past, spell or no spell. Other than that, I find myself quite happy with this episode. It’s a treat, really. Every single episode does NOT have to be relevant to the main story arc. And I believe that just because an episode is a stand alone, it should not be looked at differently or rated unfairly.

    Some of the issues they addressed here were never addressed again and that adds to the specialty of this episode. As FaithFanatic correctly supplied, you could interpret the whole Joyce thing any which way you like (That is the charm and ambiguity of it.) but that does not make her words any less relevant.
    I believe that whether or not Joyce said this under the influence, I think these thralls begin to work just as alcohol would. You are compelled to say the things that you feel, whether or not it’s justified to say them. I think Joyce did feel that way somewhere subconsciously, but obviously, if she wasn’t under the thrall she would’ve repressed from saying so. Of course, the spell then begins to take it to the next level and drives her to do unspeakable things.

    Damn, the aftermath must’ve been bad.

    Anyway, despite being a ‘stand-alone’. This episode had a lot of stuff that I look for in a great Buffy episode. At to the midst The Mayer, some fabulous Joyce/Buffy interactions, Sarcastic Willow, Cordy trying to save the day and Giles being absolutely hilarious and you’ve got quite the episode.

    I wouldn’t give this an A+ or a P by any means, but its definitely at B or B+ worthy. I’m looking forward to your Season 3 rewrites, Mike!

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  76. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 25, 2014.]

    I’m also going to add my voice to the chorus of “Gingerbread” lovers. I can’t say I find it to be lacking in relevance whatsoever – Willow’s behaviour in this episode is very important in understanding her arc in season 6, as well as containing some nice foreshadowing, and the plot ties in very nicely with the themes of authority that have been running throughout the season. I agree fully with FaithFanatic that Joyce’s comments to Buffy were her own and only partially influenced by the demon, and her speech about Sunnydale is one of my favourites in the series. Meanwhile, the plot is tight, well-written and keeps a nice tempo, and the atmosphere is nicely dark and moody – it makes excellent use of its fairy tale heritage and is also worth a fair few laughs. It’s hardly one of the best episodes in the series, and it’s one of my least favourites of season 3 (although, to be fair, season 3 has no episodes I don’t love) but a score of 70 strikes me as incredibly harsh. It’s worth a solid B, at the very least.

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  77. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on May 25, 2014.]

    Another few bits that I like in this episode:

    (1) I like how Xander and Oz fall from the ceiling too late to assist. The usual trope is that many people try to help, either working together or separately, and that somehow their efforts converge to save the day, and that no one is indispensable. Yet, how likely is that really? Not very. It’s nice to see that some characters made an effort that turned out to be irrelevant.

    (2) I like the fact that the parents got together to do something. Sure, they did it wrong, but you have to wonder about the general lack of pushback among the parents of Sunnydale.

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  78. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on September 8, 2014.]

    I really love this episode, it gives me chills every time! The only real issue that I have is that Faith is absent, I mean I know that Eliza Dishku wasn’t always available this early in the season but since this is an episode about the persecution of those with supernatural powers it doesn’t really make sense for her not to be in it, also remember that in Joyce’s speech she mentions ‘slayers’ plural suggesting that she was targeting both of them under the demon’s thrall and since she is my favourite character in the Buffyverse I would have loved to see her in this ep. Maybe I am nitpicking here as it is still a great episode of Buffy that ties in nicely with this seasons ongoing themes of authority and control and contains some great character development and excellently funny quotes!

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  79. [Note: SomeGuy posted this comment on May 3, 2015.]

    I love this episode. The funniest part it that there was no crime at all, the children were just the demon in disguise. When dealing with the issues of moral panic and/or mass hysteria, it’s right there with Simpson’s “Much Apu about nothing” and House’s “Airborne”. Sure, there is a demon causing it, but that’s always the magic of Buffy, turning the demons of our youth, and our society, into living beings. It can be seen as a decent fantasy/adventure series, but if you pay attention, there’s so much more.

    I can almost hear Buffy’s mom screaming as Helen Lovejoy, “Oh, won’t somebody please think of the children!”

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  80. [Note: dilleysb posted this comment on May 7, 2015.]

    I used to categorize this as a “not that great” episode but after re watching it today, I think it’s due more respect. Joyce’s actions stem from the same fear a lot of people exhibit: evil things happen in the universe and good people hate feeling (and being) powerless to combat this reality. They desperately want to feel they can change that outcome. So they band together and “come up with a plan” that may or may not actually combat the evil but it gives them the illusion of control and that comforts them. Of course any control, even illusory control means power, which we all know corrupts absolutely. From here come the beatings, the book burnings and the executions and yes, they end up as evil as the big bad they were frightened of but at the bottom, they are just very frightened people. This episode does a lot toward explaining the roots of intolerant, isolationist, or fundamentalist groups and why it is so difficult for them to see the flaws in their own behavior. These people are not bad at heart. They are frightened souls fighting for a sense of structure in a chaotic world. That doesn’t make they right. It makes them human.

    Like

  81. [Note: OhPointyBird posted this comment on May 12, 2015.]

    hi, no idea if anybody is still here… I’m just re watching the whole series, introducing it to my 15yo daughter. IT’S A HIT!

    I don’t think anyone has raised the connection between Buffy and Joyce’s conversation here with the going son in The Wish. Joyce suggests that Buffy’s efforts are futile, that her approach is ineffective. But we, the audience, are the only ones who know just how effective Buffy’s efforts are, because we have *seen* the alternative. Unfortunately, nobody in-universe knows this, and Buffy is left to question her own worth here.

    Anyway, hi from Oztralia 😉

    Like

  82. [Note: Big Time James posted this comment on December 20, 2015.]

    I would give this episode an A. It’s what I watched the show for. Supremely entertaining.

    A precursor to Espenson’s work on Once Upon a Time.

    I find this whole idea of grading episodes based on the presence of long-form soap operatics bizarre.

    Like

  83. [Note: brysonm posted this comment on April 11, 2016.]

    I just re-watched this episode. I’ve always really liked it, and thought it was really funny, but I never noticed that they try to burn Willow and Buffy alive inside the school. Why doesn’t this building have a sprinkler system? Aren’t they worried about smoke inhalation, or the building just straight catching fire with everyone inside?

    Other than that, pretty solid, funny episode.

    Like

  84. [Note: Sisu posted this comment on April 26, 2016.]

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been reading those reviews for a few years (I watch Buffy way to often) and never commented before, but for this episode I really feel called to do so. I actually almost considered skipping it because from previous viewings I remembered it being very creepy… But I ended up watching it, and I must say I find it very relevant to the season and the series. Here’s a few reason:

    -It does tie into the season’s theme of authority, and the behaviours of parental figures. We could actually see it as sort of the mirror or reverse situation from Band Candy. In Band Candy, the adults all become completely irresponsible and dismissive (ex. Buffy has a hard time to get Joyce and Giles to care about what’s going on), whereas here in Gingerbread they get over-reactive and authoritarian, even though they don’t actually have a clue what’s going on.

    -As OhPointyBird pointed out, it follows-up on The Wish, because that episode made very clear the importance of the slayer, which Buffy is made to doubt here by Joyce comments.

    -And more importantly about what Joyce says, something that I don’t think has been pointed out: Joyce says something that is very true about Buffy and Slayers in general: evil keeps popping up and Buffy reacts to it, but never develops any kind of long-term plan to end it, or at least lessen it… until season 7! In season 7, we see Buffy saying that they’re not gonna wait anymore for The First to attack, they’re gonna take the fight to him, and she/they does end up finally CHANGING the world instead of just SAVING it, trough activating all the Potentials (and also trough getting rid of the hell mouth though she didn’t planned for that part). Which makes this episode relevant to the series long theme of the role of the slayer, and how it’s limited (by the watcher’s council)… or maybe in other words the theme of how one goes about making the world a better place (aka.be an activist).

    -Also I want to support the point made by someone that this episode is relevant to understand Willow on the long term.. I’m glad that we got to see her mom and and how much she, like Joyce doesn’t pay much attention to her daughter… I found the conversation between Joyce and her mother before they set fire to their daughters “we should stay close, have lunch” very creepy and realistic of how parents can sometimes bound over oppressing their children… all that really ties into the theme of authority, to come back to my first point.

    So overall I think it’s a very relevant episode and maybe the real problem is that it wasn’t referenced and talked about by the characters later on… But now that I think of it, it also makes sense because personally I don’t talk in my daily life with my friends about the horrible things my parents put me trough- even though those experience marked me and certainly influence how I react to people everyday… Maybe in watching the next episodes I’ll try to look for subtile hints that Buffy doesn’t feel the same way about her mother as she used too… But I’ll admit that maybe I’m starting to give the writers to much credit!

    Mike, are you stil thinking of updating those reviews? A bunch of years has passed since you said you would, so I’m guessing you moved on?

    Like

  85. [Note: Hosman posted this comment on August 26, 2016.]

    If anyone is still around…I have a question, was The Mayor under the influence of the demon, like Joyce and the other mobsters?

    Like

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