[Review by Mike Marinaro]
[Writer: Marti Noxon | Director: David Grossman | Aired: 10/12/1999]
This episode is a stand-alone which doesn’t do much for character or plot development, but remains very fun nonetheless. Buffy’s in college now and it’s fun to see the writers tackle the “bad roommate” topic through, of course, a metaphor! Buffy’s roommate turns out to actually be a demon (although she doesn’t appear to be from a hell dimension). It seems like Buffy and Willow weren’t roommates from the beginning just so they could do an episode like this. I suppose that’s convenient, but since Kathy goes away in this episode and it’s so much fun, I think I can forgive the writers.
Early on we see Buffy hanging out at Giles’ apartment as a way to escape being with Kathy. I must say that Buffy is sweet, cute, and absolutely adorable during this scene. It’s fun when Giles points out what all of us are thinking, “Uh, it’s a good day for me, actually. A friend of mine recently acquired a-uh an original Gutenberg demonography… and it suddenly occurred to me that you’ve never once asked me what my day’s plans were, which leads me to inquire whether you’re feeling entirely yourself.” Giles almost immediately gets the truth out of Buffy while at the same time illustrating the point that he is really at loose ends. Buffy says, “Ok, you’re not having one of those mid-life things, are you? ‘Cause I’m still going ‘ick’ from the last time you tried to recapture your youth.” The truth of the matter is that he actually is in the beginning stages of a “mid-life thing.” We’ll see even more of this as he begins to hang out with Xander a lot in upcoming episodes.
A small moment I enjoyed was Parker’s dining card speech to Buffy and her subsequent excitement over a new guy making conversation with her. Sure in retrospect her giddiness with Parker is kind of painful (in the good way) to watch, but it’s always fun to see Buffy this excited.
I liked the zoom ins and sound effects used throughout the episode. During a few scenes sounds are amplified and mundane things like clipping nails or biting into a sandwich are brought into full focus. We’ve never seen BtVS do this, at least quite to this extent, and it’s funny and fresh to see in a stand-alone. I really enjoyed the zoom ins on Buffy eyes as she scowls at the ketchup dripping on her shirt and then later Willow eating her food, right after she says that she thinks she is pretty outgoing. Sure it’s lightweight, but it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t come across as cheesy or silly. All of these comments directly apply to the milk scene, which is: OMG. That’s how much I love it when Buffy opens a carton of milk and tries to drink the entire thing in one chug, even when most of it starts pouring out of her mouth and onto the floor. The reason why I can be amused by a moment like this because this of its rarity in BtVS. Plus, the fact that Buffy’s soul is slowly being taken away from her perfectly explains all of wonky behavior.
One thing that bothers me a bit is how little conversation we get about no soul Buffy. We see that Buffy’s soul dissipates to the point of willing to kill someone she thinks is human. Frankly, I’d be fascinated to see a little bit more of what a no soul Buffy is capable of — that’d be really fun to watch. It would have been even more interesting if she’d killed a human in this state and then got her soul back afterwards. Imagine the possibilities for making commentary on Angel. This isn’t a big deal for me or anything, it’s just something I’m curious about.
Pretty much the only outright complaint I have of the episode is the silly demons and their corny language. They do not get any development and were simply there to bring Kathy back to their dimension. Also, the joke at the end about Kathy being treated like she’s only 900 year old wasn’t funny to me in the slightest. Anyway, this episode delivers the goods — I was thoroughly entertained by this amusing but completely inconsequential episode.
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
+ Buffy being nice but is continuously prevented from leaving her dorm by Kathy.
+ Xander finding ways to meet with the group at the university.
+ Kathy squeezing in on the Gang’s space which makes everyone uncomfortable.
+ Willow’s “oops I’m sorry!” expression after she realised her “BEAR!” yelp was the wrong cover-up.
+ Willow also having a terrible roommate.
+ Buffy swallowing her gum when Kathy complains about gum being everywhere.
+ Tremendously creepy nightmare which apparently really happened (i.e. blood down throat).
+ Buffy never comes to Giles’ place on a routine day while Oz never comes on routine patrol with Buffy. No point here, just an interesting observation.
+ The group tying Buffy up thinking she’s possessed.
+ When Kathy’s face comes off Buffy amusingly yells “I knew it!”
– Why does Kathy make vampire grunting noises?
* When Buffy cuts in line to escape Kathy, Parker says “stay, I’ll watch your back.” After Buffy smiles and turns around his eyes shift downward and he checks her out. This is definately a hint of what he’s really after, which we fully see in “The Harsh Light of Day” [4×03].
* Oz and Veruca sense each other as they briefly walk by even though they don’t know each other yet. This comes up in a major way in “Wild at Heart” [4×06].