[Review by Mike Marinaro]
[Writer: Jane Espenson | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 02/20/2001]
Let me start off by saying “I Was Made to Love You” is a strong candidate for “Surprise Hit” of the season. There’s a whole lot more to like here than it’s given credit for. I’ll be up front and admit that the AprilBot itself doesn’t always work for me, which is just barely enough to rob this from an A-range grade. Everything else, though, succeeds marvelously with unbelieveably superb and sharp character work for Buffy. The plot, like most Buffy episodes, is actually intended to further the depth and journey of the characters. This material focuses right on Buffy: her expectations, beliefs, wants, worries, and ultimately a big realization. Once again we have an episode where the plot only exists to service the characters, which is exactly what I love seeing in my entertainment.
I’m going to start off by talking about the one major thing I didn’t care for, and that is Espenson’s attempt to make me feel sorry for the AprilBot. Unfortunately I just don’t really give a hoot about the AprilBot and the episode fails at making her very sympathetic, although its final scene is both touching and important because of its direct affect on Buffy. But the constant shots of it asking people where Warren is and many of those people ridiculing it isn’t sad because it’s a robot and it has nearly no personality. Ultimately, though, the AprilBot is a very small portion of the episode and doesn’t drag it down very much.
Okay, now moving onto the many highlights. The episode begins with a wonderful scene involving Buffy punching an unseen Xander while venting over the fact Spike wants her. She complains that there must be something about her that made him think that she was the one for him, which makes her “feel dirty” (which is exactly how she feels during S6). I think there are three dominating factors to help explain why Spike fell in love with her: she’s the Slayer, she’s got a complex personality, and Spike’s been restrained for so long from relieving himself by killing her that the killing instinct has turned into sexual attraction and, now, love. The slayer part of Buffy appeals to Spike’s vampiric and sexual side while her complex personality appeals to his poetic side retained from William, which he’s tried so hard to wash away over the years but will always be stuck with.
While that may help explain where Spike’s coming from, it doesn’t help Buffy much right now. She verbalizes that she hopes there’s still a guy out there she doesn’t scare away with her “uncanny strength and remarkable self involvement.” This is both a strong nod to her relationship with Riley and allows for Buffy to be very introspective, even though I think she’s still neglecting to see why she often seems self-involved–she’s sacrificing herself day-by-day for others through her job as the Slayer, so the rest of the time she’s thinking about herself which, honestly, is understandable.
Buffy’s unique situation makes me wonder if it will ever be possible for her to live the “normal life.” I think it may take a lot more time after the end of the series, but I think it is possible for her to have that. Xander, like usual, tries to cheer Buffy up and offers a possible answer to this craziness: “You ever think maybe the reason you haven’t found a great relationship on the hellmouth is… because it’s a hellmouth? Seems to me it’s a pretty terrible place to try to build anything.” And how about Puffy Xander? His interaction with Buffy here is incredibly sweet. Also sweet is seeing the two of them dance together later on as friends with so much respect for one another (a far cry from their last dance in “When She Was Bad” [2×01] ). Anya being all proud she let it happen is amusing too.
All of this self analyzing by Buffy convinces her that she needs to change something about herself to make a relationship work, which is the character plot of the episode. This is why she jumps at the opportunity to hang out with Ben in “Crush” [5×14] and almost dances with him later on here. I enjoyed the way she positioned herself in Ben’s view so he could initiate the conversation. Earlier Buffy was pondering ways to make guys like her more and said, “Maybe I could change. You know, I could, I could work harder. I could spend less time slaying, I could laugh at his jokes, I mean, men like that, right, the, the joke-laughing-at?” As she talks with Ben, he makes a bad joke and she laughs in a way that brings us right back to Cordelia in “Reptile Boy” [2×05] who said, “Dr. Debi says when a man is speaking you make serious eye contact, and you really, really listen, and you laugh at everything he says.” A little creepy to see that Cordelia’s been there, done that, over three years ago. This behavior makes Buffy no different than the AprilBot, whose only purpose is loving her man.
Anyway, right when Buffy thinks she might really be beginning something with Ben Spike shows up and bugs her. After retreating from mean looks he gives some fun expressions while watching Buffy and Ben talk together. Eventually he gets fed up and whispers something dirty to the AprilBot and hilariously gets thrown through a window. Then the AprilBot tosses Buffy across the room and simply says, apologetically, “If I hurt you just now, I’m sorry. And I hope that your boyfriend will take good care of you.” The sad, pouty look on Buffy’s face is priceless. You can tell that comment dug deep and hurt a lot more than the physical pain she’s feeling at the moment.
The AprilBot was designed to be the perfect girlfriend and devoted everything to Warren, yet it still didn’t work out. This is like an epiphany to Buffy who has been acting just like the AprilBot when interacting with Ben. She realizes “I don’t need a guy right now. I need me. I need to get comfortable being alone with Buffy.” She then immediately calls Ben again and tells him that she’s not ready to go out with him. A big w00t for Buffy for realizing that she needs to understand herself before being able to have a real shot at being a part of a successful relationship. Even after another two years of regression, confusion, and discovery we find out that she’s still not completely done discovering who she is. This episode represents the last we see of this part of Buffy’s exploration, a point which is repeated during the infamous “cookie dough” speech in “Chosen” [7×22] .
At the very end of the episode, after Buffy’s relationship journey is temporarily wrapped up in favor of self exploration, we see the beginning of the Pain Era. Joyce on the couch. Oh my what a painful moment after such an overall cheery episode. Here it is everyone, the bridge to Act III of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Act I being S1-S3, Act II being S4-now). Looking back at this episode I must say I’m quite impressed. When it wasn’t so focused on the AprilBot I discovered that this has a lot of depth, character moments, discoveries, and humor. We get to see Buffy giggle and be happy for the last time in very long while. Warren was introduced along with plans for the BuffyBot. We get to enjoy Puffy Xander. We see Joyce happy and alive for the last time. Although the AprilBot misses the mark in of itself, it still functions as a useful tool for Buffy’s development. All in all, “I Was Made to Love You” turns out to be quite the pleasure, flaws included.
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
+ April innocently walking into Sunnydale wanting “true love,” which is laughable after being shown Buffy’s troubles in that area over the years.
+ It’s nice to see Joyce so happy before her sudden tragedy. Damn Whedon!
+ Anya pointing out the AprilBot’s odd speech pattern and Xander complimenting Anya for the same thing.
+ Tara getting a little jealous at Willow’s reaction to the AprilBot.
+ The unanimous and casual agreement of the Scooby Gang that April must be a robot.
+ Joyce teasing Buffy with fake sexual comments.
+ Warren getting all excited to tell Buffy that that April’s a robot. Buffy’s trying to tell him she already knows leading to the enevitable “uh huh.”
+ How often Spike is running around in the daytime with a flaming blanket over his head.
+ Giles going into full-on Ripper mode when telling Spike to leave the shop and “get over” Buffy.
+ The ‘robot eyes’ view from the AprilBot’s perspective is very amusing.
+ Glory’s reaction to Buffy turning Ben down for a date: “what the hell?” and then “she turned us down?”
+ Spike gets desparate and has Warren begin construction of the BuffyBot. Oh my.
* Buffy calls Warren “one creepy little dweeb.” Need I say more?