Buffy 6×12: Doublemeat Palace

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson | Director: Nick Marck | Aired: 01/29/2002]

Paralysis: a state of helpless stoppage, inactivity, or inability to act.

I started this review with a definition for a specific purpose, which is that “Doublemeat Palace” (DMP) has a very well executed point and theme at its core that excellently connects the viewer emotionally with its characters. This makes it a very important episode in the S6 lineup. While still definitely flawed, I’m going to get into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of all this craziness. In short, I find DMP to be a very unique and frequently funny, gross, and disturbing episode that has utmost importance being in S6 for its theme and purposefully negative emotional connection. This may all sound pretty wacky, much like DMP itself, so let me begin doing some earnest ‘splainin.

Large portions of this episode are quirky and oddly paced, framed, and acted. Sometimes the episode even feels like it’s completely devoid of much of anything. Quiet staring, long scenes, a weird atmosphere, and a whole lot of gross characterize much of this episode. Normally, this would be a bad thing. But I feel this is an episode designed to be flawed. I’d argue this was even Espenson’s goal here. The point is that it accurately makes you feel what the characters are going through this season: the boredom, despair, disorganization, and assorted chaos. None of these are particularly positive emotions, which is why many people interpret what they’re feeling as hate towards the episode itself. Personally, I think everyone’s missing the point.

A flawed episode to service deliciously flawed characters? It might just be so. In my humble opinion, entertainment isn’t just about laughing and having a grand old time. It can also be about learning, growing, and — most of all — feeling through characters we’ve come to love. Even negative emotions — if done right — can be enthralling to experience through a conduit such as the characters on Buffy. “Doublemeat Palace” is an episode that, yes, punches me in the gut with the emotional reality of these characters. They’re really having a hard time, and unlike so many other shows which aren’t willing to go all the way, Buffy continues to buy my emotions and make me continue to care, even when it’s flawed (intentionally or not), because so much of what we see here is just so emotionally real. Although an episode like “Go Fish” [2×20] may be a whole lot funnier than this, I’ll take structurally daring and emotionally risky over modestly funny any day.

“Doublemeat Palace” certainly has some major problems (which I’ll get into later), but its guts certainly isn’t one of them. It takes a huge risk in asking its viewers to share in the characters’ pain, suffering, and boredom. I personally love seeing risks like this: seeing a show spill itself all over the floor and demand so much from its characters and its audience. Although DMP doesn’t completely succeed when you put it all together, I can’t speak highly enough of the show’s willingness to have deeply flawed characters and even, at times, be flawed itself to make a point about the characters. All that I’ve just described is something I constantly feel Buffy fans often miss out on, especially when it comes to this season. So with all that said, it’s time to address character threads.

Thankfully, last episode, Buffy came to the important realization that she didn’t still want to die. Although that’s very important progress, she’s hardly all better. From zoning out on the meat slicer (a throwback to the fountain stare in “Flooded” [6×04] ) to Spike’s precise “You’re not happy here” speech to the fact that even sex with Spike is becoming a routine distraction from her problems — she looks bored. All of this is why she’s at the point where she’s willing to go even further into the black in the next episode. When Spike says, “You don’t belong here. You’re something… you’re better than this,” he’s completely right, but he’s completely failing to see the point and is completely oblivious to the reasons why she doesn’t just be with him and enjoy it. It’s called guilt over the effect her absence and occasional negligence is having on Dawn, which stems from not only the promise she made her mom in the hospital last year, but also from her own core morality.

This is why I feel Spike’s comment reflects right back on him. Buffy’s better than Spike. At her core she’s a moral, responsible, and utterly amazing woman, one that Spike cannot fully see, understand, or comprehend. While he certainly loves her greatly, he’s only unknowingly continuing to bring her down while she’s in this broken state. To Spike’s credit, he’s not inflicting this pain on Buffy intentionally, but he simply doesn’t have the moral capacity to realize what effect he’s having on her. Unfortunately, it takes a near-rape for this reality to open up nakedly in front of him and, to his credit, he does something about it.

Let me now go back to the definition I opened this review with: paralysis. This word has meaning permeating not only this episode, but this entire part of the season. In the literal, immediate sense, we have the paralyzing penis monster! Yes, it’s extremely out there, but I have to say that it really works for me. Wig Lady says “[the] paralysis means I can eat you slowly.” This is a very adult metaphor — and yes metaphors are still an integral part of the series — for how Buffy’s sexual relationship with Spike is slowly killing her, which is a realization she eventually verbalizes in “As You Were” [6×15] , but has a continued effect all the way through “Seeing Red” [6×19] . Her root problem is that she’s inable to break away from it — Buffy is too torn up inside to do much of anything, and the news she got back in “Smashed” [6×09] that she might have come back “wrong” is fueling all of this forward.

All in all, Buffy’s a complete mess right now, with the only consolation being that’s she’s not suicidal anymore. Many people complain that S6 drags Buffy and Spike’s ordeal out too long, but I couldn’t disagree more. Every episode since “Smashed” [6×09] has been relevant towards this relationship and has propelled it forward. Now that all the foundation has been set, though, it’s time for an episode that has the characters really start to see inside themselves and start piecing together what it all means and what’s next. How lucky for us, then, that “Dead Things” [6×13] does just that!

Although I’ve been mostly positive and enthralled by the style and issues tackled by DMP, it’s unfortunately far from a great episode. My major problems mostly consist of Buffy’s freak-out over the alleged human burgers, which is way over the top, the mid-episode Buffy/Willow/Xander scene where they discuss the “Gary burger,” which just drags on and on and is not funny at all, Willow’s constant “it’s not magic!” outbursts, which are pretty irritating, and Amy’s characterization from this point on. I hate her dialogue to Willow about “how it made you feel.” Corny and trite. What is Amy’s issue anyway? At the end of the episode, it seems like it’s that Willow took so long to de-rat her, but this idea is never developed after this.

Because I’d like to end on a positive, I’ll say that one little moment I really appreciated was seeing Dawn making a big realization about Buffy’s future. She says, “(sighs) Buffy’s never gonna be a lawyer, or a doctor [or a software developer ;)]. Anything big.” Xander truthfully replies, “She’s a Slayer. She saves the whole world. That’s way bigger.” Dawn then says, “But that means she’s gonna have like crap jobs her entire life, right? Minimum wage stuff. I mean, I could still grow up to be anything. But for her… this is it.” This is a really insightful bit of character growth for Dawn, which I think makes her respect Buffy even more than she already did. Wow, we needed more of this kind of development from Dawn throughout the entire season. Great stuff.

Anyway, to wrap up, all I ask is that you consider what I’ve said here, and try to watch “Doublemeat Palace” with a different perspective next time. It’s definitely got problems, but when you dig below the surface, it’s a surprisingly daring and emotionally naked episode. It also doesn’t have the egregious character slip-ups we saw in “Wrecked” [6×10] and the severe execution issues of “Gone” [6×11] , which is why it scores better than both of those. I’m fully aware that this isn’t a popular opinion, but I take great pleasure in seeing something like this rather than the simplicity of much of the very early days of the series.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Love the continuity from “Gone” [6×11] . To Buffy’s credit, she went out and got herself a job to support Dawn and get Social Services off her back.
+ Xander saying that Jonathan should have learned his lesson (see “Superstar” [4×17] ).
+ The Doublemeat Palace training video is utterly hilarious!
+ The entire DMP staff/environment.
+ Buffy’s reaction to Manny imposing the Medley burger on her.
+ The abrupt cut to the meat slab.
+ Buffy mentioning waitressing “that summer in L.A.” (see “Anne” [3×01] ).
+ The group visiting Buffy at work.
+ Xander imparting his fast food working experience knowledge onto Buffy.
+ The genuine surprise that Buffy showed up for her second day.
+ The crazy/creepy ‘ear guy.’ I love Buffy’s reactions to him.
+ Xander bailing when Halfrek arrives.
+ Halfrek’s probing questions about why Anya’s marrying Xander, which start to make Anya doubt herself.
+ Amy wanting her cage back. This is unfortunately the last positive Amy moment in the entire series.
+ A lesbian defeating a penis monster… wait, I need a minute here… busy laughing!
+ Willow’s dual meaning of “Stay away from me” towards Amy.




74 thoughts on “Buffy 6×12: Doublemeat Palace”

  1. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on December 17, 2007.]

    A very interesting review, mike. You really nailed all the right issues and I completely agree with your score. Actually, I´m glad that I´m not the only one who likes this episode. Sure it has problems but I still think it speaks alot about the characters. It´s a weird episode but we´re supposed to feel like that.
    And I cannot wait for your next review. keep up the great work.


  2. [Note: Rick posted this comment on December 17, 2007.]

    I think all of your comments are legitimate, and most of your points about quality ring true; however, at the same time, the episode is simply to silly at times to allow many of us to seriously approach its theme, which is a shame. I can’t see giving this ep any higher than 60-65.

    P.S. Good to see you are reviewing again!


  3. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on December 17, 2007.]

    Yay! another review!

    I must say that Doublemeat Palace really suffers from being the third mediocre episode in a row. Looking at your review scores, I believe this is the first time since S1 that there have been 3 C-range episodes in a row. Whatever the episode’s positive qualities, that’s pretty painful. Having said that, I don’t despise the episode like most people, and I think you raised a lot of good points in your review.


  4. [Note: Kyarorin posted this comment on December 17, 2007.]

    Great review, and glad to see you back again.

    My only real problem with this episode (aside from the whole Amy thing – she just bugs me) is that, do most fast food places have a meat grinder? I thought that was done at the place where they acquire the meat, not right in the store. Though I don’t know much about the fast food industry so I could be wrong.

    One thing I like about this episode is the staff’s obsession with years and management. They all act like it’s the most important thing in the world, which is just incredibly amusing.


  5. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on December 17, 2007.]

    I think that the lack of an actual, epic arc in S6 hurts it midway through. You get a long line of mediocre episodes without even any teasers from the Big Bad. You just start to wonder why you should care.

    You do have good points as to the theme of the episode. And, while I’ve never worked in fast food (thank goodness), I’ve worked in a retail place that seems eerily similar to the DMP. Unfortunately, this episode comes right before the much-better episode “Dead Things” so I’m usually eager to get through it.


  6. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 17, 2007.]

    gabrielleabelle, the Big Bad (which is very clearly ‘life,’ not the Trio) is very present in these mid-season episodes. Although I’d hardly call three episodes a “long line,” I do admit that it’s a pretty big slump for Buffy‘s usually high standard of quality. With that said, though, there’s still some very fascinating things going on even in these overall mediocre episodes, which I hope I’ve brought to light. πŸ™‚


  7. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on December 17, 2007.]

    Ack, ya got me. To clarify, while the Big Bad that is life is very clearly visible throughout the season, it’s not a concrete enemy like Glory or the Mayor. Instead, we get the equivalent of a dark, supernatural soap opera as the characters battle…life.

    And I’m not exactly dissing on S6 here, because I appreciate what they’re trying to do (And I think when S6 is good, it’s VERY good at presenting the psychological issues that it’s trying to get across). But when the main enemy is life, itself, it can get a little tiresome.

    And you obviously have a better attention span than me. Three mediocre eps in a row drag. But, then again, I can’t watch any of the LOTR movies in one sitting.


  8. [Note: KevBot posted this comment on December 18, 2007.]

    What a terrific review. I recently discovered this site looking for quality Buffy reviews online, and I’m so happy I stumbled across this. I love your metered and thorough discussions of every episode – most people would cut off their own foot before admitting to any good in DMP. I’m *very* interested in your take on “Dead Things” and later Season 6 episodes, and I’m especially excited that you’re treating Season 8 as canonical (which it is.) Thank you again for this.


  9. [Note: Woohoo1729 posted this comment on December 18, 2007.]

    Mike, you always manage to make me appreciate these later seasons more than I did originally lol.

    I agree with gabrielleabelle, that “when the main enemy is life, itself, it can get a little tiresome.” Especially, as I’ve mentioned before, cuz I watched these episodes as they originally aired so this “long line” of the mediocre episode slump spanned not 2-3 hrs but at least 5-6 weeks.

    But I totally agree with you that much of the blehhh-feeling that we get from these episodes is what we’re supposed to be feeling, and the writers really did succeed in many ways in conveying this to us. I like the explanation, “a flawed episode to service deliciously flawed characters?”–certainly one that I’ve given about the later seasons. The show definitely grew up along with the characters. And it wasn’t always pretty.


  10. [Note: MrB posted this comment on December 21, 2007.]

    This may be more of a comment that belongs in one of the forums. These mediocre episodes in the middle of a very different season concerning “life” represents to me what has often be described as the “dark night of the soul ” (DNotS). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Night_of_the_Soul This is the point at which everything in life comes into question and there are yet no clear answers. There is no clear path out of the dark.

    The main three characters at this point (Buffy, Willow, and Xander) have been deeply affected by years of fight the good fight that none of them were prepared for when they started out. Buffy was appointed without her permission, and the other two signed up without truly realizing what they were to give up and gain. There is no way that you can do that and go from adolescence to young adulthood on your own and in silence about what you do. It’s not like they could go out and tell their shrink or pastor, priest, imam, shaman, or other spiritual adviser about what they do on a daily basis.

    Watching people struggle is not as fun as watching them kick butt. But is it more rewarding longer term if they come through it or they become the people they are to become. The DNotS journey is gut-wrenching to live thorough, not only for those going through it, but for those watching and loving those that are. As a parent, it is horrible to watch someone you love struggle. You want to jump in and help. You know it can be better. But you also know that the struggle can be what is needed. You also know that the DNotS could do permanent damage or send the loved one down a path of despair that they can not recover from.

    I am talking about my relationship with my son (17) and step-daughter (24). I could be talking about Giles at this point in the series. That’s the point. At this stage of S6, we are still in the DNotS, we don’t know how long they are going to be in it, and we don’t know what is going to happen to them. They could come out as stronger, more loving, level-headed people. They could come out destroyed.

    At this point in the series, there has been so much invested in these three characters that they deserve to go through whatever it is that they are going through and take us along with them. Buffy was never Chuck Norris. http://www.chucknorrisfacts.com/ We never wanted her to be. But, because of that, we have to sit through much more uncomfortable stuff sometimes. That’s what were are doing right here in this stretch of episodes.

    Discussion of the outcome of the DNotS journey will be left for epsisodes yet to come.



  11. [Note: BreakAtmo posted this comment on December 23, 2007.]

    I personally enjoy S6 very much, and I love this episode, along with many others that seem to be commonly derided. I also don’t seem to have the problems most have with Willow’s addiction, although, I do find the comparison a little iffy, as magic can be used for good as well as bad, while drugs are just bad all around, but as this is addressed in S7 by Giles, it may be that this was the point – the Scoobies’ ‘cold turkey’ solution was a bad move, partially causing the emergence of Dark Willow.

    Whatever the case, I find DMP a good episode, there are many funny parts, mostly addressed here – Buffy’s “I was feeling like a tool”, the training vid, Manny’s obsession with his sad little ’10 years’ badge, the huge slab of meat right when Gary’s disppearance is being discussed, etc. I also laughed at other scenes – the Soylent Green homage was, if you’ll forgive the pun, delicious (Wig Lady’s “What about the apple pie?” was beyond funny and exquisitely timed), and Xander’s constant retching following his ‘hot, delicious human flesh’ discovery was entertaining. There was a great use of ‘red herring’ in DMP as well – I love it when something crazy, such as a psychotic penis monster coming out of an old woman’s head, comes right out of left field. I was also moved by some parts – specifically, during Spike’s little speech, Buffy keeps trying to be strong, until she gets to the point where she’s about to break down, and says, pathetically, “I need the money”. S6’s theme of “Real Life is the Big Bad” is very strong in that line. In the end, I thought this episode was a good move, and it makes the season’s following Doublemeat Palace scenes much better.


  12. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 6, 2008.]

    BreakAtmo, the parallel is closer than you suggest, because you’ve fallen for a fallacy of the drug war, that `drugs are just bad all around’. Drugs are mimics of, or blockers of, substances the body already creates (otherwise they could have no pharmacological effect). As such, they can be used as *tools*, but as you’re manipulating a complex and poorly understood system, doing so is fraught with risks. (A nice example is the way that ADHD can be treated by dosage with Ritalin, caffiene, or amphetamines, all of which appear to have the same mechanism of action, even though some formulations of some of these drugs are very much Bad by your definition.)

    The same seems to me to be true of magic in the Buffyverse, and in a lot of other fiction: perilous, costly, but potentially useful.


  13. [Note: jun posted this comment on March 14, 2008.]

    Like others have said, your reviews are good for helping one appreciate S6 even more on subsequent viewings.

    I must comment, though, that “dispair” should really be “despair.” πŸ™‚


  14. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 14, 2008.]

    jun, Thanks for the heads up on the misspelled word — it’s been fixed. I encourage everyone to point out when I have errors like that in my writing, but I do prefer it if you send them via e-mail or private message (on the forums).


  15. [Note: Kyarorin posted this comment on March 31, 2008.]

    After a re-watch of this, I find it much more enjoyable than I did the first few times, thanks mostly to the review. The vegetarian half of me tends to focus more on the disturbingness of it all rather than what it’s doing for the characters.

    But that’s all yammering. What I came to say was that I found this line of Xander’s very interesting, in context of the series:

    Xander: I think you’re seeing demons where there’s just life.

    It’s possible I’m reading too much into it, but it seems more representative to the season as a whole rather than just this episode.


  16. [Note: Paula posted this comment on April 29, 2008.]

    Just wanted to post that I recently found these reviews and have very much enjoyed reading them. They’re quite insightful, even if I don’t agree with every detail of your analyses.

    Would love to see you review the rest of the series too, but I certainly understand if time, energy and similar are an issue… It’s a big job you’ve done so far already!


  17. [Note: lee posted this comment on May 4, 2008.]

    Its definitly the characters that make S6 a good one, rather than the plots n storylines. This eps OK, it aint THAT good, when you look back over the season, theres alot more stand out episodes and i found DMP pretty forgettable.(although i liked disc3, which alot of people seem not to like)


  18. [Note: Nix posted this comment on May 5, 2008.]

    lee, the good thing about buffy is *always* the characters. Let’s face it, while it is good that Buffy actually has story arcs (it’s what makes it rewatchable, unlike, say, Star Trek), the actual plots in those arcs are generally rather sucky, and when the writers try to make them complex loose threads hang off all over the place (e.g. the forgotten Knights of Byzantium and whoops-mislaid-for-a-season Dagon Sphere in season 5). However, generally, the plot arc drives changes in the characters: in this season, it’s sort of the other way around.

    (Actually, many have complained that some characters, notably Buffy, seem to have yo-yo personalities in this season: down one ep, up the next. (They often go on to say that this depended on whether the episode was written by Marti Noxon or not.)

    Whether or not that is the case, the fact is that depressed people really *do* yo-yo like that. This is a case of being too realistic to be real. πŸ™‚ )


  19. [Note: TOM posted this comment on May 29, 2008.]

    Hey, did anyone noticed that mikejer changed his Top10? And I loved it!

    “Dead Things” is such a wonderful episode and sure better than “Selfless”. I was ready to coment in your Dead Things review that you should’ve placed it in the Top10. But you noticed the fact by yourself!


  20. [Note: wagdog posted this comment on June 22, 2009.]

    I just watched DMP for the first time and I too thought it was mediocre at best. Better than “Gone” for sure but still blah. However, I will admit I never considered the points that Mike raised in his review, namely that it was intended this way to reflect what the characters were going through. Interesting idea, I’m just not sure I buy it (I’ll have to grok on it).

    Willow continues to annoy with this whole way overdone addiction thing. Is it just me or does Alyson not know how to properly play an addicted Willow? It seems like she’s laying an addict stereotype over the Willow character. The two don’t seem to mesh. Oh well, perhaps that’s a good thing.

    One thing that does stand out, a mediocre episode of Buffy is still way better than most things on TV.


  21. [Note: Kate posted this comment on July 31, 2009.]

    I’m suprised with the direction you took this episode. Most fans say that this episode is their least favourite of the entire show, most comments being taken towards Buffy calling the monster Wig Lady when she was never referenced to that before.
    I’m also glad that this episode did not put me off Buffy- it was the first buffy episode I ever saw.


  22. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on October 5, 2009.]

    Eurrggghhh, this episode always makes me think of work. That feeling when you arrive in the morning and it doesn’t seem like you ever left? This episode captures it perfectly. They’ve done such a good job of showing how horrible it is to work in crappy jobs. It does make me feel better that Buffy has to work the same crappy jobs I do!


  23. [Note: Orz posted this comment on January 7, 2010.]

    I am surprised to see the lukewarm reactions to this episode. I consider it one of the best episodes of season 6 and one of the best comedy episodes of the entire show. I especially liked the over the topness of the various Solyent Green references, and the section where Buffy blows her top on that subject and doesn’t give a damn what the obviously crazy people around her think.


  24. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 29, 2010.]

    What an atrocious episode, apart from Xander and Anya. It was cheesy, stupid, gross, and lacked any real character development. I honestly don’t know how you can give this a C and “Wrecked” a C-. This was worse than any episode since “Inca Mummy Girl”. Bad, bad, bad stuff.


  25. [Note: Alan posted this comment on June 25, 2010.]

    Interesting in that it faked you out; expecting it to be Soylent Green, and all the creepiness was just “normal” humans in a McJob.

    But the monster was ludicrous and lame.

    Also, no police investigation of the missing people, body parts — did Buffy remove all the left overs (foot, etc)? Why would she?

    And still, the motive — to make money. How ludicrous it is that the Watchers’ Council has huge resources, has paid Giles a comfortable income for years, yet never offers a cent to Buffy? She has a perfect right to demand a pretty good salary for her work for what is basically their cause. Why didn’t Giles give the store to her, at least? Instead he gave the whole thing to Anya, after her working there for a few months.

    And I’m sure that many vamps and demons would have valuable baubles on them when Buffy whacked them. Not a terribly dignified way to earn a living, but better than fast food.

    I know the plot requires her to struggle for money, so that’s what she does, no matter how little sense it makes.


  26. [Note: Tony posted this comment on October 11, 2010.]

    A really good episode. Funny, ironic, campy creepy, and even sexy. I love that the show forces her to make ends meet, even if it means she has to work in a fast food restaurant. This is Buffy at her most down to earth.

    The show is fresh because it’s willing to travel uncharted routes. I’ve been noticing various comments on the internet where often people have trouble with Buffy episodes when she appears less than heroic. On the contrary, it’s episodes like this that makes her more interesting.


  27. [Note: Jason posted this comment on October 11, 2010.]


    My problem with this episode wasn’t that Buffy was forced into a drab, unheroic position (I agree with you that her being forced to take a job is a really interesting development), but rather, the corny, cliched feel of many of this episode’s scenes. Weird, creepy atmosphere is easy to do compared with real emotion, and for me this was weird creepy cliches all the way. It was therefore boring, the ultimate sin of television. Give me a multifaceted, complex Buffy that’s difficult for me to understand and categorize, but don’t give me boring.

    My point is just that the reason many people dislike this episode may be different from what you say (and rightfully say shouldn’t be objected to).


  28. [Note: yippers6 posted this comment on October 30, 2010.]

    it’s creapy how she made out with spike on her break but he started out being all nice and trying to make her feel better


  29. [Note: Dimitri posted this comment on November 14, 2010.]

    OK, I’m gonna say it,

    I really like this episode!

    Ofcourse it’s not Passion or The Body or Selfless but it’s good! I’d take this over your average Season 1 stuff in a heartbeat.


  30. [Note: luv2hike posted this comment on March 22, 2011.]

    MrB, very interesting and intriguing take on this part of this season. Your theory seems to hold water to me. Hope all turns out for the best with your kids.


  31. [Note: Myke posted this comment on April 9, 2011.]

    I can’t seem to understand these problems that people have with this season…I feel like this succeeds where season 4 failed. I really like S6–although it isn’t nearly as good as S2 or S5.


  32. [Note: Mash posted this comment on May 23, 2011.]

    Call me naive if you want, but I just do not see the freaking penis thing. The very top of the demon I assume is where people get this [it seems that everything in the universe with a round head is equal to a penis in most people’s brains].

    Anyway, I was thinking that in the Buffyverse a really great career choice for Buffy would be, quite simply, teach self-defense classes. Of course the job she gets needs to touch on all these other issues both in metaphor and plot but if Buffy really existed that would be my job advice. She would be her own boss [she just can not handle having a typical boss], set her own hours, still continue her own training, and do something she is good at/knows well. The police is another great option that was mentioned in a previous episode, but I like my personal trainer/self defense instructor better.


  33. [Note: Greg posted this comment on August 4, 2011.]

    First off, I thought the review was way too extensive. It’s UPN Buffy, not 1984, I honestly think you’re looking way too hard for meaning and forcing metaphors that were never intended. Secondly I think you guys are missing the point. This is my second favorite episode of the season after Once More With Feeling, and I’ll tell you why.

    It’s A. Paying homage to the campy b-movies that encompassed what BTVS originally was. The whole concept was supposed to be ludicrous, a rich teenage valley girl named buffy must fulfill her birthright to fight the vampires. You all seem to just be feeding off the drama of the series and take it too seriously. Buffy’s always played off both ends of the spectrum, laughs and drama. So you really cant criticize Buffy for going back to it’s roots every once in a while.

    Additionally what everyone here has failed to point out is that this episode is BTVS’s spinon SOYLENT GREEN, which to me was a throwback to the golden age of the series. When Buffy constantly put their spin on classic horror films and literature, ie Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula, The Monkey’s Paw, even Nightmare on Elm Street from time to time. So dont hate just because you’re drama queens. Television drama’s a dime a dozen, but it’s episodes like this that could never exist any place else but on Buffy.


  34. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 22, 2011.]

    This episode is one that i like very much, its BtVS back to its roots, in the unprecedented first season Buffy-verse enjoyed the theme of misdirection, which is exactly what this episode does! When Buffy is on tour of her new work place the workers were like zombies, the audience were supposed to summarise that there was something in the food that was making them act brainless, then we click to a scene with Gary being attacked and Buffy find’s his finger…in between these scenes we learn of a secret ingredient. Could the fast food industry be pulling a Sweeney Todd? Add Spike’s ‘This place is going to kill you’ proclamation. Until a twist at the end, its wig lady! She’s eating the workers!

    I have a soft spot for this episode, the parody of the world of fast food, the wax and the bugs, the secret ingredient, the smell after a 16 hour shift and the uniform! The writers do a great job at throwing a volley of the suspicions and myths surrounding the fast food industry! A lot of people resent this episode, and season 6 for that matter but i say kudos to Joss and the team for placing Buffy on the employment ladder not only does this escalate the theme throughout, finding her path. It acts to deride the SMG and Burger King/McDonald’s advert!

    The other characters receive some screen time which develops their own lives, Xander is encroaching on the idea that he not want to marry Anya, having met Halfrek. He realises that the face he sees isn’t Anya’s true face. She has a past. This is a prominent moment in the season for these two that i believe is conductive to Xander’s actions in Hells Bells.

    Willow does seem to have a break through where her addiction to magic is concerned, she comes clean to Buffy about Amy’s ‘gift’ and then ultimately ending their friendship. Its refreshing to see WIllow’s fight with magic visually, her shaking and OCD with the highlighter, many shows brush other this type of topic after a few episodes so thank goodness for BtVS.

    Dawn too has a perception moment, she concludes that Buffy will never have a career outside of slaying, She could be anything she wanted but Buffy is burdened with responsibility as the slayer, a realisation that opens Dawn up for season 7 and her wanting to be in the thick of it with Buffy as seen in Lessons and earlier than that in Grave, Dawn comments that she has watched Buffy.

    To sum up i adore this episode, its Buffy back to its roots with the whimsical notion of demon of the week. This episode opens a whole number of doors for the characters, it alters the direction they are going in. It also serves as season misdirection much like the themes raised in the episode itself. A poignant part of BtVS


  35. [Note: x factor posted this comment on December 22, 2011.]

    I agree with Gemma and Greg. This episode is one of the few bright spots of this morbid season, both in tone and in execution. Xander’s reaction to eating the burger? Classic!


  36. [Note: OrzBrain posted this comment on January 19, 2012.]

    I just wanted to chime in and say this is one of my favorite episodes. The portrait of the mind numbing boredom and uselessness that permeates the lives of so many members of society is flawless, and the fact that the writers could even begin to make something this heartbreaking funny — that’s real talent. I’d give this at least an A, probably even an A+ with only some lost points for the continuing Willow magic addiction storyline.


  37. [Note: alfridito017 posted this comment on March 14, 2012.]

    I have to aggree. If this episode is designed to be flawed, and succeeds at making you “feel” what the other characters are feelings then it should have a higher score than a C+.


  38. [Note: Beth24 posted this comment on June 8, 2012.]

    I’m not sure if this has been discussed on other threads or not, but I just have to point out that although I hate the magic as a drug metaphor and the things they did with Willow during these mid season episodes, what I hate even more to the point of loathing(!) is the way they used Amy as a vehicle to help get this message across and therefore completely changed her character in my opinion.

    When we last saw Amy before she became a rat she was a witch with a lot of power, granted. This probably did have a negative effect on her and she didn’t always use this power for good (Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered), but we never saw any evidence of this dark, nasty side of her. Selfish magic, yes, but not dangerous at this point. She was portrayed as a sweet, well-meaning girl in Gingerbread who only changed herself into a rat because of extreme circumstances (and who obviously didn’t have enough power to perform a reversible spell!). Put simply, she was nice! And likeable! And then suddenly she’s an absolute, total biatch / drug addict with a crazy lust for power who’s also really spiteful. I don’t buy it.

    She always had the potential to go this way I suppose, because of her mum. But it needs character development, and in my opinion it was just convenient in these episodes to have her play the villain.

    Just had to get that off my chest! Great reviews as always.


  39. [Note: TheShanshuProphecy posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    I think the monster in this ep is really, truly awful but, this an insightful review. I just want to add my 2c to the S6 debate – It’s my favourite season and always has been. I love the darkness of the journey, I adore the troika and I love Buffy/Spike (this relationship is what ultimately brings each character to where they are and how they interact in S7 & that is an amazing relationship). Buffy always explored the darker aspects of being a person/hero and it was inevitable for character growth and believability that the characters learn some hard truths about growing up, to deny them this growth would be superficial TV – Buffy going back to college and fitting right back in, a new happy relationship, Willow continues to do magic whenever she wants with no cost to herself or others? If this season had allowed this to occur we would be stuck in S5 forever. Whenever I start a new re-watch, I start with S6 BtVS. I usually ‘want’ to watch Angel (I cannot get enough of Wesley/Alexis) but I remind myself that I may ‘want’ to watch Angel, but I ‘need’ to watch Buffy – the emotional resonance of this season just brings me back over and over again – I think anyone who has been to these dark-ish places can both relate to them and find some sunlight as Buffy et al slowly bring themselves out to face another day (ok, season)


  40. [Note: Wallflowerbitca posted this comment on January 4, 2013.]

    Am I the only person who actively really enjoys this episode? I think it’s funny, very ‘Buffy’. The characters are top-notch in this episode and it really does brign the show back down to its more gentle roots, right before body-slamming us with the power, emotion and pain that is the rest of season 6. I like its interlude-i-ness.


  41. [Note: Joe posted this comment on January 7, 2013.]

    I think the divide in this episode with the fans (half seem to like it, half seem to hate it) reflects the divide in the episode itself. I think it starts out very strong. Simply seeing Buffy coping with this environment is very entertaining. It’s not until Buffy finds the finger in the grinder and the satire kind of ends that the episode falls flat. The old woman being behind the whole thing as the twist was lame and comepletely lacking in the shows usual cleverness.But everything before that was great.


  42. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on February 3, 2013.]

    Trivia: The actor who played the boss Manny, Brent Hinkley, also played the manager at a fast food burger joint in the 1993 movie ‘Falling Down’ with Michael Douglas. In the movie Douglas complained that the food looks nothing like the pictures which is the exact opposite of the Doublemeat Palace where the burgers look too good to be fast food.


  43. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on February 3, 2013.]

    More trivia: When Sarah Michelle Gellar was 4 years old, she appeared in a Burger King commercial which criticized McDonald’s burgers. McDonald’s sued Burger King, and Gellar. When she was 4 years old.

    17 years later, McDonald’s became a Buffy sponsor. And when this episode aired, the fast-food sponsors got mad. So SMG has gotten McDonald’s peeved at her twice. Ouch.


  44. [Note: Jessica posted this comment on June 19, 2013.]

    I agree that Amy’s hatred of Willow is not well-developed at all. I think you have it right in stating that it’s because Willow left her a rat for so long, but I also think that there are some serious holes in that:

    1) It would make more sense if Willow was somehow at least partly responsible for Amy’s turning into a rat in the first place. She wasn’t.

    2) We know that Willow tried several times to change her back. No, it’s not explicitly shown that Willow worked on it for months on end, or anything, but I imagine there were quite a few off-camera attempts. And why SHOULD Willow have to devote her entire life to changing Amy back? Again, she didn’t change her to begin with.

    3) You have to consider the thing’s that Willow has seen. Amy’s a rat, yeah, and that sucks unbelievably, but unlike many attendees of Sunnydale High, she’s still alive, and furthermore, not irreversibly changed into some monster.

    4) The incantation did end up being simple to our eyes, but changing an animal into a human is pretty big-league stuff. It may not have been something Willow COULD have pulled off in the pre-Buffy-resurrection days.

    5) And finally, the biggie…if it weren’t for Willow, Amy would STILL BE A RAT. I get that Amy probably can’t be expected to be totally logical between the rat trauma and the dark-magic “addiction” (let’s not even go there), but the fact that Willow saved her behind, you’d think would still be a pretty big deal.


  45. [Note: Waverley posted this comment on July 1, 2013.]

    Mike’s review, as with much of S6, has given me a greater appreciation for this episode upon reviewing. A lot of the premise is very good; I think it’s just the execution that lets it down in places.

    There’s a lot of solid character development for Buffy here – having realised in the last episode (‘Gone’) that she doesn’t want to die, she now has to face up to living, and the drudgery that can involve at this stage in your life – the godawful training video and the manager who actually buys into the company crap were eerily reminiscent my job in a supermarket when I was a student.

    I liked what they tried to do in making Buffy feel detached and numbed by her work, I just felt the pace dragged more than was necessary. A film like Garden State is a good example of a main character having those feelings but the pace remaining compelling. And I didn’t like the fakeout of the zombielike employees perhaps being under some sort of mind control. That seemed far too on the nose as a metaphor, as did Willow’s continuing ‘magic as drugs’ struggle. Lastly, the old lady was, I think, the lamest villain to have ever appeared in the series.

    Not a horrible episode then, but one of the last I would show anyone if I were trying to convert them to BtVS.


  46. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on December 14, 2013.]

    I’m sorry, I just can’t agree with you on this one. This is my least favourite episode in S6 and one of my least favourite episodes in all of BtVS (only just better than Teachers Pet, IRYJ, WTWTA and Empty Places.) I literally feel sick when I watch it.


  47. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on May 27, 2014.]

    I have also wondered about Amy’s character and personality. Perhaps it can be justified by remembering what a jerk her mother was. Perhaps without her mother to quash her, Amy has, as she grown up, begun to resemble her mother?

    On another note, I just watched Super Size Me. I think it will be a while before I go into a fast food restaurant.


  48. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on September 24, 2014.]

    I totally agree Jeremey. It’s ridiculous that the Mac also sued SMG when she was just a cute button of 4 yrs old.
    That company is just plain evil if you ask me.


  49. [Note: Nix posted this comment on October 10, 2014.]

    Dammit, give us some warning before you post something that unbearably cute. I just collapsed into a hyperglycaemic coma.


  50. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 19, 2014.]

    Personally, my only major complaint about this episode (apart from the Amy/Willow aspects, about which fully agree with other commenters here) is that I think this was one time when it would have been better if there hadn’t actually been any monstery/killy badness going on. Xander was right; the reality of the dead-end fast food job is enough, without the need for a lurking monster making the “dead” part of that literal. Would have fit better with the whole “life as the big bad” theme of the season, too.


  51. [Note: Joy posted this comment on October 20, 2014.]

    Personally, my only major complaint about this episode (apart from the Amy/Willow aspects, about which fully agree with other commenters here) is that I think this was one time when it would have been better if there hadn’t actually been any monstery/killy badness going on. Xander was right; the reality of the dead-end fast food job is enough, without the need for a lurking monster making the “dead” part of that literal. Would have fit better with the whole “life as the big bad” theme of the season, too.

    Agreed. I feel the same way about the vampire at the end of The Body, too.


  52. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 20, 2014.]

    I’m okay with the vampire in “The Body,” though I understand why some people feel differently. Here, though, it really just seemed superfluous to me. Plus–of all the times throughout the show when somebody suggested to Buffy some version of “you’re seeing demons where there’s really just life,” couldn’t it have turned out to actually be true at least once?


  53. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on April 9, 2015.]

    One thing I keep forgetting to bring up was the pretty cheap UPN plug for Enterprise in this episode. Putting aside thoughts of that show you’d think there would have been some better choices for sexy sci-fi characters like Seven of Nine or Dana Scully. They at least would have been known for longer so it would make sense why there’d be an appeal.


  54. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on July 17, 2015.]

    I’ve always quite liked this episode, which is a rarity for me with S6. Personally when I look at the demon in this ep, I don’t immediately think it looks like a penis…it’s more like a worm demon. I think it says more about the viewer whether you do or don’t.

    That said, they lampshade the penis thing in a later episode when Willow recants the story to Tara. It’s a big bit of horrible writing that I always remember. ‘heh heh, it was a demon but looks like a thingy!! Isn’t it ironic that I’m a lesbian (even though I’ve had plenty of male sexual interaction and am clearly bisexual)?’


  55. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on August 23, 2015.]

    It is indeed a shame that Amy was so poorly used/wasted from here on out. I mean she wasn’t the most important character or anything but if they put all that effort into bringing her back you might as well do more with her than just have her leave when Willow decides to quit and then bring her back for a one-off appearance. At least Supernatural had the decency to kill the character that they brought back and quickly became irrelevant.

    I’m also curious about the behind the scenes for this segment of the Willow story. Was it always the plan to sidestep into the quit magic story until they could get to Dark Willow or did they just think this was the place they were going at the time. Either one doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence (unless you buy into the intentional misdirect theory which would have been cool but seems pretty unlikely if you think about it).


  56. [Note: benny posted this comment on August 26, 2015.]

    comedy scenes with xander eating the burger always got me…

    Amy go used again in the season 8 (comic)if I remember correctly ?


  57. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on August 26, 2015.]

    I am aware that Amy was used again (I read that one at least) but she still could have gotten a proper resolution in the show. Ethan Rayne at least managed to get a resolution of sorts before he appeared in the comics.


  58. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 4, 2015.]

    I’m not sure it was always the plan to sidestep into a holding pattern with Willow, but it was clear that most of Willow’s arc was setup for the Dark Willow meltdown. The vast majority of people I’ve ever talked to think the Dark Willow turn is awesome when it arrives, but I think that’s actually all they had. They knew how the season ended, but they were unsure about how to get her there. They knew Warren was to kill Tara to kick everything off, but had to establish him as a ‘villain’ which is (with the possible exception of ‘Dead Things’) largely unsuccessful as the Trio meander through the season until they’re given something to do.

    Ironic, though: S6 didn’t know how to begin, but ended well; S7 began brilliantly but they didn’t know how to finish it properly.


  59. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on December 12, 2015.]

    I think the episode is very underrated and funny. I guess people that never worked in a fast food restaurant can’t understand why it’s funny.


  60. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on December 12, 2015.]

    Service industry in general I’d say. And I know exactly how Buffy feels. It’s horrid. Probably why I appreciate this episode more as well compared to most. And to be honest, I always come back to “well, compared to paradise… everything must suck.”


  61. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on December 12, 2015.]

    The episode is a good representation of this kind of industry and how they treat you badly. And that’s why it’s funny. And I like that the plot of Willow’s addiction continues, and we see Xander worrying about the wedding and how Anya looks usually. Plus, new Buffy haircut!!! And a lot of Spuffy goodness!


  62. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on December 12, 2015.]

    And I like the last discussion of Amy and Willow. The acting was well done and it’s sad to see Amy go so soon.


  63. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 12, 2015.]

    They really could have handled Amy a lot better than they did. Basically they brought her back and then when her purpose in the plot was done they basically abandoned her only for her to come back pointlessly for a Season 7 appearance. I mean at least the comics decided to actually give the character a proper conclusion apparently. Overall I probably wouldn’t have had this been her last appearance in Season 6. Perhaps she could have gotten involved in the Dark Willow saga somehow or maybe have her team up with Warren or something (which they apparently did in the comics). It just comes across as lazy plotting kind of like how they explained why the First was so powerful all the sudden in Showtime only for it to never come up again.


  64. [Note: Jabari Jefferson posted this comment on December 20, 2015.]

    Mikejer- “My major problems mostly consist of Buffy’s freak-out over the alleged human burgers, which is way over the top”

    I sort of have to agree with you on this. When Buffy was trying to stop people from eating the human burgers, I was like, “You better be right about this, because if you aren’t, you’re going get fired from your job.”


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