Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I Robot, You Jane   Rewatch 
February 4, 2015 11:11 PM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Willow releases an ancient demon into the Internet, and it tries to date her. Giles, preferring a good smelly book to the online world, enlists new computer teacher and "techno-pagan" Jenny Calendar to shut it down.
posted by yellowbinder (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Shoutout to Mefi's Own usonian for his work on the Cyberdemon suit!

Also shoutout to both the animal print trenchcoats worn by Buffy this ep.

This one gets a bad rap but I usually find myself enjoying it more than I should. Giles and Jenny's sparring is delightful, and I'm a sucker for the doomed romance end scene.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:16 PM on February 4, 2015

This episode is actually pretty fun, and I misremembered it as worse than it was. It introduces Miss Calender as yellowbinder says, and she's really great from the start, just a full personality. Yes, Fritz with his "jacked in" speech is embarrassing, and a lot of this episode could be a b-movie from the 90s, but it has plenty of fun. I like how Moloch seems to genuinely really love Willow, and actually he's pretty funny as a villain. His reaction to someone trying to delete Willow's files is to play a video saying "Leave Willow alone" which is sort of adorable really. I feel like this is an episode that almost works for the most part, and is actually quite fun to watch. I do feel sorry for Dave too.

Random observations

-I'm glad Sunnydale saw fit to install a creepy robot voice to the computers
-"Form a circle? There's only two of us, it's really more of a line"
-Why does a computer company have a poison gas system?
-They check whether Willow is online by listening for the modem. Ah, memories
-"That's not where I dangle it". Risqué joke there!
-Buffy defeats Moloch by getting him to punch an electrical outlet. Should have tried that with Adam.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:22 AM on February 5, 2015

Giles, the smell of books explained. Mind you, I agree with him partly, I just don't think computers are bad. Obviously.

It kind of scares me that I was doing internet romance 4 years prior to when this show first aired. Not much had changed, though I never had those fancy you've got mail animations. All text, all the time baby!

It's a noble attempt to show the timelessness of demons etc but it can't help being woefully dated. Miss Calendar is definitely the best bit. Close second to Buffy's magically unelectrocuted hair between scenes, and Xander finally getting to hit someone.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:14 AM on February 5, 2015

My favorite element of this episode is probably the running background stuff where Moloch's influence makes the world worse and worse, like the student whose paper is replaced by a pro-Nazi apologia or the news broadcasts showing how his TV-style-hacking is raising international tensions.

I actually don't like the way Ms. Calendar is introduced here, though, mostly because this version of "magic and technology working together" mostly seems like bolting random Internet terms onto random terms borrowed from popular understandings of Wicca and neopaganism. Outside of the final scene with Giles, she doesn't really get to be a distinct character so much as a rather blatant plot/theme device. Robia La Morte's gift for snarky line readings sells the character even when the writing doesn't, but she's not yet the character we'll mourn in Season 2.

I suppose I was never a fan of the way she fits into the episode's plot structure with that convenient late reveal that, hey, she's a "techno-mage" or "techno-pagan" or whatever just in time for her to help Giles resolve the plot with her offscreen, never-again-mentioned "cybercoven." She got a lot more interesting when they started to show us more of who she is when the world isn't in immediate peril and as her relationships with both Willow and Giles get more screen time.

It also doesn't help that one of the episode's two main examples of techno-magic is actually a pretty good argument *against* digitizing the books ad meeting people online, nor that the nerds flip to "murderous" and Willow flips to "obsessed" at breakneck speed. I suppose we're meant to understand that Moloch has some kind of mind-control power, albeit one that conveniently vanishes towards the end of the episode so we can have a fun robot slugfest.

It's a fun episode with some hints of the kinds of things they;ll do much better in the relatively near future, but I tend to rank it below some other first-season stuff. It's still miles better than the invisible girl and the Mantis woman, of course. But it's still one of the rare episodes where the writers utterly misread the culture around them.
posted by kewb at 6:11 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

mostly because this version of "magic and technology working together" mostly seems like bolting random Internet terms onto random terms borrowed from popular understandings of Wicca and neopaganism.

I will take it over the digital staff variation found in Babylon 5
posted by phearlez at 1:42 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

The second worst Buffy episode, and one of only three I skip during rewatches. Still it does introduce Jenny Calendar, so watch only her scenes and you'll miss nothing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 PM on February 5, 2015

My girlfriend is, apparently, the only person on earth for whom S1 Buffy is her favorite, and episodes like this are have to agree with the rest of the world on that one. Still, Jenny Calendar is good, and the rest of this falls so much into that same cringe-y vein as Julia-Stiles-plays-a-hacker-on-Ghostwriter that it becomes hilarously fun in spite of itself.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:37 PM on February 6, 2015

This episode is kind of stupid in a lovably '90s way, but I still enjoy it immensely as an artifact of how people actually thought about computers and the Internet, ca. 1997. I'd argue that Fritz's little manifesto in the prologue is only over-the-top if you don't remember the first few years of WIRED, not to mention the heady days of the post-Yahoo, pre-Google web.

Now that I think on it, this would be a fun episode to try updating for today's internet. Maybe Moloch could work as a GamerGate metaphor, by becoming a living, sentient "nice guy" OKCupid profile who also commands an army of #chan-forum goons to do his unholy bidding.

I was curious to know what happened to Robia LaMorte, and why she hadn't really appeared in much else after her short stint on Buffy. As it turns out she retired from acting and now runs a Christian ministry in California (OMG, it's full of Flash). I'll let y'all make up your own minds about all that, but for what it's worth she seems quite sincere. Her ministry website has some fairly detailed sections about her acting/dancing career (she was in a number of Debbie Gibson and Prince videos). She does have some choice comments to make about New Age/Wiccan beliefs, so I can only wonder if her religious conversion might have played a part in her early exit during S02.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:08 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Strange Interlude: I know that she apparently refused to come back during the S7 episode "Conversations with Dead People" because playing The First was tantamount to basically playing Satan.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:14 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Robia LaMorte's religious beliefs are why she didn't turn up like some other dead people in Season 7.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:25 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I suppose we're meant to understand that Moloch has some kind of mind-control power, albeit one that conveniently vanishes towards the end of the episode so we can have a fun robot slugfest.

I got the impression that he had the power of seduction/suggestion, but not outright mind control.

I don't hate this episode, and now I kinda want to see an AU where Moloch won and Willow became the queen of an Earth-ruling robo-demon.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:55 AM on February 9, 2015

Yeah, I can't really explain the hold on the guys which must have happened REALLY quickly, but Willow, although totally groomed and smitten early on, resists pretty strongly when Malcolm comes on too weird. Although I totally would like to see a version of the episode where it is mind control and Willow goes of her own not-quiiiite free will and Buffy has to break her out and maybe even fight her off. It seems maybe too far to push things early on but the show does eventually love playing with the darker aspects of Willow.

This was an episode I really liked in my early days of watching random episodes and piecing together the arcs. It gets a bad rap because it's easy to point to as a prime example of first season cheese but it still satisfies me.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:00 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

"None of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship."

Oh, Joss
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 2:57 PM on February 18, 2015

Aw, Dave the computer kid is Ash from Supernatural!
Poor Dave. He seemed nice. (Ash too.)
posted by obloquy at 11:27 PM on February 18, 2015

Ash was one of Supernatural's best minor characters.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:12 AM on February 19, 2015

Giles may not have been entirely wrong when he said that the knowledge gained through books has a texture and a smell.

Not a big fan of this episode. The technophobia, the creepy, embarrassing nerds, the OMG if you date someone from the internet they are an axe murder! ... hasn't aged well.
posted by bunderful at 6:08 PM on January 1, 2016

« Older Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ange...   |  The Mindy Project: No More Mr.... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments