Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E08 – I Robot, You Jane

In the eighth episode of the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the writers basically narrate someone using the Internet. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

This happened. At some point in time, this occurred:

Two people sat around a table. Maybe there were others, and maybe Joss was in the room as well. Either way, someone had a thought: “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if a demon infected the Internet?”

Here’s the thing: that idea has about a 5% chance of being pulled off. With the right writer, the right characters, the right context, the right actors and actresses, the right cinematography, I think it could be done. There is no idea that can’t be filmed well.

This idea was thought of. At the initial point in time, perhaps writers Ashley Gable and Thomas Swyden allowed a moment of silence in consideration. Could they do this? Should they do this? That moment of silence was broken, and one of them, or perhaps Whedon himself, shouted, “YES. WE MUST ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN.”

That in itself is not bad enough. Shaky ideas can develop into something wonderful. It’s what happened after this that makes me wonder what on earth anyone was thinking trying to bring this episode into existence. A demon-possessed Internet is bad enough. A demon who controls computer nerds through non-sensical and logistic-nightmare text updates is absurd. Having Willow, who I love dearly and just felt bad for the entire time, begin an online relationship with a demon with absolutely NO EXPLANATION FOR HOW THEIR COMMUNICATIONS EVEN STARTED is just blasphemy for me. No, I’m sorry, I refuse to let this go: Did Willow sign online to find that first email? Wouldn’t she say, “Hey, where the fuck did you get my email?” Were there no email attachments in 1997? (That’s not rhetorical. I didn’t have regular access to the internet until 2000 because I grew up hella poor and that shit was expensive.) Is that why he never sent a photo? The episode wants us to believe that Willow’s loneliness got the best of her. And that is an interesting premise that I would love to see done much better than this. But the first time we get an episode that’s largely centered on Willow, it’s an episode where she looks like a complete and utter fool.

But honestly, the whole episode may have been ahead of its time in 1997, and I honestly was willing to concede that. There are some slightly embarrassing computer references and stories in the full run ofΒ The X-Files that aren’t the best things ever. (Though I will defend the William Gibson-penned episodes until the end of time. DO NOT TAKE THOSE AWAY FROM ME.) I don’t expect this show to discuss the Internet in any way that we experience it in 2011. That’s why I liked a lot of what Giles spoke of and how oddly prophetic it was for things like online communities, Kindles, and iPads. (Lol I hate the REAL BOOKS ARE BETTER THAN KINDLES argument with every ounce of my heart. JUST READ HOWEVER YOU WANT.) There’s good stuff here! There are cute character moments!

And that’s why the bad stuff is just HORRIFIC. “I’m jacked in.” I’m sorry, I laughed so hard I choked. The entire plot that includes Fritz and Dave is just so confusing to me! So because they’re computer nerds who are Internet-savvy, they’re susceptible to evil demons? BECAUSE PEOPLE WHO USE THE INTERNET A LOT ARE LOSERS, AIN’T THAT RIGHT lol.

Oh my god, when Buffy tried to delete the file named “Moloch” and Moloch shows up all pixelated, I stopped thinking that this episode was terrible and just accepted it for what it was: one of the most entertaining narrative missteps in television history. I stopped being angry, and I accepted “I Robot, You Jane” with open arms, and I hugged it tight as it continued to make absolutely no sense. As Dave tried to electrocute himself and the show provided no real attempts to give us a straight narrative about how Moloch actually controlled a person, I gave it another squeeze of love. When they introduced a plotline that involved a recently-closed tech company building a robot/demon body for Moloch and absolutely none of this followed any sort of logic that currently exists on planet Earth, I high-fived the episode. When Fritz was killed by Moloch to show others of his power, which ignored the fact that he’d been showing us his power for the last thirty-five minutes, I proposed marriage to “I Robot, You Jane.” And when Moloch died by mere electrocution, I swore my life over to this episode without a second thought.

This is not the worst episode of Buffy. It’s so awful that it loops around to becoming an abstract art piece about the archaic nature of human interaction. It’s so awful that it’s as if the people made it specifically to appear on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s so awful that….well, it’s a waste of time and energy to spend one second hating it.

Plus, it’s very easy to pick out things that I did like in it. The conversation that Xander and Buffy have about Xander’s jealousy and then about their concern for Willow is witty, honest, and entertaining, and it’s a rare moment where I get a chance to like Xander for who he is. It’s a brief interaction that shows how he uses humor well with friends, and I think that as he gets closer to Buffy and Willow, he’ll probably drop a lot of his weird, awkward, and presumptive tendencies with them [And allow this to be today’s final word on the ridiculous Xander shit going on in the comments. I did not like Xander after a mere seven episodes. He is PURPOSELY portrayed to be kind of awful, and somehow, it’s the crime of the goddamn century that I felt this way. I was not influenced by any “cult” of anti-Xanderites, I am not telling people to post anti-Xander memes in the comments, and I am most certainly not going to stifle conversation about how Xander’s behavior is fucked up in these first eight episodes. Please, y’all, I have ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-SIX more to go, and I would really like to develop my own opinions on Xander and appreciate his journey for what it is. Just because I don’t like him in FOUR PERCENT OF THE ENTIRE SHOW’S RUN does not mean I will hate him forever. I have seen virtually none of this show so far, and I would appreciate it if I was allowed to see the rest on my own terms.–Mark]

The introduction of Jenny Calendar is WONDERFUL. Her reveal as a “techno-pagan” was a real surprise for me, and “I Robot, You Jane” sets up what I think will be an inevitable romance between her and Giles. But for once, Giles had someone more on his level to interact with that doesn’t inspire his eye-rolling or exasperation. Even more, she’s not the same as Giles and she clearly has her own life, her own opinions, and her own beliefs, so the show isn’t setting her up to be a copy of Giles at this point. Don’t forget, they both bicker and argue a whole lot in this episode.

But these “good” moments are few and far between. In fact, they’re distracting. No, episode, go back to discussing the Internet and modems and e-letters and making me feel quaint and lovely and warming me through your wonderful use of colloquial and dated terms that no one will ever use again. Go back to trying to execute a story about a demon who haunts the Internet but only once leaves the network at the school. Do you know how many Usenet newsgroups you could have infiltrated? Why did you think so small, Moloch?

There’s no way anything else can top this. I’m gonna go watch it again and yell sassy and witty things at my television again. OH NO YOU DIDN’T, YOU SILLY DEMON. Haters, please observe the left-hand evacuation procedure immediately.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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415 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E08 – I Robot, You Jane

  1. Jenny_M says:

    I know this isn't a good episode, I really do. But as someone who has been on the Internet since the hinterlands of the mid to late 90s, it's SUCH a fun callback to The Internet and what people thought about The Internet and the World Wide Web (all capitals very necessary) at such a time.

    So, I guess I know it's not GOOD, but for me it's certainly an ADORABLE RELIC. That one kid's "laptop" gives me the severe giggles.

    (Also, I always assumed Willow met Malcolm in some sort of awesome CompuServe based chatroom. LIKE WE ALL WOULD HAVE WOULD HAVE AMIRITE GUYS?)

    • IceBlueRose says:

      I cracked up laughing the other night when I watched this one and saw that laptop. Reminds me of Zack Morris's cell phone on Saved by the Bell, lol.

    • laurel says:

      This episode, folks. It is so. bad. But I don't even care. I think I may have mentioned I grew up watching this (dad, what were you thinking?), but I didn't really experience the Internet and all of that until I was about 9, when we got our first computer as a gift from my grandparents. (That thing lasted forever, btw; it didn't start going downhill until my freshman year of high school). Anyway, this episode, as Mark said, was so bad it was kind of good? I mean, I was mostly just like "wth Willow, where'd your sense go?"

      (Fnqyl, "jung gur Uryy, Jvyybj" orpbzrf n gurzr yngre ba, rfcrpvnyyl va gur fvkgu frnfba. Fvtu. Znex vf abg rira cercnerq.)

      I feel the need to unleash my inner Slayerette and watch these episodes. But that means leaving bed and going through DVDs and frankly I'm too lazy for that crap right now.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I had the giggles, too. That laptop was a hulk by even 1997 standards!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I USED TO HAVE A COMPUSERVE EMAIL ADDRESS.

      omg it was my first one EVER

      • lula34 says:

        My very first email address was in 1997: LARoth@compuserve.com.. That was before I knew the dangers of INTERNET PREDATORS, 'cause I used my official name and everything. I was so proud of myself and even prouder when everyone else was switching to the free AOL addresses 'cause AOL was pimping their crap out in cereal boxes, inside copies of Entertainment Weekly, on a bag of Oreos, etc. I stuck with CompuServe, dammit.

        Sigh. Memories.

      • glyneth says:

        71460,3414. That was my CIS ID for a very very long time. Before they let you use names.

      • Jenny_M says:

        LOL compuserve chatrooms. I learned about cybersex, regular sex, and how many 40-year-old men really want to talk to 12-year-old girls. (Seriously, I never hid the fact that I was 12 at the time – they were VERY INTERESTED.)

        When I think about how much of my life has been shaped by things I learned in the early days of the internet, it's a wonder I'm not hiding in a bunker somewhere.

        • notemily says:

          I learned a frightening amount about cybersex from the interwebs (mostly IRC) when I was 12, too. But I lied and said I was fourteen. Because that's oh-so-mature.

          • dasmondschaf says:

            When I was 12, I lied and told all my interwebs friends I was 13. IT SEEMED SO IMPORTANT AT THE TIME. After all, THEY were all 13 and 14! There was even a dramatic confession of my true age, when I turned 13 and they all thought I was turning 14. Ah, youth.

            • Sophi says:

              I DID THE DRAMATIC CONFESSION THING TOO.

              "Guys. Please don't stop loving me any more, but I've told you some fundamental lies about who I am and myself as a person. I wish for us still to be friends, and if this comes between us I can only understand, because in a true friendship there are minimal falsehoods and I just haven't been honest. Understand why I did it. I'll give you some time to think it through and decide whether… you really want to know me any more. I'll leave the forum if you don't feel you can trust me any longer.

              "im actually not 12 im 13 pleas dont hurt me

              "(this is my real birthday can I have interwebs presents still)"

              • cait0716 says:

                HA HA. This reminds me of that Lyle Lovett song, "Here I am"

                "Look, I understand too little, too late. I realize there are things you say and do that you can never take back. But what would you be if you didn't even try? You have to try. So after a lot of thought I'd like to reconsider. Please, if it's not too late, make it a cheeseburger."

          • Dru says:

            Oooooooooooooh IRC!!!!!!! (it's like the last refuge of pirates now, but still – fond memories, and sometimes it is handy to be able to gank shit off a channel instead of, well, other places)

        • Gill says:

          I was a sysop on three Compuserve Forums, WHERE WE INSISTED ON REAL NAMES!

          Actually, with the slow modems we had back then, we didn't send much in the way of attachments. When I watched this first in 1999 the computer stuff didn't seem wrong at all. How time flies.

        • Shanna says:

          Oh god, yes. One of my first times in a chat room I was 15 – it was 1997. Soooo many people were waaaay too interested that I was 15 and asked me incredibly inappropriate questions. Luckily I was smart enough to know these people were pervs and never gave out personal information, never answered their questions, and got off that chat site in general.

      • The_Consultant says:

        My first email address was a Buffymail address. – true story.

    • NB2000 says:

      That one kid's "laptop" gives me the severe giggles.

      I swear my mother had one just like that around the time this episode was made, which she then gave to me when she got a better one. With the tiny screen and huge keyboard *nostalgia*

    • Zoli says:

      Or an AOL chat room. Or was this before AOL? The show is taking place in 1996, I think, and I only got a computer at home in late 1997. We did have AOL then, though.

      Oh AOL chats. Where no matter the topic, someone would show up and ask 'a/s/l?' within thirty seconds of entering. <3

      • Fuchsia says:

        I had AOL in 95, so it was definitely around by this episode. We tried CompuServe but it crashed our computer for some reason so we always stuck with AOL.

      • notemily says:

        I think AOL was at least around by 1993. I too got AOL in 1997.

      • dasmondschaf says:

        My friends had AOL in 1996. When we got the internet in early 1997, I was ACTIVELY UPSET that we didn't have AOL, because all my friends had AOL and oh my gosh all the sites I wanted to visit didn't have websites, just AOL keywords!

        AOL keywords. There's something I haven't thought about in awhile.

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          I remember there being a set limit on how many AOL accounts you could have per master account or whatever, so I had to wait until 2001 or 2002 to get mine (I'm the youngest of seven). I was reading Lord of the Rings at the time, so when i got the account I ended up just turning to the map, pointing at a random location, and taking that as my screen name. I think my first few passwords were Lord of the Rings references too.

          II still have those copies of the books, with the "Visit http://www.lordoftherings.net. America Online Keyword: Lord of the Rings" text on the back.

    • flootzavut says:

      Ahhh CompuServe <3

  2. hpfish13 says:

    So…this episode….it’s really dated.
    The only things I rather liked from it were Ms. Calendar and Giles’ description of why books are the best thing ever.
    Also, I remember watching this and thinking “Willow, that is not how you scan large books! Scanning the middle of the page and leaving the edges cut off does not work!”

  3. misterbernie says:

    Yeah, your approach to this one… is the only right approach. The episode was silly when it debuted, and it has not aged well at all. Except, as you mentioned, the ebook/paper book argument. That's uncannily current.

    You think that knowledge should be kept in these carefully guarded repositories where only a handful of white guys can get at it.
    Jenny Calendar, fierce as fuck and awesome as… some awesome thing starting with that aw sound.

    (I didn't rewatch this one so I have no other random observations to make.)

  4. tanbarkie says:

    "This is not the worst episode of Buffy. It’s so awful that it loops around to becoming an abstract art piece about the archaic nature of human interaction. It’s so awful that it’s as if the people made it specifically to appear on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s so awful that….well, it’s a waste of time and energy to spend one second hating it."

    My God. Mark, you've done it. You've, somehow, done it. You've given me a reason to like "I Robot… You Jane."

    I didn't think it could be done, BUT YOU DID IT.

    You're quite amazing, you know that?

  5. cait0716 says:

    I stopped thinking that this episode was terrible and just accepted it for what it was: one of the most entertaining narrative missteps in television history. I stopped being angry, and I accepted “I Robot, You Jane” with open arms, and I hugged it tight as it continued to make absolutely no sense.

    This is absolutely the correct reaction to this episode

    —–
    Epic tl;dr comment I wrote right after rewatching this last night. If I could be more concise, I would have.

    I'm bringing this up in an effort to find some balance for myself. This is my first full re-watch since I became aware of the Xander-as-Nice-Guy thing. I'm trying to view his character through a more critical eye this time around, while also remembering why I loved him so much on previous viewings. Basically I'm a mess of confusion and trying to work that out here. Thus far, there's been a lot of criticism of Xander (and some of it has been from me). He has largely, though not solely, been defined by his desire of Buffy, his jealousy of the guys she dates, and his selfish, immature handling of both emotions. Not to mention a wealth of sexist insults. Which, to be fair, Buffy and Cordelia have also been tossing at each other. Not that that makes it excusable, but it points to it being a problem with the show, rather than the character.

    Getting back to this episode, the Xander I fell in love with when I was 11 is on full display. He's sweet; he's funny; he's brave. He's genuinely concerned for Willow because they're friends and he's with Buffy every step of the way trying to help her. Xander contributes to both research (knowledge about CRD) and the fight (he got to hit someone!). He also gets one of my favorite lines in the entire series: "To read makes our speaking English good". There are reasons to dislike him, but this episode shows that there are reasons to like him, too. I can (and have) acknowledge(d) his problematic behavior, but for me his good traits still outweigh his bad ones.

    Moving on, this episode also gives us Ms. Calendar! I love everything about her, from her interest in computers and technology, to her knowledge of the occult, to the corkscrew that she doesn't dangle from her ear. It's really nice to have another adult around to help Giles out and offer a different perspective from him. Although I swear their argument about books vs computer has been appropriated all over the internet in the books vs e-reader argument. I definitely agree with Ms. Calendar, and we really have created a new society in the time since this episode aired. But I can still appreciate the smell and feel of a good book.

    We also get some substantial character development for Willow. She meets a guy and enters into a relationship as rashly as any other person might. But she picks up on signs that something's not right and ends up breaking up with Malcolm/Moloch while hitting him with a fire extinguisher. Beautiful.

    I totally owned that slightly sparkly blue tank top Buffy is wearing when she gets electrocuted. It was my favorite top and I wore it until I wore it out.

    The final scene is wonderful. The laughter about their inevitable doomed relationships fading as they realize that it's not at all funny is a beautiful moment.

    I know this episode often shows up on "worst of Buffy" lists, because it's really dated and cheesy and whacks you over the head with it's message and has nowhere near enough Cordelia. I don't care. It's an incredibly fun episode, and I love it dearly.

    • Kari18212 says:

      "To read makes our speaking English good." Can't believe I forgot about that line in my comment. The whole episode is made completely worth it for that line and Buffy yelling at him for saying it. I'm in the same boat with you on Xander by the way-I was pretty young when I watched it (and didn't start with season 1) so I didn't pick up on all the icky sexist stuff he says. Rewatching it now makes me pretty conflicted, but I do agree he definitely has positive traits in this episode. And Will fighting back against Malcolm was an awesome moment for her πŸ™‚

    • nanceoir says:

      I'm trying to view his character through a more critical eye this time around, while also remembering why I loved him so much on previous viewings. Basically I'm a mess of confusion and trying to work that out here.

      Oh, hey, it's nice seeing someone else on this boat. I haven't been exploring much, though; the buffet's too good.

      I'm finding it hard — or, to be more precise, uncomfortable — to think critically about it all, particularly when part of me wants to go, "No, it's BtVS and precious and lovely!" But, to paraphrase Lew Ayres, part of the "reward… and burden of maturity" is to deal with many different points of view. It's not necessarily pleasant, but it's ultimately good. Or, like the Doctor said, our lives are piles of good and bad things, and the good things don't counteract the bad things, but the bad things don't necessarily negate the good things.

      And I'm hoping, that in my own final analysis, the good pile will be the bigger of the two piles.

      • cait0716 says:

        I get that, and it took me a while to be comfortable being critical of Buffy. (Fourteen years later and I'm just now willing to see some of Xander's sexist tendencies.) It's hard to make the leap from "I LOVE THIS" to "it's got problems" to "I can recognize these problems and still LOVE IT". It feels like you're losing a big chunk of your life or betraying your younger self and there's a whole grieving process involved, from denial to acceptance that this show isn't the perfect beacon of perfection you placed on a pedestal all those years ago. But it's still a damn good show.

        • rabbitape says:

          One nice thing is that so much of it does hold up really well. We really can recognize problems and still love it.

          For me, it's also nice to realize, looking back and seeing some of the problematic character traits, that I have the ability to see that kind of behavior for what it is. I couldn't do that when I was 17, and I definitely didn't do that when I was in college and got into some bad relationships — but I'm really pleased that I can now. It's a nice self-barometer. And it's really great to look at the Buffy world with a more mature, critical eye in this community in particular, with so many other really thoughtful people.

    • @Ivana2804 says:

      "Not to mention a wealth of sexist insults. Which, to be fair, Buffy and Cordelia have also been tossing at each other. Not that that makes it excusable, but it points to it being a problem with the show, rather than the character. "

      I don't think it's a problem with the show. I think the show is realistically portraying kids in high school. None of them are politically correct, idealized characters, because they're unlikely to be.

      • tanbarkie says:

        It's one of those tricky things, where in order for the show to hold a mirror up to society, it has to utilize society's vocabulary, as unsavory as that can be. But at what point does it stop being a critique of those aspects of society and start becoming condonement (if that's a word)? It's a blurry line, at best – fortunately, Buffy generally stays on the right side, IMO.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      When you said "I totally owned that slightly sparkly blue tank top" I thought you meant the internet version of "owned", and I was like "how can you totally pwn a piece of clothing" but then I read on and remembered the word's actual meaning.

  6. shyfully says:

    Your reaction is everything I hoped for and more, Mark. I love this episode so muuuuuuch because it is so dated and weird and I don't even know what they were going for! What if there were demons in books but then the books were put in a computer! Computer demons! Who fall in love with Willow, for reasons, but then want to kill her!

    I'M JACKED IN MAN, I'M SO JACKED IN~wooohooooohhhooo~~

    HOWEVER I adore the character of Jenny Calender forever. And I like how this episode despite being "~internet predators~~~~" didn't really come out against technological progress. Giles is on one side, Jenny on the other and neither of them completely wins the other over to their side but they both seem to respect each other at the end.

    This is probably my most rewatched episode from Season 1. Whenever I feel down, I watch this episode and it cheers me right the hell up because this episode forces me to let go of whatever real thing is happening because… COMPUTER DEMON ATTACKING THE INTERNET, OH NOOOOOOO, QUICK WE NEED TO JACK OUT

    • Partes says:

      "HOWEVER I adore the character of Jenny Calender forever."

      RIGHT? I never really liked her when I was younger and now I have no idea why. She's AWESOME. Perfect compliment to Giles in this episode, getting his stuffy English britches in a twist and trying to make him rethink technology. Like Mark said, it's cool to see Giles interact with someone on his level.

      It also helps that she is insanely attractive, not gonna lie.

  7. tanbarkie says:

    "Jenny Calendar" is, and always will be, my favorite name in the Buffyverse.

  8. Jenny_M says:

    Funnily enough, this comment got knocked to the moderation queue. So I can only assume that using the capital letters had it designated as spam…ha!

  9. Kari18212 says:

    Yes, to everything in this review. The whole episode was ridiculous and their references to the Internet were so outdated. I hadn't seen this episode in a long time, so when people in the comments yesterday were saying ugh now we have to deal with I Robot, You Jane, I was a little confused because I pretty much remembered how hilarious Jenny was. And then I watched it, and they were right (except Jenny was worth it). So disappointing after Angel, but you just have to laugh your way through it πŸ™‚

    Also, I found it very ironic when Giles said he was scared for a future where human interaction happened through computers (paraphrasing even though I watched the episode an hour ago). That's not all bad Giles, sometimes interacting with people through computers is even better than real life (sometimes worse also, but let's be optimistic).

    "That is a fact that I regard with genuine horror." Oh Giles, how I love you and your extreme Britishness right there. Never change πŸ™‚

  10. robin says:

    You know, I have said previously that this episode is my "Black Market" but I'm taking that back now. It's so amazingly awful that I think it just might come right around back to good. It's terrible-great! The entire episode is just so ridiculous and felt really dated even when it aired. It's just all so over the top, detached from logic, and wtf.

    HI MS CALENDAR, YOU ARE ADORABLE WITH GILES. HELLO.

    • tanbarkie says:

      Yeah, this is more the "Plan 9" of Buffy episodes. "Black Market" wasn't "so bad it's good"… it was just bad.

    • Maya says:

      Orre Onq is the Black Market of Buffy episodes, in my mind

      • Dru says:

        I still remember laughing at it, though.

        WHich is more than I can say for Black Market, where I was full-on stinkeye pooface "WTF IS THIS RANDOM EX WHO IS PREGGO AND WHERE IS STARBUCK?!"

    • Dru says:

      I think the difference between Buffy and BSG's bad episodes is that Buffy can be kind of camp and is very aware of that, which kind of helps with the "amazingly awful" bit.

      But BSG takes itself very seriously, so Black Market was really, truly asking you to believe that Lee Adama was angsting over a random preggers girl we've never seen or heard of before. It's like fanfiction that had access to the production team and got Jamie Bamber to act it out (and he tries, but even he can't save it).

  11. echinodermata says:

    Thanks for the Xander note, Mark.

    Giles, the fact that you're scared of computers makes you a bad public librarian. I mean, there's a place for librarians who exclusively deal with archaic tombs and shit, but you are a high school librarian.

    "e-letter," meaning an email. Oh 90s.

    Ms. Calendar was pretty cool as just the computer science teacher, but extra cool as someone in the know. Rock on, ~techno-pagan~.

    <img src="http://i43.tinypic.com/u5pd.gif&quot; alt="Ms. Calendar saying 'technopagan'">

    <img src="http://i44.tinypic.com/nfo9vl.gif&quot; alt="Ms. Calendar saying to Giles, 'Welcome to my world. You scared?'">

    …and that's all I got. I derive lots of secondhand embarrassment from this episode. I can appreciate how awkward this all is to watch in 2011 and to laugh at it and have fun with it, but it's sort of like a laugh/cringe 'hahaha I am so uncomfortable hahaha.' It's pretty weird.

    • cait0716 says:

      Ditto on the thanks, Mark

      I took e-letter to be Buffy's cluelessness when it came to computers. Not something the show thought was a real term.

      • echinodermata says:

        I figure that's true about it supposed to be an indication of Buffy, but the idea that a teen in the sort of environment Buffy's in would call an email and e-letter in cluelessness like that does date the show. Oh 90s.

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          Oh, 90s, indeed.

          (We're going to be saying this a lot, aren't we?)

        • Dru says:

          I suppose the silver lining to "oh, 90s" is at least it's not "oh, 80s"

          (or as I would say, "UGH, 80s". EVERYTHING was more unfortunate-looking in that decade)

    • Genny_ says:

      Jenny GIFs! Ahhh, I really love her.

      Fb nyy bs guvf vf znxvat zr fnq va ergebfcrpg, bs pbhefr.

      • misterbernie says:

        V jnf erjngpuvat Cnffvba gbqnl naq… bxnl, onq vqrn gb yrg Obernanm aneengr ohg ncneg sebz gung… fb zhpu fnqarff.

        • Genny_ says:

          V jvyy arire rire RIRE or bire gung rcvfbqr. y;ix;ify; FBOOVAT SBE GUR ERFG BS ZL YVSR.

          …ohg lrnu gur aneengvba jnfa'g n terng pubvpr, gou.

          • Gung'f tbvat gb or n fnq qnl jura jr trg gb gung bar.

            V'z tbvat gb fgvpx hc sbe QO'f aneengvba. V qvqa'g abgvpr nalguvat fgenatr va gur qryvirel, naq gur jbeqf gurzfryirf jrer jbaqreshy.

            Also, I don't know that Giles IS a high school librarian. We never see any other high school students using the library except for when Owen wanted some poetry. πŸ™‚

            • ghawyeriao says:

              V unir na varkcyvpnoyr nssrpgvba sbe Obernanm'f aneengvba. QBA'G NFX ZR V PNA'G RKCYNVA VG.

              Bu, Wraal, jul qvq lbh unir gb qvr

              • NB2000 says:

                Orpnhfr Wbff vf rivy naq qbrfa'g jnag gur nhqvrapr gb or unccl.

                • @AnFaolain says:

                  Whfg jngpurq Cnffvba sbe gur svefg gvzr. Bu zl cbbe urneg. Naq Tvyrf. πŸ™ Nyfb, V yvxrq gung aneengvba, erzvaqrq zr bs Pevzvany Zvaqf.

                  Fgvyy, vg qbrf bcra hc n Wblpr/Tvyrf ebznapr.

                  • notemily says:

                    Criminal Minds! I loved that one of their quotes was from Terry Pratchett. I was like “you realize he was being facetious, right?” (The quote was [rot-13’d because Discworld is on Mark’s list]: “Yvtug guvaxf vg geniryf snfgre guna nalguvat ohg vg vf jebat. Ab znggre ubj snfg yvtug geniryf, vg svaqf gur qnexarff unf nyjnlf tbg gurer svefg, naq vf jnvgvat sbe vg.”)

            • Genny_ says:

              Vg sryy ernyyl syng sbe zr. Vg fbhaqrq yvxr… jryy, ur jnf ernqvat vg. Vg'f abg n fpevcg vffhr gubhtu, V qba'g gnxr vffhr jvgu gur fghss vgfrys!

              • misterbernie says:

                Lrnu, gung'f zl vffhr jvgu vg. Vg'f fb boivbhfyl… ernq. Gubhtu V'ir pbzr gb qvfyvxr aneengvba va trareny gunaxf gb FngP naq Qrfcrengr Ubhfrjvirf juvpu ner fb vanar naq naablvat va gurve aneengvba. V'ir pbzr gb ungr gur bar va Orpbzvat V, gbb. Ohg V'yy fnir gung enag sbe jura jr trg gurer.

          • settlingforhistory says:

            V jvyy arire rire RIRE or bire gung rcvfbqr. y;ix;ify; FBOOVAT SBE GUR ERFG BS ZL YVSR.

            Jryy lbh unir gb or cenpgvpnyyl urnegyrff abg gb srry onq sbe Tvyrf, rira vs lbh qb abg yvxr Wraal. V yvxrq Wraal n ybg naq Tvyrf fgnaqvat ba uvf fgnvef jvgu gung ybbx ba uvf snpr. V'z fher V'z tbvat gb pel ntnva, rira gubhtu V'ir jngpurq gung rcvfbqr ng yrnfg 10 gvzrf.

      • ghawyeriao says:

        V sbhaq guvf fcbvyrel, irel sbezny yvgrenel nanylfvf bs Wraal gung V jbhyq yvxr gb funer jvgu nyy gur Zf. Pnyraqne snaf bhg gurer: uggc://ryrhfvf-jnyxf.yvirwbheany.pbz/36752.ugzy

      • notemily says:

        Qb jr trg ure svefg anzr va guvf rcvfbqr? Fcbvyref? :/

      • settlingforhistory says:

        Fb nyy bs guvf vf znxvat zr fnq va ergebfcrpg, bs pbhefr

        Lrn, fbzubj ure qrngu gnvagf nyy gur rcvfbqrf jvgu ure.
        Jurarire fur naq Tvyrf ner gbtrgure zl zvaqr tbrf "Fur vf tbvat gb qvr, fur vf tbvat gb qvr fbba naq vg jvyy oernx lbhe urneg Tvyrf".
        Gur rcvfbqrf jurer gurl nera'g gnyxvat gb rnpu bgure ner gur jbefg naq xabjvat gung ur arire ernyyl snyyf va ybir ntnva. πŸ™

    • ghawyeriao says:

      TECHNO-PAGAN 4 LYFE.

      Giles is actually a terrible librarian. Look at his reaction when Owen tries to check out a book.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      Oooohhh that second gif could so come in useful…SNAGGING IT.

      Am I even allowed to use Buffy gifs if I've only seen half of season one?

      • You are allowed to use anything you want all the time!

        (Okay, personally, I'd feel weird using a gif or icon if I haven't SEEN the moment in question, but that does not apply here!)

    • Ms.Calendar has got SASS!

      YOU TELL THAT STUFFY LIBRARIAN. YOU TELL HIM

    • notemily says:

      Giles, the fact that you're scared of computers makes you a bad public librarian. I mean, there's a place for librarians who exclusively deal with archaic tombs and shit, but you are a high school librarian.

      I actually buy this in 1997. I mean, I work in a library and I get really annoyed with librarians who still think computers are the enemy, but in 1997 the internet wasn't quite as ubiquitous as it is now, and the generational divide had barely begun. A lot of libraries around here only recently got rid of their physical card catalogs, even though they've been computerized for years.

      • echinodermata says:

        Yeah, I can buy it, but still – his outright resistance to computers still makes me think 'bad public librarian' since I think it was pretty clear in '97 computers weren't going away.

        Then again, you'd know more about librarians than I would.

        • Zoli says:

          If nothing else he should have recognized that computers are awesome as search tools. Like, I vaguely recall having to learn the card system very early on at school… but there were always computers at the library for the catalog. Sure, early on they were running DOS and weren't very pretty (orange on black, woo!) but they were still far easier to use than the card system.

          Then again… the Sunnydale High library seems to exist ONLY as a tool to look up occult information. I'm still not convinced they have any actual textbooks or books on general subjects. I mean, no one ever seems to go in there to check out a book on chemistry for reports or anything, and Giles seems to be the only librarian. I mean, he must be, right? If anyone else worked there they'd be sure to go through the stacks and be like "….Indexed Guide to Demon Types? … Vampyres? … WTF."

    • rabbitape says:

      More Jenny Calendar gifs! Cyrnfr, orsber fur'f tbar. (Rfcrpvnyyl jura fur naq Tvyrf gnyx nobhg gurve qngr. YBY, zbafgre gehpxf.)

      Man, I wanted to be her when I was 17.

    • tardis_stowaway says:

      I always thought being a public school librarian was mostly just a convenient cover story for being a Watcher, not a career Giles would necessarily have been doing otherwise. Yeah, he is in many ways a bad public school librarian (he keeps a cage full of weapons in the library!), but he's good at his real job of Watching.

  12. Fuchsia says:

    Regarding emails, you could send attachments at the time but they were severely limited by file size (I remember sending clip art, but not actual pictures). The actual logical reasoning behind not sending a picture of himself is that getting your pictures onto your personal computer was extremely rare. Scanners were hard to come by and very expensive (I think we had two in our entire school, and we were one of the few schools at the time who had a fully equipped computer lab), digital cameras and webcams didn't exist yet. I was online at the time, frequenting a specific AOL message board where I actually found a lot of my friends (whom I'm still friends with today) and I honestly didn't see a single picture of them until years after we started talking (and then it was that we sent pictures to each other through snail mail!).

    At the time, the mindset definitely WAS, "everyone you meet on the internet is a murderer!!!" I don't know if it's still dominant today but I definitely got that lecture from my dad as a thirteen year old in 1997, when my friend in Oklahoma and I exchanged addresses to send each other Christmas presents. (But then I had no misfortunes and my parents relented a lot and a year later, I was attending concerts with "internet friends" and no parents at all… and I'm still alive!)

    This episode amuses me for a LOT of reasons, which you picked up on, but also because I definitely remember those early years of "widespread" internet use.

    • wendebular says:

      I was exactly the same. I had a lot of online friends who I had no idea what they looked like. As an insecure teenage girl, that kind of worked out for me!

      On the hilarious side, my mum didn't think people were murderers. She questioned whether or not they were even real people. Somehow AI was so advanced back in 1996 that the powers that be decided to create random robots to talk to teenagers in New Zealand. "Yes, mum, I am having a real conversation with a real person."

  13. IceBlueRose says:

    Being bored at work pays off! Even though it's not the best episode, I enjoy the hell out of it and I was looking forward to you finally getting a chance to meet Jenny. I love how flustered Giles gets when she argues that computers are the next big thing and the back and forth between them.

    The other part I like is that end scene where we get to see how very screwed up their love lives have been up to this point. The way that they're just all "We're doomed!" and laughing and then slowly the laughter stops as they really think about everything that's happened so far.

    Naq lbh ernyvmr gung, lrf, gurl ernyyl ner gung fperjrq orpnhfr ybbx ng jung'f pbzvat hc va gur arkg frnfba nybar. Jnl gb sberfunqbj rneyl ba va gur fubj, Wbff Jurqba, jnl gb sberfunqbj.

  14. ghawyeriao says:

    Well, I'm glad you … enjoyed yourself?

    Your explanation of how this episode came to be is 100% accurate.

    BUT YOU FORGOT TO MENTION THE BEGINNING SEQUENCE IN "ITALY" WITH THE MONKS. THE OPENING SEQUENCE THAT SAYS "YES, THIS EPISODE IS GOING TO SUCK, GET USED TO IT."

    Yay, Ms. Calendar! You are the only good thing about this episode.

    My mother watched this with me and she kept making comments the whole time about "See what happens when you have romances on-line?" Thanks, Mom. But really, this was so obviously the "Internet danger" episode, and it's ridiculous. There's really not a lot to say about it, other than that.

    • NB2000 says:

      BUT YOU FORGOT TO MENTION THE BEGINNING SEQUENCE IN "ITALY" WITH THE MONKS. THE OPENING SEQUENCE THAT SAYS "YES, THIS EPISODE IS GOING TO SUCK, GET USED TO IT."

      With Carlo and his ridiculous hair and doofy expression!

      Zntvpny zbaxf ner fbzrguvat bs n erpheevat gurzr ba guvf fubj nera'g gurl?

      • ghawyeriao says:

        Ununun gehr. Jryy, vg znxrf frafr, fvapr gur fubj vf fb onfrq va Rhebcrna sbyxyber.

        Nyfb, qb lbh rire fcraq onq rcvfbqrf bs Ohssl jbaqrevat jung Qnja jnf qbvat va gurz nppbeqvat gb gur snyfr zrzbevrf gur zbaxf vzcynagrq?

        • clodia_risa says:

          Bu zna, gung’q or n sha cebwrpg sbe fbzrbar gb gnxr ba. Bs pbhefr, fur’q bayl fubj hc va gurfr rcvfbqrf jura Wblpr jnf nebhaq, fb gung’q znxr vg rnfvre.

          Va guvf bar, ng gur irel raq bs nyy bs vg, Ohssl tbrf ubzr naq gryyf Qnja gung fur’f abg nyybjrq gb or ba pung ebbzf nal zber. Rire. Hagvy fur’f 21. Znlor abg rira gura.

          • ghawyeriao says:

            Frevbhfyl gubhtu, jbhyq nalbar or vagrerfgrq va trggvat gbtrgure naq jevgvat fbzr fbeg bs snasvp bchf vzntvat Qnja'f rkcrevraprf va f1-f4? Nygubhtu, fnlvat gung, V'z fher fbzrbar zhfg unir nyernql qbar fbzrguvat fvzvyne … naljnl, vg jbhyq or sha.

        • The_Consultant says:

          Bwahahahahahahahahahaha…

        • NB2000 says:

          Gurer'f npghnyyl n gvr-va pbzvp pnyyrq Snyfr Zrzbevrf juvpu srngherf n pbhcyr bs synfuonpxf gb rcvfbqrf gung unir unq Qnja nqqrq vagb gurz (V yvgrenyyl whfg tbg vg guvf zbeavat naq fcrag zbfg bs gur qnl ernqvat vg). Vg bayl pbiref bar be gjb bs gur znwbe zbzragf va gur svefg gjb frnfbaf. Nccneragyl fbzr bs gur bgure vffhrf nqq ure va gb rneyvre riragf nf jryy.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      HAHAHAH I FORGOT ABOUT THE OPENING SEQUENCE. oh my god.

    • robin says:

      I just feel like the opening sequence leaves his Evil Plans VERY UNCLEAR. Like, what are his goals? 1. Make people love me 2. Kill them 3…. 6. Profit!

      I am also left with these burning questions: Was Moloch truly sincere in his gratitude towards Willow for setting him free? And if so, what kind of love life did robot!Moloch really expect he and Willow to have? Could they really ever be seen together in public? What did the internet teach him about modern seduction practices? (And why couldn't this have been played with for a 300% more hilarious episode?) Is he anatomically correct?

  15. beckaboomer says:

    OH God, this episode. I completely agree: it is so horrendous, it is actually WONDERFUL.

    I know that the Internet opened up a whole new can of worms re: identity, anonymity, and trusting others. But really show, couldn't we have covered those things in a less cheesy manner? Sigh.

    Aw, I like Xander and Buffy's concern for Willow. It's very sweet. Also, the whole "we're doomed" conversation at the end is a little too on-the-nose, but it's still funny. In a depressing way, though. (It's Joss! Where would we be without the depressingly funny?)

    • Fuchsia says:

      I think almost every show in the mid-90s that was geared towards teenagers had an episode about INTERNET SAFETY!!! and none of them achieved it in a less cheesy manner. That's just how they did things back then.

      • beckaboomer says:

        Yes, and INTERNET SAFETY!!! was handled in all of said shows will the subtlety of an anvil, you're right. You know, now that I think about it… I wouldn't have this episode any other way. I wouldn't be able to laugh as hard while watching it if I were taking it seriously.

        Also, "To read makes our speaking English good." I horrified quite a few English teachers with that quote, and also found a fellow Buffy-loving professor. So thanks, "I Robot, You Jane!"

        • Fuchsia says:

          Actually, I'm not sure if Boy Meets World had an internet safety episode, but it's the only show I can think of that didn't (granted, the characters on that show didn't spend a lot of time on computers in general). Hell, even the new Degrassi, which started in 2001, had an episode dedicated to "meeting people on the internet is DANGEROUS!" (although we had mostly moved away from the overly cheesy factor by that time.)

  16. pica_scribit says:

    Mark, did you see the vegan apple spice cake recipe I posted yesterday? I'm eating some right now, and frankly, it would be a very sad thing for you to miss out on something so tasty.

    Jenny Calendar! "That's not where I dangle it." I love her and how much of a thrill she seems to get out of making Giles uncomfortable. Wow, this episode is dated now, isn't it?

    Fun facts and a little perspective (why yes, I *am* a numbers geek):
    Anthony Stewart Head, born 1954
    David Boreanaz, 1969
    Robia LaMorte, 1970
    Charisma Carpenter, 1970
    Nicholas Brendon, 1971
    Julie Benz, 1972
    Alyson Hannigan, 1974
    Sarah Michelle Gellar,1977

    Actual sophomores in high school during the 1996-97 academic year would mostly have been born 1980-81, making them a year younger than Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and making this season concurrent with the events of Half-Blood Prince. ;p

    (And this is where I restrain myself from discussing thoughts like Buffy = Harry, Willow = Hermione, Xander = Ron, Giles = Dumbledore.)

    Oh, God! I am a dork and there is no known cure.

    • MightBeNatalie says:

      It's always amused me that Xander is only one year younger than Jenny.

    • beckaboomer says:

      (And this is where I restrain myself from discussing thoughts like Buffy = Harry, Willow = Hermione, Xander = Ron, Giles = Dumbledore.)

      Oh, don't restrain yourself. I make those comparisons in my head allllll the time. =D There are definite and important differences, but the similarities can be eerie.

      • pica_scribit says:

        It all goes back to the idea that there is nothing new under the sun; we just keep telling the same stories with the same kinds of characters in different ways, over and over again. I sort of love that idea. It makes me feel connected to my distant ancestors, telling one another stories around the fire on winter nights. The Chosen One, the Clever Helper, the Loyal Friend, the Wise Mentor. *mythology geek*

      • notemily says:

        I've seen fantastic fanart along the same lines! I can't remember who drew it, or I'd look it up. Pity.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        They're very common archetypes, aren't they? On some level they really appeal to us humans.

    • Meltha says:

      I was getting my Master's degree wehn this was on, and I'm the same age as Alyson Hannigan, the supposed 16 year old (or possibly 15? I don't think her age is ever mentioned). Nick and Charisma could have been earning PhDs when this aired. Weird.

    • Nestor says:

      Cordelia = Draco?

    • Ida says:

      Oh, there is a wonderful fanfic that takes place during the first Wizarding War, in which Giles naq Rguna ner uvwnpxrq vagb hfvat gurve "Zhttyr zntvp" gb uryc gur Beqre. Bs pbhefr, Rguna raqf hc ba gur Qrngu Rngre fvqr riraghnyyl, abg gung ur ernyyl unq n pubvpr (gurl tnir uvz gur pubvpr gb uryc bhg be trg xvyyrq; guvf vf Rguna nsgre nyy, jung jbhyq ur pubbfr?).

      It was awesome! Zl snibevgr cnegf jrer gur "fanexvat pbagrfgf" orgjrra Fancr naq Rguna! It helps that he's one of my favourite characters, like, ever!

      • UnstrungZero says:

        I've read a couple of QUITE good Giles/Snape crossovers. Bar frg va gur Evccre lrnef, gur bgure nf n cbfg-Ohssl/QU NH jurer Fancr wbvaf gur arj ''Jngpure'f Pbhapvy'.

  17. NotQuiteDave says:

    I keep looking at my Season 1 boxset to work out what you're watching next. Two days ago, when I saw you were about to watch 'Angel' I was giddy with anticipation; "He's about to find out he's a vampire! God, I hope he doesn't think it's too much like 'Twilight'". Yesterday, after the 'Angel' review, I looked to see what was next for you and died a little inside when I saw this coming up. It's… not the best is it? Mind you when I first saw this as a kid, I became obsessed with how Moloch actually looks. Come on, that is one sweet demon design!

  18. Gillian says:

    In the many re-watches of BtVS that I've done, I have also come to hate Xander in the beginning – he is annoying and unlikeable. I fully support you taking your time to warm up to him, if that is what happens πŸ™‚

  19. MightBeNatalie says:

    What a nonsensical, absurd, dated misstep this episode is. And I say that with all kinds of affection.

    Personally, I adore Xander but I'm pretty sure I didn't adore him the moment he showed up. Part of what makes this show so fascinating is how dynamic and changeable the characters are– and for them to change, they have to start one place and end somewhere else. The beauty is in the journey.

    So I think Mark's reaction to him is perfectly reasonable, given where we are in the show. Give the poor man some breathing room.

  20. hassibah says:

    The most badass and beautiful thing is when Giles so reluctantly explains to Jenny that there's a demon on the internet and she's like "I know." Plus her argument about knowledge being cloistered into the hands of a few white guys.
    O hai there one of my favourite characters.

    Stories involving computers written by people that have no idea what computers can do is one of my favourite genres, and I am a total luddite. So I love this, I don't care how shaky the writing is cause there are internet spells.

    • ghawyeriao says:

      Jenny does not get near enough love.

      I know nothing about computers, and I still knew this episode was full of shit.

    • hassibah says:

      Also, does anyone remember this movie from the 80s or possibly early 90s where this dude gets a computer and it gets mad at him, takes over his apartment, tries to ruin his life and move in on his girlfriend?

      I watched it a few years back but I can't for the life of me remember what it's called.

  21. enigmaticagentscully says:

    -Ooohhh Italian flashback!
    -Well this is fucking cool. The makeup job on the bad guy is awesome too.
    -…someone’s gonna read that book aren’t they?
    -Wow this is all so dated now. Look at the computers!
    -SO who is this really quite cute Computer Science teacher who’s all sassy to Giles?
    -…She’s gonna die, isn’t she? I like her, so she gonna die.
    -Awwww Giles you are adorkable
    -COMPUTERS ARE CLEARLY EVILLL
    -For some reason this opening always gives me nostalgia. For a show I’ve never watched before.
    -Awwww Willow
    -ONLINE FRIENDS ARE ALSO EVIL. YOU ARE ALL EVIL.
    -Willow is so sweet and not-shallow and Buffy is such a sweet friend and I prefer this show with minimal Xander
    -Ew this whole episode is turning into a kind of an awkward PSA about Internet safety
    -YOU GUYS ARE PROBABLY ALL OLD DUTCH LADIES
    -BWAHAHAHA Giles is hilariously terrified of computers
    -Wow those are some ugly sunglasses Buffy
    -Annddddd…suddenly I ship Giles with Computer Science lady
    -WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME
    -EVERYTHING I TOUCH BECOMES SHIPPING
    -I have to admit, the conspiracy of dorky computer teens is kind of funny
    -Awwww that one geeky dude is trying to fight it! SUDDENLY IN LOVE WITH HIM he’s gonna die isn’t he?
    -Oh shit, is it writing his suicide note? That’s fucking creepy. Bravo.
    -“You released Moloch? Way to go!” “I didn’t read it!”
    -DON’T DELETE WILLOW.
    -This is definitely going a little far about the evil of computers here
    -The phone line wasn’t busy so she can’t be online. The phone line wasn’t busy so she can’t be online. Oh 90s…
    -Yeah, go on Giles. Get Miss Calendar to help. You know you want to. πŸ˜›
    -WAIT WAIT WAIT SHE KNOWS THERE’S A DEMON IN THE INTERNET DON’T MAKE HER EVIL DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE I LIKE HER
    -She knows about Demons? Techno-pagan? Whatever YAY not a bad guy!
    -Wiloooowwwww…why does your life suck?
    -Oh god his evil lair looks like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise
    -LOL Xander falling off the fence
    -This is really unintentionally funny and kind of awesome at the same time
    -Yay they killed him and all kind of unimpressive actually?
    -YUSSS SHE’S STILL ALIVE BY THE END. RESULT. I will go down with this shipppp…
    -BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA ok that whole ending scene was pretty hilarious.

    So this episode was a whole bundle of stupid. Outdated stupid. But I enjoyed the fuck out of it nonetheless. Lots of Giles, lots of Willow, Xander being bearable.
    In other news…
    <img src="http://i40.tinypic.com/15rjfk5.png&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"> http://kynimdraws.tumblr.com/

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      omg that image is so amazing

    • The accuracy of that picture pains me

    • NB2000 says:

      Maybe we're all EVIL OLD DUTCH LADIES! Maybe.

    • notemily says:

      LOL remember when if someone picked up the phone while you were online, it'd disconnect you? And you'd be like "MOM!!!"

      • calimie says:

        I remember very pointedly asking for a connection that didn't do that, lol.
        Kids nowadays, they know nothing!

      • t09yavosaur says:

        My favorite part of Starship is gur qvny-hc vagrearg fbhaq gung ab bar haqre 15 cebonoyl trgf.

      • enigmaticagentscully says:

        Oh yes, I remember those days well.
        Remember the dial up sound?

      • UnstrungZero says:

        LOLOL When we got the internet I was 15, so it would've been the very very end of 1997. and after I dropped out of HS at 16/'98, Mom and I both did nothing for all of 1999 except be online. with horrible dialup, and we had no call waiting, but we did have voicemail service, so we'd sign off once a day or two to check messages. XD I'm a night owl and she's an afternoon person, so for a year, we were LITERALLY ONLINE 24/7. She'd sign on when I went to bed and vice versa. *giggles*

    • ladililn says:

      okay, the EXACT SAME THING happens to me with that theme song! I don't know what it is! It makes me nostalgic for Buffy and the nineties and not only did I not watch Buffy when it aired, but I was in the single-digit years in the nineties, and not exactly up on my pop culture at the time beyond Barney and Friends. WHAT IS THE MAGIC OF THOSE TITLES.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Its like the story of Midas. Except when you touch your daughter, instead of gold, she becomes a love interest.

      PAIN. PAIN FOREVER.

  22. monkeybutter says:

    Okay, fess up. How many of you are really just demon-possessed computers?

    It’s so awful that….well, it’s a waste of time and energy to spend one second hating it.

    EXACTLY. Perfect review, Mark. This episode is so terrible that I love it. The glassy-eyed technophiles, and the demonic cyberman, whom I’m gonna pretend found Willow through a newsgroup. And the internet exorcism! Autocorrect would have the Earth overrun with demons within an hour. You just have to sit back and enjoy the silliness. Besides, Giles and Ms. Calendar were cute, and I know this is a cliché, but he looks so good without his glasses. Plus, the “we’re doomed” moment at the end was golden.

  23. Karen says:

    So… this episode happened. I really don’t know what else to say about it. This episode has not aged well. The Internet is a scary and dangerous place! For all you know I could be a sentient evil robot thing! I COULD BE ANYONE! You can’t prove that I’m not a demon!

    Since this is an online community, it makes sense to talk about the way meeting people from the internet is handled in this episode.I think that even today there is a stigma behind meeting people online. I mean Willow is being an idiot for meeting Malcolm somewhere that is not a very public coffee shop or something like that. Xander is right when he says that Willow doesn’t really know the guy. Willow was being really naïve about meeting someone off the Internet. That said, I’ve met quite a few people in person that I first met online, and SO FAR none of them have turned out to be techno-demons. But I’m still young. So maybe the next person I meet online will end up being a supernatural robot who tries to murder me.

    Sidenote: I do not miss the days of dial up modems and my parents hating me for tying up their phone line. Heh.

    Also, I do love the last moment of the show where the gang laughs over never being able to have a normal relationship and then are quiet while the reality of that hits them.

    • fandomphd says:

      I used to go online and load a bunch of fanfics and then go offline to read them in an attempt to hide how much I was on the Internet from my parents who thought I should be studying… Kids these days have it so easy. They can hide their Internet usage easily when there's no busy-signal giving you away when your parents pick up the phone!

    • tanbarkie says:

      To be fair, the Internet IS a scary and dangerous place. Anything capable of producing 4chan must have SOME demonic influence behind it.

  24. NB2000 says:

    Oh god the 90's flashbacks are out in full force here. HUGE laptops with tiny screens! Modems and dial-up that took over the phone line! If nothing else this episode will serve as a reminder of how much I do not miss those days. The "How do you know this person is really who they say they are?!" panic feels very familiar too.

    As much as Buffy and Giles' discussion of the destruction Moloch could do makes me roll my eyes (not everything is connected to the internet guys!) their arguing over who had the better point is pretty damn cute. Speaking of cute, Willow has a photo of herself with Giles in her locker. Awwww! Love thet she gets to be awesome and hits Moloch with the fire extinguisher!

    Jenny! You are amazing and awesome and I love you already. Her response to Fritz's "print is dead" rant in the library won me over and then she continued being awesome. That she reacts to her computer pretty much exploding with "OH!" proves she's much more badass than I could ever be (I'd be screaming and hiding under the desk). As awesome as she is even Jenny, like Cordelia before her, cannot make crimped hair work.

  25. Hansen says:

    This episode is part of a late nineties pattern of a bunch of tv shows (such as Law & Order, Homicide, The X-Files etc.) doing bad episodes about the evils of the internet.

    I love BtVS and its characters too much to outright dislike this or any other episode, but it is definitely one of the worst episodes they ever did. But the fact that it's the very first Willow episode ever makes it noteworthy in my book tough.

    And I like Jenny Calendar…

    • notemily says:

      Law & Order, or at least the spinoffs, still do awful episodes about the evils of the internet. Have you seen the ones about "YouLenz," the video service? Or "Another Youniverse," which is suspiciously similar to Second Life? They're hilariously bad.

      • tanbarkie says:

        Do the producers of Law & Order think that all interwebsites on the 'Net have names that start with "You"?

        ('Scuse me, I'm gonna go Yougle this.)

  26. tigerpetals says:

    I'm used to the silliness of this episode, I don't mind. I assume Willow met Moloch in a chatroom and things progressed to email from there, but that is fanwank.

    I did just find a parallel with this episode that can make sense of the plot. Though before that, I'd say that Moloch influencing Dave and Fritz is supposed to be because that's his power. Anyway. This is the story of Dracula in one episode. Carlax equals Carfax, the house Dracula got in England and where he moved many of his boxes of dirt. Dracula has a follower called Renfield who's locked up in a mental ward says "blood is the life," and whom Dracula kills. Willow is Jonathan because she sets him free (Jonathan helped Dracula get Carfax), Lucy because of the seduction over various days causing disruption of her life, and Mina because she gets saved at the end.

    The demon is a metaphor for predators, which is not the right way to approach the Internet, but it is the way people talked and still talk of it sometimes. The children are painted as helpless, so you get Fritz and Dave and Willow falling for a literal monster with seductive/hypnotizing powers like Moloch.

    Plus I like the smell of books argument. Sure, read the way you want and are able to, but it's a good benefit. I also had the nice thought that the paperbacks I get new will grow old with me. That's comforting.

    But "I'm jacked in" is ridiculous and I was reminded of this drawing I saw of a robot on a desk that made the phrase a pun for penetration and masturbation.

    • James says:

      Yes, I totally agree with you on the Dracula parallels with the minions! Fritz is a very creepy Renfield insert (hayvxr Knaqre jvgu npghny Qenphyn, jub vf uvynevbhf).

      Moloch is "The Corrupter", he controls people by being seductive and manipulative, offering them love, power and knowledge in return for their services.

  27. tehrevel says:

    This episode is pretty bad but I think "So because they’re computer nerds who are Internet-savvy, they’re susceptible to evil demons?" isn't a dig at internet users or anything. These two characters are just supposed to be classic demonic cult fodder. Like if they were born 500 years earlier they'd have been wearing robes and sacrificing baby deer for the guy whose name is the corruptor. Also I thought they mentioned that Willow was online chatting to people all the time and Malcom just happened to know what to say to her because again, that's his deal. None of that stuff really improves the episode or anything though.

  28. This is not the worst episode of Buffy.

    Indeed.

  29. BradSmith5 says:

    Interesting take on the episode. I wouldn't say that Willow is being foolish, though; she falls for Moloch, yes, but when the red flags go up she does exercise caution. Unless you're talking about how she just presses the power button instead of going to "Shut Down" in the apple menu. I mean, yeah––that's just asking for trouble! πŸ˜‰

  30. Genny_ says:

    I have a confession to make: I got so much second hand embarrassment watching this episode, I never actually finished.

    I just… couldn't. I'm sure this makes me a terrible fan, but there you go.

    • mreeb says:

      That is completely fair. (I'd recommend skipping to the last minute of the episode, because it's one of my favourite endings ever. Or googling it. I'm sure it's on youtube somewhere.)

    • Raenef_the_5th says:

      Hahaha, understandable. Just skip to the last scene, I suggest.

  31. Let us take a moment to note that Jenny Calendar is played by Robia LaMorte. That’s right, her name is Robia THE DEATH. How cool is that? Bs pbhefr, vg jbhyq or pbbyre vs fur jrer Ebovn GUR QRNGU bs gur Qrngujbx pyna. I feel like she must have had an edge in the casting department, much like Susannah Harker on Ultraviolet.

    Let us take a moment to appreciate that Xander had information! Jung, ur pna’g unir ynlref?

    Let us take a moment to realize that I can hear Xander saying, “Hey! I got to hit someone!” in my head because I have a huge collection of Buffy sound WAVs. Hey, guys, remember sound WAVs? For years, my Windows startup sound was gur Znlbe fnlvat, “Gurer’f zber guna bar jnl gb fxva n png. Naq V unccra gb xabj gung’f snpghnyyl gehr.”

    Let us take a moment to point out that you have never met me and I am probably a cyberdemon. LET’S DATE.

    • IceBlueRose says:

      LMAO, that's a pretty fantastic startup sound. Mine was Fcvxr fnlvat "Uryyb phgvr." naq gura jura V fuhg vg qbja, V unq cbffrffrq!Fnz Jvapurfgre fnlvat "Zl qnqql fubg lbhe qnqql va gur urnq." va n fvat-fbat ibvpr. V qba'g rira xabj, yby.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Wow. How do you even land with a name that means "the Death"? I mean, I have a last name which literally means "drinks and alcohol", but I don't see how badly you'd have to mess up for you entire family to be called Death. (Unless you're from Discworld. In which case its awesome).

    • Hecubot says:

      Pfft. I've met you. You're all fleshy and human.

  32. shoroko says:

    Sebz gur gvgyr, V gubhtug guvf jnf gur bar jurer Wblpr qngrq n ebobg. Vg frrzrq n yvggyr rneyl sbe gung, ohg V ernyyl unir gebhoyr erzrzorevat jung unccrarq va gur svefg frnfba, gb or ubarfg.

    I pretty much agree on everything about this episode, though. It managed to be not entirely anti-Internet preachy, particularly with the straightforward introduction of Jenny Calendar who Knows Everything, Thanks Very Much Giles; but it was still enough so that it got pretty tiring. (I also feel like the idea of any sort of substantial anonymity on the Internet, which was an internet fear this episode really relied upon, is becoming quite dated in the age of Facebook and our basic understanding of IP addresses.) I'd actually really like to see a combination of the use of supernatural elements and technology done well (actually, my dream is for some sort of cyberpunk twist on something like Buffy or Supernatural), but this episode just shows how really difficult that is to even conceive of and then consruct in any concrete way, as it's not going to work if it's just people sitting around computers. Especially huge, bulky ones from 1997.

    Truthfully, my favorite part of this episode was seeing all the chaos going on in the background, which all the main characters seemed to be oblivious to. I thought that was kind of clever.

    Also, naq V'z plcurevat guvf orpnhfr V xabj gurl trg gbtrgure yngre, ohg V sryg yvxr guvf rcvfbqr unq fbzr bs gur svefg vaqvpngvbaf gung Knaqre npghnyyl qvq unir fbzrguvat bs n pehfu ba Jvyybj. Vg znl unir hasbeghangryl bayl znavsrfgrq jura ur jnf snpvat gur cbffvovyvgl gung Jvyybj jnf jvgu fbzrbar ryfr (naq gung qbrfa'g frrz gb punatr), ohg rira orlbaq Ohssl onfvpnyyl fnlvat vg, gung jubyr guvat jurer ur pbirerq ure rlrf jrag orlbaq sevraq-cynlshy vagb bhgevtug syvegl gb zr.

    • IceBlueRose says:

      "Truthfully, my favorite part of this episode was seeing all the chaos going on in the background, which all the main characters seemed to be oblivious to. I thought that was kind of clever."

      I think my favorite is the guy with the huge laptop and the pro-Hitler paper and his "What is this?! I didn't write that!" I just keep imagining him having to scramble to rewrite his paper though and feeling a bit bad for him because frantically rewriting is never fun. Or having to turn that copy in which would also be bad.

    • notemily says:

      I loved the background chaos too! I actually felt sorry for the dude who was apparently allergic to penicillin. (Which… what was Moloch's motivation there, exactly? I can sort of understand the Hitler thing, because Moloch seems like someone who would be a fan.)

      • tigerpetals says:

        Random spite! Like his approval of that man making a contract on his mother's life. Actually I don't understand Moloch. Why does he kill his followers?

    • tornflames says:

      " I'd actually really like to see a combination of the use of supernatural elements and technology done well"

      Only place I can remember seeing it come close is in Charles DeLint's Spirits in the Wires, for what good it may do.

  33. arctic_hare says:

    Thank you for that Xander note, Mark. I hate feeling like people were trying to silence criticism of his fucked-up behavior. It's bad enough other places, but to get it here made it feel extra awful and uncomfortable.

    Anyway, this episode. I've actually only seen it once, and didn't get a chance to rewatch it in prep for today. I want to rewatch it, though, because HILARITY. I did see a clip, though, of the "if you're not jacked in, you're not really alive" bit and I'm convinced that that was actually the internet god from American Gods. Surprised you didn't draw the comparison. πŸ˜€

    ALSO I LOVE JENNY.

    • tigerpetals says:

      Yes, I'm glad I can expect criticism of him here. Of the few other places I go to, gjb unir cevznevyl fuvccref bs fuvcf Knaqre ungrf, so there's some criticism there, but the one general board I still go to had another poster who criticized him have arguments rejected and dismissed in an in insulting manner complete with Buffy bashing some months ago. I felt too wary to post publicly and pm'd the poster instead.

  34. Jack_of_Hearts says:

    Hmm, aside from the actually pretty positive Xander moments, I choose to believe that this episode exists in its own little existence, inhabited only by the bizarre and outrageous. Such as this thing <img src="http://i.crackedcdn.com/phpimages/article/8/7/2/106872.gif?v=1"&gt;

    (Sorry, ust looking for an excuse to share this abomination.)

  35. plaidpants says:

    Well….. I'm glad you came around to just being amused by the whole thing Mark. I was excited to have a Willow episode, and was particularly pleased that she figured out something was off all on her own.

    I liked the random bits of information we would see about how the "infestation" was wrecking havoc – the guy whose paper about NAZI Germany was suddenly all turned around, the kid who was allergic to penicillin. I think we all know that it would create much more chaos now!

    I did feel awful about that poor kid "hanging" himself. Why does Sunnydale not have counselors at the school 24/7 to deal with this stuff? I hope Buffy didn't just leave him hanging there for some other kid to stumble across….

    • settlingforhistory says:

      I hope Buffy didn't just leave him hanging there for some other kid to stumble across….

      Hihi,that reminds me so much of a fanart about Hogwarts students stumbeling on Dumbledore's grave after Voldy took the Elder wand.

      Buffy wouldn't do that, right?*shudder*

  36. kte says:

    MST3K + this episode = awesome

    if only…

  37. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Oh my god I am SO RELIEVED that everyone seems to agree with me on this being 'so bad it's good' territory! I swear, now I'm watching this stuff for the first time and typing my thoughts as I go I'm afraid that I'll come to some WILDLY UNPOPULAR OPINION about an episode and the entire fandom will dismember me.
    I'm always so happy when I do read Mark's review and he at least least has come to the same basic impressions I have.
    πŸ˜€

    But yeah, this episode was so fun to watch I can't even. HANDS UP WHO HERE IS REALLY AN OLD DUTCH LADY?? Seriously if any of you are that is frickin awesome,

  38. tigerpetals says:

    Also, Moloch the Terminator. I was going to edit that into my comment but…how come my comment needs to be approved before it appears publicly? Did I do something wrong before, is it a new policy for this project, or is it a glitch?

    Edit: So apparently this comment doesn't need approval?

    Let me put part of my previous comment here then. I like the smelly books argument. There really isn't a definitive argument in this episode about which kind of reading is better, and read what you want/are able to read, but it's true that I like the way books smell, and I think so do other paper readers. And Giles gave me the comforting thought that my paperbacks will grow old with me if they aren't lost or thrown away; and some already have.

  39. arctic_hare says:

    Also I found this on tumblr a while back and I feel it is relevant to this episode.

    <img src="http://i39.tinypic.com/16ta4n.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  40. Nomie says:

    Memories, misty watercolored memories…

    I cannot even discuss my love for this episode. IT IS SO BAD. SO RIDICULOUSLY BAD. It circles right around to that awesome sweet spot of unending hilarity. Oh, the 90s. Oh, eighth grade. I DON'T MISS YOU AT ALL. (I do miss my DragonLance chat rooms, though.)

    Also, Ms. Calendar <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  41. Can we all take a moment to just appreciate how beautiful Ms.Calendar is?

    <img src="http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lidxdl3M3q1qh040yo1_500.jpg"&gt;

    I mean, HOT DAMN, she is pretty. She is definitely on my "if-I-ever-switched-teams" list.

    *apologizes for shallow post*

  42. knut_knut says:

    This episode is pretty much everything I love- nonsensical plot lines! outdated technology! 90s fashion! (was Jenny’s hair crimped? So stylish!) I loved the trio’s little bit at the end, too. They looked like adorable, reject superheros <3

  43. Seventh_Star says:

    not one of buffy's better episodes.

    just a few things:

    1. the obligatory THE INTERNETZ IS EVIL LULZ show.

    2. ms. calendar was half of prince's dancing duo in "diamonds and pearls". the pearl half.

    3. that's totally joss' voice when giles is listening to the radio.

    4. i love giles' speech about the smell of books. FULL HEART.

    5. "to read makes our speaking english good." thanks, xander.

    6. gur ynfg fprar jurer bhe cevapvcyrf gnyx nobhg nyy gurve eryngvbafuvcf orvat qbbzrq? orfg sberfunqbjvat rire be orfg sberfunqbjvat rire?

  44. tigerpetals says:

    Let me put the other half of my comment here.

    I noticed for the first time that IRYJ has Dracula parallels. He seduces followers with power, but he kills them, like Dracula killed Renfield. Willow is simultaneously Lucy, Mina, and Jonathan. Jonathan in that she sets him free (Jonathan helps him get a house in England), Lucy in the seduction period, and Mina in that she's last one standing of the people Moloch was "turning." And Carfax is the place in England where Dracula was storing many of his boxes, as well as the house Jonathan helped him get; Carlax is where the big project to assemble Moloch happened. Ms. Calendar and Giles make up Van Helsing.

    Moloch is basically a metaphor for predators going on the Internet after helpless children, so the story relies on the fear of that in the audience to carry it and doesn't explain the details. Predators on the Internet is still sometimes talked about. I've pretty much come to accept the silliness of the whole thing.

    And "jacked in" reminds me of this drawing of a robot I saw on a desk during class years ago. It had the robot holding a plug, and "jack in, jack off" written next to it.

  45. SelphieFairy says:

    The So Bad It's Good episode. It's soo outdated. Va nabgure rcvfbqr, Grq, Jvyybj gnyxf nobhg ubj fur yvxrf ure avar tvt uneqqevir. Jngpuvat gung abj znxrf zr ynhtu ng ubj fnq gung frrzf. Rira vCbqf unir zber fcnpr. But it just makes you wanna reminisce on the old days. Lol jk all that slow internet, dial up, floppy disks, big laptops and INTERNET IS DANGER is silly. Nope. Don't miss it. πŸ˜›

    … And yay, Jenny!

  46. Meghan says:

    Oh Xander. Xander, Xander, Xander. Why must you be such an ass sometimes? I want to love you always, with your dry sense of humor and your awkwardness but sometimes you just need a good slap on the face.

    Best wishes,
    Girl who likes sweet, funny Xander not mean, selfish Xander

    (Also Mark, you are awesome, and I will never stop thinking that you are awesome. Part of what I love about reading your reviews is that you don't just gush over everything blindly, you have an actual, thought out opinion. You can love something and still recognize it's faults in one breath, and that is amazing. πŸ™‚ DFTBA)

  47. Ryan Lohner says:

    I'm kind of amazed that no one ever uses the term "Information Superhighway" in the episode, with how dated the rest of it is.

    It's pretty hilarious to see Robia La Morte as a "techno-pagan" in this show, now that she's become a hardcore Fundie Christian who spends her days railing against Harry Potter for turning kids into pagans, and would undoubtedly say the same about Buffy.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? πŸ™ I mean, I knew about the fundie part (vg'f jul fur jnf hapbzsbegnoyr cbegenlvat Svefg Rivy Wraal va "Nzraqf") but not about railing against HP. πŸ™

    • cait0716 says:

      I don't want to know these things πŸ™

    • hassibah says:

      Dammit, of course my love for her would have to be ruined. Vg vf n Wbff fubj, fb V ernyyl fubhyqa'g or fhecevfrq ol riraghny zvfrel naq qvfnccbvagzrag.

    • And that is why I crush on Ms.Calendar, and not her real-world counterpart.

    • SelphieFairy says:

      Fur nccneragyl jnf gb erghea nf bar bs gur sbezf gur svefg jbhyq gnxr va frnfba frira, ohg fur ershfrq…. Vg jnf Fngnavp sbe ure be j/r. Fnq fnq greevoyr zvffrq bccbeghavgl. ):

      • hpfish13 says:

        Nf n Puevfgvna naq na npgbe V whfg qba'g trg guvf. Gur Svefg Rivy vf orvat cbegenlrq nf rivy. Cynlvat na rivy punenpgre qbrf abg zrna gung lbh fhccbeg gur orunivbe bs fnvq punenpgre, rfcrpvnyyl jura gur fubj (be zbivr) vf pyrneyl ntnvafg gurve npgvbaf. V guvax vg jbhyq or gbaf bs sha gb cynl gur rivyrfg, rivy bs nyy gvzr.

        • IsabelArcher2 says:

          Enaqbz Fvqrabgr: Va 17p. Ratynaq, gurer jnf n uhtr chfu sbe gur gurngref gb or fuhg qbja (juvpu riraghnyyl unccrarq sbe n ovg nsgre gur rkrphgvba bs Puneyrf V). Bar bs gur ovttrfg ernfbaf sbe guvf jnf gung n ybg bs eryvtvbhf tebhcf (zbfgyl gur Chevgnaf) oryvrirq gung vs lbh cynl na rivy punenpgre, lbh zhfg nyfb vagreanyvmr gung ebyr naq orpbzr rivy lbhefrys. V jbhyq qrsvavgryl fnl gung guvf pbaprcg unf erznvarq gb fbzr rkgrag va phygher gbqnl. Erzrzore jura Urngu Yrqtre qvrq? Znal crbcyr pynvzrq gung vg jnf orpnhfr ur unq orpbzr fb qrcerffrq sebz cynlvat gur Wbxre va Ongzna. Be znlor vg jnf bayl zl zbgure jub oryvrirq gung.

          • Fuchsia says:

            Enaqbz fvqrabgr gb lbhe enaqbz fvqrabgr: zl nhag (jub vf, nzbat bgure guvatf, irel pbafreingvir naq rkgerzryl eryvtvbhf) oryvrirf gung npgvat vf n fva, orpnhfr npgvat vf ylvat naq ylvat vf n fva. Guvf rkgraqrq rira gb ershfvat gb nyybj zl pbhfvaf gb cynl qerff-hc jvgu hf jura jr jrer lbhatre. V qvqa'g xabj gurer jrer puhepurf praghevrf ntb jub jrer ntnvafg npgvat nf jryy… fur cebonoyl tbg vg sebz gurz.

          • James says:

            Htu, shpxvat Chevgnaf! V unir n oheavat ungerq sbe Byvire Pebzjryy gung ab zna pna dhryy. Hafhecevfvatyl, Puneyrf VV vf zl snibhevgr Xvat bs Ratynaq.

          • Inseriousity. says:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk0hE4IdVQs

            lolol not a spoiler for buffy. woo horrible histories πŸ˜›

    • tanbarkie says:

      Man, I'm gonna jack in to the Information Superhighway and load up on Multimedia! Just gotta turn off After Dark (love those flying toasters) first.

    • Pt_0 says:

      Really?
      Dammit, that's why I don't pay any attention to actors/actresses in real life. πŸ™

    • This makes me sad. πŸ™ Hence the sad face.

    • notemily says:

      Oh god, really? That's so disappointing. I expect better of you, Ms. Calendar!

    • echinodermata says:

      Oh no D: D:

  48. notemily says:

    <img src="http://www.unc.edu/courses/jomc050/idog.jpg&quot; alt="On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.">

    So, I ROBOT YOU JANE.

    LOL I love this cheesy flashback. Moar cheesy flashbacks plz, show!

    MARK BE CAREFUL YOUR KINDLE MIGHT HAVE DEMONS IN IT. I do like the idea of something powerful trapped within a book, though.

    Hey it's the SEXEH COMPUTER TEACHER Ms. Calendar!

    "If you're not JACKED IN, you're not ALIVE."

    "Yes, it was a joke I made up." <3333 Willow

    Ah, the wonderful world of internet dating. Let's talk about this for a sec. I mean, I'm on OKCupid. I've met some awful guys there. I've met some guys who were nice but just not for me. The internet is a place with many kinds of people on it just like the real world. I have a friend who met her husband on Match.com. They're separated now, but given marriage's 50% chance of fail anyway, I don't blame that on the interwebs.

    All this is to say I don't think Willow is a fool here. Relationships can get pretty intense over the internet, where you don't have physical stuff so you have to rely on emotional connection through talking. I think it's kind of silly that this episode is basically saying "don't do online dating because the guy you like IS A DEMON," but that's what this show does–takes normal dangers, i.e., the sensitive guy from the internet being a jerk in real life, and makes them supernatural. But I think it's totally realistic that Willow would fall for someone over the internets, and be flattered that he's taking an interest in her, and want to hold on to that even in the face of Buffy's reasonable concern. Especially since Moloch is known for seducing people with promises of love and power, as Giles says. He has a mystical hold over Willow as well as a regular "somebody likes me" one.

    "Does it involve a midget and a block of ice?" Hee, classic.

    Ah, 90s webcams.

    "I'M JACKED IN." OMG THIS IS SO BAD

    Ironic dark glasses and a trenchcoat segue fairy! I love that Buffy's idea of a surveillance outfit is ~totally stylin'~, though.

    "To read makes our speaking English good."

    I just love watching Giles and Ms. Calendar argue about technology versus books. <3333

    OH GOD WHY ARE THOSE SHOWERS SO CREEPY

    Dave! Thanks for helping! Now you must die. With an electronic suicide note. Really?

    GASP! Ms. Calendar KNOWS ABOUT DEMONS AND SHIT! She's a TECHNO-PAGAN! AWESOME

    He's a ROBOT DEMON! I guess Fritz or those random lab people made him that body. [Guvf vf erzvaqvat zr n ybg bs Pncevpn, npghnyyl.] (spoilers for future MW project)

    Giles geeking out about the smell of books <333

    I do love the end bit where Buffy, Xander, and Willow are talking about how doomed they are. I like that all three of them have had the chance to have a relationship with a supernatural being! Brings friends together, y'know.

    So I think there's some kind of TV rule about how computers must have both visuals and sound? Maybe it's for accessibility purposes. But we all know that computers in real life don't speak everything aloud or make beepy noises every time you click on something, yet EVERY TV SHOW does this. That bothers me a lot less than other computer things TV shows and movies get wrong, though. Like the gratuitous use of the words "download," "upload" and "backslash" when THOSE WORDS DON'T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK THEY MEAN, SHOW.

    Do you know how many Usenet newsgroups you could have infiltrated? Why did you think so small, Moloch?

    OMG MOLOCH IS EVERY USENET TROLL TO EVER EXIST. It's the only explanation.

    • arctic_hare says:

      MAYBE MOLOCH WROTE "MY IMMORTAL"

      • tigerpetals says:

        OMG THERE IS A VERSION WITH HIS SYNTHETIC VOICE (I searched for it during Mark's reading of it, but couldn't find the one I listened to πŸ™ ).

    • cait0716 says:

      Her surveillance outfit is perfectly in character.

      And I agree that Willow was acting far from foolish. She does something that tons of other people have done. What's more, she recognizes early warning signs of creepiness and tries to cut off communication.

    • "So I think there's some kind of TV rule about how computers must have both visuals and sound? "

      I HATE THIS. Every time I see a TV show or movie with a noisy operating system (most of them), I get unreasonably annoyed. But for whatever reason, I just cannot get over this. If your OS made those sounds every time you did something, you would make it DEAD. That would be SOOO annoying.

      • tanbarkie says:

        To be fair, this is pretty much how game consoles, hand-held devices, and the GUIs in most PC games work. It's often annoying in those situations too (when the sounds are too obtrusive or repetitive), but there's a legitimate use for sounds in user interface design.

        • You're right of course, but there is so much sound used in TV and movies when people are using software that it's pretty ridiculous. Common operations in most UIs usually don't have sounds tied to them, and if they do they are very unobtrusive. Police procedurals/forensics shows are usually the worst offenders, where any time anybody does anything it makes a really loud sort of synth-y sound that would be so annoying to any real person trying to use that software.

          I think sound design people are a bit too gung ho to add sound to computers. I think they believe that if we don't HEAR something, we don't believe it's doing anything, which is ridiculous considering we work around computers all the time and are accustomed to how they work. I remember a story from the making of the pilot of Firefly. The sound design people tried to put in a computery sound when Mal touches a thing on the control panel of Serenity, but it didn't actually make any sense because the thing he was touching was a camera so that he could wipe it off.

    • echinodermata says:

      I also don't like people saying aloud what they type. It's more understandable than random beepy noises, but who narrates what they type all the time? And why don't people in television type faster?

      Always bugs me.

      • settlingforhistory says:

        I guess that is done for translations or they would have to make a subtitle whenever someone writes something.
        That computers speak is stupid, but again necessary because everyone reads at a different speed and they would have to let you see the monitor for quite a while so you don't miss things.
        It's fun when they don't do it and just write complete nonsense because they don't think the audience pays any attention.
        Yvxr va Tvatreoernq, gur Trezna fgbel gung Tvyrf ernqf sebz gb rkcynva gur uvfgbel bs gur qrzba vf fb shaal, orpnhfr vg znxrf ab frafr ng nyy.
        Vg ernqf n ybg yvxr tbbtyr genafyngvba. πŸ™‚

    • Pt_0 says:

      I don't know, sometimes the horribly incorrect way that technology is often depicted in television becomes amusing because it's that bad. Which occurred sometimes in this episode.
      But yes, loud computers are annoying as hell and would never be tolerated. Although, I really wanted a talking computer when I was a kid for some reason.

      Also, I can't talk about technology and television without linking this. It still makes no sense.
      [youtube hkDD03yeLnU&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkDD03yeLnU&feature=related youtube]

    • tigerpetals says:

      And a synthetic voice is far from romantic, so that would hamper Moloch's seductive abilities.

  49. Jordan says:

    I laughed so hard when, after calling Willow's house, Xander says "There was no busy signal, so I know she's not online." I do not miss dial-up at all.

    • knut_knut says:

      HAHA how did I miss that? How can you not miss dial-up? That beautiful tone <3

      We had dial up until 2008 because my dad was stubborn :/ But it was really useful while I was in high school because the connection was so slow that I couldn’t really procrastinate.

      • Fuchsia says:

        We had dial-up at the house I rented in 2007 because it was the middle of nowhere and we couldn't get anything else (no cable or even antenna tv, no cellphone signal, only two paved roads, and completely snowed in during the winter months). I was a senior in college, trying to do research and upload papers on a line that connected at 28.8kbps at its best. (Also, I had bought a brand new MacBook which didn't come with a built-in dial-up modem so I had to go buy a separate one, which got me weird looks at the store in Boston.) I loved that house and the area but wow, I do not miss the internet. I also honestly don't know if they've improved accessibility out there since, I wouldn't be surprised if much hadn't changed.

        On the bright side, it was pretty much impossible to get distracted by tv shows since I couldn't watch them when they aired and downloading new episodes took about 12 hours on an uninterrupted connection, so I got lots of work done. It was my most productive year of college!

        • tanbarkie says:

          I went all the way through the kbps upgrade spectrum. Our family started with a 9600 baud modem, then upgraded to a 14.4 kbps, then 28.8, and finally 56k, which was FUCKING MIND-BLOWING at the time.

          Then broadband happened, and dial-up modems instantly became a punchline.

  50. guest_age says:

    I agree with everything you pointed out that's horrible about this episode, but I can't hate it because it introduced Jenny Calendar to the world and fuck yes awesome techno-pagan lady. <3

  51. eruonna says:

    "Were there no email attachments in 1997? (That’s not rhetorical. I didn’t have regular access to the internet until 2000 because I grew up hella poor and that shit was expensive.) Is that why he never sent a photo?"

    E-mail attachments are as old as e-mail (I think), and were definitely around in 1997. However, technology for getting a picture of yourself onto a computer was not widely adopted at that time. High-resolution digital cameras were only beginning to come on the market, and scanners were not widely used as I recall. Also, image files were large relative to the amount of bandwidth commonly available. Sending images was certainly possible, but I don't think it would have been expected.

    "Though I will defend the William Gibson-penned episodes until the end of time. DO NOT TAKE THOSE AWAY FROM ME."

    You can have them if you accept that they aren't X-Files episodes, but rather Gibson stories into which Mulder and Scully have been inserted as observers.

  52. Pt_0 says:

    I don't have very much to say about this episode beyond the fact that Jenny is amazing and one of my new favorite characters.
    And that all the outdated technology amuses me greatly. πŸ™‚

  53. Noybusiness says:

    I love this episode.

    I especially like the nice touches in the background. "Nazi Germany was a model of a well-ordered society – What, I didn't write that!", "There's nothing in his file about being allergic to penicillin", "The FBI report all the serial killer profiles have been downloaded from their database".

  54. Ryan Lohner says:

    One great line that hasn't been mentioned yet, in the maelstrom of crap around it: "Right now in Bangkok there's a man sending money to a hitman to kill his mother. Good for him."

  55. etherealclarity says:

    This episode is one of the few that make me cringe when exposing someone new to Buffy, so I am VERY happy that you were able to embrace it in all it's terribleness πŸ™‚

    One thing I love most about this show is its ability to deliver hilarious, quotable lines and important character development in the midst of even the most terrible plotlines. That's also one of the things I hate about the show, because it makes it difficult to rationalize skipping even a single episode.

    • cait0716 says:

      I'm always pleasantly surprised when I come back to an episode that I haven't watched in awhile because I inevitably get a moment of "Oh yeah! That was in this episode!"

      Of course it also means that if Buffy happens to be on TV, I'll watch it no matter what

  56. fandomphd says:

    I enjoyed this episode a lot because it felt like it was some sort of anthropological insight into how people in the ~olden days~ perceived Internet. I know I didn't start using Internet until 2000 at least and I feel like by the time I really got into using the Internet regularly (almost entirely for fannish purposes), social perception of Internet had evolved from 1997 "I Robot You Jane"-era perceptions.

  57. pica_scribit says:

    Oh, that's nifty! Not sure I agree, though, about Fcvxr = Qenpb, ohg znlor gur negvfg vf n U/Q 'fuvccre? Be vf vg whfg gur unve?

  58. lula34 says:

    All I could think of, upon seeing Jenny Calendar, was PRINCE. She was a "Diamonds and Pearls" and "Gett Off" video girl. (Rather, she danced in those videos.)

    I am so unashamed of this knowledge. You go, Jenny Calendar.

  59. Noybusiness says:

    "We were fighting."

    "Yes, must do it again some time."

  60. notemily says:

    I disagree! NO CAPITALS! *marches around with signs*

  61. Noybusiness says:

    A fun fact: You'll notice the biographic information about Buffy changes from when Moloch first pulls it up to when it appears on Fritz's screen. In the first case, it says she's a Senior. This is a shout out to gur zbivr.

  62. Saphling says:

    The only thing I really got out of this episode is the vague idea that Fritz was my mental image of Techno Boy from American Gods.

    "If you're not jacked in, you might as well be dead."

    *sets him down in a motel with no wi-fi*

  63. The_Consultant says:

    "to read make our speaking English good' is one of my favourite quotes! It's one of the random Buffy quotes I used to mutter to myself when I was in grade 6 instead of interacting with my peers! (I was not very popular).

    This episode is laughably bad although it does always remind me of how paranoid my mom was about me using the internet 'you don't go in those chat rooms do you? The people on the radio said you have to be careful about who you talk to in chat rooms and what you say to them!'
    'yes mom'

    Actually if I think about it one of the few times I went into a chat room it was when a friend and I were just playing around and we totally lied to some guy about who we were. We even agreed to meet up up with him at a Durban party (never mind that we lived in Cape Town) our name was Ashley and we would meet him outside wearing knee high boots and a short black skirt. Poor guy, I hope he didn't wait long… (I'm a bad person…)

    It's interesting that Giles's monologue about how the tactile nature of books makes them superior to digital versions is still relevant today when the rest of the episode is so dated.

    P.S. I apologise if this comment doesn't make enough sense. I had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and am a little bit tipsy.

  64. Aslee says:

    I'm going character-by-character again!

    Buffy: She's adorable. Nothing other than that, really, other than what I said yesterday. I really do love this girl, you guys, and not just because I love SMG.

    Willow: OH BABY LET ME LOVE YOU. Ok, so the whole thing with 'Malcom' is pretty weird, considering we have no idea how they met, but, seriously, how many of us nerds have made better friends on the internet than in real life, ESPECIALLY over the internet?

    Pretty much everyone, right? So, I totally felt where she was coming from.

    Xander: I did not hate him in this episode. I mean, he did nothing to GAIN points either, but he didn't seem too overly eager to hang out with Buffy, and his exchanges with Willow were actually kind of sweet, and he didn't say anything overbearingly offensive, so maybe this is a turn for the better for him? I hope so. My favourite character is usually the goofy guy. It almost pains me to hate one.

    I still don't want Xander/Willow OR Xander/Buffy to be end game. I think by the time he's worthy of their love, they'll be too close… did that make any sense?

    Giles: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! YOU ARE AMAZING. I totally understand not wanting to ever use technology. Obviously, I love it, but I'm also kind of scared of it so really all I use is my iPod (NOT A TOUCH OH GOD NO), my laptop and a Kindle. I have the most basic and yet pretty phone I could buy, and that is the end of that.

    I love that we're starting to get the opportunities to see him through some other lens besides 'teacher' through Ms. Calender. That should happen more often.

    Also, he looks much better with the glasses on.

    Ms. Calender: She has MUCH MUCH MUCH potential, and I really hope she comes back in later episodes that don't have to do with demon viruses. Then again, I've seen characters with powers much like a techno-pagan, and some of them went horribly ridiculous, so here's hoping.

    EXTRA NOTE: I'm really not sure I like this episode not only because of it's complete ludicrousness but because it reminds me of the fact that EVERYONE around me thinks every person I talk to on the internet ever is a pedophile. Even though, by that logic, that would make me a pedophile, too.

    And that's what I thought about this episode!

  65. James says:

    I haven't checked all the comments/threads yet, but did anyone else notice that when Moloch is pulling up Buffy's file it has her down as a sophomore and her D.O.B as 10/24/80 and then when it gets sent to Fritz (seriously? His name was Fritz? Oh, show) it says she's a senior and her D.O.B's down as 06/05/79. It's only seconds apart, too, so it's really noticeable. It's been ages since I saw this episode and I didn't remember it in detail so I wondered if Moloch had changed it for some reason, but it never comes up so I'm left thinking it was just a really weird continuity error.

    That and HI, JENNY, I LOVE YOU, JENNY are the only things I have to say about this episode, really.

  66. James says:

    Oh, and it has been pointed out! This is what happens when you skip ahead.

  67. Smurphy says:

    I… have no words for this review. "This is not the worst episode of Buffy. It’s so awful that it loops around to becoming an abstract art piece about the archaic nature of human interaction." Just… yes. The entire thing was just so… hokey.

    Anyway. My thoughts:
    Ugh… OK. I was seeing people's ROT13s yesterday about how much they hate this episode and was having difficulty placing this episode and then it started…. ugh.

    First of all, yes, I do like Jane. A lot.

    Second of all, SO MANY BAD 90s STEREOTYPES. Plus the 90s technology. lols.

    "Well, no, he doesn't talk like someone who has a hairy back." Really? Expected more from you Willow.

    Buffy is just trying to be a good friend… as is Xander.

    dark glasses and a trench coat. lols.

    Xander: "That's life on the Hellmouth." Buffy: "Let's face it. None of us are ever gonna' have a happy, normal
    relationship." Xander: "We're doomed!" Willow: "Yeah!"

    ^^YBYF. Fb gehr! … rirel bar… Wbff, lbh znxr zr fnq fbzrgvzrf.

    After last episode we barely even get a mention of Angel? Not cool.

    That's all… V JNAG FCVXR!

  68. ghostofdurruti says:

    V yvxr gb vzntvar gung, hcba ergheavat gb gur snpgbel, Natryhf jrag vagb rkdhvfvgr qrgnvy oenttvat gb Fcvxr naq Qeh nobhg rirelguvat ur unq whfg qbar, yrnqvat Fcvxr, va uvf punenpgrevfgvp fanexl jnl, gb cbvag bhg gung zbavgbef naq pbzchgref ner abg, va snpg, gur fnzr guvat. Gura, Natryhf unq gb tb onpx gb gur fpubby gb svavfu gur wbo. FB ZHPU SNAJNAX

  69. Maribeth says:

    Part of the silliness of this episode is due to the lame backward thinking view of the internet (which is funny, intentionally or not), but most of the silliness is from the bad special effects and plot holes…. And I'm happy to see you embrace those, because even though the show does get better… it is always the cheesy fun which is part of the joy of BtVS!

    • echinodermata says:

      Please don't use "lame" on the site.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      I've always thought Robo-Moloch was intentionally silly looking, to show how he really doesn't belong in this time. Though it's kind of hard to pick out when the rest is so accidentally silly.

  70. ladililn says:

    I'm very sorry people are for some reason getting mad that you don't love Xander, Mark. I was wondering if people were getting upset with you last week because you weren't in love with this show after 3-4 episodes reviewing it, which I frankly think is just ridiculous. I certainly took some time to fall in love with this show, and honestly, the first 2% or whatever is not that big a deal. Don't worry about people being super hasty and pushy about it (I'm not trying to imply anyone here, btw)–just enjoy it at your own pace! πŸ™‚

    • vermillioncity says:

      As far as I've seen, no one's got mad about Mark not liking Xander. Some people have commented that there's a lot of character bashing/aggression and shutting-down-of-discussion in the comments, that's it.

  71. dasmondschaf says:

    OK, I guess it's time for a Mark Reads meet-up where we can all be axe-murdered! That's what happens when you meet people on the internet.

    (Or, you know, you find friends for your otherwise friendless life, or a support net, or just a group of cool people with similar interests who keep you from dying during your lonely adolescence)

    Basically: this episode is horrible, and reflects what every adult thought the internet was like in 1997.

    Also, I bet Giles abhors the Kindle.

    EDIT: Although I know what you mean regarding something becoming so terrible that it's good, Mark. Sad to say, I have seen maybe three episodes of the X-Files? And one of them is the one where they are trapped in Antarctica or something with rage-inducing mealworms in their heads? I remember really liking it. That's… all I have to say about that.

  72. t09yavosaur says:

    -Don't love him Carlos!
    -I don't like you mean computer dude. Books are awesome.
    -Oooo demon computer. Oh no, I see where this is going.
    -He has horns Willow.
    -Look at that, Xander is overprotective with both of them.
    -Where is the old Dutch Lady Chatroom, it sounds like fun (and they probably have some awesome recipes).
    -Uurrggghh exacto knife bleeeh
    -I recognize you Dave, what else are you in?
    -Yay for people having knowledge!
    -Yay Willow! Really Maloch you need to learn about lying on the internet.
    -Dear Computer Lady and Giles, just kiss already, k?
    -His first name is Rupert?
    -Dear Mean Computer Nerd, your leather jacket can't save you from Buffy.
    -"I'm sorry Dave" Poor Dave πŸ™
    -Heehee, way to overload Giles, Computer Lady.
    -Malcolm is a cylon…with horns.
    -Willow, your anger is beautiful.

    Moloch was causing internet shenanigans around the world but they showed it is subtle ways throughout the episode. There was the kid whose Hitler essay was changed in support of him, the radio Giles was listening to mentioned a Wall Street computer error and that all the police's murder profiles were deleted (or something similar) and there was one more that I can't remember.

    • ghostofdurruti says:

      Dave was on Supernatural! He played Ash, (Supernatural spoilers) gur pbzchgre thl jub yvirq ng gur Uneiryyrf' cynpr orsber vg jnf ohearq gb gur tebhaq. Also, his name is totally a shout-out to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

      • t09yavosaur says:

        I don't watch Supernatural but you inspired me to stop being lazy and look up his imdb page. It turns out it's October Sky I recognize him from.

    • notemily says:

      Is this the first time we hear Giles's first name? Awesome! Yes, it's Rupert.

  73. Marissa says:

    When they first mentioned that they needed to get the demon back in the book, I was REALLY hoping that the answer would be to print it. Which, sadly, would have fit nicely with the rest of ridiculousness in the episode.

    • cait0716 says:

      Awesome! My boyfriend was convinced that he'd end up on a floppy disk instead of in the book, and then they'd just snap it in half. Also satisfyingly ridiculous

  74. Shay_Guy says:

    The thing I disliked most about the episode? The guy dissing dead-tree books. If you've read Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants, you understand why. The book is a really, really good piece of technology. Great resolution, minimal eyestrain, highly portable, powered solely by fractional user movements (page-flipping), and one of the single finest user interfaces ever developed. It's like the hammer, or the toaster. It's a mature technology.

    Which is not to say that ebooks don't have huge advantages of their own. Their cost of reproduction and distribution — local or global — is orders of magnitude lower, they permit rapid mechanical analysis (including search), and an extremely large number can be kept in a small device. (Heck, if you're willing to use an archive that needs an A/C supply and a computer for access, you can buy a 65-ish-cubic-inch drive that can store MILLIONS of them for about $200. Six million, with an estimate of 500KB per ebook. And the computer itself will have its own hard drive with similar size and cost-per-storage ratio.) They've caught up for portability of even a single book, carrying one means you can carry a thousand, and their disadvantages in readability, power usage, and UI are rapidly eroding. Theoretically, I think it might be possible to build an ereader that only uses energy from the user's actions. At this point, I think the main problem is fixed cost (for a reader), though they're not competing on marginal cost from the user's end as well as they could.

    • Zoli says:

      Now I'm reminded of Animorphs, where Ax was astonished that humans invented books before computers, because books were so much easier to use.

      I admit, I find flipping back to a certain point much easier in a physical book. However, I finally succumbed and asked for a Kindle for Christmas this year, because, well… I live in a house with two other bibliophiles, and even though we generally only buy 1 copy of any new book we like so everyone can read it…. we are still rapidly running out of space. There is just no room to buy physical copies of everything, so a Kindle will at least help until we can acquire a full-size house with a giant room that we can convert into a library.

      • Shay_Guy says:

        My family owns at least five thousand books by my dad's estimate (based on what he's catalogued). It's definitely true that ebooks scale much better than dead-tree editions do; most people who read books don't own just one. On the other hand, if you do own thousands of books, ebooks pose the same problem DVDs did to people with VHS libraries — anything you want to use your ereader for, you have to buy all over again. (Problem for users, that is. For the publishers, it means easy money.)

    • tanbarkie says:

      Just wanted to say that I love this post.

  75. rabbitape says:

    I am dying of laughter after reading this review. Mark, you are a genius for taking an episode I have always considered skippable and turning into a tiny pearl of joy.

    I love these artifacts from an era when The Internet was clearly becoming a Thing, but none of the grown ups knew what do to with it. I can imagine some entertainment executives getting together and trying to figure it out. "Ok, that episode didn't work. But there's still something there. Let's make it work! How about if we take out the robot and add Sandra Bullock?" Haha, NOPE!

    (Ok, yes, that movie came out a couple of years before this, but whatever. They're equally on target.)

  76. middlearth says:

    I always Xander him because he's so NORMAL and just basically average, in a show with such outrageous and extreme characters. It kind of gives us a little perspective and throws some sanity into the mix πŸ˜› Having said that, I absolutely agree with the criticisms of him and he gets on my nerves at times.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Please don't use phrases like "inject some sanity" on this site. It is ableist phrasing and thus disallowed here.

  77. Inseriousity. says:

    jenny calendar omg youre amazing!

    I like xander but rewatching these episodes, he definitely comes across as a jerk. I think it's just identity issues and trying to be a man rather than his "true" personality and I think you can see that cos when he puts aside his jokes, he's genuinely a caring guy.

    hate how the sub-villains are portrayed here. they're so one-dimensional that it's hard to watch especially the one who has his neck snapped by the demon at the end.

    Despite that, the idea of a demon using the internet is a good one and typing the curse to trap it in the book is an amazing idea (even if it didnt work!)

  78. Pseudonymph says:

    I just want to say that I really love SMG's delivery of "He's probably a circus freak!"

  79. Beri says:

    I only saw this episode once before, and all I could remember was that it had to do with Willow and a demon and it was one of the worst episodes of Buffy.

    Watching it for a second time, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I think that because I was expecting it to be bad, I just wasn't bothered by its ridiculousness. Instead, I just enjoyed the good parts of it – in particular, the intro of Jenny Calendar!

  80. @Ivana2804 says:

    What the episode is trying to do is comment on the ways that Internet can be used by pedophiles and sexual predators to prey on children or teenagers, but also on how it can be used to spread dangerous ideologies. Moloch is like a charismatic leader seducing his followers with rhetorics and promises of power and love and whatnot. Teenagers are often prone to fall for various extremist ideologies, maybe because of the passion and idealism of youth. The whole 'dangers of Internet' was obviously inspired not just by dangers of online dating and news about child abusers who find their victims online, but also by the existence of various far-right and neo-nazi websites.

    On the other hand, the fact that Moloch came from an old *book* emphasizes that it's not really the Internet that's to be blamed for this, it has its good and bad just like the books, which can just as well be used for the same purpose (the Internet just allows you to spread it more easily, but the same goes for the good ideas). Books can do a lot of damage, too – think of "Mein Kampf" or "Protocols of the Elders of Zion". The debate about computers and the Internet – with two opposing views represented by Giles and Jenny – ends on a more balanced view: new technologies are in itself not any more ‘evil’ than the old books, but printed word is not obsolete in the computer age. Giles explains his love of books through his love of their physicality, their smell and touch; Moloch ends up confirming this view – despite the power he can have through the Internet, he wants to also be corporeal again, to be able to touch.

    Also, Zbybpu vf na rneyl rknzcyr ubj ebznagvp eurgbevp pna or qnatrebhf naq qrfgehpgvir naq ubj vg pna or hfrq gb hfrq gb frqhpr naq zvfyrnq, juvpu vf fbzrguvat jr’yy frr zber bs yngre (zbfg abgnoyl va frnfba 8), nyy gur zber fb jura vg’f pbzovarq jvgu ovt cebzvfrf bs cbjre, fcrpvnyarff naq unccvarff (ur cebzvfrf gb tvir Jvyybj gur jbeyq, juvpu vf irel fvzvyne gb jung Qneyn gbyq Yvnz nf fur jnf nobhg gb fver uvz, naq vg nyfb erpnyyf Qehfvyyn/Jvyyvnz, naq, ntnva, frnfba 8).

    The name Moloch comes from an ancient Semitic god known for demanding human sacrifice, particularly children. A few words about the pop culture references in the episode. The title refers to “I, Robot" by Isaac Assimov, “Tarzan”, and an episode of “The Outer Limits”. A monk in the episode is called Thelonius – a pun on the name of the jazz musician Thelonius Monk. The name of one of Moloch’s student minions is Dave, which may be a reference to "2001 Space Odyssey” – Dave is the name of the astronaut who discovers that the computer HAL has gone mad and killed everyone else on the ship. The other minion is called Fritz, which is a possible homage to Fritz Lang. One of Lang’s best known films, “Metropolis”, features a fantasy scene in which the main character, after an accident in which several workers were killed, sees the factory machine as the monstrous Moloch devouring humans. Another one of his famous films, “M”, is about a pedophiliac serial killer who kills children, who is at one point marked with the letter “M” on his clothes. In this episode, Fritz carves the letter “M” into his arm.

    All this is the reason why I don't hate this episode, in addition to Giles/Jenny and the Buffy/Xander conversation about Willow, and of course, isn't the ending great? "None of us ever going to have a happy, normal relationship".

    Another thing I'd like to mention is one detail from the conversation between Willow and Buffy about Malcolm. Buffy puts more importance on physical attraction in relationships with men than Willow does. Willow seems to think that physicality doesn't matter that much, since she and Malcolm have connected, and the guy she has a crush on is her best friend that she's known since childhood. That might be something to keep in mind. Guvf vf bar bs gur zbzragf gung znxrf vg rnfvre sbe zr gb npprcg gur vqrn bs Jvyybj nf n yrfovna – abg va gur frafr bs "fur pna'g or frkhnyyl nggenpgrq gb zra" ohg "fur pna or nggenpgrq gb obgu jbzra naq zra, ohg zber gb jbzra". Jvyybj jevgvat ba Gnen'f onpx va Erfgyrff vf n dhvgr rebgvp vzntr, naq Jvyybj frrzrq zber frkhny va ure eryngvbafuvcf jvgu jbzra guna va ure eryngvbafuvcf jvgu zra.

  81. Raenef_the_5th says:

    The awkward laughter fading into more awkward, vaguely depressed silence will always be one of my favorite moments. It's like… yup. This is our lives, these were our choices.

    Oh wait, now that I have an account I can actually edit comments! Yes!

    Naq fvapr V sbetbg gb zragvba… Nf V'z fybj ba gur hcgnxr, V bayl ernyvmrq guvf erpragyl va ergebfcrpg jura n sevraq bs zvar cbvagrq bhg ubj enaqbz Zf. Pnyraqne'f anzr vf, OHG AB VG JNF SBERFUNQBJVAT NYY GUVF GVZR. πŸ™ Ure qnlf ner ahzorerq, bu ab.

  82. Bealocwealm says:

    I’m ashamed (after this review) to say I LOVED this episode, that it was the first one I REALLY REALLY enjoyed of this series.

    To explain:

    I never watched Buffy as a kid. Sure, I got the channel it was on (this was rare for me; I didn’t get Cartoon Network or WB or any other channel all the other kids watched), but I tended to dislike action shows that weren’t animated, I was very easily frightened, the only live action shows I watched were either educational or Star Trek, etc… aannnd… I recall Buffy was usually airing about the same time as Star Trek or Simpsons, so it would interfere with something my closed-minded childself already liked.

    SO YES I HAVE GIVEN MY EXCUSES.

    However, I’ve been on the internet since 1996. Yes, this meant I was on chatboards when I was five. And if there’s one thing the internet, and my friends, have an affinity for, it’s SPOILING ME ON BUFFY.

    So when I started watching Buffy on Netflix recently, I had seen two episodes (friends dragged me into ’em at parties), one which I loved, one which I hated, and knew waaaaay more than I should about the series. I already knew everything that was revealed in 1×07 (“Angel”), so the episode was not as impactful as it should have been.

    But this one. Was so damn fun. I’ll just say what I liked about it, because… yeah, it was silly.

    1. I actually found Willow’s behaviour to be relatively realistic. As a spawn of the internet myself, I know what it’s like to get WAY TOO ATTACHED to somebody you meet online. My best friend is someone I’ve known for years, but never met IRL. Add the kind of weird, creepy domination/submission thing that seems to occur in many chats… and I don’t actually think it’s that unrealistic that she’d get so attached.

    2. Giles and the tech professor. They have the BEST banter. My favourite is the bit towards the end, where he says the only thing he REALLY has against computers… is the lack of a smell.

    3. I’m a makeup/prosthetics person. This series always brings their best, but after 7 episodes, I felt the series was out of surprises; we know what vampires’ true faces are, and we don’t see a lot more than that. So the job on Moloch (pre-robotness) was a really great break from that pattern, while still looking COOL.

  83. Elexus Calcearius says:

    My first reaction to this episode: Be careful who you talk to online. They might be evil demons.

    (Are any of you guys evil demons? I thought I better ask?)

    Seriously, though, this episode was lulzy, especially from a nearly 2012 point of view. Its all quite ridiculous, especially the presentation of nerds. Also, I was really annoyed (yet, somehow, endeared) to Giles in this episode. I've seen people get confused by technology like computers, but I've rarely seen anyone be actively afraid, except for those news segments where video games and online chat rooms are apparently causing us to all become evil and commit murders.

    I did like Jenny Calander, and hope she comes back. Techno pagan? Awesome. I suppose that if this was real, and in the modern day, by might not even differentiate. But I really love how this show seems to be binding technology and magic together. Also, she really stood up to Giles, and actually seemed to admit that non-white people actually exist in this universe. (Seriously, I'd like to see just one at this point).

  84. sporkaganza93 says:

    I love this episode because it's so… well, bad. It's silly and cheesy and it's hopelessly outdated, and it's kind of a treat to watch. I pretty much lost my shit when a pixelated Moloch showed up on the computer screen.

    The introduction of Jenny Calendar is one of the only intentionally awesome things in this story.

  85. I almost completely missed today's review because I literally spent the whole day playing video games online. It wasn't until five minutes ago that I realized it had gotten dark and was definitely not 1 p.m. anymore. Oops.

    Anyway, I'm really not a fan of this episode either, but I think it's really funny as someone who is just barely old enough to remember when the internet was like this (just look at those terrible graphics and stone-age laptops and that annoying "you've got mail" voice). Plus, we have the introduction of Jenny Calendar, so it gets points for that. I do love how Buffy can have a really good episode like "Angel" and then completely go back to being campy and 90s-as-hell just one episode later. I like to think it's kind of charming.

    Ohssl: "Url, qvq lbh sbetrg? Gur bar obl V'ir unq gur ubgf sbe fvapr V zbirq
    urer? Ghearq bhg gb or n inzcver."
    Knaqre: "Evtug, naq gur grnpure V unq n pehfu ba? Tvnag cerlvat znagvf."
    Jvyybj: "Gung'f gehr."
    Knaqre: "Gung'f yvsr ba gur Uryyzbhgu."
    Ohssl: "Yrg'f snpr vg. Abar bs hf ner rire tbaan' unir n unccl, abezny
    eryngvbafuvc."
    Knaqre: "Jr'er qbbzrq!"
    Jvyybj: "Lrnu!"

    Ng svefg, V ynhturq. Gura V ernyvmrq ubj gentvpnyyl cebcurgvp guvf vf naq sryg ernyyl fnq. V nz sbepvat zl oenva abg guvax gbb zhpu nobhg vg orpnhfr vs V gel, V srry nyy rzbgvbaf ng bapr.

  86. todd says:

    2 Things:

    1st – Dude, are the sparks flying from the computer monitor and not the computer itself during the exorcism not the funniest thing ever? COMPUTER KNOWLEDGE FAIL and it is glorious to behold.

    2nd – Dave is Chad Lindberg is Ash. That is all.

    • ladililn says:

      whaaaat. did NOT know that Chad Lindberg was in this! Mind screw!

    • Ida says:

      My mind is officially blown. You're right, it's Chad Lindberg!

      I might have to see that episode again, just for that. We all need more Dr Badass in our lives, dammit.

  87. egao-gakari says:

    So I have very little to say about the episode, but I do have a little anecdote about problematic language. Today at the beginning of my shift, I went to my supervisor to ask her if it was possible to go home early, because the weather is terrible and I had to take the bus instead of biking, and out here in the boonies the buses stop running at 7:30. She looks at me and goes, "Well, that seems kinda crazy to me, because that means you'll only be working for like an hour. I can't let you do that."

    Now, I am a very good employee, I've never asked for special treatment before, and the shift is only 3 and a half hours long because it's the holiday season. I honestly thought she would be pretty lenient with me, especially considering these are optional shifts and she's lucky to have anyone here at all. But whatever, I found someone to give me a ride home. What offended me was how casually she used the word "crazy" to describe what I was asking. Before being on Mark Does Stuff I'd never thought about problematic language before, but I've started noticing how casually people throw around insults. It truly hurt my feelings, and I can't imagine how I'd feel if I were someone who had an actual mental illness.

    I'm probably preaching to the choir a bit here, but the moral of the story is, you never know whose feelings you're hurting when you say things. Even if "it wasn't intended that way," you can't control how people are going to take the things you say, so it's better to think before you open your mouth. There is always a better way to say it, and if you can't think of one, maybe you should re-think saying it at all. And I'm saying it here because I'm afraid I'll get fired if I say it to my supervisor.

    /rant

  88. fantasylover120 says:

    I call this ep the Ultra Nineties ep. It is just so so so cheesy. It can be a fun cheesy and sort of nostalgic for those of us that went to high school in the nineties.
    Honestly though the highlight for this ep was the intro to the lovely Miss Calender, or as I call her the tech teacher I WISH I had in high school.

  89. Kim says:

    So I watched this episode last week, and my husband was in room for part of it and caught the “I’m jacked in” part. And so both of us have been walking around for a week randomly saying, “I’m jacked in” for no good reason.

  90. stefb4 says:

    IF YOU'RE NOT JACKED IN, YOU'RE NOT ALIVE.

    [youtube IIZdQf_EPVA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIZdQf_EPVA youtube]

    My favorite part of this episode it was so badly delivered and written but I love it.

    Also, having only seen two seconds of interaction between Ms. Calender and Giles, I already ship them. THERE IS SO MUCH SEXUAL TENSION IN THEIR ARGUING NOW KISS

    Ahh I just realized I never finished watching the next episode–whoops! I try to keep a week ahead so I don't fall behind.

  91. Sally_Amber says:

    I particularly enjoy the part where they explain that the computers can connect because of a modem. And yep, beck in those days chatrooms were a black screen with white text appearing…

  92. Emily says:

    As a journalism student, I have to reluctantly agree. My poor, well-worn AP Stylebook can confirm this to be true.

    Fun, yet tragic story: I once received a C on an article for my reporting class because I did not capitalize the word "website". Like, WHAT?!?!

    CURSE YOU, AP STYLE!!!!

  93. Ida says:

    Ah, Xander. I actually never knew there were so many people hating him. I've always loved him. Bs pbhefr, V fgnegrq jngpuvat va frnfba 2, jurer ur unf tbggra n yvggyr punenpgre qrirybczrag, ohg fgvyy.

    It might be because I have always felt some sort of kinship with him. I shouldn't, I guess. He's an awkward nerdy dude with a weird crush on his friend, and I'm an awkward nerdy girl who has never been in love in any REAL person. But when I do tests like "Who are you in Buffy?" I almost always becomes Xander. Be Wbanguna, jub vf zl nofbyhgr snibhevgr. πŸ™‚

    Ohg vg pbzrf qbja gb frnfba 6, naq Knaqre'f pebjavat zbzrag bs njrfbzr. Ubj nalbar pna fgvyy qvfyvxr uvz nsgre gung vf orlbaq zr. Vf gurer nalbar jub fgvyy qvfyvxrf uvz nsgre gung?

  94. valjavertjinn says:

    Ms. Calendar is awesome! I absolutely love her! This episode isn't exactly wonderful, but I love her introduction and her little spats with Giles.

  95. sesinkhorn says:

    This is one of those episodes that just sort of floated in and out of my brain without much consequence, but now that I really think about it, it was DELIGHTFULLY ABSURD, wasn't it? I mean. Pixelated demons on my computer screen? WELL I NEVER.

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