Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E09 – The Puppet Show

In the ninth episode of the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, there’s a demon in a ventriloquist dummy. It’s honestly nowhere near as bad as that sounds. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

So…I kind of liked this? A whole lot? And not ironically, either? Sure, there are some rough and unintentionally awkward moments in the bunch, but I think the intro set the bar really low for me, and everything after it just exceeded my expectations.

Like Buffy, there’s something about ventriloquist dummies that honestly freaks me out; I don’t like them, I don’t find them funny, and if one ever moved on its own, I would remove myself from Earth because I could not live another second on a planet where that was possible. So, for me, this whole episode (even after the “reveal” three-quarters of the way through) was just unsettling.

Well, first, let’s talk about the utter brilliance of the cold open. I really like it when this show put forth its wit and humor, and the trio teasing Giles is not only a sign of what this show does well, but it’s a way to show us how close they’ve all become. Truthfully, they’ve all been through some horrific shit, and it’s made them more tight-knit than ever before. Plus, it’s a school talent show, and those things breed awkward sentiments. I will not get over how fantastic it was to see Cordelia attempt “Greatest Love of All” entirely off key. It’s really the first chance for us to see her acting oblivious. She’s so hyper aware of her own status at the top of the social food chain that we don’t get to see any personality traits or behavior that might actually work against her. Look, I don’t care, I will grasp any smidgeon of character development for Cordelia any chance that I get.

This episode also introduces Principal Snyder. I don’t care that I fell for it. I don’t care that my own emotional reaction to him did not stray far from utter revulsion. I fucking despise Principal Snyder. Am I supposed to? Yep, totally am. I don’t care that I am reacting exactly as the show wants me to. At some level, I think a lot of people tend to react negatively to figures who demonstrate an aggressive level of authority. (Not everyone, obviously.) I, however, grew up with a vicious distaste for it. I grew up in an overly strict Christian household where I had no power or control, and I found that teachers or administrators who demonstrated anything close to that were always the ones I hated the most. I despised the rigidity of the school system because I also was in a school district where our school board was openly and virulently Christian. We had to fight to do anything that may have strayed from their idea of what every student should learn and know and how they should behave.

Though I suppose it was a little bit more complicated for me; I was a really good student and, as I’ve said in the past, some of my best friends and the people I went to for support were teachers. So I straddled the line in this sense because I knew they weren’t all bad and I could tell certain teachers meant well if they were being strict. But I was a burgeoning little activist in those days, and when I found a reason to have my own rebellion, it always was because I felt like I was being wronged or someone else was.

Oh god WHERE HAVE I JUST DRIFTED OFF TO. Basically, I hate Principal Snyder, but his introduction is not just to provide another antagonist to the kids and Giles, though that plays a large part. His whole role acts as a brilliant red herring on multiple levels. What “The Puppet Show” manages to pull off is a complex whodunnit mystery, one with so many plot twists and trope subversions that it’s enough to distract you away from the fact that the perpetrator for most of the action is a sentient ventriloquist dummy. Which is distracting once you stop and think about it for too long, but that’s why I ultimately liked this episode! Things moved so quickly that I didn’t stop and say, “Wow, that is the silliest idea ever.” Then I would have to correct myself because the previous episode was about a demon infecting the Internet. Oh, Buffy, will you ever come up with something worse? I await the day with glee.

(Quick side rant: I sort of hate that the show Glee just took that word away from the general populace because now it’s generally the only thing I think of whenever I type it. BUT IT’S A GOOD WORD! I like using it! It sounds great. OMG I should start a campaign to reclaim that word from goddamn Ryan Murphy. WHO IS WITH ME.)

Still, this is kind of a deeply disturbing episode and, as I said earlier, so many tropes in science fiction and horror are completely thrown out the window in the process. I was totally in love with the idea that Sid would begin talking within the first ten minutes. Usually an inanimate object doesn’t start moving around in the open for a long time, but that’s the brilliance of how Sid is executed: no one but Morgan is aware that his dummy is possessed. And for a guest starring role, Rich Werner does a great job of portraying a growing horror and discomfort at what’s going on. (One that is even more satisfying once you know the twist of Sid’s identity.)

There’s more of Joyce Summers in this episode and yes, I’m going to gush. When can I hug her? I mean COME ON. Look how much she cares about her daughter in this episode! (Technically, doesn’t she not show up to the talent show in the end? I don’t recall seeing her in the audience. omg she listened to Buffy <3<3<3) The concern is all over her face; she knows her daughter is overwhelmed by something, and I think she can sense that this time, Buffy’s not in trouble. Something is bothering her, and she just wants to help. UGH LOVE YOU FOREVER, JOYCE SUMMERS.

The truth is that Buffy really is overwhelmed in “The Puppet Show” because she’s got more than one thing to worry about. There’s a demon inside a dummy that murdered a student and she has no real way to prove it or stop it; Principal Snyder is so obsessed with Buffy that it’s borderline stalking (Seriously, that scene backstage between them has this really horrific subtext that he thinks he’s protecting Buffy since she’s a pretty girl, and I’m glad to see her rebuke that so fast.); and she somehow has to come up with a performance for the talent show. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. You know, I think it works as this wonderful representation of how school can be this ridiculous. I wonder if I would have retained more information if I didn’t have four separate teachers giving me two hours of homework per night each, four days a week. I took a lot of AP classes, to be fair, but I was a poor brown kid with absolutely no monetary support; I had to get scholarships or else I wouldn’t have had the chance to attend college. So I sacrificed a lot in order to be valedictorian. But I always wonder what cost that was for?

Okay, I SWEAR I WILL TALK ABOUT THIS ACTUAL EPISODE. So, Sid! I fell for it. I did! It made so much sense that he was a demon that I also shouted, “WHAT THE HELL” at the television when he and Buffy figured out they were both hunting a demon. WELL PLAYED, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. You totally got me! But not only is it a great way to completely ditch the trope of the Evil Possessed Object, it then made me start wondering what the hell was going on. I thought it would definitely turn out to be Principal Snyder, both because it would explain why he was such an awful person and then I wouldn’t ever have to deal with him again. But things are nowhere near this easy to figure out in “The Puppet Show,” because it’s the awkward magician who’s the actual demon AND HE WAS THERE THE WHOLE TIME. I’d like to believe that is why Marc was so awful as a magician and you can’t take that away from me.

Once they all figure it out, it’s honestly pretty tense as they try to save Giles’s life, the demon leaves his human body, and there’s a violent clash. I think the fighting scenes have gotten less choreographed than before, or they at least seem that way. However, the best part of all this is when the curtain opens post-demon death to a full auditorium, and Principal Snyder deadpans, “I don’t get it.”

Bless this show. And bless the ending credits, too, since there are few things funnier than the trio trying to “perform” a scene from Oedipus Rex. Willow, please run off the stage and into my life.

PS: So….where does Sid go? And how come we didn’t get to see him turn back into a man? Actually, he’d probably be naked, so nevermind.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

228 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E09 – The Puppet Show

  1. cait0716 says:

    Mark! I have a nomination for a liveblog!

    Back in the beginning, Buffy aired on the WB on Monday nights. Halfway through the second season, they decided to switch it to Tuesday nights. They did this using back-to-back episodes that aired one on Monday and one on Tuesday. It was hyped as a big two-night event

    The episodes in question are 2×13 and 2×14 (Fhecevfr naq Vaabprapr, for those in the know) and thanks to the fact that you're skipping reviews this Monday, you will now get to these episodes on January 16th and 17th, which are also a Monday and Tuesday. I believe that this is the universe telling you that you ought to liveblog these episodes the weekend before in an effort to recreate the original Buffy experience. Especially since it will be 14 years, almost to the day, since these episodes originally aired (on January 19 and 20, 1998)

  2. tigerpetals says:

    Did he need to keep getting Morgan in trouble? Sid's kind of a jerk with Morgan, but I guess that's partly the effect of trauma and being all job-focused. In some people I think they get less empathetic with others. But still.

    • tehrevel says:

      He seems to care for Morgan in the episode, he probably thinks he's helping. Didn't rewatch the episode yet but isn't it implied he was turned into a dummy awhile ago (I want to say the 1930s?)? That probably messes with your perceptions and if it was the 30s then that explains why he doesn't know what to do in a 90s high school.

      • tigerpetals says:

        Yeah he cares, I just thought he was disrupting his life unnecessarily. Like Morgan was obviously upset at him talking in the classroom because he was getting blamed, but he just kept doing it even though there was no need for it.

  3. "The Puppet Show" holds a special place in my heart because for years, it was the ONE episode of Buffy that I had never seen. My first episode was "Witch," and I don't know how I ended up seeing the first two episodes (probably those things called "reruns"), but for some reason, I skipped "The Puppet Show."

    And then in 2003, the series ended, and I still hadn't seen "The Puppet Show."

    So that year, the day before my birthday, my friends threw me a Buffy surprise party!

    "Vg'f Unccl Oveguqnl Ohssl! Vg'f…abg Unccl Oveguqnl Ohssl?"

    There were streamers and I got a little stuffed pig named Ze. Tbeqb and they made me a cake with the tbbq yhpx flzoby sebz "Tvatreoernq" and I watched "The Puppet Show" and on the one hand, yay, new Buffy!! and on the other hand, OMG NO MORE NEW BUFFY!

    (And then, for good measure, we watched "Bad Blood" and closed out the night with "Uhfu.")

  4. Karen says:

    True story: This episode is one of three episodes I had randomly seen of Buffy before I actually watched the show all the way through. (The other two being gur bar sebz frnfba 4 jurer Fcvxr rfpncrf gur Vavgvngvir naq “Qbhoyrzrng Cnynpr”.) This was the first episode of Buffy I ever saw, and I must have been about eleven or twelve at the time. My parents didn’t have cable (and still don’t), so weekend afternoons were pretty bleak from a TV point of view, and one day, I channel surfed across this episode as it was playing as a repeat on my local WB station. It did not make much of an impression on me other than “weird”. But when I finally sat down and watched the show properly, I actually think this is one of the stronger episodes thus far.

    So this episode centers around another common high school trope- the talent show! My high school never had a talent show and for that I am eternally grateful. The second high school trop that we get in this episode is the authoritarian and out of touch principal, Principal Snyder. SPEAKING OF WHOM, HE WAS QUARK IN STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE. Yeah, I’m a nerd.

    The talent show itself is pretty amusing as a concept. CORDELIA IS SINGING “THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL” FOR THE TALENT SHOW IS THE BEST THING EVER. I mean, she’s terrible, but FLAWLESS SONG CHOICE. And there were going to be sparklers? I love you, Cordelia!

    Speaking of the talent show I wanted to note, Jvyybj’f srne bs cresbezvat juvpu vf gur fhowrpg bs ure avtugzner va “Erfgyrff” naq vf nyfb n cneg bs gur arkg rcvfbqr, “Avtugznerf”.

    I like that the episode sets you up to think that the dummy is collecting body parts to like make a body of his own, but then it turns that cliché on its head. Or at least that’s where I thought that was where the show was headed. But then it turned into being about a demon who looks like a human and needs a heart and a brain to maintain its human appearance. Then it’s all flipped on its head when you find out that the dummy is actually a demon hunter himself who will actually die once he kills the demon he’s been after. There are a lot of layers and twists, set against the back drop of the talent show, and I think this episode really works. Definitely one of the best episodes we’ve seen to date, in my opinion.

    Also, I have a weird amount of love for the last minute of this episode. The tableau of Willow, Xander, Buffy, and Giles on the stage, with the magic act’s props behind them while Buffy hold’s Syd is great, and Snyder’s, “What is it? Avant Garde?” is the cherry on top. I LOVE IT. And THEN you get the final scene of Buffy, Willow and Xander performing a scene from Oedipus Rex which is just painfully terrible and thus hilarious.

    • Ha! It's funny that this was the first episode you saw (and one of three you saw outside of watching the series proper) because, for me, it was the one episode I hadn't seen until the series was over (and thus the LAST episode I saw)! We are clearly the "Puppet Show" matter and antimatter.

    • cait0716 says:


      No joke, this is what I told my mom in an attempt to make her watch an episode of Buffy with me back in the day. And then she fell as in love with the show as me and everything was beautiful

    • James says:


      Haha, YES! I had watched DS9 before I watched Buffy and I was just staring at Snyder going "…there's something familiar about you" for ages. It wasn't until I clocked Armin Shimmerman (because, come on, that's an amazing name) in the credits that I realised.

      • tanbarkie says:

        All the hate in the world for Principal Snyder.

        But Armin Shimerman is the fucking BOSS.

        (Oh, DS9, I miss you sooooo *PINES*)

      • Dreamflower says:

        He was also Pascal on Beauty and the Beast! I loved his character…

      • Nick says:

        For some reason it's actually spelled "Shimerman" with no double-M. But it's still pronounced like "Shimmerman". Hmm.

        Qbrf nalbar ryfr guvax vg jnf n erny ybfg bccbeghavgl gung gurl arire unq Erar Nhorewbabvf ba gur fubj?

  5. Kickpuncher says:

    Regarding Glee, have you seen Community’s most recent Christmas episode?

  6. misterbernie says:

    The ending is probably one of the most brilliantly funny things in the first season. Is it avant-garde?

    I completely fell for the ep the first time I watched it, too. But ugh, the horny dummy/demon slayer thing is so… sleazy. I cringe whenever Sid mentions the Korean slayer. So gross. So yeah, a good thing he didn't turn back into a human, I'd say.

    V nyfb pbzcyrgryl sbetbg gung guvf rcvfbqr pbzrf orsber Avtugznerf. Juvpu fnlf fbzrguvat nobhg ubj bsgra V erjngpu guvf bar.

  7. dasmondschaf says:

    Let's Watch "The Puppet Show"! I remember literally nothing about this episode!

    Oh yay, a talent show episode! Ventriloquists are NEVER creepy!

    omg please never stop singing cordelia.

    You cannot escape your destiny, Giles. The whole CHOSEN ONE speech delivered by Buffy was A+++

    New Principal! He's no Principal Flutie ):

    "…but he was eaten." WELL AT LEAST WE'RE ACKNOWLEDGING THAT.

    Slaying vampires is a talent that is not going to translate well to the stage.

    Can I just say that my school talent shows consisted entirely of groups of girls doing dance numbers to the pop song of the moment? We all knew that anything else would get us laughed off stage.

    THAT'S THE KIND OF WOOLLY-HEADED LIBERAL THINKING THAT LEADS TO GETTING EATING. Please never stop talking about getting eaten, Principal Snyder.

    omg Joyce you are the best TV mom.

    AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH PUPPET yeah, I literally jumped in my chair.

    I've always wondered what sort of system Giles has for organizing his arcane books. Something tells me Dewey Decimal just doesn't apply here. But really, can you organize a whole section on organ-harvesting?

    oh my god dat twist



    oh my god this credits roll oh sweet jesus, dying now

    IN SHORT: I totally fell for the twist despite having seen this episode before; Creepy inanimate demon hunters are much better than creepy inanimate possessed puppets; Joyce Summers is mom of the year, all years.

  8. guest_age says:

    Sid died, remember? He and Buffy have that conversation about how his body is gone, so when he finishes his task, he'll die. That's why she offered to be the one to strike the killing blow–to offer Sid a chance to continue living in the dummy body. He chose death instead.

    Short and to the point: dummies freak me out so I try to avoid this episode if at all possible during rewatches, but I rewatched it last night in preparation for your review. THAT'S HOW MUCH I CARE, MARK. Also: I watched all of ST:DS9 recently and this is the first time I've watched Buffy since. I can't un-see Quark, you guys, and knowing how the Ferengi treat women makes watching that scene backstage with Snyder and Buffy where he wants to protect her because she's a woman EVEN WORSE. AHHH.

    That is all.

    • MichelleZB says:

      Yup, Sid is dead and he explained all about that in the episode. You must have missed it, Mark.

    • James says:

      I always expect him to start going on about Principal Flutie not having the lobes for the job.

    • Noybusiness says:

      I don't think he would have kept living if he hadn't been the one to kill the demon, I think she was just offering to do it for him as opposed to him killing himself. Unless I missed something.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        He states it as something like "I've killed six already, and I'll be free if I can get the last one," which might imply that if anyone else does it, it won't count toward his freedom and he'll be stuck like that forever. I think maybe if it were otherwise it would've been worded as "six of them are dead, and if the last one dies I'll be free," considering there seem to be (or to have been, anyway) other non-Slayer demon hunters out there who'd also be hunting the Brotherhood.

        At the same time, it seems weird to me that he wouldn't make that explicitly clear to everyone, and that he'd go missing up until the fight with Marc had already started (though I guess that one's more of a suspense thing). If it were really dependent on killing the demon himself, it'd make more sense to make sure they all knew, and even then he'd want to stick to the group like glue to make sure they don't kill the demon themselves in self defense.

  9. NB2000 says:

    I love this episode, like, a lot. It won me over with having a puppet for a character. Yes Sid is really skeevy hitting on everyone in sight but I still kind of wish the show could have let him stay around, he could have liked…helped out with knowledge of demons or something!

    And how come we didn’t get to see him turn back into a man?

    He mentions to Buffy that his human body is long gone when they're sitting in the catwalks above the stage. Given that he mentions being alive and human in the 30's it makes sense.

    Armin Shimmerman you are AMAZING at being so utterly awful, yet at the same time not as competent as he seems to think he is. As sad is it is to have lost the encouraging Flutie, the more antagonistic Snyder gives us more dramatic tension at the school.

    The closing credit scene is just so perfectly, painfully bad. Buffy's complete lack of enthusiasm when delivering her lines compared with WIllow and Xander rushing through them.

  10. MightBeNatalie says:

    This was the first episode to hint– just hint– that a crime may be committed by a person, not a demon or a monster. And, if so, what does the group do? Where is the moral imperative in stopping human violence? The less black and white the morality gets, the better the show becomes.

  11. hassibah says:

    All I could remember about this episode before I rewatched was how goofy the puppet was, so I was for the most part pleasantly surprised to see that it had a lot more going for than that.

    First the obvious: Snyder! Buffy needs a proper, non-demonic nemesis on the show and we finally get a decent one.

    This whole mystery thing feels closer to the Buffy that I know and love watching, I liked the plot and the demon makeup looked pretty good. Giles is way too smart to stick his head in a guillotine though, especially for a magician that we know kind of sucks and regularly fucks up, but I'll let it slide.

    Also: they made fun of Cordelia without calling her a slut so that's nice!

    This whole thing about constantly calling people sluts and hookers though, I watched a lot of crap tv in the 90s including high school shows and I really don't remember that being a common insult that people threw around on tv at the time. I might be forgetting things because I haven't watched the bulk of those shows recently, but I really wonder why the writers of this show think that's okay? Also, I can't help but notice that the episodes where this happens are also the ones where Cordelia is made out to be the most shallow and selfish. V zhpu cersre gur Pbeqryvn bs frnfbaf 2 naq 3 gung whfg gryyf vg ubj vg vf. I like Cordelia, and I do like movies like Heathers and Mean Girls too so I'm not saying I'm above this or anything, but the existence of the Mean Girl itself and the idea that pretty girls who are also popular are out to get you, stuck up, selfish and shallow is totally sexist. At this stage in the show everyone seems to be playing out rediculous over-the-top high school stereotypes and not how actual humans act, but I can't say it doesn't bother me and I think it's a problem that goes beyond how any single character on BTVS is written.
    This isn't really a comment on how this episode specifically is written but it's something that's crossed my mind now that I'm revisiting these early episodes and I haven't been following the arguments of the last few days much so if this comes off as repetitive that's a coincidence.

    • Delta1212 says:

      I'm not sure that trope is actually sexist simply because those traits also get applied to popular guys, as well. It's more of an anti-popular stereotype than an anti-female one. There tends to be a formula to the movies where this shows up, especially:

      [uncool male/female hero] goes to a high school with [popular male/female antagonist of the same gender] who is selfish, shallow and usually out to get [uncool male/female hero]. Inevitably, [popular female/male love interest of opposite gender] will show up and [uncool male/female hero] and [popular female/male antagonist] will both vie for the attentions of [popular female/male love interest] who, in a shocking twist, will turn out not to be shallow and selfish despite [her/his] popularity, and will ultimately decide to [date/be friends with] the uncool people over [popular male/female antagonist].

      The message is that popular kids are all jerks except that one you have a crush on. (Alternative ending: The person [uncool male/female hero] had a crush on is also a jerk and [opposite gender sidekick friend] was [her/his] true love all along).

      I do think there may be something problematic in the way that this formula is very differently developed depending upon whether the studio intends to market it to males or females, but the "popular girl is evil" thing is not, I don't think, as major of a problem simply because it really winds up being one half of "popular kids are evil" which is more equal opportunity on the whole.

      If there is a discrepancy in rate of use, and I'd hazard a guess that there probably is weighted toward evil popular girls, I'd out that down to two things: One, it seems like film studios think girls are more interested in high school oriented romantic comedies than guys, and where they are marketed to guys they're usually considered a sex comedy which is more of a toss up as to whether it will follow the above formula than similar films being marketed to girls. This means you get more female protagonists who are likely to encounter the Mean Girl. Two, I think it's considered "more acceptable" to portray a female picking on a male than it is to portray a male picking on a female, which unfortunately means that, while not unheard of, a male antagonist is less likely to be slotted into a female-protagonist plot than a female antagonist is into a male-protagonist plot. Ultimately, you wind up with more Mean Girls picking on guys than the reverse, but I still think it's pretty heavily weighted toward male-on-male and female-on-female bullying on the whole.

      • hassibah says:

        Well I wasn't just thinking about the fact that Cordelia's a classic mean girl, but the way her character's treated by others on the show, and a lot of the Xander debates have had me thinking about this more lately, and also how from what we've seen thus far she's kind of an antagonist of our trio who are supposedly geeky and/or outsiders.

        I do think the Mean Girl is more of a thing, cause I can think of a bunch of movies that centre around them, not as many that are about meat-headed guys, unless you count bromance comedies but they don't really treat their subjects in the same way that Mean Girls does.

        • tactless says:

          From what I've seen, this kind of thing happens in cycles. I direct you to the pile of teen movies from the '80s like 'Better off Dead' and 'Revenge of the Nerds'. Right now that 'Mean Girls' was popular there are a lot of copy-cat movies and plot-lines. Soon a 'Mean Boys' type movie will come along and the cycle will move on.

          • hassibah says:

            But they haven't come into existence yet, and the stereotypes between males and females are vastly different, while mean girl movies span a few decades and nerds generally have a lot of portrayals as positive characters and protagonists in movies, especially these days.

            The difference for me is that the Mean Girl is pretty much what sexists seem to think that all girls are like.

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          I see where you're coming from. "The Libby Character" tends to be more manipulative, petty, and uses words. The Jerk Jock, which is the male equivalent, tends to be more stupid and brutish. There are definite similarities, but pronounced differences.

  12. yourshilouette says:

    I havent watched Buffy in years and years and so I got all caught up last night but can I just tell you how excited I am that your doing this? I get to squee all over Angel and Buffy and Willow and Fcvxr again!!

  13. Snyder's Greatest Hits

    "My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for that touchy-feely relating nonsense, but he was eaten. You're in my world now. And Sunnydale has touched and felt for the last time."

    "I know the three of you will come up with a wonderful act for the school to watch…and mock…and laugh. At."

    "I know Principal Flutie would have said, 'Kids need understanding. Kids are human beings.' That's the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."

    "There are things I will not tolerate: Students loitering on campus after school, horrible murders with hearts being removed, and also smoking."

    "I don't get it. What is it, avant-garde?"

  14. Seventh_Star says:

    this episode holds up well. all the misleads are still effective.


    1. gur snpg gung pbeql pubbfrf gb fvat "gur terngrfg ybir bs nyy" ntnva ba natry jura ybear vf gelvat gb ernq ure znxrf zr fzvyr fb ovt.

    2. SNYDER! yay!
    "i know principal flutie would've said, 'kids need understanding. kids are human beings.' that's the kind of woolly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."

    3. anyone else spot chasen from the new MMC/ the party?

    4. buffy's big plastic ring is too funny. who ever thought that was a good idea? they're just plain uncomfortable to wear.

    5. "i don't get it. what is it? avant-garde?"

    6. the trio's enactment of the dramatic scene at the very end showcases their great talent for comedy. for my money, those three were never funnier.

  15. arctic_hare says:

    I should hate Principal Snyder, I really should. And okay, I kinda do. BUT. It is in the "love to hate" kind of way where I don't really feel hatred for him. He's awful, terrible, and just plain mean, but also hilarious to me. I think it can all be credited not just to the lines written for him, but Armin Shimerman's delivery. WONDERFUL ACTOR. <3 I associate him more with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine these days (QUARK!!!), but I still have a special place in my heart for his performance as Snyder. Cannot wait to see more of him.

    I really liked this episode too, Mark! I found it funny, and creepy, and it had an interesting mystery with some good twists to it. ALSO CORDELIA SINGING. Every episode needs more Cordelia. She is not particularly nice, but she is so fun to watch.

    The performance over the credits is brilliant. I love their line deliveries.

    Um, about Sid… there's this bit of dialogue between him and Buffy when they're watching Giles form the power circle… I think you ought to go back and listen to it.

    Fun fact about Sid's voice that I had a laugh over yesterday, and I'll rot13 for Cowboy Bebop spoilers (it's just a character and episode name): ur'f ibvprq ol gur fnzr thl gung ibvprq gur Grqql Obzore sebz "Pbjobl Shax. V jngpurq guvf rcvfbqr jnl orsber V fnj PO, naq gura erjngpurq vg lrfgreqnl naq gubhtug "url, Fvq fbhaqf njshyyl snzvyvne", naq yb naq orubyq jura V fnj gur perqvgf… lrnu. V sbhaq guvf ernyyl shaal.

    • etherealclarity says:

      Snyder is one of those characters who, if you had to deal with him in real life, you would hate with a fiery passion, but on screen is REALLY REALLY FUN to hate because the way he is hateful is so goshdarn entertaining and wonderful and also is a wonderful catalyst for other characters and plot points.

      Definitely an improvement over Flutie.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:



  16. monkeybutter says:

    Yeah, this was a great one. I like it when the show plays with your expectations, and the ending was flawless. Everyone knows Child’s Play, and dummies are creepy (Sid reminded me of Jerry Seinfeld, so that might have made it worse…I dunno, something about the eyes and hair…), so it’s all the more fun when Sid reveals that he is/was a demon hunter. Then he disappears, and you have to wonder if you’ve been played again, especially after the fake-out in Witch. It makes it so much better when Sid pops back up, additionally so because of the scene with him hovering over demon-Marc’s body. I was cackling from that point onward.

    Relatedly, I love the trio and Giles in this one. I don’t really know how to put it into words, but it’s fun watching them as friends fightin’ demons. Like you say, they're tight-knit, and they've got it down now. And god, Buffy and Xander shuffling together after Willow bolts…dead.

    Oh, principal Flutie, I will miss you, but Snyder is too perfectly horrible to resist. He thinks that spontaneous cheerleader combustion can be prevented through discipline. There’s no distinction between smoking and human sacrifice. Amazing.

    (I'm also up for reclaiming "glee.")

  17. echinodermata says:

    Don't have much to say about this episode. So I shall simply be echinodermata – provider of gifs.

    <img src="; alt="Camera starts on Giles with a baffled expression, then pans to Xander, then Willow, then Buffy, all having similar baffled and bemused expressions">

    <img src="; alt="The new principal looking confused and saying 'I don't get it'">

    <img src="; alt="Close-up of Willow with a terrified expression on her face, then cuts to Xander, Willow, and Buffy standing still in costume. Willow runs off stage, then Buffy moves over to close the newly formed gap between her and Xander.">

    Actually, I shall also be echinodermata – nitpicker extraordinaire.

    "Willow: What could a demon possibly want from me?
    Xander: What's the square root of 841?
    Willow: 29. Oh, yeah."

    More interesting that Xander can randomly pull out a perfect square than that Willow can give its square root. If the point was showing how smart Willow is that she knows that off the top of her head, well, it's pretty much equally smart to know the squares so that scene wasn't really a good one to show how uniquely smart Willow is. Sure, maybe Xander only has one 3-digit perfect square memorized. Maybe he lucked out on picking a perfect square. But those are assumptions you have to make based on what we know of his character so far – given only the dialogue provided, I would assume these two both have unusually good knowledge or memory of squares/square roots.

    C'mon writers. Should have had Xander ask Willow to randomly multiply two large numbers together or something. Conveys the same point without the above issue.

    • Mary Sue says:

      I bet Xander memorized perfect squares in 4th grade just so he could have her do them in her head for his and Jesse's general amusement.

    • NB2000 says:

      And what excellent gifs you have provided!

    • etherealclarity says:

      Maybe he just got lucky with the square root number and he just as easily could have picked a number where she gave a decimal value. That's always how I took it. But you're probably right, it's probably more likely to be lazy writing. (Though arguably multiplication is easier to do in your head than even normal division. But if it is memorization I guess that doesn't apply. Ahh, well.)

      • echinodermata says:

        There are plenty of ways to explain it, I agree, but I honestly doubt the writer(s) gave it much thought.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Good point. I sure as hell don't have most of my perfect squares memorised, and I'm a uni-level science student!

  18. Ha ha ha ha! Right?? I think there was a long time where I didn't even REALIZE I had missed an episode.

  19. hassibah says:

    If we're nominating liveblog episodes, besides the musical and 4.10, I'd be up for liveblogging any of the season finales if they happen to fall on a weekend regardless of how good or bad they are, but that might be controversial around these parts.

    • vivelabagatel says:

      Yes, I definitely agree with this.

    • PhsntPlkr says:

      Agreed x3

    • hassibah says:

      This would be a good comment to have in plain text so Mark can know your opinions on liveblogging(i'm guessing you converted it because of the episode title being mentioned)!
      I wouldn't have suggested any if Mark hadn't already suggested liveblogging some episodes, as he already did mid-season episodes in the days of Doctor Who with "blink", but I won't mention it again.

      However, with end of season episodes I don't think this is as much of an issue.

      • hassibah says:

        Still it would have been good to have a comment that Mark could read that expressed this opinion about liveblogging without being spoilery.
        Nyfb V frr jung lbh'er fnlvat nobhg gur rcvfbqrf va dhrfgvba. Fhecevfr naq Vaabprapr ner qrsvavgryl zber bs tnzrpunatref guna Uhfu.

        I still stand by my nominations of the finales though.

    • Alayne_Stone says:

      Yeah, I agree with this comment too.

    • OCTBernie says:

      Sorry, I'll rephrase my thoughts without spoilers so they can be read by all.

      Just in a general sense I've been hesitant about making liveblog suggestions because I think it might be more fun for Mark to discover episodes without any hype rather than have him watch knowing a particular episode is significant in fandom. The fact that there is a musical episode is already out so I'm all for liveblogging that (I do think liveblogging is a lot of fun) but I'm not sure about other episodes.

  20. robin says:

    "It’s honestly nowhere near as bad as that sounds." is actually an excellent one sentence summation of this episode! Sure there are flaws (and the pervy puppet running joke is really worn ugh), and it doesn't play as well on repeat viewings once you know Who Done It… but there are some classic moments in there.

    I love Buffy, Xander, and Willow's forced introduction into the field of dramatic performance.

    And Principal Snyder!!!! COME TO ME MY LOVE. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 Not gonna lie, I've been waiting for him from the beginning of this season and was counting down the episodes until Flutie's gruesome demise. So many lines that comes out of his mouth in this episode are comedy gold. He's a character you absolutely love to hate. With glee! (YEAH, WE'RE TAKING IT BACK.)

  21. MightBeNatalie says:

    Also, to be shallow, is this Buffy's shortest-ever skirt? Joyce, GET ON THAT. The world need not be her gynecologist.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Uh, that sounds like slut-shaming to me. Not cool.

      • MightBeNatalie says:

        I certainly didn't mean it that way. I like observing the costumes of the show and how they changed over time, and the short skirts were an early-series phenomenon. I was just joking around with the Joyce comment, since that's what my mother would have said when I was that age.

    • MightBeNatalie says:

      I've never used rot13 before, so I'm going to test it out with something dumb: off the top of my head, Buffy's WORST OUTFIT EVER.

      Frnfba 5, "Gur Ercynprzrag." Gvr-qlrq oebja cnagf, fgevcrq xavg unygre gbc. Jnf vg ynhaqel qnl? Ohssl, JUL???

    • cait0716 says:

      It's not her shortest ever, but we generally didn't get many leg shots when she was wearing super-short skirts in previous episodes.

      It is her longest hair ever. Which is always super distracting to me. I know you're wearing hair extensions, Buffy, doesn't that defeat the purpose? Or do I just not understand it at all?

    • Zoli says:

      I do sometimes wonder about the costumes in general and why any of these kids are allowed to wear these things at school. I know it was certainly listed in our school code that the edge of your skirt should be no shorter than your fingers when your hands were at your side. You might be able to get away with a little shorter than that, but miniskirts? If Snyder is hauling Buffy in to his office on every pretense anyway, I'm not sure how he lets some of her outfits go.

      Of course, the show works in the opposite direction, too, giving Willow some of the most terribly awkward outfits ever. I think there were red overalls over a sweater at some point. I get that she's supposed to be shy and not fashionable, but… no 16 year old I ever knew would be caught dead in overalls. o_o

  22. cait0716 says:

    I like this exchange between Xander and Willow

    Xander: What's the square root of 841?
    Willow: 29

    It's supposed to show how smart Willow is, but all I can think is "How did Xander manage to pull a perfect square out of the blue?"

    This is a pretty fun monster of the week episode.

    And now I'm getting really excited for future episodes that will make you fall head-over-heels for this show. I can see it coming!

  23. rabbitape says:

    You guys, I still have the stomach flu. I am so, so, so sad right now. I want to want Christmas cookies.

    This episode has a very special place in my heart. There was a super smart girl in my high school that I wanted to be friends with me, so I invited her over to watch Buffy one night. (She'd never heard of it or seen it.) This was the episode that was on, and she watched the whole thing quietly with a thoughtful expression on her face. Then at the end, when Snyder says, "What is it? Avant garde?" she burst into laughter and yelled, "I LOVE THIS SHOW!"

    I do too, Jodi. I do too.

  24. cait0716 says:

    I picked those same nits.

    And provider of gifs is a much appreciated role

  25. My first time through watching Firefly, I missed the episode Bushwacked because the DVD is formatted in such a way that I didn't see it. (Don't ask me…) So then on my second watching I got to that episode and I was like… O MY GOD WHAT. It was like a very special present, because that show was so short lived and I thought I had seen it all.

    • theDMG says:

      I missed Bushwacked for the same reason. When I was rewatching it I was shocked that I'd somehow missed an episode.

  26. monkeybutter says:

    V xabj, V'z qernqvat vg. 🙁

  27. NB2000 says:

    Vg frrzf bayl evtug gung vg fubhyq, gung'f jung gung rcvfbqr qbrf *pheyf hc naq pevrf*

  28. MightBeNatalie says:

    Whoops. Thank you.

  29. beckaboomer says:

    That "performance" of a scene from Oedipus at the end has me literally wheezing with laughter every time. "MADNESS and STABBING PAIN and… oh….. oh….."

    I really like "The Puppet Show" because it is a silly, cheesy premise but it has an actual creep factor to it (dummies! shudder.) Whereas "I Robot" was just silly.

    Short comment is short! This is neither a favorite nor a least favorite of mine, so not much to say. *flees like Willow*

  30. I don't have much to say about this episode other than the fact that I hate dummies, I hate Snyder, and Willow needs to stop making me "aaww" out loud. My family probably think I watch youtube cat videos before bed every night. But that credits scroll scene is just gold.

  31. Raenef_the_5th says:

    if one ever moved on its own, I would remove myself from Earth because I could not live another second on a planet where that was possible

    I would die of terror.

    Nice to see other people exist in this universe other than the Slayer who combat things like demons. Go demon hunter!

  32. @liliaeth says:

    Hmm, I rewatched the ep yesterday, and I think it actually worked better, because knowing the twist, I took a better look at how the characters behaved and how their behavior actually hints at the twist, making it work. I also looked closer at Marc and Morgan, than I did before I knew the twist.

  33. Fuchsia says:

    I've always been freaked out by dummies ever since I read Night of the Living Dummy. I don't care if the Goosebumps books are for children, I STILL cannot get over Slappy, okay?

    I absolutely agree with the whole tangent about the word "glee", Mark. I know a bunch of my friends (and myself, honestly) have the word blacklisted on tumblr because we can't stand seeing things about the show on our dashes… but then I always want to use the word in a non-fandom sense and my posts won't show up on my friend's dashes. So, I am in COMPLETE agreement with taking the word back!

    Ahem. Right. Leave it to me to comment on completely irrelevant things.

    Principal Snyder, you can't just FORCE someone to join the talent show. That's not how it works!

    The whole, "I'm a demon hunter, not a demon, REALLY" and then they all believed him… really? That easily? Sorry to be so cynical but I'd honestly be keeping a tight eye on him still. If anything, that he has such an extensive knowledge about this demon would make me more suspicious. You live on a hellmouth, you can't just trust everyone! But maybe that's just me.

    I'm glad you saw the ending credits and didn't just turn it off as soon as the show went to black. I always forget that part exists and then it surprises me.

    • settlingforhistory says:

      Principal Snyder, you can't just FORCE someone to join the talent show. That's not how it works!
      Jryy va Unyybjrro ur sbeprf gur Fpbbovrf gb ibyhagrre sbe puncrebavat gevpx-be-gerngvat, fb V thrff ur whfg ybirf gb fperj gur pbaprcg ba ibyhagrrevat.

    • Partes says:

      'Principal Snyder, you can't just FORCE someone to join the talent show. That's not how it works! '

      The trio's performance at the end definitely supports that theory. Oh, Willow. ilu

    • Nomes says:

      AAAAAAAAAAAH SLAPPY AAAAAAAAAAAH nightmares for weeeeeeeeeeks

  34. hpfish13 says:

    "Like Buffy, there’s something about ventriloquist dummies that honestly freaks me out; I don’t like them, I don’t find them funny, and if one ever moved on its own, I would remove myself from Earth because I could not live another second on a planet where that was possible. So, for me, this whole episode (even after the “reveal” three-quarters of the way through) was just unsettling."

    I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. Puppets in general, but ventriloquist dummies and marionettes in particular, are endlessly creepy. As for them moving on their own, I can't even handle those dolls that move their arm up and down or side to side (we have a Santa Bugs Bunny one with a bell in its hand and I can't even be in the same room when that thing is moving)

  35. dasmondschaf says:

    Also, a fun fact! I was just watching one of the DVD interviews with Joss, and he mentioned that it took them HOURS to film the Terrible Acting that played over the credits simply because everyone kept cracking up.

    I can believe it. Truly, the finest performance of Oedipus that I have ever seen.

    • etherealclarity says:

      That is absolutely fantastic.

      As a somewhat related side-note, am I the only one who kinda loves it when you hear about actors having a hard time with a scene like this, or like when actors on SNL start breaking character because they are trying not to laugh? I feel like it lends some humanity to them somehow, something relate-able. THEY FIND IT FUNNY TOO!

    • Meltha says:

      Well, aside from the William Shatner version, I can't even find a decent version of Oedipus on DVD.

      However? Witness "angry skiier" Oedipus.

  36. Inseriousity. says:

    When Xander was banging his head on the desk, I was waiting for him to turn around and say hey that hurt and then them all to freak out and then the standard Buffy blackout with dramatic music. AND THEN IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Why have I got entirely different plotlines in my head?!!

    Ahaha synder's attack on "wooly headed liberalism" is so funny cos its what everyone seems to blame everything on. yes he got eaten cos he was too soft, nothing to do with the fact that students were possessed by hyenas or anything. vebal gung ur trgf rngra gbb. qnza lbh qvfpvcyvar! although the character is definitely more fun than Flutie (RIP).

  37. Bill says:

    Huh. I only saw this epsiode once and it was years ago. Maybe I should get back to it. Also, we need a list of specifics as to why you hate glee. I'm not arguing about it, the show should be dying in a gutter if not for the success of its previous seasons. I just want to know what your opinion is as a critic.
    It's funny that you bring it up on an article about a Joss Whedon series. Fox will cancel his shows but not Glee. That's just wrong.
    Also, creepy puppets are the best.

  38. misterbernie says:

    It helps that I rewatched that one on Tuesday 😛

  39. Fuchsia says:

    I actually didn't realize it until this past summer when I started rewatching DS9 (I watched it when it originally aired but had been making my way through TOS and TNG again the last few years). Now I don't feel so bad for not realizing it sooner.

  40. Aslee says:


    Buffy: I love that we get to see her legitimately scared of something. Sure, it's just puppets, but she handles vampires and demons with such ease, it's nice to see her freaked out by something so much. It makes her feel much more relatable, as dummies are gorram SCARY, all right?

    Willow: She's still adorable, and still my favourite. <3 Oh, Willow.

    Xander: He was actually kind of… adorable? He finally expressed his distaste for Cordelia without calling her a whore, had some awesome one-liners, and somehow taught Giles to get rid of Cordelia when she's being annoying.

    I'm beginning to think that his behaviour will change with the morals of the writer, which kind of ticks me off. Does this mean I'm going to have to forfeit a good Xander for arc plots? Not cool.


    Snyder: You, not so much. Awesome lines, of course. But he reminds me of the worst kind of principal, so I do not imagine I'll like him very much. It feels a little like he took Xander's earlier sexism in that one scene, as well.

    Sid: I am torn between running away and crying because of fear or running away and crying because he's dead. He was a hilarious little puppet. AND ALSO MY LITTLE SISTER WATCHES THAT VICTORIOUS SHOW, AND THERE'S A MEAN PUPPET NAMED REX. I THINK I HAVE A NEW HEAD CANON. 😀

    Extra Note: Charisma is the best actress ever, your argument is invalid. Does anyone know what she's up to these day?

    • cait0716 says:

      I think Charisma is mostly doing guest spots on other shows. She had a recurring role on Greek, and I saw something about her being in an episode of Fhcreangheny this season (one more reason for me to watch that show). She was also in The Expendables, which was rather surprising. But I can’t think of any consistent work she has lately

      • Aslee says:

        Awesome! Haven’t watched this season’s Fhcreangheny yet… Something to look forward to!

      • Fuchsia says:

        Charisma was in an episode of Supernatural (gur jvsr bs Wnzrf Znefgre'f punenpgre, bs nyy crbcyr!) ohg gur rcvfbqr jnf gehyl ubeevoyr (abg whfg cybg-jvfr) naq va zl bcvavba, abg jbegu jngpuvat whfg gb frr gurz.

    • katherinemh says:

      I just saw an article on TVLine yesterday that mentioned Charisma! It said she was going to be on… the Lying Game? I think it's an ABC Family show.

      • Aslee says:

        I'm not sure if that's good or not, to be honest. (In case you were wondering, The Lying Game is based on books that are written by the women who wrote Pretty Little Liars. They messed those books up SO HARD.)

        … Maybe I should check it out anyway?

    • etherealclarity says:

      Aside from what everyone else is saying, she also had quite a role in Irebavpn Znef, though that can hardly be called “these days” anymore :/

    • echinodermata says:

      Everyone in this thread do not give away casting spoilers for shows on Mark's confirmed list.

      Rot13d a bunch of comments

  41. katherinemh says:

    Glee! It’s a feeling you get when your brain finally lets your heart get in its pants!

    Glee! It’s like a drug that you use that turns your pain into shoes and your shoes into dance!

  42. NB2000 says:

    "N ornhgvshy zvenpyr!" QNZA LBH SBERIRE JURQBA! *pevrf zber*

  43. Dru says:

    There’s more of Joyce Summers in this episode and yes, I’m going to gush. When can I hug her? I mean COME ON. Look how much she cares about her daughter in this episode!

    Joyce Summers is an AWESOME TV MOM. I want to transport her over to Battlestar Galactica and have her be a substitute for Socrata Thrace, now (loving cluelessness >>>>>>>child abuse in the name of "special destiny", EVERY TIME, and my bb Kara deserved better)

    And you haven't even seen the thing where she uvgf n xvyyre bs gjb cerivbhf Fynlref va gur urnq jvgu na nkr jura fur frrf uvz guerngravat ure qnhtugre. Jvgu AB XABJYRQTR NG NYY GUNG FCVXR VF N INZCVER.

    • NB2000 says:

      "Lbh trg gur URYY njnl sebz zl qnhtugre!"


      • Dru says:

        (hoping to post without goofs)

        That is totally the precursor to Zbyyl Jrnfyrl’f “ABG ZL QNHTUGRE, LBH OVGPU!”

        (and I just realized that my extreme love of That Scene is totally because it reminded me so much of the Buffy scene – Joss and Jo, you are genius and I want to live in your brains, not in the icky way of course)

        And as for Joyce, jr unira’g rira tbg gb ure qvfphffvat Cnffvbaf jvgu Fcvxr be bssrevat uv nqivpr ba uvf ybir yvsr BZT V NZ QLVAT BS YNHTUF.

      • Pseudonymph says:

        Gur bevtvany Zbyyl Jrnfyrl.

        And I just realized that the person above me said the same thing. Ha! Oh well. It's totally true.

  44. Katarina says:

    I'm the sort of person who'll cry at almost anything sentimental. If I remain tearless during an onscreen death, there's something seriously wrong with the scene. So that might be the only reason I cried for Sid, but still, considering he's a FREAKING DUMMY I still think it's a pretty mean feat for this show to pull off.

  45. Partes says:

    Okay, after vanishing for awhile I decided that I need to catch up and post my thoughts on the latest episode of what you're up to, Mark. I was so excited. And then… The Puppet Show.

    My memories on this episode must be prefaced by two words:


    No, really. I hate them. They terrify me. They're small and creepy and the one in this episode is vaguely perverted which just makes things even weirder and adds a whole level of "Get that fucking thing away from me and anyone I know NOW PLEASE" to the whole shebang.

    I watched this episode when I was around nine years old, and I'm fairly sure it's what made me develop this utter hatred of tiny wooden men as I found the guy so weird. When it was on as reruns Iwould instantly turn it off. So fuck you, Joss Whedon. Fuck you for giving me a phobia which doesn't even get me sympathy from anyone. Instead, they laugh at my pain. (ilu really but STILL)

    But I'm braving this episode so I can keep up with the site, Mark. It's all for you. God I'm heroic. I shall continue my thoughts after rewatching this monstrosity and seeing if it's still as weird and creepy as I remember.

    Okay, rewatched it. Two thoughts are prominent in my mind after this rewatch:

    1. No seriously, FUCK PUPPETS.

    2. Giles, I want you to be my second father and we can go hiking and you can complain alot.

    On the first point, I'd actually forgotten that the little-guy was meant to be good. That was a shock. I still hate him with the fire of a thousand suns for reasons I don't fully understand though. Sid, I'm sorry, but this just can't work. You just look too evil.

    Giles is just so consistantly exasperated in this episode, and frustrated Giles is best Giles as it means he gets to try (not very hard) not to look smug when the evil principal helps him out.

    Principal Snyder! I hate you too, but it's the kind of hate which entertains me rather than makes me horrifically ashamed. I actually think he displays awesome traits as a character, like an Umbridge who is actually entertaining rather than merely infuriating.

    "Sunnydale has touched and felt for the last time."
    "Kids are understanding, kids are human beings… that's the kind of wooly liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."

    Is it strange that these are two of my favourite lines in the entire episode?

    Overall I really enjoyed The Puppet Show, mainly due to the fantastic comedy relief. My own weirdness with the puppets aside, Sid was a cool character, just… aaaargh creepy. The acting also seems to show a noticeable improvement, particularly from Alyson Hannigan who seems to have become more comfortable in Willow as a character, and seemingly a lot more expressive and therefore endearing.

    Incidentally and completely stolen from Wikipedia, two short bits of dialogue were actually cut from this episode:

    Buffy: And I don’t think we’ll be featuring Xander’s special gift…
    Xander: Okay, some people are jealous that they can’t burp the alphabet.
    Buffy: …so we’re back to drama. We’ll just do it quickly. Get in, get out. Nobody gets hurt.

    Buffy: Pretty good. I never heard ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ on the tuba before.
    Lisa: Most people aren’t up to it.

    ilu btvs.

    • etherealclarity says:

      As someone who has a somewhat uncommon (or at least not widely discussed) phobia that has been laughed at from time to time, I sympathize. *hugs*

      • Partes says:

        I honestly find the whole thing hilarious (my creeped-out-ness, that is) as long as I'm not childishly demanding that my girlfriend turn off any movie featuring puppets as it creeps me out, which makes her laugh. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME. I think it's the weird proportions. And the eyes. And growing up watching, hating and loving Goosebumps all at the same time probably didn't help. If that show didn't leave everyone who watched it with at least one incredibly strange fear plus an appreciation for cheesy horror I will be amazed.

    • notemily says:

      Now I really, really want to hear "Flight of the Bumblebee" on a tuba.

  46. James says:

    OMG I should start a campaign to reclaim that word from goddamn Ryan Murphy. WHO IS WITH ME

    Actual conversation that took place between me and my husband when reading this part of the review:
    "…OMG Can we trample him, please?

  47. knut_knut says:

    I loved this episode, and not ironically the way I loved the last one. I fell for EVERYTHING and was genuinely surprised by all the plot twists. And I really like the Xander we’ve seen last episode and this one! When he stole Sid and was screeching “Redrum!” my emotions didn’t know what to do. On one hand I was terrified Sid would suddenly bite Xander’s face off or the part of his hand steering the puppet would fall off or something, but I also couldn’t stop laughing at ventriloquist Xander.

    Even though I’m not a big Snyder fan so far, I couldn’t help but love his little “I don’t get it” at the end. It reminded me of AbFab when Patsy says “is it art?” and anything that reminds me of Patsy Stone wins at life. Also, I need the trio’s rendition of Oedipus Rex on loop forever.

    • ghawyeriao says:

      Off-topic, but: I just started watching AbFab! My mother bought herself the complete series for an early Christmas present and we're watching it together over the holidays.

    • notemily says:

      Sid must have been really annoyed with Xander for banging his head into the table over and over like that. (Can dummies feel pain? He didn't seem to mind being folded in half and stuck in a box, so.)

  48. ghawyeriao says:

    It bothers me so much when shows resort to the stereotype of smart people being able to automatically do arithmetic in their head. There are other ways to show intelligence! And just because you're good at math does not necessarily mean you've memorized all the perfect squares!

  49. enigmaticagentscully says:

    -I don’t like the word ‘puppet’ in this title. It scares me greatly
    -Awwww Cordelia can’t sing! I feel your pain dear
    -Principal Snyder is lolarious
    -I love Giles’ revenge face
    -Couldn’t they just…not do it? That’s what I did in Drama lessons at school. They can’t physically force you to perform if you know you’re just gonna be laughed at
    oh god creepy puppet whyyyyyyyyy
    -Ok I LOVE the new Principal and how he thinks everything that went wrong at the school is somehow just woolly thinking
    -Why is anyone even still GOING to this school??
    -MAN that is one short dress Buffy is wearing. I’m amazed the new Principal allows it
    -“and also smoking….”
    -BWAHAHAHAHA ok Giles trolling Cordelia is the best thing EVER
    -Oh my goddddd that’s so fucking creepy
    -Ohhhhh Xander you are such an idiot
    -Why does no-one believe Buffy? She’s always right about this stuff. It’s like Mulder all over again
    -Ok, Principal Snyder suddenly got really fucking creepy
    -Principal Snyder is totally the demon right?
    -Or maybe that’s another blind?
    -No it’s totally him
    -Oh it’s not Principal Snyder it’s magician guy
    -Go Sid, go!
    -LOL dramatic reading

    Ok so this episode was fantastic. I was totally taken in on the whole ‘creepy dummy’ thing of course and I love being thrown off like that. It was just…awesome. I don’t know what else to say, I just loved this episode!

  50. t09yavosaur says:

    -This title makes me uncomfortable.
    -Tuba players are the coolest people to enter Talent shows.
    -Nevermind. There is a Mime.
    -You better be scared Dummy.
    -Liberals get eaten?
    -They don't let the parents know when there is a murder at school?
    -Ah, the 90's. When schools actually cared enough about the arts to stock their drama department.
    -What the chandelier?
    -What the Puppet?
    -Be the principal!! Be the principal!! Please be the Principal?
    -Knew that would be too good to be true.
    -Who opens the curtain without the director's go ahead?
    -Best. Performance of Oedipus. Ever.

    I don't know if that is just the generic Dummy face but I think that puppet was also in an episode of Goosebumps (or Are You Afraid Of the Dark).
    Question: I don't remember when he said he was turned into a puppet but was the episode implying that Sid was Morgan's dad?
    Side Question: Can anyone tell me if Ringer is a worthwhile watch?

    • hpfish13 says:

      As far as Ringer goes…I'm enjoying it, but in a this is incredibly ridiculous and feels like a soap opera, kind of way. Still, I recommend it, and it gets better as the episodes go by.

      • echinodermata says:

        Yup, I'd agree. I haven't watched soap operas before, but I think Ringer is what you get when you take soap opera plots and put them in a ~mystery~ show.

        It's a ridiculous show, but it's pretty fun and I'll at least finish the first season.

    • NB2000 says:

      Question: I don't remember when he said he was turned into a puppet but was the episode implying that Sid was Morgan's dad?

      We don't get an exact date but he mentions being human in the 30's. Admittedly I'm bad at working these things out but it seems a bit early to be his father, grandfather maybe? Being a relative would explain how he ended up with Morgan in the first place.

      • t09yavosaur says:

        Well if Morgan is say 16 he was born around 1980. Say the oldest Sid can be is around 45. Then the earliest date would be around 1935 so it is possible if that is all he said (that he was alive in the 30's).
        Like I said I missed that part but I still think ancestor is possible. Morgan said the voice was based on his dads which is what made me think of it.

        • @Ivana2804 says:

          Sid said he knew a Korean Slayer in the 1930s and they had some "fun times". He obviously wasn't talking about being born in the 1930s. He would have to be at least 90 years old in 1997, probably older than that. Which makes sense since he said his human body was long dead, my guess is that he was over 100 years old.

    • Karen says:

      I looooove Ringer. It's a primetime soap in all the best possible ways.

  51. plaidpants says:

    This was the first episode that really and truly managed to surprise me. I had somehow already heard/knew that Angel was a vampire, I figured out the Amy and her mom switch, so I was already and set for the dummy to be the bad guy in this when WHAM! and I loved it!

    I wonder what excuse they came up with to explain the scene that everyone in the audience saw? Rather than the Oedipus thing (funny as it was) over the credits, I would have loved to see how they incorporated the image into some kind of ridiculous skit.

    One thing I've been wondering though, don't the other kids in the school/other teachers find it odd that Willow, Xander, and Buffy are constantly hanging out with Giles? I don't know, I guess I'm trying to imagine that happening in my school – it seems like it would cause lots of gossip around.

    • Partes says:

      "One thing I've been wondering though, don't the other kids in the school/other teachers find it odd that Willow, Xander, and Buffy are constantly hanging out with Giles?"

      Yeah, if the forty-something year old librarian kept hanging out with a bunch of sixteen-year-olds would probably raise a few eyebrows, and make people think of him as just slightly, um, suspicious. Which would exasperate and horrify Giles. Which would entertain me. I can't remember if this is ever addressed as it's been a while since I watched the whole series through, but now I want it to be and for the whole thing to be horrifically awkward when it comes to explanations.

  52. Jack_of_Hearts says:

    "I don’t like them, I don’t find them funny, and if one ever moved on its own, I would remove myself from Earth because I could not live another second on a planet where that was possible."

    So basically <img src=""&gt;

  53. Tim says:

    I love when Willow runs off the stage at the end. That bit was unscripted – Alyson Hannigan just took off, and Buffy and Xander react so smoothly.

  54. notemily says:

    THE PUPPET SHOW! I've been looking forward to this one. It's just ENJOYABLE. Creepy dummies, hilarious talent show antics, and of course…

    …Principal Snyder! Like the complete opposite of Principal Flutie, I love it. I mean, just in this episode we get these two amazing quotes:

    – "That's the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."

    – "There are things I will not tolerate. Students loitering on campus after school. Horrible murders with hearts being removed. And also smoking."


    (Mark: In real life, I absolutely hate authority figures like this, too. I just love his characterization, and the way Armin Shimerman plays him.) (BTW, I never watched DS9 until AFTER I watched Buffy, so it was pretty hilarious to see Principal Snyder walking around as a kind of shady, huge-eared alien bartender.)

    TWIST! The dummy is a demon-hunter! I actually think this is a really good twist, because dummies are fucking creepy and to have the dummy be on Buffy's side and neither of them realize it is a great subversion of the usual horror tropes. Also, for some reason I love that it's the inept magic guy who turns out to be the demon the whole time.

    "I don't get it." I LOVE YOU SNYDER

    ENDING CREDITS SCENE OMG THIS IS SO GREAT – I love Xander miming picking up the soil, it just kills me

    Yeah there's not a lot to discuss about this episode, it's just FUN. I like it.

    Oh wait, I thought of something. This episode is an example of Xander and Cordelia not getting along but in a way where he doesn't insult her in a sexist manner. I love that he's the one that gets stuck interviewing her, and she's just going on and on about how traumatic it was for her and says "it could have been me" and Xander is like "we can only dream" or whatever. See, show? You can have Xander and Cordelia insult each other in a humorous way without bringing "you dress like a hooker" into it!

    Mark, Sid DIED. That was what he meant by "free." He was never going to turn into a human again. He completed his purpose and then he was just gone, and the dummy became just a dummy.

    Don't even get me started on how much time and energy school takes from kids without actually giving them much in the way of knowledge back. I will rant for days. DAYS, I tell you.

  55. mreeb says:

    Oh, this episode. I love it. I really do. It just cracks me up, and I found the rescue of Giles to be really tense. I remember being genuinely frightened for him. And I love Principal Snyder in a love-to-hate kind of way. I see people are recognizing him from DS9. I keep giggling every time he speaks because I realized just a few months back that he is the voice of the Salarian Councilor in Mass Effect and this is the first time I've rewatched Buffy since playing that game. V qba'g xabj ubj V'z tbvat gb ernpg jura Frgu Terra fubjf hc, ohg V nagvpvcngr vg jvyy or fvzvyneyl wblbhf.

  56. arctic_hare says:

    "Dumb" is an ableist word, please don't use it here.

    • tactless says:

      Is Passive/aggressive an ableist term?

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        I don't know whether you're being serious or using the worst insult ever.

        • tactless says:

          Well, we certainly want to insult the fashion choices of a fictional character from a show that aired more than fifteen years ago, and that would certainly be worth trying to shame someone over an incidental word choice. Passive/Aggressive isn't an insult if it's an accurate description.

  57. clodia_risa says:

    I was going to say that I kinda like Principal Snyder, but that wouldn’t be true. I love Armin Shimerman’s performance as Principal Snyder. Principal Snyder is exactly as you described him. Armin Shimerman is an amazing actor and such a good comedian.

    I’m going to have to watch some Ferengi episodes of DS9 over the weekend, I can tell.

  58. threerings13 says:

    This episode actually managed to surprise me this time, on my THIRD VIEWING. I still thought the dummy was the demon. Apparently either I don't pay much attention or just have a bad memory. Actually I remember thinking this episode was really stupid back when I first saw it, but now I kinda like it for the same reasons mentioned. It's a good mystery with really good red herrings. I'm a sucker for that.

  59. threerings13 says:

    Oh, also, this episode gives me flashbacks to when I played "The Greatest Love of All" in a piano recital. So it gets SUPER stuck in my head cause some part of my brain knows it really well. Of course, my recital was in the 80s, when the song was released and was popular, not 13 years later. (Yes, I looked it up. 1985.)

  60. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Shit, you guys, I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to enjoy the show so much that I REALLYYY want to watch another episode like right now and I'm not allowed to.


  61. Smurphy says:

    For 95% of this episode I'm going to say "If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all…" I don't like puppets and my distaste for Principal Snyder speaks for itself. I do like the big reveal but then it just got weird for my taste.

    … come on season 1…

    Abg gb or n oebxra erpbeq ohg… V JNAG FCVXR!

    Naq ntnva JURER VF NATRY?

    • Ellie says:

      Random anon delurking…

      "Naq ntnva JURER VF NATRY?"

      Ur'f bss oebbqvat bire Qneyn.

      • Smurphy says:

        Um… isn't anon delurking the entire point of Mark and his site?? Although I guess you are not logged in or don't have an account WHICH you should cave and get one… but… anyway.

  62. Maribeth says:

    I kind of adore Armin Shimmerman as the horrible Principal Snyder (of course I adored him even more as Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space 9!). And the Oedipus skit with Willow running away, Xander unable to remember any lines, and Buffy being WAY too cool for the stage, was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen in my life (I would have liked that to have been the entire episode!).

  63. Elexus Calcearius says:

    MARK, you’re an evil brain stealing demon, why didn’t you tell us?!?

    Seriously, I quite enjoyed this episode, although only the second half. Before that I was like “really? We’re going with the evil possessed puppet/doll trope? Well, I guess you can’t beat the classics.” When it turned out the puppet was actually a good guy, also hunting a demon, I thought it was a wonderful twist! Way to screw with my expectations.

    I found the puppet’s personality to be a bit eh. I suppose his womanizing and such can be explained by him being like, 80 years old. Also, I really want some stories about the Korean slayer from the 1930s. That sounds so epic, I can’t even say.

    Of course, a few things in the episode were a bit weird. Like…that circle of power, thing. How exactly was that supposed to reveal who the demon was? They just looked at them in a circle and seemed to say “well, none of them looks demonic, I guess they’re clean”. I didn’t understand that.

    (OH MY GOD, EODIPUS, it’s just like out conversation yesterday about Shipping King Midas. Also, its basically every other high school production ever.)

    Also: how is this school not closed, or at least under investigation by now? They’ve had like eight deaths in a month!

    • James says:

      The "power circle" thing is something people do to gear up for a performance: mutual support, come on we can do this, let's give them a great show &c. Giles is just really bad at that sort of thing. They did it because it was the easiest way to get everyone in one place and at the time they figured the demon had got what he came for, so if someone was missing they would have to conclude that person was the demon.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I was familiar with the purpose in performances- I've done a good eleven years of drama in my life. I just didn't know how that was going to help them find the demon. XD

  64. middlearth says:

    Wait, didn't Sid die because his connection to the demon was severed? I don't remember it's been a while since i've seen this episode 😛

    Other than that I don't have much to say about this episode. except that Joyce Summers was probably one of my least favorite characters in the series (but maybe that's just because i'm a teenager). I kind of always blamed her for being so oblivious about Buffy's life, and for not trusting her on occasion. — i know this isn't really a legitimate comparison, but no matter how much a parent means well, if her kid is shooting heroine and the parent doesn't know then its partly her fault

  65. MidnightLurker says:

    I love Principal Quark.

    Well. I love to hate him. But you know.

    Also: "Young… limber… nubile… …Okay, I'm back." Best puppet ever.

  66. ladililn says:

    Jnf gurer rire n puvyq nf birecebgrpgrq nf Qnja unq gb unir orra? KQ

  67. pica_scribit says:

    I just…love this episode. It may be my favourite from Season 1. There's just so much funny in it. The dummy and Principal Snyder and the Oedipus scene at the end. Comedy gold.

    "That's the kind of wooly liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."

  68. todd says:

    Maybe it's because I love the actor Armin Shimmerman so dearly, but Principal Snyder just makes me laugh every time he opens his mouth. He's like poisonous laughing gas – you know it is evil but you just cannot stop cracking up. Snyder fills me with intense rage, and yet… I want him in every episode ever for all time. Of every show in the universe. Possibly there is something wrong with me. (No, really, how can you not love this sentence: "My predecessor Mr Flutie may have gone in for all that touchy-feely-relate-y nonsense, but he was eaten." Like, being eaten is normally what happens when you're nice to students. Apparently so.)

    I can never decide if I like this episode or not. Sometimes I think it's superfunny and clever, and upon other rewatches I think the whole thing is incredibly lame. *le sigh* I suppose I'll just suffer through watching it again, suffer through madness and stabbing pain. You know. The usual.

  69. scarlettlynn says:

    This is probably my favourite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from season one. Just the the combination of the credits performance of "Oedipus Rex", the "I don't get it" reaction to the massacre ~tableaux, and the all-time classic of "That's the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten." It's just the wonderful combination of lulzy moments, creepy moments and dialog joining in perfect harmony.

  70. core013 says:

    I just want to say that I hate Snyder so much that I love him.

  71. sporkaganza93 says:

    I really despised Snyder at first, but I eventually grew to like him, because his hatred of students is often so over-the-top it actually becomes funny. I mean, the level of intensity this guy has for his job is so totally unnecessary that it cracks me up. Nf gvzr tbrf ba naq jr fgneg gb yrnea zber nobhg uvz, ur fgnegf gb npghnyyl orpbzr na vagevthvat qhqr. Naq gura, bs pbhefr, zl ybir sbe Cevapvcny Falqre jnf przragrq jvgu "Onaq Pnaql".

    Also, the name "Ryan Murphy" still makes me think of the other guy with that name, who does cool YouTube videos.

  72. fantasylover120 says:

    I…kind of adore The Puppet Show. I'm pretty sure it's because I relate to the theatre aspect of it. I was a band geek and did the theatre in high school (backstage stuff only though because I have no singing/acting talent).
    But seriously the best part is hands down the awkward stage play the three do at the end and Giles' priceless Kill Me Now look.

  73. @RabidLemur says:

    This was my first ever Buffy episode. I was 13. It was glorious. There was an immediate sense of "What IS this? Where has it been all my life?!" Oh Willow, we are the same. And Snyder! Young Trekkie that I was, my heart leapt. He's so perfect in this.
    This remains one of my favorites, an early episode that has all the right elements for me and comes together really well.

  74. The_Consultant says:

    Is anyone doing a count of how many dead/missing kids the school has so far? I just realised this episode alone had three if you count magician/demon/Marc. Then there where the two computer guys form the previous episode and Jesse from The Harvest. That makes 6 (in 9 episodes…) are there any others?

  75. UnstrungZero says:

    Oh my god, I've been thinking that since the first episode. It's like all the UC qrnguf all over again, especially Fvevhf naq Serq. Whfg xabjvat vg'f pbzvat sbe uvz naq tbvat gb EVC UVZ NCNEG. Q: Ohg nf bguref unir fnvq, gung'f jung vg'f fhccbfrq gb qb. :\

    Bar guvat V qb …. jryy, V urfvgngr gb fnl gur jbeq "yvxr", ohg nccerpvngr? nobhg Gur Obql vf ubj gurl hfr nofbyhgryl ab zhfvp. Vg'f travhf. Znxrf vg srry fb zhpu pbyqre naq rzcgl.

  76. Sosa says:

    I love reading your reviews! Fresh thoughts about BtVS are always of the good. I've recently watched this episode and, WOW, how adorable is Xander in it. The part with him holding the dummy and scaring Buffy is so adorable! He looks so young here I wanna eat him!

  77. Seventh_Star says:

    oh man! i know exactly what outfit you're talking about…SO BAD. or maybe so bad it's good?

  78. RaeBear says:

    V arire tbg gung orsber, jbaqreshy gb unir gung vafvtug! thank you

  79. Hotaru_hime says:

    OK, I can't really stand puppets on television. Even when they're not actually evil or doing anything and are just in a shop, I can't take it. I was really scarred by that one Goosebumps episode, OK?! IT'S A SENSITIVE SUBJECT.
    But yeah, I was pretty much screaming "IT'S THE PUPPET, MY GOD IT'S THE PUPPET!" And then I was wrong.
    But Principal Snyder… if you like Principal Snyder there is something wrong with you.

  80. flootzavut says:

    I am happy to say I have never seen "Glee" so I still use glee with gleeful abandon whenever I get the chance, and gleefully refuse to ever watch "Glee".

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