Monday, May 6, 2013

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S01E09 "The Puppet Show"

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone is probably going to die from this cold, so start planning her memorial right now. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:
  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow's magic is utterly useless (this one won't be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn't as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.


WARNING: Some people have mentioned they're watching along with me, and that's awesome, but I've seen the entire series already and I'll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So... you know, take that under consideration, if you're a person who can't enjoy something if you know future details about it.



This is one of my all-time favorite episodes of BtVS, because it's about one of my biggest fears: ventriloquism. I am terrified of ventriloquists and their dummies. The only one I've ever really liked was Lamb Chop, but only because she was really a sock puppet. Sherri Lewis remains suspect, even in death.

It's also, dare I say, one of the least problematic episodes. Sexual Harassment Dummy aside, there's really nothing glaringly wrong in this episode, and hardly anything on our handy list of issues gets used! Huzzah! We can just enjoy ourselves!

Anyway, I really liked the way this episode duped me into believing one thing for a really long time, then flipped it, and genuinely surprised me.

We get a weird angled shot of a stretching ballerina's crotch while a scary voice promises that he will be whole and new. Then the camera zooms around a bunch of kids practicing various talents, from the tuba to magic to an awkward looking kid holding a really scary ventriloquist's dummy:

You remember him from your nightmares, I'm sure.

On stage, Cordelia is "singing" the Whitney Houston hit "The Greatest Love of All."

Singing is kind of a strong word for it, really.

And Giles looks like he wants to kill himself, because once you've heard Cordelia's singing, you've already gazed into the mouth of damnation:

At least this headache won't be the result of a serious brain injury.

Some of you have asked, "Jenny, Cordelia is a bully and a horrible person. How can you like her?" I was waiting for this episode, this very scene, to address this. Cordelia does horrible things, it's true. She's mean to her classmates, she views life as a competition that she will win at all costs, and she doesn't care who she hurts to get to the top. These are not admirable qualities. However, what resonates with me is her confidence. Cordelia never once stops to question whether her terrible singing is good. She believes it is, and that's all it takes to make her put herself out there. What's more amazing is, she does this even though we learn later in the series that she has the same anxieties as every other teen at Sunnydale High. Yet she overcomes them just by thinking she's the bomb. That's some serious power of positive thinking.

So, while I do not admire Cordelia's actions all the time, I do admire her overall personality. Later, on Angel, when life has hammered on her and she becomes a fully realized character instead of a stereotypical mean girl villain, this is more apparent. But it's there from the beginning. Cordelia doesn't need her fawning sychophants to bolster her; they're an accepted tribute to the greatness she already knows she is. The fact that this foundation of her personality is there from her first appearances is testament to good character building.

Giles can't take anymore of Cordelia's caterwauling and begs her to get off the stage so they can move on to Tuba Girl. Buffy, Xander, and Willow come in, and OMG WILLOW IS WEARING MY FAVORITE SHIRT FROM HIGH SCHOOL!

Looking good, ducky!

I wore that shirt OUT in school, but like Willow, I wore it under a hoodie, because it was a baby doll t-shirt and my Catholic high school was not down with the bare midriff.

Giles tells the kids that he's being forced to run the talent show on the orders of the "new fuhrer," Principal Snyder:
Giles: "He thought it would behoove me to have more contact with the students. I did try to explain that my vocational choice of librarian was a deliberate attempt to minimize said contact, but he would have none of it."
WTF is wrong with this school? Remember, from the vantage point of an outside observer, Giles is spending a lot of time having hushed, urgent conversations with these three students in the library, sometimes after hours. One of these girls has a picture of the two of them together in her locker. And they think this guy needs to spend more time around kids? Yes, we know he's a Watcher and he doesn't want to be one, and he certainly doesn't like spending time around teenagers, but nobody else in Sunnydale knows this. Without that crucial piece of evidence, things are just getting creepier and creepier.

Hey, there's an interesting angle of Giles that I've actually never considered before... he told Buffy in "Never Kill a Boy on The First Date" that he didn't want to be a Watcher. So, in a way, Giles and Buffy are living parallel lives, enslaved to destinies they had no say in.

Huh.

Anyway, Buffy has to crack on Giles a little bit, because that's their schtick:
Buffy: "Giles, into every generation is born one who must run the annual talentless show. You cannot escape your destiny."
Giles tells Buffy that if she had any decency, she would help him, and she tells him she's going to do what he usually does, and just watch. Willow and Xander get in on the teasing, too, but their satisfaction is short-lived, because HEY IT'S QUARK!

Isn't it amazing what the Federation can do with plastic surgery?

Quark is the new principal, Principal Snyder, who is replacing Flutie, the guy who got eaten at his desk. He is nowhere near as nice and tolerant as Flutie was. I guess when you're replacing a dude who got literally eaten by students, you're going to go for the one who seems a little tougher, discipline wise. Snyder has branded the Scoobies "real antisocial types" and orders them to "integrate" by performing in the talent show.

As the kids sit by in mute horror at this cruel twist of fate, Morgan and his dummy take the stage. Buffy is afraid of dummies, and Willow thinks they're cute. So, that's some pretty early foreshadowing of Evil!Willow in season six. Because only a monster would like dummies.

Morgan's act starts off horrible. He's not a very good ventriloquist, his jokes are stale, and he's sweating like a sinner at Sunday mass. Giles is about to give him that old timey vaudeville hook when suddenly, Sid the dummy's voice gets a lot rougher and deeper, and he starts cracking on Morgan, who pretends it isn't a part of the routine. Everyone, even Buffy, is laughing at him.

Cut to the locker room. Hey, here's a tip, if you're a Sunnydale High student, don't change in the locker rooms. Because in a weird, purple, up-angled shot, we see a female student get attacked by something that vows it will be whole again. Or something like that. I went and got coffee during that part because I knew I had time during the opening credits.

Back from the opening, Xander is freaking out about the dramatic scene he, Buffy, and Willow have entered in the talent show. Willow thinks it's the easiest thing to do, and she's probably right; it's not like they can fight evil as their talent, and it's really the only thing they've been practicing lately. We also find out that Willow plays the piano, she's just really shy about it.

Morgan's dummy starts sexually harassing the girls and insisting that he's real, and Buffy threatens to burn him. Because as we all know from her transcripts, Buffy is excellent and burning stuff down. Giles walks in, enduring Principal Snyder's lengthy diatribe about how fucking awful teenagers are:
Snyder: "Kids today need discipline. It's not a popular word these days, discipline. 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."
Giles listens to all this and tries to stammer a word in edge-wise, but it's clear from his reaction to Snyder's monologue that what Giles is really thinking is, "Jesus, this guy hates kids even more than I do." There will be no bonding here.

Truefact: People actually ship this. Because fandom is sometimes terrible.

Just as Snyder vows that Sunnydale is going to be totally different now that he's in charge, we cut to the scene of yet another locker room murder. Hey, Sunnydale? Try putting a fucking security guard in there or something. (8

Giles tells the kids everything he knows, that the girl killed was a dancer from the talent show, and her heart was removed. The presence of a knife at the scene of the crime points to a regular human murder, rather than something demonic, which would have involved claws and teeth. Though Willow, Xander, and Giles all figure it really was just a vicious attack by a person, Buffy thinks something is up. She reminds her friends and the viewer about the Hellmouth, and how there's all sorts of ooky goings on in the area. Giles tells them to talk to the other kids in the talent show, since they were the last people to see dancer girl alive.

Buffy interviews Tuba Girl, who says:
Tuba Girl: "I didn't know her too well. There's that whole dancer/band rivalry, you know?
No, I do not know. But I would pay money to watch a street fight between the two factions.

Giles interviews the talent show Magician Guy, who tells him that he saw Dancer Girl talking to someone the day she died. Meanwhile, Willow asks Eric Stoltz in Mask who Dancer Girl was talking to. Big surprise, it was the creepy fucking kid with the perverted dummy.

Seriously, I can't be the only one who sees it.

Xander gets stuck interviewing Cordelia, who is profoundly affected by the death of the girl whose name she doesn't remember correctly. The talent show kids tell the Scoobies that Morgan has been acting paranoid and muttering to himself, and that he's been seen arguing with his dummy. Oh, and Cordelia continues to make it all about her.

Buffy walks into the auditorium to find Morgan's dummy, Sid, talking about who will be next. Morgan is surprised to see Buffy there and tries to play it off as a rehearsal. You know, that classic ventriloquist routine about covering up and murder and planning to kill again? That slays 'em!

That was a double pun, by the way, because slayer, and also murder, and...

No one appreciates my art.

Anyway, Morgan tells Buffy he was talking to Sid and wasn't really paying attention to Dancer Girl. Then he gets a sudden headache, and Sid takes over, telling Buffy that Morgan has said all he's going to say on the subject. Morgan argues with Sid and stuffs him back in his case. Realizing Morgan is slightly unhinged, Buffy apologizes to him for making him mad, and he assures her he isn't upset, and tries to explain that it's not him, it's the dummy. But even he hears how crazy he sounds, and quickly grabs his case and leaves.

The Scoobies convene in Giles's office, where for once, he's not wearing a suit. I say "for once," but wait until he hits his midlife crisis/alcoholic/unemployment depression in season four. We'll all be begging for a return to tweed. The gang decides that it's definitely Morgan doing the killing, but Buffy still thinks a demon might be somehow involved. Giles is trying to research the possibility of a demon, but he's got this whole talent show thing sucking up his time. Buffy and Xander argue that a talent show is the last thing they should be thinking of at a time like this, and one can't help but think they're less interested in catching a murderer than just not being in a talent show. Giles tells them there's really no way around it; they've all caught Snyder's eye, and the last thing a Slayer needs is to call unwanted attention to herself. So, Buffy sets out to check Morgan's locker for a heart.

But, she gets caught:

Note the far away quality of this shot. This tells us someone is spying on them.

Snyder is not a fan of students being on campus after hours:
Snyder: "There are things I will not tolerate: students loitering on campus after school, horrible murders with hearts being removed. And also smoking.
Dedication to the future of America.

Buffy insists she doesn't do anything from the proscribed actions list, and Snyder warns her that he knows something is up with her, and he's going to figure out what. So, basically he's the only person in Sunnydale that actually notices what the students in the high school are doing, ever, but he's also the person who hates them the most.

Buffy tells Snyder she's supposed to get something from Morgan's locker, but when she opens the dummy's case, it's empty.

So, who was watching this go down?

Nope, not creepy at all.

Cut to Morgan fighting with Sid, or maybe himself, because we don't see Sid's face to know if his eyes and mouth are moving independently or not. Either way, "Sid" is saying that he knows Buffy is "the last one" needed for him to get free.

At the Maison du Summers, Buffy argues with her mom re: talent show attendance. See, Buffy's mom wants to go to support Buffy, and Buffy is having none of it. Joyce asks Buffy if anything else is wrong, but Buffy tells her there's just a lot of stuff going on. Then she gets ready for bed, and when she turns out the light...

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!

After the commercial break, Buffy wakes to the pitter patter of creepy little feet. She screams, and Joyce runs in. Buffy insists there's something in her bed, but Joyce reassures her there's nothing there, before telling her not to sleep with the window open. And Buffy realizes that she didn't.

At talentless show rehearsals, Magician Guy is not doing the greatest. Cordelia follows Giles around, badgering him about the order of acts in the show, and he takes a tip from Xander and implies that her hair is messed up. It works, Cordelia runs away to do emergency hair maintenance, and Giles has a little giggle about it and OMG, allow me a moment of squee.

But things get decidedly less funny when Buffy turns up and tells the Scoobies that Sid the dummy was in her room the night before, and that he was alive. By the way, Sarah Michelle Gellar's delivery of "And he was alive," is probably the cutest thing that has ever happened on this series. The Scoobies are having a hard time processing the allegation that a ventriloquist dummy attacked Buffy and was working alone:
Buffy: "It was like it pounced on my face."
Xander: "Like a cat?"
Buffy: "Yeah, exactly. But when I turned the lights on it was already gone. I think it went out my window"
Xander: "Like a cat."
Buffy: "Yeah. No!"
Giles suggests that Buffy had a nightmare about dummies, and despite her insistence that she's the Slayer and she knows something funny is going on, they all pretty much agree that Morgan is probably just murdering people. But to err on the side of caution, Giles has researched a group of demons who masquerade as teenagers and need to steal certain human organs every seven years to keep from reverting to their original, ooky forms.

Hey, isn't it funny that Anthony Head was in an episode of Buffy where people were getting their organs stolen, and then he was in Repo! The Genetic Opera stealing people's organs?

Anyway, Giles tells them about how the demons are super strong, and Morgan is getting weaker and weaker. So no choices have really been eliminated here. Morgan could still be the murderer, he might just be the murderer who kills people because he needs to conceal his demon bits for another seven years.

Buffy is in class when Morgan's dummy (who is sitting at Morgan's desk with him, and no one seems to have a problem with this) turns his head all the way around to creepily stare at her. Cordelia tells Buffy the dummy digs her, and they should tour together in a freak show. But Buffy doesn't have time for Cordelia's bully shenanigans at the moment, because this is an evil dummy emergency. When the teacher calls on Morgan and Sid smarts off to her, the teacher confiscates him and sticks him in a cupboard. When Morgan returns later to get the dummy, the teacher tries to connect with him, asking if there are problems at home. Morgan just wants Sid, but when the teacher goes to the cupboard to get him, he's gone. Morgan flips out, saying Sid knew to wait for him and demanding to know what the teacher has done.

The teacher didn't lock her shit up, is what she's done.

Xander stole Sid from the classroom so that Buffy could finally talk to Morgan alone. He also tries to get Buffy to believe the dummy is totally harmless, by pounding its head on the desk and making it talk like a creepy old man. Giles tells Willow they have more researching to do, and Willow says:
Willow: "Once again I'm banished to the demon section of the card catalogue."
Remember when people knew what those were?
Giles: "You concentrate on reanimation theory, I'll peck about in organ harvesting. Unless, of course, you prefer-"
Willow: "That's okay. You can have the organs."
"Thanks, Willow, I know I can have the organs."

I can't promise that will be the last Repo! reference I make today.

Xander leaves Sid propped up on a chair in the library, and Buffy goes off in search of Morgan in the auditorium. She's poking around backstage when stuff gets creepy.

And also, DEMON PHOTOBOMB!

Before Buffy can follow her instincts and investigate the creepy, Principal Snyder just shows up out of nowhere, lurking around like the angel of fucking death. Snyder creepily warns Buffy about going places alone, and Buffy tells him she can take care of herself. Which actually gets Snyder to back off and leave, so he's not the murderer, right?

Back in the library, Willow has good news, everyone!
Willow: "Look what I found in the section on toys and magic: 'On rare occasions, inanimate objects of human quality, such as dolls and mannequins, already mystically possessed of consciousness, have acted upon their desire to become human by harvesting organs."
Oh, well, as long as it's rare then. Jesus, I'm not going to sleep for weeks, and I'm giving my rag doll John Denver the serious stink eye right now.

Aww, I'm just kidding, John Denver. You don't need to steal my heart, it already belongs to you.

So, this happens:
Now you see him.

Now you don't.

Backstage in the auditorium, Buffy finally gets Morgan alone:

For all the good that it will do her.

 As she backs away from the horrible murder scene, a chandelier falls on her. Because it's the theatre, and a chandelier always has to fall on somebody. When Buffy regains consciousness, we run into yet another example of how Slayer strength can conveniently fall by the wayside in favor of dramatic tension. In the past, we have seen Buffy rip doorknobs off with her bare hands, punch a lock into a locker to open it, easily pry the lid off a crate her mother couldn't dislodge with a crowbar, and, oh yeah, fight vampires. But now, she can't lift the chandelier off herself, even when a dummy starts attacking her with a knife. Come on, show. Regular, non-Slayer humans have been known to rise to enormous feats of strength in times of stress. You hear all the time about some random bystander lifting a burning car off an injured and trapped victim.

Wouldn't "murder puppet" be more of an incentive?

Buffy gets free and pins Sid to a wall, and they have one of those conversations where two people are clearly talking about two different things:
Sid: "You win. Now you can take your heart and your brain and move on."
Buffy: "I'm sure they would have made great trophies for your case."
Sid: "That would have been justice."
Buffy: "Yeah, except for one thing: you lost, and now you'll never be human.
Sid: "Yeah, well neither will you."
Buffy and Sid together: "What?"
Back in the library, Sid shares his origin story with the Scoobies, who are all, well... they're talking to a dummy. Just look at them:


Willow is actually processing this better than all of them.

Sid tells them he was a demon hunter who ended up cursed into the body of a ventriloquist dummy. Like you do. He's been tracking down and killing these organ harvesting demons in the hopes of getting his curse lifted. He noticed Buffy's super strength, and that made him believe she was the organ harvesting demon.  Since the demon already has the heart and brain, he should move on. Sid is pretty sure the demon was in the talent show, so by process of elimination. whoever doesn't show up is the demon. Giles heads to the auditorium to get all the students in a "power circle," a theatre warm-up that Sid suggests. It's all pretense to gather them in one place, so they can play "spot the missing demon."

Backstage, Cordelia is having a freakout:
Cordelia: "I... I can't go out there. All those people staring at me, and judging me, like I'm some kind of... Buffy. What if I mess up?"
Giles: "Cordelia, there's an adage that, um, if you're feeling nervous, then you should imagine the entire audience are in their underwear."
Cordelia: "Ew! Even Mrs. Franklin?
Giles: "Perhaps not."
Worst pep talk ever.

Buffy and Sid are up on the catwalk, keeping an eye on the situation on the stage. To kill time before the talent show contestants assemble, they discuss their demon-fighting lives. Buffy tells Sid she's the Slayer, and he fondly remembers banging a Slayer in the 30's, before he was a dummy. Buffy correctly deduces that when Sid kills the demon and is freed from his curse, he'll die. But Sid tells her not to be sad, because he's lived longer than most demon hunters, or Slayers. This is one of the first times we're reminded of Buffy's tenuous mortality. That'll be important at the end of this season, and then it will be a running theme through the rest of the show. It's worked in really slyly here. We're not talking about the danger of Buffy's life, but the fact that Sid is going to die. But the seed has been planted, we know a little more keenly now that Buffy's life is destined to be brutal and short.

The talent acts assemble on stage briefly. None of the students are missing. Buffy jumps down from the catwalk to confer with Giles, and they both agree that the demon isn't a part of the talent show. But it's almost time for curtain, and Giles has to run the show. He sends Buffy off in search of the demon, and spots Snyder lurking in the wings. Sid has gone missing, and while Buffy looks for him she finds...

Oh, so THAT'S where I left that.

In the library, Buffy laments that she'll never stop washing her hands, while Xander voices his suspicion about Sid, suggesting they've been "Keyser Soze-ed," and thus spoilering the end of The Usual Suspects for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Which is really your own fault, it's been out plenty long enough.

Hey, remember when Buffy found that dead body backstage? What's going on with that? Presumably it's still there, because we haven't seen the police show up and the talent show is going ahead. So kids are swarming backstage and nobody has noticed they're having to step over Morgan's decapitated body? Maybe it just happens so often in Sunnydale, people have gotten numb to corpse presence at school events. This is a loose end that never gets tied up, pretty sloppy in an otherwise awesomely written episode.

Willow hacks the school's files and finds out that Morgan had brain cancer. The demon never got the healthy brain it needed to keep its form. Since it went after Morgan, who had super great grades,  Buffy figures it's going to go after the smartest brain it can find.

Cut to Giles, explaining something about velocity to Magician Guy, who is rigging up a guillotine and complimenting Giles on how smart he is.

Cut back to Buffy, Willow, and Xander in the library, who are all concerned that Willow is going to be the demon's next target. 

Cut back to Giles, watching the guillotine cut a melon in half. 

So, we're on the same page here everybody?

Magician Guy wants Giles to help him with his "trick" by sticking his head in the guillotine. Then, in case anyone needs help catching up, we see Magician Guy's hand. It's looking pretty demony.

Meanwhile, in the library, Buffy is freaking out. She doesn't want to wait for the demon to come to them, and they've ruled out all the people in the talent show. Willow points out that they came to that conclusion before they learned that the demon hadn't found a brain:
Buffy: "So it probably is one of them, and- and Giles doesn't know it. He's with them all right now!"
Xander: "Giles can handle himself. I mean, he is really... smart."
So, where is this allegedly smart guy?

Just sticking my head in this guillotine, like really smart people do.

If I were this demon, that would be my test for smartness. "Did he willingly stick his head in my decapitation machine? Then he's not smart enough for me to harvest his brain." It seems pretty simple, doesn't it?
Giles: "S-shouldn't it be aimed at my neck?"
Demon Magician: "No. This way your scalp gets sliced off, and your brains just come pouring out."
Giles: "What exactly is the trick?"
Demon Magician: "Trick?"
Here's the thing; the first half of the episode leads us to believe that the demon is Morgan, or Morgan's dummy, or possibly the new Principal. When it turns out to be random Magician Guy, we as an audience should be pissed off at all the red herrings, right? Not necessarily, because this is what this episode has done so brilliantly: in every scene involving the talent show, we have seen Magician Guy. He was in the very opening. He was interviewed by Giles after the murder. We saw his trick with the disappearing cabinet go wrong. He's been constantly in the background, in the pool of possible demon offenders. So, when the big reveal happens, we don't feel like it's coming from out of left field. I know some commenters have said they read these recaps to learn about writing, so there's a big one for you: you have to put some work into a "gotcha" moment, so the reader/viewer doesn't feel cheated or like you're pulling some serious Deus Ex Machina nonsense on them.

So, Magician Guy starts chopping at the rope for the guillotine. I feel like it would have been more effective to just untie it and let go of the rope, but whatever, I'm not a demon or a French executioner. I assume they did it this way for the dramatic potential of watching the rope fray a little more with each strike of the hatchet. It's nearly cut when Buffy tackles Magician Guy and starts fighting him. The rope breaks, but Xander grabs it, saving Giles from certain death.

One good thing about Xander: he saves people's lives like crazy. And he never gets any credit for it, which is a shame.

As Buffy fights the now totally demonriffic Magician Guy, aided by Sid- who has a fuck-off huge knife and will star in all of my nightmares from now on- Willow frees Giles from the guillotine. Buffy manages to get the demon under the blade, and they decapitate it. Sid says they have to get the heart in order to make sure the demon is dead.

Seriously, how is this not mentally scarring everyone right now? It has a KNIFE.

Buffy offers to do the job for Sid, since it will kill him, but Sid does the honors and promptly slumps over dead.

But remember how there was going to be a talent show starting in fifteen minutes or whatever?

The arts!

In the audience, Snyder declares that he doesn't get it, and we go to credits. Then, in a very rare post end-title card sequence, we see Buffy, Xander, and Willow doing their "talent."

The picture kind of says it all.

Giles watches in extreme second hand embarrassment as Xander flubs his lines and Willow, gripped by stage fright, runs away.

Next week, we meet Buffy's dad!

30 comments:

  1. There is a game you can get on android and ios that is a create your own adventure called Vampire Boyfriends. In one adventure you meet Niles a british guy who trains you because the area you stay in, Lily Valley, is a Hell's Backdoor. They have others that are better, but that one made me think if you.

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    1. OMG, that's hilarious. Vampire Boyfriends just about sums up BtVS.

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  2. If I'm ever feeling blue, I just rematch the sequence at the end, it's a hilarious bit of comedy.

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  3. You know what really cracked me up from this episode? When they figure out the demon might go after Giles, and the Buffy comes running out of the library screaming: "GIIIIILES!" It's hilarious, but it also goes to show that Buffy really does care for Giles.

    And the Oedipus bit. Oh, god, the Oedipus bit xD

    I felt really bad for Morgan becuase it turned out, and he was actually trying to do the right thing, to actually help Sid get rid of the curse before dying of brain cancer. He deserved to have his body removed from backstage, really.

    Also, I'm right there with you at the ventriloquist dummy with a knife being nightmare fuel.

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    1. Yes, it's the cut from "he's really... smart," to "GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILES!" and all three kids charging out of the library that gets me every time. It's just like, the edit on it is so perfect.

      The brain cancer thing was weird, it seemed like a way for the writers to be like, "We don't have to spend time showing the characters mourning his passing because he was going to die anyway."

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    2. That seems to be a fairly common trope, the "They were dying anyway, so it's okay". Happens a lot with "noble sacrifice"-type situations.

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  4. Thank you for yet another amazing recap. I really enjoy your take on the series. You rock!

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  5. I just watched this episode for the first time like a year ago, and I was terrified. I hate dummies/dolls and I was freaking out the whole time, but then they made him sympathetic, and non-murdery! Of course, the pictures from your recap did freak me out a bit.

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  6. OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH YOU DON'T KNOW GOOSEBUMPS YOU DON'T KNOW SLAPPY!!!!!!!

    Okay, hold on.

    Night of the Living Dummy 2 (they never made 1 for some reason:
    Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-uBMN3y8sc
    Part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VwX3D7K6YI

    There's two episodes for Living Dummy 3, and then Bride of the Dummy. Yeah. Oh my gosh, you need to know Slappy.

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    Replies
    1. I was just thinking about Slappy. He def gave me nightmares

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    2. Oh man, fuck Slappy! So many nightmares!

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  7. I am justg watching Deep Space 9 and was just thinking I need to find out what else Quark has been in

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  8. The one problem I always had with this is if one slices off the top third of Giles' skull, it will also chop that intelligent brain into bits. It looks like this demon likes his brains intact, so why not just chop the head off, get out and extract a nice whole brain at your evil leisure? This is going to leave him with two severed brain portions, and you're going to have to lift the blade to get at the not insignificant portion left inside the head and attached to the spine, which will be harder to do with a shorter rope you can't tie to anything.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I always thought that was odd, the blade would go right through his brain and damage it.

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  9. This episode has the line I probably quote most often from Buffy - "That's the kind of woolly headed thinking that leads to being eaten'. It's a wonderful in jest counter to loopy logic discussions.

    I also like that bit of dialogue from Synder because it's clear they all know Flutie was eaten and it's totally accepted as a thing that may happen. The oddness that is Sunnydale makes it totally normal.

    I like the character of Cordelia even though she isn't particularly likeable at times. She's very 'pure', although isn't the word I really mean. In 'Earshot' when Buffy can read minds, she thinks something and then she says it. She's straight forward, not necessarily nice, but she isn't afraid to speak up and she knows what she wants.

    I'm going to assume you know the 'Creepy Doll' song from Jonothan Coultain, since your boy is a fan of the Portal song.

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  10. I love these rewatch posts. I've always thought about doing something similar for The L Word, but the writing gets so bad the whole thing would just end up being a circlejill

    I remember John Denver from another post you did! I admit I find her a bit creepy in a bloodstain americana kind of way, but one person's scary is another's nostalgia I guess :)

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  11. Sid the dummy reappears in one of the Buffy video games for PS2 as a playable character. Joss Whedon is also selectable in multiplayer if I remember correctly because... why not?

    Was never a big fan of this episode, I just prefer the more arc-y tone the show took on later so the standalone ones never appealed to me as much.

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  12. When I was 5 or 6, there was a ventriloquist at the mall doing one of those kid's shows. For the next few years (well into teenagehood, actually) I was convinced that the dummies were kids with lines carved into their faces and was terrified that it would be done to me.

    I also thought the astronaut suit at the air and space museum (that used to be in a capsule hanging from the ceiling) contained a dead astronaut, and they just couldn't get up there to cut him down. I was a morbid child...

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    1. I think you were a really awesome child. Wish I'd had friends like you.

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  13. Oh, Anthony Stewart Head, how much I love you!

    Glad to see the Repo! references in this post. It's one of my favorite movies, not least of which because it was pretty close to seeing Giles as a villain. Now that my boyfriend and I have started watching Dr. Who, there was one episode where Anthony Stewart Head guest starred as a villain. It made me want to see him as a Vampire on Buffy.

    (Oh, and he'll be playing a villain again on an episode of Warehouse 13, which I don't watch but might just for that episode).

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'll just be off to think about sexy Vampire Giles...

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  14. This episode has always been one of my favorites.

    Not that it's relevant yet, but I definitely think #14 needs to be "The watchers' council is completely useless." Because it is. And that has always been one of my biggest complaints about the show. Why HAVE the watchers' council if they're just going to fuck Buffy up and/or ignore her?

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    1. right? after I finished buffy I sort of puzzled over the entire point of them.

      now tbh I kind of burn for a blackbooks-style sitcom about them or something because THEY NEED TO BE EXPLORED. but ridiculously.

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  15. I love your blog! I found you by accident on goodreads and you have been entertaining me for the last couple of weeks. I'm enjoying your Buffy recaps. I'm wanting to do something similar with Doctor Who. (I hope that's okay). Anyhoo, I've been blind to all the themes in this episode for so long because, dummies are fucking creepy. I couldn't focus on anything else because my skin would crawl so bad... Shudder. Oh, and thanks for pointing out the sex Giles' sex appeal. Cuz I didn't need to be pining after yet another British guy!

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    1. co-sign on the Doctor Who. <3
      BECAUSE NINE. NINE NINE NINE.

      Also after the righteous fury-fest that is the fantabulous SoG recaps, I wanna see Jenny take on what Moffat has done to my baby. Is doing. Ack.

      Or SPN XD, but I don't think she's a fan, alas. I mean, Ilu to death (Ilu too, Death) bb, but you are so ridiculous sometimes.

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    2. Wait, you MISSED Giles's sex appeal before?! LOL. You should definitely do a Doctor Who recap. But 50 years is just too long a commitment for me.

      HellaNova, I don't hate SPN, but I just couldn't get into it. I don't know. Times may change...

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  16. I never comment, but I do enjoy your recaps, even when they aren't pointing out the problematic themes.

    (side note: I just typed the word "problemathic," and I wish it was real)

    So, as you hate dummies/ventriloquists so much, the Batman villains you would least like to encounter would be Scarface and the Ventriloquist? Because that dummy has come back from the dead.

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    1. Problemathic...
      Last week my new boss said "Mathicly speaking...". I'm still making fun of him for that.

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  17. I was mostly meh about this episode but did love Sid after we found out he was really a good guy.

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