There is no question that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was and, to many, is still one of the most awesome shows ever to hit television. It was created by Joss Whedon in 1997 and ran for about 6 years with 7 seasons.
While I was too young to watch Buffy, I caught the series just as it was coming off the air. Instead of watching it, I found the spin-off series, Angel, which I absolutely love and have watched twice. But recently, I went to Netflix and finally sat down to watch Buffy, and it is as amazing as everyone said (like I ever doubted).
However, I just watched an episode that I thought ended in an anti-climactic and unsatisfying way: Season 2, Episode 11, Ted.
In the episode, Buffy’s mom, Joyce, introduces her daughter to Ted, an average man who works as an office salesman. On the surface, he seems genuinely kind and trusting, winning over Willow and Xander. Like most teens, Buffy isn’t too happy to have a new man enter her life, especially when this particular man begins to threaten Buffy to her face. Buffy finds out that Ted plans to marry Joyce in two months, and takes out her aggression on a vampire while out on patrol.
Buffy sneaks back in to her room to find Ted waiting for her and reading her diary. Ted threatens to tell Joyce about Buffy’s “delusional fantasies” if she got in the way of his plans. When Buffy tries to stop Ted from walking out with her diary, he attacks her. Pushed to the limit, Buffy retaliates, holding nothing back, especially when her mom witnesses Buffy assault and then kick Ted down the stairs, killing him.
The reactions in this episode was powerful. Giles and the others find out that Ted had a clean record. Buffy is shaken up that she had killed an innocent human. She confesses everything to the police, who don’t press charges because they believed that she was defending herself. Throughout the episode, Buffy is fighting the guilt that she had hurt not only an innocent person, but her own mother. It is just a strong scenario that keeps you wondering what will happen next and if Buffy and her mom would ever go back to the way things were.
Just as suspected, at least by me, Ted returns, ambushing Buffy in her room again, this time knocking her unconscious. He appears before Joyce, making up a story of how he woke up just as he was taken to the morgue. He attempts to take Joyce away to another home he claims to have made for the two of them, but is stopped once again by Buffy.
This is where the episode went downhill.
Xander, Willow and Cordeila find Ted’s address and go there to see if there is anything they can use to prove he was up to something. Xander opens a closet, discovering the bodies of Ted’s previous wives. They don’t actually show them. The camera is on Xander the whole time, showing his reaction.
Meanwhile, Buffy’s fight with Ted is just her ambushing him in the kitchen and whacking him across the face with a frying pan. He turns to get up and half of his face reveals he was a robot. Buffy hits him again and he’s dead for real. Then the episode ends with Buffy and her mom sitting on the front porch, supporting each other.
We never know exactly what Ted is, how he was able to come back as a robot, what his motivations were, nor anything about his previous wives and how he managed to kill them. The whole time I was watching, I kept thinking he was just using Joyce to get to Buffy. I thought he would be some sort of demon or evil sorcerer who was able to get close to Buffy so he could kill her or threaten her mom or…SOMETHING!!!
But no. Instead, he was a robot from who-knows-where who went after Buffy’s mom for God-knows-why. He mumbled to Joyce that a husband and wife should be together and live happily. It gave way to some sort of background, whether he had a wife that left him, or he did something horrible by accident and just goes after any woman who reminded him of his wife. That’s what I thought was going on when he said that.
I know Whedon is good at throwing the audience off and keeping us on our toes, but I don’t get what this episode was supposed to do. Other than showing the audience the young main character coping with the reality that she used her abilities to kill who she thought was an average person in self-defense, this episode ended so poorly.
I get that this episode was just a filler episode (maybe), and has nothing to do with the main plot, but the other episode with one-time bad guys at least had some sort of satisfying ending with answered questions. If Whedon just wanted the episode to focus on Buffy growing as a character and showing just how 3-Dimensional she really is, he did perfectly. But this was an episode that just left me unsatisfied when it came to the villain.
If anyone believes I’ve misunderstood this particular episode, please leave a comment. As I’ve said, I’m still watching the series for the first time and I know there is going to be a crap-ton of stuff that is gonna play with all of my emotions and perspectives. I can’t wait!!