RE: Ted

This time, the delay in posts is totally my fault! I’m going to get two up today to try to make up for it.

This is how Ted makes me feel too, Buff.

Onto the episode! I find “Ted” one of the creepiest episodes of Buffy ever. I mean, up until Ted is revealed to be a robot. Not that the creation of Ted the Robot isn’t totally creepy and unnerving in and of itself, but trying to figure out what’s up with Ted–is he abusive? Crazy? Mind-controlling? Is he a wizard?–that’s what creeps me out in this episode. The notion of someone new coming into your life, ALL the way in, assimilating completely and winning over your loved ones and knowing that something is off, but not knowing what…that’s scary as hell!

While I like that Buffy’s intuitions, in this episode and in “Living Conditions,” are often spot on, I think I’d also like for her to be wrong sometimes. Maybe she is wrong sometimes and I’m not remembering correctly. I know that sometimes she gets an “off” vibe about people for the wrong reasons–Principal Wood in S7 comes to mind–but I don’t know. It’s sort of the opposite problem that the Harry Potter series has, where they ALWAYS think the villain is Snape/Malfoy and are ALWAYS wrong (except for a couple times they’re right). I’m undecided on this issue.

While Ted is certainly very manipulative without the drugs, I do think the drugs are necessary, particularly to win over Xander

Your friends are useless and blurry when they’re doped up on cookie and pizza drugs.

and Willow. It seems that as teenagers and Buffy’s allies, they would be harder to win over than Joyce. I’ve always wondered about the drugged food, though. Wouldn’t a tranquilizing type drug do more than just…make people complicit and happy and nice to Cordelia? Like, wouldn’t it possibly react differently depending on the person? Also, how would he have the dose right for every person? It doesn’t seem to matter HOW much people eat, either. Xander is munching on Ted cookies in nearly every scene and he doesn’t get extra lethargic or anything. It’s just a vague oversight that’s weird to me. Anyway.

Ugh, I’m totally over Jenny’s mood, the comment about Giles making her feel bad for not feeling better aside (because I do actually think that’s legitimate, as B said). I just don’t think she has any room as a Romani spy to judge others for their mortal danger or their concern about her.

I love them except for their obnoxiously loud smacking. They always kiss each other in surround sound. Stop it.

I also really enjoy Buffy and Angel in the scene where she’s complaining about Ted. Again, this is one of the things I really like about their relationship, because I think Angel supports her more on this level than her future boyfriends, even though he arguably has the least in common with her at this stage in her life. He tries, he puts herself in her place, he’s patient and understanding and empathetic. He wants to know about her life, as different as it is from his own. I chuckle when I think about him saying just once, “Okay, continue talking about your mom’s new boyfriend, or we could talk about MY TORTURED SOUL.” He doesn’t do that, though. He doesn’t invalidate her feelings, even when he’s immature and they argue. I dunno, y’all, I’ve got Bangel feels to the fullest rn.

The golf scene. THE GOLF SCENE. Ughhh, creepiest part of the episode, IMO. (Also, as a side note, love Buffy’s shirt. Would buy.) Ted’s side comment about her grades, his aggressive cheerfulness, and of course his freak-out and the way he hits his leg with the golf club and threatens Buffy–then immediately flips a switch back to aggressive cheerfulness and cookie delivery man–SO unnerving. Ughh. John Ritter really was exceptional in this episode.

ughhhh, the creeps. But dat shirt doe.

I think there are flaws in Ted’s design, because he is, after all, man-made. It still tickles me to imagine a robot holding down a call center job and going to art galleries. But anyway, I think him attacking Buffy is more…well, he’s basically programmed to “get wife, bring wife back to basement forever.” So his master plan, if a robot can have such a thing, is probably to kill Buffy (and/or anyone else who stands in his way). I think he behaves sloppily because, well, he’s a machine.

I enjoy Buffy kicking his ass, until she thinks she kills him. That’s a bummer. But seriously, that guy needed to get punched.

Here would be a perfect time for Joyce to say, “MENTAL INSTITUTION” if Normal Again had ever actually happened. OK I’ll stop now.

I want to bring up a point that B didn’t touch on, and it’s something I think a LOT about on re-watches. In the Season 6 episode “Normal Again,” we discover that after slaying her first vampire, Buffy told her parents about it and they admitted her to a psych ward. Now, I have my doubts that this actually happened. It always felt a little…sloppy to me, something the writers threw in there for an interesting episode without much thought about consistency throughout the series. For one thing, when Buffy does tell her mother (which is coming up soon!) that she’s a vampire slayer, there’s no mention of the past event. There are other inconsistencies as well.

But let’s assume, as I think we kind of have to, that this actually had happened. It puts Buffy’s actions into clearer perspective. She’s afraid of coming across as crazy to her mom. She’s unable to fully trust that her perceptions will be taken seriously by Joyce. She doesn’t push the issue in fear that she’ll be rejected by her again. I mean, it’s really actually heartbreaking when viewed through that lens. Maybe, in some recess of her mind, she worries she might actually be crazy, so that when she’s the only one who perceives something, she doesn’t have a lot of confidence in it. It also makes sense that Ted’s threat in her bedroom (that he’ll show Joyce the diary and they’ll put Buffy in a mental institution) is a very REAL threat, and helps to push her over the edge into beating him up. Otherwise, couldn’t she just tell Joyce, “It’s fiction, it’s a novella”? The fact that she freaks at the thought of Ted taking her diary makes sense.

Obviously, again, I’m projecting the events of “Normal Again” onto this episode, as I doubt very much the writers had such an episode in mind while creating “Ted.” Still, it’s interesting to think about!

The Sunnydale police force at work again! First of all, lawyer up, Buffy! Or at least have your mom in the interrogation room, you’re a minor! Anyway, Buffy wears her depression overalls the next day to school, so you know she’s struggling with believing she killed a human. Her friends and Giles don’t help much, with their aghast and whatnot. I do think this is foreshadowing Buffy’s emotional response to the many deaths she is part of unwillingly–Angel’s, the mayor’s dude, etc.

Thoughtfully eating snap peas, never to mention Ted again.

Anyway, the episode gets wrapped up as neatly as such an episode can be. Except that the final conversation between Buffy and Joyce seems to imply Joyce never finds out that Ted was actually a robot. How could that be possible? How was his reemergence explained? Where did Buffy put the robot corpse immediately after destroying him? I mean, it doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s that good old Sunnydale denial kicking in again. I think finding out your boyfriend was a robot is way easier to handle than finding out your boyfriend was a zombie serial killer who disappeared without explanation and could conceivably appear again at any moment, but that’s just me.

Ted

This whole episode is so dark. Prepare for many dark pictures.

This whole episode is so dark. Prepare for many dark pictures.

I want to start out by saying that this was the very first episode of Buffy I ever watched. I think I watched it when it originally aired, which would have made me 13 years old (a couple months away from 14). I was babysitting at night and the kids were asleep and the people didn’t have blinds or curtains on their windows, so I was very aware that people could see in but I couldn’t see out. I was extremely creeped out.

I have to say that I think this is one of the episodes that holds up the absolute best and hits practically every emotional beat dead on. RIP John Ritter, you were pretty amazing. ❤

They look sad here but I swear it's a happy conversation.

They look sad here but I swear it’s a happy conversation.

So, jumping right into it, Buffy and the Scoobies are walking home and Xander and Willow are having a passionate debate about the Captain and Tenille. I had no idea who these people were when I was 13 years old and honest, here I am at 31 and I still only know the names so I have no stake in their fight. I’m sure it’s funnier if you know who they’re talking about.

There’s a mandatory line dropped to explain how the evil assassins are totally no longer a problem for… reasons and letting us know that Angel is healing up in his vampiric way and Buffy is taking care of him. The ways that vampires heal or get wounded is baffling to me but I guess in this case Dru probably took some of his life force or something? So probably he is weak? Who knows. I should probably not overthink it. The point is that it has been nice and quiet with Spike and Dru presumed dead, but obviously not.

But then Buffy’s door is not fully closed and her house is abnormally dark (apparently Buffy’s mom doesn’t believe in lights while on a date) and then she walks into her worst imaginable nightmare — her mother making out with a man.

Um. Oops? You are home early?  Unrelated: I love Joyce's dress.

Um. Oops? You are home early?
Unrelated: I love Joyce’s dress.

I like to imagine that this is actually just Alyson Hannigan making this face about how excited she is to be next to John Ritter.

I like to imagine that this is actually just Alyson Hannigan making this face about how excited she is to be next to John Ritter.

Her mother is clearly very happy and desperately wants her to be happy. Her friends are all immediately hitting it off with him, and this is one of my favorite things in this episode. It feels like a betrayal to her that her friends (particularly Xander but even Willow to some extent) do not see what she sees. He seems like a nice guy, he’s getting Willow a computer thing, he’s making amazing food.

One of the most interesting thing about this to me is that this is actually a theme for Buffy. We’ll see it in several other episodes, most notably the evil roommate episode. No one believes her, she comes across like she’s just being crazy and is unhappy with her situation and is trying to turn it INTO something else because she’s unhappy. But that’s not what it is and the fact that no one

Stop making Buffy make this face!

Stop making Buffy make this face!

takes her seriously, that she’s treated like she’s crazy or being hysterical, these are always dangerous things that end up having truly negative consequences. She can’t necessarily put her finger on what’s wrong but she instinctively knows something is wrong. She keeps trying to put it aside when her friends attempt to (usually lovingly) tell her that maybe she’s just being crazy, but she’s not. She’s right and they should have taken her seriously. I think this is one of the most resonant things in this episode to me and it meant a lot when I was a teenager.

Look how nerdy and perfect he is!

Look how nerdy and perfect he is!

I also cannot even deal with how much John Ritter nails this role. Like everything he does is creepy and yet not SPECIFICALLY creepy (at least in front of other people). You can see how it could totally get a teenager’s hackles up and yet make a mother think she’s being unreasonable. His “little lady” and “sweethearts” are not earned, he doesn’t deserve to use them, and yet you can see how Joyce would think it was sweet. Honestly, I don’t think the drugged food is necessary.

Giles is having a really hard time not occasionally stalking Jenny apparently. Also

It would be hard to deal with this face.

It would be hard to deal with this face.

it has apparently only been 3 weeks since she sort-of half turned into a demon. Time is a strange thing in Buffy. I actually really love this scene of Giles checking to see if she’s okay and Jenny being upset that he’s “making her feel bad that she doesn’t feel better.” That really strikes me as legitimate… although a lot of her emotional beats are a little weird given that we know she’s a Romani spy. Giles sad face is heartbreakingly sad.

I also really like Buffy’s one scene with Angel in this episode. He lets her talk about Ted for quite a while, then gently leads her around to how her mom may need someone in her life. She feels better about it by the end of the conversation, understands what may be up. It actually seems like a very healthy interaction and it’s one of the only normal interactions we ever really see them have. I mean, she’s bandaging him at the time but whatever.

Completely appropriate face.

Completely appropriate face.

The miniature golf thing fascinates me because Ted’s turn into outright abusive is completely frightening. It still creeps me out. I cannot understand why no one else could hear him, but let’s ignore that. I remember particularly when I was young I was baffled as to why she didn’t just tell everyone right then immediately what he had just said! Why did she wait so long, why did she tell her mom like she did? But now it makes a lot more sense to me. She’s already feeling like no one’s taking her seriously, her word against his isn’t really going to stand up very well. Not to mention she’s frightened and caught off guard. She really does love her mom, she doesn’t want to hurt her. Her reluctance to finally tell her ends up coming across like it may not even be true and, although it’s a terrible mistake on Joyce’s part (that I suppose we can chalk up to drugs possibly…?), I could almost understand why she didn’t believe her.

It’s interesting to me to watch now because Buffy has so much “evidence”

She does fantastic awkward teenager body language.

She does fantastic awkward teenager body language.

throughout the episode and yet she doesn’t come forward with it. Why not tell her mom the truth? Tell her she went to his work, tell her that he’s telling everyone he’s taking off for their wedding in two months? Well, her mom just wrote her off. She’s isolated and frightened, she doesn’t feel safe or that she has enough to prove anything. Everything is wrong and off but he would probably have an explanation for it all. It’s a tremendous balance to achieve.

So she goes out looking for more vampires, hoping to find something she can actually fight. When she fails, she comes back and her nightmare is worse. Ted is in her room, in her space. He’s threatening her, he’ll expose her life, he’ll destroy her. When he hits her, Buffy feels vindicated, she can finally hit back. And in that moment, she kills him.

Now before I get into that, I want to mention a few confusing things I have about

He looks weird thinner before he's about to go into the fight but also it doesn't look like a stuntman.

He looks weird thinner before he’s about to go into the fight but also it doesn’t look like a stuntman.

this whole section. My first is how did Ted intend to explain the bruise or broken jaw Buffy would have? She didn’t have one because she’s the Slayer but I assume he didn’t really believe that and would have no way of knowing her capacities anyway. It seems sloppy. My second question is, at this point Joyce does not know that Buffy is the Slayer obviously. So how did she internally explain to herself the fact that her daughter performed martial arts and a tremendous amount of fighting prowess as she knocked Ted down the hall? She didn’t just walk out when he was at the top of the stairs, she saw the whole hall fight and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m just saying.

As it is though, Buffy does not bruise. So it’s a little hard to prove that he brutally hit her in the jaw and it’s a bit of a thing to the cops as to why she might have killed him. Incidentally, I believe we will see this detective in later episodes? I mean, I guess Buffy ultimately gets off of murder charges because the body is missing and Joyce and Buffy both insist they saw him. That seems a little flimsy to me but on the other hand, this is Sunnydale and police work is probably a little different here.

I really should get tired of Buffy's excellent devastated face but I never do.

I really should get tired of Buffy’s excellent devastated face but I never do.

Buffy is devastated by her taking of a human life and what I’m kind-of interested in is the fact that Ted was not human does not actually substantially change that. Like it does change it but it doesn’t change that she has the capacity for that, if that makes sense? I feel like it’s a darkness element that will stay with her and who knows, maybe it’s part of her reaction to when her and Faith accidentally kill a man. I also think it’s interesting that Giles makes a big deal about taking human life even though we absolutely know via end of Season 5 that he will be more than capable and with no regrets that we see. Although obviously that is different in the sense of him believing the world depends on it, it’s still a human life and he takes it pretty mercilessly.

Anyway. Giles is out patrolling when Jenny for some reason chooses THIS time

Jenny looks great with a crossbow, even if she... cannot use it at all.

Jenny looks great with a crossbow, even if she… cannot use it at all.

in the middle of the dark night to come apologize to him and they are attacked by a vampire. She accidentally shoots him with a crossbow, he is very badass and pulls it out of his back to stake the vampire and they go together to the hospital, laughing and being chummy again. I would really like to know what the Sunnydale hospital is like. I hate medical dramas but I would watch ALL of that one.

Buffy sits in her room, devastated in her overalls.

This is not her in her room but I wanted to show the overalls. I love that Buffy's mourning outfit is overalls.

This is not her in her room but I wanted to show the overalls. I love that Buffy’s mourning outfit is overalls.

And then Ted arrives, ready to make things right, while the Scoobies put together the final pieces investigating his house. I mean, you know. The end is what it is. John Ritter has some AMAZING lines. Apparently Ted is a serial killer robot who thinks he’s going after the wife who left him. He just keeps killing them and putting them in his closet, which seems like not a sustainable plan and also why does no one ever look for these women or connect them? Does he get new jobs each time? Does he space them out? Do they all look similar to Joyce? Is there some kind of checklist? Regardless, none of that is really the point. He tries to take Joyce away but Buffy comes to save the day (while Joyce is conveniently unconscious) and uses his beloved cast iron skillet. He tells her he will not stand for this kind of malarkey in his house and she assures him this is not his house before exposing all his robot brains.

Buffy and her mom bond on the porch and talk about renting Thelma and Louise because it apparently has no horror and no men…. even though it definitely has both those things. It doesn’t have romance though, unless you count the two women. That is true.

Buffy wanders through the halls with her friends (including Cordelia, who is now just hanging out with them) explaining the details we haven’t gotten yet. And then, just as she’s about to go into the library she freaks out and runs away… and we see Giles and Jenny kissing. Awwwww…. grown-ups. Enjoy your very short-lived romance. Sigh.

N'awwwww.

N’awwwww.