Thursday, June 25, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season One, Epsiode 8 - I Robot, You Jane

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One of the more ludicrous episodes of the first season, I Robot, You Jane centers around a demon (Moloch, the Corrupter), who was bound into the confines of a book in the Dark Ages, only to be unknowingly released into the Internet by Willow and 20th century computer scanning technology. Chaos ensues as Moloch begins to take advantage of the power he has access to from inside the net and begins to coerce students into doing his bidding, as well as making Willow fall in love with him.

The biggest problem with this episode was its thinly veiled metaphor, which presented the internet as one of the biggest threats to society in the late 20th century. The idea of a demon hacking into the Internet and gaining access to some of the world’s most coveted databases is a scary one, yes, and it isn’t too hard to draw the connection between Moloch and modern-day computer hackers. However, it was how this metaphor was wound into the episode, and how it was executed, that was the problem. Whedon used Giles as a vehicle through which he could launch a tirade on the evilness of the Internet, which meant that Giles was bumbling around, grunting about – well the evilness of the Internet – for majority of the episode, something which got a little tired after the first ten minutes. This was disappointing, as the idea itself was really interesting, and took Buffy in a direction that it hadn’t yet been; however it could have worked much better if it had been a little more subtle.

The introduction of the character of Jenny Callender was one of the better parts of this episode. She was introduced as a possible love interest for Giles, and the two continually had great chemistry, and produced genuinely funny, entertaining scenes together. Most of this humour came from Giles’ instant dismissal of any knowledge that came from a source other than a book, coupled with Jenny’s love of the World Wide Web and nonchalance towards books, and the arguments that often emerged from their opposing views on these topics. It was interesting to see the beginning of this romance, and to learn that there are people in the Buffyverse (such as Ms. Callender) who know about and actively practice and fight magic and the supernatural; the first half of Season One gives the impression that no-one outside of the Sunnydale Library has any idea of the sticky predicament their town is continually in.

Whedon looks at another issue that teenagers often face in this episode – the dangers of meeting people online and internet dating. As with previous episodes, he exaggerates and supernatural-ises it, so that Willow begins to fall in love with a demon who wants to take over the world, rather than a seedy old man; but the basic premise is the same. Buffy and Xander play the part of concerned friends well, and I believe that Whedon was able to send a positive (and hopefully deterring) message out to his younger audience with this episode.

A notable part of this episode was during the final scene, where Buffy, Willow and Xander are discussing the demons they have fallen for whilst in Sunnydale. Buffy comments that none of them will ever have a healthy, normal relationship and that they’re all doomed, at which point all three of them start laughing hysterically. When they realize the depressing truth to the statement though, they all stop laughing and look – well, depressed. This scene, although giving little to the episode plot-wise, was classic Whedon humour, and was a pleasant way to end a mediocre episode.

Overall, I Robot, You Jane was an entertaining, middle of the road episode. It didn’t have the clich├ęs or atrocities that were key features of Teachers Pet, but it also didn’t have the clever plot and keen dialogue of The Harvest. It was an entertaining little episode that helped fans realize that the show would improve from here on in.

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