“Will, I’m not wrong here. Ted has a problem with me. He acts like I’m in the way or something. And Mom’s been totally different since he’s around.
Different, like happy?
So quick background for those who don’t know who Buffy Summers is. Buffy is a strong, independent woman that totally kicks butt slaying demons, monsters, vampires, aliens, bug creatures, etc. She is lead by Giles her Watcher or mentor. He’s the type of guy you’d want as a dad or uncle. One if her best friends is Willow (played by Alison Hannigan) a shy, insecure, brilliant girl who takes care of spells and reversing curses. The other is Xander who is a total goofball. There is also Cordelia, the snooty, rich girl. At first she is Buffy’s nemesis, but she actually ends helping the group out. And lastly, Angel. Angel was a guy living in Ireland in the 19th century. He was turned into a vampire and wrecked havoc on the world. He was cursed by a group of witches in getting his soul back, forcing him to have feelings and a conscious. He turns from his life of killing, to protecting; attempting to atone for his mistakes.
That’s a lot!
So this episode takes place in season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Short recap: Buffy knows she is the “Slayer” and accepted her role. At the end of last season, she saved the whole world from the Hellmouth. She and Angel are dating, and getting closer and closer. More recently, Cordelia and Xander have put aside their mutal disgust as they have become make-out buddies. Giles let loose a demon when he was younger, and that secret/demon came back out in the open. Spike and Druselia have been causing problems, but the crew think they have gotten rid of them. Now onto the review!
So one day Buffy, Xander, and Willow are patrolling the city at night, looking for any Vampires to get rid of. Everything is actually extremely quiet and nice for a change. Maybe it will stay like this for a while?
Spoke too soon
So Buffy goes home with her pals, and while she is outside she hears her mother scream and glass break. She pushes the door in, intent to save the day!
Only to interrupt her mom and a man kissing.
It turns out her mother has been dating a computer salesman, Ted, for quite a while. He came over tonight to cook mini pizzas for Buffy and her. The others of course join them.
Buffy is not happy at all as she does not like her mom dating again. In fact in a lot of ways they reverse roles, as she is scolding her secrecy.
Her friends however, love Ted. It turns out he is an amazing cook.
Now the guy they choose for Ted is John Ritter. You know the sweet, funny guy from Three’s Company? The lovable, over-protective dad from 8 Simple Rules? And in this he is sweet, a great cook, pleasant, kind, etc. But something is just not right.
It’s weird, he’s like the perfect guy ever, but that’s the problem. It’s almost as if he is tooo perfect. Like he’s hiding something.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
The next night Ted comes over again and cooks everyone dinner, along with baking cookies.
That night Buffy is so angry about how everyone is raving over Ted, she goes out patrolling, this time with Giles. Instead of finishing off Vampires like usual, she beats them to a pulp. She clearly has some issues with Ted dating her mom.
And you can’t really blame her, it was all kind of sprung on her, I mean her mom didn’t even tell her she has started dating again.
The next day, Willow and Xander can’t stop talking about Ted. It is driving Buffy crazy, and she is convinced that something with Ted just isn’t right.
Just as Buffy is talking about her suspicions, guess who shows up? Ted.
Yep, he’s installing some new computer software for the school. He invites Buffy and her friends to mini-golf with him and Joyce, Buffy’s mom. Buffy doesn’t want to go, but her friends do and cancel their nonexistent plans.
On a side note, Giles and the computer teacher, Jenny, were getting close, but because of his old secret coming back to bite him in the butt, she can’t be around him at the moment.
That night Buffy goes to Angel’s place. She has been caring for him after he was badly injured in a previous episode. She complains about everything, but sweet Angel tells her to give Ted a chance. After all, her mother’s is probably been lonely from the divorce.
Buffy agrees and heads home.
At dinner that night, Ted is over once again. He not only made dinner, but went to the guidance counselor about her grades. He keeps going “Dad” on Buffy, even though he’s only known her for a couple of days. This makes Buffy angry, not only because he is overstepping his bounds, but being extremely controlling.
The crew goes mini-golfing and Buffy isn’t very good at it. She knocks her ball way out in the bushes. Everyone wants to let her have a second chance, but Ted. He keeps insisting that rules are rules and they need to followed.
Like just chill, it is just a game.
Ted has convinced everyone that Buffy has to follow the rules like everyone else. She then picks up the ball and tosses it in the hole, yelling to everyone that she got a hole in two.
Ted tells her he saw what she did and gets angry. Buffy just shrugs it off and says that it is a game, making Ted get really mad and threaten her.
That’s it, Ted is a creeper.
He needs to get very, very, far away.
Buffy tries to tell her friends and her mom about it, but no one will listen to her. In fact after Buffy tells her mom what Ted said, Joyce says “No, honey that’s not true. Ted told me what happened.”
Yes her mom is taking his word over her own daughter!!!
And that is what makes this episode scarier than any other one in the show. Because this is something that could really happen. Yeah vampires, ghosts, the swim team turning in fishes, a substitute teacher turning out to be some alien insect, etc.; are all pretty creepy. But this one tops them all because it could actually happen. The fact that someone could treat you cruelly but others nicely, causing no one to believe you is the creepiest. Especially when you know they mean you harm.
So Buffy knows that she needs to dig up some serious proof is she is going get everyone to believe her. She goes to Ted’s work and discovers that he has planned his and Joyce’s wedding for two weeks from today!
This can’t be happening
She looks over at his desk and sees a picture of her mom. When she looks closer, she realizes that she has seen that picture before. She opens the back, and it turns out to be a picture of her and her mom. Ted took it from the fridge where it was hanging, and folded Buffy out of the picture.
Yep, it is clear to see that this is a metaphor for what Ted wants to do. Remove Buffy from the picture.
That night Ted comes over for dinner. When he is praying he talks sweet and kind, but all his words are edged in double meaning. He knows what Buffy did.
Buffy asks them is they are planning on getting married. They say they aren’t but ask Buffy’s feelings on the matter. She tells them that it makes her want to kill herself.
This earns her a ticket to her room. She leaves out the window and goes patrolling. When she gets back she has a surprise waiting for her.
Not only has he been waiting for her in her room, but he’s been snooping through everything. He found her diary and read it, threatening to tell her mom that she is crazy, and needs psychiatric help for her “Slayer” and “Vampire” delusions; unless she does everything he asks her to do.
Buffy tries to get the diary back and Ted slaps her. The two start fighting, with Buffy’s Slayer abilities causing her to over power him, and him to fall down the stairs. Joyce sees them and checks the body, finding Ted dead.
You know Joyce is so focused on Ted, she doesn’t even ask why they were fighting. Buffy has been a good kid her whole life, but Joyce just assumes her daughter is a murderer than needs protection, rather than assuming Ted was not as he seemed. Yes, Joyce, bad mother alert.
So they call an ambulance, which takes Ted off to the morgue. Joyce tries to cover everything up, telling the police he fell down the stairs, but Buffy speaks up and tells the truth.
The cops take her downtown and start questioning her.
She tells them Ted hit her, and she fought back. The police see no marks on her, [as a Slayer she is fast healer], and are very suspicious but let her go home.
At home things are worse. Her mother won’t talk or look at her. And Buffy has to now deal with the fact that she killed a human, she took a human life. She is not a Slayer or protecter, but a murderer. An accidental one, but still a murder.
At school things are not better as everyone stares at her. Willow and Xander try to cheer her up. But nothing seems to help.
Buffy goes back home, while Willow, Cordelia, and Xander try to find something on Ted. As they are researching in the library, Xander finds some of Ted’s cookies and eats them. He suddenly becomes completely mellow.
Willow takes the cookies and runs tests on them, discovering that they were tranquilized. Yep, Ted dosed the cookies so he could control everyone around him.
Then they discover an address for him along with a lot of marriage certificates. Marriage…but no divorce…marriages that go back to the 1950s.
The plot thickens
Back at Buffy’s house, she is trying to talk to her mom, but Joyce isn’t having anything. Buffy goes up to her room, and finds the window nailed shut. And that’s not all she finds…
But he was dead!
It turns out that he wasn’t dead, but had to “shut down”. He attacks Buffy and begins strangling her.
Before he can finish, he hears Joyce and runs downstairs.
Back with the rest of the gang, they find the address, but it looks abandoned. Xander breaks in, and as they are looking, Cordelia notices that the carpet doesn’t match. Moving it aside they find a secret passage that leads to an underground house. As they search inside Xander discovers the best evidence against Ted. His four previous wives’ dead bodies.
Back at the Summer’s house, Joyce is overwhelmed at seeing Ted alive. He explains that he flatlined, but was brought back. He didn’t come sooner as he “didn’t know who he was.” He tries to talk Joyce into running away with him, but every time he speaks it is all mumbled, almost as if he is short circuiting.
Ted starts spazing out and Buffy comes down, knocking him out with a frying pan.
Poetic Justice if I do say so myself.
When Buffy does that, we have a major reveal. It turns out that Ted was a cyborg!
They call the police
The next day everything is sorted out and it turns out that the real Ted was dying, back in the 1950s. His wife left him, and he built a robot to be his replacement. The robot went and brought his wife back, imprisoning her until her death. When she died he went searching for “his wife”, choosing another girl who looked just like his first wife, marrying her, and locking her up until she died. This continued up until Joyce.
It might not be what most would choose as an inaugral episode, but it defintely stuck with me as the creepy factor is super high.
To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It Has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
For the previous post, go to She Cries in the Night: The Screaming Skull (1958)
For more Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV Series), go to Heaven on Earth
For more Buffy Summers, go to I’m the Chosen One…And I Choose to Be Shopping: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
For more on cyborgs/robots, go to I’ll Be Back: The Terminator (1984)