Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Living Conditions

Summary

Kathy is playing music Buffy doesn't like. She also wants Buffy to record all her phone calls (so there won't be any argument about the bill) and she points out Buffy drank some of her milk. Buffy says she's going for a coffee and to study, but actually is going on patrol. She meets up with Willow who says she's not too keen on her roommate either. Willow goes off to see Oz and we see a demon looking at Buffy from the bushes. Kathy shows up saying she decided to have a coffee with Buffy. The demon attacks and Buffy pushes Kathy down and fights it off. She tells Kathy it was a mugger. The demon talks to another demon and they say it might be her and follow the girls.

Buffy visits Giles and tells him about what happened when he gets back from his jog. She asks him about his plans and he realizes she never asks about his plans. She admits she is looking for an excuse not to go back to her room until her roommate leaves. Giles says she should learn to live with the idiosyncrasies of others and she agrees to try.

Kathy can't clean her sweater, which got dirty when Buffy pushed her down. She takes one of Buffy's sweaters from the closet. She notices Buffy's weapons, but doesn't seem to care. At the cafeteria, Buffy spots Kathy and cuts into line to avoid her. The man behind her is Parker, who gives her a quick rundown on how to get the most from your meal ticket, including chipmunking food (dry items in pockets or backpack, wet items in ziplock bags). Buffy likes him, but he has people to sit with and she goes to join Willow, Oz and Xander at a table. They tease her about Parker. Kathy comes over and squeezes in at their table. Buffy notices she is wearing her sweater and Kathy drips ketchup on it.

That night, Buffy is on the phone griping to Willow about Kathy. Willow has her own problems with a very noisy, partytype roommate. Kathy comes in and starts to floss. Buffy goes to the fridge and discovers Kathy has labelled all her food, including individual eggs. She turns around to see Kathy has closed the window by Buffy's bed. Buffy opens it again. Kathy picks her book off the bedside table only to discover gum all over from the gum Buffy left there. But Buffy denies it. That night Buffy has a nightmare about the demon performing some strange ritual on her which includes eating and drinking unpleasant things and having some white light sucked out of her.

The next day, Buffy tells her dream to Giles and the others, but is more upset about Kathy. She shows up and claims to have had the same dream. Giles is a little worried about Buffy's obsession with Kathy. That night, the demons say they were right and perform a spell of summoning. Buffy gets back to her room to discover Parker talking to Kathy, he came to bring Buffy baggies for the dining hall. Kathy is flirting with him and Buffy is jealous. After Parker leaves, they argue. Kathy closes the window, Buffy opens it. Buffy puts a lock on her closet door, Kathy flosses. Kathy says Buffy has to learn to share, Buffy drinks Kathy's milk, spilling a lot.

Willow tells Oz she's worried about Buffy. She has to write an English paper, and can't even do it in her room because of the noise, so he volunteers to talk to Buffy who is on patrol. Looking for Buffy, Oz passes a girl walking with her friends. The two turn and stare at each other. In the background, we see those strange commando characters. Buffy tells Oz about what happened with Kathy. She is getting more obsessed with her and Oz actually seems worried about it.

Later, Kathy is clipping her toenails and the noise bothers Buffy. She taps her pencil on her book and the noise bothers Kathy. Everything each does annoys the other. Buffy goes to bed and has the nightmare again. She awakes to find Kathy tossing and turning and apparently having the same dream. The next day, Kathy complains to Willow about Buffy. Buffy is upset when she sees Willow talking to her. She tells Willow Kathy is evil and she must kill her. She whips out a plastic baggie with Kathy's toenail clippings. She says they have grown since they were cut, proving Kathy is a demon. Willow humours her and tells her to see Giles, who she phones and warns.

When Buffy walks into Giles' home, Oz, Xander and Giles drop a net on her and tie her up. She shows Giles the toenails. He believes she has been possessed and goes to the magic shop to get the ingredients for a spell to reveal what demon has possessed her. Willow talks to Kathy, who seems almost as crazy as Buffy. Buffy knocks out Oz and Xander and escapes.

When Buffy gets back to her room, she and Kathy fight and Kathy's face comes off revealing a demon. Meanwhile, Giles discovers that those dreams were a ritual to steal Buffy's soul. Kathy has escaped from her dimension, but the other demons are after her (we see the summoning completed and another demon appear) and they can recognize her by her lack of soul. So she intends to take Buffy's. Giles gets back to his place and explains everything to Xander and Oz and the just arrived Willow. He has a spell to reverse the soul taking, which he and Willow perform while Xander and Oz rush to the dorm to help Buffy. Giles finishes the spell just in time, returning her soul to Buffy. Kathy's father shows up and forces her to return to her dimension with him.

With Kathy gone, Willow moves in with Buffy. Buffy says she really isn't a hard person to get along with, but when Willow eats a half sandwich Buffy has left, she suddenly narrows her eyes and seems very upset.

Analysis

So Buffy got a roommate from hell, literally. At first, this sounds like a good idea. I mean problems with roommates are pretty common at college and it is difficult for only children to learn to share (I am an only child and you better not take any of my fries). But, frankly, this episode just doesn't work. Maybe it would have been better if Kathy hadn't been a demon but had been a potential victim of the demons.

The demons themselves just aren't that interesting. They basically seem there to set up the episode's final gag, about Kathy complaining that she is 3000 and still being treated as if she is 900. That's a pretty pathetic joke to wait a whole episode for.

I think this was just a bad idea and frankly I can't think of much to say about it. I did like the way Buffy got increasingly weirder as more of her soul was drained from her. And I liked that she and Willow finally become roommates and we see that some of her obsessive behaviour wasn't just the loss of her soul but really did have to do with her not being able to share. But this was thin stuff spread through the hour. Most episodes of Buffy have real depth with serious issues and character points being discussed. Nothing like that happened here.

The most interesting scene contained no dialogue and had nothing to do with the main storyline. It's the scene where Oz walks past a girl and the two turn and stare at each other. After they pass, we see those strange commando types lurking in the background and apparently following the girl and her friends. This suggests some interesting possibilities for the future (like other werewolves). But, again, that's not much to hang an episode on.

I'm hoping Parker can avoid becoming demon meat for a few episodes. He's an interesting character and I liked his advice to Buffy on how to get the most from your meal ticket. I have a lot of complaints about the writing in this episode, mostly the absence of any real drama, but I have to admit the comments on university life were very true.

All in all, I'm just disappointed and haven't much to say.

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