Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Buffy: 2.11 ‘Ted’

Nasty Ted

Writer: David Greenwalt, Joss Whedon
Director: Bruce Seth Green

What's the sitch?

Buffy discovers her mom has a new boyfriend, an apparently charming, kind and all round great guy called Ted. Everybody loves him. He gets Willow free software upgrades and is a super cook, which keeps Xander happy. But Buffy doesn’t like him. Not one bit. She hates this interloper in to hers and her mother’s life. But for her mom’s sake she tries to play nice. And all seems okay…until Ted catches her cheating at Miniature golf and threatens her out of earshot of her mom and friends. Determined to dig the dirt on Ted, Buffy investigates him even though none of her friends can see the problem. But unbeknownst to Buffy, Ted is also investigating her and invades her room and reads her diaries, learning all about her being a slayer. Buffy gets angry as Ted tries to use her diary (which he sees as evidence of her being mentally unstable) to blackmail her in to behaving. They argue and Ted hits Buffy. Buffy hits back. Resulting in Ted falling down the stairs and hitting the bottom, dead. Her mother is horrified, as is Buffy. But Ted isn’t everything he appeared. And a couple of days later the Summers women will discover that you can’t keep a bad Ted down.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

The metaphor is obvious and really good. It’s about a parent bringing in to the house someone new, a new romantic interest. Someone who upsets the status quo and who the child resents and wants nothing to do with. It’s also about that new interloper being an abusive, controlling, domineering force that is all smiles and niceties on the outside but is a dark and violent monster inside. The child abuse angle is also obvious. As is the fact that Ted is another in a long line of misanthropic male characters on Buffy who see women as objects to use and control as they see fit - just another reason for the Bufster to kick all their asses.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Nasty Ted

Why it rocks

It’s a good solid idea and the situation is something that does effect a lot of people so can easily be identified with.

Ted is played by the late John Ritter who does an excellent job and is arguably the biggest name guest star Buffy ever had.

Sarah is so good at making you feel the pain. When she’s in trouble, physically, emotionally, you can’t help but emphasise and feel for her. The scenes where Ted bullies Buffy are actually quite nasty. Here’s this big middle-aged guy, a potential father figure, standing over a tiny little teenage girl and being really nasty, then violently smacking her. For some reason this has a lot more visceral impact than when Buffy gets smacked around by vampires and demons. I think it’s because Ted is apparently human and is trying to act like a father figure, albeit a cruel domineering one. Plus the fact that Buffy’s mother is the one who has brought him in to their home and is choosing to ignore what her daughter is saying about him. Nice parenting, Joyce. It just makes you appreciate Giles even more for being Buffy’s one true father figure.

Buffy dealing with thinking she’s killed a person is very well handled. Again, Sarah bringing the pain. The killing of real people by a slayer is a theme that will be revisited a couple more times in the series run – most notably next season with Faith.

Why it sucks

The revelation about Ted is rather silly. And what he’s been doing, though very creepy, doesn’t hold up if you start thinking about it.

It's Buftastic

Buffy hits back. Yeah!

Dialogue to die for

Buffy (to Ted after he hits her): "Oh I was so hoping you’d do that!"

Cordelia: "But she’s like this Superman. Shouldn’t there be different rules for her?"
Willow: "Sure, in a fascist society."
Cordelia: "Right! Why can’t we have one of those?"

And another thing

After reading her diary, Ted tells Buffy that psychiatrists have a word for people like her – delusional. This foreshadows season six’s excellent ‘Normal Again’ where Buffy wakes up in a psychiatric hospital and is told she’s been living in a self-constructed delusion for several years and that Sunnydale and slayers and vampires are not real, that she’s just a very ill girl.

How many stakes?

Nasty Ted gets three. 3 (out of 5)

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