Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Buffy: 2.18 ‘Killed by Death’
Eight year old Buffy
Writer: Rob Des Hotel, Dean Batali
Director: Deran Serafian
What's the sitch?
Poor Buffy, even being the Slayer doesn’t stop her getting a nasty case of the flu that’s currently doing the rounds. But even being as sick as a dog, she insists on going out on patrol, to keep the vamps down and to keep Angelus in check. Unfortunately she runs in to Angelus. They fight. And Buffy loses, collapsing to the ground unconscious. Luckily her friends step in just in time and ward off the nasty vamp before then rushing our fallen slayer to the hospital. Poor lamb is so ill that she is immediately admitted. Eventually she’s stabilised. But while initially delirious with fever, she sees what appears to be an ugly demon creeping through the hospital, following a small boy, who then dies the next day. The flu is very strong, and although Buffy is recovering, as are most people, the little kids in the hospital are still dying. Buffy is convinced the demon she saw when delirious is responsible, not the flu. But can she convince Giles and co. that the demon is real and not just a result of her fever? And can she stop it before it claims anymore innocent children’s lives?
What's the sitch beneath the sitch?
This is a very familiar tale. Almost genetically familiar. It is basically a cautionary fairytale horror story about the nasty monster that preys upon young children when they are at their weakest. It’s very Brothers Grimm. This is the sort of thing Buffy has done before and will do again. Like with Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy, there is an intrinsic link to the darkest of fairytales in this series as well as with the more standard supernatural horror fare. I think that is part of the reason I love Buffy so much. I love the myth, allegory and metaphor and the ideas of childhood innocence and optimism vs. adult cynicism and dark devilry that fairytales represent. The demon’s name in this episode is Der Kindestod, which means ‘child death’ in German. The use of the German name links this even more to the Brothers Grimm idea (being that they were German and that’s where many of their collected folk and fairytales came from). Like fairytales of old this is a cautionary tale told as a metaphor about predatory adults who prey upon young children for whatever reason – a theme that reoccurs in Buffy and in many fairytales. Actually this reminded me somewhat of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare which I watched again recently. That film turned Freddy Kreuger in to a dark fairytale monster and covered some similar themes. It’s also interesting to note that this Buffy story puts forward the other familiar idea that children often see things that adults don’t and that they are not always believed when something bad is happening to them, something that unfortunately can be true in real life.
Who's giving us the wiggins this week?
The distinctly ugly and creepy demon called Der Kindestod. Plus Angelus pops up to try and get at Buffy in the hospital…only for Xander to heroically face him down.
Why it rocks
The script is solid and has a few good ideas, even if none of them are especially new ones.
Deran Serafian directs with a slick, moody, creepy style.
Der Kindestod is one ugly and creepy demon that can still give a major case of the wiggins. What it does to the children is even creepier and more disturbing, climbing atop them to drain their life away in a painful manner.
The creature design and make-up is fab – a cross between Freddy Kreuger and The Gentlemen from season 4.
Buffy isn’t afraid of much but she is afraid of hospitals. When she was eight she was alone in a hospital room with Celia, her beloved cousin of the same age who died in terror right in front of her. This is a horrible (in a good way) scene and in reality would certainly scar any child deeply. It turns out that the same demon was responsible for Celia’s death, which now makes things personal for the Bufster.
The fairytale feel.
Xander standing guard outside Buffy’s room and refusing to leave.
Xander facing down Angelus who’s trying to get at Buffy while she’s in the hospital.
Willow’s diversionary tactic.
Joyce and her kind words to Giles over Ms Calendar’s death.
Seeing Buffy in flashback as a little girl playing superheroes with her friend Celia. ‘Power Girl’ indeed. Very cute.
Why it sucks
Apart from Angelus trying to get at Buffy this is a standalone and has nothing to do with the bigger season arc.
No Spike and Dru.
Xander facing down Angelus. Go Xan-man!
Dialogue to die for
Xander: Man, Buffy! My whole life just flashed before my eyes! I gotta get me a life!
Buffy: No, I feel fine. I mean, I'm... the world's spinning a little bit, but I like it, it's kinda like a ride.
Xander (to Angel): You're gonna die. And I'm gonna be there.
Xander (to Angel): Take a walk, overbite.
Giles: Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?
Cordelia: Tact is just not saying true stuff. I'll pass.
Xander: How are you gonna stop it?
Buffy: I thought I might try violence.
Xander: Solid call.
And another thing
Buffy's cousin Celia, who died in a hospital when Buffy was eight, is the first relative of Buffy's other than her mother and father to be mentioned in the series.
Buffy is not a natural blonde.
This episode marks the first time Willow becomes interested in magic.
How many stakes?
A very Grimm tale. 3.5 (out of 5)