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28 July 2016 @ 02:52 pm
Living Conditions (or in Buffy's case, Almost Being Dragged Off To Hell Conditions)  
The second episode of season 4, in which Buffy undergoes yet another First Year at College rite of passage, coping with the (literal) room mate from hell.

Many thanks to bloodqueen.com and to screencapped.net for the screencaps.

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Looks normal enough, doesn't she?



Don't be fooled by appearances, though. Even if she weren't an evil soul-sucking demon, Kathy is pretty demonic.

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She irons creases in her jeans,

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wants Buffy to log all her phonecalls,

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won't leave Buffy alone, even when she's trying to slay,

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borrows her clothes without asking,

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and gets icky substances on them (and can I just say here, as someone who finds tomato ketchup so disgusting the very sight of it makes me want to throw up, that I'm very glad this screen cap cuts out most of the damage).

And if the above weren't enough, Kathy also

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flosses in public (eww!),

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likewise with cutting her toenails,

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and eating hardboiled eggs (another thing I find physically revolting - Kathy isn't doing herself any favours here).

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Not to mention she labels everything in the fridge, and plays Cher on repeat whether Buffy likes it or not.

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She also tries to horn in on...

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...this awfully nice young man with the big, soulful brown eyes, who Buffy got chatting to in the cafeteria queue, and who has thoughtfully brought her some food bags so she can stock up on supplies the next time she has lunch.

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How sweet of him. I'm sure he has no ulterior motives whatsoever.

Still and all, Kathy could probably have got away with doing all the above (well, maybe not the Cher on repeat thing), if she weren't just so bloody annoying.

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But she is, in an aggressively 'nice', 'normal' way, that deceives Buffy's friends, and Giles...

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...into thinking Buffy's just being unreasonable. Or, after she describes a vivid nightmare containing blood, scorpions and horrid looking blue-eyed demons,

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that she's under a spell, which is making her overreact about Kathy.

Certainly, Buffy becomes more and more unreasonable as the episode proceeds.

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(evidence)

But it turns out this is because Kathy really is a demon (though as stated above, the soul-sucking and the fact that her toenails keep on growing after she's cut them are the least of it), who has been sucking Buffy's soul into herself by increments to hide herself from her demon father, who wants to take her home to hell, by fooling him into thinking that a soulless Buffy is his daughter and taking her instead.

And Kathy almost succeeds - would have, in fact, if Giles hadn't belatedly realised Buffy was right and, together with Willow, performed a spell to reverse the soul-suck.

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Kathy's dad finds her,

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and drags her away home through a sort of whirlpool in the carpet.

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though not until after she's pretty much wiped the floor with Buffy,

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making her one of Buffy's most formidable opponents up to this point in the show. Huh! How about that?

And though I suppose we ought to feel a bit sorry for Kathy, who it seems, only wanted to live a normal (well, some version of it) life, it's impossible, due to her being such a nightmare even before we learn she's a demon.

Mind you, Willow's room mate is equally appalling in a different way (loud music till all hours),

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so in the end everything works out nicely with Willow moving in with Buffy.

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So, by way of complete contrast to the previous episode, in which Buffy didn't trust herself any more, in this episode, Buffy's friends (and Giles) don't trust her, and end up having to apologise when they realise she was right all along.

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Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last.

Other things of note:

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Xander's completely at a loose end still, and is hanging around on campus, despite slightly soulless Buffy's distinctly barbed comments about how campus is for campusers (as it were).

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Giles, meanwhile, is still attempting to have some me-time, which is yet again interrupted by Buffy - this time wanting to get away from Kathy.

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Oz has a brief encounter that he finds disturbing,

and this lot are running around the campus.

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Hmm. Mysterious.

So, what do you think? Does the story work for you, or is the whole my demonic room mate really is a demon thing seem a little too on-the-nose?

Best lines:

Buffy (to Oz): ...so then Kathy's like, 'It's share time.' And I'm like, 'Oh yeah? Share this!' (She punches at the air.)
Oz: So, either you hit her, or you did your wacky mime routine for her.
Buffy: Well, I didn't do either, actually. But she deserves it, don't you think?
Oz: Nobody deserves a mime, Buffy.
 
 
 
Kiki May: Buffy's smilekikimay on July 28th, 2016 03:03 pm (UTC)
This episode is freaking hilarious!

And, yes, there's this big plot hole with the soul: how can Buffy live if her soul is temporarely borrowed? For vampires they rely on the demon, but can you steal someone else's soul and have him/her go on normally? So, there's that.

But it's just SO fun and, ugh, sharing the room is so stressful! I did share a house with fellow students and it was mostly fine. But my room, fortunately, was only mine. Just a little space for yourself!
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on July 28th, 2016 05:16 pm (UTC)
And, yes, there's this big plot hole with the soul: how can Buffy live if her soul is temporarely borrowed? For vampires they rely on the demon, but can you steal someone else's soul and have him/her go on normally? So, there's that.

This is true. On the other hand, there's that soulless kid in the AtS season 1 episode, who seems to manage just fine without one - in a psychotic, try-to-murder-your-little- sister kind of way. Buffy's experience in this episode seems to tie in with that, in that the more soul she loses, the more psycho she becomes. On the other hand, acquiring Buffy's soul doesn't seem to have much effect on Kathy. She doesn't start developing a conscience and angsting about what she's doing. She just remains...Kathy.

But my room, fortunately, was only mine. Just a little space for yourself!

Same here. Maybe one of our American members would like to comment on this? Just how common is it that you have to share a room in college?
(no subject) - trepkos on July 28th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on July 29th, 2016 08:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rebcake on July 29th, 2016 04:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on July 29th, 2016 08:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
gillo: Rewatch BtVSgillo on July 28th, 2016 09:34 pm (UTC)
I was lucky that I never had to share a room at Durham. I shared a cottage on a farm one year, though, and that was challenge enough, though we are still friends, thank heavens. I watched various ghastly combinations of room-mates, though, and Kathy is not much of an exaggeration. Is the Céline Dion poster in itself evidence of demonism?

It's interesting how much of this episode sets up things for the future - Parker and Veruca in particular, but also Willow and Buffy sharing a room, and Xander's shiftlessness reinforced. And more signs of initiative.

Buffy does seem unreasonable. The soul-sucking contributes, but it's also a lovely portrait of just how wearing it can be to live in close proximity to someone. And the more cheerful and friendly that person, the harder it is.

Practical things - they have a fridge full of food but canteen eating is the norm? And how come there's no space left for Buffy's food? There's a telephone in the room? I know it's useful for the plot several times, but it surprises me - how on earth would the use be charged for? A separate line to each room? And an iron and ironing board? No laundry room with such facilities? I'm amazed that the students have such a big room (Doylist explanation, of course - space for the cameras) and a fridge, but a shared communal washroom and toilet.

I suppose so much is so different to my own college experience that I'm never quite sure how 'typical' of US college life it is. I do think it has a great deal of emotional truth, though.
readerjane on July 29th, 2016 12:28 am (UTC)
The dorm setup is very close to what mine was. Some years there was a suite, with two 2-person rooms and a shared bathroom between them; other years just the 2-person rooms with a bathroom down the hall.

And yes, we had a tiny fridge in the room for breakfast food or snacks, but most meals were eaten in the cafeteria.

Shared landline phone, too. Each room received a monthly phone bill; roommates were supposed to work it out between them. My freshman roommate had been used to leaving her boarding-school bedroom unlocked. She continued to do so in college until other students began sneaking into our room while we were at class and making calls on our phone. Once that got expensive, she started locking up.
(no subject) - shapinglight on July 29th, 2016 09:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - readerjane on July 29th, 2016 11:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on July 29th, 2016 12:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rebcake on July 29th, 2016 05:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on July 29th, 2016 09:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rebcake on July 31st, 2016 06:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 2nd, 2016 08:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on July 29th, 2016 09:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
Trepkostrepkos on July 28th, 2016 10:33 pm (UTC)
Looks normal enough, doesn't she?

Er, no, she looks crazed! I really liked this episode, and was completely on Buffy's side, even on first watch. I love the bit where Buffy scares Xander and Oz.

Also - "Nobody deserves a mime, Buffy." Heh!

I did feel a bit sorry for Kathy, though. That Cher track may have been the first pop music she'd ever heard - she was probably imprinted with it.
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on July 29th, 2016 09:24 am (UTC)
Er, no, she looks crazed!

But in an aggressively 'normal' way, right?

I was on Buffy's side too. Kathy is completely unbearable. I admit, I don't feel sorry for her at all, if only because I'm so relieved to see the back of her.
Danna: Fool for Lovechasingdemons on July 28th, 2016 11:17 pm (UTC)
I was a bit older when I started college and had my own apartment so I really don't know for sure how the dorm thing works. But I'm thinking this was probably somewhat accurate for American college. Also, in the town I grew up in and at my high school, it was FULL of Cathys. The character of Cathy in this episode was a stereotype that really, really hit home. *shudder* That was many years ago, so I can laugh now. And laugh I did. This show is so good at slapstick, and Sarah did a fantastic job here. Also, the actress who played Kathy nailed it. The part about the demons was the least interesting, But this episode really did work for me. I couldn't take a steady diet of it, but yeah, I liked it. I liked the interaction between all of them. And I liked how their cozy little group was thrown into chaos by an outsider. Same thing with the season opener. Outsiders are breaking through everyone's comfort zones. Hello Parker, Veruka, Professor Walsh.

Honestly, I don't know how Buffy thought she would be able to keep up with her slayage and patrolling while keeping such close quarters with a non-scoobie.

So you hate ketchup, huh? How would you eat a hotdog?

Edited at 2016-07-28 11:19 pm (UTC)
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on July 29th, 2016 09:32 am (UTC)
Also, in the town I grew up in and at my high school, it was FULL of Cathys. The character of Cathy in this episode was a stereotype that really, really hit home. *shudder*

I had a feeling that might be the case. :Shudders: with you.

Also, the actress who played Kathy nailed it.

I agree. Everything about the character is so beautifully thought-through, right down to the irritatingly 'cute' little writing pad on which she wants Buffy to log phone calls.

I also agree SMG is great at slapstick. Her comedy skills are often overlooked, which I think is a shame, because they're considerable.

Outsiders are breaking through everyone's comfort zones. Hello Parker, Veruka, Professor Walsh.

Yes, that's one of the best things about season 4, which I think is very underrated. Everyone - including the audience - has been thrown out of their comfort zone. Now they have to deal with it. In a way, though I love season 5, I'm disappointed that it sort of folds back in itself in that sense. Buffy's world gets narrower again instead of opening out.

Honestly, I don't know how Buffy thought she would be able to keep up with her slayage and patrolling while keeping such close quarters with a non-scoobie.

No. Surely the sensible thing would have been to request to share with Willow from the start.

So you hate ketchup, huh? How would you eat a hotdog?

Easy. I wouldn't. Or burgers, or indeed anything meat, which I don't eat at all.

I know it's a weird idiosyncrasy. As a child, I liked ketchup just fine. But somewhere along the line I started to find it disgusting. Now I can't even look at it - to the extent that, if my family are eating it, I have to leave the room, or if that's not possible, they know to put it on their plates somewhere I can't see it. ;)


Edited at 2016-07-29 09:33 am (UTC)
readerjane on July 29th, 2016 12:33 am (UTC)
I remember being disappointed when this ep revealed that Kathy was a demon. I wanted to see how Buffy would deal with being in close quarters with someone she really, really disliked, but whom she wasn't allowed to slay.

Well, I guess we saw that with Cordelia, but it was easy for Buffy to get away from Cordelia when she wanted to.
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on July 29th, 2016 09:36 am (UTC)
Well, I suppose we did for most of the episode, but I guess they felt they had to give Buffy an 'out' eventually. A whole season of Buffy sharing with Kathy couldn't have worked with the storylines they had planned. Buffy could never have kept up the pretence of being a 'normal' student.

Besides, I think a whole season of Kathy would have sent the audience crazy too. ;)
JaniceOcomlodge on July 29th, 2016 01:18 am (UTC)
Great episode recap, lol.
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on July 29th, 2016 09:36 am (UTC)
Thank you. ;)
Rebcake: btvs_buf_lolrebcake on July 29th, 2016 05:16 am (UTC)
I do like this one! Glad to see Kathy go at the end, of course. I never buy that Buffy is a terrible friend (as is bandied about by some), but it cracks me up that she is so oblivious to poor Willow's terrible roomie situation. I also like the intimation at the end that Buffy might not be the best roomie even without the soul-suck.

I saw the actress who plays Kathy in a play with James Marsters a couple of years ago, and she was MUCH less annoying in that part.
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on July 29th, 2016 09:44 am (UTC)
I never buy that Buffy is a terrible friend (as is bandied about by some), but it cracks me up that she is so oblivious to poor Willow's terrible roomie situation. I also like the intimation at the end that Buffy might not be the best roomie even without the soul-suck.

I don't think Buffy's a terrible friend at all. I think she's a very good friend - just not all the time. No one can be that. She can be very self-centered without even realising it (the whole inferiority complex about the superiority complex thing), which is why she's so wrapped up in her own problems that she ignores Willow's. But when it comes to the big things, she's always there for her friends.

I saw the actress who plays Kathy in a play with James Marsters a couple of years ago, and she was MUCH less annoying in that part.

Nice to know. I'd like to think she was just acting rather than being herself. ;) What was the play?

(no subject) - rebcake on July 31st, 2016 05:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 2nd, 2016 08:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
Butterflysnogged on July 29th, 2016 01:00 pm (UTC)
This review was fabulous. :)
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on August 2nd, 2016 08:47 am (UTC)
:Bows:

Thank you. I do love season 4. I think it's terribly underrated.
lusciousxanderlusciousxander on July 29th, 2016 09:45 pm (UTC)
I would have liked it more if Kathy was a normal girl - they could have found a way to make her disappear. It just felt like a cop-out. Like the whole Ted is a robot thing.
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on August 2nd, 2016 08:48 am (UTC)
I do get that (and the same again in the comics when pregnant Buffy is actually robot Buffy), but I think it actually works pretty well in this episode. It's those other instances that don't work so much.

Though I admit I may feel this way because I've always felt that robots had no place in the Buffyverse (with the honourable exception of the Buffybot, because she's so hilarious).
Double Dutchess: Buffy scythedouble_dutchess on August 1st, 2016 12:16 am (UTC)
Enjoyable review, but I've got a confession to make... I actually iron my jeans, like Kathy! In fact it's one of the few items I do iron. I'm not guilty of any of Kathy's other offenses though!

I'm glad I've never had a roommate; fortunately it isn't the norm here. Sharing the rest of our students' flat (kitchen, bathroom, telephone, ...) with 10 other people was enough! If I hadn't had my own room, I don't think I could have handled the lack of privacy (even if I'd had a totally nice roommate).
Shapinglight: Buffy asleepshapinglight on August 2nd, 2016 08:50 am (UTC)
Enjoyable review, but I've got a confession to make... I actually iron my jeans, like Kathy! In fact it's one of the few items I do iron. I'm not guilty of any of Kathy's other offenses though!

That's okay, then. I think ironing creases in her jeans is the least of her crimes. I also iron my jeans, btw, but flat, not with creases. ;)

With you on coping with the lack of privacy. Sharing bathrooms/showers at college with people you didn't know was bad enough, let alone sharing a bedroom.
(no subject) - double_dutchess on August 2nd, 2016 08:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 3rd, 2016 09:04 am (UTC) (Expand)