“Some Assembly Required”
Written by Ty King
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
(Oh hey, it’s the first time Giles is the one doing the opening voiceover! I like it much better than the melodramatic American voice.)
Buffy is chilling on a tombstone, waiting for a vampire to rise from the grave. (Wait, what? The vampire’s name is Stefan? His last name isn’t Salvatore, is it?) Before he can do so, Angel pulls another Batman, startling Buffy. Angel is a bit jealous about Buffy’s dance with Xander, but when he tries to deny it, they start arguing so much that they don’t notice Stefan rise from his grave. He attacks. When Angel tries to help Buffy, Stefan knocks him down with a shovel, but eventually Buffy stakes him.
Buffy tries to resume the argument (which really has no substance) and Angel tries to leave, but then she trips into an open grave. Angel thinks the grave means another vampire rose, but Buffy sees tracks that indicate otherwise. We have grave robbers!
Point of contention here: Angel really can’t tell the difference between a grave from which a vampire rose and a grave that has been completely dug up from the outside? I call writer foul. That’s preposterous.
At the library, Giles is practicing his pickup lines on an empty chair, meant to represent Jenny. Buffy and Xander arrive in time to catch him doing this. Buffy teases him, then tries to give him some advice. Xander continues with the teasing, leaving Giles hoping he never has to speak to either of them again. He asks for a report of Buffy’s patrol. Brief moment of Xander jealousy. Giles is intrigued about the grave robbing. Buffy thinks this is the wrong attitude.
It’s the science fair! A weird dude with a camera is going around taking pictures of various girls, including Willow. Willow starts talking to a guy named Chris, who always places ahead of her in the science fair. Cordelia resents being forced to participate. Camera boy swings past to take pictures of her. Then he takes pictures of Buffy when she shows up. Camera boy talks to Chris, who makes an extremely ominous statement about how girls who are alive aren’t eligible for whatever they’re doing.
The Scoobies, including Cordelia (who is absorbed in melodramatic memories of a dead former crush), are looking up stuff about the missing dead girl on the computer. Giles thinks this could be an army of zombies situation, so they need to find out if more bodies have gone missing. Buffy is determined not to invite Angel.
At the graveyard that night, Giles and Xander are digging up the graves of the other girls who died in the accident while Buffy and Willow talk about Angel. Buffy’s annoyed that Angel won’t admit he’s jealous. Then Buffy asks about Cordelia’s painful memories, and Willow explains about Daryl Epps, Chris’s older brother, a star quarterback who died before Buffy moved to Sunnydale.
Xander and Giles reach the coffin. No body means army of zombies, body means flesh-eating demon. The scene cuts to Cordelia leaving cheerleading practice before we find out if it’s door number one or door number two. Once Cordelia’s alone, she starts to get a creepy feeling. She drops her keys, sees the shoes of someone pursuing her, and hides in a dumpster. When she thinks the coast is clear, she emerges, and there’s Angel! Wearing a…beige jacket. Gross. Angel says he thought it was Buffy.
Second point of contention: he thought it was Buffy? What? He has superhuman senses, and he knows that Buffy is neither a cheerleader nor the owner of a car. Either he was just screwing with Cordelia for the heck of it, or the writer screwed up again.
Anyway. Angel’s a little upset that Buffy didn’t tell him her plans for the evening, and Cordelia finds a severed human hand in the dumpster.
The Scoobies return to the library (regarding the coffin’s contents, it was door number one), and Cordelia and Angel are already there. Cordelia is either traumatized or faking it so that she has an excuse to cling to Angel’s arm. Buffy grudgingly tells Angel what they found out, and Angel adds what he and Cordelia found out. It would seem that there’s actually a door number three, because Cordelia and Angel didn’t find enough body parts to add up to three bodies. Whoever’s doing this is keeping some.
The fact that the body parts were in the school dumpster makes Buffy think the culprits are students. Willow has an idea of who’d know enough about physiology to pull it off, and they plan a locker raid. Cordelia leaves with a very reluctant Angel in tow (Buffy is jealous). Chris’s locker contains lots of heavy-duty medical books and a newspaper with the article about the three girls’ fatal accident. Buffy finds a collage of female body parts in Creepy Photographer Guy’s locker.
Cut to wherever Chris went after he left his house. He and Creepy Photographer Guy have a stitched together female body on a table under a sheet. They still need a head for it. Creepy Photographer Guy hangs up freshly developed photos of Willow, Buffy, and Cordelia. Yikes.
The next day at school, the Scoobies are still trying to figure out why anyone would bother making a person out of scraps. Xander thinks they’re doing it for the challenge, because we don’t love what’s right in front of us.
They find Giles standing paralyzed with anxiety in the courtyard. He’s trying to work up the nerve to ask Jenny out. The kids wish him luck and leave him to it. Giles stutters his way to a halt with Jenny, and she has to leave when the bell rings. But all is not lost! She pops back out of the computer lab and asks him to come to the football game with her, before which they can get food. He’s still very stuttery, but now in an elated way. He does an adorable little leap as he heads back down the hall.
Buffy, Willow, and Xander are in a room that might be the biology lab. Giles shows up and tells them that all three dead girls’ heads were found in the dumpster, so they know the patchwork body isn’t finished yet.
In Chris and Creepy Photographer Guy’s (okay, that nickname’s too long—he’s Eric) lab, the latter is trying to convince the former that killing a girl to get her head for the patchwork body isn’t actually murder because they’ll be bringing her back to life right after. We discover that this episode is not actually Weird Science meets Frankenstein; it’s Bride of Frankenstein: The High School Years! Great! I’m still not interested in any of those.
Chris already brought his brother Daryl back to life, and now he’s promised to make him a girlfriend. The sad piano music from “When She Was Bad” is back (which this scene definitely does not deserve). Chris caves to Daryl’s pleas (or possibly he can hear the compelling piano music). Daryl picks Cordelia, and Eric cuts her head off in the photo.
In the library, it’s divide and conquer time. They’re going to hit Chris’s house and Eric’s house, then meet back up at the football game. Buffy isn’t feeling any sympathy for either boy, but Willow feels sorry for Chris.
Buffy shows up at Chris’s house, and his sad mom lets her in. Instead of telling her about Chris, she shows Buffy clips from Daryl’s football games. Buffy goes into the basement, where she finds evidence that Cordelia is the target. Daryl comes up behind her, but she hears a noise from upstairs and flees out a window.
At school, Chris corners Cordelia in the locker room and Eric covers her head in a cloth bag. Out in the hall, Buffy is on the way. The same cheerleading captain from “Witch” tries to stop her (nice continuity there). Buffy makes it to the locker room in time to kick Eric in the face and untie Cordelia, who leaves because she has to be in the cheerleader pyramid.
Chris is still there. Buffy tries to talk him down, and she realizes that the whole time, he’s been doing this for Daryl. In Chris’s basement, Daryl is in a rage because Eric failed to bring back Cordelia’s head. Eric promises he’ll finish the job.
When Buffy and Chris get there, Daryl and Eric are long gone. They race back to the school, where Cordelia is cheering at the game. Giles is carrying all the food and drinks for himself and Jenny, and she teases him when he accidentally insults football. She definitely considers this a date. Willow and Xander arrive. They found nothing at Eric’s house except loads of porn. They fail to take Giles’s hint that they should give him and Jenny space.
Beneath the bleachers, Daryl is watching the football game wistfully, but then he sees Cordelia. When she comes to get some Gatorade, he grabs her. Nobody hears her scream because Sunnydale gets a touchdown at the same moment. Enter Buffy and Chris, but Cordelia’s already gone.
Eric has tied Cordelia to a gurney in the abandoned building where they’re keeping the patchwork girl. When she sees Daryl, she screams. She recognizes him, but she’s definitely over her crush. She sees what’s meant to be her new body and screams again.
Buffy convinces Chris to tell her where the lab is, and she takes off running. At the lab, Cordelia promises Daryl she’ll be with him even in her own body. He doesn’t believe her. Eric’s about to cut off her head when Buffy gets there. Eric throws the knife at her (holy crap) but she catches it. Daryl tries to cut Cordelia’s head off with a saw, and Buffy starts fighting him. Gasoline gets spilled, Eric gets knocked out, and the Bunsen burner falls on the gasoline.
Xander arrives and starts getting Cordelia out. Buffy keeps fighting Daryl. Giles and Willow show up, and they drag Eric out. Xander wheels Cordelia’s gurney through the fire and out. Daryl is about to do some serious damage to Buffy when Chris yells for him to stop. Daryl runs to the incomplete patchwork girl and lets the flames consume them both.
Buffy and Chris talk outside next to some fire trucks, and Angel shows up. Giles gets Jenny coffee, and she mentions a second date. They’re so adorable! Xander is annoyed that he and Willow are the only ones who don’t have dates. Willow finds that comment ironic. Cordelia tries to thank Xander and he brushes her off. I think I’ve discovered why you never get dates, Xander.
Buffy and Angel are walking together in the cemetery. Angel admits he was jealous. Buffy tells him she’s not interested in Xander, but that’s not why Angel’s jealous. Xander gets to be a part of Buffy’s human life. Angel can’t. They walk away hand in hand, the piano music playing. The episode ends on a shot of Daryl’s tombstone.
This episode is very season-one-stand-alone-esque. The main focus is a Plot A story that really doesn’t have much of a connection to the Plot B stuff going on. Daryl is an uninteresting villain and we’ve never met Chris before. It’s hard to feel sympathy for someone who is both smart enough to successfully raise someone from the dead and stupid enough that Reanimation Experiment #1 can persuade him to kill someone so he can have a girlfriend…using football metaphors. Plot A's messages are that bringing someone back to life is a bad idea and that making patchwork people is gross (and still murder, if you have to kill a girl to get a head for the body). Plot B's message (if I try to find something the Buffy/Angel subplot and the Giles/Jenny subplot have in common) seems to be the importance of communication. Even though all three plots are about relationships (and Willow and Xander’s scenes are largely about how they’re not in relationships), it doesn’t feel like a unified story because the underlying messages are so different. The Giles/Jenny subplot is pretty much the only thing that makes the episode worth watching, along with a good smattering of hilarious dialogue. I would say the Buffy/Angel stuff also makes it worth watching, except that I just end up distracted by how little logic there is in most of Angel's scenes (and that freaking beige jacket).
The Bride of Frankenstein plot really makes it hard for Buffy to be Buffy in this episode. Normally, she’s the one who shows the most compassion, but she’s not wasting any of it on Chris. This would seem harsh if she didn’t have a very good point. It’s also kind of weird that Buffy and Angel are having an argument about jealousy before they’ve ever so much as gone on a date. I’d wonder if there was an offscreen date we missed, except that I remember they’re still trying to get to the casual coffee date stage in “Reptile Boy,” three episodes from now. Stop playing mind games and being dorks, guys! You both know you like each other, so one of you ask the other one out already! Buffy doesn't want to be the first one to apologize (which makes sense, because of the aforementioned not dating yet), and what could've been one easy conversation becomes two days of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and avoidance. By the end of the episode, they both realize they're being ridiculous and have a really good conversation.
I don’t think Ty King had much of an idea at this point for how to write vampire characters. He comes back to write “Passion,” so he clearly figures it out eventually, but this episode has Angel getting laid out with a spade by a fledgling vampire, thinking that a vampire must’ve escaped from a grave that was obviously dug up from the outside, wearing BEIGE, and mistaking Cordelia for Buffy in a situation where there’s like five different reasons that doesn’t make sense (he thought Buffy was home, he knows Buffy isn’t a cheerleader, he knows Buffy doesn’t drive a car, he has super hearing, and he has night vision). Either the beige jacket addled his brain and took away all his vampire powers or he just decided to be a huge troll for a while after watching Buffy’s dance with Xander. Anyway, despite all that weirdness, I really do like his explanation for why he’s jealous of Xander. The jealousy subplot could easily have ended with Angel being just as selfish about his feelings as Xander, but that's not what happens. This isn’t Xander-brand petty jealousy; Angel knows he’s not right for Buffy because of what he is, and he envies Xander’s humanity. He wishes he could offer Buffy what Xander can offer her.
Giles with a crush is the most hilarious and adorable thing ever. How long has it been since he went on a date? He can talk to Jenny perfectly coherently when they’re arguing, but in this context he’s completely hopeless. Luckily, she likes him enough to bail him out and do the heavy lifting for him. Tony Head and Robia LaMorte play fantastically off each other. It’s very easy to believe this relationship, and even easier to root for it.
Xander is now doing this thing where he makes pointed comments about his lingering feelings for Buffy. It’s annoying. More so because he tends to make these comments either to Willow or directly to Buffy while Willow is standing next to him. Not cool, dude. The scene where he blows Cordelia off when she’s just trying to be grateful is pretty funny, though. And this is the fourth episode where Xander does the bulk of the anti-Cordelia snarking.
Willow really doesn’t do anything except supply exposition about Chris and Daryl. I guess we learn a little more about how interested she is in science. She still has a hopeless crush on Xander, but she’s not upset with Buffy for the sexy dance with him. Or maybe she is, but that’s why she’s so interested in getting Buffy to talk about Angel.
Cordelia seems to have staggeringly terrible luck with men. First there was that douchey guy Mitch, who got beat up by invisible Marcie with a baseball bat (although that might have been for the best). The next episode, her boyfriend Kevin (who she really liked and seemed quite nice) was killed by vampires. This time, the guy she used to have a crush on tries to make her his corpse bride.
“‘Danced with’ is a pretty loose term. ‘Mated with’ might be a little closer.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.