Fritz and Dave! This tech-geek duo foreshadows The Trio from season six: Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew. These five outcasts provide a peek at another faction of high school: smart but socially inept boys whose underlying, untapped core may be rotten and hateful (Fritz and Warren), somewhat neutral and quite pliable (Andrew), or weakly benevolent and remorseful (Dave and Jonathan). As if Buffy doesn’t have enough on her plate with a hunky bad-boy vampire, she also has to contend with his near opposite: pasty-faced computer nerds. Unfortunately, the hazards they present cannot be discounted along with their social standing.
Highly susceptible to malevolent influence, these boys bond over newfound and secretive power. Notably, both the rotten-to-the-core and the benevolent pairs meet terrible fates, but only neutral Andrew survives, suggesting that he (but not necessarily she) who travels with the currents, good or evil, has the best shot at self-preservation.
There is no Andrew analogue in I, Robot… You, Jane however. Instead, we have the polarity of good and evil: Fritz, with his ultra-German name (in an episode peppered with Nazi references) and affinity for cyber-supremacy, makes for an obvious villain with very little room for redemption, while the meek Dave, whose last-minute rescue of Buffy from electrocution in the showers of the locker room brings about his disturbing end, always carries a hint of sympathy along with his sad smile.
Though girls in BTVS also fall prey to temptations of evil and power, such a fall usually transpires in isolation (Dark Willow!); the boys, on the other hand, tend to clump together on their downward spiral. Male demonic debauchery is a team sport, even for geeks, and high school boys don’t need to be possessed by hyenas to explore their shadowy selves; all they need is each another. Bros before morality or rationality.
NOTE: I believe that Dave and Fritz are Buffy‘s first student casualties at Sunnydale High. (Darla killed a former student in the series opening scene.) They join two faculty members, Dr. Gregory (decapitated by the preying mantis substitute) and Principal Flutie (eaten alive by a pack of unruly hyena-teenagers) in the nascent Sunnydale fatality count, which I recall as steadily increasing through the third-season finale.
NOTE: Mr. Lousy has already covered key Willow points from this first Willow-centric episode as well as the introduction of Jenny Calendar.
I’d like to add to Lousy’s observations that Willow never actually lost her will or became possessed by Moloch, since she snapped out of her online crush as soon as the demon started attempting to separate her from Buffy, an early indication of girl power and friendship allegiance over boys! (Willow’s clear-headedness also implies that Dave and Fritz were operating under their own free will while operating under Moloch.)
Jenny Calendar: she’s sassier and saucier than I’d remembered. From my first viewing of the series, I recalled a more of a Meg Tilly type, but physical comparisons aside, Miss Calendar has far more verve than Miss Tilly. (Don’t get me started on how Jennifer Tilly could have factored into casting. Okay, I’ll start: maybe she could have salvaged s5’s Glory character.)
But how come we never heard from Miss Calendar’s Internet Wiccan community again? Surely they could have used that virtual pagan circle once Angelus gets unleashed.