In which the gang races to stop a pair of novice mad scientists from using Cordelia’s head as the lid for a Bride of Frankenstein project.
Buffy faces down another pair of geek threats along the lines of Fritz and Dave from s1’s I, Robot… You, Jane. This time, instead of tech nerds, we’re up against geeks from the yearbook and the science fair: the evil, nebbishy Eric (Fritz’s counterpart) and the remorseful, faintly bashful Chris (analogous to Dave).
This is also our second episode in the series to address the phenomenon of cutting up teenagers for body parts, following s1’s The Puppet Show. Rather than a demon using them to achieve human form, however, this plan hinges on using semi-fresh body parts to create a female companion for Chris’s deceased running back brother Daryl, whose body has been patched together and revived, presumably in some sort of Dr. Frankenstein procedure which we are not privy to.
I found the triple-play of Cordelia-in-jeopardy scenes to wear thin. First she’s chased into a dumpster by an unknown figure who turns out to be the harmless (for now) Angel. Then she is nearly kidnapped by Chris and Eric in the deserted locker room. (She shows very little surprise to find Chris there, and by this point I would think Sunnydale might have adopted a buddy policy to cut down on locker room vivisections (The Puppet Show), baseball bat bludgeonings (Out of Mind, Out of Sight), and near electrocutions (I, Robot… You, Jane). Finally, at the football game, the patched-together re-animated corpse of Daryl captures Cordy under the bleachers and drags her off for an intended beheading/re-heading. Cordelia does lots of screaming, which Charisma Carpenter excels at, but I thought three times was not a charm here.
The football player Frankenstein, Daryl, was also not a charm. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll swoon for a behemoth monster (Luke from Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest), but Daryl looks rather preposterous and falls short of both the menace and pathos that the part requires.
I might have welcomed more from Daryl and Chris’s mother, who’s more of a zombie than her re-animated son. She sits vacantly all day watching tapes of her deceased son’s football games while chain-smoking, giving Buffy yet another reminder that Joyce usually looks better by comparison, though this mom certainly doesn’t compare to the cheerleading one from Witch.
Of course the Cordelia decapitation/recapitation plot is foiled and the Frankensteinian monster goes down in flames embracing the headless, piecemeal mate that Cordy might have completed. The two boys behind the plan survive in the end, and though we won’t see them again (at least I don’t think so), the theme of using dead reanimated girls’ bodies for companionship will resurface with another geek: Warren in I Was Made to Love You. Really, Buffy contends with some terrifying demons and vampires, but those nerd boys with their computer programs, yearbook cameras, and science experiments make even the mundane into a serious threat to her existence. You just can’t trust boys on any rung of the social ladder.