I, Robot... You, Jane

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"I, Robot... You, Jane"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy 1x08.jpg
Buffy, Willow and Xander realize they'll never have normal relationships
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 8
Directed by Stephen Posey
Written by Ashley Gable
Thomas A. Swyden
Production code 4V08
Original air date April 28, 1997 (1997-04-28)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"I, Robot...You, Jane" is the eighth episode of season 1 of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode was written by staff writers Ashley Gable and Thomas A. Swyden, and directed by Stephen Posey.

In this episode, Willow accidentally releases the demon Moloch onto the internet. There he wreaks havoc and gains a following.

Plot[edit]

The episode begins in a castle in Cortona, Italy, in 1418. Carlo, a young Italian man, looks at a horned demon: Moloch "the Corruptor", his master. Moloch coaxingly promises Carlo everything if he gives Moloch his love, and as Carlo promises his love, Moloch kills him. In a monastery, a circle of priests trap Moloch in a book using a magic ritual. The book is sealed in a box, with the head priest expressing his hope that the book will not be read, lest the demon Moloch be released upon the world.

In the present, Buffy finds the book in its box, and Giles tells her to add it to a heap that Willow has been scanning into a computer. Ms. Calendar and Giles trade jibes about the need for modern technology. Willow scans Moloch's book, then leaves the library. The text "Where am I?" appears on the computer screen.

A week later, at school, Buffy questions Willow about her missing a few classes. Willow confides she has an online relationship with a boy named Malcolm. As Buffy tries to warn Willow about the dangers of rushing into a relationship with someone she has not seen, Fritz (a computer geek) is instructed by Moloch, via the computer he is working on, to keep watch on Buffy. Ms. Calendar questions Fritz about the unusual amount of time he and Dave are spending on the computer, and receives an ambiguous answer. Later, when Xander asks Willow if she will accompany him to the Bronze, she passes, wanting to talk to Malcolm. Buffy accuses Xander of jealousy, and Xander denies vehemently, claiming he is just worried about Willow, because they have no idea if Malcolm is who he says he is. The scene cuts to Fritz mumbling "I'm jacked in" as he carves the letter "M" into his arm using a scalpel. As Willow is late on the next day, Buffy finds that she blew off classes to talk to "Malcolm". When Buffy asks Dave for help in finding out Malcolm's real identity, his angry response causes her to think that he is Malcolm. When Buffy asks Giles for help, he confesses he cannot help her much as he finds technology to be intimidating. His only idea is for Buffy to follow Dave. As Buffy follows him to the CRD building, a security camera points at her, and a message appears on a computer screen Fritz is looking at: "kill her".

When Buffy goes back to Giles and Xander, Xander unexpectedly knows that CRD is "Calax Research and Development", a hi-tech company which shut down. When Xander assures Buffy that it is suspicious, since he would know if CRD re-opened, they decide to break in. When Ms. Calendar interrupts them, Xander and Buffy leave. Willow becomes suspicious of Malcolm after she learns that he knows Buffy was kicked out of her old school, and logs off the conversation. Back at the library, Giles's and Ms. Calendar's verbal sparring leads them to discover that Moloch's book is empty.

Outside of school, Dave tells Buffy that Willow wants to talk to her in the girls' locker room, as a plot to electrocute Buffy. Dave changes his mind at the last minute, and his warning combined with Buffy's slayer reflexes save her. When Moloch hears of it, he begins writing Dave's suicide note on the computer, and Fritz kills Dave by hanging. In the library, Giles tells Buffy and Xander that demons can be imprisoned in books; if the books are read aloud, the demons are set free. Giles also explains that Moloch is an extremely powerful and seductive demon who "preys on impressionable minds", winning his victims over with false promises of love, glory and power; Dave and Fritz being two of his disciples. Together, they realize that Moloch has gotten into the internet - the scanning of his book being close enough to "reading" it to set him free - and is causing chaos from there. When Buffy tries to delete the "Moloch" file, his face appears and tells her to stay away from Willow, and Buffy realizes Malcolm is Moloch.

Buffy and Giles realise that there is no limit to the destruction that a demon could do through the Internet. After they find Dave's body, Xander and Buffy go to Willow's house, and Buffy tells Giles to ask Ms. Calendar for help, hoping that between his knowledge of demons and her knowledge of computers, they can reimprison Moloch. Willow is kidnapped by Fritz. Giles seeks help from Ms. Calendar, and is surprised that she is already aware of the demon in the Internet; she explains that she is a "technopagan". Buffy and Xander, guessing that Moloch had Willow kidnapped, rush off to CRD. Buffy calls Giles, and they coordinate plans. Inside CRD, Moloch's robotic body is prepared, and he is happy to see Willow. Moloch kills Fritz as a demonstration of his power and tries to entice Willow into his clutches, but she resists him, disappointing him. Buffy and Xander break into CRD as Giles and Ms. Calendar start preparing the binding spell. The binding spell does not complete, but casts Moloch out of the internet and traps him inside his robotic body. Enraged at losing his "omnipotence", Moloch crashes through a wall and attacks Buffy, Willow and Xander. After a brief battle, Buffy tricks Moloch into punching an electrical power line, causing his robotic body to explode and, presumably, destroying him for good.

The next day, Buffy, Willow and Xander joke about how the Hellmouth is screwing with their love lives, laughing about how none of them will ever find true happiness; suddenly, realising what they are laughing about, it ceases to be funny.

Production[edit]

"I, Robot… You, Jane" features the first appearance of Jenny Calendar. Although her first name was not mentioned, the script called her Nicki. However, the name was then changed to avoid confusion on the set, where the cast and crew all call Nicholas Brendon by his nickname, Nicky.[1] Ms. Calendar becomes a recurring character in the second season and has a relationship with Giles, which is hinted in this episode.

When Giles listens to the radio in his office, the voice speaking is actually the uncredited voice of Joss Whedon.[2]

Cultural references[edit]

  • The title of this episode is a play on the phrase "Me Tarzan, You Jane", as well as a reference to I, Robot, a collection of science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov which were later adapted to film in 2004.
  • "My spider-sense is tingling": This is the phrase used by Marvel Comics hero Spider-Man when he senses danger with his spider sense. The term has come into common usage meaning someone has a bad feeling about something.
  • The character named Dave may be a reference to Dave Bowman, the human protagonist in Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, who shuts down the AI computer system HAL 9000. Also, when Giles and Ms Calender perform the binding ritual, the computer screen flashes a number of different colours, much like a scene near the end of the film version of A Space Odyssey.
  • Giles' suggestion that they stop Moloch by means of a computer virus prompts a response from Jenny that he's seen way too many movies. This is likely a reference to the film Independence Day where the protagonists disable the defenses of alien invaders by introducing a computer virus into their system.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

"I, Robot... You, Jane" was first broadcast on The WB on April 28, 1997. It received a Nielsen rating of 2.3 on its original airing.[3]

Noel Murray of The A.V. Club was critical of the episode, giving it a grade of D+ because it was "corny, tonally off and lacking even the illusion of depth that other slack episodes have provided in Season One". He felt that it was "frustrating in its lack of extra levels, because there are so many places that episode could've gone", and also found some "odd" things about the episode, such as the sudden appearance of other students in the library. However, he was positive towards the final scene and Ms. Calendar.[4] DVD Talk's Phillip Duncan was more positive, writing that "What could have easily been a silly plot is made all the better with an excellent set-up, the introduction of another key player, and the continued focus on characters other than Buffy."[5] A review from the BBC was also positive, writing, "Although the plot is rather tired and seems to belong to the Cyberspace-obsessed eighties, it's given a unique Buffy The Vampire Slayer spin or three to create a very satisfying episode." The review praised the focus on Willow and the way Moloch was presented.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Vol. 1. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.
  2. ^ "I Robot... You Jane: Trivia". BBC. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season". Archived from the original on 23 August 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Murray, Noel (19 June 2008). ""Angel", etc.". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Duncan, Phillip (21 January 2002). "Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Season 1". DVD Talk. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "I Robot... You Jane: Review". BBC. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 

External links[edit]