Doublemeat Palace

Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Nick Marck

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy shagged Spike and got defensive; Buffy encountered the Legion of Dorkness, Amy got deratted, and taught Willow about the dark side of magic. Willow got Dawn into an accident, and asked for help, and Buffy's broke with no future.

At Casa Summers, Willow is filling Xander and Anya in on the Legion of Dorkness; unfortunately, she also has to tell them that the LoD abandoned their headquarters and is nowhere to be found. They did leave behind a bunch of spellbooks and parchments, along with "razor scooters, and pictures of the Vulcan woman on Enterprise." Anya proceeds to expound on how supervillians are uncapitalist and un-American; "Welcome to today's episode of "Go, money, go!" I hear it daily." Xander groans. "Yup, for the rest of your life," Willow points out. Xander looks less than thrilled. "The workers are the tools that shape America," Anya concludes. "Good to know," Buffy says, coming into the room in a really, really pathetic fast food costume, complete with silly animal hat. "I was kinda feeling like a tool. And now I know why."

We come back to a cheer overdubbing of 'The History of the Doublemeat Palace' -- a fast food chain that seems to combine the worst traits of McDonalds, Burger King and Sonic. It's an orientation video for new employees, demonstrating, among other things, how chicken and hamburger are combined into one tasty doublemeat special. And apparently does so very vividly, judging from Buffy's queasy, "Holy crap". She fakes enthusiasm for her new manager, Manny, but Manny is hugely unimpressed. [It would be hard to find anything that would actually impress Manny, or in any way get a reaction out of Manny. This being Sunnydale and all, it's fairly easy to assume Manny is a zombie and move on.] He asks why Buffy wants to work there; she admits the need for money and a shot training time... then tails off and offers, "Because I want to be part of the Doublemeat experience?" He introduces her around, and two drones ask what happened to the other one -- apparently, Buffy's predecessor left without saying goodbye. Or taking anything out of her locker, which Buffy inherits. As Buffy punches in, Manny advises Buffy that lifers will get the most out of the job, and points proudly at his 10-year button. The very thought makes Buffy queasy again.

Manny takes her on a tour of the kitchen, where more drones are functioning, cutting perfect, identical slices of chicken. Buffy stares in fascination, then is pulled back to the rest of the tour, including places she doesn't need to go. Like the walk-in freezer. Manny finishes off his tour by handing Buffy a Doublemeat Medley -- "a classic double-decker with a twist -- a pure beefy patty above the mid-bun, a slice of processed chicken product below the midbun. Plus pickles and a secret ingredient. Eat it." Buffy complies almost as reluctantly as we watch her comply, and unwisely asks what the secret ingredient is. "It's a meat process," Manny answers, and sends Buffy off to work. Chit-chat with the coworkers doesn't go very well -- funny is frowned on a time-waster. An older woman orders and Buffy boggles at the number of buttons on the register, but Gary, the guy she's working with, assures her, "A cocker spaniel could do it." Buffy takes the next set of customers, as the older woman waits for her order; she comes here every day, and knows all of the people. "I can see you here for a long time," the older woman says cheerfully. Buffy attempts a smile, then starts trying to take the family order from hell.

Lunch is more of what she's been dishing up, followed by exploring. Manny catches her checking out the walk-in closet and isn't happy. "Curiosity killed the cat," he tells her. She grimaces. "Theory #5: Cat-burgers." The afternoon picks up a little as the Scoobies show up with Dawn in tow. Buffy is still not getting into the work, though -- it's nothing like waitressing in LA was -- and she's getting more and more suspicious of Manny, the secret ingredient, and the disappearing workers. Xander, whose been here before, tells her she's being paranoid and Buffy admits she probably is. Xander orders; as Buffy goes to get it, Anya suggests, "If you like the food here, honey, maybe we should get it for the reception." She's having to play catch-up, since non-magic Willow isn't going to be any help -- she still needs bridesmaid dresses, plus the out-of-town and demonic guests haven't RSVP'd yet. Buffy delivers the food and Xander digs in - somewhat less enthusiastically after Buffy make a cat joke.

After dark, things slow down; Buffy starts to take a break, despite the protests of her zombie-like coworker, Gina, but then she gets another, less welcome guest. Spike appears at the front counter and proceeds to make a pain of himself. He objects to the florescent lights: "Some demons love 'em. Way they vibrate makes the skin twitch. That the kind of demon you are, luv?" Needless to say, that comment doesn't go over well; Buffy once again reiterates that she's not a demon. "Oh. I see. That why you took this job? Prove something to yourself? A normal job for a normal girl. Good way to drive yourself crazy, that is." He leans closer. "You're not happy here. You don't belong here. You're something. You're better than this." Buffy looks very unhappy. "I need the money." Spike tells her can get money, and tries to get her to walk out with him there and then. She walks away to take care of the fries. "This place'll do things to you!" Spike shouts after her. "This place'll kill you!" Ooo. Foreshadowing. After closing, Gary the friendly coworker takes out the trash and hears something in the dumpster. He apparently has even fewer brain cells than I assumed, since he goes to check it out. As we watch in Monstervision, he asks something coming towards him what it's doing, then screams. His hat falls to the ground.

Buffy clocks in for another wonderful day at work; one zombie coworker meets her with a mildly surprised "You came back." Yeah, she's real thrilled about it, too. She comes around the corner and is startled by Manny, who informs her, "Gary's gone." He didn't show up that morning, which makes him fired and puts Buffy on grill. She's never done it before, but it's as idiot-proof as possible -- and as brain-numbing. "Eliminates variation," GrillGuy says. "Every burger in every Doublemeat Palace is the same. People don't like variation." Buffy: "Got it. Variety is the spice of bad." She continues her attempts to find out what the secret ingredient is, and still only gets the answer, "It's a meat process." Buffy sucks it up and faces the grease. And her greasy co-worker. She's actually happy to see Manny -- until he informs her she's working a double shift because a grinder guy didn't show. Yay.

She calls Xander to let him know he might be on Dawn duty (apparently); Xander hang sup the phone and shrieks as a demon materializes in the living room. "I have been called and vengeance shall I wreak," she announces. "Cower, masculine one! Tremble as you face my wrath." Anya wanders into the room and notices the visitor; there's an exchange of blinks and vengeancy utterances, which turn into girlie shrieks and hugs as Anya recognizes Halfrek, and old friend from the demon days. Xander collapses into a little puddle of freaked relief, as Anya explains that she didn't summon Halfrek, she just invited her to the wedding. Xander excuses himself from the reunion. Doubletime. "I guess I got the message garbled," Halfrek explains. "You know how it is, half the time I have no idea if I'm maiming the right guy. So, um, you're marrying that man with the large upper arms?" Anya confirms it. "Why?" Halfrek asks. Anya: "Because I love him." Halfrek (snottily): "Hm."

On fry detail, Buffy watches as the oil boils with nothing in it. "It does that sometimes," ZombieBoy tells her. "They say bugs fall in there. You can go on your break now." Buffy's break, as it turns out, consists of going into the back alley and shagging Spike against the wall. She looks less enthusiastic about the process than desperate for anything that's not fast food. At Casa Summers, Amy pays a visit to Willow, ostensibly to pick up her Habitrail. "It's not much, but it's home. Or it was." Amy settles onto the bed instead of taking the cage. "So, I hear you got this whole cold turkey thing going on. How's it going with that?" Willow tells her it's going fine, frustrating, but fine. "I'm getting my focus back," she says as she plays compulsively with a highlighter. "So this is it, huh?" Amy asks. "This is going to be your life from now on?" Obviously, she doesn't see the appeal of a magic-free life; Willow tries to brush her off, but she suddenly looks inspired. "It's your birthday," she announces; as Willow tries to deny it, she says one word, and power suddenly flows from her to Willow. Willow's eyes go black with magic, her hands surge with power, and Amy smiles. "It's a gift. It's magic -- and it didn't come from you, it came from me. Completely legal. Enjoy." She wanders out of the room, leaving Willow panting and torn.

Late night at the DM Palace finds Buffy staring in fascination at the grinder, as it churns out a tube of ground (theoretically). But her eyes narrow as she spots something -- reaching in, she pulls out a human finger. She races to the manager's office to confront Manny; Manny stumbles for a damage-control explanation his little franchised brain isn't equipped to come up with. Maybe there was an accident with Gary, he suggests; Buffy makes the leap to "Maybe Gary's on the grill!" She proceeds to go on a rampage through the restaurant, overturning meals and warning everyone that the Doublemeat Medley is people. "what about the cherry pie," the older woman asks, as Buffy is dragged away, still raving.

A minor fight scene ensues behind the counter; obviously, Buffy is beyond fired, but she's also beyond caring. At Xander and Anya's place, Halfrek is doing an annoying kind of third degree over Xander. Anya explains, "Xander, he... he's very kind, and brave, and he has the sweetest smile, and the nicest body, and he loves me. Sometimes it isn't easy, but he does. " Halfrek asks, "Who told you that it isn't easy to love you?" Anya looks embarrassed and resigned. "Well, you know, I'll do something, or say something, and then he has to say stuff like, 'It's incorrect for you to appreciate money so much' or, 'Observe. Here's how a real human would behave.'" Halfrek: "Oh, so he corrects you." Anya tries to say it's not like that, but is hampered by the fact that it pretty much is. "Now I'm all confused. Do you think there's something wrong with the way he treats me?" Halfrek shrugs innocently. "Do you?" You can see where this conversation is going; Anya tries to defend her relationship with Xander as Halfrek smiles cheerfully and assures her she doesn't have to talk about it if she's not comfortable. [The urge to cram the teacup down Halfrek's throat grows stronger with every 'Hm.'] The man in question is currently being adorable at the magic shop, playing Go Fish with Dawn, until Buffy drops a Doublemeat Medley on the table. "I call and emergency meeting and this is it?" she demands. Well yeah; Anya's with her 'friend', and Willow is nowhere to be found. Buffy informs them that something is wrong at the DM Palace. "I try to do the simplest thing in the world, get an ordinary job, in a well-lit place, and look, I'm right back where I started - blood and death and funky smells." She displays the finger and tells them who she think it belongs to. "We need to analyze the burger and see if it used to be people." Xander turns around, his mouth full and his eyes wide. Buffy yells at him for eating the burger and destroying the sample; he's too busy being freaked about the whole 'eating people' part of this meeting.

Willow rushes in late and still high on Amy's magic gift; a pencil she picks up glows blue, then goes limp. Buffy is distracted by the thought of murder cannibalism at every Doublemeat Palace throughout the state, and doesn't notice Willow's twitchiness. "We need to bring down the whole corporation!" Willow tries to focus on testing the meat samples, while Buffy goes back to check out the restaurant, since it's after closing. Dawn quietly asks Willow if she's okay; Willow tells her, "I'm just worried about Buffy. She could be walking into anything." What's Buffy's walking into is a dark and fairly creepy-looking fast food restaurant. Nobody's home this late, so she wanders through and into the walk-in freezer unimpeded. Nothing and no one home; even the grinder is clean. Something clatters to the floor behind her and she investigates, then slipping and falling to the floor. She picks up the object she stumbled on and finds herself holding a foot with a very familiar shoe. "I guess you really were a lifer," she tells the remains of Manny.

At the magic shop, Willow is set up with test tubes and a microscope, muttering over and over, "I don't need magic," while Dawn and Xander talk at the counter. Dawn is finally getting the idea that her sister can never be anything other than the Slayer. "I can still grow up to be anything, but for her... This is it." Xander fails to comfort her as Willow calls them over. Xander doublechecks her methods, and Willow snaps, "It's not magic, it's chemistry. You can tell by how damn slow it is." She's finishing up her analysis as Anya and her brand new issues finally arrive; Xander asks if Halfrek is gone, which she is, then starts, "So, Ahn... The way she looked, with the face. That wasn't what you used to look like, was it?" Anya looks at him sideways. "Is there something wrong with that? I mean, did you think she was unattractive?" Xander wisely regroups. "Okay, is there any answer to that question that won't make you nuts?" No, babe -- get out while you can. Willow interrupts the burgeoning premarital spat as the results start coming in. Turns out the meat in the doublemeat medley isn't human, or demon. It isn't even meat. It's all cellulose.

In the Double-nonmeat palace, Buffy continues to try to figure out what's going on. She finds a wig that looks very familiar -- since she's seen it on the head of a regular customer. "wig Lady?" she asks herself, baffled. "Oh, dear. Wig Lady." She spins around to find said woman standing behind her, head bald. "So that's what they call me. I don't care for that." She advances on Buffy, looking suddenly very dangerous, "I have to do something to hide this," she says apologetically, as something slimy and scaly and very large begins erupting from the top of her head. The snake-like thingie spits something at Buffy which freezes her in place. She struggles to move away as her body is paralyzed, but can't get very far....

She finally makes a break for it, stumbling away; Wig Lady keeps talking. "Did I tell you you're my favorite? Doublemeat workers. You're so full of doublemeat burgers, and you just slide down so smooth." We're treated to the joys of eating people slowly as Buffy drags herself around searching for a weapon. Hope suddenly comes from the drive-in microphone -- Willow has come to tell he that the burgers aren't people, but processes vegetables. She also confesses what Amy did to her; it's touching, but Buffy has been grabbed and the snake-thing has it's teeth sunk into her shoulder. She tries to get away, turning the grinder on in the process, and making enough noise to bring Willow inside. The thing spits and Willow ducks, then it goes back to chomping on Buffy. Too soon; Willow pops up behind them as informs Wig Lady, "Missed me," as she swings something long and sharp, decapitating the snake thing. Buffy falls over and Wig Lady collapses, but the snake keeps squirming. Buffy buries a plastic knife in it, but it's Willow that tosses it into the grinder and finishes the job. Disgusting, but effective, and 100% magic-free.

The next morning, a cheerfully oblivious Amy stops by to borrow detergent and stuff needed for apartment life. Willow refuses to let her in, or to loan her anything. "I can't spent time with you anymore," Willow tells her. "You don't get it. What you did to me was wrong. Do you have any idea how much harder this makes... everything?!" Amy smiles. "You know what I notice? You're not denying that you had fun." Willow: "Shut up." Amy: "Oh, yeah, sharp argument you got there. Were you on the debate team? I forgot. I forgot a lot while you were failing to make me be not a rat." Willow stays close to the door, her eyes hardening. "Amy, if you really are my friend, you better stay away from me. And if you really aren't... you better stay away from me." Amy walks away, but doesn't look convinced. There's a meeting of another kind going on back at the Doublemeat Palace -- Buffy goes back to return her uniform to the new manager, Loraine, the queen of efficient, yet clueless, perkiness. While she's there, Buffy mentions that she knows the big Doublemeat Secret -- that their meat isn't. Loraine is sufficiently impressed by this knowledge to accept a bit of blackmail, and Buffy is suddenly employed again. But Loraine wants her to have a whole new attitude. She tells a relieved Buffy, "I like people who want to be here. Maybe you didn't take this job seriously before, but from now on -- see this?" She taps her five-year button. "I want you to be shooting for this from here on out." Buffy forces a very sick smile.

Not much to speak of. Buffy is employed, Anya's old vengeance demon friend came to town, Amy is holding quite the grudge over the Rat Years.

Anya seems to have taken some of Halfrek's issues to heart as her very own -- perhaps not without some justification.

Okay, I officially want to smack Spike. Yes, fast food is a sucky job; yes, anything is preferable to asking if you want that supersized. But it's normal, it's living, and it's necessary -- all giving her a hard time about it can do is make it harder on her, you yutz! Yes, indeed, it's time for the smacking of Spike. :p And he would get money, how? The man gambles for kittens and used to hold the Scoobies up for money. Plus, the shagging in the alley? Pathetic on both your parts. Grrr....

Personally, I'm in awe of Buffy for going back there. I lasted two glorious weeks at an ice cream parlor noticeably nicer to work at than the Doublemeat Palace, and was still hugely relieved to finally be fired. I do feel sorry for her, because Dawn's right -- there are very few jobs that will be flexible enough to allow for the life of a Slayer, and the lack of college. I do wonder why she doesn't go back to real waitressing, which sucks equally, but usually doesn't involve the cooking and the grease, and does involve tips, but what the heck. Whatever she has to do to keep them going.

As far as Halfrek goes... I'm not saying she wrong. She's not. Xander has gotten into the habit of instructing Anya when it's long past time that Anya is going to change. This is what Anya is, and Xander does need to adjust to that, if he really loves her. And Anya needs to bring this point home to him, which she looks fully prepared to do. This does not stop me from despising Halfrek as the kind of miserable woman who prejudges every man as unworthy before meeting him, then settles down to make everyone else agree with her so they can be miserable, too. Feh! Lovely job of writing a despicable character.

I feel for Willow doing the cold turkey thing, and Amy as junkie friend interfering is being handled fairly honestly. I'm unsurprised that Amy is holding the grudge of the Rat Years, although I hope someone points out that it's pretty much her own bloody fault at some point soon. And Willow continues to show that dangerous side that makes me think this whole magic thing isn't nearly as over as she's like to believe....

Best Moments:
The gang showing up to support Buffy at work -- very family-like, and very cool. Xander's reaction to Halfrek's disappearance, and her sudden transition to Girl Talk at Anya's appearance. I hated the character on sight, but the actress is quite fun.

Willow facing off against Amy -- very chilling.

Questions and Comments:
That's it -- those were the best moments. I cannot express how much of a massive waste of time this episode was. Yeah, yeah, fast food = horror show -- problem is, we've seen this all before. The metaphor is too blatant, and completely uninteresting. And the monster was cheesy and overly phallic. I do find that consuming alcohol make sit slightly more tolerable the second time around, when you can't mute before cause you're synopsizing. However, I'd rather work at Doublemeat palace for a day than watch this intensely annoying episode again.

Rating: 2 stars out of 5. It's saved from being a total loss by the glimmers of good Anya stuff upcoming, and by Allison Hannigan's outstanding performance. Can I get the rest of it to go?


"That was... Um... disturbing. That's the word. Disturbing. I'm talking about the main plot. The Anya and Xander subplot was mildly amusing but okay. The Amy and Willow subplot left you feeling unsure (great exit line of Willow's though -- one of her best)." -- Dawn

"Um.... I worked at McDonald's. This ep must've been written by someone who paid their dues in fast food hell. They certainly pushed my buttons. Probably the worst bit was when Buffy and Spike were making out. The look on Buffy's face..." -- Dawn

I can almost see Buffy in five years, Perky!Manager of her own Doublemeat Palace. She hated working in the Magic Shop because it was boring, but the wonderful stress of the Palace will make her bouncy and happy. Yeah. :P I was still having flashbacks, though. Do you know it's possible to torture one of those registers by pushing the buttons that don't have little pictures or words on them? They make the registers scream. Hehehehe. Not that we don't *love* the registers. 'Cause, they're our *friends*. Heh." -- Kiki

"I did love Willow telling Amy off like that. If they do go head to head magick wise, who will win? Just how far will Willow go to win?" -- Judy

"Okay, in the training film they showed that employees should wash their hands after using the restroom. Do you think they included training on washing your hands after a quickie in the back alley with your undead boyfriend? Really, think about the hygiene issues involved."
"I would hope so, although, it sounds like the kind of thing that would fascinate Watchers, like how does a vampire's hair grow and why do they breathe when they don't need to? A subject that is way weirder than you anticipated. " -- Maddog and Kiki

"Fluff, but I liked it, mostly for the Willow stuff, where she finally pulled out of the magic funk she's been in for what seems like *forever*, or at least since the first time her eyes when big-mojo-black last season. Willow saving Buffy was cool, and that snake demon was just yuuuuuuuuuucky." -- Kiki

"And when did Spike become DenseBoy? Why would he think Buffy would accept money from him? And what happened to "if you're not going to love me and admit that we're doing this, no touch?" Or did I miss something, because I had it on MUTE while I was on the phone for a while, and I easily could've missed some salient reason why shagging her in an alley didn't count. *snort*" -- Kiki

"I still maintain that the greatest motivator to finish college is working fast food before you graduate high school." -- Kiki

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