Killed By Death

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Not an outstanding ep, but some classic moments, and a welcome break in the angst-a-thon that has been this season.

Buffy staggers over the wall at the cemetary, on the hunt -- and sick. She nearly stakes Xander as he, Willow, and Cordelia come around the corner. They try to make Buffy go home, but she's still on a guilt trip and refuses to go back in while Angelus is on the loose. Angelus takes his cue and appears, attacking Cordelia. Buffy fights him off, but still weak, comes off on the losing end. Before Angelus can do permanent damage, Xander and the other two fight him off. Buffy collapses at Xander's feet, unconcious.

Xander carries Buffy to the hospital and hovers in the emergency room as Willow calls Giles and Cordelia calls Joyce. The doctor tells Joyce et al Buffy will be fine, but has to stay in the hospital for a few days, because of her fever. A delirious Buffy reacts violently to the news, babbling to Giles about the vampires untils she is sedated. The Slayerettes cover; Joyce explains that Buffy has been phobic about hospitals since she was eight, when her cousin Celia died while Buffy was alone with her. As Joyce goes to call Buffy's father, Giles escorts her; she thanks Giles for looking after Buffy, and offers him her sympathy for Jenny's death.

Buffy sleeps restlessly, waking to find a young boy in her doorway. As he leaves, a monstrous man walks down the corridor after him, grinning at Buffy. She struggles out of bed and follows the pair down the hall; she flashes back to another hospital visit when she was a child. She wakes again, disoriented, and wanders down the hall again, to see orderlies wheeling a child's body out of the ward. In the ward, Buffy's nurse argues with a doctor over his methods. She turns again to find the boy, Ryan, and a girl, who tell her that "He comes at night." When she asks who, they respond solemnly, "Death".

Xander stands guard outside Buffy's room and is there to confront Angelus, who shows up with flowers and an attitude. Xander faces him down and Angelus finally retreats, after hitting Xander with the knowledge that he slept with Buffy. Meanwhile, Buffy is dreaming/remembering again, playing superheros with her cousin. Then she is back in Celia's hospital room. She wakes to find the nurse standing over her, surprised by how well the fractures on her forearm from Angelus' attack have healed. Despite Buffys' best efforts, the nurse keeps her in bed until the Slayerettes arrive; Buffy gets them to take her outside to tell them about the events of the previous night. She tells them that a girl died of the flu, and about the experimental treatments the doctor was running. She also tells them about seeing 'Death'; while the Slayerettes aren't sure they believe her, they offer to help find out what's going on.

Xander and Cordelia tackle the hospital record room, while Giles and Willow retreat to the library. Giles is inclined to believe Buffy has created a tangible enemy she can fight, but also says children can see things, side of people, that adults can't. As he and Willow head into the books, Cordelia distracts the security guard who surprised her and Xander. Xander isn't thrilled with her techniques, and she accuses him of being jealous; he sends her with the records to Giles so he can protect Buffy. Cordelia has a jealous attack of her own and retreats in a huff. Buffy talks to Ryan, who has drawn a picture of the monster -- the same monster Buffy saw in the hall. Buffy promises to protect him.

Willow finds Dr. Backer's records, which show a history of risky medical procedures; they conclude he may be the human form of 'Death'. Cordy returns with food and caffeine for Xander, which she delivers while pointedly not speaking to him, and Giles's theory is disproved when, while checking on his patients, Dr. Backer is assaulted by something with very effective claws -- the monster only the children can see. He collapses at Buffy's feet in the corridor as his attacker knocks the Slayer down on his way out.

Giles arrives with the news that Tina, the girl who died, was on the recovery. Buffy tells them about Dr. Backer's death, and that the monster is real. Joyce arrives as they're tossing around theories, and tells Buffy the doctor is ready to release her. Buffy panics and convinces her mom she should stay in for another day. Another split-up for research leaves Willow and Buffy in Backer's office and Giles saddled with Cordelia at the library, while Xander continues his vigil on guard. Wilow and Buffy find Dr. Backer's records -- he was dosing the children with the same virus they had, in an attempt to burn the fever out, which was working.

Meawhile, Cordelia is being less than helpful in the library; in point of fact, her constant questions about demons are annoying the hell out of Giles, who is tired and not in the mood. But it is Cordy who finds the monster -- Der Kinderstad. She calls Buffy, to tell her the monster kills children by sucking the life out of them; it killed the doctor because he was curing the monster's easy prey. Giles clarifies the monster's methods, that it sits on its victims chest and kills them. Buffy has another flashback -- and realizes that she saw Der Kinderstad kill her cousin Celia. She decides that to see and fight the Kinderstad, she has to induce another fever, by dosing herself with Dr. Backer's samples. As they stagger to the childrens ward, though, they find the children gone, running from the monster.

Buffy's fever rises, and the monster becomes visible. But before she can attack him, he leaves the ward and the pair is intercepted by Buffy's nurse. They run from her and Willow distracts the guards who give chase, giving Buffy the chance to get away. Xander intercepts her on her way to the basement, following the Kinderstad. But the monster has already caught up with the children; as he begins to attack Ryan (exuding ickies from his eyes, ugh!), Buffy attacks from behind. Weakened by the fever, she still manages to hold Der Kinderstad off, letting Xander rescue the children. As with Angelus, though, she comes off on the losing end, and Der Kinderstad prepares for a meal -- until Buffy breaks his neck. Then she collapses on Xander again.

A few days later, recuperating at home with her buds and her (very) long-suffering and (endlessly) tolerant mother, Buffy gets a letter from Ryan -- a picture of her standing triumpant over the bloody body of Der Kinderstad.

Buffy continues to heal ridiculously quickly - her fractured wrist is more or less back to normal overnight. But she can get sick like everyone else.

Vampires can come into public buildings like hospitals without being invited.

Xander and Cordelia are either going to kill each other or actually fall in love. They're fighting constantly - usually over Buffy, since Cordelia is not dumb - but at least they're communicating...

The tension levels between Angelus and Xander are heading through the ceiling. Correction, have already gone through the ceiling. These two are going to have it out pretty soon, and I'm very afraid Xander's going to be on the losing end, no matter how well he's holding his own. Not going to be a pretty scene.

There's an interesting dynamic going between Giles and Joyce these days. At this point, I do not want a relationship developing there, but she accepts and appreciates his presence in Buffy's life. Which is cool, because if she was asking too many questions about it, things could get pretty awkward.

A stand-out episode for Xander. The entire episode, Xander was so determined to protect Buffy, at the cost of sleep, food, and his own safety if it had come down to fighting Angelus, which he was perfectly willing to do not once, but twice. All rat bastard vampire comments aside, he was doing a very good knight-in-shining-armor impersonation, and it was deeply impressive. Angelus is right -- Xander does love Buffy, beyond just about anything else. Whether he's in love with her, I don't think even he knows anymore. But one thing -- like Giles, the concept of Xander taking on a vampire like The Master or Angelus isn't quite as amusing as it once was. He might actually stand a chance.

This may be Cordelia's best episode yet. She's still herself - fairly self-absorbed, definitely a pain in the neck - but she's also functioning as a valuable part of the team, and as one of Buffy's friends. She's with Willow and Xander when they are (presumably) patrolling in Buffy's place; she stays with them at the hospital, she comes with them to visit; she helps Xander poke around the records and overcomes her usual standard to flirt with the security guard to distract him (and sneaks in an interrogation while she's at it); she researches with Giles (and shows more interest in it than anyone except Willow generally does). While her usual tactlessness comes to the fore more than once, we also get an explanation for it besides 'Cordy's an idiot' - she refuses to not tell the truth. In fact, thinking back, we've only seen Cordy lie twice that I can remember: once in BBB to Xander about his necklace being in her locker, when she was actually wearing it (a completely understandable lie to save face in an ugly situation) and once in this episode, to Buffy's mother about not interrupting a secret meeting (which was a white lie in the Slayerette line of duty). The rest of the time, Cordelia is actually unfailingly truthful; she calls them like she sees them ("No, you're right, I really don't, but I need a favor."). Admittedly, there are times when not saying anything would be even better than telling the truth, but the principle isn't bad and it has definitely paid off more than once - Cordy verbally kicking Buffy's butt in 'When She Was Bad' comes immediately to mind.

A few other Cordy notes: if you remember waaay back in the pilot, Cordelia commented that her mother has Epstein-Barr; "She never even gets out of bed anymore". Methinks Cordy is working out some 'is-sues' about sickness and being used right now. And, of course, there's the fact that, even when she was mad at Xander, feeling jealous, underappreciated and abused, she still stopped on the way back to pick up caffeine and a junk food fix for Xander. Which is pretty damn thoughtful for a self-absorbed snob.

Poor Giles is just not at the top of his game. For the first time in quite a while, he's more or less content to sit back, do the research, and not get involved in the action. Actually, he's even trying to avoid the research, wanting to believe that Buffy was hallucinating rather than that she saw an actual monster. Jenny's death has taken a bad toll on him; luckily, the other three Slayerettes are able to fill in for him these days.

Buffy gets to beat up on the bad guy and score one against Death Incarnate, which will help her deal with her major guilt over Jenny. But her obsession with keeping Angelus from killing again is going to get her into major trouble if she doesn't grow a brain about it; she'd have been dead in the first scene if Xander and the others hadn't been there to get Angelus off of her. Still, she hasn't let the situation shake her too much - she still ahs enough faith in her own perceptions to go after Der Kinderstad when no one else is even sure he's real. But the methods she's using to fight - deliberately inducing a fever so high she's nearly helpless - is, again, bordering on stupid; she's willing to be incredibly careless with her own life to fight the bad guys, which is not a healthy Slayer attitude. In fact, it's going to get her killed.

Joyce also has a pretty good episode, considering. Her scene with Giles was very nice - she's willing to accept him as Buffy's friend, and grant him a place and rights in Buffy's life (even though she doesn't know just what that place is). And her sympathy about Jenny was really cool - when her daughter is hospitalized, she still takes the time to offer Giles whatever help he needs. Very cool. And she put up with a hell of a lot more from the convalescing Buffy and her buds than any mother should have to!

Best Moments:
Xander kicking the hell out of Angelus, and the rest of the Slayerettes facing him down in the cemetary. These three are really coming through in a desperately bad situation; Angelus isn't going to find them or Buffy as easy a target as he was anticipating.

Xander, Willow and Cordelia delivering Buffy to the hospital. Xander is so cute when he's scared to death; Willow keeps it together and gets everyone organized; and Cordelia follows orders without even making faces.

Giles and Joyce talking by the phone. Joyce is very cool, offering her sympathy and help to Giles, who she barely knows except as Buffy's teacher/friend. I really hope Joss isn't going where I think he's going with this, though; at least, not for a long time.

Xander facing down Angelus in the hospital; I was so proud of him, and wanted to beat Angelus bloody for the crack about Buffy.

Everyone cramming into Buffy's room with presents. Some very nice interplay between Giles and Cordelia, Buffy's reaction to the homework was fun, and Xander's balloons were priceless.

Giles' "Tact" comment to Cordelia. He's been wanting to yell at her about that for the longest time!

Cordelia distracting the security guard. She does it very nicely; not only keeps him occupied, but takes the opportunity to interrogate him about the doctor at the same time. And Xander's disgusted expression as he listens is funny as hell!

Xander and Cordelia's jealous fight. Cordelia is far from dumb; she knows that Xander's still hung up on Buffy, and she's not going to put up with it quietly - good for her! And you've gotta love Xander's blatant look at her butt as she was leaving.

Cordelia dropping the food next to Xander. She's still mad at him, she's not speaking to him - but she's not going to let him starve, either. Very cute.

Xander sending Cordelia off with Giles to do research. Giles whined!!! And pouted!!! Too funny! And Cordelia got her revenge for the earlier hassles about her lack of tact.

Giles and Cordelia in the library. These two are really playing off each other well, in the first solo scenes they've had together since 'The Puppet Show'. Giles should actually be grateful someone besides Willow is interested in the monsters. < g >

Xander and Buffy looking for the Kinderstad. I kept having flashbacks to 'Welcome to the H-mouth', and the two of them going through the tunnels looking for Jesse. The more things change...

Xander rescuing the kids. He can't help Buffy fight because he can't see it, so he does the next best things and calmly gets the kids to safety. All right!

Questions and Comments:
Okay, ask and ye shall receive; vampires can get into public buildings without being invited. But that begs the question of the definition of public - is the school public and Angelus was just being snarky about the invitation, or are there varying levels of public?

Buffy seems to have been a danger magnet most of her life; interesting coincidence that her cousin Celia was killed by Der Kinderstad. On any other show, I'd be screaming CPD, but Buffy being the Slayer and all, it actually makes a twisted kind of sense.

Okay, so who in the makeup department has seen 'Nightmare on Elm Street' just way too many times? Although the grossness of the eyes was a nice touch. < shudder >

I don't think we needed the gratuitous shot up Cordelia's skirt.

Loved all of the Buffy flashbacks; a nice job casting young Buffy, and a cool way to look back on the events with Celia.

Wanted Oz. < pout > Would have been cute if he'd helped Xander stand guard. I'm going to keep pouting for Oz until we get him back.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5. A light-weight and predictable plot, pretty typical for a non-arc story, but an excellent episode for Cordelia and Xander, which gives it some points that almost make up for the cheesy villain.


"Was it the Twist article that mentioned how tight David and Nick are? You can tell in how well they act together--it's like watching world-class pairs skaters, in a way, although they're portraying violent discord instead of harmony. Did it strike anyone else that Angelus is more than a little nervous about the Slayerettes all of a sudden? I think he's beginning to realize that they won't make the same easy meal Dru's family did." -- Gina

"And neither Xander nor Willow had a stake? Yeah, right. By now you know they carry more than just crosses and holy water everywhere they go, *especially* Xander. I understand that their concern for Buffy trumped nailing Angelus, but it really felt like "The Scooby Gang" in a *bad* way- Freddy, Daphne and Velma putting a bag over the head of the guy who's been masquerading as a ghost and..." -- Gina

"Can we say "lame plot device?" Hello? Everyone around Buffy is fine, but *she* has some killer flu? Her mother states "she never gets sick" and the nurses don't get all wigged when her fractures heal overnight?" -- Sheryl

"Was anyone else saying "whoa!" when General Buffy, lying in her bed, was suddenly giving everyone orders and directions, and Giles was just sort of going along with it? He's kind of out of things, isn't he? To the point where he didn't even want to believe that there *was* a monster, which you have to admit is a _bit_ out of character for Giles. He just doesn't want to have to deal with things right now, I think. Poor Giles." -- Maureen

"It's bad when you're second-guessing the FX rather than paying attention to the scene, expecially when somebody's _dying_." -- Maureen

"Why did we need a shot of Cordy's butt? That seemed a bit gratuitous."
"Hmmm...well, Jody liked it. ;-) He even remembered from "Hallowe'en" that it was worth looking up for. So, fwiw, the demographic is responding as desired."
"It's not like we haven't got gratuitous shots of the guys. I'm all for equal opportunity exploitation." -- Sheryl, Amy and Lizbet

"That was part of the problem of the whole ep for me-- like Gina and Sheryl were saying: The monster wasn't scary. He looked like Freddy Krueger so much it made me laugh (o.k., so if I'd ever _seen_ any of the Elm St. movies it might be scary, but I've only seen spoof imitations and bad costume party versions, so he just makes me laugh). I didn't give a damn about the kids beyond the basic "Oh, they're kids, we're supposed to care what happens them. O.K. < sigh > Caring Mode *on*." bit." -- Dianne

"And was the split-second broken neck at the end completely anti-climactic for anyone else? Although it does bring up something that's been bothering me since, well, last week: if vamps are strong and quick enough to snap a human neck (and, let's face it, that's about all it takes), then why the heck isn't Buffy dead by now? Why aren't all the Slayerettes? I mean I love the extended fight scenes as much as anyone, but why should the vamps put up with them? Why not just < *crack* > ?" -- Dianne

"well, truer love hath no woman than to bring her man his favorite munchies!" -- Maureen

"You know, I don't think she's actually inconsistent at all. It's her _mask_ that's getting inconsistent, as it slips more and more often. "Cordy, Val Bitch Queen of Sunnydale High" is no longer always there. "Cordy, Actual Real Person" keeps creeping out on her lately < g > . What I love is the way I think they _have_ made it consistent-- she didn't just become a real, deep, caring member of the team overnight and stay there. She actually cares now ("We're all concerned..."), but still in a very Cordy "I don't care, I'm completely superficial" way ("...about how gross you look.")" -- Dianne

"I had more of a reaction to Buffy's little-girl-memories than I did to Ryan. When you're little, you want to believe you can be a hero when you grow up, but you have to accept that for now you're this short person who's helpless against a lot of monsters. So if you remember that feeling when you grow up, and decide to fight the monster and *win*, it can be a big victory, even if the monster in question isn't nearly as threatening as the ones you usually fight." -- Chris

"I have to ask Joss if Willow's Frog Fear is a tribute to Michigan J. Frog...." -- Chris

"I think that Cordelia, in Giles's eyes, is very similar to the Xander of last season. Irritating... in the way... he accepts her being there only because she knows the secret and comes with Xander. She's already come through in times of need... and she often has the clearest view of things because she's not as emotional invested in things yet (Innocence, KbD). She just lacks... tact. It will be interesting to see how she evolves in the eyes of the Slayerettes." -- Mary Beth

Back to Episodes.