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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 12 - Doublemeat Palace

15 October 2013

Buffy at the Palace

Synopsis: Buffy gets a job at a local fast food restaurant: The Doublemeat Palace. The employees are dead eyed and her boss Manny is a humourless 'lifer.' She is suspicious of the whole place and particularly the 'special ingredient.' Meanwhile Anya gets a visit from a vengeance demon friend Halfrek and Amy pops by to give Willow a gift. 

The Good: Amy's gift of magic was a very effective bit of storytelling. Amy doesn't understand why Willow is so determined to rid herself of magic and thinks she is doing her a favour. It's a cruel burden for Willow to bear though. Not only does it remind her of how good magic felt but it also makes everyday life seem even harder (the reiteration of how long everything takes made perfect sense). She also has to hide her 'gift' from the Scoobies who would assume she had slipped up. The fact that she shares what happened with Buffy also feels like a major step forward for Willow. A positive step which she conveyed with inner strength when she tells Amy to leave her alone.

I like the way the Buffy-Spike story bubbled away in the background. Rather like Amy tempting Willow, Spike's offer of money must have seemed like a lifeline to Buffy. But doubtless it would have involved theft or extortion and just spending more time with him in the darkness. She gives in to the sexual relief he offers but won't leave the honest path of hard work because she knows it's better for her.

The reunion of Anya with her friend Halfrek put an interesting wrinkle into the Anya-Xander wedding plans. Anything that further characterises Anya is fine by me and so to see her questioning the way he 'corrects' her all the time was interesting. I also really enjoyed her blasé comment about how she had expected Willow to click her fingers and help with the wedding plans after she provided for the engagement party (606).

The Bad: I remain confused about the purpose of the whole Doublemeat Palace story. After the satire aimed at politicians (The Mayor) and the army (The Initiative) it feels appropriate to see McDonalds or just corporate employment in general given similar treatment. But there was no demon analogy here. All the dead eyed employees and unpleasant working conditions were just what they seemed to be. Perhaps it was all to demonstrate the life Buffy will now have to life to remain in honest employment. I hope so because otherwise the use of music and constant suggestion that humans were being used for meat would just have been misdirection so that the Wig Lady would surprise us when she turned out to be a demon. She was creepy in an Alien-inspired kind of way but hardly justified the amount of time spent in the restaurant.  

The Unknown: I feel the sheer amount of time spent at the Palace lands it in The Bad. But I didn’t hate it. It seemed heavy handed as satire goes but it was interesting and at times funny. If it becomes part of Buffy’s depression story then it may also serve a purpose.

I was very pleased to hear that Buffy did go to the Trio's basement.

Best Moment: Willow telling Amy to go away showed the inner strength which is the best side of her.

The Bottom Line: This episode strikes an unusual tone from its first moment. In a way I appreciate the attempt to do something different. But that tone was like an episode of The Simpsons with forced comic mockery of the Doublemeat world. It left little room for you to see the satire or feel the comedy. To then finish with a dull misdirection and demon caper was a flat ending. Fortunately the ongoing Scooby characterisation was very good.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Doublemeat Palace
Season 6, Episode 12
Original airing: 1/29/2002

My Rating: 62

The Good: I liked the presentation of this episode and I think it did a great job of emphasizing the theme of the entire season – It sucks to be Buffy. Dawn hits it over the head with her conversation with Xander. This is basically it for Buffy. She doesn’t have time or money to devote to a better career. She’s going to be stuck in minimum wage jobs for the rest of her (potentially short) life.

The sound effects were awesome in this episode to really showcase the awfulness of Buffy’s job. And it made it a really sad moment at the end when she asked for her terrible job back.

I liked Willow’s story as well. Having her hit with some magic from Amy in the midst of her cold turkey recovery made her decisions at the end very powerful. I liked that she ended up telling Buffy about it, despite hiding it from everyone earlier. And I really liked that she made a firm decision that it was bad for her. She avoided relapse and took time to get Amy (a bad influence) out of her life. It felt very appropriate.

Finally, I’m a fan of Halfrek’s introduction to the story. Her two conversations with Anya were great for bringing the struggling Anya/Xander relationship back to the forefront of the show. And it made me look at the relationship in a different light as well. Halfrek does a great job of pointing out that Xander is, and has always, attempted to mold Anya into what he thinks a human woman should act like. Sure, she has some quirks most people would consider unseemly, but in the end, she’s really a fine person. Anya doesn’t need to be fixed in that manner and that kind of controlling behavior is a hallmark of dysfunctional and abusive relationships.

The Bad: The unfortunate part of this episode was the ending. The entire time the show is building up this red herring about human burgers and then suddenly it’s just veggie burgers and the real baddie is an old woman with a snake demon in her head. It’s a pretty poorly done bait and switch and left me feeling sour about the episode.

On top of that, I was really annoyed by the use of Willow running around, coming in at just the right moment, being able to find something to cut through the snake in one swing… it all was a little too fast and way too silly.

One other thing that didn’t work for me in the episode was the extreme robotic nature of the other employees and the hyper vigilance of Manny the Manager. There’s no explanation given for the behavior of the employees except that they work in a dead end job. But they act so incredibly brainwashed, it’s just too unbelievable. And Manny is pretty darn determined to protect the secret of the veggie burgers. He’s not even phased to see the human finger Buffy finds under the meat grinder.

Favorite Moment: As a continuing fan of Spike and Buffy’s situation, I really love the moment in the restaurant where Spike tries to convince Buffy to quit. Despite his evil nature, it adds such a dimension to his character to see that he does genuinely care for Buffy’s happiness.

The Bottom Line: I enjoyed an awful lot of this episode, much more than I expected to on rewatch. The poor bait and switch and unexplainable behavior of the employees did keep it from being awesome, though.

('DiggThis)

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  • I liked this better than I feel like I should have. I find fast food rather stomach-churning to begin with, so I really found this whole thing pretty gross. But the giant penis-demon really did me in. Really, Robin, how do you get Alien instead of penis from that? I find it really amusing that Buffy gets sprayed by the penis and is rendered helpless, yet Willow manages to avoid the spray, hack the penis off at its root and throw it into the meat grinder. I haven't watched past episode 13 yet, so I could be totally wrong about this, but I felt like maybe the writers were telling us that even though Willow is not with Tara anymore, she will not be going straight. She is completely done with penis!

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by DrewP, 15/10/2013 1:38am (4 years ago)

  • Except for the demon part of the episode I thought it was entertaining a little sitcomy but that's what they were going for.


    On the "Buffy first's" front people or Vampires commenting on Buffy's work smell.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Dave Lopez, 30/06/2013 6:21am (4 years ago)

  • A few things to mention:
    - The “demons are better than people” speech was great. I actually like the point she made. The face Xander makes when Willow says he’ll hear stuff like that for the rest of his life was funny and telling.
    - I think Buffy is wearing too much lipstick when we first see her in her uniform.
    - I’m not a big fan of the score they use in moments like when Manny shows her around the Double Meat Palace. It is very un-subtle and reminds me of a mediocre movie score.
    - When I first watched this episode I thought Buffy was going to be brainwashed when she ate the burger Manny gave her. I’m glad that was not apart of the episode. - It is typical in episodes of Buffy and other shows to introduce a character and have him killed. Whether it is good or not depends on the episode and I thought Gary’s was good. It wasn’t a surprise he was taken out but I was a little sad to see him go. He had enough humor that I wouldn’t have minded if he stuck around. I like his line “You’re funny. You better stop that.”
    -Anya says we are here to support you subsistence-level employment.” I think that is kind of insulting and I love that Buffy sincerely says thank you without missing a beat.
    -I enjoyed Anya. She was abrasive and very outspoken in her scenes and I enjoyed every one. I don’t always but for this light episode I did. I also liked her interactions with Halfrek. I could believe they were long time friends and I feel she came out the nicer, more human one. We don’t see that much.
    - Xander’s reactions to Halfrek and the eating burger were priceless.
    -Xander and Dawn’s conversation was great in my mind. It was a good in-depth conversation between two characters that don’t significantly interact much. Xander was supportive, optimistic, and naïve and Dawn wasn’t bratty, she was concerned for Buffy.

    Last thought: Before I saw this episode I saw more than one site rate this the worst episode of Buffy. I enjoyed and laughed all the way through it. My favorite moments were the Xander/Dawn speech, the demon’s response to getting stabbed with a plastic knife by Buffy, and Willows scream when the Demon pops up at the end.

    Viewer score: 72 / 100

    Posted by Jarrid, 28/06/2013 4:00am (4 years ago)

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