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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 7 - Lie to Me

25 July 2013

Synopsis: Buffy sees Angel talking to Drusilla and begins to worry. Ford, an old friend of Buffy's from LA transfers to Sunnydale and Angel is suspicious of him. Willow discovers that Ford hasn't really transferred to the school and she, Xander and Angel follow him to an underground club. There a group of young people have a cult that worships and imitates vampires. Ford goes to Spike and offers him Buffy in exchange for being turned. Buffy follows Ford into the club but he locks the door behind her and reveals that he has a brain tumour.Ford

The Good: This was a terrific episode and interestingly I didn't remember it being so good. One of the reasons this was so good was that it served both the ongoing story and worked as an individual episode. Joss Whedon himself both wrote and directed it and the way he managed to develop the main characters stories while also placing Ford at the centre was very impressive.

Spike and Drusilla might have been merely plot points in the midst of Ford's story but instead we learn important things about them. Angel's guilt over what he did to Drusilla was evident in the opening scene and it the revelation of what he did to her was a genuinely uncomfortable moment. Angel forces Buffy to admit that she loves him and then has to explain to her how he tormented and tortured an innocent girl. That conversation pushes aside the fairytale elements in the vampire\slayer romance and makes you imagine how Buffy must feel knowing that this is the kind of thought that exists inside his head. This revelation will doubtless play an important role in the ongoing dynamics of the battles with Spike and Drusilla and definitely makes them more intriguing.

In addition to all that we just get another enjoyable glimpse of them Spike and Dru as a couple. Following up what we have seen of them so far they seem so fascinating to watch. On the one hand Spike is perfectly sane and calculating and can be frustrated by poor mad Dru as she complains about her dead bird's lack of song. On the other though he instantly apologises to her as if she has all the power and he needs to constantly mollycoddle her to maintain her affections.

I thought the dialogue between the main characters was very sharp as well. Xander has fun chirping away in the background at both Ford and Angel ("I'm going to have to go with Dead Boy on this one"). Willow comments that "ours is a forbidden love" when its revealed that Angel was in her bedroom and true to herself calls out "Nice to meet you!" at poor deluded Chanterelle after Angel offends her. Giles' responses to being taken to a Monster Truck Rally was suitably amusing. Meanwhile Spike is rapidly developing his own memorable vocabulary and style of speech. His comment on Ford's arrival at the factory was cutting: "Did we finally find a restaurant that delivers?" But he was also able to coin the phrase "I don't feature you living forever" along with dryly responding "Yeah I know who I am too" to underline how unimpressed he was with Ford's opening gambit.

The main event though is Ford and we get a really interesting story. Unlike most of the creepy students Buffy has had to deal with Ford had a genuine relatable reason for his insanity. A lot of Buffy episodes have floundered on the motives of its human villains but when Ford reveals his brain tumour the story received a shot of reality that took it to another level. At first he seemed to just be part of a cult of lonely kids who don't understand what vampires really are. Ford either was taken with this idea or just played the role well to convince everyone of it. We saw him repeating lines from vampire movies and he seemed convinced that using that angle was the best way to convince Spike of his intentions. Ford was also smart, unlike certain other antagonists, and anticipated Buffy's next move. He knew he couldn't defeat her with strength and so devised a way to lock her in the club.

The injustice of his young life ending so early was a real twist on our expectations for Buffy bad guys. Not since "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" has such an authentic and relatable problem been the source of supernatural danger. What I particularly liked about Ford's situation though was that it was his selfishness that made him a bad guy. He could have been completely ignorant of what vampires do and be seen as simply a fool. But clearly he was ready to sacrifice a bunch of other vulnerable people as long as he was able to keep on living. Buffy of course was there to lay down the moral lesson, explain what demons really are and save the day.

What gives the episode its final seal of approval is the unity of the storytelling. The first scene of the episode allowed Buffy to see Drusilla and discover her relationship with Spike. It didn't seem an important detail in relation to Ford until suddenly Buffy is trapped in the club and faced with terrible odds. Thanks to those earlier scenes she has the leverage to defeat Spike by threatening the weakened Drusilla. It was a smart bit of writing and to place a perfect full stop on this busy episode we got the final scene at Ford's grave. The episode is called "Lie to Me" and it's only now that it's placed in its proper context. It could have referred to Ford's lies to Buffy or to his fellow vampire-worshippers, or to himself or indeed Angel's lie of omission about Dru. Instead it's Buffy who uses the actual phrase in asking Giles to make her increasingly complicated world sound simple. Something he just can't do.

The Bad: It's more a personal preference than a real critique but I was hoping Buffy would give her "you don't get to be immortal, the demon takes you over" speech to all of the people in the club and not just to Ford.

The Unknown: What relationship does Angel really have with Spike and Drusilla? There seems to be so much that could be explored with their interactions over the decades.

Best Moment: Angel, Willow and Xander enter the vampire club and look around. Chanterelle warmly welcomes Xander and Willow and explains a little about her beliefs. Angel walks up and calls her a fool. She walks away offended and Angel says he has seen deluded people like this before: "These people don't know anything about vampires. What they are, how they live, how they dress."  Just as he says that a man walks past them wearing the exact same outfit as Angel. It's the fact that Angel is making a very serious and important point that made that moment of comedy so daring and memorable.

The Bottom Line: A seriously impressive episode on many levels. Cancer is probably too serious a topic to spend much time on and so it was smart to reveal it at the end and then move on. Ultimately Ford was selfish and thoughtless and got what was coming to him. Surrounding that the show sparkled and shined. The writing was excellent, the cast were too and the storytelling served the episode and the season really well.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Lie to Me
Season 2, Episode 7
Original airing: 11/3/1997

My Rating: 66

The Good: Ford is actually a well-developed, relatable human villain. The show doesn't always do well with this type of character, but Ford makes a lot of sense. He has terminal cancer and he knows he has very little time left to live. He's most likely become delusional, but he's also reached a point where he's willing to sacrifice the lives of his friends to continue on living himself. Even if it means he has to be a soulless killer for the rest of his existence. He's an understandable, sympathetic villain and that always improves the episode.

Ford also fits into the Buffy world easily by making him a character from Buffy's past. They both mention Emery High School (from the film), and their friendship from fifth grade. They've known each other for a long time and it shows in Buffy's excitement to see him and her immediate comfort level in his presence. Often, the one-time characters in Buffy feel like they've just popped into existence, but Ford feels tangible and persistent.

Drusilla is an interesting character in and of herself with her insanity and peculiar power to see the future. But her relationships with Angel and Spike really make her interesting. We learned in this episode that Angel not only turned Drusilla into a vampire, but that he's the one who drove her insane first. Angel doesn't really explain why he did it, except to say that beforehand, she was sweet and innocent. So perhaps he just felt a compulsion as a demon to destroy her purity. Regardless, it adds a new depth to both Angel and Drusilla to understand why she is who she is now. And having Angel reveal this part of his past to Buffy strengthens their relationship. It also brings it into reality. They constantly remind themselves that their relationship is challenging, and this is another aspect of that same idea.

I also loved the continuation of Giles and Jenny in this episode. Jenny continues to be a quirky opposite to Giles, but is genuinely frustrated when her idea of a fun, different date makes Giles so uncomfortable. It's short, but it's cute. And it's nice to see Giles' non-Watcher life continuing to develop.

The Bad: Having Ford represent himself as a literal vampire movie villain was confusing. It was difficult to tell if this was part of his delusion or if he was truly playing it as ironic. Either way, it came off as silly and corny and took away from the character in my opinion.

The other vampire wannabes were a shady too far as well. Chanterelle is the only one who earnestly seems to want to be a vampire, although she has a very misunderstood notion of what that will mean. The others are just props and Diego is particularly silly with his absurd outfit and overbearing mannerisms.

Favorite Moment: The humor was strong in this episode, but Xander has an extraordinary subversive scene in the Bronze. Ford makes consistent innocuous comments about Angel's age, cold hands, and relationship with Buffy while Xander chirps "You're not wrong!" in the background. It's particularly funny in retrospect when we learn Ford knows about vampires.

The Bottom Line: This was a good episode. It had a strong villain with an understandable reason for his actions. But it was just a little too silly with the supporting characters.

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  • I feel Lie to Me could be one of the most underrated episodes of Buffy and for some reason it seems almost forgotten when top episodes come up. Here are three of many reasons why I think it is very good.
    1. It had one of the best guest stars. Ford was a very well rounded character. He was very smoothly integrated into Buffy’s world and I could get a sense on why he did what he did. Although he was the bad guy, he was not unsympathetic. It was a great mix of excellent writing and really good acting by Jason Behr, who I know from Roswell and more recently Breakout Kings.
    2. It had great one-liners. Example: Ford on going to the Bronze with the gang- “…would I be imposing? Xander- “Oh, only in the literal sense.” Jealous immature Xander had good moments.
    3. Lastly I think this had my favorite ending of Buffy. She is at the grave with Giles. Not Xander, Willow, or Angel. Just Giles. This scene and ending highlights the wonderful relationship between the two. I think she feels safer with him than any other person in the whole series. Giles has great care for her and usually knows when and how to help her. (Side note- early in the episode Giles notices Buffy is down after patrolling and asks what is wrong. Even though she doesn’t admit what it is he still suggests she take the night off.) Back to the final scene, here he tells her what she needs to hear. After staking a childhood friend and just being the slayer, Giles comforts her with a lie. Not just a lie but the best lie about a perfect world that Buffy could probably imagine and feel happy when things get rough. Then in Buffy fashion she calls him a liar. Excellent.
    P.S. This may be one of my favorite podcast so far because you mentioned newbies and Dr. Cox from Scrubs. I’m also a big Scrubs fan.

    Viewer score: 88 / 100

    Posted by Jarrid, 25/07/2013 4:57am (6 years ago)

  • P.S. I wanted to state how very appreciative I am that the reviews you guys are doing are remaining spoiler free. As someone who is going through the series for the first time it's nice to still be able to come here and read your reviews without getting spoilery insights into the future of the show. Thanks for that.

    Posted by Brando, 27/06/2011 8:32pm (8 years ago)

  • Ford reminded me a bit of a friend of mine from college. Sadly my friend has sickle cell anemia and has had a very tough and painful (physically and otherwise) life. He knows that his anemia is likely to end his life far sooner than the average life expectancy and this is what drove him to his obsession with vampires. I met him my freshman year of college and he was a massive movie nerd like myself. He introduced me to "Interview With a Vampire" and I remember after watching that together he told me all about the Anne Rice book series and how he started reading those books as a child and has yearned for much of his life for vampires to be real. Much like Ford he saw it as a way to continue the life he was very afraid of losing before he was ready.

    He's still alive...I only refer to him in the past tense because I'm speaking of our own history together. He is a very intelligent guy and quite cognizant of the implications of what he told me he yearned for. I suspect he would sound crazy to some people, but I can only think many of us would scramble or yearn for a way out of a death sentence such as a terminal illness while still so young and full of life.

    It was this past experience with my friend that allowed me to accept Ford's motivations in this episode as realistic...even in the face of the implications of his wishes to become an actual vampire. I think the writers and actor did a great job of portraying the tragedy of the character's illness while still measuring that with sadness that he would want to become a demon just to stay "alive." I expected more cheese from this show, but I'm beginning to find that the cheesy parts are really only found in its tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, while it takes much of its drama very seriously.

    I like that about this show so far.

    Posted by Brando, 27/06/2011 8:29pm (8 years ago)

  • Hey Lucky,

    Thanks so much for posting ahead of time, we really appreciate it!

    We will of course talk about your comments on the podcast.

    Robin

    Posted by The TV Critic, 29/03/2011 11:40pm (9 years ago)

  • Hi guys,

    Just want to let you know that I'm listening to the podcasts and enjoying them immensly. I started my own Buffy rewatch after getting the complete DVD box set for Christmas (FINALLY upgrading from the VHS tapes which I haven't been able to watch, since I haven't had a VCR for about 5 years!) I'm a wee bit ahead of you guys but these episodes are still nice and fresh in my memory.

    I thought this episode was pretty good for the most part, but it did fall on the wrong side of corny a few times, with lines such as "Oh. I thought you were just slaying a vampire." "I'm with Dead Boy on this one" and "The Lonely Ones? We usually call them the nasty, pointy, bitey ones". It did however manage to get the balance of what is so great about Buffy pretty much spot on - the sadness, weariness and despair Buffy feels knowing that A) Spike was going to kill Ford and B) she was going to have to stake him, coupled with the light and often subtle humour that hooked me into the show in the first place. Often it's the smallest things in Buffy that are the funniest, things that if you blinked you'd miss; a look they give each other; a silent pratfall right in the back of the shot; or just a facial expression or reaction - think Willow drinking the lemonade in "School Hard". In this one it was Angel's face after he says the line "These people don't know anything about vampires: What they are, how they live, how they dress" and a guy walks through the shot wearing exactly what Angel was wearing. David Boreanaz absolutely deadpanned it and that bit floored me.

    One thing I enjoyed while rewatching this part of the series was the emergence of Drusilla as a character. The first few times I watched these I didn't particualy enjoy her, but she's become of my favourite characters in the whole Buffyverse. Her dialogue is fantastic, and the actress plays her wonderfully, chewing up the dialogue and spitting it out in a twist of madness, evil and childlike innocence. She "hams it up" and overacts brilliantly, and I love watching her.

    Anyway I'm sorry for rambling on for so long. I just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying the podcasts, I think the chemistry between the two of you is much stronger than it was in the first few episodes and you really bounce off each other now. I look forward to the new episode every week, so please keep up the good work.

    Cheers

    Lucky

    Posted by Lucky from the UK, 29/03/2011 5:59pm (9 years ago)

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