Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Classics: BtVS 6:12 - Doublemeat Palace

Overall Rating: 7.2

This one is actually extremely funny if you've ever worked in food service or know someone who has.  Otherwise, the plot is run of the mill.

Plot Synopsis:

Wikipedia has a summary here - although its moderators need to remove the rods from their asses and quit questioning the relevance of individual episode synopses within the encyclopedic format.

The Skinny:

I like that Buffy wants to work for her money...and doesn't want to get it from Spike's illegal activities or through extortion when she finds out their secret meat process.  That's something Giles would be immensely proud of, I believe.  I don't like that she still thinks it's a wonderful idea to take work breaks to play pin the vamp on the slayer's lady parts.  But it is in character, given Buffy's other problems at the moment, and the writers are still clearly painting that relationship as entirely unhealthy and unloving, which is a plus.

But what makes this episode above average for me are all of the details they put into the atmosphere at the Doublemeat Palace.  I love their company video with the cheesy voice-over guy proudly discussing how "this cow and this chicken" are about to be a part of something magical, followed by gory details of how the animals are slaughtered...LOL  Anyone who's had a retail or food service job knows about these job training videos (and trembles before their creepy cheerfulness).  Anyone who's worked in fast food (my friends from Oswego had stories for me that you wouldn't believe!) knows that people really do stare off into space a lot, cheerfulness and creativity really are discouraged, the lifers really are strange and sad little people, etc.  And if you've ever worked for a big company, you know they have secrets you aren't allowed to know and they gloss over them with buzz-phrases like "it's a meat process."  I think Jane Espenson must have worked at Micky-Ds or something...because she nailed the experience with gusto. :)  I love the creepy grill cook with his story about the grease ear plug and his special device to clean out his ears...classic.

The demon plot is run of the mill, with a little bit of a twist...Willow is given a "gift" by former friend Amy (the magic addict who introduced Willow to the stuff beyond those pesky gateway spells)...a spell that will give her a lot of power without a recharge period.  Willow spends the rest of the episode struggling to not give in to the desire to do magic while accidentally melting pencils and exploding light bulbs, and then, while Buffy is fighting a demon customer with a giant (and really ridiculous looking) snake head, Willow confesses her Amy-troubles.  This is before she determines that she can't let Amy drag her down again and delivers a threat to get her to leave (a threat that is very well written..."If you really are my friend, you'd better stay away from me.  And if you aren't...you'd BETTER stay away from me.").  This is all good stuff...but it's in small doses and can't elevate the overall score for the episode beyond the high-par range.

Writing: 7.5

Giving some bonus credit to Espenson for obviously knowing what fast-food service is like. :)

Acting: 7.0

The performances are OK, but few stand out.  Anya and Xander's demon-heavy side plot involving Halfrec is well done in particular, while Buffy's "it's people!!" freak-out seemed less-than genuine.

Message: 7.0

A big bonus point for Buffy wanting to make her living the honest way as she struggles to reclaim her life and for Willow sticking to her plan to avoid the darker places to which her magic took her, even when tempted unfairly.

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