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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Killed by Death

Cordelia: "So this isn't about you being afraid of hospitals 'cause your friend died and you want to conjure up a monster that you can fight so you can save everybody and not feel so helpless?"
Giles: "Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?"

Oh my god, what a terrible episode.

There were a few cool moments and a minuscule amount of fun to be had, but mostly this one was as dreary as a hospital room and there were no real chills, either – except for poor Buffy's. And may I say that it seemed totally out of character for Buffy to be sick.

The tiny bits of cool stuff mostly involved the Slayerettes, like the effective anti-Angel action in the cemetery, and Cordelia seducing the security guard. My favorite scene was a remarkably brave Xander guarding Buffy, and verbally facing off with Angel. Interesting that Angel again brought up his sexual experience with Buffy in order to hurt Xander. This seems to be his major modus operandis, since he also taunted Spike about having sex with Drusilla.

I did like that Buffy deliberately gave herself a fever in order to fight the Freddy Kruger clone, and I liked the delirious Buffy talking about killing vampires in front of Joyce. This was the third time Buffy mentioned vampire slaying in front of Joyce. Joyce even mentioned interrupting a secret meeting when she walked in on the Scoobies. All this, and Buffy constantly hanging around with Giles, an adult man, should be ringing alarm bells for Joyce.

Bits and pieces:

— This episode was about a monster that grown-ups can't see. Were they implying that Buffy is still a child? Okay, I guess seventeen could be considered on the fence, but it sure seems adult to me.

— Willow did Buffy's homework for her. Now, that's a friend.

— Buffy's cousin Celia died in a hospital when Buffy was eight, and they were alone together at the time. Even then, Buffy was a superhero and called herself "Power Girl."

— Willow distracted the guards by pretending she was hallucinating that frogs were all over her. More frogs.

— What thing on Buffy's face?

— Inside info: "Killed by Death" was originally written for the first season. I can totally believe that.


Xander: "My whole life just flashed before my eyes. I gotta get me a life."

Cordelia: "But you do know that you saw death."
Willow: "Did it have an hourglass?"
Xander: "Ooo, if he asks you to play chess, don't even do it. The guy's, like, a whiz."

Willow: "I'm good at medical stuff since Xander and I used to play doctor all the time."
Xander: "No, she's being literal. She used to have all these medical volumes, uh, and diagnosed me with stuff. I didn't have the heart to tell her she was playing it wrong."

Cordelia: "What does this do?"
Giles: "It extracts vital organs to replenish its own mutating cells."
Cordelia: "Wow! What does this one do?"
Giles: "It elongates its mouth to, uh, engulf its victim's head with its incisors."
Cordelia: "Ouch. Wait, what does this one do?"
Giles: "It asks endless questions of those with whom it's supposed to be working so that nothing is getting done."
Cordelia: "Boy, there's a demon for everything."

Xander: "You don't know how to kill this thing."
Buffy: "I thought I might try violence."

One out of four stakes,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. One of the things I love most about Buffy is that no matter how bad an episode can get there is still loads of witty dialogue. 'Killed by Death' is a good example of that.

  2. This is the episode I always forget about and then have the unpleasant reminder when it starts up. Not the best, but as you say, the last of the series. We made it through to the good stuff!

    I do like the way the writers made Cordelia more relatable in this season. She is still herself, but we see a much softer side to her. I like the scene where she brings coffee and doughnuts to Xander, and neither of them says anything. It's very sweet.

  3. So I fell asleep halfway through rewatching this one. I decided "good enough." It is very season 1. I don't hate it like some do, but it's definitely not one of their better endeavors.

  4. Yeah, I didn't like this one much either. It mostly felt like an assignment rather than entertainment. I really had to turn off my inner critic to get past things like all of these children in the hospital, yet no parents are there with them. Also the relatively complacent acceptance of the high Sunnydale mortality rate that is in many episodes really stands out at a hospital where questions should be being asked and reviews should be taking place. If I'm noticing a "necessary" plot hole, then I'm for sure not into the episode.

    Like you Billie, I liked the Xander / Angel standoff. After last episode that definitely kept my "oh no, what will Angel do next" fear turned on.

    Yay for better episodes ahead!

  5. This episode makes me horribly uncomfortable. I really don't like seeing Buffy so weak. It freaks me out, like finding out that Superman has feet of clay or something.

  6. Newbie report:

    Weird, I didn't hate this one as much as the rest of you seem to. It had some nice moments.

    Cordelia: "Watch my back"
    Xander: looks at her ass

    Loved the sweaters - Willow's and Xander's. No ugly pants this episode.

    Yay, Xander for standing up to Angel!

    I have to say, I really like Supernatural's Death better.

    Krispy Kreme product placement much?

    Why are they abusing Joyce? That seems weird.

    But the best part of this episode - Willie Garson! Looking so young, and with more hair than I'm used to seeing.

  7. @pucklady : Wow I totally failed to notice that's Stanley from Sex and the City! That connection now made the scene funnier for me.

    I have a soft spot in my heart for this episode. This is the 2nd Buffy episode I managed to catch during its original run. The 1st being the second half of "Bad Eggs." I felt pretty lost and clueless regarding who these people were when I watched it. I started catching Buffy more consistently once I got my own TV in 1999. It's not a good episode by any means. Now I remember it as the first fairy tale monster episode.

  8. @pucklady, I thought it was kind of cute that they were asking for stuff from Buffy's mother. They were acting like actual teens for a change which is why she put up with it. I bet Buffy didn't have many friends at her last school. I found this episode creepy and didn't like the children being attacked but I enjoyed some pieces of it, particular those around Joyce. Sometimes parents can miss the most obvious things but Joyce does know something is up. As a parent you can only guess and trust that your child will tell you eventually. I think it is great that she essentially trusts Buffy.

  9. While watching this episode, I decided that Joyce is kind of like the "new baby" character on other TV shows. You know the one where you spend a whole season watching your favorite characters trying to get pregnant or upset that they are pregnant and then they have the baby in the finale. Then come the next season, the baby only shows up when necessary to the plot and in totally unrealistic ways....Joyce does not react the way a normal parent would (she left Buffy in the hospital by herself? Really?). If she hasn't gotten enough clues yet, that picture from the little boy at the end should really be a big red flag!

    One thing I really liked about this episode was the parallel of the fight scenes at the beginning and the end. Buffy was sick for both, but came out the victor in the end. Is this the first time we've seen Buffy break someone's neck like that? That's a kickass way to kill a demon!

  10. Strangely enough, I kind of liked this one. I mean, it's not worthy of any awards, but I was into the mystery of it, even if it was of the standard variety. And the monster surprised me, which is a very rare thing. I mean, at first, I would agree that it looked like a cheap Freddy knockoff, but when it's eyes popped out, I was not expecting it, so I suddenly sat up and was like, "Whoa! What?" If you ask my daughter, she'll tell you that's about as surprised as I get, so if nothing else, there's that.
    I did also like Xander facing against Angel, but I still am not completely clear on the rules for vampires. They have to be invited to enter your home, but if a building is open to the public they can go in? And does that mean he can go into someone's room in the hospital or is the line drawn there? Does he have to be invited into the patient's room? What about a doctor's office? I'm sorry, I guess I am picking this apart like the rule about gremlins eating after midnight, because it's always after midnight somewhere.


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