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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Listening to Fear

Anya: "Yes, 'cause it seems like we're always dealing with creatures from outer space. Except that we don't ever do that."

How do I hate this episode? Let me count the ways.

— The snot monster from space was just... bad. Not funny, not interesting, just... bad. That monster was in the first season of X-Files, and I didn't even like it then. And people aren't going to see something that big on the ceiling? I usually zero right in on anything on the ceiling, even a tiny little spider.

— Joyce's aphasia advanced much too quickly, even for a Sunnydale brain tumor.

— Having strapped down mental patients succumb to a horrible death was pathetic, not scary.

— The Slayerette banter felt forced. Maybe they were aware of how lame the episode was.

— Spike was in the episode for only about five minutes.

There were some really cool plot points in this episode, though:

— Riley is neglecting his monster-killing duties to sit in a dive and get bit? Where is this going? Is Riley going to become a vamp in an attempt to keep Buffy's love?

— Buffy got to do some tag-team slaying with Spike, like she used to do with Angel and Riley. I liked that. Too bad it was over so quickly.

— Not really a plot point, but I liked Tara's version of the constellations.

— We learned that Ben the Friendly Intern is somehow related to Glory. He said that he summoned the Queller to clean up Glory's mess with the mental patients, just like he always cleans up after her. But it raises the question: is he good, or is he evil? Just because he's involved with Glory doesn't mean he's evil. Of course, calling up a monster to kill innocent mental patients is what you would call evil...

— Joyce knows about Dawn now. And Joyce basically said goodbye to Buffy. I get the feeling that Joyce might die in the next episode. Damn.

Maybe it was the combination of the silly alien snot monster, the heavy seriousness of the Joyce subplot, and the deaths of the mental patients, but this one just left a terrible taste in my mouth. No pun intended.


Willow: "I feel just like Santa Claus, except thinner and younger and female and, well, Jewish."

Tara: "The real ones never made sense to me. I sort of have my own."
Willow: "Teach me."
Tara: "See those stars over there? 'Short man looking uncomfortable.' Uh... 'Moose getting a sponge bath.' Umm...'little pile o'crackers'."

Giles: "Hollow."
Riley: "Yeah."
Anya: "So, uh, we're all thinking the same thing, right?"
Xander: "Festive pinata? Delicious candy?"
Willow: "Something evil crashed to earth in this and then broke out and slithered away to do badness."
Giles: "In all fairness, we don't really know about the slithered part."
Anya: "Oh, no. I'm sure it frisked about like a fluffy lamb."

Xander: "Look at how teeny Mercury is compared to, like, Saturn. Whereas in contrast, the cars of the same name..."
Giles: "Xander, please, we have work to do here."
Xander: "I still don't get why we had to come here to get info about a killer snot monster."
Giles: "Because it's a killer snot monster from outer space. (Pauses) I did not say that."

Zero out of four stakes,

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


  1. There should be a law against combining science fiction with the supernatural. The are just too few writers who can make that work.

  2. We learned that Ben the Friendly Intern is somehow related to Glory...

    Ben the Friendly Intern is somehow related to Glory?!?

  3. Wait. What are you guys talking about? I'm so confused.

  4. Yes, it appears there is some kind of connection between Ben and Glory. Excellent. Now, do we suspect there may be some kind of connection between Ben and Glory?

  5. While I agree that this isn't the strongest of episodes, the ending gets me every time. The stricken look on Buffy's face as she tells her mother the truth about Dawn breaks my heart.

    As does the final shot of the two girls, surrounded by their "family," watching their mother get wheeled away. Wow, but that's tough to watch.

  6. Yeah, I wouldn't claim this one as my favorite, but there are things I really like about it. Like Chris, the ending scenes resonate for me. Also, that scene of Dawn in her room trying not to listen to Joyce talking to what Dawn thinks is an empty room. The slime creature might be really out of left field, but the fear and helplessness of a child with a very sick parent gets me by the throat. I'll put up with a lot of story shenanigans for that kind of emotional truth.

  7. Aside from the snot monster, I think this episode has some great emotional moments as pointed out by chrisB and Jane. Of course, I'd have been happy if there'd been a bit more Spike but I on the whole I think it's pretty solid.

  8. I hate this episode so much I usually skip it or only give it half my attention which is perhaps why this time was the first time I noticed what a badass Dawn was when she saw the Queller attacking her mom. Before yelling for her super powered sister just downstairs, she grabs a coat rack and goes after the thing herself. Major points to Dawnie.

  9. There’s one in every crowd. I like this episode! It’s funny and creepy, lighthearted and dreadful, laughable and tear jerking. I just went with the flow and liked where I landed.

    I like dorky looking creatures from space that arrive via hollow meteorite. The quellar was as sufficiently evil as it looked. And it was really funny to hear Giles say “killer snot monster from outer space.” I like the scoobies’ train of thought in connecting their research. “Xander’s little book” helped, as Tara noted.

    Poor Joyce, didn’t she have enough on her plate without monster eyes staring down at her? Dawn was indeed impressive in her courage and resourcefulness.

    Buffy’s distracting salsa music was starting to make me giggle, imagining her & Spike salsa dancing, until she started weeping, of course. Some sorrows, or cries for help, can’t be drowned out. And Riley looks to be settling the stage for more.

    Things are incrementally beginning to change for Spike. No insults this time. He was quick to help Buffy by throwing her the knife. (Even though he’d accidentally kicked it out of her hand.) I liked that Buffy took his offered hand to stand up, and they briefly remained with joined hands when Riley & the initiative burst in.

    I’m glad Joyce found out about Dawn. It gave Buffy a family member to share her turmoil.

    Sweet of the scoobies to support Joyce, Buffy and Dawn in the long goodbye down the surgical hall. Nothing quite like it.

  10. Speaking of the X-Files, the military guy with Graham played fetish murderer Donnie Pfaster. A show like Buffy doesn't work well in the sci fi genre. That's why Supernatural always spoof the alien stuff. In some ways, the X Files was better as a horror show than sci fi. The thing with the demon on the ceiling bothered me, too. Beyond lazy writing. At least make the demon capable of being invisible.


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