Living Conditions (4x02)

Remember I told you that Buffy's roommate, Kathy (guest star Dagney Kerr), must have some other function than merely to annoy us? She does. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Buffy continuously makes up excuses to escape from her room, be it to go on late night patrol or simply to remove herself from the presence of Kathy dearest. Clearly exhibiting anal-retentive tendencies, Kathy has established a log where all phone calls must be recorded and has written her name on all her food. (In itself not such a bad idea, but taking it all the way to hard-boiled eggs is a bit excessive).

That night on patrol, Buffy finds herself face to face with the Annoying One. Kathy, who thought Buffy was on her way to "The Grotto" (the on-campus coffee shop), has decided to join her. Promptly they are attacked by a demon, who went unnoticed by Buffy earlier, despite his glowing green eyes. Shoving Kathy out of harm's way, Buffy fights the creature until it escapes.

With Kathy complaining about her ruined sweater and Buffy claiming an attempted mugging, the girls return to their dorm. Unbeknownst to them, the demon has returned with backup and the creatures follow the girls, conversing in demonic about whether, "she is the one." (We know this because - are you ready for this one? - there are subtitles).

Kathy gets frustrated cleaning her sweater the next day, so she decides to borrow one of Buffy's. Later in the dining hall, the "Rocket Cafˇ," Kathy invites herself to sit with Willow, Oz, Xander and Buffy, who just finished chit-chatting with one Parker Abrams (guest star Adam Kaufman) about how to get more food than your dining card is actually worth. Buffy, who earlier that day pledged to be tolerant and become a "roommate extraordinaire," is not pleased about Kathy's presence and, even less, her outfit.

That night Buffy has a strange dream. There's a scorpion on her stomach, blood is poured down her throat and her soul is being sucked out of her. She awakes to find Kathy glaring at her, asking if she always makes strange noises in her sleep. (How should she know? She's ASLEEP).

Buffy shares her dream with the gang the next day when -- wouldn't you know it -- Kathy comes along and describes having had the exact same dream. Giles, presumably happy to have something meaningful to do again, goes off to research what this could mean.

Elsewhere, the demonic creatures decide that, indeed, "she is the one," and proceed to summon the Great One, Tapparich.

Back in the dorm that night, Buffy is annoyed by Kathy's toenail clipping (I know, I know, you're asking, "Do I really need to know this?" But trust me, it's key).

Soon thereafter, Buffy goes to bed and instantly has the same nightmare as before. She wakes up, as does Kathy seconds later, also from a nightmare.

The next morning Buffy presents Willow with a bag filled with (brace yourself) the aforementioned toenails. Buffy claims that Kathy's toenails grew back overnight, which decidedly would be a "demon thing" (Actually, I'm with her on this one. If you've ever read Anne Rice's "The Vampire Lestat," or any of her "Vampire Chronicles," you know that a demon's appearance cannot be changed from the way it was at the moment he/she became a demon. If they cut their hair or nails, it will grow back within 12 hours; well, it would if they existed.)

Nobody believes Buffy's theory about Kathy dearest, and the gang collectively takes her prisoner at Giles's apartment. When Oz and Xander, who were put in charge of watching over her, attempt to tighten her ropes, Buffy breaks free and knocks them unconscious by banging their heads together. (There's so much they can do these days with sound effects!)

After that, things progress rapidly. Buffy returns to the dorm and gets into a fight with Kathy, ripping off part of the annoying one's face, revealing the demon in her. Kathy boldly demands to be allowed to finish her ritual, revealing that Buffy's nightmares were real and stemmed from Kathy attempting, but only partially succeeding, to steal her soul. Since demons have no soul, Kathy needed one to hide herself from the other demons of her dimension, who were sent to bring her back when she crossed over to become a college student. (??! I don't know about you, but if I had the choice to be anyone in another dimension, I can say with certainty that I wouldn't go back to school).

Simultaneously to the events in the dorm, Giles discovers a ritual that backs up Buffy's nightmare. He realizes their error. The ritual explains that these demons (Mok'tagar as they are called) can disguise themselves as humans, but will always be recognizable by their own kind because of their lack of soul. Now it's time for Giles's moment of greatness. He knows a spell to reverse the damage and performs it together with Willow, while Xander and Oz are off to help Buffy.

Just as Buffy gets her soul back, Tapparich, the demonic head honcho, arrives, yells at Kathy, opens up a portal in the floor of Buffy's room (Convenient how these things pop up, eh? You might be sitting on top of one right now) and the evil goes back to where it came from.

With evil contained for the time being, Buffy and Willow set up house together, redecorating the wall with a "Dingoes Ate My Baby" poster (For those who haven't caught on yet, that is the band Oz plays in. The actual music is provided by "Four Star Mary"). Buffy declares her relief that it was a ritual that caused her strange behavior, while Willow bites into a sandwich, not noticing the slayer's evil stare.

Have we maybe not seen the last of the Mok'tagar yet?

Well, here are my thoughts:

I could have done without this one (without the first two actually). But since they'd brought in the anal-retentive demon on a quest for education, this was merely a means to send her where the sun doesn't shine.