Episode title: Some Assembly Required
Original air date: September 22, 1997
“Well, ‘body’ would mean flesh-eating demon. ‘No body’ points more toward the ‘army of zombie’ thing. Take your pick.” – Buffy
An interesting this week as not only does it give us a play on “Frankenstein” but also an episode which it could be argued is lead more by its villains than any member of the Scoobie gang as Buffy has to deal with a case of bodysnatching when she discovers an open grave while on patrol.
While the episode might essentially be just be reworking “Frankenstein” to a high setting with two members of the science club Chris and Eric attempting to play god and who having resurrected Chris’ brother Daryl, a popular athlete who died in a climbing accident. Now the pair are attempting to create a companion for Daryl to keep him company as he is unable to leave the basement due to his grotesque appearance. That being said despite the references to the original being pretty on the nose, the episode still manages to keep things fresh while perfectly capturing the tortured soul of the monster, let alone the power rush of having the power to resurrect the dead even if its never actually revealed how the pair achieved this. Interestingly in the comic books Angel would have a rivalry with the original Frankenstein as shown as part of his “Angelous” background which sadly was not mentioned in the episode.
For the Scoobies this week the focus seemingly is more on their love lives than their mystery solving abilities with Buffy and Angel showing themselves to be in more of a relationship than we had seen previously, while Willow also confesses her feeling for Xander to Buffy. The main draw through is Giles and Jenny who go on their first date, while the episode dedicates a good portion to Giles attempting to prepare to ask her out, including a great scene of him running through the conversation with a chair which unfortunately for him the Scoobies walk in on. An unlikely couple for sure but one which works and unquestionably forms one of the seasons essential plot threads as will become more apparent in the later episodes. Perhaps if these moments weren’t so much fun they would feel more like filler to cover for just how much of a by the numbers adaptation of “Frankenstein” the episode really is.
That being said the episode does have a number of interesting yet frustratingly undeveloped moments such a Buffy meeting with Chris’s catatonic mother, who seems incapable of doing anything other than chain smoke and watch her dead son’s football games on a constant loop. It would have been great to have seen more of her relationship to Chris and if he was always as neglected as he currently seems to be here, especially with Chris seemingly being the polar opposite to his popular and football team hero brother. Equally we never find out why Chris choose to bring his brother back, especially when there would be really no way for him to go back to his life and he lacks any of the ego that “Dr. Frankenstein” had in his desire to beat death.
As far as a big villain Chris and Eric rank pretty low, while Daryl provides a touch opponent for Buffy to face off while bizarrely the rest of the gang just stand on the side lines and watch, rather than perhaps trying to bundle the zombie which I would have thought would have been the better tactic. Still it’s a fun showdown even if for the most of it Buffy seems to be having little effect with her attacks. At the same time Xander earns some respect from Cordelia after he saves her from being beheaded for Chris and Eric’s morbid project, a rescue attempt it has to be noted that also involves him riding her on a gurney through a fire…but hey whatever works right.
Certainly a step up from last week’s episode this week things feel more back on track with a higher humour quota and a pretty solid storyline, even if the Scoobies are more pushed to the background for this mystery or more distracted with their love lives than actually fighting evil.
Next Episode: School Hard