Episode Title: Living Conditions
Original Air Date: October 12, 1999
“Alright. Why don’t you quit hiding and come out and face me like a … thing” – Buffy
A frustrating episode to say the least this week as despite settling for the most part into college life Buffy is still finding herself plagued with issues in particular her roommate Kathy who not only maintains a permanently sunny demeanour but also because of her insistence of logging every little thing. However when Buffy starts to find herself being plagued by a series of nightmares she soon begins to suspect that Kathy is the evil responsible for them and not just because she insists on plays Cher’s “Believe” on a constant loop.
I don’t know exactly what my issue is with this episode especially when there are so many great moments scattered throughout, it’s just for some reason or another it never seems to come together. In particular this episode really never takes full advantage of Kathy who while perhaps something of a caricature when it comes to her personality as she is essentially the roommate from hell and seeing how this Sunnydale she literally is or at least some trans-dimensional plain. Dagney Kerr is perfectly cast as Kathy and it makes it more of a shame that her true identity as she bows out in this episode making the episode only seem all the more clumsy.
This episode perhaps would have been better as a season opener than a second episode and seems to have been included as way to further establish this new setting as we are introduced in this episode to another potential love interest for Buffy in the charm heavy Parker. Elsewhere on campus we get to see more members of “The Initiative” lurking around on their own patrol. The most interesting of these moments however belongs to Oz who after pacing another unknown student shares an intense look of recognition with her which I’d seemingly missed on previous viewings and its nice to see a future episode being setup here as we will later in the season discover exactly why Oz reacts to this mysterious woman the way he does.
For the most part of this episode it’s about Buffy trying to convince the other Scoobies that Kathy is infact evil (despite having no proof) while they unsurprisingly think she is starting to lose it from the pressures of college life. True this does give us the wonderful comedic pairing of Oz and Xander being put on Buffy-sitting duties which includes classic moments as them trying to subdue her and then worrying they might not have tied her up tight enough, with neither one wanted to check their handiwork
The final showdown between Buffy and Kathy is a mixed bag as we get the great reveal of Kathy’s true face when Buffy tears her face off. However it seems that she is one of the few demons whose not also a trained martial artist as their showdown ends up coming off very slapsticky and lacking any of the usual finesse we’ve come to expect from the fight scene. I did however love the student who complains that his studying is being affected by their noise who pops his head out of his dorm room partway through the fight. The finale however is right up there with the top Buffy moments as Kathy’s demonic father shows up to send her back to her own dimension, giving us the great father daughter back and forth leading her to bemoan
“I’m 3000 years old! When are you going to stop treating me like I’m 900?”
It’s moments like this much the idea of Kathy trying to steal Buffy’s soul so she could keep attending college and hide from her parents which really make this show stand out from other shows like this while reminding us once more that things are not normally as you’d expect in this world.
Next Episode: The Harsh Light of Day