Every once in awhile, even BTVS comes out with a bad episode. "Killed By Death" is a bad episode. The show is capable of so much better than this. It doesn't really contribute anything to the characters or the seasons story arc. Angelus is barely in the episode and Spike and Dru aren't even mentioned. Jenny Calander was just killed and, aside from a quick scene with Joyce, even Giles seems fine with it. Her death will have more of an impact in the next episode, "I Only Have Eyes for You," but for now it seems like she's just been forgotten. Anyway, if you're watching the show on DVD you can skip this episode and not miss a thing.
The episode revolves around Buffy getting the flu. Feeling terrible and sick, she goes patrolling, but is soon confronted by Angelus. She isn't at top form, and Buffy needs the help of the Scoobies to beat him off. Her fever then spikes even higher and she faints. Xander, Cordy and Willow rush her to the hospital. While she's recuperating, Buffy begins to notice strange things happening around her. Children are mysteriously dying and a weird "Nightmare of Elm Street" looking fellow is stalking the halls. Convinced that something supernatural is afoot, Buffy enlists the Scoobies to help her investigate. Meanwhile, Xander stands guard outside Buffy's room to keep Angelus away. His relationship with Angel was never that great to begin with. Now that Angelus has taken control, though, Xander's hatred is boiling over. Back at Sunnydale High, Cordy is learning how to research. (A trait that will come in handy for her over on "Angel" in the years to come.) She and Giles find a reference the Kinder-something-or-other, a monster that matches Buffy's descriptions of the thing that's killing kids in the hospital. Adults can't see it. Only children and people who are delirious with fevers. It sucks the life out of children and Buffy realizes that it also killed her cousin Celia, when they were younger. She reinfects herself with the flu and sets out to find the monster once and for all.
I do like a few parts of this episode. The idea of mortality in the Buffyverse is always interesting and complex. What is a natural death? How far can you go to save people from it? How is Buffy's role as Slayer impacted by the reality of death? This episode glosses over a lot of the deeper issues, but at least Giles mentions some them. The questions will be addressed in more detail in seasons five and six. Also, I like Angelus and Xander's argument. Xander's jealousy and Angelus's taunting are great. Their competitiveness and anger are character driven and will continue to into play right into next season. Also, I like how Cordy's becoming less self-involved. Sure, she'll still mutter that tact is "just not telling the truth," but she's more willing to help the Scoobies with their investigations. She even brings Xander's donuts. It's nice to see her mellowing little.
On the downside, the episode has a lot of faults. It's pretty slow, especially when you compare it to the episodes that surround it. "Passion" and "I Only Have Eyes for You" are so dramatic and wonderful, that it makes "Killed By Death" seem even worse. You find yourself feeling restless and wishing that something would just hurry up and happen. Some of the dialog is a bit clunky and the story isn't that interesting. It's not particularly funny or exciting, it's just sort of... Dull. The monster itself is a Freddy Kruger rip-off and not a very good one at that. Also, why is Buffy's cousin Celia never spoken of before or after this episode? If Celia's death was so traumatic and made Buffy dislike hospitals so much, why not address it again in season five when Joyce is in the hospital? All in all, this episode is disappointing.
My favorite part of the episode: Willow, Xander and Buffy conversing on Buffy's bed at the end of the episode. While Joyce brings them sandwiches, orange juice and corn chips, they watch TV and act like regular teenagers. The three of them are just so darn cute together.
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