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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episode Guide

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 1, Episode 8: I, Robot…You, Jane

by Helen

            In medieval Italy, a demon offers a young man named Carlos everything he wants in return for Carlos’ love. The young man pledges his devotion to the demon and in return the demon snaps his neck. A nearby group of monks knows of this demon. They call him Moloch, the Corrupter. He has mesmerized many people but the monks invoke the power of the Circle of Kayless to bind him. Moloch screams in horror as he loses corporeal force and is bound as words in a book which bears his image. The head monk locks the box in a trunk and prays it will never be read, for if it is Moloch will once again be loosed upon the world. Centuries later, in the Sunnydale High library, Buffy opens the very same trunk. She and Giles are helping Willow’s computer science class complete the formidable task of scanning all the library’s books into the school computer system. This book is a new arrival that Giles has not yet had time to sort, so it’s handed off to Willow. As Willow and her classmates, Dave and Fritz, work on scanning, Giles, who doesn’t like computers, gets in a tiff with Miss Calendar, the computer teacher, over the value of modern technology. Fritz butts in on the side of his teacher and comes off sounding obsessive and crazy before storming off. Miss Calendar soon dismisses class but Willow elects to stay behind and keep working. Willow eventually scans Moloch’s book. After she finishes the pages go blank, her computer’s monitor goes black, and the words “Where am I?” appear across the screen.

            A week later Willow is walking through the halls with a dreamy look on her face. She doesn’t notice Buffy calling her name. Finally Buffy gets her attention and forces her to reveal why she acting so strangely and why her phone line was busy last night. She admits she met a guy right after doing the scanning project and she’s completely smitten with him. They were talking all last night. Buffy is excited and wants to know all about him. Willow says his name is Malcolm but she can’t tell Buffy what he looks like because she doesn’t know. Buffy follows Willow into computer lab where Willow reveals that she met her new beau online. They are so busy chatting that neither of them notices that Dave is talking to his computer, telling it that he promises to do something. Buffy isn’t too keen on this online dating concept and asks Willow what she actually knows about Malcolm. Willow is upset that Buffy is reacting this way. As Buffy tries to talk to Willow, a computers camera zooms in on Buffy’s face. In an empty classroom a computer suddenly turns on and starts scanning school records until it comes to Buffy’s picture. It opens her file and sends it to Fritz, who is also in the computer lab. Then Fritz’s screen goes black and the words “Watch her,” appear. Fritz glances over at Buffy who is listening to Willow talk about Malcolm. Buffy still doesn’t like the fact that Willow doesn’t know what Malcolm looks like but in the end she is supportive because Malcolm is making Willow happy. Miss Calendar gets up from her desk and comes to talk to Fritz. She tells him she’s noticed that he and Dave have been on the computers a lot. He says their working on a new project. She asks if she’ll be excited when she sees it. He responds, “You’ll die.”

            Willow walks down the stairs into the courtyard, right past a guy who has just discovered that someone has been on his laptop and replaced his report with another, entitled “Nazi Germany was a Model of a Well-Ordered Society.” Willow doesn’t notice this student’s concern, however, because she is dreamily thinking of Malcolm. She also doesn’t notice Xander sneak up behind her. He asks her if he she’s going to the Bronze but she’s decided to stay in and talk to Malcolm instead. She doesn’t pay that much attention to Xander and quickly walks away. Buffy shows up and Xander tells her he feels abandoned. She laughs at him for being jealous now that Willow has a man. He insists he has no romantic interest in Willow but Buffy thinks he gotten used to getting all her attention. He insists he’s just bothered because they have no idea who Malcolm really is. Buffy agrees it’s a little scary. That night Fritz sits at a computer saying the phrase “I’m jacked in” over and over again as he carves a large “M” into his arm with a blade.

            The next day Willow doesn’t show up to school until 5th period, thanks to Malcolm As she and Buffy change for gym, Buffy lets her know that she doesn’t like the fact that Malcolm is changing Willow’s behavior. Willow gets defensive and they end the conversation angry with one another.

            Buffy heads to the computer lab and finds Dave deeply involved with his work on the computer. After getting his attention she asks if there is anyway he can trace an email back to the physical location from which it was sent. He says it would be a challenge but looks excited about doing it. Buffy starts to tell him why she wants him to do it but the moment she mentions Willow, he turns cold and tells her to back off. Buffy at first thinks Dave is Malcolm but he assures her that is not the case and goes back to working. Buffy realizes something fishy is going on and heads off to investigate. Fritz watches her evilly as she leaves.

            Buffy goes to Giles with her problem. He’s come to trust her instincts so he believes her when she says something is wrong, but he doesn’t know how he can help. Computers aren’t his forte. He suggests that she follow Dave to see what he’s up to. She laughs at his proposal. “What, in dark glasses and a trenchcoat?” She insists she can come up with a better plan. That afternoon, as school lets out, Dave rushes to his car and drives away. Buffy watches from a distance wearing dark glasses and a trenchcoat. Dave pulls into a building called CRD. He talks to a man who looks like a scientist and then walks into the building. Buffy watches him not noticing a security camera turn towards her. A live feed from the camera is sent to Fritz’s computer at school. He speaks to the computer. “She’s too close. What do I do?” The computer screen goes black and the words “Kill her,” appear. Fritz is pleased.

            The next day Buffy consults with Giles and Xander. Xander tells her the building she was at was a computer research development lab that was the 3rd biggest employer in Sunnydale until it closed down last year. They figure Dave must be doing something computer-related there but there’s no way CRD would have reopened without it being on the news, so it must be something that’s not on the up-and-up. Buffy and Xander decide to break into CRD. Giles tries to talk them out of this plan but is interrupted by Miss Calendar who has stopped by to test the database.

            Willow, meanwhile, is in the school computer lab having a lovey-dovey chat with Malcolm. They want to meet each other soon. Willow mentions Buffy, and Malcolm insists she’s a trouble-maker, which is why she got kicked out her old school. Willow asks how he knew that and he responds that it is on her permanent record before quickly changing his answer to “You must have mentioned it.” Willow is extremely suspicious by now and signs off even though Malcolm asks her not to.

            Back in the library, Giles and Miss Calendar are now alone and fighting. She insists that Giles is a snob who only wants information to be available to the privileged. He insists that he is just leery of a world where people can be so easily manipulated by technology. While they are arguing, Miss Calendar absent-mindedly picks ups Moloch’s book ands starts flipping through it. She notices that there are no words in it and ask Giles if it is diary. Giles comes to look at it and is concerned when he sees Moloch’s picture on the front. He takes the book into his office.

            Out in the school courtyard, the school nurse is explaining to a man why she gave a student penicillin even though he was allergic to it. She insists she checked his health records on the computer and there was no mention of the allergy. Buffy is walking through the courtyard at the same time when she is waylaid by Dave. He apologizes for his behavior the day before, saying he hasn’t been getting much sleep. Then he tells Buffy that Willow is looking for her and that she was headed for the girl’s locker room when he saw her last. Buffy goes to the locker room but it seems empty. Back in the show bank Fritz turns on one of the showers before leaving. When Buffy finds the empty shower running, she steps into the stall to turn off the water. She doesn’t notice two electrical cords strung down the wall or their exposed ends sitting on the shower floor. All of the sudden she hears Dave yell, warning her of the danger. Before she can react the water hits the wires and the shock sends her flying out of the shower and onto the floor. Dave runs out of the locker room and into the darkened computer lab. He yells to his computer that he can’t do it. Words begin appearing on the black screen. The computer tells him that the project is almost complete and he won’t have to do it again. Dave keeps protesting but the computer reminds him that he has given Dave everything and all he is asking in return is Dave’s love. Dave still insists that he’s quitting. The black screen disappears and a word processor pops up. The computer begins typing a suicide note, reading it aloud in a digital voice as it writes. The note is signed “Love, Dave.” Dave backs up in horror, unaware that Fritz is standing right behind him.

            Back in the library Buffy talks to Xander and Giles. She can’t understand what would have made Dave try and hurt her. Giles reveals that he might know and pulls out Moloch’s book. He says that in the Dark Ages demons were sometimes bound in books, unable to escape unless the books were read. The group realizes that scanning the book must have released Moloch, not onto the world but into the computer and from there into the internet. They decide their best chance of killing him is deleting the file he was originally scanned into, so Buffy tries to delete Willow’s folder. When she does, the screen fills with a digitalized picture of Moloch’s head. He yells at her to stay away from Willow in nearly exactly the same manner Dave did when Buffy told him about Malcolm. Suddenly Buffy realizes Malcolm is Moloch. They need to warn Willow. Buffy heads to look for her in the computer lab and instead finds Dave’s dead body swinging from the ceiling. The printed-out suicide note is pinned to his chest. Back in the library Xander tries to call Willow but no one answers. Buffy comes back and tells them what happened to Dave. They realize it was murder. Buffy tells Giles he needs to figure out a way of expelling the demon from the internet. Giles insists he doesn’t know how to get a spell to work on computers. Buffy suggests asking Miss Calendar for help, then she and Xander leave to go to Willow’s house.

            When Willow gets to her house that night she has an email from Malcolm saying he needs her to see him. She ignores the email and turns off her monitor. Suddenly the monitor turns itself back on, again announcing that she has an email. Suddenly the doorbell rings, but when Willow opens the door no one is there. Just as she turns to go back into house Fritz comes up behind her and chloroforms her. Back in his office, Giles is working while listening to the news on the radio. An archbishop appears to be embezzling, though he blames it on computer error, and someone has mysteriously downloaded all the FBI’s serial murderer profiles. Miss Calendar shows up in response to a message Giles left her. Giles tells her that he needs her help but first he needs to tell her something. There’s a demon in the internet. Miss Calendar responds “I know.” Buffy and Xander show up at Willow’s house and discover her front door open. They run into her room and find the email from Moloch. They figure that if he wants to see Willow the best place for him to do it would be CRD. Giles is immediately suspicious of Miss Calendar and demands to know how she was aware of the demon. Miss Calendar insists their have been online portents for days and shows she has a wide knowledge of the mystical world. Giles demands to know who she is. She tells him she is a techno-pagan and agrees to help him. Just as they set to work, the phone rings. It’s Buffy telling him Willow is missing.

            Inside one of CRD’s labs, Willow regains consciousnesses. Standing in front of her is Fritz, a scientist, and Malcolm in the form of a giant Moloch-shaped robot. Moloch begins speaking and while he talks he nonchalantly snaps Fritz neck. Buffy and Xander break into the lobby of CRD, but not without Moloch’s knowledge. He seems to be expecting them. Back in the library Miss Calendar works on forming a Circle of Kayless inside the internet. Moloch meanwhile is busy trying to corrupt Willow but she is too upset that he tricked her into thinking she had a boyfriend to listen to him. Buffy and Xander draw closer. A guard tries to block them but Buffy quickly takes him out. They look at his security camera display and see Willow with Moloch. Moloch continues trying to corrupt Willow. Buffy and Xander make it to the door of the room Willow is in, but it’s too heavy for Buffy to break down. Suddenly alarms sound and the exit doors lock. Buffy realizes Moloch controls the security system. Gas begins pouring out of an exposed pipe. In the library Miss Calendar manages to set up a virtual circle and Giles begins reading her the binding incantation. She types it into the computer. Buffy and Xander try to fight their way out of the room they are trapped in but they can’t break down the doors and the gas is making them weak. Willow asks Moloch to let her leave. He says he loves her, which makes Willow angry. She insists he can’t love and that she will never be his. At first Moloch seems saddened by this but then his tone turns sinister. Giles and Miss Calendar continue working on binding Moloch but it seems they may be too late. Xander is nearly unconscious and Buffy has lost most of her strength. Moloch places his hand on Willow’s head, the same way he did to Fritz and Carlos right before he is snapped their necks. At that moment the incantation starts working. Moloch backs away from Willow and begins screaming. The security system shuts off and Buffy bursts in, Xander following her slowly. Buffy takes a running jump at Moloch but bounces off of him. The scientist attacks Xander from behind. Giles continues the incantation and Moloch is unable to hit Buffy. She grabs Willow and they run. Back at the library the computer starts sparking.  Xander meanwhile defeats the scientist, finally having found an enemy he is stronger than. As Moloch resists being bound again, a wind whips up in the library and the monitor flashes various colors. Suddenly everything goes still and the computer starts smoking. Moloch is no longer in the net. Giles opens Moloch’s book and realizes he not there either. Unfortunately for Buffy and gang, Moloch has been bound inside his robotic body.  Before they can escape, he knocks out Xander and sends Buffy flying to the floor. He’s reaching to snap Buffy’s neck when Willow shouts at him. He turns to her and she begins viciously beating him with a chemical tank. Her rage allows her to have the upper hand for a moment but eventually Moloch knocks her to the floor as well. This has given Buffy enough time to get back to her feet and take a quick survey of the room. She stands directly in front of an electrical panel and when Moloch goes to punch her, she ducks. He punches the electrical panel instead and quickly electrocutes himself.

            The next day Giles comes to see Miss Calendar in the computer lab. They again begin arguing about Giles’ dislike for computers but this time Giles is upfront about why he doesn’t like them and he reasons, while strange, aren’t really as stupid Miss Calendar assumed they were. She starts to flirt with him. Meanwhile, Buffy and Xander sit out in the courtyard with Willow, trying to cheer her up. She is upset that one boy she’s been able to attract turned out to be a demon robot. Buffy reminds her that she has the hots for a vampire and Xander brings up his former crush on giant preying mantis. They joke that their strange lives will prevent them from ever having a happy normal relationship. Suddenly they go quiet, realizing just how true that might be.


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Updated 8/4/07  

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