I remembered this episode being weird. I didn’t remember it being so all over the place with . . . well, everything. I mean, there’s the monks, Willow’s handheld green-light scanner, Jenny and the Angry Techies, Xander’s Porn Star t-shirt, and the whole vendetta nineties culture had against people forming meaningful relationships online
But, this episode does have it’s good points, too.
I expected this to be a Willow-centric episode that expanded on her character, but actually, it didn’t. We already knew Willow has a hard time with relationships, so that wasn’t new. We also know that she’s a sweet girl who can put up a good fight, so none of the scenes where she did that were new. In fact, the two characters I learned the most about this episode were Jenny Calendar and Giles.
The argument about books vs. computers is just the beginning. We also find out Miss Calendar is a techno-pagan, that she can do minor magic, and that she likes arguing with Giles and being sarcastic. We find out that Giles loves books because he appreciates their tactile nature, and that you have to engage your senses in a different way to learn from them. We also get Giles being indignant over being accused of summoning a demon, which is great when you realize that he actually has summoned a demon before, back in his Ripper days.
And to be fair, this episode gave Anthony Head a lot of great stuff to do as Giles. He gets to read an incantation, be flustered by computers and by Jenny, argue with someone as a peer, and interact with Buffy and Xander. Sure, to see all this fun, character developy stuff we have to also watch a guy who looks like an angry robot sheep try to seduce Willow, but at least it’s not all bad! We also get Xander actually punching someone, and what is maybe my favorite speech of the series.
“Computers don’t smell, Rupert.”
“I know. Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell, musty and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer has no texture, no context. It’s there and then it’s gone. If it’s to last, the getting of knowledge should be tangible, it should be . . . smelly.”
While I am not a quasi-luddite like Giles is, if given the choice between my computer and my books, I would take the books every time. I like the smell, the weight, the feeling of turning pages. Giles and I agree very much on this.
Other than that, there’s really not much to say for this episode. It’s just blah. Not as offensive and annoying to me as “Teacher’s Pet,” even though I’m bothered by the attitude toward online relationships; nowhere near as good as “Angel” or “Prophecy Girl.” It’s memorable for Jenny Calendar, and that’s pretty much it.