Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1 Episode 8

I Robot, You Jane

10
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Apr 28, 1997 on The WB
7.6
out of 10
User Rating
863 votes
42

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT

In 1418, a group of Italian priests use magick to trap the demon Moloch in a book, only to be released if the book is ever read aloud. In 1997 Sunnydale, the computer teacher, Ms. Calendar, is working on a project to digitally scan all the books in the library. When a new arrival, in a strange language, is scanned, Moloch is released into the computer... and into every computer connected to it. Now Buffy must face Moloch's human minions, while Giles must figure out how to exorcise a demon from the Internet.
Meanwhile, Willow meets a nice boy online. His name is Malcolm...

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Obsessed

    9.0
    I, Robot... You, Jane brings out a obsession of a robot demon that wants Willow. This episode introduce a new character Computer Jenny Calender who helps Giles get rid of the demon from the computer that was downloaded on.
  • Ahead of its time

    8.0
    Upon the first few watchings of I Robot, You Jane, I also wasn't impressed and found it corny. However, when I watched it recently, I realized how pertinent the social commentary is to our time. Yes, the technology is dated, but the ideas aren't. The part where Giles talks about the danger of technology making human interaction obsolete is dead-on. People have become mindlessly attached to their technology, whether they'd like to admit it or not. This is coming from a person that loves Facebook and has an i-Phone, so don't take me as a technophobe. I just think this episode is interesting as a cautionary tale about how deeply technology can suck us in. The scenes between Jenny Calendar and Giles were good, and the final scene was very appropriate and funny. Overall, not a great episode, but an overlooked one.moreless
  • guess it's only Willow's epi I don't like...

    9.0
    since Willow is one of my favorite characters (actually, the most favorite one), I kinda like every moment in the show with her, and especially the episodes where she is like the main character (fine example, the end of S6). but gotta say, that "I Robot, You Jane" is not one of them. it has really nice scenes: for example, I really like Buffy/Willow kinda quarrel or the end of the epi where realization comes to Scoobies; some funny scenes... plus, Jenny Calendar's first appearance in the show (actually, it's the big plus! -- adore Robia LaMorte). but still, all the storylines not about Buffy seem kinda unnecessary and boring in the first season.



    FAVE SCENE: Scoobies' realization in the end.



    FAVE QUOTE: Buffy (about Malcolm): This guy could be anybody. I mean he could be weird, or crazy, or old, or He could be a circus freak -- he's probably a circus freak!moreless
  • "I Robot, You Jane"

    4.0
    And then we go from the sublime to the ridiculous. I knew going infrom friends, mainlythat this episode and the one that follows are considered series lows by many, and having expended so much energy contemplating "Angel," I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on "I Robot, You Jane".



    In the episode learn that the world of 1997 is a whole new era where people get "jacked in" and "go on line," while old fuddy-duddies like Giles with their ancient texts and disdain for the modern are in danger of becoming obsolete. And yet, consider this cautionary tale: What if Willow were to inadvertently scan a spell from one of those ancient texts into a networked computer, thereby releasing the demon Moloch into the web, where he would proceed to enslave a couple of vengeful nerds and to flirt with Willow? Well, much silliness would ensue, obviouslyeven before Moloch inevitably downloads himself into a robot body and gets electrocuted.



    As I said, I'll get into the fundamental problem with "I Robot, You Jane" in a moment, but for now, let me point out a few things I found odd about the episode: like the sudden appearance of other students and an additional teacher in Sunnydale's library, and the presence of stereotypical computer geeks to further confuse the issue of where Buffy, Xander and Willow rank in the high school pecking order.



    What did I like? I enjoyed the brief glimpse of Buffy's transcript, and I loved the episode's capper scene, in which Buffy, Xander and Willow laugh mirthlessly over the s*** luck all three of them have had at romance. Also, I suppose I liked the character of Ms. Calendar the computer science teacher as a potential romantic foil for Giles, though I don't know if I'm basing that on her appearance in this episode, or on my general awareness that she's going to reappear later in the series.



    Other than that, "I Robot, You Jane" was a misfire: corny, tonally off and lacking even the illusion of depth that other slack episodes have provided in Season One.moreless
  • I Robot, You Jane

    3.0
    Antiquated: "Old-fashioned or outdated." This is how I'd professionally describe the travesty that is "I Robot, You Jane," in brief. How would I describe it unprofessionally? Well, it's shit. A story with emotional resonance and lasting value could have overcome the fact that it's dated from a technology standpoint, but it's sadly nowhere close to subtle and emotionally resonant. This is also the only Buffy episode in the entire series that actually leaves me bored for most of its running time. Only Jenny Calendar and the laugh-at-it moments kept me interested from time-to-time. Not even the reliably fun characters had their mojo going for this one. The episode has all the worst qualities of S1, amplified, and only a hint of its more positive qualities. I'd be curious to hear what Whedon thinks about this episode nowadays.



    Literally the only positives to talk about revolve around Jenny Calendar's introduction and subsequent arguments with Giles over the advancement of technology, a handful of good quotes, and the final foreshadow-y scene. I genuinely enjoyed Jenny and Giles' spirited debate and can sympathize with both positions as, while I'm definitely into modern technology, I'm also quite a bit old-fashioned in many ways. Jenny flirting with Giles a bit in the background is a nice added layer to their banter.



    Beyond simply being incredibly outdated, most of "I Robot, You Jane" has abysmal dialogue, execution, and pacing. The dialogue usually one of the positives of the show is so boring outside of a handful of quotes that I'm actually pretty shocked. Most of it is entirely plot-based and there to help the viewer and the characters from plot point A to plot point B to plot point C. Perfunctory is the word I'm looking for.



    Then there's the problem of the demon of the week, Moloch. This is an ancient demon that is apparently smart enough to understand and control computers and spread itself across the internet. This strikes me as entirely unbelievable and completely ridiculous. Somehow the episode craps on itself even more with the big climax involving Robo Moloch. There is no tension, no real stakes, a poor setup, and absolutely no subtext or subtlety to the entire proceedings. It's all laughable at best and blehhh at worst.



    At this point one might ask what the episode was trying to do? Well, I think that's explained early on and is followed by heavy-handed silliness. In the Italy flashback, the demon Moloch asks, "Do you love me? I can give you everything. All I want is your love." Once he has their love he snaps their necks (even though it looks more like polite turning than snapping). "I Robot, You Jane" is pretty transparently about the dangers of the internet, but more specifically the dangers of getting emotionally invested with people who you haven't met in person before. Online dating is heavily implicated here as well even though chat rooms appear to be the episode's focus. The concept behind how love can be used to manipulate others, made particularly easy with modern tools of communication, is one that is actually somewhat interesting. As a fellow geek who is all-too familiar with online dating, this is a theme that had the potential to resonate with me. This theme, however, is woefully under-developed, lacks subtlety, and is just horribly outdated in its presentation.



    Back in the day online dating was something to be terrified of. There was a perception that only completely anti-social lunatics participated in it. Times have changed a lot though. Online dating is now much more modern, much more accepted, and much less scary. With that said, the dangers of nave girls (or anyone, really) in chat rooms getting tangled up in a mess of a situation with a molester or abductor is certainly all-too real, although there's generally only a risk for the seriously gullible and weak-willed among our youth. Of all the people to get caught up in something like this, Willow would be the last one I'd think of. I think I'll just blame it on the fact that Moloch was influencing her to act abnormally which then, of course, strips away any hope of lasting character relevance.



    Another problem I have is with the portrayal of the computer science guys. I should disclose that I'm a professional software developer and that I know my reaction will be stronger than others, but my God did those guys grate on me. They weren't just displayed as stereotypical geeks; they were displayed as complete lunatics who spoke in a way that's totally foreign to me. I grew up in the thick of that era of technology and nobody talked like that. If anything, there should have been less talk about being "jacked in" and more talk about who would win in a fight between a couple Borg Cubes and the Death Star (easy answer, by the way: one cube left standing due to adaption technology). These S1 techies make the Trio in S6 look like high class geeks.



    So to sum all this up, what we have here is a complete mess of an episode. "I Robot, You Jane" is a pain and a bore to sit through in every phase of the episode with only brief reprieves from Jenny and Giles. The underlying concept behind the episode manipulation through love tangled with the dangerous side of the internet -- is worth a careful, lasting, and relevant discussion but, alas, all of those attributes are absent here. Its portrayal of computer geeks (demon's thrall or not, it's painful), general lack of ability to hold my interest for most of its running time, long-term irrelevance, and shoddy production values all add onto the pile in what is my easy pick for the 'honor' of being the worst episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Only a couple other episodes ("Teacher's Pet" [1x04] and "Where the Wild Things Are" [4x18]) come close. To quote Xander, "Shoot me. Stuff me. Mount me."moreless
Pierrino Mascarino

Pierrino Mascarino

Thelonius

Guest Star

Edith Fields

Edith Fields

School Nurse

Guest Star

Damon Sharp

Damon Sharp

Male student

Guest Star

Robia LaMorte

Robia LaMorte

Ms. Calendar

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Goof: In the opening scene, one of the monks says an Italian word incorrectly. He states "viene" when in fact the correct wording to use would have been "vieni".

    • Goof: When Malcolm scrolls through the student registry, looking for Buffy, it is just the same few pictures over and over again.

    • The software Willow is using to scan books is called Scanner Pro. The surveillance software Fritz is using to watch Buffy at the computer plant is called Watcher Pro. Both have the same style and color scheme in their logos, suggesting the same software company.

    • Goof: Buffy's school record appears on two computer screens. When it first appears, the file reads:
      Name: Buffy Summers
      Birthday: 10/24/80
      Status: Sophomore
      GPA: 2.8
      Absences: 1
      Athletics: None
      The second time we see it, it reads:
      Name: Buffy Summers
      Birthday: 05-06-79
      Status: Senior
      GPA: 2.8
      Absences: 1
      Athletics: None
      Not only does this information contradict itself, but we later learn that even the birthdate is wrong. We are told in several later episodes that Buffy was born in 1981, not 1980. We never learn her exact birthday, but she does say that she is "a Capricorn on the cusp of Aquarius" which would place her birthday between January 17th and 20th.

    • As Giles listens to the radio in his office, listen carefully to the announcer. It is the uncredited voice of show creator Joss Whedon.

    • When Willow opens her locker, a picture of her and Giles can be seen hanging on the door. In later episodes, she mentions that she had a crush on Giles during this period.

    • Goof: Just as Xander and Buffy try to get into the room where Moloch and Willow are, a sealed door shuts them out of there. That apparently was the only way into the room in that hallway. Give it a minute or two, and they burst into the room with Moloch through some door that appeared.

    • Nitpick: Buffy says that the only guy she's liked since moving to Sunnydale turned out to be a vampire. She's obviously referring to Angel but she is apparently forgetting Owen.

    • When Moloch threatens Dave and Fritz shows up to kill him and make it look like a suicide it is not clear where Fritz comes from. The camera shots have shown us the entire room, including the corner that Fritz steps out of. And there's no sign or sound that the door opened. Although it's possible that Fritz was in the room the whole time, and only showed himself once Dave knew he was about to be killed.

    • Nitpick: Buffy is watching Dave at the high school. He gets in his car and in the next scene he's at the CRD office building with Buffy still watching him. Since Buffy's Slayer powers do not include superspeed, it seems strange that she was so easily able to follow him without a car.

  • QUOTES (19)

    • Ms. Calendar: Hi. I got your message. What's so urgent?
      Giles: (nervously) Um... Thank you for coming. I need your help. But before that I need you to believe something that you may not want to. Uh, there's, uh... something's got into the, um... inside, um... (takes a breath) There's a demon on the Internet...
      Ms. Calendar: (calmly) I know.

    • Buffy: (to Willow) So, you've been seeing a guy, and you don't know what he looks like? Okay, this is a puzzle. No, wait, I'm good at these. Does it involve a midget and a block of ice?

    • Buffy: Whoa! You're the Late Girl.
      Willow: I overslept.
      Buffy: Till fifth period?

    • Giles: Hoping and betting, that's what we've got.
      Ms. Calendar: You want to throw in praying? Be my guest.

    • Ms. Calendar: You really are an old-fashioned boy, aren't you?
      Giles: Well, I don't dangle a corkscrew from my ear.
      Ms. Calender: That's not where I dangle it.

    • Giles: Things involving the computer fill me with a childlike terror. Now if it were a nice ogre or some such, I'd be more in my element.

    • Fritz: The printed page is obsolete. Information isn't bound up anymore. It's an entity. The only reality is virtual. If you're not jacked in, you're not alive.
      Ms. Calendar: Thank you, Fritz, for making us all sound like crazy people.

    • Xander: Are we overreacting? He's in a computer, what can he do?
      Buffy: You mean besides convince a perfectly nice kid to try and kill me? I don't know, how about mess up all the medical equipment in the world?
      Giles: Randomize traffic signals.
      Buffy: Access launch codes for our nuclear missiles.
      Giles: Destroy the world's economy.
      Buffy: I think I pretty much capped it with that nuclear missile thing.
      Giles: Right, yours was best.

    • Buffy: You're a computer geek, (stops to rephrase herself) genius.

    • Ms. Calendar: What is it?
      Giles: (trying to hide the apparently supernatural origin of a book) Uh, nothing, um, a diary, yes. I imagine that's what it is... Well, it's been so nice talking to you.
      Ms. Calendar: We were fighting.
      Giles: (distracted) Must do it again sometime, yes... Bye, now.

    • Moloch: Don't you see? I can give you everything! I can control the world! Right now a man in Beijing is transferring money to a Swiss bank account for a contract on his mother's life... Good for him.

    • Buffy: Hey, did you forget? The one boy I've had the hots for since I've moved here turned out to be a vampire.
      Xander: Right, and the teacher I had a crush on? Giant praying mantis?
      Willow: That's true.
      Xander: Yeah, that's life on the Hellmouth.
      Buffy: Let's face it: none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship.
      Xander: We're doomed!

    • Giles: When I've examined it, you can, uh, uh... skim it.
      Ms Calendar: Scan it, Rupert. That's scan it.
      Giles: Of course.
      Ms Calendar: Oh, I know our ways are strange to you, but soon you will join us in the 20th century. With three whole years to spare!
      Giles: Ms. Calendar, I'm sure your computer science class is fascinating, but I happen to believe that one can survive in modern society without being a slave to the idiot box.
      Ms Calendar: That's TV. The idiot box is TV. This is the good box!
      Giles: I still prefer a good book.

    • Xander: (to Giles) You released Moloch?
      Buffy: (sarcastically) Way to go!

    • Buffy: I can just tell something is wrong--my spider sense is tingling.
      Giles: Your spider sense?
      Buffy: Pop culture reference...sorry.

    • Xander: I mean... sure, he says he is a high school student -- but I could say I'm a high school student.
      Buffy: You are.
      Xander: Okay, but I could also say that I'm an elderly Dutch woman... Get me? And who's to say I'm not if I'm in the elderly Dutch chat room?
      Buffy: I get your point... (beat) I get your point! This guy could be anybody -- I mean he could be weird, or crazy, or old, or... he could be a circus freak -- he's probably a circus freak!

    • Giles: I'm, I'm just gonna stay and clean up a little. I'll, uh, I'll be back in the middle ages.
      Ms. Calendar: Did you ever leave?

    • Buffy: CRD, whatever that means.
      Xander: Calax Research and Development. It's a computer research lab. Third largest employer in Sunnydale 'til it closed down last year. (everyone stares at Xander) What, I can't have information sometimes?
      Giles: Well, it's just somewhat unprecedented.
      Xander: My uncle used to work there. In a floor sweeping capacity.

    • Ms. Calendar: You're here again? You kids really dig the library, don't you?
      Buffy: We're literary.
      Xander: To read makes our speaking English good.

  • NOTES (6)

  • ALLUSIONS (8)

    • Xander: With a little help from my friends?
      This is a reference to the Beatles' song, "With A Little Help From My Friends".

    • Thelonius: By the power of the circle of Kayless...
      The name of the lead monk, "Thelonius," is probably a reference to Jazz great Thelonius Monk (1917-1982). Monk was a piano jazz musician who composed many famous pieces such as "Round Midnight" and is often credited with the creation of "bebop."

    • Thelonius: It is Moloch. The Corrupter. He walks again.

      As with all demons in Buffy, this one is completely invented to meet the needs of the story. The name, however, is a reference to a bull god who was worshipped throughout the Near East. We do not know the god's original name, but the Hebrew writers of the Torah referred to the deity as "molech" or "king" and claimed that the god was an idol to which the people sacrificed their young children. So far there has been no archeological or anthropological evidence to support such a cult (not to mention the fact that a society which sacrificed its own children would probably die out very quickly).

    • Buffy: He's gone binary on us.

      Binary code is a code made up of only zeros and ones and is the most basic level of computer languages.

    • Title: "I Robot, You Jane"
       This is a double reference. In the old Tarzan movies, the main character's jungle upbringing was demonstrated with poor English such as "Me Tarzan. You Jane." That line became a famous catchphrase, used to describe any stupid person or anyone who would try to force their attentions on a woman. Also, I, Robot is the title of a collection of pivotal short stories by Isaac Asimov, which included many of the early robot stories which broke SF robots out of the turn-on-their-creator "Frankenstein" mold they were stuck in prior to his writings. Otherwise, it presumably would have been entitled "Me Robot, You Jane".

    • Moloch: I've shown you a new world, Dave. Knowledge, power...
      When Moloch discusses plans with one of his new student minions, Dave, he sounds a lot like Hal, the homicidal computer from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, who's increasingly condescending and menacing remarks were distinctively punctuated by Hal's repeating the name "Dave" (the astronaut he's tormenting, played by Kier Dullea).

    • Giles: Couldn't you just stop Moloch by entering some computer virus?
      The deus ex machina of the day seems to solve all nasty problems with a skillfully placed computer virus. See for example the movie, Independence Day.

    • Buffy: I can just tell something's wrong. My Spider Sense is tingling.

      From the Spider-Man comic books. When danger was near, Spiderman would get a tingling feeling called his Spider Sense.

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