We're moving Forums to the Community pages. Click here for more information and updates.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 2 Episode 18

Killed by Death

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Mar 03, 1998 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
674 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


When Buffy is admitted to hospital with a raging fever she meets Ryan, a young boy who has the same flu virus and claims that the sick children in the hospital are being persecuted by a monster that may be death himself.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • Killed by Death

    This is an interesting little episode. The cinematography really won me over here as the events are shot in a very creepy style. There's a lot of atmosphere, and as everyone knows by now, atmosphere ranks high on 'good' list. That still doesn't change the fact that nothing important happens and that it's very weak compared to the potent "Passion" (2x17). Nonetheless, like "Inca Mummy Girl" (2x04), I find this episode decent enough.

    Like I mentioned before, I really love the camera work in this episode. It succeeds in displaying the hospital as an ugly and creepy place. Everything begins in the cemetary where Buffy passes out do to the flu. The Scoobies rush her into the hospital where chaos and uncertainty run wild. The gang is really scared that Buffy's not going to be okay. Giles and Joyce quickly make it to the hospital where Buffy is stabilized but still somewhat delusional. I've got to admit, it's scary seeing Buffy delirious like this and it reminds me of the frightening "Normal Again" (6x17). Also a nice little touch is how Cordelia "looks away" in anguish when they give Buffy a sedative shot.

    Also worth noting is Angelus' creepy visit to the hospital. Xander stands up to him when Angelus says, "Buffy's White Knight. You still love her. It must just eat you up that I got there first." Xander replies with the perfect comeback, "You're gonna die. And I'm gonna be there." Both come true in "Becoming Pt. 2" (2x22), although Xander doesn't get to see Buffy actually kill him.

    Later on the group is taking Buffy for a stroll in her wheelchair outside the hospital. During this moment, both Buffy and Spike are in wheelchairs. How funny is that? Look at where these two, who were fighting to the death back in "School Hard" (2x03), are now: crippled and helpless. Anyway, I love the reference to Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal in the same scene. Xander says, "Ooo, if he asks you to play chess, don't even do it. The guy's, like, a whiz."

    There's a couple other positives aspects to mention. One is that I'm really happy the doctor isn't the bad guy. Things stay somewhat unpredictable in every episode of this show. Another thing I liked is the final scene where Willow, Xander, and Buffy are all snuggled up on top of Buffy's bed eating snacks and watching TV. Very homely and cute.

    There's only a few things I didn't care for. Even though the episode's got a creepy tone, the pace is a bit too slow in some places. The one huge complaint I have, though, is Buffy's flashbacks of her cousin's death. As soon as we find out her cousin was killed by the same demon, the said cousin then turns into a plot contrivance just there to make us more sympathetic to Buffy. This connection was completely unnecessary. Also, the young girl version of Buffy looks nothing like Buffy. So while this isn't a particularly complex or standout episode, it works well as a slow, creepy, and decent little outing with the Scoobies.

  • Curing illness Slayer style

    Killed by death

    The Good;

    Very creepily shot and the central concept is just terrifying. Love the scoobs at the end and the kids drawing. Cordy's funny scene with the security guard, Cordy 'helping' Giles with research. Best of all though is Xander's Dirty Harry style confrontation with Angelus.

    The Bad;

    Not much

    Best line;

    Angelus; If I chose to walk in there do you think for one moment you could stop me?

    Xander; Maybe I couldn't. Maybe those orderlies couldn't. Or that security guard. Or those cops. But I'm kinda curious to find out..." (the coolest Xander moment ever!)

    Wheldon cliches;

    Knocked out; yep, Buffy

    Questions and observations;

    Willie Garson is great as the security guard, he also plays Carrie's friend Stanford in Sex and the City (which SMG guest stars in). Love Cordy's high-heels and miniskirt. Buffy passes out. Willow's frog fear re-occurs. You wonder if Buffy had taken the concentrated flu virus would it have killed her, she's pretty tough? Or once again is Buffy saved by her friends and family where any other Slayer would have died. Slayer healing again.

    Obvious similarity to Nightmare on Elm Street although I also think the demon rather resembles Kid Rock? (anyone else read the fanfic where Freddy Kreuger kills Anya and Buffy only to wake up strapped to the bed in a mental hospital with Buffy as his nurse?)

    The first alternate Buffy played by Mimi Paley. She's ok but not as good as the little girl we'll see in season 5. Buffy's had a cousin called Celia, Aunt Arlene's daughter? Even as a kid Buffy played at being a superhero and attracted the supernatural. Again, isn't Joyce a bit suspicious about Giles' turning up at Buffy's bedside? Love the bit about the Scoobs playing doctor (anyone else share Cordy's sceptisim about Buffy's denials?).

    10/10 up to the standard of late Buffy season 2 and you can't give much higher praise than that

  • Killed by Death

    Killed by Death was another great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I enjoyed watching this episode though at times it seemed a bit too slow. This is not one of my favorite episodes and I'd go as far as to say you don't really need to watch it to continue in the series. However it is still entertaining and has a decent story. I thought the whole premise was good, and reminded me a little of Jeepers Creepers. I think there were some minor character developments in this episode, however not majorly essential to the overall feel and form of the show.moreless
  • freaky

    i'd say this is one of the scariest buffy episodes because the demon is just so god damn scary! they really made him horrific and the fact that only kids could see him as well was just brilliant and buffy even managed to fight it whilst she was sick so that was just plain awesome. yeah i loved this episode but it was kinda sad that some of the kids in it died before buffy came because they couldn't defend themselves :( yes that was really sad. I am just trying to fill up space in this review now,haha so i shall keep talking. woo woo woo woo woomoreless
  • A big step back after "Passion".

    Whereas the previous episode was a milestone for the series with an extremely daring move in the seasonal narrative, this one feels out of place. It is reminiscent of earlier "Buffy" episodes, back when they weren't quite sure what this series would be about. Since there are still four episodes left this season, perhaps these episodes serve to pad the season so they could have Buffy confront Angelus in the finale as would be dramatically appropriate.

    Considering what happened, it would make sense for Buffy to feel responsible and helpless over what happened to Jenny. So they explore that by detailing Buffy's hospital fear after helplessly watching her cousin die when she was younger. Apparently Buffy had no problem empowering herself long before she was called, but that impotence when faced with the loss of someone close has remained too.

    When children start to die at an alarming rate, Buffy puts the pieces together as a tangible foe, whereas her friends believe she's doing so to deal with her feelings after Jenny's death. She isn't comfortable in situations where she doesn't have control. Ultimately to confirm her beliefs that there is something beatable diminishes the impact of her character's story. Although they slipped into this throughout the series, they would get better at handling the situation.

    There are three separate threads to this episode: the past with Buffy and her cousin, der Kinderstod and Buffy's feelings of helplessness. Ultimately they don't come together, even if it's clear what they were trying for when they made this episode. Some things are glaringly tacked on, like Willie Garson's security guard character who had some admiration for the controversial doctor (luckily the actor would have more to work with as Carrie's gay best friend on "Sex and the City"). Another episode mourning Jenny might've been a better call.

    Making Buffy sick is a possible solution, but the way they go about it is too ridiculous to swallow. How exactly would Willow know the vial in Dr. Backer's cabinet would be poisonous in its pure form and would have to be diluted, not to mention how much water she would need to dilute it properly? By taking the point of Buffy making herself weak so she can confront her weakness down this avenue, it diminishes the point they were trying to make.

    There are some more glaring plot holes as well. For a doctor to go missing with a bunch of children dying, wouldn't it make sense for someone to connect the two and surmise they are related? Kinderstod's murder of Dr. Backer isn't clear either: instead of keeping a low profile, going after a healthy doctor is going to raise eyebrows, even if the demon can't be seen from a healthy person's perspective. Also, why isn't security airtight?

    The most satisfying point of the episode is Xander playing Buffy's "white knight" when Angelus tries to mockingly leave some flowers for her. While Xander is a character frequently bogged down by his own insecurities, he'll still able to pull through with moments like these. Standing up to one of the greatest monsters of all time, not to mention one who is going for the emotional jugular, is a major victory.

    His defense and allegiance to Buffy continues to strain his relationship with Cordelia. The fact that they can never have a happy romantic relationship because of Xander's attachment to Buffy becomes increasingly clear. While they made up after Xander's love spell debacle, it was hardly a smooth reunion. She was flattered that he went to such lengths!

    Another brief moment is Joyce's words of consolation to Giles. Considering his death wish at the end of the last episode, it's unfortunate not enough was done in this episode. It does add a little to the connection between Joyce and Giles that has been brewing this season.

    Overall, this episode was completely unnecessary, throwing the series back a few steps after the landmark "Passion" episode. Things don't add up when they should. It's an unfortunate place to put such an episode as things with Angelus were driven to new heights (or lows), but perhaps this episode is another example of them filling out the 22-episode order.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Nitpick: When Willow reads the doctor's papers, she says that he was trying to inoculate the kids. But inoculation is the introduction of a small amount of virus in the body to build immunity in the hopes that larger exposure will have no effect. It is pointless to attempt to inoculate someone who already has the virus, it only makes them sicker. So either the doctor was applying it wrongly (not farfetched considering his reputation), or he was using some other method and referring to it by the wrong name.

    • Goof: When Der Kindestod attempts to feed on Buffy the tendrils protrude from his eyes several inches. The camera angle changes as Buffy snaps his neck and the tendrils are gone.

    • Goof: In the closeup of Buffy's bed-side clock on her first night in the hospital, the time says 2:27 after it changes. Then they pull back to a wide shot, and you can see that the clock says 12:15.

    • Nitpick: It is doubtful that you will develop a high fever a few minutes after you drink the influenza virus, especially if you have had the virus before and you have been immunized.

    • Nitpick: About halfway through, Buffy is admitted to the hospital after she collapses from a fever but all her jewelry remains on her person instead of being removed according to hospital procedure.

    • Goof: When Buffy and Willow first look into the children's room after Buffy drinks the virus, the basement sign isn't there. But when Der Kindestod goes in the door after the kids, the sign is there.

    • Goof: After Buffy snaps the Kindestod's neck, his hat comes off his head and rests on the piping behind his head. But then the shot changes, and the hat is nowhere to be seen.

    • Goof: Why would they have basement access in the children's room? You would usually get there from the hallway and not from anyone's room.

    • Goof: When the doctor is thrown out of the room by death, the stunt person being used has dark hair and not gray hair like the doctor.

    • Goof: Buffy's hairstyle changes between cuts as she heads after Ryan through the hospital hallway.

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Xander: Visiting hours are over.
      Angelus: Well, I'm pretty much family.
      Xander: Yeah. Why don't you come back during the day? Oh, gee, no, I guess you can't.
      Angelus: If I decide to walk into Buffy's room, do you think for one microsecond that you could stop me?
      Xander: Maybe not. Maybe that security guard couldn't either. Or those cops... or the orderlies... But I'm kinda curious to find out. You game?
      Angelus: Buffy's White Knight. You still love her. It must just eat you up that I got there first.
      Xander: You're gonna die. And I'm gonna be there.
      Angelus: Tell her I stopped by.

    • Angelus: (to Buffy) You know, you being off your game is kinda taking the fun out of all this. (He punches her in the face, and she stumbles backward) Nope, still fun!

    • Xander: Hey, Buffy, we're all here.
      Buffy: Hey... here we are. It's... all of we. Are we taking me home?
      Doctor: No, Buffy, you need to lie down, honey.
      Buffy: Yeah? Lie at home. My bed is better than any bed that's not my bed.
      Doctor: She's still a little out of it.
      Buffy: Shhh! Hospital zone - no singing.

    • Willow: Buffy, that's 100% pure. It'll kill you in an instant.
      Buffy: Oh. They really should put that on the label.

    • Buffy: Homework.
      Willow: It's my way of saying get well soon.
      Buffy: You know, chocolate says that even better.
      Willow: I did all your assignments. All you have to do is sign your name.
      Buffy: Chocolate means nothing to me.

    • Xander: Flowers for milady.
      Buffy: I think they call them balloons.
      Xander: Yeah, stick them in water. Maybe they'll grow.

    • Xander: Do you think she's gonna be okay in here?
      Cordelia: I don't know. Lysette got her nose done here, and she came in looking for the Gwyneth Paltrow, and it looked more like the Mr. Potato Head.

    • Willow: Buffy, you're sick.
      Buffy: No, I feel fine. I mean, the world's spinning a little bit, but I like it. It's like a ride.

    • Cordelia: Eww, what does this do?
      Giles: It extracts vital organs to replenish its own mutating cells.
      Cordelia: Wow! What does this one do?
      Giles: It elongates its mouth to engulf its victims head with its incisors.
      Cordelia: Ouch! Wait, what does this one do?
      Giles: It asks endless questions of those with whom it's supposed to be working so that nothing is getting done.
      Cordelia: Boy, there's a demon for everything!

    • Xander: Finding out who this thing is takes priority. Cordy, you should go with Giles.
      Giles: Why do I have to have... (looks at Cordelia) Uh, good thinking. I-I-I could use a research assistant.
      Cordelia: (to Giles) Let's go, tact-guy.

    • Intern: What happened?
      (at the same time)
      Xander: She fell.
      Willow: The flu.
      Cordelia: She fainted.
      Xander: The flu, fainted and fell. She's sick, make it better!

    • Cordelia: So this isn't you being afraid of hospitals 'cause your friend died and you wanna conjure up a monster that you can fight so you can save everybody and not feel so helpless?
      Giles: Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?
      Cordelia: Tact is just not saying true stuff. I'll pass.

    • Willow: I'm good at medical stuff, since Xander and I used to play doctor all the time.
      Xander: No, she's being literal. She used to have all these medical volumes, and diagnosed me with stuff. I didn't have the heart to tell her she was playing it wrong.
      Willow: Wrong? Why? How did you play doctor?
      Buffy: I... never have.

    • Xander: Man, Buffy! My whole life just flashed before my eyes! I gotta get me a life!

  • NOTES (4)

  • ALLUSIONS (11)

    • Killed by death

      The title may be an illusion to the Motörhead song by the same name.

    • Buffy: Power Girl to the rescue!
      Power Girl is a DC Comics superheroine. Created in 1976, she stood out among many other female heroines (a common cliché among female superheroes, is that they take names and sometimes costumes of pre-existing male superheroes), as while she was a cousin of Superman, she chose to create her own name, identity and costume, to keep herself seperate from her famous cousin, not wanting to be seen as his carbon copy (even refusing to wear anything remotely similar to his symbol). In her civilian life, she's Karen Starr, founder and CEO of her own multi-million dollar corporation, Starrware Industries.

    • Xander: Yeah, but if I see a floating pipe and a smoking jacket, he's dropped.
      Xander's line is in reference to the classic movie, The Invisible Man, in which the invisible man from the title wears a smoking jacket, sunglasses, and carries around a pipe.

    • Visual: Der Kindestod's appearance and reference to first victim Buffy knows of
      Der Kindestod is certainly reminscent--in both appearance and modus operandi--of Freddy Kruger, the monstrous spectre who hunts kids and teenagers in their dreams in The Nightmare on Elm Street series of films. Further, the child Der Kindestod killed the first night Buffy was in hospital was named Tina; Freddy's first victim was also Tina.

    • Xander: And if he asks you to play chess, don't. The guy's, like, a whiz.
      Xander is talking about Ingmar Bergman's 1956 masterpiece The Seventh Seal, which tells the story of a weary knight named Antonius Block (played by Max von Sydow) who is challenged by Death to a chess match, the stakes being his life.

    • Title: Killed By Death
      This may be a reference to the 1976 film Murder By Death, a parody of murder-mystery movies written by Neil Simon and starring David Niven, Peter Falk, Maggie Smith, Peter Sellers, and several other famous players.

    • Buffy: Well, Sherlock.
      Sherlock Holmes is the famous fictional detective in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

    • Xander: Of Rogaine boy?
      Rogaine is the brand name of an hair growth medicine. Xander refers to the balding security guard.

    • Giles: Cordelia may be Homerically insensitive, but she may also be right.
      From the Greek epic poet Homer. Homerically is an adverb meaning of epic proportions.

    • Cordelia: She came in looking for the Gwenyth Paltrow, and it looked more like the Mr. Potato Head.
      Gwenyth Paltrow is the American actress. Mr. Potato Head is the childs toy with exchangable body part. Mr. Potato Head's nose is considerably more bulbous than Ms Paltrow's.

    • Xander: This is not the time to challenge Angel for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
      The Ultimate Fighting Championship is a no-holds barred martial arts tournament noted for its extreme violence.