This is a difficult episode to review because it is literally a perfect episode (and would have scored a 100) until Ted reactivated and came back to attack Buffy. It's such a shame that the ending completely negates all the powerful stuff that was being covered before it. It turns it into an almost meaningless and mediocre stand-alone episode. If Buffy had really killed a human and the rest of the episode continued to deal with the fallout of that, I would have been one happy camper. What we got instead is a grave disappointment, but one that still has some value.
It all begins with Buffy coming home and finding this 'guy' making out with her mother. She has an amusing reaction to this sight. I really like seeing more of Joyce's social life. She keeps her affairs to herself most of the time, but I like them trying to give her character some more depth. Anyway, Buffy doesn't like seeing her mom dating someone at all and decides to take out her anger and fear on an unsuspecting vampire, who she beats to a bloody pulp. This behavior is reminiscent of Faith when she arrives in "Faith, Hope, and Trick" (3x03). She beats a vampire to a bloody pulp as well and Buffy knows, from her experience here, that there's something bothering Faith. I really like this kind of character development.
A little later we see Buffy and Angel getting on with the smoochies. Angel also asks her an important question. He asks, "Do you have somebody else in mind? There's a guy out there that would satisfy you?" referring to her mother's men. She answers, "My dad?" I really feel sorry for Buffy because she really misses her dad, regardless of the reason why her parents divorced. Sniff, sniff.
I really enjoyed the minature golf scene. It's really nice to see the group and Joyce all together, and in daylight for once. I also love how creepy the atmosphere turns when Ted catches Buffy cheating and threatens to slap her face. This leads to the rough dinner scene where Buffy finds out that Ted might ask her mom to marry him soon. She is disgusted and says that if it happened she'd feel like killing herself. Wow. I feel Buffy acted very appropiate under the circumstances though.
All of that is setup for the big bedroom diary scene where Ted threatens to show Buffy's mom her diary. He hits her which enables her to lay the ass kicking on him. She takes it to far considering she thinks he's human, though, and appears to have killed him. 'Killing' Ted shocks the shit out of Buffy, and appropiately so. In the following police 'interrogation' scene we discover what's underneath Buffy's Slayer exterior: a very scared girl. I love how this shows that when it comes to emotional and personal issues Buffy is just as heartbroken and weak as any teen would be if placed in that situation. This whole sequence of events leads to the wonderful bout of acting by SMG when she tells her mom, "I didn't mean to do it," and starts to break down in tears. This little scene is powerful. SMG's acting is really great all episode long as well. In fact, all the acting in this episode is spot on and believable, including the guest star John Ritter.
Now, if the episode had stayed on this course it would have been a home run, but instead things go back to being predictable when Ted is discovered to be a robot who marries women then locks them in a closet in his house until they die. This plot development ruined what could have been a powerful milestone for the series. Buffy gets off the hook for killing a human which completely undermines the episode's potency. It's a real shame they didn't take advantage of this opportunity.
So now we're back into plot mediocrity territory and there's still some problems. Buffy once again gets knocked out incredibly easily by someone. Sigh. Also, there is no way anyone in the 50's could construct a robot with that kind of sophistication. It'd be stretching it to have a plot where there's a robot like that made today. The episode ends with Buffy saving the day and actually killing robot Ted. Yawn. This is a solid episode, but my disappointment over the squashed potential kind of looms heavily above the rest of the stuff in here. To be fair, though, it's still very entertaining and very well acted.