ITALY – THE MIDDLE AGES
Three men stand in a darkened room, a demon approaches and one of the men kneels in front of it. Resting his clawed hand upon the kneeling man’s head, the demon tells him that all he wants is his live, the man assures the demon that he has this. With a twist of his hand, the demon snaps his neck.
In a nearby monastery, a group of monks chant in a circle, the leader holding open a book with blank pages. As they chant, the demon becomes concerned and begins to dissolve as in the monastery writing appears on the pages of the book. The monk leader shuts the book and places it in a wooden crate, praying that it shall never be read again or the demon will once again be unleashed.
In the present day, Buffy, Willow, Dave and Fritz are in the library helping Giles and the computer science teacher, Ms. Calendar with a project to scans books into a database. Buffy pulls open a wooden box, where she finds an old book, which, Giles informs her, should go on the “Willow pile”.
All except Willow are relieved when the project is finished for the day and they can leave. Willow stays behind and carries on with her work. It is late at night when she reaches the last book, the old one from the box, she runs the scanner over it and watches as the strange words from the page appear on the screen. Unbeknownst to her, they are at the same time, disappearing from the pages of the book, leaving it once again, blank.
Finally finished, Willow switches off the computer and leaves. The blank screen flickers to life once more, displayed the words “Where am I?”
School is back all to soon and Willow is happy to be in her favourite class, computer lab. She tells Buffy excitedly about a guy she has met online, as she switches on her computer, she is excited to find that she has another message from him. A dubious Buffy tries to warn her that ‘Malcolm’ may not be who he seems, but Willow is oblivious.
At the same time, in the principal’s office, a computer switches itself on and starts scanning through student files until it finds Buffy’s. Sending her image to Frits’s screen, who is also taking part in computer lab, the words “Watch her” appear.
The next day, Willow is late for class due to chatting to Malcolm all night. This anomaly only makes Buffy more concerned. Deciding to find out more, she approaches Dave to find out if an email can be traced. Dave is intrigued until Buffy mentions the reason for her interest, when he becomes agitated and tells her to leave Willow alone. Buffy suspects that Dave may actually be Malcolm. She leaves the lab under the watchful eye of Fritz.
Heading for the library, Buffy takes her concerns to Giles who suggests following Dave. Taking her detective duties seriously, Buffy sets about her business that afternoon and follows Dave to a large building, as he enters, a security camera focuses on Buffy and once again sends her image to Fritz, who is still in the computer lab. The words “Kill her” appear on his screen.
The next day, Buffy brings Giles and Xander up to speed in the library where Xander surprises everyone by having some useful information about the building Buffy followed Dave to. It belongs to Colax Research and Development (CRD), a computer research lab which closed down last year. Buffy explains it didn’t look very closed and decides the best option is to break in.
Meanwhile, Willow is avidly chatting to Malcolm, about to arrange a meet up, when Malcolm lets slip that he knows more than he should about Buffy. Becoming concerned, Willow switches off her computer and leaves.
In the library Giles and Ms Calendar are bickering when Giles finds the old book Willow scanned into the computer, noticing the pages are blank he becomes concerned and heads to his office.
Outside school, Buffy runs into Dave who informs her that Willow has been looking for her and is waiting in the locker room. She heads there but there is no sign of Willow, instead Fritz is there and, unnoticed by Buffy, he turns on the shower and leaves. Thinking it is Willow, Buffy makes for the showers, confused to find that too empty, she turns off the tap as a growing pool of water heads closer to an exposed electrical wire. Before, it can reach her, Dave issues a warning shout and Buffy half jumps and is half thrown across the room.
Dave rushes into the computer lab and begins talking to his computer, telling it he can no longer go ahead with the plan to kill Buffy. Words appear on the screen, it’s a suicide note, signed by Dave, as Dave takes a step back he finds Fitz standing right behind him.
In the library, Giles shows Buffy and Xander the blank book as he explains about Moloch, the corrupter, the demon who seduces people with promises of love, power and knowledge. They realise that Willow must have scanned the book and released the demon into the computer and things start falling into place. Lost for what to do, they decide that deleting the file might solve the problem, but as they try an image of Moloch appears on the screen. Telling the to leave Willow alone, it shuts the computer down.
Their next plan is to find Willow and Buffy heads off to the computer lab to see if she is there. The lab is dark and silent when she arrives, with no sign of Willow. As she moves from computer to computer, they suddenly all come on, stepping back Buffy finds herself bumping right into Dave’s lifeless body, which swings from the ceiling. Back at the library, Xander also hasn’t had any luck getting Willow on the phone. Buffy and Xander set off for her house, leaving Giles to solve the problem of getting Moloch out of the internet and back into the book, potentially with some help from Ms. Calendar.
Meanwhile, Willow has returned home to an empty house, she goes to her room and starts unpacking her bag, jumping when her computer advises her she has mail. Checking it, she sees it is a message from Malcolm, she switches her computer off, only for it to turn on again, with a further message that she has mail. She is about to open her mail again, when she is distracted by a knock at the door. Running to the door she opens it to find no one there, she turns back around and Fritz grabs her from behind, pressing a chloroform-filled rag to her face. Willow collapses and is dragged off by Fritz.
In the library, Giles struggles to find the words to tell Ms Calender what has happened, finding out she is already aware about the demon in the internet, doesn’t help his composure. Meanwhile, Buffy and Xander have arrived at Willow’s house to find her front door open and her house empty. Next stop the CRD.
Willow wakes up inside the CRD lab to find herself face to face with “Malcolm”, who is actually a robot Moloch. Laying his hand on Fritz’ head, robot-Moloch twists, snapping his neck.
Back in the library, Giles and Ms. Calendar are preparing the ritual to send Moloch back into the book as Buffy and Xander reach the CRD and start to break in. Buffy easily kicks open the door and takes out a security guard, but they have activated a security light, making Moloch aware of their arrival. A camera shows Buffy and Xander where Willow and Moloch are and they make their way there, only to find the room secured by an unbreakable steel door. Suddenly, the lights go off and the door to the room they are in also locks, trapping them in the room, which starts filling with gas.
Back in the library, Ms. Calendar has formed a virtual circle of Kayless on the internet and Giles begins to read as she types. Ar CRD, Buffy is banging on the door trying in vain to get in to Willow, while Willow herself is telling Moloch she wants to leave. Moloch remonstrates and when Willow refuses to cooperate he places his hand on her head and is about to twist it when the ritual kicks in. Moloch screams and the doors unlock, allowing Buffy to drag a semi-conscious Xander into the lab. Grabbing Willow they had out to safety, leaving Moloch on his knees as in the library the computer screen goes blank. Checking the book, Giles finds that the pages remain blank there too.
In the lab, Buffy, Willow and Xander race for the open door, but are stopped by an approaching security guard in company with two scientists. Buffy slams the door, locking it, but Moloch, now bound into his robot form, smashes through the wall, grabbing Buffy and throws her across the room. Just as he is about to pick her back up, Willow shouts to him and begins smashing him over the head repeatedly with a fire extinguisher. She lands a few good blows before Moloch recovers and throws her into Xander, they both fall to the floor and Moloch turns his attention back to Buffy. Still dazed, Buffy gets up, noticing a fuse box on the wall as she does, standing in front of the box, Buffy invites Moloch to take his best shot. Moloch accepts but before the blow can reach her, Buffy drops, sending Moloch’s fist crashing into the fuse box. Buffy throws herself to the floor just as Moloch explodes.
The next day, Buffy, Willow and Xander sit in the Sunnydale sunshine, chatting about going to the Bronze. Willow is dejected though, mourning the fact that the one boy that has ever shown an interest in her turned out to be a demon robot. Buffy and Xander quickly remind her that Buffy has a crush on a vampire, and Xander’s last date was a preying mantis.
- The title of the episode comes from Isaac Asimov’s science fiction classic, ‘I, Robot’, which was later made into a movie, in which Alan Tudyk played the robot, and the phrase, Me Tarzan, You Jane, from the book and TV show, Tarzan.
- In the episode Buffy wears shirts with a cat, a rabbit and a dragon on them. The research lab much of the story takes place in is called CRD, which is an acronym for each of these animals.
- When Malcolm brings up Buffy’s record on the computer it shows Buffy’s birthday as 24 October 1980. When we see her record shows her birthday as 6 May 1979. Joss Whedon has confirmed that her actual birthday is 19 January 1981, and the episodes in which Buffy celebrates her birthday have always been first aired in the week of the 19th January.
Willow: The one boy who truly liked me, and he’s a demon robot. What does that say about me?
Buffy: That doesn’t say anything about you.
Willow: I really thought I was really falling…
Buffy: Hey, did you forget? The one boy I’ve had the hots for since I moved here turned out to be a vampire.
Xander: Right, and the teacher I had a crush on? Giant preying 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!
Jenny: Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
Giles: The smell
Jenny: Computers don’t smell, Rupert.
Giles: I know. Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower, or a- a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell must and – and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a… it, uh, it has no – no texture, no – no context. It’s – it’s there and then it’s gone. If it’s to last, then – then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible. It should be, um, smelly.
Jenny: Well, you really are an old-fashioned boy, aren’t you?
Giles: Well, I-I don’t dangle a corkscrew from my ear.
Jenny: That’s not where I dangle it.
Giles: I’m just gonna stay and clean up a little. I’ll – I’ll uh, I’ll be back in the middle ages.
Jenny: Did you ever leave?
Jenny: You hear again? You kids really dig the library, don’t ya?
Buffy: We’re literary.
Xander: To read makes our speaking English good.
Jenny: [to Giles] I know our ways are strange to you, but soon you will join us in the twentieth century, with three whole years to spare.
Xander: I mean, sure he says he’s a high school student, but I can say I’m a high school student.
Buffy: You are.
Xander: Okay, but I can also say that I’m an elderly Dutch woman. Get me? I mean, who’s to say I’m not if I’m in the elderly Dutch chat room.
Giles: Things involving a computer fill me with a childlike terror. Now if it were a nice ogre or some such I would be much more in my element.
- When Malcolm sends information about Buffy to Fritz’ computer, before we see the information appear on his screen, a Macintosh desktop can be seen with an open folder labelled “Buffy… I, Robot.” which has other folders called Scene 10, 11 and 12 inside.
- When Malcolm scrolls through the school files looking for Buffy, he scrolls passed the same few names (including Buffy’s) several times.
- Buffy says that Angel is the one boy she has had the hots for since coming to Sunnydale, however, she also dated Owen Thurman.