"The one guy who really likes me, and he's a demon robot. What does that say about me?"
Remember back when the Internet consisted of Prodigy and chat groups about kittens and the invention of AOL blew everyone's mind? And the dangers of being online and flirting with a 6-year-old or an FBI agent and what are viruses? Well, this episode will tug at your heartstrings hard if you miss the innocent days when people thought this Internet thing would fade out with POGs and acid-wash jeans.
The episode begins with an atrocious, ten-year long Italian intro in which a scaly horned green demon coos, "Amore!" to his dreamy Italian minion, only to be exploded by a bunch of monks who trap him in a book.
Centuries later or whatever, Buffy discovers the book. She's in the library with Giles and impossibly hot computer teacher Jenny Calendar, who is helping them scan books into those newfangled inventions called computers. Jenny and Giles argue about books (books) vs. the Internet (Kindles) when some rando jumps out of nowhere and snarls, "The only reality is virtual! If you're not jacked in, you're not alive!" Jenny says his name is Fritz. Uhh, yeah. Okay.
Willow announces that she's fallen in love with Malcolm, who she met on the Internet. Buffy suspects that Malcolm is probably a circus freak, so she decides to do a little bit of snooping. Meanwhile, Fritz and his simpering friend are REALLY into some new project of theirs, and not just to impress the super super hot Jenny Calendar. No, they spend their nights chanting, "I'm jacked in! I'm jacked in!", carving letters into their flesh, and eerily staring at Buffy. Uh oh, what could all this mean!!
Long story long: Things start to get real creepy when Fritz tries to electrocute Buffy in the girl's bathroom. Simpering friend has a sudden burst of conscience and warns Buffy to get out of there, but not before her Steven Madden's get toasted.
Simpering friend yells at the computer, which starts speaking aloud and telling him that he promised him love. This sounds familiar! The computer then begins reading a suicide note as written by simpering friend, and Fritz appears creepily lurking in the back. THIS HAPPENED! They staged the poor fella's homicide-as-suicide, and oblivious "What is the Internet?" Buffy happens upon his hanging corpse!
Giles and co. realize that Malcolm (aka "Moloch the Corrupter") is actually the Italian demon, and that Willow scanned him onto her computer. If "Teacher's Pet" gave us The teacher is a giant praying mantis! and "The Pack" gave us THE KIDS. ATE. THEIR PRINCIPAL., then this is the episode that I will forever think of as, There's a demon on the Internet!
Jenny Calendar reveals that she knows about the demon on the Internet because, wait for it...SHE'S A TECHNO-PAGAN! "There are more of us than you think!" she says. Of course, yeah! So sure!
She and Giles cast some cyber-incantations while Buffy, Xander, and Willow confront Moloch, who is a gigantic effing robot. Poor Willow--first she goes after Xander, and then she goes after this:
And it's still not clear which is worse!
Favorite moment: This moment comes to you courtesy of the lovely Alison Goldstein. When Giles and Buffy discover that there's a demon on the Internet, they logically try to delete it off of Willow's computer. When Buffy drags it into the trash bin, Moloch appears onscreen and yells:
LEAVE. WILLOW. ALONE!!!