"My bed is better than any bed that's not my bed."
When we left off, Angelus murdered Jenny Calendar, Giles was in the middle of a meltdown, Buffy resolved to kill Angelus, and Willow unwittingly hid away their one chance of saving his soul. So logically, the next episode is a wholly unrelated romp through a medical drama with Freddy Krueger and dozens of screaming children. Woohoo.
Angelus makes a guest appearance at the beginning of the episode to remind us why we are even watching this in the first place. Buffy has a bad cold, so she is only at half strength when Angelus confronts her in the cemetery. Thank goodness the rest of the Scoobies are inexplicably there to drive him away with crucifixes! Then Buffy passes out. Because she is sick. This relatively short scene also manages to pack in enough bad dialogue to sustain all of Season 1.
The gang rush Buffy to the hospital where Xander shouts at some doctors, "The flu fainted and fell! She's sick! Make it better!" Buffy is all doped up and freaks out on her gurney while Super Dramatic Melancholy Theme 2 twinkles in the background. Joyce explains that Buffy has hated hospitals ever since she saw her cousin Celia die in a hospital at age 8.
Buffy wakes up in a hospital bed with a creepy child staring at her, who walks away followed by Freddy Krueger. One thing I will say for the episode is that it is actually scary, because children are inherently frightening. Buffy gets out of bed to follow them, and then hallucinates a flashback of young Buffy who looks absolutely nothing like Buffy, and then wakes up in her hospital bed, but the clock reads the same time as it did when she fell asleep, and what? Was that all a dream? Time travel?
Buffy eavesdrops on an evil doctor talking about a bunch of children dying of some virus. We can tell he's evil because he has a weird highfalutin vocal affectation. The nurse insists that something must be done, and then two creepy kids show up and tell her that some dude named Death is following them around at night and adults can't see him, like Santa Claus.
We get another flashback of Buffy and Celia playing. Superhero Buffy play pretends saving Celia, who is perilously buried under pillows. It is one of those metaphorically appropriate flashbacks with deep resonance considering current events. When Buffy tells the Scoobies about this Death character, Cordelia asks if Buffy isn't just trying to come up with some fever dream monster she can fight to deal with her unresolved issues stemming from her dead cousin. Tact, Cordelia says, "is just not saying true stuff."
The Scoobies split up to decide if the evil doctor is intentionally making the kids sick. The fruits of their search reveal that the doctor has been under fire for "controversial medical practices." Cut to the doctor creepin' in the hospital corridors, followed by backlit Buffy. She sees him injecting the kid's IVs with a mysterious liquid with an evil look in his eye--but then he gets beat up by something invisible! Then he dies! So it turns out he isn't Death after all! Meanwhile, all the kids in the ward clutch onto their blankets and shake their worried heads like "oh NO oh NO!"
Conveniently, a picture of the exact demon they're looking for is on the cover of the demon phonebook. He preys on children and steals their life force, making it look like they simply died of sickness. Then a Buffy flashback reveals that this demon was responsible for killing Celia--which is sad, but does she have to scream sooo loudly?
Buffy realizes the only way to fight Freddy Krueger is to inject herself with the virus so that she can see him. Then the kids make a mad dash out of the hospital via sewers? Then Freddy Krueger finds the kids and they all scream for their lives, at which point the only thing keeping me from turning this episode off for good is my duty to you, blog readers.
Buffy whacks Freddy Krueger over the head and says, "You make me sick!" The least this episode could do to make up for screaming children is to not have such awful dialogue. But no. The only redeeming thing about this entire episode is, once again, Cordelia's witty banter.
But fear not--the next episode is my absolute favorite from Season 2!
Favorite moment: Cordelia chats up Stanford from Sex and the City
to get information on the not-so-evil doctor.
This gets Xander jealous. Cordelia confronts him later, and then points out that he's still got the hots for Buffy and feels the need to ~protect her.~ Xander says, "Somebody's got to watch her back!" and Cordelia says, "Yeah, I've seen you watch her back." And then Xander says, "Jealous?" and THEN Cordelia says, "Okay. Now watch my back." And walks away.