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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Living Conditions
October 12, 1999
4ABB02

 
Credits

Writer:
Marti Noxon


Director:
David Grossman


Regulars:
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Seth Green as Oz
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Dagney Kerr as Kathy Newman
Adam Kaufman as Parker Abrams
Paige Moss as Veruca
Cast:
Clayton Barber as Demon 1
Walt Borchert as Demon 2
Roger Morrissey as Tapparich
David Tuckman as Freshman

 
Synopsis

Buffy finds that it isn't getting any easier adjusting to life with her new roommate, Kathy. On patrol she fights a demon with glowing green eyes that runs away, and that night has a dream about that very demon trying to suck her soul from her. Kathy admits to having the same dream, but Buffy believes that Kathy is evil. Buffy steals Kathy's toenail clippings to prove that Kathy is a demon (they grew after having been cut), prompting Willow to warn Giles that the Slayer has gone insane. Kathy and Buffy get into a fight, revealing that she really is a demon — Buffy's "dreams" were actually Kathy stealing her soul, bit by bit — when another demon appears, creating a portal back to their own dimension. The demon takes Kathy with him, allowing Willow to become Buffy's new roommate. — Short synopsis by Boo.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

The Mok'tagar The Mok'tagar are purely made up. They are multidimensional demons, meaning that they can move from one dimension to another (i.e., from their demon dimension to our human dimension). They can also disguise themselves as other beings, but their cohorts can recognize them by their lack of a soul.


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Dialogue to Die For

Willow (about Giles)): "He's our grown-up friend. Not in a creepy way."

Buffy: "So then Kathy's like, 'It's share-time.' And I'm like, 'Oh yeah? Share this!'" (Buffy punches the air a few times.)
Oz: "So either you hit her or you did your wacky mime routine for her."
Buffy: "Well, I didn't do either, actually. But she deserved it, don't ya think?"
Oz: "Nobody deserves mime, Buffy."

Buffy: "Kathy's evil. I'm an evil fighter. It's simple. I'm gonna have to kill her."

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Kathy: "It's share-time, Buffy." (When she says it towards the end of the episode, during the fight.)
    Cheesy, much?
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References

  • Kathy: "A stitch in time—"
    Buffy: "Catches the worm."
  • Kathy was going to say "A stitch in time saves nine," and Buffy said the end of "The early bird catches the worm," both of which are old proverbs.

  • Buffy: "Kathy's nice and all, but she's sort of, I don't know, like, Mini-Mom of Momdonia."
  • One might consider this a reference to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, which featured Mini-Me, Dr. Evil's evil miniature clone.

  • Buffy: "Listening to the Best of VH1 all day sort of put me on edge." Willow: "Oh. Kathy still spinning the Divas?"
  • VH1 is a music-based cable station which focuses on lighter "pop" music than does MTV; it's generally more popular with adults than college students. They have aired two specials, "Divas Live," in 1998 and 1999, featuring such artists as Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Cher, and Whitney Houston.

  • Buffy: "I bet before too long she'll be trip-hopping all over the place."
  • Trip-hop is in the same family as techno and electronica music, though described as having a drastically slower tempo than techno. Favorite artists of trip-hop fans include Portishead and Massive Attack.
          Thanks to Mike for the tip.

  • Giles: "A friend of mine recently acquired an original Gutenberg demonography."
  • Giles is referring to Johann Gutenberg, a German goldsmith/printer who is credited with the invention of printing from moveable type. His most famous printed work was his pet project, the 42-Line Bible (also known as the Gutenberg Bible), few copies of which still exist. It's not too likely that he printed demonographies.

  • The whole conversation about Parker's interest in Buffy, including Xander's use of "Hasta" and "Buffinator" and Oz's use of "He'll be back," could be construed as a running reference to 1984's The Terminator and 1991's Terminator 2. The catchphrase from the first (repeated in the 2nd) was "I'll be back," and the catchphrase from the sequel was "Hasta la vista, baby."

  • The scene in which Kathy's hamburger squirts ketchup onto Buffy's sweater is strikingly similar to commercials for the burger chain Carl's Jr., and could be a visual reference to them.

  • Oz (regarding the blood-down-the-throat part of Buffy and Kathy's dreams): "Bloody Mary minus the Mary?"
  • Oz is much more likely referring to the drink (the basic ingredients of which are vodka and tomato juice) than Mary Tudor, Queen of England, whose nickname was Bloody Mary — though the drink may be named after her. Or maybe not — according to Tabasco®: "It was back in the 1920s when Fernand Petiot, an American bartender at Harry's New York Bar in Paris, mixed up equal parts of tomato juice and vodka. ... he agreed with the guy in the bar who suggested he call the drink "Bloody Mary." The patron said it reminded him of the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, and a girl he knew there named Mary. In 1934, Petiot moved to the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, and brought the recipe with him. ... [His customers] asked Petiot to spice it up. He added black pepper, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and—for those who wanted more spirit—a generous splash of TABASCO® pepper sauce. And that's how an American classic was born." Research shows this as the most commonly accepted history of the drink.

    There's also a legend that the drink was "named" after Winston Churchill's wife, for one legend has it that he asked a bartender to make him something to help his hangover, which "bloody Mary" (his method of referring to his wife, though her name was Clementine) wouldn't detect on his breath.
          Thanks to Bec for describing to us this legend.

  • Parker: "There's lots of popular artists who don't get their dues: Madonna, Whitney ..."
  • Madonna is a ridiculously famous pop-singer who changes her image about every month and her musical style about every year; Whitney Houston specializes in ballads.

  • Parker: "We sort of got caught up on the Red Wings."
  • Red WingsThe Red Wings are Detroit's NHL hockey team and nine-time Stanley Cup Champions.

  • Buffy (about Kathy): "She's the Titanic."
  • The Titanic was the infamous ship which crashed into an iceberg on her maiden voyage in 1912, killing more than 1500 people (in part because there were not nearly enough lifeboats for all the passengers). The incident has inspired numerous books and movies, including, of course, 1997's box-office and Oscar blowout.

  • Xander: "Are you saying that Buffy's been doing a Linda Blair on us because Kathy's been sucking her soul?"
  • This is the third reference to The Exorcist (it's also mentioned in "Teacher's Pet" and "I Only Have Eyes For You"), the 1973 horror classic based on William Peter Blatty's novel. In it, Linda Blair plays a 12-year-old girl who is possessed by a demon, causing her to behave strangely (to put it very mildly).

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Continuity

  • Band Candy

    Buffy jokes about the last time Giles tried to recapture his youth, referring to the effects of the candy in "Band Candy" (all of the adults behaved like wild teenagers, and Giles and Joyce had sex).

  • Seasons One through Three

    In case you just started watching Buffy (or in case you've forgotten her already), Willow's statement that Buffy was almost "Cordelia-esque" was a reference to former regular Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter, now on Angel), who was a not-nice girl.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • When Kathy shows Buffy her phone-call-logging system, she points at a pad of paper in demonstration. In one shot, the uncapped end of the pen is pointing at the paper, but in the next shot the capped end is pointing at the paper.
          Spotted by Mathew.

  • As Buffy and Willow are walking away from Buffy's dorm, Willow is carrying a bag, the straps of which are solid color on one side and camouflage print on the other. As they walk, the straps flip back and forth between shots.
          Spotted by CatieE.

  • When Kathy joins Buffy on patrol, watch Buffy's ponytail. In the shots from behind Buffy, her ponytail rests on her back. In shots from in front of her, her ponytail rests in front of her shoulder.
          Spotted by Mathew.

  • When Giles and Buffy are outside, he tosses a towel over his shoulder when he sits down. When he stands up a bit later, he is shown with the towel in his hand and gone from his shoulder; it returns to his shoulder momentarily.

  • This one's not so bad, but when Buffy cuts in front of Parker in line, her hair does a bit of jumping from behind her shoulder to in front and back again.
          Spotted by Mathew.

  • When Buffy puts on her earmuffs to block out Kathy's music, her hair is pushed back under them. In one shot, however, a chunk of her hair is in front of the earmuffs.
          Spotted by Diana.

  • When Oz and Xander walk carefully toward the tied-up Buffy, Oz in on Xander's right. Buffy then knocks their heads together and they fall down, but in the shot of them on the floor, Oz is on Xander's left (it certainly didn't look as if Oz could have rolled over Xander).

  • When Buffy and Kathy are fighting, the phone ends up in front of/between their nightstands. Later, when the demon-portal is opened, the phone is nowhere to be seen.

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Notes

  • Clayton Barber, who played Demon 1 in this episode, has been Angel's stunt double in the past. He has been another vampire's stunt double (Frost's), as well, in the 1998 movie Blade.

  • Walt Borchert (Demon 2) was "New Vampire" in last week's episode, "The Freshman."

  • Roger Morrissey (Tapparich) was the demon in "Gingerbread."

  • Buffy refers to The Grotto, where she is going for coffee — this is presumably a coffee shop on campus.

  • The dining hall at UCS is called the Rocket Cafe.

  • Contrary to the implications last week ("The Freshman"), Buffy's dorm is Stevenson Hall, not Fischer Hall.

  • More buildings: Kresge Hall (the dorm in which Parker lives) and the Science Center.

  • Writer Marti Noxon is apparently paying homage to her alma mater: UC Santa Cruz has a Kresge College and a Stevenson College, both of which have their own on campus housing (and Stevenson's dorms are co-ed, all the way down to the restrooms). Marti Noxon graduated from Oakes College at UCSC in 1986. Further details can be found here. (Thanks to Meredith for the info.)

  • Willow is taking English (she says she has an English paper to do).

  • Paige Moss appears in this episode uncredited (she's the girl who had the stare-fest with Oz).

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Music

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Comments

Jeremy:
Excellent episode, if I do say so myself (and so it is that I say). I absolutely adored the camera work, the acting, the script, the directing, everything. Buffy doesn't get much better than this. I'm sure that this episode really rang true with any of whom have had the unpleasant experience of a college roommate (or in my case roommates). For some unknown reason, our school has dorm suites. These three bedroom/two bathroom/kitchen/living room/dining room suites are to be shared by six randomly selected students. Tell me, how can this possible work? I ended up in the dorm just like Willow's. Unknown people sleeping on the couch (and elsewhere), loud, obnoxious music, drinking, drugs, you name it. I was able to retain my sanity, by luck of some miracle. Although, I did have to end up labeling my food, and then moving it all under my bed and locking the door. Needless to say, I got out of that situation as quickly as humanly possible. Anyways, I rant. What was I talking about again? Ah yes, one of the most refreshing episodes in quite a while. Although I really liked "Earshot," it may have been the hype contributing to my bias. "Living Conditions," I believe is the bar that the rest of season four will have to jump over. Saving a little room so that another episode may surpass this, I give it a (9.5/10).
Jamie Marie:
I like it a lot. Oh sure, there are a couple of things that bug me — what would my review be without a couple of those? For instance, Giles leaves Buffy tied up to go get some supplies for a spell he knows, which will cure what he thinks is Buffy's possession by a demon. Later he is shown reading about these Mok'tagar guys (in a place looking suspiciously like his house, no less). Why did he stop to do more research if he was so sure he knew what to do? And Willow goes to tell Kathy to leave, but Kathy acts strangely and seems to scare Willow. She goes to Giles' place, and says, "I just saw Kathy, and she's acting—. She is interrupted, but I thought she was going to say that perhaps Buffy was onto something. Then she's told that Buffy escaped, and she tries to call Kathy to tell her to save herself. Huh? But whatever. These things aside, this is a truly enjoyable episode, with an engaging plot of plenty of laughs. Some people seem disturbed by the "predictable" roommate-from-Hell-really-is-from-Hell plot, but come on, that what this show does. I love that stuff. SMG is again terrific here, with some classic facial expressions and top-notch delivery of lines. And I'm truly loving the direction/cinematography/sound this week; the cool close-ups, the wacky visuals (i.e. toes and toenails), the amplified sound of toenail-clipping and pencil-tapping, the editing from back and forth Giles and company to Buffy and Kathy toward the end ... it all adds up to an episode that can only be described as super fun! (9.5/10)
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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
October 12, 1999 3.8 88 of 135
December 21, 1999 2.7 90 of 134 (tie)
August 15, 2000 2.0 98 of 137 (tie)

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