"Doublemeat Palace"
Written by Jane Espenson; directed by Nick Marck

Willow finishes explaining to Xander and Anya the events of “Gone” and Anya decides that demons are better than humans - demons work for their rewards, but super-villains want rewards without working. Buffy comes downstairs, unflatteringly dressed for her first day of work at a fast food restaurant called the Doublemeat Palace. At the restaurant, she watches a video about the company. Their pride and joy is the Doublemeat Medley, a burger made from cows and chickens. Buffy meets Manny the manager (“it’s not a joke, it’s just my name”) and tries to pretend that she’s there for the “Doublemeat experience,” but she really just needs money. She also learns that one of the employees is suddenly gone, which seems to be a common occurrence. Manny tells her that, if she puts forth the effort, she’ll become a “lifer” at Doublemeat Palace. She is told to stay out of the walk-in freezer and initiated into the Doublemeat Family by being made to eat a Doublemeat Medley. She is also denied knowledge of the secret ingredient.

Buffy gets to work, which is boring and monotonous. She meets the Wig Lady, a regular customer, who mentions that some employees disappear without warning. Later, Manny catches Buffy snooping around the forbidden walk-in freezer, where she is trying to figure out what the secret ingredient is in the burgers. The Scoobies visit Buffy at work and she tells them about the strange goings-on. That night, Spike pays her a visit and accuses her of taking the job to try to make herself feel normal. Outside, one of the employees is killed by an unseen assailant. The next morning, Buffy hears that the employee is “gone,” but no one seems to spend much time worrying about it.

Xander and Anya are at his apartment when a woman/demon suddenly appears, looking very much like Anya’s demon self in “The Wish.” She tells Xander that she’s there to wreak vengeance. Anya enters and she tells her that she will rip Xander into pieces. Anya recognizes her as Halfrek (Kali Rocha, who also played Cecily in “Fool for Love”) and they have a happy reunion. Halfrek got Anya’s message about the wedding garbled and is surprised to hear that Anya is marrying Xander (“the man with the large upper arms”). On Buffy’s break, she…um…services Spike. And the less said about that, the better, so we’ll just move on.

At home, Willow is studying when Amy pays a visit. She tries to get Willow to remember how she felt when she used magic, then zaps her with a “present,” giving her a little power. At work, Buffy finds a severed finger in the meat grinder and takes it to Manny’s office. She starts to panic, thinking that the missing employees are actually in the food. She runs out to the eating area and, in a scene similar to Xander’s “rat poison!” outburst in “Earshot,” begins upsetting customers’ trays and yelling that the food is people. (Wig Lady would like to know if there are people in her cherry pie.) Buffy is rewarded with a firing.

Halfrek and Anya continue their conversation about Xander; Anya has to convince Halfrek that she does love him. Buffy, Dawn, and Xander gather at the Magic Box for a Scooby meeting with poor turn-out. Buffy announces that there’s something rotten in the state of Doublemeat and mentions everything that’s happened. Just as she gets to the part about thinking the food is really people, Xander finishes eating the burger she’s brought for research. The Scoobies freak out (especially Xander) and start investigating while Buffy returns to the restaurant. She finds Manny, who has become the latest victim of the employee killer.

At the Magic Box, Willow uses her scientific knowledge to run tests on the burger while Dawn laments to Xander that Buffy will never have a normal life. Anya arrives as Willow gets her results - the burger is not human, but also not normal meat. Buffy comes face to face with Wig Lady, who has been wearing a wig to hide the rather large demon growing out of her head. (If you see the episode, you can decide for yourself what this demon looks like. I’m not going to go into it. Willow also mentions it in “Entropy.”) The demon sprays something at Buffy, paralyzing her.

Willow arrives at the restaurant, looking for Buffy. She announces that the burgers are made out of processed vegetables and confesses that Amy gave her some magic. She hears Buffy attempting to fight the Wig Lady and gets inside. Willow kills the demon, which winds up in the meat grinder, as Buffy’s paralysis fades. The next day, Amy returns to the Summers’ house and Willow tells her to stay away from her. Amy is bitter that Willow wasn’t able to turn her back from a rat sooner; Willow threatens her. Buffy returns to the Doublemeat Palace and meets Lorraine (Kirsten Nelson), Manny’s replacement. She reveals that she knows the secret about the burgers and Lorraine tells her that beef fat is mixed with the vegetables - “the secret ingredient in the beef is beef.” Lorraine warns her not to tell anyone and Buffy says that she needs her job back. She is rehired, though she isn’t thrilled about being stuck in fast food.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Fast food is tasty, but deadly. Like peanuts!

GRADE: B I think I'm the only Buffy fan who doesn't hate this episode; I think it's bizarrely funny.


MEMORABLE QUOTES - Willow: “Yeah, well, she went in, and then--.”
Anya: “Speaking of Buffy, isn't she ready? She's gonna be late for her first day.”
Willow: “Hey, respect the narrative flow much?”
Anya: “Please continue the story of failure.”

Anya: “See, this is why demons are better than people.”
Willow: “Interesting turn.”
Anya: “When I was a vengeance demon, I caused pain and mayhem, certainly. But I put in a full day's work doing it, and I got compensated appropriately.”
Xander: “Welcome to today's episode of Go Money Go! I hear it daily.”

Manny: “Interesting, isn't it?”
Buffy: “Oh, yes! Like how the cow and the chicken come together even though they've never met. It's like Sleepless in Seattle if, if Meg and Tom were, like, minced.”

“So…what's the deal with Manny the manager? If I ask him really nice, can I write a children's book called that?” - Buffy

Gary: “Productivity. One of Manny's watch-words. ‘Levity is the time-thief that picks the pocket of the company.’”
Buffy: “I prefer the one that goes, ‘Manny's a humorless dolt who picks the pocket of he should bite me.’”

Philip: “You put the beef on the grill, you hit the button, then it beeps. You flip the beef, hit the other button, then it beeps. You put it on the bun…. There's not a button for that.”
Buffy: “Repeat until insane.”
Philip: “It eliminates variation. Every burger at every Doublemeat Palace is the same. People don't like variation.”
Buffy: “Got it. Variety is the spice of bad.”

Dawn: “We're doing chemistry.”
Anya: “Oh. So sorry I hurried.”

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