Written by David Greenwalt & Joss Whedon; directed by Bruce Seth Green

Buffy, Willow, and Xander walk down the street to Buffy’s house as Willow and Xander debate whether the Captain or Tennille was in charge. Buffy mentions how calm things are now that Spike and Drusilla are out of the way (see “What’s My Line, Part 2”) and says that Angel told her the contract with the Order of Taraka is off. When they arrive at Buffy’s house, she sees that the front door is open and is worried that something has happened to her mother. She hears a glass break and her mother call out, “No!” Buffy rushes into the kitchen to find Joyce kissing a man named Ted (guest star John Ritter). Later, Ted makes mini pizzas for the Scoobies as Joyce tells Buffy that she met him at her gallery when he improved her computer system. Ted offers Willow free software demos, earning her love, and Xander mentions that the mini pizzas are the best in the world. However, Ted is unable to win over Buffy, though she lies that she’s okay with his relationship with Joyce.

Buffy beats up a vampire in the park, taking out her frustration on it while Giles suggests that she just slay him already. When she’s done, she asks if there are any more to kill, then starts complaining about Ted. At school the next day, she tells Xander to stop gushing about Ted, who she thinks is too good to be true. Xander and Willow wonder if her problems aren’t psychological, and Xander teases that Buffy is having parental issues. Ted suddenly shows up, saying that he’s working on software in the guidance office, and gives Willow her software upgrades. He asks the Scoobies if they want to play mini-golf with him and Joyce that weekend, and Buffy tries to get out of it, but Xander tells Ted they’ll be there. Giles goes to Jenny’s classroom with an excuse to check up on her (see “The Dark Age”), and she tells him that she’s all right. She says that she’s uncomfortable having him always checking on her, and he says he’ll stop bothering her.

That night, Buffy complains to Angel about Ted in his apartment. He tells her that her mother is probably lonely and is enjoying having someone to spend time with. She replies that she’ll make an effort to give Ted a chance. That weekend, Ted, Joyce, and the Scoobies head out to play golf and Ted asks Buffy if she’s popular with the boys at school. Willow starts to brag for her, then covers up her mention of Angel and says that Buffy is too busy studying. Ted says that Buffy’s grades should be improving in that case, and Buffy is surprised to hear that Joyce spoke to Ted about her grades. Buffy screws up her next shot and Joyce tells her they’ll let it slip, but Ted says that they should follow the rules and model the correct behavior (“right is right”). After checking to see if anyone is watching, Buffy cheats, then is confronted by Ted. She tells him that it’s just a game, but he doesn’t agree - “it is not a game! It does count, and I don’t stand for that kind of malarkey in my house!” Buffy points out that they’re not in his house, and he threatens to slap her. The others approach and Ted turns his attention to homemade cookies.

A few mornings later, Buffy wakes up to find that Ted has cooked breakfast, which makes her lose her appetite. Joyce admonishes her for being rude to Ted earlier, and says that she doesn’t date a lot, since she’s a single parent. Buffy says that Ted threatened her, but Joyce, who knows about the cheating, denies that he said anything. She tells her that they’re going to be patient until Buffy learns to like Ted, and that they’re having dinner with him that night. At school, Xander eats more of Ted’s cookies as Buffy asks Willow to investigate him. Willow notes that Buffy is acting as if she wants to find something incriminating on Ted. Cordelia walks by and Xander compliments her outfit; in response, she pulls him away from his friends and lectures him on keeping their relationship (or whatever it is) a secret. He promises that neither of their groups of friends will find out what they’re up to, and they head to the utility closet to make out. Buffy tells Willow that her mother is acting differently and asks her to find out where Ted works.

Buffy heads over to Ted’s office, where she sees on the sales board that he’s the top salesperson. She pretends to be a temp, and one of Ted’s co-workers tells her that Ted is going to take time off for his wedding, which he’s planned to be in two months. On Ted’s desk, Buffy finds a picture of herself and Joyce from their house - except Buffy has been folded out of sight. That night, Ted says grace before dinner, and Buffy asks if he and Joyce are engaged. Ted tells her that they might get married eventually, then encourages Buffy to express her feelings. “I feel like killing myself,” she says honestly. She leaves the table, then sneaks out her window and goes to the park to patrol. When she returns home, Ted is in her bedroom, having looking through her things, found her weapons, and read her diary. He tells her that she’s delusional (with regards to being a Slayer) and threatens to tell Joyce if she doesn’t leave him alone. Before he can leave with the diary, Buffy tries to stop him and he hits her. Glad that he made the first move, Buffy fights back and soon Joyce comes to see what’s going on. The fight winds up in the hallway, and Buffy accidentally kicks Ted down the stairs. Joyce checks for his pulse and can’t find it.

Later, the police question Joyce, who tells a Detective Stein that Ted fell. Buffy speaks up with the truth, that she hit him. At the police station, Buffy tells Stein everything that happened and he tells her and Joyce that she won’t be charged with anything. The Summerses are silent on the drive home. At school the next day, Buffy explains what happened to Willow and Xander and has to admit that Ted was human. Xander reminds her that it was an accident, but she says that, as the Slayer, she shouldn’t have hit him. She runs into Giles, who is being questioned by the police as well. Later, the Scoobies (minus Buffy) discuss Ted, and Xander is now convinced that there was more to him than he let on. Giles says that Buffy must be feeling incredibly guilty about what happened. He heads out to patrol and tells the others to keep investigating Ted. Willow is unable to find any record on Ted, and Xander encourages her in an upbeat manner. She grows suspicious of Ted’s cookies, which Xander is still eating, and grabs one.

Buffy goes home and offers to help Joyce pack up some of Ted’s things. She tells Joyce that she didn’t mean to hurt Ted, but Joyce tells her that she doesn’t want to talk about what happened. Willow examines the cookies in the science lab and discovers that they contain Dematorin, a tranquilizer that shares some qualities with Ecstasy. Cordelia finds some of Ted’s personal records, as well as his address, and the three of them head out. In the park, Giles is startled by Jenny, who apologizes for being distant. However, it’s not exactly the best time, as they’re about to be attacked by a vampire. Buffy prepares to sneak out her window again but discovers that it’s been nailed shut. “Well, it’s official, this day can’t get any worse,” she says to herself. She turns around to see Ted, who says, “Beg to differ.”

Ted tells Buffy that “a good salesman always bounces back” and attacks her. Giles yells for Jenny to grab his bag, out of which she pulls a crossbow. While he fights with the vamp, Jenny tries to get a good shot with the crossbow. Buffy and Ted fight and he tells her that he had to “shut down” to keep her away from him. Jenny shoots at the vampire but hits Giles in the back instead. He uses the bolt she hit him with to stake the vamp. Buffy stabs Ted in the hand with a metal nail file, revealing wires under his “skin.” He starts to short-circuit and knocks Buffy out. Willow, Xander, and Cordelia break into Ted’s place and look around. Willow says that Cordelia found four of his marriage certificates, but no divorce papers. She notes that he first married in 1957, when he would have been in preschool. Cordelia notes that the rug looks out of place, and Xander realizes that it’s there to hide something - namely, a trapdoor. Joyce hears someone enter the kitchen and, assuming it’s Buffy, apologizes. She turns around and is shocked to see Ted. He tells her that he was dead for about six minutes and unconscious for about a day. He says that she doesn’t have to worry about anything - “Daddy’s here.”

In the basement of Ted’s place, Willow, Xander, and Cordelia find a room decorated as if “it’s the fifties and you’re a psycho,” according to Cordelia. Xander glances in the closet, then tells the girls that they’re going and that they have all the evidence they need. Willow asks what was in the closet and he replies, “His first four wives.” Ted tells Joyce that he came back because of her and promises to make her happy. She grows suspicious of his strange behavior, caused by short-circuits, and worries when he starts yelling about not taking orders from women. In the park, Giles assures Jenny that he’s okay - his tweed coat softened the impact of the crossbow bolt. She jokes that he really knows how to get a girl back into his good graces. Ted tells Joyce that he has a house ready for them and has already packed for her. “You left me once, but I keep bringing you back,” he says. He hears Buffy upstairs and tries to get Joyce to leave, then knocks her out when she doesn’t cooperate. He calls Buffy out and she hits him with a skillet, exposing metal in his face. She hits him again, finally shutting him down.

The next day, Buffy and Joyce discuss movie options for that night, deciding to forgo anything with romance, horror, or men. This leaves them with Thelma and Louise. Buffy assures her mother that Ted won’t be back because he’s “on the scrap heap. Of life.” At school, Xander describes Ted’s life to Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia - he was dying and was dumped by his first wife, so he built a robot version of himself. Then, he kidnapped his wife and held her hostage until her death, when he brought her back to life over and over again. Willow commends Ted’s intelligence, and Buffy is disappointed to hear that she kept some of the robot’s parts. On their way to the library, Buffy peeks in the window and complains, “What is it with grownups these days?” The others peek in and see Giles and Jenny kissing.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Don’t take cookies from semi-strangers.

GRADE: B- John Ritter is terrific, but this episode feels endless.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - “How is Angel? Pretend I care.” - Xander to Buffy

Buffy: “Vampires are creeps.”
Giles: “Yes, that’s why one slays them.”
Buffy: “I mean, people are perfectly happy getting along, and then vampires come, and they run around and they kill people, and they take over your whole house, they start making these stupid little mini pizzas, and everyone’s like, ‘I like your mini pizzas,’ but I’m telling you, I am--.”
Giles: “Uh, uh, Buffy! I-I believe the…subtext here is, is, rapidly becoming, uh, uh, text.”

Buffy: “I’m just saying there’s something a little too clean about this clown.”
Willow: “He’s a clean clown! (Buffy and Xander stare at her) I have my own fun.”

Xander: “You’re having parental issues, you’re having parental issues….”
Willow: “Xander….”
Xander: “What? Freud would’ve said the exact same thing. Except he might not have done that little dance.”

Xander: “Can you say ‘overreaction’?”
Buffy: “Can you say ‘sucking chest wound’?”

Willow: “But I’m sure it wasn’t your fault. He started it.”
Buffy: “Yeah. That defense only works in six-year-old court, Will.”

Cordelia: “I don’t get it. Buffy’s the Slayer. Shouldn’t she have….”
Xander: “What, a license to kill?”
Cordelia: “Well, not for fun. But she’s like this superman. Shouldn’t there be different rules for her?”
Willow: “Sure, in a fascist society.”
Cordelia: “Right! Why can’t we have one of those?”

Giles: “She’s taken a human life. The guilt, it-it’s, it’s pretty hard to bear, and it won’t go away soon.”
Cordelia: “I guess you should know, since you helped raise that demon that killed that guy that time?”
Giles: “Yes. Do let’s bring that up as often as possible.”

“Willow, you are the best human ever! I adore you! Well, that’s the cookies talkin’, but you rock!” - Xander

Buffy: “Willow, tell me you didn’t keep any parts.”
Willow: “Not any big ones.”
Buffy: “Oh, Will, you’re supposed to use your powers for good!”

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