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"Living Conditions" is the second episode of season 4 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy becomes convinced that her annoying roommate is evil, but her friends think she is crazy.
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
Kathy Newman, Buffy's college roommate
|Episode no.||Season 4|
|Directed by||David Grossman|
|Written by||Marti Noxon|
|Original air date||October 12, 1999|
While Buffy gets ready to patrol, her roommate Kathy Newman begins to annoy her, becoming increasingly irritating. Buffy leaves to go and patrol the campus, however Kathy tags along with a reluctant Buffy. Soon enough they are attacked by a demon, however Buffy pushes Kathy into a bush resulting in her not seeing the demon. Buffy manages to fight it off, but as she leaves with Kathy they are being watched by two of the demons who comment "She may be the one."
The next morning, Buffy goes to Giles' flat to describe the previous night's monster. Buffy's atypical interest in what Giles has planned for the day arouses his suspicion, and when pressed she admits she is avoiding her dorm room until Kathy leaves for classes. As Buffy talks to Giles, Kathy is in the dorm room scrubbing the grass stain on her sweater from the previous night. Realising it is ruined, Kathy wears one of Buffy's. Later on, Buffy goes to the Rocket Cafe for lunch, but sees Kathy in line. She cuts into the line to avoid her, and meets another student, Parker Abrams, who introduces himself. Buffy then joins Willow, Oz and Xander, but becomes annoyed when Kathy also joins them and drops her lunch on Buffy's sweater. That night, the tension between the roommates continues to grow and both angrily go to bed early. That night Buffy dreams of the demon that had attacked her the previous night performing a ritual on her body, and is shocked to find Kathy had the same dream.
The following day Buffy explains the dream to Giles, Oz and Willow. Willow also becomes concerned with Buffy's actions and attitude towards Kathy, so Oz agrees to go patrolling with her later that night. That night, the two demons meet again and one confirms that "she is the one." The group chants around a large fire, preparing to summon "the great Taparrich". Meanwhile, as Buffy returns to her dorm room she is angered to find Kathy and Parker getting along. Buffy makes Parker leave, but tells him they should meet again, before leaving to go and patrol. While talking with Oz, Buffy shows more anger towards Kathy, telling him something has to be done. After going to bed, Buffy has the same unsettling dream.
The following day Buffy meets up with Willow, who tells her she is convinced Kathy is a demon due to her toenails growing even after being cut. Buffy goes on to tell Willow that she plans to kill Kathy. Willow, startled by her behaviour, forces Buffy to go and see Giles with the toenails. Upon arriving at Giles' house, Buffy is tied up by Oz and Xander, while Giles tells Buffy that he thinks she has been possessed by the demon. Giles leaves to go and collect supplies from the magic shop to perform an exorcism, while Oz and Xander watch Buffy. However Buffy gets free and knocks the boys unconscious before fleeing. When Giles returns with Willow, they wake up Oz and Xander, before Giles realises that Kathy is a demon.
Buffy arrives back at the dorm room and eventually engages in a fight with Kathy, which results in Buffy ripping off Kathy's face, revealing her to be one of the demons. Kathy confesses to Buffy that she escaped her dimension to go to college, and has been sucking out her soul while she slept, planning on making the demons take Buffy back to her dimension. As this happens, the two demons in the woods summon Taparrich, the leader of the demons. Meanwhile, Giles performs a spell that returns the parts of Buffy's soul already taken by Kathy, just before Taparrich arrives at the dorm and takes Kathy back to her dimension.
The episode ends with Willow moving her stuff into the room. She and Buffy will now be roommates. Whilst Buffy helps Willow unpack her things, Willow asks her if she is going to eat her sandwich which Willow starts eating immediately after she asks her, Buffy zooms in on Willow's mouth making it obvious she is annoyed.
- When Willow moves into Buffy's dorm room, she hangs a poster of Dingoes Ate My Baby, Oz's band, in the same spot that Kathy's poster of Celine Dion once was. The band whose music is "played" by the fictional group onscreen, Four Star Mary, plays the song "Pain" in the background.
- This is the first episode of the series since "Inca Mummy Girl" not to feature at least one vampire. The only other episodes in which no vampires appear are "Witch", "The Pack", "I, Robot... You, Jane", "The Puppet Show", "Fear, Itself" and "Beer Bad".
- Buffy claims to be from the Stevenson dormitory and Parker claims to be from Kresge Hall at UC Sunnydale. Both are actual residential colleges at UC Santa Cruz where Marti Noxon (writer of this episode) went to college.
- The Terminator – After witnessing Buffy and Parker's first encounter, Xander affectionately refers to her as "the Buffinator", and Oz adds that "he'll be back."
- The Exorcist – Xander describes the insane behavior Buffy exhibited while losing her soul as "doing a Linda Blair on us." Linda Blair was the actress who played the possessed child Regan in The Exorcist and its sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic.
- RMS Titanic - Buffy says of Kathy, "She's even affecting my work, now. She's the Titanic."
- Buffy tells Giles, "Ok, you're not having one of those mid-life things, are you? 'Cause I'm still going 'ick' from the last time you tried to recapture your youth." This is a reference to "Teenage Giles" in Season Three's "Band Candy."
- Parker Abrams is introduced in this episode. He will feature in the next few episodes as a significant part of Buffy's growing experience
- Veruca is also seen in this episode, although it remains unknown on who she is. The attraction between her and Oz is evident in their first brief encounter and this event foreshadows the break-up of Oz and Willow that occurs this season.
- Members of the Initiative also make a brief appearance in this episode but their purpose in this season's storyline is not yet revealed.
- Xander's fear of alienation from the rest of the Scooby Gang is touched upon in the Rocket Cafe, when Buffy notes that he is not a college student yet he hangs out on campus.
- The effects of losing your soul are touched upon in this episode.
A BBC reviewer praised actress "Dagney Kerr's nicely paced performance as Kathy" and added, "it's encouraging to find the regular cast so casually back together again after the worrying indications in the last episode that it would be difficult for the writers to find reasonable excuses for them to continue working as a team. This episode generally dispenses with explanations, and flows better because of it."
- Llun, Diov (transcriber). "Buffy Episode #58: Living Conditions Transcript (Full-text)". Buffyworld.com. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- "Living Conditions". BBC. London, England. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved October 15, 2012.