Written by: Jane Espenson, Thania St. John
Directed by: James Whitmore, Jr
Air Date: Jan. 12, 1999

“Gingerbread” sucks. It has one thing going for it, but that’s it. Otherwise this “monster-of-the-week” episode is more like “monster-of-the-weak” (but not nearly as weak as that joke). I’m not really going to spend too much time on this episode because its just a mess. A mess of poop. Smeared across the entire episode. “Gingerbread” marks the worst of what season three has to offer in one hour long pile of garbage featuring a contrived plot device, a lame set of characters we never see again, and only a few moments of interesting character development or humor.

The moment I’m talking about, the “one thing going for it”, is the little speech Angel gives Buffy about keeping the fight going. In Angel’s last minutes on his own show (during the finale), he comes to represent the belief and the message he presents to Buffy, here. And that is that the fight never stops, but that doesn’t mean you stop the fight. Not winning doesn’t mean a thing if you still have a reason to fight, a world to fight for, and something to fight against. Buffy’s mom makes her feel like everything she does is for naught because, even if she slays every vampire in town, more pop up and even nastier demons show up, too. Its the Batman problem that Gotham City faces: even though Batman is present, more and more nasty things show up and hold the city hostage in fear. Buffy can’t ever defeat evil forever, but Angel suggests that the fight is enough. This is the message of his own show, and one we’ll see him come to personify in years to come.

The only other thing even remotely interesting is the use of Amy, a character we haven’t seen since season two’s “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” – in that episode we started to see an Amy bathing in witchcraft and, in some ways, evil. She will follow on this path for seasons to come. But not right now, sadly. No, she turns herself into a rat to escape some fire and thus begins the long and often comical adventure of Amy the Rat. Its a nice joke, one they play with from time to time and eventually use to flesh out Willow’s story in season six. Here, though, its just a lame way to get rid of a character that has only been used twice before. Meh.

I kinda like the idea of Buffy’s mom involving herself somewhat in Buffy’s life. I like the idea that she’s all messed up over seeing the effects of demon attacks on people, regular human beings. And I kinda like the idea of her trying to do what she can to help. But then its all stupid because of the supernatural aspect of the episode, the dumb and overly horrible “Hansel and Gretel” mechanic they use to tie the thing together. Even this is made worse by having a dude dress up as a demon for two seconds and then get impaled through the neck. It defines “anticlimax” and suggests that they ended up having no time left to stage a fight and thus… ended the episode.

After the last three episodes, “Gingerbread” has the misfortune of breaking up a good string of solid content. Its a pathetic episode that really doesn’t have that much going for it at all. The comedy featured throughout isn’t strong enough to make it work, the action is nonexistent, and the story is just plain dumb.

Also, this episode featured a bottle with a “chloroform” label right on there. Stupid.

Episode Rating: 51

Additional Notes:
-more tension between Giles and Joyce, though. Its almost funny enough to earn the episode some bonus points
-When the episode is over? I never have to watch the episode, again
-Giles being all frustrated over having to use a computer is hilarious
-Willow’s mom is a worthless addition to the cast. Thank god she never shows up again.