This post is the opinion of Netanel Ganin and is in no way to be construed as an official communication from any section of any institution.
S01, E07 – I Robot, You Jane
Lots of library content in this one! I know it gets a kind of bad rap in the way that a lot of 90s shows that have a ‘cyber’ episode do. It’s cheesy and a bit dated–
But it’s the first episode with Jenny Calendar, so no skipping!
Okay so right off the bat, this is an episode all about books.
We got a demon, Moloch, trapped in a book. You may’ve been expecting that this would lead to a student reading an ancient text they shouldn’t’ve been and releasing him and we all learn a lesson about seeking knowledge beyond our ability to control ala Michael Crichton.
But it isn’t!
Instead it’s your standard “tech is scary and maybe bad????” 90’s genre episode! See also X-Files’s Season 1 episode: Ghost in the Machine.
Right, so the Italian monks [are they monks?] trap Moloch inside the book with the ritual of Kayless
Can we just take a sec and appreciate that these monks [again, I assume] spent the time to illuminate the cover of their trap-book with that detailed Moloch etching? I imagine they’d thought of the plan to trap Moloch but one of ’em was all, “no no wait guys I want to decorate the cover with this sick scored relief of Moloch first. then we don’t even need a title page, everyone will just recognize the demon Moloch and definitely not open the book”
Flash forward to the present day and you’ll never guess what shows up at the Sunnydale Library
Sure enough, the Moloch book has wended its way to Sunnydale and Giles seems very unconcerned.
Now it’s established later that Giles just didn’t realize that it’s the Book of Moloch but this raises some questions about his acquisitions. Does he have standing orders with various clued-in booksellers to send him rare tomes on certain subjects? Is there a YBP-type company out there providing shelf-ready books on demons and ancient prophecies?
Fritz sets the tone for the episode
Giles heads off with an easy punchline setup for Jenny, presumably to wander amongst D200 [History (General)—Medieval history—Later medieval. 11th-15th centuries—General works] or 909.07 [History & geography–History–World history–General historical periods–Ca. 500-1450/1500]
With everyone gone Willow is scanning with a sleek hand-held scanner.
This is what causes all the problems, Moloch gets “scanned” into the computer and then also the internet!
But wait, *how*? First off Willow is clearly not scanning the whole page, but just the middle 3/4 of each page. Secondly, Giles tells us later that reading the book aloud releases Moloch — how does that translate to scanning? We’re not talking about OCR, or any kind of process which would allow the Moloch text to be processed as text. It’s images!
By this logic simply looking at the pages without reading would be equally sufficient to release Moloch, but Giles specifies reading aloud. I call foul!
Also, what exactly is this project? Willow [and Dave, played by Chad Lindberg who you can order custom messages from here: https://www.cameo.com/chad_lindberg — this isn’t related but I thought y’all should know that] are scanning books…for what? Is it just for them to get practice scanning books for their comp sci class? Is there a larger digitization project that the library is undertaking in conjunction with comp sci?
I have a lot of questions about this episode.
Anyway. Once Moloch is free and Willow is under his sway, he does a little sleuthing through the Sunnydale records and finds this: Born October 24th, 1980 in case you need to update her NAR.
Buffy is determined to get to the bottom of the weirdness with the comp sci students and Willow but Giles is naturally no help in this area.
Buffy follows Fritz to a shady facility and when she and Xander and planning to go back and break in, Giles as to cover with some library science babble when Ms. Calendar walks in.
Now just because I’m a librarian and also love Giles doesn’t mean I can’t hear any criticism of either.
Jenny totally has librarianship’s number right here
This is a #NoHateALA blog, and I’d like to think Giles would be on board with kicking out nazis.
At last Giles tells Jenny what the sitch is until to find out that she’s already hip to all things magical.
Moloch gets defeated, our heroes triumph and Giles and Jenny continue to bicker over the relative merits of books vs. tech.