Tom Lenk: John P. Johnson
Rachel Lovinger
February 26, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Andrew’s funny film hides a scary truth

It’s safe to say that Andrew has redeemed himself. As the titular ”Storyteller” in this week’s ”Buffy” episode, he gets to be both the narrator and the subject of the latest development in the march towards the ultimate battle. Reminiscent of Xander’s star turn in ”The Zeppo,” the side story takes center stage while the main action gets pushed off to the background.

Andrew’s hilarious spin on the Slayer’s activities — complete with pretentious mispronunciation of ”vam-pire” — is exactly what you’d expect from this geeky misfit, making the video as much to entertain himself as to make himself feel like an important part of what’s unfolding. The fact that he only spends about half the time focusing on Buffy and her struggle against evil and the rest examining the personal lives of those around him also fits his personality.

Despite Andrew’s idealization of Buffy’s beauty, a few details in his video are likely to fuel rumors that he’s gay. There’s the way he overlooks a lesbian make-out session to admire Xander’s repair job on the frequently-broken window and the way he mouths along with Anya’s side of the conversation while repeatedly viewing footage of her discussion with Xander about their enduring love. But it’s hard to tell if all these hints lead to any actual character development, or if Andrew’s sexual ambiguity will continue to be played for comedic effect.

Andrew’s silly depictions of familiar characters (like the image of Andrew, Warren, and Jonathan living ”as gods”) and the ridiculous way he re-envisions history (like his own past as a ”super-villain” and his run-in with Evil Willow) are entertaining enough to fill an entire episode. However, unlike Xander in ”The Zeppo,” Andrew can’t stay on the periphery of the action for long.

He tries, though. For instance, when Buffy is briefing the gang on her apocalyptic vision from last week’s episode he steps out of the picture. He takes us aside to talk about himself, confiding, ”honestly, gentle viewers, these motivational speeches of hers tend to get a little long” (a conclusion that many of us ”gentle viewers” had already arrived at on our own). He even manages to sidestep the full horror of the current conflict while he attempts to record what has happened so far. His hilariously awkward description of the weakening seal on the Hellmouth, unearthed beneath the high school, is followed by the vague explanation, ”uh, due to some circumstances, it got opened, a little bit, recently.” But slowly the episode reminds us what Andrew is glossing over: He played a big part in setting the current threat in motion. The impact of this realization is even stronger because he has us laughing about it a few moments earlier.

Ultimately, Andrew is called on to make it right. Maybe it’s excessive for Buffy to convince him that she’d be willing to spill his blood in order to reseal the Seal. But that could be the shock he needs to make him stop turning everything into a page out of a fantasy role-playing game and face the reality that he helped create. Turns out that his honest tears of redemption are all that’s needed to close the Seal, and that’s what Buffy was aiming for all along. This gesture is so symbolic, it might be hokey if it weren’t also so powerfully sincere. In the end, Andrew’s inability to neatly wrap up his video is more moving than any narration he could provide. He earns the right — at last — to be a full-fledged member of the Scooby Gang. Unfortunately, he also figured out that he might not survive the experience.

What do you think of Andrew’s documentary?

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