After a series of episodes telling Buffy what she should not do, because false steps will impede her progress towards her destiny, we now get the first of three episodes which tell her the affirmative steps she needs to take.
The metaphor in The Puppet Show is pretty straightforward once Buffy discovers the plot twist: Sid, the dummy, is a demon hunter, ergo he stands for Buffy. The metaphor is the message.
Putting aside his “horny” shtick, Sid is very dedicated to his profession. He’s willing to sacrifice his own life to eliminate the final demon. He may have seemed a puppet, trapped by powers and circumstances beyond his control, but in the end he wasn’t a puppet at all because he chose his fate.
There are other metaphors here which I can’t discuss because of spoilers. I’ll have to cut this short and talk about this episode in more detail when we get to Prophecy Girl. I’ll only say that I don’t think the reference to Oedipus for the hilarious closing scene was accidental.
There are a couple of little things I love about this episode: Principal Snyder and the irony of Cordelia’s song choice.Trivia notes: (1) The episode takes its inspiration from the movie Child’s Play. (2) Xander had the dummy “say” the word “redrum”. “Redrum” is the word “murder” spelled backwards, and comes from the movie The Shining. Nick Brendan adlibbed the line. (3) Xander asked if anyone else felt like “they’d been Keyser Soze’d”. Keyser Soze is (duh) from the movie The Usual Suspects. (4) Alyson Hannigan adlibbed Willow running off-stage. (5) Although I really like this episode, it was the lowest rated episode in the show’s history.