Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Regis B. Kimble

Mary Beth's Synopsis | Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Mary Beth's Synopsis

WARNING: This synopsis contains material that may be detrimental to the psyches of people incapable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality. It is not recommended for readers of a mentality that is equal to or less than that of a WB network executive.


It's night, and the journey home for Buffy is hardly a walk in the park. It's more like an all-out run as she races across the playground and picnic area. She falls and a particularly fierce and fascinating looking (in that they are ugly and they have no mouths) demon reaches for her. Ah, but Buffy is ready for him. A kick to the back of the knee and Ugly Demon Guy goes down.

"You demons can't resist a run and stumble," Buffy puns as she pulls a knife out and prepares to send this demon packing. But before she can move, another Ugly Demon Guy kicks the knife out of her hands and into its demon partner's hands. She throws that demon off and takes a fighting stance, ready for whatever is next. And it's a good thing. One demon ducks just as the one behind it throws Buffy's knife at her. Buffy's quick reflexes save her as she catches the knife by the hilt, kicks and grabs the closest demon, throws him on the picnic table, and stabs it in the chest. She turns in time to watch the other Ugly Demon Guy take off. Distracted and breathless, she doesn't notice that some of the silvery, almost glowing, blood from the slain enemy has gotten into her hand -- and under her skin.


The next morning, as they enter the library, Buffy fills Willow in on the previous nights activities.

"Scabby demon #2 got away," she tells her friend. "Scabby demon #1, big check in the slay column.

"I don't like this whole 'no mouth' thing. It's disquieting," Willow worries.

"Well, no mouth means no teeth," Buffy responds in attempt to find the side that is brighter. "Unless.... they have them somewhere else," she adds much less brightly.

They join Oz and Xander at the table as Giles moves in to catch them up on research activities. They've been trying to find out more about the Mayor's Ascension. And boy have the found out a lot -- that isn't helpful. So far, they've ruled out "the ritual flaying of the demon Azareth" and just about nothing else. But, Giles assures Buffy, Angel's charade at least revealed Faith's bad side and got them on the right track. At the mention of Angel, Buffy fidgets uncomfortably and scratches absently at her hand. The same spot that the Demon blood infected her.

Before Giles can continue, Wesley the Wonder Watcher arrives in a hurry. He's terribly sorry that he was detained with "official Council business." Giles tells him he was filling the gang in on his progress researching the Ascension.

"Oh? And what took up the rest of the minute," Wesley asks snidely.

Unable to argue, Giles replies that of course his work is unofficial but that surely Wesley, with the Council's resources, has uncovered more information. Yes, of course, Wesley has. In fact, he can say "with certainty, that the demon Azareth will not in any way...."

He's left to stare slackjawed at an empty table as the gang deserts him in the face of such a less than startling revelation. Giles gloats.


Outside the library, Willow asks Buffy if she's talked to Angel lately. Buffy says no. She's still feeling confused and hurt by what happened with Faith when Angel was pretending to be bad.

Willow assures her friend that Angel was only doing what was necessary "for the greater good." But Buffy isn't so sure. She wonders if he enjoyed it, but she's really just not sure what to think. Willow wisely advises her to ask. Buffy, as always, hedges.

They're interrupted when some members of the basketball team -- in the form of Hogan Martin and Percy "have an apple, Willow" West -- happen down the hall. Xander, who's been fiddling at his locker during Buffy and Willow's conversation, pipes up.

"Hogan Martin thinks he's *so* hot. Like we should all be awed by him because he can put a ball in a net." Oh no. He's not jealous.

"Hey Xander," Hogan says.

"He said my name! He knows my name!" Xander's chest expands in relation to the pride he feels at being recognized by one of Sunnydale's finest.

Percy approaches Willow sheepishly. He can't make their study session after school and wants to move it up. Willow asks if he's done the reading, and Percy even more sheepishly promises to get it done by their session. Willow's a proud teacher. Hogan even teases that their work seems to be paying off. He actually heard Percy "complete a sentence. Had a clause and everything."

Willow promises Percy she'll be at the game that night. They leave and Xander struts off, secure in the knowledge that that the cool people know his name.... and he's still a geek.

Buffy is left on the outside once again as Willow tells her everyone is going to the big game. Even Oz! Alas, Buffy is on patrol. She watches her friend leave, worrying at her itchy hand once again. Only this time, it registers.


In his office, Giles queries Buffy about her encounter while he searches through one of his books.

"You say you touched the demon?" He asks.

"A good touch, not a bad touch." Buffy mumbles, examining her hand under a light. "It's been itching like crazy," she tells him. But she's not worried. "Just another job for the good people at Lubriderm."

Giles isn't easily mollified. He shows Buffy a picture of the demon and tells her that it has the capability to "infect" the host. This grabs Buffy's attention.


Giles isn't paying attention. He continues to read.


Giles with book is not a man distracted. She tries again, more forcefully.


He manages to tear himself away and look at Buffy.


He finishes reading, "Oh, uh, infect the host with an aspect of the demon."

Well that's comforting. And that's all the books says. Buffy is clearly concerned. Giles is clearly not, or trying not to be. He tries to reassure her, telling her that it may just be her fabric softener but advises her nonetheless to avoid contact with the remaining Ugly Demon Guy. Buffy continues to worry about just what part of the demon she could be infected with.


At a pep rally in the school courtyard, featuring the Cordelia Chase Cheerleading Crew, the students rally pep for the evening's basketball game. It seems to be working on Xander, who's admiring the cheerleaders. Buffy (fiddling idly with her head) and Oz are less than pepped. And Willow contributes by reading a snippet from the latest editorial in the school paper:

"The pep rally is a place for pseudo prostitutes to provoke men into a sexual frenzy, which when thwarted results in pointless athletic competition."

Xander doesn't see the downside, while Willow comments that the school paper is "edging on depressing lately." Oz hasn't noticed because he always skips "straight to the obits." Buffy continues to fiddle idly with her head. Finally, Willow notices and asks her friend what she's doing.

"Checking for horns," Buffy whimpers.

Willow attempts to calm her friend. "Aww, you know Buffy. I don't even think Giles is right about you becoming like a demon. I mean he's totally burnt. Between Faith and this Ascension thing, between you and me he's not doing his best work."

Buffy isn't easily comforted. "What if he is right? I'm suddenly going to grow this demon part and we don't even know what it is. It could be claws or scales...." Buffy stops as something horrifying occurs to Willow--so horrifying that her eyes get so huge it looks like they want to escape the head that is having this horrifying thought.

"What?" Buffy asks.

"Was it a boy demon?"

Meanwhile, Xander continues to admire the cheerleaders, and Oz does admit that their spelling has improved. Xander observes that with all the beauty and *ahem* talent these young women have to offer, he doesn't know what he ever saw in Cordelia.... until he notices that Wesley's watching her.

"My god, he's looking at her. He's got his filthy, adult Pierce Brosnan-y eyes all over my Cordy!"

"You're a very complex man, aren't you?" Oz observes.

Buffy continues to perfect the art of worrying. She tells Willow that she's scared, faced with something she doesn't know how to fight. Willow, unfortunately, is focused more on cheering for Percy. She attempts rather lamely to convince Buffy that everything will be okay.


That night, while on patrol Buffy stops for what is probably not the first time to examine herself in her compact mirror. What would be a normal action for any other teenager, though, is an exercise in quiet frustration for her. Fortunately, she still has her mouth. She shuts the compact and turns to find Angel hovering just behind her. She jumps slightly.

"Sorry," she says tersely. "I didn't see you so I should have known you were there."

So, why is he there, she asks him. He tells her it's a dangerous time, with Faith about. He wants to make sure she's safe. At the mention of her rival, Buffy bristles.

"And that fact that you're right here. Does that mean Faith's around? Are you keeping me safe by tracking me or are you tracking her?"

"I'm tracking you." Angel isn't too happy himself at this line of questioning. "Something's bothering you." Well, isn't he the master of the obvious?

Buffy avoids the issue, walking on and changing the topic to something less emotional, but no less close to home--her demon problems. Angel follows her down the sidewalk while she tells him about how her demon encounter and her worries that she's going to get a "case of the bumpies or a tail or something." Angel makes his own attempt to comfort her, telling her he's heard of aspect of the demon "by rumor," that it doesn't mean anything and that "sometimes demons, they just exaggerate their power."

"Demon hype," Buffy calls it before continuing on a rather familiar lament about her quest for a normal life. "Maybe not. I spend all my time in the dark here anyway. It's not like I could be at a game with my friends where someone could see me and my new monster part...."

But Angel stops her before she can continue the self-pity riff. "I won't let anything happen to you if I can help it," he promises. "No matter what, I'll always be with you." He smiles slightly, "Hey, I'll love you.... even if you're covered with slime."

Aww, he's such a romantic. ~*~*~*~

At school the next day, Willow, Oz, and Xander discuss the Big Game.

"Could you believe it? Right at the buzzer, three points for the win," Willow enthuses.

"It was intense," Oz agrees.

"Yeah, for a minute there, I thought you were going to make an expression," says Xander.

"Well I felt one coming on. I won't lie," replies Oz.

Willow and Xander continue to discuss the thrills of victory, until Willow shushes Xander when Buffy approaches. They fall silent. Buffy comments that either they lost or they won and they don't want her to fell bad. Willow and Xander attempt to play down the event, until Cordy comes by.

"Are you guys crazy? It was an incredibly game! I've never cheered so hard in my life! I *still* have knee marks on my back." She pauses. They stare. "From the pyramid?!" she adds, annoyed and moves on to a more socially accepted circle.

Willow attempts to play up the importance and excitement of Buffy's patrolling, but falls short when the best Buffy can offer is a "four-legged demon" that turned out to be a dog.

"Tough luck," Xander says, then turns to watch Cordy with her friends. *I wonder if she and Wesley have kissed?*

"It really bugs you, huh?" Buffy asks him.

"What?" He asks.

"Cordelia and Wesley. Smooching"

"Man, you read my mind."

It's then that she realizes that she did.


Buffy wanders the hall, overwhelmed by what's just happened. She isn't watching where she's going and runs into a teacher, Mr. Beach. He gently admonishes her to watch where she's going. While Buffy apologizes and moves on, she hears his thoughts: "Students. If we could just get rid of all the students." She's rather shocked by such words from such a gentle looking man. As she continues down the hall, she hears snippets of more and more thoughts.

*When I'm a software billionaire and you're all flipping burgers...* from a nerdy guy on his way to class.

*Maybe I'll take French, I said, how hard can it be? French majors learn it. Idiot.* .... from a harried girl by the water fountain.

*I swear, some day my pants are going to fall right off...* from a guy whose wardrobe may be trendy but is indeed in need of a belt.

Buffy is becoming more and more amused, especially when she comes across one particularly cute guy.

*Buffy's so beautiful.* She slows her progress, the better to let him admire her more. *I mean, look at that body. God, I'd love to shove her against that locker right now and.....* Buffy rushes on, disgusted, but whatever it was, from the look on her face as she encounters more students, he's not the only guy to admire Buffy in that way.


"Is this the thing? The aspect thing?" Buffy is suddenly *much* more chipper. Giles is grabbing books from the shelves, presumably to look more stuff up. "Cuz if it is, it is *way* better than a tail. I mean, I have a hard enough time as it is finding jeans that fit right."

Giles is skeptical that this is real mind reading.

"When I walked in a few minutes ago," Buffy tells him, "you thought 'Look at her shoes. If a fashion magazine told her to she'd wear cats strapped to her feet.'"

That seems to do the trick. But Giles has trouble articulating that thought. That doesn't mean he doesn't think it.

*The demons are telepathic. I should have known. That's why they don't need mouths.*

He starts to say just that: "Of course, the demons are telepathic...." when Buffy interrupts.

"I know. You just told me. That's why they don't need mouths. And... you should have known."

Giles is astounded and says as much. Buffy adds more tidbits. "It was happening out in the hallway. Principal Snyder has 'Walk Like and Egyptian' stuck in his head. And the boys of this school are *seriously* disturbed. It's weird, but Giles think about it. Think about what I could do."

Giles is thinking. And he's got visions of masterful battles, anticipating her opponents every move.

But Buffy has ideas of her own....


In English class, later, Buffy is having the time of her academic life. She's got all the right answers for her teacher as they discuss *Othello.* The Class Brown-Noser, Nancy, is not amused. As Buffy's answers become more and more insightful, Buffy's friends are astounded, and Buffy can hear it.

*Buffy did the reading?* Willow thinks. *Buffy understood the reading?*

Buffy's not so sure she appreciates that thought.

*When did she study?" Xander wonders. *Was I supposed to study? Miss Murray's kinda hot.* Buffy is suitably bothered by this.

*I was going to say Cassio. I hate her.* Nancy pouts. Buffy is pleased.

*Look at them scrambling for the teacher's praise like pigeons for old breadcrust.* This thought comes from a rather morose looking guy in the back by the window. Buffy, demonstrating that two-thirds of the way through school and she obviously doesn't pay attention to her classmates, asks Willow who he is. Turns out, that is Freddy Iverson, the guy who writes the depressing editorials for the school paper.

Buffy continues to wow the teacher and the class by demonstrating an amazing insight into Othello (not to mention an expanded vocabulary), citing some thoughts that are surprisingly similar to the teacher's own dissertation -- that Iago is much like "the dark half of Othello himself."

Miss Murray then offers her own words on Othello and his relationships with Desdemona and Iago. "And doesn't that also explain Othello's readiness to believe Iago? Within seconds he turns on Desdemona. He believes that she's been unfaithful. And we're all like that. We all have our little internal Iagos, who tell us our husbands or our girlfriends or whatever don't really love us. You can never really see what's in someone's heart...."

These words strike a chord with Buffy.


As soon as she can, Buffy sneaks out of school and goes to see Angel. He's obviously been sleeping, with that adorable bed head, bleary eyes, a tank top, and bare feet. *sigh*

Um, sorry. Where were we? Right. Buffy visits Angel, nearly burns him to a crisp with the sunlight through his doorway. She babbles incessantly about nothing, nervous trying to surreptitiously steer the one-sided conversation toward Faith and not succeeding very well at the surreptitious part.

Each time she mentions Faith, though, she stops and waits. Angel simply listens and waits himself. After a couple of attempts, he cuts her off.

"You can't get into my mind," He tells her.

"How did you.... " Buffy is taken aback but then continues suspiciously, "Why not?"

"It's like the mirror," he explains. "The thoughts are there, but they create no reflection within you."

Buffy is more than a little disappointed at this. Angel tells her that she doesn't have to pay games with him. That if she wants to know something, she should just ask.

"Oh, but that would have made sense," she offers.

He tells her that he hated pretending to be evil and kissing Faith. He hated hurting her.

Buffy reminds him of how much he and Faith have in common -- their backgrounds. But Angel stops her. Kissing her meant nothing. He tells her that he's done the bad girl thing, but in all his lifetime, he's loved only one person.

"Oh." Buffy responds sheepishly. "It is me, right?" She smiles.

Angel then warns her to be careful with her gift. "A lot of things that can seem strong and good and powerful, they can be painful."

"Like, say, immortality?" she asks.

"Exactly," he responds deadpan. "I'm dying to get rid of that."


Back at the library, Buffy and Giles fill the rest of the gang in on her newfound power.

"She can read our minds? Our every impulse and fantasy?" Xander asks.

"Every one," Buffy replies.

*Oh god.* Xander isn't too excited by this.

Cordy isn't either, but for different reasons. *I don't see what this has to with me.* And she says exactly that.

Willow is her usual supportive self. "Well I think it's great, right? I mean, you enjoy your other Slayer powers."

"Yeah, it'll be fun. And did you see Nancy Doyle's face in English class today?" Buffy is still quite proud of her accomplishment.

Willow's continues to tell Buffy how cool this development is, but her thoughts belie a deeper worry. *She's hardly even human anymore. How can I be her friend now? She doesn't need me.*

"No, I do need you," Buffy responds to the though, not to the words.

Cordelia is freaked by this development. Giles and Wesley discuss researching previous occurrences, but Buffy is distracted by something Oz is thinking.

*I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me and she becomes me. I cease to exist.* "Huh" is all he says.

Xander is worried, too, but for far less philosophical reasons. *What am I going to do? I think about sex all the time! Sex. Help. 4 x 5 is 30. 5 x 6 is 32. Naked girls. Naked women. Naked Buffy. Oh stop me!*

Buffy does. "God, Xander, is that all you think about?"

"Actually.... Bye!" and he takes off.

Wesley decides there is a lesson to be learned from what has happened to Xander, and warns the group that their innermost thoughts are likely to be the things they least want someone to hear. They must be strong and mentally disciplined. Giles agrees and begins to add to Wesley's thoughts. While he does, Wesley demonstrates is own "mental discipline."

*Look at Cordelia. No. Don't look at Cordelia. She's a student. Oh I am bad. I'm a bad, bad man.* Buffy looks on, amused, and Wesley excuses himself from the room.

Buffy then tries to reassure Willow that she still needs her friend. She wants to share this gift with her.... but once again she's distracted by Oz.

*No one else exists either. Buffy is all of us. We think, therefore she is.*

Willow notices and her own thoughts intrude.

*She knows so much. She knows what Oz is thinking. I never know that, before long she'll know him better than I do.*

Buffy tells her not to think that, and Willow has had enough. She has to leave. Oz follows.

"I guess I won't be writing that book, Winning Friends Through Telepathy," Buffy offers.

*Whatever, I wonder when I can go,* Cordelia thinks. Again, she asks just that. Wesley, too, pops his head out of the office and asks if Buffy can hear him from there.

Fed up, Buffy decides she'll be the one to leave.


Wandering the halls, Buffy's mind is invaded by still more thoughts from her classmates -- sadness, confusion, stress. Some are worried about their bodies, about being liked, about tests. Another encounter with Mr. Beach and his wish to get rid of the students. Nancy Doyle walks by, thinking how much she hates Buffy. These thoughts are nearly as amusing as the first.


In the library office, Giles and Wesley search their volumes for similar cases to Buffy's. Giles finds what they're looking for, a recent case involving a man in Ecuador. Unfortunately, he can't help them. He's in complete isolation, unable to stop or control the voices.


In the cafeteria, Buffy is bombarded by more and more thoughts, voices filled with uncertainty, loneliness, self-pity, angst. She runs into Jonathan, but is so caught up in all the thoughts that she doesn't respond to him when he asks her if she's through with the mashed potatoes. "She doesn't even know I'm here," he thinks.

The number and volume of the voices increases to a din until Buffy's unable to really distinguish the various thoughts. Suddenly, one solitary thoughts rings out above the others:

"This time tomorrow, I'll kill you all."


Shocked, Buffy drops her lunch tray. As the students jeer, Buffy begins searching for the source of the threat, but again she hears only the thoughts of her peers -- most questioning her sanity. Even Jonathan is shocked that she touches him. The voices once again increase until they overwhelm Buffy. She grabs her head in pain and then collapses in a small heap in the cafeteria floor.


She comes to outside, the first voices she hears aren't even voices. They're the thoughts of her friends. *I think she's waking up.* *She's okay.* *Oh, thank god.* *Her eyes are opening.* *I'm cold.* Yeah, guess who the last one belongs to.

They help her up, while she insists she's fine. Then she tells them there's a killer in the cafeteria.

"See?" Xander cracks. "I've been saying for years that the lunch lady was going to do us all in with that Mulligan stew. I mean, what the hell is a Mulligan?" Ignoring him, Buffy tells Giles what she heard. Unfortunately, she didn't recognized the voice, or even the sex. It was too angry, too hateful. She tries to return to the cafeteria, but the din starts up as she gets closer. She can't continue.

Oz asks if she's sure they meant it. Xander, who learned his tact from Cordy, asks "who hasn't just idly thought about taking out the whole place with a semiautomatic?" Off his friends' less than amused looks, he reiterates that he said "idly."

Buffy's sure it was real though. Unable to handle the overload of thoughts, though, even her friends, Giles insists she go home. She puts the Scooby Gang on duty finding out who was in the cafeteria. They have until lunch time tomorrow to find a killer. As the gang heads off, Buffy tells Giles that she feels like her head is being invaded. She can't be around people anymore, even her friends. Giles attempts to comfort Buffy, telling her he and Wesley are working on finding a cure. He tells her that she'll be okay. Unfortunately, his thoughts betray his real fears.

*If it doesn't go away, she'll go insane.*


In the library, Willow is in full field general mode. They've got a list of all the students and teachers who were in the cafeteria and she's going to do some cross-checking on the school's computer to try to narrow down the list to probably suspects. The rest of the gang, however, is still trying to wrap their minds around the idea.

"I'm still having trouble with the fact that one of us is just gonna gun everybody down for no reason," Xander says.

"Yeah," Cordy responds, "cuz that never happens in American high schools."

"It's bordering on trendy at this point," adds Oz.

"Besides which, Sunnydale High? Center of evil and all that," says Willow.

No one can argue. They get to work.


At home, Joyce is mothering Buffy. In fact, she's over-mothering Buffy, tucking her into bed, offering her more pillows and blankets and soup. Buffy assures her mom that's she's okay and asks Joyce to sit with her. Joyce is evasive. Buffy is suspicious. Suddenly, she jolts up in bed.

"You had sex with Giles?! You had *sex* with Giles?!"

"It was the candy," Joyce attempts to escape. "We were teenagers."

"On the hood of a police car?!"

"I'll be downstairs. You feel better." Joyce bolts, but not before Buffy calls out....



Willow is on a roll. They've got their list narrowed down to a dozen suspects. She's prepared questionnaires and worksheets for the gang to use and divided up the list between them. Cordy and Xander bicker, and Willow has to shush them. She sends them off with orders to "write neatly and label your worksheets."

First up, Willow questions Jonathan. At least this time, she doesn't have a light to shine in his face. But she's no less tough.

"Fantasies are fun, aren't they Jonathan?"

He seems at once nervous and confused. "I guess."

"We all have fantasies where we're powerful, and we're respected, and where people pay attention to us."


"But sometimes the fantasy isn't enough, is it Jonathan. Sometimes we have to make it so people don't ignore us. Make them pay attention. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?"

"Um, you w-want me to pay attention?"


On the practice courts outside, Oz takes on Hogan Martin.

"This is for the yearbook?" Hogan asks?

"Yeah, personality profile."

"Can you ask it again?" Hogan's a little slow.

"Sure. Do you ever feel that you've created a false persona for yourself -- the guy who does everything right -- and how much of a strain does it put on you to maintain it?"

"Wow, I guess, uh, moderate strain? Is that a good answer? I wanna get this right."

"Yeah," Oz replies. "That's good."


Cordelia questions Mr. Beach, as only she can.

"Hi, Mr. Beach. I was just wondering, were you planning on killing a bunch of people tomorrow?" She smiles a brilliant smile and adds. "Oh, it's for the yearbook."


Xander doesn't pass up a golden opportunity, as he queries three of Sunnydale's lovelier ladies.

"Okay, so turn offs include smoking, insensitive men, and Birkenstocks. Now, your idea of the perfect romantic evening. Katie, let's start with you."


Oz stops by the newspaper office looking for Freddy Iverson. All he finds is an empty office and walls covered with some of the paper's more recent headlines ("Teachers Fail Competency Exam," "Drop Outs Find Happiness," "Apathy on the Rise, No One Cares") because Freddy is hiding under his desk.


That night, the voices are finding Buffy within the safety of her own room, this time she's bombarded with the more adult everyday fears and woes of her neighbors (job stress, alcoholism, adultery, pregnancy). She tries to shut them out by shutting her window. It doesn't work. She can't even escape under her covers anymore. The voices are driving her crazy.


At the library, Giles and Wesley are working on a solution. Giles is at the end of his rope. They've got a potion, which they're not sure will actually work, and it needs the heart of the second demon, which they don't know how to find or stop without Buffy.

"Negative thinking doesn't solve problems," Wesley offers oh-so-helpfully. Giles just wants to know who's going to get the demon heart.


He needn't wonder. Angel is in the park at that moment, fighting a desperate battle with the second demon. He takes it down, but the demon fights back and runs off. Angel, one angry, frustrated, and determined vampire, takes off after it.


Joyce watches her daughter toss and turn, no longer conscious but still tormented by the voices in her head. The sun is coming up. Time is running out


As school begins, the questioning continues.

"Do I often imagine classmates are spying on me or otherwise acting suspiciously?" Nancy Doyle asks suspiciously.

"Right," answers Willow.

"Not until just now."

Willow pouts.


Meanwhile, Xander's trying quietly to question Larry.

"What? Talk louder dude."

Xander skirts around the question. "I'm just saying, it's gotta be frustrating, having this secret. You've gotta be kind of filling up with resentment. Unexpressed rage just waiting to burst out? Today at lunch?" He asks hopefully.

"What secret, being gay?" asks Larry loudly. Xander fidgets. But it turns out Larry's out. Out out. And not just a little out. And he's happier than ever. But he worries about Xander. He even suggests that Xander get Freddy Iverson to place an announcement in the school paper or something--"something tasteful." Xander doesn't seem too keen on the idea.

Speaking of Freddy, Oz tries the newspaper office again, only to find the door locked. He doesn't see Freddy watching him from around the corner.


Back in the library, the gang compares notes. They put two and two together and come up with Freddy Iverson, the only one they couldn't find. Add in yet another bitter editorial in the paper and the gang thinks they've got their man.


At home, Buffy is in agony. Joyce and Giles watch from her doorway. They no longer need to worry that she'll hear their thoughts. She can't distinguish any one thought anymore out of the din. A pounding on the door downstairs sends them running just in time to see Wesley open the door for a smoking (from the sunlight) Angel. He's cut it close, but he has the potion -- demon heart and all.

He takes it to Buffy and gently feeds it to her. She struggles weakly at first, but takes the potion. Angel holds her lovingly and kisses her forehead -- until she begins shaking violently. He calls for Giles.


High above the school courtyard, in the overlooking clocktower, we see Jonathan opening a suitcase. Inside, the pieces to a high power rifle.


Angel sits beside Buffy's bed. Holding her hand. Waiting. She awakens and sees him. "Angel." She says softly.

Joyce moves in to sit on the edge of the bed. Giles and Wesley hover behind her. "Are you alright?" Joyce asks. "Do you hear thoughts?"

Buffy listens for a moment, then smiles. She doesn't.


The gang finally corners Freddy in his office. He gives in.

"Okay, Oz, you got me. What are your friends gonna do, hold me down?"

Willow is on a rampage. "You better believe it, buster. You can't threaten a big murder without getting us pretty darn ticked."

Freddy's confused. He thought they were there about the review. What review? It seems that Freddy had less than kind things to say in a recent issue about Dingoes Ate My Baby. But if Freddy isn't the potential killer than who is? Cordelia sits down to nose through the inbox. Time is running out, but it isn't out yet. Buffy arrives and starts to deploy the troops to help evacuate the school. Just then, Cordy finds a letter.

"By this time tomorrow, you'll all know what I've done. I'm sure you understand that I had to do it, and that although death is never easy, it's the only way."

It's from Jonathan.

The gang splits up to look for him.


In the clocktower, Jonathan assembles the gun while Oz checks the classrooms. Willow looks in the library. Xander, of course, checks the cafeteria ... and gets distracted. By Jell-O.

Cordelia looks, too, but has to examine each geek she comes across closely -- even though she went on a date with poor Jonathan way back in Reptile Boy and was mocked with him by Harmony in The Wish.

Buffy checks the bustling courtyard and spots him in the clocktower. She looks around, and running out of time, pulls a Jamie Somers -- running up the railing of the stairs and jumping from there to the roof and from the roof into the clocktower. Just in time to stop Jonathan from doing something stupid.

"Get away from me," he threatens, brandishing the rifle.

"Okay, Jonathan, you want to point that somewhere else?"

"Don't you try and stop me." Jonathan is nervous, sweating, and very anxious.

"No." Buffy stalls. "No stopping. Just ... here for the view. Hey, look! City Hall."

"Go away."

Buffy turns serious. "Not going to happen."

"You think I won't use this?"

"I don't know, Jonathan. I just ...."

He cuts her off. "Stop doing that!"

"Doing what?"

"Stop saying my name like we're friends. We're not friends." Jonathan is frustrated, hurt, near tears. "You all think I'm an idiot. A short idiot." He spits the words out as if it hurts to even say the words himself.

"I don't." Buffy replies. "I don't think about you much at all. Nobody here really does. Bugs you doesn't it? You have all this pain and all these feelings and nobody's really paying attention."

"You think I just want attention?"

"No, I think you're up in the clocktower with a high-powered rifle because you want to blend in." Buffy replies sarcastically. But then she softens. "Believe it or not, Jonathan, I understand about the pain."

"Oh, right." He replies bitterly. "Because the burden of being beautiful and athletic, that's a crippler."

"You know what? I was wrong. You are an idiot. My life happens to on occasion suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. But it's not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they're too busy with their own." Buffy moves slowly toward the window of the clocktower, taking in the view below. It's filled with unsuspecting students. The same ones whose thoughts she'd been hearing not a day ago. "The beautiful ones, the popular ones, the guys who pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were thinking -- the loneliness, the confusion. It looks quiet down there, but it's not. It's deafening."

Jonathan has moved slowly to join her. His grip has loosened on the gun; it's pointing at the ground.

"You know, I could have taken that by now," Buffy says softly.

"I know," he whispers.

"I'd rather do it this way." She reaches out and Jonathan hands over the gun. She disarms it.

Jonathan looks at her forlorn. "I just wanted it to stop."

"Yeah, well, mass murder not really doctor recommended for that kind of pain." Buffy quips.

Jonathan is confused. "What are you talking about?"

"Actions having consequences, that kind of stuff."

He's astonished. "I wouldn't ever hurt anybody," he says. "I came up here to kill myself."


In the cafeteria, Xander is in food heaven. He's found a cart full of unattended Jell-O. But just as he's about to dig in, he spots the Lunch Lady .... hovering over a pot of Jell-O .... pouring in a large amount of clearly labeled Rat Poison. Their eyes lock. Xander bolts. He heads for the dining area, knocking Jell-O off trays and out of students' mouths, screaming about rat poison. Julia Childs' evil twin follows him, cleaver in hand. He trips and falls to the ground, but the crazy lady can put Xander on the next day's menu, Buffy steps in. She tries for a moment to reason with the whacked out cook, but there's no getting through to her. Thankfully, the stereotypically oversized chef goes down fairly easily.

Who knew Xander's stomach would actually save the day?


A few days later, Buffy and Willow arrive at school together. Buffy tells Willow that things with Angel are going better. They talked, then he "ripped out the heart of demon and fed it to her," and then they talked again. All is well.

They run into Giles, and Willow heads off to give the murderer profiles to the yearbook staff. "They make a great read!" As they walk toward the school, Buffy tells Giles she's going fine -- "nobody in here but me" -- and that Jonathan is doing pretty crappy, but he's on the mend. Giles commends Buffy for her altruistic efforts. He even suggested that Buffy might consider taking him to prom if he asks.

"What am I Saint Buffy? He's, like, three feet tall!"

"It's nice to see you've recovered from your psychic encounter more or less intact," he responds. "Feel up to some training?"

"Sure, we can work out after school," Buffy replies as she heads off. But not before getting in one final jab. "If you're not too busy having *sex* with my mother."

Suitably stunned, Giles walks right into a tree.

Perri's Review

Wow. Mary Beth's accurate observation on WB executives aside, I really can't fualt their decision to postpone this one. Still, the rest of us paid for it by missing one of the best eps of the season, with some crucial setting-up for 'The Prom'.

Mary Beth did it, in exhaustive detail.

Joyce and Giles did in fact do the wild thing, and Buffy knows about it.

See continuity. < g > Not that I think Giles and Joyce are going to be repeating the experience any time soon, but still...

SAint Buffy she's not -- using her newfound telepathy to up her English grade doesn't exactly count as ethical use of powers -- but she comes through in a pinch, as usual. Even through the haze and terror of dealing with the minds of the entire world closing in on her, Buffy keeps it together enough to send the Slayerettes on the hunt to save the other students. And when she's well again, she manages to talk Jonathan down -- not with practiced negotiation techniques, but with brutal honesty, the only thing that can break through a teenager's self-absorbtion. I sincerely doubt her experience is going to lessen any of the pain she carries with her, or make her automatically understanding of her fellow humans, but it's an interesting new perspective for her to see things from.

You have to feel for Jonathan. As someone who was pretty much a nonentity for most of her high school career, I know what it's like to be in Jonathan's place -- to be certain no one notices you 90 percent of the time, and then spends the other 10 percent looking down at you. It passes -- college is the great equalizer. < g > But I don't think the boy will go suicidal again -- looking the face of as much pain as Buffy carries around with her tends to put things into perspective.

Yay, Xander! Ever think you'd be grateful a teenaged boy can't go for more than five seconds without feeding his face? Or thinking about sex? < snicker > Although, in Xnder's case, it was mostly the 'don't think about pink elephants' problem, I'll admit. But it's episodes like this remind us a) that we love Xander and b) that he is a teenaged guy. Still hung up on Cordelia, for all that he's fighting it, still convinced the cafeteria is on a quest to kill the student body (and he was right this time!), still envious of the jocks and simultaneously awed by them, still ready to take on a madwoman with a cleaver to keep her from killing his fellow students. Good boy, Xander! Cookie!

Actually, all of the Slayerettes came through this time around. With the Slayer out of action, they rally together and give us some great scenes to boot. Cordelia's straight-up approach to interrogations (and does it surprise anyone to have the "what you see is what you get" theory borne out when it comes to Cordelia. She never lies, and what she says is what she thinks. Kind of refresshing, ya know?), Willow's 'drag out the lights and thumbscrews' approach (why is quiet little Willow always the most eager to don the atittude, hmmm?), Oz's complete lack of reaction to Freddie's review (and hilarious internal philosophy) -- nothing stand-out for anyone but Xander, but a good time being had by all.

Poor Giles and Joyce. < snicker > Bad enough that they've been desperately trying to pretend Band Candy never happened, but to have Buffy find out about it, and in Technicolor, "Twice?!?" detail... Sux. Although I'm not sure who I feel more sorry for -- the two of them getting caught, or Buffy having to live with those particular images. < shudder > Still, you have to feel for both ofthem, as their fear for Buffy wins out over their mutual embarrassment. Joyce sleeping in the chair by her daiughter's side, as Giles guards from the doorway, is one of the nicer images of the season.

Just all kinds of warm and fuzzy Angelness this episode. He really does love Buffy, and would even if she was covered in slime -- although he needs to work on his phrasing. Braving the sun to hunt down a demon and get it to her, staying with her until she recovered (and having to do it in her house, with both Giles and Joyce around; talk about a massively uncomfortable situation) -- writing this after seeing Graduation II, I still understand why he left... but it hurts, knowing how very much he loves her.

Best Moments:
Wesley's "demon Azerath" assertation and the ensuing mass exodus. Wow, did he have that coming.

Buffy overhearing everyone in the library. Xander's panicked sex thoughts, Oz's calm and skewed philosophy, Cordelia's thought-to-speech habits and Wesley's lovely "I'm a bad, bad man" (and yes, Lizbet, I did automatically finish that with "I should be punished") were all truly marvelous.

Buffy collasping in the cafeteria. A great performance from Sarah throughout, all the time she's dealing with the telepathy.

"Twice?!?" That one goes down in the annals of hysterical one-lines! Jane just couldn't stand the debate about "did they-didnt' they" any more, could she? < massive snickering >.

Angel feeding the heart to Buffy, then shouting for Giles as the convulsions begin. Tender, terrified and yelling for the nearest adult/apaprently useful person the second things start falling apart. And then him sleeping slumped over by her bed... < sigh > WAFF.

Taling Jonathan down. Beautiful, perfect lines from Jane delivered sincerely and powerfully by SMG. No one who was ever a teenager can not relate to that speech,

Giles walking into the tree. A masterful blend of camera work and physical comedy from Giles, along with Buffy's snarky delivery, makes this a truly classic moment in television, much less in Buffy. Major, major kudos! And lots of hysterical giggling...

Questions and Comments:
Jonathan? High-powered rifle? Not a good choice for suicide -- how did you intend to aim that thing at the same time that you pulled the trigger, hmmm? Necessary to set the scene, but still seriously cheating.

< groan > Are you guys seriously going to make me complain about yet another Bad Willow Hat? Give it up already! This one was better than some others have been, but really...!

Rating: 4.5 stars out of five, and more than worth the wait! A far-too-topical subject, handled with humor and class, and a couple of the best moments ever.


I honestly think that was one of the best episodes this season. The pacing, character use, sheer Buffy-ness of the premise and execution... it was wonderfully done. No one hit a wrong note. Everyone's reactions to Buffy's telepathy were perfect, and it was nice character moments for each of them. (More even than Xander, maybe, I don't think Buffy *really* wanted to know exactly what went on in Oz's head... but wasn't it priceless????) -- Lizbet

"The classroom scene, with Buffy hijacking the conversation on Othello. Willow's bewilderment and the blonde chick's fury just underscore the little chair dance Buffy was doing. Buffy *likes* being smart, she just doesn't have time to do homework. < g >" -- Lizbet

"The library scene with all the Slayerettes, giggles and winces in equal part. Xander's inability to keep his mind off of anything involving sex, Westly's inability to keep his mind off of Cordy, (and who else was expecting, "I need to be spanked," after Westly's, "I'm a bad, bad man"?), Oz's Zen appreciation of the whole situation, and Willow trying to be comforting while wigging out was all gorgeous."
"(Chris guiltily raises her hand) I do hope that Wes has at least a guest appearance or two next year. He's so much fun. Giles has way too much fun puncturing his pretensions, too." -- Lizbet and Chris

"The scene with Jonathan. < breathe deep > Owie. Gorgeous, but owie. Beautiful way to showcase what Buffy looks like from outside of herself. And she's absolutely right about everyone being locked into their own pain so much that they can't see anyone else's. Kudos to Jane." -- Lizbet

"...Everyone had at least one shining moment during this ep. And Willow got to interrogate Jonathan again, which is always a trip. Let's just hope they finally lose the bad hats this year. " -- Chris

"Xander's indefatiguable stomach. If he hadn't gotten hungry, would they have ever saved Sunnydale?"
"Hee. That, and the "Darn! And just when I wasn't thinking about sex" are in my fave Xander moments of '99." -- Lizbet and Chris

"And as Dianne has pointed out, Cordy's thoughts match what comes out of her mouth *exactly*. There is *no* filter there. < snerk > She's self-involved, yeah, but it often strikes me as a variation of Buffy's occasional mental laziness --- she just doesn't want to work any harder at figuring anyone else out than she has to. So she takes them at face value, and without a lot of judging. Which would work if everyone said the first thing that popped into their brain the way Cordy does. " -- Chris

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