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NIGHTMARES (ep 1.10)

(a.k.a. Sweet Dreams: Sunnydale Style)

Teleplay by: David Greenwalt
Story by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Bruce Seth Green
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Mark Metcalf as The Master
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Jeremy Foley as Billy Palmer
Andrew J. Ferchland as The Anointed One
Co-Starring: Dean Butler as Hank Summers
Justin Urich as Wendell
J. Robin Miller as Laura
Terry Cain as Ms. Tisher
Scott Harlan as Aldo Gianfranco
Brian Pietro as Coach
Johnny Green as Way Cool Guy
Patty Ross as Cool Guy's Mom
Sean Moran as Stage Manager

Plot Summary

A boy in a coma inadvertently forced Sunnydale's residents to experience waking nightmares.

Plot Details

The episode opened with Buffy entering a candlelit cavern somewhat similar to the Master's lair. The Master ambushed her and was about to bite her when her mother woke her up. She assured Buffy that her father would come to visit that day.

Xander, Buffy, Willow, Cordelia, and Wendell were all in a class covering active listening. Buffy noticed a small boy (Billy) in the doorway just as a bunch of tarantulas crawled out of Wendell's textbook. The class erupted into panic as Billy apologized.

The Master talked with the Anointed One about fear, including his own fear of the cross. The Master felt something occurring in the world above that involved fear.

Buffy, Willow, and Xander discussed the spider incident on the way to the library. Giles had found nothing and could not even find his way around the library. Buffy, Willow, and Xander decided to talk with Wendell instead.

Rather than being afraid of spiders, like Willow, Wendell loved them. He had a collection of spiders that his brother negligently killed while Wendell was at wilderness camp. Since then, he had recurrent nightmares just like what happened in class.

Meanwhile, Cordelia pulled Buffy away for a history test that Buffy was completely unprepared for. Also, as Billy wandered the halls, a young woman (Laura) went down to the boiler room to smoke. She was attacked by "the ugly man" saying, "Lucky 19."

Buffy and Giles went to visit Laura in the hospital. Other than that she was attacked by an "it," all she remembered was the phrase "Lucky 19." The doctor said that she was not the first victim. The first victim was a young boy who was in a coma.

Willow suggested that people were living their nightmares. Xander questioned this when he walked into class wearing only boxer shorts. He left in a panic.

Giles collected newspapers but found himself unable to read them. In one of them, Buffy noticed Billy in a Little League Baseball uniform with the number 19. Apparently, he was the boy in the coma. Her father then entered the library wanting to talk with her alone about his divorce. He said that it was her fault. He thought that she embarrassed him, was rude, and was not particularly bright. He would rather not spend any weekends with her again. As her father left, Buffy saw Billy lurking around.

Xander and Willow arrived at the library to recount Xander's nightmare. This time, Willow was a little happier when remembering nearly naked Xander. Giles seemed to agree with Willow that nightmares were coming true and with Buffy that Billy was responsible.

Buffy followed Billy into the gym. He admitted that "the Ugly Man," the one who attacked Laura, called him "Lucky 19" and wanted to kill him. As he explained this, the Ugly Man attacked.

Meanwhile, Giles suggested that he, Willow, and Xander split up. Xander agreed, but Willow was not sure that it was a good idea. A female voice called her to the basement where a hand grabbed her and pulled her out of the frame. When we next saw her, she was dressed in a kimono and was supposed to sing a duet with Aldo in front of a hostile crowd. Aldo was not pleased when she did not know her lines, even though he gestured toward her three lines too early.

Xander walked through a room that was to be painted, perhaps to cover up the swastikas painted on the wall. He got excited when he found candy bars on the floor. Among the bars was a Chocolate Hurricane, which he had not had since his sixth birthday. Just as he realized this, a knife-wielding clown started to chase him.

Billy told Buffy that it was his fault that his team lost because he missed a ball he should have caught. The Ugly Man was approaching, so they ducked into some bushes and came out at night in a cemetery. After a bit of speculation that someone died, the Master suggested that it would be more fun to bury someone alive and did so with Buffy.

Willow managed to flee the rotten tomatoes and meet up with Xander. They ran into Giles as they fled the clown. Eventually, Xander got frustrated, knocked the clown out with one punch, and berated the clown's balloon animals. This made Xander feel good.

Willow noticed a cemetery across the street from the high school. They explored the cemetery and found Buffy's grave. Buffy rose from her grave as a vampire. She suggested solving the problem quickly because she was getting hungry.

The four of them congregated in Billy's room at the hospital. Buffy decided to confront the Ugly Man as he ambled down the hall. They had a fight until Buffy broke his club arm and knocked him against the wall. Billy lifted the mask off of the Ugly Man, ending the nightmares and returning Xander and Willow to their original clothing.

Billy's coach arrived, wondering how his "Lucky 19" was doing. The coach was dumb enough to enter the room, allowing Xander and Giles to block the door. Buffy figured out that the coach beat Billy into the coma after losing the game. The coach tried to flee, but Xander and Giles made sure that he was going nowhere.

Back at school, Xander was perfectly willing to accept Buffy's description of his actions as "heroic." After Buffy left to spend the weekend with her father, Xander admitted to Willow that he still found Buffy attractive even when she was a vampire.

The Good

For once, this is an episode focused on Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander rather than on the monster of the week. Dreams are a good way to explore the different characters. Buffy's encounter with her father was particularly well done.

This is the best episode so far in the first season, but this is not saying much. Still, a strong character-centered episode is always welcome.

The Bad

A fourth season episode will cover much of the same territory as this episode and will do so much better.

Rank: 63

Action: 6

The ugly man beat up Laura in the boiler room.

The Ugly Man attacked Buffy as she was talking with Billy.

The Master threw Buffy into an open coffin, which closed on her.

A knife-wielding clown chased Xander, Willow, and Giles.

Buffy and the Ugly Man had another fight in the hospital.

Comedy: 2

The wannabe 1950s hoodlum was embarrassed by his doting mother, and Cordelia had a couple of embarrassing nightmares.

Drama: 8

Most nightmares deal with drama to some extent, but some of the most dramatic include:

Buffy's feeling that she was a disappointment to her father and that she was the reason why her parents divorced.

Billy having to face the man who nearly beat him to death.

Romance: 1

Xander did express attraction to Buffy even when she was a vampire, and Willow seemed to have fond memories of nearly-naked Xander.

Character Development: 9

Buffy—Her parents had been divorced for a year and separated before that. The divorce was not easy on Buffy, but it could have been much worse. Buffy does not know why they divorced but suspects that her slaying and getting in trouble did not help. Her nightmare suggests that she feels that she deserves some of the blame.

Giles—can read five languages. He has become very protective of Buffy, and perhaps, the other characters. He also fears the loss of his intellectual abilities, such as his ability to read.

Willow—Takes pleasure in Cordelia's distress.

Importance: 4

Most of the importance of this episode comes from the character development.

Most Valuable Player: Xander

Xander gets the MVP for helping to capture the coach and for punching out the clown that was attacking him. In the latter case, he was the only one who fought back against a nightmare.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Buffy

Willow first figured out that people were living their nightmares, but Buffy figured out that Billy might be behind the nightmares and what he must do to stop the nightmares.

Goat of the Week: The Coach

Beating up a 12-year-old for losing a game is very pathetic. Furthermore, entering the room with Giles and Xander guarding the door was incredibly stupid. Had he simply fled, he might have had a chance to escape.


Many people wonder how Buffy was able to go from the cemetery to the hospital when it was day everywhere but the cemetery. These were dreams. Such things probably did not matter. Even if they did, dreams often involve sudden changes in setting.

One would think that, after recent experiences, Xander's hormones would be focused away from faculty members. I guess he understands that just because one was a praying mantis does not mean that all are.

I find it interesting that there is a Standards and Practices office watching over Xander's nightmares. After all, the typical nightmare involves being totally nude, not wearing boxer shorts. Furthermore, why is Willow so upset at this sight? One would think that her reaction would be more similar to her reaction when she was recounting the episode to Giles.

It makes sense that Xander would put on gym clothes when his clothes suddenly disappeared. However, why did he wait until he was entering the library to put on his shirt rather than put it on in the locker room? I guess that the "it is all a dream" excuse might play here.








Buffy's History Test

1. "Seward's Folly" and the Louisiana Purchase...
large areas of land. Which of these accrued land ma...
contiguous United States. What was the cost of each...
benefits enjoyed? From whom was each purchased...
during what presidential administration.

"Give 'em Hell Harry" refers to which United States
president? Why was this term coined? What was the...
greatest accomplishment of his administration? What...
his greatest defeat?

...massacre took place during what war?
... happened. Was anyone ever punished...
...United States military policies?

Memorable Quotes

"What's active listening?" Xander
"That would be the homework." Willow
"Chapter 5: Active Listening. Where you put on your big ears and really focus on the other person." Buffy
"Miss Tishler demonstrated it yesterday" Wendell
"With you." Willow
"She was wearing that tight sweater?" Buffy
"Oh, the midnight-blue angora. See, I was listening." Xander

"I don't like spiders, OK? Their furry bodies and their sticky webs, and what do they need all those legs for anyway? I'll tell you, for crawling across your face in the middle of the night." Willow

"If there's something bad out there, we'll find, you'll slay, we'll party." Xander

"They're not insects; they're arachnids." Wendell
"They're from the Middle East?" Xander

"What do you mean you love spiders?" Willow
"It is platonic, right?" Xander

"Could I be seeing Billy's asteroid body?" Buffy

"What, you were the only one playing? There wasn't eight other kids on your team?" Buffy

"There are a lot scarier things than you, and I'm one of them." Buffy

"It wasn't my fault. There's eight other players on the team. You know that." Billy

"When Buffy was a vampire, you weren't still, like, attracted to her, were you?" Willow
"Willow, how can you, I mean, that's really bent. She was grotesque." Xander
"Still dug her?" Willow
"I'm sick. I need help." Xander
"Don't I know it." Willow

Characters in Peril

It is hard to say whether the characters were in real peril because most of this episode was made up of dreams.

Police and Guns

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

Do the following dreams ever come true?:

This page was last modified on November 2, 2012