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(a.k.a. How to Hurt Friends and Insult People)

Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Robia La Morte as Jenny Calendar
Andrew J. Ferchland as Collin, the Anointed One
Dean Butler as Hank Summers
Brent Jennings as Absalom
Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder
Co-Starring: Tamara Braun as Tara

Plot Summary

Buffy had severe issues in dealing with her "death" at the end of last season and took it out on those who love her.

Plot Details

The episode opened with a recap of last season. Buffy is the slayer and in love with a vampire. She was supposed to die when she faced the Master, but Xander revived her so that she could kill the Master instead.

Xander and Willow decided that it would be smart to walk by a cemetery at night in Sunnydale with no weapons or crosses whatsoever. Apparently, neither had heard much from Buffy all summer. Willow was getting tired of their guess the movie quote game, when Xander decided to use his ice cream as a prop for a quote from Witness (where an annoying person harassed an Amish person with ice cream). It looked like they were finally going to kiss when a vampire interrupted. Xander heroically tried to defend Willow, but the vampire was stronger than he was. Fortunately, Buffy arrived. She quickly defeated the vampire by throwing it into a broken tree branch. She then turned to Xander and Willow (and us in the audience) and asked if they (we) missed her.

They quickly covered their summer activities. Buffy, who spent the summer with her father in Los Angeles, partied and did not kill anything. Xander and Willow had not seen a vampire since Buffy killed the Master. The highlight of their summer was burying the Master's bones.

Apparently, Buffy also did a lot of shopping over the summer. Her father thought that he was saving Buffy's mother from back-to-school shopping, but her mother was more worried about Buffy getting into trouble. She stayed out of trouble in Los Angeles, but she was very distant from her father.

Principal Snyder expressed his contempt for students to Giles. Snyder saw them as nothing more than automatons who turn into gibbering fools when they see an attractive member of the opposite sex. Just then, Giles saw Ms. Calendar and started gibbering.

Ms. Calendar told Giles about her summer at the Burning Man festival. Giles had mixed feelings when she started to describe naked mud dances. Willow, Xander, and Buffy approached. Willow excitedly told Giles that Buffy killed a vampire, which led Giles to explain to Jenny Calendar (and the audience) that, even though the Hellmouth is closed, it is still emitting energy that attracts evil things. Giles still decided to consult his books about the reappearance of a vampire, so Xander won the pool on how soon Giles would do so.

Buffy started training, which gave her stunt double the chance to show off some gymnastic moves. Afterward, she was sitting in a student lounge when Xander and Willow arrived. Xander and Willow traded with each other, an apple for a candy bar or a granola bar or something that looked like it was high in sugar and fat. Xander received the healthy item, so we all knew that this was a dream sequence. Giles arrived and smacked Buffy hard. As Xander calmly ate his apple, Giles started to throttle her. She grabbed him by his hair and pulled off a mask, revealing the face of the Master.

Buffy woke to find Angel in her window. He told her that the Anointed One was gathering forces for an unknown reason. Buffy did not appreciate the news.

With a Cibo Matto poster behind them. Buffy, Willow, and Xander talked about Cibo Matto playing at the bronze, making sure to mention Cibo Matto at least as often as they are mentioned in this paragraph. They ran into Cordelia. Willow and Xander were fairly disturbed to learn that Buffy was willing and able to come up with better insults than even Cordelia did.

Outside the Bronze, there was a large Cibo Matto sign. Willow and Xander discussed her concern over Buffy's recent behavior. She also put a little whipped cream on her nose, hoping for Xander to finally kiss her. Unfortunately, he did not respond as she wished.

Absalom and the Anointed One brought four vampires to the cemetery to dig up the Master's bones. Unfortunately, they were stupid enough to bring only two shovels. The Anointed One ordered the other two vampires to dig with their hands, even though the consecrated ground burned their hands. The Anointed One and Absalom, however, were too good to dig. Fortunately for the others, Giles, Willow, and Xander dug a very shallow grave.

Buffy showed up to the Bronze. She first brushed off Angel and then brought Xander to the dance floor. After a very suggestive dance, she brushed Xander off and—having successfully hurt Willow, Xander, and Angel—left, probably wishing that her mother and Giles were there so that she could have hurt everyone close to her.

Cordelia also watched Buffy and went out to confront her. Cordelia told Buffy to get over whatever she was dealing with, or she will lose every friend she had. Buffy did not want to hear it, and turned away. Just as she was leaving, a couple of vampires abducted Cordelia and dragged her away.

Cordelia was dumped into a room in an abandoned factory anlong with the unconscious body of Ms. Calendar. Cordelia seemed to be genuinely concerned. Meanwhile, Buffy patrolled in a cemetery and found the Master's dug up grave.

The next day, Willow told Xander and Giles that she thought that Buffy was possessed. Xander was convinced, but Giles was not. He started a speech about Buffy not dealing with her "death" last season, when Buffy arrived. She told them that the Master's bones are gone. She was not happy and blamed Giles. This nearly led to a confrontation, when Principal Snyder came and chased them all to their classes or jobs.

They eventually congregated in the library. Giles explained that there was a procedure to bring back the Master that involved someone close to him. Buffy assumed that it meant her, when a rock was thrown through the window. It said that the throwers would kill Cordelia if Buffy did not come to the Bronze before it opened. Buffy did not listen to the others telling her that it was a trap and left. On the way to the Bronze, Angel tried to help, with predictable results. He followed her anyway.

At the library, Giles realized that those close to the Master meant those who were physically closest to him when he died, in other words, Cordelia, Ms. Calendar, Giles, and Willow. Unfortunately, he figured this out just as he saw that they were surrounded by vampires.

In the Bronze, Buffy encountered a vampire that only superficially looked like Cordelia from behind. Buffy was not fooled. When no trap was sprung, she realized that the vampire was simply there to draw her away from the others so that they could capture Giles and Willow. Buffy left the vampire in Angel's care as she ran back to the library. She found a very angry Xander. They went back to the Bronze to torture the vampire there for information.

They apparently got the information they needed, because they showed up at the right factory in time to see Ms. Calendar, Cordelia, Giles, and Willow unconscious and hanging upside down over the Master's bones. Buffy started to kill the vampires while Xander and Angel rescued the others. Giles and Ms. Calendar held each other as Xander held Willow and Cordelia, apparently, was on her own.

Buffy successfully killed four vampires, including Absalom. She then used a sledgehammer to bash the Master's bones into dust, thus working out her issues before crying in Angel's arms.

The next day, Buffy realized that she messed up badly. Fortunately, Giles, Xander, and Willow were all in forgiving moods. Meanwhile, the Anointed One looked over what remained of the Master's bones and expressed extreme displeasure toward Buffy.

The Good

The fight in the teaser was rather short, but it was a very imaginative kill.

The scene at the Bronze was a very effective way to show how Buffy is so troubled that she would intentionally hurt those who love her.

The scene in the student lounge was another scene where I was tempted to simply transcribe everything in the Memorable Quotes section.

Season openers tend to be weak on this show. This is not a great episode, but it is at least better than average. This makes it the second-best season opener of the show.

The Bad

Was the plug for Cibo Matto really necessary? Most bands play in the Bronze without me even knowing who they are unless I look it up online.

Overall Rank: 70

Action: 7

A vampire attacked Willow and Xander. Buffy arrived to throw it in a tree branch.

Buffy attacked the vampire in the Bronze, but the vampire put up a pathetic fight.

In the climax, there was a much better battle in the factory as Buffy fought Absalom and his minions.

Comedy: 0

Other than a couple of funny quotes, there was very little comedy in this episode.

Drama: 8

This episode centered on Buffy having problems dealing with her "death" in "Prophecy Girl." Buffy was actively trying to push away those who love her, which causes them a lot of pain. The others, even Cordelia, tried to support her in their own way, but they had no success until it is almost too late.

Romance: 2

Xander almost kissed Willow in the teaser.

Buffy did a sexy dance with Xander in the Bronze, but her intention was to hurt Angel and Willow. Once that was accomplished, she brushed off Xander.

Character Development: 7

Buffy—was traumatized by being killed the previous spring and may be going through something resembling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She was distant from both of her parents and actively wanted to hurt Angel, Willow, Xander, and Cordelia. She did not shake out of her funk until people close to her were in danger.

Angel—is still in love with Buffy. Buffy's distance from him hurts, but he was willing to forgive her at the end.

Xander—is still attracted to Buffy. However, his feelings for Buffy are a distant second to his platonic feelings for Willow.

Importance: 6

This episode reintroduced the important characters and redescribed the setting. The importance is not so much for returning fans as it is for potential fans who are watching for the first time. It also dealt with the aftermath of Buffy's "death" in the previous episode.

Most Valuable Player: Nobody

Nobody really deserves this award. Buffy managed to kill four vampires in the factory, but it was her fault that this was necessary. Had she not fallen for the trap, she could have fought off the vampires who were abducting Giles and Willow. This would have made it easier to rescue Cordelia and Ms. Calendar. Xander is a candidate for finally telling off Buffy, but I think that Willow and Giles being abducted was enough for her to do what was necessary.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Giles

Giles rejected the notion that Buffy was possessed and, instead, concluded that she was having "issues" with the Master killing her. Giles clinched the award by figuring out how the Master would be revived. Buffy became the only other contender when she figured out that there was an attempt to revive the Master but lost any chance of winning when she fell for the trap.

Goat of the Week: Buffy

Absalom might be a candidate, but I do not give this award to those who are simply beaten by a stronger foe. The trap to get Buffy away from the others was quite clever and easily canceled out any minor errors like not posting guards. This leaves Buffy, who fell for the trap.


How did Absalom or the Anointed One know that Buffy would recognize Cordelia's watch?

Two of the most common quibbles with this episode are why Giles, Xander, and Willow did not simply smash the Master's bones to dust before and the ribcage that became whole after Buffy smashed it. There is a single, albeit incredibly weak, explanation for both. Apparently, the Master's bones are self-regenerating. Had Giles, Xander, and Willow smashed the bones to dust, they would have simply reformed, leaving them where they were before. When Buffy smashed the ribcage, it put itself back together, allow her to smash it again. Buffy's smashing did little more than just work off her issues. I assume that they recovered the bones and performed the consecration ceremony again sometime after the episode ended. I hope that this time, they did so in a more remote location and buried the bones much deeper. OK, this is a very weak explanation.

Memorable Dialogue

"At least when she was burning stuff down, I knew what to say." Hank Summers

"It was a nightmare, a total nightmare. They promised me they'd take me to St. Croix, then they just decide to go to Tuscany. Arts and buildings. I was totally beachless for a month and a half. No one has suffered like I have suffered. Of course, that kind of adversity builds character, but then, I already have a lot of character. Is it possible to have too much character?" Cordelia

"I mean, it's incredible. One day, the campus is completely bare, empty. The next, there are children everywhere. Like locusts, crawling around, mindlessly bent on feeding and mating, destroying everything in sight in their relentless, pointless desire to exist." Principal Snyder
"I do enjoy these pep talks. Have you ever considered, given your abhorrence of children, school principal was not perhaps your true vocation." Giles
"Somebody's gotta keep an eye on them. They're just a bunch of hormonal time bombs. Every time a pretty girl walks by, every boy turns into a gibbering fool." Principal Snyder

"Yo, G-Man, what's up!" Xander
"Nice to see you, and don't ever call me that." Giles

"Yes, I must consult my books." Giles
"Eight minutes and 33 seconds. Pay up. I called ten minutes before you'd consult your books." Xander

"We have been put down, kinsmen; we have lost our way; we have lost the night. But, despair is for the living. Where they are weak, we will be strong. Where they weep, we rejoice. Where they bleed, we drink. Within three days, a new hope will arise. We will put our faith in him. He will show us the way." Absalom

"Come on, you can tell us. We're your bosom friends, the friends of your bosom." Xander

"The other night, I dreamed that Xander… Uh, it wasn't Xander. In fact, it wasn't me. It was a friend's dream. She doesn't remember it." Willow

"Is there the slightest chance that, if I asked you what was wrong, you would tell me?" Joyce

"Angel stopped by, wow! Was there, I mean, was it having to do with kissing?" Willow
"Willow, grow up. Not everything is about kissing." Buffy
"Yeah, some things are about groping; it wasn't about groping?" Xander

"Cibo Matto! They're playing?" Willow
"No, they'll be clog dancing." Xander
"Cibo Matto can clog dance?" Willow

"Cordelia, you mouth is open. Sound is coming from it. This is never good." Buffy

"That works out great. You won't tell anyone I'm the slayer, and I won't tell anyone you're a moron." Buffy

"Could you contemplate getting over yourself for a second? There's no 'us.' Look Angel; I'm sorry if I was supposed to spend the summer mooning over you, but I didn't. I moved on, to the living." Buffy

"Did I ever thank you for saving my life." Buffy
"No." Xander
"Don't you wish I would." Buffy

"You're really campaigning for bitch of the year, aren't you?" Cordelia
"As defending champion, are you nervous?" Buffy
"I can hold my own. You know, we've never been close, which is nice, 'cause I don't really like you that much, but you have, on occasion, saved the world, so I'm gonna do you a favor." Cordelia
"And this great favor is?" Buffy
"I'm gonna give you some advice. Get over it." Cordelia
"Excuse me?" Buffy
"Whatever's causing the Joan Collins 'tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain; spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it, 'cause pretty soon, you won't have the loser friends you've got now." Cordelia

"Are we overlooking the idea that she might be attracted to me? She's possessed." Xander

"Why else would she be acting as such a B-I-T-C-H?" Willow
"Willow, we're all a little too old to be spelling things out." Giles
"A bitca?" Xander
"Yes, I suggest that the explanation for her behavior may be something more mundane. She may simply have what you Americans refer to as "issues." Her experience with the Master must have been extremely traumatic. She was, for a few minutes, technically dead. She hasn't dealt with it on a conscious level. She's convinced herself that she's invulnerable." Giles

"There are some things I can just smell. It's like a sixth sense." Principal Snyder
"No, actually, that would be one of the five." Giles

"We killed each other. It really promotes togetherness." Buffy

"I'm sorry, was that an offensive term? Should I say 'Undead-American?'" Buffy

"If they hurt Willow, I'll kill you." Xander

"It stays with you forever. No matter what they tell you, none of that rust and blood and grime comes out. I mean, you can dry clean till Judgement Day, you are living with those stains." Cordelia
"Yeah, that's the worst part of being hung upside down by a vampire who wants to slit your throat: the stains" Ms. Calendar
"I hear ya." Cordelia

"What am I supposed to say? 'Sorry, I almost got your throat slit. What's the homework?'" Buffy

"We could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, we did that last night." Xander

"I hate that girl." The Anointed One

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

Giles Unconscious

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.

This page was last modified on November 4, 2012