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(a.k.a. The Cuddle Monkey)

Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: James A. Contner
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: Seth Green as Oz
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Robia LaMorte as Jenny Calendar
Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy Madison
Mercedes McNab as Harmony
Lorna Scott as Miss Beakman
James Marsters as Spike
Juliet Landau as Drusilla
Co-Starring: Jason Hall as Devon
Jennie Chester as Kate
Kristen Winnicki as Cordette
Tamara Braun as Frenzied Girl
Scott Hamm as Jock

Plot Summary

A love spell went wrong, causing every woman in Sunnydale, except Cordelia, to fall in love with Xander.

Plot Details

The episode opened with Xander showing Buffy the Valentine's Day gift that he planned to give to Cordelia. Buffy could not resist needling Xander for dating Cordelia. She thought that he could do better but was clearly not willing to volunteer herself. (Granted, she probably had Willow in mind.) Before the issue could be resolved, the vampire that she was waiting for rose and was quickly slain.

At school, Cordelia found that her former friends, now led by Harmony, made it very clear that they did not approve of Cordelia's new boyfriend. Meanwhile, in class, Amy, who was last seen recovering from switching bodies with her mother, was getting away with turning in an invisible assignment for a class. It appeared that she, like her mother, is up to no good with magic.

After an encounter with Jenny turned awkward (and very painful for all concerned), Giles warned Buffy about Angel's typical activities around Valentine's Day. As an example, we saw him in a contest with Spike on who could give the best present to Drusilla. Angel's fresh human heart appeared to have beaten the necklace that Spike gave her. Spike was not pleased.

That night, Buffy received a dozen red roses. The card simply said "Soon." Meanwhile, at the Bronze, Xander gave a gift to Cordelia. She seemed to like it. However, she wanted to break up with Xander anyway, even though the decision pained her.

Xander wanted revenge and went straight to Amy. Specifically, he wanted her to cast a spell that would make Cordelia fall in love with him so he could break up with her and subject her to the same pain that he was currently feeling. After a bit of hesitation and a threat to talk about invisible homework, Amy agreed.

After casting the spell, Xander sought out Cordelia. However, if she were now madly in love with him, she was not showing it. Xander retreated to the library where Buffy suggested going out together to commiserate. She did not eliminate the possibility of lap dancing. Xander was very happy.

Just then, Amy walked in to say that she thought that the spell did not work. She suggested trying again, but Xander was happy with the way things were at that moment. Amy was not deterred and suggested non-spell activities. Another female student interrupted and wanted to study with him. Xander bravely fled the scene.

He fled to his room only to find Willow in his bed wearing just one of his shirts and wanting him to cure her of her virginity. Although the vast majority of the male audience was envying him at that moment, he was startled. After a bit of protest, he once again bravely fled the scene.

Xander returned to campus and found every female (students and teachers) eyeing him. He fled back to the library where he confessed all to Giles. Before Giles could respond, Jenny came in to say that she was not going to walk away simply because everybody was angry at her. However, she was too distracted by Xander to get very far. Giles was very disturbed to see this and quickly chewed Xander out before dragging Jenny out of the library.

Xander tried to block the door (this time, with something heavier than a pillow) only to have Buffy waltz in anyway. She was dressed in just a short trench coat and high heels. She slowly chased a very nervous Xander until Amy came to claim him. A quick battle ensued that ended with Amy turning Buffy into a rat.

Giles and Jenny then returned to the library. Amy wanted to turn Jenny into a rat as well, but Xander stopped her. Giles and Xander had the Buffy rat cornered behind a bookcase, but a very angry Oz came in a decked Xander, allowing Buffy to escape. An equally angry Giles sent Xander away, so he, Jenny, and Amy could try to turn Buffy back into a human.

Xander left to find a Harmony-led mob of students attacking Cordelia for hurting Xander. His appearance distracted them enough for him to carry Cordelia away. They fled the school to find a mob led by Willow who would rather kill Xander than let him go to someone else. The Harmony-led mob came to the rescue and attacked the Willow-led mob, allowing Xander and Cordelia to escape.

It is not clear how long they have been running, but they arrived at Buffy's house that night. They apparently forgot that Joyce is female. She behaved predictably as soon as she sent Cordelia upstairs for bandages. Cordelia came down, and shoved Joyce outside, which gave Xander and Cordelia enough time to flee to Buffy's room.

They thought that they would be safe there, but Angel burst through the window to prove them wrong. He threw Xander to the ground and was about to bite him. Fortunately for Xander, Drusilla is also female and would not let Angel harm her new beloved. Unfortunately for Xander, her idea of rescuing involved eternal life.

Drusilla was about to bite him when a combined Willow-and-Harmony mob arrived. This time, Cordelia pulled Xander away and fled to Buffy's basement. There, Cordelia finally found out that the spell was meant to work on her. Rather than be offended, she was actually flattered. Unfortunately, the mobs broke through the basement door.

Meanwhile, the Buffy rat was exploring the basement, where hazards included a cat and a trap. Just as she was exploring the trap, Amy reversed her spell and turned Buffy back to human. Unfortunately for Buffy, her clothes were still in the library. I doubt that many male audience members were upset by this, however.

While Amy turned Buffy back into a human, Giles reversed the love spell. At Buffy's house here was a very confused group of women who were wondering what was going on. They quickly accepted Cordelia's explanation of a scavenger hunt.

Cordelia was not as happy to have her old friends accept her as one might think. Instead, she decided to reject them by saying that she will date whomever she pleases regardless of what they think. Xander was very happy to hear this.

The Good

This is clearly the funniest episode so far and will not have any challengers until at least the fourth season. It reached that level mostly because it had the courage to go as far as it did.

I could see a lot of genre shows having an episode in which a character becomes suddenly irresistible to her or his peers. The show took this one step further by having Jenny attracted to Xander as well. As I have noted before, Robia LaMorte is only nine months older than Nicholas Brendon and only two weeks older than Charisma Carpenter. It would not be unrealistic for Nicholas Brendon and Robia LaMorte to be romantically involved in real life. (Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge, they never were involved romantically.) However, Jenny Calendar is a faculty member and presumably older than Xander, even if he still sees her as "dollsome."

The episode went even further when Joyce became attracted to Xander. Kristine Sutherland is still too young to be Nicholas Brendan's mother, but she is at least noticeably older than he is. Furthermore, she is not someone that Xander is likely to think about as being attractive.

The episode did not stop there. It had Drusilla attracted to him. Juliet Landau is an attractive woman, but Drusilla is a very evil and insane vampire. Furthermore, she was in vamp face, which is not very flattering. I doubt that very many fanfic writers even dreamed of a Xander / Drusilla relationship before this episode.

There is an old one-liner in which a comedian on his deathbed says, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." Comedy is hard. For this episode to work, all of the key parties had to be at their best. It took a great script from Marti Noxon to come up with all the ideas. It took great directing from James A. Contner to keep the episode at a perfect pace. Even the comic score worked well. Finally, it took great acting by the important players to sell us on the events. This episode may represent Nicholas Brendan's best acting in the series.

The Bad

Many male members of the audience would have appreciated it if there were no boxes between Buffy and the camera when she was turned back into a human, but they cannot have everything.

Overall Rank: 18

Action: 3

Buffy staked a vampire in the teaser.

Xander and / or Cordelia have several encounters with mobs, Angel, and Drusilla.

Comedy: 10

This is one of the top-three or four comedy episodes of the show. Rather than simply list all the funny moments, I will say that just about everything that occurs while the love spell is in effect falls in this category.

Drama: 6

There was a surprising amount of drama for such a humorous episode. Most of it dealt with Cordelia having to deal with competing pressures from her heart and from her peer group.

Romance: 8

Theoretically, this could rate a 10 for romance, but most of the romance in the episode was spell-induced. However, Xander and Cordelia's on-again, off-again, on-again relationship spurred most of the events.

Character Development: 9

Cordelia has decided that she would rather follow her heart than do what the popular crowd expected her to do.

Amy appears to be continuing the family tradition of abusing magic. It remains to be seen if she learns her lesson from this episode.

Giles puts his relationship with Buffy ahead of his relationship with Jenny without hesitation but with a lot of pain.

Jenny understands why everyone feels the way they do about her but still wants to be part of the group.

Angel has decided to compete with Spike for Drusilla's affections. Most likely, he is doing this to hurt Spike and take over leadership of the group.

Spike does not like Angel moving in on Drusilla. He is frustrated that he can do little but make empty threats.

Harmony may appear to be a bubblehead (and probably is), but she took advantage of the opportunity to depose Cordelia and take over as the head of the popular clique. This shows that Harmony has at least some ambition.

Importance: 6

Most of the importance of this episode came from Cordelia's character development. It also advanced the relationship dynamics of the Spike-Angel-Drusilla triangle.

Most Valuable Player: Giles

This was not a typical episode in which a villain tries to do something villainous while the main characters try to stop him / her / it / them. Therefore selecting award recipients for this episode is hard. If Drusilla were a good guy, she might get the MVP for saving Xander. However, she is not, so she does not. Xander did hold onto his relationship with Cordelia, and Cordelia did break free from conformity pressures, but neither of these is really MVP worthy. Therefore, Giles gets the MVP for managing to corral Amy for long enough to get her spells reversed.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Xander

He might have had an unfair advantage, but Xander was the first to realize that the love spell had a very unintended effect.

Goat of the Week: Angel

It is tempting to give this award to Amy for botching the spell, but her goal for the episode was not to make Cordelia love Xander. Her goal was to dodge Xander's threats. She succeeded. Angel did make a bit of progress for one of his goals, luring Drusilla away from Spike. However, the best he could do to hurt Buffy was to send her a dozen red roses. He completely failed to kill Xander.

Random Commentary

Xander had the most screen time in this episode, but, to me, this is really a Cordelia episode. Until this episode, Cordelia never felt as well developed to me as the other characters in part because she was a contradiction. On one hand, she was always the person who spoke her mind and did not care what anyone else thought of her. Admittedly, she mostly did not care what Buffy, Willow, and Xander thought of her because they were social outcasts. On the other hand, she was always concerned with fashion and popularity, which suggested that she was a conformist. Until this episode, these two sides of her never really fit well together. When Cordelia called Harmony a sheep, Cordelia probably realized that she had been one as well, despite her denial. Her speech was her way of saying goodbye to her conformist side and embracing her individualistic side. She became and will continue to be a much more cohesive character.

I noticed that Oz walked away from a naked Buffy without even offering his jacket to her.


I am hardly the first to wonder why Amy chose to invoke a virgin goddess for a love spell, so I will not press the issue any further.

Others, such as Tv.com, have noted that Buffy was turned into a male rat. I did not pay close enough attention to the rat to be able to confirm that.

Memorable Dialogue

"My valentines are usually met with heartfelt restraining orders." Xander

"I knew you'd like it. I found it in a quaint little shop girl." Angel

"Why don't you rip her lungs out? Might make an impression." Spike
"Lacks poetry." Angel
"Doesn't have to. What rhymes with lungs?" Spike

"Do you know what's a good day to break up with somebody? Any day besides Valentine's Day." Xander

"Blackmail is such an ugly word." Xander
"I didn't say blackmail." Amy
"Yeah, but I'm about to blackmail you, so I thought I'd bring it up." Xander

"Intent has to be pure with love spells." Amy
"Right, I intend revenge, pure as the driven snow." Xander

"I have a plan; we use me as bait." Xander
"You mean make Angel come after you?" Buffy
"No, I mean chop me in little pieces and stick me on hooks for fish to nibble at, because it would be more fun than my life." Xander

"We can comfort each other." Buffy
"Would lap dancing enter into that scenario at all, because I find that very comforting." Xander
"Play your cards right..." Buffy
"OK, you do know that I'm Xander, right?

"Don't be so jumpy. I was in your bed before." Willow
"Yeah, but, Will, we were both in footie pajamas." Xander

"It's time for me to act like a man, and hide." Xander

"I made a mess, Giles. See, I found out that Amy's into witchcraft, and I was hurt I guess, so I made her put the love whammy on Cordy, but it backfired, and now every woman in Sunnydale wants to make me her cuddle monkey, which may sound swell on paper." Xander

"I can't believe you're fool enough to do something like this." Giles
"Oh, no, I'm twice the fool it takes to do something like this." Xander

"Sometimes the remote impossible possibility that you might like me was all that sustained me, but not now, not like this. This isn't real to you. You're only here because of a spell. I mean, if I thought you had one clue what it would mean to me, but you don't, so I can't." Xander

"Who died and made you Elvis?" Cordelia

"Keep your mom-aged mitts off my boyfriend, former!" Cordelia

"The only way to get girls to want you would be witchcraft." Cordelia
"That is such a... Well, yeah, OK, good point." Xander

"If you harm one hair on this boy's head...." Drusilla
"You've gotta be kidding, him?" Angel
"Just because I've finally found a real man." Drusilla
"I guess I really did drive you crazy." Angel

"How do you feel about eternal life?" Drusilla
"We could just start with coffee, a movie maybe?" Xander

"Your hide's so thick, not even magic could penetrate it." Xander

I seem to be having a slight case of nudity here." Buffy
"But you're not a rat, so call it an upside." Oz
"You think maybe you could get me some clothing?" Buffy
"Yes, I can. Just don't go anywhere." Oz
"Really not an issue." Buffy

"I remember coming on to you. I remember begging you to undress me, and then, a sudden need for cheese. I also remember that you didn't." Buffy
"Need cheese?" Xander

"You're a sheep. All you ever do is what everyone else does, just so you can say you did it first. Here I am scrambling for your approval when I'm way cooler than you are because I'm not a sheep. I do what I wanna do, and I wear what I wanna wear. And you know what, I'll date whoever the hell I wanna date, no matter how lame he is." Cordelia

"If it helps, whenever we're around them, we can fight a lot." Xander
"You promise?" Cordelia
"You can pretty much count on it." Xander

Characters in Peril


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.

This page was last modified on November 7, 2012