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HOMECOMING (ep #3.05)

(a.k.a. SlayerFest '98)

Written by: David Greenwalt
Directed by: David Greenwalt
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
Seth Green as Oz
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: K. Todd Freeman as Mr. Trick
Jeremy Ratchford as Lyle Gorch
Fab Filippo as Scott Hope
Ian Abercrombie as Old Man
Harry Groener as Mayor Richard Wilkins III
Eliza Dushku as Faith
Co-Starring: Danny Strong as Jonathan
Jason Hall as Devon
Jack Plotnick as Deputy Mayor (Allan Finch)
Billy Maddox as Frawley
Joseph Daube as Hans
Jermyn Daube as Frederick
Lee Everett as Candy Gorch
Tori McPetrie as Michelle
Chad Stahelski as Kulak

Plot Summary

Buffy and Cordelia had to put aside their Homecoming Queen rivalry to fight off wannabe slayer-slayers who thought that Cordelia was Faith.

Plot Details

The episode opened with Cordelia deciding that she should go to the Homecoming dance in a limousine. Willow liked the idea, but Xander was worried about the cost. Buffy was not paying much attention as Scott had yet to ask her. Fortunately, with a little prodding from Oz, Scott and Buffy agreed to go together.

A bit later, Buffy told Angel that she was seeing someone and that she had yet to tell anyone that Angel was back. Angel was not happy with the first bit. However, Buffy may have spoken too soon, as Scott decided to break up with her the next day.

Meanwhile, a couple of creepy people (Frederick and Hans Gruenshtahler) in a van were spying on Buffy. They relayed images of her to a man in a wheelchair ("Old Man") who was working with Mr. Trick. Allen, a deputy of Mayor Richard Wilkins III, apparently heard of their presence in Sunnydale and alerted his boss that they were wanted for murder and terrorism.

Cordelia, Xander, Willow, and Oz posed for yearbook photos with varying success, but Buffy missed out in part because Cordelia forgot to tell her about them. Buffy was also distracted with her recent breakup with Scott. Faith suggested that the two of them go to the dance together and pick up a couple of guys.

The next day, Buffy was quite upset to find that she missed out on being in the yearbook. She felt nostalgic for the days in which she was popular in her Los Angeles high school. When she found out that Cordelia was supposed to tell her about the yearbook photos, Buffy decided that she was going to run for homecoming queen herself.

Mr. Trick lectured on the virtues of competition to the creepy people seen earlier, Lyle Gorch, his wife Candy, Kulak of the Miquot Clan, and a trapper ("Jungle Bob"). Trick had apparently set up a competition, with a steep admission price, for people out to kill Buffy and Faith.

While preparing for the homecoming dance, Willow and Xander helped each other get dressed. The sight of each other in formal clothes momentarily caused them to forget about Oz and Cordelia as they kissed. This shook both of them up.

Buffy brought Xander, Willow, and Oz together to work on her homecoming queen campaign, which included a database of likely voters that Willow was to prepare. The only problem was that all three of them were working for Cordelia. The competition between Buffy and Cordelia got so heated that Xander and Willow had to come up with something.

On the night of the homecoming dance, Buffy found just Cordelia in the limousine. Apparently, the others decided that they should be left alone to work out their issues. They had done very little working out of issues when the limousine stopped in a remote area. They saw a VCR hooked up to a television. When they played the tape, they saw Mr. Trick tell them that they were to be hunted, except that he assumed that Faith would be with Buffy instead of Cordelia.

The first competitor to try to take out Buffy and Cordelia was Jungle Bob. Fortunately, he missed when he fired at Buffy and ended up getting trapped himself. He told Buffy and Cordelia about the other competitors before the two of them fled to a cabin. While there, they started to work out the issues that they had.

They were interrupted when Kulak entered. They had a fight until the Gruenshtahler brothers launched a grenade into the cabin. Buffy and Cordelia managed to escape, but Kulak was presumably killed. They made their way to the library, where Lyle and Candy were waiting for them. Candy and Buffy tussled, which resulted in Buffy being knocked unconscious and Candy having the wooden handle of the spatula in her heart. With Buffy out of the picture, Cordelia managed to intimidate Lyle into fleeing the scene.

The Gruenshtahler brothers then arrived. Buffy figured out that there were tracking devices in the corsages that Cordelia found in the limousine. Buffy managed to attach one to one of the Gruenshtahler brothers, which caused the other to fire on him. He shot the other, leading to both of their deaths.

Mr. Trick was not around to see this. Instead, two police officers took him to see Mayor Wilkins. Wilkins told him that this was an important year for him and that he wanted people like Mr. Trick on his team.

Buffy and Cordelia arrived at the homecoming dance just in time to hear that Michelle Blake and Holly Charleston tied for homecoming queen. Neither Buffy nor Cordelia were happy.

The Good

I did enjoy the campaign for homecoming queen.

The Bad

In his commentary on "Innocence," Joss Whedon described the two essential features of good drama: emotional resonance and rocket launchers. This episode got one out of two. It did have a rocket (actually grenade) launcher, but it lacked emotional resonance. Writer David Greenwalt created conflict between Cordelia and Buffy by taking away all of the character growth that Cordelia went through in the past year or two. This episode might have worked earlier, but it does not now. Actually, it probably would not have been much better back then either.

Overall Rank: 108

Action: 7

Kulak crashed into the cabin where Buffy and Cordelia were hiding. Kulak and Buffy fought while Cordelia tried to attack Kulak with a spatula. They were interrupted when the Gruenshtahler brothers launched a grenade into the cabin.

The Gruenshtahler brothers stalked Buffy in the school when she managed to paste each with the tracking devices hidden in the corsages. This led each to think that the other was a slayer and shoot each other.

Comedy: 3

Some of the campaigning for homecoming queen was amusing.

Faith had a good put down of Scott Hope.

Lyle Gorch's reaction to Cordelia's speech in the library was amusing.

Otherwise, if Cordelia was going to behave as she did in the first season or early in season two, she could have at least played the comic relief role.

Drama: 2

Buffy was worried that she will be forgotten once she leaves high school.

Romance: 6

Scott Hope is no longer dating Buffy.

Willow and Xander had a "clothes fluke" that shook both of them up.

Character Development: 7

Mayor Richard Wilkins III appears to place a high value on cleanliness. He also would like to have a slayer-free town and plans to collaborate with Mr. Trick.

Cordelia apparently has forgotten that she is now in the third season of Buffy and acted like she did a year or two earlier, except for the fact that she is still seeing Xander. She forgot that she is no longer someone who feels like she has to put everyone down in order to remain the alpha woman in the school.

Xander finally "woke up and smelled the hottie." He has now figured out what nearly every male in the viewing audience (and no male in Sunnydale save for Oz) has already figured out: Willow is a very attractive woman. This is causing some pain for Xander as he does care about Cordelia as well.

Willow finally has what she has wanted since before the show started, Xander attraction. Willow seemed less concerned about Oz than Xander was about Cordelia. If anything, Willow was more concerned about Cordelia than about Oz, and Xander was more concerned about Oz than Willow was.

Buffy wants to be remembered for typical high school things such as being homecoming queen.

Importance: 4

Other than the "clothes fluke," the only thing of any importance that occurred in this episode was seeing the Mayor for the first time.

Most Valuable Player: Buffy

Cordelia gets some credit for intimidating Lyle Gorch, but Buffy did most of the heroics of this episode.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Buffy

Buffy managed to get Jungle Bob to tell them about the competitors in Slayerfest, figured out that there were tracking devices in the corsages, and came up with a plan to take out the Gruenshtahler brothers. She gets a clear victory in this episode.

Goat of the Week: The Gruenshtahlers

Mr. Trick's Slayerfest failed to kill any slayers, but it did attract the attention of the Mayor, which might be good for Mr. Trick. Jungle Bob was klutzy enough to be caught in his own trap, but there was never any evidence that he was capable of much. The Gruenshtahlers, however, were supposed to be capable, yet they misidentified Cordelia as Faith and failed to kill anyone except for Kulak and each other.

Random Commentary

When I first saw this episode, I was afraid for a moment that it would take the easy way out and have Buffy and Cordelia tie for Homecoming Queen. I am glad that the episode ended the way that it did.


Is the phrase "capital murder" even relevant for a nation that no longer has capital punishment?

Buffy's Competition Board

Cordelia Chase Michelle Blake Holly Charleston
Few Friends
BAD IN Sports Athletic PB CRAZED STRAIGHT As No Boyfriend

Buffy's Voter List

Note: Checks and strikethroughs appeared and disappeared in the various times that we saw the list. The status for each name is what it was the last time we saw it.

Lisa Dutton [check]
Eno Sins
Victoria Ruskin
Mimi Klein
Tyler Sheperd [check]
William Moore
Reiss Niemi
Leafe Small [check]
Dorothy Bulec
Billy Ningunn
Megan Sinclair
Scott Hope [check]
Robert Price
Eva Eastman
Jonathan Smith
Paul Albert
Heather Ramsay [check]
Mark Helf [check]
Selena Diaz
Bobby Patterson
Lynette Paterson
Alan Hyde [check]
Daryl Sancton [check]
Nancy Silverman

Memorable Dialogue

"Ladies, gentlemen, spiny-headed looking creatures, welcome to Slayerfest '98." Mr. Trick

"We should face it, Will. You and I are gonna be in neighboring rest homes while I come over so you can adjust my... Well, I can't thing of anything that's not really gross." Xander

"It must be the clothes. It's a fluke." Willow
"It's a clothes fluke. That's what it is, and there'll be no more fluking." Xander
"Not ever." Willow
"We got to get out of these clothes." Xander
"Right now." Willow
"Oh, I didn't mean..." Xander
"I didn't, me either." Willow

"As Willow goes, so goes my nation." Oz

"No, I'm not a friend. I'm a rabid dog who should be shot, but there are forces at work here, dark incomprehensible forces." Willow
"And I'm sure they're more important than all we've been through together, or the number of times that I've saved your life." Buffy

"Are you kidding? I've been doing the Vulcan death grip since I was four." Cordelia

[Reading a letter] "Dear Cordelia and Buffy, We won't be riding to the dance with you. We want you to work out your problems because our friendships are more important than who wins homecoming queen. Your friends. P.S. The limo was not cheap. Work it out." Buffy

"We have to find Buffy! Something terrible's happened! Just kidding, thought I'd give you a scare. Are those finger sandwiches?" Giles

"Scott, there you are, honey. Hey, good news. The doctor says that the itching and the swelling and the burning should clear up, but we gotta keep using the ointment." Faith

"I'm never gonna be crowned homecoming queen. I'm never gonna graduate from high school. I'm never gonna know if it's real between me and Xander, or if it's just some temporary insanity that made me think I loved him, and now I'm never gonna get the chance to tell him." Cordelia
"Yes, you are. We are gonna get out of here, and we are gonna head back to the library where Giles and the rest of the weapons live. Then I'm gonna take out the rest of these guys just in time for you to congratulate me on my sweeping victory as homecoming queen." Buffy
"I know what you're up to. You think if you get me mad enough, I won't be so scared, and hey, it's working. Where's a damn weapon?" Cordelia

"This is what my life is. You couldn't understand. I just thought, 'homecoming queen.' I could pick up a yearbook someday and say, 'I was there. I went to high school. I had friends, and, for one moment, I got to live in the world.' And there'd be proof that I was chosen for something other than this. Besides, I look cute in a tiara." Buffy

I hear you, you redneck moron. You got a dress that goes with that hat?" Cordelia
"I'm gonna..." Lyle Gorch
"Rip out my innards? Play with my eyeballs? Boil my brain and eat it for brunch? Listen up, needle-brain. Buffy and I have taken out four of your cronies, not to mention your girlfriend." Cordelia
"Wife!" Lyle Gorch
"Whatever, The point is, I haven't even broken a sweat. See, in the end, Buffy's just the runner-up. I'm the queen. You get me mad, what do you think I'm gonna do to you?" Cordelia
"Later." Lyle Gorch

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

Police and Guns

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

Giles Unconscious

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 12, 2012