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The PROM (ep #3.20)

(a.k.a. One Perfect High School Moment)

Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: David Solomon
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: Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
Brad Kane as Tucker Wells
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Co-Starring: Danny Strong as Jonathan
Bonita Friedericy as Mrs. Frinkle
Andrea E. Taylor as Sales Girl (Rhonda)
Mike Kimmel as Harv
Tove Kingsbury as Tux Boy
Michael Zlabinger as Student at Mike
Monica Serene Garnich as Pretty Girl
Joe Howard as Priest
Damien Eckhardt as Jack Mayhew
Stephanie Denise Griffin as Tux Girl

Plot Summary

Buffy defeated hellhounds trained to disrupt the senior prom.

Plot Details

Buffy woke up in Angel's bed, only under less interesting circumstances than in "Surprise." She talked about things like getting a few mirrors and a drawer or two for her to use. She also dropped hints about the upcoming prom. He dodged her hints by suggesting that it was late. In order to prove that it was still early, Buffy opened the curtains and nearly burned her boyfriend to death from the sunlight.

Anya approached Xander at school, which prompted Xander to remind the audience who Anya was. She apparently wanted to go to the prom and wanted him as a date. Xander was reluctant, but, as she pointed out, he had no date. She also went further to remind the audience of who she was. Willow and Oz were amused by Xander's decision to go with Anya, but Buffy was supportive. After all, she had no problem with dating demons.

Joyce paid Angel a visit. After a quick tour of the mansion, in which she briefly wondered about the manacles hanging in plain view, she got to the point. Like Mayor Wilkins in "Choices," she believed that it might not be in Buffy's best interest to be with Angel. It appeared that Joyce might have been a more convincing messenger than Wilkins was.

Buffy and Willow discussed prom dresses. Giles interrupted and said that the pages that Willow swiped from the Mayor's office indicated that an ascension meant that Wilkins was planning to become an immortal demon on graduation day. Wesley believed that everyone should skip the dance in favor of concentrating on stopping the ascension until Cordelia expressed an interest in seeing him in a tuxedo. Wesley relented by saying that he planned to attend the dance as a chaperone, much to Giles's displeasure.

We then saw Buffy and Angel getting married in an empty church. They walked into the sunlight, where Buffy caught fire and burned up. Angel then woke up.

Buffy and Angel pursued a vampire into the sewer. Their conversation quickly got so tense that Buffy staked the vampire on sight rather than beat him up first. Eventually, Angel got to the point and broke up with Buffy. He also told her that he was going to leave as soon as they were done with Mayor Wilkins and Faith.

The next day, Buffy talked with Willow. In her role as best friend, Willow did a good job in vilifying Angel. However, Buffy, and later Willow, admitted that Angel was probably right. Still, Buffy needed a good cry in Willow's lap.

Somewhere in town, a hellhound (which looked like a person in a modified werewolf costume) was snarling in a thin wire cage. Eventually, it broke out and bounded away.

Xander walked by a dress shop and saw Cordelia admiring the dress that Xander saw her with in "Choices." A co-worker (Rhonda) suggested that Cordelia get back to work, which unintentionally cued Xander in to the fact that Cordelia was there as an employee, not as a customer. A very upset Cordelia explained that nearly everything she owned was seized because her father neglected to pay taxes for the last 12 years. She had to work there in the hopes of saving enough money to buy a dress for the prom.

Just as she finished, the hellhound broke through the shop window. Xander shoved Cordelia out of the way and went to confront it. However, it quickly lost interest in Xander and attacked a customer trying on a tuxedo. Eventually, a person holding a metal box made a high-pitched squeak and called the hellhound out of the store.

The characters watched a security tape of the attack. Cordelia noticed that the hellhound attacked the person in formal wear. A slightly jealous Wesley questioned why Cordelia was even talking to Xander. Cordelia was about to confess that she was there as an employee, but Xander jumped in with a lie to hide her current poverty. Oz noticed the person with the metal box and recognized him as Tucker Wells

Willow hacked into Tucker's e-mail account and found a letter threatening an attack on the prom. Xander and Willow were ready to skip the prom but a nearly inanimate Buffy sprang up and declared that she was going to ensure a safe prom even if she had to kill everyone in the world to do so. I will assume that present company was exempted in the latter part of the statement.

Buffy sent Wesley to Tucker's house. Buffy got his hint and sent Cordelia with him. Oz and Willow were to find the recipient of Tucker's e-mail message. Xander volunteered to go to the magic shop to see if anyone was buying hellhound supplies because the magic shop was close to the dress shop where Cordelia worked. Finally, Buffy went to the butcher to see if anyone has been buying brains to feed to hellhounds.

The butcher did know of a guy who has been ordering cow brains and gave Buffy an address. While at the butcher, she saw Angel buying blood. Apparently he gets blood through ways other than raiding blood bank deliveries at the local hospital as in "The Dark Age." They proceeded to have a very awkward conversation that ended with Buffy refusing any help from Angel.

Cordelia was about to leave work before the prom, disappointed at not having earned enough to buy the dress. Rhonda, however, pointed out that somebody paid for the dress.

Buffy was the only one to successfully get any information on the hellhounds. She sent Oz, Willow, and Xander to prepare for the prom while she dealt with Tucker. They eventually left after some protest. Giles figured out that something was wrong, particularly that Angel was not taking her. She admitted that Angel broke up with her, and Giles offered to take her for ice cream.

At the prom, Anya told stories about the last eleven centuries of her life. Wesley talked about how Giles made lower classmen dress as girls. Cordelia, in her dress, made Wesley's eyes pop out of their sockets, but not literally. I know that it is the Hellmouth.

Buffy found Tucker just as he was about to set a hellhound loose. He tried to fight back pathetically, but Buffy was more curious about how he conditioned the hellhounds to hate the prom by having them watch prom movies. She was about to tie him up in another room, where she noticed three empty cages.

She caught up to the hellhounds outside the school. She shot one with a crossbow, which induced the other two to follow her. However, they were lured back into the school when they heard prom music. She stabbed one with a knife and snapped the third's neck. She dragged the bodies into bushes and pulled out her dress.

Giles, Willow, and Oz were very happy to see her. Seniors received various awards in the typical categories, including class clown. Xander was very disappointed not to get that one. Jonathan then announced a special award for class protector. Apparently, this class has the lowest morality rate in Sunnydale High history, and the students realized that this was mostly because of Buffy.

Wesley asked Giles for permission to ask Cordelia to dance. Giles said for him to just do so. Giles went to congratulate Buffy until they were interrupted by Angel's arrival. For the night, he was willing to be with her.

The Good

This is a solid episode in general. However, the scene in which Jonathan presented Buffy with the class protector award is one of the most touching scenes of the entire show.

The Bad

I know where the writers are going with Anya, so I will forgive the abrupt transition in her character. However, it seemed very improbable that she would want to go to the prom and that she would choose Xander.

Overall Rank: 58

Action: 3

Buffy fought the three hellhounds with little trouble.

Comedy: 6

Much of the comedy in this episode came from Anya, especially her asking Xander to the prom and her stories at the prom.

Most of the comedy that did not come from Anya came from or was directed to Wesley, particularly when he was at the prom.

Drama: 9

Angel broke up with Buffy, which led to a crying session with Willow.

Cordelia was forced to admit that her father's tax problems forced her to have to work for her prom dress.

Sunnydale High School students awarded Buffy a Class Protector Award.

Romance: 7

Buffy and Angel were apparently comfortable spending the night together in the same bed. Later, at Joyce's instigation, Angel broke up with Buffy.

Xander and Anya went to the prom together, as did Oz and Willow.

Wesley asked Cordelia to dance.

Character Development: 6

Joyce has apparently come to the same conclusion that Mayor Wilkins did: Buffy would be better off without Angel.

Angel found Joyce to be more convincing than he found Wilkins, so he acted on Joyce's advice.

Anya is becoming more like a high school student. She even expressed a desire to go to the prom. However, she does enjoy talking about her days as a patron saint to scorned women and does not have a high opinion of those with Y-chromosomes.

Oz apparently got teared up, albeit off camera.

Cordelia has lost everything because her father has neglected to pay taxes over the last twelve years. She finds this rather embarrassing. She apparently has come to forgive Xander for the hurt he had caused her when he kept her secret and when he paid for a dress for her. She also tuned 18 years old recently, so neither Faith nor Xander can call her jail bait anymore.

Importance: 7

Angel broke up with Buffy and is planning to leave town.

Anya has expressed an interest in Xander, at least as a prom date.

Buffy found out that her classmates are at least somewhat aware of what she has done for them and that they are very appreciative.

Most Valuable Player: Buffy

By defeating the Hellhounds, saving the prom, and having her one perfect high school moment, Buffy is the clear MVP of this episode.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Sunnydale High School Students

It seemed like nearly everyone figured out something in this episode. Joyce realized that Angel and Buffy had no future. Cordelia figured out that the hellhound was interested in formal wear. Oz caught the fact that there was someone who seemed to be controlling the hellhound. Wesley recognized the beast as a hellhound. Giles was the first to conclude that Tucker was planning to attack the prom and figured that something was up with Buffy and Angel. Buffy found Tucker's address. However, there was one realization that topped all of them. Sunnydale High students finally figured out that one person is primarily responsible for the fact that they are still alive.

Goat of the Week: Tucker Wells

Tucker locked the hellhound in a cage that was too flimsy to hold the hellhound. This allowed it to escape, which alerted Buffy to the fact that something was going on. This caused his hellhound attack to accomplish little other than provide a distraction for the main characters.

Random Commentary

I find it amusing that between this episode and American Pie, Alyson Hannigan attended two proms when she was 25 years old. Furthermore, in American Pie, her character behaved remarkably like Anya did in this episode. I wonder whether Anya would have behaved the same as Alyson Hannigan's American Pie character after the prom.

The conversation about prom dresses felt a little off to me. When I was in high school, whenever any of the women discussed prom dresses, they drew the neckline on themselves using their index fingers. Even when I was out of earshot, I could still tell that the topic of conversation was prom dresses if I saw someone drawing with her index fingers.

I find it rather interesting that Buffy could go stag to a prom. When I was a junior in high school, one of my classmates wanted to go to the prom without a date. The student council, for the only time in my high school career, did something other than organize a pep rally. It voted not to allow her to do so. Apparently there were fears that she would go around and try to steal other classmate's dates. The controversy made the news, and even a local radio host offered to go as her date (something that I found to be a bit creepy). In the end, the principal overrode the student council and allowed her to go. Afterward, she even appeared on a national talk show to discuss the controversy.

I imagine that some readers see my talking about my high school prom experiences means that I have fond memories of my prom. They are mistaken. I actually never attended a prom. The reason is either the fact that I am too smart to spend anywhere from several hundred to a couple of thousand (1987/1988) dollars to buy tickets, rent a tuxedo, rent a limousine, eat at a fancy restaurant, and buy other stuff just for a dance or the fact that I was largely a loser in high school and did not have a date and had no interest in going alone. Here is one hint: neither answer is wrong. In any case, I have never regretted missing a prom.


I understand Buffy wanting a special night for Willow and Oz, but did she really believe that a date with Anya was really important to Xander as well?


The Buffy/Angel Relationship I have never been a big Buffy/Angel shipper. This was in part because I started watching Buffy late in its run. Therefore, my sense of what the show is does not require Angel's presence. Furthermore, by the time I saw the early episodes, I knew that Angel had a curse that caused him to be evil if he had a moment of true happiness, and that being with Buffy gave him one. For everyone's sake, things were better when they were apart.

This is a good time to end the relationship. The characters are going to college in the next season, so the show will have to change. Angel's departure can be one more change. In fact, if it were not for the spin-off Angel, I would have been perfectly happy with him staying in Hell. He deserved it even if his soul did not.

Films Used to Condition the Hellhounds

Two of the titles are not visible. Presumably they are Prom Night II and Prom Night III as they are both missing.

Memorable Dialogue

"The prom?" Angel
"End of high school right of passage thingy. Think cotillion with spiked punch and electric slide." Buffy

"You can laugh, but I have witnessed a millennium of treachery and oppression from the males of the species, and I have nothing but contempt for the whole libidinous lot of them." Anya
"Then why are you talking to me?" Xander
"I don't have a date for the prom." Anya
"Well, gosh, I wonder why not. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with your sales pitch." Xander
"Men are evil. Will you go with me?" Anya
"One of us is very confused, and I honestly don't know which." Xander

"You were unfaithful to Cordelia, so I took on the guise of a twelfth grader to tempt her with the wish. When I lost my powers, I got stuck in this persona, and now I have all these 'feelings.' I don't understand it; I don't like it. All I know is I really wanna go to this dance, and I want someone to go with me." Anya
"Be still, my heart. Oh, wait, it is. How come I got the short straw?" Xander
"You're not quite as obnoxious as most of the alpha males around here. Plus I know you don't have a date." Anya
"I haven't settled on anyone yet." Xander
"Fine. Look, I know you find me attractive. I've seen you looking at my breasts." Anya
"Nothing personal, but when a guy does that, it just means his eyes are open." Xander

"If Anya tries to get you killed, put me down for a big 'I told you so.'" Willow

"When it comes to you, Angel, she's just like any other young woman in love. You're all she can see of tomorrow, but I think we both know that there are some hard choices ahead. If she can't make them, you're gonna have to. I know you care about her. I just hope you care enough." Joyce

"I shall be wearing pink taffeta, as chenille does not go with my complexion." Giles

"You've seen one hairy bringer of death, you've seen them all." Willow

"I'm gonna give you all a nice, fun, normal evening, if I have to kill every single person on the face of the earth to do it." Buffy

"I don't really know what to say. I understand that this sort of thing requires ice cream of some kind." Giles

"Great thing about being a slayer: kicking ass is comfort food." Buffy

"So she wished her husband's head would explode, which was great, except we were standing three feet from him at the time. What a mess. Of course, you know, during the plague, it was always parts falling off." Anya

"So then, this one time [not at band camp], a girl wished that her ex would cannibalize himself. Even I had a hard time watching that one." Anya

"Yes, thank you." Cordelia
"It looks good on you." Xander
"Well, duh!" Cordelia

"We have one more award to give out. Is Buffy Summers here tonight? Did she... This is actually a new category, first time ever. I guess there were a lot of write-in ballots, and, well, the prom committee asked me to read this: 'We're not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you, but that doesn't mean we haven't noticed you. We don't talk about it much, but it's no secret that Sunnydale High isn't really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here, ..." Jonathan
"Zombies! Hyena people! Snyder!" Sunnydale High Students
"'... but whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you or helped by you at one time or another. We're proud to say that the class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history, and we know at least part of that is because of you, so the senior class offers its thanks and gives you this.' It's from all of us, and it has written here, 'Buffy SummersóClass Protector.'" Jonathan

"For God's sake, man, she's 18, and you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it will you, and stop fluttering about." Giles


Buffy and the Law

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This page was last modified on November 17, 2012