Home page All episodes sorted by rank All episodes sorted alphabetically All episodes sorted by writer All episodes sorted by director All episodes sorted by season Episodes with the most polarized opinions Episodes largely forgotten by fans Best and worst streaks of episodes An analysis of what makes episodes great Buffy writers sorted by the quality of their episodes Buffy directors sorted by the quality of their episodes Seasons of Buffy sorted by the quality of their episodes Buffy characters sorted by their possible contribution to episode quality Predicted episode quality based on writer, director, characters, and when aired Episodes that are much better or much worse than predicted Tastes in episodes Episodes ranked by taste Seasons ranked by taste Characters ranked by taste Writers ranked by taste Directors ranked by taste How the results on this site were obtained Ranking important contributors Reviews and Essays Frequently Asked Questions The links page Go to the sitemap


(a.k.a. Ghosts of Repression Past)

Written by: Tracey Forbes
Directed by: David Solomon
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Leonard Roberts as Forrest Gates
Bailey Chase as Graham Miller
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Holt
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Co-Starring: Casey McCarthy as Julie
Neil Daly as Mason
Jeff Wilson as Evan
Bryan Cuprill as Roy
Jeffrey Sharmat as Drowning Boy
Jeri Austin as Running Girl
Danielle Pessis as Christy
David Engler as Initiative Guy
James Michael Conner as Scientist

Plot Summary

Buffy and Riley's bedroom activities set off latent repressed sexuality from when the house was a puritanical youth shelter.

Plot Details

The episode opened with Buffy and Riley beating up on a vampire when a demon came to rescue the vamp. After a bit more fighting, Buffy killed the demon and Riley staked the vampire. They found it curious to find a vampire and a demon working together and decided that they should tell Giles, later.

Later that night, somebody told Riley that the episode was running short, so he got up. After killing a bit of time, he went into the bathroom to find that the bathtub was dripping.

Anya rode along with Xander on his new job as an ice cream truck driver. He was trying to convince her to go to a party at Lowell House (where Riley lived) that night, but she was afraid of what the Initiative would do to an ex-demon. This discussion devolved into a discussion of Anya being afraid that Xander did not find her attractive anymore because they did not have sex the previous night for the third time since they got together.

The next day, Giles was surprised to hear that a demon and a vampire were cooperating. Riley speculated that Adam was responsible. Buffy and Riley then ran off to find a broom closet or something, to Giles's mild embarrassment.

That night, while Buffy and Riley were busy with bedroom exercises, Graham, Forrest, and Mason were wondering why it was so cold in the house even though Mason spent an hour working on a fire. Suddenly, the fire flared and burnt Mason.

Anya was wandering around town when Spike jumped at her in vamp face. He was disappointed to find it was someone who knew that he could not bite. He did startle her, so he believed that he was entitled to money anyway. She disagreed. He did notice that she was not with Xander. The two of them went to the Bronze, where they nostalgically talked about how they used to be able to hurt people. Spike proposed a bargain in which he staked Drusilla and Anya killed Xander. Neither really liked that idea all that much.

At the party, Buffy was a little distracted with Riley, so Willow took the opportunity to confess that she or Tara spilled something on a peasant top that Willow borrowed from Buffy. A pretentious male partygoer was trying to impress a female partygoer when he touched a special part of a wall and had an orgasm. Xander impressed a young woman (Julie) with either his knowledge of local history or his knowledge of reading. Buffy dragged Riley upstairs, to Graham's amusement and Forrest's annoyance.

Tara tried to convince Willow to go horseback riding with her. Willow had a bad experience with a pony when she was young, but she trusted Tara enough to go with her. However, Willow touched Tara's knee as she said that, which seemed to freak Tara out a bit.

Anya eventually brought Spike to the party, except that she neglected to say that the party was hosted by the same people who captured Spike, brought him to the Initiative to get a chip put in his head, and hunted him ever since he escaped. Xander was not happy to see them together and was jealous. He and Anya talked about breaking up and did a very unconvincing job of pretending that they were having fun apart.

Xander went to join a game of spin-the-bottle. Xander spun and it pointed at Julie. He tried a quick peck on the cheek, but she did not go for that. Instead she pounced on him and nearly choked him with her tongue. When he objected, she got embarrassed and fled into a closet and started to cut her hair.

Willow looked for Tara in a bathroom. Willow did not see her, but she did see a young man struggling under water in the bathtub. When she tried to help, he disappeared and reappeared behind her. She screamed. Riley heard her and thought that he recognized the screamer as Willow, but he and Buffy were too distracted to stop what they were doing for long.

Xander went back to the game to see if any of the participants were Julie's friends, but nobody seemed to care about her. Willow caught up with him and told him about the ghost she saw in the tub. Tara arrived and said that she did not like it in that house. Meanwhile, the bottle started spinning faster and exploded.

Xander, Willow, and Tara decided to get Buffy. This was a good idea in principle, but vines suddenly started growing and covered the door. Buffy and Riley either did not hear or chose not to pay attention to Xander and Willow.

Afterward, an earthquake scared most of the partygoers out. Spike thought it was fun until leather straps suddenly appeared and bound him to a chair. Forrest, not learning his lesson from "Hush," decided to take the elevator down to the Initiative in the middle of the quake. Graham was spouting Bible verses, so Forrest had to drag him along. Anya caught up with Willow, Xander and Tara; and they left the house together, with Xander assisting a nearly hairless Julie. Spike managed to break free and leave as well.

Outside, Xander decided that he needed to go back in to save Buffy and Riley despite Anya's objections. Spike volunteered to go with Xander, to everyone's surprise. However, he talked himself out of it. Xander decided to go in alone, but the house threw him out. He decided that it was time to find Giles.

At the moment, Giles was singing "Behind Blue Eyes" at an open mike at the Espresso Pump (assuming that it could be an open mike if there was no microphone in sight). Willow's and Anya's jaws dropped, Xander was shocked, and Tara was mildly curious.

Willow discovered the fact that Lowell House was once a youth shelter. Giles, Xander, and Anya visited Mrs. Holt, the former head of the shelter. She thought the idea of a haunting was crazy and denied that any of the children died under her care. She did say that she punished them when they were dirty, and not the muddy kind of dirty. She "baptized" the most unclean in bathtubs and cut the hair off the vain young women.

Giles concluded that the shelter residents had repressed sexuality that somehow remained at the house and came out due to all the sex going on between Buffy and Riley.

Xander and Anya returned to Lowell House while Tara cast a spell to pull the spirits away. When the spell took effect, Xander and Anya started to hack at the vines on the stairs. However, the spell did not hold for long. Xander was dragged to a bathtub and "baptized." Anya continued up the stairs, only to have her hand impaled on a vine. She rescued Xander from the bathtub, and the two of them continued toward Riley's room. They managed to open the door, only to startle Buffy and Riley.

The next day, Buffy and Riley were shocked to hear about what happened that night. They could not believe that Giles actually sang. Buffy and Riley felt a little guilty, but they were not particularly convincing when they talked about how terrible their sexathon was.

The Good

This episode gets a bad rap. It is not a great episode, but it is not terrible either. It was a lot of fun if it is not taken particularly seriously. Some people remember this episode mostly for Buffy and Riley's sexathon, I remember Giles singing and Anya's heroics more.

I appreciate the shots of condoms. It is good to show that the characters take precautions against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Bad

Giles's preachiness toward Mrs. Holt was a bit out of character, especially considering the fact that he himself tended to be quite uncomfortable with teen sexuality, including that which was going on during that episode between Buffy and Riley.

I understand what the episode was trying to do, but the details of what caused everything to happen seemed a little forced and a bit too complicated.

Overall Rank: 83

Action: 5

Buffy and Riley fought a vampire and a demon during the teaser.

An earthquake chased many people out of Lowell House.

Xander and Anya had to fight vines to get to Buffy and Riley.

Comedy: 8

Xander and Anya found that they had an audience for their fight in the ice cream truck.

Willow took a very good opportunity to confess to something happening to Buffy's peasant top.

Anya's frustration over a night of celibacy was mostly played for laughs, especially in the ice cream truck and at the party.

Spike talked himself into not risking his life to save Buffy.

Giles talked about Buffy and Riley "keeping it up."

Buffy and Riley were very unconvincing when they said that this episode's events were horrible.

Drama: 2

There is tension between Xander and Anya, but this was mostly played for laughs.

There was some concern for Buffy and Riley.

Romance: 9

Repressed sexuality spirits drove the main plot.

Buffy and Riley had a hard time keeping their hands off each other.

There was tension in Xander and Anya's relationship over a rare night of celibacy.

Character Development: 4

Anya is having a difficult time understanding that a relationship is about more than sex.

Buffy has hit a stage in her relationship with Riley where she cannot keep her hands off of him.

Riley has hit a stage in his relationship with Buffy where he cannot keep his hands off of her.

Spike has taken up scaring people out of their money.

Tara enjoys riding horses.

Willow is afraid of horses, but is willing to risk riding them for Tara.

Importance: 0

Most Valuable Player: Anya

Both Anya and Xander fought hard for the MVP when they charged into Lowell House to rescue Buffy and Xander. However, Anya pulled ahead when she rescued Xander from the bathtub despite having a giant thorn run through her hand. Tara also gets credit for her spell that allowed them to enter the house.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Giles

Willow figured out that Lowell House was a youth shelter, but Giles gets the award for figuring out all the exposition he gave outside Mrs. Holt's home.

Goat of the Week: Willow

This is a tough episode to find a Goat. Mrs. Holt caused the problem, but she did not consider it to be a problem, so she dodges the Goat. Willow gets the goat for flubbing her line of the spell, which allowed the spirits to go back to hindering Xander and Anya.

Random Commentary

If the actor who plays you is busy hosting Saturday Night Live, you will be turned into a rat ("Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered"). However, if the person who plays you is busy making a guest appearance in a spin off of your show, you get to have a lot of sex (this episode). My guess is that most characters will have a strong preference as to what the actors who play them do on the side.

Memorable Dialogue

"OK, you get fang, I'll get horny. I mean..." Buffy

"I don't understand. I'm pretty. I'm young. Why didn't you take advantage of me? Is something wrong with your body?" Anya
"There's nothing wrong with my body." Xander
"Well there must be. I saw that wrinkled man on TV talking about erectile dysfunction." Anya

"You know, you take the killing for granted, and then it's gone, and you're like 'I wish I'd appreciated it more.' Stopped and smelled the corpses, you know?" Spike

"You and I should just go do the vengeance, both of us. You eviscerate Xander and I'll stake Dru, like a project." Spike
"I don't know. I just can't, but you can go do Dru, though." Anya

"Hey, I know these guys from somewhere." Spike
"Initiative soldiers, they live here. The experiments happen in the lab under the house. It's where they kept you and put in your chip. Let's have fun!" Anya
"What are you doing? You brought me here?" Spike
"Anya, what are you doing? You brought him here?" Xander
"That's what I said. Only I hit the 'here' part." Spike
"Anya, this is crazy. We had a little fight. It just means we have to work our way through some stuff. It doesn't mean that we rebound with the evil undead." Xander

"Anya, what are you doing with him?" Xander
"We didn't have sex, if that's what you mean. That's all I do now, not have sex." Anya

"I'm just trying to tell you that we have nothing in common besides both of us liking your penis, and now I don't even have that!" Anya

"Xander, ghost boy drowning in a tub. I tried to save him, but, being a ghost already, well, I was way too late." Willow

"Anya, look around. There's ghosts and shaking, and people are going all Felicity with their hair. We're fresh out of superpeople, and somebody's got to go back in there. Now, who's with me?" Xander
"I am. I know I'm not the first choice for heroics, and Buffy's tried to kill me more than once, and I don't fancy a single one of you at all, but... Actually, all that sounds pretty convincing. I wonder if Asian House is open." Spike

"Could we go back to the haunted house, because this is creeping me out." Xander
"Does he do this a lot?" Tara
"Sure, every day the earth rotates backward and the skies turn orange." Xander

"When you called to Buffy and Riley, they didn't cry out or respond in any way?" Giles
"No, they're probably dead." Anya
"Unless they're too busy doing it to answer." Xander
"Doing what?" Giles
"You know, for a god of acoustic rock, you're kind of nave." Xander
"I didn't think you meant... In the midst of all that, do you really think they were keeping it up? Oh, for a different phrasing." Giles

"We implore you, be still." Tara
"Find it in your hearts to leave our friends passage." Giles
"Transform your pain. Release your past and... get over it." Willow

"Shut up, repressed crybabies!" Anya

"If we grow old together, remind me to skip the midlife crisis." Xander
"OK." Anya
"Come on, you have to admit, it was kind of sexy." Willow
"Please stop saying that, I'm willing to offer cash incentives." Xander

"If Riley and I hadn't gotten so wrapped up in each other, none of this would have happened." Buffy
"True, feel shame." Anya
"My girlfriend, mistress of the learning plateau." Xander

Characters in Peril


Departed Characters Remembered

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

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 25, 2012