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Next — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
May 12, 1997


Joss Whedon (story)
David Greenwalt (teleplay)

Bruce Seth Green

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Mark Metcalf as The Master
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Andrew J. Ferchland as The Anointed One
Dean Butler as Hank Summers
Jeremy Foley as Billy Palmer
Justin Urich as Wendel
J. Robin Miller as Laura
Terry Cain as Ms. Tishler
Scott Harlan as Aldo Gianfranco
Brian Pietro as Coach
Johnny Green as Way Cool Guy
Patty Ross as Cool Guy's Mom
Dom Magwili as Doctor
Sean Moran as Stage Manager


Everyone's nightmares seem to be coming true at Sunnydale high — Xander goes to class in his underwear, Giles loses the ability to read, and time flies during Buffy's surprise test. Buffy keeps seeing a young boy around campus and begins to make a link when one of the students is attacked by a strange monster who keeps saying lucky nineteen. Buffy discovers that the boy she sees is actually lying in a coma in hospital after being attacked. Buffy, Willow and Xander try to find the boy to help him wake, and discover that the monster is a nightmare projection of the boy's baseball coach, who put the boy in the coma. Buffy makes the boy face up to his fears and all returns to normal, with Xander stopping the coach from avoiding the law. — Short synopsis by angel_star.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Children (and adults, for that matter) who resort to fantasy as an escape from harsh reality have been the subject of many stories, from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan to the 1995 movie Don Juan DeMarco. And the idea of nightmares coming true is so old and has been used so many times we couldn't even begin to list all the occurrences of it here. (Just think of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters.)

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Dialogue to Die For

The Master, looking at a cross: "We are defined by the things we fear. This symbol, these two planks of wood... it confounds me, suffuses me with mortal dread."

Xander: "I'm not worried. If there's something bad out there, we'll find, you'll slay, we'll party."

Vampire Buffy: "Scary. I'll tell you something, though. There are a lot scarier things than you. And I'm one of them."

More quotes from this episode...

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  • "Why is she so Evita-like?"  Evita was the nickname of María Eva Duarte de Perón (1919-1952), a relatively obscure Argentinean actress who married political leader Juan Perón. When Perón was elected President of Argentina in 1946, she amassed a huge political following as an outspoken champion of women and the poor, and pretty much co-ran the country with her husband. She also gained a reputation as a self-centered prima donna. After her death, the dictatorial Perón rapidly lost his popularity, and he was driven out and forced to flee the country in 1956. A famous musical based on Eva Perón's life, called Evita, was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and turned into a 1996 movie starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.

  • In her nightmare sequence, Willow is dressed to sing the part of Cio-Cio-San, the title character of Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly. The selection is the famous love duet from the end of Act I, as Cio-Cio-San prepares to spend her wedding night with her new American husband, Pinkerton. Aldo, as Pinkerton, sings:

    Bimba dagli occhi pieni di malia, Child, from whose eyes the witchery is shining,
    ora sei tutta mia. now you are all my own.
    Sei tutta vestita di giglio. You're dressed all in white like a lily.
    Mi piace la treccia tua bruna Your ebony tresses are shining
    fra i candidi veli... on ivory shoulders.

    At which point Willow, as Cio-Cio-San, is supposed to sing:

    Somiglio I come like
    la piccola Dea della luna, the Moon's little Goddess,
    la Dea della luna che scende the little Moon-Goddess who comes down by night from
    la notte dal ponte del ciel... her bridge in a sky full of stars!

    (See Goofs & Gaffes)

  • "A dream is a wish your heart makes."  Who would've thought the Master would quote Walt Disney? That's a line from Disney's 1950 movie Cinderella, and also the title of a popular song from that movie written by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston.
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Goofs and Gaffes

  • After singing the line "Ora sei tutta mia," Aldo Gianfranco gestures to Willow as though it's her turn to sing, but in the piece they're singing he actually has three more lines to sing (which he eventually does) before it's the soprano's turn.
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  • The divorce of Buffy's parents was finalized in 1996, although they were separated before that. They got the divorce because, as they told Buffy, they just stopped getting along.

  • Buffy's father lives in Los Angeles, and comes to see Buffy on infrequent weekends.

  • Buffy's headstone gives the year of her birth as 1981. (See "I Robot — You Jane")

  • Guest star Dean Butler is best known for playing Almanzo Wilder in the later years of the TV series Little House On The Prairie.
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Well handled and with good performances, this episode shows off how well Buffy the Vampire Slayer uses its characters. Surprises add depth (Wendel doesn't hate spiders, he loves them; the way Buffy's and Giles' nightmares twine so neatly) and the overall plot shows how ordinary injustices can turn into world-threatening situations on the Hellmouth; that bodes well for the series' future potential. And I have to side with Xander: I don't know if it was her ferocity, the brilliant sensitivity with which SMG portrayed Buffy living out her worst nightmare, or what, but Buffy as a vampire was still definitely attractive. (9/10)
This was a wonderfully fun, intriguing, and funny episode. It reminded me a bit of an episode of Sliders. It almost seemed that the world as they know it has no laws governing reality. The characters all seemed to spend more time being scared by their nightmares than being as witty as usual; the show's normal humor and wit are still there but it seems to be toned down a little for this episode. "Nightmares" lent itself to more physical comedy and I loved it. (9/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
May 12, 1997 2.5 88 of 94 (tie)
July 20, 1997 1.7 111 of 113
July 20, 1998 2.3 96 of 110 (tie)

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