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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Selfless
October 22, 2002
7ABB05

 
Credits

Writer:
Drew Goddard


Director:
David Solomon


Regulars:
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn
James Marsters as Spike
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Guest Stars:
Abraham Benrubi as Olaf
Andy Umberger as D'Hoffryn
Kali Rocha as Halfrek
Joyce Guy as Professor
Jennifer Shon as Rachel
Cast:
Taylor Sutherland as Villager #1
Marybeth Scherr as Villager #2
Alessandro Mastrobuono as Villager #3
Daniel Spanton as Viking #1
John Timmons as Viking #2

 
Synopsis

Willow begins studying at UC Sunnydale again. While there, she encounters Anya at a fraternity house; it turns out Anya granted a wish which led to twelve frat boys having their hearts ripped out. When Willow tells Buffy and Xander, Buffy decides that she has to kill Anya, leading to an argument between her and Xander. Xander still loves Anya, and tries to save her, but Buffy ends up fighting her anyway. Meanwhile Willow summons D'Hoffryn to talk about Anya's future. D'Hoffryn then goes to the fight, interrupting it. When a guilt-racked Anya tells him she wants to undo the wish, which requires sacrificing the life of a vengeance demon to balance the scales, he grants her wish, but destroys Halfrek instead of her. He then kicks her out of the order. Interspersed with this throughout the episode, we see scenes of Anya's past — as a mortal girl with Olaf, becoming a vengeance demon, with Halfrek in 1905, and finally a flashback to "Once More, With Feeling," complete with another song.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

Willow and the Crimslaw demon Anya summons a Crimslaw demon to kill the frat boys. It's a massive spider basically, complete with webbing. It also has a mouth in it's abdomen, which it uses to rip out the hearts of its victims.


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Body Count

Crimslaw Demon
Killed by Buffy with an axe in the woods.
Halfrek
Killed by D'Hoffryn at a UC Sunnydale frat house.
Total: Two (Plus an unspecified number of Russians in the flashback to 1905. The frat boys don't count, as their deaths were reversed.)
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Dialogue to Die For

Aud: "The rapid reproductive rate of our rabbits has given me an idea. I can give the excess out to the townspeople, exchanging them not for goods or services, but for goodwill and the sense of accomplishment that stems from selflessly giving of yourself to others."
Olaf: "Ha ha ha! Sweet Aud! Your logic is insane and happenstance, like that of a troll."

Villager #1: "Run! Hide your babies and your beadwork!"

Olaf the Troll: "Stop! Stop! It is Olaf!"
Villager #2: "The troll is doing an Olaf impersonation!"
Olaf: "I am Olaf!"
Villager #3: "Hit him with fruits and various meats!"

Olaf: "Come here tiny man! You are small and toylike!"

D'Hoffryn: "The flaying of Warren Meers? Oh, truly inspired. That was water cooler vengeance. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall."

D'Hoffryn: "Isn't that just like a Slayer? Solving all her problems by sticking things with sharp objects."

More quotes from this episode...

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References

  • Aud and Olaf
  • Aud and Olaf are legendary figures from Scandinavian mythology. There are numerous conflicting reports of what the two got up to; most have them both being royalty and living in the Seventh Century. Since the Aud and Olaf we meet live in the Ninth Century and don't seem to be royalty, they are probably not intended to be the figures of legend.

  • Spike (to Buffy): "Scream Montresor all you like, pet."
  • This is likely a reference to Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The Cask of Amontillado." In the story, Montresor leads his friend Fortunato to a catacomb and, desiring revenge, traps him in. At one point near the end of the story, Fortunato shouts out, "For the love of God, Montresor!" But his screams do nothing to change Montresor's mind; he leaves Fortunato for dead. The story can be found in many collections of Poe's works, such as The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.

  • Xander: "Anything's better than breathing freon for eight hours."
  • In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Jr. aided by Charles Kettering invented Freon. Freon represents several different chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which are used in commerce and industry, their initial use being a non-toxic replacement for various rather more dangerous gasses previously used in refrigerators. The trade name Freon is a registered trademark belonging to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (DuPont). Freon, or CFCs, are now infamous for greatly adding to the depletion of the earth's ozone shield. More information can be found here.

  • St. Petersburg, 1905
  • The war with the Japanese, the Tsar's poor leadership and outdated notions of absolute rule, and the perceived influence of unsavory advisors in government (most infamously Rasputin) led to a peaceful demonstration early in 1905, St. Petersburg, at the Winter Palace. When troops opened fire on the protestors, killing several hundred, a revolution began, with several armed uprisings, army mutinies, general strikes and terrorist acts. Eventually in October the Tsar issued a new constitution for the country, limiting his own power, enshrining rights for the people, and setting up a parliament, called the Duma. These measures were successful in restoring order and ending the revolution, as most of the political organizations of the time accepted it. One of the few to not do so was Lenin's group, the Bolsheviks, and it is arguable that this failure to do so led to their success in 1917 in overthrowing the Tsar and setting up the Soviet Union, as they gained a reputation among the working classes for standing up for what they believed was right. More information on the revolution can be found here.

    Socialism/Communism, which Anya briefly outlines, is the political doctrine founded by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (it is also often referred to as Marxism), which holds that the history of civilization can be understood as a struggle between three classes: the aristocracy, the bourgeois (wealthy middle classes) and the proletariat (working classes). It held that the bourgeois would eventually overthrow the aristocracy, leading to capitalism, before being overthrown in turn by the proletariat, leading to a Communist society, the ideal. In such a society, no private property would exist, as all would be shared, and none would want for anything. Socialism is generally used to refer to milder forms of Communism. More information on Communism can be found here.

    Halfrek refers to the "Winter Mansion." Presumably this refers to the Winter Palace, the official residence of the Tsar, and the seat of short-lived provisional government of 1917. It is also home to The Hermitage, a huge art museum. It was, in fact, not razed in 1905. More information on the Winter Palace can be found here.

    Abercrombie and Fitch models
  • D'Hoffryn (about the murdered frat boys): "It's like somebody slaughtered an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog."
  • Abercrombie & Fitch, a clothing company, started life in 1892 in New York as David T. Abercrombie Co., a small shop and factory selling high quality camping and hunting clothes. In 1900 a loyal customer, lawyer Ezra Fitch convinced Abercrombie to let him buy into the firm as a partner, and the name was changed to Abercrombie & Fitch in 1904. Due to arguments between the two men, Abercrombie resigned in 1907. Fitch finally retired in 1928. Although the company has gone bankrupt and been bought out in the past, today it is a thriving business with hundreds of stores and a famous quarterly catalog which features pretty people of college age.

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Continuity

  • The Freshman

    Willow reminds Dawn that she's been to college before. She and Buffy began college at UC Sunnydale at the beginning of Season 4. Buffy dropped out in "Tough Love" to take care of Dawn, but Willow has continued.

  • Same Time, Same Place

    Xander says that he hasn't talked to Anya since the night with the Gnarl demon, referring to when Anya helped them defeat Gnarl and save Willow from him. (Apparently Xander has forgotten Anya's explanation that he wasn't "the Gnarl," just "Gnarl.")

  • Beneath You

    Xander reminds Buffy that Anya reversed a wish she had granted to turn a guy into a wormlike Sluggoth demon.

  • School Hard

    Spike refers to Drusilla, the crazy vampire who was introduced (along with Spike) in "School Hard." She was the love of Spike's un-life, and left Sunnydale in "Becoming Part Two" (though we saw her in a flashback in "Fool For Love," and she came back in "Crush," only to be rejected by Spike in favor of his unrequited love for Buffy.)

  • Innocence

    Spike tells Buffy that Drusilla used to stare at the sky while indoors. In "Innocence," Drusilla was shown staring at the ceiling (during the day, no less), and told Spike that she could see the stars and was naming all of them.

  • Triangle

    Olaf was introduced to us in "Triangle." Willow accidentally released him from a crystal that a coven of witches had trapped him in, and it turned out that it was Anya (his ex-girlfriend) who had originally turned him into a troll.

  • Villains

    References are made to Willow's skinning of Warren and her general badness at the end of last season.

  • Season Six

    Xander accuses Buffy of favoring demons who she's "boning," meaning Spike, with whom Buffy had a sexual relationship last season. He may perhaps also have been referring to Angel.

  • Becoming Part Two and The Buffy & Angel Chronicles

    Buffy reminds Xander that she killed Angel, the love of her life, an event that took place in the Season Two finale. Buffy had to shove a sword through Angel's heart in order to save the world. (Technically, this didn't actually kill him, but rather sent him to a hell dimension.) In that episode, Willow was working on restoring Angel's soul, unbeknownst to Buffy — instead of telling Buffy that Willow was doing this (so that Buffy might be able to delay until the spell was finished), he told her that Willow said to "kick his ass." His lie has never come up until now. (For a refresher course on the Buffy and Angel relationship, check out The Buffy & Angel Chronicles, the second video set released in the US.)

  • Doppelgängland and Something Blue

    D'Hoffryn was first seen in "Doppelgängland." Willow met him in "Something Blue," when a spell she did impressed him and he offered her a job as a vengeance demon. She refused, but he left an amulet with her so that she could contact him if she changed her mind, which is what she used to summon him in this episode. He was last seen in "Hell's Bells."

  • Normal Again

    Anya asks Buffy if she has any friends whom she hasn't tried to kill. As mentioned above, she "killed" Angel in "Becoming Part Two." In "Normal Again," a demon's poison made her delusional and she ended up nearly killing Xander, Dawn, and Willow. Also, in "Two To Go," Buffy fought evil Willow (though it's safe to assume that her desired result was to stop her rampage rather than kill her).

  • Once More, With Feeling

    We see a flashback to a night that obviously is intended to have taken place during "Once More, With Feeling," on the first night that everyone began singing. Anya asks Xander if the coconut thing was weird — in "OMWF," she told the gang, "We were arguing and, and then everything rhymed and there were harmonies and the dance with coconuts." Also, outside Xander and Anya's apartment we hear the neighbors singing; a man has gotten mustard on his favorite shirt, and a woman suggests that he have it dry cleaned. The next morning in "OMWF," David Fury sang a brief interlude wherein he was pleased that the dry cleaners had gotten the mustard out. (It sounds like the mustard prelude here may be sung by David Fury and Marti Noxon.) Another interesting bit is that one of the lines in her song says, "Although he can be — I'll never tell." "I'll Never Tell" was her and Xander's song in "OMWF."

  • Hell's Bells

    In the musical flashback, Anya wears the wedding dress she wore in "Hell's Bells", the same episode in which Xander left Anya at the alter.

  • Checkpoint

    Anya sings that her name is "Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins" — we first learned her full (made-up) name in "Checkpoint."

  • Older and Far Away

    Anya says that Buffy should know better than to think a sword through the chest would kill a vengeance demon. Buffy witnessed a demon shove a sword through Halfrek with no serious effect in "Older and Far Away."

  • Beneath You

    D'Hoffryn repeats this season's theme of foreboding, which was first spoken in "Beneath You" — "From beneath you, it devours."

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • In the St. Petersburg scene, Anya and Halfrek's champagne glasses continually get less and more full.
          Spotted by Marsia.

  • In the same scene, there's a shot of Anya holding her glass in hand, followed by a shot in which the glass is suddenly on the table, and then a shot of it back in her hand again.
          Spotted by Peter.

  • Halfrek refers to the Winter Mansion in Russia. She can only be referring to what is in fact called the Winter Palace.

  • In "The Wish," we learned that one can destroy a vengeance demon's powercenter (in the case of both Halfrek and Anya, a pendant), which "should reverse all the wishes she's granted, rendering her mortal and powerless again." Indeed it did reverse the wish Cordelia had granted and render Anyanka mortal and powerless; that's how she became Anya. Now, the gang doesn't remember the events of "The Wish" because it was an alternate universe, and on-screen, at least, we never saw any evidence that they were aware of exactly how that all went down. Then again, you'd think that Anya would have explained it to Xander in their time together. Plus, in "Older and Far Away," when they needed to break Halfrek's spell, Anya shouted at Buffy to get her pendant, and Halfrek was pretty adamant that no one should come near it; that should have been a clue. Then there's the simple fact that the writers should have realized that the fans would pick up on this, and might find that it reduces the "need to kill her" drama. They could have had one of the gang (probably Xander) mention/suggest it, and then come up with some reason why it wouldn't work. In short (ha!), it's jarring that this option was completely ignored, especially since the side benefit was that it would have reversed the wish that killed the frat boys.

  • Anya's hair in the "Once More, With Feeling" flashback is very very blonde — far lighter than it actually was in "OMWF." Some people have speculated that this may have been done intentionally as an attempt to further the 50s feel of the scene, but I won't be convinced of that until someone from the Buffy team confirms it. (And if they do, I'll deride the decision.)

  • In the flashback to "Once More, With Feeling," Anya overhears the neighbors singing about a mustard stain (see Continuity above). But in "OMWF," she was the first to ask of the Scoobies: "Is it just us?"

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Notes

  • We learn that Willow used magic to ace her final exams last semester.

  • Anya's name as a human was Aud. She came from Sjornjost (this seems to be made up — or possibly is no longer meant to exist), and became a vengeance demon in 880 A.D.

  • Some people think the fact that Anya (Aud) came from Sjornjost means that it was a goof in "Tough Love" when Giles said to her, "I suppose you are [American], in a matter of speaking. You were born here — your mortal self." However, clearly he was referring to her "rebirth," when she lost her powers and became human again (hence the use of the phrase "in a matter of speaking."). And he was right — regardless of where she was born 1122 years ago, "American" would be the most accurate description of her current nationality. It's very unlikely that the line was originally meant to indicate where she was originally born.

  • Jennifer Shon, who plays the girl humiliated by frat boys in this episode, played Rachel, a student who was in class with Buffy and Willow in "Life Serial." She's not named in the episode, but is called Rachel in the shooting script, and thus can probably be considered the same character.

  • New writer Drew Goddard said at the Bronze Beta that he's been a Buffy fanatic since the early days. That would explain his impressive use of continuity. (Visit the Bronze VIP Posting Board Archives here.)

  • Joss Whedon reportedly wrote Anya's song overnight. According to Drew Goddard at the Bronze Beta: "Joss wrote the song (it’s called 'Mrs.'). I can’t take any credit for it whatsoever. We were on the set of Firefly when he was directing “The Train Job” and we were talking and he said something like, 'What if we flash back to the musical…' And then the very next morning he walked in and said, 'I’ve got the song.' Sometimes I think you can start car batteries with his brain." (Visit the Bronze VIP Posting Board Archives here.)

  • For those not sure which Buffy was real (in the basement) — the shooting script refers to the second one (wearing black) as "the real Buffy."

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Music

Note: To cut down on bandwidth theft, sound files are password protected. After you click "Listen," just enter the username bg and the password 8rt at the prompt. If the password doesn't work, that probably means it's been changed; refresh/reload this page to get the new one.

  • Emma Caulfield - "Mrs." (unreleased, written by Joss Whedon)
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Related Merchandise

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Comments

Soupytwist:
"Run! Hide your babies and your beadwork!" laughing This episode was marvelous. The flashbacks were done well for comic and dramatic effect, I especially liked how the film grain was used to make the flashbacks seem really old. It was nice to establish that Anya wasn't always an evil bitca. Anya's "Fool for Love" indeed! She was so sweet back in the day. Did anyone notice how she seemed to be really smart no matter what time period she was in? At the end, when she thanked Xander for everything, that made me cry. I hope that this episode is the hallmark for Anya the way "FFL" was for Spike, in that I hope it means more story, more screen time and possibly an erotic robot episode with lots of implied oral sex. And finally, Buffy laid it on the line about being The Slayer, I even liked the Judge Dredd impersonation ("I am the law."), because I love Sylvester Stallone. Speaking of reminiscent dialogue, when Spike said "I've got no where else to go" I was seriously reminded of the only good scene in An Officer and a Gentleman when Richard Gere is face down in the mud and Louis Gossett Jr. is yelling at him. I wonder if it was intentional. But it does seem odd to me that yet another episode has gone by without Spike's soul being revealed to the other Scoobies. What is Buffy's deal? (9/10)
Elliot:
I liked this episode a lot, particularly the flashbacks to 880. Olaf is as fantastic as ever — when is he going to make a reappearance in the present day? I especially liked the subtitled laugh and...well all of his lines. I found it interesting that they made human Anya strangely literal, although I do feel cheated that we never learned the origin of the bunny phobia (well okay, not really). Did anyone else think that D'Hoffryn looked slightly younger way back when? Does this mean that vengeance demons do age, albeit incredibly slowly? The whole argument with Xander and Buffy was well written; I always find it more believable when both sides in an argument have valid points. I thought the things that were said were believable too — I found myself thinking things that one of the characters went on to immediately say. Good fight scene at the end too. My money was on demon Anya eventually being able to kill Buffy; she seemed to be winning pretty easily, especially given that not that much seemed to be able to hurt her (decapitation perhaps?). Big plus points for killing off super-annoying Halfrek also. I like the new dynamic between the newly-friendly Willow and Anya. Although the bickering was fun while it lasted, I still like the new friendship thingy. Like most people I wasn't entirely sure what to make of the double-Buffy scene. Perhaps the white Buffy was a hallucination and the black Buffy was the shape-shifting thingy? On a final note, I'm a bit sad to see what is obviously supposed to be a line under the Xander/Anya relationship. I liked them together. Someone ought to tell Mutant Enemy that occassionally relationships do work out! (9/10)
Jamie Marie:
The lack of any mention of destroying Anya's powercenter bothers me. And Anya's blonde hair in the "OMWF" flashback bothers me. Regardless, I'm now a Minion of Ultimate Drew (no. 133, if you're strangely curious). Drew Goddard simply knocked me of my fuzzy-slipper-clad feet with his debut. And hello to the very healthy dose of continuity — this man knows his stuff (aside from the aforementioned niggles, of course). Yay for mentioning Xander's lie! And, really, just yay all around. I love Anya, so an episode focusing on her makes for a happy Jamie. I love that we really got to know her better. I love that there's more to her than just a bunch of funny lines (though I always love her funny lines). I love that Emma Caulfield sings quite well. I love that Emma gave a great performance, acting-wise, hitting a variety of notes. Oh, but dude — no explanation of the bunny fear? Drew, are you taunting me? Are you leaving me to fill in the blanks? If so, please don't; instead, please give me a comedic scene wherein it all makes perfect sense (I won't mind if you use Monty Python to help you along). But Olaf... that is hilarious stuff! Aud and Olaf were adorable, and Olaf is just too damn funny. And the subtitles — "Ha ha ha" — you gotta love it. Hmm, what else was good... blood-covered guilty Anya, Old Willow, Xander trying to save Anya, Nicholas Brendon getting to do a little bit of actual acting, Xander and Buffy's argument, D'Hoffryn (he's so cool), Anya's song, killing Halfrek instead of Anya... are you getting the impression that I liked virtually everything? That's odd. (9.5/10)
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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
October 22, 2002 3.1 89 of 131
March 04, 2003 1.8 103 of 112 (tie)h

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