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Join Comixology Unlimited to read BtVS comics — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
April 17, 2001


Marti Noxon

Marti Noxon

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
David Boreanaz as Angel
Amber Benson as Tara
Clare Kramer as Glory
Charlie Weber as Ben
Troy Blendell as Jinx
Joel Grey as Doc
Todd Duffey as Murk
Andrea Gall as Customer
Alan Henry Brown as Funeral Director
Darius Dudley as Minister
Annie Talbot as Lady with Baby
Noor Shic as Lady with Rosary

Credits submitted by Paul Clement.


After Joyce’s funeral, Dawn stays with Willow and Tara and tells them that she wants to bring her mother back from the dead; they (especially Tara) insist that it cannot and should not be done. Angel comes back to support Buffy, though they both know that he can’t stay forever. Ben’s slip of the tongue reveals to Jinx, one of Glory’s minions, that the Key is in human form. Dawn steals a book from the Magic Box and prepares to resurrect Joyce, despite the witches' warnings. Spike offers to help her out of sympathy and takes her to Doc, a not-quite-human who knows how to bring the dead back to life. Doc tells them how to perform the spell, although he notes that Joyce might not be quite the same as she was. Tara notices a witchcraft book missing and realizes what Dawn is up to; Willow warns Buffy. Buffy finds Dawn too late; the spell has just been completed. Buffy, after insisting to Dawn that she shouldn't do this to their mother, reveals to Dawn that she just as scared and hurting as Dawn is. A resurrected Joyce is on her way; there is a knock at the door, but Dawn ends the spell by ripping Joyce’s photo in half. — Short synopsis by Boo.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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This episode appears to be inspired by W.W. Jacobs' short story The Monkey's Paw, a moral tale about how there's always a price to pay if you interfere with what's natural. In the story, a man is given a monkey's paw which will grant three wishes for its owner. The man wishes for £200. The next day, he and his wife find out that there son has been killed at work, and the company is giving them £200 as compensation. Some days later, it occurs to the wife to use the paw to wish their son back, but the man is reluctant, knowing that whatever might come back would be something to fear. The wife forces him to make the wish, and they wait. A knock comes at the door, and the wife struggles to get the lock open. Before she can, the man uses the paw to make one last wish — and the woman opens the door to find nothing but darkness.


The main demon of this episode was the Ghora, a three-headed creature, reminiscent of the three headed dragon King Ghidorah in various Godzilla movies. It reproduces by laying large off-white eggs with purple spots. The secondary demon was Doc, a humanoid creature with a tail and eyes that turn solid black at times, as the eyes of witches sometimes do when casting a particularly dark spell. — Noted by Denise Williams and "Godzillatron."

We also learn a little about resurrection via magic — namely that it's something good little witches don't do, that it's dangerous, and that it often results in the resurrectee coming back "wrong."

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Dialogue to Die For

Spike: "I liked the lady! Understand, monkey boy? She was decent. She didn't put on airs. She always had a nice cuppa for me. (pause) And she never treated me like a freak."

Tara: "Magic can't be used to alter the natural order of things."
Dawn: "But all you do is mess with the natural order of things."
    Good comeback!

Giles: "I can always use a hand."
Anya: "But you have a hand. A paid hand! A hand that isn't the hand of illegal child labor."
Giles (pointedly): "Anya..."
Anya (to Dawn): "But of course, it's wonderful that you find doing my job so distracting. I am unthreatened. Proceed."

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Willow: "It'll get better. I promise."
Dawn: "You don't know that."
Tara: "Sure she does. We're witches. We know stuff."
    "We're witches, we know stuff"? Surely it would be more effective, and less patronizing, for Tara to point out that she's gone through this and knows from experience that it gets better.
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  • Buffy: "Uh, what about an announcement? People are gonna be expecting a wake after the burial unless we say something."
  • In the US, a wake is a watch held over the body of a dead person (often with an open casket) prior to burial, sometimes accompanied by festivity (such as potluck dinners). Technically mourners would not expect a wake after the burial, but Buffy is probably using the term to mean a gathering at the family home after the funeral.

  • Buffy: "She said that potlucks are depressing enough as it is."
  • A potluck dinner is one to which each guest brings food which is then shared by all the guests. For example, Bob brings a tuna casserole, Susan brings meatloaf, and Jane brings brownies for dessert. Typically, these are casual events, often served in a help-yourself buffet style.

  • Minister: "We commend to almighty God... ashes to ashes and dust to dust... and give her peace."
  • The minister is reading from the burial service found in the Book of Common Prayer, which includes the commonly heard phrase "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" (that phrase is based on the Bible, Genesis 3:19: "...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return"). This part of the speech is normally read while earth is cast upon the coffin.

  • Ben: "Tell my sister I'm sick of running into her Jawa rejects."
  • Jawas are Star Wars characters described as "hooded scavengers of the Tatooine deserts." Glory's minions and Jawas wear similar monkish robes. Additional information about Jawas is available at the Official Star Wars Website.

  • Glory: "Was this the Slayer? I'll pull her wings off!"
  • A popular way to torment insects — especially flies — is to pull their wings off. Normally it's children that do this, rather than adults.

  • Doc: "Well, your mother's a good candidate, at least. Strong DNA."
  • DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the genetic material of all living things. All human cells carry two kinds of DNA — nuclear (in the nucleus) and mitochondrial (in the mitochondrion, the cell's power pack) — and mitochondrial DNA is passed down unchanged from mother to child, so Dawn's cells would in fact have a copy of at least some of Joyce's DNA.

  • Dawn:"Osiris, giver of darkness..."
  • Osiris was the lead god of the Egyptians until his brother Set, Lord of the Underworld, killed and dismembered him and scattered the pieces across Egypt. His wife and sister Isis recovered all the parts except for his "manhood," which ended up in the Nile, and resurrected him. Thus unable to give new life (although he impregnated Isis with Horus shortly after) he became Lord of the Dead and Resurrection. The Egyptians also believed that it was the lost member that caused the fertility of the Nile.

Some references by Jennifer Godwin and Denise Williams.

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  • I Was Made to Love You and The Body
  • During "The Body," we see the Scoobies dealing with Joyce's death, which happened at the end of "I Was Made to Love You."

  • Listening to Fear
  • Buffy mentions that just before Joyce's surgery, her mother talked with her about what she wanted in case of her death, if something went wrong. They had a talk at the end of "Listening to Fear," though onscreen they only talked about Dawn.

  • Family
  • Buffy says that her father's number in Spain is no good. We first hear about Hank's new place of residence in "Family."

  • Lovers Walk
  • Spike brings flowers in memory of Joyce, because he "liked the lady" and "she always had a nice cuppa" for him, as we saw in "Lover's Walk" when she made a cup of hot chocolate for him.

  • Checkpoint

    Ben tells Jinx, "you're more fun when I hit you." Ben sent a "message" to Glory in "Checkpoint" — Jinx's bruised and battered face, done at Ben's hands.

  • Band Candy

    When Giles is in his apartment listening to music and having a drink, he is listening to the same song that he and Joyce played in Band Candy.

  • Into the Woods
  • Anya offers Dawn "very amusing chicken feet" to play with. The Magic Box has had too many of them in stock since they got a delivery in "Into the Woods".

Some continuity submitted by CapnGrunge, Amy S and Marsia.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • Buffy repeatedly uses the word "wake" when stressing about how to explain that there won't be a gathering after the funeral. In America, a wake (sometimes called a viewing) involves the presence of the body (either open-casket or closed), and thus takes place before the burial, so this isn't the correct word. Mourners might indeed expect a gathering at the family home after the funeral, though.

  • As the camera pans across the photos on the wall at the Summers' home (just before Joyce's funeral) onto Buffy's room where she's sitting on her bed, you can see that there is no ceiling to her room.
          Spotted by Channa.

  • Buffy says, about whether she could have saved her mother if she'd been there at the time: "They said 'probably' wouldn't have made a difference. The exact thing they said was 'probably'." Actually, the doctor's exact words were, "It's doubtful that this could have been dealt with in time." The paramedic simply said "There's nothing you could have done."

  • This isn't necessarily a goof, exactly, but it seems a little odd that the things we learned about zombies in "The Zeppo" didn't come up at all in this episode. Specifically, Jack was a zombie who'd been raised by his grandfather so soon after his death that he had no visible "zombie-ness" — he looked and acted perfectly human. No one knew about this method? Tara, Spike, Doc? Sure, they would have had to explain some reason why Dawn couldn't do it, but with all this going on about how hard it is to raise someone from the dead, and how dangerous, and how it usually goes wrong... it just doesn't sit quite right with what we saw in "The Zeppo."

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  • Doc was humming "Peter and the Wolf" by Sergei Prokofiev.

  • Dawn mentioned three of the topics in Willow's History of Witchcraft book — the Age of Levitation, the War of the Warlocks and "Resurrection — A Controversy Born."

  • Joyce's funeral was organized by the Brown Brothers mortuary.

Some notes submitted by Jennifer Godwin and Rachel.

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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.

Music info submitted by Lucy Edmonds.

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Related Merchandise

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How do I feel about this episode? To quote a great many WDers: "Meh." While I love the end scenes of this episode, Dawn and Buffy actually talking, and Buffy breaking down, the beginning (Angel returning, again [rolleyes]) and the middle (Spike helping Dawn) don't hold up under scrutiny. I love that Spike's affection for Joyce was acknowledged. It's tough to follow an episode like "The Body" but I still think it could have been done better. I would have preferred more of the Willow/Tara resurrection dichotomy, a less cheesy Xander/Anya interlude, and more of Giles' reaction (although the scene of him listening to Cream's "Tales of Brave Ulysses" was a great throwback to season three and perfectly in character). Upon initial viewing, this was an entertaining and creepy episode, but repeated viewing make obvious the elements lacking to make it one of the classic Buffy episodes. (7/10)
Bit of a disappointment this episode, coming after "The Body." Most episodes would have been, but still, after the innovation shown in "The Body," this grates. Angel comes back very briefly, a move that makes sense for the character, but is quite boring for us, and I'm not clear on why he had to leave so soon (aside from having to appear on Angel at 9). He left to give Buffy a normal life; by this point that's starting to look like a lost cause, so why he still has to leave I don't know. Good parts? Doc was well played by Joel Grey, and I found it interesting that while Tara condemned resurrection spells as morally wrong, Willow was more concerned with the fact that they lacked the expertise to do them... The part with Joyce returning to the house was creepy and well done also. Aside from that and the odd one liner from Spike and Anya this episode didn't have much of interest. A boring funeral scene, a boring Angel scene, a mediocre fight scene and much Dawn whining (although for once I felt more on her side than Buffy's) don't leave me loving this episode. The scenes with Glory were amusing and obviously move the season arc forward, but I really felt they didn't belong in this episode, and the episode should have just been concerned with the funeral. Didn't Joyce deserve a full two episode requiem? (6/10)
Jamie Marie:
Hmm. This is one of those episodes where I don't really have much of an opinion. Which is probably not exactly a good thing. There was nothing really bad about it. The funeral scene was fair; certainly not up to par with the emotion of "The Body," but fair. I did like Angel and Buffy's scene(s) together, especially when he first arrives and Buffy just takes his hand in silence. I thought Dawn's actions, while arguably stupid, were completely understandable. When you're 14 and your mother is taken from you, and you live in a world where things like resurrection are possible, it's natural to want to try it. As usual, Anya provided some great humor. One line that makes me laugh every time is in the Magic Box, when a customer comes in and she approaches them with, "Hello customer! I'll help you!" (It was off camera and kind of in the background, so you might not have noticed it.) Jinx and Glory, amusing; Doc, interesting; Spike and Dawn together, cute. The closing scene between Buffy and Dawn was good; Sarah can always make me cry. All in all, a fairly average episode that doesn't really stand out in any way. (7/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
April 17, 2001 2.7 89 of 132
July 11, 2001 1.5 103 of 135 (tie)

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