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Join Comixology Unlimited to read BtVS comics — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
November 05, 2002


Drew Z. Greenberg

Michael Gershman

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:
Thad Luckinbill as R.J. Brooks
Brandon Keener as Lance Brooks
DB Woodside as Principal Wood
Yan England as O'Donnell
Angela Sarafyan as Lori
Riki Lindhome as Cheryl
David Ghilardi as Teacher


The day after Buffy has Spike move in with Xander, Dawn questions Buffy about her feelings for Spike. Buffy maintains that she just feels for him. Dawn is distracted by the sight of a handsome football player, R.J.. To get his attention, she tries out for the cheerleading squad — but her audition goes badly, leaving her mortified. However, when she pushes a rival football player down the stairs, R.J. takes notice of Dawn, and they go dancing at the Bronze (with Dawn wearing a lot more makeup and less clothes than normal). Buffy is startled and dismayed by Dawn's outrageously lovesick behavior. But when she sits R.J. down to lecture him, Buffy suddenly finds herself in love with him, too. The rest of the gang determines that it must be a love spell, but Willow and Anya's research is sidetracked when they meet R.J. and fall for him as well. Each girl decides to win him by proving that she loves him most — Willow by using magic to turn him into a girl, Anya by robbing a bank for him, Buffy by killing the principal for him (R.J. feels that Principal Wood is too hard on him), and Dawn by killing herself. Meanwhile, Xander and Spike figure out that R.J.'s letterman jacket is to blame, and stop Willow and Buffy just in time. They find Dawn lying on the train tracks, and Buffy races to save her in time. Dawn explains that she couldn't compete with Buffy, but she could show R.J. that he was so loved that someone would die for him. Buffy insists to Dawn that no guy is ever worth her life. The jacket is burned, after Xander and Spike steal it from R.J., and all is well.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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demon The only actual monster this week was the unspecified demon sent by D'Hoffryn to kill Anya.

Love spells have been covered on BtVS (see "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"); this is a modified version. The spell, or whatever it is, was done on the jacket itself. It's unclear whether R.J. even realized what he had (his older brother, who passed it down to him, obviously didn't), but probably not. (The shooting script does imply that he was unaware.) The jacket's origin was unknown.

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Body Count

D'Hoffyrn's Hit Man Demon
Axed in the chest by Buffy in Anya's apartment.
Total: One
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Dialogue to Die For

Dawn: "Oh my god! Iím the pushy queen of Slut Town!"

Anya: "I looked into him and I saw his soul."
Willow: "He was walking away, so, unless his soul is in his assÖ"
Anya: "A.J. is my best friend and my dearest darling."
Willow: "Itís R.J.. And what you were picking up on was his deep caring and devotion to me!"

Buffy: "Willow, youíre a gay woman! And he... isnít."
Willow: "This isnít about his physical presence! Itís about his heart."
Anya: "His physical presence has a penis!"

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Buffy (to Dawn): "You coming with?"
    If I bury it enough, will everyone stop using it?
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  • Letterman Jacket
  • The letterman jacket is an American high school tradition and, often, status symbol. Traditionally, a male high school student earns the fuzzy letter through excelling at some sport(s). The letter (the first letter of the school's name) is then sewn onto a letterman jacket in the school colors, and the boy's last name is sewn onto the back. Usually, some lucky girl(s) will get to wear it, and show off to her friends. These days, a student can letter in more than just sports (drama, dance, band, academics, etc.), and girls can get their own letterman jackets. The jacket generally has a wool torso and leather sleeves, and ain't cheap.

  • Dawn (to Buffy): "Is sitting there drinking soda some kind of Zen non-answer?"
  • Zen is short for Zen Buddhism. It is sometimes called a religion and sometimes called a philosophy, focusing on spiritual concentration. It's rather difficult to define in a couple of sentences... According to one Prof. Masunaga Reiho, "Zen is the practice that helps every human being to penetrate to his true self through cross leg sitting (Zazen), and to vitalize this self in daily life. This definition, of course, does not cover all of Zen. But, it does include the important elements. The three basic points in the definition are: 1) The practice of Zazen, 2) Penetrating to the true self, and 3) Vitalizing the true self in daily life". For more information, try the applicable Google directory or some of the many books offered by

    Laker Girls
  • Cheryl: "I mean, I could use a chair. Or we all could — like the Laker Girls."
  • The Laker Girls are the cheerleaders/dancers for the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team. You can see the current (as of this writing) Laker Girls here.

  • Dawn: (to R.J.): "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition."
  • This is a quote from a Monty Python's Flying Circus skit. (You can find a transcript of the Spanish Inquisition sketch here.) The Spanish Inquisition began with the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella; it was authorized by Pope Sixtus IV in 1478 for the purpose of uniting Spain under one religion (Catholicism) — to "purify" or drive out Jews and other non-believers. In 1483, Tomas de Torquemada became the inquisitor-general for most of Spain. He remained the leader of the Spanish Inquisition for fifteen years and is believed to be responsible for the execution of around 2,000 Spaniards. Exactly how bad it was (how many were persecuted, tortured, and/or executed) is a controversial question, but it certainly wasn't a friendly tea party. This insitution remained operative into the 19th century, and was permanently suppressed by a decree on July 15, 1834. For more information, try some books on the topic.

    Anna Nicole Smith
  • Buffy (to Dawn): "Anna Nicole Smith thinks you look tacky."
  • The infamous Anna Nicole Smith... she of blond hair, thick makeup, huge (fake) knockers, and fluctuating weight. She was a Playboy Playmate of the Year (1993) and Guess? model, but what really made her famous was her 1995 marriage, at age 26, to billionaire J. Howard Marshall, who was nearly 90. (He died 14 months later; after a court battle with Marshall's son, she was eventually awarded $88.5 million of his fortune.) She got her own reality show, The Anna Nicole Show, in 2002.

  • Buffy (to R.J.): "Not the homework, Mr. Wizard."
  • This is likely a reference to the scientist "Mr. Wizard" (real name Don Herbert) who performed experiments using everyday household items to show kids that science was something tangible and accessible to everyone. The original Watch Mr. Wizard ran on NBC for fourteen straight seasons from 1951-65, then left the air for several years. A one-season revival ran in 1971, but the show came back in force as Mr. Wizard's World on the fledgling cable network Nickelodeon in 1983. Seven new seasons were produced, stretching Mr. Wizard's legacy into its fifth decade; it then continued to air in reruns up until 2000, thus making it Nick's all-time longest running show. After his time on television, Herbert continued his educational work by writing a series of books on his favorite subject.

  • Lance (about R.J.): "Used to be all into comic books, Model UN... geek stuff. "
  • Model United Nations is an authentic simulation of the United Nations General Assembly and other multilateral bodies. Many high schools and colleges have a M.U.N. program, and over 200,000 students worldwide participate every year, by preparing for and then attending conferences (there are local, regional, national, and even international conferences). Students step into the shoes of ambassadors from U.N. member states to debate current issues on the organization's vast agenda. Student "delegates" in Model U.N. prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the U.N.'s rules of procedures. Former M.U.N. participants include actor Samuel L. Jackson and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.

  • Lance: "I've got a sort of rumpus room set up in the basement. There's air hockey and a mini-fridge."
  • A "rumpus room" is a room designated for games, entertaining, parties and such. Often found in the basement, things that might be found in the room include: couch(es), mini-fridge, mini-bar, air hockey table, pool table, TV, videogame console(s), pinball machines, etc. This obviously varies depending on the interests and wealth of the owner.

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  • Lessons and Selfless

    Buffy comments that the school basement was making Spike crazy — we first saw him there in the season premiere, and in last week's episode, Buffy told Spike to get himself out of there, but he responded that he had nowhere to go.

  • Crush through Seeing Red

    This episode was heavy on the references to Buffy's relationship with Spike. He realized his feelings for her in Season 5 ("Crush"), but it was unrequited. In Season 6 (after being yanked out of heaven), Buffy began a sexual relationship with him in an effort to feel (something, anything). She ended it in "As You Were," and Spike ended up trying to rape her in "Seeing Red."

  • Grave and Beneath You

    After his attempted rape of Buffy, Spike went to Africa on a mission to get his soul. Buffy found out about it in "Beneath You."

  • Hell's Bells

    Dawn mentions that Xander stood Anya up at the altar.

  • Selfless

    In last week's episode, Anya quit the vengeance order. (At the time, D'Hoffryn said the better punishment was to let her live.) Also, Buffy jokes that she should have killed Anya, which she tried to do before Anya redeemed herself and gave up demonhood.

  • The Witch

    Dawn wears (and later shreds) Buffy's old SHS cheerleading outfit, which she had from having been a cheerleader for about five minutes in Season One.

  • Real Me

    Xander reminds Buffy that Dawn used to have a crush on him, which was showcased in "Real Me." (Xander also mentioned it in "Crush.")

  • The Body

    Buffy lashes out at Dawn by saying that she's glad their mother isn't there to see her; Joyce died of an aneurism in "The Body".

  • Season Two and Season Three

    Buffy refers to Principal Snyder, who was the SHS principal for two seasons, until he was eaten by the Mayor (who had become a giant snake demon).

  • Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

    Xander has fond memories of when a love spell gone wrong resulted in all the women in Sunnydale madly chasing after Xander (and nearly killing him).

  • Innocence

    The rocket launcher that Buffy takes out of the Jeep may be the AT4 she used on the Judge way back in "Innocence." (See Goofs below.) At any rate, that was the first and last time we saw any similar weapon until now.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • A letterman jacket normally has the owner's last name sewn on the back. Neither R.J. nor O'Donnell have their last names sewn on theirs. Note: One reader informs me that in the city she's from (in central California, no less, as is fictional Sunnydale), they don't participate in this tradition. So, perhaps not a goof after all.

  • Buffy's old cheerleading outfit went through some magical transformations while stored in the basement. The sweater used to be long-sleeved; now it's elbow-length. (Nope, you can tell that the sleeves aren't simply pushed up. Though you could argue that Dawn/the costumers cut them off for some strange reason.) The sweater was also longer on Buffy, but Dawn is taller, so you can explain that away well enough. However, there's no justification for the skirt — the stripe on Buffy's skirt was white-yellow-white, but Dawn's is yellow-white-yellow.

  • When Dawn is sitting in the principal's office, her bag is hanging over the back of the chair. When she gets up and leaves, she doesn't take her bag. But when you see her walking down the hallway in the next shot, she has her bag again. (One could imagine that offscreen, Buffy or Wood alerted her and she went back for it.)
          Spotted by Agnes.

  • There are a few potential goofs involving the rocket launcher Buffy attempts to use on Principal Wood. Firstly, is this the same M136 AT4 that she used in "Innocence"? Those are single-use disposable weapons, so if it's supposed to be the same one, that's a goof.

    Secondly, if it's not the same one, where did she get it? Actually, it's fairly easy to come up with some good answers to this question, so we can disregard that, but the bigger question is: If she's had it since Season 2, or if she's known where to get such weapons, why haven't we seen it until now? It could have been useful, for example, in the fight against Glory.

    (I should note that I personally am not terribly bothered about the above issues... I'm pretty happy just to write it off as filler-episode creative license. We're obviously not supposed to think too hard about it, which is okay by me in this case.)

    Thirdly, the weapon she takes out of the Jeep is pretty small, and certainly seems to be an AT4. But AT4s are not extendable, yet the weapon she aims at Principal Wood, and fights with Spike over, is much larger — possibly an SMAW.

  • After Buffy grabs Dawn on the train track, the camera cuts to a different angle, where you can clearly see that they were simply standing still, to the side of the track, and jumped sideways.

  • Spike's reflection can be clearly seen in the store window just before he and Xander carry out their "plan."

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  • Buffy obviously told the gang about Spike's soul-having offscreen.

  • Anya's apartment number is 24.

  • One of the high schools in Sunnydale's football district is Highland.

  • One of Sunnydale's banks is Sunnydale Securities Bank.

  • Thad Luckinbill (R.J.) talked about his experience on BtVS in Soap Opera Digest (he plays J.T. on The Young and the Restless): "It was a great experience," he grins. "Coming in as a guest star, everyone on set was open and welcoming. I played a character who had this jacket that was under a magic spell, and because of that, I became a love interest for all the girls. Everyone became infatuated with me, so that was pretty fun. Sarah Michelle is fabulous. She, more than anybody, can appreciate what it's like to come from soaps, so she was great to work with. We also have mutual friends, so that made it really easy. And Michelle Trachtenberg was a total joy."

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A good old school BtVS this, not just in tone but also in the look of many of the cast; Buffy in particular looked almost exactly like season 2 Buffy, if season 2 Buffy had spent the last year locked in a basement in Somalia living off one saltine cracker a day. Iíve always rather liked the more comedic episodes, like "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", and "The Witch" (both of which obviously inspired this episode — I guess BtVS has reached the point when it is old enough to start cannibalising itself), whereas most viewers seem to enjoy the miserable, depressing episodesÖ then of course they complain that Season 6 was too depressing. I guess some people are never happy; particularly the miserable, joyless individuals who didnít like this episode. These are probably people who didnít find The Shawshank Redemption uplifting, and like to crush little kittens or something. The first section of this episode was a bit difficult to watch — Iíve never found humiliation that easy to watch. Iím thinking especially here of Dawnís cringe worthy attempt to be a cheerleader. Once that part was over, the episode picked up. All of the Xander and Spike scenes were good, particularly the scene round at that saddoís house; has there ever been a more accurate depiction of what happens to idiot sports players after high school? The final montage of the girls trying to impress R.J. in various ways was very good. Except for the astoundingly obvious stunt jump Buffy and Dawn did away from the train — that was crap. I did admittedly get fairly sick of hearing the tune to A Summer Place, but then not nearly as sick as I got of Mozartís music while watching Amadeus yesterday, so thatís an upside. That girl who attacked Dawn outside the Bronze was an unbelievably bad actress and ought never to get acting work ever again. The R.J. actor was merely mediocre. So in some attempt to sum up the mainly disconnected series of sentences above, letís say this wasnít exactly one of the best episodes ever, but it was certainly the most fun one since "Tabula Rasa." If it wasnít for the first embarrassing section, Iíd be giving this a 9. (8/10)
Jamie Marie:
A lot of people hate this episode, and think it's crap. These people are what I fondly like to call wrong. Seriously though, I don't get it. This is like classic old-school Buffy — how can you not love that? I know some people are really uncomfortable with embarassment humor, and I get that, but that's not a reason to despise an entire episode. It makes me uncomfortable too, and on the initial viewing, some of Dawn's scenes made me squirm more than laugh. But on further viewings, they got easier to take and thus more funny. Besides, there wasn't that much of that anyway. All in all, I thought this was one of the funniest episodes in a long time, and it had a really comfortable, "good ol' BtVS" feel to it. Sometimes it's nice just to relax and wallow in a bit of silliness. I especially love the scene at the Bronze (who knew Dawn was so hot?), Spike and Xander at what's-his-face's house, all of the split screen stuff, and Spike and Xander's "plan" (one of the funniest little moments in history)... but really, I liked pretty much all of it. Plus, that R.J. guy was a cutie. It may not be one of the Best Episodes Ever (a la "Becoming 2," "Restless," "Hush," "OMWF"), but it is one of the most enjoyable, and one of my favorites. (9/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
November 05, 2002 2.9 89 of 127 (tie)
March 11, 2003 1.7 108 of 116

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