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Next — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Listening to Fear
November 28, 2000


Rebecca Rand Kirshner

David Solomon

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Amber Benson as Tara
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce
Charlie Weber as Ben
Bailey Chase as Graham Miller
Nick Chinlund as Major Ellis
Kevin Weisman as Dreg
Randy Thompson as Doctor Kriegel
Paul Hayes as Older Night Watchman
Keith Allan as Skinny Mental Patient
Erin Leigh Price as Vampire Chick
April Adams as Nurse Lampkin
Barbara C. Adside as Creature
Debbie Lee Carrington as Creature


When a released mental patient winds up killed by an alien come to earth via meteor, the Scooby Gang investigates and Riley secretly calls the military for help. The gang discovers that the alien is a Queller demon, which kills crazy people, and must have been summoned (they assume by Glory). Meanwhile, Joyce — whose condition is causing her to have momentary periods of incoherence — goes home rather than wait in the hospital for her surgery. When the Queller follows Joyce home, Riley rushes to save her, but misses the action. Buffy, with Spike's help, has already killed it. Elsewhere, Ben explains to Dreg that he summoned the Queller to clean up Glory's mess, as he's done all his life.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Queller Demon According to Xander’s book, primitive people used to believe that the moon was a cause of insanity. Sometimes they would pray to the moon to send a special meteor to fix the problem the moon had caused. These meteors were expected to quell the madmen, which they did, due to the Queller Demon which arrived inside them. The Queller, which looks rather like a large cockroach with an ugly face, hunts out the insane and 'quells' them by vomiting slimy fluid into their mouth, causing death by suffocation.

Although the Queller Demon appears to be a fictional creation by the writers, interestingly, there is a legend of a Demon Queller. Supposedly in eight Century China a brilliant physician named Shoki was rejected by the Emperor because of his ugliness. Shoki committed suicide in shame, and the remorseful Emperor ordered him buried in great honor. In gratitude, Shoki’s spirit protected future Emperors from demons.

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Body Count

Anonymous Vampire
Staked by Willow in a cemetery.
Anonymous Vampire
Staked by Willow in a cemetery.
Released Mental Patient
Slimed by the Queller in the woods.
Five Mental Patients
Slimed by the Queller in their hospital room.
Queller Demon
Stabbed by Buffy at her house.
Total: Nine
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Dialogue to Die For

Buffy: "Mom, what are you doing?"
Joyce (angrily): "I'm making breakfast. You shouldn't eat anymore, you're disgustingly fat!"

Xander: "I still don't get why we had to come here to get info about a killer snot monster."
Giles: "Because it's a killer snot monster from outer space. (pause) I did not say that."

Joyce: "That Dawn... she's not mine, is she?"
Buffy (after long pause): "No."
Joyce (after another pause): "She's... she does belong to us though?"
Buffy: "Yes she does.
Joyce: "And she's important. To the world. Precious? As precious as you are to me?"
(Buffy nods.)
Joyce: "Then we have to take care of her. Buffy, promise me. If anything happens, if I don't through this—"
Buffy: "Mom."
Joyce: "No, listen to me. No matter what she is, she still feels like my daughter. I have to know that you'll take care of her. That you'll keep her safe. That you'll love her like I love you."
Buffy (crying): "I promise."

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Riley: "I wouldn't touch that stuff in his mouth if I were you."
Major Ellis: "Toxic?"
Riley: "No. Just messy."

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  • Dawn: "There's a girl at school told me that gelatin is made from ground-up cow's feet, and that if you eat Jell-O, there's some cow out there limping with no feet."
  • Dawn isn't as far off as Buffy would have you think. Gelatin is a protein which is obtained from collagen, typically from cows’ bones and skin. The bones and skin are immersed in acid, and the eventual solution is processed to make gelatin.

    Jell-O is a specific brand of gelatin dessert. It's common to refer to all gelatins as Jell-O, kind of like Kleenex.

  • Willow: "Oh, I feel just like Santa Claus... except thinner, and younger, and... female. And, well... Jewish."
  • Santa Claus is the legendary figure who is the traditional patron of Christmas in the United States and other countries. His popular image is based on traditions associated with the 4th-century Christian Saint Nicholas. You can read about the history of Santa Claus here.

  • Willow: (about history class): "We're doing World War One now."
  • Surely you've all heard of this war, fought primarily between Britain, France, and later the USA, against Germany, from 1914-1918.

  • Willow: (looking at the stars): "That's Canis Minor, and Cassiopeia."
  • Canis Minor is "the lesser dog," one of Orion’s hunting dogs. Cassiopeia is Andromeda's mother from the legend of Perseus. Both of these stars are most visible in North America between November and March.

    A Pinata
  • Xander (about the meteorite): "Festive piñata? Delicious candy?"
  • Italian in origin, Piñatas are cardboard or papier-mache figures with candy inside. Generally used at children's birthday parties (or, in some Latin American countries, at Christmas), participants are blindfolded, spun around several times to lose their orientation, and then given a stick and requested to hit the piñata. When the piñata is split open the candy spills out and everyone rushes to get it.

  • Xander (about the planets): "Look at how teeny Mercury is compared to, like, Saturn. Whereas in contrast, the cars of the same name..."
  • Mercury and Saturn are, obviously, planets. They're also American car companies. Saturn is a newer company which currently sells 3 series of vehicles — the L-Series (mid-size sedans/station wagons), the SC-Series (sporty coupes), and their most popular S-Series (compact sedans). Mercury is a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, which manufactures mid-to-full-size sedans and sport utility vehicles.

  • Willow: "The most recent meteoric anomaly was the Tunguska blast in Russia in 1917."
  • This was a real event, although in fact it occurred in 1908. (See Goofs and Gaffes.)

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  • Season Five

    Joyce's illness has been a running plot-line this season, since "Out of My Mind."

  • Shadow

    Riley first let a vampire feed off of him last week, in "Shadow." He obviously liked it.

  • No Place Like Home

    The mental patient released from the hospital is the night watchman that Glory attacked in the empty warehouse. In "NPLH," he mentioned his wife and two daughters, who are with him at the hospital in this episode. Also in "NPLH," the fact that Dawn is the key (and thus not a real human) was explained.

  • Prophecy Girl, Doomed, and Real Me

    Willow says she doesn't want to be the one who finds the bodies anymore. This has happened to her in "Prophecy Girl" (the students in the audio-visual room), "Doomed" (the student in the dorm room), and most recently, "Real Me" (the magic shop owner), off the top of my head.

  • Season Four

    Riley used to be in the military working for the Initiative. Key episodes: "The Initiative," "The I in Team," "Goodbye Iowa," "New Moon Rising," and "Primeval."

  • Real Me

    Dawn refers to the crazy guy who babbled at her in "Real Me," telling her she didn't belong.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • It's not the norm for the doctor himself to respond to a call button, as Joyce's doctor does. It would normally be a nurse or intern.
          Spotted by Lori Ann Curley.

  • It's rather strange that the nurse can hear the crazy guy screaming, but not the screeching of the demon.

  • Despite it being well-established that Buffy doesn't drive (and is horrid when she tries) and Joyce probably can't (and certainly shouldn't), one of them had to have driven home, as no other explanation is given for how they got there. One could argue that they called a taxi, but nothing was mentioned.
          Spotted by Lori Ann Curley.

  • Dawn had a somewhat odd interpretation of what the crazy guy said to her in "Real Me" — what he said was, "I know you. Curds and whey. I know what you are. You don't belong here." It seems a bit of a leap to describe this as him telling her that she wasn't real. It's also interesting that she didn't mention Buffy herself telling Dawn that she wasn't her sister, but perhaps she thought it went without saying.

  • Willow mentions the Tunguska meteor explosion in Russia, and gives the year as 1917. It was actually in 1908. (See also References.)
          Spotted by Jenny.

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  • It again appears that Joss is treating Wiccanism more as a synonym for "witch" than as a religion (which it is), what with Willow still referring to herself as Jewish.

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The Scoobies fighting vamps. Riley getting sucked off by a trashy vamp girl. What a great way to open an episode! The stand out performance of this episode was Kristine Sutherland. She made me feel sad and she creeped me out. I'm glad that Joyce figured out that Dawn isn't hers. I don't know how they are going to make that work; Joyce is fiercely maternal and even if Dawn isn't hers, she will still be a lioness for Dawn. It's nice to know that Ben is more than just another potential love interest for Buffy. And the connections to Glory… Maybe this big bad won't be the disappointment that Adam and the Initiative were. It was thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, even if the Queller Demon was an X-Files reject, and Yea! for Xander making the educated guess in the library with the copy of Meteors and You! And I hope that the return of the Initiative guys means that Riley will be leaving soon, but not in a lame way. And isn't he being a secretive one with the Scoobies? They accept him into the group and consider him a friend, and he leaves them hanging on patrol and doesn't mention he's brought in Special Ops people to hunt the Queller. And I still can't believe that people thought Tara was evil. (7/10)
Jamie Marie:
As usual, I adore Willow. She's just so darn cute (I'm thinking mostly of the vampire dusting scene). Spike/Buffy interaction can almost always be counted on for great entertainment, even when brief. All of the Summers family stuff — Joyce's progressing illness, Buffy's reaction to it, Dawn's emotional confusion and turmoil, and Joyce figuring out that Dawn is something supernatural — is superb. The last scene between Joyce and Buffy had me in tears (okay, I am a sap, but still). However, the cockroach alien? Ew. And really, not so great. And why aliens? Why not stick with normal demons, unless it's something bigger and more worthwhile? The entire alien-demon plotline was bizarre and off-putting, and lessened the effect of the good stuff. (7/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
November 28, 2000 3.6 94 of 138
March 27, 2001 2.0 93 of 137 (tie)

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