It's soon after the events of "Primeval," and Buffy and the others are at her house. It is night, and Buffy is saying goodbye to Riley who is on his way to a debriefing regarding Initiative. Buffy is worried about him, but he assures her they're not gonna make him disappear. With Graham and many of the other commandos testifying that they're alive because of him, he thinks he's likely to get off with an honorable discharge.
Xander walks into the room announcing dinner is served. Willow teases him about how difficult it must have been to punch the "popcorn" button on the microwave, but it turns out Joyce had to help him with that when he hit the "defrost" button instead. Riley says goodbye to everyone and tells Joyce it was nice to meet her. "It was nice meeting you . . . finally." she says. As soon as he's gone she tells Buffy, "Did you notice how pointedly I said 'finally'?" Buffy just says no and heads to the living room where Xander has a stack of videos waiting. Giles asks Joyce if she'd like to join them, but she's tired and surprised that they're not. They still haven't slept after performing the enjoining spell and figure it'll be a while before they'll be able to. Xander votes that they see Apocalypse Now first but assures the others that he has plenty of chick and British guy flicks to last them all night. Joyce goes upstairs and Xander pops in the first tape.
By the time the "FBI" warning comes on the screen . . . they're all asleep.
We take a look into Willow's dreams first. She's in Tara's room. Tara is lying on the bed and Willow is using a calligraphy brush to cover her back in Greek letters. Tara is watching Miss Kitty playing with a ball of red string and is worried that Miss Kitty hasn't told them her name yet. Willow tells her she will; she isn't grown yet. Tara tells Willow that Willow doesn't know everything about her, and Willow asks her if she told Willow her real name. "Oh, you know that," Tara says. Then she warns Willow that "they" will find out about her, but Willow doesn't have time to worry about that. Tara reminds Willow that she's never taken drama before and shouldn't be late, but Willow doesn't want to leave. She pushes aside the curtain to look out at a dry landscape. "There's something out there."
Willow is walking down a corridor at the UC Sunnydale campus where she sees Xander and Oz. Oz heard she was taking drama and tells her it's a tough course. "You took it?" she asks. "Oh, I've been here forever," he says. As she works the combo on her locker, Xander wonders if she was doing spells and tells Oz that she does spells with Tara. Oz says that he's heard about that. The bell rings and Willow hurries off because she's going to be late.
She arrives backstage to find everyone busy, already in costume preparing for tonight's show. An ecstatic Harmony in a milkmaid dress rushes up to her excited about their first production. Willow is confused. An equally excited Buffy, dressed as a flapper from the 20's runs up and tells her that the place is packed and that Willow's entire family is in the audience and they look really angry. Willow is still trying to make sense of it all and Harmony thinks she has stage fright. "But isn't this the first class?" Willow asks. Riley walks up saying she would have gotten a better part if she showed up on time; he's happy that he gets to be Cowboy Guy. Buffy tells Willow that her costume is perfect and no one will know the truth about her. "Costume?" Willow says. "You're already in character," Buffy pouts. "I should have done that!" Willow points out that they haven't even had class or rehearsal.
The play's director, Giles, calls for everyone's attention. He's full of excitement, informing them that everyone Willow's ever met is out there. Willow notices something crawling in the shadows behind the others. As Giles continues his rousing speech, a vamped out Harmony is behind him snapping her fangs at his neck, annoying him. As the cast breaks up, Willow sees a bald man in glasses who shows her cheese slices lined across a small table. She walks into the stage curtains where she finds Tara, who asks if things are going well. Willow tells her she doesn't think they're doing drama class the proper way. "And why is there a cowboy in Death of a Salesman anyway?" "You don't understand yet, do you?" Tara asks. Willow wants to know if something is following her and Tara tells her there is. She warns Willow that everyone is starting to wonder about her, the real Willow, and if they find out they'll punish her.
On stage the play has already started. Tara is suddenly gone. Willow is calling out to her when a jagged, blood stained dagger stabs through the curtains at her. Screaming, Willow falls to the floor as a hand claws at her and she hears a savage growling. Then another hand reaches in to grab her and Buffy pulls her out of the curtains into an empty classroom, asking her what it looked like, but Willow didn't see what attacked her. Buffy thinks she must have done something wrong. "No. I never do anything. I'm very seldom naughty. I just came to class and the play was starting." Buffy informs her that the play is long over and wonders why Willow is still in costume. "Okay, still having to explain wherein this is just my outfit." Willow says. Buffy tells her everybody already knows and wants her to take it off. Willow doesn't want to; she needs it. Buffy rips it off her and sits down at a desk in the suddenly full classroom. Willow is standing in front of them looking exactly how she did in the very first episode. Harmony asks the class if they're all clear on this. Anya thinks it's a Greek tragedy. Oz is sitting beside Tara whispering in her ear. "I tried to warn you," he tells her. Willow is about to give an oral book report. "Oh, who cares!?" says a loud Xander. Oz is still whispering in Tara's ear, which she seems to enjoy. As Willow begins, she is knocked to the floor by the thing that was stalking her. She cries for help, but everyone acts as if nothing's wrong. Willow is bitten on the neck and her flesh starts to shrivel and her eyes start to fade completely white.
In Buffy's living room, Willow gasps for air in her sleep.
Xander wakes up and asks if he missed anything. Buffy and Giles are munching on popcorn watching Apocalypse Now, which Giles thinks is overrated. Xander tells him it gets better. Buffy offers him some popcorn and he notices Willow still struggling to breathe and asks what's wrong with her. "Big faker," Buffy says. Xander has to pee and heads upstairs, where he finds Buffy's mom standing in the doorway of her bedroom in a flimsy red robe and nightgown. He asks if they're making too much noise downstairs. Joyce tells him they left a while ago. He says he should probably catch up with them, but Joyce thinks he should rest . . . in her bed. Xander would like that, but he still needs to go to the bathroom. She tells him not to get lost. When he's standing over the toilet he realizes he's not alone. The bathroom is in a large chamber in the Initiative and several commandos and scientists are watching him. "Okay, we'll find another bathroom." He crosses the hall and opens the door to find himself in his basement. Someone is trying to open the door at the top of the stairs. "I didn't order any vampires," he calls up. Realizing that's not the way out, he leaves the basement.
He walks into a park. It's a sunny day. Giles is swinging on the swings with Spike, both of them wearing tweed suits. Buffy is playing in the sandbox. "There you are," he says. Buffy asks if he's sure it was them he was looking for. Spike informs Xander that Giles is teaching him to be a Watcher. Giles tells him Spike is like a son to him. Xander says he was into that for a while but now has other stuff going on. In the parking lot, he sees himself in the ice cream truck selling ice cream to a group of kids. He needs to keep moving forward. "Like a shark," Buffy says. He's worried that Buffy might not be safe in such a big sandbox. She's suddenly sitting in the middle of a vast desert but tells him she's okay. "It's not coming for me yet." He warns her there's some stuff she can't protect herself from. "I'm way ahead of you, big brother." "Brother?" he says, and they just stare at each other. Giles urges Spike to swing higher.
In the ice cream truck, Xander is watching himself and the others in the park. Then he moves to the front, behind the wheel, but the truck is already in motion down a suburban street. Anya is sitting next to him and asks if he knows where he's going. She's been thinking about getting back into vengeance, feeling it's going to be a big year for vengeance. He doesn't like the sound of that, and Anya accuses him of not wanting her to have a hobby. He's trying to talk her out of it when he hears giggling in the back and sees Willow and Tara in heavy make up and revealing clothing, holding each other. "Do you mind? I'm talking to my demon," he says. They apologize and say they think he's interesting. He assures them he is indeed going places, but Willow's way ahead of him. "Watch this," she says, kissing Tara long and deep (off screen; we hear only the sounds of the kiss). Xander can't take his eyes off them. Tara invites him to join them. Anya permits him to go. Xander moves to the back and climbs over the freezer through a narrow space, and emerges in his basement again. Someone upstairs is still trying to get in. As he leaves the basement he runs into the bald man, holding up a plate of cheese slices. "These will not protect you." The door upstairs is kicked in and Xander runs out of the basement.
He rounds the corner into a corridor on campus. Looking back he sees something creeping behind a bunch of students. He finds Giles and asks what's after him. Giles tells him it's because of what they did. The others have already gone ahead, and Giles is about to tell him something that his life may depend on, when his voice is suddenly replaced by dubbed French. Xander doesn't understand and Giles gets upset, still being dubbed. Anya walks up to him but she is also being dubbed in French. They start dragging him with them and he tries to resist, but a couple of students and commandos also grab him and start carrying him away.
Xander is being led through a jungle by an armed soldier into a dark room where he kneels on the floor, hands tied behind his back. He's in a scene from Apocalypse Now, with Principal Snyder in the Marlon Brando role lying on a cot in the dark. He asks Xander where he's from. "Well, the basement mostly," he replies. Snyder goes on to tell him how he saw a bunch of students at the guidance counselor's office waiting to be shepherded and he remembered smelling dead flowers, realizing the hope of the nation's future is a bunch of mulch. "You know, I never got to tell you how glad I was you were eaten by a snake." Snyder asks Xander where is he heading. "Well, I'm supposed to meet Willow and Tara. And possibly Buffy's mom." Snyder tells him he's running out of time, that he's a whipping boy, raised by mongrels and set on a sacrificial stone. Xander tells Snyder he's getting a cramp and stands up.
He's suddenly standing in the courtyard of Giles' apartment building. There is something crawling on all fours on top of the steps and Xander runs into Giles' apartment to find him, Buffy, and Anya standing over Willow who is still gagging. He tries to warn them that "it" is here, but their attention's on Willow. "It's more serious than we thought," Giles says. "I can fight anything, right?" Buffy asks. Xander runs down the hallway and finds himself in Stevenson Hall. He hurries to Buffy's dorm room but doesn't find her there. He hears the creature growling from somewhere behind him and ducks inside Willow's closet, heads down a long dark passageway, and emerges in his basement once again. Someone is still pounding on the door atop the stairs. "That's not the way out," he whispers, and the door bursts open to reveal a man in the doorway. It's Xander's father, who's angry with him, accusing him of not coming upstairs because he's ashamed of his family. Xander tells him he doesn't understand. His father walks downstairs. "You haven't got the heart," he says, and shoves a fist into Xander's chest. His father is now the creature that was chasing him and it rips his heart out.
In Buffy's living room, Xander arches back in pain. Giles is next.
Giles is standing in front of Buffy, who is sitting in a chair in his empty apartment. He is in his Watcher-tweed suit swinging a pocket watch in front of her face, telling her to stop thinking, let it wash over her. She thinks this is a little old-fashioned but he assures her this is how men and women have behaved since the beginning. "Now look into the light." But Buffy can't keep a straight face and starts giggling.
It is night and Buffy is skipping happily pulling Giles by the hand into the cemetery, eager to get to the carnival. Olivia is walking by his side, pregnant and pushing an empty stroller. "Does she always want to train this badly?" she asks him. Giles tells her apparently Buffy never heard the fable about patience, "the one about the fox and the . . . less patient fox." Buffy stops in front of one of the game booths hopping up and down, wanting to play. He lets her and Buffy throws a ball at a fake vampire but misses. "Buffy, you have a sacred birthright to protect mankind," he says. "Don't stick out your elbow." Buffy knocks the vampire down with the next ball and is very pleased with herself. "I haven't got any treats," he tells her. Olivia thinks he's being too hard on her, but he says this is his business. Buffy's prize is cotton candy, which Giles warns her she'll get all over her face. Buffy looks at him with a stoic expression, her face covered in a gray clay. "I know you," he says.
Giles turns when Spike calls to them, motioning them inside a crypt, saying they're going to miss everything. Giles is shoved inside, and Olivia, who looks to be experiencing a contraction, is already there. Giles claims he has a great deal to do. Spike is standing in front of a group of people who are taking pictures of him while he strikes poses. He's hired himself as an attraction. "Sideshow freak?" Giles asks. Giles wants to know what he's supposed to do with all this. Spike tells him he needs to make up his mind and stop wasting time. "I still think Buffy should have killed you," Giles says, and runs into the bald man. He has cheese slices on his head and shoulder, telling Giles, "I wear the cheese, it does not wear me."
Giles leaves the crypt and is walking through the Bronze now. He finds Willow and Xander sitting in front of the stage, where Giles' furniture has been moved. They are going through his old books. Giles has a book in his hand as he sits down next to them, apologizing for being late, and tells them there's a lot happening at once. "Don't I know it," Willow says. "Only at death's door here!" She points to the gaping wound in Xander's chest. On stage, Anya is trying to tell a joke. Willow tells Giles this is all his fault; that some animal force something primal is after them. Anya completes the joke and actually gets a laugh from the audience. Willow says he must have some kind of explanation.
Giles starts singing as he thinks about it, that they've never faced anything like this before. He climbs up on stage to the microphone and is accompanied by Four Star Mary, and Christophe Beck on piano. Giles feels that it's familiar somehow. He realizes that the enjoining spell must have released some primal evil. He needs to warn Buffy because she'll probably be next. He wants Xander to help Willow go through the chronicles but not to bleed on his couch because he's just had it steam-cleaned. Then it seems he actually knows what might be behind all this but the microphone gives off feedback and he traces the cord backstage, where he finds his pocket watch in a tangle. He realizes the trap he was lured into and the wild creature is standing over him. Giles, though frightened, thinks that he can cripple it with his thoughts and intellect. "Of course, you underestimate me. You couldn't know." The creature starts to slice open his head with its knife. "You've never had a Watcher."
In the living room, Giles starts having spasms in his sleep, dropping his glasses.
Buffy is sleeping in her dorm room when Anya tells her to wake up. She sees Anya in Willow's bed and tells her she's not in charge of these things. Anya continues to plead with her, but Buffy needs her beauty sleep and turns on her back. The creature is hanging from the ceiling above her and growls at her.
Buffy wakes up in her own bedroom at home. Then she's suddenly standing in her doorway looking at her unmade bed. "Faith and I just made that bed." Tara is standing beside her and asks, for who? Buffy thought Tara was there to tell her, but she does tell Buffy she lost the others. Buffy feels that they need for her to find them. She sees that the clock by her bed reads 7:30, but Tara tells her the clock is completely wrong and offers her tarot cards. Buffy's never going to use them. "You think you know," Tara says, "What's to come . . . What you are. You haven't even begun." The bed is now made. Buffy says she needs to find the others and Tara warns her to be back before dawn.
Buffy is walking through the corridors on campus looking for the others, and finds her mother living inside the walls. Joyce tells her she's fine and not to worry. Buffy doesn't think she should live in there but then catches sight of Xander heading upstairs and goes after him. She enters a large room, where Riley is sitting at a glass table with a perfectly human Adam. "Hey there, killer," Riley greets her. He tells her the debriefing went great and that he was appointed Surgeon General. Buffy tells him they could have celebrated together, but Riley is busy making plans for world domination using coffeemakers. Adam tells Riley she's uncomfortable with certain concepts. He tells Buffy, "It's understandable. Aggression is a natural human tendency. Though you and me come by it another way." Buffy insists they're not demons. "Is that a fact?" he challenges. Riley tells her they have a lot of work to do. She asks Adam what his name was. "Before Adam? Not a man among us can remember." The lights dim and a computer voice announces that the demons have escaped and they should run for their lives. Riley suggests they should make a fort. Adam will get the pillows. As they leave, the demons are closing in behind Buffy and she sees a leather bag at her feet. She tries to call out after Riley and Adam that she has weapons. She opens the bag, but it is filled with gray clay mud. She starts to cover her face with it. "I thought you were looking for your friends?" says Riley, in the room again. "Okay, killer . . . if that's the way you want it. I guess you're on your own."
As Buffy walks down the corridor it opens out to a sandy hill in the desert. She no longer has the clay on her face. She doesn't think she'll find her friends here. She sees Tara walking towards her. "Of course not," she says. "That's the reason you came." Buffy knows Tara isn't in her dream. Tara tells her she was borrowed. "Someone has to speak for her." Buffy wants "her" to speak for herself. The creature a young black woman wrapped in long white cloth with a painted face circles Buffy in a prowling crouch. Buffy asks why she's following her Tara says she's not. Buffy asks where her friends are, but Tara tells her she's asking the wrong questions. Buffy tells Tara to make her speak. Through Tara: "I have no speech. No name. I live in the action of death. The blood cry. The penetrating wound. I am destruction. Absolute. Alone." Buffy realizes "The Slayer." The First, Tara tells her.
Buffy is suddenly holding the tarot cards and she sees herself with her friends in her living room watching movies. She tells the First Slayer she's not alone. "I walk. I talk. I shop. I sneeze. I'm gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There's trees in the desert since you moved out. And I don't sleep on a bed of bones. Now give me back my friends."
"No friends," the First Slayer herself growls. "Just the kill. We are alone." The Cheese Guy steps in front of Buffy holding up a slice of cheese in each hand, smiling. Buffy's had enough and says she's waking up now. But the First Slayer tackles her and they start to fight. They get back to their feet and Buffy says it's over. The First Slayer lunges at her again and they tumble down the hill.
"Enough!" Buffy shouts, and wakes up on her living room floor. She sees the others still asleep. She's about to get up when the First Slayer suddenly jumps on top of her and starts stabbing her repeatedly in the stomach. After a couple of seconds, Buffy just rolls her eyes. "Are you quite finished?" The Slayers stand up, and Buffy informs her that she (Buffy) is going to ignore her, and she (the First Slayer) is going to go away. Buffy returns to her original spot on the couch and is advising the First Slayer on hair care when
Buffy wakes up again, for real this time. Giles, Willow, and Xander also wake up. Some time later, they are gathered around the dining table and have shared their dreams. Giles figures that their joining with Buffy and invoking the Slayer's power was an affront to the source of that power. Buffy tells him he could have brought that up before they did it. He insists he did inform them that there could be dire consequences. "Yes, but you say that about chewing too fast." Joyce enters and realizes she just missed something. Willow tells her it was just the spirit of the First Slayer who tried to kill them in their dreams. Joyce thinks this calls for some hot chocolate and asks Xander, who's acting a bit funny around her, to help.
Giles asks Buffy if she's all right. She says she is, but it was little intense. As she heads upstairs to take a shower, she says, "Well, at least you all didn't dream about that guy with the cheese. I don't know where the hell that came from." Willow, Xander, and Giles just exchange a look.
Upstairs, Buffy stops by the open door of her bedroom and looks at her made bed. She hears Tara's voice again. "You think you know. What's to come. What you are. You haven't even begun."
Buffy steps away from the door.
Synopsis written by Joseph B.