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Next — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Same Time, Same Place
October 08, 2002


Jane Espenson

James A. Contner

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
Camden Toy as Gnarl
Matt Koruba as Teen Boy
Anthony S. Johnson as Father
Nicholette Dixon as Sister
Marshe Daniel as Brother


Buffy, Xander, and Dawn go to the airport to pick up Willow, but she doesn't arrive. At the same time, Willow is arriving at the airport, but the gang isn't there to greet her. While the gang tries to figure out why Willow didn't come home, Willow tries to figure out where the gang is. While looking for Xander at the high school construction site, Willow comes across the corpse of a young man who was completely skinned. Realizing that the gang might think it was her, she gets Anya to help her with a spell to find the true culprit. She and Anya bond a little bit. Meanwhile, the gang searches for both Willow and the perpetrator of the skinning, all the while wondering if they're one and the same. They find the demon responsible — Gnarl, a demon that slowly peels and eats the skin of his victims bit by bit. When they track him down (with Spike's help), he paralyses Dawn with the poison in his fingernails. They take Dawn home and call Anya to watch over her. Anya reveals that Willow is in town after all, and she's gone to Gnarl's cave. Because Anya is familiar with Gnarl, Buffy and Xander take her with them instead of leaving her with Dawn. When they get there, Gnarl has already started on Willow, but only Anya can see Willow. Buffy kills Gnarl, and when Anya tells Willow that Buffy and Xander came to save her, she smiles through her pain. Shortly, Willow and the group can see each other. Willow tells Buffy the next day that she thinks she caused the spell inadvertently, because she was so nervous about seeing the gang and wondered whether they would connect. Buffy forgives Willow for the accident, and offers to share her strength to help Willow magically heal her wounds.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Gnarl Gnarl is the creepy green skinned demon Buffy fights in this episode. Anya clarifies that Gnarl is his name, not the type of demon he is — whether he is the only one of his kind is not stated. He secretes a poison through his long, sharp finger nails which paralyses his victims; this is useful for his hobby of spending hours peeling off and eating their skin in strips, and lapping up the blood. He likes to taunt and scare his victims during the hours in which he kills them, and right before he strikes. He seems to be exceptionally fast and agile, but his vulnerability is in his eyes; when Buffy gouges them with her thumbs, it instantly kills him. Gnarl is somewhat reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings character Gollum; Jane Espenson confirmed that this was intentional in a post at the Bronze Beta: "Collect the money on the bet. There was some Gollum in the history of Gnarl."

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Body Count

Teen Vandal
Skinned and drained by Gnarl.
Eyes gouged by Buffy.
Total: Two
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Dialogue to Die For

Willow (about the Magic Box): "I feel really responsible."
Anya: "You feel really responsible? You are really responsible!"

Willow: "So, will you help me?"
Anya (sighing): "Is it difficult or time-consuming?"

Anya: "Wouldn't it be tragic if you were here being kind of silly with your comically paralyzed sister while Willow was dying?"

Dawn: "I'm sure there's tons of stuff like this, you know, procedures we can use that don't involve magic spells, just good solid detective work. And we could develop a database of tooth impressions and demon skin samples, and I could wear high heels more often!"
Buffy: "Wow, that was so close to being empowered."

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Buffy (to Dawn): "Good on you!"
    I really wish they would never say this again. I still hate it.
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  • Spike: "Button, button, who's got the button?"
  • This is a children's game, of which there are quite a few variations. One is for a group of people sit in a circle, with one player hiding the button on their person, while another player has to try and guess who has it. Another is closer to hide and seek, where one hider conceals the button somewhere in a room and everyone else has to try to find it. (The line was also used in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.)

  • Dawn: "It's smellementary!"
  • This is a play on the Sherlock Holmes catchphrase, "It's elementary!" The character of Holmes was created by Sir Arther Conan Doyle, who wrote a series of books and stories (1887 - 1927) in which the brilliant and theatrical Holmes solves all his extraordinarily complex cases through ingenious deductive reasoning. His sober, credulous companion, Dr. Watson, narrates most of the Sherlock Holmes stories. (See the Merchandise section below for links to books and DVDs.)
          Spotted by Chris Fisher.

  • Xander: "You'll be doing limbo in no time."
  • Limbo is a game/dance of West Indian origins in which the dancers, one by one, bend over backward to pass under a pole that is lowered slightly each time they go under it.

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  • Villains, Two To Go, Grave

    This episode is more or less one giant reference to the final three episodes of Season 6, when Tara's murder (see below) pushed Willow over the edge, prompting her to load up on power and dark magick, skin and kill Warren, threaten Dawn's life, trash the Magic Box, be generally evil, and finally try to end the world. Xander gave Willow an impassioned speech in "Grave" to convince her not to end the world, part of which included reminding her about the time in Kindergarten when she cried because she broke a yellow crayon and was too afraid to tell anyone.

  • Lessons

    Willow went to England with Giles after the evil incident (see above) to train with him (and a coven of witches) in regards to controlling her powers. We first saw her there in the Season 7 premiere, "Lessons."

  • Seeing Red

    Standing at the window in her former bedroom, Willow remembers Tara being shot.

  • No Place Like Home

    Anya reminds Willow that the Magic Box was her livelihood — Giles bought the Magic Box in "Real Me," and hired Anya to work there in "No Place Like Home." When Giles moved back to England last season, Anya ran the shop.

  • Beneath You

    Anya mentions a "mix up" a few days ago, referring to the wish she granted which Xander and Buffy insisted that she reverse, and says that the reversal is what led to her having her teleporting privileges restricted. Also, Spike comments that he hasn't seen Buffy since the church, referring to the end of the last episode, when she found out that he has a soul now.

  • Fool For Love

    Spike tells Buffy that's she glowing, and wonders what another word is that means "glowing," preferably one that rhymes. This is reminiscent of the flashback in "Fool For Love," when (human) William chose the word "effulgent" to describe his crush, Cecily. ("Effulgent" means "shining brilliantly; radiant; luminous.")

  • Goodbye Iowa

    The spell that Willow and Anya do to locate Gnarl is the same one that Willow attempted with Tara in "Goodbye Iowa."

  • Fear Itself

    Willow refrains from saying "quick like a bunny" due to Anya's fear of bunnies, which was revealed in "Fear Itself."

  • What's My Line, Part One

    Xander suggests they ask some questions at Willy's Place, a bar where demons hang out, first seen in "What's My Line." (We last saw the bar in Season 5, in the episode "Family.")

  • Life Serial

    Buffy jokes that if meditation develops extra skin, Clem should cut back — Clem is a demon friend of Spike's; he's got an abundance of excess loose skin. He was first seen in "Life Serial."

  • Angel: The Ring

    Dawn browses the "Demons, Demons, Demons" database website, which first appeared on the spinoff Angel, in the Season 1 episode "The Ring."

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • When Willow enters Gnarl's cave, the lighting is relatively bright and distinctly orange, due to the fire and torches he has burning. When Buffy, Xander, and Dawn initially enter, it's much darker, and what lighting there is, is not nearly as orange. Later shots match much better.

  • When Xander and Buffy put Dawn on the couch, she is clearly face up as they begin to set her down. Yet the following shot shows her face down. Perhaps we're supposed to think that they somehow completely flipped her over as they dropped her down, but that's not how it looks.

  • Anya tells Buffy and Xander that Willow "decided [the gang] might be out in some cave," but Willow told Anya she was looking for the demon, and Anya did seem to understand that initially (in her scene with Willow).

  • Immediately after the first time we see Gnarl strip a bit of Willow's skin off, we can see that her stomach now has the initial paralyzing scratch, and two cuts of missing skin. When the gang arrives, her stomach is still in the exact same condition, though we've seen him peel at least one more strip from her stomach since then.

  • When paralyzed Willow says to Anya, "Someone came, they didn't leave me," her lips move much more than when she says her other lines, and much more than Dawn's did.

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  • In the promo for this episode, Spike was shown saying, "I mean, who doesn't like skin?", but this line wasn't aired in the episode. It looks as though it was cut from the scene with Spike talking to Willow in the basement.

  • Buffy has moved into her mom's old bedroom (which Willow — and Tara, for a while — lived in during Season 6). Willow is now living in Buffy's old bedroom.

  • The phone numbers shown in Buffy's address book under the heading "Family Numbers" are: Buffy's work (555-0101), Xander's office (555-0168), Dawn's cell phone (555-0193).

  • It seems that Giles' phone number is on speed dial on the phone in the living room.

  • The Magic Box is closed, due to Willow's trashing of it last season. It has an "Unsafe" sign on the outside, presumably because the building was structurally damaged as well as being gutted.

  • Xander comments that the blueprints for the basement have become useless, as it seems like the walls move.

  • Some demons are immune to magic (including Gnarl).

  • Camden Toy, the actor who played Gnarl, also played one of the Gentleman in "Hush" (the tall one that seemed to be the leader).

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Related Merchandise

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(I was sick when I wrote this review, so, bear with me.) Stupid Xander. Cut your hair! Also, buy a new coat with your many construction dollars! Then, maybe, we can talk about your lack of emotional growth in the seven seasons... but you're so nice when you do nice things... like drive Buffy and Dawn to school every day. Yeah, sure it's on your way, but we all know that you'd do it even if you weren't going there, too. Spike, not much this week. I wonder how long it will be until Willow, Xander and Dawn find out you have a soul. Or will Buffy keep that a secret, too? I hope this doesn't get dragged out too long. A point off for every episode it takes for the rest of the Scoobies to find out. Unless Giles and Buffy shag - that gets a 10 no matter what! Willow is the real story this week, of course, and I can say that if this is remorseful, redemption-starved Willow, I'll take it. Thank goodness she isn't all whiny! And of course, the icky monster... Gnarl. I couldn't help but think of Gollum, and be yucked out by the skin slurping. I really like Buffy right now. A lot. She is the perfect mix of silly and serious. I really liked the scene at the end of the ep with Willow and Buffy, that's what friendship and support are - being honest and being there anyway. I approve very much! thumbs up Also, did you catch all the mentions of off-screen characters? Willy, Clem, Giles... this is the kind of continuity I like to see. thumbs up (8/10)
A somewhat superior episode, at least towards the end. Gnarl was an imaginative and creepy villain, and I'm glad we seem to be returning to the old days of one-off demons who actually have a personality (ala Moloch) rather than just an anonymous monster of the week. The scene in the cave was closer to horror than the show has been in some while, and it was good to see a return to it. The first half of the episode wasn't quite so entertaining, as it was a bit slow. And why didn't Willow think something bad happened to the gang? I mean sure, at first, she would think they were avoiding her, but when they don't return to the house over night, wouldn't her natural conclusion be that something nasty had gotten them? But no, she assumes they're just being mean to her. Sometimes it's difficult to like Willow, particularly when she was being as rude and obnoxious to Anya as she was in this episode. I feel sorry for poor, mass-murdering Anya. She's obviously lonely; I guess she got closer to the Scoobies than she realised. Still Willow's flirty look gave me hope — perhaps a Willow/Anya coupling is in the mix. That would go nicely with a Xander/Spike coupling. Shake things up, that's what I say! Dawn is much better this season too; she's being allowed to grow up at last. She actually seemed to be the least whiny member of the gang this episode! It was interesting that Giles wasn't in this episode; does that mean that's the end of the scenes shot in England? In which case, you'd imagine the studio execs must be pretty pissed, since there was really nothing that couldn't have been done in California, which would probably have been a lot cheaper. Anyway, I'm not sure if this episode truly deserves an 8, but what the hell right? (8/10)
Jamie Marie:
I totally loved Willow and Anya's scenes together. Of course, I always love Anya, but their interactions were priceless. And I feel bad for Anya; she's obviously confused and very lonely. Nice touch for Buffy and Willow to switch rooms; it makes more sense that Buffy should have the "parent" room now, not to mention how hard it would probably be for Willow to live in that room. Amusing Spike scenes, though one can't help but be a little disappointed that the big Soul Reveal was followed with... nothing. Guess they're saving that for another day. I crack up every time I watch Spike give Xander that look, when Xander suggests that it's a skin-eating rock cliff. Hee. Gnarl was pretty cool and creepy, though I found his nose too comical, which hampered the fear factor a little. Still, his MO was suitably nasty. Although, much as everyone seemed to find this episode quite gory, I personally thought they could have done with making Willow's stomach a bit gorier. Besides, though I'm sure the few wounds she had would hurt like a mofo, it felt like the gang was exaggerating them in terms of true severity. That's probably just me, though. Anyway, I'm glad they're not (so far) trying to brush the whole Evil Willow thing under the carpet. I think they struck a very good balance, especially at the end, showing us that these people are still best friends and love each other, but without making it seem like everything is hunky dory. Oh, and I almost forgot posable Dawn! Too damn cute! Oh, and also: Please, someone, give Sarah Michelle Gellar a cookie! She has no boobs left! Dawn is really starting to show her up in that arena. (7.5/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
October 08, 2002 3.0 89 of 124 (tie)
December 10, 2002 1.9 103 of 135 (tie)

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