Previously: Talent show! Cordy sings, a tuba player tubas, a ventriloquist and his dummy have a steamy romance (not really) and Buffy, Willow and Xander perform some Oedipus Rex. Also: RIP ballet dancer, ventriloquist and Sid the Dummy. We’ll never forget you! Except we already have!
We pan through The Evil Underground Lair of Evil aka Where the Master Hangs Out and Does Nothing All Day With That Useless Kid . Buffy walks out of the darkness and into the candlelit room, holding a stake. She looks so badass in this shot. It’s one of my favourite little moments. Her face is fierce! It’s, like, Beyonce/Sasha-fierce!Buffy walks around the cave, looking for the Master. He creeps up behind her and she whirls. The Master hisses at her and Buffy seems to panic. She freezes and slowly opens her hand, dropping her stake. The Master takes a step closer and she backs up, terrified. He ever so slowly reaches a hand out to her throat and holds her still as he reaches down to bite her. Buffy yells, “No! No!” and we cut to morning in her bed. Silly viewers, she was just having a nightmare!
Joyce wakes Buffy up from her bad dream. Buffy’s happy to be up and to go to school and also to see her Dad this weekend wait what? Dad? She has a Dad?
At school Buffy spills the beans to Willow all about her Dad: he lives in L.A. and her parents got divorced last year but split up loooong ago. Buffy thinks it’s her fault, what with all that slaying and burning down the school and stuff. It’s not like Joyce brings it up a lot or anything so I don’t know why she’d think that…
The girls go into their classroom where they find, as always, Xander and Cordelia bickering. Xander asks his pals if there was any homework and the only way he is able to recall what happened in the class yesterday is when Buffy reminds him that their female teacher was wearing a tight sweater. “Oh, the midnight blue angora! See, I was listening,” Xander quips. I assume the teacher is hot but then she walks in and this is no Praying She-Mantis, I tells you what.
Buffy drops her pencil on the floor. She bends to pick it up and sees a young, sad faced boy standing in the doorway. Before she can really register this, a student sitting next to her opens his book and a crapload of fuzzy tarantulas race out of it. PANDEMONIUM. The student is covered with them and he sits there in terror, screaming, “Help! Help meeee!”
The sad boy stands in the doorway and sadly watches. “Sorry about that,” he says, sadly. SAD.
Credits! La la la lalalalalalala
Well well well, if it isn’t the Master in his Evil Underground Lair of Evil. He’s telling Colin all about fear and how it’s the most powerful force in the human world. Colin is still wearing his stupid sweatshirt and doing nothing evil so I’m just about ready to punch him in his stupid face but let’s continue, shall we?
The Master asks Stupid Colin what he feared when he was a mortal and Colin tells him, “Monsters.” Ha. Wuss. The only things to truly fear are Mormons and the Devil. And outer space. Don’t forget about outer space.
The Master demonstrates how, like pain, fear is in the mind. He places his hand on a giant cross and lets it burn, saying that pain can be controlled. “If I face my fear, it cannot master me,” he tells Colin. My Spidey senses tell me that this theory will come into play later on in the episode.
The Master says something is happening above and I’m glad something is cause heaven knows nothing’s happening down in the Evil Underground Lair of Evil, that’s for sure. This is more like the Evil Underground Lair of Zzzzzzzz. Stupid Colin answers that he feels change and his voice is all weird and echo-y now so I guess he’s even more evil but not really.
Joyce drops Buffy off at school. Buffy hasn’t been sleeping well. Joyce says she had to check on her twice, as Buffy was yelling in her sleep. Buffy can’t remember her bad dreams. She panics that she left her overnight bag at home. She needs it for her sleepover visit with her Dad! You know, her Dad that’s coming to pick her up after school? The one she hasn’t seen for a long time? The one that most certainly won’t let her down, right?
Buffy’s rather nervous and Joyce asks her if she’s worried that her Dad won’t show up and if that isn’t spelling it out for us all then I don’t even know what. Buffy stutters that of course she isn’t thinking that. Joyce reassures Buffy that her Dad adores her. Yeah, this should end well.
In the hallway Willow and Xander find Buffy. Willow is all over the spider situation, as in, she hates spiders. A lot. Don’t worry, that won’t come into play later on either. And it doesn’t.
They walk into the library and call out to Giles. He eventually comes trotting out of the stacks with the strangest expression in his face. “I was…uh…in the stacks. I got lost,” he tells them. No one really seems to catch that strangeness. Even Giles doesn’t seem to grasp what happened.
They ask Giles if he found out anything about the spider incident but he hasn’t. Still somewhat distracted, he tells them to go talk to Wendell, the kid that opened the book o’spiders.
They find Wendell outside. He’s pretty weirded out by what happened. Wendell tells them that he doesn’t actually hate spiders. In fact, he loves them. But spiders hate HIM.
Before Wendell can continue explaining, Cordy walks by and tells Buffy she hopes she studied for the history test that’s happening right now. Buffy freaks. She had no idea! No one told her! She runs off.
Wendell finishes his story: he had a huge collection of spiders. Browns and tarantulas and black widows and wait wait wait wait. Aren’t black widows really poisonous? Ok, whatever. So anyways, he got sent to camp and his dumb brother left the heat lamp on all week and fried Wendell’s babies. “That’s when the nightmares started.” DUN DUN DUNNN!
His nightmare is always the same: he’s in class, he opens his book, and they race all over him. He’d thought he’d fallen asleep yesterday and started his dream but then everyone started screaming too.
Meanwhile, Buffy is having that moment everyone nightmares about: she can’t find her class, she hasn’t studied, she hasn’t even been to class all year, how is she going to pass this test. I’m not even kidding, I had this dream last night. Mine’s slightly worse though, I haven’t been to class, it’s the end of the year, I don’t have enough credits to graduate, and I need to talk to the teacher/guidance councillor/somehow hand in a stack of assignments to pass. Oh, and if I manage to find my locker I can rarely remember the combo, and if I manage to open it…it’s empty. Every time. Son of a bee-sting!
Buffy is taking the test. She hasn’t filled in a single thing. Her pencil breaks and suddenly the bell rings. Class is over. FAILURE.
Buffy looks up and the sad kid is standing in the doorway again. They stare at each other and he leaves.
The sad boy goes into the hall and sees a girl quietly open the door leading to the basement. She’s sneaking a cigarette. As she goes the boy shakes his head. “Smoking makes your teeth yellow! Smoking makes your clothes smell-o!” he sings, sadly. No, he doesn’t. I’m just making a lame reference to a commercial from the 80s. High five if you’re old like me! Wheeee!
Ok, concentrate. What the kid actually says is, “You shouldn’t go in there.” Eeeeeesh, that isn’t ominous or anything.
The girl, Laura, is smoking in the basement. A terrifying, scarred man with a huge club arm runs out of the dark at her, yelling, “Lucky nineteen!” He viciously attacks her and she falls to the ground, screaming as she’s horribly beaten. WTF? This is so not cool.
Giles and Buffy visit Laura in the hospital. She’s scared and doesn’t want to be alone. She can’t describe what happened, calling her attacker “it”. A nurse tells them that Laura needs her rest and Buffy reassures Laura that she can tell them anything she remembers, no matter how weird it may seem.
As they’re about to leave Laura says, “Lucky nineteen. It’s what ‘it’ said. That’s weird, right?”
Buffy and Giles meet up with the attending doctor outside Laura’s room. The doctor has no problem telling them all sorts of details even though they aren’t family. Laura has some shattered bones and internal bleeding but otherwise, she’ll recover. What? Good god, shattered bones and internal bleeding?? I’ll never smoke, Joss, I promise!
The doc says that she’s a lot better off then that other poor kid that got beaten into a coma. He needs to wake up soon or he’s never gonna wake up. Buffy looks through the window at the other victim but the kid’s face is turned away from her. Thanks for all the personal info, Dr. Exposition!
Back at school, some tough kid in a leather jacket is having his worst nightmare come true: his Mom is there, smothering him with hugs and kisses in front of all his friends. Lamest nightmare ever but he deserves it for wearing his sunglasses inside. I’m talking to you, Guy Fieri.
Willow and Xander walk into class and everyone starts laughing. Alarmed, Willow turns to look behind her and sees this:
Willow looks terrified. Willow! Hot Xander! Stop being a good friend and enjoy the show. Duh.
Xander freaks and realizes this isn’t a dream. He runs out of the class with Willow running after him.
In the library, Giles is having some trouble. Buffy asks him if he’s found anything useful in the back issues of the newspapers in front of him but Giles confesses that he suddenly can’t read. What? That’s Giles’ nightmare? Why couldn’t it also be him naked in the library? F you, Joss, you tease.
Buffy picks up the paper that Giles threw down and reads, “Twelve year old Billy Palmer was found beaten and unconscious after his kiddie league game Saturday.” There’s a picture of the sad boy, wearing a uniform with the number 19 on it. She realizes he’s the coma boy from the hospital and the boy she’s been seeing around the school. Seems like a case of astral projection is happening! Sure, why not? If only I could astral project myself into Giles’ shower time.
Suddenly, Buffy’s Dad Hank shows up. He’s early and he’d like to talk to Buffy, in private. They go for a walk in the school grounds, where Hank proceeds to tear Buffy’s heart in two. Then he stomps it into the ground. Then he does a jig on it and the riverdance and some jazz and tap and finally he finishes up with the electric boogaloo. Buffy’s all, whyyyyyyy?
Hank tells her that it’s her fault he and Joyce got divorced, and that she’s pretty dumb and selfish and immature and he really doesn’t get anything out of their weekend together so let’s just stop doing that. Also, she sucks. Byeeee!
As Hank walks away Buffy sees the sad boy looking at her.
Xander and Willow come into the library. Giles asks Xander why he’s wearing his gym clothes and they tell him what happened. They figure out that their nightmares are coming true. Billy, the sad boy, has crossed over from his coma nightmare world and has brought the evil haunting him with him.
Oh, btw, Cordelia’s nightmare is bad hair, nerdy clothes and being forced to join the chess team. Hahahaaha
Buffy sees Billy and follows him into the gym. She asks him if something bad happened to him but he can’t remember. He recalls that he plays second base in baseball. He says the ‘Ugly Man’ calls him ‘Lucky Nineteen’. Billy looks up and says “he’s here!” just as Buffy gets clobbered by the man.
The Ugly Man is even bigger than when he was in the basement. He beats Buffy until she runs away. She locks the Ugly Man in the gym and tells Billy they have to find her friends.
Xander, Willow and Giles split up to find Buffy as fast as possible. Willow tries to tell them it isn’t safer, but they run off. She hears a female voice whisper to her and follows the voice into the basement. She calls out Buffy’s name as she goes down the stairs but no one answers. “I’m not afraid. You’d think I’d be afraid, but I’m not,” she says to herself. Don’t worry Willow, I’m afraid enough for both of us. Sure enough, a hand grabs her and she screams.
Xander walks alone through a hallway. It’s all run-down looking with plastic sheeting hanging off the ceiling and swastika graffiti on the walls. He finds a chocolate bar on the ground and happily eats it. EW WHY.
Buffy’s trying to get to the library but every route she takes leads her elsewhere. She finds herself outside with Billy, watching two kids play baseball. Billy tells her losing is bad. He missed a ball and should’ve caught it. Someone hurt him after the game. Speak of the devil! The Ugly Man shows up and starts punching a random kid. He sees them and they wisely run. Suddenly Buffy and Billy are in a cemetary and it’s night.
Meanwhile, Willow’s living out her worst nightmare. She’s dressed in a kimono and a man is adjusting it, telling her she better be ready to sing cause the crowd is ugly tonight! He leads her to the curtain as her name is announced. Apparently she’s the world’s finest soprano!
Willow doesn’t know the words and tries to back away but she’s shoved onstage. Aldo, all the way from Italy, starts to sing. He’s lovely. He finishes his bit and waits. Willow looks about ready to vomit but she gamely opens her mouth to sing. A squeaky sound comes out. Aldo is not impressed.
Xander keeps finding chocolate bars. He picks them up and eats, following the trail like an idiot. He finds a chocolate bar that he hasn’t had since he was little and suddenly he hears a creepy giggling. A nightmarish clown bursts out from the sheets of hanging plastic. It brandishes a knife and giggles some more. Xander and I scream and run.
Buffy’s still wandering around in the night with Billy. They find an empty grave. Billy wonders who died and the Master, leaning on a stone nearby, laughs. No one died! Who wants to bury a dead person?
Buffy looks over her shoulder but Billy’s run off. Thanks for the help, Billy. The Master grabs Buffy by the neck and throws her into the grave and closes the wooden casket. He happily starts shoveling dirt on her as she screams in terror. What a fun day the Master’s having!
Willow comes through a door as boos follow her from the stage. Xander runs up, telling her about the clown. It slices through some of the hanging plastic with the knife and comes after them. Willow screams and turns to run, bumping into Giles. He asks about Buffy but then sees the hellish nightmare clown and gives out the most amusing “aaah!”
The three run as the clown laughs and chases them. Suddenly, in one of my most loved BTVS moments, Xander stops and turns around. He’s had enough of this. The clown runs at him and Xander just full out punches him right in the face. Take that, lousy clown!
The three see the cemetery across the street and run over, finding a gravestone with Buffy’s name on it. It’s Giles’ nightmare.
Giles looks absolutely devastated by his failure to protect his slayer. He touches the fresh dirt and Buffy’s hand bursts through and grabs his.
Buffy climbs up through the dirt and is this foreshadowing or not? I don’t even know. She stands and brushes the dirt off. “I thought I was dead!” she says, relieved. Oh, Buffy? Yeah, you’re a vampire.
Buffy is not impressed with this turn of events. I mean, she exfoliates every night and this is what she gets for her skin routine??
She turns away from them, hiding her face. She can’t function but Giles convinces her to keep it together and find Billy and wake him up. She agrees but warns them she’s getting hungry. That’s not alarming.
Things are a mess at the hospital. They find Coma Billy still unconscious. Giles screams in his ear. Haha, nice try, Giles. Sad Billy shows up and tells them that won’t work.
Luckily, the Ugly Man shows up, ready to fight. Unluckily for him, Buffy’s super pissed that she’s a vampire and kicks the ever-living crap out of him, using her extra vampire strength to full advantage. She breaks his giant club arm – the one he uses for beatins’- and knocks him out.
Buffy brings Billy over, telling him to do the rest. Billy reaches out and peels the Ugly Man’s face away. Light shoots out and everything goes back to normal. Billy wakes up from his coma. He had the strangest dream! You were in it, and you, and you, and YOU, scarecrow!
His coach shows up to check on him. He’s all, oh hey there, I’m just visiting little Billy here like I do every day. Just here to smother him…with love! Smother him with love and not this pillow when or if he wakes up. Hey, guess who beat Billy into Coma Town? Answer: the coach. It was his coach.
Well, looks like another happy ending. Buffy walks through the schoolyard with Willow and Xander and I can’t believe I haven’t had to say one thing about their outfits all episode.
Buffy’s Dad shows up. It’s their weekend sleepover for real and they hug happily. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for him to disappoint her later on in life! Yay!