Prophecy Girl (1x12)

I used an old tape when I recorded this episode, so the images look a little fuzzier than they should...maybe I'll re-record it when F/X starts showing the old episodes again. I miss the beginning montage from the early episodes...particularly the shot of Buffy staring over her leveled crossbow.

The teaser begins with Xander and Willow at the Bronze. Xander is talking about how he feels about "you", and Willow is listening raptly...it looks like Xander has finally gotten a clue about Willow having the hots for him. Not. He's rehearsing asking Buffy out to Spring Fling, and Willow is patiently listening to him and encouraging him occasionally, rather than pouring her drink over his head and storming out. Willow's sweet: masochistic as hell, but sweet. Xander wonders where Buffy is, and Willow replies, "The usual."

Which, of course, is Slayage. Buffy tussles with a vampire while Cordelia and her beau Kevin make out in a nearby car. Buffy stakes the vamp, noting that it is the third that night, and that Giles would be proud of her.

Giles is busy looking over the Codex, which Angel retrieved for him during "Invisible Girl." He finds a passage and translates it: "The Master shall rise, and the Slayer..." He stops, looks up and says, "My God." That's never good. He reaches for his tea, but is interrupted as the room begins to shake. The teacup falls and shatters.

It's a fairly nasty quake. Back at the Bronze, people start running around, and Willow and Xander take shelter under the stairs. Cordelia and Kevin hold on in her car as Buffy looks around, hearing car alarms go off. In the library, bookshelves fall over and the upper deck floor cracks open.

On the other hand, someone is enjoying this. Down in his lair/prison, the Master is enthusiastically greeting the shaker with outstretched arms: "Yes! Yes! Shake, earth! This is a sign! We are in the final days! My time has come! Glory! Glory!" So THAT'S how the Goddess of Bad Home Permanents knew where to come in season five! Stupid Master. Collin, also known as the Annoying One, watches the Master calmly as the quake subsides. The Master is quiet for a moment, then turns to Collin and asks him in a matter of fact tone: "What do ya think? 5.1?" Well, he has been a Californian for over sixty years.

Roll credits. I really wish they would put the scene of blue-lit Buffy giving the Glare of Death in "The Harvest" back at the end of the credits...it's way better that the Buffy with an axe shot from "Anne."

Act I begins at the library, where Giles has clearly been all night. As he crosses the floor from his office to the book cage, Buffy walks in and calls out, "Good morning," then comments on the quake damage, wondering if it is safe to be in there. Giles looks at her as if she had just come back after a five year absence, then calls out her name and stares at her. Buffy asks if she has something on her face. Giles recovers somewhat and assures her that she doesn't, and that the library is safe. Buffy notices that Giles looks like hell and asks if he got much sleep. Giles replies that he's been working, and Buffy mentions the three vamps she ran into last night, including one very near the school. Giles mutters, "Their numbers are increasing," in a tone that implies that it is a phrase he has encountered recently...not good. Buffy doesn't notice and continues to complain about the vamps, but Giles is too distracted to pay attention. Buffy gets annoyed and gently demands that he care: she's putting her life on the line, and she broke a nail last night. I miss Occasionally Shallow Buffy...she was fun to have around. Giles remains distracted, but tells her that he's glad she's all right, but that he can't talk now. Buffy pouts a little, then tells him: "Fine. That's OK. I can't put it off any longer. I have to meet my terrible fate." Giles turns around instantly and replies, "What?", with just a hint of pure anguish in his voice. Buffy explains, "Biology," then turns to go as the bell rings. Giles watches her go, visibly upset, then turns back to his work.

Cut to the balcony at the school, and Buffy, Willow and Xander walk down the stairs, agreeing that the last class they had was boring in a truly epic sense. Xander verbally nudges Willow to wander off for a while, reminding her that she has "a thing." Willow is confused for a moment, then realizes what Xander means and does her cute babbling thing about "the thing" before departing. Buffy is puzzled at Willow's sudden departure, but Xander dismisses the subject and tells Buffy that he needs to ask her something. He leads her to a bench, chasing off some unfortunate extra, then begins trying to deliver his rehearsed speech to Buffy, as Buffy sits there, puzzled and a bit concerned. Finally, he gives up and just says it: "Buffy, I want you to go to the dance with me. You and me, on a date."

Buffy is silent, but her eyes widen a bit, and you can see the wheels spinning like crazy...this is so not going to be good. After a moment, she says softly, "I don't know what to say." Xander smiles a bit, but there is a nervous undertone in his voice as he comments, "Well, you're not laughing, so that's a good start." He talks about how much he likes her, and how they've fought vampires together, then adds: "But I want more. I want to dance with you." Buffy begins the always ominous "you're one of my best friends" speech, and mentions Willow, and Xander quickly interjects that Willow isn't looking to date Buffy, "or if she is, she's playing it pretty close to the chest." This line is a lot funnier in retrospect. Buffy continues the dreaded speech: "I don't want to spoil the friendship we have." This might have been a good time to back off, but Xander tries once more: "Well, I don't want to spoil it either...but that's not the point, is it? You either feel a thing or you don't."

Buffy looks trapped at this point, and looks down as if she's trying to figure out some way not to have to say what she's about to. She looks up, and replies in a rather choked voice, "I don't." Ouch. Xander looks like someone just told him there's no Santa Claus, and looks down as Buffy, sounding sad, tells him that she's sorry but that she just doesn't think of him that way. Xander looks up and suggests in a pleading voice, "Well, try. I'll wait." I wince...that one was a little too close to home. Buffy looks concerned, and replies, "Xander-" in that sad voice. Xander cuts her off, telling her to forget it, then adds bitterly as he stands up: "I'm not him. I mean, I guess a guy's got to be undead to make time with you." Buffy's eyes narrow a bit, and her reply is in a more neutral tone: "That's really harsh." Xander semi-apologizes, wondering out loud why he doesn't handle rejection well, since he's had so much practice. Buffy begins what sounds like an apology of her own, but Xander cuts her off again, then leaves. Buffy remains on the bench, looking depressed.

Cut back to the library, and Giles is on the phone. The person on the other end doesn't recognize Giles at first, causing him to clarify: "Uh, Rupert Giles." Jenny Calendar walks into the doorway behind him, looking concerned...not to mention gorgeous: I miss Jenny. Giles continues to talk on the phone, agreeing to meet with the person after sundown (pretty much narrowing it down to Angel), then hangs up. Jenny waits for a moment, then comments on the fact that he's still wearing the clothes he wore yesterday, asking if he was there all night. Giles tries to indicate that he's not in the mood for socializing (one has to admire a man so dedicated to his work), but Jenny isn't there to flirt: she's noticed things happening. Giles asks for details, and Jenny goes through a rather chilling list of anomalies, concluding with "...and Mercy Hospital last night, a boy was born with his eyes facing inward." OK, eww. Giles turns away, and Jenny coldly presses on: "I'm not stupid. This is apocalypse stuff...and throw in last night's earthquake, and I'd say we've got a problem. I would say the end is pretty seriously nigh." Jenny certainly can cut through all of the BS when she wants to, but Giles isn't quite ready to play Mr. Information: "I don't know if I can trust you." Jenny reminds him that she helped them to get rid of Moloch (during "I Robot, You Jane"), then mentions an e mail she received from "this crazy monk" about the Anointed One. Giles is confused, being under the impression that the Anointed One was dead (I mutter, "Not yet, but soon, thank goodness."). Jenny is confused, but Giles asks her to find out all she can about what Brother Luca (the monk) is saying. Jenny reacts in annoyance, since Giles hasn't "told her jack", but Giles is insistent, promising to explain later. Jenny replies quietly, "You better," then turns back to her supplies.

Cut to the halls, where Cordelia and Kevin are talking about getting the sound system and decorations ready for the Spring Fling. Both of them are in very cheerful moods, which seems odd to them: Kevin remarks that he's "usually as mean as a snake." Cordelia spots Willow and calls out to her as Kevin departs. Willow walks up, and Cordelia announces that she really likes Willow's outfit. Willow, being brighter than the average tree sloth and knowing Cordelia, replies, "No, you don't," and Cordelia admits it and adds that she needs a favor: she needs help hooking up the sound system, and she knows that Willow knows how to. Willow spots Xander throwing a tennis ball against the wall inside of one of the classrooms, and agrees to meet Cordelia at the school the next morning.

Willow walks into the classroom and asks how the big moment with Buffy went, to which Xander replies: "On a scale of one to ten? It sucked." Willow comments softly, "Oh," and Xander sarcastically consoles himself with the fact that he doesn't have gangrene on his face. Willow presses for details, but Xander doesn't want to go into it, and sums it up by commenting that Buffy is "still jonesin' for Angel, and could care less about me." Ouch...cheap shot...he should have been able to tell from the look on her face that she damned well did care about him. Willow tries to console him by telling him that at least now he knows, and Xander brightens, firing off a few "it's over" cliches before turning to Willow and suggesting that they go to the Spring Fling together and have fun. Willow starts looking downcast as Xander is speaking, and when he asks her, "Whadaya say?", she looks down and replies quietly, "No." I applaud: I'm a diehard Xander fan, but he really needs to think before he speaks, and Willow is about to remind him of that. Xander is startled by the answer, but Willow is firm: "There's no way." Xander urges her to reconsider, and her reply has a definite edge to it: "You think I want to go to the dance with you and watch you wish you were at the dance with her? You think that's my idea of hijinks? You should know better." One of the things they never clarified in the early going of the series was just how aware Xander was of Willow's feelings for him: in "The Pack", Xander seemed to know pretty clearly how Willow felt, but in later shows he seemed to become clueless again...in this case, he does seem to have a good idea just how thoroughly he has stepped in it: he looks at her and comments quietly, "I didn't think." Willow tells him that she's sorry that things didn't work out for him, then leaves. Xander mutters about going home to listen to country music and throws the ball hard against the blackboard, sending it skittering out into the hall.

Cut to the outside of the school at night, then to the girls' locker room, where Buffy shuts her locker then heads over to the bathroom, where she turns on the water tap at a sink, looks in a mirror, then notices that the faucet is pouring out blood. Yikes.

Cut to the library, as Buffy comes in muttering about how Giles won't believe this, when she stops, hearing the sound of conversation. She glances into Giles' office and hears him talking about something being clear, and that it is happening now. Angel walks into view, and Buffy gets a cute little smile on her face as she whispers, "Angel?" She moves forward a bit more as Angel replies that Giles has to be wrong. Giles retorts that he has checked it with other sources: "It's very real." Buffy stops next to the door as Angel suggests that there has to be a way around it. Giles, looking haggard, comments that some prophecies are dodgy, and points out that Buffy has thwarted them repeatedly, "...but this is the Codex. There's nothing in it that does not come to pass." Angel replies flatly, "Then you're reading it wrong." Giles is visibly agitated now, and fires back, "I wish to God I were! But it's very plain! Tomorrow night, Buffy will face the Master, and she will die." Nice way to get that particular piece of news. Buffy just stands there in the doorway and stares in total shock.

Act II begins right where Act I ended, and Angel is asking Giles whether he has verified the text when Buffy starts to laugh: it is not a pleasant laugh. There is a hint of hysteria in it, perhaps even borderline madness. Angel and Giles turn to the doorway and have a simultaneous "oh, shit" moment. Buffy walks away from the doorway, and Angel and Giles follow her into the main part of the library. Buffy stops, then turns around and begins speaking in a soft voice tinged with hysteria: "So that's it, huh? I remember the drill. One Slayer dies, next one's called. Wonder who she is." She looks at Giles and asks if he will train the new Slayer. Giles is visibly appalled and begins, "Buffy, I-" She cuts him off, asking in a visibly forced casual manner, "They say how he's going to kill me?" She pauses, then adds with her voice audibly breaking, "Do you think it will hurt?"

Angel starts to move forward to comfort her, but Buffy pulls away and snarls at him not to touch her. She stops and looks back at Giles with an expression of betrayal as she asks him if he was ever going to tell her that she was going to die. Giles, looking almost as devastated as Buffy, explains that he hoped to find a way around it so he wouldn't have to. Buffy cuts him off again, then bluntly lays it on the line: "I've got a way around it. I quit!" Tears are running down her cheeks, but her jaw is set: she means it. Angel quietly comments that things aren't that simple, but Buffy isn't listening: she snaps back at him that she's finished, and that they can find someone else to stop the Master. Giles quietly replies that he isn't sure that anyone else could stop the Master, then adds, "All the signs indicate-" That's the last straw: Buffy starts to lose it. She interrupts in a quiet, dangerous tone: "The signs?" She grabs a book and throws it in his direction, shouting, "Read me the signs!" She grabs another book and throws it, still shouting, "Tell me my fortune! You're so useful sitting here with all your books! You're really a lot of help!" She stares at him with tear-filled eyes and a look of utter betrayal on her face. Giles can't bring himself to look at her as he replies quietly that he doesn't suppose he is much help.

Angel tries again to console her, but Buffy snaps at him, saying that he doesn't know what she's feeling, since he's never going to die. Angel snaps back at her that he couldn't stand for anything to happen to her, and they just have to figure out...Buffy cuts him off and reminds him that she's quit, and that he should pay attention. Giles starts to remind Buffy of the consequences should the Master rise, and she cuts him off in anguish: "I don't care!" She yanks the cross from her neck, pauses, then repeats, "I don't care," in a quieter voice, as if trying to convince herself. She looks over at Giles, her eyes wide and tear-filled, and her voice quavers as she tells him, "Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't want to die." Giles looks back at her helplessly, and she looks at him for a moment longer before throwing the cross down on the counter and leaving the library. Giles and Angel are silent, completely at a loss about what to do next.

Cut to Willow's room, where she is studying. She looks at a picture of her and Xander together and sighs. She reaches for the phone...damn it, Willow, why don't you just slam your hand in a car door if you're feeling masochistic? Cut to Xander's room, where he has brought out the big guns: Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces" is playing in the background. The phone rings next to where Xander is lying on his bed. He picks up the receiver, hangs it up again, then takes the phone off the hook, saving Willow from herself.

Cut to Buffy's room, where she is looking through an old photo album with sad music playing in the background. Joyce comes in and tries to find out what's bothering Buffy, and Buffy abruptly turns to Joyce and pleads with her to go out of town for the weekend with her in a hopeful voice. Joyce reminds her that she has to work at the gallery, and then remembers that the Spring Fling is the next night. She asks Buffy if someone has asked her, then infers from the noncommittal answer that the problem is that the right person hasn't asked her. She leads Buffy over to the closet and opens it, revealing a lovely white sleeveless dress. Buffy protests that Joyce can't afford it, and Joyce calmly replies that with as little as Buffy eats, they can afford it. Buffy admires the dress and Joyce suggests that she wear it to the dance. Buffy replies that she can't go to the dance, and Joyce asks, "Says who? Is it written somewhere?" Joyce always got great ironic lines in the days before she found out Buffy was the Slayer. She tells of how she went to the Homecoming Dance as a freshman in college, without a date, and met Buffy's father there. Buffy comments, "And you had your whole life ahead of you...must be nice."

Cut to the school the next morning, and Cordelia and Willow are walking down the stairs. Cordelia is complaining that Kevin didn't take the stuff to the Bronze last night like he promised. Willow tries to downplay the omission, and Cordelia elaborates: she isn't mad at him, even though he "totally flaked" on her...she actually thinks it's cute. Yep...another sign of the Apocalypse. Willow smiles and they reach the audio/visual room and look in the window at the top of the door. They can see the backs of two heads leaning against the couch, and the TV is playing cartoons; ominously, there is a handprint visible on the outside of the screen. Cordelia begins to have a "that's cute" reaction, then realizes she should be pissed off. Willow concurs, as the view cuts to the inside of the room. Kevin is sitting on the floor, leaning against the inside of the door, and there is another guy on the floor near the TV, along with the two on the couch. They are all very dead, and there is broken furniture visible. Cordelia mutters a threat, then opens the door...and Kevin falls out, a vampire bite quite visible on his neck. Cordelia starts screaming and kneels down next to Kevin, while Willow walks into the room and takes in the devastation, eyes wide with shock. On the TV, two pigs dance in the cartoon behind the now obviously bloody handprint on the screen.

Cut back to Buffy's room, where she has put on the dress, and is looking at herself in the mirror. Joyce rushes in and says that there is a news report...something involving Willow.

Cut to the sunset, and then to Willow's room. Buffy, still wearing the dress, is trying to comfort her, but Willow is determined to explain to Buffy exactly how she is feeling. She's sitting on her bed hugging her knees, and her voice is shaky. Buffy tries to console her, telling her it doesn't matter as long as she's OK. Willow's reply is sad, but firm: "I'm not OK. I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there, it...it wasn't our world any more. They made it theirs." Willow's jaw sets and an undertone of raw anger enters her voice for a moment as she adds, "And they had fun." She looks at Buffy and asks her with tear-filled eyes, "What are we going to do?"

Buffy listens quietly to Willow's words, but her expression changes almost subliminally: she has come to a decision. She replies quietly, "What we have to." She gets up and makes Willow promise to stay inside that night, and Willow nods. Buffy turns, and Willow calls out, "Buffy?" Buffy turns, and Willow smiles at her and comments, "I like your dress." I really, really wanted to hug Willow then. Buffy looks at herself, smiles, then says, "Take care," before leaving.

Back to the Master's lair. The Master tests the invisible barrier confining him as the Annoying One watches him. He mutters, "Soon," then sends the little fangster out to perform his prophesied duties, which causes everyone in the audience who wants him to go away to cheer, since it starts the countdown to his departure. The Master repeats, "Soon," and waits.

Back to the library, where Giles is preparing weapons. Jenny is repeating the backstory to the Master's imprisonment, and the consequences of his rising, which Giles has apparently just told her. Giles confirms to her that she has it right, and Jenny comments, "The part that gets me, though, is where Buffy is the Vampire Slayer. She's so little." Jenny says "She's so little" in a cutesy voice that makes me laugh. Giles apparently isn't so amused, and asks Jenny about Brother Luca. Jenny tells him that Luca has disappeared, but that he left one last message: "Isaiah 11:6." Giles quotes the passage from memory, and it turns out to be that golden oldie concluding with "...and a little child shall lead them." Busted, Annoying One. Jenny comments that that's an awful warm and fuzzy message of doom, and Giles replies "that depends", then repeats the quote about the actions of the Anointed One: "The Slayer will not know him, and he will lead her into Hell." Jenny and Giles agree that Brother Luca is saying that the Anointed One is a child, and Jenny comments that they should warn Buffy. Giles checks the dagger he is holding, then comments that he isn't going to involve Buffy at all. Jenny is confused, and Giles elaborates: "Buffy's not going to face the Master. I am." Yikes. Fortunately, the cavalry has arrived, as a calm voice interjects from offscreen: "No, you're not." Giles and Jenny turn to see Buffy, still wearing the white dress, walking toward them and asking, "So, I'm looking for a kid, huh? And he'll lead me to the Master?"

Giles looks at her with a determined expression, then puts his hands on his hips as he tells her that he won't send her out to die, and that it's time that he get away from all of the books and found out what the real world was like. Not where I'd start on that little project, but then, Giles is way cooler than I am. Buffy replies that he's still not going up against the Master. Giles snipes back that he's made up his mind. Buffy calmly replies that so has she. The contrast between this and the last scene in the library is eerie; this time, Buffy is in complete control and Giles is about to lose it. Giles snaps at her that he made up his mind first, and that he's older and wiser than her, and that she should just do what she's told for once. I snicker: yeah, right. Buffy is unmoved: "That's not how it goes. I'm the Slayer." Giles is defiant: "I don't care what the books say. I defy prophecy, and I am going. There's nothing you can say that will change my mind."

Buffy looks at him, and there is an ever so slight look of affection mixed in with the determination as she replies, "I know," then turns away momentarily before delivering a right cross to Giles' chin. He hovers in mid air for a moment, then slumps to the ground, out like a light. All right, who had "late Act II" in the "Giles knocked unconscious" pool? Jenny moves over to check on Giles, while Buffy reclaims her cross and puts it on. Jenny looks up at Buffy in concern, and Buffy looks back and requests, "When he wakes up, tell him...I don't know. Think of something cool, tell him I said it." "You fight the Master, and you'll die," Jenny tells Buffy, the worry visible in her eyes. Buffy replies, "Maybe," then picks up the crossbow and smiles before adding, "Maybe I'll take him with me." She doesn't say it with much conviction, though, and she departs, leaving Jenny to tend to Giles.

Cut to the outside of the school. Buffy comes out of the front door, then spots the Annoying One. He calls out to her, "Help me." Stake him, Buffy, stake him! Oh, crap. Buffy lowers the crossbow and walks over to him, announcing that she knows who he is. He holds out his hand, and she takes it, allowing Collin to lead her away.

Act III begins back at the library, where Xander and Willow have arrived and received the bad news. Jenny is in the background, and Giles is holding an icebag to his jaw. Willow comments that she knew something was going on with Buffy, and Xander is agitated. Giles urges calm, and Willow agrees, but Xander isn't in the mood for it: "I'm sorry, calm may work for Locutus of the Borg here, but I'm freaked out and I intend to stay that way." I have an image of Giles turning to Xander and intoning "Sarcasm is irrelevant," causing me to chuckle. Willow tries to calm Xander down, but he berates Giles about letting Buffy go. Giles angrily points out that he did not let her go, and indicates his damaged jaw as proof. Jenny interrupts, reminding everyone that there is an apocalypse to worry about. Willow and Xander react negatively, wondering what she's doing there. Jenny, to her credit, stays focused on the topic rather than taking offense, reminding Xander and Willow that if the Master gets free, "everybody dies." Xander states flatly that he doesn't care: "Right now I gotta help Buffy." Giles points out that Xander doesn't know where Buffy has gone. Xander, looking determined, replies, "No. But I can find out." He leaves the library.

Cut to the tunnels beneath Sunnydale, where the Annoying One is leading Buffy toward the Master's lair, with ominous music playing on the soundtrack. He leads her to a small side tunnel, and she goes in.

Cut to Angel's apartment, and Angel is responding to an insistent knock on his front door. He opens it and recognizes his visitor, and the tone of his voice implies that he would preferred to have seen a door to door holy water salesman: "Oh. Look who's here." Xander asks, "Mind if I come in?" as he barges in. Angel closes the door and sarcastically tells Xander to make himself at home. Xander doesn't waste time on chitchat: he tells Angel that Buffy has gone to fight the Master. Angel's face falls, and he mutters, "He'll kill her." Xander replies, "Rumor has it...only we're not going to let it happen." Angel asks what Xander is proposing they do about it, and Xander replies that he knows that Angel can find the Master, and that he wants Angel to take him there. Angel looks at Xander contemptuously and comments that he's way out of his league, and that the Master will kill him immediately..."if you're lucky." Xander is unmoved, and wonders out loud about how he can make his point clearly before pulling out a cross and thrusting it at Angel. Angel growls, and Xander advances, forcing Angel back onto the couch as he lays it on the line: "I don't like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you're a vampire." He lowers the cross, then adds, "But Buffy's got this big old yen for you. She thinks you're a real person...and right now, I need you to prove her right." Angel stares up at him and whispers, "You're in love with her." Xander just looks back at him and replies, "Aren't you?" As Xander moments go, this is still one of the best.

Cut back to the library, where Giles, Willow and Jenny are doing research. Jenny wonders where the Hellmouth will actually open. Giles ponders the question, then gives Jenny the Black Chronicles and asks Willow to start checking for odd occurrences that might be connected with the impending apocalypse, and she agrees.

Cut to the entrance of the Master's lair. Buffy is there with the Annoying One, and she looks back at him questioningly. He points straight down into the dark place full of way too many candles, then departs before she remembers that he's a vampire and stakes his undersized ass. Buffy advances into the lair and looks around, seeing lots and lots of candles, but no Master. Abruptly, she hears him say "Welcome." Buffy looks around, not seeing him, then replies, "Thanks for having me." The Master steps into view, though Buffy still hasn't spotted him. She jokes about the Master's lair having water damage; unfortunately, the Master is unimpressed. He comments: "Oh good, the feeble banter portion of the fight. Why don't we just cut to the-" Buffy, homing in on the sound of his voice, turns on her heel and fires her crossbow. It's a perfect shot, right at the heart; unfortunately, the Master snatches the bolt in mid-air a split second before it would have pierced his heart. You know, crossbows are nasty weapons, but they never seem to slay anything on this show...the only vampire I remember buying the farm from a crossbow shot is the stoner vamp in "The Freshman", and he practically walked into the bolt. Buffy frantically re-loads and the Master comments, "Nice shot."

Cut back to the tunnels, where Angel is leading Xander to the Master's lair. Xander accused Angel of looking at his neck, and Angel denies it. Xander repeats his accusation, then follows Angel, muttering, "I told you to eat before we left." Snicker.

Back to the Master's lair, where the Master is taunting Buffy. She looks up from her crossbow and sees that he has vanished, and his voice seems to be coming from nowhere as he tells her that she's not the hunter..."You are the lamb." Uh-oh.

Back at the library, where Giles, Jenny, and Willow are discussing what is likely to happen. Giles comments that the vampires are gathering, and Jenny wonders if they will come to the Hellmouth. Willow mentions the Harvest, and when Jenny asks where that happened, Giles and Willow suddenly realize that Spring Fling might be getting a lot of undead party crashers. Jenny tells Giles to stay and "concentrate on killing demons", and that she and Willow will go to the Bronze and warn the students. Giles admonishes them to be careful, and they leave.

The Master's lair again, and Buffy is looking around for the Master. She comments, "You know, for someone who's all powerful, you sure do like to hide." The mocking reply comes from the shadows, telling her that he's waiting for her...he wants this moment to last. Buffy is not amused, and grits out, "Well, I don't." She keeps searching, and abruptly the Master is right behind her. "I understand," he tells her quietly, then knocks the crossbow from Buffy's hands and seizes her by the throat as she turns around.

Cut to outside the school, as Willow follows Jenny towards Jenny's car. Willow worries about the vampires getting to the Bronze first. Jenny looks up and comments that they don't need to worry about that. The view changes, and about twenty vampires can be seen coming out of the mist on the field. Willow and Jenny turn, and they can now see about fifteen vampires coming across the parking lot. They turn to go back inside, and several vampires are blocking the way. Not good.

Back to the Master's lair, and the Master still has Buffy by the throat. She knocks his arm away and runs away from him, only to have the Master hold his hand out at her, exerting some power that stops her in her tracks. She looks back at him with a terrified expression as he walks up to her, then removes her jacket, dropping it to the ground. She remains frozen as the Master stands behind her and speaks to her: "You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don't tell you everything." He leans in and whispers, "You're the one who sets me free." A close shot of Buffy's face shows her wide, terrified eyes and a tear trickling down her cheek as the Master continues, "If you hadn't come, I couldn't go. Think about that." He pauses for a moment, then leans in and bites her neck. Buffy gasps. After a couple of seconds, the Master straightens up and releases Buffy, calling out, "Oh, God, the power!" Buffy falls to her knees, and the Master looks at her and comments, "And by the way-" Buffy falls face down into a nearby pool of water, and the Master concludes, "I like your dress." He walks over to the invisible barrier keeping him confined, thrusts his hand against it, and after a moment it breaks through, causing the barrier to collapse in a burst of light. The Master strides forward, free of his prison.

Back to the tunnels, as Angel and Xander see the light from the barrier's collapse, and Angel tells Xander, "It's too late. He's gone up." They begin running, and a few moments later they reach the lair. Angel sees Buffy and drags her out of the pool as Xander looks on in horror. Angel, panting loudly, cradles Buffy in his arms and examines her. After a moment, he looks over at Xander and tells him, "She's dead." Xander looks back at Angel, stunned.

Act IV begins where Act III left off, and Xander isn't willing to accept "She's dead" as an answer. Angel points out that Buffy isn't breathing, but Xander realizes that drowning is a little less extreme than most vampire-related deaths, and suggests CPR. Angel looks at him, then utters the line that launched a thousand arguments in alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer: "You have to do it. I have no breath." Well, hell, Angel, you were panting loudly enough a minute ago. Oh well, this is Xander's big moment. He moves in and starts performing CPR on Buffy, urging "C'mon, c'mon!"

Back at the parking lot, where the vampires are moving in for an all you can eat computer geek buffet. Jenny wonders why the vamps are coming there: Willow, sensibly enough, is preoccupied with the whole about-to-die situation. Abruptly, a car pulls up next to them, and Cordelia looks up at them and orders, "Get in!"

Back to the Master's lair, and Xander is still performing CPR on Buffy, urging her to respond. Angel starts to look increasingly anguished, and after a few moments Xander stops...it looks like he has lost hope. A few seconds later, Buffy opens her eyes and gasps, looking around frantically with her eyes. Xander calls out her name softly, and Buffy turns and begins coughing up water. Xander and Angel look at each other and exchange smiles, then Xander reaches out and strokes Buffy's forehead. She looks up at him and asks in a surprised, soft tone, "Xander?" as she looks up at him. Xander smiles at her and welcomes her back. I cheer.

Back to the school parking lot, where Jenny and Willow are piling into Cordelia's car. Cordelia explains that she was sitting in her car when the vampires showed up. Jenny wonders what they should do now, and Willow says they have to get to the library. Cordelia replies, "Library...great!" Her jaw sets and her eyes narrow as she swings the car around, dislodging the vampires trying to get in, then drives directly at the entry doors, causing the vampires in front of the door to flee. The car blows through the doors, then another set of doors. Giles hears the noise from inside the library, and is puzzled. The car pulls to a stop in front of the library, and Willow, Jenny and Cordelia pile out and rush inside, the vampires hot on their heels. They lean against the doors as Giles asks what is happening. Jenny snaps back, "Guess!", as the vampires begin trying to break in. Giles retrieves some objects to block the door with, while Willow beats on some intruding undead hands with a sign. Giles shouts, "Why are they coming here?" Meanwhile, behind them, a tentacle comes up through the broken floor of the library upper deck and begins probing around.

Cut to the roof of the library, where the Master emerges, then takes in the view of Sunnydale at night. He enthuses, "My world! Oh, my beautiful world."

Back to the Master's lair, where Xander and Angel help Buffy to her feet, then give her the bad news about the Master. She steps forward, obviously intending to go after him, and Xander tries to dissuade her, reminding her that she's still weak. Buffy hesitates, then contradicts him in a voice full of wonder: "No. No, I feel strong. I feel different." Someday, I really would like an explanation of how she's feeling better than ever after being partially drained and then drowned. She turns back to Xander and Angel, and there is no trace of doubt in her voice as she orders, "Let's go."

Back to the library, where vampires are trying to get in from the stacks now, too. Jenny and Willow go to block that route off, while Giles goes to secure his office. Cordelia remains at the front door, which is barricaded effectively, though a hand breaks through the remaining round window there and grabs at her. Cordelia screams, "Somebody help!"

Cut to Buffy single-mindedly striding toward the front door of the school, Xander and Angel at her heels. Buffy's theme song is playing. Woo hoo! Xander asks how Buffy knows where the Master is going. She replies calmly, "I know." Not terribly informative, but somehow it's believable right now. A deeply stupid vampire steps in front of Buffy, blocking the path to the door. "Oh look, a bad guy," she observes in a sing-song voice, then decks the vamp without breaking stride. The vampire is knocked cold, and the trio enters the school without further interference.

Cut to the door to the access stairs for the roof. Buffy tells Angel and Xander to keep the other vamps from coming after her, and suggests that Angel put on his "game face." He turns back to her, already vamped out, and indicates that he's ready. Buffy tells them, "One way or another, this won't take long," then goes up to the roof.

Back to the library, where Cordelia is still dealing with the persistent vampires. She hits at a vampire's hand, then bites it, causing the vampire to howl and withdraw as Cordelia snarls, "See how YOU like it!" Cordy rocks. Meanwhile, Jenny and Willow have barricaded the entrance to the stacks, and don't notice the questing tentacle probing at Willow's ankle until it wraps itself around her ankle. Jenny screams for Giles, and Giles comes out in time to see a huge multi-headed, tentacled horror (or at least as horrible as they could manage on their budget back then) burst out of the ruptured floor. Giles exclaims, "The Hellmouth!", and Cordelia just stares in fear and disbelief.

Back to the library roof, where the Master is applauding the creature as he watches the uproar through the skylight. He urges, "Yes. Come forth, my child. Come into my world." Not so fast, fangface. Buffy calls out, "I don't think it's yours just yet." The Master turns, and his face registers as much shock as is possible given the limitations of vampiric features as he mutters in sheer disbelief, "You're dead." The camera view comes down from above Buffy, gradually moving down to a close-up of her smirk as she tells him that she may be dead, but at least she's still pretty: "Which is more than I can say for you." The Master can't believe it, saying that Buffy was destined to die...that it was written. Buffy shrugs and replies in a guileless manner, "What can I say? I flunked the written." I cheer again, but the Master has had enough. He extends his hand and tries his mind trick again, ordering, "Come here!"

Back to the library. Willow is still held by the creature's tentacle, and is screaming loudly, while Jenny keeps screaming for Giles. Giles picks up a small axe, runs over to the creature, and begins taking two-handed swings at it. The creature roars, but does not look particularly hurt. Willow and Jenny keep screaming.

The roof again, and the Master exerts his power, bringing Buffy closer to him. She doesn't look as scared this time: she stares at the Master as he reaches out and grabs her by the throat. He taunts her, wondering how she thought she could beat him when she couldn't below when he was trapped. He removes his hand from her throat and gestures dramatically to make his point. Bad move. Buffy stares at him curiously and comments, "You have fruit punch mouth." The Master is confused, and Buffy clarifies matters with a right cross that knocks him down. She tells him to "save the hypnosis crap for the tourists," and they begin to fight: it's a lot more even this time, though the Master gets a good rake with his claws at the exposed upper part of Buffy's chest, drawing blood.

Back in the library, Giles continues to hack away at the creature, which eventually gets annoyed and slams into him, knocking him into the large table below, shattering it and leaving a large, jagged section of wood pointing straight up.

Cut to the bottom of the stairs to the roof, where Xander and Angel are holding off a couple of vampires. Angel stakes one, while Xander holds off the other with his fists and cross.

Back to the library for a moment. One of the creature's heads is menacing Giles, while another is apparently laughing at Willow and Jenny. Smart-assed Lovecraftian beastie.

On the roof, Buffy and the Master exchange a few more blows before he grabs her by the neck again. He sneers at her, "Where are your gibes now?" Buffy glances down through the skylight and sees the broken table. She turns back to the Master as he snarls at her, "You laugh when my Hell is on earth?" Buffy glares at him: time's up. She looks up at him and replies coldly, "You're that amped about Hell-" She reaches out and grabs him by the throat, hard enough to make him gasp, then concludes, "-go there." Using her hold on his throat, she flips him over her shoulder and through the skylight, down into the library, where the broken table does a bang-up job as an impromptu stake. He lands face-up, and he starts dusting immediately when the table pierces his heart, black ash flying out everywhere, though his skeleton remains intact. Buffy watches from above. The tentacled horror retreats to where it came from.

Fade in to the main library doors, which have been cleared. Cordelia opens the door as Buffy, Angel, and Xander walk up. They all walk over to the skeleton of the Master, and Giles asks about the vampires. Cordelia says that they are gone. Probably got tired of her biting them. Angel asks about the Master, and Giles replies that he's dead, and that the Hellmouth is closed. Giles looks over and sees that Buffy is a bit out of it, and calls out her name twice. Buffy snaps out of it, then apologizes, "It's just been a really weird day." Talent for understatement much, Buffy? Xander comments that "Buffy died and everything", causing Willow to react: "Wow. Harsh." Giles looks at Buffy with naked pride and comments quietly, "I should have known that wouldn't stop you," then openly smiles at her. Buffy looks back at him and smiles shyly in return. Jenny asks what they should do now. Giles looks around and suggests that they get out of there: "I don't like the library very much any more." Xander reminds them of the dance, which Cordelia unsurprisingly thinks is a great idea. Willow wants to know what Buffy thinks, and Buffy thinks that saving the world is a great reason to party, then looks down at her dress (which has survived the events of the evening in remarkably good shape) and adds, "I mean, I got all pretty," in a rather wistful tone.

Jenny looks over at the Master and wants to know what to do with him. Buffy looks at the skeleton contemptuously and comments that he's not going anywhere. She curls her lip a little and sneers at her fallen foe, "Loser." The group heads out, talking among themselves. Angel hangs back and tells her he likes her dress; understandably, Buffy isn't overwhelmed by his originality: "Yeah, yeah. Big hit with everyone." The group leaves the library, and the last shot is of the Master's skeleton, lying there on the wreckage of the table.

Black screen. "Executive Producer: Joss Whedon."

Overview:

Four years after it was first shown, "Prophecy Girl" remains the quintessential episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," at least as far as embodying what the series is about. There are many episodes of "Buffy" that would be utterly incomprehensible to a new viewer without an immense amount of backstory explanation, including standout episodes such as "Becoming," "Hush," "The Body," and "The Gift." "Prophecy Girl" lays it all out: Buffy's importance to the world, her relationship with Giles, the horrible burdens that her calling places on her, the role her friends play in her life, Buffy's inability to walk away from it all because she can't live with the price that would impose on those she loves. If you know someone who just doesn't get the show, this is the episode that you should show them: if they aren't interested by the time it is over, they probably never will be.

The heart of the episode is the confrontation in the library between Buffy, Giles and Angel. Facing death every night is not fun for Buffy, but she seemed to have adjusted to it pretty well by the beginning of the episode: her complaints to Giles were relatively mild. Everything changed when she heard Giles angrily telling Angel about the certainty of the prophecy of her death: facing death nightly is hard, but hearing that your death is a moral certainty, and soon, would be a crushing blow to almost anyone. Sarah Michelle Gellar was absolutely fantastic in this scene, and should have at least been nominated for an Emmy for it. The emotions that Buffy was experiencing were complex and overwhelming, and they were all visible on her face and audible in her voice: Sarah Michelle Gellar pulled the scene off without going over the top, and it remains her best performance during the series.

Buffy's dilemma was the dominant theme of the episode, but Xander's ups and downs were also quite important. Xander showed both his strengths and weaknesses during the episode. He was thoughtless beyond belief to Willow, and he was very harsh with Buffy when she turned him down. But when it came right down to it, his pain became irrelevant to him when he heard that Buffy was in trouble, and he rose to the occasion in what might still be his finest moment in the series. He swallowed his pride and went to someone he hated, because it was the only way to save someone he loved, then followed Angel into what could be expected to be the most dangerous place on Earth, and which had to be even more terrifying to him because of what happened to Jesse (Angel was only too quick to remind him that there were worse things than dying possible from an encounter with the Master). The basic theme of Xander's role on the show was firmly established here: Xander screws up royally quite a lot, but when things get really nasty, he comes through.

The third central character in this episode is Giles, and-once again-by the end of the episode the foundation of his role on the show has been firmly established. Up to now, Giles has been struggling to adjust to the fact that Buffy does not act as he has been taught to expect Slayers to behave. She has frustrated him beyond belief at times, and will continue to do so in the future. However, the bond of loyalty and love that marks their later interaction is clearly present here. He is clearly horrified at the prospect of Buffy's death, and calls in all of the help that he can to try to figure out a way around what appears to be a pronouncement set in stone. When Buffy announces that she is quitting, his reaction is not anger, but concern and resignation. His later determination to face the Master alone, despite his inevitable death should he confront the vampire, is touching (though foolhardy), and Buffy's decision to knock him unconscious was undoubtedly the only way she could have prevented him from so acting. It is this interaction, together with similar displays of loyalty in the second season, when Buffy's missteps lead to disaster, that made Giles' temporary betrayal of Buffy in "Helpless" all the more shocking...he had proven long before that the prospect of his own death would not cause him to act against her interests.

The other characters have lesser--though still important--roles. Willow's quiet explanation to Buffy drives home to the Slayer why she needs to fight on, even though it seems hopeless. Jenny discovers evidence of the impending catastrophe on her own, and her quiet determination to help ends up being crucial when she helps discover the vital clue as to the identity of the Anointed One. Angel finds himself in the role of helpless observer for most of the episode (of course, if Buffy had gone to Angel and asked for help, it probably would have made her life a lot easier, since the Master had conveniently left himself bereft of able-bodied minions), and lost hope momentarily until Xander gave him a swift kick in the ass and reminded him that some things are worth fighting for. Cordelia keeps her cool when faced with extreme weirdness and acquits herself admirably, foreshadowing her future change of heart and later assistance to Buffy and the Scooby Gang. Joyce, still in the dark about Buffy's calling, does her level best to try to cheer her daughter up, and reminds us why-in spite of her occasional moments of parental malpractice-Joyce's death in the fifth season was a genuine tragedy for Buffy and her friends. As for the Master...his downfall was hubris, as for many megalomaniacal villains...had he completely drained Buffy or broken her neck (as the Wishverse Master did in "The Wish"), it would have been "Game Over" for Buffy, barring some serious divine intervention. The Annoying One's hours were numbered once the Master was dusted: his big role was to help the Master take over, which just didn't happen.

To sum up: "Prophecy Girl" is by far the best episode of season one of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and is still one of the five best episodes of the series. 9.5 out of 10.

Quotes:

"I don't want to spoil the friendship that we have."
"Well, I don't want to spoil it either. But that's not the point, is it? You either feel a thing or you don't."
"I don't. Xander, I'm, I'm sorry. I-I just don't think of you that way."
"Well, try. I'll wait."

-- Buffy, trying to let Xander down easy, and Xander letting himself in for a little more humiliation.

"Well, I have been surfing the 'Net, looking for unexplained incidents. You know, people are always sending stuff my way. They know the occult's my turf. Now, here is the latest. A cat last week gave birth to a litter of snakes. A family was swimming in Whisper Lake when the lake suddenly began to boil. And Mercy Hospital last night, a boy was born with his eyes facing inward. I'm not stupid. This is apocalypse stuff. And throw in last night's earthquake, and I'd say we've got a problem. I would say the end is pretty seriously nigh."

-- Jenny Calendar, reminding Giles that she's capable of spotting signs of The End of Everything.

"Willow! I really like your outfit!"
"No, you don't."
"No, I really don't, but I need a favor."

-- Cordelia ineptly schmoozes for a favor, and Willow cleverly perceives her insincerity.

"You think I wanna go to the dance with you and watch you wish you were at the dance with her? You think that's my idea of hijinks? You should know better."

-- Willow sticks up for herself for a change to Xander.

"Then you're reading it wrong."
" I wish to God I were! But it's very plain! Tomorrow night Buffy will face the Master, and she will die."

-- Angel in denial, and Giles inadvertently spilling about the worst news possible to an eavesdropping Buffy.

"I'm not sure that anyone else can. All the... the signs indicate..."
"The signs? Read me the signs! Tell me my fortune! You're so useful sitting her with all of your books! You're really a lot of help!
"No, I don't suppose I am."

-- Giles' quiet appraisal of the situation causes Buffy to lose it, and Giles quietly acknowledges his helplessness in the face of prophecy.

"Buffy, if the Master rises..."
"I don't care! I don't care. Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't want to die."

-- Giles tries to remind Buffy of the grim alternative, and Buffy flatly tells him why she can't go on.

"I'm not okay. I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there, it... it wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun. What are we going to do?"
"What we have to."

-- Willow succinctly explains her state of mind, and Buffy decides that she can't stand by any more.

"The part that gets me, though, is where Buffy is the Vampire Slayer. She's so little."

-- Jenny Calendar, summing up what has to have been the last thought of dozens of vampires within the city limits of Sunnydale over the past five years. "Buffy's not going to face the Master. I am."
"No, you're not."

-- Giles, unwilling to let Buffy die, and Buffy equally unwilling to let Giles die, leading to a discussion concluded with a right cross.

"I don't like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you're a vampire. But Buffy's got this big old yen for you. She thinks you're a real person. And right now I need you to prove her right."
"You're in love with her."
"Aren't you?"

-- Xander explains why he has come to Angel, Angel makes a shrewd observation, and Xander throws it back in Angel's face to goad him into doing the right thing.

"You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don't tell you everything. You're the one that sets me free! If you hadn't come, I couldn't go. Think about that!"

-- The Master, letting Buffy know that she has become yet another object lesson regarding the saying, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

"You're dead!"
"I may be dead, but I'm still pretty. Which is more than I can say for you."
"You were destined to die! It was written!"
"What can I say? I flunked the written."

-- The Master can't believe his eyes, and Buffy is quite willing to let him know how screwed he is.

"Where are your jibes now? You laugh when my Hell is on Earth?"
"You're that amped about Hell... Go there!"

-- The Master feeling confident again, while Buffy decides that it's time to finish him off.

"And what about him?"
"He's not going anywhere. Loser."

-- Jenny wonders about what to do with the vampire bones, and Buffy casually sneers at her fallen foe.