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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 2, Episode 20
32 18
Air date May 5, 1998
Written by Elin Hampton
David Fury
Directed by David Semel
Episode Guide
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"I Only Have Eyes for You"
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"Becoming, Part One"
Cast
Starring
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
David Boreanaz Angelus
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Charles Cyphers Coach Marin
Jeremy Garrett Cameron
Wentworth Miller Gage
Conchata Ferrell Nurse Greenliegh
Armin Shimerman Principal Snyder
Co Starring
Danny Strong Jonathan
Jake Patellis Dodd McAlvy
Shane West Sean

"Go Fish" is the twentieth episode of season two of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the thirty-second episode in the series. It was directed by David Semel and written by Elin Hampton and David Fury. It was originally broadcast on May 5, 1998.

Xander Harris goes undercover on the Sunnydale High Swim Team after members begin turning up dead, apparently having been skinned alive.

Synopsis

At the beach, the Sunnydale High swim team is celebrating their latest victory, while Xander complains about having such a big celebration just for the swim team. Buffy sulks on a rock, watching the ocean. Cameron Walker, another member of the swim team, approaches Buffy and starts sputtering out poetic words. Buffy tries to scare him off, but he says he’s looking to talk. Meanwhile, Jonathan Levinson is being dunked in a bucket of ice water by members of the team. Buffy rescues him and scares off the two bullying swimmers. However, Jonathan is angry with Buffy for saving him and tells her to leave him alone. The bullies, Dodd McAlvy and Gage Petronzi, walk off and talk about how weird Buffy is, and how she scares them. Dodd suddenly stops, while Gage keeps walking. He smells something bad, but goes on anyway. He walks by without seeing Dodd’s body, seemingly skinned apart. A mysterious creature walks into the sewer.

The next day, Willow is teaching a class, and as she is walking around checking people’s work on their computers, she sees Gage playing solitaire on his computer. She tells him off, but he doesn’t seem to care. After class, Principal Snyder tells Willow that they’re still unable to find a replacement for Ms. Calendar, so she’ll have to continue substituting for the time being. Willow informs Snyder that Gage is failing because he doesn’t show up for tests or do homework. Snyder is not interested; he tells her that, as Gage a member of the swim team, he’s under much more pressure than the rest of the students, and demands that she change Gage’s grade from an F to a D. Buffy comes to school with Cameron, and he tries to grope her. She hits his head against the steering wheel and breaks his nose. Snyder happens to see this; he and Cameron blame Buffy for the altercation. Cameron tells Coach Marin, the coach of the swim team, and Snyder that Buffy was leading him on. The Coach, after telling Nurse Greenliegh to “take care of my boy”, turns to Buffy and tells her she shouldn’t dress so provocatively.

Later, Buffy rants to Giles and her friends about the incident with Cameron. Giles informs her that they found Dodd’s remains on the beach. Cameron hits the sauna and hears some weird noises, but it’s just Coach Marin telling him to hit the showers. While everyone studies in the library, Xander goes out for a drink. Heading for the vending machine, he bumps into Cameron. Xander teases him for getting beaten by Buffy after he tried to paw her. Cameron heads off to the cafeteria for a snack, while Xander tries to decide between grape and orange soda. Cameron screams, and Xander rushes into the cafeteria. He finds the place in shambles, with Cameron’s skin on the ground. Xander turns around and finds himself face-to-face with the creature responsible: a Gill Monster.

In the library, Cordelia sketches the creature that Xander saw before running off “like a woman.” Buffy and Willow return, having been informed that Cameron and Dodd were the two best swimmers on the team; Gage being the third best. Buffy is assigned to shadowing Gage — suspecting that he will be attacked next — while Willow interrogates Jonathan under a lamp. According to Jonathan, he indeed wanted revenge, but achieved it in a very different way: by peeing in the pool before practice one morning. Xander, who has been teased for his cowardice by Cordelia, overhears Marin and Snyder chatting. They need another swimmer, or they won’t be eligible for competition; they don’t even care if the guy can swim a stroke, so long as he shows up for practice. The next day, Gage grows suspicious of Buffy when she follows him around. At the Bronze that night, Buffy is confronted by Gage; she attempts to cover it up, but fails. She tells him that his life is in danger, but he doesn’t believe her and calls her a “psycho bitch” and a “head tripper”. He leaves, only to encounter Angelus in the parking lot. They complain briefly about Buffy, then Angelus turns into his “vamp face” and bites him, intending to “turn” Gage and recruit him for his war against Buffy. However, seconds later, Angelus stops and spits the blood out. Buffy comes to Gage’s rescue. A now-fearful Gage lets Buffy walk him home, while Buffy wonders why Angel spit the blood out.

The following day, Buffy sits in on swim practice along with Cordelia and Willow. The three girls wonder what could be killing off the swimmers, and Buffy suspects Gage had steroids in his blood. Cordelia comments on a cute new addition to the team, soon realizing that it’s Xander. He walks over and informs them that he just made the team. Willow tells Buffy that Jonathan wasn’t responsible for the swimmers’ deaths. At the beginning of swim practice, Gage stops in mid-lap to wave and smile at Buffy. Cordelia is delighted that she’s dating a member of the Sunnydale swim team, while Buffy and Willow tease him for being almost naked. Later, the team soaks in the sauna. Xander continues to babble, but no one pays attention. Claws come up through a grate, out of the sight of the team.

While Buffy waits for Gage to exit the boys’ locker room, she hears him yell. She charges in and finds him with a Gill Monster. Gage suddenly cries out in pain and falls to the ground: he rips open his shirt, and Buffy watches in horror as he becomes a Gill Monster himself. As Buffy fights the two monsters off, one grabs her from behind and bites her in the arm. Suddenly, Coach Marin saves Buffy just by bursting into the room; although Marin is alone and unarmed, the Gill Monsters flee. Buffy is sent to Nurse Greenliegh’s office. Marin is told that members of his team are becoming Gill Monsters. Buffy and Giles go hunting for Gill Monsters in the sewers, but fail to find any. Meanwhile, Xander again hits the sauna, asking where and how he can get some steroids. His fellow swimmers tell him that he’s already getting some, right here and now; it turns out the steroids are in the steam from the sauna.

Nurse Greenliegh tries to end Marin’s experiments, as he’s been attempting to improve his team’s performance by supplying them with steroids via the sauna-steam. To keep her from exposing him, he forces her through a grate into the sewers; there, the Gill Monsters devour her. Xander warns everyone that he’s had three exposures to the steam, and is in danger of becoming a Gill Monster himself. Buffy has Giles lock up the rest of the swim team, while she goes to talk with Coach Marin. She confronts him and demands information about the steroids he’s been giving them, telling him he’ll go to jail. Instead, the coach pulls a gun on Buffy and forces her into the same hole where Nurse Greenliegh was killed. The coach explains to Buffy that, while his monsters have already had their dinner, she’s there because “boys have other needs.”

Xander enters the locker room to check and see if he’s becoming “scaly.” A new Gill Monster emerges from the locker room and jumps in the pool. Cordelia, thinking it’s Xander, laments about his fate. Xander suddenly reappears beside her, right before “Sean” attacks Cordelia. They flee back to the library.

Xander decides that, since Buffy hasn’t returned, he should go after her. He meets up with Coach Marin and fights him for the gun. Xander disarms Marin, who is twice his size, and knocks the coach out. Xander looks down into the hole and sees Buffy, up to her waist in sewer water, surrounded by Gill Monsters who are about to attack and slaughter her. He pulls her out before they can do so. (Note this is the second time in one and the same episode that someone has conveniently shown up at the last possible moment to rescue Buffy, of all people, from certain doom.) Coach Marin wakes up and bashes Xander’s head with a pipe wrench, incapacitating but not killing him. Marin tries to do the same with Buffy, but Buffy ducks and trips him — accidentally causing him to fall into the hole. She tries to catch him, but misses. Being no match for the Gill Monsters in their element, Buffy can only observe as they close in and rip the Coach to pieces — literally biting the hand that feeds them. Xander recovers just in time to join her in witnessing Marin’s demise.

The next day, everyone recaps; Xander and the surviving swim team members are given treatments created by the hospital’s toxicology lab that will stop the steroids. Meanwhile, the Gill Monsters swim out into the ocean.

Continuity

  • This is the first of three episodes where we see a beach, the others being "Anne" and "Buffy vs. Dracula".
  • This is the first of two episodes where Willow interrogates Jonathan, the other being "Earshot".
  • Willow's line to Jonathan "You wanted revenge, didn't you? So you delved into the black arts and conjured up a hellbeast from the ocean's depths to wreak your vengeance" is ironic, and also foreshadows both of their futures. Dark Willow will seek vengeance on Jonathan for Tara's death and Jonathan, as a member of the Trio, will conjure demons.
  • Jonathan, yet again being bullied, in this episode is setting up for his suicide attempt in "Earshot".
  • The nurse and coach are the fifth and sixth members of the Sunnydale High faculty to die in the course of the series.
  • This episode features one of the most notable examples of role reversal in the series' horror genre: Gage (a strapping and muscular male athlete) asks Buffy (a petite, sexy blonde girl) to walk him home because he's afraid.

Body Count

  • Dodd McAlvy, turned into a Gill Monster
  • Cameron Walker, turned into a Gill Monster
  • Gage Petronzi, turned into a Gill Monster
  • Sean, turned into a Gill Monster
  • Nurse Greenliegh, eaten by Gill Monsters
  • Coach Marin, eaten by Gill Monsters

Behind the Scenes

Production 

Pop Culture References

  • Xander's line "In other words, 'this was no boating accident'" is a reference to Jaws. "This is not a boat accident" was uttered by Richard Dreyfuss' character after he examined a dead body on the beach.
  • Cordelia attempted to refer to the movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon when she was afraid that Xander would turn in to a Gill Monster, but she accidentally said "The Creature from the Blue Lagoon." Xander corrected her by reminding her that The Blue Lagoon was a movie starring Brooke Shields.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • When Xander comes out of the locker room after helping Buffy keep an eye on Gage, he tells her that Gage will be out in a couple of minutes after he puts his sneakers on. Gage is then shown putting on his shoes, but they aren't sneakers.
  • At the beginning Willow says that the solitaire cards Gage is looking at have naked women on them, but they aren't actually naked.
  • While in the lounge room watching Gage, the magazine Buffy is hiding behind changes between shots.

Music

  • Naked - "Mann's Chinese" (Plays during the beach party.)
  • Nero's Rome - "If You'd Listen" (Plays at The Bronze when Buffy is spying on Gage.)
  • Shawn Clement and Sean Murray - original score

International Titels

  • French: Les hommes poissons (The Fishmen)
  • German: Das Geheimnis der Fischmonster (The Secret of the Fishmonsters)
  • Brazilian Portuguese: Vamos Pescar (Let's Go Fish)

Other

  • Marti Noxon has said in several interviews that this episode was written to show how athletes who use steroids ruin their bodies.
  • The episode was originally intended to be placed before Angel loses his soul. Accordingly, Angel is barely in it.[1]
  • The title Go Fish may have a double meaning here as the Scoobies "fish" for information in various ways.
  • This is the last time the opening prologue is used.

Quotes

Xander - "That is wrong. Big, fat, spanking wrong. It's a slap in the face to every one of us that studied hard and worked long hours to earn our D's."
Carl Marin - "Take good care of my boy, Ruthie."
Nurse Greenleigh - "I always do."
Carl Marin - (turns to Buffy) "And you... Try to dress more appropriately from now on. This isn't a dance club."
Cordelia - "It's about time our school excelled at something."
Willow - "Hmm. You're forgetting our high mortality rate."
Xander - "We're number one!"
Xander - "I'm undercover."
Buffy - "Not under much."
Cordelia - "I'm dating a member of the Sunnydale Swim Team."
Buffy - "Now you can die happy."
Buffy - "And raise the possibility that someone brought forth this sea monster from whence it came to exact that revenge. 'From whence it came'? I'm spending way too much time around you."
Willow - "So, you delved into the black arts and conjured up a hell-beast from the ocean's depths to reek your vengeance. Didn't you?"
Jonathan - "What? No. I snuck in yesterday and peed in the pool."
Willow - "Oh. Ew!"
Buffy - "I think we should lock up the rest of the swim team before they get in touch with their inner halibut."
Cordelia - (to what she believes is a transformed Xander) "It's me, Cordelia? I know you can't answer me, but... God, this is all my fault. You joined the swim team to impress me. You were so courageous. And you looked really hot in those Speedos. And I want you to know that I still care about you, no matter what you look like. And... and we can still date. Or, or not. I mean... I understand if you wanna see other fish. I'll do everything I can to make your quality of life better. Whether that means little bath toys or whatever." (Xander appears behind Cordelia)
Xander - "Uh, Cordy?" (points at the Gill Monster) "That's not me."
Cordelia - "I think it's safe to say we found Sean. He was skinless dipping in the pool."
Buffy - "This is just what my reputation needs: that I did it with the entire swim team."

References

  1. The Succubus Club - David Fury Interview

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