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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 overall.

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

It turns out the swim-team coach has been giving fish steroids in the form of steam (aromatherapy) to the swim team to get them to perform, but it turns them into sea monsters. Buffy Summers confronts the coach, and he is killed by the swim-team sea monsters.

Synopsis

At the beach, the Sunnydale High swim team is celebrating their latest victory, while Xander complains about having such a celebration just for the swim team. Buffy sulks on a rock, watching the ocean. A guy named Cameron Walker 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. The bullies, Dodd McAlvy and Gage Petronzi, walk off and talk about how weird Buffy seems to them (not knowing about her being the Slayer). Then Dodd stops, while Gage Petronzi keeps walking. Gage then smells something bad but keeps going. He walks by without seeing Dodd's skin, which is lying on the ground but with nothing left inside. We see a creature walk through the sewer.

The next day, Willow Rosenberg 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 with naked women on the cards. She tells him off, but he doesn't seem to care. After class, Principal Snyder tells Willow that they can't get a new teacher for a while, and that she will have to continue covering (which pleases her). Willow then 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 is on the swim team, he shouldn't be expected to do homework or take tests. Snyder demands that Willow 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 the Swim Team Coach and Snyder that Buffy was leading him on; the Coach, after telling Nurse Greenleigh to "take care of my boy", turns to Buffy and tells her she shouldn't dress so provocatively.

Later, Buffy rants to Rupert 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. The Coach bursts in and announces that Cameron has had enough. 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 Chase 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 Boys' Team; after them was Gage. 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 relieving himself in the pool, oddly enough. 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 ridicules her by calling her a "psycho bitch" and a "head tripper", unknowing of what Buffy really is. He leaves, only to encounter Angelus in the parking lot. They complain briefly about Buffy, then Angelus "vamps out" 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 Cordy and Willow. The three girls wonder what could be killing off the swimmers. Buffy suspects Gage had steroids in his blood, or something else that might have attracted the monsters. Cordelia comments on a cute new addition to the team, and then realizes 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, but instead got his revenge by relieving himself in the pool. 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, but still no one pays attention.

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, followed by his skin, and 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 Greenleigh'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; there he asks 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 Greenleigh tries to end Marin's experiments; the Coach has been attempting to improve his swim team's performance, by supplying them with steroids via the sauna-steam. To keep her from exposing him, he drops 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 Greenleigh 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 and Cordelia help round up the Boys' Swim Team members. Xander enters the locker room to check and see if he's becoming "scaly." A Gill Monster who used to be Shawn emerges from the locker room and jumps in the pool. Cordy, thinking it's Xander, laments about his fate. Xander suddenly reappears beside her, right before "Sean" attacks Cordy — just missing her. 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 (which Marin has, for some reason, left on the other side of the room beyond his reach). 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 fetid 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 save Buffy, of all people, from certain doom.) Then Coach Marin bashes Xander's head with a pipe wrench from behind, incapacitating but not killing him. Marin then 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 fails. 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 prescribed treatment Giles had the hospital toxicology lab come up with a treatment to ensure that the steroids don't take effect. 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 an irony 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 getting picked on (at the beginning of the episode) is another piece of the setup for his suicide attempt in "Earshot".
  • The nurse and coach are the 5th and 6th members of the SDH 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
  • Sean, turned into a Gill Monster
  • Gage Petronzi, turned into a Gill Monster
  • Cameron Walker, turned into a Gill Monster
  • Nurse Greenliegh, eaten by Gill Monsters
  • Coach Marin, eaten by Gill Monsters

Behind the Scenes

Production 

  • This is the first episode written by David Fury, besides being his sole collaboration with his wife Elin Hampton.

Pop Culture References

  • Xander's line "In other words, 'this was no boating accident'." was a reference to Jaws. The line "This is not a boat accident." was uttered by Richard Dreyfuss's character after he examined a dead body found 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 fish 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 has naked women on them but they clearly aren't naked.
  • When hiding behind a magazine 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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