|Buffy the Vampire Slayer|
|Season 2, Episode 19|
|Air date||April 28, 1998|
|Written by||Marti Noxon|
|Directed by||James Whitmore, Jr.|
"Killed by Death"
|Sarah Michelle Gellar||Buffy|
|Anthony Stewart Head|| Giles |
|Miriam Flynn||Miss Frank|
|Brian Reddy||Police Chief|
|Armin Shimerman||Principal Snyder|
|Brian Poth||Fighting Boy|
|Sarah Bibb|| Fighting Girl |
|James Lurie||Mr. Miller|
|Anna Coman-Hidy||50's Girl #1|
|Vanessa Bednar|| 50's Girl #2 |
|Jesse Tobias||Guitar Player|
|J.D. Foster||Bass Player|
- "Love is forever. I'm not afraid to use it, I swear! If I can't be with you..."
- ―James Stanley
This ghostly episode starts out at The Bronze where Buffy rejects the advances of a boy who's looking for a date for the Sadie Hawkins dance. She tells him she's never going to date anyone again. On her way to check in with Giles, she stops a male student from almost shooting a female student. They have no recollection of why they were fighting, and the gun disappears. Principal Snyder blames Buffy for the incident. While waiting in his office, a yearbook from 1955 falls off the shelf. Willow gives Giles a rose quartz that she found in Ms. Calendar's desk. In class later that day, Buffy falls asleep in class and dreams about events that take place in her classroom, but in 1955: a male student and a female teacher are having an affair, and stand in the classroom clandestinely talking. As Buffy comes back to the present, her teacher writes something from the lesson on the board. But as he finishes writing, it becomes clear that he has unintentionally written "Don't walk away from me, bitch!" which is a line uttered by the student holding the gun who Buffy stopped. Afterward, Xander is grabbed by a monster arm inside his locker. Buffy helps him break away, but the arm then disappears.
Giles is intrigued by the possibility of a ghost and is immediately sure that it's Jenny Calendar. Meanwhile, Angelus, Spike and Drusilla have taken up residence in a mansion Angel has found, and Angelus passes the time taunting Spike and flirting with Dru. Spike rolls away on his wheelchair, obviously angry with Angelus.
Later that night, George, a janitor, meets Miss Franck, a teacher, in the hallway as she is leaving after working late. She asks him if George is his correct name, making it clear that the two are barely acquainted. A moment later, the two begin a lover's quarrel, each of them obviously possessed by a spirit. When the spirit causes Miss Franck to say that she doesn't love the man to whom she is speaking, a gun appears in George's hand. He shoots her, and she then falls over a balcony of the school. Giles, who is reading in his office, hears a woman's voice off camera saying "I need you". Thinking it may be Jenny's ghost, he goes to investigate. He is too late to prevent the killing, but he tackles George just as the gun vanishes.
Later, the group discusses the event in the library. Giles is convinced that Jenny is haunting the school. Willow, Xander, and Buffy disagree with him. On the internet, Willow learns that in 1955, Sunnydale High student James Stanley killed his teacher, Grace Newman, on the eve of the Sadie Hawkins Day dance after she tried to break off their affair. Willow and Xander feel sorry for both of them. But Buffy is particularly angry at the boy, insisting that while Grace deserves sympathy, James does not. Xander comments that "the quality of mercy is not Buffy."
Xander, Cordelia, Willow and Buffy go to the school cafeteria for lunch, where chaos erupts when the food turns into snakes. The room empties quickly, and Cordelia is bitten on the face by a snake. Outside, Principal Snyder discusses the situation with a man wearing a business suit with a badge, apparently a Captain or Lieutenant of the Sunnydale Police. Snyder reveals his knowledge of the Hellmouth and expresses concern that he won't be able to keep the parents in the dark indefinitely. The policeman tells him that the City Council expects him, Snyder, to handle the situation, and suggests he should take it up with the mayor if that is difficult. Snyder is taken aback, and says he will handle it.
Willow devises a plan to contain the spirits, and they head off to the school where they prepare, though Giles has already arrived and is trying to summon Jenny's spirit. Buffy hears music coming from the Music Room and goes to see Grace and James dancing there. James' face suddenly changes to a gory mess, startling Buffy. Cordelia looks in the mirror to find her face has become mutilated and red. On the stairwell, Willow begins to sink into the floor, and Giles rushes to save her. Willow finally convinces him that the spirit is not Jenny because she would never do these things. Everyone lights their candle and starts chanting the spell, but the candles blow out and a swarm of wasps enter the school. Everyone rushes out to find the school surrounded by wasps.
In the garden of their new home, Dru gets a vision about Buffy meeting with death. Tears just about pool up in Spike's eyes as Angel holds Dru tight against him and caresses her.
Meanwhile, the Scoobies, defeated for the moment, regroup at Buffy's house. They agree that it is James' ghost, and Giles says the next step is to find out what the ghost James needs to accomplish. Buffy is the one who understands that he wants forgiveness, but she insists that he doesn't deserve it and must "live with it." Giles and Xander insist that he should be forgiven whether he deserves it or not. Buffy is unmoved, and stomps off to the kitchen. Cordelia asks, "Overidentify much?", indicating she understands that all of the harsh things Buffy has said about James not deserving forgiveness for destroying the woman he loved in a moment of blind passion due to stupidity and selfishness, are really directed at herself, for being the direct catalyst for Angel losing his soul, by having sex with him.
In the kitchen, Buffy hears James' voice saying, "I need you," and finds a flyer for the 1955 Sadie Hawkins dance in her pocket. She heads to the school, where the wasps part for her to enter. Willow finds Buffy gone, having left the ad behind, and everyone rushes after Buffy, but they cannot enter the school due to the wasps. Giles explains that James wants to reenact the incident, but with a different ending. But they agree that it's not possible to have another ending, and they fear Buffy will be shot.
Angelus appears in the halls as Buffy, now possessed by James, talks to him as if he were Grace. They continue the ghosts' argument with Angelus possessed by Grace's spirit, the two lovers speaking lines relevant to Buffy and Angel as well as to James and Grace. At the climax, Buffy pulls out a gun and shoots Angelus. He falls off of the balcony as though dead. James (still in Buffy's body) rushes off to the music room where he plans to kill himself. Grace (still in Angelus), is not killed by the bullets due to Angelus' vampire nature. She wakes up and proceeds to the music room just in time to stop "Buffy" from pulling the trigger. Grace tells James she never stopped loving him, that she knows it was an accident that the gun went off, and that it wasn't his fault. She says she loved him with her last breath. They exchange apologies and kiss passionately. The spirits, now able to pass on, leave the bodies of Angel and Buffy, who then break away from the kiss as Angelus realizes what he has been doing. He pushes Buffy aside and rushes off.
Buffy talks with Giles, processing the recent events. She doesn't understand why Grace would forgive James, but she says it doesn't matter.
At his mansion, Angelus scrubs furiously at his body, saying he was violated by being infested with love. He then gets the urge for a "real vile kill" to cleanse himself. Dru invites Spike out as well, but Spike is wheelchair-bound, and sunup is not far off, so to "travel light", Spike must remain behind. After Dru and Angelus leave, though, Spike stands up and kicks the chair aside, revealing that he has fully healed from his spinal injury and has been feigning weakness.
- This is the first appearance of the mansion that will appear frequently for the rest of Season 2 and throughout Season 3.
- This is the first Buffyverse episode in which night-blooming jasmine flower is compared to vampires. This happens again in "The Trial" and "Shiny Happy People". In the latter, it becomes the name of a fallen power.
- Xander's comment that "the quality of mercy is not Buffy," is a paraphrase from the Shakespeare play The Merchant of Venice, which the students were shown discussing in class earlier in the season. The true line is: "The quality of mercy is not strained."
- While posessed by the ghosts Angel tells Buffy that he must leave her despite loving her so she can have a normal life, something he will do at the end of season three.
- It's revealed that Principal Snyder is aware of the Hell-Mouth and that Mayor Wilkins hired him to act as a guardian of sorts, mainly in keeping it under wraps in the public eye.
- In Waiting in the Wings, a season three episode of Angel (series), when Angel and Cordelia are possessed by the spirits of lovers past, Angel states that he's been possessed by ghostly lovers before, referring, of course, to this episode.
- Grace is the 3rd Sunnydale High teacher killed in the series
Behind the Scenes
- The show has dealt with many disturbing subjects, but this is the first one that has prompted a public-service announcement. Following the end of the final act, Sarah Michelle Gellar did a voice-over on the dangers of suicide when you're a teenager.
- This exchange from the script was cut:
- Cordelia: "Okay. So what's up with Buffy?"
- Xander: "How many times do we have to go over this? Nothing's up with Buffy. We're just good friends ..."
- Cordelia: "No, I mean, what's up with Buffy? Like, is she okay?"
- Xander: "Sorry. I'm not used to you addressing subjects not directly related to ... you. She's fine. I guess. Why?"
- Cordelia: "She only blew off Ben Straley - the most eligible hunk in town. He's totally rad and his father owns a department store. I mean, he's the guy I'd be going out with if I wasn't so obviously brain damaged. No offense."
- Xander: "Oh no. Why would I be offended?"
- Cordelia: "Anyway. Ben told Lynette, who told Charity, that Buffy wouldn't even give him the time of day."
- Xander: "Good for her. She's providing much needed life experience for the rejection-deprived."
- Cordelia: "The guilt thing's just getting a little old, you know. Everybody's told her what happened to Angel isn't her fault."
- Xander: "Yeah. Everybody except the one guy she needs to hear it from."
Pop Culture references
- Willow says, "You came, you saw, you rejected," paraphrasing "I came, I saw, I conquered," by Julius Caesar.
- Buffy says, "You just went O.J. on your girlfriend," was a reference to the 1994 O.J. Simpson trial for which he was accused of killing his ex-wife.
- Xander's line, "I'm dead as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," paraphrased the line "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" from the film Network.
- Snyder mentioned the film JFK when giving Buffy a lecture about conspiracies.
Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors
- In the beginning, Willow says that she found all kinds of cool stuff on Miss Calendar's computer, but Angelus smashed and burned it in order to destroy files.
- The Flamingos song "I Only Have Eyes For You" was not released until 1959. The ghost story is set in 1955, 4 years prior to its release.
- Splendid - "Charge" (Played at The Bronze when Buffy is asked to the dance.) (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Album)
- The Flamingos - "I Only Have Eyes for You" (Plays when Buffy sees James and Grace, and again when Buffy and Angel are possessed by the spirits.)
- Christophe Beck - "Love is Forever"
- Joss Whedon has said that it was this episode that convinced him that David Boreanaz was an actor strong enough to have his own series.
- Grace and James talk about a book Grace has lent him. The book is A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway. It is about a teenaged World War I soldier who has a romance with an older woman—an army nurse. The relationship ends after she dies in a fashion that he blames himself for. It is based on events that happened to Hemingway.
- The scenes where Cordelia deformed in front of the mirror and Willow is attacked by hands going out of a whirlpool, are tributes to the horror movie "Poltergeist", directed by Tobe Hooper in 1982.
|James Stanley - "Don't walk away from me, bitch!"|
|Xander - "'Something weird is going on.' Isn't that our school motto?"|
|Giles - "To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's-it's ... it's not done because people deserve it. It's done because they need it.|
|Buffy - "No. James destroyed the one person he loved the most in a moment of blind passion. And that's not something you forgive. No matter why he did what he did. And no matter if he knows now that it was wrong and selfish and stupid, it is just something he's gonna have to live with."|
|Xander - "I'll have you know I was just accosted by some kind of, um, locker monster.|
|Giles - "Loch Ness Monster?"|
|Buffy - "Locker monster is what he said."|
|Giles - "It's Jenny."|
|Buffy - "What?"|
|Xander - "You think she's the ghost?"|
|Giles - "Well, don't you see? Well, she-she-she died here under tragic circumstances, a-a-and now she's trapped."|
|Willow - "But what about the gun? I mean, Angel didn't shoot Ms. Calendar."|
|Giles - "The gun is insignificant. It's the violence of the thing that matters."|
|Buffy - "I don't know. These fights these couples keep having, it's sort of ... specific."|
|Willow - "She's right. It's a pattern that doesn't fit with the way Ms. Calendar died."|
|Giles - "Yes, well, I, uh, I appreciate your thoughts on the matter, I, in fact I... well, I encourage you to, to always, uh, challenge me, uh, when you feel it's appropriate. You should never be cowed by authority. Except, of course, in this instance, when I am clearly right and you are clearly wrong.|
|Xander - "I know. He's usually Investigate-Things-From-Every-Boring-Angle Guy. Now he's I-Cling-Onto-My-One-Lame-Idea Guy. What gives?"|
|Buffy - "He misses her. He can't think. Just a little more fallout from my love life."|
|Willow - "Okay, but this ghost stuff is something else. Let me do a crosscheck on other shootings at the school.|
|Buffy - "Yeah, we need some alternate ghost theories. What do we know?"|
|Xander - "Dog spit is cleaner than human."|