"Life Serial" is the fifth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the one hundred fifth episode altogether. It was written by David Fury and Jane Espenson and directed by Nick Marck. It originally broadcast on October 23, 2001.
Buffy returned from her visit with Angel, but did not want to talk about it. Instead, the Scoobies discussed Buffy's future plans. Not knowing what she wanted to do in life, Buffy agreed to audit the classes Willow and Tara are taking until the next semester starts.
The Trio prepared for their competition to test Buffy, setting up their van with high-tech monitoring equipment. However, there was a small dispute about a large Death Star mural on the van and drawing too much attention to themselves.
At school, Buffy found herself overwhelmed by a class she took with Willow. Buffy later met up with Tara for Art History, but before class began, Warren tags her with a tiny device that caused her to move very slowly in time so everyone else seemed to be moving in fast-forward. Buffy was dazed as the world whizzed around her; when she finally noticed the device Warren planted on her, it self-destructed, putting Buffy back in normal time.
Later, Buffy worked with Xander at his construction job, telling him about the time situation at school before she's introduced to Tony, the boss, and two other workers, Danny and Vince. Andrew summoned demons from the van, which thrashed the construction site before Buffy kills them. Xander got mad at Buffy for bringing slaying to his work place and Buffy is fired.
Buffy learns about working at the Magic Box from Giles and Anya as Jonathan began casting a spell to loop time. Buffy assists a man with a candle sale and then goes downstairs to fetch a live mummy hand for a female customer. The hand attacked her and she was forced to kill it, which also killed the sale. Events started to repeat themselves (a la Groundhog Day, as Buffy must help the customers and fight the mummy hand over and over again. She was stuck in an unsolved dilemma, as events repeated, Buffy became increasingly agitated, even taking off Giles' glasses and stepping on them in one loop, and crying in another. After several loops, Buffy was able to end the spell by telling the woman she would order the hand from a supplier instead of going downstairs to fight with the one they already have.
Stressed out by the repeating time and the job itself, Buffy walks out. All the while, the three villains kept scores on their attacks on Buffy.
Later that night, Buffy got drunk with Spike at his crypt. Completely hammered, Buffy went with Spike to a bar where he played poker (using kittens as currency) and searched for information. After the poker game ended badly, Buffy ranted to Spike about the new low her life has reached with her inability to understand school or get a decent job. Buffy and Spike notice a black van that she realizes has been at all the events of the day; the Trio noticed Buffy approaching with alarm.
A fake demon appears from behind the van and threatens Buffy, but it's beaten down by a staggering drunken kick from the girl while the van drives away. With the use of smoke to confuse the Slayer and vampire, the demon (Jonathan in disguise) runs away. Buffy began to recover from her drunken state and complained to Giles about her life. He consoled her and offered her a check to help pay for all the expenses. Buffy was happy that Giles would always be there, but the look on Giles's face suggested that he might not always be.
- A meeting between Buffy and Angel takes place immediately before this episode (between the corresponding Angel episodes "Carpe Noctem" and "Fredless"). It is the subject of Jane Espenson's Buffy/Angel comic, Reunion. Though even in the comic we don't learn what happened at their meeting.
- Each of the Trio's attempts to ruin Buffy's day are symbolic of her lack of happiness since returning:
- At UCSD with Willow & Tara, everything around Buffy is moving too fast for her to comprehend, symbolizing her inability to keep up with college.
- At Xander's construction site, monsters attack her, symbolizing her male coworker's insults and misogynistic views of Buffy.
- At The Magic Box with Giles and Anya, the event with the Mummy's hand repeated itself, symbolizing the tedium and monotony of retail.
- With Spike at the bar, Buffy got too drunk, ruined the kitten poker game, and beat up a disguised demonic Jonathan, symbolizing her inability to fit in with the demon underworld.
- The good demon Clem, appears for the first time playing kitten poker and is credited as "Loose Skinned Demon." In this episode, he is noticeably more hostile toward Buffy and Spike, but befriends them and the Scoobies in his later appearances.
- Jonathan's phrase "Let the spell be ended" was used by Willow in "The Replacement."
- Three unidentified demons that are summoned by the panflute, "dusted" by Buffy
Behind the Scenes
Pop Culture References
- Andrew references the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "where the Enterprise kept blowing up" ("Cause and Effect"). Warren also notes the X-Files episode in which "the bank kept exploding" ("Monday").
- There is a reference to Monty Python's Flying Circus in the time loop sequence where one of the villains misquotes "this is an ex-mummy hand" - a take on the famous Parrot Sketch.
- The title of the episode is a pun on the breakfast cereal Life.
- When Warren plants the time dilation device on Buffy, he uses the codename "Logan 5", a reference to the 1976 film Logan's Run.
- The Trio have a protracted argument over actors who have played James Bond. Warren insists that Moonraker was inexcusable.
- Andrew spray paints a mural of the Death Star from Return of the Jedi on the side of the Trio's van, and the van's horn plays the Star Wars main theme.
- Tara makes reference to watching SpongeBob SquarePants with Willow to Buffy during Buffy's speed problems at college.
- The events in this episode start to repeat themselves just like the movie Groundhog Day.
Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors
- Just after Jonathan (disguised as a demon) runs off after "fighting" Buffy, Spike is obviously laughing at him.
- In the widescreen version of the episode, a crew member is visible to the left behind Xander and Buffy as they talk at the construction site.
- When Warren takes out Jonathan's Magic Bone, he's holding it only with his left hand. When Jonathan demands "Stop touching my magic bone" right after, the bone is being held by both his right and left hands.
- Masticators - "Kidnapper Song"
- Murder City Devils - "Boom Swagger Boom"
- John Williams - "Star Wars Theme" (The trio used the theme for their van horn)
- Thomas Wanker - original score
|Jonathan - "Stop touching my magic bone!"|
|Giles - "Buffy, a word in your ear. Um, if you, uh, think of the store as a-as a library, it'll help you to concentrate on-on service rather than selling."|
|Buffy - "Yes. And then I'm going to marry Bob Dole and raise penguins in Guam."|
|Giles - "Yes, uh, quite right, yes."|
|Buffy - "Tonight sucks. And look at me. Look at - look at stupid Buffy. Too dumb for college, and-and-and freak Buffy, too strong for construction work. And-and my job at the Magic Shop? I was bored to tears even before the hour that wouldn't end. And the only person that I can even stand to be around is a... neutered vampire who cheats at kitten poker."|