"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 returns from her meeting with Angel, implying that it didn't go well but refuses to reveal any details. 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 the three get into an argument when Andrew paints a decal of the second Death Star on the side, since they're supposed to keep low-key.
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 decides to get a job and Xander pulls some strings to get her a job as part of his construction team, telling him about the time situation at school before she's introduced to Tony, the boss, and two other workers, Danny and Vince. Although stronger than the other workers, she makes a bad impression when she starts to power through the work since the crew is being paid by the hour. Andrew summons demons from the van, which thrashed the construction site before Buffy kills them. Xander is angry that Buffy brought her slayer work to his job and that he's now got to find a way to explain the mess to his clients, and fires her.
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 satisfy the customer while dealing with the mummy hand. If she fails, the events reset to when the customer walks into the store. Buffy becames increasingly agitated, even taking off Giles' glasses and stepping on them in one loop, and crying in another. After several loops, Buffy finally manages to end the spell by promising the customer they'll deliver the mummy hand instead so she doesn't have to deal with it directly. Although Giles congratulates Buffy on making her first sale, Anya reminds her that she didn't charge extra for the item's delivery and (despite GIles trying to ignore the mistake) decides to take the money out of Buffy's pay. This is the last straw for Buffy, and she quits as the three villains keep score.
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. Meanwhile the Trio, still spying, get into an argument over who was the best James Bond and accidentally trip the horn (which plays the theme tune to Star Wars). Buffy and Spike notice the black van that she realizes has been at all the events of the day; the Trio notices 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 prefers Sean Connery, Jonathan prefers Roger Moore, and Andrew likes Timothy Dalton. 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.
- During the scene with Buffy and Xander when are walking up to the foremen, talking about the exploding lint, you can see a crew member carrying a light diffuser off behind Xander.
- When the Geek Trio is in the van, you can see the reflections of the camera crew in the binoculars lens and the vans windows.
- German: Die Zeitschleife (The Time Loop)
- French: Tous contre Buffy (Everyone against Buffy)
- Masticators - "Kidnapper Song"
- Murder City Devils - "Boom Swagger Boom"
- John Williams - "Star Wars Theme" (The trio used 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."|
|Warren - "Connery is Bond. He had style."|
|Jonathan - "Yeah, but Roger Moore was funny."|
|Warren - "Moonraker? The gondola turns into a hovercraft? It's retarded. And besides, the guy had, like, no edge."|
|Andrew - "Dalton had edge. In Licence to Kill he was a rogue agent. That's edgy. And he was amazing in The Living Daylights."|
|Jonathan - "Yeah, which was written for Roger Moore, not Timothy Dalton."|
| Warren - "This is stupid! We're wasting time. End of discussion." (pause) "I mean, there's a shot of, like, pigeons doing double-takes when the gondola blasted by! Moonraker is inexcusable!"
|Warren - "Connery is the only actor of the bunch."|
|Andrew - "Timothy Dalton should get an Oscar and beat Sean Connery over the head with it!"|