"Prophecy Girl" is the first season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the twelfth episode overall. It was both written and directed by Joss Whedon. The episode originally broadcast on June 2, 1997.
Giles discovers an ancient book foretelling Buffy's death at the hands of The Master. Will she stay true to her destiny or abandon her calling?
Xander is practicing lines on Willow in the Bronze, preparing how best to ask Buffy to an upcoming dance. Cordelia is in a car making out with Kevin, as Buffy slays a vampire nearby. In the library, Giles is reading the Pergamum Codex that he recently acquired and comes to a passage concerning Buffy and what he reads leaves him shell-shocked. As he attempts to digest the information he's just learned, an earthquake is felt all over town, and the Master revels in it.
The next morning, Buffy is meeting Giles in the library, where no significant damage was sustained in the earthquake. Buffy explains that the vampires are rising in number and getting braver, but Giles is distracted by his thoughts. After biology class, Willow finds an excuse to leave, leaving Xander alone to ask Buffy to the prom. Buffy regretfully gives him the "let's just be friends" routine. Xander takes the rejection badly, and walks off to wallow in his misery.
Giles phones Angel and asks to meet with him as soon as possible when Miss Calendar arrives in the library, telling him that she sees apocalyptic portents and demands to know what is happening. She tells him Brother Luka, a monk in Cortona, is e-mailing her about the Anointed One. Giles asks her to get more information about this, promising he will explain everything later. In the school hall, Kevin and Willow promise to help Cordelia set everything up in the Bronze for the dance. Willow sees Xander wallowing in his misery and offers sympathy. When Xander asks her to the dance, she refuses to be his second choice, despite the fact that she is in love with him.
That evening, as Buffy enters the library, she hears Giles telling Angel what he's learned. Angel refuses to believe what Giles is telling him but Giles insists that he's verified the prophecy which tells, without a doubt, that the next evening Buffy will face the Master and die. Buffy is understandably devastated at the idea of her impending death, and rejects Giles and Angel's attempts to comfort her and in a fit of emotion throws the books across the library. She then tells the two that she has a way around the prophecy, by quitting as the Slayer. Even though the two warn her that without her to stop him the Master will rise and unleash hell on earth, she refuses to listen and leaves the cross Angel gave her on the table. She goes back home and tries to convince her mother that they go away for the weekend. Instead, Joyce tells her that the gallery is open on weekends, and then gives her a stunning white prom dress. After she tells her about when she met Buffy's father, Joyce encourages her to go to the dance.
The next day at school, Cordelia and Willow find the members of the audio visual club, including Kevin, slaughtered by vampires, as "Three Little Pigs" cartoons play. Having heard the news, a sympathetic Buffy shows up at Willow's, all decked out in her prom dress. Willow is shell-shocked; even though she has faced vampires and death before, until this it has never been quite so personal. Buffy heads back to the library, where Giles has explained to Ms. Calendar that Buffy is the Slayer. Having used the information that was provided to him by Ms. Calendar, Giles discerns the Anointed One is still alive and is a child. He then tells Ms. Calendar that he intends to face the Master so Buffy doesn't have to but Buffy, having overheard everything, stops him having realized she can't escape destiny. Giles tries to stop her, telling her he's willing to defy the prophecy, so Buffy knocks him out. Ms. Calendar reminds Buffy that if she faces the Master she'll die, and Buffy responds that at the least she may be able to take him down with her. Outside of school, she finds the Anointed One asking for help. Buffy tells him she knows who is and allows him to lead her to the Master's lair.
Willow and Xander show up at the library, where they learn of the prophecy and that Buffy has gone off to face the Master. Xander leaves, only to show up at Angel's apartment. The two have a mutual dislike of each other, both being in love with Buffy, but when Xander tells Angel that Buffy is going to face the Master he agrees to lead him to the Master's lair. The Master and Buffy fight and taunt each other. The Master tells Buffy that it is her blood which will free him, drinks from her and leaves her to drown in a shallow pool before breaking free of his mystical prison and rising to the surface. At the library, Willow and Ms. Calendar decide that the Hellmouth is underneath the Bronze, and leave. However, as they leave, they see an army of vampires approaching the library. Cordelia rescues them in her car, and drives the car straight into the school. Xander and Angel reach Buffy only to find that she is dead. Xander performs CPR (as Angel couldn't do it himself, since vampires don't breathe) and manages to revive her. When Buffy regains consciousness, she heads to the surface to kill the Master who is now above the library and using her power to summon all matter of beasts from the Hellmouth. Cordelia, Willow, Giles and Jenny fight off vampires trying to enter the library, and just as Giles realizes that the Hellmouth is directly underneath the library, a tentacled creature rises through the floor. Buffy throws the Master into the library, where he is impaled on a jutting piece of wood and his soft tissues disintegrate, leaving only his skeleton and the Hellmouth closes, sucking the tentacled creature back down.
The gang regroup and reflect on everything that happened, including Buffy's temporary death. The Hellmouth is closed and the vampires have gone, the world is saved. Giles notes that he should have known Buffy wouldn't have let death stop her. The stunned friends stare at each other wondering what to do now, and Giles suggests that they leave as he doesn't like the library that much anymore. The group decide to head to the dance, with Buffy stating "We saved the world. I say we party." Miss Calendar asks about what they should do with the Master's skeleton, and Buffy tells her not to worry... he's not going anywhere, before calling him a loser. The gang then leave for the Bronze, leaving the skeleton behind.
Buffy Summers dies for the first time, not from The Master's bite, but from drowning in the pool of water after he feeds on her. This has major repercussions as her death caused a new Slayer, Kendra, to be activated.
Buffy Summers was essentially cut off from the Slayer line of succession (no new Slayer is called after her second death), with Kendra, and later Faith, being the 'active' Slayer; although many assume that Buffy's death would still activate a new Slayer, the lack of any record of a new Slayer after her second death suggests that this is not the case.
Xander goes to the apartment of Angel, but there are no references that he knew the address above.
Angel notes that vampires cannot give CPR due to their lack of breath. He's probably meaning "healthy" breath, since he, like all vampires, is able to talk, for which breath is needed.
When Buffy Summers rejects Xander Harris, he says: "Well, Willow's not looking to date you. Or if she is, she's playing it pretty close to the chest," foreshadowing Willow's future sexual orientation into Season Four.
When Buffy Summers rejects Xander Harris, he says "Guess a guy has to be undead to make time with you," referring to Angel. This is ironic as Buffy's most true loves Angel and Spike are both vampires.
This episode marks the first time Hypnosis is used in series.
In the comic "False Memories" that shows previous events in the first four seasons, altered to include Dawn, Buffy's death is featured with Dawn witnessing the event before the intervention of Angel and Xander.
This isn't the first time hypnosis is used against Buffy. Lothos uses it in "The Origin," but unlike the Master, Buffy manages to resist it the first time, meaning the Master's hypnotic power is superior to Lothos'.
The Master catches Buffy's arrow just before it pierces his heart, this is the first of two times this would happen, the second time in the Angel episode "Five by Five," as Angel would catch Faith's arrow just before it struck him.
Three unidentified vampires, staked by Buffy, two of them off-camera.
Five students were killed by vampires in the audiovisual room: Kevin Benedict and two unidentified boys and two girls.
Buffy, temporarily left to drown by the Master at the Order of Aurelius' lair; Xander saved her with CPR.
Several vampire minions dusted by Angel and Xander, only one being shown.
The Master, impaled on a broken piece of table desk wood after being thrown by Buffy through a skylight into the Sunnydale High library.
Behind the Scenes
While Joss Whedon had written other scripts for the show before, this episode was his first turn as writer/director.
Joss wanted to have 90 vampires converge on the school but had to scale it down due to budget restrictions.
The exchange between Buffy and Angel where he starts to tell her that he likes her dress but she cuts him off saying "Yeah, yeah. It was a big hit with everyone." was added in production and not in the original script.
The huge demon that comes up out of the Hellmouth at the end of the episode was created at Optic Nerve. The budget didn't allow for a computer-generated effect, so tentacle "costumes" were created. Each tentacle has a human being inside manipulating it from within.
Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors
When Buffy dies Angel is not able to give her CPR because vampires can't breathe. However, there are two instances where vampires can breathe (and need to do so). A few of the vampires on the show were seen smoking (especially Spike). Also, on both Buffy and Angel, vampires have been choked into unconsciousness. An example of this is seen when Spike choke-holds Drusilla into unconsciousness before leaving Sunnydale. Actually, vampires can inhale air as being able to speak. To make it simple, vampires need air (or even toxic gas) just for mechanical purposes: they just don't need oxygen to purify their own "blood." And the "choking" seems more affecting the nervous system (which vampires retain) than other ones (circulatory and respiratory) that vampires have atrophied.
"Prophecy Girl" pulled in an audience of 2.8 million households.
The following scene – right after Buffy has turned Xander down – was cut because of length:
Xander bails, wandering off under the archway. Buffy sits by herself on the bench, bummed. Which is when the hail of pebbles starts. The first few get Buffy's attention, tiny hard pellets hitting the ground around her. She stands as more start coming down. People – including Buffy – all run for cover as the real shower starts. Buffy stands under the archway, watching the hail come down.
Walking away, not near Buffy. He hears:
Student (O.S.) - "Check it out! It's raining stones!"
Portuguese: A Garota da Profecia (The Girl of the Prophecy)
A "Just say NO" poster was hung in the room where Xander was wallowing in his misery, where Willow rejects his rebound attempt to get a date to the dance. This is ironic because both Willow and Buffy "just said no" to Xander.
Other than the prophecies, the fact that the Master was surprised that Buffy was revived may be because of him being imprisoned for 60 years, while CPR was introduced to the general public in the 70s.
Xander - "Um... You know, Buffy, uh, Spring Fling is a... time for students to gather and... Oh, God!" (takes a breath) Buffy, I want you to go to the dance with me. You and me, on a date."
Buffy - (speechless) "I-I don't know what to say."
Xander - "Well, you're not laughing. So that's a good start. Buffy, I like you. A lot. And I know we're friends, and we've had experiences... We've fought some blood-sucking fiends, and that's all been a good time. But I want more. I wanna dance with you."
Buffy - "Xander, you're one of my best friends. You and Willow...
Xander - "Well, Willow's not looking to date you. Or if she is, she's playing it pretty close to the chest." (laughs nervously)
Buffy - "I don't want to spoil the friendship that we have."
Xander - "Well, I don't want to spoil it either. But that's not the point, is it? You either feel a thing or you don't."
Buffy - (looks down a moment, then back up) "I don't. Xander, I'm, I'm sorry. I-I just don't think of you that way."
Xander - "Well, try. I'll wait." (smiles weakly)
Buffy - "Xander..."
Xander - "Nah. Forget it." (gets up) "I'm not him. I mean, I guess a guy's gotta be undead to make time with you."
Buffy - "That's really harsh."
Xander - "Look, I'm sorry. I don't handle rejection well. Funny! Considering all the practice I've had, huh?"
Buffy - "Xander, I'm sorry, I don't know..."
Xander - "You know what? Let's just not." (He goes into the building with his head hung low. Buffy sighs, saddened. She turns and watches him leave.)
Willow - "Hey!"
Xander - "Hey!" (throws the ball)
Willow - "How'd it go?"
Xander - (throws the ball) "On a scale of one to ten? It sucked." (throws the ball)
Willow - "Oh."
Xander - "Well, I guess it could be worse." (throws the ball) "I could have gangrene on my face." (throws the ball)
Willow - "Well, what'd she say?"
Xander - "Apart from ‘no’, does it really matter? She's still jonesin’ for Angel, and could care less about me."
Willow - "At least now you know."
Xander - "Yeah, you're right."
Xander - "Hey, I know what we'll do! We can go! Be my date! We'll, we'll have a great time! We'll dance, we'll go wild... Whadaya say?"
Willow - "No."
Xander - "Good! What?"
Willow - "There's no way."
Xander - (exhales) "Willow, come on!"
Willow - "You think I wanna go to the dance with you and watch you wish you were at the dance with her? You think that's my idea of hijinks? You should know better."
Xander - (exhales) "I didn't think."
Willow - "I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. I'll see you on Monday." (leaves)
The Master - (during an earthquake) "Yes! YES! Shake, Earth! This is a sign! We are in the final days! My time has come! Glory! GLORY!" (the earthquake stops and the Master looks at Collin) "Whaddya think? 5.1?"
Buffy - "Mom, let's go away!" (smiles)
Joyce - "What?"
Buffy - "Anywhere, just for a while, all weekend!"
Joyce - "Honey, I-"
Buffy - "No, it'll be great! You and me — a mother-daughter thing. We can talk about all the embarrassing things you love to bring up."
Joyce - "You know the gallery's open on weekends."
Buffy - "Mom, please!"
Joyce - "Isn't the Prom tomorrow night? Or Spring Fling? Whatever they're calling it?"
Buffy - "I-I guess."
Joyce - "Nobody asked you?"
Buffy - "Oh, someone…"
Joyce - "But not the right someone. See, sometimes I actually do know what you're thinking."
Buffy - "No, I-I can't go to the dance."
Joyce - "Says who? Is it written somewhere? You should do what you want. Homecoming, my freshman year of college, I didn't have a date. So I got dressed up and I went anyway."
Buffy - "Was it awful?"
Joyce - "It was awful. For about an hour."
Buffy - "Then what happened?"
Joyce - (smiles) "I met your father."
Buffy - "He didn't have a date either?"
Joyce - "He did. And that's a much funnier story that you will not get to hear. Oh, but it was a beautiful night!"
The Master - "By the way: I really like your dress."
Willow - "We need to get to the library!"
Cordelia - "Library. Great." (aims her car at the school doors)
Willow - "Of course we generally walk there!" (the car crashes through the school, coming to a halt in front of the library)
Giles - (confused by the noise) "What the…?"
The Master - "Yes. Come forth, my child. Come into my world."
Buffy - "I don't think it's yours just yet."
The Master - (turns to face Buffy in disbelief) "You're dead!"
Buffy - "I may be dead, but I'm still pretty — which is more than I can say for you."
The Master - "You were destined to die! It was written."
Buffy - "What can I say? I flunked the written."
Cordelia - (biting a vampire on the hand) "See how you like it!"