Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 3 E 12 Helpless

Buffy reaches her 18th birthday and she must undergo the Cruciamentum Test according to Slayer tradition. She must kill a vampire without her powers. Said vamp escapes...

  • Adult Fear: After losing her powers, even a couple of louts making rude remarks as she walks home makes Buffy nervous.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: After discovering Giles had secretly injected her, Buffy threatens to kill him if he touches her again. At the end of the episode, after Giles has been fired for helping her, Buffy allows him to clean the wound on her forehead.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Buffy escapes Karlik at one point by sliding down a laundry chute. The passage leads her right to her mother.
  • Ankle Drag: Buffy traps a vampire under a bookcase, then has to bludgeon it into releasing her ankle.
  • Apology Gift: Buffy is sent flowers by her absentee dad. She angrily dumps them in the trash.
  • Armchair Military
    Quentin: We're not in the business of fair, Miss Summers; we're fighting a war.
    Giles: You're waging a war. She's fighting it. There is a difference.
  • Ax-Crazy: Kralik was criminally insane even before he became a vampire. The scary thing is how he's so calm and chipper about it.
  • Bad Liar: Giles; tragically Buffy trusts him so much she doesn't even notice.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Buffy has always said I Just Want to Be Normal, but on losing her superpowers Buffy starts worrying how she'll be able to cope, knowing there are Things That Go Bump in the Night and being powerless to fight them off.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Giles turns up in his car to help Buffy escape when she's attacked while walking home. Having defeated Kralik, Buffy is nearly blindsided by another vampire as she struggles to free her mother, but fortunately Giles turns up again and stakes him.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs
    Willow: You can vote now! You can be drafted! You can vote to not be drafted!
  • Brought Down to Normal
  • Bully Hunter: Averted when Buffy sees a boy at school roughing up Cordelia and tries to do her usual thing, only to be knocked down while Cordelia drives him off with a barrage of girly punches. It's then that Buffy really starts to panic.
  • Call Back:
    • Buffy's love of ice skating, from "What's My Line".
    • Angel tells Buffy of how he first saw her, depicted in "Becoming, Part 1". That episode also showed fifteen-year old Buffy as a Valley Girl with her own Girl Posse.
  • Captain Obvious: Oz re ice. It's cool. And it's water, but it's not.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Kralik's pills. More specifically, the fact that he needs to down them with a nice glass of water.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: Buffy shuns her trendy vampire-attracting clothes for the Dungarees of Doom when going to fight Kralik.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: "Hide and seeek, hide and seeek..."
  • Comically Missing the Point: Angel is casually (trying to, at least) ask Buffy if she has a date on her birthday.
    Buffy: Actually, I do have a date. Older man. Very handsome. Likes it when I call him 'Daddy'.
    Angel: (looking relieved) Huh. Your father. [beat] It is your father, right?
    • Buffy coldy tells Giles, "I don't know you," Cordy takes her literally and believes some demon has given her amnesia, as well as wondering from their serious expressions if the world's supposed to end again and whether or not she should bother writing her paper if that's the case.
  • Disappeared Dad: This episode marks a change from Buffy's father simply being estranged from Joyce, to one who refuses to turn up even when Buffy needs him such as during Joyce's funeral.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: The Scoobies are hitting the books to find out what could be affecting Buffy.
    Willow: Aha! A curse on Slayers. Oh, no. Wait. I-it's lawyers.
  • Expy: A Wicked Cultured cannibal Serial Killer in a straitjacket. Hmm, sounds familiar.
  • Foreshadowing: Buffy gripes about being the responsible Slayer while Faith is out having fun — in "Bad Girls" after Giles is replaced by a less competent Watcher, Buffy starts exploring her delinquent side with Faith.
    • Buffy's disillusionment with the Watchers Council starts here, eventually leading to her resignation in "Graduation Day, Part One".
  • Friendship Moment: A subtle one where Buffy asks Cordelia for a lift, having point-blank refused to get one from Giles. Not understanding the context but seeing Buffy is in pain, Cordelia agrees without questions or snarking.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: After a rather... intense training session with Angel, Buffy is sat down with Giles revising the effects of crystals, and is rather fidgety. At one point she twiddles a rather long and thin crystal, and when Giles asks her if she's alright she responds:
    Buffy: I guess that... I just have some... energy to burn.
    • Buffy teasing Angel that she's seeing an older man who "likes it when I call him Daddy". Angel's worried for a moment.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Buffy escapes Kralik by slipping out of her red coat when he grabs it. Unfortunately the vampire uses that same coat to trick Buffy's mother (see Playing Possum).
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Giles finding Hobson's body; he drops his stake and runs out of the house retching.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy
  • Guile Heroine: The purpose of the Test, to ensure a Slayer has smarts rather than just Super Strength and luck. In this case, Buffy defeats Karlik by putting holy water in the glass of water he uses to swallow his pills.
  • Holy Burns Evil
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Buffy doesn't want to celebrate her birthday because bad things will happen. Of course bad things happen anyway.
    Buffy: The important thing is that I kept up my special birthday tradition of gut-wrenching misery and horror.
    Oz: Bright side to everything.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Malcolm Reed is the Watcher who gets turned into a vampire mook.
  • Hidden Purpose Test: Giles is also being tested; he shows himself to be too close to his Slayer and therefore loses his right to be her Watcher.
  • Hypno Trinket: Giles hypnotises Buffy by getting her to look at a crystal under the guise of her studies. While she is zoned out, he gives her an injection that takes away her superpowers.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Xander enjoys Buffy's weakness because he can do manly things like open peanut butter jars for her, then finds he can't open the jar either.
    "Willow, can you give me a hand here?"
  • I Have Your Mother: Buffy finds a polaroid attached to the door frame showing Kralik clutching a terrified Joyce, with the word COME written on the back.
  • I'll Kill You!: Buffy sends a vampire on an amusing Prat Fall down a children's slippery slide.
    Vampire: I'll kill you for that!
    Buffy: For that? What were you trying to kill me for before?
    Giles: I am deeply sorry, Buffy, (reaches out to her) and you have to understand__
    Buffy: (shaking with rage) If you touch me, I'll kill you.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The entire teaser — from Angel's and Buffy's romantic dinner turning into a UST-loaded sparring session, Buffy fiddling with a phallic-like crystal eager to get on with the slaying, to a vampire pinning Buffy under his body while trying to stick a wooden stake into her.
  • Invoked Trope: The Cruciamentum Test is Damsel in Distress + Alone with the Psycho = Final Girl.
  • I Call It "Vera": Buffy refers to her stake as "Mr. Pointy", no doubt in memorium of Kendra doing the same thing.
  • Just a Kid: Travers refers to Buffy as "the child" even though she's now a woman, having turned 18.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Oz and Xander suggest this is why Buffy is getting weaker, then get into a geek argument over which type of Kryptonite is involved.
  • Lack of Empathy: Travers' "perfectly controlled test" gets two of his own men killed, endangers a civilian (Joyce), and nearly kills the Slayer. He has no reaction whatsoever to any of it.
    Travers: I understand you're upset—
    Buffy: You understand nothing. You set that monster loose, and he came after my mother.
    Travers: You think the test was unfair?
    Buffy: (stunned) I think you better leave town before I get my strength back.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: When Kralik first attacks Buffy, she's walking home wearing a red coat. Lampshaded by Kralik later.
    Kralik: Why did you come to the dark of the woods? (opens Buffy's bag of weapons) To bring all these sweets to grandmother's house?
  • Love at First Sight / Romantic Hyperbole
    Angel: I watched you, and I saw you called. It was a bright afternoon out in front of your school. You walked down the steps... and... and I loved you.
    Buffy: Why?
    Angel: 'Cause I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. And I worried that it would be bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life I wanted to keep it safe... to warm it with my own.
    Buffy: That's beautiful. (hugs Angel) Or taken literally, incredibly gross.
    Angel: (grimacing) I was just thinking that, too.
  • May-December Romance: Angel gives Buffy an old edition of Sonnets from the Portuguese. It's clear that while Buffy recognizes the romance of the gift, she has trouble appreciating it.
    Buffy: It's thoughtful and sweet and, uh, full of neat words to learn and say like "wilt" and "henceforth..."
    Angel: Then why'd you seem more excited last year when you got a severed arm in a box?
  • Mars Needs Women: Kralik intends to change Buffy into a vampire so he won't be alone.
  • Mommy Issues / Freudian Excuse: Kralik's mother abused him when he was a child, so he killed her, ate her, and murdered at least a dozen young women before being institutionalized. Then he was made a vampire.
    (cheerfully) "I have a problem with mothers. I'm aware of that!"
  • Neck Lift: Kralik does this to Blair to prevent him calling for help.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Giles is fired as Buffy's Watcher; he won't be reinstated until "Checkpoint" in Season 5.
  • Not Important to This Episode Camp: Faith's plot-necessary absence (otherwise Buffy would have got her help re saving Joyce).
    Buffy: Sorry. It's just with Faith on one of her unannounced walkabouts, I feel like somebody should be patrolling.
  • Not So Stoic: Giles begs Buffy to let him earn back her trust, his voice shaking, tears in his eyes.
  • Off Screen Crash: Buffy is throwing knives at a dartboard in the library, completely missing the bullseye. Giles suggests Buffy take a break from patrolling if she's off her game. Buffy says she just needs to train harder, and throws another knife. Cue glass-breaking sound.
    Buffy: I'm gone! (turns and leaves)
    Giles: (without looking at the damage) Thank you.
  • Out of Character: Buffy is supposed to be as weak as a regular person but somehow manages to topple a full bookshelf onto a vampire in a split second.
    • A vampire takes several mouthfuls of holy water, swallows them and only several seconds later notices that it burns like hell.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Has more of a horror movie feel as opposed to the usual action-y approach of the series.
  • Parental Substitute: After Buffy's Disappeared Dad fails to take her to the ice show, Buffy drops a big hint that Giles could take her instead.
  • Papa Bear: After Giles disobeys protocol by telling Buffy about the test and later coming to her aid, Quentin Travers admonishes Giles that he has "a father's love" for Buffy rendering him "incapable of clear and impartial judgement".
  • Playing Possum: Kralik lures Joyce out of the house by wrapping himself in Buffy's red coat and ambushing Joyce when she runs out to check why 'Buffy' is lying unconscious on the verandah.
  • Power Loss Makes You Strong: The whole purpose of the test, unless you believe the fan theory that the test is designed to kill off Slayers before they become adults and therefore more independent of the Watchers Council.
  • Precision F-Strike
    Giles: I don't give a rat's ass about the Council's orders. There will be no test.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Lampshaded by Buffy.
    Buffy: If I was at full Slayer power, I'd be punning right about now.
  • Red Shirt: Both Blair and Hobson.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Buffy enters a room to find the walls covered in polaroids of her Bound and Gagged mother.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Buffy's first fight is in an Abandoned Playground, with all the 'leave childhood behind' metaphors that implies.
  • Secret Test of Character: Buffy isn't even supposed to know she's being tested; just locked in the house with the vampire by Giles. Turns out Giles is being tested too.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Kralik, and he intends to make Buffy just like him, saying to Joyce that when Buffy wakes up a vampire, "Your face will be the first thing she eats."
  • Screaming Woman: Buffy being chased by Kralik on the way home. Needless to say no-one stops to help in Sunnydale.
  • Shout-Out: To the Slasher Movie genre that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was meant to subvert.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: The Cruciamentum Test involves locking a Slayer without her powers in a house with a particularly deadly vampire.
    Quentin: A Slayer is not just physical prowess. She must have cunning, imagination, a confidence derived from self-reliance. And believe me, once this is all over, your Buffy will be stronger for it.
    Giles: Or she'll be dead for it.
  • Spot of Tea: Quentin drinks tea from a china cup while calmly discussing Buffy's impending peril.
  • Staircase Tumble
  • Tearjerker: Giles injecting Buffy with the chemical that stripped her of her powers, planting a seed of distrust that wouldn't blossom until "Lies My Parents Told Me".
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Buffy tries to ward off Kralik with a cross. Kralik presses it to his body and enjoys the pain, telling her to move it lower.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Blair, one of the watcher's employees, does an on screen one after Kralik feeds on him. We actually see his body go through the metamorphosis of becoming a vampire (his bite marks disappear from his neck, his face gains the vampire brow, etc) before he quickly sides with Kralik.
  • The Triple: "I'm way off my game. My game's left the country. It's in Cuernavaca."
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Lampshaded with Buffy and Angel's training fight.
    Buffy: (smiling) Satisfied?
    Angel: I'm not sure that's the word.
    Buffy: (taken aback) Okay. I didn't mean 'satisfied' like...
    Angel: No, I, I wasn't trying to...
    Buffy: (awkwardly) 'Cause we're not having satisfaction in the personal sense.
  • Use Your Head: When Buffy finds herself pinned by the first vampire, she escapes by headbutting him.
  • Valley Girl: Angel points out that Buffy spent most of her life being normal, but that only makes Buffy worried.
    Buffy: Before I was the Slayer, I was... Well, I, I don't wanna say shallow, but... Let's say a certain person, who will remain nameless — we'll just call her Spordelia — looked like a classical philosopher next to me.
  • Visual Gag: The Watchers use a very long spoon to feed Kralik his pills, as in the saying "When you sup with the devil, use a long spoon." It's not long enough.
  • Vomiting Watcher: Giles' years of experience fail to help when he finds Kralik's handiwork.
  • Who Are You?: Buffy asks this of Giles when she finds out he betrayed her. It's a fair question — we see more of this Giles who's willing to betray Buffy for the greater good in "The Gift" and "Lies My Parents Told Me".
  • Written-In Absence: Faith has gone on one of her "unannounced walkabouts" again. Given that her presence would have upset the entire test, it would have been far more plausible if Giles had sent Faith away on some pretext.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Buffy and the vampire she's fighting at the beginning of the episode. Until her strength starts to fade along with her punning abilities; suddenly the vamp is the only one making wisecracks.