Ah, a graveyard. It's good to be home. A newly-risen vampire struggles to climb out of his grave. As he's almost free, he looks up, and the camera pans back through a pair of legs standing in front of him. Psych.It's Willow, sporting a new haircut and a sly smile.
"That's right big boy — come 'n get it."
Xander and Oz move in to assist. Oz, however, has a little trouble getting the wood out of his pants, and the vamp takes the opportunity to do a cool backflip over Xander and escape. Oz suddenly recognizes the vamp as Andy Hoelich from the gymnastics team. Xander, fuming, chastises Willow for her cheesy line, but she defensively points out that Buffy always has a quip ready. Xander misses her punnage, and Willow admonishes him for breaking the "past-tense rule." Right, right; Buffy's due back any moment now.Buffy wakes up. She walks to the window, and the camera pans out to reveal a street that's definitely on the wrong side of the tracks.In the morning, Buffy — in pigtails and a checkered uniform — waits on a young couple who are canoodling. The girl is ex-vampire groupie "Chantarelle" (from "Lie to Me"), only looking much more like a Street Urchin. The lovers have matching tattoos that, when placed together, form a heart with their names on them: "Rickie" and "Lily." After reading Buffy's name tag, which says "ANNE", Lily wonders if they've met someplace before.Meanwhile, Sunnydale High is rebooting for the new year. Oz was supposed to go to summer school but didn't, so he's repeating senior year (lucky us). Xander and Cordelia initially look happy to see each other again, but each is waiting for the other to make the first move. After some fumbled dialogue, they dart off in opposite directions. Giles continues his search to find Buffy. He gets off the phone and announces that he has a lead — a report of a young girl fighting vampires in Oakland. This is apparently not the first such lead they've had. Xander suspects they won't find Buffy unless she wants to be found.Night. Buffy walks back from work. Lily calls to her, "Buffy?" She asks if Buffy recognizes her, and promises that she didn't tell anyone Buffy's identity. We learn for sure that Lily is homeless, and Buffy reveals that Anne is her middle name. Inevitably, Lily asks Buffy for some cash, but an old man shambles in between them. He creepily says, "I'm no one," and wanders out into the street before freezing like a deer in the headlights. Since he's actually in the headlights, Buffy races out and pushes him to safety, and gets hit by an SUV. A crowd forms around Buffy, but she recovers and quickly runs off. Rounding a corner, she runs right into a missionary, knocking a bunch of flyers out of his hand. As they gather them up, he introduces himself as Ken, and gives Buffy a flyer for a halfway house called "Family Home."Lily finds Buffy at the diner. She tells Buffy that Rickie has disappeared, and begs her for help. Cut to a blood bank, where Lily exposits that she and Rickie went there the day before to score money (and cookies). Buffy asks a large female doctor if Rickie has come around. No siree, bob. As they leave, the ominous music of "I'm Not Telling The Whole Story" plays over the doc's face. Out in the street, Buffy finds the old man whose life she saved the previous night lying dead in the gutter, having drunk drain cleaner. She kneels and turns his arm over, and finds the "Lily" tattoo. She realizes that Rickie has somehow been "drained" of his youth.Buffy breaks the news to Lily, who doesn't take it very well; she accuses Buffy of bringing a monster along with her. Lily runs out Buffy's apartment—straight into the arms of Ken. He invites her to come to Family Home, telling her that Rickie has already joined them. Meanwhile at the blood bank, Buffy interrogates the doctor from earlier, who pleads that she just forwards "them" the names of the "healthy ones." Cut to Ken preparing Lily, who's now wearing a smock, for a ceremony called a "Cleansing." Ken instructs Lily to kneel in front of an ink-black, rectangular pool. He explains that the pool is to "wash away the past." With motor oil? At the front door, Buffy's asking some goon if she can join up ("...I woke up, and I looked in the mirror and I thought, 'Hey! What's with all the sin?'"). When that doesn't work, she kicks the door open and finds Ken in the cleansing room — just in time for the tar to suck Lily into the pool. Buffy tries to follow, but Ken tangles her up and they both fall in, right through the black pool and into a hellish-looking forge. Young men and women, all dressed in the same style of smock as Lily, working as slaves. Some are being whipped by demon guards. Ken reveals himself as a demon of some sort with a human face glued on, and sends his guards after the girls. The two are quickly caught and told that they will be living there for as long as they can serve as useful slaves. Time moves much more quickly in their current reality, which is why Rickie aged so many years while no time had passed on Earth.Buffy, Lily, and several other kids are brought before a demon guard for orientation. He barks at the kids, "YOU ARE NO ONE NOW." Right. Let's practice. Demon Guard asks a boy at one end of the line who he is. The boy stammers, "Aaron." Wrong answer. Guard clocks him with a club. Buffy seems to steel herself at that. Lily's next in line: she cheeps, "No one!" Ding ding ding! You've been voted Most Likely Not To Get Clocked On The Head By A Demon Guard! Then it's Buffy's turn:
He tries to wallop her, but Buffy makes short work of the guards, and instructs the kids to follow her. Lily shepherds the kids out; they reach a large iron gate gate, which Buffy lifts up with slayer strength. The kids go under it, and Buffy starts to go herself when Ken tackles her from behind. He bowls her over, and the gate crashes down, impaling him through both legs. The kids escape upward through the portal, while Buffy gives Ken her "pissed-off Ghandi" impression, bringing the club down on his skull.Buffy's apartment. She offers to give Lily the tour, but only take two steps before announcing, "This concludes our tour." Buffy says the rent is paid up for the next three weeks, and that Lily can take over her shifts at the diner. Lily regards Buffy's diner uniform, and asks for permission to be "Anne". Aw.Back at home, Joyce hesitantly answers the door again. She opens the door to find her daughter on the front steps. After a few moments, they hug.
Art Shift: With better ratings came a bigger budget for the show; this episode was the first to be shot on larger-format 35mm film instead of the 16mm of the first two seasons, leading to a visible jump in image quality, particularly in nighttime scenes.
Larry: If we can focus, keep discipline, and not have quite as many mysterious deaths, Sunnydale is gonna rule!
Book Ends: Willow and Buffy's nonsensical one-liners.
Joyce answering her doorbell expectantly. She's afraid to leave the house in case Buffy calls or shows up.
Breaking Speech: As Buffy and Lily are stewing in a cell, Ken drops by to gloat through the prison bars. He taunts Lily about her boyfriend's suffering, then turns his attention to Buffy, ridiculing her for running away from her old identity — to disappear. "Congratulations. You got your wish."
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Ken momentarily releases Lily and steps to the platform's edge to lecture everyone on "the price of "rebel—!!". One assumes he was going to say "rebellion," but we'll never know for sure, because Lily takes this opportunity to shove him off the platform. Thud.
Brutal Honesty: As Buffy is rifling through some files, the nefarious doctor enters and demands to know what she's doing. Buffy: "Breaking into your office and going through your private files." Hee.
Buffy Speak: Xander ordering Cordelia to go act "baity."
Chekhov's Gunman: On her way to work, Buffy passes a guy handing out leaflets to a homeless kid. Then we hear a plaintive "I'm no one," and Buffy sees a decrepit homeless woman lying in a doorway. Buffy looks perturbed, but thinks nothing of it.
The City Narrows: Buffy finally tracks down Rickie, long since keeled over, in an abandoned warehouse full of hobos.
Willow: Well, the Slayer always says a pun, or a witty play on words, and I think it throws the vampires off and makes them frightened because I'm wisecracking. Okay, I didn't exactly have a chance to work on that one, but you try it all the time!
Cut Phone Lines: The female Doctor threatens to call the police, but Buffy, barely looking up, rips the phone out of the wall. Slayer strength!
Diner Brawl: At the diner, Buffy waits on two trucker types. She instructs Trucker #1 to pay at the counter, and he offers to pay in trade, if you know what I mean. Trucker #2 slaps her behind as she walks away. She glares over her shoulder, and from the music we're meant to think an ass-kicking is imminent, but instead she keeps walking.
At one point in the battle with Ken's henchmen, Buffy wields both a hammer and a sickle. The factory setting, hard labor and symbols from the old Soviet Union may be a visual play on the spirit of workers rising up against their oppressors.
When Buffy tells Lily Rickie is dead, she mentions that it seemed like something "sucked the life out of him", that it was probably something in his blood, and that something like that could happen to anyone, even "good" people. The scene right before shows an HIV poster.
I Have Many Names: Lily says that she's always changing her name; Chanterelle was part of her "exotic phase." Buffy informs her that chanterelle is a mushroom. Lily looks alarmed, and Buffy backpedals by telling her that it's an "exotic" mushroom. Ah well.
At hearing news of Rickie's death, Lily says despairingly, "But — he takes care of me." We can surmise that she's has spent years drifting from one 'protector' to the next. At the end, Lily (now "Anne") is resigned to standing on her own feet, but laments, "I'm not very good at taking care of myself."
We'll see. When she appears in season 2 of Angel, she's is an administrator at a shelter for homeless teenagers, so by then she has a lot of people to help take care of. In the Angel comics she becomes a mother of a Half-Human Hybrid.
Mythology Gag: "Lily" and her boyfriend attempting to buy lunch at a diner by dumping a bunch of change onto the table. David Arquette and Luke Perry did the exact same thing in the Buffyfeature film.
Never My Fault: Despite being the one who kicked Buffy out of the house at the end of Season 2, Joyce instead blames Giles' for her daughter's disappearance.
The Oner: During the first act, there's a 3:24 sequence of Sunnydale High humming with activity. It starts with Giles and Willow coming down the stairs in the library and ends with Xander and Cordelia's encounter in the lounge with nothing to say to each other. Smash Cut to Buffy sitting on her bed on in Los Angeles, contrasting all of the mayhem at school with Buffy's solitude. This long shot has been broken up in the syndicated versions, dampening the effect.
Open Says Me: We see the inside of the blood bank in dim light. A shadow appears outside the glass pane of the door. The doorknob rattles, then is ripped out of the frame. Slayer strength again!
Parental Substitute: Giles tells Joyce that she shouldn't blame herself for Buffy's departure, but Joyce turns it around: "I blame you." Ooph.
Joyce: You've been this huge influence on her, guiding her. You had this whole relationship with her behind my back. I feel like you've taken her away from me.
Redshirt: Rickie. Though his death was ultimately self-inflicted, the real cause was Family Home.
Rescue Sex/Suggestive Collision: Xander comes at Andy Hoelich, stake ready, but is easily overpowered. Upon seeing Xander in distress, Cordelia's scorn immediately turns to concern, and she dogpiles on Andrew from behind. They end up with Andrew sandwiched between Xander on the bottom and Cordelia on the top. With Cordelia's weight on top of him, Andrew can't hold back the stake any longer, and he explodes into ashes. Cordelia falls down on top of Xander. The two of them look at each other for an instant, then grab each other and start kissing passionately.
The Reveal: Ken assuring Lily that her boyfriend is safe and sound at his halfway house.
Ken realizes who she is because he recognized the name from Ricky's tattoo.
The Runaway: Buffy, of course. Also implied to be the case with Lily. When Buffy asks what they call Lily "at home", Lily looks away with an expression that clearly says, "Home is where the sexual abuse is."
Selective Obliviousness: Willow's "past-tense rule." She daydreams that Buffy will suddenly show up when school starts. Xander brings her back to reality: "She can't just show up; she got kicked out."
She's Back: "I'm Buffy. The Vampire Slayer. And you are?"
Shout-Out: Lily wears a white t-shirt that says, "Dent" and has a red heart with the words "Home of" visible inside the heart. This is most likely a nod to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which a billboard depicts a large red heart with the word "Denton" above it (Denton is the name of the town in which the film takes place) and the phrase "The Home of Happiness" inside it.
Ken: [to Lily] He forgot you. Took him a long time. He remembered your name years after he'd forgotten his own. But, in the end...
Stock Footage: The montage depicting the teen runaways will be used again in the Angel pitch tape. The image of the teenage girl with the large skirt alone in the street will be used in the credits of Angel.
Tap on the Head: As Buffy and Lily gawk at the demon factory, Ken cheerfully reappears behind them and conks Buffy out with his club.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Subverted with gusto. Dramatic music swells as Oz narrows his eyes and readies himself for a long-distance staking — but his arm is like a wet noodle, and the stake bounces harmlessly off a trashcan. ("That really never works.")
Title Drop: Both the episode title and the show title made it in.
Trailers Always Spoil: David Boreanaz still appears in the credits despite his character being killed the previous season. This gives away the fact that he will be brought back back from Hell. Until then, however, he only appears in Buffy's dreams.
A Truce While We Gawk: The guards holding Buffy freeze in place when Ken shouts his ultimatums. Lily pushes him from behind, and he falls screaming to the floor below. The guards holding Buffy just watch as he hits bottom with a loud thud.
Try Not to Die: Willow thinks the gang's not doing so hot on patrol, but Giles is just happy they're all safe. Willow assures Giles that it's "part of our whole mission statement. 'Don't get killed.'"
Vampire Vannabe: Giles returns from his false lead in Oakland ("Bunch of school kids in heavy mascara").
Very False Advertising: Rickie ordering some peach pie. Buffy grouchily scribbles down the order, then snarks, "Can't guarantee there's a peach in it."
Villain Ball: "Humans don't fight back. Humans DON'T FIGHT BACK! That's HOW IT WORKS!!"