Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 3 E 20 The Prom

Buffy: No! You guys are going to have a prom. The kind of prom that everyone should have. I'm going to give you all a nice, fun, normal evening if I have to kill every single person on the face of the earth to do it.
Xander: Yay?

Angel breaks up with Buffy three days before senior prom. Xander finds out Cordelia is now poor. Someone is training hellhounds to attack people in formal wear.


  • Actor Allusion: One of the movies that Tucker used to train the Hell Hounds is Pump Up The Volume, which Seth Green and Juliet Landau were in.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: On her way out, Cordelia's co-worker tells her not to forget her dress. Cordy says she hasn't finished paying for it, but the girl says someone picked up the tab.
  • Analogy Backfire: When dumping Buffy, Angel says he's trying to think with his head instead of his heart.
    Buffy: You have a heart? It isn't even beating!
  • Apology Gift: Xander puts an end to his post-breakup Snark-to-Snark Combat with Cordelia by paying for her dress.
  • Autocannibalism: One of Anya's clients wished for her ex to cannibalize himself. "Even I had a hard time watching that one, let me tell you."
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Jonathan says that they have one final award — a new category, and there were a lot of write-in ballots — and asks if Buffy Summers is there. He then reads a prepared statement from the prom committee: it turns that Sunnydale High's students were actually aware of Buffy's actions when protecting them from the evils of the Hellmouth the whole time. Thus, Buffy is presented with the Class Protector Award.
  • The Bait: Buffy attempts this at the school, trying to lure the hellhounds away from the gym. They give chase, but stop and turn around when they hear Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" coming from inside. D'oh.
  • Ballroom Blitz: Averted thanks to our heroine.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Albeit with Messy Hair.
  • Becoming the Mask: Because Anya is now a teenage California high school girl she has all the same urges, like the desire to go to the prom accompanied by an attractive male.
  • Brain Food: Giles says that the hellhound is a sort of "demon foot soldier," and that it feeds off the brains of its victims. Buffy has a Eureka Moment when she realises that whoever controls the hellhound would need to feed it, so she asks around the butcher shops for someone buying animal brains.
  • Break Her Heart To Save Her
  • Breather Episode: Subverted; the plot doesn't revolve around the Ascension, but Angel breaking up with Buffy sets up both the next season as well as Angel's own spinoff.
    • Arguably it still counts; despite Angel and Buffy breaking up (and even then, they dance together at the end), the main conflict (the hell-hounds) is resolved quickly and the episode is filled with heartwarming moments.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: Buffy Neck Snaps a Hellhound as it's about to savage a student. He asks where the bathroom is — Buffy helpfully points the way.
  • Buffy Speak: Buffy waking up at Angel's place with some serious bed-head. She notes that they got carried away with the "whole post-slayage nap thing."
    • Giles being told to chill and let the Scoobies enjoy "a night of prom-y fun".
    • Buffy notes that every time she brings up prom, Angel gets grouchy. He tells her it's nothing. "No," she observes, "you have something-face."
  • Call Back: The 'Buffy and Angel 4ever' recalls the Forever heart tattoo by Lily/Rickie in "Anne", and a similar reluctance by Buffy to let go of the idea of a One True Love who'll always look after her.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Angel tells Buffy she deserves "someone who can make love to you". Buffy protests that she doesn't care about sex or having children.
    Angel: Today. But you have no idea how fast it goes, Buffy. Before you know it, you'll want it all, a normal life.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Down in the sewers, Buffy has picked a fine time (tracking a vampire) to talk to Angel about their relationship. When the vamp finally leaps out, Buffy peevishly stakes him ("Not now.") and carries on talking.
  • Catapult Nightmare / Man on Fire: Buffy and Angel are in a church getting married. As they exit the church, Angel is fearful of the sun, but it is Buffy that burns up and dies — not him — when they come in contact with the sun's light. Angel awakes from the nightmare in a cold sweat.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid
  • Chastity Couple: Angel and Buffy fall asleep in the same bed after a hard night's slaying. Buffy thinks it's quite romantic the next day, but Angel realises they're both flirting with danger.
  • Class Clown / Assumed Win: At the awards ceremony, they begin to announce to the class clown award. Xander rubs his hands together in anticipation. He doesn't get it — an obnoxious kid wearing a polka dot vest and a hat made of balloons collects his prize.
    Xander: [disgusted] Please. Anybody can be a prop class clown.
  • Continuity Nod: Joyce visiting Angel at the mansion to tell him she's worried about the effect he's having on her daughter. He lets her in, and they exchange awkward pleasantries. She notices the manacles on the wall from "Enemies", and her jaw sets. Whoops.
    • Buffy's reference to "Choices", saying that Angel shouldn't listen to what the Mayor said about outliving Buffy, because he's the bad guy and bad guys are not to be trusted. Angel reluctantly says the Mayor was right.
    • When Jonathan mentions all the weird things that have happened in Sunnydale, two of the students in the crowd shout out "Zombies!" (Dead Man's Party) and "Hyena People!" ("The Pack")
  • Convenient Slow Dance: The Sundays' cover of The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" starts up. Xander and Anya dance together; Wesley, following much cajoling from Giles, follows suit with Cordelia. Finally, Buffy turns and sees Angel standing in the door, tux and all.
  • Corner of Woe: During the Scoobie meeting about the hellhound, Buffy quickly excuses herself from another replay of the tape to sit on the library steps, apart from the others (she eventually rallies herself for her Rousing Speech).
    Xander: How's it going over there, Buff?
    Buffy: (Thousand-Yard Stare) Fine.
    Xander: Well, I just wanted to say that your impersonation of an inanimate object is really coming along.
    Buffy: Thanks.
  • Cringe Comedy
  • Damned by Faint Praise
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Oz complimenting Xander on his "interesting" choice of taking Anya to the dance. Xander pleads that it was down to either Anya or (gestures with his hand like Seņor Wences) "the sock puppet of love". Not even touching that one.
  • Death Glare: Buffy scared her friends off to the Prom with one, when they refuse to let her fight Tucker alone.
  • Description Cut: Buffy speaks for everyone when she tells Giles to put the Ascention on the back-burner for now. One night of glory; "Not too much to ask." Cut to a creepy, dilapidated house, wherein an unseen figure is attending to hairy demons in cages.
  • Development Gag: Cordelia tells Wesley he'd look "way 007 in a tux". The shooting script for "Bad Girls" describes Wesley as "thinks he's Sean Connery but he's pretty much George Lazenby."
    • Hilarious in Hindsight given how Alexis Denisof lost out to Daniel Craig to play the newest Bond. That's okay, he got to play Craig!Bond when he followed Angel to LA.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Angel telling Buffy that she deserves a real relationship, not this "freak show". This hits her like a slap in the face. He apologizes for that remark, and says this isn't an easy decision for him. Buffy explodes, demanding to know who gave him the right to make decisions for her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Buffy asks Tucker what kind of sicko would want to ruin the happiest night of a senior's life. Tucker glowers and says he has his reasons. Cue a Flashback Cut of Tucker asking a girl to the prom, and her flatly saying, "No."
    • Buffy gets this — she is moping about Angel then when her friends start getting scared about going to the Prom thinks if she can't be happy at least she can make them happy, and gives the page quote.
  • Distracted by the Sexy/Double Entendre
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Buffy, Angel, even Shipper on Deck Willow — know perfectly well that a long-term relationship between Buffy and Angel is impossible, yet Buffy still clings to the fantasy until Angel forces the issue.
    • Jonathan's speech is a less heartbreaking version of this trope.
  • Enhance Button: Cordelia asks Xander to "zoom in" on the security tape of the hellhound. "They do it on TV all the time."
    • Moments later, Oz asks to pause on a shot of Tucker standing in the shop window. "Guys!!" shouts Xander, exasperated, "It's just a normal VCR, it doesn't — oh wait. It can do pause."
  • Fantastic Racism: Bitter over having been dumped, Buffy makes a pointed comment at Angel that she's not going to let some "subhuman" ruin the prom for everyone else.
  • Foreshadowing: Joyce telling Angel that he's getting in the way of Buffy's future, and if Buffy can't see that, it's his responsibility to do something about it.
    • We learn in this episode that Cordelia's father was guilty of tax fraud, reducing her family to near poverty. This change eventually leads to her migration to LA, where she will team up with Angel.
    • Tucker Wells has an even more obscure brother Andrew, who will appear in Season 6 as a member of three wannabe supervillains called "The Trio".
      • (Possibly) One night of glory; "Not too much to ask."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The tux-wearing Victim of the Week is savaged by the hellhound out of sight.
  • Great Offscreen War: Giles mentions that Hellhounds were bred "during the Machash Wars", about which no other information is given.
  • Heroic Vow: See page quote.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!
  • High School Dance
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday
    Oz: Once again the Hellmouth puts the "special" in special occasion.
  • Hypocritical Humor / Tsundere: Anya's rant about witnessing "a millennium of treachery and oppression from the males" of Xander's species, and how she has "have nothing but contempt for the whole libidinous lot of them," to which Xander rightly asks why she's talking to him. Shifting from foot to foot, Anya admits she doesn't have a date for prom.
    Xander: And gosh, I wonder why not? Can't possibly have anything to do with your sales pitch.
    Anya: [testy] Men are evil! [vulnerable] Will you go with me?
  • I Do Not Drink...Coffee: Angel apologises for not having any coffee to offer Joyce. Not because of the drinking blood thing; it just makes him edgy.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Angel realises he must leave Sunnydale so Buffy can have a chance at a normal relationship.
  • I Warned You
  • I'm a Humanitarian/Your Head Asplode: On the dance floor, Anya regales Xander with vengeance demon war stories. Specifically, that one time a scorned wife wished her husband's head would explode, except that she and Anya "were standing three feet from him at the time. What a mess." Xander looks like he's praying for a similar fate as Anya prattles on about another time when she made a victim cannibalize himself.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The final hellhound pounces on Buffy just as she unsheathes a knife. The pair roll around a bit, before finally we hear a yelp. The dead hellhound turns over, revealing that it fell on the blade.
  • Improvised Weapon: When confronted, Tucker tries to break a vase over Buffy's head, but she deftly ignores his attack. Undaunted, he then grabs a screwdriver and holds it in front of him like a switchblade. Buffy easily disarms him, then uses the extension cord from the shattered lamp to tie his hands. Later, Buffy snatches a red curtain from outside the gym and tackles one of the hellhounds, immobilizing it for a minute.
  • Ironic Echo
  • Lame Comeback: Back at Buffy's house, Buffy has just filled Willow in on her breakup. Willow dutifully calls Angel a "big dumb jerk person." Scratch that; he's a "super maxi-jerk" for dumping her right before prom. Buffy tells Willow it's okay, she doesn't have to vilify Angel on her account.
    Willow: But... that's the best friend's job. Vilifying and grousing.
  • Lap Pillow: Buffy breaks down crying in Willow's lap after Angel dumps her.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: When Jonathan says that Sunnydale High is different from other schools and that students have already noticed that a lot of weird things, we hear scattered shouts of "Zombies!", "Hyena people!", and "Snyder!"
  • Linked List Clue Methodology
  • Little Black Dress: Cordy's
  • Loners Are Freaks: Tucker
  • Love Hurts: Post-Breakup Buffy
    Willow: I'm sorry. It must be horrible.
    Buffy: I think "horrible" is still coming. Right now, it's worse. (her face contorts in pain) Right now, I'm just trying to keep from dying.
    Willow: Oh Buffy.
    Buffy: (sinks her head into Willow's lap) I can't breathe, Will. I feel like I can't breathe...
  • Magical Security Cam: Averted and lampshaded
    Xander: Zoom in? This is a video tape.
  • Male Gaze: Lampshaded by Xander. Anya asserts that she knows he finds her attractive because she's caught him looking at her breasts. Xander lampshades it with, "Nothing personal, but when a guy does that, it just means his eyes are open."
  • Meaningful Echo: Again to the James/Grace ghost dialogue in "I Only Have Eyes For You".
  • Monster of the Week: Tucker and the Hellhounds
  • Neck Snap: How Buffy kills the last hellhound.
  • Never My Fault: Anya whining that Xander caused her current predicament by being unfaithful to Cordelia, resulting in Anya getting stuck in a high-school girl's body.
  • No Sell: Tucker smashes a vase over Buffy's head. For a girl who has to bench 400 pounds so she can fight vampires and demons a dinky little thing like that works as well as you might think.
  • Oh Wait!
    Anya: All I know is I really want to go to this dance and I want someone to go with me.
    Xander: Be still my heart. Oh wait, it is.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Tucker's lair. In addition to being caged, his hellhound's head is held in place so it's forced to see the TV (a la A Clockwork Orange).
  • Out of Order: Due to the episode "Earshot" not being aired out of respect for the victims of the Columbine massacre, television viewers of this episode were unaware of Buffy stopping Jonathan from committing suicide. The fact that Buffy saved his life makes his presentation of the Class Protector Award to her even more significant.
  • Percussive Therapy: On prom's eve, Giles picks up on the fact that Angel isn't coming. He notes apologetically that this sort of thing is out of his depth, though he guesses the appropriate thing to do is offer Buffy ice cream. Aww. "Ice cream will come," Buffy notes stoically. But not tonight; "Great thing about being a Slayer; kicking ass is Comfort Food."
  • Person as Verb: Buffy makes a comment about stopping a crazy from "pulling a Carrie on the prom".
  • Rant-Inducing Slight
  • Reverse Psychology: As Willow is describing her prom dress to Buffy, Wesley's voice cuts through the air, saying that they can't trifle with a school dance with the Ascension on the horizon. Cordy laments that it's too bad, because he would look "way 007 in a tux." Buffy and Xander share a knowing look; Manipulative Bitch to the rescue! Wesley reconsiders it, then announces that on prom night he will be assisting Giles in "chaperoning duties."
  • The Reveal
  • Serious Business / Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When arguing about helping fight Tucker rather than go to the Prom.
    Oz: Buffy it makes sense to...
    Buffy: [Death Glare] Have. A nice. Time.
  • Shout-Out: When Giles interrupts a conversation about the Prom to say they ought to focus on the mayor's Ascension, Buffy says, "Giles, we get it, miles to go before we sleep," a phrase from the famous Robert Frost poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". Faith later quotes from the same line in a dream sequence in "Graduation Day, Part Two":
  • Signature Scene: The quote at the top of the page, and why not? It's a Crowning Moment of Funny, Crowning Moment of Awesome, Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, in universe it's treated as Nightmare Fuel and on the heels of Angel dumping Buffy even a Tear Jerker.
  • Sunnydale Syndrome: Averted in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: When Angel turns up at prom, the band is singing the lines, "Wild horses couldn't drag me away." In fact the whole song sums up Buffy's and Angel's relationship quite well.
  • Super Window Jump
  • Tearjerker: Angel breaking up with Buffy, and the scene where Buffy breaks down in Willow's arms afterwards.
  • Tempting Fate: For once this has a good result — Buffy says she's given up on trying to get that one special high school moment. At the end of the episode she's recognised by entire student body and gets to dance at the prom with the man she loves.
  • Thinks Like a Romance Novel: Angel finds the words 'Buffy and Angel 4ever' on Buffy's schoolbook.
  • Understatement
  • Vampire Dance
  • Waxing Lyrical
  • What Could Have Been: Tucker Wells was originally to have been the Big Bad of "The Trio" in Season 6.
  • You Are Too Late: Buffy closes in on Tucker, restraining him against a wall while belittling his evil plan. "Lucky for me you're an incompetent maladjust." She prepares to lock him in the other room, but upon opening the door, she sees three empty cages with TV screens in front of them. Tucker grins evilly. Uh oh.
    Tucker: Gotta have a redundancy system. Any "incompetent" knows that.
  • You Remind Me of X