Recap: Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4E17 "Superstar"

Xander: So we're saying he made a spell just to make us think he was cool?
Giles: Yes.
Xander: That is so cool!

The Scoobies are having trouble with a demon so they turn to...Jonathan?! (The one and only!)

  • Alone with the Psycho: Buffy goes off alone with Jonathan to hunt the demon. Then the Scoobies discover that if Buffy kills the demon, Jonathan's alternate universe will collapse.
  • Always Second Best: Buffy is nervous about the prospect of fighting more than two vampires, and the other Scoobies have trouble respecting her ideas. Understandable when you're overshadowed by the amazing Jonathan.
  • An Aesop
    Buffy: Jonathan, you can't keep trying to make everything work out with some big gesture all at once. Things are complicated. They take time and work.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The illustrious Jonathan. It's about time, too!
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Spike does the creepy villain version.
  • Awesome but Temporary: Adam doesn't have to kill Jonathan, as the spell is inherently unstable.
  • Badass Boast: Delivered by the man himself, Jonathan.
    Jonathan: Spike, you're the worst type of scum. The second you're back to your old tricks, well; let's just say before you even sniff out your first victim you'll be pretty indistinguishable from, oh what should we say (smirks) instant soup mix?
    • Adam too with his; "You are all just shadows" speech.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Who else but Jonathan?
  • Badass Longcoat: Jonathan does the billowy coat thing in the credits.
  • Bait and Switch: Jonathan looks like he's going to push Buffy into the abyss, but he pulls her back from it instead.
  • Birds of a Feather: Xander feels the loss most when things return to normal.
  • Black Comedy: Buffy dusts a vampire and the quarrel she fires sets off the mobile phone in its jacket pocket.
  • Damsel in Distress: Tara, showing how she's taken over the role from Willow.
  • Betty and Veronica: When Riley wonders why Buffy is avoiding him intimately, Jonathan wisely points out that Faith was sexually experienced and Buffy is worried he'll be comparing.
  • Big Fancy House: Jonathan has one in this universe.
  • Black Hole Sue: Used In-Universe when Jonathan uses a wish spell to fold reality around himself and turns himself into an invincible, charismatic hero, admired by everyone. Unfortunately he forgot to read the fine print.
  • Bottomless Pit
    Buffy: Wow! Fall down there and be dead for a while.
    Jonathan: (eyeing her) Yeah. Wouldn't want that to happen...
  • Brick Joke
    • The Alternate Universe consisting only of shrimp. The payoff occurs several years later in the spin-off series Angel when Illyria is boasting of all the alternate dimensions she's visited.
    "I walked worlds of smoke and half-truths, intangible. Worlds of torment and of unnamable beauty. Opaline towers as high as small moons. Glaciers that rippled with insensate lust. And one world with nothing but shrimp. I tired of that one quickly."
    • Another one comes due in Season 7's "Lessons". Anya has a throwaway line describing the vengeance wishes she'd enact on wronged women's ex-boyfriends: "I'd wish he was a dog or ugly or in love with President McKinley or something." Three years later, chastising Anya for going soft, Halfrek says: "You were the single-most hard-core vengeance demon on the roster, and everybody knew it. Do I have to mention Mrs. Czolgosz?" President William McKinley was assassinated by a man named Leon Czolgosz.
    • Xander gripes that Anya said Jonathan's name during sex (who wouldn't?). When Buffy and Riley are kissing at the end, Buffy lets slip an "Mmmm, Jonathan!"
  • Chair Reveal: How the episode introduces us to our real hero, Jonathan.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jonathan tells the Initiative about Adam's uranium core, which becomes relevant in the final confrontation with the cyborg Big Bad.
  • The Chick: Spike is shocked when "Betty" suddenly slams him against the side of a crypt.
    Hey! You're not supposed to do that!
  • Circling Monologue: Spike and Jonathan do this to each other.
  • Convenient Slow Dance: Jonathan creates this so Buffy and Riley can make up. What a guy!
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Averted with Adam; even cutting off his head won't kill him.
  • Dark Messiah: A vampire jokingly calls Adam "the evil messiah guy."
  • Different World, Different Movies: A movie marquee advertising Being Jonathan Levinson changes to "Closed for repairs".
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Retrospectively in the episode's attitude to earlier events. Faith's rape-by-body-swap of Riley is discussed entirely in terms of Riley proving himself to be a bad boyfriend and an imperceptive lout for not noticing the body swap, and the possibility that he might be in any way traumatized by it is never brought up.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Jonathan crashes into the vampire crypt through a stained glass window.
  • Egopolis: Jonathan's face is everywhere in Sunnydale; from billboards to baseball cards. It's a beautiful sight.
  • Equivalent Exchange: By turning himself into a paragon of all that is good, Jonathan also creates a demon that is totally evil.
  • Even the Guys Want Him:
    • Giles has Jonathan's swimsuit calender. It Was a Gift.
    • When Jonathan plays the trumpet, Anya wants to go have sex. Xander agrees.
    • Inverted sexually with lesbians Willow and Tara creating a Jonathan collage.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Once again Buffy has curly hair, as she does when under a spell or otherwise Not Herself.
  • Eyes Never Lie: Lampshaded re Faith's Grand Theft Me.
    Jonathan: I don't think this about you being angry with Faith; I think you're angry with Riley. I mean you have this amazing connection with him, and then at the one moment when it matters the most, he looks into your eyes and he doesn't even see that it's not you looking back at him.
    Buffy: There's no way he could know. I mean you don't just look at someone and say 'Hey that's not your body, get out of that body with your hands up!'
    Jonathan: I know you know that. But you have to believe it.
  • Fanservice: In-Universe with Jonathan's swimsuit calendar.
  • Foreshadowing: Jonathan's desire to use magic as a shortcut to the good life causes him to become one of the villainous Trio in Season 6.
  • Hands-On Approach: Riley tries to show Buffy how to throw a ball through the mini-basketball hoop in his room. However Buffy is still upset that Riley slept with Faith, so she just walks out the door the moment the sexual tension gets too high.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When the demon gets the drop on Buffy, Jonathan throws himself at it, sending them both into the abyss. Fortunately Buffy grabs Jonathan's ankle to stop him from falling too.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Xander is doing a Badass Boast about the importance of dexterity during a Quick Draw, then turns down Anya's request to open a milk carton as he'll make a mess of it.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Spike caresses a frightened Buffy's hair in a very suggestive manner.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Jonathan, which is the reason he becomes the paragon of excellence.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends
    Buffy: Jonathan, you get why everyone is angry though, right? It's not just the monster. People didn't like being the little actors in your sock puppet theater.
    Jonathan: You weren't! You weren't socks! We were friends.
  • Improvised Weapon: Jonathan breaks off a stalactite and wields it Captain Kirk-style against the demon.
  • I Resemble That Remark / And Here He Comes Now
    Jonathan: Vampires only form nests to make hunting easier. They're not big on the cooperation. They mostly like to hang out all creepy and alone in the shadows. Don't you agree... [turning head] SPIKE?
    Sinister guitar music as Spike steps out from behind a bush.
  • Lame Comeback: Buffy's Deadpan Snarker skills have been affected too.
    Spike: Yeah, back off Betty.
    Buffy: It's Buffy, you big bleached...stupid guy.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Jonathan crushed the bones of the Master, blew up a big snake made out of Mayor and coached the U.S. Women's Soccer Team to a stunning World Cup victory.
  • Language of Magic: "You can't just say 'librum incendere' and-" PHWOOSH!
    Giles: Xander, don't speak Latin in front of the books.
  • Marty Stu: Justified. It's Jonathan, and he really is that great. Also, there was magic involved.
  • The Minnesota Fats: Subverted.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Averted — rather than kill Buffy, Jonathan helps Buffy kill the monster and change reality back to normal.
  • No Sell / Anti-Magic: Adam is the only one not affected by Jonathan's spell, because he has absolute knowledge of every part of his body.
  • Nice Guy: Jonathan is unfailingly polite to all his rabid fans (he even lets a chipped Spike know he's still dangerous), and gives Buffy and Riley advice to help patch up their relationship. Part of this is because that's how a superhero is supposed to act (the spell turns him into a paragon of good) but he also enjoys being friends with the Scoobies and clearly still appreciates Buffy saving his life in "Earshot".
  • One Head Taller: Spoofed during the Initiative's Mission Briefing, when all the soldiers tower over the amazing Jonathan.
    Riley: Did anyone else feel way too tall? I felt way too tall.
  • Perp Sweating: Jonathan roughs up Spike to no effect. Spike is surprised when Betty the Vampire Slayer does the same, pointing out that Jonathan could get every butcher in Sunnydale to stop selling to Spike, in which case he'd get very hungry.
  • Power at a Price
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner
    Jonathan: Everyone, let's show these fiends that they came to the wrong town.
  • Quick Draw: Xander is shown practicing this with a stake.
    "Quick draw's about more than speed. It's also about pointing a stake the right way. And there can be splinter issues."
  • Reality Warper: Jonathan improves the world greatly by making himself a glorious pinnacle of greatness by way of a spell. Unfortunately, he didn't realize what else his spell did...
  • Reset Button: The death of the demon reverts reality back to normal, and memories of the events fade away over the next few days. Such a shame.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Willow's description of her fight with the vampire nest.
    "Twang! Poof!" [Tara looks confused] "That was the sound — the crossbow, vampire dusting..."
  • Sexophone: Anya and Xander stare at the suave and cool Jonathan playing the trumpet.
    Anya: Xander, let's go have sex now.
  • She's Back: Living in a world where the Slayer is overshadowed by Jonathan has dramatically affected Buffy's self-confidence and fighting skills. But as she beats on the demon and Jonathan's staggering power wanes, Buffy starts to enjoy herself.
    Buffy (smiling): I remember this. This good.
  • Shout-Out: The James Bond tux and music.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: After taking on the nest of vampires.
    Xander: I think did great. We knocked em dead. Which they already were.
    Willow: We knocked 'em deader!
  • Smart People Play Chess: During the Scooby Mission Briefing, the brilliant Jonathan takes time out to checkmate Giles.
  • Smoke Out: Tara does this with magic to escape the demon.
  • Special Edition Title: The spell even spilled over into the Title Sequence, with scenes of Jonathan defusing an Incredibly Obvious Bomb and doing a Power Walk.
  • Spotting the Thread
  • Stalker with a Crush / Squee: Fangirl Karen, over Jonathan (as expected, of course).
  • Sublime Rhyme: "Scampered like a big bumpy bunny."
  • Superhero: Unlike Buffy in the normal universe, Jonathan is respected and adored by the public, and works in cohesion with the police and the Initiative to fight demons.
  • Throw It In: As it was raining buckets in Los Angeles at the time, the coffee scene was filmed inside the Expresso Pump (extras can be seen holding umbrellas out on the street) and Karen's encounter with the demon takes place in the pouring rain.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy / Norse by Norsewest: Jonathan has a couple of blonde Swedish twins in his Big Fancy House. Those lucky twins.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll
  • Vocal Dissonance: Jonathan crooning a forties pop song. Pro athlete, military genius, star of The Matrix, and now he's Sinatra. Because he's Jonathan. He's just that cool.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Riley in his dorm with Buffy. But no smoochies ensue.
  • William Telling: Jonathan is shown preparing to shoot apples from the heads of several Initiative soldiers while blindfolded, because he's that skilled.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: See Brick Joke.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Buffy makes a cup of coffee for Jonathan. And what an honor, making coffee for the wonderful, talented, appropriately-heighted Jonathan!