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Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 6 E 7 Once More With Feeling

"Last night, did anybody, um...burst into song?"

Hilarity Ensues when the residents of Sunnydale start randomly breaking out into song and dance. But things get more serious when people start going up in flames, Dawn is kidnapped by the demon responsible for the chaos, and their songs raise issues the Scoobies would rather keep private.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Musical Episode. Being a musical, it has its own tropes found nowhere else in the series.


This episode provides examples of:

  • Action Fashionista: Buffy assures Giles that she's not quaking in her stylish yet affordable boots over this latest weirdness.
  • Art Shift: This is the only episode shown in the US in the widescreen format used for Seasons 4-7.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Spike hauls in one of Sweet's puppet minions and orders him to "sing". There's a grand orchestral swell and the Scoobies wait for the minion to burst into song...then he just speaks normally.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Xander summons the demon hoping to be reassured about his upcoming marriage. He's not. When Dawn puts on the talisman, her desire for attention and to be treated like an adult leads to her being offered the position of Queen of Sweet's realm.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Sweet sings that he gave Nero his very first fiddle, implying that he's responsible for the Great Fire of Rome and the Temporal Paradox caused by introducing a musical instrument centuries before it was invented.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Spike interrupts Buffy just as she's starting to burn up, with his song on why she has to go on living. In fact what happens next could plausibly be called a Rescue Romance.
  • Blatant Lies: Buffy tells Giles she can't remember what she sung in the graveyard. Willow and Tara have to go get the mmm-nnn-rmmmph report. Dawn 'found' the talisman on the floor while cleaning up.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Sweet's three minions are a subtle type of this trope. One is blond, one is brown-haired (brunette) and while the third also has brown hair, he is literally a "red-head."
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs
    Xander: It's a nightmare. It's a plague. It's like a nightmare about a plague!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: "Something To Sing About"
    Buffy: "It's alright if some things come out wrong / We'll sing a happy song" (looks at camera) "And you can sing along"
    • Also in "Walk Through the Fire"
    Buffy: "I want the fire back."
    • Or Willow's line in "Walk Through The Fire", "I think this line is mostly filler."
    • Or Anya's blink-and-you'll-miss-it line "It's like there were three walls but not a fourth."
  • Buffy Speak: Willow and Tara go looking for the volume-y text. Spike is acting all bad-moody.
  • Bugger This, I'm Outta Here!: Spike walks out on the next-to-last song before it's finished.
  • Call Back: Willow's theory, "Some kid is dreaming, and we're all stuck inside his wacky Broadway nightmare," is the plot of a much earlier episode if you leave out the "Broadway" part.
    • Also, Dawn's line to Buffy of "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it" is a repeat of Buffy's line to her in the previous season finale.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: Spike re Buffy. "I hope she fries / I'm free if that bitch dies / I'd better help her out" and "First he'll kill her, then I'll save her / No, I'll save her, then I'll kill her!"
  • The Cast Showoff: Inverted, if that's possible, with Willow having almost no singing lines on her own (Alyson Hannigan specifically requested she be given as few lines as possible, because she considers herself a bad singer). Played straight with the others, particularly Anthony Stewart Head, who get to show off their impressive pipes, and Michelle Trachtenberg who shows off her dance skills.
    • Although, according to Wikipedia, Trachtenberg also requested not to have a major singing part. Guess whose song gets abruptly cut short?
    • Don't forget Amber Benson. She's a trained singer AND dancer and definitely shows it in this episode.
    • Hannigan was reportedly quite surprised by how good her voice sounded in the final version, and regretted not singing more.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Tara's "Everything is turning out so dark" verse in "Walk through the Fire".
  • Chirping Crickets: Heard during the Scooby Gang's silent response to Anya's theory that bunnies are responsible.
  • Cliché Storm (In-Universe): An intentional, verbal example in "Give Me Something to Sing About":
    Buffy: Where there's life there's hope / Every day's a gift / Wishes can come true / Whistle while you work
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Gender-inverted in Tara's case; her family kept putting her down so much that she doesn't realize she is pretty enough to attract men as well as women.
  • The Coats Are Off: Buffy slips off her coat for her final dance/battle with Sweet.
  • Comically Missing the Point
    Dawn: Oh-my-god. You will never believe what happened at school today.
    Buffy: Everybody started singing and dancing?
    Dawn: (sourly) I gave birth to a pterodactyl.
    Anya: Oh my god, did it sing?
  • Continuity Nod
    • Buffy turns down the offer of a drink from Spike after her hangover in "Life Serial".
    • "His penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe!" is from "Pangs", when Xander caught syphilis from a vengeful Native American spirit.
    • Tara singing "You know I've been through hell" is a reference to Glory driving Tara insane with her Mind Rape in "Tough Love".
  • Conversation Cut: Tara and Willow in the middle of "Under Your Spell" move from the park to their bedroom.
  • Costume Porn: The amazing dresses that Tara and Willow are just wearing for no reason and the ballgown Sweet gives Dawn. Anya's red lingerie may also count.
    • Anya's lingerie comes with matching heeled slippers. It's safe to say it's costume porn.
  • Counterpoint Duet: The combination reprise of "Under Your Spell" and "Standing". Not to mention Spike and Buffy in the "Coda".
  • Creator Cameo: Writer David Fury is the guy starting off "The Mustard Song", and writer Marti Noxon is the lady lamenting her parking ticket.
  • Credits Gag: Even the Mutant Enemy monster sings.
  • Crowd Song: Parodied. "They got...the mustaaard...oooooooouuuuut!"
  • Cure Your Gays: Conversed. "Oh my God, I'm cured! I want the boys!"
  • Damsel in Distress: Lampshaded with the quotable line...
    Buffy: Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday.
  • Death Glare: Anya and Xander do a lot after their duet. Willow and Tara too, in the background:
    Anya: Beady Eyes is right, we're needed! Or we could just sit around and glare. ♫
  • Death Seeker / Nietzsche Wannabe: Buffy nearly dies because of her indifference to life; ironically she's saved by Spike, who'd said in "Fool for Love" that on the day that happened he'd be the one to kill her.
  • Dodge the Throwing Knife: During "Standing", Giles throws knives at Buffy during her training, which she dodges or knocks out of the way.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Spike hurling his bottle of booze against the wall during "Rest in Peace".
  • Dark Reprise: "Under Your Spell". Parts of "Going Through the Motions" and "I've Got a Theory" can also be heard on "Walk Through The Fire".
  • Dance Battler: Buffy obviously, but also Dawn in her struggle to escape the puppet minions after waking up in the Bronze.
  • Dynamic Entry: Buffy kicks the door to the Bronze off its hinges.
    Sweet: I love a good entrance.
  • Edited for Syndication: Inverted: the episode ran 50 minutes compared to the standard 42.
  • The End: It goes with the curtains.
  • Epic Rocking / The Song Before The Storm: "Walk Through the Fire".
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics
    Dawn: It was a lot cooler when we were singing about it.
  • Everything's Better With Sparkles: Willow and Tara during "Under Your Spell".
  • Feet-First Introduction: When Sweet meets Dawn — justified as the demon is wearing tap-dancing shoes which he puts to use right away.
  • Finding Judas: What villain called up the undefeatable, lethal, musical demon, and what dark scheme were they plotting? Xander Harris, and he just wanted a musical-comedy ending to his marital woes.
  • Foreshadowing: Sweet isn't afraid of the Slayer but does leave after Willow threatens him, sensing her power. The songs themselves foretell Xander/Anya and Willow/Tara breaking up, Giles leaving, and the tumultuous Spike/Buffy relationship.
    • During "Under Your Spell," Tara uses intricate magic signs to shower Willow with a small spray of sparks; Willow barely moves her hand and a larger, more impressive spray results. This foreshadows that Willow is a more powerful witch.
    • The curtains close / on a kiss God knows / we can tell that the end is near. The final scene is curtains closing on Spike and Buffy's Big Damn Kiss. Buffy sings just before; This isn't real / but I just want to feel which is a major problem in their upcoming Destructive Romance; Buffy wants sex from Spike but refuses to acknowledge their relationship to herself or others.
  • Funny Background Event: People singing and dancing while Xander, Anya and Giles are walking down the street.
  • Gag Echo: During the "I'll Never Tell" number Xander sings "[Anya's] toes are kind of hairy" and Anya sings "his eyes are beady". In the next scene when ranting about the situation both of them shout at the same time "my eyes are not beady"/"my toes aren't hairy".
    • And later on Anya says, "Beady Eyes is right!"
  • Gallows Humor: "It's do or die" / "Hey I've died twice." "I look pretty spry for a corpse."
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Par for the course in Buffy, but takes on new life through the possibilities of fun with rhymes.
    • Several in "I'll Never Tell," given the combination of Xander singing his thoughts and No Fourth Wall.
      Xander: "She is the one, she's such wonderful fun,
      Such passion and grace.
      Warm in the night when I'm right
      In her tight—embrace, tight embrace!"
      . . .
      Xander: "You're the cutest of the Scoobies
      With your lips as red as rubies
      And your firm yet supple—tight embrace!"
    • Tara's final lyrics of "Under Your Spell", implied to have been sung while an off-camera Willow is performing oral sex on her.
    "Lost in ecstasy / Spread beneath my Willow tree / You make me coooooome (plete)."
    • The parking ticket song ends with the woman apparently trying to seduce her way out of the ticket, with the line "Hey, I'm not wearing underwear." It's barely audible under Giles' lines.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Anya exposes the true nature of those twitchy-nosed terrors in "The Bunny Song".
  • Helping Would Be Kill Stealing: Gile's song "Standing" is basically how he's been doing the opposite of this trope for too long, and now he needs to start playing it straight so Buffy can grow. Also the rationale behind him initially insisting that Buffy tackle Sweet on her own, although he's later convinced by Anya and Xander that the Scoobies should go back her up.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: When Xander is revealed as the man who summoned Sweet, he fears that he'll be taken away as Sweet's queen. Sweet eyes him and says, "It's tempting".
  • Hong Kong Dub: Sometimes, the lip synching can be a bit off. Often, the singers may loudly belt out the lyrics, but the on screen actors' mouths don't move nearly as much as they should.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Spike's "Rest in Peace" is all about how he wishes Buffy would get the hell away from him as his unrequited feelings for her are tearing him up. When Buffy flees at the end of the song, Spike calls out pitiably, "So, you're not staying then?"
  • Hypocritical Singing: Anya and Xander's "I'll Never Tell." And Spike's "Rest In Peace" is a variation. He sings of wanting Buffy to leave him alone, but he wants the exact opposite of that.
  • I Have You Now, My Sweet Thing!: Sweet plans to take Dawn away to the underworld and make her his Queen.
  • Instant Costume Change: Sweet has this power, changing his clothes from red to blue, and Dawn's clothes to her ball gown.
  • Ironic Echo
    • "What can't we face if we're together?"
    • "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it". Buffy's parting advice to Dawn in "The Gift" is repeated back to her by her little sister.
    • "Let it burn" are the final words Buffy speaks in "Innocence". Joyce tells her to blow out the candle and make a wish for her 17th birthday. Buffy, in despair over how her One True Love has turned evil, replies, "I'll just let it burn."
  • "I Want" Song: "Going Through the Motions" is referred to as this by Whedon himself in the commentary. Also, "Something To Sing About".
  • I Have Many Names: The Monster of the Week (unnamed in the episode, but called Sweet in the credits)
    "I've got a hundred."
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You: "I'll Never Tell", natch.
  • Incredibly Long Note
    They got / the mustard / ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut!
  • Invisible Backup Band: "That would explain the huge backing orchestra I couldn't see and the synchronised dancing from the room service chaps"
  • Involuntary Dance
  • Jailbait
    Dawn: What I mean / I'm fifteen / So this "queen" thing's illegal!
  • Karma Houdini: The Monster of the Week came to town, killed several people through spontaneous combustion, made the Scoobies reveal a bunch of secrets about themselves, nearly killed Buffy and left town without getting a scratch on him. Enough said. Also, Xander, who caused the entire thing through ignorance about musical demons.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: See Getting Crap Past the Radar.
    Xander: Willow and Tara? You see the way they were with each other? The get-a-roominess of them? I'll bet they're (realises Dawn is there) ...singing.
  • Let's Duet: Xander and Anya in "I'll Never Tell".
  • The Lonely Piano: The bridge of "Something To Sing About".
  • Lingerie Scene: Anya in red underwear for "I'll Never Tell".
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Lampshaded by Willow when Tara pretends she's interested in boys now.
    "Do I have to fight to keep you? Because I'm not good with the butch."
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "I'll Never Tell". And "Under Your Spell" is a sneaky example - the lyrics are just as happy as the tune, but Tara doesn't know she is literally under Willow's spell.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Sweet's snazzy suit.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "Walk Through the Fire" and "Where Do We Go From Here?"
  • The Modest Orgasm: Tara becoming complete.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Dawn starts to sing in front of the mirror, then suddenly has a Bag of Kidnapping thrown over her head by Sweet's minions.
    • Spike, in the "Walk Through the Fire," first sings that he'll be free if Buffy dies, then immediately says, he'd "better help her out," then goes off the save her from combusting.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "The Mustard" and "The Parking Ticket". Sung respectively by David Fury and Marti Noxon.
  • Musicalis Interruptus:
    • "I've got a —" (Anya sings "The Bunny Song")
    • When Dawn reveals her sister is the Slayer, the music comes to an abrupt stop.
  • Music for Courage: "If We're Together" — subverted as Buffy is actually singing of her indifference to what happens.
  • The Music Meister / Musical Assassin
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The look on Willow's face when she found out Buffy was pulled out of Heaven.
  • Mythology Gag: Giles throwing knives at Buffy in the training room - a Shout-Out to how Merrick showed her she was the Slayer in The Movie.
  • Noodle Incident: There were a lot of singing incidents that never got explained.
  • Not Himself: Buffy wonders why Spike is trying to hustle her out of his crypt. Then he starts singing.
  • Oh Crap: Spike when he starts singing to Buffy. Dawn when her attempt to frighten Sweet with the Slayer only makes him eager to see Buffy burn.
    • Minor version: While singing his part of "Walk Through the Fire," Spike jumps a fence, into a blind alley.
    • Buffy sings that, instead of pulling her out of Hell, Willow and the gang pulled her out of Heaven. Cue look on Willow's face when she realizes this.
  • Oh My Gods!: Xander exclaims, "Merciful Zeus!" when he's pretending to be surprised at what's happening.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Tara. No wonder those boys were checking her out.
  • The Oner: The filming of the song "The Parking Ticket" was done in one take. The camera starts on Giles, Xander and Anya, then pans over to Marti Noxon singing before rejoining the Scoobies' conversation.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Spike sings without an accent.
  • Peek-A-Boo Corpse: During the Villain Song, Sweet opens a door and the charred remains of one of his victim's falls out.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Buffy killing Sweet's puppet minions.
    Where there's life [grabs pool cue from minion, hits him] There's hope / Every day's [elbows second minion] A gift / Wishes can [kick] Come true / Whistle while [punch] / You work [blow with pool cue] / So hard [blow] All day [throws pool cue, impales third minion]
  • The Power of Friendship: "If We're Together"
  • Power Walk: "Walk Through the Fire"
  • Precision P Strike: From 15-year old Dawn, no less.
    She'll get pissed / If I'm missed / See, my sister's the Slayer.
  • Pun: Plenty — "Nothing seems to penetrate my heart" (as Buffy stakes a vamp), "It's do or die / Hey I've died twice." "I guarantee you a great big smile" (Sweet removes his mouth and offers it to Dawn). "I'm here strictly by your invocation." "She came from the grave much graver." "She needs backup!" "Not quite the fireworks I was looking for."
  • Rescue Sex: Averted as Buffy barely glances at the hunky open-shirted man who's eager to show his gratitude for Buffy saving his life. It's clear that only a certain Evil Is Sexy vampire "brings the fire back".
  • Retraux: The Title Sequence and The End.
  • Ring... Ring... CRUNCH: Averted; Buffy is so filled with ennui she just picks up her alarm clock and stares at it, letting it ring.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In the opening sequence Buffy is sketching, filling in the entire pad with black. Depressed, anyone?
    • She appears to be trying to sketch out what she saw in Heaven (a white light in a field of black), but can only express it in a human perceivable way.
  • Screw Searching Through Books, We're Going to Screw: Inspired by the lovely weather and all the singing and dancing, Willow and Tara make an excuse to Get a Room!.
  • Saying Too Much: Dawn tells Tara that she is glad Willow and Tara made up after their fight, which Tara denies having. After Dawn's insistence, Tara realizes what the flower under Willow's pillow meant: Willow performed magic on her.
  • Sealed with a Kiss
  • See You in Hell: Bet you never thought you'd hear this line sung.
    • And it's pretty sweetly sung!
  • Serenade Your Lover: "Under Your Spell", subverted in that the audience knows Tara literally is under Willow's spell. "Rest in Peace" starts off this way, causing Buffy to roll her eyes in anticipation, but it's averted when Spike instead sings of his frustration with Buffy's Master of the Mixed Message response to his feelings. Ironically, Spike is giving off equally mixed messages in the song.
  • Shout-Out: To a number of musicals, appropriately.
    Everyone: "We are caught in the fire / the point of no return . . ."
    Spike: "The day you suss out what you do want, there'll probably be a parade. Seventy-six bloody trombones."
  • Shutting Up Now / Wicked Witch
    Xander: It could be witches / some evil witches [Death Glare from Willow & Tara] Which is ridiculous 'cause witches they were persecuted. Wicca good and love the earth and women power and I'll be over here.
  • Silence, You Fool!
    Giles: Spike, if I want your opinion... (looks at him in contempt) I'll never want your opinion.
  • Sissy Villain: Sweet can come across as this by virtue of being a bad guy with song and dance powers.
  • Smash Cut: From Tara singing, "You make me—" to Xander wondering what Tara/Willow are up to.
    • Happens literally when we cut from Sweet's song to a closeup of Buffy smashing a board during martial arts training.
  • Something Else Also Rises: The end of "Under your Spell".
    • Also implied by Spike in the next episode when referring to the Big Damn Kiss.
    "We kissed, you and me, all Gone With the Wind with the rising music and the rising...music."
  • The Song Before The Storm: "Walk Through the Fire"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The headlines of Xander's newspaper.
    MAYHEM CAUSED. MONSTERS CERTAINLY NOT INVOLVED, OFFICIALS SAY.
  • Special Edition Title: A mellowed version of the theme song playing over a shot of the night sky, with each actor's face appearing on the moon as he or she was listed in standard credits order.
  • Spontaneous Choreography
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: A side-effect of Sweet's power, and what he hopes will happen to Buffy.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Time: Refer back to Getting Crap Past the Radar again.
    • There's a harmless example in "Walk Through The Fire", where the line "and let it burn" is always cut off before "burn" until the last verse.
    So I will walk through the fire
    'Cause where else can I turn?
    I will walk through the fire, and let it—
  • Suggestive Collision: At the end of Spike's "Rest in Peace" song, Buffy hauls him off a priest he attacks and they fall into an open grave. Buffy lies on top of Spike wide-eyed before getting to her feet and fleeing.
  • Summon Backup Dancers
    • While singing "Under Your Spell" Tara passes near two other girls resting by the pond who are compelled to rise to their feet and start dancing behind her.
    • Parodied in "Something to Sing About."
      Giles: "She needs backup. Anya, Tara." (Anya and Tara get behind Buffy and start dancing)
  • Take Me Instead: Buffy offers herself in Dawn's stead. Not quite the Heroic Sacrifice as Buffy doesn't care any more if she dies.
    Buffy: Deal's this. I can't kill you? You take me to Hellsville in her place.
    Sweet: (scoffs) What if I kill you?
    Buffy: (deadpan) Trust me. Won't help.
  • Talk to the Sword: Buffy stabs a demon halfway through his line, coincidentally making it rhyme.
    Going through the motions / faking it somehow.
    She's not even half the girl she—owww...
  • Tempting Fate: It's Dawn's turn to violate this principle.
    "Yes, the fifteen year-old can spend half an hour alone in her locked house." (Cue abduction by Puppet Minions)
    • Spike says that happily, he remains unaffected. Moments later, he starts singing.
  • That Came Out Wrong
    Spike: "Oh, so, that's all. You've just come to pump me for information."
    Buffy: "What else would I wanna pump you for?" (beat) "I really just said that, didn't I?"
  • This Is Something She's Got to Do Herself: Giles insists that Buffy save Dawn on her own as she is becoming too dependent on his support. Buffy however just sees herself as being abandoned by the others, and Giles later changes his mind anyway.
  • Title Drop: Keep in mind that this and "Conversations With Dead People" are the only BTVS episodes where the title is shown in the opening.
    Demon: All those secrets you've been concealing / Say you're happy now - once more with feeling.
  • Training Montage: Lampshaded when Buffy and Giles are training (averted when Giles sings "Standing In The Way" instead).
    Buffy: I'm just worried this whole sessions's gonna turn into some training montage from an '80s movie.
    Giles: Well, if we hear any inspirational power chords, we'll just lie down until they go away.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: During the "Walk Through the Fire" song, Buffy holds her hand up to a trashcan bonfire when singing "I touch the fire and it freezes me."
  • The Trouble With Tickets: A Funny Foreground Event is a lady (played by Marti Noxon) singing her excuses to a parking inspector.
    It isn't right, it isn't fair / There was no parking anywhere / I think that hydrant wasn't there
  • The Unreveal: We never know what Tara's theory was because Anya starts singing about "Bunnies".
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Anya, Xander and Giles ignoring the Parking Ticket Lady and the bystanders dancing while they Walk and Talk. Buffy's deadpan response to "The Mustard Song". Played for Drama when Giles sings "Standing In Your Way" and Buffy doesn't hear a word of it.
  • Villain Song: "What You Feel".
  • Villain Teleportation: Once Dawn puts on the talisman she stole from the Magic Shop, Sweet's minions appear in her bedroom and abduct her.
  • Visual Pun: The fire trucks rushing past as the Scoobies sing, "Let it burn".
  • Volleying Insults / Hey, That's My Line!: In "I'll Never Tell"
    Xander: She clings / She's needy / She's also really greedy / She never —
    Anya [interrupting] His eyes are beady!
    Xander: This is my verse, hello!
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Spike's "Rest in Peace" song claims that Buffy only talks to him because confessing to a "dead man" isn't real to her. Buffy looks away guiltily, confirming his accusation.
  • "What Now?" Ending: "Where Do We Go From Here?"
  • Woman / Vampire Scorned: When Giles tells the Scoobies not to go with Buffy, Spike offers to go in their stead.
    Buffy: I thought you wanted me to stay away from you. Isn't that what you sang?
    Spike: Fine. I hope you dance till you burn. You and the little bit.
  • You Look Familiar: The vampires & demon in "Going Through The Motions", the puppet minions and the dancing street sweepers are all played by the same 3 actors.
  • Zero-G Spot / Power Perversion Potential: It's strongly implied that Tara is using her levitation powers so Willow can perform oral sex on her.

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