The Scoobies try to find out how the First is controlling Spike. Principal Wood seeks his chance to kill Spike to avenge his mother's death.
- Always Save the Girl: Averted — Buffy admits she'd now be willing to sacrifice Dawn to save the world.
- Artistic License – Biology: They have the Prokaryote Stone crawl into Spike's eye because it will reach his brain, "via the optic nerve". But it actually appears to crawl under his eyelid and while under his skin it continues across his forehead. It's a wonder Spike can see with such a misaligned optic nerve.
- Bait and Switch: Spike doesn't kill Wood.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: A variation where the murdered family member actually isn't just another victim.
Robin Wood: Oh, I know more about you than you think, Spike. See, I've been searching for you for a very, very long time. Ever since you killed my mother.
Spike: I've killed a lot of people's mothers.
Robin Wood: Yeah. You'd remember mine. She was a Slayer.
- Call Back: To "Helpless" (Giles betraying Buffy), and "The Gift" (Giles being willing to kill people that Buffy isn't, for the greater good).
- Call Forward: Spike telling Nikki he loves her Badass Longcoat.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Buffy fights Richard the Fanged while being 'mentored' by Giles.
- Continuity Cavalcade / Chain of Corrections: Buffy and Giles attempt to explain Spike's various Restraining Bolts to newcomer Robin Wood.
Buffy: The military put a chip in Spike's head so he couldn't hurt anyone.
Giles: And that would be the abridged version.
Buffy: But he wouldn't hurt anyone anymore because he has a soul now.
Giles: Unless the First triggers him again.
Robin: Triggers the chip?
Buffy: No, the trigger's a post-hypnotic thing. The First put it in his head. It was ... made him ... He was killing again.
Robin: So, he has a trigger, a soul, and a chip?
Giles: Not anymore!
Buffy: It was killing him, Giles!
Robin: The trigger?
Buffy: No, the chip. The trigger's not active anymore.
- Continuity Nod: Spike finding Nikki Wood attractive, which he mentioned to Buffy in "Fool for Love". Spike also twirls his shovel in the alley fight, as he did when pole-fighting Nikki on the subway train.
- William refers to his mother as "glowing" and reads her (bad) poetry he's dedicated to Cecily (also from "Fool for Love").
- Giles mentions how Buffy wasn't willing to sacrifice Dawn to save the world ("The Gift"), and Angel deciding to leave Buffy for her own good ("The Prom").
- Xander gripes about the chains not being there a week earlier.
- Giles complaining about there being more computers than books in the library harks back to his Season 2 arguments with computer teacher Jenny Calender.
- Spike calling Dawn "niblet" and expressing concern for her refers to their Morality Pet relationship in Season 5.
- Comically Missing the Point: Drusilla can't understand why Spike wants to bring his mother with them as they rampage across Europe.
Drusilla: To eat, you mean?
- Buffy is fighting with a vampire called Richard while arguing with Giles.
Buffy: (re the First) I'm in the fight of my life here!
Buffy: Not you, Richard.
- Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Spike saving Wood in the alley fight in The Teaser.
- Crossover: Willow receives a call from someone called Fred and tells Buffy she has to go to Los Angeles. She shows up in the Angel episode "Orpheus", where the Fang Gang use her magic skills to restore Angel's soul. Willow is vague as to her reasons for leaving, indicating that Buffy is being kept in the dark about the return of Angelus.
- Deadly Hug: William turning his mother.
- Deadpan Snarker
Spike: All the rubbish people keep sticking in my head, there's a wonder there's any room for my brain.
- Distant Prologue: Before their fatal confrontation in the New York Subway, Spike had a Battle in the Rain with Nikki Wood in Central Park, watched by a four year-old Robin Wood.
- Distressed Dude: Averted — Buffy runs to save Spike, but he's already got the situation under control. Buffy isn't even needed to save Wood.
- Door Closes Ending
- Double Entendre: Buckets of Foe Romance Subtext rain down as Spike fights Nikki.
Spike: (exhilarated) Well, all right! Got the moves, don't you? I'm gonna ride you hard before I put you away, luv.
- Downer Ending: Giles tries to justify the death of Spike — Buffy informs him the attempt failed, then shuts her door in the face of the man who's been her mentor and Parental Substitute for the past seven years.
- Dramatic Irony: Giles says that Spike (unlike Angel) lacks the responsibly to leave Sunnydale because he endangers everyone. Spike however had offered to do just that in "First Date", staying only because Buffy asked him to.
- Dying as Yourself: William's mother looks grateful in the moment she gets dusted.
- Epiphany Therapy: Facing his memories of the past enable Spike to throw off the First's conditioning.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Spike wanted to save his mother from tuberculosis; too bad she Came Back Wrong.
- Eye Scream: Relatively brief example with the Prokaryote Stone.
- Willow talks of bringing back good news from her trip to Los Angeles; that would be another Slayer to fight alongside them (given Buffy's long-standing grudge against Faith, it's hardly surprising that Willow keeps that news to herself for now).
- Scoobies and Potentials complain that Spike is getting a free pass from Buffy because of his not-a-relationship with her. This is another sign of the increasing tension that erupts in "Empty Places".
- Fool for Love: Lampshaded re William, and finally averted by Spike, who accepts the fact that Buffy will not put him first in her life.
- Freudian Excuse
- Gender-Blender Name
Andrew: (holding the phone) Uh, Willow...call for you from L.A. Somebody named Fred. The guy sounds kind of effeminate.
- Gilligan Cut: From Buffy saying Dawn is tough, to Dawn wincing as Willow patches her up.
- Half Truth: Wood doesn't try to hide from Giles that he's motivated by revenge, but neither does he say that the First is the one who tipped him off about Spike. This would cause Giles to realise that the First wants Spike dead, rather than an undead Manchurian Agent.
- Once she's been turned into a vampire, William's mother throws all his weaknesses in his face — it's Spike realisation that the demon left out the things that his mother loved about him that allows Spike to get past it.
- He's Back: Applies even more than "Get It Done" because Spike doesn't just go back to being pre-souled Spike, he finally becomes comfortable with Ensouled!Spike.
- Hypocritical Humor
- I'll Kill You! / Good Is Not Nice: Spike makes it clear that he'll kill Robin if he tries anything again; Buffy tells Robin that she'll let him.
- Improvised Weapon / Off with His Head!: Spike puts a shovel to good use in the alley fight.
- Incurable Cough of Death / Blood from the Mouth: William's mother is dying, hence his decision to turn her into a vampire.
- I Work Alone: Lampshaded by Spike.
I know Slayers. No matter how many people they've got around them, they fight alone. Life of The Chosen One
. The rest of us be damned. Your mother was no different.
Robin: No, she loved me.
Spike: But not enough to quit, though, was it? Not enough to walk away...for you.
- Last-Second Word Swap: Giles asks Buffy about the song that Spike kept singing.
It was boring, old, and English. Just like you (Death Glare
from Giles) ...ul. Yul Brynner. A British Yul Brynner.
- Let's Dance
Spike: I spent a long time trying to track you down. Don't want the dance to end so soon, do you, Nikki? The music's just starting, isn't it?
- Macho Masochism: Wood squeezing his stake until his hand bleeds after Spike saves his life.
- Meaningful Echo: "The mission is what matters." Nikki's words to Robin are repeated to him by Buffy at the end of the episode.
- Nikki Wood objecting to Spike calling her "luv", just as Buffy did in Season 6.
- Mind-Control Music: Wood plays "Early One Morning" on his computer so Spike will revert to his evil vampire self.
- Mind Probe: Giles puts a Prokaryote stone inside Spike's head to try and discover how the First is controlling him. Spike is not pleased, seeing as this involves the stone liquifying and crawling into his head via the optic nerve.
- Momma's Boy: William before and after he was turned.
- Moral Dissonance: It would be fair enough if Buffy simply saw Spike as a good soldier they desperately needed, but she seems to deny that Wood even has any reason to be upset about the murder of his mother.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg
Buffy: Have you seen me with those girls? The way I treated my friends, and my family...and Andrew.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Buffy's split with Wood and Giles culminates in their lack of support in "Empty Places".
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Wood cures Spike, and Giles forces Buffy to act like a General.
- Nothing Personal
Spike: I don't give a piss about your mum. She was a Slayer. I was a vampire. That's the way the game is played.
- Not So Dire / Good Old Ways: Robin is telling Buffy that shutting down the Hellmouth might have averted the apocalypse.
Buffy: Maybe you're right. Maybe everything is fine.
Giles: (barges in the door) Everything's terrible. Total catastrophe.
Buffy: Giles, what's wrong?
Giles: Have you seen the new library? There's nothing but computers. There's not a book to be seen. I—I don't know where to begin!
- Oedipus Complex: William and his mother, and the platonic version with Buffy and her 'father'.
- Origins Episode
- Pet the Dawn: After saying that she'd be willing to sacrifice Dawn to save the world, Buffy comes home and strokes the hair of her sleeping little sister.
- Poisonous Friend: Giles
- Power Fist / Holy Burns Evil: Robin has a glove with crosses on it to fight Spike.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!
Spike: Get these sodding things off me! I'm fine!
Buffy: (arms crossed) Don't you think you should take a little time, calm down?
- And Robin pounding on Spike.
"Is this what it felt like (punches Spike) when you beat the life out of her, (punches Spike) toyed with her, (punches Spike, then screams) when you snapped her neck!"
- Revenge Before Reason
- Room Full of Crazy: A different version in the Room Full of Crosses built by Wood to trap Spike, hinting at his obsession with revenge.
- Rousing Speech: Lampshaded when Giles accuses Buffy of not seeing "the big picture".
Buffy: Hello! All I do is look at the big picture. The other day, I gave an inspirational speech to the telephone repair man.
Giles: It takes more than rousing speeches to lead, Buffy.
- Rule of Symbolism: Spike and Buffy both cut loose their parents.
- She's Okay: Lampshaded when Willow patches Dawn up.
Willow: It doesn't look like anything's broken.
Dawn: Did you use some sort of magic x-ray?
Willow: No, that's... just what people usually say.
- Shoot the Dog: Giles confronts Buffy about whether she would make the same choice again (Dawn vs. Saving the World) and she admits that life has taught her some dogs have to be shot and now she would sacrifice even Dawn if she had to in order to prevent the Apocalypse. She even outright tells Principal Wood she would be willing to let Spike kill him if Wood forces the issue, because Spike is the more useful soldier in the coming battle and she has to make the tough decisions if the world is going to survive.
- Single Tear
- Staking the Loved One / Apologetic Attacker: William staking his mother.
- Stylistic Suck: William's ode to Cecily.
Vampire!Mom: The lark hath spake from twixt its wee beak? You honestly thought I could bear an eternity listening to that twaddle?
- Surpassed the Teacher: Buffy makes it clear she has no further need for Giles' training or advice. "You've taught me everything I need to know."
- Stake Catch: Spike catches a stake hurled at him by Nikki.
- Trigger: Interestingly, Spike's Manchurian Agent trigger is also an emotional trigger. The trigger the First gave Spike goes away when he finally deals with his Parental Issues, thus removing his emotional trigger.
- Verbal Backspace
- Spike: "You need a place to cut loose, let your hair down. (realises Wood is bald) So to speak."
- Spike's mom after she's been turned into a vampire: "I hate to be cruel...no, I don't. I used to hate to be cruel in life. Now, I find it rather freeing."
- We Need a Distraction: Robin Wood as a child, knocking over the trash bin to save his mother from Spike. Giles taking Buffy out for some training so Robin can kill Spike.
- You Killed My Mother
- You Fight Like a Cow: Once again this appears to be an innate trait of Slayers, even back in The Seventies.
- You Remind Me of X: Wood says Buffy reminds him of his mother.
Buffy: Got to tell you, not a line every girl likes to hear, but - in this case — (smiles) compliment taken.