Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 7 E 7 Conversations With Dead People

Yeah, what I really need is emotional therapy from the evil dead.

Buffy has a heart to heart talk with vamp who used to be her classmate. Willow is visited by the spirit of Cassie. Dawn is terrorized at home by a ghost. Spike chats up a girl at a bar. Andrew and Jonathan return.

  • Absentee Actor: Nicholas Brendon and Emma Caulfield. In Brendon's case, this episode single-handedly keeps him from the distinction of having appeared in every episode of the show, leaving Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hanigan as the only ones who can claim it.
  • Affably Evil: Holden the Vampire Shrink.
    "Buffy, I'm here to kill you, not to judge you."
    "I just think you're in some pain here (which I do kind of enjoy 'cause I'm evil now) but you should just ease up on yourself."
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The First Evil appears as Cassie, Warren and Joyce in order to break up the gang — and it's so good at it that fans are still discussing whether "Joyce" isn't actually Joyce, despite confirmation from Word of God.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Averted; Holden the Vampire Shrink is just what Buffy needs to talk over issues she can never discuss with her friends.
  • An Axe to Grind: Dawn
  • Author Appeal: Apparently a certain scriptwriter likes anchovies, and was disappointed over a certain pizza chains' decision to drop them from their pizzas.
  • Badass Boast: Buffy, Holden; and Dawn's Magical Incantation certainly counts.
    Dawn: I cast you out with every prayer from every god that walked the Earth and crawled beneath. (thrown across the room, landing on her butt, she continues talking through a bloody mouth) I cast you out with the strength of those who love me. (stands) I cast you out with the strength I have inside me! I cast you out into the void. (throws bowl forward) That's right! Die, you bastard!
    • And Cassie as the First.
    Cassie: (mocking) Oh, baby, you left such a big hole. It hurt so bad. (serious, leans in) You don't know hurt. This last year's gonna seem like cake after what I put you and your friends through, and I am not a fan of easy death. Fact is, the whole good-versus-evil, balancing the scales thing...I'm over it. I'm done with the mortal coil. But believe me, I'm going for a big finish.
    Willow: From beneath you, it devours.
    Cassie: Oh, not it. Me.
  • Blank White Eyes: Corpse!Joyce
  • Blood Magic / Human Sacrifice: Andrew has to kill Jonathan in order to open the Seal.
  • Buffy Speak
    Buffy: My parents weren't exactly the paragon of stay-togetherey-ness.
    Buffy: I commit! I'm committed! I'm a committee!
  • Brick Joke: In the 6th-season's "Gone", Warren declares to Buffy that "We are your arch-nemesises...ses." When they fail to open their escape door, Buffy mockingly says to Willow: "I give you my arch-nemesis...ses...ses." Holden marvels that he and Buffy are now enemies, saying, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we became nemeses?", Buffy responds, "Is that how you say the word?"
    • Buffy leaves money for Dawn so she can buy herself something to eat, but the note specifies NO PIZZA. Next time we see Dawn she's eating pizza and singing the praises of anchovies.
      • And she's not worried when she gets sauce on her shirt, thinking Buffy will assume it's blood. A few episodes later, that's exactly what happens.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Buffy's mobile falls out of her pocket during her initial fight with Holden. When Dawn tries to call for help, Buffy doesn't hear it ringing because she's too busy insisting to Holden that she's connected to a lot of people.
  • The Confidant: Buffy finds herself opening up to former psych student Holden Webster.
  • Continuity Nod / Call Back
    • "That time on the bridge when you sang to each other" was in "Once More With Feeling" when Tara sang "Under Your Spell".
    • Buffy briefly dated Scott Hope at the beginning of Season 3, only for Scott to dump her on the excuse that she seemed too distracted (as she was caring for a recently Back from the Dead Angel). Holden suggests another reason.
    • "Strong like an amazon" is what Willow said in response to Tara saying "We can be strong" (about Joyce Summer's death in "The Body"). Likewise Dawn's "Mom? ...Mommy?" when trying to reach Joyce echoes Buffy's first reaction upon seeing her mother dead.
    • Dead Joyce lies on the couch in the same position Buffy found her at the end of "I Was Made To Love You".
    • The music Dawn is listening to while home alone is the same Buffy was listening to while washing dishes in season 5, before breaking down and crying over their mother's sickness ("Listening to Fear").
    • Dawn talks on the phone to an off-screen Kit ("Lessons").
    • Dawn apparently did learn some spellcasting techniques from Willow and Tara, as she hoped to do in "Real Me".
    • Buffy says that she's "pretty much" the only Slayer; the other being Faith who'll return later in the season.
    • Holden talks to Buffy about a classmate they knew who's been in the Sunnydale mental hospital since Graduation Day. It's obvious what event drove him there.
    • Buffy confesses her secrets to a vampire as opposed to her friends, as she did to Spike in Season 6 (notably "After Life").
    • The First tries to convince someone to commit suicide, as in "Amends".
  • Conveniently Precise Translation: Andrew and Jonathan reveal that, while in Mexico, they've had dreams with the refrain "Desde abajo te devora." Andrew translates the phrase as "It eats you, starting with your bottom". The literal translation is "From below, it devours you", but this particular phrase probably would translate fairly closely to Spanish and back. Andrew provides his own lampshade when he complains that Klingon was easier to learn than Spanish because the former "had much clearer rules on transitive and intransitive verbs."
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: "Mother's Milk is RED Today" appears on the wall of the Summers house, along with a Bloody Handprint.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Jonathan sprawls across the Seal of Danthazar after his fatal stabbing.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Well, duh...
  • Did I Just Have A Therapy Session With Cthulhu?
  • Distracting Disambiguation: Buffy and Holden keep finding reasons to continue their conversation instead of their Duel to the Death.
  • Divide and Conquer: The First's Evil Plan.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Buffy lying on a sarcophagus as a make-shift Freudian Couch.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Dawn is walking around the house without shoes; after smashing the glass-fronted microwave, she has to bandage up her feet.
  • Dramatic Wind / Dramatic Shattering: The poltergeist in the summers residence seems to like this.
  • Episode Title Card: The only regular Buffy episode to get one (the other is the Musical Episode "Once More, With Feeling", which gets completely new credits).
  • Evil Feels Good
    Holden: Feels great. Strong. Like I'm connected to a powerful all-consuming evil that's gonna suck the world into a fiery oblivion. How 'bout you?
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The episode is about characters having conversations with dead people (or, in Spike's case, a living person having a conversation with him) .
  • Fast Roping: Jonathan rappels down into Sunnydale High, followed by Andrew who loses his grip and crashes into the floor.
  • Foreshadowing: Holden tells Buffy she can't blame herself over her failed relationships as she's too young to settle down with a guy. This sets up her "cookie dough" speech in "Chosen".
    • Dawn playing with Buffy's weapons foretells her later belief that she is a Potential.
    • First!Joyce tells Dawn "When it's bad, Buffy won't choose you. She'll be against you." In "Lies My Parents Told Me" Buffy admits to Giles that she'd now be willing to sacrifice Dawn to save the world, unlike in "The Gift". Likewise Joyce's words might well have influenced Dawn's decision to side against Buffy in "Empty Places".
      • Though oddly enough, we never do get a situation where Buffy has to again choose between Dawn and the world, like all this seems to be setting up.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Lampshaded when Buffy opening up about her problems gives Holden an irresistible urge to bite her.
  • Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Justified as Holden was just another boy in Sunnydale High crushing on the beautiful and mysterious Buffy Summers; he gripes about having to spend 30 minutes reminding Buffy who he was.
  • Four (and a half) Lines, All Waiting: This episode has four plotlines with dialogue, and one without, which never intersect during the entire episode.
  • Freudian Excuse: Buffy admits that her parents divorce might have been due to an affair by her dad. Holden suggests that Buffy's inability to connect with men might be because she subconsciously thinks she's better than them. Buffy promptly threatens to stake him, showing Holden he's hit a nerve.
    Holden: Just answer me this — whose fault was your parents divorce?
    Buffy: (rolls eyes) OK, you know, this is beyond evil. This is Insane Troll Logic.
  • Get Out: The poltergeist to Dawn, who instead slams the door and declares she's staying to protect her mother.
  • Have You Seen My God?: Holden asks Buffy if there really is a God. "What's the word on that, by the way?" Her own experiences in the afterlife not withstanding, Buffy has to admit there's "nothing solid".
  • Heel Face Door Slam: Jonathan
  • Heel Realisation / Inferiority Superiority Complex
    Buffy: I feel like I'm worse than anyone. Honestly, I'm beneath them. My friends, my boyfriends. I feel like I'm not worthy of their love. 'Cause even though they love me, it doesn't mean anything 'cause their opinions don't matter. They don't know. They haven't been through what I've been through. They're not the Slayer. I am. Sometimes I feel... (sighs) this is awful — I feel like I'm better than them. Superior.
    Holden: Until you can't win. And I thought I was diabolical — or, at least I plan to be. You do have a superiority complex. And you've got an inferiority complex about it.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Dawn gets into Buffy's chest of weapons. "Taste my blade, spawn of evil!"
  • Hugo Award
  • I Am a Monster: Buffy re her Destructive Romance with Spike.
    Buffy: The last guy I was with, it got really— I behaved like a monster, treated him like... But at the same time, I-I let him completely take me over. Do things to me that— (starts to cry).
  • I Am the Noun: Cassie assures Willow that it was the dark magic power that made her turn evil. Willow replies, "I am the power; it's in me."
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: Used even though there isn't actually something lurking outside the Summer's house, watching Dawn dance inside.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Holden is exhilarated to be fighting to the death with the girl he once had a crush on in school. When he fantasises that a 'biteable' girl he knew might have shown up for his funeral, Buffy starts venting about how "sex and death and love and pain" are all the same to vampires, giving Holden a Eureka Moment that Buffy has had a relationship with one.
  • It Won't Turn Off: The horror movie keeps playing even after Dawn mutes, switches off and unplugs the television. She then nearly electrocutes herself smashing up the TV, CD player, and microwave with an axe. She's about to do the same to the radio when Dawn hears Joyce talking to her over it.
  • Killed Off for Real: Jonathan
  • Light Is Good: An Invoked Trope by the First, with Joyce appearing as a glowing Woman in White.
  • Lotus Position / Magical Incantation: Dawn, trying to exorcise the poltergeist.
  • Meaningful Background Event: As Dawn tries to figure out what's happening, the camera suddenly shifts angle and we see her mother's corpse in the background. Cue Scare Chord as she suddenly realizes what's behind her, and turns to see nothing.
  • Meaningful Echo: In "Fool for Love" Buffy turned down Spike's advances with the words, "You're beneath me." Here Buffy says "I'm beneath them" in reference to her family and friends because she's ashamed of her superiority complex.
  • Mid-Season Twist: The Big Bad starts moving against the Scoobies. Ensouled and chipped Spike is killing humans. Andrew murders Jonathan.
  • Mysterious Protector: Buffy is quite pleased to find that her classmates at Sunnydale High thought she was mysterious, but can't help smiling wryly when Holden says they thought it was because she was having an affair with a much older guy.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: For all Holden's confidence that his martial arts skills and newfound vampire strength will enable him to defeat Buffy, she dusts him easily.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We never get a clear look at the demon holding down Dead!Joyce. It's actually the Gnarl costume from a few episodes earlier.
  • Nothing Personal: Holden and Buffy re killing each other.
  • Not Quite Dead / Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: What First!Warren convinces Andrew has happened to him.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: Dawn thinks Joyce is trying to communicate with her this way.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Willow is tipped that Cassie (supposedly channeling a message from Tara) is not who she appears when she suggests Willow kill herself so she can be with her dead lover.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Buffy = comedy, Willow = drama, Dawn = horror.
  • Overly Long Gag
    Andrew: Check communications?
    (Still standing beside each other, they both reach into the pockets of their cargo pants and pull out walkie-talkie radios.)
    Jonathan: (to radio) Check. Check.
    Andrew: (to radio) Check. Check.
    Jonathan: Check.
    Andrew: Check. Check.
    Jonathan: Check. Check.
    Andrew: Check. Check. Check.
    Jonathan: Check.
  • Percussive Therapy
    Buffy: I think I'm gonna kill you just a little bit more than usual.
    Holden: (later) OK. But are you killing me 'cause I'm evil or because you opened up?
  • Prop Recycling: The monster appearing to strangle Joyce is actually the Gnarl costume from "Same Time, Same Place", shot from the back and spray-painted black.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: This episode came about because of several scheduling complications that prevented the various writers from doing much work together. So instead they each wrote their own mini-stories and then combined them.
  • Relative Button: Dawn gets Wicca on the poltergeist's ass when she thinks it's trying to stop her from talking to her mother's spirit.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Buffy checks out a freshly dug grave. When Holden's hand punches through the soil, her response is a quiet "Here we go."
  • Ship Tease: Buffy acknowledges that Spike's love for her was real, in contrast to the previous season where such an idea would be met with denial, condescension or a punch in the face.
  • Sickly Neurotic Geek: After his Prat Fall while trying to rappel inside Sunnydale High, Andrew blames his shin splints — this starts a Running Gag throughout the season of him complaining of various prior injuries.
  • Slasher Smile: First!Warren and First!Cassie — the latter taken Up to Eleven when her head splits open and she turns inside out.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A devastated Willow and Dawn, the death of Jonathan, and Spike beginning to kill again, all set to whimsical, beautiful "Blue" by Angie Hart.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Buffy explaining to Holden why she's in the cemetery trying to dust him.
    Buffy: I'm the Slayer. It's sort of a thing.
    Holden: "The" like as in "The only one?"
    Buffy: Pretty much.
  • Stake The Messenger: Buffy kills Holden after he drops the bombshell about Spike siring him.
  • Super Window Jump: While fighting Buffy and Holden go crashing through a stained glass window into a crypt.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Hardly surprising as the lyrics were written by Joss Whedon for the episode.
  • Sword over Head: Buffy doesn't stake Holden when she has the chance, because she finds she likes talking to him. Averted when Holden reveals that Spike has been killing again.
  • There Is Another: Parodied:
    Warren: "No, there is another."
    Andrew: "Wait, really? Who's our last hope?"
    Warren: "No, I was just going with it. It was a thing. He's our last hope."
  • The Team Wannabe: Jonathan wants to hook up with the Scoobies, and is gathering information on the Seal of Danthazar he can present to Buffy as an olive branch to prevent her handing them over to the police.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Holden Webster puts up a good fight for a newly-sired vampire because he got into Tae Kwon Do in college.
  • The Triple: Holden suggests Buffy goes for bad boys to avoid committing to a long-term relationship.
    Buffy: I commit. I'm committed. I'm a committee.
  • Verbal Backspace: A Running Gag with Holden.
    Holden: Oh, my God!
    Buffy: Oh, your God what?
    Holden: Oh, well, you know, not my God, because I defy him and all of his works...
  • Warrior Therapist: Buffy tangles with a rather literal version of the trope — a vampire who had been a Psychology major prior to being sired. He was at least as, if not more, interested in analyzing Buffy as in fighting her.
  • Wham Line: "Spike? He's the one who sired me."
  • What Could Have Been: Originally, Amber Benson was supposed to return as The First's guise of Tara, but declined because she knew the episode was going to be Nightmare Fuel and thought neither the characters nor the fans deserved just how bad she knew Joss Whedon would try and torture both.
    • Also, it was originally intended for Xander to have his own experience, in which The First appears as Jesse (from "Welcome To the Hellmouth" & "The Harvest") and calls Xander out for making a Forgotten Fallen Friend out him. A combination of Eric Balfour being unavailable and the episode already having too much story led the writers to scrap this plotline.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Dawn is playing about with Buffy's weapons. First she plants an axe-blade in a desk, then has an accidental crossbow discharge. She tries to yank the quarrel out of the wall, only for a large lump of plaster to come out as well, which she tries to conceal with a potted plant. She also gets pizza sauce on Buffy's dress, which she doesn't worry about as she figures Buffy will assume it's blood (this sets up a Brick Joke in "First Date).
  • You Look Familiar: Jonathan M. Woodward, who plays Holden Webster, has also appeared in two other Joss Whedon series: as Knox in Season 5 of Angel, and as Tracey in the Firefly episode "The Message".