Sunnydale High is hosting a cultural exchange program and each student is matched with an international exchange student that will live with them for two weeks. In preparation, Buffy's class take a field trip to a museum to see an Inca exhibit. Buffy's mom, Joyce signs Buffy up for the program and Buffy finds out the student she will be rooming with will be a boy named Ampata. Xander becomes jealous after finding out.
After everyone leaves the museum, one of the students tries to steal a ceramic being held by an Inca Mummy but instead he breaks the seal. Instantly, the mummy is revived. She's a princess and the unlucky student is pulled inside her coffin with her.That night after hearing of something suspicious happening in the museum, the Scoobies decide to investigate. They sneak into the building and discover a man wearing traditional Incan clothing wielding a sword. Initially, the man attacks them but disappears. Willow notices that the supposed 500 years old mummy was wearing modern braces on his teeth. The original mummy had sucked the life out of the student and escaped.
Buffy remembers she is late to pick up the exchange student from the bus station and rushes there. While she's on her way, the mummy lures the student away and sucks the life out of him, restoring her own beauty and youth. When Buffy arrives, the now youthful girls poses as Ampata and everyone assumes that the information on the forms was wrong about the student being a male. Xander is immediately smitten with her and the two begin flirting.
At school, Giles is trying to decipher markings on fragments of an Incan seal. He asks Ampata to translate it for him. She reluctantly tells him that a 16 year old girl was chosen to die to save her people and a bodyguard was chosen to protect her from straying from that path. She then tells Giles that he must destroy the seal permanently, implying that if the seal were reassembled it would impose a threat to her.Meanwhile, the bodyguard discovers the princess is gone and the students from the school have taken the seal. Searching for it, the bodyguard runs into Ampata and confronts her about it. She runs from him but eventually tells him that she wants to live and that she shouldn't have to give up her life at such a young age. He tells her that it's her duty and that she's killed innocent people now. She grabs him to kiss him and sucks the life, remaining young and beautiful.
Back in the school halls, Xander is smitten and completely oblivious. He asks Ampata to the dance to which she accepts. Willow is crushed as Xander is yet again with another girl and continues to only see her as a friend and not in a romantic light.
Back at Buffy's, Ampata's trunk has arrived from the bus depot and as Buffy starts to open it the fake Ampata tells her not to bother. She distracts Buffy by talking more about the Inca mummy's ceremonial seal. The camera briefly shows that inside the trunk is the mummified corpse of the real Ampata. 'Ampata' talks eloquently of the princess' suffering and how it was difficult to obey her duty at the age of 16; something Buffy relates to. She laments that the princess was chosen and each of the girls think about having the weight of being burdened with saving people's lives.
The dance is a costume party in which students are supposed to dress like people from other countries. Ampata dresses in her flattering Inca princess clothing and Xander can't take his eyes off her. Willow goes dressed as an Eskimo where everyone ignores her, except Cordelia who insults her. However Willow doesn't realise that Oz, bass player in the local band has been watching her. As Xander and Ampata share a romantic dance, Ampata's hand starts to return to its mummified state. She runs from Xander and grabs a student, sucking the life force from him. Xander arrives just in time and the student, Jonathan runs away.
Back at Buffy's, Giles tells her that the bodyguard's mummified remains were found in the school bathroom. They rush to Ampata's trunk to find out more about her and discover the real Ampata's mummified corpse. Giles heads to the museum to find out more about the ceremonial seal while Buffy runs to the dance to save Xander from the deadly kiss. Ampata decides to run back to the museum as she cares too much about Xander to kill him. She grabs the seal from Giles and destroys it. Buffy rushes to save Giles but they both end up unconscious inside the mummy's sarcophagus. Willow arrives and the deteriorating Ampata tries to suck life from her. Xander shows up and says that if she must feed off anyone, it should be him. The quickly dying Ampata is willing to do this despite her feelings for Xander. Buffy manages to get out to fight her and save Xander. Ampata weakens to the point of returning to mummy form and when Buffy grabs her, she breaks down with pieces scattering the floor.
The next day, Xander claims to have bad taste in women. Buffy assures him that Ampata did care for him but had no other option in the situation she was in. When likening her situation to how Buffy was prophesied to die at the hands of the Master but she fought him anyway, Buffy reminds Xander that he was the one who brought her back.
- Absentee Actor: Angel
- Adorkable: Xander oh so much. Teaching Ampata how to eat Twinkies? Awwwwww.
- The Alleged Car: The GilesmobileBuffy: Come on! Can't you put your foot down?
Giles: It is down.
Buffy: One of these days you're gonna have to get a grownup car.
Giles grinds the gears. Buffy shakes her head.
- And I Must Scream: The Inca Mummy Girl was aware for the entirety of her 500 years as a mummy.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Subverted.Xander: Hey, maybe he (Rodney) awakened the mummy. (chuckles)Willow: (giggling) Right, and it rose from its tomb.Buffy: (smiling) And attacked him. (everyone stops smiling when they realized that could have happened)
Giles: We''ll deal with that when we've ruled out...evil curses.Buffy: One day I'm gonna live in a town where evil curses are just generally ruled out without even saying.
- And a bit later:
- Artistic License History/Artistic License Geography: Where to begin?
- There is no "Sebancaya region" in eastern Peru. The Sabancaya is a volcano located in the south of Peru.
- Likewise, there was no mountain god called Sebancaya, though mountains and volcanoes were held as deities by the Incas and where known as apus.
- "Ampata" is not a common name in Peru, neither for men nor women. The name is a clear reference to the Ampato, a volcano in south Peru were a inca mummy known as "Juanita" was found. Ampato comes from the quechua word "Hamp'atu" which means "frog".
- Xander's costume would fit better in Chile than in Peru.
- Arson, Murder, and JaywalkingWhat kind of girl travels with a mummified corpse and doesn't even pack lipstick?
- Bait-and-Switch CommentOz: That girl. Who is she?
Devon: She's an exchange student. I think she's from South America.
Oz: No, not her. The Eskimo! (Willow)
- British Stuffiness / Blah Blah BlahBuffy: Oh, I know this one! 'Slaying entails certain sacrifices, blah blah bliddy blah', I'm so stuffy, give me a scone.
- Clothing Reflects Personality: Buffy wears the Dungarees of Depression when she has to go slaying instead of dancing. Willow wraps herself up in a bulky Eskimo costume instead of something sexy.
- Cry into Chest
- Dance of Romance / Almost Kiss
- Exact Eavesdropping: Willow enters the room just in time to hear Buffy raise a subject close to her heart.Buffy: Oh, come on. In all the years you've know Willow, you've never thought about her lips?
Xander: Buffy, I love Willow. (Willow smiles) And she's my best friend. Which makes her not the kind of girl who I think about her lips that much. (Willow's smile fades) She's the kind of girl that... I'm best friends with.
- Evil Counterpart: Ampata wants to be normal like Buffy.
- Failed a Spot Check: Buffy opens Ampata's suitcase but fails to notice the corpse inside of it.
- Fatal Attractor: Xander attracts another demonic woman.Xander: You're not a Praying Mantis, are you?
- Funny Foreigner: Inverted with Sven.
- Green-Eyed Monster
- I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill YouXander: [On why Ampata won't tell him why she's crying]: Hey, I know why you can't tell me. It's a secret, right? And if you told me, you'd have to kill me.Ampata: [cries louder]Xander: Oh! That was a bad joke, and the delivery was off, too. I'm sorry.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Buffy and Ampata both
- I'm Thinking It Over!Willow: I have a choice. I can spend my life waiting for Xander to go out with every girl in the world until he notices me, or I can just get on with my life.
Buffy: Good for you.
Willow: Well, I didn't choose yet.
- Ironic Echo/It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Ampata's description of the Inca Princess strikes a cord with Buffy.Ampata: They told her that she was the only one. That only she could defend her people from the nether world. Out of all the girls in her generation she was the only one...
Ampata: Do you know the story?
Buffy: It's fairly familiar.
Ampata: She was sixteen, like us. She was offered as a sacrifice and went to her death. Who knows what she had to give up to fulfill her duty to others? What chance at love?
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Willow tells Xander to take Ampata to the dance without her tagging along.
- Kill and Replace: An Inca mummy girl is brought back to life. She proceeds to kill and then take the name of and pretend to be "Ampata", the foreign exchange student that was supposed to stay with Buffy for two weeks.
- Kiss of Death: How the mummy kills her victims.
- Latin Lover: Xander is worried that some handsome South American guy is going to spend a couple of weeks living with Buffy. The exchange student who turns up is indeed male and good-looking, but the mummy life-sucks him before he meets the Scoobies and takes his place. Suddenly Xander has no objection to the whole exchange program at all.
- Mayincatec: Pictograms would fit Maya or Aztec but not Inca
- Mirror Scare
- Monster of the Week
- Necessarily Evil: Ampata just wants to live a normal life. Unfortunately to live she's got to drain Life Energy from others.
- Noodle ImplementsDevon: What does a girl have to do to impress you?Oz: Well, it involves a feathered boa and the theme to A Summer Place. I can't discuss it here.
- No Name Given: The mummy's actual name is never mentioned.
- Percussive Therapy: Buffy beats on a pad-wielding Giles in frustration at him not allowing her to go to the dance. Eventually Giles realises it's less painful to agree.
- Saying Sound Effects Out LoudXander: Have you seen Ampata?Willow: * makes indistinct movement while wearing thick fur coat*Xander: What was that?Willow: I shrugged.Xander: Next time you should probably say "shrug." * leaves*Willow: "Sigh."
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: In need of draining life energy and seeing Jonathan alone at the Bronze Ampata corrals him for kissing. However he picks up on clues that something is off about all this, and when Xander looks for her since Ampata is meant to be with him Jonathan leaves.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Inverted; Willow wears a dowdy and unsexy Eskimo costume to a cultural party and remarks that maybe she should have worn something sexy. However Oz ends up noticing her because of the costume.
- So Happy Together: Xander and Ampata fall in love, go on a date together and have a sweet slow dance with an Almost Kiss. Then Ampata needs to drain more life.....
- That Came Out Wrong: Non-sexual example while discussing costumes for a fancy-dress-dance.Xander: Okay, no shirts with ruffles, no hats with feathers and definitely no lederhosen. They make my calves look fat.Willow: Why are you suddenly so worried about looking like an idiot? That came out wrong.
- Vampiric Draining of Life Energy
- Violence Is the Only Option / You Keep Telling Yourself ThatBuffy: I wasn't gonna use violence. I don't always use violence. Do I?
Xander: The important thing is you believe that.
- You No Take Candle: Cordelia assumes that her exchange student doesn't speak English and ends up speaking butchered English to him. Turn out she was confusing him because he can understand the language fine.
- Xander also speaks really slowly to Ampata before quickly abandoning it once it becomes clear that she can speak and understand English.